Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Hyperdimension Netunia Re;Birth3: V Generation (PS Vita/PC) Review

What better time to review the recently released Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth3: V Generation then after refreshing myself on the first two on PC?  This game is an enhanced port/remake of Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory that came out a few years ago on the PS3.  It boasts a few new changes to bring it in line with how the series has evolved on the Vita in the last two years.

Like the previous titles in the series, exploration is in a 3D world that you run and jump around in.  Making contact with an enemy starts a fight.  However, the hidden treasures from the previous game are gone.  I'm okay with that.  They were fun, but I always felt obligated to track them down every time I went into a dungeon, and now I don't have that added stress.  In their place, they now have (mostly) invisible blocks.  I found a few at first, but didn't know what they were.  I figured it was something that would be unlocked later, but I was wrong.  If you jump, you can get a few coins and occasionally an item.  It's actually a fun little nod to Super Mario Bros.

Battles are turn based.  Characters can move around in a set radius when their turn comes up.  Your attack range is determined by your equipped weapon or any skill you use.  After your initial attack, you can combo from one of three buttons, each with a different focus.  One is for more hits, another for more attack power, and a third for breaking the guard gauge.  While they all have their uses, I find the attack centered one the best to use in most situations.  A lot of enemies seem to die before their guard is broken, and on the more powerful ones, their guard will break eventually no matter which you use.  It's probably not ideal, but it does get the job done.  The flow of battle is the same as previous entries, but several other battle factors have changed.

For starters, there is an extra combo slot available... although it is gained from a plan, and it seems to be one of each type per person per slot.  Three plans per character, times... yeah, that is a lot of plans.  While it does increase your damage by a chunk, it takes too long to start getting them.  Ex Finishers, which are set at the end of a combo, are now restricted in which slot it can be put.  It's a minor inconvenience, but still worth noting.  These finishers are now based of a character's individual SP level instead of a group meter.  This is more streamlined and I like it.

SP is now 1000 by default, and each 250 is one level.  You gain this SP by attacking, and use it for skills.  This is probably the most significant change in the game, and it makes SP much more user friendly.  Before it was much more like MP, so it was restored when you left the dungeon, leveled up or used an item.  This new system makes it easier to use and replenish, especially in boss battles.  When a slain enemy drops an item, it is shown on the screen by an icon, so you know who dropped the item and even what type of item is was.  I really like the changes to combat, and I hope they stick around for the next iteration of the series.

Plans are again part of the game, and again their reach is expanded.  Besides adding new dungeons, new items and changing enemies, there are some functionality ones.  You can change the battle music, or even one that lets you tilt the characters backwards on the equip screen... so you can peek up their skirts.  Well, not every change is amazing, I guess.  The biggest is that there are now plans that are specific to the character.  Several of these are gained from the Nepedia challenges, which I liked doing for the stat bonuses anyway.  On a side note, I'm glad those have returned.  I missed them!

Stella's Dungeon, probably my favorite addition to the previous game, also returns and also has some changes.  See a pattern here?  Anyway, you now explore Neptral Tower instead of the various dungeons around Gamindustri.  Each area is broken up into 100+ floors of the tower, and you choose what level to explore to, and it shows how long it takes her to explore it.  This happens in real time, whether you are playing or not.  You can get equipment for Stella to make her travels easier, and even some free items for your party.  The other change, besides the location, is that the scout is now changeable.  Instead of Felis, you can use several other random denizens of Gamindustri, all with different skills to help Stella.  This changes make it slightly better, and I still like Stella's Dungeon.

There is some DLC for the game, the best of which is free (as of this review).  There is a bunch of characters available to download from two different packs, and I'd suggest you do so.  They start at level 1, but make it easy to fill out your party and sub-party.  Plus, the oracles from the various lands are more powerful than a character at level 20, so they can help you get through faster.  Yeah, some will shun this, but it's nice if you have already played the original version, and want to get through it faster since you have already done it and there is no way to transfer your save.  Either way, a nice bonus for free.

Supposedly, the story had some changes, but I didn't notice them.  Maybe it's been too long since I played the original, or maybe they are much farther in the game and I didn't get to them yet.  Either way, the other noticeable changes are nice and make the game experience better.  SP is gained from attacking, which makes healers more useful in long boss battles.  Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth3: V Generation is a fun game, but I finally realized one problem I have with the series as a whole.  It is hard to play in small bursts.  I don't always feel like I'm making headway through the game unless I spend a long time playing.  It reminds me of the Elder Scrolls games in that respect, where you can play for a few hours and not feel like you did much of anything.  It's not enough to stop me playing, as the game is pretty fun, but it changes how long I play each session.

[Update 10/30/15: PC version (Steam)]
I played the PC version for a few hours, and it ran really well on my i7-4790, 16GB Ram.  I at first tried to keyboard/mouse, which would have worked better had I mapped the keys.  I'm not sure what the defaults are for that, but I could only get a few things to work.  The buttons it displays are the Xbox 360 controller buttons, which I used after restarting the game.  The controller works beautifully for the game.

Of course it is the best looking version of the game, running in 1080p and with what seems like 60fps.  Other than that it pretty much plays the same as the Vita version.  There are several pieces of DLC available, with the best being the extra characters.  I wouldn't use them (especially Histoire) if you want the most challenge.

I also just found the menu option to tweak the radius of ranged attacks.  I went back to check and it is in the Vita version, too.  The problem is, I can't seem to get it to work.  I'm not sure what they count as a ranged attack, since every one I tried it on did nothing.

The PC version is solid if you want to play the game and didn't have a Vita or would rather play it on your computer.

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