PS4 Review: WWE 2K16

WWE 2K16
WWE 2K16

I’m not really into wrestling.  I can go years without watching it on TV.  When I do, it is usually to figure out who’s who in the latest wrestling game.. I enjoyed the PS3 versions of the WWE 2K series (and the SmackDown Vs Raw before that) for the create a wrestler features that allow me to create my own characters and fight.  I especially like creating my own Divas (WWE’s term for women wrestlers) and had many of them, from original ones to ones from other video games, movies, TV and music.  2k Games (who took over for THQ when they went bankrupt) brought the series to the PS4 last year with WWE 2k15, but without many of the features that it had in the last gen, including the ability to create female wrestlers.  That make many fans, including me, unhappy with the game.  This year, however, 2K has brought back some features that the fans demanded.

WWE 2k16 is a wrestling game based on the WWE wrestling promotion.  It is developed by YUKE’s Future Media Creators and Visual Concepts and published by 2K Sports.  It is the 17th game in the WWE game series (going back to WWF SmackDown! from 2000) and is the second for the Current console generation.  The game  is available for the PS4, Xbox One, PS3 and Xbox 360.  This review is for the PS4 version.

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Main Menu

The game, similar to the previous versions  has three game modes.  Play allows you to play any match type, from One on One, Tag Team, Triple Threat, Fatal Four Way, 6 Man, Handicap, Tournament and Royal Rumble.  All match types, save Royal Rumble are playable by wrestlers of either sex (though inter-gender matches, sadly, are still not allowed.)  Then there is MyCareer, where you create a (male) wrestler and play as he rises to become a WWE Superstar.  This year’s 2K Showcase features Stone Cold Steve Austin as you replay some of this most memorable matches and unlock challenges in Special Objective sub-mode.  Finally WWE Universe is back, as you can manage the different brands, add you won created wrestlers and play through a year of WWE shows, or ones that you create.

There are a lot of match options in the game.
There are a lot of match options in the game.
Creation Suite
Creation Suite

Yes, the creation suite is back and features the return of Create-a-Show and Create-An-Arena.  Using the logo manager, you can upload custom images to the WWE 2k servers and download them into your game.  You can use it to recreate your favorite wrestling promotion’s set up (such as WCW or TNA) or create your own (The Brazzers arena I downloaded had an interesting design that makes the floor seem REALLY sticky.)  You can also use custom images to create you own title.  You can even choose how Lillian Garcia announces your created title with up to 8 choices  You can also create tag team belts and choose what gender completes for them  Yes, women’s tag team belts are possible and you can have you custom Diva compete for it.

You can create you own champiuonships from Singles competition,,,
You can create you own championships from Singles competition,,,
...to Tag championship for either gender.
…to Tag championship for either gender.

Yes, the Create-a-Wrestler mode has corrected its omission and brought back custom Divas.  There is a variety of custom faces available, which is good because the face morphing tools is complicated  as ye adjust the shape of face parts by moving points around its shape.  You can also map a face form a picture though sometimes it looks off.  There is a variety of hair for each sex (more for males) though for the females, it is missing a few styles from the older games like high double ponytails.  The body shape slider is pretty straight forward, though the height scale is a mess as it doesn’t use feet and inches but a scale from 5.2 to 8.0. were 6.0 comes after 5.9.  and created divas, by default, are as tall as default created males.

You can choose a face template or adjst it manually
You can choose a face template or adjust it manually

As for the CAW clothing options, there is definitely more options than in WWE 2K15.  There are costume parts inspired by WWE performers in a separate tab and there is a  large selection of generic costume parts for both the head, torso and bottom.  There aren’t too many outlandish parts (though there are still halos and angel and demon wings, although smaller) and the sexes do not share parts, with the females not getting clothes like a karate gi and the males unable to wear female clothes,  Also there are no options for patterns, although you can upload a pattern as a logo an apply it to your character’s outfit, though results can be hit or miss.  The announcer name are now made of three parts, a nickname, first name and last name.  There is a large number of options and you can leave one or two blank if you wish.  You can also have one additional attire for your CAWs  Other than that, it is the same as last year.

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You can use uploaded logos on your CAWs
Or use WWE logos, shape or letters to get what you want.
Or use WWE logos, shape or letters to get what you want.

The Create-a-Moveset and Create-an-Entrance also return.  The Create-a-Moveset is the same as last year, with some moves having their name changed to something generic if a Superstar is no longer with the WWE.  There are only 16 “generic” move set templates, each given a name to reflect what past Superstar inspired it (Charisma Personified is definitely Jeff Hardy).  Unfortunately there are no generic Diva inspired templates (AJ’s would have been nice, but Lita’s and Trish Stratus’s are available via paid DLC).  The Create-an-Entrance again features both an Easy Creation (copy an existing Entrance, adjusting only the video and music) or Advanced (adjust actions on stage, on ramp, outside and inside the ring separately).  Unfortunately there are not many generic entrances and no joke ones like “guy on cell phone” or “Clumsy wrestlers.”  the one they do have are let overs from wrestlers that go pulled from the game, like AJ Lee and the Great Kahli.  and the worse is not custom music.  This is more of an oversight of the system hardware as both the PS4 and Xbox One do not allow you to save music on the system (though they even removed it from the PS3/Xbox 360 versions).  If there is a way around it, I hope they include it in the next game.

I so wanted Nanci Drew's entrance theme to be 'Dead Honey" by Die Mannequin
I so wanted Nanci Drew’s entrance theme to be ‘Dead Honey” by Die Mannequin

You can also upload and download CAWS, custom arena and logos from the WWE 2k16 servers.  But, like the last few versions, the service is really unstable sometimes with the server becoming unavailable.  2k is working on it but it is a bone of contention on the forums.  There is also a limit of 20 downloads every 24 hours and a maximum of 100 custom logos (including those on CAWs or arenas you have downloaded.

You can customize your own arena to play in.
You can customize your own arena to play in.

For those of you who care about the actual wrestlers, there are a lot.  The game post over 120 WWE superstars (not including DLC), but there is a catch to it.  There are some wrestlers that have different version of themselves as individual characters.  Besides wrestles like Mick Foley who had multiple personas (Dude Love, Cactus Jack and Mankind are all in the game, there are two Big shows (one as Paul Wright) two Chris Jerichos, two Kanes, two Mark Henrys (None of which is Sexual Chocolate) two Rocks, three Stings, three Undertakers, three Triple H (including him as Hunter Hearst Helmsley), and five(!) Steve Austins (including Stunning and Superstar versions, with hair!).

Universe mode can see rival form between wreslters
Universe mode can see rivalries form between wrestlers

When it does down to it, what makes a game is the gameplay and graphics.  The controls are almost the same as last year, with the pin kick out meter being different (hate it).  The graphic are nice, but looks the same as last year and there are a few glitches here and there.  Characters wearing long coast during entrances can have a glitch where the bottom of the coat gets stretch across the arena.  Sometimes the announcer messes up the names.  And, on occasion, when she wins, WWE Diva Paige turns invisible and you see an empty ring during the post-match celebration.  She doesn’t do that in real life.  At least, not the last time I checked (and I googled.).

Invisible Paige. She might be naked.
Invisible Paige. She might be naked.
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Lita (available through paid DLC) with a custom logo

Another thing that bothers me is with the custom logos.  While the uploading of the logos is great and a lot of folks are doing creative things, you have to upload the image and then download and it is available to everyone.  You cannot delete any images that you upload either.  I wish there was a custom logo move that you can create your own signs and/or be able to upload something that would only be downloadable by use and would disappear after 24 hours.  That way, if you wanted to create a logo that some might find objectionable that you wanted for you own person use, you could create it yourself offline in the game

Tag Team match
Tag Team match – Avril Lavigne and Candi Cane Versus the Bellas

WWE 2k16 is definitely better than the last game and is on the right track to improving even more.  While the creation suite is great, I still want to see modes like Create-a-Finisher and Create-an-Entrance movie return.  Custom story mode needs to make a comeback as well, as with being able to take game video and uploading them to You Tube and Twitch, I think a lot of folks would have a field day with it  Custom music would be nice, but between the hardware not allowing it (a step back) and the legality of being allowed to upload music (even though the game videos don’t include the Entrance music, even the WWE’s own!) I don’t see it happening.  I was ready to give up on this series after 2k15, but 2k16 roped me back in.  Fans from the THQ days and those who like the series up to 2k14 should check it out.

3.5/5

Helen Huntress and E.Z. Ryder
Helen Huntress and E.Z. Ryder
Candi Cane (from Rumble Roses)
Candi Cane (from Rumble Roses)

 

 

PS Vita Review: Freedom Wars

Freedom Wars
Freedom Wars

Freedom Wars is a third person action role-playing game developed by SCE Japan Studio, Shift and Dimps and published by Sony Computer Entertainment.  It is a first party-developed Intellectual Property (IP) developed exclusively for Sony’s PlayStation Vita system.  It also works on the PlayStation TV micro console.

Your Crime: Amnesia Your sentence : 1 000 000 Years
Your Crime: Amnesia
Your sentence : 1 000 000 Years

Set in the far future of 102014, the Earth has been devastated by years of war and neglect.  Humanity survives throughout the world in 50 different underground City/States called Panopticons, where they try to find a way to restore the surface.  Resources are scarce though, and the Panopticons find themselves at war over them, especially over people with skills and knowledge they need.  To fight these wars, they employ convicts turned soldiers called “Sinners.”

Sinners earn time off their sentences by performing missions "For the Greater Good."
Sinners earn time off their sentences by performing missions “For the Greater Good.”

A Sinner is a person that is deemed to be a drain on the Panopticon’s resources.  They have no skills or talent that makes them a useful member of society.  In fact, the act of being born is considered a crime and, unless you prove to be a valuable resource, you are sentenced to 1, 000, 000 years for your crime.  Each sinner is given the opportunity to reduce their sentence by performing missions for their government, battling other cities for resources on the surface and saving citizens from giant robots called Abductors.

You create your Sinner at the start of the game.  This is Helen.
You create your Sinner at the start of the game. This is Helen.

You start the game creating your Sinner, who was injured and battle and lost his/her memory (my Sinner was female so I will refer to the main character as female).  Your character, stuck between life and death is approached by a mysterious girl named Aries.  She acts as a guide, telling the Sinner that she will meet a girl soon, one who can changes the world forever.  You choose you characters sex looks and name, (in my case Helen) with a minimum choice in wardrobe at first.  You also choose the sex and look of your Accessory, a humanoid robot that acts as you prison guard, counsellor, supervisor and partner all in one.

You can also customize your "partner" called the Accessory.
You can also customize your “partner” called the Accessory.
Aries is some horned (?) chick that appears to you from time to time.  She has a role for you to play that will change everything.
Aries is some horned (?) chick that appears to you from time to time. She has a role for you to play that will change everything.

Combat in the game is simple.  You can choose melee weapons such as swords and polearms  for close up combat or use ranged weapons, like machine guns, rocket launchers and gatiling guns,  You also have something called a thorn, which is a vine like tendril on your left arm.  You can equip three types of thorns:  Binding, which lets you grapple onto the enemy or walls; healing, which creates a healing aura around you and your comrades; and Shield, which raises the defence of your team.

Nina is a Sinner you will meet.  She likes to party.
Nina is a Sinner you will meet. She likes to party.

Speaking of teams, you will rarely fight alone in this game.  At the very least you will have your Accessory with you.  You can arm them with weapons you buy/find/make and give them simple orders in battle.  You will also work with other Sinners, who you can also order to help with the battles.  It is important to lean how to give commands, especially during missions in which you have to rescue civilians before the enemy takes off with them.  You can also go online and have other players fight with you.

Abductors hold Citizen' captive within their body.  AS the game progresses they get tougher.
Abductors hold Citizen’ captive within their body. AS the game progresses they get tougher.
Missions are complete when all of the Civilians are rescued.
Missions are complete when all of the Civilians are rescued.

In between missions, your Sinner is in a cell.  You have no rights at first; you are not even allowed to lie down (Helen got ten extra years for that.)  You can earn that rights as well as others rights by spending Entitlement Points, which can also be used to by weapons and equipment.  As you earn more rights, you eventually can go outside your cell and talk to other inmates and progress to citizens, which can lead to more missions and opportunities.  As you progress to the higher level of Sinners, you will get better accommodations, freedom and time off of your sentence.

At least your cell has a large screen TV.  Too bad nothing is on.
At least your cell has a large screen TV. Too bad nothing is on.

This game is pretty fun. I like the character creation mode in that it lets you create the protagonist of the story that you are playing.  The gameplay is great, too.  I understand it is similar to the Monster Hunter franchise in execution (another series I have not played. much to my dismay) when it comes to co-op and taking down large monsters (in Freedom War’s case, the Abductors).  It takes some strategy to beat the mission and knowing how to used your allies effectively helps

Your Panopticon praises you as you progress but never fails to remind you that you are scum.
Your Panopticon praises you as you progress but never fails to remind you that you are scum.

Freedom Wars is available on physical card or through download via PSN.  Check stores and online for prices in your area.

4.5/5

You choice of wardrobe is limited at first, but you .can earn the right to mre choices
You choice of wardrobe is limited at first, but you .can earn the right to mre choices

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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

Review: Soul Sacrifce for PSVita

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Soul Sacrifice is a third person action RPG set in a dark medieval fantasy world. You start the game off as a prisoner of an evil wizard named Magusar, who plans to sacrifice you to gain more power. Your only hope for escape comes in the form of a talking demonic book, named Librom. Librom promises that the power to escape and defeat Magusar is within his pages, which contains the journal of a nameless wizard. You read the entries and relive the wizards life, changing the book with the choices you make and gaining mastery of dark magic.

Your Guide, and Necromonicon wannabe, Librom
Your Guide, and Necromonicon wannabe, Librom

The games quest are divided into the wizard’s journal entries. The main quest follows the wizard’s career and rise to power. You battle monsters with magic items called offerings and destroy them. Once defeated you have a choice to either Save or Sacrifice. Saving restores some of your health and restores the monster to their original animal or human form. Sacrificing kills them and restores power to your offerings. You can also sacrifice any companions you have that have fallen in the battle for more power, both offline and online.

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You can recruit characters that you encounter in side quests to help you. If they die, you can always sacrifice them!

You can also sacrifice parts of you body to unleash a powerful attack on your opponent at the cost to your stats. For example, sacrificing you skin unleashes a fire wall attack on surrounding enemies but permanently reduces you defense by half. Such sacrifices can be undone using Lacrima, which is gained by wiping “tears” from the large eye of Librom.

Side quests provide their own challenges
Side quests provide their own challenges

There are multiple side quests that open up as you complete the main quest. Side quest can unlock new abilities and new companions to help you on the main quest. They also help to flesh out the world of Soul Sacrifice

Soul Sacrifice is a brand new IP for the PS Vita, which the system needs more of. The game is challenging and will not be a easy one to beat. The repay value is high as you can customize your characters looks and abilities. It is not as unforgiving as Demon Souls, at least in the beginning, but if you want a challenge, it will not disappoint.

4/5