Friday, May 31, 2013

RE - Revelations

Resident Evil Revelations  (360 / PS3 / 3DS)
Capcom - Biohazard Team
Survival / Horror
Rated - M for Moonpie (Mature)

Going to Need a Bigger Boat-
RE-Rev takes place right after RE5, and before RE6. Pitting you and your team (from the BSAA) against various obstacles, finding lost fragments of data left behind. Thanks in part to an accident made by some group that wanted attention. Yet somehow they had access to those ever lovable Bio-Organism Weapons.
Umbrella? Or some new team of misfits wanting to cause all sorts of pain?

But the game begins right where you start, a cruise ship lost at sea. With no crew, or any life left on board, Jill and her partner explore the unknown finding clues, and maybe something else. Working side by side, the duo finds out that the group they've been hunting for already left a mark on this cruise liner.

I Can Help!-
For those new or familiar, the game gets moving from the logo to the introduction. From quick help guides, to snap options for your needs to fight those monster baddies. Plus the new "scanner" named Genesis scopes out items, clues, and reads data from monsters or any dangerous things nearby. **What makes this work so well is that acts like Nintendo's Metroid (TM) series, where you were able to scan your environment, obstacles, and enemies. It became more of a first person adventure title, whereas RE-Rev is more of a 3rd person adventure. The formula actually works just fine, and its still fast paced, so its best to "run n' scan".

Moving On Up-
Controls are seamless, and you can set it up to your preferences. Including the target retical, scanning, movement, and play style. Turns out you can work with a buddy in 2 player more (aka Raid). I do believe that Mercenaries is an unlockable mode once the main gameplay story is finished. Like all RE games, one play through is never enough, there are hidden items to  keep an eye out for.

Let it be, Let it be -
Like all RE chapters, once you move forward you cannot go back. However, explore what you can before moving onward. Always keep herbs handy (Y button releases a shot of health) and will deliver a good dose to get you on your feet. Plus always trust your partner, and do regroup if need be. Never know when something may be in the next room, ceiling, or even hiding waiting for you to get closer.

Monday, May 27, 2013

As the world turns (oops not that one)

Shift in Gears – Sonic After 2006

Unleashed – Exploring the world was one of Sonic Team’s biggest quests in Adventure I &II. But on another level, it has never been this big. Crossing various continents; from cities to vast country sides, and Robotnik’s insane amusement park (which connects to the Colors storyline). On the plus side, the introduction to this new chapter is intense, full blown animated epic until the moment you don’t want to admit it. (Example: Sonic does get beaten, dropped from the satellite that he and Robotnik fought within. Down he goes, crashing to the Earth taking the Emeralds along with him.)

From there we are jet setted off after meeting a new creature / friend who’s lost his memory. But at the same time, we learn Sonic’s adventure has barely begun.  With instincts, and new found buddy trying to find the best way to fix the planet.  What made Unleashed work so well is the script and storyline. It never feels flat, or repetitive, every  area you clear changes with its environment. Including the in-game hub whether night or day, the atmosphere emulates what Sonic and Chip experience along their journey.

But wait this is a lot of description, where does Unleashed fit in? Well like I wrote in my coverage for 2006, let’s get rolling on some details you may not have been aware of before.
1) Perfect Gaia is an elemental being, like Iblis (they are one and the same). How so? Looking at the character boss design, they look pretty similar. Although they may differ in size, both carry their own dimensions of power, and downright scary.
2) So did Silver fix the timeline? Both yes, and no. Balance was restored for Soleanna, and its time stream. Unleashed is another matter altogether, thanks in part to the super genius.
3) What are the true limits of the Chaos Emeralds? I have been wondering the same thing. Whatever Robotnik’s Chaos machine was capable of, it literally drained the energy source right out of Sonic (in his Super form) which has never been done before. ( I wonder if Sonic Team may ever pull off a ballsy move like this again.)
4) I wonder if the dev team drew inspiration from Gradius (final boss fight). Swirling about the planet in a 3rd person perspective and tackling those manifestations via Perfect Gaia’s energy stream.
5) If you take a walkabout each locale, it actually feels like an rpg world. Although there are some npc’s out and about on their daily routine. Wentos, and a few others rarely leave their designated home.

*In case you weren’t aware, those mini bonus clips you unlock are in fact more than goodies. During the game’s pre-release Sonic Team uploaded an animated short called “Night of the Werehog”. Sadly it couldn’t fit on the game disc, but is still online.

Sonic Colors – Enter Planet Wisp
Given Robotnik’s conquest over one planet, he takes on another this time a far off distant place called Planet Wisp. An integral environment untouched by outsiders; protected by its inhabitants that rely solely on their planet’s eco system. Being a direct sequel to Unleashed takes Sonic and pals out of their usual territory. However it actually relates to Sonic CD’s unique formula, every area cleared changes the planet’s atmosphere.
Another interesting tidbit about these inhabitants is that they speak in code. It is not made up, but actual computer encoding language that does in fact exist. It may be logical that this Planet Wisp may be a collected consciousness, where there are more just like it. (*Lost World connection, these new allies / foes may have ties to Sonic’s new friends that he made in Colors.)

Generations – How it all comes together – Celebrating 20 years
Lately it seems like every franchise has been celebrating an anniversary. Sonic Team is no different, with a variety of titles under their belt including the blue hedgehog. Been under lock and key for years, until it found a voice, in an unlikely writer (who is quite talented, and has a funny bone) Same said writer also produced the story for Colors. (and is working on Lost Worlds)

But this is where the entire series also folds unto itself. Each stage is completely wiped from existence until Sonic (classic) or (nextgen) repair it towards its original state. What works with the in-game world being eclipsed without colors leaves it up to players to make decisions. In the past with the Adventure series, extra missions could only be tapped into by clearing the main stage. Here it takes one step further, with a variety of bosses to be challenged  (past and present).

Taking on the assortment of levels as classic or nextgen opens up so many pathways. Including the hunt for Red Rings (a fun sub-mission), but totally worth it in the long run. In addition there is assortment of upgrades you can choose from to use during any mission (or boss fight).

*note the homing attack was displayed in Sonic CD cutscenes, and the OVA movie. But not actually used till Adventure I.

^I do admit it feels kind of unusual to unlock and buy techniques for either rendition of the title character. But it is a neat feature that should be used more often. What makes it even more diverse is that these upgrades can be used by choice.

Although the game may feel short to some, there are plenty of goodies to unlock. From more sub-missions, to the bonus art, music, and cutscene gallery. For those that aren’t aware the collection area Is a hub that can only be unlocked via codes that were printed out for Sonic related products. Casino pinball was a featured downloadable content feature for those that pre-ordered the game. Plus there is a neat avatar outfit included as well.

Speaking of hidden features, each level is played in its own perspective depending on format. However nextgen Sonic’s viewpoint changes when it comes to the situation he’s dealing with. I find it humbling that such a design scheme could be pulled off. Take the time to look around, there is so much going on within each level its insane they crammed so many things into these levels we take for granted.

What’s next? So far it seems that “Lost World” is a new adventure. So far it has been teased that it takes place after Colors. New foes / allies to be revealed, team ups with old friends. Some of my friends from RadioSega, and myself have been discussing what could happen next. Thus game me some inspiration to put some words together to come up with this additional article. Thanks for reading, and there is much more to come!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Lessons Learned from Sonic 2006

Lessons Learned From Sonic 2006

Re-writing the mistakes we’ve made-
To begin, in 2006, Sonic Team wanted to start from scratch giving Sonic & friends a new head start. So by going on a journey no one thought possible since Sonic CD. In fact, that was the original spin on things, taking Sonic into the past, present, and possible future. The usage of time in this series has been really risky. Back then it was delivered in a solid storytelling fashion, just you (as Sonic) up to the task of recovering Time Stones. Once all seven were re-collected, the Planet would be restored to its proper balance.

However, depending on your choices in obtaining the Emeralds Sonic would be immersed through different versions of the world he was zipping across. With 2006, it actually became centered on a human, a supernatural entity, and Shadow’s dark shadow (Mephiles). Some redeemed the game as the biggest mess in the series history. But was it something else altogether?

I recently just started replaying 2k6, and it made feel like writing to help represent this zero chapter in the Hedgehog series. Note: Biased? Nah, I’m open minded to what’s been said already. This is just my perspective with some of my gaming history.

Chaos Control – Adventure’s great divide-
So there’s this phrase that’s been coming up recently. Chaos Control, a term first used in the Adventure mini-series. It would be a tie-in phrase that would shape many things that changed the series since its Genesis days. With the introduction of Tikal, and the Chao creatures, they were connected through the Master Emerald that Knuckles has been protecting from day one. However, bad things happened, and Tikal fused her energy with the Emerald becoming the voice of the very stone itself.

In part of her efforts, her energy resonated with the heroes as they fought the Perfect Chaos. Only to reset it back to its normal self. With Adv.2 it becomes a novel use from Shadow (who apparently is an alternate version of Sonic from many years ago). Bizarre as it may sound, perhaps Sonic knew he wasn’t always alone. Actually I don’t think its ever been established as to how he wound up being a hero in the first place. In the original Sonic (1991) all we ever knew is that Sonic always managed to stop Robotnik from taking over his homeworld.

A possible timeline is explored in the long running Archie Comics’ series. Plus it was also foreshadowed in the two animated series, that Sonic’s home planet is called Mobius. A planet where nature, and humans have resided together for generations. But oddly enough some of their storylines crossed over into the game series universe, where anything is possible.

Back to the What?-
Apparently Sonic and friends find themselves on a crossroads with Soleanna. Oddly enough it is not even clear how or why they wound up here, but the Emeralds took their wielders to a specific point in time. After Adventure II and Heroes, its abundantly clear Sonic and his friends are a bit older. But in the order of things it could any time or place with the Emeralds capabilities. (explained thusly by Tails: in Adventure I, behind the first Tornado, before heading towards the Egg Carrier battle) (and Adventure II, with Tails catching up with Amy before getting in a tussle with Robotnik.)  With one major exception, anything they’ve fixed in the timeline with this adventure is actually wiped with a clean slate. No Iblis, or Mephiles, thus no need to be here anymore. The reason I gave that part away, is because that is exactly what happened for those needing to catch up. Adventure over, let’s move on, simple as that.

Between the fans, and the irony – (or how some of us stopped the hate  on 2006)
Welcome to the not-so-fun portion of the gaming community. For one, it is the most debated, disliked, and confusing part of what makes Sonic fan communities work. Except there are a few of us that  consider it a game; and enjoy what we can aside from naysayers.

Here’s what I take from Sonic 2k6 – It works like an episode of Doctor Who:  1) we find a situation, try to fix it, 2) We find out there are parallel effects from our decisions, 3) finding a conclusion, things go back to the way they were meant to be, 4) However no one outside of our circle will remember anything.

Now how the Sonic communities have been feuding over it still? Well there is a somewhat love interest with Princess Elise, that does bring out rage. Plus the story may get some fans confused. But most of all the controls, and level designs, to game breaking moments of “yelling at your tv when you hit an object full speed!” Overall 2006 was meant to reboot the franchise in a whole new way. But to some it was a “hit and miss” in the long run.

Musically interpreted-
Aside from the negative, the soundtrack to this game is astonishing. Boasting a mixture of rock, pop, EDM, jazz, and classic rock, the limits are endless when it comes to a Sonic OST. Adventure set the bar pretty high with the variety of themes, and level bgms. Its tough to compare one over the other because each game’s soundtrack is so unique, it is truly a whole new adventure every time you go from one title to the next.

Back in the game – where to from here- Unleashed, Colors, Generations to Lost Worlds
After 2006 found its spot in the,“not-so-positive” part of the critics corner. However the series redeemed itself with even more fun tales of the blue hedgehog and friends.

Unleashed – Enter the Night: Sonic finds himself on the brink of victory, when fate intervenes and Robotnik actually wins. Sent to Earth, dazed and confused, he gains an ally in a creature he nicknames Chip. Only to find out that at night, he becomes a creature of the night. With the only cure of fixing the planet’s tectonic alignment once more.

Colors (a sci-fi spectacle theme park courtesy of Robotnik) and Generations (past and present collide, to fight for the future!* *wait that’s from another game, oh well. A planet called “Wisp” needs Sonic & Tails help to prevent the loss of their treasured home. There seem to be hints that this could be the same planet we saved back in Sonic CD. Plus the forthcoming “Lost World” is a direct sequel. So anything is possible for the Colors mini-series.

For one, this series does not back down, it gets back up never accepting defeat. There are many platformers that attend to “hop and bop” or “a to b” but there is nothing else like the Sonic franchise.
To recap, since Sonic 2k6, the series has rebounded and found itself a fanbase on various sides, and consoles. (including our PC brothas and sistas!) It no longer needs to be defined by just the speed that Sonic has carried over the years. Just intense action, chills, spills, and insane moments that leaves us wanting more in the next game.

Friday, May 24, 2013

So the codes goes Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, B + A Start

For those who can remember this code, you are as old as me. For newbies, you have to explain its notoriety. From t-shirts, to meme's this item is just about everywhere. My humble beginnings with the game scene started on a system called the NES.

At the time, it was just a gift from a family friend. I had no idea what is was, but I kept up with Saturday morning cartoons when I could watch them. They contained tons of fun adventures, and unforgettable tales of excitement. But when it came to a video game cartridge, at least you didn't have to worry about a commercial break. To say the least, opening up that console containment box was a delight.

My first indulgence was with the 2-in-1 cartridge, with Super Mario Brothers (1) and Duck Hunt. I didn't own a light gun, but had to borrow one from a friend. What grabbed my attention was the simple level, yet complex tasks you had to go through. Just hopping across the Mushroom Kingdom, bopping baddies left and right. But when it came down to it, Mario was just in the middle of a bad situation. And in the end, he does save the princess.

Metroid, moving the across the alien world, unaware and I found myself a bit lost. Only with baddies coming from out of nowhere, and hidden upgrades all over the place made it worthwhile. What kept me going was the music, learning each cue gave me an idea I was going the right way. But when the music became quiet and atmospheric, something big and bad was going to show up. And the biggest surprise, Samus was a woman. (who didn't see it coming back in the day?!)

Legend of Zelda, hero, sword, shield, and I'm lost, where did I wind up now!? Oh wait shopkeepers with goodies, I don't really trust them. And baddies all around, must be something in the air. As it turns out the Trfiforce is in the hands of a mad pig (dark wizard) and its up to Link to save the world. Only one problem, everything is out to get you. I don't think gamers ever realized that the first Zelda game was a giant game of
"cat and mouse". But in a more vast chess board, where every move could be your last.

Castlevania, the hero vs the villain, but the entire world has gone nuts. From monsters, to a spooky castle, Simon takes on everything in his path. But wait, his health bar is so limited, one false move equals a "Game Over" screen. Oh god I couldn't forget the times I saw that screen, made me so mad. Overall the game is tough, but rewarding. (keep in mind this is the classic platformer, not the rpg it is now)

This is just a small sample of games that got me started in my gaming hobby. What are some of your favorite classics growing up?

Consoles then and now

A long time ago, core processors and CPU chips were all the rage. Never set in fancy casings, but embedded within a huge PC that wasn't meant for home users. Many decades later, pretty much everyone from home, school, or work has such a device. (yes, your phone is also a gaming system, some thought the idea was a joke back in the day).

In the past, the formatting was what came for the system. Sometimes it was a floppy, or distinct code built from the ground up. Much later hard diskettes, then to cd-roms. With the advent of the digital video discs, then blu-ray. What's bizarre about these formats is that they all do the same exact thing. The only limitation being their data storage containment space. Funny how now this "Cloud" system is all the rage. When in fact, its the same setup, just with more convenience or more headaches.

In regards to gaming consoles, my history began with the Nintendo Entertainment System. With titles like Super Mario Brothers, Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, and Metroid. I didn't mind the limitations back then, I eagerly waited to save up chore money just to buy the newest game. Or even check it out with a friend for a weekend, and we would have a pizza party till late night. (*to be honest, I miss those days)

Next, came the Sega Genesis, I actually didn't own one till later. But the mixture of titles just grabbed me. Sonic's bgm tunes were forever stuck in my head. Phantasy Star became a pipe dream next to FF. There were so many platformers, it became daunting to pick just one. The Super Nintendo was a close second, although with more buttons, and a vast library like the Genesis. Both systems delivered solid games, with the only limitation being nothing really.

Nintendo 64 vs Sony's PSX.. let me think. I didn't own either system, but I did play demo tests during xmas promos from various stores for fun. Super Mario 64, Castlevania 64, Tomb Raider I, Metal Gear Solid. Just to name a few that I could remember, it all came down to precision and more open degrees of exploration. The 3rd dimension was just a taste of what was to come.

Sega CD, now that was a rarity, I never could find one to try out. Until a local game store in the Eastridge Mall had one on display. Sonic CD was playable, oddly enough the full game not just a teaser stage. They held a contest randomly to see if anyone could obtain all 7 time stones. I could never forget that.

Sega Dreamcast vs Sony PS2, I have to be honest I loved my DC a bit. I did try playing a few PS2 titles to compare before I put saved up money towards a game. Just something about the DC felt more friendly, the PS2 felt like a Lamborghini, it wanted to be played but it didn't have the same polish.I never quite understood the overhype, although I wasn't always a Sega console fan. I can't quite describe in words why the PS2 didn't appeal to me. To be honest, Phantasy Star Online opened up many design choices, from offering team-ups with fellow adventurers, and quests that only a team could complete. And finding all sorts of goodies, just to level up those mags. Oh man, those late nights before school had me rezzed till I could log back on. I miss it. Or Jet Set Radio, getting to take on the city, and creating your own tags to share with friends. (seriously has any one else tried this before?) Shenmue opened up a vast world, with real time settings, and interactive segments that no one could forget (um but quick time events have really become a fashion statement, kinda scary now that I think about it.)

Next came the Xbox, I chose to obtain one because its library seemed pretty well rounded. Until Xbox Live taught me a valuable lesson, when playing against the Frag Doll team, 1) do not wind up on the losing end, 2) take defeat in an honest manner, 3)don't be a referee. Something about multiplayer online games made me wonder if they would be a positive marker for games later on. That is another story...

On the single player side, Panzer Dragoon Orta brought a fun series to a close. Although it is a bit on the short side, later difficulty modes begin to test your patience. Metropolis Street Racer (now known as Project Gotham Racing) contained some fun races, and unforgettable tunes (ahem, "Passion" if you've ever listened to my friends @ this track receives some interesting comments).

Dead or Alive, its tough to find words to describe this series. Ultimate did contain some fun easter eggs, including a mini-doc from our friends at (now defunct And there is so much more than just online match-ups but hidden bouts, to sparring sessions that will challenge anyone. Oddly enough there were alot of arcade fighting game ports. And the S controller adapted pretty well. In my collection that I can recall off hand, Capcom vs SNK 2, KoF 2002/2003

I think for the most part the Xbox design was clunky, the storage was enough. I was never really sure what those blocks meant to be honest. At least it had plenty of save states, and was convenient.

Nintendo Game Cube - Or the "dark horse' in my gaming console library. Something about it said "let me bring back Nintendo fun!" So I plunkered down, and found one during its release date. Surprised its titles were easily affordable, and the controller worked fine. I think my NGC game library outdoes my xbox and xbox 360 collection. Although I have never put enough time towards F-Zero GX, at least its there waiting to kick my butt.

Xbox 360 - Does it end here? I'm beginning to wonder after the issues with DLC and DRM. (for those unaware, dlc= downloadable content / drm = digital rights management). Although these are neat features to attach to games, they feel like a hindrance to me. For example: Bayonetta, solid game, tons of unlockables, and most of all fun. Here's the thing, the entire game is playable, its not broken down into extra chapters that you have to buy to finish.

And now for a bad example: Tomb Raider Underworld. Solid game, but something's missing. Oh a thing called closure... no wait two extra segments as DLC. But wait they cost extra. Um yeah, why can't we unlock these chapter from the game disc data itself?

For a lovely example, Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition (the 3rd re-release of the IV games). With four more added characters, online play modes, and a huge roster. Wait something went wrong, its re-polished. I don't get it, I felt that SSFIV was fine, but maybe I'm not as hardcore as the others out there. I don't know, I grew up with SF II and Fatal Fury for goodness sakes.

What doesn't make SSFIV -AE work? For one there's a bunch of dlc packs that would make Akuma cry manly tears. I don't even want to imagine the cost some put into this.

Oh and KOFXIII is awesome because it works. Wait its better than SSFIV.
And now the floods of emails hit my inbox. This one's for you
(although it does contain some DLC, at least most of the game is available to players).

So this is part one of a new feature I will put more effort into. But I ask dear readers. Do you think we really need PS4 or Xbox One, or the Wii-U?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Gaming Treasures - The Games You Could Never Beat

With so many titles in existence, its tough to pick just one. But what are some titles you could never beat? Or simply walked away from? From my gaming archives, I will share a humble few that pushed my buttons.

Legend of Zelda - Majora's Mask: (N64)
Reason(s): The ultimate rewind drove me nuts, that clock and the moon colliding at the worst time. Eventually you could explore more of the world, but only if you figured out what to do preventing the "Evil Moon" from falling. I could never wrap my head around why they made it so difficult.

What if? If I played it now, I might grasp the difficulty a bit better. Its no more distinct than missing a jump with Mario or Simon Belmont over a vast distance. (or low health bar resulting in a controller being dropped).

Reason(s): Does anyone remember this gem? The hopping, bopping, and all sorts of chaos. Its became a bit too much to avoid any sort of action sequence. But the ultimate challenge was the water levels. Turtles + water = of course they are amphibian. Why in the frak do we have to get electrocuted!?

What if? Um, not going there.

Reason(s): For one, this game is tough as nails. No matter the difficulty, even the track is determined to push you to the limit. And for whatever reason, they included more challenge modes. But there's a catch, if you beat more races on the toughest challenge level, then you obtain the better parts for your vehicle.

What if? Honestly I never tried the tougher modes. I'm thankful that its up to the player, and not downloadable content. By the way, AX mode is obtainable by beating "Hard" mode. With even more things to take on.

Devil May Cry Series (before the reboot) PS2/PS3/X360
Reason(s): As far as I can remember, I don't think I have ever tried Dante Must Die, Heaven or Hell, etc..
Going through the DMC collection, I find myself a bit more curious. Although there are minor differences, the enemies get tougher, and damage is not an option.

What if? I think I might actually take one of those modes soon enough. (okay DMC2 jokes aside) DMC3 however dishes tons of goodies with more modes beaten. It really humbles me that they kept all of the hidden goodies.

Bayonetta: Dante's sister PS3/X360
Reason(s): Its amazing how tough this game can be. Just try normal without taking damage, it becomes a dance that you will never forget. I find it noteworthy that every mode doesn't feel the same. Oddly enough Bayonetta also seems to evolve with the better you play. There are so many hidden things in this game. I feel even more bummed out that its sequel is only on the WiiU

What if? Like DMC, there are tons of difficulty modes. Hidden endings? Hmm I wonder. With Team Little Angels, the possibilities are endless

I hope you enjoyed this mini-article covering titles worth playing. But I have a question for you readers. What games have you walked away from? And did you ever go back to finish it?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Star Trek (Episode 0)

Star Trek – Episode 0
Publisher – Activision
Developer – Digital Extremes

Based on the reboot of the hit franchise, this side story named “Episode 0” takes place after the first film. Where upon Kirk and Spock work together on various off world missions. But then again, trouble seems to follow wherever the Enterprise ventures towards. However, there seems to be a brotherhood between the two lead characters that wasn’t quite vastly explored before.

Brothers in Arms – Playing as Kirk or Spock (in co-op) there is a two player option. Or you could take on the main mission solo (working together with an AI controlled partner). During various moments in-game both characters may interact with the other, giving a heads up on options and leading on point to obstacles or enemies. Communication is key!

My Data Tis of Thee – Using your Tricorder, gives you the ability to examine data caches, control boards and pathways to help you on your way. Speaking of said data collecting, another science fiction title also uses the same design (Nintendo’s TM  “Metroid series). These data collection caches help you gain experience points, through further examination Kirk or Spock can use these points to boost their skills. From shields, defense, and the Tricorder also provides backup for an assortment of specific needs.

Explore the Stars – If the choice arrives, various scenarios give you the ability to explore uncharted territory. Or working with others to fix the situations they are caught up in. From recovery, to rescue, and meeting up with trusted allies.

Afterthoughts – What I find most interesting is that the game feels seamless. Almost like an interactive episode that unfolds with more pieces put together. On the plus side every area can be explored, with the only limitations being the situation taking place around the environment. For Trekkies, this is the best adventure yet. (Oh and more fun, it doesn’t spoil the next film)

**Bonus goodie: The cast from both films reprise their roles as each significant character. Plus the in-game engine is well detailed. So explore all the hidden nooks and crannies wherever you go. (Oh and there are a ton of hidden easter eggs).