Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Look Back at Gaming 2011 - Pt.3

September - Mid November

After a stunning teaser trailer left many fans in eager anticipation of a new big zombie game, and Dead Island delivered an open free roam zombie apocalypse game like no other. Featuring a skill tree to personalize your character, up to four players can fight with customizable weaponry and vehicle combat. Like a bad love child of Left 4 Dead and Oblivion, the game's RPG elements mixed well with the heavy emphasis on melee combat.

Warhammer 40K: Space Marine ditched the typical third person cover system and instead asked the player to charge in head first in this third person melee shooter. Taking place in the Warhammer 40k lore, you assume the role of ultramarine Captain Titus as he tosses Orcs in the air with each hit. When health dropped, performing executions boosted the health bar and got you back into the fight. The focus on running into the fire was something to adapt to, but proved an enjoyable alternative to the typical cover and run feel of third person games.

It was the highly anticipated Gears of War 3 that closed out the month of September. Continuing the exploits of Delta Squad, players fought off the Locust horde and the new glow induced Lambent forces to put an end to the war once and for all. Boasting the new Silverback mech, an improved Horde mode, and a refined multiplayer experience; there was something for everyone in this game. With continual "events" scheduled, it will surely be a game that is revisted time and time again. During its first week, Gears 3 made over 3 million in sales.


Following Shattered Dimensions, Spiderman: Edge of Time offered a unique twist to the Spiderman story. Using voice talent from the animated series, the story followed Spiderman's death by Anti-Venom, and Spiderman 2099's intervention. Though the gameplay did not vary from the typical beat em up formula, the story and voicework put it a notch above the typical comic book hero game.

RPG enthusiasts seeking brutal difficulty were gifted with Dark Souls. Featuring the difficulty the series is known for, adventurers once again died continuously in their determination to quell dragons, undead, and other monstrosities. Changes to the game include a single flask replacing the numerous potions, Bonfires that act as checkpoints but would respawn enemies, and a refined combat experience that rounded off an unforgetable and sometimes frustratingly enjoyable experience.

Rage provided FPS fans a new id Software title to tide them over. Taking place in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, players made use of a slew of weaponry and vehicles to survive the harsh factions claiming the land. The highest point of the game ended up being the sharp animation, and the intelligent AI that would result in a fast paced shootouts with unpredictable enemies.

For the die hard Battlefield fan base, Battlefield 3 became the must-own PC title. Featuring the new Frostbite 2 engine, the visual presentation was beyond anything seen before; with sharp character models and a level of destruction that was unmatched. The strong multiplayer fan base and 64 player servers will soon be treated with a Back to Karkand expansion pack. The game sold strong with over 5 million units moved within the first week.

The Dark Knight proved his worth once again this year, with Rocksteady's Batman: Arkham City. With a story by comic book writer Paul Dini, Batman fought his way through classic villains to uncover the latest plot by Joker and Hugo Strange in a city/prison full of criminals. The open world experience allowed players to stray from the main plot for additional missions, taking to the skies for their next destination. The small improvements worked wonders for the already stellar gameplay, and the inclusion of Catwoman and Robin kept the fights interesting. It quickly went on to sell 4.3 million units.

November (1-14)

Fans of Middle-Earth were treated to Lord of the Rings: War in the North. Alone or in co-operative play, players chose from one of three protagonists to quell the tides of enemies. Choosing from a mage, melee, or ranged character; players developed their skills and could even branch out to customize the character to the player's preferred play style. Coupled with special appearances by characters from the books, the game gave Tolkien fans something to keep them occupied until the next film.

November kicked off a slew of titles with a bang, as the highly awaited Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception was released. Nathan Drake continues his adventures with his usual cast of characters, in an interesting look at his relationships and drive. Not to disappoint, the presentation and feel was still as strong as ever with some truly jaw dropping set pieces to compliment the cover shooting. It has sold over 3.8 million copies worldwide.

The remakes also made an appearance this month. Goldeneye: Reloaded remastered the previous Wii title for the Xbox 360 and PS3. Featuring a new engine, achievements/trophies, and Mi6 Missions; it allowed other console owners the chance to be Bond once more.

Elder Scrolls: Skyrim gave RPG fans an adventure like no other. Boasting hours of gameplay and an expansive world to explore, Skyrim set players loose to create a character to their liking. With tons of options to create a hero tailored to the player's liking, there was no limit to the possible combinations in Skyrim; be it a stealthy rogue or dual casting mage. The unique experience for each player offered dungeons to explore, quests to complete, and a healthy supply of dragons to battle.  In the first week of release, Bethesda estimated over 7 million copies of the game were shipped.

Call of Duty fanatics had something to be thankful for with the release of Modern Warfare 3, as it took the month by storm. Continuing the successful formula, players were once again treated to a stellar campaign in a World War 3 setting to close out the Price/Soap ordeal. Adding a co-op survival mode in addition to specs ops was just the cherry on top of the already established multiplayer. Competitive shooter junkies had more customization options, modes, and a new Elite service to further their passion for the game. Within 24 hours, the game sold 6.5 million copies in the US and UK alone and went on to make $400 million, making it the biggest entertainment launch of all time.

Part 1 - January - April

Part 2 - May - August

Monday, November 28, 2011

December Gaming Releases - Holiday Recovery

Highlighted Release
Star Wars: The Old Republic
Developer: Bioware
Publisher: EA/Lucasarts
Release Date: December 20th, 2011

After the destruction that was November, December may lack in number of releases but makes up for it with this title. Star Wars: The Old Republic has been teased for years now, and is one of the most anticipated MMOs to be released this year. It's a great game to close out 2011, and after spending time in the beta, I can safely say it is worth the wait. With an unmatched single player narrative, overall look, and atmosphere; the game is what every Star Wars fan loves about the universe.

*** If you wish to watch a trailer for the game, simply the click on the game cover art. Enjoy!***

Additional Titles

December 1st

December 4th

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Assassin's Creed: Revelations - Requiescat in Pace

Score: 8.5 / 10

Assassin's Creed: Revelations
PC - Xbox 360 - PS3
Developer: Ubisoft
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: November 15th, 2011

  • Hook Blade is a nice upgrade to combat and platforming
  • Slow-mo finishers are much more intense
  • Bomb crafting is diverse and a nice addition
  • Voice performances and soundtrack are top notch
  • Capture of the time period feels spot on
  • Enemy AI is still a pushover
  • After four years, the general gameplay is wearing thin
  • The new tower defense game feels out of place
  • Assigning Assassins to tasks becomes tedious

Assassin's Creed has made its mark as a franchise on this generation of consoles, and improved with each installment. The infinite satisfaction of roaming an open city and stalking and assassinating a target has kept the series alive, coupled with a perfect capture of the time period. Revelations looks to put a close on the Ezio/Desmond/Altair saga and answer the many questions the previous games left in the open. While the typical formula has not changed drastically, there are plenty of surprises and incredible moments in Revelations to make it a fine close to the saga.

Nothing is True

Words cannot describe the unanswered questions following Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. With one of the bigger cliffhangers of last year, the story picks up with Desmond in a coma that he must awaken from, now accompanied by the infamous Subject 16. The bulk of the story follows Ezio's last adventures as he seeks to uncover more of the truths left behind by Altair. There is also small segments of Altair's exploits with each artifact found by Ezio, divulging into his life as well. It's an inception inspired story within a story within a story, that is intriguing enough to provide closure. While a few questions remain unanswered, it's enough to provide some stirring emotions with the conclusion of Ezio and Altair's exploits.

The city of Constantinople acts as the hub world in which you establish your headquarters this time around. Much like previous games, the capture of the time period is perfect. The busy hustle and bustle of the city streets, the attire of the local pedestrians, and the detail of the famous architecture is astonishing. That special feeling of simply roaming around the city is not lost here, as the small details and atmosphere are truly incredible to behold.

Backed by a stellar voice cast with original dialogue, the game also features one of the most enjoyable original soundtracks of the series. Gripping ballads guide you as you leap across buildings, and a thunder of drums back every swing of your blade in combat. The presentation for Assassin Creed games have always been stellar, and even after four years it remains a big high point for the game.

Memoirs of Ezio

Gameplay for Assassin's Creed has not changed very much, and an annual release since the first installment has left the approach anticipated. You are plopped into the city and steadily guided to each main mission, with plenty of side content to distract you from the intended path. The missions this time around still contain a few tailing and crowd movement missions, but there are some true gems in the assassin tombs.

Platforming is key in getting around the city fast, and thanks to the new Hook Blade, it's easier than ever. You climb faster, can drop enemies faster, and even make use of the handy new ziplines to really get around town. The parkour is at its best on the various missions in the hidden tombs, offering some truly memorable set pieces and chases that dwindle all too soon.

Combat remains the same in timing your strikes and gaining kill streaks to quickly dispose of enemies. Though Ezio is well versed in combat by now, the game can become incredibly easy once you get a kill streak going. Though you have much at your disposal at this point, the core way to fight is to counter once attacked for an instant kill and chain your attacks from there. It's a familiar aspect of the game that did not get the attention it deserved.

You are still able to recruit your own crew of assassins, much like in Brotherhood. These useful new assassins will pop in to take out targets swiftly or rain down arrows onto a number of baddies. You can also send them out on various missions to purge the Templar threat across the globe, gaining currency and items from taken vistas. Unfortunately, they can take it back this time, meaning you must continually visit these hub stations to get your crew out in full force and tide the Templar invasions. It becomes much like feeding your SIM...tedious after the first few dozen times.

Everything is Permitted

The typical gameplay is all here, but three big additions stand out the most:

After clearing an area of Templar influence, you must also defend the area if you gain too much attention. This initiates a sort of tower defense game, in which you place certain classes in varying areas to hold back waves of troops; utilizing barricades, crossbows, and assassinations. It's an interesting addition, but feels incredibly out of place in this game. The constant fear of having to repeat the event made for continual bribes to speakers to keep my reputation down. 

Bomb crafting adds more to Ezio's ridiculously large arsenal. With a slew of recipes at your disposal, you can create deadly poison bombs, tripwire bombs filled with lambs blood to stun enemies, and cherry bombs to distract guards and allowing you to sneak by. With hundreds of varying combinations, it is the most interesting and useful addition to the game that opens up new possibilities in approaching each situation. With the sheer number of troops in each mission, their use becomes very apparent after the first few missions.

Collecting Animus fragments around the city unlocks Desmond's Journey, a first person puzzle platformer. Almost akin to Portal, you traverse varying segments of a blocky world with only the ability to spawn geometry to get from point A to point B. Though the gameplay itself is pretty straightforward, the overall presentation of looking back on Desmond's life before the Abstergo incident of the first game is a treat and love letter to the fans.

Stab or be Stabbed

The multiplayer for Assassins Creed makes a return. The classic Wanted mode is back, offering contracts to players to hunt down and assassinate their target before being assassinated. It still evolves into a domino effect of stabs, but is just as mindlessly fun as the previous installment. Higher levels have a slight advantage over the new players, with much more at their disposal than a typical player.

Some new modes make an appearance. Capture the Flag has been added to mix up the typical Wanted modes, but Deathmatch proved the most intriguing. There is no compass pointing toward your target, but instead there is a box in the top right of the screen where your current target is displayed, which glows blue when you enter the line of sight of your target. There is also Simple Deathmatch, which also removes the abilities and perks from the players.

It's still an enjoyable mode often involving into hilarity as the stab train occurs over your corpse, but it still is not enough to make you drop the bigger multiplayer titles.


As far as a final installment in Ezio's journey, Revelations left me wanting a little more than what was offered. Fans of the series will feel right at home and the presentation of the game is just as stellar as its always been. It's a nice close to Ezio's journey, and a welcome finish to the series.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Viking Victory

Score: 9.5 / 10
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
PC - PS3 - Xbox 360
Developer: Bethesda
Publisher: Bethesda
Release Date: November 11, 2011

  • Visually, locations are rich and outstanding to behold
  • The sheer scope of the game is incredible
  • Unique adventure for every player
  • Reworked magic and leveling is easy to grasp
  • Dragon battles are a unique experience
  • Combat feels sluggish and dated at times
  • Enemy and Friendly AI have trouble finding paths

If there is one franchise that screams RPG, it's the Elder Scrolls. Ever since Morrowind, the game has been all about freedom of choice and shaping the main story to your preferred style of play. Whether you wish to become the stealthy archer or majestic mage, your preference makes this single player experience tailored to your ideal adventure. This is no different in Skyrim, in which the sheer scope and satisfaction of the game is beyond any RPG out there.

Sunny Skyrim

You are flung into the game as a prisoner, much like the previous installment. Just as you are about to be executed, a dragon appears to the surprise of all the villagers and you escape confinement. Through the main quest line, you investigate the reason behind the dragon's sudden appearance in the world, and how your own destiny intertwines. It's a classic tale of adventure, with a hero rising up against a dark force, reinforced by a hefty lore depicted in character interaction and literature that makes Skyrim a world all its own.

It's when the leash comes off that the game showcases its greatest feature; an open world daring you to explore every crevice. The sheer size and amount to do in this game is incredible. Practically ever villager has something to say or a task for you to complete. The quest log I had quickly filled up with each new area, to the point of becoming overwhelmed with the tasks at hand. Even players wanting to skimp on the main quest line can ignore it completely to just run around with a sword in hand.

You can embark on a sub-quest, run through a local dungeon, create armor and weapons, reinforce armor and weapons, produce potions, enchant weapons, and so much more. Bethesda has created a living breathing world, and you are just a small entity of it. As far as a game with the most bang for your buck, Skyrim is unmatched.

Your Own Viking

In addition to having an entire world at your disposal, the character creation in the game personalizes each experience. You choose a race ranging from Orc, to Nord, to Elf and everything in between. In addition to a race, there are the typical alterations that can be made to perfect the look of your character. The possibilities are endless, as you could put your own physical appearance onto any character model.

The biggest appeal of Skyrim lays in evolving your character from a soldier with tin cans for armor into the shiniest beacon of awesome in your perception possible. With each dungeon or mission completed, you are bound to find a new piece of equipment to replace your existing setup. The feeling of satisfaction as you pan the camera around to observe your character's look is never fleeting, as a brand new shiny piece of armor is right around the corner.

In addition to a unique look is the unique experience. Some players may wish to continue the main story, the outcomes can be so different that you may use a different method of getting there than another player. Some may wish to skimp on story and run around the wilderness, exploring caves and dungeons at their leisure. Others may grab the nearest broom and start whacking every chicken they can find in a village. Skyrim allows you to play out the game however you wish, and with so many classes and places to explore; no two individuals will have the same experience in Skyrim.

Fight with Honor

Combat in the game works best from the first person perspective. Depending on how you develop your character, the approach to each fight can vary. Stealthy classes will stick to the shadows and strike for extra damage. Melee combat will charge in with the typical block and counter attack technique. Spell casters will usually end up prepping with buff spells and then unleashing devastation.

Every action you invest in, including the armor you wear, adds up in that particular skill. A skill tree allows you to divulge with each level into whatever you wish to become adept in using in combat. No one tree is more powerful than the other, and the list of hybrid possibilities is immense. You can spend points in Archery and Destruction magic, making you a force to be reckoned with from afar, or Heavy Armor and Blocking to become an unstoppable tank.

You spend one perk per level for one of the three main bars on the interface: Magic, Health, and Stamina. Spell casters will choose heavily to increase their magic bar and allow more spells, health becomes a standard for all classes, and stamina becomes useful for melee lunges and blocking. It's a simpler alternative to upgrading individual skills such as Dexterity and Strength, and results in quicker decision making to get right back into the fight.

Do Not Feed the Giants

Do not get me wrong, Skyrim is a fantastic game that is well worth any fantasy buff's time. However, the game had a few quirks that held it back from perfection.

The AI has not gotten an upgrade from Oblivion, and it's painfully obvious as you watch them try to make their way to you. Followers and companions will often get hung up on rocks or a fairly large twig, and even enemies get tied up in their pursuit of you. I even watched a companion stand perfectly still as he was chopped by skeletons.

Combat has some fairly nice touches to it, but can evolve into backpedaling and firing off spells and arrows. Not to mention the melee combat, despite some satisfying finishers, leaves a little more visual appeal to be desired. Oftentimes full lunges will end up going right past the intended target. With multiple enemies in melee range, it can be difficult to pick certain targets, and more often than not you smack your friend in the back instead of the enemy.

Despite a generally fair difficulty, there were the occasional moments where you feel you rolled the unlucky dice in your journey. Giants are immediately labeled as a "stay the away from me or go flying 500 feet in the air" enemy, but end up being on your path to a new objective more often than they should early in the game. The occasional roadside encounter varies greatly, sometime being a single thief and other times a well trained mage that can put you down in seconds. Not only does it act as a constant gear check, but a lesson in humility.


Skyrim is one of the best RPGs to grace a console in a long time, and with the hours of content available, offers a huge world to play around in. It is one of the few games that has captured a battle with a dragon in a way unlike any other. The small nuances can be overlooked to see the unique adventure that lies below it, and with hours of content at your disposal, it's an adventure that can last a lifetime.

Modern Warfare 3 Review - If it Ain't Broke

Score : 8.75 / 10

Modern Warfare 3
PC - Xbox 360 - PS3 - Wii - Nintendo DS
Developer: Infinity Ward/Sledgehammer/Raven
Publisher: Activision
Release Date: November 8, 2011

  • Another stellar single player experience
  • No matter your play preference, there is something for everyone
  • A perfected multiplayer interface and layout
  • Survival mode adds an enjoyable co-op experience
  • Slew of customization and options in Multiplayer
  • System shows its age at certain points
  • Killstreaks turn multiplayer into air raid zones
  • Grenade indicators depict direction but not distance
  • Locks are placed on certain game modes until "x" level is gained
A recent comment on a blog post put it best when they called Call of Duty the beer pong of first person shooters. It can be a drunken, bro-fueled, adrenaline induced experience that can be sloppy, but incredibly fun. Modern Warfare 3 has gotten a lot of flack after the big Infinity Ward/Activision dispute over the last installment. With a slew of military shooters on the market and an aged system, Modern Warfare 3 still manages to deliver a solid experience for single, co-op, and multiplayer enthusiasts alike.

We're Oscar Mike!

Continuing the story of the previous game, Modern Warfare 3 picks up the story with the Russian invasion of the United States. Captain Price is still on the run, Makarov is still being hunted for his crimes, and Soap is still recovering from his battle wounds. You switch roles between soliders of varying factions, each giving a different perspective of the war. Needless to say I was confused at the start as to what was going on, as a summation of previous events only occurs in flashes. It boils down to go here, shoot those guys, and aw crap we missed our chance at capturing *insert terrorist name here* again. The familiarity of Price and Soap helps, as players investing so much into those characters from previous games will finally see their story play out.

The campaign, despite an aged system, still manages to deliver a lot of wow factor. Set pieces are akin to a Michael Bay film, some of which are so over the top that you can't help but laugh. Much like the previous games, there are so many high points that it never becomes stale. Clocking in at only 5 hours the campaign does not overstay its welcome, and in fact felt like it left the party an hour early.

The overall look and feel of the single player experience is impressive. Firefights are enjoyable, and enough variation is introduced with new gadgets and sequences to keep it from becoming a mere shooting gallery. Stellar voice performances are backed by a stunning original soundtrack, that captures a very movie-esque feel. If you enter Modern Warfare 3 alone, the campaign is a roller coaster ride you won't soon forget.

Something Special Ops

If co-op is more your speed, look no further than the Spec Ops mode. You and a friend must complete various objectives and are given a series of stars based on your performance. Though less missions than the previous game, there is plenty of incentive to play and the feeling of satisfaction when a mission is three-starred is not lost. There is plenty of variation in the missions with training room runs, airplane shootouts, and other incredibly fun segments that are a blast to play through.

A new Survival mode has also been included. Acting as a sort of Horde mode, the Survival mode pits one or two players against endless waves of AI baddies. In this mode, you earn cash for weapons, upgrades, ammo, or even air strikes. It's an interesting addition, and mindless fun that can be played on every single map. Boasting its own level progression system, the more you play, the more impressive air support or weapon mods you can obtain. Out of all the new features introduced, it ranks as one of the best new modes of play.


Modern Warfare is known for having stellar multiplayer, and such is the case with the latest installment. There are a slew of game modes and maps at your disposal, offering hours of high octane shooter action. New game modes that make their appearance include "Kill Confirmed" in which you collect dog tags after each kill to score points, but risk poking your head out. "Team Defender" involves a team holding a flag for double points with each kill. It's a refreshing change of pace from the typical deathmatch and capture point games.

Switching gears from previous games, Killstreaks are now referred to as "Point Streaks", and kills are no longer the basis for their appearance. Pointstreaks are now also split into various packages: Assault, Support, and Specialist. These vary in rewards, with Assault offering predator drones and air strikes, and support offering UAV and SAM turrets. Though it is understandable on the purpose of switching these streaks up, the game can still evolve into a carpet bombing explosive war ground.

There are a ton of options to choose from in customizing your loadout. Weapons can now possess dual scopes, capable of switching range on-the-fly to take out enemies close or at a distance. Primary weapons now level up with the player, and unlock proficiency perks. There is also a new Prestige store to buy exclusive features like double XP. There are so many options at this point, that the menu can become overwhelming with perks, attachments, and modifiers; all with little suggestion or guidance in their implementation.

Stat Tracker

Call of Duty Elite is the new service that offers stat tracking and other various options. While the free version mainly tracks stats and allow some social networking options, there is a premium version for fifty bucks. Besides some information that can be gathered by other free sources, there are competitions that offer real life prizes, the ability to level your clan, and exclusive access to DLC. It's an interesting feature that die hards are sure to enjoy.

Modern Warfare 3 skimps on innovation for the familiarity that has existed since the first installment. There are times when the engine shows its age, with even the death animations giving off a sense of deja vu. Familiar scenes in the campaign of helicopter crashes and character deaths have less of an impact this time around. Grenade indicators give off a sense of direction, but fail to tell you the distance they are from your feet leading to many deaths in multiplayer and single player alike.

The online community is what you would come to expect; ruthless and well-versed in the game. Luckily, there is a Mercenary playlist to alleviate some of your pains, forcing parties apart for a mixed group of individuals. The lock-out of create a class until level 4 is disheartening, and no matter the default loadout you choose, you can't help but feel somewhat cheated as a high level Prestige wipes the floor with his advanced gadgets. Even some of the playlists are completely locked out until the 20th level. These roadblocks kept me from getting as hooked on the mutliplayer as I was in previous installments.


If you are expecting a new beacon of gameplay, look elsewhere. If you loved the previous games however, this is right up your alley. The campaign is still a blast to play, and each mode has gotten a tune-up to become something great. Though the engine is a bit dated, it ages like a fine wine that someone accidentally dropped the cork into...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Look Back at Gaming 2011 - Pt.2



May played host to a handful of great titles. DiRT 3 returned to bring the rally racer back into the lime light. A new mode called gymkhana consist of obstacle courses in which the player must perform various tricks to earn points. The gameplay and overall look of the game were praised, as well as its ability to upload replay clips directly to Youtube.

RPG fans were in for a treat with The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings. Bringing forth a more challenging hack and slash experience, Witcher 2 offered a rich and lush world filled with epic battles and hours of side content. Not only did the game play well, but was a visual marvel with its lush environments and character models. The games developer has even addressed most of the complaints of the game with a patch including a tutorial and arena mode.

The month was overtaken by LA Noire. This free roam detective game had players running around 1947 L.A, jumping from traffic cop cases to homicide to solve murders. The biggest distinction was the new facial recognition used to track the voice actor's expressions, which played a huge part in the interrogation sequences. LA Noire received overly positive reviews, and word of mouth led it to sell over 4 million units.


After spending years in developer hands, Duke Nukem: Forever was finally released.Gearbox took the helm in bringing back the humorous hero Duke Nukem, as he once again defends the world from an alien threat. Subtle touches like replacing the health bar with an "ego bar" were the little things that made the game enjoyable. However, it was received negatively by critics, citing the dated game play and long load times.

The fourth installment of the Red Faction series made its debut, with Red Faction: Armageddon. Keeping true to the series, the environments were fully destructible and visual eye candy as they collapsed with each big explosion. There was a great arsenal of weapons to choose from, including one of the best weapons ever included in a game; a unicorn that farts rainbows.

F.3.A.R. continued the series known elements, allowing you to play as either Paxton Fettel or Point Man; each with varying play styles. While the campaign left a bit to be desired, the multiplayer shone through, containing a mode simply dubbed "F***ing Run", in which you fight your way through baddies while running from Alma's Wall of Death.

Shadows of the Damned was a new IP that featured a unique environment for a third person shooter. Garcia pursues the lord of demons known as Fleming, using his trusty sidearm "Johnson". Johnson switched between a pistol, automatic rifle, and shotgun; culminating in solving puzzles to eliminate darkness from various rooms. The challenging boss fights and varying gameplay held many gamer's interest, and it was perceived as another great new IP to round out June.

This month held many titles, but none more anticipated than Infamous 2. Players once again took control of Cole Mcgrath as he set out to hold off the impending "Beast" from destroying the world. Giving the same free roam superhero feel of the first game, Cole's arsenal was expanded based on morality, with ice augmentations for morally good players and fire augmentations for morally evil. The game also included a create your own mission mode, that gave players the tools to share their created mission.


July was a slow month, but not for the Arcade titles that swept across the interwebs.

From Dust allowed players to act as a tribal deity, paving the way for your followers to survive the harsh elements of the new world and cultivate a civilization. The physics and visual appeal of the game were stunning for an arcade title, and the multiple side objectives and challenge maps gave it plenty of life beyond the single player experience.

Ms. Splosion Man continued the fun of the Twisted Pixel simple platformer. Featuring a continued co-op mode and new features like the voluptuous "Mandy" bot, the game was as enjoyable in the single player as it was in the multiplayer.

For non-arcade fans, there was the release of Catherine. Players took control of Vincent, who during the day must keep a handle on his relationship and at night he must escape his nightmares in a puzzle platformer. Choices made affect the development of Vincent and story route, offering multiple scenarios that can play out.

If there was one arcade title that became a must-play, it was Bastion. The action/RPG took place after an even dubbed "The Calamity", and your actions are guided by an ominous narrator. The incredible presentation, enjoyable gameplay, and unique soundtrack combined to form one of the best Arcade titles to ever grace a console.


The calm before the storm, August gave a breather before the downpour of games, but still held a few gems of its own. 

A new third person adventure game, El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron had art fanatics in a stir. The cel shaded visuals of the game were jaw dropping, as the color wheel was showcased as you progressed to each level. Coupled with the unique look was a satisfying combat system that was both challenging, and easy to pick up without growing stale.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution highlighted the month, acting as a prologue to the critically acclaimed PC series. As Adam Jensen, the game gave host to a slew of gameplay varieties; featuring third person cover shoot outs, social dialogue, hacking, and stealth. Each room was a veritable sandbox, as you could approach it however you desired; guns blazing or the stealthy spy. Deus Ex has shipped over two million units as of September.

Part 1 - January - April

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Uncharted 3 Review - Adventure Awaits

Score: 9.25 / 10
Uncharted 3
Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: November 1, 2011

  • Mocap and voice performance unlike any other title
  • Engrossing visuals and set pieces
  • Enjoyable platforming and shooting segments
  • Multiplayer offers a slew of options for any type of gamer
  • Slew of unlockables keep you coming back
  • Some elements mirror Uncharted 2 in far too many ways
  • Friendly AI is more than useless in contrast to the aggressive enemy AI
  • Trial and error platforming can put a halt to some segments

Uncharted is a series that you bring with you if you were stuck on a desert island...granted, if there were electricity and HD TV on a desert island. Regardless, the series has always been akin to playing out an Indiana Jones action film. With an always stunning voice cast and even more satisfying gameplay, Uncharted 2 was critically acclaimed and snatched up Game of the Year awards left and right. The third installment is stuck in Uncharted 2's shadow, but still manages to deliver a solid experience unlike any other.

Film Meets Fandom

Uncharted's story continues the adventures of Nathan Drake. With his friend Sully and the usual cast of characters, he sets off to discover an ancient 16th century treasure, but he ends up being pulled in to an even bigger mystery centering around the ring he wears around his neck. The game dives into multiple storylines...maybe too many. His relationship with Elena, his working with Chloe again, and his background into Sully are delved into with little resolution. The plot is all over the place, but nothing so mind numbing that you fail to ignore the big picture.

Though you may be confused at times, the performances and presentation are unmatched. Visually stunning set pieces are right around every corner, with vivid lighting and textures that are jaw dropping. Nathan Fillion, Emily Rose, and Richard McGonagle are just a few of the cast that deliver flawless performances with each quip and comeback, complimented by their mocap work that breathes life into the game. Coupled with perfect camera placement and a movie quality original soundtrack, the aesthetic appeal of Uncharted is unmatched and one of the strongest features the game possesses.

It's the minor details that the game pays attention to that really bring it life. Drake places a hand on a wall as he sweeps near it, water in a swaying cruise ship sloshes back and forth, and even subtle footprints left behind in the sand are the polish the series is known for, and it is very much present in this game.

Single Playa

Uncharted is known for a stellar campaign, and the third installment is no different. The gameplay varies between platforming, puzzles, and cover based shoot outs. The constant shuffle and added variables keep the game fresh and exciting, as there is something new around each corner that keeps you guessing.

Much like the previous installments there are moments in that game that are so incredible that you wish to replay them immediately. A particular level has you trying to escape a burning chateau, fighting off baddies as you watch flame consume the walls around you. The highlight of the game had to be the cruise ship, in which you could actively view the entire ship flooding before your eyes. These moments were not only technical marvels, but incredibly fun and satisfying moments.

Then there is the undeniable truth; the campaign never really surpasses Uncharted 2's stellar single player. Many elements of the game are cut and paste mimics of the second installment, including another convoy chase, another lost city, and another similar stealth mission. Though some of the highlights mentioned above were enjoyable, only the latter half of the game really captured that Uncharted series feel. The new melee system is great, but overused; to the point of engaging a brute almost every chapter in a one on one fisticuffs. The overall pacing and feel of the game was not the caliber of previous title, and the difficulty fluctuates from being simple to overly challenging, even on normal.

Do not get me wrong, I really enjoyed the campaign for Uncharted 3 as expected, but when compared to the perfect fluidity and simplicity of the second installment it feels like a step back.

What are Friends for?

While the campaign seemed alright, the multiplayer has gotten an overhaul. Complete with new customization, co-op options, and slew of unlocks; there is something for everyone in this mode.

Competitive multiplayer modes range from the classic Team Deathmatch, to a Capture the Flag inspired Plunder mode, and King of the Hill; all of which are a blast to play. Loadouts can be chosen and changed on respawn to keep your favorite weapons at hand. It's the maps that steal the show, with some transforming from chase scenes to airstrips or the burning chateau slowly transforming an environment. No matter the mode, it's a blast to play.

The most interesting addition is the new "Power Play" feature. During the game the winning team will suddenly gain a disadvantage, and must work through it to fend off the trailing team. Such instances as marking the most advantageous player for all to see, or making the winning team see nothing but skeletons and turning friendly fire on are interesting ways to keep games close. It also prevents blowouts, as most games will be much closer in end-game scores because of the alteration. It isn't on every mode, but is a fun feature of the online multiplayer.

For the co-op crowd there are a few options to choose from. There is a co-op arena, similar to horde mode where three players fend off a number of baddies. Co-op hunter mode has teams face off against each other with NPCs halting your attempt at various objectives. Co-op adventure mode is also available, but nowhere near the fun of the previous game. Though it still contains some scripted events, each section evolves into entering a room and holding off waves of bullet sponge bad guys.

Cash Money

Included with the multiplayer is a new customization and economy. Each match will award a certain amount of cash. This can be used to unlock various characters, perks, and weapon upgrades. Like most games, this of course gives vets the advantage against any new players, especially considering how expensive each upgrade and unlock costs.

No matter the mode you play on, you have the potential to also collect treasure. Random occurrences specific to the player will allow you to grab treasure pieces to complete sets. Completing sets unlocks additional items for customization. It's a neat incentive to keep playing and try all the modes, as some treasure only appears in certain game types.

Coupled with the hidden treasure of the single player, there is plenty of incentive to keep playing after completing the game itself.


Though it is not the sequel I had imagined, Uncharted 3 is still a solid entry in the franchise.It's filled with incredible set pieces, an enjoyable story, and some of the best visual presentation to grace the PS3.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Battlefield 3 Review - What is it Good For?

Score: 9 / 10

Battlefield 3
PC- Xbox 360 - PS3
Developer: EA Digital Illusions
Publisher: EA
Release Date: October 25th, 2011

  • Possibly the best looking game to ever grace a system
  • Fantastic sound design
  • Jaw dropping set pieces
  • A stand out, enjoyable multiplayer
  • Campaign story and characters fail to hold interest
  • Single player is littered with scripted events
  • Few squad management and other start up issues
Battlefield has always been about full-scale war, and done it well. The necessity of teamwork, the scale of skirmishes, and the destructive capabilities of leveling entire buildings round out one of the best online experiences you can have with a shooter. Battlefield 3's showcase at E3 blew everyone away, with a new look and promise of a shooter unlike any other. Debuting with the new Frostbyte 2 Engine, Battlefield 3 is yet another incredible shooter for multiplayer fanatics and provides an experience not soon forgotten.

Beauty in the Battlefield

Watch any video of this game, and within the first few seconds you will see the biggest appeal. For PC owners, this is possibly the greatest looking game ever created. The new Frostbite engine shines true as rays of sunlight peek through openings, glass is shattered and spread across the ground, or trees sway as the shot from a cannon resonates through the field. There are some stunning sights to behold in this game, and the sharp character animation and impeccable sound design only enhance the setting.

If there is one thing EA manages to get right every time it's sound design. That simple, looked over feature that really brings a game to life. Every shot that leaves the muzzle makes an impact on your subwoofer, like a symphony of bullet shells that becomes music to your ears. The whiz of bullets over your head, the rapid tapping of fire at your cover, or distance sound of an impending battle makes this game appealing in both sight and sound.

As far as presentation comes, the game is unmatched. It is the one military shooter that comes closest to the ambiance of a war. With some jaw dropping visuals on the PC, it is hard not to appreciate the detail that went into this game. The glare of sunlight, the shimmering water as it moves down a stream, and the detailed character models all combine to convince any player to stop and take it all in before running into the battle.
Solo Soldier

The campaign for the game plays out the story of a soldier's interrogation. While the information is unclear, you delve into his memories of the skirmishes that have led to his incarceration. If it sounds familiar...that's because it very much is. The plot fails to really takeoff until the later levels, and until then leaves you confused at who these people are and what you are even doing.

There are some truly shining moments in the campaign that stick with you well after they are through. One of the highlights had to be hopping into the back of a fighter jet and taking off from a battleship. The feeling of taking off was so well done that I actually tensed up a bit as we shot off into the air. There is also a level where you roll out with an assembly of tanks, kicking up dust as you fire each shot.

While there are some great moments, the campaign ended up falling flat. It evolved into, "look how pretty our game is", and did not focus on making the actual gameplay as enjoyable. While it is a great game to watch, popping from skirmish to skirmish left me wanting more from the game. Scripted events pop up far more often than they need to, hindering your progress as you wait for the AI to open doors for you as if you were their prom date. There are even "out of bounds" segments that kill any immersion the game puts in place by killing you if you do not return in a certain amount of time.


Though single player left me wanting more, multiplayer more than made up for it. Battlefield offers up to 64 players to duke it out over a slew of maps. At fewer numbers they are tailored to be quick skirmish sites, but at full capacity are massive in scale. Maps can vary from close quarters action to giant battlefields that require a few minutes drive to get from point to point. Some include fighter jets, some include tanks, some do not even possess vehicles.

Battlefield has been all about team play, and it is no different in this installment. The four classes (Assault, Support, Engineer, and Recon) all work in a single cohesion that further supports communication and teamwork. The single-soldier run and gun is only so powerful in this game, and it's that sense of camaraderie that really makes the multiplayer stand out. The more you help out your squad the more points you are rewarded. The lone wolf will find the game far more difficult.

The arsenal of weaponry is as much a variety as you care to possess. Automatic, heavy machine guns, or a trusty sniper rifle are all here and can be tailored to personal preference. As you gain more experience, tactical flashlights or red dot sights unlock that make your weapon more efficient. While the starting arsenal is very disappointing, as you progress you will steadily unlock a slew of weaponry to pave your way to victory. Just expect a steep "learning curve" as other players with much better equipment brush you to the side.

Squads still act as the highlight feature. You will be automatically assigned to a squad of four people, and are expected to work together with them. You have the ability to spawn on them, and are awarded extra points for healing or supporting them rather than another random teammate. This encouraged teamwork works well in keeping you from straying too far from your buddies.
The standard modes are all here. Team Deathmatch, Rush, and Conquest fill out the list of the most popular modes. Conquest proves the most enjoyable, especially on the larger maps as you rush to capture each point. Regardless of the mode, the first team to run out of "tickets" loses. Dying loses a ticket each turn, and failure to keep more than half the points on the map can bleed out tickets. It's a system that has stood the test of time, and keeps battles from drawing out into stalemates.

Battle Browser

The oddest feature the game possesses is the browser based menu. On PC the game launches from an internet browser. This page acts like a Facebook for the game, continually tracking your friends and your own accomplishments in the game. It also keeps a detailed list of past servers, performance statistics, and much more.

It's an organized and interesting method of keeping everything in one central hub. You still must launch the actual game to change most settings like key bindings or aspect ratio, but overall it still works. The biggest issue thus far is joining a game with friends. We had a group of four attempt to join multiple servers to no avail, as someone almost always ended up being left behind, on a different squad, or launching campaign instead. It's a rough start, but will be fixed with numerous patches along the way.


Though the single player experience left a lot to be desired, the overall look and feel of the game is unmatched. The multiplayer stands out among the shooter market, and holds an incredible promise for expansions to come. There is no experience quite like it, and if you are playing on the PC it is that much better.