Monday, 19 December 2016

Final Fantasy XV Review (No Spoilers)

I realize that I'm a bit late with this review but as a long-time Final Fantasy fan, I wanted to properly immerse myself in the game before giving my final opinions on it. So, after finishing the main story, completing around 100 side quests, collecting all 13 Royal Arms, defeating the Adamantoise, toppling the level 120 superboss Naglfar, receiving all the legendary weapons and in the process unlocking the game's platinum trophy, I'm finally ready to share my thoughts on Final Fantasy XV.

Graphics & Design

Final Fantasy XV is a beautiful game. There's no denying that. I played this game on a regular PlayStation 4 and during my playthrough, I didn't notice any significant graphical issues. There were some texture pop-ins at times especially when flying the Regalia over denser areas but for the most part, the game looks incredible. Besides that, the frame rate never fell to stupidly low numbers. Even in hectic fights against 20 or so enemies with sparks and particle effects going on, it still felt relatively smooth.

Considering the sheer size of the world map, it's amazing how much detail was put into it. Each structure and creature was purposely designed in order to fit the world of Eos. What's even more astonishing is how all the different structures are put together. You get a sense that the map was properly planned out in order to make it feel like a real lived-in world and for the most part it does feel that way. Each area you visit looks and feels a bit different but at no point during the journey from one place to another do you feel a jarring and sudden change in aesthetic design. It all flows together very well. The only complaint I have is that many of the outposts in the game reuse the exact same diner and motel designs with very minor tweeks. It's by no means a big issue but I would have liked to see a bit more variety in that respect.


The music in this game is absolutely amazing most of the time. While you do hear some uninteresting music when you enter certain areas on the map, these instances are few and far between. Adding to the enormous amount of music from past Final Fantasy titles available in this game, most of the new music composed specifically for Final Fantasy XV is brilliant as well. Yoko Shimomura did a truly fantastic job. The original pieces she composed for Final Fantasy XV like Somnus and Gratia Mundi are just beautiful even on their own. Final Fantasy XV's battle theme may have become my favourite battle theme in the series. Even the classic Chocobo theme has been revamped in a way that enhances the musical depth but at the same time preserves the charm of the original. Overall, Final Fantasy XV's music is some of the best I've heard from any game in a long time.


Being a long-time Final Fantasy fan, I was a bit worried about the new active battle system but after spending a few hours with it, my worries faded away and I began to understand why they opted for the active battle system over the classic turn based system. Firstly, what you need to understand is that the active battle system in Final Fantasy XV is not like a typical hack and slash. You do have control over a lot more than just swinging your weapons about. It's hard to explain it in words but if you took some time to get acquainted with this new battle system, it's immensely satisfying even if, like me, you're not very good at it.

(Gladio's epic faceplant!)

The primary complaint everybody seems to share is regarding the camera. The camera does struggle to keep the attention on Noctis during battle. It works fine in open areas but when fighting in denser areas, you will find yourself looking at some leaves or a wall or whatever structure is present at that particular location. This is a bit annoying but I can understand why this hasn't disappeared even after the huge patch. Programming the camera for an open world RPG such as this isn't a simple task. What makes it even more difficult is Noctis' fighting style. Can the camera be improved? Yes, I think it can be slightly improved. Will it ever be perfect? No. Realistically, the real time camera angles could only be significantly improved if the developers also altered Noctis' fighting style and the environment design. That seems very unlikely. That said, the camera issue does not make the game unplayable in any way. It can become annoying at times but it still works quite well for the most part.


Here lies my biggest complaint. It's not the story itself because I love Final Fantasy XV's story. It's an amazing tale which I shall not spoil. The complaint I have is in regards to the pacing of the story. Due to the poor pacing, the game's story just feels rushed. There are many points throughout the story where I felt the plot could have been fleshed out a bit more. Some characters felt as though they weren't as integral to the overall plot as they really were due to their lack of participation in the story being told to the player. Many have expressed their disappointment and outright hatred for Chapter 13 which, again I shall not spoil. All I have to say is that Chapter 13 isn't actually bad. It's actually very appropriate to the plot of the story. However, the way the game is paced makes Chapter 13 feel like such a sudden change and this has caused many players to dislike it. Square Enix have said that they will be addressing this soon. I'm not sure what they plan to do exactly but I just hope they don't change it too much and in the process neglect what that particular section of the game is supposed to be.

Side content

Once you're done with the main story, I'm sure you'll want to do more stuff with your now quite powerful party and thankfully that wont be a problem at all.

Just like many Final Fantasy games before it, Final Fantasy XV has a lot of side content. This includes monster hunts, fetch quests, optional dungeons, secret bosses and mini-games. While not all of Final Fantasy XV's side content is incredibly interesting, there are quite a few that will keep you excited long after you've finished the main story. Some of the optional dungeons are amazingly well designed and are extremely fun to attempt even if you aren't quite able to reach the end. The secret bosses provide a welcomed challenge besides just looking incredible. Fighting them takes quite a bit of skill and quite a lot of patience. Overall, despite some quests being overly simplistic, the side content in this game is abundant and enjoyable.


This is what I believe to be the most important aspect of any game. A game can be very well designed and developed but if it doesn't charm you into loving it as more than just a game then a good game is all it will be. I'm very glad to say that Final Fantasy XV has become more than just a game to me. Throughout my time playing this game I've grown to love the world of Eos along with all its quirks. It's a game that is truly worth more than the sum of its parts. 

Score : 8.7/10

This game is incredibly enjoyable. I love it but as a reviewer I have to be objective so I simply cannot overlook its flaws. All things considered, 8.7 just sums it all up nicely in my opinion. Hopefully the game will become even better after all the updates and DLC have been added to it. 

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Sunday, 11 December 2016

The Last Guardian - Do People Still Care?

I'm sure most of us are aware of The Last Guardian's extended development time. It was announced at the 2009 E3 event but had been in development since 2007. It was believed to be canceled on more than one occasion. It was supposed to be released as a PlayStation 3 exclusive but plans changed and it was then announced as a PlayStation 4 exclusive. Now, after all those setbacks, the game has finally been released and we can finally go to a shop and get our hands on in. This begs the question, "Do people still care about this game?".

Even the game's director, Fumito Euda, was worried that the long development time might affect the game's sales numbers but it turns out that The Last Guardian has been doing very well in terms of pre-order sales. In a recent interview with MCV, Sony's product manager, Joe Palmer, revealed that pre-orders for the game was exceeding expectations.  He went on to say, "We've seen a really positive response to the Collector's Edition in particular, which despite its higher price point proves there's a huge appetite for the game."

The Last Guardian - PlayStation Experience 2016 Trailer | PS4

The new trailer shown at PSX 2016 looks amazing. It has obviously gone through a significant graphical upgrade since its initial reveal. So far the game has been very well received by reviewers, receiving high scores from several parties. Gamespot gave it a 9, Metacritic has it at an 83 and Destructoid gave it an 8.5. We'll have to wait for the game's sales figures in order to determine if it has suffered from the long development cycle but as we've recently seen from Final Fantasy XV's incredible sales numbers, the fans are willing to support a well developed game despite its long development time.

So, to answer the question, do people still care? Yes, I believe they do.

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Monday, 5 December 2016

The Last of Us Part II - What We Know So Far

As I'm sure you all know, Naughty Dog recently announced The Last of Us Part II at PSX 2016. If anybody still hasn't seen the trailer, please do so by clicking here. Later on, there was a panel discussion regarding The Last of Us Part II involving Neil Druckmann, the writer and directer for the franchise, Ashley Johnson, the voice of Ellie and Troy Baker, the voice of Joel.

The Last of Us Part 2 - PlayStation Experience 2016: Panel Discussion | PS4

The entire discussion is almost 40 minutes long and includes bits about the voice acting process for Joel and Ellie as well as how the dialogue in the game is developed. Among the various topics being discussed were a few details regarding their upcoming sequel to The Last of Us. So, here are a few things we now know about on The Last of Us Part II.

Play As Ellie

Joel was the leading role and the main playable character in The Last of Us but in Part II, it will be Ellie. We will be in control of her throughout most of, if not the entire game. It goes without saying that Ellie will feel quite different to control compared to Joel. We've been able to play as the younger Ellie for a short period during the first game as well as in the Left Behind DLC but I'm sure she will be quite different this time around. 

Hate, Not Love

Game director Neil Druckmann has made it clear that the new game will be a continuation of the story in the first game and will also be focusing on the same two characters we've grown to love. However, he said that while the first game was about love, Part II will be about hate. The Last of Us had its story based around the relationship between Joel and Ellie which started out as a business arrangement but became something much more by the end of the game. The first game highlights how Joel and Ellie progressively become more trusting and loving towards each other but we can expect this new game to go in a completely different direction. 

Ellie is now 19

This game will be set about 5 years after the events of the first game. Ellie was just 14 when we got to know her in The Last of Us and soon we will be able to get to know a more mature and also more hateful version of her in Part II. I'm sure we can all remember how strong and independent Ellie was even at the tender age of 14. Now just imagine how a 19 year old hate fueled Ellie will be. 

New Music by Gustavo Santaolalla

If you're wondering who this is, Gustavo Santaolalla composed the theme for the first game. Yes, he's the one responsible for that chilling acoustic piece that plays during the first game and he's also been working on new material for the sequel including a revamped version of the original The Last of Us theme song. There will also be completely new compositions in The Last of Us Part II which I expect will be just as beautiful.

New Engine

Naughty Dog always tries to produce games which don't just have great stories and characters but great graphics as well. Naughty Dog worked hard in order to make Uncharted and The Last of Us some of the most graphically impressive games when they were released and The Last of Us Part II will be no different. Naughty Dog is using a new graphics engine for The Last of Us Part II in order to achieve a higher degree of fidelity. Neil Druckmann said that with the new engine they will finally be able to zoom in on a character's eyes, something they couldn't properly do before. Judging by the trailer, there is no doubt in my mind that The Last of Us Part II will look absolutely amazing.

There is still no release date or even a release window for The Last of Us Part II so we'll just have to wait a bit longer. I, for one, have no problem waiting so if anybody from Naughty Dog is reading this, please take your time on this project and deliver another wonderful game for us to enjoy.

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Sunday, 4 December 2016

Naughty Dog has been busy

Naughty Dog has just made a whole lot of people very very happy with their announcements at PlayStation Experience (PSX) 2016. Sony obviously wanted to start the show with a bang as well as end it with a bang and Naughty Dog was able to cater to both.

Uncharted : The Lost Legacy

UNCHARTED: The Lost Legacy - PlayStation Experience 2016: Announce Trailer | PS4

The very first thing we saw at PSX 2016 was a nearly 9 minute long trailer for a new Uncharted game entitled "The Lost Legacy". This time. it seems we'll be playing as Chloe instead of the beloved Nathan Drake but by no means is that a bad thing. Chloe clearly doesn't lack charisma or physical prowess. This was made very clear by her performance in the newly revealed trailer. Another character also seen in the trailer fighting along side Chloe is Nadine, the woman who made light work of the brothers Drake when she engaged them both in a fist fight in Uncharted 4. The trailer has been confirmed to be the very beginning of the upcoming game. So far, what we do know is that the game will be set in India but we don't know how the story will pan out just yet. Whatever Naughty Dog has planned for this upcoming game, I'm sure they will will pour their hearts and souls into it like they've always done. 

The Last Of Us Part 2

The Last of Us Part II - PlayStation Experience 2016: Announce Trailer | PS4

Naughty Dog closed the show with a trailer for a sequel to their other the massively popular game, "The Last of Us". We've been asking for this ever since we reached the end of the first game back on PS3. The trailer starts out showing Ellie's hand trembling as she begins to pluck the strings on a battered old guitar. Ellie's singing was haunting enough but the most chilling part came at the very end of the trailer when she says "I am going to find and I'm going to kill every last one of them.". Who could she have meant? What caused Ellie's blood lust? What has happened to her since the end of the last game? I'm sure you're all just as excited as I am but we'll have to wait just a bit longer. 

I'm sure I'm not the first to say this and I surely won't be the last but it is truly a good time to be a PS4 owner. Thank you Sony, Thank you Naughty Dog. We can't wait to give you more of our money.

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Thursday, 1 December 2016

"Final Fantasy died after 10" ...Nope!

First off, sorry for the long absence and utter lack of content. I've been quite busy over the past few months. A lot's changed recently! Now, back to the topic at hand.

I've heard this so many times lately due to the recent release of Final Fantasy XV. "Final Fantasy died" some say after 7 or after 8 or after 9 or 10. Let's get this straight right off the bat. What you actually mean is that there hasn't been a Final Fantasy that appealed to you as greatly as that last one did. I love Final Fantasy 10 just as much, maybe even more than you and I also love the ones that came after it. I love Final Fantasy 12. I love the entire Final Fantasy 13 series along with Type-0. Just because you didn't like the new ones doesn't mean the series "died" and Final Fantasy XV proves that the series is very much alive.

As we all know, Final Fantasy 15 was released just a few days ago and it is glorious. I've played it for 10 hours or so and I'm thoroughly enjoying every bit of it. The banter among the 4 lead characters is very enjoyable, the world is beautifully designed, the animations are amazing and so is the creature design. Granted, the camera is a bit wonky but overall it's a great game! Also, no matter what the elite "FF has died"-ists say, it's a great Final Fantasy!

I will surely  be spending a lot of time playing this game over the coming weeks and I will be writing a lot more about this game because it's a new Final Fantasy and we don't get those very often. Also, because I absolutely love it and can't stop thinking about it. While you're reading this, I'll probably be playing it or writing some other article about it. If you haven't played Final Fantasy XV yet, I suggest you give it a go even if you've never played a Final Fantasy game before. You might just like it.

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Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Thank You For Delaying Final Fantasy XV

In case you haven't heard, Final Fantasy XV has been delayed from its original release date of 29th September 2016 to 30th November 2016. News of the 2 month delay has been quite poorly received by some but there are also those - including myself - who understand the reasons behind this delay and are welcoming it. If you're upset by this delay then that's fine, you could choose to continue to be upset and curse the game to the depths of hell, it won't affect the rest of us. However, let me just try to explain why this delay isn't a bad thing.

Firstly, in the video recently released by Square Enix (which you can watch here), Hajime Tabata explained that the reason the game is being delayed is because he and his team want to deliver a Final Fantasy title of the highest quality and they feel that the game can still be slightly improved. He also added that if they were to release the game in its current state, while many would be happy with it, he would surely regret not taking the extra time to reach the standards he's set out to achieve. In my opinion, this is completely understandable because if I were to work on a project for 10 years, I would want to release a finished product that I could truly be proud of. I respect that and I hope they will be able to reach their goal and provide a product that surpasses all our expectations.

Secondly, Hajime Tabata said in the video that he would like to include all the content they have at launch on the game disc without anybody having to download a substantial update on day one. Downloading a day one patch may seem like a trivial matter to some but there are people in the world who don't have a very stable or fast internet connection. Some would argue that the ones who do have good internet connectivity shouldn't need to suffer  because of those who don't. I say that this is one of the best decisions made by any game developer in recent years. Modern gaming has become quite annoying with developers using downloadable content as a means to release completely broken games and just patching it later on. Gone are the days where we would be able to go to a store, buy a game, get home and just play a complete game without having to worry about internet connectivity or patch downloads. Hajime Tabata and his team must feel the same way and I'm glad they do.

So, that title isn't a joke or a facetious remark. I'm genuinely thanking Hajime Tabata and his team for being brave enough to delay the release in order to provide a game that they could truly be proud of. I will gladly wait an additional 2 months for this game to be released. So if you disagree with me and feel that this delay is absolutely preposterous, feel free to vent your anger in the comments or do whatever you need to do to calm yourself down. I'll just be enjoying some other games while calmly waiting for the release of Final Fantasy XV. 

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Wednesday, 3 August 2016

My Personal Gaming Confessions (Part 1)

I love gaming, I do. I've spent a significant portion of my life playing games and sometimes, while playing certain types of games, I tend to do things I'm not too proud of. So, I just wanted to confess some of the slightly odd things I do while playing games for your reading pleasure.

1. Over-leveling

I do this in every single game with a leveling system. I'll absolutely refuse to go into the next area until I've become so immensely powerful that every enemy in the current area immediately drops dead due to the sheer awesomeness oozing out of me, or until I get bored of fighting the same enemies while overlooking the same scenery. I know that by doing this I might be eliminating the challenge the game offers and with it the excitement of overcoming those challenges but still I choose to do so not because I'm scared of what lies ahead but because I just want to become the most overpowered badass in the game as early as possible... and because I'm a bit scared of what lies ahead, don't judge me.

2. Distracting Myself

While we're on the topic of being scared, let's talk about horror games. To be completely honest, I'm not a big fan of horror games. I know many people are and I have tried to become one myself but I guess it isn't for everyone. I'm a grown man who doesn't enjoy jump scares, yes, okay, whatever. You can laugh, it's fine. Although I'm not a big fan of horror games, I have played a few because for some reason I just really wanted to but I didn't play them exactly how they're meant to be played. When I play a horror game I always make sure to have the volume really low while also having some music of my choice playing in the background. For example, I played Silent Hill 4 on PlayStation 2 while listening to Metallica's S&M album on repeat. I also played the first Dead Space while listening to a playlist containing songs by Green Day, Sum 41 and Avenged Sevenfold. By doing this, I'm far less likely to be jolted off my seat by a jump scare and I'm far more likely to actually keep playing the game. 

3. Button Mashing

Yet another game genre I'm not too good at, fighting games. While I am quite decent at fighting games like the Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm series, the same can't be said for 2D fighters such as Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter. To be completely honest, I'm a bit crap at them. However, I have been able to win a considerable amount of matches by simply button mashing my way through. Whether it be an A.I. opponent or an actual human being facing me, many have fallen victim to my sometimes effective button mashing. I'm not proud of it, not at all. I pains me to admit that all my wins in Street Fighter have been due to vigorously moving my fingers around my controller without any clue as to what the hell I'm actually doing. 

So, please don't think any less of me after reading that and if you do, well that's fine too. While I'm not exactly proud of these odd little things that I seem to have made a habit of, I enjoy the games nonetheless. So, play games however you want to play them! You're the one having fun! Happy gaming!

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Wednesday, 27 July 2016

"I bought a game for a system I don't have"

So today I bought a game which I have no way of playing because it's for a system that I do not own. Okay, that was a lie, I didn't buy a game for a system I don't own. In actual fact, I bought two! I went to a game store and picked up Pokemon Y and Pokemon Omega Ruby which are both for the Nintendo 3DS. At this point in time, I do not own a 3DS. I do plan to get one eventually but I don't have one right now which means I can't play those games for the time being.

Well, after I bought the games, I decided to post a picture of them on Instagram with the caption "Have you ever bought a game for a system you don't have?" and I was a bit relieved to find out that I'm not the only one who has done this. A few people commented on the picture admitting that they've done the exact same thing and continue to do so without feeling awkward about it. I was surprised at first but quickly realized that it shouldn't really be surprising since there are plenty of valid reasons why you would buy games for a system you don't own. 

Just off the top of my head, people may choose to buy games for a system they don't own with the intention of having that game ready to play whenever they do decide to get the system. That's my reason for buying the games that I bought today. I do intend to get a Nintendo 3DS XL as soon as possible. Besides that, some might choose to buy certain games as an investment. It's a well known fact that some games are quite rare and progressively increase in value over time so it makes sense to buy such a game even if you don't own the system it's meant for. It would probably just sit on a shelf for a few years but it might end up tripling or quadrupling in value and that's never a bad thing. Other than that, some collectors may want to own a game purely because it looks good. I completely understand that because some games come with incredibly interesting cover art which makes me want to own a copy even if I'm not that interested in the game itself. 

So, there's nothing wrong with buying games for a system you don't own. There's nothing wrong with buying a system and not playing any games on it. You're spending your money, not anybody else's so spend it on whatever makes you happy. 

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Monday, 25 July 2016

Remember Split-screen Multiplayer?

Those hours of fun just sitting on the couch with your mates without having to worry about servers or wi-fi connections, remember that? I do. It wasn't too long ago that we were able to put a game disc in, pick "Split-screen multiplayer" on the main menu and play the game with our friends in the same room. We would bring over our own controllers, get some snacks and drinks, gather around the television and play games together. Good times...

As the gaming industry has progressed, we aren't allowed to have that nearly as often with modern games. While there are some games that offer an offline split-screen mode, the vast majority only cater to the online community. As it stands, in order to play together in the same room, most games require each player to have their own console and their own copy of the game. Even in the same room, sitting next to each other, it's still netmork multiplayer or nothing. Some would argue that online multiplayer on modern consoles is a good thing because it allows you to play with your friends without having to actually meet up. It makes playing games with people from far away much easier. It also allows for a large number of players to play together on a single map. There are so many things that online multiplayer allows us to do that split-screen cannot and I absolutely agree! There is absolutely no way for split-screen multiplayer to allow players from far off locations to play together or accommodate 60 players on a single map. That said, there's no way online multiplayer would be able to capture the sheer joy of a few friends staying up through the nigh playing a game in the same room on split-screen. 

Don't think that I'm trying to incite a war between split-screen and online multiplayer, that would be ridiculous! I'm not opposed to having online multiplayer, not at all. Online multiplayer must continue to be available in all suitable games because it is an incredible feature that can no longer be absent. However, I would like to see split-screen multiplayer make a comeback. I know that some would argue that that's a stupid thing to wish for because "online multiplayer is so much better and you're just making a fuss because you're a noob!" or something to that effect. Let's ignore that completely. Another popular argument is that it would be near impossible to have split-screen multiplayer for modern games due to the processing power needed to run the game even for just one player. Of course, if the game struggles to reach 60fps for just one player, it would be near impossible for it to run a decent 4 player split-screen, right? Well, I ask you this, how many times have we seen something supposedly impossible brought to life in the past 20 years? Many, many times. So, it's entirely possible and I hope I'm not the only one who would like to see split-screen multiplayer become mainstream again.

While I'm happy that modern games are becoming more detailed due to the technology available, I do hope that we don't lose too much of what used to be commonplace in gaming. I'm sure that anybody who's read my previous articles would know that I'm very - and some say, weirdly - passionate about having manuals and that's another thing we're losing but I won't get into that again. The gist of it is this, while games are being improved and new features and peripherals are being introduced, I hope we retain the things which we all enjoyed so much growing up. Let us have split-screen along side online multiplayer modes. Please?

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Saturday, 23 July 2016

Personal Gems: Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm (PS3)

This is the second installment in my "Personal Gems" series. If you would like to check out the first one, you can find that right here. So, here we go!

Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm was a PlayStation 3 exclusive released in 2008. It was the first installment in the now popular Ultimate Ninja Storm series which has since been expanded upon and currently has 4 main games in its lineup. This was one of the early PlayStation 3 games that really caught my eye. Even before owning my own PS3, I would always look forward to playing this game whenever I visited a friend's house for a couch multiplayer session. I admit I am an anime fan and I do enjoy watching Naruto so it wasn't very likely that I was going to dislike a game based on the anime but what's surprising is that I absolutely fell in love with it within a matter of minutes. Dattebayo!

Firstly, the game is amazingly beautiful. The game doesn't look extremely realistic like most newer games are but that's a good thing because it shouldn't be. As an anime based game, it shouldn't strive to look as realistic as possible, instead it should be able to emulate the art style of its source material and I'm very glad that it does just that! It makes use of cell shaded graphics and manages to capture the style and feel of the anime perfectly. In the single player story, you mainly play as Naruto and will be able to access new missions from different NPCs scattered throughout Konoha Village. The village itself is very well designed. When I eventually got my own PS3 and my own copy of the game, I spent the first few hours just running and jumping around the village exploring every nook and cranny with a wide smile on my face. I've played a few of the previous Naruto games on PlayStation 2 and have experienced their versions of the in game Konoha Village but none have ever provided a fully 3D modeled environment in which I could muck about in. After watching the anime for a number of years and vaguely recognizing the landmarks in the village, I can't tell you how good it felt to be able to run around and explore it for myself. 

They also did a great job with the characters. It's quite apparent that a lot of time and effort went into making the characters look and feel as close to they're anime counterparts as possible. The originally 2D characters are all modeled beautifully in 3D and look exactly as they should. Everything from the proportions of their bodies to their facial expressions are very well done which makes me - as a fan of the anime - incredibly happy. It's always great to play a game based on something you've loved prior to it and be able to take control of an accurately designed character. The characters also sound exactly as they should both in Japanese and in English. The voice acting is superb, as expected from an anime based game. Every character is voiced accurately from their style of speech down to even the simplest grunts during battle. All this comes together to ensure that each character is believable and allows the game to properly bring the Naruto universe to life.

While having great characters and environments are important, the core aspect of every fighting game is undoubtedly the fighting. If the fighting mechanics don't feel good, it won't be very enjoyable. Well, there's no need to worry about that because this game's fighting mechanics are brilliant. You might already be familiar with how the previous 2D Naruto games controlled but this game finally allowed us to fight in a 3 dimensional space. The fighting in this game is fast paced. Characters can move, attack, counter and implement various maneuvers at very high speed which pushes players to make split second decisions in the heat of battle. Each character also has a different style of fighting. For instance, some characters can attack much faster but deal less damage, while some are slower but make a bigger impact. Some are more comfortable fighting long range while some are better at close range hand to hand combat. It's great to see that they've taken the time to ensure that every character retains their individual traits from the anime even down to the way they are animated during battle.

Lastly, the story is what you would expect. It's an adaptation of the anime which means the story will pretty much stay true to the story in the anime. If you're a fan of Naruto and have watched the anime or have read the manga then I'm sure you would be familiar with the story. Still, it never became boring or stale. As a long time Naruto fan, seeing the story retold in the game brought forth a very welcomed sense of nostalgia. On the other hand, if you're not familiar with Naruto's story then you're in for a treat. The story follows the trials and tribulations of a young orphaned boy named Naruto Uzumaki who is a budding ninja with hopes of one day becoming Hokage, the head of the village. I won't give anything away but I will say that I personally love the story of Naruto especially the portion brought to life in this game.

I won't say that this game is perfect, I can't possibly make that claim but I will say that it's a very well developed game and one that is worth your time. It has since spawned multiple sequels which continue to follow the story of Naruto Uzumaki according to the anime. Every new installment has improved upon the foundation set by this game but this one will always feel special to me. This game was one of the reasons I wanted a PlayStation 3 so badly. In this modern age of hyper realism and competitive online multiplayer playgrounds, I'm more than happy to spend my time playing this offline, unrealistic, anime based fighting game. It's just one of those games that I'll always love.

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Thursday, 21 July 2016

5 Bad Current Gaming Trends

The gaming industry has changed over the years and so has the community. We now have access to much better technology in order to make games the best they've ever been but is that really what's happening? Over the last few years, there have been a few trends which have emerged in the gaming industry that I feel are quite disturbing. I'm going to point out 5 of them in hopes that they can be dealt with in the near future. All I want is for the gaming industry to produce increasingly greater games in the future.

1. Nonexistent Manuals

This might not seen like a very significant issue but it does bother me quite a bit. I guess I'm just used to getting a manual with my game and always expect one to be included. Manuals used to be included in every game box but they seem to have died off for the most part. Most games nowadays come with just a piece of paper with minimal instructions or maybe even just a web address printed on the back of the game cover. As a result, newer game boxes are disappointingly weightless. Let's be honest, we don't really need a manual but I do like to take the time to flip through them whenever I buy a new game and having one in the box just adds a little something which I personally really appreciate. Picking up a hefty game box with thick a manual inside always feels better.  

2. Unfinished At Release

Most games nowadays are released in an unfinished state. Whenever we purchase a full priced game nowadays, we would take it home feeling excited to play it only to be greeted by a day one patch which needs to download for the next 15 minutes while you attempt to read the nonexistent manual. Why did it become so incredibly difficult to provide a finished game on launch day which can be played without any further patches or updates? In the past, game developers were able to develop and release complete games which didn't need any further patches to fix any bugs but in this age of vastly superior technology, some developers struggle to even provide a stable offline experience.

3. On-Disc DLC

Downloadable Content might be the trendiest thing among developers nowadays. Almost every game released recently will have some sort of DLC intergration. DLC by itself isn't a bad thing, it can allow developers to make further improvements and add more content to a game after it has been released. Naughty Dog has been doing just that with Uncharted 4. They have provided multiple updates which have added a significant number of improvements on top of the initial game. However, not all developers are as noble. Some have deliberately removed or locked certain bits of content from a game before releasing it to the public. They are then able to provide these bits of content as paid DLC which can be purchased by the player afterwards. This means that in order to enjoy a part of the game which is already on the disc, the player needs to pay the developer even more money on top of the amount they already spent on purchasing the initial game. Does that sound acceptable to you? 

4. Mobile games

In recent years, mobile games have become increasingly popular. The number of people actively playing mobile games is considerably large which means that game developers stand to make a significant amount of money from the mobile games market. This can be very good, ofcourse. Developers could gain some revenue from mobile games and be able to put that money towards their main titles for consoles and/or PC. However, that isn't always the case. Some developers are reducing the amount of time and money put into their console/PC games in favour of mobile games which can bring in more money in less time. As a result, the games released for console and PC suffer from lack of detail, annoying bugs and glitches and poor optimization. This shouldn't be the case. The main goal of a game developer shouldn't be to gain a larger profit by any means necessary. A game developer should strive to develop incredibly great games that will be loved for decades to come, not cash in on the current trend in order to make a quick buck.

5. Always Online

There are quite a few games nowadays that cater to the online community and that's fine. There's absolutely nothing wrong with games that are made specifically for online competitive play. The issue here is with games that force the player to be online to play the single player story mode. WHY?? Why would you need to share a map with a few other players just to play the story mode? What's maddeningly sickening is that they don't even give you the option of playing offline. This means that if the online connection between you and the servers are jeopardized in any way, you can't play the single player story. This just means that the developer will be able to shut down the servers whenever they feel it's time for the players to purchase a newer version on their game. "If the old one doesn't work anymore, they'll need to buy the new one". Just another sign of corporate decisions being made with money in mind. 

The way I see it, all of the issues with the gaming industry now just stems from a lack of passion for games and an overabundance of corporate decisions. If developers were more passionate about developing truly great games, games that they can take pride in, then it could all change. If developers truly loved their craft and honed it to their absolute limits, I doubt the result would be anything short of spectacular. I truly hope developers understand that if they make a great game, players will appreciate the end product and they will still receive a hefty profit. 

Instagram: @beyond_just_games

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Gaming Community - The 10% (Idiots, Morons & Douchebags)

I've written an article about the 90% of people in the gaming community who are genuinely nice people who indulge in their love for games with others who share the same passion. Now, I'm writing about the remaining 10%, the ones who aren't matured enough to have a proper conversation without turning it into an argument or worse.

1. Trolling

Trolls are everywhere nowadays and they have no intention of actually having a respectful discussion about games. All they want is to annoy the others in the community by posting a snarky little question like "Why can't my PlayStation 4 play Halo?" or something along those lines. Some trolls take it a step beyond that by personally replying to people in the comments with incredibly offensive insults that involve race, religion, family and whatever else that pops into their tiny little minds. It's incredible how much free time they have to be able to do this. The only time they stop is to have their diaper changed, then it's back to the keyboard.

On a serious note, trolls never really have anything to discuss, they just want to have some fun by insulting people over the internet knowing that they won't be able to do anything in return. It's one thing arguing over an apparent issue but arguing for arguing sake is just about the most imbecilic thing to do isn't it? If they were actually gamers and do have a passion for gaming why wouldn't they be playing games instead of trolling other gamers in a gaming group on the internet? It really doesn't make much sense. I guess it's a way of portraying dominance where dominance is absent. They really are a sad bunch. I hope they grow out of this habit and learn to actually be a part of the community.

2. Scamming For Cash

Almost every gaming related group will have a few members who are in reality just scammers. They post games up for sale and insist that the deal is made without having to meet each other face to face. In reality, they don't really have any intention of selling any games. They're just hoping to get some money from the buyer without actually giving them the game. Online purchases from ebay and amazon are much safer since there's a seller rating system as well as a way to get your money back in the event of a scam but in gaming groups, there's no such thing so you wouldn't be able to do much afterwards.

Luckily, the rest of the community are very helpful and will always post a warning regarding potential scammers. They'll even share their personal interactions with the scammer in order to show people what to look for. A scammer's behaviour is always quite odd. They'll give various reasons on why they aren't able to post you the game or meet you even if you're incredibly near them. So, thanks to my fellow gamers in the community, I now know what to look out for should I ever intend to purchase a game from anybody.

3. Different Opinions = War  

Let me make this clear at the start, I have no problem with people not sharing my opinions on games. It would be completely unrealistic to expect everybody to share the exact same views on games but there are some people who are just outright douchebags. Different games appeal to different people. I like RPGs and racing games, some might hate them. I've also had no qualms about admitting that I like some games that are disliked by the majority of people who have played them, that's my choice. I have no problem with anybody who dislikes the games that I like or like games that I dislike. No problem whatsoever. I would usually reply with "Let's agree to disagree and keep the peace".

The problem I have is with the people who are persistent in pointing out that their opinion is the right one and everyone else needs to bask in their magnificence. There seem to be quite a few people who are dedicated to the cause of proving that their taste in games is superior to anyone else's. They seem to go out of their way to try and prove to you that this game you like so much isn't very good. That's as daft as trying to convince me that chocolate cake taste's like rotten eggs after I've already finished eating the entire cake. I don't need to be told that the games I like aren't good games. Just because you don't share my opinion doesn't mean you need to convince me that your opinion is correct. In the end, it won't matter what you say, I'm not going to magically agree with you and say that the game I liked so much 5 minutes ago is an utter turd. If you expect that to happen you might be an utter turd yourself. 

Sometimes there are those who like to compare similar games and are adamant that the one they've brought up is better than the one you said you like. The two games may be in the same genre with similar concepts and gameplay elements but, in their mind, you can't possibly enjoy both. There is a possibility that the comparable game is, in every measurable way, better than the one I enjoy but would that lead to me disliking the one I liked in the first place? No! I don't understand why this sort of behaviour is so prevalent nowadays. If somebody doesn't agree with you, isn't it common sense to just let them be? We just have different views on video games, hardly a significant issue by any means.

There may be some other disgusting things they do but for the most part, these are the 3 I've seen most often. I'll admit I was quite agitated while writing this so it may seem quite harsh but since it's directed towards those who don't like polite conversations, I guess it's fine. I understand that there will always be some sort of negativity wherever we go but I hope that our gaming community will remain a mostly positive place to converse and share our mutual passion.

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Facebook: @beyondjustgamesblog

Sunday, 17 July 2016

A Malaysian Video Game Collector (Game Hunting The Old Fashioned Way - Tips)

First off, I'm a local Malaysian who really enjoys playing and collecting video games. I've been a serious collector for about 4 years now and in that time I've learnt a few things on how to obtain the games that I want without having to spend an exorbitant amount of money. Games are quite expensive nowadays but there are ways to improve your collection without having to spend too much. So, as the title suggests, I'll be talking about the things I do when I go game hunting the old fashioned way which means no online shopping of any kind, just wandering about looking for games. I personally prefer going out and looking for games rather than ordering them on my laptop. Also, please note that things aren't quite the same in Malaysia compared to other countries. I might write a list of tips for game hunting outside of Malaysia in the future but for now I'll be focusing on 3 tips for collecting games within this beloved country of mine.

1. Second Hand Deals & Gems

Second hand games will always be much cheaper than brand new copies so it makes sense to take a look at them. In Malaysia, we don't have car boot sales or yard sales so we're pretty much left with actual game stores. The good thing is, most of the game stores in Malaysia are smaller, privately owned stores unlike the larger corporately owned game stores like GameStop so they're much more approachable. When I go game hunting, I always visit a few different stores to see what they have but I don't look at their main shelf filled with brand new games. Instead, I look at their used games section. Most stores will have used games, although some stores won't have a designated section so you might need to ask them to show you the used games they currently have. It pays to visit the same store again after a week or two to see whether they've added any more games into the second hand pile.

Obviously I look at used games because they're quite a bit cheaper than brand new games but that's not the only reason. I also choose to look at used games because in my experience, there are quite a number of uncommon/rare titles in the used games pile. We're actually quite lucky to be in Malaysia because for some odd reason, even though Malaysia is considered to be in Region 3, game stores stock games from other regions as well and the used games section often contains some uncommon games from different regions. Also, uncommon games are in low demand here in Malaysia due to the low number of actual game collectors. The vast majority of gamers are more interested in the newest, most recently released games. Because of this, game stores are likely to charge more for popular titles rather than rare ones which means these uncommon gems won't be very expensive at all!

2. Take A Peek

When you enter a game store, always try to look behind the counter to see if there are any interesting piles of games back there. Look for a box of games or maybe a stack of them on floor. They might be a bit hidden away so take a good careful look. If you spot something along those lines, just ask the store keeper if you could take a look at them. They should allow you to, and even if they don't you've got nothing to lose by simply asking. Don't be scared or nervous to ask to look at something in the store. You're not trying to steal stuff or attempt anything illegal, you're there to spend money on things that they're selling so you have no reason to be intimidated.

The reason I do this is most of the time the games they have behind the counter are a bit older and there might not be a demand for them anymore so they don't display them. However, this means that those games might be extremely cheap. These games are often brand new sealed copies just left to collect dust because nobody bought them when they were new. This also means that you will be able to haggle on the price. Since it's an old game that they weren't able to sell, they shouldn't be expecting to sell it for the price of a typical brand new game. 

3. Be Friendly, Be Smart

This is something that will help you in the long run. People often go to game stores, ask for the game they want, buy it and then leave. I like to try to get to know the people at the game store and at the same time make myself more memorable so that they'll remember me the next time I walk in. I'll always prefer to go to a game store where the owner and the people working there are friendly and actually love games. By talking to them, I can gauge whether they actually enjoy games or if they're just selling them for the money. If they turn out to be genuinely cool people, take the time to talk to them about the kinds of games you're interested in or what games you're currently looking for. This way, they'll know that you're a serious buyer and will be more inclined to help you out by maybe finding certain games or keeping a copy of a specific game for you. 

If you manage to find a good game store run by a good bunch of people, great! Now, while talking to them, please keep in mind that you're trying to build a relationship with the store and every successful relationship has to benefit both parties. You have to understand that they're running a business which means that they'll need to make some sort of profit at the end of the month to be able to keep their doors open. So, be respectful and be considerate when you're trying to agree on a price. If they recognize you as a regular customer, they'll be more likely to give you a good price so all you need to do is ask "Is that your best price?" and if it is, you either buy it or you don't. The worst thing you could do is try and force them to reduce the price even further. Don't give them a reason to stop wanting to help you.

There they are, 3 basic tips! Part of the fun of collecting games is in the hunt. Ordering games online is great but it's incredibly enjoyable to go around, explore new areas, visit new shops and then find some good games to bring home. During the past few years, I have even had several occasions when I was able to pick up about 10 quality titles for the price of a regular brand new game. So, if you're an aspiring collector in Malaysia, I invite you to give these 3 tips a try. Just make a list of games you want to own and go look for them. Since I haven't checked off all the games on my list, I'll be doing the same thing! So, hopefully we get lucky. I wish you many happy game hunting days to come!

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Facebook: @beyondjustgamesblog

Friday, 15 July 2016

5 Great Video Game Franchises (Part 1)

There are many games that have been made with a high level of quality involving each and every aspect of them which has led to these games being considered part of the greats. Games like Red Dead Redemption, Heavy Rain, Eternal Sonata and The Last of Us are some examples of this. However, There are some games that spawn sequels and are made into a trilogy or even a series spanning multiple titles over multiple generations of consoles. 

Sadly, many franchises have become increasingly worse over time due to bad corporate decisions like changing the game's core elements and shortening development time in order to keep up with the latest trends in favour of a larger profit margin. This type of behaviour by developers is becoming increasingly common in recent times, but that's a topic for another day.

Now, this list will contain 5 video game franchises which have at least 2 games and stay true to their original themes and are considered to be great by fans of their respective genres. The franchises listed will also be in no particular order. Obviously, there are more than just 5 great franchises but to fit them all into one article is frankly beyond my capabilities. So, here are the first 5!

1. The "Souls" Series

The Souls games are very well known for being very difficult and even maddening at times. They're also very well loved by fans for being so difficult. Fans have grown to embrace the challenge they bring and respect the games as true works of art. Although the Dark Souls series has been very successful with 3 installments currently released on 2 generations of consoles, the first entry in the Souls series wasn't Dark Souls. In fact, it was Demon's Souls, a PlayStation 3 exclusive released back in 2009. The series is developed by From Software, a Japanese developer known for games such as Armored Core, Enchanted Arms and Tenchu. 

The latest installment in the series, Dark Souls 3 has become incredibly popular among let's-players on YouTube and Twitch due to the potential for comedy when new players first experience it's crushing difficulty. Most games nowadays aren't very difficult and often start with a tutorial level to get players used to the in-game mechanics before supplying any real challenge but Souls doesn't do this. Instead, it throws the player straight into a monster infested dungeon in which the player is forced to learn the skills of proper combat or die.

2. Mass Effect

This is a series which is very highly regarded by its fans. It's an adventure in space after all! The game's story revolves around Commander Sheppard's journey and his efforts to save the galaxy from a threat in the form of mechanical beings called Reapers. The game is essentially a third person shooter role-playing game set in a galaxy in the midst of war which already sounds very interesting. It get's even better with the addition of dialogue choices. When speaking with an NPC, the player can choose from a few different dialogue options in order to steer the conversation in one way or another. depending on the choices the player makes, the resulting cutscene will be different. The choices can also affect the overall story.

Due to the various choices affecting the course of the story, this game has very high replay value. Many choose to start playing the game again right after finishing it the first time just to try out different dialogue options. Since the majority of players choose to do the right thing and act like a well mannered hero during their first playthrough, it makes sense to go through it again as a fully fledged douchebag.

3. Resistance

One of Sony's exclusive franchises developed by Insomniac, Resistance puts players in the brutal and harsh environment of war between humans and an alien race known as the Chimera. The story of the game centers on humanity's descend into extinction in a losing war against the other worldly foe. The environments become drearier and the game adopts a more somber atmosphere as the games progress. While Resistance 1 focused on large scale military operations, by the time Resistance 3 comes along, the fights against the Chimera are much more intimate while also being much larger in scale. 

All three games in the franchise have been very well developed. The character and environment designs are very appropriate to the darker theme of the game, quite a departure from the cutesy characters Insomniac are known for. The character AI is also impressive. All enemies and allies move and react as you would expect them to in a real situation. This means that the enemies can be brutally tough at times but never unfair. It's also astounding to see so many enemies and allies on screen with elaborate environmental effects without any framerate issues. It's quite clear that Insomniac have put a lot of care into this game's development. 

Aside from the single player campaign, this franchise had an amazing  multiplayer mode as well. While the usual multiplayer modes such as team deathmatch and capture-the-flag are present, Resistance also uses the multiplayer mode to fill out the story even more by allowing players to experience the war from a different perspective with a few friends.  Sadly, the servers have been shut down so any hope we have of ever experiencing it again is if Sony decide to release a remastered trilogy.

4. Pokemon

Where do I even start with Pokemon? Pokemon games have been around forever and are still well loved to this day. The franchise started with the realease of Pokemon Red and Green in Japan back in 1996 on the original GameBoy and shows no signs of stopping any time soon. Now, 20 years later, Pokemon games are still thriving and has reached it's 6th generation of Pokemon with Pokemon X and Y. The franchise will soon be receiving a new installment which will start the 7th generation in the form of Pokemon Sun and Moon. 

Pokemon games have evolved and have adopted many new modern mechanics along side updated visuals and character designs but the core elements that made the games so enjoyable so many years ago are still present. The main games' story always revolves around the player's journey as a Pokemon trainer. There are also many titles aside from the main games which add to the large amount of titles in the overall franchise. Currently, there are more than 50 titles in the franchise which span multiple generations of systems.

The games are also considered to be classics and are always in demand. Almost every game in the franchise is considered great by fans and are still sought after by players long after their initial releases. Even used copies of older games in the franchise still fetch a pretty penny today.  

5. Uncharted

"Sic parvis magna" - Greatness from small beginnings. It started as a unknown game back when everybody was playing Assassin's Creed, and now, this magnificent franchise has been recognized as one of the greats. The franchise currently has 4 main games and isn't likely to be expanded upon any time soon. Uncharted is a game which is heavily reliant on it's story and characters. Its story is undeniably epic and extremely interesting and so are the characters. The story follows Nathan Drake, a treasure hunter who is as skillful with a compass as he is with a machine gun. He constantly finds hidden dungeons, solves ancients puzzles and does extremely dangerous stunts only find find bad guys who need to be shot in the face. Overall, Nathan Drake's journey throughout the 4 games has been full of joy, sadness, peril and many surprises. 

In my opinion, these games don't need a multiplayer mode because the single player experience is already worth more than the game's asking price. However, they do include a multiplayer mode and it's actually really good. The latest installment in the series, Uncharted 4, provides a very interesting multiplater experience which includes some of the mechanics from the single player story like a rope which allows the player to swing over the enemy, drop down and punch them in the side of the head! The franchise's developer, Naughty Dog, has also been updating the game since it's release, providing new additions on top of the original content for free!

Uncharted is probably one of the best Sony exclusive franchises ever made. They are truly works of art and should be experienced at least once. If you have a PlayStation 3 or PlayStation 4 and haven't tried Uncharted for whatever reason, I invite you to do yourself a favour and just play them. A piece of advice, start from the first one and play them in order. Don't just skip ahead to the latest one because it has really nice graphics. To properly enjoy Uncharted as a whole, you'll need to play them from start to finish and get to know each character, only then will the overall experience be breathtakingly amazing.

If you haven't tried playing any one of the games in these franchises, please do. They are worth your time. We sometimes become overwhelmed by the sheer amount of new games being released, but it there's no reason not to take a step back to enjoy the amazing games already available to us. I'll add 5 more to the list next week!

Instagram: @beyond_just_games
Facebook: @beyondjustgamesblog

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Selamat Hari Raya, Gamers!

Today's the last day of Ramadhan and tomorrow we celebrate Eid al-Fitr or Hari Raya Aidilfitri. I'm sure most of us have already bought new clothes, new home decorations, new cookies and maybe even new games. It's always fun playing video games with friends and family around to share the experience. Some competitive multiplayer sessions could be quite fun as well! 

However, while we enjoy our food with friends and family, please remember to pray for those less fortunate than us. There are many out there who would love to have what we have, to wear new clothes, to eat delicious food and even to enjoy video games but sadly some don't even have enough to eat. So, let's keep them in mind while we enjoy our day.

Now, I just want to say to all my muslim brothers and sisters in Malaysia.. 

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri!

Maaf Zahir dan Batin! 

If you're reading this and you're not a Muslim, that's fine too! Don't be shy. Grab a ketupat or ten, get some lemang with that. don't forget the rendang and prepare to be heavier by the end of the day!

Danial Aziz
Instagram: @beyond_just_games
Facebook: @beyondjustgamesblog

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Gaming Community - The Good, The Rad & The Friendly

This applies to about 90% of gamers that are part of the many game related groups on Facebook. I'll be writing about the other 10% in the future so wait for that one, I've got a lot to say. For the most part, I genuinely enjoy being able to talk about games with such a large number of gamers. So, based on my experience, these are some of the reasons why gamers are a great bunch to have around.

Really Helpful!

This is very true of most gamers. If somebody needs help with something gaming related, they will try to help out if they can. I see this a lot on gaming groups on Facebook. If somebody has any questions about where to find a specific game or how much a game is supposed to be worth there are always other gamers who come to their aid by sharing their experience or by sharing a link to a helpful website. 

I've even seen a few posts asking for help clearing a level or a specific section in a game. These too are met with helpful tips by others in the community. There are things we  encounter when gaming that can't really be solved by a simple Google search so it's great to be able to ask a bunch of gamers for their input on the matter.

Always Interesting

Gamers keep things interesting. There's never a shortage of things to talk about with fellow gamers. Discussions can range from what upcoming game everyone's most excited for to which developer does everyone like most or even more nonsensical things like what would happen if certain characters from different games met eachother. It's never a boring conversation when it's with a bunch of gamers.

Share Information 

This is another thing I really love about these groups. Even though we might not know eachother in real life, we still make the effort to share new information regarding games, the gaming industry and certain things to look out for with other members in the community. I often see posts about new developments in the gaming industry which would include new console variations, new games, new content for existing games and even some exciting rumours. 

There are also posts that serve as a warning for other gamers to be wary of certain things happening in the industry or in the community itself. For instance, I've seen posts telling other gamers to be cautious when dealing with a certain seller who they've had a bad experience with. All these little things we do for eachother as a community really does add some positivity into an increasingly negative world.

No Discrimination

I've seen very little - if any at all - discrimination in the gaming groups I've been a part of. It doesn't matter where you're from or what you look like or what your beliefs are, when you're a gamer, you're a gamer and you aren't treated any differently. At the end of the day, we all love games and there's no reason to hate people who share the same passion as yourself. I hope  these groups remain a positive place to just geek out and not worry about the judgement of those who consider gamers to be anything less than awesome!

Danial Aziz
Instagram: @beyond_just_games
Facebook: @beyondjustgamesblog

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Personal Gems: NFS Underground 2

I'm starting this new series called "Personal Gems" to showcase games that I will always hold near and dear to my heart. Games that I will always enjoy no matter what anybody else says about them. So, first up, Need For Speed: Underground 2!

Need For Speed Underground 2 was released back in 2004 and is still the racing game I have spent the most time playing. I played it multiple times to completion on the PlayStation 2 and I still play it on PC from time to time. Out of all the Need For Speed Games ever released, I think this one had the most charm. I can't quite put my finger on it but there's just something about this game that makes it feel timeless - to me at least. 

The city of Bayview, in my opinion, is beautifully designed. It isn't just a boring arrangement of random buildings and straight roads. Each section of the city has it's own look according to the type of district it represents. The city center, market place, docks, train tracks, hills and every other district looks and feels different. The motorway also circles the perimeter of the main city which provides a great stretch of road for high speed runs. It really is a pleasure driving through Bayview.

The game has included the usual race types such as circuit, sprint, drift and drag races along side Street X and the Underground Racing League (U.R.L). Street X is a very hectic type of race carried out on short circuits with a lot of sharp turns. The URL consists of multiple races around the airport circuit which awards points to the winners in each race. The overall winner is then decided based on the total points received after all the races have been completed. All the races in this game have been very well designed and I have enjoyed my time racing in each and every one of them multiple times.

I saved the best for last! The cars and modifications. While there weren't any exotics or supercars, the selection was quite good including hatchbacks, tuners and even SUVs. The thing I love most about this game is the absolutely ridiculous modification options available for every car. In most other games you could paint the car, change the bodykit and rims, put a spoiler on it and maybe tint the windows. This game allowed for a bit more than that. In this game, you could put spinners on, attach underglow neon, put LCD monitors and amplifiers in the boot,  change the colour of the engine accents and even install a hydraulic suspension system! It's ridiculous, it's extreme and it's fun.

I know there have been many new installments to the Need For Speed franchise since Underground 2 and I've played them all, but this one still remains my favourite. I really hope that there will be an Underground 3 someday and that it'll be made by people who love Underground 2 as much as I do. Until then, I can always revisit Bayview in my Skyline R34.

Danial Aziz
Instagram: @beyond_just_games
Facebook: @beyondjustgamesblog

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

What I actually Do When Playing The Witcher 3

Ahh.. The Witcher 3. A game with a deeply intriguing story concerning well developed and likable characters in which you play as Geralt of Rivia, a Witcher with astounding swordsmanship and sorcery. Think of the adventure, the perilous journey, the thrills, the triumph of defeating great creatures and collecting Gwent cards! There's just so much to do in this amazing game!

I've been doing none of that. Instead, my time has been spent travelling around the world on horseback, looking for beautiful locations at which I would take pretty pictures of Geralt staring into the distance. At night I'd even try to incorporate the moonlight and the shadows to make Geralt look more mysterious and gloomy. Never before has the "Share" button on my controller gotten so much use. 

I'm sure I'll carry on with the story at some point but for now I'm perfectly happy just exploring the world in search of more picturesque locations for Geralt to stare at. 

Danial Aziz
Instagram: @beyond_just_games
Facebook: @beyondjustgamesblog

Also proud member of PlayStation Collectors Group - PSCG.