Category Archives: Reviews
Football is a beautiful game played across the entire planet, even known to some as Soccer, but that’s another story in itself. The sport’s most recognized video game for a number of years has been FIFA, a game offering all sorts of different ways to play the sport, and without doubt my favourite console game of all time.
EA Sports’ newest title, FIFA 16, has been met with a pretty mixed response ever since the release of the demo. Some gamers would suggest that the game offers an alternative to the usual pace-orientated gameplay, I am one of those people. Although, it could also be argued that the game feels a bit scrappy and even disjointed to play at times, a fairly accurate criticism it must be said.
This year’s game has developed many of its previous game modes, building new features into career mode and the likes, but the introduction of FIFA Ultimate Team Draft is the REAL exciting feature this year. But aside from the draft many fans will have been expecting other specific changes, but did they get their wish? Let’s find out…
Well this was quite an eye-opening surprise. Ever since Just Cause 3's announcement, I was absolutely pumped to get my hands on it. Just Cause 2 was one of those stupidly fun games that allowed players to let loose on a tropical paradise, causing chaos, as well as have fun with the game's physics engine thanks to the grappling hook. Naturally, after having a blast with that game, I was eager to once again let loose in the sequel. And for the most part, I did just that in Just Cause 3, and it was extremely fun! Except when it wasn't.
I'll put a disclaimer here and state that I didn't finish Just Cause 3. I wanted to, I swear I did, but the game's technical problems are no joke. Seriously, I'm not trying to state some sort of hyperbole here, it's just fact. And I'm not even a huge stickler for performance issues with games. I usually grit my teeth and enjoy them for what they are. But Just Cause 3 is a new low. I've captured a few videos that I included in my Review in Progress article here, and you can see that nothing crazy even has to be happening for the framerate to take a dip. But those two videos are just a tiny sample size of just how bad the game can get. I played the game on the PS4, but from what I've been reading, the Xbox One version is worse, and the PC version is just as un-optimized.
Don't get me wrong, Just Cause 3 does a lot of things right. Hell, the game, mechanics wise, at least most of it, is designed in a way to ensure you're always either causing some sort of mayhem, or partaking in a slew of wildly different side activities, and I loved that. It's just that for every activity that I loved doing, the game's performance would completely cock-block my excitement.
Let's take a look at what the game does right, what flops (besides the performance) and my verdict.
The Positives / The Negatives
Whenever I discuss Need for Speed games with anyone, and the topic of my personal favorite comes up, without any hesitation, I always answer Need for Speed Underground 2. That game introduced me personally, to the world of racing. Sure, I've played racing games prior to it, but Underground 2 managed to hook me in with its open world, heavy customization options and slew of various races.
This year's Need for Speed, which EA claims to be a reboot of sorts, feels a lot like Underground 2. From the night-time only racing, the similarities between Bayview and Ventura Bay, the interactions between other racers with your phone, to the various types of races you'll partake in.
Let's check out what's great about this year's Need for Speed, what missed the mark and our final verdict.
What if one day you were given the power to establish and build up a guild of adventurers, made up of brawlers, cat burglars, mimes and other misfits, purely for the thrill of attaining valuable loot? Guild of Dungeoneering answers this very question in a very fun, if minimalistic way through a dungeon crawling, turn-based card game.
The mechanics of GoD are rather simple; Send your adventurers across different locations to slay monsters, obtain loot and level up, all while gaining Gold. That Gold is then used to purchase new rooms in your guild, which will unlock different classes with varying mechanics, as well as new items you will be able to obtain while adventuring. It's a fun routine that for the most part always has something new for you to unlock. With three separate tiers of unlocks, with the first costing 50 Gold, the next 500 and the last one costing a whopping 2000, you'll have a lot of dungeoneering to do before you unlock them all.
Once you pick your adventurer and go out on a quest, the game then turns into a roguelike where your little guy or gal will explore on their own, being driven to rooms that contain monsters to defeat and loot to pick up. This opens up a very interesting style of gameplay, as you're given a hand of five cards each round, which not only let you place down various rooms, but monsters and loot as well. That means you can essentially coerce your adventurer to take routes you'd rather have him take, avoiding rooms with more powerful monsters until they're powerful enough to take them on. Granted, your turn will always be reliant on the cards you draw, meaning you might not have a monster or loot card to place down, and your adventurer will just go toward the closest monster or loot they can see, or directly into a trapped room. I really love this mechanic as it's a brilliant way to make playing each quest unique. Even repeating failed quests can make them play out completely differently based on the cards you draw during your turns.
So why place down monsters at all? There will be many instances where powerful monsters will be waiting in rooms that block your progression, or sometimes even roaming the map. By placing monsters down of your own, you can then battle them, level up, which in turn makes you more powerful, and also give you powerful loot you can immediately equip, which will give you new cards into your battle deck.
Battling is pretty fun as well, especially for those that love card games. It's pretty basic when it comes down to it, but there's definitely strategy involved in each battle. The battles are turn-based, and each turn you're shown what card the monster will play. That gives you an advantage to play a counter card to either negate damage, heal yourself up, or simply do more damage yourself. However, you're always given three cards to choose from each turn, meaning you might not have a card that adequately protects you from an attack. Sometimes you'll have a guard card that blocks two damage but your opponent is only throwing a single damage spell on you, so it might be worth it to take that damage in favor of saving that card when the monster tries to attack you with a 2-hit spell. It's surprisingly tactical, given the game's otherwise minimalistic gameplay approach.
The developers made a smart choice of making your character always start at level 1 at the start of any quest, as it encourages you to play around with different classes, and not just pick a single favorite class and stick with it for the rest of the game.
Card game enthusiasts will most likely have a bigger issue with the game not having any sort of deck building component. The dungeon cards (comprised of rooms, monsters and loot) are always randomly given to you, so you can't specifically build out a deck of exploration cards. However, the bigger issue is with class cards. You can't tailor your deck with specific cards. Instead, you always start with the classes base cards, and earn more as you move through each dungeon and defeat enemies.
However, my biggest issue was not having any sort of indication what each class does or what its cards were. Hovering over the Cat Burglar room before buying it doesn't indicate what kind of class it is, what its strengths and weaknesses are, and what focus the cards have. Even when buying it, clicking on your dungeoneer doesn't reveal anything either. Only after you actually go into a dungeon with a chose class, can you actually see what cards you have in your deck. It's a pretty backwards process since it means you have to take a risk with taking a class into a dungeon that it might not be suited for. Sure, this problem becomes moot once you unlock each class and take it in a dungeon at least once, but the possibility of failure due to a wrong class choice is certainly annoying.
I do tip my hat to the whimsically minimalistic art-style. The whole game is presented on graph paper with rooms drawn what looks like in pencil or pen. The characters themselves have a bit of personality too, and what's even better is that each new gear piece they equip actually shows up on them.
Guild of Dungeoneering is definitely a unique hybrid of game mechanics, but they all work really well together. Fans of games like Card Hunter or Card Dungeon will certainly find a lot to like in Guild of Dungeoneering, though the gameplay is quite different. From what I gathered, the team is still working on improving the game, meaning my complaints might at some point be resolved, but even with them, the game is certainly worth the $14.99 asking price.
Fans of card games and roguelikes will find a lot to like in this unique hybrid. It's not without a few flaws, but overall it's a dungeon worth delving into
Ant-Man is a movie that could have gone real bad, real easy. The film was originally the pet project of Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Spaced), who not only wrote the initial script, but was also set to direct. Last year, Wright dipped out, citing creative differences between himself and the studio and leaving Marvel to pull in Peyton Reed, director of the greatest sports movie of all time, to fill the void and bring the project to life.
After Age of Ultron, I went into this one with pretty low expectations. Mind you, Ultron wasn’t a bad movie, but it wasn’t a perfect one either and seeing how Ant-Man is the final dot on the sentence that’s been Phase Two of the MCU, I was ready to side-eye it. But guys, I was seriously impressed. Ant-Man is fun, it’s cohesive, there’s personality in it as much as there’s whimsy. It’s all balanced out really well and damn it, I now want a giant ant-puppy.
I think it was a really smart move to frame the story around the second Ant-Man, Scott Lang, since this set us up for more of a redemption tale. Those are a great way to hang a narrative and it still pulled in the first Ant-Man, Hank Pym in a big way. Lang is just a ex-con looking to do right by his kid and is trying to go at it clean this time. That includes the hell that is the service industry. We’ve all been there, whether it’s retail or food service, and we all can wince in sympathy at the chuckle-headed customers and bosses he has to deal with just to make a couple of bucks to put towards child support. Of course, that goes to hell in a hand basket pretty early on and he’s right back to a life of crime.
I think my favorite element of this movie was just how cohesive it was to the rest of the MCU. It showed us so many of the connections in the universe we’ve seen constructed over the last seven years as well as pulling from actual canon (Ant-Man 47, To Steal an Ant-Man). Early on we get to see my girl, Peggy Carter appear, now aged and in the 1980s as Pym discovers that his research is being utilized for unethical reasons. The movie also brings in the Avengers and shout-outs to old Jack Kirby Astonishing Tales, which I thought was a great touch for old school comic fans.
The film also did a great job of exposing the fact that all of these fantastic superheroes do not necessarily get along or agree with each other. One of Pym’s biggest concerns was letting his shrinking tech get in the hands of “cutesy” Tony Stark, this is one of the best things about Earth-616 and to see it included in Earth-199999 was a smart move. It even brought in our first legitimate glimpse at the Quantum Zone. This is really what Phase Two has needed, something to tie everything together and make all the movies feel more like equal slices of the same pie.
Of course, I think a lot of people are going to be talking about Michael Peña’s character, Luis. We all have a friend like Luis, who will give you 10lbs of information when you ask a 2lb question and the voiceover flashback scenes were hilarious every time they appeared, stealing the scene. That brings me to another favorite about this entire project, the balance of the humor to action was really well maintained and you can definitely feel the echoes of movies like Shaun of the Dead from the original script.
The fight scene between Lang and Falcon was fantastic, as were all the action scenes and really showed off exactly what Ant-Man was really all about in terms of combat. From everything we’ve seen so far, his style is definitely the most unique of any of the Marvel lineup. Jumping from full sized to insect mode created something that was really fun to see. Even the ants that assist Lang in his missions come across great.
That said, my only real complaints focus on two items. First, who the hell picked Evangeline Lilly’s SAHM can-I-speak-to-your-manager hair? That just wasn’t cute, and aged her so far past her actual 35. It seems like a stupid thing to focus on, but it really distracted me every time she was in a scene. That hair was terrible.
The other, more legitimate concern I had is really one that I’ve had with a lot of the MCU so far, and that’s the villain. While Darren Cross was a lot less McGuffin feeling than past bad guys, he still doesn’t quite make it past the plot coupon feeling all the way. This is something that keeps occurring in these films and I think the reasons are two fold, Marvel doesn’t currently have the rights to some of its best villains and, the biggest reason, we’re being guided towards the ultimate battle with Thanos. Don’t get me wrong, Corey Stoll did a great job in the role, I’m just getting fatigued on the idea of a megalomaniac who is in it for the monies.
But honestly, those lone complaints are not enough to make people not go see this. It’s seriously fun. It has all the charm of Guardians, but it doubles down on embracing the source material. As a lifelong comic reader, that’s something I really appreciated seeing.
Also, when you go see this one, keep in mind there’s not one, but TWO stingers after the film and both are good stuff.
The president's ATCU (Advanced Threat Containment Unit) begins hunting down inhumans across the country. Meanwhile, Simmons begins her rehabilitation after her extended stay on the alien world.
A Most Wanted (Inhu)Man starts off pretty fast-paced. We meet back with Lincoln, who is being chased by a small military squadron. They pursue him through the woods until he escapes after creating a blinding wall of sparks via some steel towers. He continues throughout the episode in a similar fashion, having to give the slip from the ATCU using his powers. Eventually, he seeks refuge with his old friend, John, but he ends up turning Lincoln in after seeing a news report falsely exposing him as a fugitive. Despite distrusting Daisy after S.H.I.E.L.D. placed a tracker on him, he was left with no choice, but to call them for help.
While Daisy attempts to convince Lincoln to come along, Coulson meets with Rosalind Price. He's attempting to find the reason her task force is hunting inhumans, particularly Lincoln. While her response is inconclusive, Coulson's focus shifts when he informs her that he's aware she knows about Daisy, who happens to also be on her hit list. Realizing neither side will get anywhere if they keep attacking each other, instead of focusing on the bigger struggle at hand, Coulson suggests a temporary partnership with Price.
May finally decides to team up with Hunter in their mutual pursuit of Grant Ward. They make their way to Boston to meet with an old friend of Hunter's who is in league with a mysterious arms dealer, suspected to be the new Hydra. After a few rousing rounds of lager, Hunter agrees to fight his way up the pecking order…literally. Turning down May's insistence to participate, he engages in an underground fight club meant as a proving ground to meet with the boss. Somehow managing to withstand a pretty hefty beating, he finally decides to go by Hydra's rules to play as dirty as possible, pulls out his knuckle dusters, and reigns in his victory. Barely able to keep himself upright, he's taken to finally face the man he set out to kill.
Finally back home, Simmons is having some trouble adjusting to her surroundings. She spent months in an alien atmosphere. The difference in gravity, air supply, etc. is proving very jarring for her body to re-acclimate. Fitz is doing his best to rehabilitate her, but she's startled by any sudden move and slightly audible disturbance. Besides her physical limitations, needless to say, she's suffered some emotional distress. The team assumes its because she was clearly traumatized by her unexpected exile, causing her to break down and withdraw from everyone. When Bobbi finds Simmons still analyzing the fragments of the Monolith, she tries telling her its been completely disabled and she has nothing to fear anymore. Much to Bobbi's surprise, Simmons tells her she's not afraid of being sent back, but for some reason, actually needs to go back.
Between the ATCU moving in on Lincoln and Hunter placing himself in a fight club just to get closer to Ward, the episode was pretty entertaining with a decent amount of action. It feels like certain hidden plots about Simmons are starting to come to fruition, particularly that she may be an inhuman. In the last episode, Professor Randolph made it clear the Monolith isn't active at random and in fact needs to be triggered. So far, it has only reacted when any inhuman or being of a higher form has been near it…with the exception of Simmons. Now that Simmons is back, she's expressing some kind of desire to return to the alien world. There's no explanation as to why, but she definitely has some kind of drive to return, even though she claims she was being hunted the whole time. There's a decent amount of evidence to go by, but time will tell if the team ends up with another superpowered ally if Simmons ever meets a greater destiny.
Yoshi’s Woolly World is Nintendo’s latest attempt to recapture the magic of the original Yoshi’s Island. It follows the same 6 worlds, 8 levels, and special stages format, and has the same moves as before. Yoshi can swallow enemies to produce eggs (or yarn balls in this case), throw said eggs, flutter jump (almost infinitely if your timing is good), and ground pound on his way through the game. There are also several fruit based power-ups and yarn based transformation sequences.
The story of Yoshi’s Woolly World is simple and explained as soon as the game begins: Kamek appears out of the blue and begins deconstructing all of the Yoshis into bundles of yarn for some unexplained purpose. Fortunately, he misses both green and red Yoshi, who proceed to give chase in an attempt to find and reassemble their friends. It’s not a very complex story, but it gives you a reason to go out and collect as much as possible in your pursuit of the magikoopa menace.
The Wii U is awash in 2D platformers, so Yoshi’s Woolly World tries to stand out with a one-two punch of nostalgia and saccharine cuteness via its next level yarn tech. Is this a crutch or can this game stand on its own? Let’s break it down.
The most divisive Zelda game ever released bar-none, The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes brings something other than your typical Zelda story. If you enjoyed the multiplayer of Four Swords, then this is your jam… with a few caveats.
Make friends. Join a forum or turn to social media if you have to, but make friends with people that have strong online connections. If you yourself don't have a strong internet connection, then get a better one or don't even play because you won't enjoy this game and you will ruin the experience for everyone you come into contact with.
Aside from that, Tri Force Heroes is a rock solid multiplayer-only game. (There's a single player option but it is not humanly feasible to beat it.) You'll enjoy an entertaining story, get to dress in tons of so-dumb-they're-funny outfits, and hunt for treasure in your pursuit of the ultimate fashion statement.
Before we begin, let it be known that HBO's president of programming, Michael Lombardo, publicly stood by this show earlier in the week. “I think you need to watch the entirety of it,” Lombardo stated. “I think the season’s ending is as satisfying as any series we’ve done.” Unfortunately, I think this vote of confidence comes too little, too late for frustrated viewers and critics.
This week's episode began with a Ani, Ray and Paul at a seedy motel recouperating after their great escape from Toni Chessani's rich man's orgy. Bezzerides is fighting off some serious emotions and drugs. She is reminiscing about killing the security guard at the party doting that "I've been waiting my whole life for that." Her putrid state of doubt and confusion would be the perfect moment to try to tie up that sexual tension between her and Ray Velcoro. He turns her down, and she blames it on the drugs and brushes it aside. Paul receives a text from an unknown number, with blackmail pictures featuring Paul and his male lover together, and later demands a secret meeting. All the while their missing person-turned-prostitute is sleeping off the drugs in the other room. Talk about a drama dump. All of this goes down in the first six minutes. It becomes clear that the three need to go into hiding and so does everyone they love. Paul puts his crazy mother and his pregnant fiancé in a hotel, and Ani ships her father and sister off with her old partner there to follow and make sure that they're all right.
It's a genuine corpse parade after that. State Attorney Davis is found dead in her car with a gunshot to the abdomen when Ray goes to meet her to reveal what they've found. And it was seemingly with his own gun.
Vince Vaughn is the only reason I am still watching this show. I never thought I could picture Vince Vaughn metaphorically riding in on a white horse to save the day. Then again, I never thought I'd be seven episodes into an HBO program and disliking it this much. In a solo act of redemption, the scene in which Frank tortures and kills Blake for information is the saving grace for this episode. With one handgun blast to the stomach and a monologue of menace over a writhing body, Frank extracts his revenge and an exit plan. I truly feel as though this man is backed into a corner and is a big enough badass to get himself out. Frank makes some moves to get his woman and get out of town once he steals a nice chunk of change from the Russians, who have just purchased the liens to his clubs. He doesn't do this without making sure both properties are burnt to the ground first.
Meanwhile, Ani and Ray have to go into hiding together because they are fugitives, clearly bunking together because, why not? They share an awkward makeout scene that I'm pretty sure no one really cared about. If I wanted to watch two exceptionally damaged people go at it, I would have tuned in to late night programming. Amidst their bunking together, we find out that with the overload of information we have received this season, it is in fact the blue diamonds that are the link. On top of this, we also discover that it is Caspeare's assistant, Erica Johnson, whose real name is Laura. She was pictured beside her brother in last episode's riot reveal. Viola. She was one of the orphaned L.A Riot children, in Vinci, with the blue diamonds or a candlestick, who knows there's another episode the whole thing might be one big MacGuffin at this point. It's also now revealed that Caspeare's death was a revenge. He was killed by the son of two shop owners who were murdered during the riots.
Who are we forgetting? Oh, Paul. Paul meets up with Miguel in an exchange that shows us that Catalyst wants the heads of Ani, Ray and Paul on a platter. This leads to a deadly underground shoot out that Paul escapes, showing some Jack Bauer-esque moves in the process. As he Shawshank Redemption-style walks through the door, he's shot by Lieutenant Burris. This man just Rambo'd an entire team of mercenaries and then is thwarted by a guy with a handgun hidden behind a door. Color me confused. Is this just a rehash of earlier on when Ray got blasted in the chest? I know I'm not the only one whose patience is being tried and the cheap thrills tactic is not going to work anymore.
Almost nine years since the release of the original Gears of War in November of 2006, Microsoft has released the Gears of War Ultimate Edition exclusively for Xbox One. Being that this was the first time I've ever played Gears before in my life, I have to say after five minutes of playing I was pissed off. Not at the game of course, but at myself for some reason never playing any of the Gears series before. Before I fired up the Ultimate Edition, I went and grabbed a copy of the original for my 360 at the local Fun & Games for $3.99. After all, I needed something to compare it to. As my luck would have it the disc was broken so I was S.O.L. As a result I jumped right in, chose Insane difficulty and hoped for the best.
The original story of Marcus Fenix being freed by his buddies from prison after a decade and a half to help eliminate the force of the Locust from the planet Sera is still in tact. Marcus, along with Dom, Baird and Cole (who may be the best character ever) make their way through five levels each with six chapters. In addition to the orginal levels in the game, five new levels have been added which are the ones from the PC release that were missing on the original Xbox 360 version. The intelligence of the A.I. is immediately evident. On the game's easiest level they are rather mundane as they stand out in the open and rarely shoot making themselves easy targets. When you ramp up the difficulty to insane, or even right below it on hardcore, that all changes. Every enemy makes use of cover, they use teamwork to flank you while forcing you to constantly change your location and strategy. Even popping out of cover to shoot only allows you one to two seconds before you're inundated with bullets and have to pop back in.
Added to the strategy needed in Gears of War Ultimate Edition is the damage that the enemies can take. While using my Lancer assault rifle, I found it took about two thirds of a loaded magazine to kill an enemy. Combine that with the fact that they just never stop moving and it became very difficult. I found the Insane level was aptly named within several short minutes. Always an intricate discussion in remasters is graphical enhancements and attention to detail. The chainsaw attachment to the Lancer rifle, although incredibly bad ass, was also ridiculously detailed. Even in the early parts of the game as I was trying to escape the darkened hallways of the prison, I could still see the chainsaw itself moving and operating rather than just simply hearing the telltale noise it makes. Even better with the weapons' detail was the locust pistol you are able to obtain from any of the dead scattered among the ground. It's a single shot, slow reloading pistol but much more powerful than your stock pistol you begin the game with. With each round you fire, you don't simply see the round exit the gun in a ball of fire. You can actually see the gun cycle and reload with each round fired.
Sunlight and shadows play a major role in the game as well. A couple times I found myself walking around a corner and only knew an enemy was there because there shadow was reflected on a column nearby. They are easy to miss as they are after all in darkened prison hallways, but you can still see them clearly and they definitely help in Insane level as you are trying to plan your next move. As the game goes on, you go through multiple levels like a mine cart, Marcus' home, prison etc both inside and outside. Out in the sun is where Gears of War really shines (no pun intended). During lulls of the action, I stopped several times to adjust the camera and see how the lighting panned out on the environment. The sun coming through the clouds lets you see its individual rays and the buildings hit by the sun reflect your shadows just as they would if you were walking down the city street on a beatiful, Sunday afternoon. Simply moving your character while looking at your shadow see it react as it would normally. These little details added a sense of immersion into the game that isn't oft seen in many shooters as they tend to focus more on framerate and enemy action than graphical quality. Visually, Gears of War Ultimate Edition is one of the best looking games on Xbox One.
From the moment-centric in game music to as close to real life voice acting you can get without a rated R game, Gears of War Ultimate Edition's campaign takes a minor story and makes it into something more than it is with the help of emotion and immersion.
There weren't too many people on the multiplayer servers unsurprisingly, but we were able to check it out with a couple colleagues. We didn't experience any hiccups fortunately as the game is running on dedicated servers with extremely little traffic. At first glance, there are 19 maps that we can use with all the PC exclusive maps integrated in as well. Skins for Gears of War 3 characters are unlockable as you progress in various modes along with new control schemes specifically aimed at tournaments.
How did the game as a whole stand up to the original? Let's See
** Necessary Disclosure ** I've never played a single second of Gears of War, any of them, in my entire life prior to this Ultimate Edition.