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Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness Review – Drowning In Bad Decisions

The Star Ocean series earned a devoted following for cool
sci-fi settings, fun customization, and fierce action combat. Unfortunately,
the B-tier franchise has seen better days. I thought Star Ocean was kaput after
its mediocre fourth entry, The Last Hope. Seven years later and it seems like Tri-Ace
and Square Enix haven't learned from the mistakes of uninteresting characters,
bad storytelling, and repetitive encounters. I wanted to write about how
Integrity and Faithlessness captured the magic of earlier entries, but instead
I'm scratching my head at why the series was brought back if the end result is so
soulless and frustrating.

Integrity and Faithlessness is one of the most boring RPGs
I've played in years. The cast is vanilla, though not as grating as The Last
Hope's. Protagonist Fidel is like every hero you've seen before – a do-gooder
who wants to prove he has what it takes to live up to his father's legacy. His
childhood best friend, Miki, is always at his side, filling the typical support
role and giving him awful nicknames like Fiddly. I hoped the characters would
get more exciting as the game went on, but they evolve in such predictable
ways. I couldn't even care about them in the midst of dramatic events, like
tragic deaths or a naïve character coming to terms with the harsh world.

The story isn't entertaining, either. The nation is
embroiled in war, but matters get even more complicated when Fidel and Miki
meet a mysterious child who has strange magical powers. Of course, they get
caught in a predictable quest to find answers. Only toward the later hours does
the story make any semi-intriguing revelations, and even those feel half-baked
due to poor pacing and aforementioned underdeveloped characters. Scenes often
play out with long-winded dialogue, where you see nothing except the backs of
your party members' heads. This kills the intensity of key moments – even big
space battles. Additionally, many interactions feel unnatural, as conversations
double as load times. These happen in the field, restricting your movement to
molasses speed and disrupting the flow of the game, giving the appearance of
control where there is none. A few cutscenes are littered about, but they're few
and far between.

At the very least, controls have improved greatly. Executing
special attacks is as easy as holding down the button for your strong or weak
skills. The action combat gets frenzied, as you chain up combos with your large
seven-member party all fighting at once. I liked the chaos of these fights
until I realized my A.I. allies were incompetent. I constantly had to swap to
other members just to keep them alive, which thankfully you can do with a click
of a button. I had times where they ran into objects in the environment,
preventing them from helping me attack enemies. Other times, they would head
straight into attacks, killing themselves. Don't even get me started on how frustrating it is when an enemy
launches an area attack, often knocking out multiple characters because the
A.I. doesn't try to defend itself. This is even worse in missions where you
must protect a character and your entire party goes rushing toward the same
enemy, exposing the escorted character and ensuring her death.

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The role system is supposed to help alleviate these
situations by allowing every member of your team to equip different tactics.
For instance, you can set a character to focus on weakened allies, which also
adds a perk of extra defense. You have a limited number of roles for each party
member, and you can level them up to make them more powerful and unlock better
ones. However, my party members still weren't smart enough after several
upgrades, even when the role was supposed to enhance judgment. For example, despite
having Miki set to revive party members as soon as possible, I always had to
manually switch to her to cast it because she would rarely follow through on
the tactic herself. My defeats usually came down to party members doing
something asinine no matter how safe and strategic I played it. I love a challenging
boss battle, but not when it ignores skill and instead relies on elements
beyond my control. The role system could have been a cool way to upgrade your
characters and build them to suit your play style, but instead it's another
idea with poor execution.

To add insult to injury, some of the bigger fights where
you're supposed to be in the middle of a war are a bore. You repeatedly and
mind-numbingly kill waves of enemies, and the battles never play out in
interesting ways. Be prepared to visit the same places and backtrack plenty of
times from one side of the map to the other. Once you get your ship, some of
this is alleviated, but you still have to grind through familiar locales. It
got to the point where I would be elated just to see some different scenery,
even though most of the dungeons and environments are sparse and generic.

Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness makes
too many missteps to forgive. Recycled content, excessive grinding, boring
fetch quests, and bad save points are just some of its smaller shortcomings.
What's more concerning is its inability to give you reason to care about the characters
or the journey. In a generation where RPGs are pushing the boundaries with
better storytelling and unique worlds, this just isn't going to cut it. It's
sad to see a franchise that once captivated me continue to fall from grace.  

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

How Keji Inafune and Armature Studios hit upon the vision for Recore

“I’m interested in how mankind can survive in a dire post-apocalyptic setting,” says Inafune, “It comes down to who you’re partnered with. Humans can’t survive on their own.” …


Gamasutra News

Anki is building a robot buddy that can play games with kids

Anki, the AI and robotics firm known for integrating physical toys with mobile games, is launching a new robot toy, Cozmo, designed to play games with kids and develop a personality over time. …


Gamasutra News

Street Fighter V Adds Balrog July 1, Juri And Urien Teased

Street Fighter V’s “June” update almost lived up to its name. After having to backtrack on its monthly cadence, Capcom will be delivering the update soon. It’ll be dropping at the end of this week on July 1.

The update, which drops on Friday, adds the long-awaited story mode. It also includes Ibuki and Balrog to the roster.

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The trailer above teases Juri and Urien for release later. For more on Street Fighter V, check out our review.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

More UK Developers Comment On Vote To Leave European Union

It’s been an historic day in the United Kingdom, as residents have voiced their desire to leave the 28-member European Union. The impact of the “Brexit” vote will be felt in the UK and throughout Europe and the world, with no industry likely to be untouched.

Yesterday, we covered how this vote will likely impact the game industry. The story featured comments from developers Just Add Water and Mode7, as well as attorney Jas Purewal and trade organization Ukie. 

More companies have shared their thoughts with us, which we are sharing with you below:

We are entering a period of uncertainty but the UK People voted and this has to be respected. Team17 are committed to continuing to develop our sustainable business with all of our partners around the world.

On a more local level, our hope is that all progress the industry has made thanks to the efforts of both TIGA and UKIE will remain in place (access to finance and favourable tax environment amongst many other things). As a creative industry, we rely on talented people, and talented people are spread around the world so we need to make sure we can continue to ensure our industry flourishes despite today’s referendum results. – Team17

TIGA, the network for video games developers and digital publishers and the trade association representing the video games industry, said today that in the light of the vote for ‘Brexit’ the UK Government and Parliament should take steps to ensure the continued success of sectors with economic potential, including the creative industries and the video games industry. TIGA made the comments following the EU referendum which took place on June 23rd 2016 and drawing upon expert information from Weightmans LLP and Grant Thornton LLP. 

TIGA said that there were three key issues facing the video games industry following the EU referendum.

1. Access to finance: Difficulty accessing capital has consistently been the top factor holding back many games developers. In an uncertain economic environment, there may be a reduced appetite for investment. Additionally, outside of the EU, the UK games industry will not be able to access schemes such as Creative Europe and Horizon 2020 programmes.  The UK Government should promote policies that encourage investment, maintain sector specific schemes such as the Video Games Prototype Fund and consider a Games Investment Fund to help start-ups and small businesses.

2. A favourable tax environment: Video Games Tax Relief and R & D Tax Relief have been crucial in enabling the UK video games industry to compete on a more level playing field against the UK’s international competitors, particularly Canada. In a post Brexit world it will be even more vital to maintain, improve and enhance these reliefs in order to attract external investment and to maintain the competitiveness of the sector.

3. Access to talent: the UK video games industry relies on a highly skilled workforce to compete. Until now, the industry has had access to a substantial pool of skilled EU workers who can work in the UK without serious administrative restrictions.  Brexit is likely to result in new immigration rules requiring employers to secure some sort of visa and to meet certain skills/salary criteria in order to employ migrant workers.  It is vital that any new arrangements are not onerous or complex and that industry is not heldback by skills shortages.

4. Intellectual Property: IP is the lifeblood of the video games industry and the impact of ‘Brexit’ here could be significant. There are many commercial considerations. For example, the UK is part of both the Registered Community Design regime and the EU Trade Mark regime and also recognises the Unregistered EU Design Right. Such rights provide protection to rights holders across the EU Member States. Potentially such EU related rights might lose their validity in the UK. The implication being that those parties who originally held such EU rights may need to apply for UK trade mark and design rights to protect their rights in the UK.  This may result in issues relating to existing development and publishing arrangements, IP licenses and security over IP rights. - TIGA (Press Release)

The UK video games industry is a high technology sector that provides high skilled employment for over 30,000 people, including approximately 11,000 development staff and which contributes £1.1 billion to UK GDP. It is also export oriented, with at least 95 per cent of studios exporting.

Following the referendum in favour of ‘Brexit’, it will be more vital than ever to strengthen (and avoid harming) those sectors where the UK has a comparative competitive advantage: for example, aerospace, defence, high-value manufacturing and engineering, high technology industries, higher education, low carbon technology and the creative industries, including the video games sector. 

For the video games industry, it is particularly important that policy makers ensure games companies have access to sufficient finance, benefit from Video Games Tax Relief and R&D Tax Relief, have clear and stable IP rights and can access highly skilled people from outside of the UK. Any new points based migration system must not be onerous or complicated, otherwise the industry’s growth could be held back. – Dr. Richard Wilson, CEO, TIGA

The UK video games development sector is an export focused industry that sells content all over the globe. We have a highly skilled workforce, a creative and growing studio population and a heritage of thirty years of success.

While uncertainty is unwelcome for business, the UK video games industry will remain strong, resilient and competitive. – Jason Kingsley, TIGA Chairman and Creative Director at Rebellion

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The Bithell Podcast (Episode 26) is exclusively focused on the impact of the Brexit vote on the studio, human resources/access to talent, tax incentives, property values, revenue, and more. You can listen to the podcast, which includes Bithell Games founder Mike Bithell and chief operating officer Alexander Sliwinski.

Ian Livingstone is the co-founder of Games Workshop, the company behind the long-running Warhammer and Warhammer 40K franchises.

Everyone at Roll7 has been shocked to the core by this decision, however it’s far too early to understand the wide reaching ramifications for the studio. We are confident that for the next couple of years before we actually leave the EU, there won’t be anything too serious to contend with, but with recent remote EU hires, contracts from European publishers and other similar elements in the mix, it’s fair to say that we will be directly hit in one way or another by this decision – its just a case of our management team planning ahead and making the appropriate contingencies. – Simon Bennett, Director, Roll7

There are some obvious issues about this vote, such as that many EU citizens work in the UK games industry and this vote is now a huge worry for them and their employers. The legal status of those developers is genuinely unknown and they'll have to live in limbo, possibly for years. But the real problem with the vote is that nobody knew what would happen should the UK vote to leave. It really is uncharted territory now, turning away from 50 years of post-war planning and political collaboration across the continent. 

Like it or not, the EU was a vision in these visionless times. To have a major western state turn away from it now, in the face of so many global problems, is just sad. No matter how they dress it up this feels like a backwards step. 

To understand the move, what US people should know is that the UK establishment collaborated over decades to remove the EU from the view of voters almost entirely. As such, the UK population are probably among the least informed EU citizens in all Europe. Frankly, when the vote happened they became easy meat for a few very suspicious politicians. There may well be a lot of regret in the coming weeks and months ahead. - Barry Meade, Co-Founder, Fireproof Games

The decision to leave the EU brings uncertainty and hard times ahead for the country as a whole which could be a significant issue for the economy.  As a tech start-up hub for Europe, the UK has been able to attract a strong talent pool of specialist engineers and creative talent that has helped us build a successful video game industry.  

This uncertainty may not only affect this talent pool but also make it more difficult for UK developers to attain funding from European investors and funds to help build and market their games. – Paul Sulyok, CEO, Green Man Gaming


We will continue to update should more developers offer their thoughts on the Brexit vote.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

WWE 2K17 Cover Star Brock Lesnar Welcomes You To Suplex City

2K Games has announced that Brock Lesnar – the unbeatable, incumbent mayor of Suplex City – is the cover star for the game this fall.

The title, which is coming to the PS4, PS3, Xbox One, and Xbox 360, comes out on October 11.

If you pre-order the game you get two versions of Goldberg as well as the WCW Monday Nitro and Halloween Havoc arenas.

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www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Watch 15 Minutes Of New Battlefield 1 Gameplay

I recently got the chance to play through some of Battlefield 1's multiplayer modes in an event that EA put on at E3. During my time on the The St Quentin Scar, I stormed trenches, donned a mask to survive mustard gas, blew apart tanks with grenades, and charged down the field with a bayonet.

We were allowed to record footage of our sessions, so here's 15 minutes of Conquest mode in Battlefield 1, with me playing various classes and trying out a number of vehicles:

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Be sure to check out editor Matthew Bertz's thoughts on how Battlefield 1 changes up the series formula.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

New Releases This Week: June 26 Through July 2

Sure, this week brings us Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Zero Time Dilemma, but we all know what the real news is. That’s right, we’re getting the sequel to BoxBoy!

The list isn’t terribly long this week, but there are a number of anticipated releases to which we’ve been looking forward. Here’s the full rundown:

7 Days to Die (Xbox One, PS4) – June 28
Full Mojo Rampage (Xbox One, PS4) – June 28
God Eater: Resurrection (PS4, Vita, PC) – June 28
Grand Kingdom - PHYSICAL (PS4, Vita) – June 28
Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Xbox One, 360, PS4, PS3, Wii U, Vita, 3DS, PC) – June 28
Prison Architect (Xbox One, PS4) – June 28
Resident Evil 5 (Xbox One, PS4) – June 28
Star Ocean V: Integrity and Faithlessness (PS4) – June 28
The Technomancer (Xbox One, PS4, PC) – June 28
Zero Escape 3: Zero Time Dilemma (3DS, Vita) – June 28
Inside (Xbox One) – June 29
BoxBoxBoy! (3DS) – June 30 

For more on this year's games, check out our regularly updated list of game releases.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

The Technomancer’s Launch Trailer Shows Off Giant Creatures

The Technomancer, an action/RPG set on Mars, arrives on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on June 28. The intriguing narrative, branching skill trees, and specialized classes may be of interest to fans of the Mass Effect series.

The latest from developer Spiders Studio is much different from the fantasy setting of its previous work on Bound By Flame, but has a lot in common with the older Mars: War Logs. Players control Zachariah, a skilled warrior on a war-torn red planet. As a Technomancer, players make use of electricity to take down foes. We learn more about Zachariah's character in the trailer below, including details on his love life and mission to contact earth.

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We also get a good look at some of the enemy clans in this trailer, as well as the massive mutant creatures that can be discovered and fought. Mars appears to be a fleshed-out world with tons of secrets to uncover.

With a robust number of side quests, companions, a crafting system, and the promise of replay value, The Technomancer could be a surprise hit for RPG fans this summer. 

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Xbox Shows Off Game Of Thrones-Themed Xbox One

Xbox France has revealed a Game Of Thrones Xbox One console in celebration of the sixth season's finale. The console isn't for sale, but Xbox France is giving away several via sweepstakes on its social media channels.

Microsoft is giving away three of the special edition consoles. The contest will be held on its Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts, though it's unclear whether or not territory restrictions apply.

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It was recently revealed that Game Of Thrones' star Kit Harrington would be in the newest Call Of Duty, Infinite Warfare. Check here to read our interview with Harrington. 

[Source: Xbox France on YouTube] 

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