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A triple threat of KOF XIV news

I've managed to bring my laptop back to life; therefore I have a means of working properly from home again rather than a PC here and there. With that out of the way, the King of Fighters XIV news continues to flow out of developer SNK.

The first announcement is confirmation of the third DLC character of four that are in the pipeline. This time the svelt boxer and agent, Vanessa, makes a return to the series after her last appearance in KOF XI. You can check out her trailer below.

The snappy and swift boxer Vanessa returns to KOF

We have also been treated to a couple of short gameplay clips for the previously announced DLC characters, Whip and Ryuji Yamazaki. You can check these clips out below to get an idea of how they have transitioned into 3D.

Old comrades at war; Whip vs Ralf

Garou's insane yakuza and Muay Thai champ; Yamazaki vs Joe

And lastly we have news of a potential leak for the fourth DLC character for KOF XIV. Although it could still prove to be incorrect, an image was posted on the net recently that appears to show KOF XIV's character select screen with the much longed-for protagonist of Garou: Mark of the Wolves, Rock Howard (thanks Eventhubs). You can check out the image captured from what appears to be a debug PS4 below.

It may not be real but fans have longed for Rock's inclusion
 in KOF since his introduction in Mark of the Wolves

So we have quite the wealth of new information for the upcoming DLC characters in KOF XIV. What do you think of them? Are they the characters you hoped SNK would choose to add to the existing roster? And  do you hope the fourth and final character is Rock, or would you prefer it to be another returning character? Any thoughts, share them in the Comments section below. Alternatively you can share this update on Facebook, Twitter or your social media network of choice.


SNK confirms second KOF XIV DLC character as Yamazaki

Riding on the wave of last month's confirmation that additional characters will be coming to The King of Fighters XIV, SNK confirmed on Wednesday who the next DLC entrant will be. Its time to welcome back the insane Japanese yakuza with the dyed blonde slick-back hair, Ryuji Yamazaki.

It looks like SNK hasn't forgotten the parts of his personality that make him so fun to use. You can check out his character trailer below.

Ever the pyschotic yakuza, Yamazaki makes his grand return

What do you think of the latest fan-favourite addition to The King of Fighters XIV? Are there any additional characters you would like to see added to the current game's roster in the near future? Any thoughts, feel free to share them in the Comments section below. Alternatively you can share this on Facebook, Twitter or your social media network of choice.


First The King of Fighters XIV DLC character confirmed to be Whip

As per my previous post on the blog back in February, I shared that SNK would be revealing more details regarding the additional DLC characters it plans to add to its latest team fighter, The King of Fighters XIV.

Perhaps in efforts to please long-term fans, the first character was recently revealed on Wednesday this week and is none other than the former Ikari Team member and able whip user, Whip. Check out her character trailer below.

The whip-wielding Ikari Warrior returns to KOF

She is due for release on April 5th with a price tag of $5.99 (make of that what you will for how much she will be in £/€).

What do you think of the first confirmed DLC character for KOF XIV? And who do you hope to see for the remaining three DLC characters? (this image from my previous post shows four bodies unless there's an non-human character inbound?) Any thoughts, please share them in the Comments section below. Alternatively you can share my recent updates via Facebook, Twitter or your social network of choice.


Games I played in 2016 - Part 3

Like many great trilogies, this series of articles is reaching the end of its road. Here I recount the final selection of titles I got my hands on last year, what I enjoyed about them, what frustrated and surprised me in bizarre and exciting ways. Read on to see what made it into Part 3 of my Games I played in 2016 series.

Blizzard's latest title, a 6-vs-6 team hero shooter
with oodles of personality


The first-person shooter genre has been at its peak for some time now. It is also a very popular genre which gets over-saturated at particular times of the year (mainly around the lead up to the Christmas period to be precise). Although it may have been surprising to some that of all developers, World of Warcraft maker Blizzard had decided to step into not just this popular genre but that of arena team shooters, Overwatch has proven that the highly successful developer has a capable hand when taking on a new project.

Presented as a team-based shooter where the player picks from a selection of 23 heroes (21 were available at launch with an additional 2 added in the last year), matches see players join a team in 6-vs-6 battles where a number of objectives are played for on a variety of maps (escorting a payload, defending a point, elimination, capture the flag and more) in order to emerge victorious. You might wonder what makes Blizzard's effort that different to Team Fortress 2? The honest answer is not a great deal. However with the developer's level of polish, high production values and what on the whole appears to be a generally well-balanced title, Overwatch shows it could very well be THE team shooter of this generation.

Much to the game's benefit, each hero comes with a selection of skills available to them during play (some can be selected during battle, others are passive and so on). They allow a range of benefits from dashing to double-jumping, teleportation, health recovery, flight, increased firepower, cloaking, shields and so. The beautiful thing about these is that they are available from the start without any need for levelling characters up for extra abilities (levelling allows players to obtain loot boxes which contain mainly aesthetic items and goods). This means a new player can jump right in and try out the likes of Tracer, Widowmaker, Reinhardt D.Va, Genji or any of the available heroes without worrying about having access to all of their tools from the outset.

The initial group of heroes that are selectable in Overwatch.
They're a diverse group full of personality and energy.

It allows players to very quickly find out which character types work best for them and discover a few favourites from the cast early on.  These decisions also play into team synergies too which is where the game's depth really shows. A team that has a solid Reinhardt or Zariya up-front with Tracer, Reaper or Genji supporting whilst Hanzo or Widowmaker are sniping from afar and Lucio, Zenyata or Ana are providing ample support can become quite the unstoppable force against a disjointed and uncommunicative opposing team.

Even with these types of odds where the flow of battle is very much in favour of one team, the existence of character ultimates can really help turn the tide of battle around at crucial moments. These are built up over time and can be helped along the way with good performance during play (i.e high kill counts, great assists, healing many around you, etc.) Once maxed out they can be unleashed on the battlefield and have a range of effects such as Reaper's matrix-style spinning blitz of bullets in a crowd, Mercy's ability to resurrect the whole party, Hanzo's arrow that turns into intertwining spirit dragons or D.Va's mech that self-destructs with an AOE explosion. It keeps the matches exciting and allows for an additional level of dynamic play that can effect the outcome of a match in the closing seconds.

Overwatch's launch trailer. Unlike other titles, it is one of 
many trailers with Pixar-esque production values.

Upon booting Overwatch up players can jump right into Quick Match which normally finds an available match within 30-40 seconds. Elimination, 3-vs-3 battle, anything goes custom matches and 1-vs-1 modes are also available to play. There are also occasional seasonal events such as for last year's Olympics, Halloween, Christmas and the recent Chinese New Year event which ended earlier this month. These provide modes unique to the event, adding more variety to the proceedings. Ranked Matches can also be played but players are required to firstly reach lv. 25, after which they will play ten placement matches before they can start to earn league points for the game's current season. Here you will find some of the most ruthless competitors as their solo capabilities are as strong as their team synergies, resulting in some very challenging but rewarding matches played.

On the whole I think Overwatch's greatest achievement is making me as someone who doesn't typically play FPS, let alone team shooters, not only interested in the game after playing it via one of the free weekends but actually go out and buy the PS4 version. Call me a convert but Blizzard has created a great title here and if the confirmation of future content being free is true then I hope they support this title for years to come (if those CGI shorts are anything to go by, perhaps we could get a CGI film sometime in the future please Blizzard?)

One of the first Tales of games to receive a release 
on Sony's (ill-fated) handheld, the PS Vita

Tales of Hearts R

The first portable entry in the Tales of series that I managed to play, Tales of Hearts R is a remake of the original title that saw release on the Nintendo DS. Redesigned with full 3D models, a world map, an updated battle system and two additional characters added, this portable JRPG has much to offer for those interested in getting into the series.

Players begin their journey as preppy and upbeat lad Kor (the original character is named Shing but his name got changed in the translation for some reason). In the game's introduction he is living with his grandfather Zex in the quiet coastal village of Seaville. Training his soma (a weapon linked to the player's soul), he enjoys his life but desires to experience the outside world. At the same time two black-haired youths are shown trying to escape from a humanoid creature looking not unlike a crayfish in her armour. Caught on the edge of a high clifftop, the humanoid (named Incarose) fires and orb of energy at the duo who end up diving into the sea below to escape.

The next day the young female of the two (name Kohaku Hearts) washes up on Seaville's shore which is where Kor finds her. After giving CPR, Kohaku regains consciousness and smacks Kor aside before apologising and introducing herself. Soon after they come across Kohaku's brother, the hot-headed Hisui. The three return to Kor's home to meet his grandfather Zex, shortly after which Incarose manages to catch up with them. They are easily overpowered and only escape due to Zex's intervention which sadly results in his death at the hands of Incarose.

Despite the harsh introduction to the game, players soon set out into the world of Organica as the trio venture to find the shards of Kohaku's spiria due to being attacked Incarose, then Kor using his soma to create a spiria link in order to cure her but instead causing the shattered spriria to be cast across the game's world. During their journey they meet additional friends, foes and party members that join the group. In Tales of Hearts R two additional characters join those available in the original game in Chalcedony (and NPC in the original DS release) and dual-axe wielding somatic, Gall.

The eight members provide a healthy variety of options in combat with emphasis on long-range combat, healing, buffs, direct attacking, aerial combat and magic use. It allows players to support their preferred playstyles as you can choose whee your party members start on the battlefield, whether they go all out or keep their distance and customise their actions even further through buying battle orders at various stores throughout the game. Players can choose who their party leader will be in the event you want a change from Kor and the game's battle system allows players to equip Artes to different directions on the D-pad or right analogue stick, making them easy to access during the midst of battle.

Some of the gang Kor and Kohaku join up with 
in Tales of Hearts R. They become quite the
likeable and trustworthy group over time.

The journey of recovering the shards of Kohaku's spiria is not the entirety of Tales of Hearts R's story and although I won't get into spoilers here I found me time playing the game to completion quite enjoyable. This entry in the long-running series is doused in a good amount of charm which I have found to be a recurring element of the series to date. When I get to my next Tales of title (whether that be one of the older entries or the recently released Berseria) I hope it is able to continue this trend. Tales of Hearts R is another strong entry in the Tales of series and worth playing if you want a good traditional JRPG for your portable.