Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Turbo: Super Stunt Squad - Final Round Review

When it comes to movie cash-ins, Turbo: Super Stunt Squad hits every nail on the head; it looks cheap, it feels cheap, and it’s boring to boot.

Turbo provides the bare minimum required for a game, even as movie tie-ins go, it is incredibly weak.  All the essentials are there; you can play as characters from the movie, and there are some levels that are familiar from the movie, as well as objectives to complete.  There is no story mode to speak of and only two game modes; a time trial, where you are given three minutes to complete objectives which can unlock further levels, and a free roam mode where you can explore the small levels and maybe do some tricks, objectives are also removed. 

The game feels like an incredibly dumbed down skating game, which is weird since the movie is about racing.  The tricks you are able to pull out you can count on one hand, limiting gameplay to nothing more that slithering around and jumping on and off furniture.  The controls are smooth to the games credit, as there have been more than a few games in the past that could not master the art of jumping.

Even the objectives are brainless, get a score of a certain amount, find salsa packets or other random objects based in that level or jump over something. They do have a slight variation from level to level but they all fall under these same categories every time making the gameplay incredibly repetitive.  Completing many objectives unlocks the next level, with six in total, or unlocks additional characters, and all objectives are available every time you play the time trial.

Turbo has amazingly average visuals, but thankfully has a decent colour palate which sticks closer to the movie; unfortunately, it looks nowhere near as slick as its big screen counterpart.

There may be a fun factor in here for any young kid that loved the movie (no less than absolutely love, I assure you), but for anyone else you can probably have more fun racing actual snails.

Final Round Rating  -  4/10

- Will Flynn

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Grand Theft Auto V - Final Round Review

Three playable characters, an even larger map, more cars, and most importantly, a brand new story; what could go wrong?  The potential for error is high in a game that has so much to cover from city streets to the wildlife of the forest.  But when a developer like Rockstar is behind the project, gamers have come to expect perfection.

Grand Theft Auto V is a great looking game at times, but unfortunately it can suffer from texture pop-ins or even delayed item spawning. Cut-scenes bring the bulk of the story, all of which are rendered on the in game engine, where these issues can occur; empty rooms spawn furniture and paintings, or characters skin texture will take a while to pop into place. These issues are rare but confronting as they can occur everywhere. I can only assume that Grand Theft Auto V is pushing the current generation consoles to their limit, forcing the game to make some sacrifices for performance sake.  It even has a mandatory eight gig install on the Xbox 360 just to play it.

In classic GTA fashion, things to do are endless; from the normal activities of running over pedestrians, getting into shoot-outs with cops and rival gangs, to a nice relaxing yoga session and even a round of golf.  Story missions slowly build up momentum, going from one extreme to the next; working with paparazzi and drug lords is nothing compared with famous movie directors and corrupt government agents.

Shoot-outs are just as intense as they always have been, and they are made more fluent with the upgraded shooter mechanics.  It has been a huge step forward since GTA IV, swapping weapons and using cover feels a lot better and, more importantly, shooting people is easier.  This doesn’t mean that the controls are perfect, unless you change it in the options, your reticule is a tiny white dot on screen that is far too easy to lose, even if you get the more receptive version, targeting enemies can still be a chore (even with smart targeting).  Driving and firing simultaneously at enemies is painful, with practice it is do-able but the lack of aiming without also firing is irritating.

Heists are fun and hopefully the idea is expanded upon with the online content, allowing more planning and more characters to join the action.

Trevor is completely insane and starts his story as a deranged yet likeable character that loses his cool far too easily and is a pleasure to watch explode.  He is great to play as, and his input on situations can be downright crazy, but too much Trevor is not fun.

Franklin, on the other hand, is a likeable young man with his own issues to sort out, “but that doesn’t mean [he] doesn’t enjoy killing as much as the next psychopath.”  When he and Michael first meet up a bond is formed between the two that leads to a brilliant partnering.

Michael is by far my favourite in the game; he leads a quietly sad life as he tries to do the right thing by wife and children yet receives nothing but contempt and anger.  Family issues play a big part in his story and you find yourself really caring about him.  Even his relationships with Trevor and Franklin can be tense and emotional as he tries to keep his life from falling apart.

The ability to swap between each character anywhere in San Andreas is a marvel in itself that fills the game with more diversity and playability.  It feels like you have the entire map at your fingertips; dropping in on franklin at the strip club or finding Trevor passed out on a beach in his underwear are just a few of the places and things you will see.

The map featured in GTA V is on a greater scale than any other Rockstar title, including Red Dead Redemption.  Set in San Andreas, the city of Los Santos and the surrounding countryside is the perfect example of an open world with plenty of diversity, even wildlife.

Other than the texture annoyances, and the adequate shooting mechanics, it’s an amazing game.  It might not be as polished as we are used to from Rockstar, but it is so damn close that any flaws are going to be either completely overlooked or over criticized.  GTA V hits all the marks for fans of the franchise and has become the fastest selling game worldwide with good reason.

Final Round Rating  -  9/10

 - Steff Webb & Will Flynn

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Puppeteer - Final Round Review

Puppeteer is a dark fairy-tale side-scroller set as a stage show with a few tricks up its sleeve to differentiate it from the rest of the genre.  It strives to tell a deeper story than seen before in the side scrolling genre while adding gameplay features that are entirely unique to Puppeteer; unfortunately, some of these features are what set the game back.

The story begins with the hero Kutaro being spirited away to the moon and brought before the Moon Bear King as a tasty soul snack for the King’s insatiable hunger for power; all the while a Narrator gives you a play-by-play, adding in some deeper explanations along the way.  To help along the story driven experience Kutaro meets with the Sun Princess (Picarina), who joins along in the adventure and is not restricted to the confines of the stage, breaking the fourth wall regularly to talk with the Narrator.
Levels come in a large variation; from deserts, to swamps, to the underwater city of Poseidon.  They all look vibrant with a creative stage show feel to them.  Clouds and scenery hang from sting and move with gears, adding to the charming feel of a live show.

The Puppeteer stands out from the side scrolling genre due to its heavy storytelling techniques and visuals, but once you pick up the controller it feels familiar and you will feel right at home as any other game of its type.  If you have played a side scroller before you will know how to play Puppeteer.

Kutaro’s life bar is represented by the heads in his possession (you can have three altogether); taking a hit means losing a head which you can scramble for and pick back up before it disappears. Progressing through the game will give the player four permanent power ups they can use through the rest of the game and once unlocked can be used in previous levels.  The most powerful tool in Kutaro’s arsenal is the magical scissors called Calibrus which can cut any material (think Lightsaber gardening shears) allowing you to cut up, down, and through anything in your way, which comes in handy during boss battles.

Each level has a description of its relevance before selection; once a stage is selected, you are treated to a cut scene with more dialog, followed by another cut scene/narration, before you finally get to play the level.  This is where Puppeteer starts to become annoying.  Once the level begins either the Narrator or Picarina (sometimes both) begin talking, and talking, and talking, filling most of the in-game audio with nothing but senseless chatter.  It rarely feels as if there is anything useful to say during levels.  Adding to the over use of storytelling the levels are then bookended with yet another cut scene, and each one can go from 60 seconds up to a five or six minutes at a time.  As great as the idea of a story driven game sounds, the overuse of such tools has made this game considerably harder to enjoy.

When it comes to irritating characters, Picarina the Sun Princess has to take the cake (even over Navi), spewing teenage girl clich├ęs like “Oh My Gosh” and “like, seriously”; she can’t even pronounce Kutaro’s name correctly (everyone else does).  All she does throughout the entire adventure is complain about how long something takes, or how repetitive something is.  She literally points out the repetitiveness of boss battles and levels and NEVER shuts up, sometimes her pointless dialog will even overlaps with the Narrator.  Worst of all, she brings nothing to the plot of the game (She was caught, turned into a pixie, now she is ‘helping you’); Picarina is a pointless character that in all honesty is a blemish on the game.  Puppeteer would be and infinitely BETTER title if she was not in it.

Puppeteer tried something different, attempting a unique dive into the side scrolling genre with an emphasis on story. Unfortunately it misses the mark, delivering a story that is completely diluted by far too many cut scenes and pointless chatter from pointless characters (here’s looking at you Picarina). The gameplay is still a lot of fun, if you are willing to mute the audio.

Final Round Review - 6/10

 - Will Flynn

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix - Final Round Review

When word of a HD remix of the PS2 classic surfaced I instantly felt like a child again, and eagerly counted down the days until I could enter the sweet world of Cosplay inspirations and Disney once again.  I have often found myself going back and dusting off my PS2 to play the original Kingdom Hearts and having an absolute blast, all while feeling sad with the thought of never receiving a trophy for my awesome deeds or see this wonderful game in glorious HD; luckily I was wrong.

Square Enix have kept the gameplay authentic which might cause some frustrations as Kingdom Hearts doesn’t have the tightest control scheme around, but that was always part of the challenge and I applaud the folks at Square Enix for not giving into demands for tight, fluid controls. The one change in the controls gives you the ability to press the “triangle” button to interact with items in the world rather than trying to navigate the “Interact” option with your D-pad and X.

For those who remember the “jingles” in Kingdom Hearts, you will either be super stoked or annoyed with the lack of change in sound.  They may have cleaned it up and remastered it to give a newer crisp sound but all the theme songs, sound effects, and voice acting remain the same.

Most importantly in a HD remake are, of course, the visuals and what Square Enix have done is quite respectable in terms of upgrades.  While there is virtually no added textures or designs to the game, the vibrancy of existing colours has been improved without causing any issues to the framerate stability.  From the depth of the red on Sora’s pants to the green of the grass in Pooh’s world, everything has been re-rendered and looks beautiful.  Not to mention the cinematics are now on par with most of today’s games; it is truly an eye pleasing remake.  Furthermore the Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days cinematic has also been HD remastered, and it looks and sounds fantastic.

As for the extra features that come with 1.5 Remix, the RE:Chain of Memories is just a fun little Card-based battle game which follows the same vain, terms of presentation, as the full Kingdom Hearts game.  While in itself is nothing fancy, it is a nice addition to an already content filled collection.

Whilst Kingdom Hearts 1.5 Remix is just a HD remake, it still has new and exciting features on offer and it stands solid in the world of HD Remastered games.  The game is not without issues and frustrations but these will easily be overlooked by long-time fans and new comers alike, who come for the good story and challenging gameplay.  Overall it is a highly touched up, nostalgic experience and well worth a revisit.

Final Round Rating  -  8/10

 - Frank van der Merwe

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Diablo III for Console - Final Round Review

With the release of Diablo III on console, Blizzard has made one of their most loved franchises more accessible.  Porting from the PC version (released May 2012),a few key changes have been made to this already awesome title, smoothly transitioning to it console.

The most obvious bonus for the console release is the lack of server issues that plagued the PC version at launch.  Auction House has also been removed, and I personally am glad; I can only imagine how insane this would become.

The inventory has had a complete overhaul.  You now have an item wheel that is a lot easier to use and with the help of analogue, navigating it is a breeze. Rather than trying to manage your space by size you are only limited by amount, and instead of a body plan for armour the item wheel is made up of what item goes where.  No matter the location it is easy to manage your weapons, armour, and accessories, even in the heat of battle.

Couch co-op has to be the best thing about the port to the Xbox 360 and PS3, as you can have up to four players all using one screen and one copy of the game.  The screen can become cluttered though, even with only two players, but as there is no splitscreen option it could be worse.  When sufficiently far enough away from another player you will be automatically teleported to them, even when playing ranged.  Thankfully the teleporting doesn't happen in online co-op.

It is simple to join or host an online party, either with friends or strangers.  The drop-in, drop-out feature is so straightforward that you will never have to play alone again.  Even dropping in and out in couch co-op is as simple as pressing start or turning off the controller.

There has been literally no change to the story, quests, or characters, and the immersion is as deep as it is on PC.  Nearly everyone has a story; Tyrael, Leah, your followers, the merchants and even the Prim Evil himself, they all have something to say.

My only issue with Diablo III, on console, is the graphics.  Cut scenes are great, but during gameplay there is a strange mixture between too much and too little detail.  During combat there can be so much happening at once on screen it becomes hard to focus on where you are, who you’re fighting, and even if you’re facing the right direction.  It doesn’t happen too often, but when it does it can lead to mass confusion.  Between fights can become the opposite, and lack of detail in some areas makes the game seem bland.  

There are a lot of button configuration customisation options for Diablo III, allowing you to play how you like.  I have only come across one problem with the controls during my playthough on console.  It is easy to miss dialog boxes on screen, as skipping them is the default primary attack and while being attacked yourself it is hard to not fight back, thus losing some story.

With no step backs or leaps forward, Diablo III has made a solid port from PC to console.  Being accessible to a wider audience and with the help of an effortless co-op system, a wider range of people are able to enjoy one of the best RPG’s on offer.  The ease of the port to this generations consoles excites me for the PS4 and Xbox ONE version and the expansion (Reaper of Souls), which are on there way.

Final Round Rating  -  9/10

 - Steff Webb

Friday, 6 September 2013

Killzone: Mercenary - Final Round Review

Killzone has been a much loved franchise among the PlayStation supporters since the first title release on PS2 back in 2004.

Since then the series has made some stunning, albeit bland at times, leaps into the future with beautiful visual, solid mechanics and a good story to back it up.  Killzone was limited to consoles until its debut appearance on the PSP with Killzone: Liberation, and whilst Liberation was good, it was nothing special.  What the folks over at Guerrilla Cambridge & Sony have done this time round with Mercenary is nothing short of inspiring.

The PSVita is quite a power-house considering the small package it comes in, and Mercenary really shows this off by giving a full-sized console feel.  The visuals are fantastic, and the framerate is ridiculously solid.  Using the same but slightly modified engine that Killzone 3 did on the PS3, it has allowed them to find the fine line between good graphics and solid gameplay; both of which Killzone: Mercenary have.

The single-player campaign, Contracts, takes you on a memory trip down some familiar locations fighting as a mercenary with no agenda other than his paycheck.  It felt rather nice to not be morally obligated to fight for one side and actually explore the views of not only the Vektan (ISA) but also the Helghast.  While the Contracts aren’t huge and it doesn’t take too long to smash through them, there are more than enough secondary objectives making this a solid single-player campaign worthy of replaying.

Furthermore, there are some pretty sweet additions in game that make the gameplay a little more interesting.  The new “Black Jack” feature is a portable gun station/merchant which allows you to refill your ammo, buy or change your weapons and reconfigure your whole load out.  But you can only change weapons by finding a Black Jack merchant; you can’t pick up any guns.  This causes you to scramble around trying to collect scraps of ammo to survive the onslaught from whatever wave you’re facing off against.  The beauty is that you can change you’re load out however you want, but the tragedy is that you get charged for it, even if you’re already bought the weapon/item you want to change to.  I found this to be great, yet also frustrating feature, as it forces you to think ahead and plan your assault instead of just running out guns blazing.

Another cool feature is the difficulty system; you can change your difficulty setting before any mission, however the payout is much, much higher if you play on Veteran difficulty.

Killzone Mercenary is not without some serious faults.  The Multiplayer is somewhat broken; unless you have a seriously intense Wi-Fi signal there is no way to get into a match.  Just you join the match, before you even spawn in game you will find yourself kicked from the match due to poor connection, even if you’re connection is solid.  Not to mention that when you do get into a game the matchmaking is somewhat dodgy as well.  The majority of Team matches are unevenly matched, with 2v4 matches happening constantly.  It seems the Match Join function is set to random and will almost always leave one team at 2, sometimes 3, player disadvantage.  It’s funny how there were far less, if any, of these issues in the Killzone Mercenary Online Beta.

Luckily this is not the first game to have these issues, and it is not a big problem to fix.  The fun that you have in the three different multiplayer modes far outweigh the connectivity issues.  Multiplayer may be slightly broken for now, but is still enjoyable.  Sadly, yet understandably, there is no voice chat, however due to the Vita’s Party Chat feature not all hope is lost.

Overall, this is definitely the Vita’s first good shooter, and in fact one of the best games you’ll play on it.  But it is more than just a fun shooter on a handheld; it is a great First Person Shooter.  If you feel the need for a change of pace from your conventional shooters on PC or console, then this is a truly solid alternative.  One thing’s for sure, I am super pumped to see what they do with Killzone: Shadowfall on PS4 and how the Vita’s powerful potential will be integrated.

Final Round Rating  -  8.5/10

 - Frank van der Merwe

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Killer is Dead - Final Round Review

I have never played something that has made me so completely confused by its story and yet strangely enthralled by it at once; that was until I played Killer is Dead.  It is written and directed by the infamous Suda 51 (Goitchi Suda), who is known for his amazingly outlandish imagination.

Our suave hero, Mondo, is a hired assassin who executes supernatural creatures and people, while his adventures take him from secret government facilities in area 151 to the moon.  From the beginning the story is incredibly vague.  Any question you find answered is over shadowed by a more outlandish question, and the craziness snowballs to the end.  This can become somewhat of a problem as the overall story becomes back benched; leaving anyone who is actually interested in what’s going on out it the dark.  Thankfully each mission has a short contained story you undertake, most of which are hilarious due to Mondo’s calm exterior, never to be phased by extra-terrestrials or ghostly clients.  After receiving his orders, Mondo is taken to the objective where he must battle groups of enemies to get to his target and execute them.

Killers is Dead offers a fast paced hack and slash combat that balances offensive and defensive manoeuvres.  Mondo has two weapons at his disposal; Gekkou, his sword, and his robotic left arm, Musselback.  Gekkou is your main weapon in combat and is able to use the blood of your slain enemies to become more powerful; making you faster and stronger with higher combos, and losing your speed and power with damage.  To keep your combo you must dodge enemy attacks, when timed right triggering an insane button mashing scene where Mondo hacks his opponents to pieces, further adding to your combo counter.

Musselback is the weapon to choice when fighting enemies at a distance, as it is essentially a gun that uses the crystalized blood of enemies to power is projectiles.  You can also unlock attachments, adding things like a drill or freeze bullets, which are interesting but don’t add much dimension to all the hacking and slashing you will be focusing on.

If you get tired of all that combat, than you can relax on a date in gigolo mode, where you stare at different women’s assets, not being creepy or anything.  By making them happy, either giving them presents or with enough courage, you can take them home where you are rewarded with a new weapon or outfit.  New costumes are available for you and the ladies you meet throughout the game; of course, you get cool costumes and they get lingerie... There is also a combat challenge room where you can test your skill, which has an enjoyable difficulty that also unlocks items.

Killer is Dead has a gorgeous noir visual style bursting with colour and flair.  Everything is vibrant and the level designs have a lot of variation, which really show off what Grasshopper Manufacture can do.  Enemies look great, having quite a few different enemy skins and combat types for you to battle with; there is worse in a hack and slash game than killing the same three enemies a thousand times over.  Bosses even greater range; you will fight a zombie Mozart wannabe, a demon steam train and, my personal favourite, the Yakuza boss who has a living tiger tattoo (he can even ride the damn thing).  However, battling these great looking bosses can be a letdown.

Some boss battles can be so underwhelming that they are borderline boring.  One boss has you shooting at eye balls until the stem hits the floor, you hit it and it falls off, rinse and repeat. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem if the boss actually hit you with an attack that hurt once and awhile.  The next boss will then destroy you in two hits, making the difficulty spikes random and frustrating.

Killer is Dead is a one of a kind hack and slash.  As much as I love games that try something new, I can’t shake the feeling that something has been lost in translation here.  No game really compares and whether that’s its downfall (or not), I will leave up to you to decide.

Final Round Rating  -  7/10

 - Will Flynn

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Madden 25 - Final Round Review

Gridiron is the biggest sport in the world… of America.  Since 1997, with the first Gridiron game in the Madden franchise (Madden ’98), there have been some incredible innovations and technological leaps turning the Madden franchise into what it is today.  Sadly, though, in the last few years it seems they have failed bring any new innovations to the table.

Madden 25, celebrating 25 years of the Madden franchise, just doesn’t cut it.  EA Sports always promise new and improved graphics and features, and they never seem to flesh out properly.  Whether it’s the shadows that look fuzzy because of the new designed grass textures, or when players simply walking through their teammates on the sideline, it’s amazing that these are still issues.   After more than a decade of “new and improved” gameplay you’d think they’d have this down.

Now I’m not saying it’s a bad game, there is just nothing new on offer.  Madden 25 another solid NFL game; with a few old features rehashed, the Mini-Games removed, and adding in a horde of unneeded and unwanted features.  Some of the newer features are nothing more than new animations and a few re-mapped controls to “streamline” the Audible system.

Madden 25 has incorporated a rather solid Manager mode, allowing you step into the shoes of a Team Manager.  The system does work, but is unnecessary as a full Game Mode when it could have easily been an option in Career mode, and Career mode offers nothing the earlier Madden games didn’t.
There is no need for Madden 25 to be the best in Character Creation, Franchise Management, or Online Fantasy Teams, as there is already a tonne of games and services that do these things better than Madden ever will.

What I would to see in Madden 15 is a properly polished game, complete with solid graphics and physics both on and off the field. The 2D crowds have gotten to the point where it is impossible to not notice; not to mention the helicopter view of the stadium and its badly rendered car-park features, such as 2D trees and cars complete with terrible shadow effects.

Taking all things into account, Madden 25 really drops the ball in it’s the Presentation.  The Main Menu is cluttered and looks like a 1940’s NFL coach’s play book.  The design is badly mapped and even the controls don’t respond as they should.  Since when does pressing Left mean I want to go Up?  Not to mention that the Main Menu re-maps itself, meaning things are not always in the same place; navigating this labyrinth of different sized blocks can become maddening.

With all this said, Madden 25 is still a fun and playable game.  Unfortunately though, this is the case most Madden titles, and there is little point in upgrading if you own a previous version.

Final Round Rating  –  6 / 10

- Frank van der Merwe 

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 - Final Round Review

Loosely based on the manga and anime from the Weekly Shonen Jump magazine, One Piece, Pirate Warriors 2 takes the settings and characters from a rather rich source material and builds its own unique story.  First and foremost, if you know nothing about One Piece, the world is amazing and well worth your time - when you’re not too busy gaming that is.  The game has a Dynasty Warriors feel, where you select a character a run around levels smashing hundreds (sometimes thousands) of enemies to complete objectives and defeat your foes.

One Piece has some insanely colourful visuals that take the art design of series creator, Eiichiro Oda, into the 3D realm perfectly.  Everything from the ground you walk upon, to the bright colours of the Thousand Sunny, look as vibrant and playful as the anime or manga does.  Characters look near perfect to their animated counterpart, and are all voices are in Japanese (English subtitles are automatically enabled) for the authentic One Piece feel.

The story is a great example of taking a source material and turning it into something unique and entertaining, without butchering the characters.  While on the run from the Marines, Captain Monkey D. Luffy of the Straw Hate Pirates takes his crew to a nearby island where they discover a room full of objects called Dials.  While there the Dials begin to emit a fog that turns everyone, except Luffy and his navigator Nami, into violent lunatics.  Things become desperate with each battle as more people succumb to the effects of the Dials, building a force bigger than any other that has existed in the One Piece world and forcing alliances with unlikely people.

During my time with the campaign I was able to gather characters who were once enemies and bring them into my crew as playable characters; including old villains, Crocodile and Buggy the Clown; Marine Admirals, Aokiji; even Empoiro Ivankov, seriously look him up.  What it adds up to is a pretty intense war story with pirates, mystical powers and an extremely large body count.

One Piece Pirate Warriors 2 plays the same as the previous title; large groups of enemies run around a map attacking and capturing bases and important locations, while you are destroying them in large numbers and competing for the same capture points.  Each level will give you set objectives to complete as well as secondary objectives, to either give you bonus points for completing it or adding higher stakes to the action (don’t allow team mates to flee or defeat messengers who bring reinforcements).  With the sheer amount of enemies on screen, finding yourself surrounded is common, and this is where camera and lock-on mechanic issues (which were also in the first game) become increasingly apparent.

Generally locking-on will keep you facing your target, allowing your attacks to focus on the individual.  But here it only indicates where they are and sometimes, if it feels like it, the camera follows them.  This can make boss battles incredibly frustrating, especially when 50 enemies are surrounding them and they keep dashing out of sight.  

Throughout the story you are fighting these boss characters (called generals) that have been manipulated by the Dials; successfully beating them usually results in them joining your crew for the rest of the game, and unlocks them in other game modes.  Being a Dynasty Warriorsesque game, having multiple characters with unique fighting styles is a huge bonus for replayability as well as being some amazing fan-service.

Completing any mission will grant you a ton of unlockable items; including images, sound bites, character animations, and some cool playable game modes.  Challenges are a fun diversion from the main story as they consist of survivor mode levels, fighting two boss characters per room and becoming increasingly difficult with your progress.  Certain enemies get teamed together with some devastating results and create pretty challenging battles.  Crew logs also unlock as you complete levels from the main story and beat other crew logs, boiling down to multitudes of opponents that run towards you as you hack and slash your way to the enemy base to defeat their general.  It represents the heart of One Piece’s gameplay.

Even though there is not much of a difference between the first and second game, the few changes that have been made make the world of difference. One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 has major replay value and is a blast to look at, and play.  Dozens of characters and unlocks makes it well worth your money even if you are not a big One Piece fan, so set sail for the Grand Line and get ready for a battle you won’t forget.


 - Will Flynn