Gaming

Persona 5 review: Can style override substance?

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Persona 5, the biggest JRPG release of 2017, has been out for weeks. Clear of the game’s launch hype, is it deserving of stealing the public’s heart or is it merely a bombastic masked pretender that needs exposing?

Art design is aces

Bold red, black, and white serve as its visual foundation. This arresting palette kip-ups to life and sweeps you off your feet with the gentleman thief/punk rock/latex fetish design of the main cast. It bumps and bounces in the menus, shaking up the UI when you button through. All-out attacks culminate in wallpaper-worthy graphics, and it’s never not satisfying.


There’s elegance to every transition. From winning battles to navigating between areas, the colors slink and slide across the screen, and you can’t help but smile at every context-sensitive swipe of the display.


 

Smooth-grooving audio

Pressing O or X to cancel or confirm actions gives a satisfying squee. That precision glass shatter of a critical hit jolts of excitement. Every gunshot crackles staccato.

Series composer Shoji Meguro matches the rebel imagery with a super-slick soundtrack. The music effortlessly switches from sweeping jazzy strings and keys to grinding hard guitar riffs, all the while riding funky bass licks and finger-snapping percussion.

Criminally good opening animation:

Rebellious spirit restricted 

It’s technically not part of Persona 5’s overall design, and I wrote about it in an earlier article, but the irrationality of Atlus in restricting capturing footage of the game bears repeating. I enjoy archiving my playthroughs on the PS4 with screenshots and videos. Atlus denies me and millions of other players that simple pleasure of keeping our own memories of an enjoyable experience. It’s harsh and petty, and I pray that future installments aren’t shackled by this backwards mentality.

Atlus has softened its stance on streaming since the game’s release, but the restrictions on the sharing features of the PS4 still stand.

Regressive representation

Persona 4 took on the issue of gender identity head on with two of its main characters, shining a light on the struggles teens go through when reconciling their sexuality with society’s expectations on masculinity and femininity. It wasn’t perfect, but at least it had some nuance.

Persona 5’s “contribution” to the issue? A homophobic scene showing an age old stereotype of gay men as predatory pedophiles played solely for laughs. It’s one moment in a 100+ hour journey, and that might make it easy for some to wave off, but it only stands out even more to me as an inexcusable stain on an otherwise inspiring epic adventure of resistance.

Heavy topics done halfway right

While previous titles focused on personal turmoil, this latest entry serves up larger social issues like institutionalized abuse, labor exploitation, and political corruption for the good guys to take down.

It’s admirable and reflective of the large-scale “wokeness” we’re seeing in the youth now, but the shonen anime trappings, which Persona 5 indulges a little too much in, hamper the serious messages with long-winded exposition and, at times, clunky English translations from the original Japanese text. The always impressive voice acting performances do manage to carry most scenes, but not all of them.

The old-school, turn-based battles are now layered with shooting, enemy negotiation, and more team synergy that allow you to combo more attacks for quicker ends to fights. The year-long slice of high school life where you bond with schoolmates and strangers is as rewarding as ever with its weird, wacky, and intimate tales, while also being more exploratory as you can hang out with your friends all over Tokyo, too.

The most significant improvement is in the dungeons, or as the game calls them, the Palaces, that your gang of Phantom Thieves have to infiltrate and steal the treasures within to overcome the main antagonists. Each one is a fantastical psychological tableau that comes alive through unique puzzles and ways of navigation. What felt like a chore in the earlier Personas plays like a dream in Persona 5.

That is until you hit the last couple of areas that feel like they just go on forever for no reason other than to pad length and difficulty, which is especially egregious in the last couple of dungeons.

Supreme style and stunted substance

If you’re up for committing around 70 to 120 hours to complete one game, I do think Persona 5 is worth the time for its cool creativity, thematic ambitions, and irresistible gameplay hooks. Just steel your heart for the obnoxious narrative failings, and don’t expect to have much of a shared experience with your friends.

SEE ALSO: Persona 5’s developer doesn’t want you doing this — it’s nonsense

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Gaming

Razer holds first ever SEA Games bootcamp for esports teams

Held in partnership with one of the best eSports teams in the world

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Image from fb.com/razer

Preparations for the upcoming 2019 Southeast Asian Games are underway, especially with eSports now added to the competition. Razer, the official eSports partner for the SEA Games has an idea on how to make preparations more interesting. The global gaming lifestyle brand wants to bring esports teams from all participating countries to train them by learning from the best players in the world.

Razer officially rolls out the Razer SEA Games eSports Bootcamp, a two-day training camp for eSports teams participating in the Dota 2 tournament for the SEA Games. The bootcamp will feature a series of mentorship sessions and practice games for all the competing teams from Singapore (Team X) , Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia (PG.Barracx), and the Philippines (Sibol). With the inclusion of eSports in this year’s SEA Games, Razer’s Global Sports Director David Tse hopes to “bring eSports to the next level.”


To guide these teams to success, Razer taps upon a global eSports powerhouse in the Evil Geniuses. EG’s Dota 2 coach, Sam “Bulba” Sosale will mentor the five participating teams to compete at the highest level for the upcoming tournament.

“Evil Geniuses is excited to help some of the best players in Southeast Asia prepare for it,” Sosale said. As of writing, members of the EG’s Dota 2 team are competing in the Upper Bracket semifinal round of The International 9 in Shanghai.

The Razer SEA Games eSports Bootcamp will run from September 2 to 3, 2019 in Singapore. As a treat, Evil Geniuses is hosting their first ever meet-and-greet in Southeast Asia on September 1. Fans will have a chance to get up close with members from EG’s Dota 2 team: Arteezy, SumaiL and s4, along with Bulba. Fans will also get a chance to win signed jerseys from their favorite players.

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Gaming

NVIDIA GeForce Now will bring PC games to Android devices

Taking on Google Stadia and Microsoft xCloud

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Cloud gaming is a recent trend in the industry which aims to revolutionize gaming in the future. In the past few years, industry giants have launched their own cloud gaming platforms: Google announced Stadia, while Microsoft announced xCloud. Soon, they will be joined by NVIDIA with its own GeForce Now which will be available to Android devices soon.

GeForce Now is NVIDIA’s cloud gaming platform that has been in beta for PC, Mac, and NVIDIA Shield TVs. With this recent announcement, GeForce Now will finally come to Android devices. More people will be able to play AAA PC games from their Android devices, regardless of specs. NVIDIA’s platform also has the advantage of streaming PC gaming titles from Steam, UPlay, and other digital stores. In comparison, titles available to Google Stadia and Microsoft xCloud is more limited.


NVIDIA is improving the GeForce Now — as such, the platform will remain in beta phase for the foreseeable future. It is free for everyone to try. Those willing will need a compatible Bluetooth gamepad, since some games are unplayable through touch controls alone.

There is no exact date when the GeForce Now will be available to the public. There are also no details yet as to how much the platform will cost as of the moment.

NVIDIA’s GeForce Now is part of the industry’s push towards cloud gaming. Cloud gaming works by streaming a whole game through the internet so people can play their favorite games anytime, anywhere. However, it remains to be seen if people will welcome the technology with open arms — after all, it requires a fast and stable internet connection.

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Gaming

Final Fantasy VIII Remastered has a release date!

So soon yet, not soon enough!

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After our heartstrings were played with by the Final Fantasy VIII Remastered teaser, fans have swarmed with tons of memes predicting and wondering how specific scenes would appear with stunning new visuals. Well, our memes and dreams are about to either come true or get shut down because Final Fantasy VIII Remastered is getting released on September 3, 2019!

Final Fantasy VIII and why fans love it

Final Fantasy VIII was a game that plotted itself in a fantasy world while digging into an emotional story-line of war and love. The game focuses on a group of young mercenaries led by Squall Leonhart. They’re adventure begins with a striking conflict: Ultimecia. Ultimecia is a sorceress from the future who possesses Edea and wants to compress time. In this quest, Squall encounters friends who inevitably join his quest to keep the world in its balance.


Final Fantasy VIII was the first of its series to reinvent the active time battle wheel without ignoring its roots. The game allowed more customization which ultimately allowed players to work around weaponry, armor, and summons that drastically affected characters’ combat style. These seemingly small tweaks in gameplay gave players breathing room to pick how they wanted to play the game making it all the more immersive.

While its predecessor, Final Fantasy VII, had 3-dimensional models, it didn’t significantly refine designs as much as Final Fantasy VIII. Every element in the game expressed more detail with as much accessible technology as Square could get their hands on. From the planet that showed a level of meticulous detail we hadn’t seen in the series before, to the hilarious “you’re the best looking guy here” memes, Final Fantasy VIII was weirdly ahead with visuals at the time.

What’s new with Final Fantasy VIII Remastered?

First, and obviously, enhanced visuals. The announcement trailer that was revealed in E3 this year made it loud and clear that each element of the game — characters, enemies, objects, and summons — were all refined and enhanced.

Second, battle assists. Final Fantasy VIII Remastered allows you to activate a booster to max out health points (HP) and active time battle (ATB) bars that trigger limit breaks at any point players need. Regardless, you will lose HP when you get hit with a critical attack that renders more damage than your HP, or by lethal damage.

Third, turning off encounters. Final Fantasy VIII Remastered has setting you can use to allow you to turn off random encounters. This is incredibly useful when you’re out of potions, phoenix downs, and need to run to the nearest shop. This doesn’t apply for event battles that need to be done to further the game’s plot.

Fourth, battle speed boosts. The game lets you accelerate time by a factor of three. If you want to breeze through easy battles or rush through level grinding, this feature is useful. This feature isn’t applicable for certain scenes and movies.

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