Friday, May 29, 2015

Friday Spotlight: Dreadnought

Developer: Yager Development
Publisher: Grey Box Games
Release Date: Fall 2015

Flight simulators seem sparse as of late, but Dreadnought is looking to bring them back to the forefront.

Like many games in this category you are the captain of a ship, but unlike most you are the captain of a ship that is massive in size. You are not the rogue hotshot captain, you are a commander and leader. Positioning and strategy will be key to victory.

As commander you must also allocate power and resources to certain parts of your ship, strengthening shields or weapons depending on the situation. It sounds like a game in which you must think ahead, adapt on the fly, and strike at every opportunity for victory.

You can see more on the game on their official website -

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Back to the Grind: House of Wolves

Destiny's latest expansion has given way to new missions, new items, and a restructuring of the game overall; enough to encourage me to return to help the Traveler. I dove into the House of Wolves to see what new features Bungie has included and if it has helped or hurt the game after the criticism surrounding the last expansion.

New Focus, New Hub

The Reef is the focus of the DLC and as such, a new Hub world is where you will find all of your missions and objectives. You are dropped into a small square of vendors and bounty providers, all teasing new reputation for factions as well as new shaders and ships. The new bounties featured are weekly, instead of the daily ones found within the Tower, and offer different targets to track down and eliminate. Though another loading screen stands between you and the Tower, the previous hub world, the area does provide a focus on HoW content and keeps you chasing after what the new expansion could provide. The inconvenience of flying to the Tower to grab a Nightfall bounty is a little irksome, but the new group area is a breath of fresh air on the grind to a higher light level.

The Story Missions

The first few missions were pretty standard, but brought you back to locales that were all but ignored. Tracing your footsteps back to the hallway you were first running for your life in at the very beginning of the game was a humbling experience. The latter half is where the game stepped up, as you found yourself fighting against the House of Wolves in the Vault of Glass. It was a welcome surprise and even incorporated the Templar's Oracle mechanic featured in the actual raid, perhaps as a method of nudging casual players toward more serious raids.

It was an interesting experience, but culminated in an all too simplistic boss fight that provided little challenge, but setup a tease for finishing the fight in the Prison of Elders.

My, what big teeth you have!

The Shadow Thief

The new strike is a highlight of the DLC, and by far, one of the standout in terms of pacing and overall fun. Unlike the previous Strikes, The Shadow Thief has you consistently engaged with the boss throughout the course of the strike, knocking his health down a certain percentage to send him on the retreat while working your way through a multitude of Fallen adversaries. The Strike itself was challenging; with a close quarters tank fight, swarms of Fallen melee Captains, and an onslaught of varying Shanks. It is surprising, fast paced, and one of the more challenging Nightfalls.

Prison of Elders

The true DLC experience is found here, in the Prison of Elders. Upon completion of the main campaign you unlock this new challenge at four varying levels of difficulty.

You move into a random area and must battle hordes of enemies until nothing is left standing but your guardians. The catch comes in the form of objectives and modifiers. One wave may require you to dismantle mines scattered around the playing field, another may have you destroying an enemy before he reaches a checkpoint. Modifiers are also randomly in play, such as improving melee damage or increasing damage taken while in mid-air. the anus giving us instructions?

The objectives keep the mode from becoming a "back against the wall" scenario, requiring coordination to clear each wave. Challenge bosses such as the Hive Flame Prince who will immolate the floor for a time period or the Cabal leader that shuffles the elements of his shield are just a couple of snags at the higher end modes that provide something more than bullet sponge encounters. Overall it is a mode that requires adaptive play, and my team often found themselves trying to different strategies until something would click.

The end result is a treasure room featuring a few standard chests for strange coins and motes of light, but also a larger chest promising one exotic per character per week if you have a treasure key. These keys can appear in the small chests, be found in the chests that spawn during Queen Wrath bounties, etc. The higher the level of challenge you tackle, the better rewards, including etheric light to level existing gear or exotic weapons exclusive to the expansion.

Trials of Osiris

PvP is far from forgotten, and the Trials of Osiris is a new mode reserved for the best of the best. Teams of three compete for glory in 3v3 deathmatch. After a set amount of time, a control point spawns in the middle where those who are able to capture the point win the round. It is a juggle of revives and communication as you must eliminate all three players to take each round without allowing one of them to gain the upper hand. Your light level and gear, much like Iron Banner, all count; so do not expect to go in with a few greens and come out victorious.

Each player has to have a "scorecard" to play, and must achieve a set number of wins to get any of the rewards. Get three losses, and your scorecard is stuck and you must start from scratch if you want a higher number of wins. The more wins, the more loot. Nine straight wins and no losses? You win a trip to a special area of Destiny few will ever get to experience.

The downside? It is a nightmare to those who are not incredibly skilled at PvP and provides little incentive for those to take time to invest in improving. Getting nine wins and no losses provides incentive to do everything possible to take a victory...everything. There are random drops and a few boosts to also assist in taking one loss without it counting against your record, but the high risk gameplay is off-putting to someone who prefers raids. Not only that, but unlike Iron Banner, this event only lasts the weekend, limiting players who would be away from their consoles.

A lot of Grind, Too Little Reward

My biggest issue with the House of Wolves is that when the initial fun fades and the grind begins, it is a lot of work for very little payoff. You can grind out rep for the Queen's Wrath or play a dozen Prison of Elders matches, but everything takes a long time.

The prime reason? The drop rate for Etheric Light and Treasure Keys is horrendous. Bungie promised Etheric Light to be a pretty standard consumable and I fully expected to combine Vault of Light armor with my end-game gear for different combinations, but they are such a rare drop in a Nightfalls. For the multitude of guns and armor that I was looking forward to upgrading, I now feel like it will be a long time before any of that will occur. Treasure Keys? Everyone spent the dozens they got grinding away at the chests the week before the games release, and now they are such a slim drop that hardly anyone can open the Prison of Elders chest. If you have only one character, this expansion is basically giving you finger when it comes to loot.

As for the Trials of Osiris, I would love to delve into this mode, but why just a weekend? And unlike the Iron Banner, where I could win/lose without fault and still manage to get the rep needed through the week, the armor and exclusive zone feel unattainable. Bungie asks you partner up with two friends, but the majority of the players you will find online will give you a small job interview before even allowing you to join their team. "Got a Thorn? Stats Balanced Perfectly? Sorry, we need high-end fully upgraded gear for our team."

Bungie has done a great job reworking a lot of Crota's mistakes, and if that has shown us anything it is that they are listening to their fans. I hope they will address a lot of the community complaints with the game moving forward. House of Wolves has a lot of fun to offer, but one week in and the grind is already starting to wear on me.

Splatoon Heist Puts Damper on UK Launch

When you hear of a heist you usually think of a bunch of robbers holding up a bank and escaping with a bag stuffed full of money. Not a group holding up a truck for amiibos...

The truck could have been completely random, but regardless, anyone who preordered special editions of Splatoon are now left without fulfillment. [1]

Retailers are being generous, allowing cancellation of the orders and reimbursement of a standard edition.

[1] - Kotaku - Truck Full of Nintendo Games, Amiibo Stolen -

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Resident Evil Zero Remaster Heading to Consoles

Hot on the heels of the recent remaster of the original Resident Evil game in January, Capcom is looking to also provide a remaster of Resident Evil Zero.

Naturally this was done in the traditional manner of the passing of the green herb...

Resident Evil Zero, released in 2002, follows Rebecca Chambers and Bravo Team that was initially sent in to investigate murders in the Arklay Mountains, and highlighted the events leading up to her interaction with Chris and Jill in the first title.

The remaster is set to hit Playstation 4, Playstation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC in early 2016. It currently sits at 83 on Metacritic. [1]

[1] - Metacritic - Resident Evil 0 for Gamecube -

Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday Spotlight: Overwatch

Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Release Date: 2016

Blizzard, best known for Starcraft and World of Warcraft, is looking to tackle the FPS market with their first title; Overwatch.

The game looks like a Team Fortress style of squad combat, with multiple classes and abilities combining together to use teamwork to conquer the battlefield. Teams of six must work together to conquer one of two game modes; Payload which requires escorting a bomb to a certain delivery point, and Point Capture in which the attacking team must attempt to capture points on the map with the defending team stops them.

While the game modes are familiar, the cast of characters at your disposal is what makes this game stand out. Four character roles are established; offense-oriented, defense-oriented, support characters, and tanks. The personalities and character design really stands out the most in this respect, with a wide spectrum of choices from gigantic gorillas to gunslingers, to robot monks.

Unlike most games, you can actually switch between characters in-game following deaths, which is actually encouraged to adapt to the flow of the battlefield.

Though the game seems dangerously close to TF2 clone status, it is shaping up to feature a wider range of abilities and tactics to change things up. The beta is expected later this year.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Super Mario 3D Land Review - Another Dimension

Score: 9.0 / 10
Super Mario: 3D Land
Nintendo 3DS
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: November 13th, 2011

  • Each level has a unique personality
  • Platforming starts basic but soon becomes challenging
  • Hidden rewards beg world exploration
  • 3D adds a lot to the game
  • No shortage of extra lives
  • Star Coins soon become a necessity for progression

Mario games come with many expectations; you will navigate a world to its finish, you will face challenging platforming obstacles, and each world will culminate in a castle with a Bowser goon at the end. Yet, with the latest Princess Peach kidnapping, Super Mario 3D Land somehow manages to maintain the charm and fun of a Mario game without making it feel like another Mario game that was created for the sake of keeping a standard title per platform.

Bowser, we both know how this ends

The utilization of the 3D technology to add depth to each level is where this game really stands out (pardon the pun). This ranges from the fun of having Bullet Bills fly at the screen or piranha plants that spit goo to blind you, to the more practical use of having platforms stand out and allowance for navigation of the terrain. The camera is fixed in place, allowing the developer to give a forced perspective to enhance the overall intended feeling for each segment of a level. It is a simple concept that makes for a more immersive game all around.

The name of the game is platforming, and it is something of an art at this point. Tightropes, disappearing platforms, and platforms alternating with every jump adorn all eight worlds and push your abilities to their limits. Each level has a memorable aspect or personality to it with a simple trope that is arranged in a multitude of ways. Ghost manor levels will feature a slew of Boo enemies and trick doors, while the castle courses involve navigating stone platforms amongst the lava. If you have a favorite kind of Mario level, you will find an iteration of it in some way with this title.

 Running in circles helps a lot!

Each level is structured to be completed fairly quickly, but exploration is rewarded with a slew of different bonuses. Star Coins are your primary means of progression, and three are scattered in each level. While you will find these to be plentiful enough to continue the main worlds, you may find yourself revisiting levels to find coins tucked away in corners in order to fully complete the latter unlocked secret worlds. One ups, powerups, and shortcuts are plentiful and often trekking away from the straight forward goal will net you a positive reward in one way or another.

Your expected tools are at your disposal for navigating the terrain and disposing of enemies. Fire flowers to quickly stamp out baddies, Tanooki suits to fly over pits, and even Boomerang suits to give the enemies a taste of their own medicine. The Propeller Block works really well with the 3D technology and many stages are tailored for the high flying leaps it provides. After dying five times on a stage, you will find a special Tanooki suit that will assist in traversing the level, and after ten times a P-Wing that will warp you straight to the end. It is a nice crutch for those who love Mario but find the courses too challenging. This only works on the main eight worlds and not the more difficult secret worlds.


There are memorable levels, challenging courses, and some of the most engaging platforming you could ask for in a Mario game. Further proof that Mario is timeless, everything about Super Mario 3D Land just works great. The feel and flow of navigating Mario to the finish and satisfaction on reaching the flag at the end is unmatched, and the application of the 3D technology only makes the finish that much sweeter. Hunting every star coin will take some time, and Luigi is even unlocked for a little added variety, but the secret worlds opened after completion of the main game rehash all of the courses with a different spin to provide the real challenge. Super Mario 3D Land is still the game I expected, but exceeded those expectations in more ways than one.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Bethesda confirms Doom Pre-E3

Doom was a game that revolutionized the first person genre in 1993. Fighting through the hordes of demons from Hell, it led to many mods and network modes of play. Since then it has seen a sequel, a movie starring The Rock, and even has its servers populated to this day.

Now Bethesda has unveiled its latest sequel will be appearing at E3 with a teaser trailer.

Doom 3, the last installment by id Software, was a commercial success with brilliant lighting and atmosphere in addition to fun co-operative and single player missions. 

Expect the full trailer for the Doom successor at Bethesda's first conference at E3 on Sunday, June 13th.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Poor Ports: A Generational Gap

For the first time in a long time I have stopped playing a game after a few hours into the campaign. That game is Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor.

Before you grab your pitchfork, allow me to explain.

I purchased this game as a gift for my brother after hearing rave reviews. We are both avid Lord of the Rings fans, but he did not own an Xbox One. Without a second thought, I purchased the Xbox 360 version for him. He did nothing but praise the game, loving the mechanic with warchiefs and easy to pick up gameplay; it was an overly positive attitude about the whole thing. So naturally, I borrowed this version to see what the game was all about.

What I experienced was a gem of a game buried underneath a terribly executed last-gen port.

The gameplay was there, but the technical hampers of downgrading a game meant for next-gen were all too obvious. Even after using an entire disc for installing the game to the console, framerate drops were common when a ton of enemies were on screen at once, textures did not load quickly enough and would leave me running through a muddy version of Mordor, and every moment you pause to inspect the map or navigate upgrades it would take a solid ten seconds to reload your current world and get back to the action.

Still ugly on all three versions...

Digital Foundry's video comparison shows just how noticeable the framerate issue can be when stacked up to the next-gen version.

For a game that had such critical acclaim, I felt like this was not the way it was intended to be played.

This is not the first time I have played a game on last-generation of consoles that had a next-gen edition available, but the only one I have personally experienced with such an abundance of technical hampers. Assassin's Creed: Black Flag launched with a Xbox One version as well. There were smaller nuances missing from the 360 version like the physics of the leaves blowing in the wind or the radiantly shimmering ocean waters, but nothing truly affected performance of the game on the Xbox 360. I never once felt like I was missing out on the experience of the game by playing the version on an older console, and despite the visual tone down it was still a stunningly beautiful game.

 Dragons are our last concern, we must stop these evil screen tears

This is not the only game to experience this issue. Alien: Isolation, Far Cry 4,  and Dragon Age: Inquisition are just a few of many ports suffering from more than just a visual step back. Screen tearing, character glitching, and audio sync issues are a commonality in ports of this nature. Though these nuances seem simple and could be overlooked by people like my brother, these truly detract from the overall intended experience of the game. These tiny problems can combine together as one ugly snap back to reality.

That is not to say we should leave the previous generation high and dry. Playstation 2 games continued to be churned out well after the release of the Playstation 3, and the last console generations are far from aged. Programs like Playstation Plus and Games with Gold have furthered the life of those consoles, offering discounted and even free titles for download.

I am all for last generation ports to open up a game's experience to as many potential customers as possible, but sacrificing core functionality is not the way to do it. There are a few shining examples such as Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes that are able to tone down the look but keep it the way it should be played.

 Shiny water, exclusively on the Xbox One

We have not quite hit that generational gap, but ports of this nature may have many people finally hitting that wall before churning out big money for new consoles all together. Big name titles like Witcher 3, Batman: Arkham Knight, and Tom Clancy's: The Division are all exclusively next-gen, but there are other big releases keeping tried and true to the older generation like Mortal Kombat X, Battlefield: Hardline, and Mighty No. 9. Research carefully before you dive into these titles, as your expectations may not be met.

Have there been any ports of games that you could not suffer through? Do you feel the old generation has reached it's cap?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Assassin's Creed: Syndicate Revealed

The first reveal for the newest Assassin's Creed shows what looks to be a promising game. Here is what was shown:
  • Taking place in London in the 1800s, you take control of Joseph Fry.
  • Whistling has returned. 
  • New features include vehicle travel with stage coaches and horses. Expect live traffic, including train segments?
  • New weapons include the Kukuri side arm, brass knuckles, and revolver. 
  • Rope launcher will shoot you to the top of a roof, allowing quicker travel over greater areas and even opening up aerial kills.
  • Hand to hand combat has seen an overhaul in animation and execution, with more vicious punches and hits than the stale swings from previous games.
  • The official release date will be October 23rd on Xbox One, PS4, and PC.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Leeroy Jenkins Celebrates 10 Years

Ten years ago today, a video was released that would become an iconic staple to the World of Warcraft franchise. It is a cry that would be shouted in gaming time and time again, thanks to the man behind it all, Ben Schulz.

Since the video released, World of Warcraft has added its own achievement for the game:

He was even included in the latest expansion, Warlords of Draenor, in which you must fetch the Devout Shoulders for him to join your Garrison:
To top it all off, he also managed to gain a card in Blizzard's card game, Hearthstone:
Love him or hate him, he is a staple of a character and one of the prime examples of the impact a game's community can have on the game itself.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Friday Spotlight: Adrift

PC - PS4 - Xbox One
Developer: Three One Zero
Publisher: 505 Games
Release Date: TBD

Big fan of Gravity? Adrift looks on par to let you live that experience out.

Described as an immersive first person experience, you play an astronaut in peril. You move through areas completing puzzles and exploring different rooms, procuring audio logs and text files to get an idea of what incident occurred that put you in your current frantic state of jumping to oxygen supplies to stay alive.

The game has two main objectives; survive and get home. It is the ominous "Where am I, What Happened?" question that makes the game so intriguiging. Piecing that together on top of the survival looks to be an enticing experience all together.

Adrift is scheduled to be released later this year.

Official Website -

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Universal Studios Getting a NintendoLand

Theme parks have always been filled with roller coasters, live shows, and vendors that charge twenty bucks for a large soda. The most association I have given theme parks with video games are the small arcades that little the game sections of amusement parks, usually featuring a Marvel vs Capcom or outdated House of the Dead.

According to an article on Digital Trends, Nintendo and Universal are partnering together to bring the "world of Nintendo": [1]

“The immersive experiences will include major attractions at Universal’s theme parks and will feature Nintendo’s most famous characters and games."

An entire theme park section entirely devoted to Nintendo themes is enticing to say the least, and the possibilities of playing out a Mario stage or a Pikmin adventure would be worth a weekend stay to experience.

Universal Studios is featured in the United States include Los Angeles, CA and Orlando, FL.

[1] - Digital Trends - Nintendo Teams Up with Universal for Something Close to a Real Life Nintendo Land -

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5 Announced

It has been some time since Tony Hawk has been a game staple, especially after the horrific nightmare that was Tony Hawk: Ride. Since then there has been Underground, Wasteland, Project 8, etc; all of which have been okay, but lacking the luster of the pro skater days.

Gameinformer has confirmed that Tony Hawk: Pro Skater 5 is currently in development. [1]

Players can expect a return to the classic play of the older titles:

"Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5 features a new set of levels packed with objectives and missions you can complete solo or with friends via online co-op and competitive play. Whether you just want to have a session with friends or strangers or want to level up your character online and then take them offline, the game's online flow is seamless. Your created skate parks can also be shared with world."

This looks like a promising turn for the franchise, and potentially great title to return to when Tony Hawk was in its prime.

[1] - Gameinformer - Tony Hawk Returns - Exclusive First Look -

Monday, May 4, 2015

Nintendo Addresses Amiibo Woes

Amiibos have been a runaway hit, but Nintendo is finding that the supply does not meet demand as of late.

Amazon and Ebay prices are insane, with figures like Pit running at $59.99 and most of the promised amiibos have been subject to pre-order issues, with many consumers pre-ordering and not getting the item they were promised.

Nintendo has finally addressed this issue [1] :

We appreciate the enthusiasm that our fans continue to show toward amiibo. Sales for the product have exceeded our expectations. We understand how frustrating it can be at times if consumers are unable to find certain figures, and we apologize for that.
We’re trying to meet the demands of our fans and consumers by increasing the amount of amiibo we manufacture and ship to retail. We may continue to see consumer demand outpace supply levels for certain characters at times, but we will do our best to prevent that from happening.
As our library of amiibo continues to grow, some figures will be easier to find than others. We are constantly looking for the opportunity to reissue amiibo and are already making plans to bring back some currently out-of-stock amiibo figures. Stay tuned for details.
Nintendo plans to make it easier for consumers to know when new amiibo are on the way, through Nintendo press announcements, timely updates on our social media channels and working closely with retailers.
We remain committed to keeping amiibo affordable and easy to access as a platform to enhance game-play experiences. These plans include Animal Crossing amiibo cards that will become available by the end of 2015, and a free-to-download app for Wii U called amiibo tap: Nintendo’s Greatest Bits that launched on April 30, 2015, that lets consumers enjoy playable scenes from certain NES and Super NES games with amiibo.

[1] - Kotaku - Nintendo Admits They Scewed Up Amiibo Promises to Do -

Friday, May 1, 2015

Friday Spotlight: Until Dawn

Until Dawn
Playstation 4
Developer: Supermassive Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: 2015

Survival horror games usually follow the sequel trend from established franchises, but Until Dawn is a new IP that looks very promising. [1]

Eight friends spend a night in a cabin together to when one of them snaps. The story looks like your standard horror movie scenario and it will actually feature a solid cast, including Hayden Panettiere (Heroes, Nashville).

The game itself looks like a more interactive Heavy Rain, allowing you to play out snap decisions to hide/run/engage a killer hunting you down. You will decide how the game plays out a lot, with Mass Effect like decisions of who lives and dies, with investigations of many areas filled with jump scares to determine who is at fault.

It even plays on your basic fears by asking you a small survey before hand and playing off of those fears. Scared of the dark? Scared of needles? Expect many situations where the lights are turned out and the killer chases you with a syringe. [2]

Overall it looks like an interactive horror movie, and that intrigues me. This is the dream game for anyone that has ever yelled at a character on a movie screen at the stupid decisions they make.

[1] - Supermassive Games - Until Dawn Official Website -
[2] - Polygon - Ps4 Horror Game Until Dawn is a pleasant surprise, even with its familiar horror tropes -

Smash Brother Taunts Someone's Dad

Fathers can be goofy...very goofy. For Youtube user Nick Luciano's dad in particular, it can be hilariously epic.

The sheer dedication to not only the taunt dialogue but the movements is admirable to say the least. Regardless, it's a good laugh for a Friday.