This is actually my third time trying to finish Overlord believe it or not. I rented this game back when it came out on Xbox 360 and didn’t get very far. A second time on PC, and now my third on PC. This is the furthest I’ve gotten in the game, about 2/3 of the way, but as time goes on the game ages more poorly than the last time I remember it. It was an early next-gen game for Xbox 360 so all eyes were on it and it was graphically impressive. It still looks great today and surprisingly runs amazingly well on PC without needing any fixes, but the game has a lot of issues.
Firstly, the game is incredibly tedious and the game has some very poor level design. There’s no map, no objective marker, and the levels are very linear so even one of these things would have been so helpful. You blindly wander around these areas that all start to look the same trying to finish objectives. Now, the objectives can all be completed in any order for any area. Your main hub is a tower that you can customize and upgrade over time as you complete the game and from here you can fast travel to any level you have visited. The main gameplay mechanic is using the right analog stick and controlling your horde of minions to do your deeds for you such as carry items around and combat. You’re very weak comparatively so entering combat isn’t suggest unless you really need it. Again, not the worst problem.
What really starts to bore me is that sweeping your minions around works well enough minus some control issues when you have a straggler. The game favors the majority of the horde you end up controlling and stragglers sometimes won’t join their brethren making things frustrating. You end up controlling four different minions. Reds, Blues, Greens, and Browns. Browns are your main grunt and do the most combat damage and have the most defense. Blues can enter the water, but can also revive minions. Reds can throw fireballs at a distance and put out fires. Greens can be sneaky and climb up larger enemies and also are immune to gasses and poisons. You end up spending almost half the game acquiring the three hives needed for the minions to open up new areas in each level. I constantly ran into roadblocks requiring me to backtrack and wander around a level until I ran into a new area I hadn’t discovered. When I say the level design is bad, I mean piss poor. There are no memorable landmarks, just linear pathways that loop around, and turning around can literally look like two other directions you came from.
While navigation is a serious chore the use of minions is limited. There are no puzzles to be solved, just destroy everything in their path and make sure you use certain colors for certain enemies if need be. There are boss fights that are quite challenging, but then another major issue cropped up. You must horde and resource orbs to summon these minions, they aren’t free. Certain enemy types will give you different orbs, but Browns are the most needed. I constantly had to go back to a level or two that had easy to mine sheep that gave me yellow orbs. I then had to exit the level and reload for the sheep to respawn just to get enough Browns to defeat a boss. If you’re left in an area with no minions left you’re pretty much screwed. You are never powerful enough to take out tough enemies alone and some bosses can only be defeated by minions. There are mana and health fonts you can sacrifice minions into, but they are far and few between so you really have to watch your health. Minions can loot stuff and find potions to help out a little, and this is the best way to acquire gold in the game to upgrade your weapons and armor.
Once you get used to the controls and gameplay loop you will really start to see how much aimless wandering you do where you aren’t doing anything at all. I had to always keep a mental note of where a certain area was blocked and by what element so I could go back and progress and complete another mission. Progressing was somewhat satisfying but I spent 75% of my playtime wandering around these levels trying to remember where to go and figure out what part I hadn’t discovered yet. Another issue I would run into is not having the right minions so I would then need to backtrack back to a spawn hole and get the right minion, but it doesn’t end there. Let’s say you have 20 Browns, but now need 5 Blues because an object is in water. I would backtrack to a Blue spawn point I remember, but you can’t send back Browns in a Blue spawn point. I then had to back all the way back to the beginning of the area just to send the Browns back. This is stupid and tedious and there is so many quality of life issues that could have improved the game. Let me send back any minion into any spawn point. Also, why spawn points? They’re so far and few between let me just summon them from the ground anywhere. I already have a limited amount based on the orbs I collect.
With that, all said, the game might be worth a look if you really love the humor in games like Fable or from the mid-2000’s fantasy era. I also felt despite the game toting being evil I never felt truly evil. You can save people for rewards or kill them, but it doesn’t seem evil. The game never went above and beyond this so I just felt like a misunderstood good guy the entire way. What? The visuals hold up, the control is cumbersome but doable, and the gameplay is unique, but the constant aimless wandering, lack of a map or compass, and poor level design lead to tedium and make the game just plain boring.
Time Schaffer games are always hit or miss. He may be a great story writer or character creator, but he’s not a great game designer. I don’t want to come out swinging with everyone thinking I hate Grim Fandango or all Schaffer-made games. A lot of his work is considered some of the best games ever made on PC, which I get, but they’re remembered for their story, atmosphere, and characters – not so much their gameplay.
You play as Manual Calavera. A Mexican salesman of the dead who gets wrapped up in a huge film noir-style story trying to save a mysterious girl, get back at his evil overlord of a boss, and also an evil co-worker. The game is split up into four years. It takes four years for people to travel by foot to the Ninth Level if they don’t qualify for an express train ticket. For some reason, Manny can’t get any good clients yet his co-worker Domino can. You wind up uncovering a plot of fraud, sabotage, subterfuge, and love. I can’t go too far into story details, but they’re quite entertaining enough to keep you pushing on.
And pushing on you will do. The game’s object hunting obtuseness varies from minimal to I will never figure this out without a walkthrough. The way objects are used is very illogical at times and you wonder how Schaffer thought gamers would think in these ways. It doesn’t help that the areas you explore are massive with dozens of hallways and rooms and you can easily miss something that needs picking up or completely bypass something that needs to be interacted with. LucasArts had a lot on their hands with this game as it was the first 3D game they developed and the most sophisticated to date. There’s no object mixing either. Manny stores everything in his cloak/jacket and you must either try everything on every interactive object or simply think in odd obscure ways.
One example early on requires Manny to gum up a pneumatic tube system and get the maintenance demon to open the door. That was fine and all, but the demon left and I couldn’t get in the door. I then had to re-acquire all the items needed to gum up the system again by running down hallways and do a ton of more backtracking all because I didn’t realize I had to throw the bolt to stop the door from closing. How was I supposed to guess that? You run into these situations every step of the way and it gets exhausting and discouraging. Another scenario requires Manny to take a sign and use it to find a hidden doorway in part of a forest. This forest has doorways that loop back around to the same room and do nothing. How would you know to take that sign from the previous room and use it as a compass to find the hidden doorway in this room? The puzzles are insane and poorly designed and lead to constant frustration. I felt my progress halted every five minutes.
Now with puzzle obscurity out of the way, there’s nothing else to this game. There are pretty environments to look at, great music and voice acting to listen to, and some great characters, albeit none of them very memorable. You can unlock quite a few achievements by talking to certain people at certain points or looking at certain objects. I find this in tune with the puzzle obscurity. I also didn’t like how many areas are reused over and over again, while in new ways, they’re still the same. Things are just spread so far apart and so many sub-plots and hints are given to you that you can’t make heads or tails of any of it. There’s no journal to keep track of what’s said or even what you’re really supposed to be doing next. It can become quite frustrating.
Thankfully the game isn’t very long, especially if you use a walkthrough. My adventure was over in about 6 hours and I enjoyed it while it lasted, but it’s not something I will be talking about for years to come. The gameplay time isn’t enough to really flesh out the characters more than you wanted, and almost plays out like a Pixar movie. It’s a fun blast while you’re in it, but once the credits roll you quickly move on to something else and probably won’t remember it a year down the road. Something about this whole game just didn’t stick with me and I can’t put my finger on it. If the puzzles weren’t so obscure I might be more inclined. At least there’s fun developer commentary all over the place and the remastered upgrades are nice. Everything looks sharp and clean and rendered in a much higher resolution. However, there are still many collision and animation bugs.
Overall, Grim Fandango is a fun story with some fun characters while you’re in it, but will quickly move on to other things as something about this game doesn’t quite stick. It feels more like a Pixar cartoon with gameplay bits in between than a full-blown game. It looks good, sounds good, and the voice acting is excellent, but many won’t finish the game just due to how obscure getting through everything really is.
You play as Ichiban Kasuga. A naive young yakuza member who ends up in politics of his yakuza family and then later the entire country of Japan’s government. The story is incredibly well written and directed, and I was hooked from beginning to end, at least the story and characters. I love the characters here as they have tons of heart, soul, and personality that make you want to see them through to the end of their journey. The first three chapters of the game are pretty much story and character building. In fact, I didn’t really get to do anything outside of watching cut scenes for the first three hours of the game. I just ran to spots that triggered them and I watched this complex web of characters build their story up, and I wasn’t upset as I was glued to my screen the whole time.
This is the first time I’ve finished a Yakuza game and a rare completion of a JRPG. Usually, JRPGs have great stories and characters, but something within the game keeps me from finishing it. Be it unfair and insane difficulty, too much grinding or late-game issues pop up like needing to quest for something very specific and it makes the progression grind to a halt. Like a Dragon is the first in the series to play like a JRPG and not an action game. The story is fantastic and the characters are well written and memorable, but that’s probably the strongest thing going for the game, and it’s the reason why I slumped through the late game issues to see it through to the end.
Once you get past a certain point in the story, honestly I can’t say anything as every little detail could be a major spoiler, you finally get let loose in the world. However, with this being a JRPG let’s talk about combat first. The game is played in a turned-based style, but characters move around on their own in the arenas. Depending on your job you have various skills that can cause major damage, and this is super important and the core of the entire game. While base attacks are fine early on in the game, they don’t do much later on and you start relying on skills that all use MP whether they’re physical or magic-based. Each attack has a type such as magic, slashing, piercing (guns), bashing, or blunt (physical) attacks. Some attacks might have elemental attributes attached to them, but you really must balance your team. You need characters that can heal, do large AoE damage, and lots of damage to single enemies. It’s important you have a class that can do one of each of those things as it’s key to winning battles.
Early on in the game, the difficulty feels perfect. There were some challenges, I had to use strategy, and really focus on ranking up my character’s jobs and learn enemy weaknesses. This is also a key point in the battle system. Like a Dragon mocks or makes fun of other games like Pokemon. Early on you come across someone similar to Professor Oak and the entire scene plays out like the beginning of every Pokemon game. It’s pretty funny. The point of this is you acquire a bestiary of each enemy type and when you fight in battle and discover a weakness it will appear over the character when you select that attack. This is vital to winning boss fights and harder battles late game or just in general.
Ranking up your job is more important than leveling up your character honestly. This determines your max health, how powerful your attacks are, and learning new attacks. You get more powerful attacks as you rank up, but the downside is once you change a job you start from the bottom on that job. So you have to grind that job to level it up, and late-game this is incredibly tedious, but more on the late-game problems later. There are thankfully no random battles, but enemies walk around outside that can be avoided. When you fight enemies the environment is also important as smaller areas are great for attacks that do AoE damage and it allows you to wipe out enemies faster in bigger groups.
Outside of combat, there are a ton of mini-games like in every Yakuza game. Karaoke, classic Sega arcade games in Club Sega, crane games, driving ranges, go-karts, and many others. They’re fun at first, but there’s not really any reason to do these mini-games outside of acquiring items. Items are also an important part to combat as the most powerful armor and weapons are almost unobtainable until you can start raking in serious cash at the Battle Arena in chapter 12 and fighting the more powerful enemies late game. You can also upgrade Ichiban’s weapons (only his weapons can be upgraded) and well as craft new items, but honestly, this is only needed if you can’t afford to buy them. There are no unique weapons or armor that can be crafted exclusively, at least that I noticed, and once I started raking in serious cash in the millions I just bought everything and crafting became pointless towards the end of the game.
There are shops and restaurants scattered everywhere and I didn’t pay attention to these too much until late game. Restaurants can fully restore your health and MP, and bulking up on recovery items become super important late game as well. I didn’t really use many of these until then as the game felt perfectly balanced, and the right strategies can keep you alive. There are a couple of pawnshops that allow you to sell items, and this is how you make most of your money early on in the game. You start out digging for Yen under vending machines and eventually start earning a small amount of money to buy recovery items and cheap gear. There are also sub-stories like in every Yakuza game that is shown as chat icons on the map. These give you items and cash and are mostly pointless once you get the late game, and the stories aren’t interesting at all. You also have extra side missions that can get you larger amounts of cash called Hero Quests. This is mostly for completionists in the end, but the entire reason this is a JRPG is that Ichiban can see enemies as monsters with different uniforms. It’s “in his head because he feels life is like Dragon Quest“. It’s super silly and a lame excuse to make a realistic game have a fantasy twist, but what other excuse were the developers going to use?
As you progress through the first eleven chapters hopping around taxis to fast travel to spots, unraveling the story, ranking up your jobs, leveling characters, acquiring new armor and weapons and items, and all this sounds like a normal JRPG affair, but then chapter twelve comes and knocks you on your ass. This is when most people will probably quit the game as it turns into a completely different beast and the way you play must change. This is the worst part about the game, and I don’t see how this was necessary. The game had a perfect flow and difficulty level leading up to this chapter. The first sign hits you when you must acquire 3 million Yen for a specific reason in the story. By now you probably have a couple hundred thousand yen at the most. How am I going to get this much money as street thugs don’t really payout and I can only sell so much? Well, the first stupid idea was that there are specific things you need to do to get this money and they don’t tell you. First, you have a watch in your inventory that’s worth one million yen. You need to sell that and then there is a specific Hero Quest you must complete that gives you two million yen. You need to take ten photos of a statue hidden throughout the city. What a serious pain in the ass. I knew right here that the game was going to be a chore from here on out. Then to make matters worse, the last statue is hidden behind insanely difficult enemies out of nowhere. They were many 8 levels above me, but that wasn’t a problem before. I had to grind for a couple of hours just to beat them to take that photo. Such nonsense!
It just gets worse from here. Chapter seven had you complete one of two long dungeons in the game. It was challenging, but not impossible. This dungeon is the only way to grind up until now. However, once you get to a new small city you unlock the battle arena, and this is your main way to level grind by climbing floors and beating waves of enemies. You will be here for probably 6-8 hours minimum. At this point in chapter twelve, you come across a boss fight that cranks the difficulty up to nearly unfair and impossible. I had to grind 15 levels just to get a fair advantage. This boss just absorbs so much damage and throwing all my powerful attacks at him still kicked my ass. I died and retried nearly a dozen times before I almost gave up. I’d grind five or six levels and try again until I could finally do it. I chewed through recovery items like crazy trying to get through this chokepoint in the game. Sadly, it never lets up after this. From here on out every single boss is a serious chore and does massive damage no matter what you do. This is what I have in JRPGs and why I rarely ever finish them.
So, you will then need to grind consistently before each major story point which you are warned about. You need to be at least level 65 by the final boss and man is it a serious pain. You shouldn’t have to want to quit a game because the developers decided the game needs more playtime by chapter twelve. Let’s make you do over a dozen hours of grinding just to finish the game? It’s stupid and insane and completely unfair. They had the difficulty balanced out perfectly before and I was happily enjoying the game. The only reason I kept going is I wanted to see the ending and how everything comes together. The story is that good, but if it weren’t I would have quit at this point. You’re basically grinding the battle arena and the one dungeon trying to acquire new gear and rank up your job to get more powerful attacks. I highly recommend being around level 70-75 before tackling the final boss, but at that point your 25 levels away from maxing out your character.
The game at least has amazing voice acting (in Japanese of course), and the graphics are pretty good technically, but pretty boring on an artistic level. These are hyper-realistic graphics and the only artistic flair is the enemy designs. I enjoyed the music as well, but in the end, the last few chapters will test your patience. The mini-games are fun, the sub-stories are boring and repetitive, and the post-chapter twelve grinding is an absolute chore and really hurts the game. However, if you can prevail, get through the grinding, and learn the strategy of balancing your parties jobs you will get through an incredible and memorable story with great characters.
You play as a woman named Marianne who is a psychic medium. You start out the game in your foster father’s funeral home, and this is where the game introduces basic mechanics that you will use throughout the rest of the game. It starts out very confusing at first, and honestly, the story is just barely coherent enough to keep up with but it constantly loses you in spots then plays catch up again. The game clearly relies more on characters and atmosphere than storytelling as there’s no context to keep you engaged, no really long opening scene, just some dialogue that explains what Marianne is and what she can do. Within the first 10 minutes of the game, you will start to experience the scary stuff. Shadows on walls, strange sounds, and the “other side” looks very reminiscent of Silent Hill in both concept and design.
This is an adventure game with very little action. It’s mostly basic puzzle solving and object finding. You walk around areas reading notes, signs, listening to spirit echos in objects, and picking up objects that will be used at a later point. Thankfully none of this was overbearing or focused too much on. It all felt pretty balanced and was light enough to where the exploration and atmosphere mostly stayed center stage. The various locales are fantastically designed and beautiful to look at. The “other side” was mostly created for puzzle-solving scenarios as you end up going back and forth between the two but at the same time. See, this is Bloober Team’s biggest project and something that’s been in development since 2012. They needed the hardware to render two worlds at once via split-screen. This really does tax your system as frames can drop by almost half in some areas even with DLSS enabled.
As you play the game these main elements are switched up constantly, and to be honest, it’s really well-paced and feels just right. Some areas I was mostly exploring in the real world then I would split off into the other side, and then there are some areas that have mirrors that allow you to go back and forth at will. These areas are the most puzzle intensive, but never difficult. With that being said, the game is very easy and only one small section in the game has any form of combat. The horror elements in the game are well done and I love the monster designs. There is a creature that does stalk you throughout the entire game in certain areas and these result in having to sneak around areas with barriers and hold your breath. The voice acting is superb and the performances are great. Everything in the game just sucks you in and I honestly didn’t stop playing until I finished the game.
I also never got lost or couldn’t ever figure something out on my own. The game is very linear and as long as you wander around examining everything that has a white dot on it you will find your way around. Since the game mostly focuses on the story there are times I got confused, but you get caught up with the cryptic stuff during main cut-scenes and in the end, the game was satisfying and had a nice conclusion. The game can be finished in about 6-8 hours, and there’s no replay value sadly. Sure, there are items to collect throughout the game, but I found pretty much everything in my first run-through. There are also no multiple endings so the game will end the exact same no matter what you do.
The game really has to be praised in the sound department as well. There are a lot of creepy ambient sounds and noises, and the voice acting for the monsters is just amazing. Despite the game being just about exploration and object hunting, and basic puzzle-solving, I never felt bored or wished the game gave me more. If the story and characters weren’t so interesting I’d probably complain about this as I’d want more gameplay, but we don’t always need complicated combat systems or deep RPG elements in every game. Bloober Team’s games tend to be a bit rough around the edges, but The Medium is rock-solid and shows they can make AAA titles with the best of them. I wish the game was optimized a little better, but with a fantastic story and characters, and gameplay that feels just right, as well as great pacing, I can’t complain much.
This is by far one of the most anticipated games in modern gaming history. I know I have been excited since its poorly chosen announcement date in 2012. Sadly, CDPR kind of dug its own grave from that date onward. The game is nothing like how it looked in its early concept videos and a lot of content is cut. Even if you look past all the bugs and launch woes, this is what’s going to stay long after the game has been patched up to a more playable state like it currently is as of this review.
However, if you look underneath all the hype, hate, and sometimes unfair controversy there’s a great game here. The story and the atmosphere are the main reason why I stayed. You play as V. A vigilante/mercenary for hire who ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time and gets involved in a corporate terror plot that changes his/her life forever. The entire story revolves around a device you end up acquiring on a job and this device is the key to immortality. This device also has Johnny Silverhands, played by Keanu Reeves, and one of the reasons why the game got so much hype, who is a digital construct that is trying to take over your mind. I don’t want to spoil too much of the main story, but my favorite parts of the game were the side missions with the other characters like Panam, Judy, and Claire. These missions really develop a relationship and strong personality and are one of the shining points in Cyberpunk.
One of the first problems sets in early is with character customization. Ignore all the sexist homophobes who were mad about being able to make your characters transgender. The anatomy is off, first off, and doesn’t look right, and what’s the point? You can only see the genitalia in the player menu, it’s censored in mirrors, and the “sex scenes” are awkward and pointless. One of the core gameplay elements of the game is Brain Dances which are virtual scenes that you can manipulate during missions, or basically a half-assed detective mode. Some Brain Dances are “sex scenes” but I just think these were added to add controversy. On top of all this, you can’t change your character’s looks after the initial start of the game…just why?
The way to get around the game and various missions can be a bit messy, but the open world of Night City is gorgeous and has a fantastic atmosphere. There’s the main city itself, the outskirts which are like a desert-type environment, there are suburbs, and various other locales to actually make it feel like Los Angeles. You can walk, run, hijack cars, and fast travel at certain points once you discover them. Missions are found via random encounters on the street, phone calls, texts, and other means. I never got around to finishing all of them as the ones revolving around the side characters are the most interesting and the rest get kind of repetitive. Driving the actual cars is not my favorite as before the 1.2 patch they were just broken. They look absolutely amazing and have some insanely cool designs, but sadly they just don’t drive very well.
With this being a CDPR game there are RPG elements involved. There’s a skill tree, cyberware implants, and stats on weapons and armor. It’s pretty detailed, especially with all the wearable armor parts on every part of your body, but it’s also one of the most flawed areas. The skill tree is nice with many paths you can take such as melee, various gun types, stealth, and so on, but I felt a lot of abilities were useless and I just got them to unlock an area I needed. Skill trees tend to be very useless in many games these days, and sadly they aren’t any better here. When it comes to weapons they are incredibly unbalanced with sniper rifles doing one-shot kills no matter where you hit the target early on in the game and at low levels. Then you will get a pistol that will barely do any damage at a much higher level even if you have the skills that boost pistols. It’s improved in patches but still remains a problem. The bottom line is Cyberpunk 2077 is incredibly easy. While stealth is fun and is a good option for most missions, blasting through the game isn’t that hard. I rarely ever died as health items are everywhere and so is ammo. While shooting is fun and satisfying and the weapons feel good, the game is just way too easy.
You can then visit Ripper Docs to install implants that add bonuses and unique weapons to your body, but in the end, I rarely ever visited these and never filled all my slots as what’s the point? The game is so easy I never really needed much. Just a shotgun, sniper rifle, and an assault rifle or sub-machine gun of some kind. You can add mods to these weapons like sights, silencers, and various others that modify the stats, but the combat is so unbalanced and easy there’s really no point. Stealth missions mostly rely on your stealth skill tree stats and you can also hack stuff, but I also found this rarely useful as the game is just so easy you don’t need these small advantages that would turn the tide of a battle like in say something like Deus Ex. If I got busted I could easily wipe everyone out with my one-shit kill sniper rifle and hold onto this gun through the entire game.
That brings me to the other side of Cyberpunk’s gameplay loop. After about 10 hours you will have seen everything the game can do, and you will know whether you want to complete every single side mission and gig call or just plow through the storyline and call it a day. While I love Night City, there’s nothing to do inside of it. Sure, there are various shops, you can visit, and you can look at dildos and sex toys inside of windows, but that’s it. There are no side activities like mini-games, no property you can purchase for player homes, nothing like that. I felt like this large gorgeous city was wasted away as it’s just a conduit between missions. This is not a cyberpunk playground like many of the early trailers suggested.
In the end, don’t go into this game expecting a true “next-gen” title that raises the bar and changes games for how we play them today. A lot of people went into this game expecting some unreal level of detail, and not to mention in the visuals. While the game looks amazing it’s poorly optimized even on the latest PC hardware. Ray-tracing is pretty much pointless even on my 2080 the game would dip well below 30 FPS. The only saving grace for PC gamers is the DLSS option or playing on 1080p resolutions. On my i7 10700 and 1660ti setup, the game played fine in 1080p, but I still got dips here and there. It’s one of the most poorly optimized games I have played in recent years, and while recent patches made the game more stable, it doesn’t fix the crazy dips all over the game. It’s even worse on PS4 and Xbox One base models. So, go in expecting a fun story, fun, albeit easy, combat, interesting vehicles, and a cool cyberpunk city to run around in. Don’t go in expecting something revolutionary.
For starters, I’m no Buffy buff. I never watched the show growing up, nor did I as an adult. That’s okay though, as there are many great video games based on movies and TV shows that are fun without needing to watch the material it is based on. Buffy seems like this kind of game at first. While it’s clearly geared toward fans of the show, I have no idea what’s going on in the story. You are basically trying to stop some evil vampire spirit from ending the world. That’s literally it. You chase him around as he possesses various characters from the show. It’s dull and rather uninteresting and the game is also poorly written. Buffy’s one-liners get old as all five of them repeat constantly throughout the game and so do the one-liners from the enemies.
That’s just the beginning. Buffy has an array of acrobatic moves and they are actually quite good for such an early 64-bit era game. The animations are well done and the combat, when it does work, is pretty awesome. Buffy can punch and kick and execute enemies with a wooden stake. She also has Slayer Power which allows her to add-on some powerful moves at the end of combo chains. This, again, seems great on paper, but it’s poorly executed. While the animations are nice there’s constant knockback and you can’t interrupt the enemies’ attacks. This is the key flaw in the entire combat system. There’s no dodge button, no parry, and no way to counter attacks at all. You just have to take it and fall down and get back up, but some enemies will stomp you, and then multiple enemies join in and you end up dying and losing health over cheap gameplay mechanics. The game is just very cheap all around.
Another issue revolved around this is the terrible jumping and extreme distance you get knocked back at. This leads to cheap deaths off cliffs as some of the fighting areas are tiny and are not designed around how far Buffy can be thrown. I would make it to the end of a level and die just because I got picked up and thrown off of a cliff due to the poor level design. It’s everywhere in this game including platforming segments that shouldn’t exist here. I never finished the game due to the second to last level having so many cliffs of death, tiny arenas, and platforming woes that after the 7th time dying from a cheap death I put the disc back in the box and shelved it. I’m not missing out on much anyway.
If that isn’t painful enough the level design is boring and trite. You walk down boring brown or gray hallways, fight a few enemies, flip a switch, and move on. The level design is just bad and every location is so uninteresting. A foundry, a high school, a sunken church, all just blandly designed. At least the character models look decent and the voice acting is all right. This also leads to healing and other items which leads to the biggest flaw this entire game has, and what I think, completely breaks it. All these other things would be doing if you didn’t have to execute every enemy with a stake. You can knock them down to no health and they won’t die until you execute them. This leads to more cheap deaths as instead of them dying when their health is down you then have to break through their constant blocking, get knocked around more, lose more health, just to get in an execution. They will not die unless you have a stake or the glaive. Enemies block every single move you do, making combat take way longer than necessary, and they also shouldn’t take so long to die. For a beat ’em up enemies should have more balanced health bars.
There are also items like holy water, hellfire, and a super soaker that contains both. This is a completely useless tool as it depletes within seconds and requires fonts to replenish and only a few levels have them. It’s mostly used just to take down certain force fields. Seriously, what a waste of time and effort. And that’s pretty much all Buffy has to offer. Some decent combat and animations are all the game has going for it but is horrendously broken with terrible gameplay mechanics throughout the entire game.
I honestly can’t recommend this to anyone unless you are a Buffy fan, and even then you aren’t missing out on much at all. The story is boring, the level design is uninspired and bland, and the game is nearly broken thanks to poor design decisions.
PC cases are something you don’t change very often. Usually once in awhile when you buy a new motherboard and CPU, but in my case(!) I wanted to just upgrade. My previous case was purchased due to what was available at my local Fry’s Electronics at the time and I wasn’t impressed with the Thermaltake View 31 much. It didn’t have a PSU shroud so all the ugly cables were just visible and all the rear cable management was displayed behind glass…which was odd. It also had flimsy thumb screws and the panels were a pain to put back on. My front USB ports were going out and it didn’t support USB 3.1 Thunderbolt. I was just tired of looking at the thing despite the space it had.
So, while switching to all Corsair RGB components, I decided to switch to a Corsair case. The only “smart” thing about the case is that it includes three LL120 fans and a Commander Pro which was not in the description anywhere! I had no idea it included this and it was a huge surprise. Corsair RGB fans are a pain to cable manage. Each fan has a PWM cable and an RGB cable. You then have to connect it to a Lighting Node Pro which controls the fans. Then you have to connect the LED hub to the Node Pro. The lighting hub then connects to the internal USB and the Node Pro connects to the internal SATA power. It’s a huge pain, but the fan hub eliminates needing that LED hub.
The case itself was easy to build in. The case comes with pre-installed stand-offs and the motherboard went in with no issue. The side glass panel is magnetically held closed and then a single screw allows you to lift it off its hinge. The back panel is a solid sheet of aluminum with a filter for the PSU. The top glass is raised on rubber stand-offs and you can insert an optional filter if you have a 240mm radiator you are installing on top. The rear has a slide out filter panel and so does the front. I love how the PSU is side mounted in the back and I had plenty of room for all the cables and there were plenty of tie offs and rubber slots in the back. The case also has a 3.5″ and 2.5″ drive cage. I chose to remove the 3.5″ cage and the 2.5″ cage has four toolless slots that can be snapped apart. I then just screwed this back in to free up some room.
The case has an option to side mount your GPU, but it’s pretty close to the glass and these mounts are typically not recommended for high-end cards that get hot. My RTX 2080 barely fit in here as the GPU clearance is only 330mm and my card was 327mm, but MSI cards are usually on the larger side. The pointy end of the GPU shroud is mere millimeters away from a fan so it was a tight fit. You could do a SLI setup in here, but it would be super tight. The case comes with four thermal sensor cables which I chose not to use, at least not for now. It also came with four PWM fan cable extensions. The usual front panel cables were present, but I never plug in the front audio as most of these cables aren’t shielded properly and you get interference and I just never use it. What is nice is that the front USB is 3.0 only, but there are only two which is limiting, but most PCs have plenty of USB parts on the rear. I only use it for my mouse dongle and a USB stick or phone.
When it comes to aesthetics the case is gorgeous. The soft aluminum accompanied by glass and that top raised panel is beautiful. It’s not the best when it comes to fan noise or even temps, probably mid-tier, but it’s good enough for most gamers. I wouldn’t recommend a SLI 3090 setup in here, but with a single card and a liquid cooled CPU you’re going to be able to drop your fan fairly low. At idle my RTX 2080 stays at a cool 32c and at heavy load it hovers around the mid to high 50’s which is better than my previous case. It might be due to my bottom intake fans blowing that cool air on to the GPU at a closer proximity. My AIO cooled Intel i7-8700 idles around 38c and at full load the cores never go past the mid to high 60’s. That could be cooler if I had a 240mm rad instead of a 120mm, but it will do.
Overall, the Corsair 680X is pricey, but worth the money. A lot of that cost is the three LL120 fans which normally costs $130 alone and the Commander Pro which is another $80. It’s a premium case for those who love Corsair’s suite of RGB components, but if you aren’t an RGB person than this case isn’t for you and you should get a non glass case.
There are a lot of quality channels on YouTube for every category imaginable. While there is quite a bit of junk on there, there are a lot of hidden gems and large channels that are incredibly informative and entertaining. Other the last decade I have been subscribing to channels little by little and I think as of now I have a fairly large subscription base to share. Some of these channels I’ve just found, and many I have been following for years. You have may heard of some of these and maybe you’ll discover something new and original.
Caddicarus is a channel I have been following for around 5 years now. He’s a British gamer and lover of the PlayStation which is hard to come by on YouTube. His British humor hit all the right spots and I feel he’s very original compared to many other gaming channels out there. His format has changed over the years, but my favorite videos are reviews of older PlayStation games. He does talk about new PlayStation titles, but these aren’t my thing.
Channel Awesome (Gaming…kinda)
Specifically The Nostalgia Critic. While it’s mostly regular movies or TV shows, video game related movies or TV shows do pop-up every so often. He may seem cringy to some, but his format has been the same for almost ten years and it’s highly entertaining. He’s very knowledgable in movies and TV shows across most decades. He usually reviews awful or lesser known movies, but sometimes he will review gems or classic well known films. Occasionally he will feature guests, but the other Channel Awesome staff will reguarly engage in skits themed around the reviewed film.
Cinemassacre (Gaming – Pre Screen Wave Buy-Out)
Yes, The Angry Video Game nerd is actually one of the first YouTubers I regularly watched. This was around 11 years ago. I also mention the pre-Screen Wave buy-out as his quality has dropped over the years. While a lot of popular shows have stopped such as Board James, The Angry Video Game Nerd is his bread and butter. Cussing and trash talking, mostly, NES games is his claim to fame and it holds up very well to this day, but the issue over the last few years has been his lack of enthusiasm on screen. He no longer writes most of his episodes anymore and they come off dry and disconnected sometimes. Other famous shows like Cinemassacre’s Monster Madness during October is also gone, but his other movie reviews are enjoyable. I suggest watching his backlog of episodes pre-2017 or so and you will enjoy it quite a bit.
Most people will probably have heard of this channel, but these guys are fantastic. The UK team of researchers have given us years of entertaining gaming trivia, that I myself would never have found out otherwise. The formatting has mostly stayed the same over the years but with added episodes like Did You Know Gaming – Extra, and episodes focusing on lost games by Unseen64 and various other trivia. One of the popular things DYKG does are their guest narrators. These are mostly YouTube gaming channels from well-known to rising stars. It’s fun to see who is featured next and sometimes your favorite YouTuber might pop-up.
Game Sack (Gaming)
An upcoming YouTube who mostly talks about retro gaming. This ranges from perusing old catalogs to taking apart arcade machines and systems. He’s incredibly informative and if you are a retro gamer might enjoy the knowledge he brings to the scene.
GVMERS is in my top five favorite channels. This incredibly informative long form documentary style channel is one-of-a-kind. While DidYouKnowGaming? does short rapid fire clips, GVMERS focuses on a single series or game giving you full insight into the development, personal issues, and overall story of a game or series. The formatting hasn’t changed, but the narrator has an incredible voice and this is a fantastic channel to binge watch.
Jayz is a fantastic channel for exclusive PC gaming knowledge, mostly on the hardware side. He dives deep into overclocks, benchmarking, PC building, and is overall a charming personality on screen. Some say he’s cringy and egotistical, but I believe in the toxic world of PC gaming we live in these days you need to stand your ground and stick to facts which he does. I think his goofiness brings a “dad” feeling to the younger PC gaming YouTube crowd.
JonTron is one of my favorite YouTubers of all time, but his schedule is rather inconsistent. Sometimes going on hiatus for an entire year, he at least brings quality content and has a striking personality that no one else on YouTube has. His videos have veered away from gaming these days, but his back catalog is quite entertaining to binge watch. It’s not so much the knowledge he brings to his show, but his explosive personality.
LGR – Lazy Game Reviews (Tech/Gaming)
LGR is in my top five favorite YouTube channels for sure. His content has been phenomenal over the years and his charm, voice, and demeanor over the camera is just so enjoyable. You could easily binge his whole channel in a week and be left wanting more. He mostly focuses on retro PC gaming, but he does have various shows like LGR Oddware that looks at old hardware, mostly from the 90’s and early 2000’s, that is one of my favorite shows on YouTube period. It’s such a niche and fascinating channel yet can attract even the most curious observer. Clint is someone I hope stays on YouTube for years to come, and the only bad thing I have to say about the channel is there aren’t enough uploads per week, but what we get is pure quality.
Linus Tech Tips (Tech/Gaming)…kinda
Well everyone and their mom has heard of Linus. The Canadian super star who flaunts the ability to live on the bleeding edge of technology mostly from just sponsorships. The millionaire YouTube star has a fully staffed studio and warehouse, and you can tell he isn’t afraid to show off the cash. Videos ranging from $50k+ orders for machining equipment,and some of the most expensive PC builds no one will ever be able to obtain. He also lets you tour his mansion where he frequently installs insanely expensive systems of various kinds. He clearly has a successful business and his videos are still only for a certain audience. He focuses mostly on mainstream consumer electronics and PC building, benchmarking, and testing. Some of his videos are very informative, but he’s not a source for deep knowledge of anything really. He has reviews for all the latest tech, albeit short and not in depth, but still entertaining.
Linus is also just a personality and is fun to watch on screen. His staff have grown to become popular people on his channel and are beloved sometimes more than Linus himself. He clearly has a staff of varying expertise, but you tell the channel overwhelms him and he’s pulled in too many directions. Some claim his audience is mostly 12 year-olds, and it might be, but his convention LTX is also very popular and attended in the tens of thousands. Some of their tactics have been questioned and scrutinized like the click-baity thumbnails and short video lengths that bow down to the almighty YouTube algorithms for pure profit have been considered shady and cheap. Take the channel with a grain of salt and enjoy just seeing the latest tech being used.
Matt McMuscles (Gaming)
A YouTuber in my area (Seattle), Matt’s series “Wha Happun?” is similar to GVMERS’ documentary episodes, but in shorter episodes and posted more frequently and also covers more obscure games. He regularly plays niche and hidden gems, but it’s this series that makes his channel a true gem. The series is so entertaining you can binge watch them all and want more.
RMC – The Cave (Gaming/Tech)
RMC is a very relaxing channel. The host, Niel, has a calming British accent and takes us into his world of 8-bit computing and gaming by restoring pieces of hardware, showing off forgotten tech, and overall just having a good time. His channel is very binge worthy and if you love 8-bit computers, or just old tech in general, this is a wonderful channel to get into.
His series “Trash to Treasure” is by far one of the favorites. From retro-briting systems to resoldering chips and resistors, the list goes on. It’s very cathartic and relaxing.
Scott the Woz (Gaming)
Scott is easily in my top five favorite YouTubers. His personality is just smooth, smart, clever, and witty. He’s what Cinemassacre used to be in their hayday, but without all the cursing. His love for Nintendo games from his childhood is what drives the channel. He frequently will go in depth on various Nintendo franchises from the past and even talk about shovelware for various systems. He’s a joy to watch on screen and frequently gets laughs out of me.
Shesez’ main show Boundary Break is a wonderful education show like DidYouKnowGaming? but with breaking the game’s camera and pulling off the curtain of illusion that games give us. He will go around game levels showing hidden Easter eggs, curious anomalies, and various things that a niche group of gamers like myself enjoy watching. He has a wonderfully charming personality and has been steadily growing over the last couple of years. It’s a very unique channel and there is nothing like it out there that’s dedicated to this type of thing.
Stop Skeletons From Fighting (Gaming)
From my own neck of the woods, the Seattle based gaming couple is just chock full of trivia when it comes to retro gaming. From covering obscure hidden gems, weird hardware, and overall coverage. He has a bubbly and explosive personality and the various shows on the channel are quite entertaining with my favorite being Punching Weight.
Techmoan is one of my top five favorite YouTubers. He mostly focuses on retro audio equipment and is your go-to source for knowledge in retro 80’s and 90’s hi-fi equipment, stereos, tape recorders, and boom boxes. His channel is so vast it took me over a month to binge watch all his shows. They are so entertaining and his British voice is so soothing and just captures you attention and keeps you focused. It’s a channel unlike any other on YouTube and he’s peaked at over 1 million subscribers.
Technology Connections (Tech)
Alec is a wonderful person to watch on screen. He talks about technology in regards to mostly what we live and deal with daily. From air conditioners to dish washers to how reflectors in signs work. His channel may be a bit dry to some as he goes deep into the technology and science of things, but overall I have come to binge his channel and find everything he posts fascinating. There’s no other channel that dives into the science of everyday things we take for granted.
The 8-Bit Guy (Gaming/Tech)
The 8-Bit Guy is both a game developer and lover of 8-bit computers. His vast knowledge is something you won’t get on any other channel as he also programs frequently and delves into the technical aspect of all 8-bit computers. He videos are made at a steady pace and are easy to keep up with. He frequently restores computers on his channel and it’s niche, but very interesting nonetheless. One of my favorite shows he did was traveling around Texas visiting retro tech and gaming companies’ buildings and sites. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but sadly due to lack of popularity, he couldn’t finish the show. It’s things like this that make me love YouTube and you would never see on TV.
Adrian’s Digital Basement (Tech/Gaming)
Similar to RMC, LGR, and The 8-Bit Guy. Adrian talks about retro gaming both the tech and the games. He’s very informative, a joy on camera, and it just feels like your hanging with the guy in his gaming den talking about retro tech and there’s a clear passion for it here. His channel is steadily rising and is a blast to binge watch.
Game of the year is the hardest category to choose and I often think about this throughout the entire year. While there were so many great runner-ups, like there is every year, the one that makes it to the top for me is the most memorable. It’s not a mathematical score of what game received the most awards or had the highest score, but what was the most fun and memorable. A game has to leave something with me and resonate. A game that needs to be discussed and admired and something even revolutionary or groundbreaking.
Ghost of Tsushima
This is going to seem really strange. Despite Cyberpunk being strong in many areas its far from game of the year, which is a huge disappointment to me. After 60+ hours in I have to say the game falls short in many areas that keep it from being game of the year. The numerous bugs, cut content, poor balancing, terrible driving mechanics, etc. Sure, it gives us a rich story, great characters, and a fun city to play in, but Ghost of Tsushima was all this without the issues. Tsushima had a fantastic balance in its gameplay loop, the open world was a blast to explore, and I couldn’t put the game down.