Monday, April 28, 2014

Console's Showdown: Strengths/Weaknesses & E3 Approaching

Sony's PS4
Currently has
  • Strong emphasis on Gaming, slick interface, Indies, Netflix & other apps don't need PS+, 1st Party Exclusives & 3rd Party Support
Current Good Exclusives: Infamous: Second Son, Killzone: Shadowfall, flower, Resogun, Towerfall: Ascension, Don't Starve

​Needs work with
  • 1st Party Games
  • Robust Features
  • Robust Online system
Future Exclusives to Look Forward To: The Order: 1886, Drive Club, The Last of Us Remastered, future Uncharted title in dev

Microsoft's Xbox One
Currently has
  • Strong emphasis on entertainment, slick interface, Live & TV services, 1st Party Exclusives & 3rd Party Support
Current Good Exclusives: Forza Motorsport 5, Dead Rising 3, Ryse: Son of Rome, +Titanfall, Killer Instinct, Powerstar Golf, Zoo Tycoon, Xbox Fitness, *Peggle 2, *Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare *Timed Exclusive, +Microsoft Exclusive

Needs work with
  • Games
  • Price
  • Indie support
  • Robust Features
Future Exclusives to Look Forward To: Kinect Sports Rivals, Halo 2 Anv., Quantum Break, Sunset Overdrive, Halo 5, Fable Legends, future Gears of War title in dev, rumored Halo 3 & 4 HD ports/Forza Horizon's sequel/Crackdown 3

Nintendo's Wii U
Currently has
  • Strong emphasis on Gaming, 1st Party Games
Current Good Exclusives: Super Mario 3D World, The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD, Pikmin 3, New Super Mario Bros. U, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, The Wonderful 101, Nintendo Land

​Needs work with
  • Games
  • 3rd Party Support
  • Robust Features
  • Robust Online system
Future Exclusives to Look Forward To: Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros Wii U, Bayonetta 2, Hyrule Warriors, X, Zelda HD title in dev

Current Good Multiplatform Games: Battlefield 4, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, NBA 2K14, Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare, Call of Duty: Ghosts, FIFA 14, Rayman Legends, NFS: Rivals, Strider, Lego Marvel Super Heroes

Future Multiplatform Games, most spill into PC too, To Look Forward To: Child of Light, Wolfenstein: The New Order, The Elder Scrolls Online, Watch Dogs, Destiny, Evolve, The Evil Within, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, Alien: Isolation, Dying Light, The Crew, Project Cars, Mad Max, Mirror's Edge, Batman: Arkham Knight, Tom Clancy's The Division, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Looking forward to E3, it's coming up pretty soon. What will we see there, what's going to be announced and what is going to send ripples in the current console showdown? Games, lots of games since last E3 was all about the hardware, this year's E3 is all about the games!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Powerstar Golf, A Good Fun Golf Game For The Xbox One

Powerstar Golf
The short and skinny:
  • $20 Digital (3.88 GB in size)
  • Platform: Xbox One
  • Developer: Zoe Mode
  • Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
  • Genre(s): Arcade: Family, Sports & Recreation
  • Strength: Fun Diablo-like looting & addictive golf game, pleasing visuals & gameplay
  • Weaknesses: Random item unlocks could frustrate some, no traditional multiplayer
  • Uses the traditional 3-Click Swing Mechanic with shot and spin options
  • Recommend

Extra Reading:
Powerstar Golf Developer Interview (link available in the game's Meld, the game's sub-Menu thing.)
The 11 Best Games for Xbox One according to Kotaku (scroll down to middle of the list)

The long and meaty:
So I decided to pull the trigger on Powerstar Golf because I heard a lot of good buzz after the middling reviews when the Xbox One launched initially back in November. It seems, like many launch titles for the Xbox One, that this game has been supported and updated to address the feedback the developers received. I enjoy virtual golf games, (have played many Tiger Woods titles, Hot Shot Golf, Let's Golf 3D on my 3DS and can go way back to the Links days on the PC even), and Powerstar Golf has an unique style while throwing some interesting spin and cool features to the mix.

The biggest thing you'll notice as soon as you start playing is that this game feels like it was inspired off Hotshot Golf and it uses the traditional 3-click swing mechanic. The other thing you'll notice is that there's a certain style achieved here. The developers, who previously have only done Zumba & other casual dance games, call Powerstar Golf's style a sort of Future Past or "forward-thinking nostalgia" with the setting taking place in an alternate history timeline. You'll notice one of the main characters as a chisel jawed well built male Astronaut inspired from the 1950s and the game's tonal setting inspired by Norman Rockwell paintings. There's also the slinky and slender female characters as well as a few caddies to match the game's unique artstyle. The game itself has character while still feeling relatively realistic. That's in large part to the gorgeous visuals and the pretty decent physics engine working under the hood.

Another performance piece you might notice under the hood is the way the game builds on the strengths of the Xbox One's cloud-infused social features with leaderboards, friend records and Rivals Mode where you battle out your friends in a live turn based fashion. I found myself trying to beat my friend's longest putts and closest to the pin records, with much joy in accomplishing such tasks, because due to being a level 1 golfer, yeah this is a Golf RPG game actually, I played to my strengths and ignored my weakness, (in this case that would be longest drive records). That'll come in time, as over the course of playing you'll gain experience based on how well you hit the ball, where it lands, if you had a good recovery from a bad previous swing or just simply related to your final score for the whole. There will also be optional challenges that'll pop up from time to time in order for you to gain additional experience if completed. After the round is over you'll get a final tally on XP and currency, which you'll be able to apply to the in-game store.

Set up like the packs purchased with random items and power-ups from say Mass Effect 3, or recently Plants vz Zombies: Garden Warfare, Powerstar Golf let's you unlock new power-ups, balls, putters, irons, drivers, etc. It's all about the gear, which boosts the player's specific stats, and that's the biggest love it or hate it thing with Powerstar Golf. The gear obtained via store packs, purchased with the currency you earn playing through a round of 18 holes, adds to your character stats, increasing your number of abilities you can use, allowing you to hit the ball harder and farther, gain more accuracy on your shot-which in turn gives you more of a sweat spot to hit while swinging your club, and ultimately betters your golf character in getting a higher probability of a better score. The abilities are tied to the character currently being used and also the caddie accompanying them.

For example, your character can use his ability to hit the crap out of the ball. Use this to drive longer, boost your power in a time of a shot that's going over an obstacle like water or a sand trap, or just trying to get to the pin in less swings. One character can also guide a ball to the hole via Tesla Power, which obviously you can see how crucial that can be. Caddies all have their own perks to use as well as will relay information such as a cautionary wind direction. They'll allow you to use Shot Preview, see where your shot will end up, and Putt Preview, see how your putt on the green will end up. Those abilities haven't been new to the Golf genre but what makes them unique is they're not handed to you every time, these are abilities that will come in handy when you really need them since their quantity isn't unlimited.

Anyways, the overall gest of the matter is that this is a fun arcade golf title with some very appealing visuals and enjoyable social features, that at times feels like the Mario Kart to Forza analogy. When it comes to Powerstar Golf's abilities, boots, and use of stat improved gear the normal golf game gets a little bit of fun infused arcade sense. Stat improved gear isn't anything new for sports titles, the NHL games have done this well in the past, but the RPG infused design of the game will have you swinging away for many hours to come unlocking better gear, more courses and new characters & abilities (wait is it 3AM already?). Seriously, it's no different than dungeon running in a Diablo like RPG looking for legendary loot, well maybe just at a bit more relaxed pace and less the gates of hell have opened haha. I recommend this game, it's fun, gives something new while also keeping the strengths of previous titles of the genre.