'Blackguards' is Nostalgic Fun

By Jeb Haught

January 31, 2014 6 min read

DEVELOPER: Daedalic Entertainment

PUBLISHER: Daedalic Entertainment

SYSTEM: Windows PC

PRICE: $39.99 Download

ESRB RATING: Mature

REVIEW RATING: 4.0 stars (out of 5)

Action Role-Playing Games are so prevalent in today's gaming industry that newbies might not even know RPG's were originally turn-based. The older I get, the more I find myself appreciating the nuances of turn-based games, which is why I find "Blackguards" to be a wonderfully nostalgic fantasy adventure!

Players begin their adventure as a competent fighter who's mistakenly accused of murdering the local princess. After being tortured for a bit, the player meets a warrior and a mage as they all escape from prison. From there, the tarnished trio seeks fame and fortune while also avoiding the long arm of the law.

Starting the adventure in easy mode automatically fills in all stat points depending on class (warrior, hunter, mage). However, I prefer expert mode, where the player has more control by filling in everything from stats to skills to special abilities! Expert mode is for seasoned players who want to customize their character so that no points are wasted.

Although the adventure is rather slow at the beginning, it starts to really pick up after a few hours. I enjoy traveling from town to town learning about the world, meeting new people and undertaking quests. Some quests are hidden and have to be discovered while others give players moral choices that have noticeable consequences.

Combat requires a strategic mindset, as players must constantly make important decisions. Do I use my mage to heal a friend or blast enemies with a fireball? Should I focus fire on the warrior or the hunter taking pot shots from a distance? This game can be difficult from the very beginning, which may be a turnoff for gamers new to the genre.

Despite some minor bugs, "Blackguards" is an enjoyable turn-based RPG that's sure to entertain patient gamers.

'Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z'

DEVELOPER: ArtDink

PUBLISHER: Namco Bandai

SYSTEM: Sony PlayStation 3 (Xbox 360, PS Vita)

PRICE: $59.99

ESRB RATING: Teen

REVIEW RATING: 2.5 stars (out of 5)

Most "Dragon Ball Z" fans have a love/hate relationship with the anime, and I'm no exception! I love the epic earth-shattering battles, but I can't stand the numerous long-winded soliloquies in-between. Now the fighting game franchise has been completely redesigned with "Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z," but the result will alienate fans and repel newcomers.

Normally, offering a whopping roster of 67 playable characters sounds like a dream, but the simplistic game play brings me back to reality. Not even the ability to transform Goku turn into the Super Saiyan God from the recent "DBZ" movie can save this game from mediocrity!

"Battle of Z" offers a new version of standard fighting games by allowing up to eight players per battle. However, the actual combat is incredibly simplistic and lacks the depth found in most fighters, especially previous "DBZ" fighting games. In fact, the most fun I had with the game was when I played modes that offer more than merely combat.

I'm surprised to find that there's only one basic attack combo button and one special attack button. The basic attack must be constantly mashed in order to build up special attacks, which is hard on my thumbs. Sure, there are a few attack modifiers, but they only offer minor attack variations and abilities.

For example, some characters have flashy and devastating attack modifiers while others can heal teammates. I guess the developers were trying to make a class-based team-fighter, but the result is both simplistic and chaotic.

Perhaps the only things I like are the excellent cel-shaded visuals and the expansive 3D fighting environments. One of my pet peeves is being trapped at the edge of a level and pummeled to death, and huge arenas ensure that doesn't happen.

"Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z" proves that new isn't always better.

REVIEW SCORING SYSTEM

5 stars = Must Have

4 stars = Very Good

3 stars = Above Average

2 stars = Bargain Bin

1 star = Don't Bother

RATINGS KEY

Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB)

E: (Everyone)

E10+: (Everyone 10 and older)

T: Teen (13 and older)

M: Mature (17 and older)

 " Blackguards."
" Blackguards."
 "'Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z."
"'Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z."

To find out more about Jeb Haught and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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