Gaming

Trials of Mana review: A nice glow up

Something for both old timers and newcomers.

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It’s the year of fantastic remakes and this game is no exception. Trials of Mana gets a glow up that should make it enticing to both old timers and newcomers.

For the unfamiliar, Trials of Mana was originally a 16-bit game first released in 1995. In Japan, it’s known as Seiken Densetsu (聖剣伝説, lit. The Legend of the Sacred Sword).

The game series revolves around the “mana tree” or the world tree. It’s a source of power containing nine elements: water, wind, fire, wood, stone, dark, light, metal, and moon. As with any valuable resource, it attracts forces of evil that want to use the power of the mana tree for darkness.

Having played other gamers in the Mana series, this certainly is an amazing job by Square Enix to modernize a classic. The colors are gorgeous and striking. You can easily tell this modernization was treated with utmost love and dedication.

Choose your party

At the beginning of the game, you are asked to choose your main character and the supporting cast. The game gives you six classes to choose from: Warrior, Priest, Thief, Beastman, Mage and Lancer.

Each character you pick will have her/his own unique story. My first run through in the game was about 25 hours which I think is excellent. It’s enough time to feel like a complete adventure, but not too much that the player can do multiple playthroughs to learn about the story of the other five characters.

As the game progresses, the character can change classes. This can happen after reaching levels 18 and 38 (with class items) using the mana stones or the mana statues that are spread across the map. Naturally, you’ll be able to unlock more powerful spells and skills that can help take on the harder bosses as you go through the game.

If you’ve played other JRPG titles under Square’s umbrella like the Final Fantasy series and Kingdom Hearts, you’ll know that your party needs to have all the essentials. That means striking a balance among defense, attack, support, and offensive magic that fits your play style.

The characters have their own strengths and weaknesses depending on their class. The combos and spells depend on the skills you unlock as the story and the level progresses. The higher the level, the higher the rates of combos and skill chains that can be unlocked to make grinding and boss battles lean more in your favor.

Get ready for a lot of button mashing, quick triggers

The gameplay adopts the chaotic feel of the Mana series. Every move is in real time. The way the player moves, dodges, hits, casts a spell or uses an item makes every step crucial in every facet and situation in your battles.

During battles you get a ring menu that almost feels like you’re pausing the game. This gives you ample time to strategize and plan your attack or how you want to approach each battle.

Here you can select what items you want to use as well as the skills that are available to your class of character. You also have a quick trigger that you can customize to fit your play style depending on the kinds of characters your party has.

You can switch with your support characters at any point during battle. This lets you maximize the potential of your party, most especially through the tough fights of the game. AI for your party members is also pretty good when you’re not controlling them. They act based on their skillets instead of mindlessly launching melee attacks.

Special techniques can be triggered by filling up a “CS GAUGE”. There are two ways to fill it. First, you smash all the enemies lurking around every dungeon on the map. Second, find some vases that will fill the gauge for you.

Personally, I prefer the first method because I like to do some ass kicking especially during this pandemic. A really good way to blow off some steam is to kick those rabites (hopping yellow and pink-tailed leporine monsters) in the beginning of the game.

A lot of traveling and being shot out of a canon

During your travels, you will encounter different stages across the Trials of Mana world. Each stage is unique and offers different kinds of NPCs that make you feel like you’re in another world.

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As you proceed in the game, you will find different ways of traveling: with ships, riding a water monster, flying and being shot out of a canon???

Verdict

Trials of Mana is a beautiful game based on the Old Mana Series. The game is straightforward and offers an easy learning curve. It’s simple and anyone should be able to catch the play style even after just an hour of going through the game.

It does run the risk of sometimes feeling too simple due to the lack of side quest. Harder side bosses and secret items or ultimate weapons could have made this beautiful game even better.

One thing I didn’t particularly enjoy were camera views and angles. Battles can be chaotic especially during boss encounters. It makes it difficult to properly plan your attack especially during stages that have plenty of obstacles.

I also encountered a lot of issues in focusing on targets that can either delay or break the momentum of your attacks. You can control the camera view with your shoulder buttons but it takes some getting used to especially in high pressure situations.

That aside, Trials of Mana is an excellent game overall. It has all the makings of an awesome game thanks to its storyline and gameplay. There’s enough here that Square Enix can build on to make another Mana game that will appeal to both old and new players.


This game was reviewed on a PS4 by Ron Erik Rivero. Ron is an ESL teacher, chef, and businessman who is passionate about gaming. When not playing, he spends most of his time teaching Japanese students business English. He is also a foodie, a loving husband and a doting father to his five-year-old son. You can contact him at [email protected]

Gaming

We’re getting a Star Wars game from Ubisoft

It’s a story-driven open-world adventure

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Star Wars Ubisoft
Photo by Brian McGowan on Unsplash

May The Force be with Ubisoft! The company just announced that it is collaborating with Lucasfilm Games on a new story-driven open-world video game set in the beloved Star Wars galaxy.

The game will be developed using next gen tech including the Snowdrop engine. There aren’t any specific details yet as to what the game will be about exactly. The companies involved — Ubisoft and Lucasfilm Games — have expressed excitement over the project.

“The vast Star Wars lore is an incredible source of inspiration for our teams,” said Yves Guillemot, co-founder and CEO of Ubisoft. “This is the beginning of a long-term collaboration with Disney and Lucasfilm Games, and we are pleased to be working hand-in-hand to build upon the incredible legacy of Lucasfilm to create a game that we know Star Wars fans will love.”

“We are inspired by the passion and talent of the team at Massive, and together we share a vision for the type of original stories we want to tell with our players in this expansive galaxy. They have the creativity, experience, and community understanding to bring awe-inspiring authenticity, depth and innovation to this new Star Wars game,” said Douglas Reilly, VP, Lucasfilm Games.

More information about the game and the release date will be shared at a later stage.

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Gaming

CD Projekt Red publicly apologizes for Cyberpunk 2077

Promises fixes for 2021

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Though it was one of the most hyped video games in recent history, Cyberpunk 2077 became the most polarizing game of 2020. Especially on older consoles and lower-end PCs, the game suffered endless bugs — some of which were game-breaking. So far, CD Projekt Red, the game’s developers, released three hotfixes to fix the most outstanding bugs. Now, Marcin Iwiński, CD Projekt Red’s founder released an apology video for Cyberpunk 2077.

In the video, Iwiński personally accepted all responsibility for the fumbled launch. The launch unsurprisingly didn’t meet the developer’s expectations. Game stores like Sony and Xbox have offered full refunds for dissatisfied customers. According to the founder, CD Projekt Red focused too much on high-end PCs, causing errors to go undetected on other consoles.

As such, besides the apology video, CD Projekt Red released a timeline for upcoming updates. Later this year, the game will get two definitive patches — 1.1 and 1.2 — for major improvements and fixes. After which, the developer will keep outing “multiple updates and improvements” including free DLCs and a free next-gen console update.

Though the game is already out on Xbox Series S/X, the PlayStation 5 is still expecting to get Cyberpunk 2077 sometime this year.

SEE ALSO: Cyberpunk 2077 PC review: Looks can be deceiving

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CES 2021

New Legion laptops, accessories announced at CES 2021

Plenty of gaming goodies to look forward to!

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Legion

Lenovo Legion is going all out for gamers at CES 2021. They’re coming out with the latest in AMD and NVIDIA processors, high-resolution 16-inch displays, AI-driven frame rates and exciting upgrades.

Lenovo Legion 7

The Lenovo Legion 7 sports the latest mobile processors for PC gamers — up to the latest AMD Ryzen 9 5900H Mobile Processors and up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 GPUs.

It comes with the new 16-inch 165Hz IPS display with 16:10 aspect ratio, 2560 x 1600 resolution, NVIDIA G-SYNC, 100 percent sRGB color accuracy, 90% screen-to-body ratio, 11% more screen estate (vs conventional 15.6-inch screens), and Dolby Vision.

The Lenovo Legion AI Engine optimizes system performance via machine learning to deliver the highest possible framerates whether your game is CPU or GPU-intensive. For 16 of the most popular triple-A gaming titles, the Lenovo AI Engine will run them at finely-tuned settings for maximum frame rates.

Legion TrueStrike Keyboard

The Legion TrueStrike Keyboard features innovative soft-landing switches that deliver deeper strokes with equal force on every strike. This enables you to strike enemies with extreme precision, hair-trigger speeds and satisfying keystrokes.

The full-sized keyboard with number pad is also illuminated in over 16 million colors via Corsair iCUE support with a glass trackpad that is 23% larger than previous generations. You can easily launch the Lenovo Vantage software with the dedicated Super Key to custom-calibrate your system.

The Coldfront 3.0 thermal management system packs an intelligent intake system that features turbo-charged dual-fans and quad-channel exhausts with vapor chamber technology.

Nahimic Audio drastically improves your gaming experience with its immersive 3D audio. Experience crystal-clear communication with teammates with background noise suppression. If you have additional Bluetooth speakers, you can connect them to your Legion laptop to create a surround sound field.

For privacy, the Legion 7 offers a 720p integrated webcam with E-shutter which allows you to cut off power to the webcam and prevent camera hacking with the switch located on the side of the laptop.

Available from Q1 2021.

Lenovo Legion Slim 7

The Legion Slim 7 is the successor to the world’s lightest 15-inch gaming laptop with NVIDIA RTX graphics released in 2020, and now comes with AMD’s latest processors.

At under 1.9kg, this ultra-svelte beauty is a perfect fit for any boardroom or tournament setting with unbridled performance under its magnesium cum aluminum chassis in the Shadow Black hue.

It is powered by up to the latest AMD Ryzen 9 5900H Mobile Processors and up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 with Max-Q Design GPUs. Its key features include: Legion TrueStrike Keyboard, Nahimic Audio, Webcam physical shutter, among others.

Available from Q1 2021.

Lenovo Legion 5 Pro

The Legion 5 Pro offers the same 16-inch 16:10 QHD display as the Legion 7 and is powered by up to the latest AMD Ryzen 9 5800H Mobile Processors and up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 GPUs.

Its key features include: Legion TrueStrike Keyboard, Nahimic Audio, Webcam physical shutter, among others.

Available from Q1 2021.

Lenovo Legion 5

The Legion 5 brings the balance of style and savage power to gamers in 15” or 17” sizes. It will also be available in two hues — Phantom Blue or Stingray White.

It is powered by up to the latest AMD Ryzen 9 5800H Mobile Processors and up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 GPUs. Its top features include: rueStrike Keyboard, Nahimic Audio, Webcam physical shutter, among others.

Available from Q1 2021.

Microsoft Xbox Game Pass for PC

Every Lenovo Legion gaming laptop comes with a complimentary one-month Microsoft Xbox Game Pass for PC, unlocking hundreds of great games for non-stop gaming. Play over 100 high-quality PC games for one low monthly price with XBOX Game Pass.

Lenovo Legion S600 Gaming Station and H600 Wireless Gaming Headset

The new Lenovo Legion S600 Gaming Station has an always-on charging capability that solves multiple power problems at once.

It features hang-to-charge technology for the new Lenovo Legion H600 Wireless Gaming Headset and a Qi-enabled base that charges compatible smartphones (up to 10W output) and other supported devices such as wireless gaming mice.

The station’s modern-looking stand is lightweight at just 919 grams and features two USB-A pass-through ports on the bottom for high-speed connectivity and device charging.

Available from Q1 2021

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