Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Halo 5 Official Commercial

Halo's latest commercial shows off a fallen Master Chief...but this is Halo, so I would not count him out so quickly.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Twitch Beats Dark Souls in 43 Days

Twitch already bested Pokemon, but their latest feat is one of wonder.

It took 43 days for Twitch community to beat Dark Souls, but they were able to finally defeat Gwyn, Lord of Cinder yesterday. [1]

It was not an easy road, and starting out they were barely able to even get into the first boss room. Running into walls, getting stuck in pools, the encounters were numerous and frustrating to the roaming spectator.

This changed the voting system, turning Dark Souls into a turn based RPG to accommodate the traffic and lag. They would freeze the game, allow the next turn to be voted on, let the action occur, then freeze again. This turned out to be the only true way to progress and not get stuck as quickly. You could say this is cheating, as Pokemon was played without such accommodations, but still, it is an impressive feat nonetheless.

Now they are turning their attention to Dark Souls 2, and they are already 12 hours into the game, which you can watch here.

[1] - Kotaku - 43 Days Later, Twitch as Beaten Dark Souls - http://kotaku.com/43-days-later-twitch-has-beaten-dark-souls-1733380079

Friday, September 25, 2015

Friday Spotlight: Fable Legends

Fable Legends
Xbox One - PC
Developer: Lionhead Studios
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Release Date: 2015

Fable is a series known for a single player story, but Fable Legends looks to change that pattern. Similar to Evolve, four players will take the role of the heroes, while one takes the role of a villain. All of the games story and quests can be played solo with AI partners. The goal is for the Heroes to complete their objectives, and the Villain to ruin their progress with his army of minions.

Each Hero and Villain is unique in their abilities and equipment. Heroes range from the daring Sterling who uses melee based attack to Winter, who utilizes will based ice attacks. The diversity will play out in the game, as each Hero will have to pull their weight in order to overcome what the Villain has in store.

The Villain chooses where the enemies will spawn, their aggression, traps to separate the Heroes, and even when the lumbering Boss makes its way out. You become the director of the show, so to speak, dictating when everything happens to impede the Heroes from completing their objective.

For those fearful their villages and items will be set aside for presets, fear not. You will still interact in villages and have the ability to customize your character, even setting aside time for a few pub games.

Fable: Legends is a bold shift from the single player centered focus, but brings about a nice change to the expected formula of the game. The biggest factor will be how the Free to Play model will be utilized. Will it lock out heroes or customization options? Is there a payable option? We will find out later this year!

Monday, September 21, 2015

GTA V C4 Tricks You Wish You Could Do

Youtube user Blacksmoke Billy has a pretty impressive playlist of trick videos for GTA V, and the latest one looks like something out of a Bollywood film.

Friday, September 18, 2015

True Life: I Married a Non-Gamer

Almost a month ago, I got married.

Believe me, I am still soaking it all in. The wedding day went by in a whirlwind; vendors were paid, an insane amount of photographs were taken, and all the outstanding wedding debt is getting cleared up. I expected the stress of it all, I expected costs to be outrageous as soon as you tack the word "wedding" onto any item (Seriously, how can venues cost this much? It is four walls and one ceiling.), and I expected to nod along as my fiance showed me flowers and table patterns that she liked and I could care less about.

There is one caveat I never expected; I got married to someone who does not play video games.

"Just one more Strike, pleeeeease!"

It is nothing that surprised me, and my time with gaming is nothing that surprises her. Since we have been dating that was one of the things that was well established and one of the things that she knew took up most of my time. She also knew that since we have been dating that time with gaming has slowly diminished in favor of doing the things we both like.

It started easy, especially since she used to lived in a city that was an hour and a half away. Once a week or so I would drive up to take her out. We would go out, usually to dinner, and then either a bar or some other event. I would drive home, lose some sleep; but continue my usual regime through the week in whatever MMO or RPG I delved into that week. It was a lot of driving, but I never got upset about it. I never looked at that drive as a hindrance, I looked at it as a temporary inconvenience that would eventually be reduced to a memory.

Part of me loves gaming, but the other part loves doing new things and traveling, and that is where she shined. We ended up doing a lot of non-video game milestones through the year; We trained for and ran two half-marathons, we attended The Kentucky Derby for the first time together, went to concerts, kayaked on the river, swam in fresh water springs, and visited almost every state in the south east to see friends she new and stay in places we read about.

A year passed, then this past Christmas a simple act I never expected occurred; her gift to me was an Xbox One console. This was big for me, not only because of the sheer cost of the bundle and my reluctance to purchase one until funds came my way, but the gesture itself. She knew that I loved playing video games, and I knew full well she would rather do something else. Despite all of that, she wanted to make up for all the time and money I sacrificed traveling with her with a simple gesture toward something I loved. She never once asked me to stop playing video games, she never told me not to buy a game or console, she knew this meant something to me and, through this gift, that she would support it.

Continuous acts like that settled it. She moved to my city, I bought a ring, we got engaged, and the rest is now part of our story. My stuff has become her stuff, her stuff has become my stuff, bank accounts merged together; the whole shabang.

As I get older, I have come to terms with the fact that my video game schedule will continually change. I remember binge-playing Donkey Kong on my SNES for hours at a time as a kid, coming home from school and dedicating a night to completing Legendary difficulty on Halo in high school, and staying up late to explore every corner of Fallout 3 in college. Real life hit with a 8-5 job, and I found myself playing a ton over the weekends and less during the weekdays. Dating hit and that decreased even more. Married life has adjusted that further, with one day established as "date night" each week which is void of video games and focused on having fun together. Kids? That is sure to change it a ton (RNG gods willing, not for a while).

Despite the entire environment of change and adaptation, one constant remains; my will to continue playing video games is far from dead, and I still find myself excited by upcoming titles. I do find myself yearning for the days when I could come home, plop on the couch, and play the new Batman for four hours straight hunting Riddler trophies or knocking a chunk out of Final Fantasy 9's story progression; and sure, it now takes me a month to finish a game I could usually do in a week! However, when the console turned off, I always had that feeling of "now what". I remember wishing I had something else, or someone else to share my time with outside of gaming. She has given me that and then some. That is something I look forward to in our marriage.

Will we fight about this? Oh I fully expect so, but the fact she knows what it means to me and the fact she has purchased something to fuel that passion...well that is something I expect to pay back in kind. Marriage is all about sacrifice, and that will have to come from both of us.

If my groom's cake is any indication, that time to put the controller down and walk away is far from over.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void hits this November

Starcraft II remains the beacon through the swarm of recent MOBAs of an RTS that captivated a generation. The latest expansion to that game will be here soon.

Legacy of the Void will be released November 10th, 2015. Much like the previous expansion Heart of the Swarm, you can expect new units, maps, and a continuation of the campaign.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Batman: Arkham Knight Review - I Am the Night

Score: 9.25 / 10
Batman: Arkham Knight
PC - Xbox One - PS4
Developer: Rocksteady
Publisher: Rocksteady
Release Date: June 23rd, 2015

  • Stunning performances drive a powerful conclusion to the trilogy
  • The Batmobile is a fun addition to travel the city in
  • Combat is fluid, and complex enough for challenging fights
  • Clever camera play adds a lot to the experience
  • Side content provides plenty to do and contributes to Gotham's liveliness 
  • Batmobile feels like lost potential
  • Lackluster secret ending for efforts of finding all trophies 
As I stared at the credits for Arkham Knight, stills of past installments adorned a gigantic team of names and the nostalgia of first entering the asylum hit me all over again. The joy of wheeling in Joker as I passed iconic Batman villains, the fun of stealthily taking out Mr. Freeze in Arkham City, and the overall joy of flying over Gotham and swooping down to save a citizen. This franchise has been a love letter to fans of the animated series and comic books alike, and not only proved how superhero games can be done, but the incredible impact a game can have with characters and villains you have known since you were little. The third installment is full of surprises, heartfelt goodbyes, and non stop action; closing out one of the greatest gaming trilogies to grace a console.

Gravelly Voice Not Included

The great appeal of Arkham Knight comes from the clever play on presentation. Batman is in a darkened state of mind after the events of the previous game, and without giving away too many spoilers, he is becoming a bit disheveled since the death of the Joker. Including the mystery of the Arkham Knight's identity, Scarecrow acts as the main protagonist and is all about hallucinations of your biggest fears, which the game plays on through clever camera placement; oftentimes you will look down a room, turn around, and find the walls have disappeared or you are walking through a memory without even realizing it. The story kept me guessing as to what was real, and what was morphing into an illusion.

The city, despite being primarily evacuated, is a living, breathing entity compared to Arkham City. Cop cars chasing down thugs, riots overtaking a street corner, and the alarm of a bank to signify a heist is underway; driving through Gotham is an unpredictable and wondrous thing. The visual detail extends from breathtaking views to intricate character models, bringing the animated series to a grittier life. The familiar soundtrack acts as a compliment to the previous two installments, while gaining its own identity in heightening the dark overtone of the game. As you glide over the city or boost around in the Batmobile, you never know what could await you at each corner.

Not a single gas station nearby...

The franchise keeps the familiar gameplay approach it became famous for, mixing action and stealth with open world gameplay. Enemies are faster and more brutal than previous installments with medics that revive fallen troops, electrical auras that protect enemies, and tougher generals requiring you to adapt on the fly with the multitude of gadgets to open them up for attack. The stealthier segments offer the same approach, with new overflying drones that you can hack and the potential to be flushed out of hiding spots to adapt on the fly. It is engaging enough for new players to pick up, but with enough subtle changes to keep veterans of the franchise on their toes.

Spicing things up this time around are the multitude of new features. The Batmobile makes the most obvious new addition to the arsenal with the ability to be used for traversal and combat, offering a new way to travel across the city and is prominently featured in many missions. Though the combat can be fun and tearing through Gotham is a blast, the standard use of the Batmobile loses its luster after a time. It is hard to beat flying through the cityscape, grappling from building to building with no limits. Additionally, new dual team events occur in which Batman will fight with an AI controlled ally, capable of switching on the fly mid combo. It works well with the free flow combat, and provides for some variance in certain situations to fight as Robin or Nightwing while an AI takes over for Batman. These segments were short lived, but memorable.

Alley-oop with a side of justice

Most of the side content offered rivals the main storyline, and eventually becomes a requirement to get the best ending. Each task offers an encounter with a familiar Batman villain, oftentimes through investigations or elimination of enemy threats. You will be tasked with stopping bank heists, dismantling mines scattered through the city, and even helping Catwoman escape The Riddler's latest game. There are also smaller tasks like solving all of Riddler's trophies, once again scattered through Gotham. Even at three games in, the puzzles proved enticing and the big green questions marks that stared me in the face beckoned me over plenty of times to abandon my current task in favor of beating Riddler at his game. Outside of the story are plenty of Challenge maps, most plucked from in-game segments or encounters that can be played for record times/combos to gain medals.

It is hard to say goodbye to the Arkham series, but when you close a blockbuster out as well as this game it is easier to let go. Arkham Knight hits all the high points where it matters; a solid story, easy and challenging gameplay, and a multitude of content to keep you coming back for more. Though the necessity to unlock all three hundred or so trophies from Riddler was a slight buzzkill, the side content still manages to entice you to see it through to the end. Arkham Knight is a game not soon forgotten, and a franchise worthy of the Dark Knight.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Let's Play Syndicate w/ Unabridged Gamer

Recently I teamed with Unabridged Gamer to revisit the classic title, Syndicate. We laughed, we cried, we realized how much everything looks like Chicago; but overall we had fun with a highly underrated titled.

You can see my review for it from way back in 2012 here.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Friday Spotlight - Scalebound

Xbox One
Developer: Platinum Games
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Release Date: Late 2016

Fans of How to Train Your Dragon will soon be able to live out the movie. In this action RPG you control a dragon sidekick that you are bonded to in fighting a multitude of enemies. You are not completely helpless, as the main character Drew can use swords, arrows, and other weaponry to combat the enemies as well. He even has the ability to use a super form to shapeshift and increase strength to go toe to toe with larger, more intimidating enemies.

Enemies range from helpless soldiers to larger more intimidating creatures of Draconis, hinting at large scale boss fights or massive battles with armies of troops.

With any RPG, customization is available to tailor your inventory and weaponry to your liking. Your companion dragon can be chosen and evolved, customized in both look and battle approach.  Skill points can be assigned after gaining them from battle performance, strengthening Drew or boosting his healing to his bonded dragon.

The game will also feature a four player cooperative mode, though not much is known about it at this time.

More details are sure to come, but the gameplay video alone looks promising with potential for massive bosses and memorable encounters.

Scalebound is currently set to release late next year.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Resident Evil 0 Retail Release Date

Hot off the heels of the Resident Evil 2 remake announcement, there is now an official date for Resident Evil 0 - This January,.

This title will be bundled with Resident Evil HD Remake and will retail for $39.99 for Xbox One and Playstation 4. If you already own a copy of the HD remake, then a digital version will also be available for $19.99, but the release of this is unclear as of now. [1]

It also turns out that Albert Wesker will be available in this mode, coming with his own abilities to be more than a simple skin to choose.

[1] - Gameinformer - [Update] Resident Evil 0 HD Has a Retail Release Date in January, Digital Timing not Finalized - http://www.gameinformer.com/games/resident_evil_0/b/xboxone/archive/2015/09/01/resident-evil-0-hd-has-a-retail-release-date-digital-still-early-2016.aspx

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Uncharted 4 is Charted for Release This Spring

The latest installment in the popular Uncharted franchise, Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, finally has a date to put on your calendar. Playstation 4 owners will be able to play the much anticipated installment on March 18th. [1]

There are two special editions to choose from:

In the Uncharted 4: Special Edition you will find:
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief's End Blu Ray
  • Collectible Steel Bookcase
  • 48 page hardcover art book
  • Naughty Dog and Pirate Sigil Sticker Sheet
  • Naughty Dog Points to unlock multiplayer content

Uncharted 4: Libertalia Collector's Edition
  • 12" Nathan Drake Statue
  • Three multiplayer outfits
  • Three custom weapon skins
  • Three custom ball caps
  • Madagascar Sidekick Outfits
  • Exclusive dagger taunt
  • Thief's End Dynamic Theme
You can also pre-order Digital Standard Editions/Deluxe Editions featuring a lot of the aforementioned content. 

[1] - Playstation Blog - Uncharted 4 release date announced, collector's editions detailed - blog.eu.playstation.com/2015/08/31/uncharted-4-release-date-announced-collectors-editions-detailed/