Paper Mario: Color Splash

      There are few games in this world that I get so excited for that I’m willing to pay for an entirely new console just so that I can play them.  I had previously not owned a Wii U up until this weekend as I thought the whole concept of a tablet/console hybrid would lead to gimmicky gameplay.  While wandering around my local gaming store, my boyfriend and I just happened to meander on over to the Wii U section.  I noticed a simple little title called “Paper Mario: Color Splash” and after a moment’s hesitation, ended up purchasing not just this game but also a brand new deluxe version of the Wii U.  Yes, I know there will be an entirely new console coming out in March but the fact remained that there was a brand-new installment to my absolute favorite franchise of all time out NOW on the Wii U.  This need for my fix was enough to drop the money needed to buy this soon to die out console just to get this game.

       Now for a little backstory, I have been playing the Paper Mario franchise since the days of Paper Mario 64.  As a young girl, my brother and I would routinely visit the Blockbuster at the bottom of the hill that we lived on.  Normally we would go immediately to Super Smash Bros. or one of the Mario Parties on the N64.  But, it was on one of these occasions that I made the fateful decision to rent the original Paper Mario game and play it over the weekend.  I beat it in one weekend and for the following months, this was the only game that I would rent and play.  I finally ended up saving enough money to buy the same game from Blockbusters during one of their game clear outs and to this day I still have it.

      The Paper Mario franchise is unique in its gameplay, storytelling, and graphics.  You control Mario, in a 2D world with 3D elements.  The game is a weird child of the original side-scrolling puzzle platformer movements with some vertical elements thrown in depending on the areas that you go in.  The battle system is turn based and you engage in battle by either attacking or being attacked by enemies in the field.  What makes this game genre stand out from the other Mario games is the writing and storytelling in this game.  It’s very clear that from the get go, the writers were basically given free rein to create characters and dialogue for the entirety of the game.  In every game, it’s like taking a bath in a google search engine.  Characters in the world will routinely not only reference cannon from the past and present Mario games, but also will throw in references to real world problems or occurrences that we, as players, experience as well.  The whole thing sounds like a hodgepodge, but it all comes together beautifully and helps build the player/character connection that is so important for an RPG.  Finally, just the name of the franchise suggests, the concept of “Paper” is vital to the overall aesthetic of the world.  All the characters appear as if they were paper cutouts and even elements of the world react as if it were made from paper.

      It’s been unfortunate, but this franchise has been suffering from an identity crisis for the past two installments.  I call it the Nintendo Curse, and it’s when a game that has garnered popularity from out of nowhere gets drastically changed in how it plays, to accommodate some gimmicky feature that Nintendo pushes out.  Comparing Paper Mario 64 (N64) to Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (GameCube), it is very clear that the latter is a direct sequel to the first.  The artistic style, map design, turn based mechanics, characters, etc. are all very similar.  This is not a bad thing.  The first game was amazing, and the sequel basically took everything that was good about the first and brought it the next level.  I have a theory that it was because this game was released on the GameCube which did not have any potentially gimmicky add-on’s that Nintendo’s executive team could get overly excited about (except for those mini discs).  

      Then the Wii came out, and that’s when Paper Mario got Wii-erd.  We saw the release of Super Paper Mario which took the turn-based fighting mechanic and the unique world design, and effectively through it out the window.  Now fans essentially got a pure side-scrolling puzzle platform game.  Since it was on the Wii, you now had the capability to rotate your Wiimote and suddenly the world would flip and you would be able to move vertically instead of just horizontally.  Just like with the original side-scrolling Mario games, but not like with the original Paper Mario games, enemy battles were now fought live out in the field by simply attacking the enemy rather than being fought in a battle screen.  This was not widely received with fans, and although I give the creators props for attempting a new way of battling, I am happy they have since moved away from this.  The writing and story aspects were essentially the same, but the gameplay mechanics and the world design were so different that it put a bad taste in fans mouths.  Nintendo changed a game to make it “better” even though no one was asking for it.

      With the rise in popularity of the Nintendo 3DS, it was no surprise to anyone that there would be a Paper Mario game released on this console as well.  This was the first time this franchise made it to the handheld market.  Initially, a lot of fans were excited for sticker star as it looked like the game was moving back to its roots.  No longer were we forced to deal with the Wii mote gimmick of flipping your control to get to other portions of the map, instead, the maps appeared to be designed in the same manner of the first two games.  However, in true Nintendo fashion, they realized that the 3DS had two screens to utilize and decided to bring this into the game.  The battles went back to a turn based system, but this time instead of choosing your attacks and then deciding which enemy to use the attacks on, you had a sticker book.  The sticker book was essentially the screen in your palms and the stickers in the book were your attacks that you had to attack the enemies.  You would attack in consecutive order, down the line of enemies, using the stickers that you had in your book as if they were normal attacks. You also had what were called “Things” that were 3D objects you found throughout the world that could turn into stickers.  You would use these stickers to solve puzzles throughout the world as well use during boss battles.  Since most boss battles had a one-shot mechanic that could only be countered by a certain “Thing”, it was of the utmost importance that you kept track of these. Not only that, but this games story was literally thrown out the window by creator Shigeru Miyamoto.  It has come to light since Sticker Star’s lukewarm reception that Miyamoto informed writer’s and developers of this game that “story wasn’t important” to this game.  The lack of story and the gimmicky use of the 3DS dual screen capability caused this installment to be the least well received of the Paper Mario franchise.

     Needless to say, Color Splash had its work cut out for it.  At this point in time, the fans and the developers are at odds as to where this genre should go.  Developers are continuing to try and utilize the usage of their systems mechanics whereas fans just want to the games to return to their roots.  When the initial trailer for Color Splash was shown at E3, many fans were disappointed as it appeared to just be a rehash of Sticker Star in the battle system.  This was a fair disappointment, as the battle system in this game is annoying, to say the least.  To attack an enemy, you now select a “Card” from your “Hand” (IE your Wii U gamepad).  The whole concept of Color Splash is repainting the world of Prism Island, finding the missing paint stars, and defeating Bowser who has covered himself in Black Paint.  This paint concept bleeds into the battle system as well, and before you can play your card you must then “Paint” it with your stylus.  Once painted, you then flick it towards the top of the Wii U pad and then Mario attacks.  This is the only part of the game that feels remotely gimmicky, and I honestly wish they would have done away from this as it is a big part of what is holding this game back from true potential.

     Honestly, this is the only part of the game that in any way feels gimmicky. The story, though not nearly as in depth as the first two games are charming and the world feels alive.  I had an odd relationship with this game during the first little playthrough because it was still so different from what I know this game has come from.  Initially, the game appears to be another sticker star with its weird battle system and no story whatsoever.  For the first two chapters, the story is very disjointed and one can’t help but feel disconnected from the world that they are trying to ultimately save.  Around the second chapter, the writing starts to pick up and at times you feel as if you are back with the original Paper Mario games.  This is such a nice relief and I hope that with the next installment we as fans finally get the game we have been asking for. The only disappointing part of the story is the fact that the only NPC model the creators used in this game were Toads.  Yes, they give the Toads unique personalities, but all toads are the same and have the same underlying characteristics. Not only that, but frankly, no one gives a damn about Toads.

      With this latest installment of the Paper Mario franchise, I can’t help but wonder where the series will go next.  The thing is, although, at times gimmicky in true Nintendo fashion, this game is surprisingly a lot of fun to play.  I’m overall satisfied with my purchase, and although the replay value is just not there unlike its predecessors it’s a step in the right direction that this franchise has been missing for a while now.    The Switch is scheduled to come out sometime in March of 2017, and with it the death of dual screen capability and/or motion capture.  I’m hoping by making this “Switch” the Nintendo higher ups are done playing games with their fans heartstrings and begin to get serious about making their beloved franchises shine.  For Paper Mario: Color Splash, I’ll give them an 8 out of 10.  It was a genuinely good game, but I’m a little afraid of where this series will go since this is the third game in a row that has incorporated the gimmicky game mechanics.  With the Switch, I’m not seeing how they will manage it at this point in time, but Nintendo is always full of surprises…

Review: Civilization 6

By the time this review goes live, Civilization VI will already have been available for nearly a full month. I’ve been playing the game regularly since it launched on October 21st, and I had been intent on giving it a proper review since well before I actually got my hands on it. It was important to me that I invest an appropriate amount of time in the game before adding my reactions to it to the larger discussion surrounding its release, and as a result, I intentionally held off on releasing a premature review. The good news is that Civilization VI is a great if imperfect game, one that re-defines the series in some important ways, and I’ve had a very enjoyable time getting to know it better.

“Civilization VI is a special game worth remembering even among the surfeit of terrific releases this season”

At times I’ve wondered if I were already too late. During the holiday season, when major and long-anticipated titles release literally on a weekly basis, even great games get forgotten about, and it feels like there’s a very limited window of opportunity to discuss even those titles that would demand a lengthier conversation had they been released at any other time of the year.

But Civilization VI is a special game worth remembering even among the surfeit of terrific releases this season. It’s been the better part of a decade since Civilization V, and the disappointing (although not necessarily bad) spinoff title Civilization: Beyond Earth failed to sate the series fans hungry for a true sequel. It’s been a long time coming, and as with the titles that came before it, Civ VI represents the very beginning of a new era for the series, one that we’re sure to see continue on for the coming years with both official expansions and community-created mods.

The challenge to reviewing a Civilization game is that each new entry in the series is built upon the same stable and consistent foundation as its predecessors. The general concept, rules of play, and formula of the series remain largely the same such that each new release feels more iterative than revolutionary. It’s a bit like a sports franchise in that way, although lacking the mandate of an annual release cycle that might burden, say, the Madden franchise, Civilization’s mechanics have yet to ever feel stale or uninspired to me. The roster gets changed up, the game modes might see some tweaking, the visuals get an overhaul, but just as Madden is required to adhere to the (typically) unchanging rules of its sport, Civilization VI plays out largely in the same way that each of its predecessors has. There are still multiple paths to win the game, for example, ranging from military to scientific or even religious victories, and the turn-to-turn progression of the game is relatively unchanged.

 The leaders in Civ VI have more personality than ever thanks to wonderful animations and delightful art design
The leaders in Civ VI have more personality than ever thanks to wonderful animations and delightful art design

It’s a formula that doesn’t really need to be changed and one that defines the series and helps to define the entire 4X sub-genre of strategy games. But Civ VI is more than a mere facelift for the series; Firaxis have implemented a number of new ideas this time around, most of which are great and well-implemented while others are not so much.

The biggest and most publicized one is, of course, the new approach Civ VI takes to how cities are developed. Settlements in previous Civ games were self-contained objects that evolved over time as upgrades were researched and developed. As you progressed through the ages, your humble villages would grow into skyscraper-filled metropolises, but they’d never expand beyond the borders of a single tile or hex. Any structures you implemented over the course of their growth would simply enhance the city’s production, research, or military strengths, and players would interact with these structures via a self-contained city UI.

In Civilization VI, city upgrades take the form of “districts,” each of which occupies its own hex. Not all hexes are created equal for district building, however, and different districts benefit from different types of terrain and surroundings. For example, universities, which enhance your scientific research rates, benefit from proximity to rainforests and mountains. Other districts benefit from being adjacent to the city center (itself treated as a district). Likewise, wonders occupy their own hexes, but in order to construct a desired wonder, you need not only to have unlocked the relevant research criteria but also the appropriate terrain and proximity to certain natural features in order to build them. The Great Pyramids, for example, can only be built on the desert plains, and the Colossus requires a nearby harbor with a lighthouse.

“I managed to eek out at least one scientific victory even stumbling through the game with next to no forethought as to how I’d develop my city”

It’s a cool expansion to how cities are developed and managed, and it requires deliberate city planning in a way that Civ players have never really had to worry about. My first few times through the game, I’ll admit the entire concept was overwhelming, and I don’t yet believe I’ve mastered the mechanics. At the same time, I managed to eek out at least one scientific victory even stumbling through the game with next to no forethought as to how I’d develop my city. As a result, I’m inclined to believe that the system rewards careful, strategic players far more than it punishes newcomers.

Civ VI has also split the research tree of the past games in half. Scientific research still produces new technology that allows you to develop new buildings or units or harvest new resource while Civic research unlocks new forms of government and policy cards that provide bonuses to various play styles. Early examples of these cards include one that provides a bonus +5 attack to combat encounters with barbarians while another improves the rate at which worker units are developed. It’s an interesting system that higher-tier players will likely be able to exploit to their great success, although I found that I often neglected or forgot to update my government policies regularly enough or that I simply wasn’t dynamic enough in my own use of them.

Speaking of workers, Civ VI takes a slightly different approach to how resource hexes are developed and roads are constructed. Laborers are now designated as Workers, and each one has only a limited number of actions they can perform (three for most civs, although China gets a unique buff that allows all workers to complete one additional project). Because these units must be developed or purchased from your city like any other, deciding when to spawn them and how to utilize them is a more deliberate and tactical process than before. Workers can develop land and resource tiles first while roads are paved automatically as traders begin to work their routes between cities and later more deliberately as military engineers become available.

There is a multitude of other changes that Civ VI brings to the table for the series, many of which are far more subtle than these. One other worth mentioning is that the conditions for winning the game now include a religious victory, although that victory path seems to have come at the expense of a diplomatic victory condition, as the player can no longer win the game through traditional diplomacy. While religion as a game mechanic has seen some cool expansion and integration into the game, I found it’s a less than satisfying path to victory that could be largely boiled down to rushing to found a religion as quickly as possible, and then “bombing” neighboring civs with as many missionaries as possible. It would have been nice to see some additional diversity in the types of units and strategies available to a religion-focused player, so maybe that’s something we can look forward to in future expansions.

 The map-like appearance of the game board, particularly the way the fog of war peels away, is very charming
The map-like appearance of the game board, particularly the way the fog of war peels away, is very charming

At the end of the day, the changes Firaxis have made to the Civilization formula seem to fit in just right. As has often been the case for me, at least, the way Civilization VI works seems so natural, that the mechanical distinctions between it and its predecessors start to blur, and I mean that as a credit to the game. There’s enough going here to make Civ VI feel like a new experience without demolishing the familiarity of the game or diminishing that drive to see what’s going to happen in your next turn that the series is famous for.

Civilization VI may not be exclusively a visual update of the series, but that’s not to say that it doesn’t feature a major graphical overhaul. Its general aesthetics seem to have been polarizing within the series’ fan base, but I think it’s the best-looking game in the series. The game board is colorful and diverse. Forests and rain forests run into one another, oases dot the deserts, and mountain ranges stretch out majestically across multiple hexes, which while technically uniform in size and shape, appear to shift and conform to accommodate whatever unique detail they feature.

Unit and building animations are surprisingly detailed and delightful, too, with easily overlooked flourishes that reward careful examination. A hex developed with a plantation structure will, for example, feature an animated fountain and a lit window when occupied by one of your cities citizens. Combat units like Japan’s samurai carry out attacks with unique animations: dashing forward lightning-fast like a character in an anime before cleaning and sheathing his katana. So much love and attention has been paid to these unit animations, that it’s truly disappointing that you’re all but compelled to disable them. In singleplayer, keeping movement and attack animations enabled draws out the length of each turn as you have to wait for the game to render any and all enemy animations within your line of sight. In multiplayer, this problem is particularly egregious, and the friends I played with and I agreed unanimously to turn them off.

“At the end of the day, the changes Firaxis have made to the Civilization formula seem to fit in just right”

Civ leaders, too, have been given a dramatic animation overhaul, and they all seem to have stronger identities and personalities as actual characters in the game. Queen Victoria of England comes across as prim and proper, friendly yet condescending. Cleopatra’s haughty yet flirtatious. Teddy Roosevelt’s real chummy, quick to give you a pat on the back or a punch in the arm. And Ghandi always seems like he’s got a knife behind his back, which feels appropriate given his history in the series. They’re all wonderfully voiced and animated, and just plain charming.

And—as strange a thing as this is to say—the game’s fog of war system is utterly gorgeous. The game board appears as a blank map, the corners of which peel away as you explore it to reveal the terrain below. As you lose line of site, however, it’s replaced again with a map-like, hand-drawn representation of the hex in its last known state. While I’ve read some complaints that the fog of war system is confusing, in part because of its tan color, I’ve always been too enchanted by it to mind terribly. That said, one of Civ VI’s imperfections is its challenge to intuitively and quickly convey information to the player, and this is only one example of the problem.

Finally, players once again have the option to switch back and forth between the game’s default view and a less hardware-intensive “strategic view,” the latter of which has received a similarly, perhaps even more significant overhaul from its appearance in Civilization V. Strategic view does away with combat and environmental animations and replaces the game board with a vibrant cartoon-like visualization. Civ games have always played like highly complex board games, but they’ve never looked quite so delightfully like one as Civ VI does in strategic view. It’s tempting to say that it’s my preferred way to play the game, but the fact of the matter is that I found myself switching freely between the two on my desktop PC while I’ve played in strategic view exclusively on my laptop out of sheer necessity. My one complaint about it is that unit icons, while consistent with the default game view, seem almost out of place in the strategic view’s aesthetic, and I initially had trouble discerning which units were located where.

In fact, if there’s one overt complaint that I have about Civilization VI, it’s that the game really seems to struggle to convey important information to the player, particularly to newcomers. Like previous Civs, the game tries to advise players on where to found their settlements, which units or districts to build, and how to extract the most benefit from your districts, but I’ve often felt—especially in my first few games—like the game just wasn’t communicating enough to me. The searchable help index returns, and there’s a wealth of knowledge about the game’s intricate systems, but all too often I found myself being pulled out of the game in search of what should have been a simple explanation. For instance, I didn’t learn until partway through my second full playthrough that I could literally buy great people with gold or faith. In another case, I had great artists ready to produce great works, but I discovered that I didn’t have anywhere to actually deploy them so they sat instead in Tokyo, twiddling their thumbs and just generally wasting their genius.

To be fair, I found in almost every case that the game did have a way to get me the information, but figuring out how to extract it was always more difficult than it should have been.

 Strategic mode is utterly gorgeous and lends the game even more of a board game feel than it already has inherently
Strategic mode is utterly gorgeous and lends the game even more of a board game feel than it already has inherently

There are other UI issues, too, that fall into this same category. Alerts might go off to signal a barbarian approach, but I wasn’t sure where they were coming from or why the alert was triggered. Recent alerts show up above the end turn button in the lower right-hand corner of the screen, but it’s sometimes difficult to tell when new notifications replace old ones, and I’ve found the game sometimes struggles to call up the notification’s explanation when I hover over them.

In fact, there seem to be some pervasive issues in the overall responsiveness of the UI. I’ve found that I sometimes have to issue commands multiple times. Directing a unit to move to a new hex may not register depending on where in the hex I click, and telling a unit to move beyond its limit for the turn doesn’t produce any immediate action at all but merely queues up the action to take place once you’ve ended your turn. At one point I declared war on another civilization, watched my opponent draw his sword in the diplomacy screen, but then found I still couldn’t cross his borders with my troops. I had to re-declare war, and it was as if the game had simply disregarded my previous attempt.

These kinds of issues creep up frequently, and at least a handful of them are the result of human error on my part, but they give off the sense that Civ VI didn’t get quite the level of polish I’ve expected from the series. Even still, they never really managed to hamper my enjoyment of the game, and the frustrations I felt from them were always minor at worst and humorous at best.

“Its general aesthetics seem to have been polarizing within the series’ fan base, but I think it’s the best-looking game in the series”

More deflating to the game are its AI quirks, which I hope we’ll see improved over the course of post-release patches and future expansions. For the majority of the time, the AI civs appear to act as expected, but I’ve not yet shaken the feeling that something just isn’t working quite right under the hood. Part of this is simply the nature of the game, however. Each civ leader is assigned two agendas. One is public and static to that particular leader (like a trait or characteristic). You can always count on Teddy to get testy if you start a war with a city-state or civ located on his content, for example. The other agenda is secret and picked at random. This is supposed to make for some cool diplomatic dynamics and reward players for collecting intel on their neighboring civs, but it can also result in some erratic behavior. A leader might, say, detest other civs with weak military strength while also being biased against civilizations prone to war. Other times it feels like neither agenda really matters, and getting the other civilizations to like me feels all too often like a roll of the dice.

The way Civilization VI handles variations in difficulty settings can also feel unfair at times. Playing on Emperor, I’ve found that scouting a civilization you plan to attack may reveal a relatively weak military, for example, but the moment you declare war, they’re able to mass produce military units in quantities simply unavailable to human players. I believe this is an intentional mechanic implemented in order to add challenge to the game superficially, but it undermines some of the tactical tools it makes available to the player.

Still for every one of the game’s quirks—and I call them quirks intentionally, because none of these issues ever really feel like game-breaking shortcomings—it gets so much right. Civilization VI is every bit as addictive and fun as its predecessors, and it’s already working its way to being my favorite entry in the series to date. The changes Firaxis have made to how cities are developed in particular have added a level of depth and interaction to the Civ formula that for me have really re-defined the series. I’m looking forward to what they have planned for its future, but in the meantime, Civ VI already feels like the new king of 4X.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I still have time to actually play the game some more before I call it a night. Even if it’s just for “just one more turn.”

Review: Gears of War 4

As a ring into October, I challenged my followers on Twitter again to engage in yet another “Tina’s First” poll to decide what would be the next big leap into a new game franchise.  This was a big step as I had just come away from an incredibly hard month that caused me to shy away from all video games.  I needed something to just veg out on and was so excited when Gears of War 4 was selected as my latest game to test out.  I remember watching the gameplay demo at E3 and thinking just how stunning the game looked and how pumped the fans in the audience seemed to be excited for what was to come.  Needless to say, I was jumping aboard the hype wagon for a game I had never been a part of.  To say that this is my first exposure to the Gears of War franchise would be misleading.  I have seen about 20 minutes of gameplay from the first game in this series.  I own all the original three games in the franchise because the Xbox I purchased last Christmas was the Gears of War special edition, but I have never once played through them (much to the dismay of my gear head boyfriend).  Looking back, I consider the purchase of this special edition Xbox a foreshadowing of the fact this game has become one of my favorite co-op games.

One thing that got me pumped about this game was the fact that there was a female as one of the four main characters you play throughout this game.  As a female gamer, often I end up playing a man in the more ‘shoot ‘em up’ style of game.  This is something I’ve accepted and for the most part, I do not have a problem with.  Gaming has, historically, had a larger male audience than a female one and so it makes sense that developers would appeal to their audience.  But when a game markets the fact that there is going to be a key playable character who is female, I’m going to be a little excited and want to choose the girl.  When I bought this game, I got super excited to play the campaign mode as Kate.  It was thoroughly disappointing when I found out that if you are playing the single-player campaign mode, you are forced to play the main protagonist JD.  It is only with the co-op playthrough of the campaign mode can you get the option to choose to play either Kate or JD’s friend Del.  This is one thing I don’t understand, because the game plays out in almost the same manner regardless of if you play as JD or if you play as one of the other characters.  There is only the slightest difference but not enough to warrant a complete removal of this option from the single player mode.  It irked me because it meant that the character that I wanted to play, the character that was sold to me throughout the E3 presentation, and the character that I could relate to the most was not an option unless I had a friend who wanted to help me out for the campaign mode.  Do you know how hard it is to convince a friend to play co-op CAMPAIGN mode with you?  It’s not easy, especially if all they want to focus on is getting skins in Horde mode.  If you are going to sell a female character in your presentation, at least make sure it’s a viable option across both solo and co-op campaign so that way your female audience doesn’t need to try and find a friend to play with.

After I bribed my boyfriend to play co-op campaign mode with me, and after purchasing a brand-new controller to actually play co-op, we were able to play through the game.  It was surprising to me how easy the controls could be picked up by someone new to the series.  The game is kind in that theprologue not only functions as a sort of catch up in the story for those, like myself, who are not as familiar with the story of Gears of War, but it also functions as a tutorial for basic functions you will use throughout the game.  During this prologue, you also get familiar with some of the guns you will find in the series which is a huge plus to learn before getting into the actual game.  The motions were fluid and smooth and the punishment for not getting it done perfectly the first time around was not harsh which was a huge plus.  Even in the actual game itself, the games mechanics just felt so polished.  There was never once a moment where I felt like the game was bugging out or the controls were clunky.  From the beginning to the end I felt totally comfortable and within my element, which made for a very pleasing gameplay experience.  This kind of ease is so crucial for when you want to try and revamp a series as it helps transition new players into your game and ensure gameplay longevity.  Coalition did a great job at maintaining existing fandom while appealing to the newer generation of Gears.

 The actual story itself is decent, but it’s not amazing.  It kept me engaged while I was playing through it, but it’s not something that I will be playing again.  There are collectibles spattered across the game that you can discover throughout your adventure, but that is the only incentive to go back and play through it again.  There was a lot of throwback to the previous games that I was only able to pick up on because my boyfriend is an avid Gearhead and could clue me in on some of the key moments that went over my head.  Regardless of the throwbacks, the games didn’t rely on these moments to write the story of this game.  I appreciate this immensely, since it shows that the writers at Coalition are serious about revamping this series and are not looking for an easy way to make a buck from a popular game franchise.  I very much got the “Here’s where we’ve come from, here’s where we’re going” vibe from the games writing and it makes me extremely excited to see what’s in store.

All in all, this game was a lot of fun to experience.  At this point, I’m still playing the game but I am playing on Horde mode only which is a ton of fun.  If any of our readers are curious as to where to start post beating campaign mode, I highly recommend this since it’s familiar mechanics but does require you to multi-manage your base and mitigate damage a bit more.  I am not a great shooter in video games, so I don’t feel comfortable going into the PVP realm just yet.  I’m hoping to in the next week or so I’ll be ready because I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about it.  This game has created a new fan in me, and at this point, I’m planning on going back to play the first three games in this series within the next few weeks.  This game is heavily multiplayer oriented as the campaign story mode only lasts about 8-9 hour’s total.  This was disappointing as this was a $60.00 game and as a predominately RPG oriented gamer, I would’ve liked to see a little bit more from this side.  But this game has other perks surrounding the different modes including different skill points or skins.  The split screen co-op is also a huge bonus since this is a feature that is sorely lacking in many video games as of late.  All in all, this game gets an 8 out of 10.