Review: Just Cause 3 – everything looks better on fire

Rico’s new grappling hook makes all the difference.

I finally got around to playing the now half‐​year old Just Cause 3, and you know what that means: Time to chew gum and blow stuff up, and I’m all out of gum (no really, I am). The series’ third installment follows squarely and safely in the footsteps of its predecessor, but while it is in most respects a better game, you wouldn’t think a whole six years have passed.

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Review: Far Cry 4 – just another take on Far Cry 3

In an alternate world, Far Cry 3 and 4 could easily have switched places.

I recently blasted my way through the second half of Far Cry 4 after having meticulously collected and completed everything in its first half. The transition in my playing style happened when I realized that 1) much of Far Cry 4’s “unique” content is really just slight formulaic variations on the same concepts, which aren’t really that interesting in the first place, and 2) I’ve got better things to do. So here’s a ranty kind of review of Far Cry 4, which may be a bit negatively biased because I’m already grumpy about Ubisoft sandboxes’ lack of respect for my time.

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So Long, and Thanks for All the Draugr

On putting Skyrim away for good.

Skyrim, Land of my Ancestors,

I write this to you now, at the turn of the era, as my bones have grown weary and old. My arms and armor, imbued with powerful magic still as potent as in my glory days, have been laid to rest throughout your lands, to be discovered by the intrepid adventurers of the next age. Only the Thu’um remains to me now.

In this forsaken place at the far end of the world, I have little save my quill and parchment. It is to these tools I now turn in my final hours on the plane of Mundus. There are things I need to tell you.

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Quick‐​save – impacts on playing styles and difficulty

Quick‐​save has skewed my sense of difficulty and, surprisingly, made my playing styles more monotonous.

I was heading down a narrow corridor. My trusted KilLite 2k non‐​lethal taser at the ready, a MegaBlast 3000 Plasma Rifle on my hip, and the Widowmaker sniper on my back. I stopped before rounding the corner and considered my options. I knew a semi‐​open room laid just beyond. On the scaffolding up to the left, a sniper. I would have to take care not to be seen. Two guards with assault rifles patrolling the perimeter. The brute with the minigun lighting a smoke behind a crate, ready to jump into the fray if things got ugly. And at the far end of the hall – my target.

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Review: Twilight Princess HD

Can added pixel density give this Zelda classic new life?

I never reviewed the original Twilight Princess. This puts me in an odd position when reviewing its 10‐​year anniversary HD remake. Should I make this a full‐​fledged review of the game as a whole? Or would that be unfair, what with most of the game being 10 years old and all? And how do my opinions on the game, never fully articulated or brought into the conscious, impact how I feel about my experience with the remake? Instead of rambling on about these questions I’ll go back to basics and try to answer what most people reading reviews are wondering deep down:

Is it worth it?

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Did Twilight Princess HD meet my pre‐​play expectations?

I got something right and something wrong, for better or worse.

Recently, before starting Twilight Princess HD, I laid out some expectations for what I thought I would feel about certain aspects of the experience. I’m now about halfway through the game (just arrived in the Gerudo Desert), and I feel I have seen enough of the game to comment on whether I was right or wrong on the various points.

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Pre‐​play expectations: Twilight Princess HD

Pixels, mirrors, and stamps – here are my expectations for Twilight Princess HD.

Dagnabit, I’m already a day late! Anyhow, I’m thrilled to finally have Twilight Princess HD downloaded on my Wii U, and if I write rapidly, I’m sure I can jot down some quick expectations for the pastime I’ll be cramming in between writing my dissertation and attending job interviews before the game’s beckoning becomes irresistible.

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Healing with fireballs in Divinity

Thawing AND healing allies using fireballs? Yes please.

In my review of Divinity: Original Sin I mentioned that you could thaw your frozen allies with fireballs, if they had the HP to withstand such a harsh treatment. Well, guess what? In Divinity, you (and enemies) can have more than 100% resistance to something, which means that you actually heal when “damaged” by that element or damage type.

So my co‐​op partner upgraded/​found some gear that gave him more than 100% fire resistance, and now I can throw my mightiest fire spells his way and instead of waking from a frozen wasteland to a burning nightmare, he’ll wake from a frozen wasteland to a sunny beach with a warm summer breeze in his hair and a team of masseuses attending to his sore muscles.

You’re welcome.

Review: Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition

Divinity is a really good game. It just forces me to make a few compromises I’d rather be without.

I’m currently co‐​oping1 Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition. It’s a fun game, with lots of attention to detail and thoughtfully implemented gameplay mechanics. But some poor choices on my part have left me wanting more here and there, and I’m not sure I’m willing to replay it to treat it more fairly. So here’s a kind‐​of‐​review that’s most likely a tad bit more critical than the game deserves.2

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  1. It’s a verb.

  2. I intended to just jot down a quick couple of paragraphs. Boy did I fail at that.

On my Zelda optimal equipment guides

The “why” of my no‐​nonsense guides to help you get everything as soon as possible while playing Zelda games.

In games, I like to get some mileage out of my gear. On the occasion of the imminent release of Twilight Princess HD, I have just released an interactive, mobile‐​friendly equipment walkthrough for Twilight Princess (both HD, Wii and GC) that you can use as a quick reference to get all the items and equipment as early as possible. The descriptions are short, concise, and clear enough that you’ll actually spend your time playing, not reading. Similar guides are also coming for Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, Skyward Sword, and Wind Waker HD.

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