Back 2 Backlog: Battlefront II, Yakuza Kiwami, Arkham VR

Back 2 Backlog is our new, irregular-in-several-senses feature where we put three mini-reviews on one page; reviews of games released over the last year or so that we didn’t cover at the time, but that we now have an urge to say something about.

The only officially-licensed Star Wars game to release amidst the uncontainable hype of a new Star Wars film, and yet EA still managed to anger consumers and critics alike to the point where Battlefront II spectacularly underperformed at release. How and why?

Let’s ignore the sarlacc in the room for a moment, and look at the campaign. After all, the story mode could potentially have saved the game… but it didn’t. It’s always fun to play the bad guy, and being cast as new Imperial character Iden Versio of ‘Inferno Squad’ gives you plenty of opportunities to exterminate rebel scum. Inevitably – and unfortunately, we’d say – she soon finds reason to turn traitor, become a goody two shoes, and join the Rebels. Oh well; fun while it lasted.

And the campaign is fun… sometimes. There are moments where you think to yourself “hey, this is pretty good!” as you’re dodging and returning fire, flying through space blasting enemies, or listening to some fantastic banter between Lando and his mate Shriv. These moments are few and far between in the fairly brief story though, with most of the experience being “meh”. Amazingly, it doesn’t feel very Star Warsy.

Online… well, is there anything we can say about the atrocious ruination of the Star Cards system that you haven’t already heard at least a dozen times? Heavily skewed toward rewarding those who (repeatedly) pay real money for an advantage, it’s extremely disappointing. Doubly so as the underlying experience is quite good, especially the excellent space battles in Starfighter Assault (developed by Criterion). Expect the issue to justifiably flare up once more when purchases are reintroduced.

Battlefront II’s unlocks are set up exactly like a free-to-play game, and that is completely unacceptable. Worth picking out of the bargain bin, but full price? No way.

 

 

 

  • Format: PS4 (version reviewed), PS3
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Deep Silver/Koch Media
  • Developer: Sega
  • Players: 1
  • Site: http://yakuza.sega.com/kiwami/
  • Game code provided by the distributor

Remakes and re-releases continue to come thick and fast; understandable, as they certainly sell (but who the hell are all these people who bought Crash bloody Bandicoot?!?). Last year’s (so far as English-speaking territories are concerned) remaster of the original Yakuza chose to do things a little differently. Somebody, somewhere, apparently asked the question “What if you played through the game again… but this time, your craziest enemy keeps ambushing you to kick the shizzle out of you?”. It’s not as annoying as you might think.

This is still at its heart the first game in the Yakuza series, so it’s a fine place to start if you’ve yet to acquaint yourself with Kazuma and his world. The ‘gangster with a heart of gold’ thing is an odd yet fairly familiar idea, and it’s explored superbly here. The overarching story is, arguably, a little too reliant on clichés (young child in danger, Our Hero Has Been Framed For A Crime He Did Not Commit, haggard but good-hearted cop, and more). However, the moment-to-moment dialogue and events make for a compelling story.

Storytelling is strong, but you’re free to explore the fairly restrictive yet mesmerising recreation of the heart of Tokyo at your will. There are plenty of side quests to be found, and simple yet addictive distractions. Romance a lady, upgrade and race toy cars, play claw machines (yes), do a bit of karaoke via a rhythm minigame… It’s excellent value for money.

Combat is simple but pleasing fare, punching and kicking people in the face (or whacking them round the head with nearby objects like bicycles) backed up by a solid upgrade system. Importantly, there’s a wry sense of humour running through the experience too; it’s not afraid to get a bit silly, and you’ll be glad of it.

 

 

 

  • Format: PSVR (version reviewed), Steam VR devices
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Warner Bros
  • Developer: Rocksteady
  • Players: 1
  • Site: https://www.batmanarkhamvr.com/en-us
  • Game purchased by reviewer

Okay, okay, so this is more than a year old now. Given the fact that PSVR is slowly gaining traction thanks to recent sales and discounts, however – and the sales this has already enjoyed – we think it’s important to remind people of exactly what they’re getting. And what they’re not.

Developed by Rocksteady, this is canon so far as their Arkham series goes. It is in fact a direct sequel to Arkham Knight, with brief text summaries of the first three games to be found if you look in the right place. Don’t expect first-person Batventuring, though; there’s no combat, and you move from spot to spot via teleportation. Just like Batman, er, doesn’t.

It’s certainly impressive. Not only graphically (PSVR games suffer from low resolution and blurring at the edge of your vision, but this looks better than most), but acting and writing are just as strong as fans will be used to. The experience itself is superbly designed, and it’s an excellent way to play Batman. You get to play with some of his most iconic toys such as Batarangs, the grappling hook, and the Batcomputer; though what you can do with them is, sadly, very limited. You get both the Batmobile and the Batwing… but you only get to see them from the outside, and you certainly don’t get to control them.

Still, there are puzzles. A little too simple, perhaps, but puzzles that allow you to Be The Bat nonetheless. There’s no denying Rocksteady’s eye for detail, either. Lots of Easter Eggs to enjoy, and a final sequence that freaks you out in a way only VR can. With a runtime of little over an hour, though – and Riddler puzzles in a second playthrough the only post-game content – it’s a little overpriced.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Written by Luke K

Luke plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. Chances are, if you pick up a copy of the latest Official PlayStation Magazine or GamesMaster, you'll find something he's written in there. Luke doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

Leave a Reply