Mortal Kombat 11 Goes Back to its roots to Deliver a truly stunning product

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

 

Mortal Kombat 11 is the 11th instalment of the Mortal Kombat Series. It is the 3rd instalment after the reboot. After a leak in November that sent the internet into a frenzy, Mortal Kombat 11 was one of the most anticipated games in April and it does not disappoint.

The game builds on the original story lore while introducing new customizations that allow users to create their own moves. The game retains major elements from its previous instalments while allowing users to add to their look by customizing how characters look.

The game’s roster carries forward its well-known characters along with some notable new additions. It also travels back to bring major fan favourites Skarlet and Baraka into the new game. Characters like Raider, Sub-Zero and Sonya Blade are all back for this instalment yet with minor unique elements that make the game exciting to play.

The in-game economy is focused on in-game currency for customizations and unlocks. The drop rates for currency seem to be low as well. Monetization seems to probably cause of concern for players that seem to have a downward inclination towards a “pay-to-play” emphasis. Gear for the fighters can be unlocked by competing in in game modes and completing quests. However, these take a significantly longer time than promised initially by the developer.

The company has announced potential future fixes for the microtransaction which a good sign that the company has an eye for improvements. The game is definitely fun to play with even without massive spending but a little splurge for Pony Raiden definitely made the game much more enjoyable for us.

 

 

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The graphics look extremely close to the displayed CGI trailer and allow to display the maximum potential of what 4 years of improvement can add to a product. There is a staggering improvement from the previous instalment. The graphics improvement comes courtesy of an Upgrade in the game engine from Unreal Engine 3 to 4. The backgrounds are visually engaging and add to the experience of in-game fights.

The online play and featured modes are one of the most enjoyable parts of the whole experience. The experience was smooth with almost no network issues. One of the most exciting returns to the series are the fatalities which are extremely gory as typical of the series yet thoroughly entertaining.

The storyline features a lot of time travel but is thoroughly intriguing to hook in the players. The story in the serious is a clear improvement from the previous 2 instalments in the series and executes the theme of time travel brilliantly. The new fighting mechanics and characters serve to make the instalment thoroughly enjoyable. The refinements to the fight system through subtle definitely make an impact into positioning the game as the highlight of the Mortal Kombat Trilogy.

The Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch is a console that tries to do many things simultaneously. Its success is due to it bridging the gap between a handheld console and a home console that the late, lamented Wii U never managed.

It’s a credit to the Nintendo team that the Switch is able to combine gaming on-the-move with gaming at home without a preference for either. Now with top-tier titles like Fortnite arriving, the Nintendo Switch is an even better proposition.

The Switch’s design makes it a chunky tablet. It has thick bezels and a 6.2-inch touch screen that sports a 1280 x 720 resolution. The construction has a rock-solid feel and its metal finish adds a classy touch. Indeed, the Switch could well be the slickest, slimmest and least obtrusive console ever brought to market.

The things that stand out are the top vent for the purpose of cooling, and the rear kickstand that allows players to prop the console when using it for tabletop gaming out and about.

The dock is an elegant chunk of black plastic. The console easily slips into this, and the tablet is charged through the USB-C port, with sockets for a USB-C power adapter and HDMI cable, along with three USB 3 ports.

These ports are available for charging the Switch Pro Controller, adding any Joy-Con charging accessory, or an Ethernet adapter.

The best thing about a Switch is the device’s versatility. It’s great that it does not rely on a TV. The console can be grabbed along with the controllers and the whole thing can be set up in an instant wherever.

It’s great fun, no matter how you choose to play. It can run some great games. As well as Nintendo’s two classics, Super Mario Odyssey and Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, there is a huge Mario Kart, and quirky faves like   Mario+ Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, Arms and Splatoon 2.

It’s also considered good for indie gaming, where you can take advantage of titles like  Oxenfree, Night in the Woods, and Stardew Valley.

What the Nintendo Switch as part handheld and part home console offers is the potential to be the only device you’re ever likely to need for gaming, wherever you choose to be. Its hybrid console is a great success, with exceptional handheld graphical quality, and the capacity to seamlessly transition into a home console.

What really makes this piece of kit stand out are:

  • It’s unique hybrid design
  • The HD Rumble
  • The fact it comes with two controllers
  • Its crisp, bright and colorful screen.

Nintendo is onto a winner with the Switch. It’s not only well made, but it’s easy to understand where it’s coming from and it does what it promises.

The Switch is not only a platform for a few first-party games. It is also a platform that is a good fit for lighter indie titles as well as innovative mobile crossovers. It is great for kids, along with people on the move, and those gamers who are time poor or perhaps are not inclined to sit down and do the big-screen thing.

Fortnite: a review

The original version of Fortnite is focused on strategy. It’s a survival action game for Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows, and Mac.

In its mode known as Fortnite: Battle Royale it is a wildly popular last-player-standing game that’s unsurprisingly taken off and is now a massive hit. A mobile version of Battle Royale allows portable players to play against console and PC gamers with whom they can engage.

Fortnite: Battle Royale now incorporates a personalized Creative mode that allows adventure creation and can pit as many as 100 players against each other in various guises: solo or duo, or even as many as four-player squads to test who is capable of surviving the longest against each other as the map shrinks.

The game’s style is cartoonish, but the violence is persistent, though it has to be said that it is not at all bloody or gory. Even though players use both melee weapons and firearms to eliminate their opponents, the blood count is zero.

However, this game does push its players in the direction of in-game purchases in order to acquire many cosmetic objects and animations, though these are not necessary if you just want to play.

There is no profanity in the game’s dialogue, but be warned because its online nature could lead to younger players being exposed to the rough and ready language that can emanate from random strangers in the accompanying chat.

In Save the World, gamers use a combination of creativity, strategic thinking, and forward planning to construct fortifications at the same time as collaborating with teammates to defend both survivors and their objectives from wave upon wave of zombie-style creatures.

Fortnite was developed by Epic Games and had its first release in 2017. It comes in three game modes that share the same gameplay and the same game engine:

  • Fortnite: Save the World, a cooperative shooter-survival game
  • Fortnite Battle Royale, a free-to-play battle game for as many as 100 players
  • Fortnite Creative, a game involving the creation of worlds and battle arenas.

Save the World is only available for macOS, Windows, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Battle Royale is also available on iOS and Android devices as well as Nintendo Switch.

Fortnite Battle Royale is an outstanding success. It drew over 125 million players in under a year and earns hundreds of millions of dollars each month.

In the original two modes, players are able to use pickaxes to knock down structures that appear on the map. As a result, they collect basic resources including brick, wood, and metal. Players can then use the materials they collect to construct fortifications building floors, walls, along with stairs.

Windows and doors can be added. But each material has a different durability property and can be upgraded to stronger versions.

Within Save the World, for example, players are able to create defensive structures through which they can lure husks. Battle Royale offers players the means to quickly travel across the map, protecting themselves from enemy fire, or delaying the advance of the foe. Creative players are exhorted to be very imaginative the design of their fortifications.

Banner Saga 3

In its 3rd edition of the famous Banner Saga games, the Banner Saga 3 lives up to the legacy of the previous versions. The game brings back the epic struggle of the lead character as he finds his way through the uncharted land of the Vikings. With an epic role play and brilliant animation sequence, this game has a lot to offer. The game throws you challenges like, whom to trust, how to protect your allies and what choices to make.

This is a strategy game which tests your patience and logical skills. The choices you make will lead you to distinct outcomes that are either in favor or against you. Also, with each passing level, you will find yourself going deeper into the depth of darkness. You will eventually witness the darkness taking over all the beautiful things that mattered to the protagonist the most. The hand-painted finale of this epic trilogy brings back the childhood nostalgia of fairy tale stories but with a touch of evil.

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The combat system in the game is turn-based which is similar to the gameplay popularized by games like the Final Fantasy. The combat system demands players to use strategy when it comes to attacking and defending their characters and their caravan. The Banner Saga 3 brings with it a host of new playable characters that can join your squad as allies to fight and defeat your enemies. You will also enjoy the advantages of new upgrade options as you progress through the game. The deeper twist in the plot makes this game all the more challenging than its predecessors.

For music and OST lovers, the Banner Saga 3 offers a candid surprise with an all-new original score from the Grammy-nominated composer Austin Wintory. Trust me, if you loved the score of the previous editions, then you are bound to fall in love with this one too.

Carrying forward the legacy, the Banner Saga 3 continues the ordeal that started in the Banner Saga 1 and continued through the Banner Saga 2 respectively. As you already know from previous editions of Banner Sagas, the choices you make will eventually lead to different situational endings. This game offers deep strategic combats as you will face different types of enemies with their own unique strengths. The players get the chance to customize their playing style according to the strengths.

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With all these hosts of features, this game provides a perfect blend of a great storyline and strategic decision making. Some players may complain about the lack of high-end graphics and interactions but this game is fun to play.

Banner Saga 2 Review

The first Banner Saga game was loved by fans and critics alike for its in-depth storylines and the beautiful aesthetics of the role-playing game with a Viking setting. When Banner Saga 2 was released, it was received with many expectations and it almost fulfills them completely. The second game in the trilogy builds upon the first game’s legacy in a pretty good way.

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Banner Saga 2 has the same tactical turn-based combat system like the first game but in a improved manner, with many additions that make this game interesting. Aside from introducing new units, new talents, new enemies, and interactive objects, the game also introduces a centaur-like race called The Horseborne.

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If you are playing Banner Saga 2 after the first game, then the decisions you made in the first game would significantly impact what happens in this game. The developers of this game tried to revamp the combat system in response to the sometimes slow and boring nature of combat in the first game.

The soundtrack composed by the amazing talented composer Austin Wintory is just as great as the majestic soundtrack that accompanied the first game. It creates an epic atmosphere throughout the game and makes you feel as if you truly are living in a magical, stoic Viking world.

The beautiful 2D hand-drawn animation makes this game look just as good as the first one and this narrative and storyline of this game are also largely affected by the decisions the player makes.

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For a project that originally started as Kickstarter and turned into a trilogy of three games, Banner Saga 2 shows why exactly that happened.

By focusing on the strengths of the first game and improving upon the weaknesses, Stoic has created a game that is not only a suitable addition to the series of Banner Saga but a great game on its own right with an emphasis on the story, the art, and the music.

Banner Saga 1 Review

Banner Saga 1 is an epic role-playing game with a Viking setting where your actions have a direct impact on your journey. The animation style used in the game is beautiful and the story has a lot of depth that is often a hit or miss for a lot of players. However, the game doesn’t just tell a story and provides the player with enough choices and options throughout.

The objective of the game is to travel with your caravan through beautiful yet harsh landscapes and chose your allies and enemies as you go along. Since it is a role-playing game, every decision you make regarding travel, conversation or combat will have a significant effect on the story being told.

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The game has over twenty-five playable characters from two races for you to chose, each with a unique ability and upgrade options.

The visual style of the game is based on old-school animation and looks absolutely stunning and almost nostalgic of great old animated movies. The story that is being told in Banner Saga 1 is epic in proportions and unravels as you keep going.

The combat system in the game is turn-based, the same style made famous by games like Final Fantasy. The combat system demands players to use strategy when it comes to attacking and defending their characters and their caravan.

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In Banner Saga 1, the combat animations are hand drawn and they look stunning just like the rest of the game. The score is composed by Grammy-nominated composer Austin Wintory and is one of the best parts about the game.

As for the choices in the game, the world of Banner Saga 1 is a harsh one and many times you’ll lose characters while going through your journey. It is not uncommon for players to feel guilty for their choices later as the journey keeps going.

Even though there can be some criticism raised towards the combat system of the game, it is far from being broken and provides a nice twist on the traditional turn-based combat system.

Regardless, what Banner Saga 1 does so well is tell an epic story and creates a detailed world and lore that players want to keep coming back to. The world map is filled with descriptions about every little village, city, trail or mountain. It is successful in terms of telling a story that is massive in scale but is still accessible.

The word of Banner Saga 1 feels alive and filled with real events and characters. The most successful thing the game has managed to do is create a perfect blend of a game where a great story is being told and at the same time, provides enough choices and actions to the players to keep them interested.

Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption 2 is an open-world action adventure game produced by Rockstar games. It is a prequel to the original Red Dead Redemption game released in 2010. The game is set in five fictitious states of the United States of America at a time when outlaws were on their way out and civilization was setting in. The game is crafted with an insane attention to detail that is unique in creating a world which feels organic and real.

We are introduced to the story and participate in it by playing Arthur Morgan, a member of the Van der Linde gang.

 

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The gameplay is better in Red Dead Redemption 2 than the original Red Dead Redemption game, refining the mechanics of combat, gunplay, honor system and more. Some new features of the game include dual-wielding and the ability to swim.

As with the previous game, the story is deep, well designed and the choices are significant in crafting the direction of the story. A new aspect that is introduced in the franchise by Red Dead Redemption 2 is the ability for the player to communicate with NPCs in ways that are more dynamic and feel more realistic. You almost feel like you are talking to real people when interacting with them.

The world in Red Dead Redemption 2 feels like it is a real place. Your weapons degrade over time, require oiling and cleaning and your main character’s hair and weight changes happen at a realistic pace.

 

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The game also features hunting and fishing, which allows you to provide food, income, and materials for crafting items. The hunting mode in the game is very realistic, making it more than just a simple game of locating and shooting an animal.

Once the animal is dead, the player has the option to skin and butcher the animal on the spot or carry the whole carcass. Keeping up with the realistic nature of the game, the carcass is affected by how long you carry it and can start rotting if you carry it too long.

Visually, the game is stunning and deserves all the critical acclaim it has received so far. The story and the score that accompanies the game is just as stunning as the visuals and the game is nothing short of a masterpiece when you consider all the aspects of it.

Red Dead Redemption 2 makes you feel like you’re an outlaw and you’re living in a world that is changing too fast. You make decisions that alter the grand scheme of things and you develop bonds with your gang members as you get to know them over the course of the game. The riding system is also improved and the player has to bond with the horse to control it better in hairy situations.

Overall, the game is one of the best games Rockstar has made. From the action to the roleplay elements to the combat system, there are no stones left unturned when it comes to this masterpiece of a game called Red Dead Redemption 2.

 

Pokemon Let’s go!

Even though Pokemon games have existed for a long time and will continue to do so, Pokemon Let’s Go is an innovative new look at the game franchise while keeping the history and the legend of the game and the franchise in mind. It manages to bring a few new twists to the original gameplay which are not major changes but make this game feel a bit different from all the games before it.

Pokemon Let’s Go is a modern remake of the classic Pokemon Yellow game and is the first pokemon game to be released for a home console, which in this case, is the nintendo switch. So all the familiar characters that have become associated with the Pokemon series like Professor Oak, Misty or Brock make a comeback and they are as good looking as they can ever be, just like the Kanto region where the game is based.

The game looks great and the modern graphics make it worthwhile to go back to the Kanto region as a pokemon trainer. If you are a veteran player playing pokemon games for a while, this feels like a sweet return to the games that you loved.

The game also includes all the original 151 pokemon creatures and some additional ones. As with all pokemon games, you fight other pokemon trainers with your captured pokemons in this game too.

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However, instead of the traditional way of capturing pokemons by battling them, this game uses a mechanism lifted from the mobile spin-off game Pokemon Go!

Players are expected to throw pokeballs using the motion controls of the Joy-Con or by using buttons when the Joy-Con cannot be used. Even though it is very hard to miss capturing a pokemon, it can be possible. The timing of the throw is important and also affects the experience points awarded to the pokemon.

There is a multiplayer system and a co-op system present in the game where two players can play together on the same console. Online battle and trade is also possible with a subscription to the Nintendo Switch Online service.

The game also allows you to play with an optional controller which is shaped like a pokeball, called the Poke Ball Plus. It is shaped like a pokeball and has a variety of controls which can be used to play the game.

The primary draw of the Pokemon Let’s Go for me is the nostalgia value that can be derived from this game. Even though it is a modern remake of an iconic game, it feels great and looks great. For someone who’s a veteran player of Pokemon games, this game makes it worth it to go back to Kanto region and the new additions sync up nicely with the gameplay.

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The new motion based mechanism might be a bit hit and miss for a few players but overall, this is a solid game and a great addition to the Pokemon franchise. It should delight both old fans and people new to playing Pokemon games.

Fallout 76

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Fallout 76, the latest installment in the open world post-apocalyptic RPG series Bethesda has carefully reared for the last 20 years, is set to drop on November 14, 2018, barring any last minute hiccups that may cause delay. It marks the first game in the cadre to not only support multiplayer functionality, but require it; and despite widespread reports of a buggy beta experience and noise pollution from other real, living players, fans of the franchise seem to be overjoyed with what the future has in store. This is what betas are for, after all.

You see, Fallout 76 is Bethesda Game Studios’ first online multiplayer game. It uses a modified version of their Creation Engine, designed to accommodate multiplayer play, and boasts a map four times the size of Fallout 4. The distinction between Bethesda Softworks, the publisher of the Fallout series, The Elder Scrolls, etc., and Bethesda Game Studios, the subsidiary of Bethesda Softworks responsible for in-house development of games, is important.

For those who may have been under a rock or otherwise preoccupied or uninterested during its announcement and subsequent hype, Fallout 76 is actually a prequel to the original Fallout game, and as a result, the entirety of the series. Set in the cultural region of “Appalachia”, specifically within West Virginia in the year 2106, a mere 25 years after The Great War, our protagonist and the other residents of Vault 76— a vault housing America’s brightest minds of the time— exit their temporary habitat on Reclamation Day as part of a plan to re-colonize the now barren and aptly named Wasteland.

Other players on the server assume the role of fellow vault dwellers, all vying for survival, and there are no human NPCs in Fallout 76. Players may play individually or with a party of up to three others. All servers for the game are reportedly dedicated to instances of the game, with each player being automatically assigned the best server for their region and connection. Instead of the usual characters, players will receive their quests and world events from robots and other non-human NPCs, a feature which Todd Howard, game directory of the Fallout and Elder Scrolls series, feels will help players recognize the freedom to build their own narrative. Some of these non-human NPCs include new mutated monsters such as corporeal West Virginia’s own Mothman and Flatwoods Monster legends.

After acquiring the necessary launch codes, players will be able to use nuclear weapons to shape the world around them. We’re not just talking main storyline nukes either, arbitrary nukes. There is not yet additional information surrounding criteria for setting off a nuclear device in-game. The prospects of an online world shaped by nuclear mayhem are intriguing, yet frightening to say the least. Enjoying an online game can be difficult when other people have different goals than your own. The good news is that Bethesda has plans to grief griefers in the form of bounties on their player, so worry not at the idea of being repeatedly targeted by the person you got off on the wrong foot with.

The SPECIAL system and VATS both return triumphantly and with reported improvements. This time, SPECIAL manifests itself in the form of trading cards. Each card has a value and the player can unlock or upgrade perks equal to their respective value; eg. five points for a five point perk or upgrade. The player can also merge similar cards together to create more powerful— albeit more expensive— perks.

The Darwin Project Review

The genre of the year is shaping up to be Battle Royale games. PUBG was the first modern iteration of this and it completely exploded. Fortnite followed it up with their own Battle Royale mode, which has become even more of a cultural phenomenon. I hope to god The Darwin Project explodes in the same way, because it provided such a fresh take on the genre, that its mere presence can improve future installments in the genre.

 

We are only two games into this genre’s bout in the mainstream and things are already starting to homogenize. Both of the two major games included 100 players dropping from an aircraft to find weapons and shoot each other with guns. This formula works well, and Fortnite did take the gameplay in a different direction with building mechanics, but The Darwin Project completely changed it up. The first thing you will notice is that the game includes 1/10th of the players and that you already have a weapon. All you do is craft upgrades for your character, more ammunition for your bow, and manage your heat meter.

 

At the sight of a heat meter, I audibly groaned. One of the things that bothers me to no end is the constant meter management of survival games. However, as I played further into the game, I realized that the developers took care in its implementation. The coldness of your character causes you to halt your advance, and reveal your position via the smoke from the fire. Characters can craft snowballs to get rid of the smoke and even make other players colder, which shows their intentions for the meter.

 

I mentioned being able to see other players by the smoke from their fire, which highlights the most important feature in the game: tracking. Tracking is to The Darwin Project as building is to Fortnite. The game is played in the snow, which allows you to follow other characters footprints, and you can investigate things left behind by other players to reveal their position. This tracking mechanic does a lot to increase the tension of the game, and when you get notified that you have been spotted, the race and chase begins.

 

The combat in this game is probably its weakest aspect. I like the mechanic of only having a bow and an ax, but the ability to only utilize one kind of arrow per game is pretty annoying. Even just allowing two would increase the strategy by volumes. Once you engage in a fight, it will become evident fairly quickly who is going to come out on top about 90% of the time. When you are hit by an arrow, it propels you in the air. This doesn’t just do damage to you but allows skilled players to juggle you in the air, keeping you from shooting (whenever you take damage, your bow drawing stops). This prevents a level playing field and can lead to some frustration.

 

However, my frustration was always curbed by the feel of the game. This game feels very gameshow esque (similar to the hunger games or Battle Royale ((the movie))), and this keeps the tone light. The best anger dampener is the show director, who is another player who controls the pace of the game. He can fly around and chat with the player, which keeps the tone really light and fun, like friends playing a game together.

 

Overall, The Darwin Project is, in my opinion, the strongest Battle Royale game out there. The game relies on more than its player count to make the game interesting and fun. If you have been feeling burnt out on the Battle Royale genre, play this and you will have a fantastic time.

 

9/10 “Fantastic”