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ERASED

ERASED

A great mystery anime with some faults. The plight of Satoru in his quest to nab a killer in the past to prevent the murder of his mother and the lonely school girl surrounding it all is a great hook. Timeline slips and what not aside, the guessing game of who is the killer on an episode to episode basis was compelling and suspenseful. It’s just a shame ERASED lost steam halfway by pointing out the killer with a way too obvious hint that anyone like me who wasn’t over analyzing picked up on.

The story concludes well enough, but man oh man the last episode has some comical (read: terrible) plot set up. I’m talking about a specific rooftop scene at the very end, terrible.

What really kept me watching though were the characters. Satoru, his friends, and Satoru’s mom were a pleasure to watch. Great natural writing and genuinely funny at times.

Oh that Hinazuki reveal the end, I was in tears that was so satisfying.

Rating: 8/10

Grand Theft Auto V

Grand Theft Auto V

What a game. I came expecting an outlandish story and crazy characters based on the advertisements, and while Grand Theft Auto V is all of that, it’s also very down to earth. It’s a very well written crime drama with lots of comedy TV show in video game form. The banter is excellent and Trevor turned out more enjoyable despite an off-putting torture scene.

The city of Los Santos is very easy to get lost and immersed in. Radio blasting and cruising through the city, the street level atmosphere here is nothing short of amazing. It doesn’t hurt this is the best PC port of a AAA game I’ve ever played. The combat is so so, but the varied mission types and side activities overshadow the standard gun play. My only wish is that Grand Theft Auto V had a meaningful single player component after finishing the campaign.

Rating: 10/10

Blade and Soul

Blade and Soul

There’s some life in Blade and Soul, a short one, but I enjoyed it until I hit the endgame grind wall. Blade and Soul’s combat is its greatest strength and one of the reasons I kept playing for so long. My Force Master, think the mage class of the game, was an incredible action packed rapidly calculated button spam until the game’s current level cap of 45. The combat is fast and that’s comparing Blade and Soul to other games like Vindictus or Tera with similar combat systems. The story … there’s definitely a story, but heaven forbid I actually read horribly translated quest texts. Yeah the Skip button is a good friend to have. The in-game cinematic are pretty nifty though.

Blade and Souls visuals are a hit and a miss. Character designs are very emphasizing of female anatomy, with bust size and hip sizes of all ranges. Oh and that “body oil” slider. I’ll leave it at that. I didn’t mind, but I’m sure there are nitpickers lurking about. However, technically the game is old. Remember Blade and Soul is a 2012 game from South Korea. Even at max settings, it’s not that great. The draw distance is horribly short, the textures muddy, and the frame rate varies about during general gameplay. The only thing the game is managing to look good is your character. There’s some outstanding environmental designs scattered about, but my general opinion is that Blade and Soul technically and looks outdated.

As for my PVE experience, it’s okay. Mind you it’s a straight up grind up to level cap, though a fun one at that with my Force Master. The game does a good job of keeping quests within the same vicinity and moves you along its world on a even pace. Even with a one-month subscription the leveling experience is tuned very well. I hit level cap just as I finished the main story and surrounding side quests.

The dungeons are rudimentary and misleading. Most of them take less than five minutes to complete, the remaining dungeons fair no better as you get high-level players to plow through them for you. With no holy trinity (tank, healer, DPS) the dungeon experience is a free far all mess I’m not a real fan of. No semblance of control except I let the melee tank while I throw fire balls safely from a distance. That and Blade and Soul has a horrible tendency to make every dungeon in a cave for whatever reason. Super lazy. Blade and Soul does have a working Looking for Group system, so I was thankful for that.

As for being Free to Play. I think it’s very generous, players in the forums even complain the subscription does not offer enough. It’s literally a free game up until level cap. There’s some ugly F2P nonsense still going on though. RNG Lock boxes, weapons need to be unsealed, alternative characters are heavily discouraged with costumes and skins locked to a single character, bag space is terrible, and skins are a one-time use. The prices for everything in the in-game store aren’t very pretty either.

PVP? I didn’t do it. Not interested. I hear its 1v1 PVP is some of the best, but it’s something I don’t have to the time to invest into.

So why did I quit? The grind wall hit me in the face and it’s not so much the grind it’s just I don’t care to grind hoping the RNG gods are in my favor for the day to help me progress. Well most likely because Black Desert Online is looming ever so close in a couple of days is the real reason.

Rating: 7/10

Expelled from Paradise

Expelled from Paradise

An okay anime movie. Where Expelled from Paradise goes with its story and themes have been explored many times before it. The CGI animation is above average and I thought the mecha design and fighting were pretty good at the end, otherwise it’s standard fair art style just in CGI. There’s not much to say, watch it for the CGI if you like how it looks.

Rating: 7/10

Seraph of the End 2nd Season

Seraph of the End 2nd Season

The second go around fares better, though not by much. I enjoyed that our gang of vampire killers are out in the streets on the front lines and actually doing something meaningful this time around instead of dabbling their time in that fake high school. However, it still amounts to little despite all the action and all the minor twist and turns. Only in the last episode did anything of real worth actually happen.

One could argue Yu has gotten even worse dependent on your opinion on his views about family being everything and his stupid actions centered on those beliefs. Worse yet he’s still all talk with nothing to back it up. I don’t know how high this guy is on the delusional scale but he’s gained no power of any worth despite all his training to talk all this smack and get nowhere in real fights. Luckily additional new characters and squads help to soften the blow that is stupid Yu hogging the spotlight.

With that said, I still like this anime despite its obvious faults. The world building and semblance of a backstory is still keeping me watching and that last episode had me wanting more.

Rating: 7/10

Tales of Zestiria

Tales of Zestiria

Uninstalled. 20 hours in and Tales of Zestiria failed to keep me engaged in any meaningful way. What a shame too, as this was a legitimately good port, assuming you mod it so it runs at 60 FPS instead of its locked in 30 FPS.

From story to characters Tales of Zestiria from what I played of it is a very by the numbers good guys versus bad guys story. It doesn’t help the cast of characters are so bland and one dimensional, Zestiria ticking the boxes off of every anime character trope. The super happy / high spirits good guy main character, cute loli character, too cool for school bad boy and etc. The combat is all over the place, even with a semblance of control, it’s just a mess of flashy nonsense on screen and obnoxious skill call outs over and over again.

Rating: 5/10

One Punch Man

One Punch Man

A ridiculously strong mix of action and comedy. The Saitama and Genos partnership was a pleasant surprise. Their interactions are gold throughout the season with Saitama’s easy-going demeanor. The humor in One Punch Man is right up my alley as I found it genuinely funny throughout the season. The story is so so and up in the air as it’s another anime adaption created a bit too early with the manga nowhere near finished and with no signs of a second season any time soon. However, what studio Madhouse created here was nothing short of a love for the anime medium and will become one of the easiest recommendations for newer anime fans without a second thought.

One cannot forget to acknowledge the animation. Every action sequence is a contest among the different animators on who can best each other with pure animation quality. The fight sequences sometimes are just pure bliss.

That and I can’t forget that opening and ending sequences, so good yet so contrasting.

With that, I guess we’ll see our beloved Caped Baldy and Blond Cyborg in a year or two.

Rating: 10/10

Chivalry of a Failed Knight

Chivalry of a Failed Knight

Generic battle anime #2 of the 2015 fall season. While I gave up with the wincest introduction it’s barely better than The Asterisk War with slightly higher quality battle scenes. It’s frighteningly horrifying how similar and how equally horrible these two shows are.

Rating: 6/10

The Asterisk War

The Asterisk War

Generic battle anime #1 of the 2015 fall season. Not an ounce of originality.

Rating: 5/10

Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns

Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns

A strong start with not so much staying power. I came into Guild Wars 2’s new expansion Heart of Thorns a relatively new player to the game. Amazing was my first thought of all the new zones introduced into the new expansion. Intricate and dense with content, the new maps hooked me through many sessions with diverse activities and with so many nook and crannies to explore. Just the sheer size of each map is impressive and intricate meta events that happen throughout can make you feel lost and confused, which is a good thing. The sense of exploration is just top-tier in Heart of Thorns, so much more so than in any other modern MMORPG. The meta event for Dragon Stand is a truly mesmerizing experience and a real highlight of the things Heart of Thorns is capable of.

That’s where things start to fall apart. Once you’re done with what each map has to offer, the other content is rather sub par and downright unfinished.

The main story is laughably elementary. The Living Story starts off strong, its story got me invested in these characters I’m not even familiar with. It’s in the middle everything falls apart as the story becomes rushed and unfocused to the point it’s hard to even care anymore. The plot diverges into needless story-lines that don’t matter and the ending is horribly rushed.

The new World vs World is fundamentally broken and untested. Admitted by the developers themselves of their mistake, I don’t think its excusable to release unfinished content for their first expansion in the way they did with their World vs World. I won’t comment on structured PVP content, I’m not really a fan.

PVP as asides, their PVE content is horribly gated and imbalanced. Dungeons have become obsolete that no one runs them anymore. Instead dungeons are replaced by Fractals (mini dungeons) because it’s not hard to see it’s easier to develop a smaller mini dungeon than a complete one. Fractals are getting a rehaul themselves because surprise surprise it’s again broken and untested content released with Heart of Thorns.

I haven’t bother with the raids nor do I plan to. I can’t put up a reliable schedule to do it anymore. I hear the raids are a highlight to the expansion, it’s just terrible it’s so inaccessible to casual players with how gearing works with Guild Wars 2.

These days I just log in for my daily reward. All the new content in the form of cosmetics, pets, and etc. are gated behind Guild Wars 2’s gem store which requires money to buy. It’s lazy development because instead of providing interesting content to get new cosmetics through quests, dungeons, and raids it’s just placed behind a pay wall. Gross. There’s nothing to aspire to for casual players. Grinding for money whether in-game or in real life to buy meaningful content is just not fun.

Rating: 7/10

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