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Picture a game with a post-apocalyptic setting. Dot the wasteland with strange meldings of beasts and battleships to fight. Add in a fast turn-based combat system using customizable tanks to fight these strange creations with. There’s also an anime-inspired sci-fi plot with an AI trying to wipe out humanity. That all sounds like it has the makings of a good game — or at least an interesting one — but Metal Max Xeno managed to squander all these unique aspects and crafted an incredibly underwhelming game.
Metal Max has been absent from western shores since the PlayStation 2 era and Xeno did nothing to make another entry likely anytime soon. The writing was juvenile with male characters constantly opining about the potential virginity of their female compatriots, the graphics were underwhelming, the dungeons were repetitive, and this mess was capped off with an incredibly ill-advised boss rush many times more difficult than anything else in the game. There is a unique and interesting kernel at the core of Metal Max, but Xeno failed to capture any of the charms of the 3DS games that had piqued our interest.
A Final Fantasy crossover fighting game is one of the easiest concepts in the world to sell. The series’ storied history is filled with ups and downs and weird experiments that make for an interesting roster of fighters. It’s also a trick Square Enix has pulled off twice before, both with the original Dissidia and its content-flooded sequel Dissidia 012, two games with numerous modes, single-player options, and a story mode that, while not great, gave its RPG-loving base something to chew on. Dissidia Final Fantasy NT has none of these things. Gone are the simple one-versus-one battles, replaced by overly busy three-versus-three battles that are even more difficult to get a hold of due to the diminished amount of single-player options. There’s no story mode, merely cutscenes to unlock as you play enough. The roster has some good additions but also drops several, some of whom are already being offered up as DLC. I poured hundreds of hours into the PSP titles, maxing and learning characters inside and out. I struggled to get through more than a few hours of Dissidia NT and the game has mostly been forgotten as a result.
It seems World of Warcraft expansions follow the same cycle as Star Trek movies, where every other entry is amazing. Unfortunately for us, Battle For Azeroth is on the negative side of that pattern this time around. The previous expansion had an artifact weapon that you could power up and customize, and let players take part in class fantasy that added depth to your character. In Battle for Azeroth, Blizzard sucked all of the fun out of that progression system and instead added the Heart of Azeroth, a bland necklace bestowing traits on pieces of Artifact Armor (head, chest, or shoulder pieces), based on your Artifact Power. Finding Artifact Armor with traits that compliment any particular class is randomized, no longer guaranteeing useful stats on any new piece of gear. Other new features like Island Expeditions and Warfronts feel like a slog to play through, since those rewards are randomized as well. Mix in uninspired writing, and it’s a recipe for a disappointing expansion that pales in comparison to its predecessor. At least the fox-like Vulpera race is adorable. It’s just a shame they aren’t playable.
by Joshua Carpenter, Zack Webster, and Kelley Ryan