Part 1 of My Favorite Games of 2013
It’s that time of year again
Xbox One and Playstation 4 Comparison Part 2
Online Services and Applications
As I’ve said before, your gaming console isn’t just used as a gaming console anymore. There are numerous services and applications that try to help make your device an entertainment hub. Keep in mind both consoles may or may not have these applications based on your region. PS4 and Xbox One both have the usual suspects such as Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu Plus, Red Box, Crackle and Twitch.
Sony exclusively offers: NBA Gametime, NHL Gamecenter, UStream, Epix, CrunchyRoll, and Sony Music and Video Unlimited.
Microsoft exclusively offers: HBO Go(!!!!!!), Youtube(!!!!), Skype, ESPN, The NFL, Machinama, CWTV, FOX, FX, TED, Xbox Music and Video.
I must admit Microsoft offers a bunch of killer applications that Sony is regrettably missing out on.
This time around both companies will be forcing you to pay to play online which is fair. You will be either paying $50 or $60 annually for either Playstation+ or Xbox Live Gold respectively.
A special shout out has to go to Playstation+ for giving you that instant video game library. When in doubt, Sony just throws free games at us. Right out of the box I got Resogun which is undoubtedly the best game they gave away this month. Contrast which was an average platformer with puzzle elements. Blacklight Retribution which was an unfinished crock of shit, they just decided to stick the name Beta onto it and release it anyway and Warframe, a very bland third person shooter reminiscent of GunZ. And these games they give away aren’t just indie games or small downloadable games. They can sometimes be full on high budget AAA titles. If last generation was any indication, they were giving away games such as Demon Souls, Infamous, LittleBigPlanet, XCOM Enemy Unknown and Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition.
Let’s face it, launch titles haven’t been good since the good ol’ Dreamcast. This new cycle isn’t any different. Both companies decided to play it safe with their launch titles giving us a lineup that is just all too familiar.
Playstation 4 Exclusive Launch Titles:
There isn’t much to say in terms of gameplay, if you’ve played a Killzone before you know it’s the same gritty, beautiful and average first-person shooter you’ve come to expect. I would recommend checking it out if you’re new to the franchise.
A lot of mixed reviews coming out of this guy, the general consensus is that it is a mediocre beat em’ up. A great family friendly game that also features a cooperative mode. Can’t recommend this to the core gamer audience.
Xbox One Exclusive Launch Titles:
Fans of the Panzer Dragoon series have been longing for a new entry into the series and this is it, kinda. Under the guise of the a new name, this is a spiritual successor for the cult classic on-rail shooter. Will only recommend if you’ve played on-rail shooters in the past.
A series low, Dead Rising 3 aims to be the same campy and humorous hack and slasher, but falls short. The story tries to take itself way too seriously and comes off as a terrible zombie flick. Though if you’re not like me and you don’t take your games too seriously you will love the shit out of this game. Er, maybe not enough to warrant a $60 price tag yet though.
Ryse is one of the only titles to attempt any sort of risk. It’s trying to innovate and at the end of the day it’s what I want to see when I think next-gen. But it goes without saying when you try to innovate there’s always a chance of failure and this is it. All style with no substance, It’s a boring hack and slasher that has you going from room to room fighting the same boring AI. What we have you is a blueprint for the potential of a good franchise, keep your eye out for this one and approach with caution.
Without a doubt the most elegant looking game out of the handful of next-gen launch titles. Forza Motorsport 5 is so rewarding, with hundreds of cars to purchase you are constantly overwhelmed in a sandbox of customization to go wild in. If you decide to pickup the Xbox One you MUST purchase this title it is the LAW. This game definitely has my seal of approval on it.
I had my doubts going into this one. As a fan of Killer Instinct on the Super Nintendo and having experienced it’s absence for far too long I was absolutely ecstatic when Microsoft announced this. My confidence slowly faded away when I found out the game was being developed by Double Helix and even further when they were going to release the game for free with 6 characters and having each additional character being $5 per.
I’m absolutely relieved to say my assumptions were all wrong, damn wrong. The current roster of 6 achieves a balance that is not present in other fighters, having only 6 characters each and every one of them has their own attribute that makes them useful but at the same time not unbalanced. Although the game looks rushed it’s a free title so you have no reason to not give it a try. Hey, if you end up liking it purchase the season pass. It’s only $20. Good move Microsoft, good move.
As for future exclusives I’ll hyperlink this handy picture: http://bit.ly/1aUzHjX
My own personal notable future Xbox One Exclusives would be: Halo 5, Fable: Legends, Quantum Break, Sunset Overdrive, Project Spark and Titanfall.
My own personal notable future Playstation 4 Exclusive Titles: Awesomenauts, Don’t Starve, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, Guilty Gear Xrd, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, Drive Club, Outlast, The Witness, Transistor, Diablo III, Fez, Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition, Deep Down, Infamous: Second Son, The Order: 1886, Flower, and Yakuza Ishin.
As you can tell, it’s an absolute killing for what Sony has planned for us in 2014. Microsoft has had a history without a lack of exclusives, let’s hope they can turn the tide somehow with some new intellectual properties.
Right now, none of these consoles are showing any signs that would warrant a must buy accolade to it. My greatest concern is that none of these games show what next-generation means. Every single game that has been released so far has been playing it safe and familiar.
The Xbox One right now has a solid lineup to last them until mid Q1, but the Playstation 4 has been thinking ahead and has the rest of the year locked down to favor them. The Kinect brings convenience, innovation and an all in one entertainment hub. Not to Microsoft has the superior console applications. Though Playstation Plus offers free games every month and the ability to seamlessly share content and livestreams. The Kinect is cool and all, but will the frequency of it’s use justify that extra $100? Oh then there’s the Wii U, can’t forget about that guy.
Xbox One and PS4 Comparison Part 1
First of all, I find that there shouldn’t be a need for any kind of animosity between consoles. Competition at the end of the day is good. This is merely to help consumers pick out a console if they only have a choice of purchasing one. If you spot any kind of fascist fanboyism going on please call me out on my bullshit.
It’s officially begun, all three companies have released their next generation systems. What a hectic two weeks it has been, just in time for holiday shoppers to decide which console to purchase for themselves or for their loved ones. Without question, the Xbox One and Playstation 4 are sparking the most buzz going into the holidays. With most consumers still wondering which console to purchase, I hope I can be of some help.
Right off the bat you can tell there is a noticeable difference both consoles. With the Playstation 4 taking on the look of a parallelogram, it is significantly smaller featuring a matte black console with a glossy black finish. The Xbox One going with a more familiar aesthetic (yes, it does look like a VCR. It’s amazing how some people don’t know even know what is anymore.) and is also featuring both a matte black and glossy black palette.
Space may not be a big deal for some,but size can make all the difference in a home theater setup. I also have to mention the need for a power brick to run the Xbox One. Once again, it may not be a big deal for some but it can be a deal breaker for others.
Most of the gaming community was not a fan of the Dualshock 3 controller, it did not feel right in the hands of gamers and was not an ideal peripheral to be used for shooters. This time around Sony has reworked the ergonomics of their controller specifically the triggers, almost as if it was a hybrid of the dualshock and 360 controller. The PS4 controller this time tries to bring something new to the game with the use of a touch pad in the center of the controller. I’ve tried this new piece of tech on NBA 2K14 (used to setup your isolations, pick and rolls and 5 out what have you) and Killzone: Shadow Fall (used to give orders to your drone known as an Owl) and I have to say the gestures on the touchpad felt very natural and is a welcome addition.
Gone are the Start and Select buttons, in it’s play is an Options and Share button. The Options button acts as a Start button, but Share is another kind of beast. When playing a game you can seamlessly share screenshots, upload 15 minutes of footage or do a Livestream via TwitchTV and UStream. This opens the door for the future of how Let’s Plays are done. The Dualshock 4 also supports a headphone jack located on the bottom of the controller that allows for thundering gaming in the middle of the night.
Lets have a moment of silence for that nostalgic Start Button. RIP
There doesn’t seem to be a name for Microsoft’s tried and true fan favorite controller so i thought I’d go with the Xbone. Last generation my only gripes with the controller was the circular D-Pad that made it a headache to play fighting games with and the fact that it uses two AA batteries instead of an internal rechargeable power supply.
It’s clear that Microsoft is going with the approach that if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. In light of that, there just seems to be minor improvements across the board. The triggers give nice tactile feedback (when playing Forza Motorsport 5 the triggers give a subtle feedback that makes it resemble the engine of a car and when playing Call of Duty Ghosts the triggers seem to give the feedback that is relatable to the recoil of a firearm.) that is unique and a superb addition. The Start and Back button have been replaced with options and interface buttons and the home button is no longer a button, but more like a touch sensitive surface. The circular d-pad has been replaced with a more traditional plus button (playing Killer Instinct, it wasn’t nearly as bad as past fighting games but I went back to the analog stick instead. An admirable improvement, but still a piece of junk). What is not forgivable though is the fact THAT IT STILL TAKES TWO AA BATTERIES. That is absolutely ridiculous. This is the year 2013.
Microsoft is comfortable with the controller they have presented to us last generation and they’ve made a good choice in not attempting to change much. So if you were a fan of the Xbox 360 controller you will feel right at home with this new and improved addition.
Hardware and Specs
Using this chart as reference. You’ll immediately spot a $100 price difference right off the bat. You may be asking why, well that’s because every Xbox One comes bundled with a Kinect. The Kinect is a marvelous piece of technology that has a lot of potential. Think of it as the center of your home entertainment setup. With it you can shout out commands with the prefix of “Xbox -“.
Examples: Xbox watch tv, Xbox open Skype, Xbox call John, Xbox go home, Xbox play Dead Rising 3.
This seamlessly streamlines your entire home entertainment into one convenient spot. There are also neat tricks you can do such as redeeming codes using the QR Code reader on the Kinect camera, using Kinect as a search tool and especially the snap functions. Snapping allows you to simultaneously play your game and watch television. Or watch television and at the same time being in a Skype conversation. At the end of the day the Kinect is a neat tool but that extra $100 can only be justified depending on your frequency of use. And what a treat it is for Microsoft fans to finally be able to say that they can run Blu-Ray discs on their systems. No more horde of install discs (looking at you Grand Theft Auto V).
As for resolution and pixels between upscaled 1080p (Xbox One) and native 1080p (PS4) the differences can be spotted depending on the quality of the television you own. It’s not a total deal breaker, but for the gamers that are all about the graphics then the Playstation 4 is a no brainer, but if the television set you’re playing on is anything smallerr than 46” I wouldn’t split hairs over it. As for the lavish early adopters with 4K televisions no system seems to be supporting native 4K just yet. I would expect Sony to make the first move on this as they are leading the charge on 4K televisions, but that may or may not be a long way down the road.
My 7 Worst Experiences of Last Generation
I have had a lot of industry gripes that have been building up the last eight years and now I can finally voice all of the terrible ideas that we have chose to live with. That being said, most of the things I’m about to expose don’t seem to be going away anytime soon.
7. Tacked on Multiplayer
The video game industry is rough around the edges, it’s tough for studios to make a good profit and warrant sequels, let alone make decent sales. To justify a $60 some developers have resorted to tacking on an out of place multiplayer feature into such games as Batman: Arkham Origins, Bioshock 2 and God of War: Ascension.
It’s not to say that the multiplayer is bad by any means. Each of the above games feature unique game modes that no other games offer in the industry. But, it goes without saying that studios have to divide up resources and the work force to work on these extra features.
If you look closely, all of these franchises start off as excellent single player experiences and eventually deteriorate into a watered down shell of what they once were.
7. Firmware Updates and Day One Patches
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been dumbfounded at sight of yet another patch. After a long day of work or school all I want to do is come home to a highly anticipated new release, pop it in and just enjoy.
If you haven’t touched your console in weeks you must patch your console’s firmware if you want access to online features. This isn’t really a problem for games for the Bioshocks and God of Wars, but you can be sure it is big deal for the Call of Duties and Battlefields. Developers take this a step further with an additional day one patch for their games, why can’t they just iron out the kinks in the studio before having the game go gold?
5. Every Single Call of Duty Game After Modern Warfare
We’re all familiar with the story here so I won’t spend too much time beating a dead horse. An annual release is one thing, but at the end of the day it’s the consumer’s choice to purchase the product or not so we only have ourselves to blame.
It’s not so much the franchise itself the bothers me, but how the franchise influenced the gaming community. It has somehow created an inception in the minds of gamers that a Call of Duty circle jerk of hate is the cool thing to do. I find that the vast majority of consumers don’t even know why they hate the franchise as most of their reasons are just hearsay and popular opinion.
With a new generation upon us, Call of Duty: Ghosts has been weakest title since Call of Duty 3. Hopefully this is a wake up call for Infinity Ward and as well as for consumers to start being more critical of what they’re purchasing.
4. The Death of Local Split-Screen Multiplayer
This. This hits me right at home. The days of having a bunch of friends over and enjoying your favorite game is over. With the rise of online gaming and voice chat, most games are no longer supporting the offline multiplayer anymore.
The only real offline multiplayer games that even come to mind anymore are only Castle Crashers, Marvel Ultimate Alliance and NBA 2k series. Sure, Halo 4 can support split screen, but have you ever tried playing custom maps online? It’s a disaster.
3. Hardware Malfunctions
Lets face it. Technology isn’t made to last anymore, and this is the standard we have chosen. Such a widespread failure rate has been shrugged off like this before. People were avoiding the YLOD and RROD like the plague, hoping to seek salvation through towel tricks and placing the console horizontally hoping to have greater ventilation into their machine.
I personally own a SNES, N64, Playstation 2, Game Boy Color and PSP and all of them are still in working condition. I went through three Playstation 3s this generation., once because of a defection in the Blu Ray lenses and another because of the Yellow Light of Death. This is absolutely ridiculous and the quality control of these consoles don’t seem to be changing as the Playstation 4 and Xbox One seem to already have hardware issues right out of the gate.
2. Motion Controls
Where do I even begin…. Nintendo absolutely captivated the casual crowd with the charm of the Nintendo Wii. For months it was the console that was exceptionally hard to find, and it soon topped the charts as the best selling console during the holidays. Not even two years in and we had already had a clear winner of who had won the “console wars” in terms of sales.
Nintendo introduced an entire crowd and generation to video games that were not there before expanding the market for a secure future for the industry. My respect goes out to them for this, but the fallout of this was for a lack of a better term a “shitstorm”.
Nintendo had Sony and Microsoft bent over backwards, trying to win over the attention of the market they tried whatever they could to put together their renditions of motion based gaming peripherals. Out of this we got the Xbox Kinect and Playstation Move, both dismal attempts at trying to show consumers that they could keep up with what Nintendo had done.
The main problem with motion controls is that there were absolutely zero titles that took exceptional advantage of this technology. The Wii had some great titles such as the Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Super Smash Brothers Brawl, Muramasa, Metroid: Prime 3 and Super Mario Galaxy but I’d much have rather played them with the classic controller. The Playstation Move was a copy and paste of the Wii Mote that featured such ground breaking titles such as Start Party, Eye Pet and Sports Champions. (That was sarcasm if you couldn’t tell.) The Kinect tried to innovate with their full body immersion, yet there were ZERO GAMES, FUCKING ZERO. Star Wars Kinect everybody.
Not to mention all of the dancing games that filled store shelves, complimented with the library of the Wii being 90% throwaway shovelware. Who could forget the E3 presentations, it was literally the one thing nobody looked forward to in those press conferences. It was just 20-40 minutes of pure cringe watching these highly touted companies demo such silly toys.
Gladly, this is one fad that will not be making a return anytime in the near future.
Micro-motherfucking-transactions. First things first. Downloadable content is a good thing, it’s a great thing when done correctly. Great examples are all of the expansions to Battlefield 3, Borderlands 2 and Red Dead Redemption. This is what downloadable content should be all about.
But when you start monetizing things such as costumes and game modes then we have quite a problem. When I buy your game for $59.99 I expect to get the entire fucking game.
Microtransactions have single-handedly ruined fighting games for me forever. Charging for characters, costumes and unlockables that are already on the disc is not right. Capcom is notorious for this which is why I have chosen to boycott them for the foreseeable future. Other studios such as NetherRealm like to scatter their content to different retailers as pre-order bonuses not ever allowing consumers to be able to have a complete game.
If your game runs on a free-to-play business model such as Planetside 2 or DotA2 then that is reasonable but your game could easily be ruined through a pay-to-win method as well.
Unfortunately, consumers have chosen and it does not look like being cheated out of $59.99 will ever change. It may be a dollar for a cosmetic item, ten dollars to unlock multiplayer mode, but soon the standard may be an additional five dollars to be able to view the ending for a game.
My Top 7 Experiences of the Last Generation
So it’s a been a long fucking hiatus for me, but seeing as how we’re entering a new console cycle I thought I would give this thing another whirl.
The console cycle we’ve just experienced lasted an extensive 8 years, that’s quite long considering most generations last for only about 5 years. With that amount of time there have been innovations, breakthroughs and disasters. Keep in mind this is my own personal list, it’s not statement being set in stone.
7. Metal Gear Solid IV: Guns of the Patriots
This game right here brings me back to the first day I bought my Playstation 3. Hell, it was the only reason I had to drop FIVE HUNDRED AND NINETY NINE US DOLLARS (I had to say it) on a console at the time. Being a huge fan of the Metal Gear series, buying an overpriced console was worth every penny. Seeing what Blu-Ray high definition looked like for the first time, online multiplayer and pesky install times between acts made me realize that I was entering a new era of gaming.
6. Netflix and Media Streaming
Nowadays your home gaming console isn’t just a gaming console, much like that the idea of your smartphone isn’t jut a phone anymore. The fact that all three gaming consoles offer Netflix, streamlining the ability to digitally distribute movies and television pretty much buried the dagger into brick and mortar movie rental stores such as Blockbusters.
The Xbox 360 furthers this technology with other services such as Hulu Plus, Amazon Video, CrunchyRoll and namely ESPN which allows you to view live sporting events. The Playstation 3 went for something a little bit different with the ability of media streaming. This has allowed consumers to wirelessly stream photos, music and video from their desktops and laptops to their television.
I firmly believe that digital distribution will be the future; for not just movies and music but also video games. Steam has already single-handedly dominated the PC gaming scene. The Xbox One and Playstation 4 allow you to play the game you just purchased while it’s downloading (to a certain extent) and certain prospects such as Gaikai on the Playstation 4 is looking to provide an on-demand gaming service. It will be an interesting couple of years down the road for on-demand and cloud-based services.
5. Wireless Controllers
A small convenience goes a long way. The days of being yelled at as a kid from your parents for not wrapping up the wires to your controller are gone. When the wireless Wavebird Gamecube controller came out, you were the coolest kid in the neighborhood if you had one of those things. What a world we live in today, where this is the norm. I do have to give the Six-Axis/Dualshock3 a shoutout though for having an internal battery rather than being forced to use two AA batteries for use.
4. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
This game needs no introduction. It is the game that paved the way for first-person shooters for the foreseeable future. Hell, this was the game to knock Halo off of it’s throne.
Infinity Ward brought a lot to the table with their game. What they’ve done can be mirrored in almost every shooter we play today. From the set pieces in the single player (I mean come on who can forget that first level) to the level of customization in multiplayer with perks and weapon attachments.The kill cam was a genius way to help you be a more competitive player. Prestige mode and assignments in your barracks allowed for longevity and replayability. It would be a sin of I didn’t mention this, but the fact the a numerical value pops up after you kill someone is something so minuscule but just adds a whole different level of immersion when playing.
3. The Rise of the MOBA Genre (Specifically, DotA2)
The genre that is quickly rising with the help of Heroes of Newerth, DotA2 and League of Legends. I’ve never invested so much time into a game with this steep of a learning curve, nor have I ever had my blood boil to such a high level because games of this nature require competent teammates that have adequate communication skills.
WIth a free-to-play business model that only relies on profit from cosmetic micro-transactions, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t give this new breed of gaming a try.
2. Naughty Dog
The very studio too push the next-gen hardware to it’s limits. Naughty Dog really did out do themselves this generation. I believe they solidified themselves as one of the best studios out there. Uncharted did not have much going for it right out of the gates. But when I took a glance at Uncharted 2 for first time it got teased I was absolutely blown away. The graphics at the time were just out of this world. The set pieces were absolutely wonderful, I will never forget the scene on the train.
As the PS3’s lifespan was nearing the end, Naughty Dog gave us the perfect game to close out the generation with. The Last of Us presented us with a gripping story, exceptional characters we had grown to love and a unique combat system that had us scrounging around for supplies.
They’ve given us two games that deserve the award for Game of the Year for their respective years, heading into 2014 I cannot wait to see what they have in store for us.
1. Batman Arkham Series
It only took seven console generations, but we finally got it. A perfect superhero video game. I have so much love for this franchise for being what it is. From the NES, to the N64 and PS2 there has not been a single licensed superhero game I would call excellent.
This franchise brought everything to the table. Arkham Asylum? One of the most iconic Batman locations to choose from. Making the sequel an open world sandbox game? Fucking perfect. The voicework? OH MY GOD THE VOICE WORK THEY GOT KEVIN CONROY AND MARK FUCKING HAMILL TO REPRISE THEIR ROLES. The combat never gets old, especially when you get a good flow going. Just all the source material they incorporated into the games is an overwhelming package of fan service. This is the new standard for licensed superhero games to come in the future.
Limbo Style Comic Book Characters