T2: Trainspotting (2017) Review

 

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“Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players, and electrical tin can openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol and dental insurance. Choose fixed-interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisure wear and matching luggage. Choose a three piece suite on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked-up brats you have spawned to replace yourself. Choose your future. Choose life . . . But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life: I chose something else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got heroin?” – Mark Renton in Trainspotting (1996)

Twenty years after choosing life, Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns home to Edinburgh from self imposed exile. Begbie (Robert Carlyle) is in prison. Spud (Ewen Bremner) is still a fucked up skaghead,seperated from his wife. Sick Boy (Johnny Lee Miller) is, well, Sick Boy. Still scamming, hustling and being a genuine manipulative sociopath. And Diane (Kelly MacDonald), in a brief cameo, seems to be doing quite well for herself.

With the return of director Danny Boyle and screenwriter John Hodge returning with the original cast, they have created a brilliant sequel. As an adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s Porno (as well as including some other elements from the original Trainspotting novel that were not in the first film), it is quite good in that it’s not 1:1, but keeps the core character relationships and plot beats intact, as well as borrowing many scenes and reworking them so that they fit the film and feel fresh (such as the scene in the bathroom stall or the Begbie=Evil=Fear sequence), even for those of us who have read the novels. The focus on the character relationships of the core characters and them dealing with their pasts of drug addiction, betrayal, petty crime and violence.

They reminiscence about their youth and their regrets (like when Renton is explaining ‘choose life’ to Veronica, a character loosely based on Nikke Fuller-Smith from Porno) and do their best to make it in a world that has changed so much when they have not. We also see Begbie, who remains a looming and terrifying presence, who returns to a son that is unlike him in every way and through it, although very briefly, we see a softer side of Begbie. The trials and tribulations of Renton, Spud, Sick Boy and Begbie are compelling stuff that succeeds in making you feel a wide range of emotions. You might even feel like your heart has been warmed at a few point, which is something I never thought I’d say about this series considering the amount of obscenity, crime and depravity the core characters engage in during the films and novels. You might even be driven close to tears, or at least I was, considering the attachments I had towards the characters and the climax of the film will have you, to use a cliche’: on the edge of your seat.

Stylistically, this film is similar to the original yet also wildly different. It is about 30 minutes longer than the original, it has a generally slower pace that matches the themes of the film, Danny Boyle’s style has a strong presence and the lighting is often superb,reminiscent of some of his more recent films, such as Trance. In regards to the comedic elements, there are still quite a few hilarious and well crafted moments, but there’s no gut busting funny gross out sequences, such as the Traditional Sunday Breakfast scene. They add the right amounts of levity, adding to the emotional texture of the film. Flashbacks to the original film are also used to great effect and the music is a mixture of tracks from the original soundtrack and plenty of new ones, which are perfectly utilised to enhance the emotional register of the sequences they’re used. And as a whole add to the overall theme of changing times.

T2: Trainspotting, while not as funny as the original is both a great sequel to a classic and adaptation, whose characters are compelling and the film as a whole is tragic and reflective, and at times hilarious. It leans heavily on the original film, so if you haven’t seen that or it’s been a while, watch it first. Fans of the novels will also get a bit more out of it, not only emotionally, but certain sequences, such as the 1690 sequence, will be enhanced. It is also a genuinely moving film and maintains Danny Boyle’s position as one of Britain’s best modern feature film directors.

9.5/10

Yakuza 0 (2017)PS4 Review

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Getting a copy of this game was a hassle. I intended to buy it the week it came out, but by the time I went to my local stores, it was sold out. I had to wait at least two weeks before I could find a copy, but when I eventually saw it in the shop, my eyes beamed and I bought it instantly,finally able to play the incredible game within.

Yakuza 0, a prequel to the long running Yakuza series, which is highly popular in Japan and East Asia more generally, but rather niche in the West, has finally graced our consoles with a localised version this year. Being a prequel and requiring little familiarity with the prior games in the series, this is the perfect entry point for those that yet to experience it.

The story in this game focuses around the two playable characters, Kazuma Kiryu, who starts off as just a low level yakuza doing debt collecting jobs and Goro Majima, an exile of the yakuza who wants to get back in, but is forced as being a money maker for his boss in the late 1980s. After Kiryu is framed for a murder in the Empty Lot in Kamurocho (a fictionalised version of the Kabuchiko district in Tokyo) and Majima is tasked with assassinating someone by the name of Makoto Makimura, they find themselves embroiled in different groups fighting and infighting over this tiny patch of land and punch,kick and stomp their way through and making their mark in the Tojo Clan.

The main storyline of Yakuza 0 is a gritty and compelling crime drama that is well written and the performances, whilst I cannot understand Japanese, are full of emotion so in my view they are as a whole, quite good.

There is another side to the writing Yakuza 0 and those are the wacky and often genuinely funny side quests. There is one where you have to assist a dominatrix in learning how to berate her clients better or another where you accidentally agree to buy a young kid a porno magazine, which turns it into a mini stealth mission. Or another where you pretend to be a producer or someone’s girlfriend, there is plenty of variety in the narratives of the side quests,which provide a nice counterbalance to the furrowed brows and tense stand offs in the main story.

As far as the actual mechanics of the game goes, there are two pillars: combat and mini games.

The combat here is of a more traditional brawler style, different to the current trend of making variations of Arkham Asylum combat. This means that you’ll usually have to counter manually, block using L1, strike with square and triangle, grab, pick up weapons or guard break with circle and dodge with x. There are also brutal special moves called HEAT moves that range from curb stomping someone’s face, ripping their teeth out with pliers,suplexing people on rails and pouring boiling water on the faces of goons, delinquents, yakuza and anyone else who gets wide with you. Generally trash mobs are quite easy, although later in the game they tend to have bigger health bars, draw weapons more often and get a few more moves under their belt but the biggest challenges tend to come from some exciting boss fights. It’s not at all a difficult system to get used to but it does have two issues worth noting. At times, it can feel a bit like I’m just button mashing as opposed to games with more finesse, like Devil May Cry 3 or Metal Gear Rising, but in spite of this it’s still lots of fun. The other is that the way lock on works is pure shit. You have to hold R1 to lock on, but most of the time, except for certain moves that require it, it’s pretty useless and not helpful when fighting large packs of guys seeing as there’s no reticle placed on your target, so who you’re actually targeting can be very vague and moving around in time can become a hassle.

There are also three fighting styles per character (4 if you do what’s required to unlock the last one). They are Brawler/Thug, Rush/Breaker and Beast/Slugger, being medium, fast and heavy respectively and you can switch between them in the middle of battle. As Kiryu, I mostly used the brawler and rush styles in combat, whereas with Majima, I tended to use his styles more evenly,as Kiryu’s beast style is best only in tight areas with lots of weapon pick ups, which are not always around. Majima’s breaker style is also very effective crowd control as he spins and kicks while woohooing as if he’s Mario. Each style also has it’s own upgrade tree that while they look like sphere grids, they function as regular old ability trees. You upgrade by ‘investing in yourself’ through Yen, which is the single currency used for everything in the game, from buying food and items, upgrading yourself, buying real estate, gambling and so on.

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There are a shitload of side activities in Yakuza 0. You can play Sega arcade classics, such as Space Harrier and Outrun, use the claw machine, go bowling, play pool, darts, mahjong and more. You can play shogi, which is like a Japanese version of chess that I am absolutely terrible at due to how it deviates from chess throwing me off entirely. There are rhythm games, such as karaoke that are lots of fun although I wish it had more songs.The dancing minigame is quite interesting as it takes a unique spin on rhythm games. There is a grid on the on the screen and each button press will appear at a square on the grid and you must traverse the grids to be able to press it in time, whilst traversing as many squares to get there in order to maximise your score. It’s counter intuitive at first, but once you get the hang of it, can be quite fun. You can also use the telephone club to hook up with girls and watch erotic soft-core videos for a bit of titillation and to recharge your heat bar. There are lots of others that I did not mention and you can easily spend a shit load of time on these, especially if you’re a completionist type. On that note, the game took me just under 61 hours to finish at ~45% total completion.

The other two major mini-games, which have their own quest-lines attached to them are the real estate management and cabaret club; both of which are necessary if you want to be able to upgrade all your fighting styles fully.

How the real estate management works is you use your money to buy property in an area to gain a greater share and run out the billionaire that monopolises it. Then, you get managers (which you obtain through the completion of substories usually) and security guards that you assign to an area when starting collection to maximize profit in addition to using advisors to upgrade the rank of each property. Then you wait, collect the profit.Sometimes you will have to do a money battle, which amounts to mindlessly mashing X, take on the area boss in a bet over 10% area share in a mini game and after you have 90% share, you take them on in combat. Rinse and repeat 5 times. It can feel quite tedious, to say the least, considering how you can only invest in upgrading a property once per collection round.

Majima’s mini game questline follows a similar premise of taking over turf to beat rivals, but it is far more engaging than real estate. The cabaret club has you manage hostesses by preparing the business for opening by choosing which girls you are going to have on per session, which area’s fans you are targeting and customizing the clothes, hair, facial features and accessories of your platinum rank hostesses, as well as training them through karaoke or disco dates and customer service training, which is a dialogue that helps you level them up. These dialogues are actually quite engaging as the lip syncing, voices and back stories of the girls all feel believable. Then when you open up, you must keep customers happy by assigning girls to guests trying to make as much profit as possible, and assisting the girls by reading their hand signs to know if they’re ordering a drink or want the menu or whatever. It’s a rather simple mini game but surprisingly addictive and the grind feels much less tedious than the real estate mini game.

Aesthetically, the late 80s rendition of Kamurocho and Sotenbori, with their neon lit streets and plenty of detail,rendered at full 1080p 60fps and despite some low quality texture and low poly models here and there, the game generally looks quite nice. Cutscenes look even better running in real time but 30FPS. The soundtrack is also varied and generally quite enjoyable too. However, there are many elements of the game that demonstrate it’s limitations as being developed with the PS3 in mind, like the difference in lighting models between certain cutscenes and dialogues (you will know when you see it) and how there is loading times between interiors and the overworld. Thankfully, these load times are quite short.

Yakuza 0 is a game that juggles so many elements, especially tonally, and manages to do it very, very well. You will laugh, cheer, feel hype, tense , sad and sometimes a little fuzzy and much more and just have a generally good time punching guys in the face.  If you’re the type of person who refuses to watch a foreign film out of stubborn refusal to read subtitles, then this is not the game for you, but for everyone else, definitely give it a look, for it is sure to please long time fans and newcomers alike.

8.5/10

 

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (2017) PC Review

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The Resident Evil series has had it rough after the fourth entry in the main line series. It’s sequel, Resident Evil 5 is routinely laughed at for the ridiculousness of Chris Redfield punching the shit out of a boulder. It is also routinely and rightfully criticised for it’s poor partner AI that is forced on you if you don’t have a friend to play with. Resident Evil 6, while it’s combat mechanics are surprisingly quite good, every other aspect of it’s overall design is questionable. With Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, I am pleased to say that Capcom has put the series back on it’s feet.

One of the first things you will notice about this latest entry in the 20+ year old franchise is that it does not utilise the fixed camera angles of the original 3 games, nor the tight third person camera of 4, 5 and 6 but rather opts for a first person perspective that has become ubiquitous with contemporary horror games. This change in perspective is very effective in RE7. For example, in cinematics, such the dinner table scene, where the Baker family tried to make protagonist Ethan Winters eat some rancid looking human organs, which made me wince and recoil in disgust. Likewise in early sequences when Ethan suffers horrific bodily mutilations.

The storyline is also surprisingly good and well told. The set up is that the wife of Ethan, Mia, has been missing for three years but then receives a message from her in Dulvey, Louisiana, setting Ethan off on a mission to rescue Mia from the Baker’s estate. It all sounds very Silent Hill 2 and I was concerned before the game came out that the plot of this would just be a SH2 rip off. Thankfully, it’s not. Whilst the general trajectory of the story will be of little surprise to veteran Resident Evil fans, it is still skillfully executed and shows a positive level of restraint that never lets the game veer into a level of campiness that would put the game at odds with itself. Skulking around the decrepit houses on this plantation also reveal an incredible attention to detail that provides background information on the Baker’s life, which despite them being the primary antagonists of the game, had me feeling pity for them.

In terms of the mechanics and design of the game, everything from the shooting to the inventory management and sneaking around work really well. The shooting is tight and responsive, with weapons such as the shotgun feeling and sounding powerful, to the SMG’s high recoil or the kick of the 44 Magnum, every weapon feels different and satisfying to use. Even the knife is satisfying to use and can be quite effective, at least in one on one encounters with standard enemy types. Enemies are also threatening and can take quite a few pistol rounds before they can die, which is especially terrifying in the early game where ammo is scarce, so it’s often better to run away. One time after I had picked up the shotgun, I was in the boiler room and quite a few of the molded, which look like a more earthy and grotesque crossbreed of Regenerators and BOWs, had spawned and were giving chase, so I managed to headshot a few and kit the rest until they were all dead. It was tense and exciting. Boss fights, at least the early ones, are especially terrifying and thrilling at the same time. Enemies also telegraph their attacks, which gives you enough time to get a shot off, run away, or crouch to dodge, but you must still be quick about it if you don’t want to be hit. One disappointment is that there are very few different standard enemies.

Stealth mechanics, meanwhile, are very rudimentary, so there’s no lockers or closets to hide in to remind yourself of your high school days,  but it works well enough to be tense yet never frustrating.

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Save rooms and item boxes return and general inventory management return through an interface that is dark and minimalist, but still easily readable and intuitive to use. The save rooms are comfortable spaces which play a melancholic but relaxing tune that is incredibly comfy.

While inventory spaces and item combinations are much more streamlined and forgiving, you will still be making regular trips backtracking to item boxes. But since your movement speed is decent and the levels are designed quite tightly, the backtracking never becomes tedious. There is also a slight bit of handholding in that the map screen tells you what your objective is, but there’s no objective markers that trivialise the game and insult the player, but nor are you under threat of being regularly confused or forgetting what you had to do in case you returned to your game save after not playing for quite some time.

The game is also expertly paced and shows a lot of variety and influence from a variety of different horror titles. One minute you’ll be skulking through the guest house with nothing, the next you’ll be defending yourself against a crazed enemy and then skulking around the main Baker house, finding items and solving puzzles and playing a cat and mouse game with the patrolling Jack who functions much like the Xenomorph from Alien: Isolation, although thankfully frustration is avoided since he can’t one shot you, at least on normal. The best puzzle is a later game escape room, whereas the rest of the puzzles are things like rotating an abstract object in front of a light to match the silhouette of a painting. These puzzles are largely simple and while not entirely brain dead, they aren’t exactly head scratchers of old Resident Evil or the Silent Hill series. Speaking of Silent Hill, the overall progression is more like that than the first Resident Evil where instead of being singular location with shortcuts,loops, different pathways and so one, each area in RE7 is more like a discrete area and it works well here.

The campaign as a whole is quite lean, as I beat it in 7 hours and 42 minutes. Some online have complained about this length, but this length, for a decent player on a first  time playthrough is quite standard for games in the horror genre. The original 3 Silent Hill  games took me about this long, or a bit less to beat.Horror games as long as Alien: Isolation are quite an anomaly. Here is a good balance between quality and quantity. There is also replay value in the Madhouse difficulty mode, which is unlocked upon completing the game, which I will probably play on when I eventually revisit the campaign some day. But what it does is not only makes the enemies tougher or Jack faster, but item placement is changed, checkpoints are removed and saves are limited like how they were in classic Resident Evil.

In terms of the presentation, the game is near impeccable. Sound effects are all excellent and so is the voice acting and overall performances with the Baker’s Southern intonations that are both menacing and highly entertaining that deftly walks a fine line between serious horror and camp. The graphics too, as well as the attention to detail, with deep black shadows, excellent animation, texture work and extremely detailed character model. While there is occassionally a low res texture or two, the visuals as a whole are quite great. Enemy designs are creative and often highly grotesque.

The only downside to the visuals is that they can look blurry at times. When I first started playing I thought my eyes were going to shit since the game looked like a layer of vaseline had been smeared on the camera, but it turned out this was due to the anti aliasing setting it was on, which I promptly changed down to FXAA and all was well. Additionally, the motion blur effect here is quite good and I usually don’t like using it in games, but I recommend turning it on. It’s actually quite nice in this game at high framerates.

On a technical level, there is a high level of polish. On a GTX 970, running at 1440p on settings that were a mix of High and Very High, I had a mostly smooth experience running at 60fps or higher for the vast majority of the game. Although sometimes I would experience inexplicable and massive drops in areas that I shouldn’t have, these were few and far between. It also has a suitable amount of graphics options that allow you the game to be scalable on a variety of systems and tweak the visuals to your liking, such as turning off chromatic abberation or motion blur if you dislike those effects. It’s an excellent PC port all round.

Resident Evil 7Biohazard is a game that as you can see, I enjoyed very much. It has a well told story, excellent presentation and will spook you good, especially if you play with headphones on and lights off; the way horror is meant to be played. This is a Resident Evil game that should be enjoyable for anyone of varying levels of familiarity with the series. A great horror game and great Resident Evil game. This is the best the series has been since Resident Evil 4 and is well worth picking up.

9.5/10

 

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Review (2016)

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When I first heard about Rogue One, I have to be honest with you: I wasn’t particularly interested at first. ‘How could a movie about the retrieval of the death star plans be any good?’ and ‘it won’t expand the universe in any meaningful way’ were among my thoughts at first. But I finally saw the film recently, being fashionably late to the party and boy were my initial thoughts wrong.

The plot of this film is essentially what is described in the first paragraph of the opening title crawl in the first Star Wars. But there is a bit more to it than that. We are first shown a desolate, cold planet with black sands shot in Iceland. It kicks off with the Empire coming to this planet and Galen Orso (Mads Mikkelsen), the Empire’s top scientist who went into self exile, is being forced back into the clutches of the Empire to help complete the death star. His young daughter, Jyn Orso (Felicity Jones) then escapes with Saw Gerrera (Forrest Whitaker). Flash forward and we see Jyn in prison and after being broken out during a transfer to an Empire labour camp. From there, she is thrust into the midst of the rebellion.

The plot as a whole isn’t exactly deep or surprising, but it’s got a solid emotional throughline that is easy to follow. Performances from the core cast are also generally quite solid and do a pretty good job given the material, although I felt that the overall characterisation of our core cast of characters was not as strong as it was in The Force Awakens but it’s decent enough considering the purposes and inevitable conclusion of this film. Still, the core cast was as a whole likeable, especially K2, a droid who takes the role of comic relief, providing a much needed levity and excellent bants. Donnie Yen’s blind mystic character is rather one note, but his performance in the action scenes is strong as per usual.

So enough about the plot.

In terms of how the film looks and sounds, it is incredible, with incredible cinematography in a variety of locations, from the bazzar of the mesa city of Jedha, a repurposed Jedi temple, the familiar Yavin 4 base all the way to the conclusion on the tropical Imperial base on Scariff, which is home to the last act of the film.This last act is an exciting and visually stunning long action sequence that like the film as a whole uses a combination of practical sets and effects combined with state of the art CGI. There are some seriously impressive and awesome set pieces here and throughout the rest of the film where the action is generally quite good and visually interesting. The more emotional death sequences here also feel a tad rushed, considering there are quite a few to get through and it just misses that higher emotional mark.

We also see Darth Vader kick some ass, which is pretty damn awesome and through just that short sequence, really adds to the overall character. The only bad thing I have to say about the visuals is that the CGI rendition of Tarkin (Peter Cushing) looks really unnatural and jarring during dialogue that use plenty of close ups. It’s noticeable and distracting considering little effort is made through the lighting, shot or edit choices to hide this obvious flaw.

Some people say that this Gareth Edward’s directed Star Wars film is better than The Force Awakens, I wouldn’t say that’s exactly true. It does some things better, some things not as good. But, as a whole, this is a fun space adventure that is visually arresting and action packed. While it does have some problems that come as a result of being such a stringent tie in to the first film, it still manages to meaningfully expand the Star Wars universe. If you haven’t seen it already, check it out.

7.5/10

 

Pillars of Eternity (2015) PC Review

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Pillars of Eternity is just the type of RPG you don’t see made these days, at least from major studios and is only possible because of the advent of crowdfunding. And despite it’s kickstarter budget, Obsidian have developed a very high quality RPG in the vein of the classics.

In RPGs of this kind, the quality of the writing can make or break the game to a large degree, since you are going to be doing plenty of reading. I’m pleased to say the writing is, while not earth shattering, is quite solid. In terms of the plot, the premise is that your player character is settling in a place known as the Dyrwood,when after your caravan is ambushed, you escape and come across a ritual and survive a deadly, supernatural weather. This causes you to become what is known as a Watcher, who is someone who can see into the souls of others, as well as see fragments of one’s previous lives. So the main thrust of the narrative is a personal quest to find out how this happened and who caused so that you have a hope of finding some kind of eternal peace. Through this main quest and some of the side quests, concepts such as past lives, mental illess and existentialism that just screams Nietzsche, at least a little bit. All these things are presented in a way that is engaging and interesting. The worldbuilding, through dialogue and lore books is mostly well done, although there can be a bit of lore dumping at times, but this wasn’t terribly indigestible and through pretty much just playing the game normally I had a pretty decent understanding of what was going on.

Another strength of the writing is that it is suitably descriptive, yet never being too verbose for it’s own good. And it also avoids the fantasy racism type of side narratives that is often poorly done and hamfisted in the fantasy genre. Although the game does claim that the race of your character can impact how NPCs or party members interact with you, I had never experienced something like this happening.

As for other parts of the presentation, the sound effects are by and large quite good and the music is quite nice. Voice acting however is a mixed bag with some of it being decent to being laughably bad and while the game isn’t fully voice acted, you will still be hearing it quite a bit. Still, it’s decent more often than it is bad.

The game utilises the unity engine with a mixture of 2D and 3D graphics, with players, NPCs, creatures and so on being 3D with the backgrounds being stunningly prerendered. Many sections, from the first dungeon, to the towers (as pictured in the header image) and all the interiors, everything looked very nice. The only thing that looks kind of shit are the faces on characters, but you’ll rarely be seeing them anyway so it’s not too annoying.

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As for the game itself, being a game harkening back to classic computer RPGs, it plays very much like them. It’s in an isometric view and you control a party of characters, levelling up your stats, specialising them.Levelling up can take a while since the base game only has 10 levels. You cannot grind since enemies don’t respawn, which is wonderful for backtracking through a zone. You can also put characters on double speed which makes backtracking far less tedious. The inventory system is quite nice too since you have a stash which you can store infinite amounts of items, which is great for getting easy money just by looting enemies and selling all your shit.

As far as classes go, there are your usual fighter, ranger (which i played), wizard, rogue and so on and your party will follow the usual tank, support and dps type of arrangements. The game doesn’t exactly move the genre forward, but it doesn’t intend to. Pillars of Eternity however does have a couple of it’s own interesting classes amongst the usual. One of these is the chanter, which is much like a bard but with the twist that they’re quite capable in combat. Indeed, I had one of these as my main tanks and it’s support abilities are very useful. They can be specced out to support a more melee or ranged playstyle. There’s more classes, such as monk or barbarian but I never had them in my party so I don’t know how well they play. Another nice touch is that you can reroll your characters if you want and also hire other party members that you have full control over them if the given companions don’t tickle your fancy or suit your desired party composition.

Combat in Pillars of Eternity , instead of being turn based like other recent classic RPG revivals like Divinity: Original Sin or Shadowrun: Dragonfall, is a real time with pause combat system where you control your party actions and can pause the game to survey the situation and to queue orders for each character. Combat encounters can take minutes or seconds depending on your characters and how well you begin the encounter. Good planning is favoured over improvisation, although you can get away with a little bit of that. As an aside, i found the wedge formation to  be the most useful. I found this combat system generally quite enjoyable and rewarding. Anyone who has played a game like this in the past will likely find this enjoyable too. When you pull off a quick victory against odds that at first appear insurmountable or winning battles by a hair, it’s very satisfying.

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As for the difficulty, I played the game on normal and it was quite a decent challenge most of the time. Starting out as a ranger can be quite tricky but once you’ve got at least a wizard and a fighter, the game starts becoming manageable for competent players. The difficulty is up and down, with some parts kicking your ass or at least being quite intense and requiring you to use your brain. At one point however, combat encounter became trivial and I was on autopilot for a while until I got to the last third of the game where the combat became challenging again. The difficulty for the most part is fair, although sometimes the game will fuck you up and ruin your day, such as running into a mob of pretty powerful ogres that will grind you into dust.Boss  type encounters, which are few but still present, can also feel quite cheap at times. The main boss itself will be quite difficult enough on it’s own, such as the dragon at the Hylea temple but the game insists on throwing a posse of smaller enemies that aren’t trivial, which will likely cause you to have fuck all magic or ability uses by the time you’ve got your whole party focusing on the main enemy.

As a whole, Pillars of Eternity is a successful classic computer RPG with modern polish. It’s presentation is mostly great, it’s combat challenging, fun and intellectually stimulating and it’s writing solid. The game will take you about 30 hours or more depending on how many side quests you do, at least on a first playthrough and there is plenty possible replay value here through having different character builds and party compositions and making different dialogue and narrative choices. For anyone who has ever enjoyed this kind of RPG ,it is well worth checking out.

8.5/10