Review: Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor
It’s been over a decade since Peter Jackson introduced us to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. 13 years later, the franchise is still going strong with a second trilogy to be complete and spawning new video video games. Warner Bros and Monolith Studios bring us back to Middle Earth once again, but with so many games over the years does this one tread new ground?
The game takes place before the events of the Fellowship, as Sauron is gathering his dark forces for a march onto Gondor. You play as Talion, a ranger who is stationed on the Black Gate. At the beginning of the game the outpost Talion and his family are situated at are murdered by Sauron’s forces lead by the Black Hand. Upon death, our protagonist is possessed by a Wraith known as Celebrimbor. Banished from death, Talion is then given the chance for vengeance against the forces of Sauron. Although Celebrimbor occupies Talion’s body as a spiritual guide he also has his own personal agenda.
The narrative doesn’t stray too far away from the main story if at all. There’s a couple NPCs to talk to that provide missions for you, but there’s no towns or hubs to explore. Which isn’t a bad thing, because this is Gondor where every human is either dead or enslaved by the Uruks. You may begin quests at designated locations on the map, albeit awkwardly as the run button is mapped to the same button you use to initiate quests. If you’re not a fan of the desolate grey tones Mordor usually brings, there’s not need to worry. The game takes place in two locations, Uldun which is generic desolate grey locale mentioned above and Numen where there’s plenty of color and everything doesn’t look so dreadful.
You can’t take too many steps without crossing paths with a garrison of Orcs. The good thing is there are multiple tools at your disposable to deal with them. You can channel your inner Ezio by scaling buildings and evade battles entirely or use your dagger to quietly dispatch each Uruk quietly. Your bow will also open up some ranged combat at a distance. Of course there’s your trusty sword where most of the combat will center around. There’s also perks to having your dead body controlled by a Wraith. You’ll have powers to slow down time, dominate enemies to put them at your disposal and sprint like a madman to name a few.
If you’ve been tuning into other review of Shadows of Mordor you must have heard that this game strikes an uncanny resemblence to both Assassin’s Creed and the Batman: Arkham series. This is true, but it takes the best of both franchises and blends them together. If you found the pacing of Assassin’s Creed too slow, the stealth gameplay here may be right up your alley. As well, any seasoned Arkham player will find themselves right at home. The lack of blood and gore in Batman is fully embraced here as you’ll be lopping off heads left and right in disgusting manners.
At the epicenter of your conquest for revenge there’s an ever changing menu that displays the hierarchy of captains and warchiefs that serve Sauron. The pieces on this board are always battling each other for supremacy, getting promoted when a pawn falls and grow in power as they best you in combat. Each enemy on this pyramid have their own distinct aesthetics as well as attributes. Strengths such as being immune to stealth attacks and arrows, while other have weaknesses such as fear of fire and wild beasts. These traits can be identified by targeting the lieutenants of these captains and delving into their minds using your ethereal powers. Tracking down these informants for information isn’t always vital to victory, but can be advantageous if you want the edge against the enemy.
Though the battle against the army of Sauron seems hopeless as each time you lop off the head of the hydra theres a new head that takes its place combat can be rewarding. Everytime a warchief or captain is slain they’ll drop a rune that you can equip to empower your weapons. As the game progresses you have the choice to purchase more slots in your weapons to equip more runes at a time. As if your arsenal wasn’t vast enough, you’ll also be able to dominate wild beasts such as Caragors to ride into battle and as well as the Warchiefs and Captains to build your own legion.
Going through the chain of command can be a pleasant task as the bigger body count you rack up and the more enemies you brand the easier the game can get. It’s also easy to get obsessed with tagging and taking out every name there is on your hit list. Though some may find the enemy AI lacking as you’ll find yourself stealth killing an squad without anybody noticing. Or just slipping by an encampment in plain sight without being spotted.
Combat seems to rely too much on numbers instead of difficulty. I found myself too many times dying by being overrun by 30 orcs on screen and multiple captains showing up during a brawl. Dying in most games isn’t very delightful, though here in any individual skirmish if you find yourself being killed off by any plain foot soldier you’ll meet them sometime later in the game reintroduced with perks and a shiny new piece of armor. Rivalries will be created with enemies that you’ve already slain or been slayed by in battle. They’ll return with scars and bold one liners on your second, third or even fourth encounter. The social structure in this game can keep the gameplay fresh if you wish to prolong your time in Mordor.
When performing executions the game enters a bit of a slow-motion cinematic mode, doing so at times can place the camera at awkward angles. The map you’re given is pretty small, barren with little to interact with and you’re able to sprint from one side to the other in less than 7 minutes. The main campaign covers around 8-12 hours, playing with the chain of command of Uruks will consume most of your time and can last long after the credits begin rolling. Outside of that there’s a couple sidequests with sword,bow and dagger challenges that i didn’t bother touching.
Monolith did a great job adding a new layer the open-world action genre on top of the path that Arkham and AC series had already blazed. The scripted campaign encounters are medicore compared to the randoms ones you’ll create yourself. Overall, Shadow of Mordor is a great game to lose your mind in as you’ll find yourself obsessing over dispatching every character in the chain of command, but outside of that there isn’t much to experience here.
Carrying the reputation of being the most expensive video game of all time, it was clear at the start that Destiny would be a commercial success right out of the gates. It was easy to get sucked into the ambiance that is Bungie’s new intellectual property that boasts a $500 million budget. By the end of Destiny you’ll be left dumbfounded at how this fully priced triple A title fails to establish any sort of investment from you.
During the opening cinematic alone it feels as tho the narrative has already been butchered into chapters being ready to sold back to us as future downloadable content. It’s a two minute explaination of the Traveler, a spherical entity far from our galaxy that brings great advances into scientific miracles. Shortly thereafter, alien factions and the Darkness come to earth and wipe out every city, but one. It is about you as a Guardian to push the factions back and reclaim control of the galaxy. That quick exposition is the only morsel of information we get about this universe and it’s lore for the rest of the game. Even the origins of the Traveler and other alien factions are unknown, conveniently. This all sets up for a generic story that we’ve heard far too many times.
You are resurrected centuries into the future by a Ghost. Not the supernatural kind, but a robot that works for the Traveler voiced by Peter Dinklage. The main protagonist must have been a real asshole in the past, because upon waking up he has no reaction to what has just happened and no questions are asked for the remainder of the game. He just grabs his gun and starts shooting everything. There is no explanation for the motives of the Darkness, nor any of the alien factions or any character in the game for that matter. There is zero explanation for anything that is going on in this game.
You start off by creating your Guardian, being able to choose 1 of 3 races. Human, Awoken or Exo. Why the humans ally with the Awoken or Exo is never explained, they’re just fucking there. The choices for facial features, hair, and cosmetics are lackluster. The fact that the only time you can see your character’s face is in the main hub doesn’t help either. Known as the Tower this is where you can turn in for mission rewards, bounties and purchase gear for your avatar. Last city in the universe and you can explore the entire thing in 5 minutes. Thank you Bungie.
Three classes are then presented to you to choose from: Warlock, Titan and Hunter. All of them are varied and do present different gameplay mechanics, not only that but when you reach level 15 you will have an option to access a sub-class allowing you two have two different playstyles. The early game progression is great, it’s always exciting to level up and unlock a new ability from your skills tree, but there is absolutely is only one way to skill your character, depreciating any thought of having a second play through with the same class. Not only can you skill your abilities, but there is also a sort of progression your can have with your weapons. Adding more perks to your disposal. Post-game however is a far cry from what it just was hours ago. The level caps itself at 20, from then on you progress by finding equipment that contain Orbs of Light. Each Orb of Light granting you levels. Which is confusing as shit cause when you kill enemies with your signature abilities you gain Orbs of Light, but those Orbs only regenerate your Super meter.
To add-on to the pain, the post-game is just a mindless grindfest. The game is just littered with the same identical enemies that spawn in the same place at the same time at every playthrough. Not even the boss battles are fun, they’ve been reduced to 40 minute bullet sponges that don’t even guarantee loot drops. Sometimes the bosses for missions are just bigger or recolored versions of regular enemies.
I hope you got a nice looking ship, because you’re gonna be starting at it an awful lot. You can’t even fly the piece of shit. IT’S JUST A LOADING SCREEN. The kicker to this? You start in the same spot for every mission. This is the future where you have a spaceship, and yet you choose to land on the same spot every time you visit a certain planet. And remember when you got to choose how your character looks? ITS DOESN’T MATTER cause they’re wearing a helmet the entire fucking game, and there’s no option to be able to take it off. It’s like what were they thinking. This game is by no means an MMO, in fact it’s as linear as Super Mario World. And that’s being generous.
Under the direction of Bungie, it’s a no brainer that the combat mechanics are top notch. It’s the amazing gunplay of Halo mixed with a new layer of verticality, mobility and turmoil. Being able to scale the levels with your double jump, blink, or jetpack depending on which class you chose. It keeps the action frantic and allows you to pop in and out of battle quickly. With the promise of a expansive loot system, it’s disappointing to find out weapon models and sound files are recycled a la Borderlands 1 style. Bungie claims that Destiny to be an MMO, yet there is no trade system so pickup class exclusive gear that you can’t use during a 4 hour raid you’re stuck with it.
Bungie has also left their prints on the vehicular physics of the game, the Sparrow, Pike and Interceptor are always a joy to ride. As well as being able to spawn your sparrow anywhere it’s a blast to zip around, because the controls are just that finely tuned.
Another Bungie trademark is the music, and they pull no stops. Arguably the best feature in this game the music is an experience unto itself; at times even outshining the game it was designed to compliment. Voice acting on the other hand is atrocious. Your Guardian has the personality of sand paper, joining the ranks of Aiden Pierce. And by god, Peter Dinklage what have they done to you. He’s been reduced to unsubtle exposition and opening doors.There have been more instances where I’ve had to fend off waves of enemies for extended periods of time while I wait for Mr. Dinklage to open a locked door for me. I don’t know if it was the script or he phoned in all of his voice work but he’s boring as shit. Like i understand that he’s playing a robot, but it doesn’t help he narrates the entire game and you’re forced to listen to his arid performance.
Being one of the first AAA titles of current gen, one of the biggest discussions are the visuals and graphical prowess these new games bring us and Destiny shattered my expectations. The large vistas are absolutely breathtaking, the colors are vibrant and the world just speaks to you. They even managed to make the Moon the 2nd most interesting backdrop in the game. Coming out ahead is Venus, with it’s jungles and rivers of orange Fanta. It’s absolutely criminal to hinder all of this beauty with invisible barriers in the game that won’t let you explore any further apart from the beaten path. Or even worse when you’re presented with a message on your screen “Turn back” failing to do so will result in your Guardian’s death. It’s also a damn shame that the only way you can act with the world around you is by shooting things.
The campaign just limps it’s way into the credits when all is said and done and you’ll be left there asking yourself “is it already over…? It’s absolutely fucking pathetic how short the game is. One of the main hooks to this game was the promise of space travel, yet the 10 hour long campaign only has comes across 4 planets. Come the fuck on, the entire galaxy is opened up to you and you’re limited to the Moon, Mars, Venus and Earth? THE MOON DOESN’T EVEN COUNT AS A PLANET IT’S JUST A ROCK IN SPACE.
I shit you not the number of characters outside of the NPCs that act as vendors can be counted on one hand. Not only that, but the characters that we’re introduced to serve absolutely no purpose but to appear in future expansions that have probably been trimmed from the original product and regurgitated to us by order of Activision.
The Crucible, Destiny’s multiplayer mode is a giant cesspool where loot item stats carryover, and one-hit kill abilities are exploited to no end. If it’s you’re first time playing Destiny and you hop onto multiplayer prepare to get stomped on. The initial game is packaged with a mere 10 maps and 5 modes. This will do little to satisfy any season FPS player. After a couple playthroughts I had zero desire to return.
Destiny has an identity crisis. It’s trying to cater to different audiences, and fails at all fronts. At the end of the day what kind of genre do you label Destiny as? Because it’s not the MMO experience that Bungie was hyping it up to be, it’s sure as hell not an adventure game, and it’s not even a good dungeon crawler. If we’re gonna call it an FPS, it does a piss poor job to deliver to the multiplayer crowd. The game is covered in lazy design choices, the narrative is non existent, the game doesn’t even do a good job of explaining how to use it’s various currencies or where to start your next mission. THE GOD DAMN MISSION MAP DOESN’T EVEN HAVE A LEGEND FOR IT’S SYMBOLS.
Bungie cut so many corners to get this game out as soon as possible and it’s evident. No other game in history has had this much attention towards it prerelease, and we happily gave our preorder money to it. Not to mention people who have purchased the limited edition which gives them the first two expansion packs for $30. This is an actual turning point in the industry. Simply put, if we don’t want this kind of shit to go down again with another high budget title then we don’t preorder. We need to stop giving them our money in exchange for empty promises.
Probably one of my worse reviews, mainly cause this game made me so angry. Was always treading off into a rant.
And for anybody asking if any of the current generation consoles are worth purchasing, the quick answer is no. Stay the fuck away. Fuck this shit, back to PC gaming.
Review: South Park: The Stick of Truth
This title has had a long time coming, suffering from numerous delays due to employee layoffs, development issues and of course THQ closing it’s doors and having the assets transferred over to Ubisoft. In retrospect this game did not have a bright future as past South Park games were complete disasters. Fast forward 3 years after the initial announcement of the game and I can happily say this is one of the better licensed games I’ve ever played.
You play as the new kid in town with a shadowy past. After customizing everything on your character except the gender you run into Butters as your first friend in town. He brings you over to Cartman’s house where everybody is playing Drui- Warriors and Wizards.
You get to choose your class ranging from: Fighter, Mage, Thief and Jew. From there you’ll learn how the turn based combat system works which is very similar to Paper Mario. It requires a lot of timing both during offensive and defensive situations. The town of South Park then opens up for you throwing you into crazy situations such as trying to befriend the goth kids, raiding a meth lab out in Kenny’s backyard to traveling north and exploring an 8-bit version of Canada. The variety is absolutely stunning and it’s one of South Park’s shining features.
Everything about this game feels authentic from the graphics, writing, jokes and references. It’s like 2 seasons of interactive South Park content. Drawing from 17 seasons of content, showrunners Matt Stone and Trey Parker have made this game capture the essence of South Park more than the show itself. Not bound by the restrictions of television the game’s raunchy and vulgar humor is amplified. There is one quest where you have to go up Mr. Slave’s rectum, while in there you find all sorts of things and lets just say a dildo is the least bit strange item you’ll find up there. Stomping on Nazi zombie fetuses, getting anal probed, watching your in-game parent get it on and conducting abortions let’s just say it’s hard to believe this game was made at all. It strives to push the boundaries of censorship and it’s the kind of humor fans have come to expect.
The presentation end of things are down to a tee. The result of the video game treatment for this series is completely unscathed. The volume of jokes of references is mind boggling, practically every character from the series makes an appearance in the game and every corner of the game is littered with detail. Obsidian’s mission to make this game feel genuine borderlines on an obsessive level as the game just feels like a giant love letter to fans.
Unfortunately the gameplay side of things is where the game starts to bother me. It’s a solid role playing game with lots of different items, customization, status effects pretty much everything you’ve come to expect from an RPG. Which would be perfect if the game didn’t do such a terrible job at explaining itself. The tutorial while very entertaining is too short and skimps out on a lot of fundamentals. Even 4-5 hours into the game I found myself discovering essential things i could do through the loading screen tool tips. Most of the tips are relagated to an in game manual in the start menu to explain every single aspect of the game to you, but it’s a pictureless giant wall of text that most players will not even bother looking at. This concerns me a lot as this game is marketed towards South Park fans, yet I as a long time gamer was constantly frustrated because the game just failed to inform me on key fundamentals.
The melee combat feels like a watered down Paper Mario with non of the same kind of elegance or flair. There isn’t much feedback on combat queues, I constantly found myself not being able to execute new moves just because the game was uninformative. Not to mention most of my experience of the game was just squinting at the screen anticipating the next glint of my weapon so that i know when to press a button. The quick time events and button mashing queues are also poorly done as there is no indication to whether or not you’re button prompts are having any effect to the gameplay. That’s not to say the special abilities aren’t entertaining. Certain characters have ridiculous moves such as Butters’ Professor Chaos and Cartman’s farting moves, but even this bright spot in the game is eclipsed by the fact you can only have one character in your party at a time. You do get a nice variety of Cartman, Stan, Kyle, Kenny, Butters and Jimmy but this just feels like a lost opportunity for something better.
The interface lacks any sort of way to sort your hundreds of items which is just embarrassing as key things like this are a no-brainer for a RPG. The map is just dreadful as it’s magnified by default and the only option is to magnify it even more. One very nice touch I must mention though is the in-game Facebook, charaters constantly have status updates and the more friends you make the more ability perks you earn which is a nice mechanic that encourages exploration outside of the main storyline.
At times this fully priced retail game feels very cheap. Characters will get stuck or slide around the screen, throw projectiles won’t work, music will cut out and there was considerable frame rate issues on the Playstation 3 for me. This game just lacks polish all around which is very ironic seeing as how most of their care and attention went towards the details of the game.
Verdict: Buy it if you are a South Park fan, skip it if you are not.
What it boils down to is that South Park: Stick of Truth is game that is more fun to watch than it is to be played. The execution of gameplay stumbles way too far to be much fun as a role playing game completely losing anybody looking to purchase this video game for the purpose of having fun. Especially if you are sensitive or easily offended.
That being said South Park fans will completely adore this game and it’s one of the best licensed video game games every right beside Goldeneye 007 and the Batman: Arkham series.
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.