No New Games

No New Games

Video games press is a tough business to stay on top of. New games are constantly releasing, and there are tons of websites and streamers covering those games immediately. I would love to buy every new game on day one and cover it, but I simply can’t afford to, nor do I have the time. Therefore, I’ve decided to let them have those games (unless there is one I feel I just can’t miss.) Instead, I will pick thru every clearance bin I see, and grab games I have never heard of (or have always wanted to play), as well as finally finishing up the games I already own. Some I will review, some I will stream, and some I will Live or Snap Look. We’ll see how I feel that moment. Please check back in, as I will be adding more as time goes on…

 

Very good game.  I recommend playing it with at least one other player at or around your level, though.  I started to get very frustrated playing by myself, so I opted to wait for reinforcements.  I would also like a few more options for customizing my character, as well, other than simple skins…and for God’s sake, shut that damn robot up.  The shooting feels really good, though, and the loot is addictive as hell.

 

 

Another really good game.  I’m a huge fan of Far Cry 3, and this is that on steroids.  The shooting feels good, and the environment is wonderful.  The main missions are captivating, as are the side quests.  I wish the skill trees were more inviting, though.  Overall, there were only a couple of skills that really enticed me.  That’s easily overlooked, though, as the gameplay is a ton of fun.  Those damned eagles are a menace, however.  They must be stopped.

 

Red Dead Redemption 2 Announced 

Red Dead Redemption 2 Announced 

***UPDATE***

Red Dead Redemption 2 DELAYED until Spring 2018.

Yes, you read that right! Red Dead Redemption 2 is officially announced for Fall of 2017 for PS4 and XB1.  Oh yeah.

After a quick Twitter tease on Sunday (Oct. 16th, 2016) which simply showed the Rockstar logo in red, RS gave this press release this morning:

Rockstar Games®, a publishing label of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTWO), is proud to announce that the highly anticipated  Red Dead Redemption 2® will release worldwide in Fall 2017 for PlayStation®4 computer entertainment systems and for the Xbox One games and entertainment system.

Developed by the creators of Grand Theft Auto V and Red Dead RedemptionRed Dead Redemption 2 is an epic tale of life in America’s unforgiving heartland. The game’s vast and atmospheric world will also provide the foundation for a brand new online multiplayer experience.

“With  Red Dead Redemption 2, the team is working hard to push forward our vision for interactive entertainment in a truly living world,” said Sam Houser, Founder of Rockstar Games.  “We hope to deliver players an epic experience that builds upon everything we’ve learned making games.”

Watch the  Red Dead Redemption 2 trailer at 11:00 a.m. Eastern, Thursday October 20th at  www.rockstargames.com .

 

Rockstar followed up the tease with these Tweets:

Well, I’m excited.  The landscape is beautiful, and it made me want to revisit RDR1. I want to know more (as does everybody else), though. Sequel, prequel, alternate reality (probably not that last one)…Are we kid Marston? John back from the grave? Again, probably not that last one…Please not that last one…We just don’t know yet. But we shall, and when we shall, I…shall…report it to you, so check back!

How do you feel about that trailer?  Thoughts?  Concerns?  Theories?

New trailer!

Dutch, huh?  Fascinating…

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to traverse a fantasy landscape (littered with wolves, giants, and sea turtles), while tied to your brother with a ten-foot long rope? Are you exceptionally adequate at drawing a straight line with one hand, while painting still-life with the other? You won’t actually do that in Brothers: a Tale of Two Sons, but the control scheme will bring you very close to it.
The game begins with one of many very dark and almost gut-wrenching cut scenes, revealing the watery demise of the main characters’ mother. After the initial, “wow, already?” moment, we fade back into present time, with Younger Brother (Naiee) sitting over his mother’s grave. He is jolted out of his trance by the other main character, Older Brother (Naia), who is somewhat carrying their sick father by means of a make-shift cart. Older Brother yells at him in the game’s unique gibberish (no actual words are spoken the entire length of the game), and the adventure kicks off. The brothers are tasked with finding a special medicine (the “Water of Life”) for their father, that only exists in a certain area, far on the other side of the land. In the three to four hours of gameplay (total), it will take loads of teamwork, and a plethora of problem solving techniques to reach the quested area and retrieve the elixir.
Thanks to Starbreeze Studios, the land is gorgeously rendered, and feels constantly like you’re wandering through a 3D oil painting. The lighting is also top notch, however, the character models are so-so. They don’t look bad, but on a close-up, they just don’t hold as much weight as the surrounding world, which literally left me breathless on a couple of instances. The characters seem a bit too early-gen 3D, with hair that looks like you could break it off, put it on a stick, and roast it over a campfire. The creatures in the world look close to the same way that the brothers do (only slightly better), which is a good thing, because it helps to unify everything nicely. Textures are present on the characters and creatures, just like the surrounding lands, which handle lighting and shading very well, giving them a seamlessly blended appearance.
The world the brothers inhabit is full of unique creatures, some of which will help them along their way, while others attempt to hinder their progress. At one point, a mushroom infested troll makes his presence known, and offers to help the boys platform their way to their goal, but only if they help him, as well. It seems his significant other has been kidnapped, and trapped in a nearby castle by other, meaner trolls. Once you help him and his lady friend reunite, it’s off for more adventure, and more incredible creatures. Also occupying the land, are the likes of wolves, giant sea turtles, griffins, and even horribly deadly sentient trees that live in the side of a cliff. The creatures, although not all unique themselves, are all portrayed through the game’s own style. Wolves are very dark, with brightly lit eyes. The trolls are typical trolls, but with the addition of mushrooms growing off of them, and facial expressions that will punch your heart while wearing brass knuckles. With this in mind, the creatures in Brothers are the recipients of my X Factor nod.

This troll is one of a few beautifully portrayed creatures the brothers help along their way.

This troll is one of a few beautifully portrayed creatures the brothers help along their way.

The control scheme is fairly brilliant, and pretty flawless. Playing on the Xbox 360, the trigger buttons act as the “action” buttons, allowing you to hold onto ledges, climb vines, and grab different levers. Left Trigger and Left analog stick control Older Brother, while the Right Trigger and analog stick control Younger Brother. The Left and Right bumpers rotate the camera back and forth, giving you limited views of the surroundings. Another, and my favorite, way to observe your environment, is by having a seat on the various benches overlooking the countryside. These offer a beautiful view and a nice rest stop to slow the game down.

A nice place to take a break from gameplay.

A nice place to take a break from gameplay.

My favorite section of the game concerns paddling a boat through a stretch of icy waters, while you dodge creatures strongly resembling Orcas, as they jump out of (and back into) the water around you like Asian carp. The paddle strokes used to control the boat are uncannily realistic. Want to turn right? Use Older Brother (situated on the left side of the boat) only, and let YB have a rest. Need to turn left sharply? YB pushes forward, while OB back strokes.

The boat physics are spot on.

The boat mechanics are spot on.

Once your fingers adjust to, “YOU, go here…YOU, go there”, the controls become second nature, allowing you to send the two brothers into different sections of the screen to accomplish different tasks.
Brothers: a Tale of Two Sons is an adventure/platformer riddled with puzzles, and you will need complete cooperation from both of your thumbs to advance. The story (impressively told through a gibberish-based language, mannerisms, and the environment), at times, will rip your heart from your chest, and puree it in a blender. It will, then, however, mold it back together with some rubber cement, warm it in the oven, and place it back in your chest before the scene is over. The visuals are outstanding, and the overall presentation is wonderful, even if it is a bit short.

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings (Enhanced Edition)

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings (Enhanced Edition)

With the upcoming release of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt on my mind, it seemed like an appropriate time to strap on the steel and silver swords and wander into the wilderness with CD Projekt Red’s, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings (Enhanced Edition) for the Xbox 360.  I was completely new to this series, as I’d been given a copy of the original Witcher for PC, but was unable to play it, due to outdated hardware.  Thankfully, prior story knowledge is not dire, because plot tidbits are explained and filled in as the story progresses.

You assume the role of expert monster hunter/slayer and witcher, Geralt of Rivia, the protagonist of the series.  At the beginning of the game, Geralt is imprisoned for, and charged with, the death of a king.  After a somewhat lengthy tutorial in the form of a prologue/castle storming/battle sequence explaining the happenings of the assassination, and why our hero was found alone over the corpse of the beloved king, he is set free to prove his innocence, regain his lost memory, and kill the correct kingslayer before more dastardly goings-ons can commence. The remainder of the game is spent exploring, fetching, and fighting through three different settings in the world.  As you progress through the story missions, you begin to remember pieces of past events through flashbacks.  While adventuring and investigating, Geralt will have countless interactions with various NPCs in the world.  Different dialogue choices you make can alter how the story plays out, how much information Geralt receives, and who Geralt can take to bed, resulting in one of MANY very mature love scenes, featuring a plethora of polygonal naked prostitutes.

The controls for the 2nd installment in the series worked correctly approximately seventy percent of the time. The remaining thirty percent just made me laugh. There weren’t enough control bugs to make me throw down my gamepad and quit, but there were enough to cause me to die a horrible death at the hands of a Nekker or two on a couple of occasions, forcing me to restart from a previous save file.  The general functionality of the controls made sense overall, but they were a bit clunky for my liking.  Roll to dodge was my best friend in battle, but I found myself tumbling right back into the hands of the enemy on more than one occasion.  There was a slight delay after hitting the designated buttons during combat, as well.  This, coupled with rolling back prematurely, left Geralt more than bruised a few times.  What helped me a great deal in battle, were the skills I received via experience points that are used to upgrade one of four different skill trees.  Points (talents) can be put into magic (signs), alchemy, swordsmanship, or the more general and generic “Training.”  Geralt uses five signs: Axii (mental control over a person), Aard (force push), Igni (fireball), Quen (magic shield), and Yrden (rune traps to immobilize enemies). Through the trees, Geralt can upgrade these signs, as well as his vitality (health), vigor (mana pool), and sword play to ultimately up his game to staggering degrees.

The in-game graphics are quite impressive for the 360, when they finally come into focus.  I had to wait far too long, far too many times for my surroundings to render, or for an NPC’s armor to come into view, showcasing the tiny details of battle-born dents and scratches.  As I said, those details are impressive, but that loses luster after you’ve waited twenty seconds for them to appear.

One of several camps inhabited in a beautiful world.

 

Cut scenes, also, look brilliant when they load properly.  During the prologue, especially, as a scene was building intensity, it would cut to a cinematic, just to have that momentum stopped by a loading screen mid-sentence.  There were some different cinematics, however, that resembled hand-drawn animation, which depicted Geralt’s past.  These were carried out flawlessly, and with a touch of beauty (I’m a sucker for hand-drawn animation).  One of my favorite visual aspects of W2was the lighting in various scenarios throughout the game.  Whether you’re standing by a campfire at midnight, running around a village at nine A. M., or winding through a dungeon maze, the lighting (or lack thereof, in some cases) is always perfectly shaded and shadowed against the changing backdrops.  This lends itself quite perfectly to the X Factor category on this occasion.

The sounds of the game were more hit than miss, mostly. Sure, the NPC’s chime-ins get a bit repetitive after you’ve cruised by them two or three times on a fetch quest, and the howls in the forest never produced an actual wolf; however, the remaining ambient noises, the crackling of fire as I passed a torch, and the clang of metal during combat more than made up for that.  If nothing else, the light, happy music during the dice poker game was enough to make me want to learn the lute.

The acting was decent, save a few missed inflections.  The editing was mostly bad, however, leaving more than a few jokes to fall to their tragically unfunny deaths.  For example, a character’s joke would rely completely on an interruption by another conversing character, but when edited together poorly, it results in too much space between character’s sentences, leaving me wondering why they just didn’t say the word.

There are a few things that work really well in W2, and a few things that don’t (we’ll start with the bad, and end with the good.)  As previously stated, the visual rendering delay can be a bit of an annoyance, but it was most definitely not something to stop playing because of.  Nor was the A. I.’s idiocy (CONSTANTLY running into walls, running circles in place, or taking an awkward amount of time to answer a question), unless you’re easily agitated.  What almost caused me to turn the game off and go outside, however, were the constant glitches. On one occasion, in order to progress the main story along, I was to fight a particular character and his goons, then gather his belongings. The goons proved to be a decent challenge, but the mini boss just stood there.  He would neither take, nor execute any damage, causing me to restart my game, once again, from a previous save file (I recommend you save often.)  In another instance, Geralt was having a much needed confab with an NPC concerning the ongoing story, when the audio completely cut out.  Had I not had subtitles on, I would have been completely clueless as to my next destination.  Another glitch, which happened about seventy-five percent of the way through the game, would have definitely caused me to quit, had I not been completely invested in the story.  I was fighting a group of Endregas (spider-kind), and rolled prematurely back into the fight, allowing the beast to swipe a couple of times, taking the rest of my health away.  I should have died, but I didn’t.  I was granted access to the rest of the battle, taking no more damage, but also regenerating no more vigor.  I even tested this new found invincibility, only to discover that I was, indeed, impervious to damage.  I button-mashed my way through the rest of the game (restarting from various saves, just to be sure), without dying another time.  Absurd. Absolutely absurd.  If you like that sort of thing, by all means, exploit away, but it definitely cheapened the game more for me.

Fist fighting, although just quick-time events, proved to be an addicting departure from normal gameplay.

 

What did work well for me, aside from the decent graphics and lighting, were little details. These included the previously mentioned dents and scratches on the armor in the game, as well as fun minigames (dice poker, arm wrestling, and fist fighting).  The minigames provide a relief from hunting the kingslayer, and allow you to earn a (very) little amount of extra coin on the side.  What stood out to me, also, was the main menu screen.  As I progressed through the game, the menu background would change accordingly, reflecting a somewhat lively scene from the setting Geralt was currently inhabiting. The use of signs and swordplay (before the invincibility glitch) was also very satisfying once I figured out the proper strategies needed for each specific scenario.

Dice Poker was a fun way to pass time and build Geralt’s reputation around camp.

 

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings (Enhanced Edition) for the Xbox 360 is an engaging Action-RPG with an interesting story, fun gameplay, and fantastic visuals (when rendered) that had me hooked until the end.  A few glitches here and there were a slight annoyance, but not enough to turn me off of a very good game at its core.  With different ways to level your character, and various dialogue choices to alter given information and relationships, I will be questing to find the kingslayer at least two more times, and taking different paths each time.

Far Cry 3

Far Cry 3

One early morning after work, I stood in front of that ominous, red kiosk for what seemed like ages, attempting to determine what game to grab. I finally convinced myself that I would do my friend (an avid fan of the Far Cry series) a favor, and pick up Far Cry 3 for the PS3. I was not a fan of the series before I played 3. I’d tried them a few times, sure, but just couldn’t get into them. This was partially due to the somewhat bland environments, and the inability to clearly make out the enemies ahead of me. “Worse-case scenario is, I’m out $2,” I told myself. Fortunately for me, the best-case scenario happened. They have fixed my lame complaints in FC3, and placed me in my habitat of choice (I’m a sucker for a tropical island-themed game). I now own the game, and still play it to this day.
You play as Jason Brody, a vacationing party-goer, parachuting with your two brothers, your girlfriend, and two friends, when you crash onto an island. You then wake up in a cage next to your brother, and as you gather your wits, you meet one of the antagonists….the villainous Vaas. Once he’s left the scene, your brother breaks you both out of the cell, via his military training, and you attempt an escape from the camp. We now skip through a small tutorial sequence, observe a nicely acted cut scene, and then find ourselves running, sliding, and swimming through the jungle to escape the incoming pirate horde. Once you escape a possible filleting from the pirates, you wake up in a small village, rescued by the Rakyat (local ally tribe).
Far Cry 3 is an open world shooter with some RPG elements. It takes place on the two tropical Rook Islands, which are inhabited by hostile pirates, passive villagers, allied tribes, and animals to skin. Dropped off into the world by Ubisoft with little more than your digital camera, it is up to you to find your friends & family before Vaas and company erase them from existence. Earn guns, money, treasures and items by scaling radio towers, liberating pirate outposts, searching caves, and helping the Rakyat. The latter can be done by completing time trials, bounties and hunting missions.
This game starts out intense, and keeps you motivated the whole way through. I am generally not a 100% completionist of games; however, I found myself many hours in, after I had completed the sixteen-plus-hour main story, still searching for elusive rare animals to hunt & skin so I could craft that last wallet or gun pouch.
Aside from the hallucinogenic trip sequences brilliantly thrown in to give you a break from normal game play, liberating the outposts would have to be my favorite aspect of the game. Using your camera, you can locate and identify your targets. After they’re marked, they’re visible even around corners, so you’re free to plan your attack. Whether you prefer a stealthy invasion from the mountain behind the camp, or an all-in assault with nothing to hide, the choice is up to you.
Controlling Brody is fairly flawlessly carried out, with responsive aim & camera work. The game utilizes the current staple for shooter controls, and features easily aimed iron sights with the Call of Duty-style button layout. L1 and R1 will aim and shoot, clicking R3 will command Brody to sprint, and pressing circle while sprinting will prompt him to slide and crouch.
The island scenery is beautiful, and the gameplay graphics are nice and detailed, minus some minor shading issues. This compliments the game’s sounds nicely, and really makes you feel like you’re wandering around an island, whether on foot, or in a vehicle (car, truck, buggy, hang glider, parachute, or jet ski).
The music in FC 3 is absolutely fantastic. The background tunes intensify when needed, and fit with the action nicely. Want the perfect jam to destroy a drug dealer’s crop with a flamethrower? How about some Reggae?

Love heights? Hop on a hang glider and cruise around the island(s).

 

While sizing up an outpost & calculating my strategy, there were several times that I would look to my left, & discover a tiger striding toward me with the intention of eating the very same eyes that were looking through the scope of my sniper rifle a few seconds before. A similarly tense moment came from sneaking through the weeds, only to hear a low growl, & see a leopard jump over my head to annihilate a boar, casually strolling by. The next sound I heard was my own heart attempting to escape my body through my chest. The tension was beautiful, and encouraged me to proceed with my task. This factor also drove me to always stay aware of my surroundings, as at any moment, I could be the victim of a perilous pounce from my peripherals.
The story was interesting, & the missions, thankfully, varied from one another enough to keep me going. The soundtrack & voice acting were, for the most part, pretty stellar, & didn’t make me tweak the audio, or put on my own music in the background. With so many games out that suffer from terrible acting, FC 3 was a nice distraction (Vaas especially), earning the X Factor for this review.
A nice addition to the shooting gameplay is the skill points that you earn by completing missions & leveling up are put into three different skill trees. These enable you to sneakily take down a baddie from below the ledge he’s inhabiting, pull the pin on another’s grenade, reload while sprinting, or any other number of actions.

This is one of three skill trees you can spend your earned points in.

 

The multiplayer fits in well with the CoD-style franchises, so those that enjoy that type of game will most likely enjoy this, as well….just don’t look for anything too original or different. Shoot & kill while you defend & take. It’s not bad, but it isn’t anything to pine & drool over, either. With only a few game options to choose from, all team-based, it can get old fairly quickly, but can still give you a breather from the main game. The two-to-four player co-op, which is completely separate from the main story, is also fun for a while, but despite the fun originally had, it can get a bit repetitive & dull.
A returning feature is the map editor, which lets you create your own custom maps to play on. While most of the aspects are nice, there were some random visual bugs present (cloudy sky underneath water). This is not, however, enough to sway either side of any argument I’ve envisioned, as I mostly used the feature as a distraction from regular gameplay.
Far Cry 3 is a fantastic open world action shooter with an engaging story, on-par acting, good RPG elements, & fun game mechanics. The world is amazingly large, covering two islands, & is full of things to keep you busy. The multiplayer & co-op are fairly stale, but still work if you want to mindlessly kill pirates alone, or with a room full of friends.