Wednesday 30 March 2016

Megadimension Neptunia VII Review (PS4)

Written by Natalie Houghton

It may seem like there has been an onslaught of Neptunia games recently and whilst this is true, most of them have been remakes of the original PS3 games which have in turn come to PS Vita and Steam, there actually hasn’t been a main release in the series since 2013. So welcome to Megadimension Neptunia VII (that’s actually V-2 not 7!)

It is one game split up into 3 sections, each with their own typically flamboyant title and opening screen which makes for a nice touch. The first entitled ‘Zerodimension Neptunia Z: Twilight of the Desperate CPU’ is set in a dying world which is essentially a world mimicking the last days of the Dreamcast - this acts as the tutorial for the game and features some of the best characters found in a Neptunia game for a while. Uzume Tennouboshi aka Orange Heart is the only CPU left in the wasteland and she’s on a mission to defeat the source of this darkness, a giant mecha known as Dark Purple. 

As usual Neptune & co come crashing down from the sky in order to help out and save the day. Joined by Uzume’s companion - a talking fish named Umio (first male character in Neptunia!) who in whichever language you choose (Japanese language is available as free DLC) has quite a sexy voice. Despite his ridiculous appearance... fish body with a human head, he is probably the most sensible character in the whole Neptuniverse. 

Neptunia has always managed to be a slightly lewd series but never before in my opinion has it crossed the line from cutesy bath scenes to sexy bath scenes, these are of course the obligatory Neptunia fare by now and if you enjoy these kinds of games (and take them as I believe it is intended), as a reasonably light hearted silly tales then prepare yourselves for an interesting surprise as some of the scenes now leave almost nothing to the imagination.

The second section of the game features a standalone story with each of the main CPU’s – yes, you do have to do them all! and finally the third section ties everything together and wraps it up nicely. The narrative is one of the best that Neptunia has offered so far. Unfortunately, the same old dungeon design which I’ve seen for the past 3 games rears its ugly head to detract from the fast paces combat. Even though it’s set in the same world, changing things up from the same stale old designs that have been lurking since the first game would have been nice. Come on Compile Heart... new dungeons please!

There are also some subtle changes which are absolutely pointless. For example - instead of having a radius in which you can move, there is now a bar that slowly decreases. This is a change that makes absolutely no difference whatsoever to the game play. Another examples is instead of travelling to places automatically when clicking on them as before, you now have to pay credits in order to ‘build a road’ which monsters will then randomly attack you on as you travel down it. These things really make me wonder about the design choices made as they are nothing but frustrating. 

Most of the other game mechanics work in a similar manner as before – Neptune will run around yelling ‘like a kangaroo’ every time you jump which gets annoying after about the 3rd time. Battles operate via the same types of combos as before; the biggest difference is than as opposed to Victory / Rebirth 3 there is no longer a break gauge so you don’t have to spend time whittling down an enemies break gauge in order to then damage them. Take from that what you will, personally I did not mind it as it has sped up battles quite considerably and everything runs smoothly on the PS4 – there is almost no lag or downtime waiting for the system to process anything. That said the visuals have had quite an upgrade from the previous games on the PS3, everything is nice and smooth, it isn’t spectacular but it is fluid, bright and everything fits together well in an aesthetically pleasing manner but I can’t help but feel like this isn’t pushing the PS4 at all. 

All special moves require SP as before and there are a lot which can be unlocked and utilised but it isn’t really until the end of the game that the big guns come out and some truly ass kicking combos can be unleashed. One of the best new modes and things that V-2 actually does right is the introduction of boss battles where each character is on a platform and you can only use moves involving SP in order to hurt the boss – line your characters up in a triangle around the boss and you can unleash some awesome moves – unfortunately these big scale awesome battles don’t happen too often.

Levelling up also happens fairly quickly so there isn’t really much need for grinding unlike before, I really wanted to like V-2 more but with the addition of a few annoying features and the constant re-use of old, done and dusted dungeons managed to take some of the sparkle away from an otherwise good game. It simply doesn’t do anything new enough to make it stand above the rest of the series although it is friendly enough to deal with any newcomers as whoever is on screen will introduce known characters from a previous game. 

The most competent game in the series so far and there is definitely some sort of addictive brain potion mixed into the battle system. The plot is the best yet but there are unfortunately a few annoying additions which really should have been left out.


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