What’s in Your Box: Week of 5-7
Kalvin Martinez / May 7th, 2016 No Comments
Each week, we here at Gaming Illustrated are always playing a number of different video games. However, we may not be talking about them in reviews or editorials. That doesn’t mean they aren’t worth talking about, but for any number of reasons an avenue to speak on them doesn’t come up. To remedy the issue, we’re going to ask our staff (and you, honestly) what’s in your box?
What’s in Greg’s Box
Box time already? Boy that went fast… more than likely because I’ve been in the Overwatch beta near non-stop.
To anyone wondering: “Will Overwatch be good?” Yes, yes and YES. It’s a fast-paced objective shooter that is won by the team with the greatest ability to push. There are plenty of characters built around keeping distance, sniping and even hunkering down, but even they have abilities geared toward the sake of moving forward. While games like Team Fortress 2 more or less said “you are a sniper, you only snipe”, Overwatch challenges that theory with characters like Black Widow and Torbjorn.
Black Widow is a sniper, but also has an assault rifle and zip line to get in and out quickly, while still doing damage on the front-lines. Meanwhile Torbjorn is the resident turret builder but has a nasty primary weapon capable of dealing high damage at reasonable speeds. No one character is “stuck” in their niche, but obviously some characters are bettered suited for defense, while others assault.
WHEW! Now that I got all of that out of the way, what else I got going on is Limbo. I can’t believe it took me this long to finally try this gem of a game. It is surreal, creepy, challenging and just simply well-made. It’s not some sprawling 80+ hour RPG of War & Peace proportions, but for “just a puzzle game” it really shows how far the gaming industry has come. What could have been “only” a well-done and challenging puzzle game is instead an artistic smorgasbord of themes, art style and level design.
Sadly not all games played can be grea- just kidding I only play quality stuff which is why I’ve started replaying Chameleon Twist. It’s not a progressive game by any stretch, but it is enjoyable. Challenging tongue-based puzzles and lots of dying, Chameleon Twist offers a trip back to when everyone wanted to be Mario. In the same way now we find ourselves with endless Medal of Honor and Minecraft clones, the 90s had an endless slew of their own. If you have some free time this weekend (and the means) go back and relive games like Crash Bandicoot, Gex and even Sonic.
What’s in Kalvin’s Box
May is already in full swing and it feels like it was just January. It is hard to tell where the time has gone. We’re only a month away from E3 and already the big announcements are dropping. Most are the predictable like a new Call of Duty and Battlefield later this year, but also the exciting like the Japanese release for Persona 5 (which hopefully means we hear about an English release soon). Besides watching new trailers, my box has been filled with Star Fox Zero and Axiom Verge.
Innovation without Renovation
I picked up Star Fox Zero when it came out, but like always it’s taken me quite some time to get around to throwing it in my box. I finally did it though this week! When I played it at E3 last year, I dug it. The controls took some time to get into, but once you got the hang of it they felt intuitive and a delightful innovation. Yet I only played a small portion of what the game had to offer and didn’t get into the different vehicle modes.
The full game throws you into these various vehicle modes and transformations quickly. There are training modes you can check out before delving deep into the main game to get a hang of how these vehicles handle and their unique abilities, which are helpful. Still the controls for the Walker, Gyrowing, and Landmaster will take some getting used to. Hell, it took some time before using the GamePad along with the TV made sense when flying the Arwing.
Star Fox Zero is innovative, there is no denying that. Its controls, while having a learning curve, are fresh and give a new perspective on the series. The issue that arises with Star Fox Zero isn’t so much the controls, which will be polarizing, obvious. No the major issue is how everything else about the game lacks innovation. Even if the new vehicles are novel and result in some intriguing mission types, the core flight missions seem too familiar.
Ultimately, this leaves Star Fox Zero in an odd space because the controls are too foreign to appease those looking for more arcade-y flight sim with animal pilots, but there hasn’t been enough innovation in gameplay to satisfy those looking for something more.
Why Can’t Metroid Crawl
Axiom Verge scratches the right itch for anyone looking for a Metroidvania game that approximates the Super Metroid experience exceedingly well. That isn’t to say that Axiom Verge is a retread. More a clear homage that takes what came before to craft a compelling tale with superb gameplay.
I grabbed Axiom Verge on PS4 a while back when it was on sale, but I abstained from diving into it because I was waiting on the inevitable PS Vita version to release. Even if was over a year later, my prayers were answered. Axiom Verge runs pretty well on Vita with a few frame rate hitches here and there, but the portability of it is perfect. The game’s art design and aesthetics pop on the Vita’s screen making it a joy to play through on the handheld.
There is something infinitely addicting to Axiom Verge. It has a good hook with a scientist being transported into this bizarre, horrific technological nightmare. Figuring out exactly what is going on in the world has been the most engrossing part of the game. Often story is not the strong point of this type of game, but Axiom Verge doesn’t have any issue in this department. It characterizes Trace, and the benevolent technological creature that saves Trace extremely well. The world is bristling with depth and digging into it is as exciting as fighting the game’s tough bosses.
No Metroidvania game would be complete without a number of helpful power-ups and items. Axiom Verge is bursting with them. While some are the obvious additional weapons and additional jumps, others are more intriguing and change how you traditionally would approach the game. One is the lab coat that allows you to phase through singular pillars opening up new paths. Another is the ability to scramble glitches into its working code.
Both of these change how you approach the game because sometimes you forget you can phase through something, but when you remember you are able to bypass difficult platforming scenarios with a hidden short cut. The glitch scrambling ray augments the gun and dodge the game sets up in the beginning. Instead of having to learn patterns, dodge, and time shots to extinguish enemies, you can scramble them with the ray and turn them into harmless, glitch-y messes. That you then can take out with a few shots and keep moving.
It is the cool little innovations within the genre that should make Axiom Verge high on what you throw in your box next.
tags: Axiom Verge , Chameleon Twist , limbo , opinion , Overwatch , Star Fox Zero , What's in Your Box