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Ghost of Tsushima review. GOTY 2020 contender #2, and possibly the prettiest GOTY too.

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Oh. My. God. I don't think I have ever used a photo mode more than a dozen times in a game before. And that's just one of the many awesome things that this game made me do. When you make me want to take screenshots every 30 minutes, you know it's gonna be a damn good time.

Ghost of Tsushima's Review Set to go Live on July 14th, Early ...

This is it. Possibly the last PS4 exclusive game. The game from the people behind Sly Cooper & Infamous that's been lingering for many years since E3 2018 & expected to be Japanese Assassin's Creed has finally arrived. And man, it's SO much more awesome than what I thought.


The story of the game takes place in 1274 Japan, specifically an island named Tsushima. Which exists in real life too, but the real life location is much2 bigger than what's in this game. You play as a young samurai named Jin Sakai, and the game starts with the Mongols invading the island. This was years after Genghis Khan died & his many2 descendants try to conquer the world. Accompanied by his uncle + samurai lord of the island Shimura, they defended the island from Khotun Khan, a fictional character but grandson to Genghis Khan & cousin to Kublai Khan, the Khan that led the first Mongol invasion of Japan. Right at the opening, Shimura sent one of his high ranking samurai Harunobu Adachi to do duel with one of the Khan generals because, um, that's how they try to do battle in war honorably back in those days, and Khotun responded by, well

............... what the hell does Shimura expect when he sent his officer in the middle of a Mongol army who doesn't give a crap about traditions & just want to kill & burn villages? IDIOTA.

So as you might expect, the defense failed, Shimura is captured & Jin is left for dead, but not before being rescued by a thief Yuna who becomes one of his closest allies in the entire game. You might think that this is the point where Jin regroup & find allies to help him rescue his uncle right? Well actually, Jin storms Khotun's stronghold immediately after he recovered to rescue his uncle. And as you might expect, he got his ass whooped. Again...... Man suicidal overconfidence must run with this family.

Finally after that, Jin decided "ok, bad idea. Time to actually use my brain, find allies & get rid of these Mongol bastards once and for all." And so the game finally begins on a really damn cool title card.

And from then on, a tale of friendship, betrayal, heroism, epic samurai shit x 9000 & sadness ensues. There's more to this game than just Jin changing his way of thinking from just being a straight up suicidal samurai to a more versatile way of the Ninja ahem I mean "thief". And DAMN. It's a simple story, but it is executed BRILLIANTLY. THIS is how you make a damn good story. It is so good, that I actually believe it utterly trounces what Last of Us part 2 was trying to do. By the end of this game's story, I actually teared up & believed every single moment of what happened in the story was necessary, well-paced & ultimately a great journey of Jin Sakai from beginning to the end and beyond from when he was a naive young Samurai to the legendary protector of his island Tsushima. Bravo game, BRAVO!

Before I get into what I think of this game, I just wanna say: go get this game & play it. Whether it's by PSN, online or from going out to a game store which hopefully you guys will use masks & hand sanitizers to protect yourself during this season. GO GET THIS GAME NOW DAMN IT!




And now here are the reasons why.


Actually before that, I will say the very minor things that I encountered in the game. First is this weird glitch where after I killed an enemy, for whatever reason, every character I touched afterward will act as if they're stabbed by a sword. This happened only 3 times in my 40 + hours of gametime randomly, including the very end of the game which makes the cutscene that happened hilariously just having Jin standing in place when it's supposed to be a dramatic moment. Reloading a checkpoint fixes this. 


The Japanese dub is awesome, but it's a shame there's no proper lip-synching in cutscenes, even though it's in moments where you speak with normal npcs. Hopefully a patch will add them in later because I would love to hear Date Masamune's VA be badass & have his mouth move properly.

In a couple of "eliminate enemy encampment" missions, the end have you blow up this cart full of explosive barrels. For some reason, even though I have a flaming arrow & an explosive arrow, I can't blow it up with them. You can only do it by going near it & light the fuse........... why???


And also 1 time in this game where I cut a mongol general's head, and then his body crawls without his head. Apparently other people encountered this too. They're the real ghosts of Tsushima. XD


Now with that out of the way, let's start with the one thing that's very apparent from this game:

Not only are the graphics for the characters look as good as expected, the sceneries in this game are pretty AF. Just LOOK AT THIS

These are just 5% of what this Tsushima island is. This island's sceneries are so damn good, that this place should be a holiday destination. It pretty much is as pretty as New Zealand's south island, and THAT. THAT place is what I call heaven on earth. Not even the real-life Tsushima looks this great!


I really like how this game has a bunch of histories that are based on the situation in 1274, while also having a bit of much more advanced things that are definitely not around during that time, like the matching katana + short sword set that Jin uses which wasn't supposed to be around until 400 years later, or the Mongolian rocket launchers 200 years after this game's setting. Also the haikus which didn't exist until 400 years later. This game shows that back in those days in Japan before the famous history of Nobunaga Oda, Tokugawa Ieyasu & Shingen Takeda that Samurai Warriors & Sengoku Basara made really popular, Japan was a much more simple & unfortunately very close-minded time that really forces their Bushido teachings on all the people, while also oppresses the ordinary people with class structures. If you're a samurai, you have to live & die by the code, and if you disobey by doing stealth tactics or even poisoning enemies, you will be shunned by the Shogun. Which explains why in the intro of this game the army are just straight-up idiotic compared to the smart Mongols: they have no other choice. It's a good thing years later they finally learned their lesson & deploys actual tactics in their attacks, and good thing Ryu Ga Gotoku Ishin showed how the class system is finally abolished by Sakamoto Ryoma. By going directly to the Shogun of that time & telling him straight up to get rid of the system. Now that takes balls.

In real life he did much more than that, but this is still pretty cool. XD

I also learned a lot about the Mongol army & how fucked up they are in conquering other lands. Goddamn, if you think Hitler's horrible, get a load of this. Villages getting burned, villagers captured as slaves, anyone who dared oppose the Mongols are killed on the spot or be burned on a stake, and samurais that got captured are imprisoned, tortured, and used as target practice. Even though the Mongols have great technology for their time where they use a lot of gunpowder weapons, a reliable nationwide communication system with their eagles + other devices & a pretty solid religious belief, they instead decide to use all of that on being as barbaric as humanly possible. Damn the past was fucked up. And to think I only know of Genghis Khan before this, and how he was pretty damn ambitious back when he was alive as if he's playing military domination in Civilization all the damn time, had TONS of children, and he has plenty of descendants today because he was such a horny dude. Also from Bill & Tedd. Hope the third film will be good.......


On with the gameplay, which I love SO very much. This game is pretty much the Japanese Assassin's Creed that people has been waiting for so long, but 1000 times a lot better and awesome. It's like what happens when you use the quest structures of Witcher 3, made them a lot more Japanese flavored, have the assassinations of Assassin's Creed but even better with a bit of Batman Arkham Knight's multiple takedowns + gadgets, have the combat be awesome & actually challenging with the best Samurai sword master efficiency put to them, AND put amazing boss battles on top of another amazing boss battles on top of amazing boss battles. Put them together, and you have an open world game that makes you actually never want the game to end & play the game forever. It is that freaking awesome.


The quests are simple but effective. The main quests are of course where the big set pieces & battles are, and there's a lot of great stuff that I can't spoil. The sidequests have 3 varieties: companion quests, villagers quests & mythic quests. You get to learn more about your companion from the companion quest, my personal favorite being the quest with Jin's old caretaker which made me tear up in the end, and Ishikawa, Jin's archery teacher. At first I thought the voice actor for Adam Jensen from Deus Ex Human Revolution voiced him, but it's actually Dr Raymond from Xcom Enemy Unknown

Damn, he's channeling Adam Jensen really well. Must have drink a lot of booze to get that deep raspy voice.:D


His quest is the most interesting for me because it involves chasing down a student of his named Tomoe, who's a master archer & is definitely a take on Tomoe Gozen the war lady who was active 90+ years before this game's setting that rips people's head with her bare hands. The quest also ends in a pretty interesting direction which will probably leads to something else, maybe as dlc or sequel. Can't wait to see what happens next!


The villager's quest are pretty simple: help out villagers or find out what happened to an npc, and then see how messed up the Mongols are. The mythic quest though, OHOHOHO, now THESE are definitely the best parts of the game. These quests involves hearing a legendary story & trying to obtain something, be it a new sword skill, a new armor, or a new bow. Not only do you get to explore pretty as hell places, but you get to duel a lot of bosses, and these guys are all awesome to fight & give you real challenges when you fight them. 3 of them will give you new special sword attack abilities that will definitely make things easier against other enemies, but I personally was just happy that I got to fight them because it all feels so damn awesome. I love them so much that I actually had save files before their fight so that I can load them & fight them over and over again. It's like what I did with Sekiro & Dark Souls when I wanted to fight Nameless King or Sekiro's final boss over and over again. Hopefully there's dlcs that put more of these because I would LOVE even more bosses to fight. 


Progression in this game is really damn nice because of how many cool stuff you can get. Aside from the usual collectibles like "go here to upgrade max health", climb this shrine to get a special charm that buff your stats, follow foxes to get upgrades for your charms & increase charm slots, bamboo cutting to increase your special move "resolve" bar that lets you heal yourself or use different sword skills, doing quests will grant you many armor that gives different stat changes, like how a samurai armor give more health or how a ninja + light armor give you stealth advantage. I always use the traveler's armor because this thing will give a vibration to any collectibles nearby. And when you die it black, it looks like a perfect ninja outfit, like so

Ghost of Tsushima: Ninja Warrior outfit - is it available in the ...

There's also haiku writing, and these things will give you new headbands. Basically you just sit, and enjoy the pretty as f sceneries, while choosing what words you want to put from the scenery you see.

I always look forward to these haiku segments & they always give me a good calm. THIS is how you do collectible quests, not just go to point b & pick an item like so many open world games did. Looking at you rocks of Rage 2

More Life, Weapons, Power: Upgrades & Currencies in "Rage 2 ...

URGH why the hell did I have to look at the crystals one by one to get them instead of getting them all at once?? DX


I can't praise the combat in this game enough. Even after 40+ hours of playing, I never got tired of slicing enemies off with my katana, unlike Assassin's Creed's combat before the Syndicate game onwards which get boring because the enemies are so easy to kill & you mow down hundreds of them which make them more like a one man Arnold Swatzneger than an assassin. When you start the game, your moveset is very limited, but still pretty decent. Square is your normal attack while triangle is your Stone stance specific attack which works well against swordsmen, but not the other enemy types like shield wearer or spear wielder. As you progress through the game by assassinating & spying on enemy generals, you'll build meters & then acquire the other 3 stances: water which works against shield wielders, wind which works against spear wielders, and moon which works against big bulky enemies.

Ghost of Tsushima' techniques guide: The best abilities and skills ...

You can swap these stances by holding R2 and then pressing the square X circle triangle button. What's pretty sweet is how the stance picture is related to the buttons, so the Stone stance is X because the picture are 2 swords clashing, the circle is the shield you know what I mean. And when you level all of these abilities up to max, you will feel like a complete badass. And the great thing is even when you maxed them out, the enemies are still able to kick your ass if you're not careful, so there's still a lot of challenges in fighting them. It's basically what happens when you put For Honor's combat into a game but reduce the 3 way direction system and make it so you have to dodge unblockable attacks at the right time, while also parrying the blockable moves for openings, which makes the fights freaking awesome. AND I LOVE IT!


BUT there's also the other cool as hell combat mechanic that this game has: the standoff. AKA: the epic samurai version of an old west mexican standoff. 

Ohohohoho maaaan, I never get tired of this move. :D


The assassinations are also evolving as you play through the game. Initially, Jin wasn't such a good assassin because his stealth kills took long & the tools like the kunai & bombs are not that strong. But then he learned how to use poison darts, the assassination becomes a lot faster, he moves like a proper ninja, and WAAAYY much later in the game, he will gain a super mode that allows him to kill 3 enemies in an instant, but only if you have a 7 kill hit streak without getting hit or killed an enemy general through a stealth kill. And what I like about this part is that you'd think he'll be like Ellie from Last of Us part 2 in that he becomes more like a force of nature that just kills and got into conflict with his allies because of it. But NO. All throughout the game he is still a really cool dude who helps civilians + his friends with their problems, and he only goes full ninja assassin against the Mongols because they absolutely deserved to die & if he didn't, more civilians & his allies would get killed by them. Hell, he actually did what I would've done against the enemies if I was put in his shoes. And by the end of the game, he's become a full hero that protects his people. Like Doomguy in Doom Eternal, only a lot friendlier. Now THAT's a guy I can get behind. 


The music, OH THE MUSIC, it is an absolute treat to the ears.

The boss battles & battle songs are always heart pumping, and the songs during the final parts of the game? That gave me goosebumps. I'm definitely gonna download the songs & use them for my custom in-game soundtrack. This soundtrack should definitely win best soundtrack in the game awards later this year.


Also, after the end of the game & having completed a lot of sidequests, I actually don't want to complete it 100 % because I don't want this game to end. I much rather replay the entire game again from scratch so that I can do it all over again. That rarely happened when I play an open world game. Only Witcher 3, Batman Arkham Asylum + City, Shadow of War until the grinding gets too much, Mad Max & Watch Dogs 1 + 2 gave me the same feeling. My rating for this game is definitely "so awesome you will play this game over and over again, writing haikus, facing awesome bossfights & be a samurai + ninja to your liking", with a badass seal of approval. And it's definitely a GOTY contender, aside from Doom Eternal.


Now I actually don't want an official Japanese Assassin's Creed because they will somehow put microtransactions in them, or make it a reskin of Origins/ Odyssey with Japanese things put in. It'll be awesome hopefully, but I bet with the assassin + Juno stuff they'll make the story actually less engaging than this game. I want to see a sequel to this game though because Jin's story is FAR from over after this game. Maybe it'll be as dlc, or it will take place in a different island other than Tsushima? We shall wait & see! And I'm also awaiting Cyberpunk 2077 & Watch Dogs Legion. Cyberpunk will of course be freakingtastic, but I hope Watch Dogs Legion give me that same "I want to play this game all over again" feeling with my army of grandmothers. 



Also fun side stuff with this game, there's a Kurosawa black and white mode that makes the game plays in black and white like Akira Kurosawa's various samurai films. It'll make things harder though because the enemies have red unblockable & blue blockable attack types, and you can't tell which is which in the mode unless you memorized the enemy movements.Also I'm surprised that just like Infamous, this game doesn't have rag dolls. Sucker Punch still makes awesome falling from height animations though so good to see them doing something different with regular physics. :) 

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