PS Vita Review: Deception 4: Blood Ties

(NOTE This review is my opinion only. All pictures are taken in game using the PS Vita’s screenshot function)

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Deception IV: Blood Ties is a third person strategy game developed and published by TECMO KOEI. It is the fourth game in the main Deception series (fifth including the spin-off, Trapt) and third in the Kagero series in Japan. This game is Cross-Save compatible between the PS3 and PS Vita versions. This review is for the PS Vita version of the game.

Laegrinna, the Devil's Daughter
Laegrinna, the Devil’s Daughter

In the game you play as Laegrinna, the daughter of the Devil, created from a shard of his soul. You are tasked with collecting fragments of the Holy Verse, a relic used to trap the Devil years ago. Luckily they are held by the descendants of the heroes who trapped him and they are coming to destroy you to prevent the Devil’s return.

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Caelea likes is when you put a little thought and effort into your traps.

Laegrinna is ready though as she has the power to place traps within her castle. Guided by three demons; cunning Caela, sadistic Veruza and child-like Lilia, you place traps and lure your enemy to their doom. Each demon has her preferred style of evil, and fulfilling their requests can result in higher reward if you survive the chapters..

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Veruza likes it when you bring the pain to your enemies.

The style of the Deception series hasn’t really changed since the second one. You place the traps while the world is paused them avoid the enemy as you maneuver them into the traps. You can activate the traps one at a time (and repeatedly after a cool down period.) You can even chain them together to increase damage and get more points (and approval from Caela and Veruza.) Traps range from swinging blades, spikes and arrows to rakes and jack-o-lanterns that land on their head so they wander around blindly. There are also stage hazards like a brazen bull that you can maneuver your victims into with the other traps and roast them alive.

Lilia likes dresses and tea parties and the total humiliation of her enemies. And ponies!

Points are gained by how much damage that the traps or series of traps do to your enemy. As mentioned earlier, you can gain extra points for dispatching your foes in the way specified by your demon sisters. Caela likes elaborate traps and they use of stage based traps. Veruza is sadistic and prefers brutal and damaging traps. Lilia likes to see the enemy humiliated, like stepping on rakes with a jack-o’-lantern on their head.

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Gaspard is totally humiliated by being roasted alive in a metal bull. He might never recover (you hope.)

But the enemies are no push overs. They include heavily armoured soldiers, fast archers and magicians. You have to time some traps just right to hit them. There are also boss characters who are tougher to kill.  If they get too close, they can do heavy damage to Laegrinna and end the game.

When a new enemy appears press triangle to use the Devil's eye to learn abo.ut their motives, strengths and weaknesses
When a new enemy appears press triangle to use the Devil’s eye to learn about their motives, strengths and weaknesses

The game is good, if a bit hard. As you proceed in the game the enemies prove challenging, especially the magicians and bosses.  As you proceed, you can get more traps to place and the number per room you can set increases. Learning the room traps and using them to your advantage can help you out in a dire situation.

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This electric chair is one of two in this room and nets you sadistic points. Bridget is getting the shock of her life.

Deception IV: Bloodlines is another good entry in the overall Deception series. Playing the villain is nothing new but the heroes you face are flawed and rotten in their own right. Launching an archer into an electric chair or crushing a knight with a boulder as she struggles out of a bear trap really never gets old. As the series nears its 20th anniversary in 2016, I hope we get another entry in this interesting series.

Deception 4: Blood Ties is available for PS3 and PS Vita in physical and digital formats.

4/5

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Laegrinna is an agreeable person… when it comes to killing heroes!
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Anna gets the point of the wall spikes.
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Julie is launched into the air by a springboard trap, displaying her underwear for all to see.
Traps are numbered for ease of use.  You can activate them with the touch screen on the Vita
Traps are numbered for ease of use. You can activate them with the touch screen on the Vita
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PS Vita Review – Dead or Alive 5 + (Repost)

Dead or Alive 5 Plus
Dead or Alive 5 Plus
The PS Vita has gotten a lot of ports of fighting games.  Games like Ultimate Marvel Vs Capom 3, Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter X Tekken have all made an appearance on the Vita, with tweeks to utilize the Vita’s features.  Tecmo Koei, which has supported the PS Vita since launch, has released a verison of its fighting game known for it’s juggling combos and jiggling breasts:  Dead or Alive 5 Plus.
All characters start unlocked in this version,  Kasumi's and Ayane's special VR costumes shown
All characters start unlocked in this version,
Kasumi’s and Ayane’s special VR costumes shown
The game is a great port of the PS3 verison of DOA 5.  The storymode is the same as found in the regular version, following each cast member and their part in the overall story line.  The action is fast and fluid, sporting amazing, if slightly less detailed graphics.  Like DOA 5, there are other fight modes like versus, for one-off battles, arcade, in with you take your character through several battles, a time attack mode and survival.  The Vita version does not have tag battles, though they are in the story.
New comer Mila is one of two new characters to join the DOA franchise
New comer Mila is one of two new characters to join the DOA franchise
To make up for that loss, DOA 5+ has the Training Plus mode, which adds a free training practice mode, command training to learn your character’s moves, a tutorial, to help newbies to DOA learn the controls and Combo training, which you complete certain combo challenges.  The PS Vita also has a Touch Battle Mode, in which you tap and pinch the screen to fight in a first person battle.  Yes, you get to poke Kasumi all you want, if she doesn’t kick your ass first.
pany shot!
The Touch Battle mode gives you a first person view of the action
Another added bonus for those who have the PS3 version is the cross save mode.  You can upload your save online to unlock any costumes you already have earned in the PS Vita version and vice versa.  Outfits unocked this way will show a controller by the picture.  The game also give owners of both versions extra costumes for the ninja characters (Kasumi, Ayane, Ryu and Hayate), a high tech body suit and a VR helmet (or something.)
The costume in question for Kasumi
The costume in question for Kasumi

Like Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3 and Street Fighter X Tekken, all DLC costumes bought from the PS3 version entitles you to the PS Vita version.  Just download it on for Vita to unlock the costumes in the game (ensure you download the individual sets, not the larger collection as they will  cost money.)  You can also take picture of you characters during replays and save them to your PS Vita’s memory.

DLC outfits like the Sexy Santas are available for DOA5+
DLC outfits like the Sexy Santas are available for DOA5+
Take photos in replay mode to capture the beautiful action
Take photos in replay mode to capture the beautiful action
The PS Vita version includes separate trophies for the game, online play and cross play, in which you can challenge those playing on the PS3.  If you are looking for a portable fighter full of beautiful characters, this is the game to get.
Mil tussles with Srah Bryant, one of three characters visiting from Virtual FIghter 5.
Mila tussles with Sarah Bryant, one of three characters visiting from Virtual Fighter 5.
The camera moves in close for Hitomi's Critical Blow
The camera moves in close for Hitomi’s Critical Blow
Kasumi cheerleader
This costume for Kasumi is one of the special pre-order DLC that was availiable.
4.5 out of 5

PS Vita Review: Samurai Warriors 4

Samurai Warriors 4
Samurai Warriors 4

(Note: This review is my own personal opinion. This is not a paid review. All pictures have been captured in game on my PS Vita.)

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SAMURAI WARRIORS 4 is a third person hack-and-slash developed by Omega-Force and published by TECMO KOEI. It is the latest installment in their SAMURAI WARRIORS series and is also available on PS3, PS4 and PS Vita The version reviewed is the PS Vita copy.

Battles can take place in open fields to walled castles
Battles can take place in open fields to walled castles

SAMURAI WARRIORS 4, like the previous versions of the series presents a fictionalized account of Japan’s Sengoku period from 1555 to 1615 A.D. Most of the characters are based on real people; some might have not have actually been in the battles they are featured in due to their age at the time or, in case of the female characters, their sex as the women did not fight. Some didn’t really exist. Each character has a stylized costume and weapon to stand them apart for others. Each has a special Musou attack. when they magically bring down fire, ice, move as super speed etc to destroy the enemy.  So, you know, not historically accurate.

Helynne preforms a Musou attack
Helynne preforms a Musou attack

The game play feature levels with a large map with a main objective (usually defeat a certain enemy or get to a certain area) and defeat conditions (die, enemy commander escapes etc.). You battle through hundreds of enemy soldiers with the occasional named officer or one of the opposing faction’s main characters. As you defeat your enemies, you get experience and level up, becoming stronger and harder to kill, which carries over to the next battle. You can also get more powerful version of your weapons for fallen enemies or buy or upgrade them between battles.

Custom Characters are back!
Custom Characters are back!

There are three modes to this game: Story Mode, Free Mode and Conquest Mode. Story Mode has you play each of the factions story, sometimes replaying the same battle on different sides as it goes through the period. Free Mode lets you replay any level you have completed as any character that you have. Conquest mode lets you create your own character and travel through feudal Japan, meeting the famous warriors of the period and fighting in battles to gain fame.

As for the creation mode, you get about 20 slots for created characters. You can customize their sex, face, costume and name.   You can choose for 6 different weapons at first, unlocking new ones as you complete the relationship quest for the many characters from the main game in Conquest Mode. You can even use pictures from you PS Vita’s memory and create custom character portraits and Musou Kanji for your created characters.

You can upload jpegs for custom portraits or Musou kanji.
You can upload jpegs for custom portraits or Musou kanji.

SAMURAI WARRIORS, much like all of TECMO KOEI’s WARRIOR games, hack and slash game with some historical depth but not much. They keep retreading this period with each installment, much like Dynasty Warriors and Three Kingdoms-era China, adding more quasi-historical characters. Still, I find them fun and I like the option of custom characters. I really liked Samurai Warriors 2 Empires on my Xbox 360 back in the day and though 4 does not have the Empire mode (maybe a future iteration?), the conquest mode lets you take your created character into this world.

SAMURAI WARRIORS 4 also features cross-save and cross goods compatibility. You can upload you save from on platform and download and play it on another (i.e. PS4 to PS Vita). Buying extra costumes and weapon DLC entitles you to goods for all three versions. This is good as I can take my game with me on PS Vita when I travel, then upload it them download it on the PS4 and continue where I left off.

 

Just a screen shot of an unrelated game (VANGUARD PRINCESS) used as a Musou Attack Kanji.  Nothing to see...
Just a screen shot of an unrelated game (VANGUARD PRINCESS) used as a Musou Attack Kanji. Nothing to see…

SAMURAI WARRIORS for the PS Vita is available in physical media or as a download for all three Sony platforms. The game costs $39.00 on the PS Store for the PS Vita. A physical copy for the PS4 costs $69.99 CDN.

4/5

PS3 Review: Batman Arkham Origins

Batman: Arkham Origins is set at the end of second year of Batman career.  Still considered an urban myth by most of Gotham City’s underworld and barely tolerated, if not hunted by Gotham’s police force, Batman wages his one-man war on crime.  But not all thinks he is just a myth.  Crime lord Black Mask has issued a challenge to several of the world’s best assassins:  For one night only, kill the bat and get a $50 million payday.  Batman must deal with these trained killers while finding out what Black Mask is planning for Gotham.  And in the middle of all of this, a certain Clown Prince of Crime is waiting to make his debut…

The game, developed by WB Games Montreal, builds on Rocksteady’s work on the previous games.  With the backdrop of a snowy Christmas Eve, Gotham is once again dark and dreary, with the occasional spot of Christmas lights setting the holiday mood.  The characters haven’t changed much from Arkham City, with Batman looking younger and his equipment and suit not as refined.

The villains also look good, with younger versions of Riddler, Penguin, Joker and Bane popping up.  The game introduces some challengers new to the Arkham series:  classic DC villains (not exclusively Batman foes) Deathstroke and Lady Shiva make their first appearance as well as a new take on the villain Copperhead, now a woman in the game (and eventually will be introduced in the comics).  Other villains include Back Mask, who is the one tying it all together, Anarky and Firefly, amongst others.

The gameplay is still the same as Arkham City.  Combat is still a matter of well timed punches, counters and dodges.  Weapons are upgradable and unlock as you level up.

The collector’ s edition comes with special DLC, such as the Deathstroke playable character in challenge mode and various skins for Batman.  There is a diorama of the Joker with light up TV that is pretty neat.  It also comes with an art book, a wanted poster for the Batman, the assassination contract and a fact sheet on the various villain’s aiming to collect.

Batman Arkham Origins is solid, if not wholly original addition to the Batman game franchise.  Swinging through Gotham is still a thrill as are the new challenges.  Fans of the first two games should check it out.

5/5

PS3 Phat-Gate: Worldwide problem affects early Adopters of the PS3

 On the 28 Feb 2010, owners of the older style PS3s (hence fore known as the “Phats”) found that their system wasn’t working right.  They could not sign in to the PSN, they could not access many of their downloaded themes and they couldn’t play any games.  The problem was first attributed to the Playstation Network (PSN) but as they day went on, it emerged that the PS3 owners with the newer, slimmer model ( hence force known as the “Slims) were not experiencing problems.  The problem only affected the Phats. Not much information came out on Sunday as emails and Twitters were sent to Sony regarding the problem.  Rumours swirled about it, from problems with the PSN to hackers.  Sony finally came up with a statement on 1 March on the Playstation Blog (http://blog.us.playstation.com/2010/03/latest-info-on-playstation-network-status/), blaming the problem on a bug in the clock functionality in the system.  They have advised users affected by this to not to operate their PS3 until they come up with a fix from the problem, hopefully “within the next 24 hours.” My take:  This is a huge blow for Sony and an insult to the folks who bought the older, more expensive models during the consoles early years.  The fact that the problem affects gamers ability to play ANY game and affected consoles across the world isn’t winning Sony any popularity.  Hopefully Sony can solve the problem soon, especially with FFXIII and God Of War 3 coming out over the next two weeks. Now, I await with bated breath for my Phat to work normally again.

Review: Batman: Arkham Asylum (video game) for PS3

Games based on the Batman franchise have been mostly unspectacular.  From the platforming of Batman: Return of the Joker on NES to Batman Begins on Xbox, the games never really captured the feel of Batman.  Most have been panned by the gaming press, too.  But with the arrival of Batman; Arkham Asylum (available for PS3 and Xbox 360), that appears to have changed.  This review is based on the PS3 version of the game.

Based on a original story drawing heavily on (but not strictly adhering to) the comic continuity, the game opens up with Batman returning the Joker to Arkham Asylum after an attack on the mayor.  While the police are relieved that Joker surrendered easily and the guard at the asylum are anxious to get Joker secured, Batman suspects the Joker has more up his sleeve.  With the normally chaotic madhouse also housing dozens for prisoners from Blackgate Prison (thanks to a mysterious fire), the guards are having enough trouble as it is.  Once inside the asylum’s high tech security, Joker makes his move, aided by Harley Quinn who has taken over the security.  Batman is forced to go after the Joker, becoming trapped inside the madhouse.  The only way out is to go deeper into the Joker’s trap.

The game features a simple combat interface, with the face buttons used for combat: one for attack, counter, stun and dodge.  The L1 button, quickly tapped, unleashes a batarang to stun your opponents.  Some enemies are are huge, pumped up on a substance called titan, which give them enormous strength but little intelligence.  This mysterious substance is one of the subplots in the game and you find out more about it and Joker’s plans for it as you progress.

Not all enemies are easy.  Besides those with knives stun rods and baseball bats, some are armed with assault rifles.  For those guys, you go into “Invisible Predator mode.”  Using the shadows and your surroundings, you silently pick off you opponents with stealth takedowns and swooping down from above.  Later on the enemies are more easily alerted when you take one out so you have to quickly return to the shadows and avoid contact.

Then, there are the boss fights.  The game uses over a half dozen of Batman’s rogues’ gallery, including the Joker.  Some fights are easy, such as taking out serial kill Victor Zsasaz or Joker’s moll, Harley Quinn.  Other are tougher, such as Bane, Poison Ivy and Killer Croc.  There is also the nightmare levels induced by the Scarecrow, which you avoid his gaze until you get to end.  Of course, at the end, there is the Joker and things are rarely easy with him.

Besides the main game play, you can unlock challenge maps, which either tests your brawling skills against waves of enemies or the Invisible Predator challenges, which test how quickly and silently you can take out a group of armed goons.  The PS3 has a downloadable patch available for free which lets you use the Joker on some of these maps.  Using the joker is different from using Batman, and presents it’s own unique challenges.

All and all, Batman: Arkham Asylum delivers on a first rate Batman game.  The island is huge, the Riddler trophies encourage exploration and as you progress, you gain equipment that you can use to reach places that you couldn’t before.  The combat can get repetitive, but it can be challenging with the inclusion of Titan-infused goons and machine gunners.  All and all, this game is one no fan of Batman or superheroes in general should miss.

4.5 out of 5

Game Review: Resident Evil 5 (PS3)

The series that invented the Survival Horror game genre is back in the fifth instalment of the series, Resident Evil 5.  Like RE4, the slow mindless zombies are gone, replaced by Infected humans that can use weapons against you.  The setting this time is in Africa, where Chris Redfield and his partner, Sheva Alomar, investigate an outbreak of a new form of the Progenitor virus.  They uncover clues about a new company has picked up the pieces of Umbrella’s bio-weapon research, and the man behind it all is Chris’ nemesis, Albert Wesker.

The story is well played out.  You see glimpses of what Chris has ben up to since Code: Veronica.  His last encounter with Wesker ended tragically with the loss of his partner, Jill Valentine.  You see a flashback to that battle where Jill sacrificed herself and knocked herself and Wesker out the window.  Chris is haunted with this memory throughout the game.  As the game unfolds you find out the fates of Jill and Wesker and how it all ties into the events in Africa.

The game play hasn’t changed since Resident Evil 4. While the over-the-shoulder camera improves your field of view, the stop to shoot mechanic of the game is as frustrating now as it was wit the first game in 1997.  True, it adds a bit of strategy, but overall, it is frustrating and distracts you from the experience.  Replay is added with unlockables and upgradable weapons and the ability to replay the game as Sheva.

This game ties up most of the plots threads since the first RE game.  If you are a fan of this series, this will answer many questions.

3.5/5