Top 5 Favorite Fighting Game Series

Fighting games are one of my favorite types of games and are also one of the types of games that got me into gaming in the first place as I have strong memories of playing “Virtua Fighter,” “Street Fighter,” “Soul Edge,” the “Tekken” series, “Primal Rage” and others in arcades and game systems growing up. Whether it was the arcade mode against the A.I. or versus a friend I have so many fond memories from these types of games. The series I’ll be listing here are games that I love for the worlds, story and gameplay that made them standout and that I still enjoy playing to this day.

In my reviews I’ll be listing my favorite characters to play as after the initial review as well as any games in the series I’ve reviewed if I have reviewed any of the games from the series on the blog and I’m curious to hear about your favorite fighting games and the characters you enjoy playing most in them.

Honorable mentions go to “Virtua Fighter,” “Street Fighter,” “Mortal Kombat” and “Primal Rage.”

So without Further ado, here they are.:

5th) Soul Calibur Series

“Soul Calibur” has a compelling premise in a sword that devours and corrupts souls in Soul Edge and that can only be destroyed by it’s opposite Soul Calibur. Whenever the evil in the sword awakens, heroes from around the world seek the sword to stop it or use it’s power. The weapons based combat is so much fun and the character designs and weapons are cool. Most characters have compelling backstories too in their desire to corrupt the world or to redeem themselves or the world from Soul Edge. I first played “Soul Edge” in 5th grade at a small arcade and that was when I first was drawn into the series. What keeps me from rating it higher is they chose to soft reboot the story rather than advance it and there is only ever the same boss at the end. Inferno, the soul of Soul Edge is always there so there is nothing unexpected so as interesting as the main story is it gets predictable by not changing things. Still a favorite series though and I can’t wait to see what new stories are told with the characters.

Favorite Characters: Cervantes de Leon, Sophitia, Seong Mi-Na, Geralt and Voldo.

4th) Guilty Gear Series

“Guilty Gear” is a fun universe full of assassins, religious organizations, pirates, mad scientists, Gears and more. In this universe in the 22nd century humanity invented a limitless energy and called it “magic,” which lead to technology being outlawed but Gears (human and animal DNA combined with magic) who were enslaved and rebelled. After Justice, the Gear leader was imprisoned world leaders called a fighting tournament to select the winners to be part of an order to contain and stop the threat of the Gear leader Justice. From this base and history the game is built upon and it fantastic. The gameplay is the most difficult I’ve played out of any fighting game with some moves that can end a match in an instant and the gameplay depends on quick combos. I first played one of the games in the series in college and have returned back to the series since then. The world and gameplay make it work as does the great character design and music. The series isn’t easy to enter into though due to the complicated gameplay and lore which is why it isn’t higher on the list.

Favorite Characters: Sol Badguy, Zato-ONE and Venom.

3rd) Tekken Series

“Tekken 3” was the first of this series I ever played when my parents rented a Playstation from Blockbuster. I fell in love with the world and conflict and the Mishima family drama as Heihachi, Kazuya and Jin battle of the Mishima Zaibatsu and their family legacy. The story advances when a Mishima calls a King of the Iron Fist Tournament with reward being money or the fight for control of the company. Though for many the draw is revenge against Heihachi, Kazuya or Jin for the people they or their organization has killed in their fight for power and control. The mythology of this game series is great too with the Devil Gene being prominent (certain characters have a devil form because of the gene) and supernatural beings like Ogre, Angel and Azazel as a few examples who heroes face off against and who reveal aspects of the Mishimas to each other or the world. I’ve played all games in the series but the first 2 and I can’t wait to see where the story goes and what other new characters are introduced. The game can be difficult, which is a plus and the final boss varies throughout the games with never the same last boss twice in a row. Only reason the game isn’t higher is sometimes the tone can be too silly with side characters and they added a “Street Fighter” character to the lore in the 7th game rather than making an original character.

Favorite Characters: Marshall Law, Hwoarang, True Ogre, Lee Chaolan and Kazuya.

2nd) Injustice Series

The “Injustice” series is some of the best writing and story I’ve seen come out of DC and fighting games. This game series gives us a universe where Superman went fascist and establishes a regime to end all crime on Earth. It is compellingly executed and Superman is a great threat through both games as he never stops being a fascist villain so other characters like Batman and is insurgency have to face that. The game also gives us redemption arcs too for both villains and heroes who gone bad and joined Superman. The first games does all this in the context of a multiverse where heroes from our Justice League help the insurgency fight Superman and his allies but the 2nd game is all in the Injustice Universe and stronger for it as it gives a threat that forces insurgency and regime forces to work together to stop. I can’t wait to see where character stories go and what new characters from the DC Injustice Universe we meet. Both games are great which is a rare feet for any beginning series, especially a fighting game series where often more effort is put into gameplay rather than narrative. For game modes the 2nd game added gear and leveling as well as multiverse challenges which only made this great game better. A lot of voice actors from Bruce Timm’s “Justice League” voice their counterparts too as do a few voice actors from the animated “Teen Titans” show too. So much work clearly went into this game. These games are both favorites and I can’t wait to see what stories are told next.

Favorite Characters: Batgirl, Zod, Aquaman, Green Arrow, Blue Beetle and The Flash.

1st) Super Smash Bros. Series

It is hard to compete with “Super Smash Bros.” This is a series I first played in Elementary School on the Nintendo 64 and that basic gameplay that worked than has remained strong through all the games in the series. There isn’t really a story but there are fun puzzles and missions in some later games for characters and the constant adding of new characters keeps the series fresh, as well as all the new maps. Besides “Mario Kart” this is the best multiplayer party game to play with friends and that is what makes it number 1. It is easy to pick up and play, the characters are known from their own series and there are so many ways to keep the gameplay interesting with limiting or controlling what specials are dropped. This is easily the best fighting game series I’ve played and it remains timeless to this day giving us so many of the worlds and characters from Nintendo games in the funnest of brawls.

Favorite Characters: Kirby, Link, Meta Knight and King Dedede.

Injustice 2: Legendary Edition – A Great Sequel That Raises the Stakes From the First Game and Explores Redemption

“Injustice 2: Legendary Edition” builds off everything that worked in the campaign of the first game while also giving some fun new gameplay option and a diverse array of fun characters to play as in the “Legendary Edition.” The only thing keeping it from perfection is even though the stakes are raised you don’t feel it as much as you could and this game has the worst version of Gorilla Grodd, which is a shame.

The game was developed by NetherRealm Studios and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.

The game picks up 2 years after the end of the first game as Superman is imprisoned and his regime scattered and imprisoned as Batman and the Insurgency seek to rebuild the world while a new threat arrives on the scene in Gorilla Grodd’s Society and Brainiac.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Premise -The whole idea of the world rebuilding and Bruce Wayne being the face of that, so not being active in the field is wonderful. You can see that there are still Regime threats active as well as the new threat of the Society so it forces Bruce Wayne to count on others which in turn expands the narrative and builds up more interesting characters.

The Characters – There are a lot of character options and many get some great exploration in the campaign. You have Regime characters like Damian Wayne, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Black Adam and Cyborg. Insurgency characters like Green Arrow, Black Canary, Harley Quinn, Blue Beetle, Firestorm and Batman. As well as Green Lantern, Flash, and Supergirl (who have their own distinct arcs) and the members of the Society with Captain Cold, Cheetah, Scarecrow, Deadshot, Catwoman, Bane, Poison Ivy and Reverse Flash. Atroticus, Doctor Fate and Swamp Thing as their own factions and the main villain of the game in Brainiac.

Added Characters – The “Legendary Edition” includes the DLC which has Darkseid, Raiden, Sub-Zero, Hellboy, TMNT, Enchantress, Red Hood, Black Manta, Atom and Starfire.

Favorite Characters – My favorite characters to play as are Aquaman, Flash, Blue Beetle and Green Arrow.

The Combat and Gameplay – The combat and gameplay are so much fun with the game adding a leveling up RPG element and the chance to pick up gear that can change your characters. It does this through loot boxes but I don’t mind it as most of the things you get are purely aesthetic for the characters as the combat is fun enough on it’s own without any changes. There are also a few modes too like the Multiverse mode to level up your character and the story campaign.

The Multiverse Challenge – The multiverse challenge is fun as it is here you get campaigns in different worlds in the multiverse where you can level up your character and improve their gear and get more outfits. It is a lot of fun and a great challenge. This was a good upgrade from the standard arcade experience that is usually offered in fighting-games for the core game outside of the story campaign.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 20211003155651_1.jpg

The Story Campaign – The campaign is fantastic and begins with a flashback of when Brainiac destroyed Krypton and Supergirl made her mistake as well as her mother making sure she’d protect Superman, but she’s knocked off course. After we return to the 2 years after the first game with Batman helping rebuild the world post Superman’s oppressive Regime and we see the new allies he’s recruited such as Green Arrow and Black Canary coming out of retirement and new heroes like Blue Beetle and Firestorm who are guarding Superman and other servants of his Regime. It is a great setup and so much fun to play as the arrival of the Society leads to the Brainiac reveal forcing the Insurgency and Regime to work together against this world ending threat.

The Loss of Damian – We see what defines Batman early on when he loses his son Damian to Superman as Superman has arrived to give the inmates of Arkham a chance to join him or die. It is powerful chapter as we see Damian kill the serial kill Zsasz and also see where Superman and Batman’s friendship officially died as this was right before Superman establishes his fascist Regime.

Supergirl’s Journey – Supergirl has a great story in this. She has been growing up under Injustice Wonder Woman and Black Adam who have sheltered and lied to her about Superman and his fascist regime so she helps rescue Superman only to regret it. The change is when she stops Wonder Woman from killing Cheetah and after Harley Quinn is mortally wounded by Wonder Woman she goes to Superman for help and sees just how evil he is. After this she comes over to Batman and the insurgency by the end as in the end she is standing against Superman and his dream of reestablishing his fascist reign once more. They have some wonderful moments and with Batman she establishes the new Justice League.

Redemption for Green Lantern, Flash and Harley Quinn – The best arcs in this game outside of Supergirl are those of Flash, Green Lantern and Harley Quinn. Harley Quinn firmly establishes herself as free from the Joker (facing her fear) and becoming a hero. Flash faces those who he wronged as a member of the Regime and stands by not-killing and standing against Superman and Green Lantern gets forgiveness from Batman as he has to face his rage and Atroticus as well as those who he hurt as a member of Superman’s Regime. Each of them give us compelling redemption arcs and they were the most interesting stories in the game.

The Threat of Brainiac – Jeffrey Combs is amazing as Brainiac. He is the most consistent threat through the story and we see him best the protagonists on multiple occasions. He is only beaten due to Society incompetency (Gorilla Grodd specifically) and the fact that the Insurgency and Regime united against him. Together they are able to cut Brainiac off from his technology and then he is either killed if Superman’s story is chosen or imprisoned if you choose Batman’s ending. This is one of the best versions of Brainiac I’ve seen in any media and I wish he’d gotten more wins to better establish his threat and for how long he’d been winning until the Insurgency and Regime alliance stopped him. You fight him twice in the campaign, once as Superman and once as Batman before he is finally knocked out.

The Threat of Superman and his Allies – Superman’s Regime allies are as much of a threat as Brainiac (and a much bigger threat than the Society) through the game. Wonder Woman, Black Adam and Aquaman all demonstrate their power on multiple occasions and Superman on his own is just as difficult as he was in the first game and once more a great final boss (Though the Brainiac fights were harder) since I chose the Batman ending. I can’t wait to see where “Injustice 3” goes as we have former Regime members in Green Lantern and Flash which means we will probably see more recruitment so they can bring the fight back to Batman and his allies.

The Choice – The end of the game comes down to a choice where you can back Batman or Superman. If Superman wins he uses all of Brainiac’s worlds he captured to make an army and resestablishes his regime and brainwashes Batman. If you choose Batman (like I did) Superman is depowered and sent to the Phantom Zone and Supergirl joins Batman in forming a new Justice League. Given the multiverse nature of these and this game both choices probably happened so I’m curious which one is chosen for “Injustice 3.” I loved Batman’s ending and the hope it had as even with Superman depowered and in the Phantom Zone chances are he’ll just recruit villains there and get his power back and break through to spark the next event as he tries to reestablish his Regime.

Okay:

The Society – The Society are okay. Their motivation seems to be either power (Gorilla Grodd, Bane and maybe Scarecrow), revenge (Poison Ivy, Captain Cold, Reverse Flash and Cheetah) or are a mole like Catwoman. I wish they’d been more effective as we never see them win any fights. They do damage to cities but Brainiac’s robots were already doing that. At most they just slow down the Regime and Insurgency characters fighting them.

The Cons:

Gorilla Grodd – Gorilla Grodd is extremely incompetent. He talks a big game and that he plans to betray Brainiac and take over but it isn’t believable he ever could. He was one of the easiest fights in the story campaign and all he does is mind control people. As a leader I never got why he was being followed and he was easily bested every time he put a plan forward. Gorilla Grodd is usually a lot more competent than this so I was disappointed in the Injustice version of him.

Less Loss for Raised Stakes – Zsasz is killed in a flashback in Chapter 1 by Damian Wayne, Gorilla Grodd is killed by Aquaman and Doctor Fate is killed by Brainiac. None of these compare to Superman’s killing of the Joker, Shazam and Lex Luthor last game and this game had a world ending threat in Brainiac who had his powerful technology as well the Society. They should have done a lot more damage as Doctor Fate is the only kill that really counts.

Besides the weakness in how one-dimensional Gorilla Grodd and the lack of loss given how much of a threat Brainiac is this is still an amazing story and one of the best to come of the DC Universe. This story builds upon the story that came before and even when you are done it plays up the multiverse established last game so you can play within it. It keeps the game alive and gives it so much replay value. I highly recommend it to any DC or fighting-game fan.

Final Score: 9.6 / 10 One of the best fighting-games I’ve played.

Tekken 7 – A Great Continuation of the Mishima Family Drama and Fantastic Gameplay

“Tekken 7” is nearly everything I love about this fighting-game franchise. It delves deeper into the Mishima family drama and the origin of the Devil Gene and the gameplay has a solid learning curve while giving a great story campaign and fun arcade mode. I’m a huge fan of this franchise and have played “Tekken 3” to “Tekken 6” at different points in my life and both “Tekken Tag Tournaments” are a lot of fun. If you like fighting-games then this is one I definitely recommend.

The game was developed by Bandai Namco Studios and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment.

With Jin Kazama missing after the events of “Tekken 6” Heihachi steps out from the shadows to take control of the Mishima Zaibatsu as his son Kazuya continues the world war from the shadows of G Corporation as they vie against each other for control of the world as Heihachi calls another King of the Iron Fist Tournament to lure out his son and Jin.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Gameplay – The gameplay of “Tekken” continues to show why it is one of the best fighting game franchises out there. Combos have power and each move can be countered. There are also a variety of play styles too given the sheer amount of characters you get to play as in arcade mode, character campaigns and the story campaign.

Character Options – There are a lot of characters and character customization options. Each character has a unique playstyle too and like all past “Tekken” games lore or are a guest character from other franchises like Negan from “The Walking Dead.” The character episodes in Story Mode are a good way to try out their different fighting styles.

Arcade – There is offline and online Arcade mode and as you rise in the ranks you fight different bosses with the first being Heihachi. It is a cool way to do it though it does make Arcade long compared to the usual 8-10 levels most Arcade games have.

The Story Campaign – The story campaign is compelling as we see where the different family members of the Mishima Clan have ended up as Kazuya and Heihachi make powerplays for world domination as the mysterious Akuma has shown up, who promised Azumi that he would end both their lives for her.

The Framing – The framing is through the eyes of a journalist whose family was killed in war between the Mishima Zaibatsu and G Corporation. He wants revenge at Jin for starting the war and it is his goal to learn how the war between the Mishima’s began, which he learns and the final part of his story is his publishing of the expose on what happened so long ago and how it lead to the present.

The Past Revealed / Devil Kazumi – At one point the journalist interviews Heihachi and from it we learn that his wife Azumi tried to kill him and that she was possessed of the devil. Her desire was to end Heihachi believing he would destroy the world. She wasn’t wrong but was killed. After Heihachi threw his child Kazuya from the cliff believing if he survived that he would have the devil gene too. It is fascinating as the death of Azumi is what lead to Heihachi’s nihilistic worldview as they seemed to be a more loving family prior. He also reveals to the journalist he was the one who killed his village before letting him go. Heihachi is a bastard and I like how this whole event has an element of actions to prevent the future causing it but also showing the devil may not be wholly evil as it was trying to prevent evil in killing Heihachi. It is an interesting question I hope gets explored further in later games.

Alisa, Lars and Lee – Our heroes are Lee Chaolan (adopted son of Heihachi), the CEO of Violet Industries who constructed Alisa and is protecting Jin after Heihachi’s bastard Lars brings him to the company. The 3 succeed in protecting Jin from his father and grandfather and we see what drives them as Lee seems to enjoy the joy of fighting as the underdog and outsmarting enemies, Alisa is in it for love of Lars and Lars is in it to end the war and bring balance even though like the journalist but wants to end the war and knows Jin is the only way to do it. In the end they hold Jin accountable as the war continues.

Heihachi Mishima – Heihachi continues to show why he is so memorable in this series. This villain’s tragic backstory in his wife trying to kill him and from it his attempt to kill his own son show just how broken this man is. He lives now only for power, unable to live as long as his son does as they continue to outdo one another until Kazuya finally defeats him. Heihachi is a bastard but he is an intriguing one as his desire to rule and sheer will to live has lead to him escaping death in the past games of the series, which leads me to believe even after what looks like his “final” defeat he’ll be back in some way even if it is just as a robot or something like that.

Kazuya Victorious – Kazuya wins. This is the major arc of the game as gets revenge upon his father for all his abuse and we see his G Corporation and he himself escape those seeking revenge against him for his actions of conquest with G Corporation with him escaping the attempts on his life or his G Corporation minions holding them off. His arc is powerful as he is driven by his powerlessness due to Heihachi’s attempt to murder him as a child. Even the Devil from is one that Heihachi has beaten in the past so when Kazuya beats him as himself it is all the more powerful and like when he was once thrown into a volcano, he do the same to his father, ending this revenge cycle with only his son (and his siblings Lee and Lars) standing against him now.

The Promise of Jin – Jin is the one who started the war to awaken Azazel last game to end this ancient evil and maybe free himself of the Devil Gene. It doesn’t work and after he was protected this game he knows he has to end his own revenge cycle and kill his father as all the times he had spared Heihachi and Kazuya the cycle of war had simply gone on and when he took control of the company he fell right into the power trap. Now with allies we will see what happens and what with Claudio and his exorcists given he has Xiaoyu (Jin’s traditional ally and friend) to potentially kill him and Jin as the draw to kill Kazuya. I can’t wait to see where this story goes.

The Cons:

Akuma – Akuma is from the “Street Fighter” fighting series and trying to make him or a version of him work here is dumb. His style clashes with that around him and he doesn’t quite fit with the universe. I wish his role as killer for Azumi had been fulfilled by a “Tekken” original character. This was that perfect opportunity like the introduction of Azazel, Jinpachi and Ogre was.

Certain Character Episode Stories – Some character episodes are just changing who wins. They just feel like arcade victories and that what they should have been. At least make the character stories story relevant as the best ones like Shaheen’s, Claudio’s and Xiaoyu’s were.

I can’t wait to see where the story goes from here. I’m surprised if Heihachi doesn’t come back in some form, given Kazuya survived a volcano too (though that was also maybe due to the Devil Gene) and as much as Akuma annoys me he doesn’t kill any lore characters. I do wish he’d been an original Tekken Universe character but he doesn’t bring down the story too much and the gameplay in Arcade and Story mode are so much fun. This is a great series and I hope the past games get an eventual PC release as I will play and review them. This is a favorite fighting game and easily one of the best games in this franchise.

Final Score: 9.2 / 10 This is a favorite fighting game.

Spellbreak – Great Art, Concept and Gameplay Just Needs a Campaign or Enemy A.I. Leveling Option

“Spellbreak” is a game with a beautiful art style, fun gameplay and compelling concept and world where you are criminal mage put against your own as you reclaim your power. Sadly right now all there really is is the base as this is a multiplayer pvp game and that is what keeps the game from being good. I’ll get into detail more below but for now I do recommend this series if you are into fun elemental combat and multiplayer and the game is also free-to-play on Steam.

The game was developed and published by Proleteriat.

You are a mage vowbreaker, a criminal mage held captive by the vowkeepers in the Hollow Lands. You must reclaim your power.

The Pros:

The Concept and World – The idea of a bunch of trapped and exiled mages facing off against one another while investigating ancient sites guarded by robots is a lot of fun. The base for this world is cool and the art style that expresses it is distinct. This is a beautiful looking game and the stakes in the base of the game really should be expanded more in the game.

The Classes and Combat – The classes and combat are so much fun. You have elemental abilities with the classes being Pyromancer (Fire), Stoneshaper (Earth), Conduit (Electricity), Toxicologist (Poison), Frostborn (Ice) and Tempest (Wind). Your character whose appearance you can customize by either buying or choosing the free available or random options have a primary gauntlet for elemental powers and a secondary one. These can be combined into special attacks as well leading into some devastating attacks. The training is even enjoyable because the combat is so fun. My favorites were Pyromancer, Toxicologist and Frostborn as primary classes.

The Gameplay – For gameplay there is the Battle Royal option where is last team or person standing and Dominion which is capture the flag where the team that wins by killing the most players while holding all the points. Both are a lot of fun, especially Dominion. The one disadvantage in these that I’ll get into below are the wait times since this is a multiplayer game. On the maps there are potions for healing, shields and items that can level up your character in the match so they can survive and recover longer. It is a lot of fun and keeps the flow of the game going as you face enemy robots and mages along with enemy teams and players, depending on the type of game you’ve chosen.

The Cons:

No Campaign or Leveling Against A.I. Options – One issue that would solve the biggest con of this game (the wait times) would be providing a campaign to playthrough. You face enemy mages and robots on maps so just create a few scenarios that individuals and players can go through. The assets are all there with the maps and they don’t have to be complicated. Just give another option besides multiplayer and flesh out the compelling world more.

The Wait Times – The wait times are the worst part of the game. Wait times can easily be 3-5 minutes for matches and more sometimes as well. This ruins the flow of gameplay as getting trapped in the queue kills interest in the game as there aren’t alternatives to waiting for enough players to start a match since it is entirely dependent on multiplayer if you don’t want to do practice, which doesn’t level your character profile or character classes.

“Spellbreak” is a fun game that I hope is given a story campaign at some point or at least story scenario. The base of the vowkeepers versus vowbreakers is a compelling plot and I want to see it expanded more. This art and combat flow together beautifully and each of the classes have distinct styles of combat that blend together well depending on the gauntlets you choose to combine. I hope future chapters will expand upon the base that is there as this could someday be a good or great game.

Final Score: 7.5 / 10 Enjoyable Just Needs a Bit More to be Good.

Star Trek: Voyager – Elite Force – Good Base Campaign But No Elevated Story Elements

“Star Trek: Voyager – Elite Force” is a good first-person shooter and a great bit of expanded lore for “Star Trek: Voyager.” If you like either of these things I would recommend the game as I am a “Voyager” and really enjoy sci. fi. FPS games and this is a solid example of a game in the genre.

The game was developed by Raven Software, Aspyr Media and Pipe Dream Interactive and published by Activision and Majesco Entertainment.

The story follows the Hazard Team who investigate the Starship graveyard that Voyager was pulled into as they make repairs while facing other hostile trapped factions.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Premise – Like the episode of “Voyager” called “The Void” this follows a similar premise as Voyager is trapped and must investigate how to get out while making repairs and facing threats. Voyager in these situations in the show were when the story shined and that is on display here but with the Hazard Team giving us a new and unique perspective to solving the problem.

The Gameplay – The gameplay is fun as there are a good range of weapons and enemies that have certain vulnerabilities or who can adapt to everything you have like the Borg do. It keeps the 30 levels interesting and the multiplayer is fun too where you can choose classic aliens like Klingons, Romulans and Borg to play as but also ones from “Voyager” like the Hirogen.

The Borg – The Borg are the best enemy in this as we face them in the holodeck training program and later they assimilate a member of your team when you are competing with them for the limited resources in the Starship Graveyard. There is no Queen and they remain in collective mode too as Seven of Nine is your main crewmember who joins you to fight them. All the Borg levels were great.

The Main Crew – We see Captain Janeway, Tuvok, Torres and Seven of Nine with their chances to shine in combat and negotiation. They are a constant presence and part of fixing the problems. They also have their original actors voicing them which adds so much to the game.

The Hazard Team – The Hazard Team is a fun group who you sadly end up losing members of the team as the game progresses. It is through the Hazard Team’s eyes so you experience the loss first hand as they are your team. This was a smart story move.

The Cons:

The Etherian Levels – These levels were annoying as they are a constant threat and when you can finally talk it was all a misunderstanding, but given how much damage you cause the peace didn’t feel believable. I liked the idea of this species but the execution of getting to peace and them becoming allies after all the Hazard Team did didn’t make sense.

The Vohrsoth – The Vohrsoth are taking DNA through the universe to make an army to conquer. The genestealer idea is neat but they end up being just big dumb monsters. Like the Etherians, a great idea extremely poorly executed. It did feel rewarding defeating their leader in the Forge though. It is a fun fight.

“Star Trek: Voyager” was such a good show. Even if it isn’t my favorite “Star Trek” it is still one of the shows I always return to. This game captures some of the best aspects of the show and it was a game I beat multiple times growing up. It is a good game that I recommend and I hope it gets released on Steam and Gog.com.

8.3 / 10

Star Trek: Armada – A Solid RTS in the “Star Trek” Universe

We continue “Star Trek Week” with “Star Trek: Armada.” “Star Trek: Armada” is a solid, simple Real-time strategy game that lets you play as the Federation, Borg, Klingons and Romulans in multiplayer and their own campaigns. I first beat it Middle School and later again in High School. This was around the time I first became a Trekkie and getting the chance to play a RTS in a universe I love was so much fun. The thing that keeps it from being great is how simple the maps and strategy are. This is still a solidly good game worth checking out if you like “Star Trek” or RTS games.

The game was produced and developed by Activision.

The story follow Captain Picard post-Dominion War as the Enterprise-E saves a Federation ship from the future who warns them about an incoming Borg Invasion.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Gameplay – I am a fan of RTS games from “Age of Empires II,” “Age of Mythology,” “Rise of Nations,” both “Starcrafts”and “Warcraft III.” The gameplay is much simpler than most of these games but the core gameplay isn’t bad. It works as a simple RTS with the two resources you gather.

The Factions – The Federation, Klingons, Romulans and Borg are so much fun to play. Romulans are my favorite faction in “Star Trek” and their specialty of cloak and stealing shields adds a nice dynamic where the Klingons are all about damage and the Federation is all about shield power-ups. The Borg are hard to kill and can assimilate all factions ships late game. It is fun and their feel from the shows are captured really well.

The Campaign – The campaign is good but doesn’t do anything special. You have time travel to defeat the Borg like the “First Contact” film. The Romulans and Klingons are fighting and it is only with them making peace the Federation can win and the Borg use cloning Dominion Tech to bring back Locutus. There isn’t much to say about the campaign, it works and having Picard, Worf, Sela and Locutus as the POV makes their individual campaigns solid enough even if none ever reach the level of great with a Federation, Romulan and Klingon Alliance being the only way to defeat Locutus and the Borg.

The Cons:

The Maps – The maps are simple to the point a grid is over the entire map. It is simple with nebulas that can hurt or help and resources to gather. None of the maps are creative and they all feel the same. This definitely was a con given how diverse space is.

Lack of Strategies / Simpleness of the Game – You can turtle and power-up to get the final warships and at that point you win. There aren’t really any good rush strategies so you end up turtling and sending out giant fleets at the end. This is where the limits in the simple design of the game really come out. The ships before the warships end up mattering very little in the end because they are comparably so weak or slow to shoot.

“Star Trek: Armada” is a game I can’t wait to come to steam or Gog.com. It is a solid RTS and I’d been wanting one of these types of games in “Star Trek” as I watched the show growing up so when this game came out when I was in middle school I loved it. Beating it later in life has been fun too as the game always stays as the simple, solid fun adventure in the universe of “Star Trek.”

Final Score: 8 / 10

Second Extinction – Interesting World and Great Combat Show Potential for an Eventually Good Finished Game

“Second Extinction” is the second Early Access game I’ve reviewed on the blog. The first was “Torchlight III” which was definitely felt more finished than this game does. This is still a really fun game to play with friends (It is co-op heavy) though as the premise of retaking the Earth from Dinosaurs who were underneath the Earth is great and the FPS combat and characters keep the game compelling.

The game was created and published by Systemic Reactions.

In the future mutated dinosaurs have retaken the Earth leading to a squad of survivors taking orbital missions to take on the threat.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The World – The world of a dystopian future where humanity is in space but mutated dinosaurs have our home is compelling all on it’s own. Whichever character you choose has embraced this new future too as the survivors of humanity are shown to be united against the dinosaur threat.

The Characters – You have a strike-force of Rosy, Ortega, Amir, Jack and Jürgen each with their distinct personalities. Jack and Rosy are heavy enforcers with Rosy having a heal ability and a kind personality. Amir as the arrogant operative. Ortega as the trooper who loves combat and Jürgen the sniper and scientist. They play off one another well and I loved playing as Ortega especially with the Shotgun and Machine gun.

Gameplay – The gameplay is fun as you take points and fight mutated dinos with an array of weapons from handguns, mini-guns, sniper rifles, machine guns, shotguns, etc. The loadout and leveling up your weapons from resources you collect from dinos gives the game good reply value. You also unlock new uniforms and skins for your weapons as you level up.

The Enemies – The enemies are great with a variety of raptors, some that can spit, are armored or can empower others and some that even cloak or call in help. There are also triceratops which are fun to kill and ankylosaurus and are the most annoying with their homing spin attack that can’t be stopped and of course the funnest fights in the T-Rexs who function as bosses who summon raptors in and take a lot to take down. Hunting them with friends is one of the best parts of the game.

Mission Variety – You blow up mines that dinos rise from, take dino eggs, hunt dinos with contracts and hold points for ships to retreat and repair bases and equipment. There is a good variety of missions that makes playing with friends fun.

The Cons:

Fourth Player Needed – 3 player co-op sucks. Four should be the minimum, especially in a game like this that doesn’t shy away from difficulty and has 5 different characters to choose from. There is no reason not have a fourth player like most other co-op games.

Lack of Cohesive Campaign / Story With Consequences – The mission variety is fun but there is no story campaign where the world changes. You complete missions and leave but you never see what your completion does within the lore of the game. This is sad as the world is so interesting and resettling Earth and defending a new colony would be a great plot.

Lack of Environmental Variety – It is all mountain and tundra with lakes. The world has a lot more environments than that so this is a shame. I hope this gets fixed as consequence to completing and clearing areas hopefully eventually becomes permanent.

Needs more Dinosaurs – We need more dinosaurs. I’d love to see some semi-aquatic and flying types and more basic enemies than just raptors. Right now we have a good base it just gets repetitive after a while. More dinos and environments would fix that.

The Bugs – There are still some bugs that need to be fixed such as the attacks that can’t be interrupted and sometimes dinosaurs don’t show up where and when they are supposed to, specifically the T-Rex encounters. This is an early access games so bugs are expected but still annoying.

This is a fun game and I’m glad my friend got me into it as it is a game that is made and best experienced in co-op. Right now it has the potential to be good or great it just needs to expand on the solid base and give a story that has some weight and consequences. I can’t wait to see how the final project ends up.

Final Score: 7 / 10

Descent II – Greater Boss and World Variety But Less Difficult and Fun

“Descent II” fixes some of the issues with the first game (mostly length and Boss variety) but is weaker in almost every other way. It is still a good game that I’d recommend but it is more flawed than the first game. It did come out in 1996, a year after the first game so I think it was most likely rushed given some of the flaws. I’ll get more into what I mean further in.

The game was created by Parallax Studios and released by Interplay Productions.

The story picks up with the mercenary from the first game, the Material Defender being forced to warp into deep space by Dravis and the PTMC or forfeit his reward as he must clear out their deep space mines.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The World – This game opens up the world of “Descent” and does so in a compelling way. First we have deep space and an experimental warp drive and finally aliens as the last planet is a space ship. Your warp drive also is destroyed on your arrival home fully setting up PTMC as the main enemy moving forward.

Guide-Bot – I had issue with how complicated some puzzles and maps were in the first game and the Guide-Bot fixes that as it guides you to where you need to go next. The bot isn’t smart so you do need to find ways to open passages and doors but it pushes you along if you ever feel stuck. It is a neat bot.

The Gameplay – The gameplay is just as fun as the first game and there are new weapons to that add more strategies for defeating bosses and enemies. Some bosses are only vulnerable to certain weapons or only when shot in certain areas that adds another level of fun to the game.

The Boss Variety – There are 6 bosses and each of them are themed around the type of planet they are on. You have a “Red Boss” (level 4) in the classic mines a “Water Boss,” (level 8) “Fire Boss” (level 12) “Ice Boss” (level 16) and 2 Alien Bosses (levels 20 and 24). The hardest for me were the “Ice Boss” who blinds with flash missiles in his dark map and the last boss who has Earthshaker Missiles and can only be hurt from the back. This variety was better than the only 2 bosses in the first game though these were all much easier than most of the first games bosses.

Okay:

Enemy Difficulty and Variety – This game is substantially easier than the first game. I didn’t feel challenged by any single enemy units until the final planet and there are no enemies as difficult as the larger Hulks and Drillers of the first game. This was where the game felt rushed and even enemy designs are more simple than the first game though they still feel like they are of that same world so not putting them as a con.

Boss Difficulty – There are more bosses and most are easy. Even the boss on level 20 isn’t hard it just sucks the world it is on takes your energy. The fact that only 2 bosses were memorable in difficulty after how hard the only 2 bosses in the first game are it is definitely a step down.

The Cons:

Soundtrack – While the other soundtrack has a calm and haunting ambiance this game is much louder. It feels like it is trying to take metal meets sci. fi. but it doesn’t work and is distracting. The soundtrack didn’t compliment the worlds all that well which was a shame. It just sounded the same.

Cliffhanger Ending – The game ends on a cliffhanger with the Material Defender falling into the sun. It promised it would be continued. This was a mistake as there was no reason to believe it would have been able to continue. This is also my bias against cliffhanger endings coming out.

“Descent II” is step down from the first game while adding some cool things like diverse worlds and the Guide-Bot that give the universe character. It is a shame that the bosses were mostly so easy and that hardly any of the standard enemy robots were difficult. Still, as someone who enjoys this world this is a game I return to just not as often as the first game. This game is good, the first game is a favorite.

Final Score: 8 / 10

Descent – A Great Classic Game That Still Holds Up

“Descent” was the videogame that got me into gaming. I remember the demo of it being on my family’s computer and it ended after beating the boss on level 7. I was a little kid and thought it was the coolest thing. I’d later buy the full game and even after beating it is still one that every few years I come back to. What brought coming back to the “Descent” series as a whole this time is I plan to play “Overload” and “Descent: Underground” both of which function as spiritual successors to the series. Before I do those I’ll be going over the original games first.

The game was created by Parallax Studios and released by Interplay Productions.

You are a mercenary hired by Samuel Dravis of the Post Terran Mining Corporation (PTMC) hired to rescue hostages trapped in the mines and stop the virus infected robots.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The World – I love the idea of an intergalactic corporation hiring mercenaries to take out infected robots. The robots have really cool designs too and the mission briefs are filled with little details of your character’s personality and the personality of the robots. It is a cool universe whose story ends with us going further out into the universe to find the source of the alien virus.

The Gameplay – You are in a spaceship and have full 360 degrees of movement. You also have tons of weapons that can bring about different strategies depending on enemies you are fighting. You have shields and energy and some weapons like the Vulcan don’t use energy while other weapons like Fusion and Plasma are very energy heavy. There are also powerups of cloaking and invulnerability that you will need against the bosses.

The Enemies – There is a huge range of enemy robots and they have great colorful shapes and designs. Some are cloaked. Others like the Hulks are heavies who take a lot of hit. The Drillers can wreck you quick and you’ll have some who are melee while others have long range or homing missiles that can track you. Heavy Hulk, the Fusion Hulk and the Drillers were the most annoying of the enemies.

The Bosses – There are only 2 bosses in this but they are more difficult than most of the enemy bosses in “Descent 2” and “Descent 3.” They can kill you quickly, have allies that can kill you quickly and can quickly isolate you in their boss chambers. Beating the 2 and their smart and mega missiles are deadly. I loved defeating these 2 and how they forced speed and efficiency to be cleared as well as knowing where to find all the cloaks and invulnerability powerups.

Difficulty – The game is good with rising difficulty of enemies as you pick up weapons that can match them and have strategies to meet them as well. The maps tend to get more difficult too and could easily be the most annoying part on some levels.

The Cons:

Some Puzzles / Maps – Some maps are all hidden doors and areas and it is annoying as it feels like almost luck to find them. I don’t like when any games do this and it is annoying here where there are 27 levels plus 3 secret levels. That is a lot time to get through everything.

Length – If this game had 3 – 5 less levels it would have been the perfect game. The mid-section lags at times and I’d trade a level full of difficult enemies over an overly confusing map. Length is one of the biggest factors for why I don’t rate it higher.

This game is still very much a classic that holds up. The combat, gameplay and most of the puzzles are fun. If you are are looking for a good sci. fi. game and shooter this is one I highly recommend. The game was made in 1995 and still holds up to this day.

Final Score: 9 / 10 Solidly great and a favorite game.

Soul Calibur VI – Moments of Fun in a Franchise Gone Stale That Still has Potential

Soulcalibur VI Game Poster – My Hot Posters

The “Soul” series is a Franchise I grew up with. I remember playing “Soul Edge” in 5th grade and falling in love with the concept of the game of fighters from all over the world, each with different weapons and an all corrupting blade. Cervantes was also a cool final boss too. Over the following years I’d play bits and pieces of the other “Soul Calibur” games at friends’ houses or arcades and began to notice how the later games were getting a bit stale and I think the writers were slowly running out of ideas over where to take characters. For this reason having this be a soft reboot made sense. Sadly though the story needed a lot more focus and interconnectivity if it was going to be good or great. This is a far cry from the storytelling in “Injustice: Gods Among Us” and hurts my rating of this game. It could have been so much more given the premise, which I’ll get into more below.

The game was developed and published by Bandai Namco Studios with the director being Yoshinori Takahashi.

The story takes place after Sophitia and Taki defeat Cervantes and destroy one of the two corrupted swords. Sadly Siegfried discovers the one that was not destroyed and it corrupts him, turning him into Nightmare as he uses his power call forth the Evil Seed to bring about corruption upon the world.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Idea – The idea of Nightmare calling forth an apocalypse and that being the call to action for our heroes is really cool. The stakes are their homelands or them fighting against their own corruption that the event brought about. In execution it largely didn’t work though both in the presentation of the apocalypse and threat of Soul Edge and the many character narratives, many which didn’t connect to one another at all.

Gameplay Options – There are quite a few gameplay options that made the game fun to play. Whether it is the story mode where you can play a campaign for each character or Libra of Soul where you create your own character and play in the story. This personal narrative where you interact with multiple characters from the game (really want the main campaign should have done like “Injustice: Gods Among Us” did.

Certain Character Stories – There are a few character stories that connect to the wider mythology of the game and were a lot of fun. I’ll list the ones that worked for me here and that I thought managed to be good on some level. Sadly that does not apply to the majority of the story campaigns though.

Grøh and Azwel – These two have a connected story in the main campaign that I found compelling. Azwel is motivating by using the power of Soul Edge to enslave the world so it won’t commit evil and Grøh is the one attempting to stop him after the sword corrupted him and he constantly seeks redemption as he finds himself outside the Aval Organization that he and Azwel were a part of. I wish these two could have interacted with more of the core cast as they each bring an interesting dynamic to the game and fun playstyles.

Siegfried – Siegfried like Kilik and Grøh is seeking redemption for his actions as Nightmare and his campaign is him facing the consequences for his actions before finally facing down Inferno once more. His character is basically the same from prior games but he is a fun character and I wish he’d interacted with more characters in either Nightmare or Siegfriend form as in both he did great evil as he killed thousands to ressurect his father.

Cervantes – Cervantes is so much fun. He is evil and loves it and after being resurrected by Nightmare is empowered by the broken blades of Soul Edge within him. He realizes that he was the one to kill his crew and his legacy of a terror of the seas and embraces it. He is almost Jokeresque in his love of combat and destruction and it makes him a much better villain than Nightmare who is basically just Inferno’s puppet.

Kilik – Kilik like Grøh is fighting corruption as the evil of the blade caused him to kill his temple and he lives with the guilt of murdering his sister. He is the main storyline as he is the one to defeat Nightmare and Inferno the first time. It is a solid campaign and besides the bad romantic writing is quite fun. I can see why they chose this one as the main storyline as he does interact with a decent amount of characters.

Creating Your Own Character and Libra of Soul – Creating your own character and giving them your favorite fighting style is a lot of fun. This story is one that is actually good too as you interact with most characters in the game and the stakes are clear versus the unfocused mess that is are the character stories connected to the main campaign. The fact that you level up and can hire mercenaries is really cool too. Both these aspects were a major strength the game needed after how poorly so many of the other stories are handled.

Geralt – Geralt is playable and he is the character who I beat arcade mode with. His playstyle is so much fun as it is a mixture of swordplay and magic like in his games. He also has a campaign in the story missions where he crosses into the Soul Caibur Universe and needs to get back to his own. It is a short campaign but a lot of fun.

The Cons:

The Writing and Main Story Presentation – The writing is really bad. Characters have no nuance or subtext, which in itself isn’t bad but how it is handled is nothing but awkward dialogue. Most characters don’t even interact with one another too making their connection to Soul Edge tenuous at best. This was a story screaming for a tournament like in Tekken or Mortal Kombat as some of the characters have personalities and motives that would clash but we never get that so in turn we get a lot of simple stories with only a few being okay and maybe good to quite a few bad ones.

Enemies – Nightmare who is Siegfried consumed by Soul Edge is the main boss in the story campaign besides the spirit of the sword Inferno and it seems purposeless beyond the desire for souls. It has Ivy and Astorath as lieutenants but they don’t get any orders from him. Basically this villain is boring and kind of useless. I would love it if this game would explore the endgame goals of Inferno and whomever is it’s Avatar as so far Cervantes seems to be one of the few whose voiced a motivation when he posses it.

Presentation of Women and Companionship – Nearly every single women in this who is good is hooked up with someone or implied to hook up later with someone. This is really annoying as there are characters who have purpose beyond getting married like Mitsurugi or Yoshimitsu for example. I hated this sexism as it simplified all women that if they are noble as just wanting to settle down. For a game with so many characters to choose from it should have given as much variety of motivations to it’s women as it’s men.

The variety of story and gameplay types is what ends up saving this game in the end as if I was rating it on the main story mission alone it would fail as the core story itself as fun as it is still holds a fair amount of terrible writing. This is no “Injustice: Gods Among Us.” This is a series that still has potential though and I hope if the story continues that they better integrate all the storylines together and better integrate how the stories connect and lead into one another. As it is now I see very little reason narratively why a lot of these characters exist in the series as you could cover the main plot as is and tell it well with maybe only 10 characters at most. The rest is just fluff or bad writing that lends very little to the world and mythology. This is a game series that still holds potential though.

Final Score: 7.4 / 10