Far Cry New Dawn Review

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When Far Cry New Dawn was first announced, I was dead against it. As I wrote in my piece on Far Cry 5 I think its ending is the best in any game, and to sully that with a continuation really rubbed me the wrong way. SPOILERS for Far Cry 5: it ended with a nuclear apocalypse, and this game is a direct sequel set in the aftermath; a post-apocalyptic Far Cry game, with new villains but returning characters, including “The Father” Joseph Seed. I came around though, because it seemed to be handling it quite well; Joseph seemed well integrated, the new villains being a pair of twins (seen above) eager to let everyone know that the new order is survival of the fittest and the abundance of bright colours and violence gradually won me over, and so here we are. I loved Far Cry 5 and I still do, so let’s see if this is a worthy sequel, shall we?

Seventeen years after the nukes fell, a man named Thomas Rush travels America by train, helping out settlements and generally working to rebuild society. You play his create-a-character Captain of Security, who ends up stranded in the woods near Hope County, Montana after the aforementioned train is attacked by a gang of Darwinian Bandits called “The Highwaymen”. The Highwaymen are a huge gang with chapters all over the remnants of the U.S., but this one is lead by two twin sisters called Mickey and Lou (seen above), a constant thorn in the side of “Prosperity”, a camp run by Kim and Nick Rye, with help from their daughter Carmina. In order to turn the tide, the Captain is sent to make contact with New Eden, a technology-averse group with seemingly superhuman powers living to the North, lead by The Father; Joseph Seed. The exact nature of New Eden and how they factor into things will remain a secret for spoiler reasons, but it’s at the point they’re introduced that the game really kicks into gear. Of the new characters, most of them are exceedingly dull. Rush in particular has nothing of note going on at all, the only interesting thing about him being his Task Force 141 jacket, which raises the question of whether Far Cry exists in the same universe as Modern Warfare, which I’m sure isn’t the only thing Ubisoft wanted me to take away from his presence. His skills at rebuilding settlements are only paid lip service, and he has very little impact on the plot overall. The new Guns and Fangs for hire aren’t a patch on the old ones, except for Pastor Jerome, who returns from FC5, and new character The Judge, who has some cool implications story wise but never speaks or does anything other than kill people with a bow. The new, non-twin antagonist is barely developed and ends up as an anti-climactic boss fight that, again, I won’t spoil, and the Twins themselves are just okay. They fill that archetypal Far Cry antagonist role of getting up close and personal for monologues twinged with the threat of violence, and their brutality combined with all the dance music, graffiti and ragtag goons reminded me of Far Cry 3, but they’re not a patch on previous villains. Speaking of which, Joseph is very much the star of the show, now a old man living in self-imposed exile, sitting in the dark at the upper end of a life-threatening river Colonel Kurtz-style. He’s mellowed out but still has an edge to him, and his story progresses in a natural continuation of Far Cry 5, with some degree of closure. It made me come away from New Dawn thinking that, while not necessary, its story does at least add something to FC5, and stayed true to a character I’ve become very fond of.

Gameplay wise it’s basically Far Cry 5, but with a few main differences. Firstly the game has a Borderlands-style RPG flavour to it, where enemies are graded on four levels that determine their damage and difficulty. Despite sounding drastic, it actually doesn’t make that much difference, and fighting enemies is just as viable an option as it was in FC5. The ability to perform melee takedowns on higher level enemies is linked to perks and so can be acquired any time as long as you have the perk points, and weapons have to be crafted, and are graded on the same scale. A higher ranked weapon will do more damage, and each rank offers a more powerful version of New Dawn’s unique weapon; the Saw Launcher. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a gun that launches saw blades. They ricochet around decimating anything in their path, it’s great. The game places an emphasis on crafting materials, the most important of which being ethanol, required to upgrade everything in Prosperity, and earned by liberating camps. Camps can now be abandoned, which grants ethanol and gives the location back over to the Highwaymen and ups the difficulty, but you get an increased amount of ethanol for clearing it out again. Finally there are expeditions, in which the Captain is flown out to various locations in other states to steal a bag of materials from the Highwaymen and escape. They feel like the kind of thing you get in Tom Clancy games; little stand-alone areas that offer a chance at the same gameplay in locations different to the main game. I mean that as a compliment, they’re good. Speaking of which, though parts of Hope County are barren, grey, irradiated death traps, the majority has been hit by a nuclear super bloom; retaken by nature and covered in plant life. It’s a good look not often seen in post-apocalyptic stories, and it sets it apart. Hope is no longer split up into Holland Valley, Whitetail Mountains and Henbane River, so I’d only realise where I was when I’d stumble onto a location from Far Cry 5, dilapidated, covered in flora and/or re-purposed for post-apocalyptic needs. I really like that aspect, it makes exploring and finding places natural, rather than being guided towards them for fan service.

Overall, Far Cry New Dawn is a good time. It doesn’t need to exist, and it could well have been a disaster, but I enjoyed it, and have no real caveats in saying so. The new characters are generally weak and underdeveloped, but it does good work with The Father, and that’s enough for me. It’s not as good as Far Cry 5, but it’s still a fun game with some good character moments, and I enjoyed it.

By James Lambert

Who Said We’d Never Leave Raccoon Alive? – Thoughts on Resident Evil 2’s Ghost Survivors DLC

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Resident Evil 2’s first substantial piece of DLC is a free update called “The Ghost Survivors”, four what if? scenarios in which characters who died or were at least presumed dead in the main game escape the city. There’s gun shop owner Robert Kendo; last seen euthanising his zombified daughter, Elizabeth Warren; daughter of the mayor and human taxidermy project for Chief Irons, Ghost; a member of Hunk’s team and Sheriff Cortini, who was killed in the petrol station at the start of the game. Each scenario can be played in Training Mode, which is less difficult, has fewer enemies and gives you more ammo and health, but you don’t get a recorded time for completing it. This is to get you prepared to do them in their intended state, which is, in no uncertain terms, rather difficult. They’re all short, so they’re hard, and although they offset it slightly by letting the player get items from zombies in backpacks and one-use gashapon machines, careful resource management is still important. Each of the initial three has their own unique enemy; poison zombies for Kendo, a creature reminiscent of the Fumers from Resi 7’s “Not a Hero” that have to be sufficiently damaged quickly to stop them regenerating, and zombies in bulletproof armour covering different parts of their bodies for Ghost. Cortini, poor bugger, has to deal with all three as well as normal zombies in his story, which rather than a point A to B rush is a horde mode in the first room of the game; the shop part of the petrol station. I’ll be honest, I’ve not finished any of the scenarios on their proper difficulty. Fortunately you can unlock Cortini on Training mode, so it’s not a big deal. It’s not that the difficulty puts me off, I enjoy a challenge; I’ve already beaten the main game on Hardcore (only A though, still working on B), it’s just that in order for me to rise to a challenge I have to find it engaging and interesting, and that’s not the case here. Simply being hard isn’t enough to make me dig my heels in and do everything I can to overcome it. I’m content to just play them on training mode, where they provide a neat little aside where you get to play as new characters fighting new enemies.

While I’m here, I’d also like to briefly talk about the game’s two existing extra modes, as well as the recently released free costume DLC and the soundtrack swap DLC.

Firstly, the 4th Survivor, and the Tofu Survivor:
Hunk’s story kicked my arse the first half dozen or so times. Basically he’s he only surviving member of the team sent to acquire the G-Virus from old Bill Birkin, and has to go from the ramp in the sewers that Leon slides down to the front gate of R.P.D, dealing with blocked exits, a complete lack of weapon, ammo and health pick ups to offset his fully stocked inventory, and every enemy type in the game crammed into the environments. Zambambos, dogs, lickers, G-Adults, plant folk, even Mr X shows up near the end. Given Hunk’s finite amount of supplies it’s a careful balance of running past enemies and deciding when and where you should shoot, throw a grenade, or can afford to be grabbed. It’s a rush to get through it; Hunk’s theme is ace, a mix of low, catchy beats and a rousing orchestral refrain, and completing it does feel like a real achievement. Plus it just goes to show how badass Hunk is and why people love him so much. Tofu survivor is more of a fun distraction really, given that a sentient block of Tofu armed with sixteen knives and angrily complaining in Japanese when he’s attacked isn’t canon. Apparently there are multiple Tofus with different equipment but much like the Ghost Survivors I don’t enjoy it enough to make myself complete it and unlock them. I felt like I needed to do 4th Survivor to close off the story and I did get around to doing it, Tofu Survivor is neat but little more than that. I do want to commend the damage physics though, specifically how Tofu has big bites taken out of him the more damage he takes. Also he really does look like a big block of tofu.

Secondly, the classic music and costumes:
The costumes are model swaps with the original 1998 ones, and they look great. The models are well done and they interact really well with the remade assets. As odd as they look they don’t look that weird or out of place. Unfortunately they don’t have alternate versions like the remastered ones do; Leon doesn’t get his bandage and Claire doesn’t take her vest off, and long guns don’t appear slung over their backs, but they still look really good. The soundtrack genuinely elevates the game. Resi 2’s soundtrack is one of the best in videogames, and hearing it again here just goes to show that A) it holds up really well and B) how many distinct, unique tracks the soundtrack has. While I praised the remake’s score for being subtle and taking away the sense of comfort that came with the original’s dramatic soundtrack, having said soundtrack present adds a whole new layer of character to proceedings; it almost feels like playing a different game in a way. It’s charming, and genuinely quite unnerving at times, again a testament to how well it holds up. The main menu has the music of the original game’s little opening cinematic, and brings back the series’ tradition of having a spooky, ominous voice say the title: “RESIDENT EVIL… TWO.” Also it includes the original sound effects, though disappointingly it only covers the inventory, main menu and item box. It’s nice, don’t get me wrong; that inventory sound really takes me back, but I was hoping for the old zombie moans, and the upgraded shotgun sounding like dropping several sauce pans and their lids on the floor.

That was a look at Resi 2 Remake’s extra modes and some of its DLC, see you next time for a Capcom property a little more… stylish.

Update: I had another go at the Katherine Warren scenario, Runaway, and died right near the end, and I am starting to feel that itch. In fact after I wrote this I had another go at Ghost’s scenario and finished it, turns out I was forgetting to look for gashapon machines and was trying to get through with no gear. So I’m getting them done. Might take a while, might dip in and out, but I’ll do them eventually. What I said about rising to challenge and having to be interested and invested is still very much the case, I’m just becoming increasingly invested in the stories, and the game as a whole is one that’s been very hard to put down, so I’m still in the Resi 2 headspace.

Update 2: I’ve finished the main three: No Time to Mourn, Runaway and Forgotten Soldier. Oddly enough despite having the highest difficulty of the three I found Forgotten Soldier the easiest, and No Time to Mourn a complete pain in the arse. Might get around to doing No Way Out sometime but that’ll take longer given the whole waiting for the game to progress aspect of a horde mode.

By James Lambert

Call me Kakarot – Further Thoughts on Dragon Ball Super: Broly

I recently watched and reviewed the subbed version of Dragon Ball Super: Broly, a film I really enjoyed and did my best to avoid spoiling in my review. Now having watched the dubbed version I really want to talk about it in more depth, with no such restraint on spoilers, so bear that in mind. SPOILERS abound from here on out, and the film is absolutely worth seeing blind if you haven’t already. I mean, it’s worth seeing it regardless of how much you know about it going in but still. GO! BROLY! GO! LET’S GET INTO IT.

First of all, the dub is fantastic. Christopher Ayres had a double lung transplant and does the best Frieza I’ve ever heard, Sean Schemmel and Chris Sabat are, naturally, fantastic as Goku and Vegeta and even though he’s only in it briefly Ian Sinclair’s Whis is an absolute treat, as it always is. With the exception of Masako Nozawa’s performance as Goku Black (in base form anyway, I prefer English Rosé) and Bardock, to the point where I actually missed her during the latter’s scenes in this, I prefer dubbed Dragon Ball, and it’s nice to see that the performances match the gorgeous animation for the movie. Also I won’t dwell on it under the circumstances but Vic Mignogna does a really good job as Broly, whether it be his uncertain, reserved speech or just screaming bloody murder.

There are two main parts of the movie, like I said in the review, and I’ll elaborate on both. Firstly, the character stuff. Everyone manages to get their characters across quickly; Lemo is a weathered old man who’s seen a lot but kept his head down, Cheelai is a criminally talented but kind-hearted woman more than willing to stand up for what she believes in, as evidenced by her simultaneously pick-pocketing the shock collar remote and calling out Paragus for raising his son to be a weapon. Again, their voice work is superb: Bruce Carey gets across a personality and untold backstory entirely through his voice, and Erica Lindbeck compliments Cheelai’s mix of iron will and compassion.
Speaking of Paragus, there’s this split between good and understandably cruel: he throws away his entire life for the sake of his Son and follows him to a remote, inhospitable planet to save his life, but shocks Broly with what appears to be an excruciatingly painful voltage and did, at the end of the day, craft him into a tool of revenge. Yes Broly loses control and needs to be reigned in, but Paragus has let that side of him go unchecked in any sort of long term way for the sake of whatever petty vengeance he can still get on the long-dead King of a destroyed planet.

The film’s crowning achievement character wise, however, is the man himself: Broly. Look, it’s beating a dead horse at this point, but original Broly’s backstory really was utter dogshit. Pretty much anything else would be a step up, but they really went all out with it. Spending his entire life on a desolate planetoid with only the company of his Father, whom he loves, but who physically abuses him and dedicates his time forming him into a weapon has had a serious impact on him. His only friend was Bah, the name Broly gave to one of the furry dog weasel monsters that inhabit Vampa, with whom he had a close relationship until Paragus blew Bah’s ear off. That’s the green pelt he wears around his waist, and I love that the coolest part of Broly’s outfit actually has relevance to his backstory, and is a key part of it. This is a Broly that’s cute, sympathetic, tragic and badass all rolled into one. A man you can root for because the film spends its exposition section, for lack of a better term, outlining who he is, what’s happened to him and why he’s completely unstable so that the rest of the film can be dedicated to showing the extent of what how that instability manifests. It’s his movie, and they did a wonderful job explaining who this Broly is, why you should care and why he’s different from the other one. As for his physical attributes, I’ve come around to Broly’s Super Saiyan design. It is similar to Kale, but it’s so out of control and so feral that it does feel different, particularly the full power version. Also as Lanipator mentioned in Team Four Star’s discussion of the film, Kale is like universe 6’s version of Broly, which given the existing similarities between the two universes actually solves it for me. At least Kale was cognisant enough to speak, and eventually controlled it, Broly fights for a few minutes then completely loses himself to feral rage and doesn’t snap out of it until just before Gogeta’s final kamehameha hits and he has that horrible, terrified look on his face when he realises he’s going to die. He doesn’t of course, but it’s still pretty grim.

The second part of the film is the fighting, and while I have less to expand on with that, it’s by no means lacking. As I said in the review the animation is amazing, and the fights between Goku, Vegeta and Broly look fantastic, as they all gradually move through their stages of power and adapt to what their opponent is doing. It’s a bit weird seeing Vegeta move through the stages rather than go all out to try and squash Broly, but maybe because it was another Saiyan he wanted to draw it out, he did have a big smile on his face when Broly first punched him. Also it was nice to see him go Super Saiyan God.

Surprisingly despite the pretty real subject matter there’s time for really solid comedy; small moments like Goku and Vegeta leading an enraged Broly to Frieza, Goku yelling out “Have fun, Frieza!” just before he teleports himself and Vegeta away and leaves the dictator to his fate, to the darkly comedic and beautifully acted scene in which Frieza kills Paragus to trigger Broly’s transformation into a Super Saiyan, trying to sell it as an accident like a goddamn pantomime villain. The scene that really tickled me is the coordinated attack on the two goons who retrieve the final Dragon Ball. No sooner have Goku, Vegeta, Whis and Bulma arrived in the Arctic when the two try to escape, only for Vegeta and Goku to react in a way you’d think had to be planned given its speed and clockwork smoothness. Vegeta shoots their ship down, they jump over and Vegeta lifts the ship so Goku can pull an angry face at the occupants and breathe on the windscreen like an enraged bull. It’s just a lovely bit of physical comedy and goes a long way to show, without words for the most part, how well Goku and Vegeta can work together when they choose to, which comes into play later when they fuse. Speaking of which: Gogeta.

Gogeta, a combined force so strong his fight with Broly shatters the fabric of reality somehow. I still prefer Vegito personally, but I think Gogeta has promise, and I like A) That he’s SO powerful, to the point where I think he’d be a real problem for a God of Destruction. Maybe not Jiren, because his power doesn’t seem to be quantifiable, it’s just a nebulous “Whole lot” of power, to the point where despite how OP Ultra Instinct is, it just lets Goku fight him on equal footing rather than doing what UI is actually supposed to. B) He’s playful and cocky, but in a different way to Vegito. Vegito is chatty and likes taunting his opponent, whereas Gogeta barely says anything, showing off his skills entirely through his actions in dodging Broly’s attacks and letting off punishing energy blasts of his own. He’s ruthless though, despite the little smile when Broly is safely transported back to Vampa by Shenron: if that hadn’t happened Gogeta would have blown Broly apart, and given the context of everything that’s happening that would have been genuinely horrible.

Finally, just a quick list of other things I liked:

Goku’s gentle transition into Super Saiyan God, holding Broly in place and then Broly reversing it, turning Goku’s red Ki green.
The bit where they remind you of what Golden Frieza looks like while panning around him and focusing on his bum and pecs as if to say “Remember how hot Frieza is?” To that end:
That one shot that shows off Paragus’ surprisingly nice buns. Also Broly’s super attractive, and I fully support any potential relationship with Cheelai, who is also super attractive. Long may they be super attractive together. DRAGON BALL SUPER ATTRACTIVE. Ahem. Moving on.
The music shouting people’s names. KAKAROT! BROLY! SUPAH BROLY! GOGETA!
Goku biting Broly while they’re both submerged in lava
The quiet “This doesn’t look good” Frieza utters when Goku’s gone blue and the area of Arctic they’re in is now made entirely of lava and volcanic rock
Combined Galick Gun/Kamehameha, and Broly launching energy out of himself via aggressive chest bump
Whis effortlessly dodging all of Broly’s attacks
The fact that the film has an unconditional happy ending, where Broly is living on Vampa with Lemo and Cheelai, and Goku takes them a house and supplies. The last anime film I watched was End of Evangelion, so it’s nice to have a change
Finally, this article’s namesake: “What’s your name?”
“It’s Goku. But Broly, call me Kakarot.” This line was different in the subbed version I watched for my review. There it was “Goku. Or… Kakarot” and carried far less weight, more like Goku was explaining he had two names rather than placing trust in Broly with a name only Vegeta calls him

By James Lambert