Ben's Week In Review: February 14
Happy Valentine's Day to all! If you're single, do you have the necessary fortitude to celebrate the enjoyment of others, or do you feel only bitterness? ;)
Can't decide if I'll like Star Ocean 5
For the record, one of my favorite RPGs of all time is Star Ocean: The Second Story. Its awesome hybrid combat mechanic, huge world and interesting characters kept me coming back for more and I ended up putting a good 150 hours into that game.
However, I haven't completed a Star Ocean entry since. I put about 40 hours into one on the PS2 (forget which one) and I did the same with Star Ocean: The Last Hope International. But I didn't finish either; while both are good games, neither held my attention to the end and eventually, I just got tired of the story and, to some extent, the gameplay. I think The Second Story was just the perfect blend of old-school and real-time mechanics and since then, the series has lacked a tightness and direction. That all being said, I'm intrigued by Star Ocean 5: Integrity and Faithlessness. The most recent trailer shows a lot of promise and if tri-Ace finally ticks all the boxes this time around, I might really love it.
But chances are better that I'll take to Kingdom Hearts III. And in the meantime, I'll get my RPG fix with the second and final expansion - Blood and Wine - for The Witcher 3. I still can't say enough good things about Hearts of Stone.
No, we don't need another AC this year and I'm worried about Resident Evil 7...
So, Ubisoft confirmed what we kinda already knew: For the first time since 2009, the publisher won't release a new Assassin's Creed this year. I'm fine with that, especially because they might be approaching a franchise reboot with a structure similar to that of The Witcher 3. I'm not that excited about ancient Egypt but as I maintain that the AC titles have the most atmospheric, believable, immersive and authentic atmospheres in all of gaming, I shouldn't be too worried. I will also add that last year's Assassin's Creed Syndicate was utterly fantastic and arguably the best installment to date. So it's not like the series has gone downhill; anybody who says it has is just a blind fool. But it's true that we don't need another new entry in 2016.
Secondly, I hear we might get a Resident Evil 7 launch date at E3 this year. All I have to say is that the developers better have settled on an approach. Resident Evil 6 wasn't a bad game but it suffered from the most obvious lack of identity I've ever seen. And then there was the frustratingly mediocre Operation Raccoon City, which also proved that Capcom really had no idea what they wanted to do with this IP. They're clearly struggling with the idea that pure survival/horror won't cut it in the mainstream market any longer, as the masses will only respond to faster and dumber (which is also why AC has, quite frankly, gotten a lot faster and a lot easier over the years). But no matter what, they have to make up their minds.
Any guesses as to what we'll see with RE7?
Personal gaming update
If you haven't checked out Firewatch yet, I strongly recommend it. If you're looking for a unique narrative-driven title that really makes you think, and you're a fan of games like A Wolf Among Us and Tales From the Borderlands, you'll probably like it. The concept is thought-provoking and the immersion is extremely high. The balancing is a little off and they leave a little too much to the imagination so there are some bland stretches, but all in all, it's darn satisfying.
And I'm finally getting a chance to play Syndicate as I've wanted to ever since it came out. It's just so good. Jacob and Evie are really solid characters, the gameplay is tighter than a drum now, and even the rope-launcher greatly enhances mobility. The story might be the best yet and yeah, I think I love this city even more than I did Italy. In fact, gonna go play now.
2/13/2016 Ben Dutka