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Review: Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII - New Sequel, Same Issues

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII revolves around time. With the end of the world approaching, Lightning – the Saviour and servant of God – must save as many souls as possible. In 13 days when the time expires and the old-world ends, a new-world is reborn for the souls. The game encourages time management, yet it often wastes yours. Lightning Returns surrounds a creative battle system with fetch quests and overwritten conversations, which slow an already time restrictive structure. 

Top 5 Games of 2016

Uncharted 4: A Thief's End

Each year I play an unhealthy amount of familiar and different games. By now, I know what another Battlefield or Gears of War offers, so I avoid them. I acknowledge their quality, but I find more enjoyment from weirder, new games. I don’t hate shooters; it means one game fills the void for the duration of year. Until something knocks Halo 5: Guardians out of my Xbox, I bounce off other multiplayer shooters.

The exploration of new genres leads to unknown, uncomfortable experiences. Experimentation led me to games like Deus Ex and Mirror’s Edge, so finding their sequels on my 2016 list makes sense. My top five of 2016 lists some well known games in an unorthodox order.

2016 brought us Overwatch, Watch_Dogs 2 and other awesome games throughout the year, but you won’t find those games on my list. You’ll find what I played and loved, and games that left me disappointed.

 

Five Favourite Games from 2016

5. Inside

Insidewon’t challenge or confuse you with its puzzles, but it leaves you thinking at the end of it all. Inside’s short journey from, well, the inside, pushes you to escape from the pit of a prisonlike complex. Without any dialogue or direction, the platformer’s familiarity of “move right” provides all the information needed.

Inside

The manipulation of walking, jumping and grabbing brings the depth to exploring the dystopic world. While Inside expands on simple ideas, your character limitations stay the same. As a little boy, dogs hurt, bullets kill and falls paralyze. The controllable character stays vulnerable despite the surrounding conditions worsening closer to the outside. Inside aims for a minimalistic platformer with a predefined ruleset, yet it surprises with every new area until the very end.

 

Halo Championship Series Pro League – Fall Season Finals Recap

[Photo via ESLGaming]

A lot of talent exists outside of the Halo Championship Series (HCS) Pro League.  The Fall Season relegation bracket showed the depth of teams vying for the handful of spots in the Pro League. Despite the amount of talent, OpTic Gaming and Team EnVyUs (nV) compete from a higher pedestal. Their dominance continued throughout HCS Pro League Fall Season until game seven in the second grand finals.

 

Team EnVyUs vs. Str8 Rippin | EnVyUs win 4-0

Str8 Rippin snuck into the playoffs during the last week of the HCS Pro League. And while their playoff spot puts them among the best Halo teams, EnVyUs outclasses them in the first series.

Up 2-0 headed into game three, nV continues rolling past Str8 Rippin. Eden – Strongholds stays close early on, but spirals out of control within a few seconds. Tied at 20, Camouflage and Overshield both go over to nV. As Huke pushes with the Overshield, Camouflage keeps Snip3down alive around the catwalk. His survival stalls Str8 Rippin’s attempt at map control, while the rest of nV slays around them.  EnVyUs wins 100-21 before sweeping the series 4-0.

 

Halo Championship Series Pro League – Fall Season Relegation Recap

The Halo Championship Series (HCS) Fall Season relegation matches favoured no team in Burbank, California. During a previous optional event - the HCS Las Vegas Open Circuit - these same four teams finished high in their brackets.

3sUP Enterprises and The Money Matches Team (TMMT) challenged the Pro League teams, forcing multiple series to game six or seven. Although Enigma 6 (E6) and Allegiance once sat near the top of the league, both teams wrangled for each win. Both Enigma 6 and Allegiance reclaim their spots as one of North America’s top eight Halo teams.

 

Enigma 6 vs. 3sUP Enterprises | Enigma 6 wins 4-3

The first best-of-seven series ties at two going into game five. With both of E6’s wins coming from Capture the Flag (CTF) games, Eden – Slayer already favours 3sUP. Bubu dubu’s efficient sniper play early helps E6 pull away with a 12-2 lead. The early cushion dissolves in the final minutes. Up five with under a minute left, Prototype’s shotgun kills tie the game at 43 for 3sUP.

The game shifts into overtime where the score explodes to 49. 3sUP leads, but members trickle single file, feed the E6 comeback. Right after bubu dubu kills Rammy to tie the game, a 3sUP teammate swoops in from behind to end the game 50-49. Despite bubu dubu’s 21 kills, E6 drops game five.

An individual performance didn’t save the Eden game for E6, yet Regret – Slayer swings with one play by Shooter. With the score close, Rammy, equipped with an Overshield and Plasma Caster, drops down from the red rampart. He dives onto Shooter below him, but Rammy can’t capitalize on the advantageous position. A Shooter melee and Rammy’s missed shots turns over the Plasma Caster to E6. Shooter uses that same weapon to end the game 50-45. E6 advances in the winners brackets, sending 3sUP in the losers bracket.

More Visual Detail Does Not Improve How We Play

In Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, I barrel down empty corridors, glancing at the ruins of ancient tombs and cities. These decorated hallways and detailed rooms disappear in a blink, but they connect me to the next section. Artists spent countless hours creating simple objects like doors, vases and carpets for these areas, yet it takes a second to run past.

To bring purpose to the connecting areas, developers try and slow players by littering collectibles throughout. The loot hunt might encourage exploration, but environment appearance still contributes little to the overall experience. While the patterns of carpets can match the embroidery of the curtains, these details change nothing about how Uncharted 4 plays or feels. As budgets increase alongside visual fidelity, prettier, empty connecting areas won’t stop players from pushing forward.

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