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Yakuza 0 Review – The Perfect Introduction To The Series

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I absolutely LOVE the Yakuza games. However, back in 2016. I didn’t even know that much about them. My first impression of the games was that they were these crazy, stupidly fun games that don’t take themselves seriously.

 

The Story

Now, the part that made me think that Yakuza does, in fact, take itself seriously is the main story. You take part of two narratives that eventually get inexorably intertwined with each other. The story is beautifully crafted and delivered, and the voice work done for the game is some of the best I have seen in the industry. The game is only available with Japanese voices and English subtitles, but the strong voice acting of the cast behind the key character does a great job at conveying their feelings. One of the best parts of Yakuza 0 is the fact that it is a prequel. You need not have prior knowledge of the series or its characters to enjoy the game and the story!

The Combat

The two main characters are very different, both in personality and in combat styles. Kazuma Kiryu, the regular of the Yakuza series, is a man with an iron first and a heart of gold, while Goro Majima is a wildcard type of character, crazy and unpredictable. Their personalities translate well into their combat styles.

While Kiryu’s three styles are somewhat similar in that he mostly uses his fists to do the talking, Goro’s styles are varied and I felt like more detail went into Goro than Kiryu when it came to combat. However, that isn’t to say that both characters weren’t a blast to use.

Kiryu’s three styles consist of the Brawler style, which is a balanced mix of the two others and has an emphasis on being drunk while fighting. Rush style, which focuses on fast, low damage punches and kicks with tons of counter-attack and dodging options. And finally, Beast style, which makes Kiryu into a slow moving tank that can take as much damage as he can dish out, while the style also focuses on using the environment as your weapons.

Majima’s styles are quite different. His Thug style fits his personality very well and consists of omnidirectional attacks and flashy kicks, along with a few cheap-shot attacks where Goro goes for the eyes of his opponents, briefly stunning them. The Slugger puts emphasis on the use of weapons, mainly the bat, while allowing you to learn how to use other weapons like swords, tonfas and more. The Breaker style, which is by far the most interesting and quirky in the game is what you get when you put break dancing and a natural fighter like Majima together.

To be honest, the combat felt boring, slow and somewhat outdated… at first. Once I unlocked more moves and progressed through both characters side-business stories ( which unlock more moves for purchase ), the games combat became something much deeper with tons of variety included. Some people might find it repetitive and outdated still, however, I haven’t played a game with combat like this since my PS2 days and it felt really refreshing. The game really does a great job in making Kiryu and Majima look and feel like the badasses they’re supposed to be when it comes to fighting.

The Side Content

Yakuza games are widely known for their crazy over-the-top combat, mini-games and plentiful side-quests. This doesn’t change much in Yakuza 0. I was genuinely surprised with the amount of depth the mini-games had to them. It almost felt like if each mini-game game was fleshed out a bit more, it could be a game of its own.

There are a total of 100 substories in the game. That is a LOT of side-quests. Not to mention that not one of them felt generic or MMO-ish. These substories are full of weird, quirky characters ( As you would expect of a Yakuza game ) and it was really fun to see how Kiryu and Goro interact with them. Some of these quests were made to draw out a laugh or two from you, while others were these really touching and somewhat sad stories.

I don’t even want to mention the side-businesses  that both protagonists have, which have their own substories and can take anywhere from 10-20 hours to compete ( each ). The only problem I have with the game stems from these two side-business substories too. Namely, you have to purchase new properties to expand your business. These properties usually come in a number of around 10 per area but are not marked on your map. You have to walk by every building in these areas to check if you can buy them, and even then you can miss some of them. This was very tedious to do without a guide of sorts.

The Visuals

While I don’t place much importance to graphics in games, the gaming industry and its audience ( even more so ) have become obsessed with graphics and visuals. I’ll try to be as objective as possible here – The game looks slightly dated and character models look like they were pulled from a PS3 game. The cutscenes are done wonderfully, with almost photo-realistic faces, however. The gameplay mostly consists of janky textures and outdated models. The visual representation of Japan in the 80’s is top-notch in contrast to the old character models. The areas are full of people and packed with stores and other locales dotted throughout Kamurocho and Osaka with painstaking details.


In-game models                                                                   Pre-Rendered Cutscene

Conclusion

Despite the Yakuza series having flown under my radar for so long, Yakuza 0 did a great job in drawing me into this wonderfully complicated and intricate criminal drama franchise and I’d go so far as to say this is one of the best stories I’ve experienced while gaming. The game is fun and the world is jam packed with side-content that it’s never boring between main missions despite the fact that Kamurocho and Osaka are relatively small areas to explore. The game’s combat feels outdated at first, but at higher difficulties it feels great to use against some tougher opponents and fighters where you’re overwhelmed by numbers.

I give the game a 9/10

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Liquid Sky Is Probably The Worst Cloud Gaming Solution Right Now

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Cloud gaming is definitely the future, no matter what people think of it. It is the perfect solution for casual gamers who don’t want to invest money into rigs that they will use rarely. With cloud gaming, we are able to enjoy the latest titles on some PC far-far away and pay a small fee for renting it. At least that’s how it started out, as the market started to be more competitive things started to change.

My first cloud gaming experience was with OnLive and I was amazed how well it was working. There was no input lag and for a second I forgot that the game wasn’t running on my PC. When OnLive sold their tech to Sony for what is now PlayStation Now I was a bit bummed out but I found a replacement very fast. That replacement was Liquid Sky, a cloud gaming solution that was based on renting a PC rather than playing preinstalled games what was the case with OnLive. Liquid Sky was in beta, I applied for a slot and got it. Things were great until the 2.0 version came out.

The beta version was insanely great, the performance was unparalleled by any cloud gaming service you could find on the internet. I tested it on slow connections and it was still working perfectly fine, lower picture quality compensated for a fast response time. After a while, I realized that this could be my permanent gaming solution so I decided to buy credits for LiqidSky and some new games that I played on that PC. Then the app updated to version 2.0 and everything good just vanished. The performance from the beta version was nowhere to be found and user experience concerned no one in this company I would say.

Remember that I was playing games in the beta version with a connection of 10 Mbps. That was a nightmare with 2.0 so I upgraded to 50 Mbps, not a single thing changed. I had to downgrade visual performance and was forced to play on 720p if I wanted no input lag. That wasn’t the only issue, my games started crashing (mostly multiplayer games) but not in an ordinary way. I was getting a green screen while still hearing the sound from the game. It was obviously running in the background but I wasn’t getting feedback. If you think that’s all, oh no, these guys have more in store.

I gave the service a rest for about a month and wanted to log in again when I saw that they released an update in hopes that the bugs are fixed. I was greeted with a message – “Only monthly subscribers are allowed to play at peak hours“. Wait a minute, I have about 40 hours remaining to spend that I paid with REAL MONEY while the service was good. Now I can’t play unless I purchase a subscription for something that probably isn’t fixed yet? I left it there and forgot about it for a while. Came back about two weeks after that to see one last mind fuck from Liquid Sky.

 

 

It’s not the peak hours anymore, this thing is mandatory now! No matter how much money you spent on their pay as you go plan, which is still available by the way, you won’t be able to spend those credits without spending more money on a monthly plan!

 

After numerous emails where I asked for a refund at least I got nothing. I decided to ask them on Reddit about it and wrote a big text post explaining all of this in short. The post was held for moderation (all posts are now heavily moderated in their sub) and appeared to be deleted. Then I decided to contact the mods and ask why did they delete my post? Didn’t get a reply but the text was back, the post however, never appeared in the subreddit.

What was once a great hope for cloud gaming as a whole became the worst gaming related service that I ever encountered. They don’t care about their customers, beta testers aren’t respected at all even if we spent money on their service and, as you can see, some of us can’t even spend our credits that we bought.

I had only great words for Liquid Sky once, that time is long gone. They managed to destroy a perfectly working app and to show no respect to their customers in the process. Just stay away from them, at least for now. PlayStation Now, with all of its flaws, is definitely light years ahead.

 

 

Edit: In the text above I have mentioned that I downgraded the image quality to 480p, that wasn’t an option on Liquid Sky as they only offer 720p and 1080p image quality. Sincerest apology for that. They have also asked me to remove the part where I couldn’t access the service during peak hours because that only applied to free users and the part where I mentioned that a monthly plan is now mandatory. From all of this drama I have revealed that, due to a mistake on their end, I was treated by the software as a free user regardless of the 60 hours worth of credits that I had. Judging by the comments on this article I was not alone and I will not correct that part because it was true for me. I could not play at peak hours and I could not access my PC until I made a purchase. Since this issue was reported to them and I got no response until I wrote this peace I see no reason for those parts to be removed.

I have to mention that they also explained the Reddit issue:

 

This isn’t untrue, but our subreddit is not in use. We make it very obvious that our community forums is the place to go for help. It appears his post was auto moderated.

 

Nowhere in the subreddit does it say that it’s inactive.

 

 

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Cuphead Review – A Masterpiece That Will Make You Hate Yourself

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Why are we so late with the Cuphead review? If you get your hands on Cuphead in the near future you will understand. This game is made to crush your hopes and dreams, to show you how bad at gaming you really are before it lets you pass to the next boss fight, that’s what Cuphead is.

I know there are a lot of reviews out there that claimed Cuphead isn’t as hard as people are saying, check their gameplay, they were playing the game on easy mode so please stay away from me with their bs. The tutorial is rather easy though. Cuphead is as hard as it gets and I love it because of that. After defeating the first 2 bosses I felt like I’m the guy that will beat this game in 5 hours and debunk all these “Dark Souls of anything” myths, but Cuphead hit back. The game was just getting warmed up and I wasn’t prepared.

Difficulty Is Constantly Scaling

The difficulty scaling is so perfectly done I was impressed, to say the least. Every boss fight was a new and harder challenge that tests your reflexes and your nerves. Friendly advice: if you are playing this game on PC, use a controller. The game is even harder to play on a keyboard and it really feels like it was made for a controller. The boss fights will keep you on the edge of your seat for the whole time. Every boss is unique, some can be defeated with only one or two types of shooting, some will require patience and timing. As I said, it gets harder every time.

 

There Is No OP Ability In The Game

When I started to play I went to the shop and bought the “chaser shooting” ability. I was going through the first level like a hot knife through butter, it was so easy that I had an impression that this game can’t be that hard if you have homing projectiles that will kill your enemies before they even show up. Boy, was I wrong… The guys from MDHR thought of everything, and they have a lot of creative ways to sabotage your “chaser” shooting plan. It’s really surprising how every single upgrade is so well balanced. You can get an extra hitpoint but will cause less damage, you can be invisible while dashing but will have to time it just right…

 

The Dialogue

There is none. Well, there technically is but not that much. The story is so good and clear that you don’t need any more explanation for it. Just follow the map and make your way to the devil, that’s it. Most of the encounters on your journey will be explanations for some levels that you might need. Who needs a dialogue after throwing their controller on the floor a couple of times? These guys thought of everything!

 

Hitboxes and Boss Design

I know that the game is mega popular right now, all those sold copies and all those players but I also know that a lot of those people have no idea that the game was hand drawn. Every single detail in this game was hand drawn and they did a hell of a job. The bosses don’t say much, most of the time it’s some jibberish that you won’t even understand but you will know what they wanted to say. Even when you die 20 times in a row you will still want to play because the boss is designed in a way to keep you entertained before, during and after the fight. There is one thing that really got my attention and that’s the hitboxes in this game. I don’t know if you ever experienced perfection but if there is such a thing then the hitboxes in Cuphead are the definition of it.

 

The Game Is Not Comparable

Cuphead is very unique, in every possible way. The game can’t be compared to anything out there, the closest you will get is probably Metal Slug and Contra but Cuphead is so much more than that. The art, the difficulty, the feeling when you play the game… It’s simply incomparable. Cuphead is the first of its kind and we should accept it as is.

Final Verdict

Since 2014 I was patiently waiting and waiting… Cuphead got my interest since it was announced and now I know why. The game gave me everything that I wanted, the unique art style, the insanely fun and hard gameplay, the nerve-wracking gameplay that will leave scars on my soul for the rest of my life and most importantly, it showed me that we all suck at games when they are created properly. There are no in-game purchases, no pre-alphas, pre-betas, early access, season passes, no microtransactions…. Are you taking notes 2K and the rest of the blood-sucking pricks? We forgot to appreciate this, it’s how games were made and how games are supposed to be made. For $20 I got a complete, finished, polished game that is a true masterpiece. In the year 2017 when everyone is trying to rip us off with “cosmetics” and loot boxes, MDHR just slapped them all in the face and said, “here, this is how you should do it dumb-dumbs”.

When we started this website I made a rule for my self, that rule is that only one game can be a true masterpiece and get a 10/10. I thought that I will have to wait for a long time for such a game but Cuphead proved the opposite. This will be the only game that I will ever rate as a perfect

 

10/10

 

 

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