“Infamous: First Light,” “Tales of Xillia 2″ and More [GAMES ROUNDUP]

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Infamous First Light

An expansion that’s deep and robust enough to be its own game rather than add-on content, Infamous: First Light builds off the thrills of Infamous: Second Son to become one of the best action games on the PS4. It was a clever move by Sony to separate the DLC from the main game, letting curious players buy it on the cheap and use it as a possible gateway drug to the main event. There are also a couple flawed but decent JRPGs for Sony’s older systems, the Vita and PS3. And iPadphobes who are devoted to the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 have a pricey but impressive case to consider wrapping their baby in.

Reviews by Phil Villarreal. Phil is an authorblogger and Twitterer. Publishers provided review copies.

Griffin

Griffin Survivor All – Terrain Case for Galaxy Tab 4

($80)

While $80 is a lot to ask for a case — especially one that doesn’t include a keyboard — Griffin cases add enough value and utility to your table to make it worth the splurge. The ridged-for-your-pleasure polycarbonate frame has an ergonomic, controller-style feel in your hands, and can withstand drops onto tile and frustration chucks at walls. The internal shield is said to protect the tablet from “rain,” but stops short of claiming to be water-resistant. Peel-back covers smother the tablet’s many openings to keep dust and moisture at bay.

It’s the kickstand in the back that’s the MVP, letting you prop it up anywhere you like for video streaming — something that the Galaxy Tab 4’s gorgeous 10.1-inch screen kills at. The stand is as tough as the rest of the material, with a reinforced hinge that doesn’t crack when slammed into the ground, and folds up smoothly into the back in order not to add too much thickness to the device.


 

Neptunia

Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1

(Vita, $40, Teen)

An adaptation of the hypersexualized anime, Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1 is stuck with gameplay as awkward as its title. You guide an amnesiac goddess who gets a hold of a sentient book, which she uses to help three companions to unite four nations and save the world from darkness. Stoytelling is lively, but the combat is a repetitive strain that delivers more frustration than fulfillment.

The smart dialogue and storytelling skillfully mocks gaming and pop culture tropes, and the characters wear ridiculously impractical skimpy outfits that are also good for regular laughs. Step back from the monotonous battles and appreciate the story for what it is and you’ll get some entertainment and laughs. Like many Hyperdimension Neptunia games, this feels like an anime restrained by the interactive structure, which stifles instead of enhances the story.


First Light

Infamous: First Light

(PS4, $15, Teen)

A stand-alone download set in the same Seattle environment as Infamous: Second Son, First Light introduces a female character to the series for the first time. Her mutant-style power lets her siphon energy out of neon signs and use it to run at hyperspeed and shoot electricity out of her fingertips. The former power is particularly liberating, letting you scamper away from tough battles and run up the sides of buildings, including the Space Needle.

The story takes a while to get moving, but once it hits its flow it manages to hit the same stride as the other Inamous games. The lead character is irritating — brooding and cynical to the point of annoyance instead of intrigue — but is enough fun to play that you can overlook the irritation in order to have a good time. It’s enough fun to mess around with her powers in the sandbox city that you may not feel an urgent need to press forward with the story.


 

Talex of Xillia 2

Tales of Xillia 2

(PS3, $60, Teen)

 The sequel seems like a rush-job follow-up to the surprisingly engaging RPG that came out in North America last year on the PS3, but that’s not the case. The original was released in 2011 in Japan, giving developers plenty of time to give the story and gameplay the attention it deserves. Most of the characters and settings are back for this stab at an old-school Final Fantasy-style epic, but that turns out to be more of a hinderance than advantage. Too many plotlines and conflicts from the original are recycled, and it’s dull to revisit the same areas, especially when so little has been done to tweak them and make them seem vibrant.

Since robust RPGs are hard to come by on the PS3 — as well as any home console — these days, Tales of Xillia 2 gets a little more mileage than it deserves, especialy since Final Fantasy XIII and its spin-offs have fallen on their faces. Those willing to learn the difficult battle system and delve into the heavy character attribute-tweaking settings will find plenty to love in this outing. Hopefully the finale of the trilogy has some fresh life and comes onto current-gen systems.

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