sony

Destiny

destiny_law-of-the-jungle_fireteam-on-mars

 Pros:

-Excellent Game Mechanics

-Tight Controls

-Beautiful Visuals

-Fantastic Soundtrack

-Plenty of Potential

-Nicely Polished

Cons:

-No Story

-No Wit or Charm in Dialogue

-No WOW Moments

-Lack of Mission Variety

-Poor Voice Acting

-Barebones RPG Elements

-Barebones Multiplayer Modes

-Unbalanced Multiplayer

-Lack of Vehicles

-No Hijacking Vehicles or Assassinations

-Lack of Melee Weapons

-Cheap AI

-Bullet Sponge Bosses

-Quietest and Least Social Online Game Ever

-Broken/Uninteresting Loot System

-World’s Lack Life

The Rundown: While fun at first, its many shortcomings left me bored and frustrated.

Score: C

I think comparing this to a Free-To-Play title is not without merit. The game feels like the meaningful content has been reserved for expansion packs and dlc. The loot system lacks the depth and enjoyment of a Borderlands or Diablo 3. The multiplayer is subpar when compared to the likes of the very series Bungie created (Halo). With no story to speak of and an overall experience that left me quite unsatisfied, this game has been sunk by the weight of its own hype. I doubt I will remember it a year from now, much less the expected 10 year life span that has been advertised. Grinding and/or farming may be enjoyable to some people, but for me, I don’t see the point. I made it to a level 25 Warlock and have no desire to pick it up again. That speaks volumes to Destiny’s failure to live up to the awesome amount of potential that exists here. To sum it up: fun for a few missions, but mind numbingly boring soon after.

System: PS4

e3 2014 Review

Conferences

Micosoft
Grade: C+
xbox one
Review: I was thrilled that Microsoft dedicated an entire e3 conference to games. And they managed to deliver a solid showing. As a big Halo fan, the Master Chief Collection should keep me satisfied until next fall’s Halo 5: Guardians arrives. However, it’s everything else that remains suspect. Scalebound looks promising, but Fable Legends appears to have lost all the magic that made the original so good (in my eyes, the series has been in serious decline since Lost Chapters). Crackdown 3…well, I am still aching from the mediocrity that was Crackdown 2, so that title has a lot to make up for. Project Spark looks like fun, but I have a bad feeling it will not live up to expectations. Sunset Overdrive looks funny, but I am still not sure what to think especially after hearing from numerous sources the game felt “floaty.” It hurts knowing that all the third party titles shown, given previous history, will look and run better on a PS4. Yea, they finally did the right thing by getting rid of the Kinect, but where does that leave the Xbox One? The entire system was built around the Kinect. Microsoft left this dilemma untouched for folks like me who have yet to purchase an Xbox One to ponder. And it is worrisome. The biggest highlight of the conference was Ori and the Blind Forest, which looked beautiful, but it’s not enough to justify a $400 purchase.
Next Time: The original Xbox had Halo and Knights of the Old Republic to convince me it was worth a purchase. The Xbox 360 had Halo 3 and Mass Effect. The Xbox One is in sore need of another AAA franchise. They really need a WOW moment. What about the Samaritan demo Epic showed off a couple years ago? A huge selling point for me would also be to make backwards compatibility a reality.

Sony
ps4
Grade: B
Review: Another solid showing even if the conference lost some steam with the awkwardness in the middle. Bloodborne, The Order 1886, Driveclub, and Little Big Planet 3 all look to be fine exclusives. I am not sure what to think of the exclusive title Let It Die, but at least it shows Sony is not afraid to take risks. The highlight of the show for me was definitely No Man’s Sky. And after confirming that the trailer showed for Uncharted 4 was running on the in-game engine, yea, that is a must buy title for next year. But that’s next year. What about this year? I am still left wondering what all the other Sony in-house studios are working on. And really, nothing shown made me think I need to run out and purchase a PS4 right this instant. The most exciting titles announced were multiplatform.
Next Time: Where was Last Guardian? How about that open world RPG Guerilla Games is working on? Games, games, games. That is what this system sorely needs. The potential is there and I know the games are coming. Offering up more teasers, surprises, and wow moments will knock the next conference out of the ballpark.

Nintendo
wii u
Grade: B-
Review: Welcome back, Big N. Legend of Zelda certainly offered up the WOW moment Nintendo needed to make the Wii U pop up on my radar. And with the success of Mario Kart 8 and another Smash Bros game due this fall, things are finally starting to look up for them as well. However, 3 major things give me caution: 1. The void that was third party support is deafening. It makes me wonder if this system will go the way of Gamecube. I would hate to purchase the system this year and next year have Nintendo release a new system. I can’t shake the feeling that this is a major possibility. 2. Hearing from a few sources that the Star Fox that was announced may be nothing more than a glorified tech demo disappointed me for sure. 3. Where was Metroid? Yea, as the conference came to a close we were left with a little tidbit that an announcement may be made in the near future. But here is the problem: delays. Everything on the Wii U feels like it is being delayed. Xenoblade. Smash Bros. The system is on life support as it is. It needs games, not delays. And see, this is where third party support would come in handy in keeping the system afloat.
Next Time: I need assurance that Nintendo doesn’t plan to abandon ship with the Wii U. This conference was a start in the right direction. But its baby steps when really Nintendo needs to be running. Unveil the games. Open the wallet for third party support. Oh, and how about allowing more than a single gamepad to work per Wii U?

Top 5

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1. Witcher 3-It’s beautiful. The cities are thriving. The environments are so colorful. The combat looks fluid. This game continues to wow me with every showing.
batman
2. Batman Arkham Knight-Batman done right. Everything I have seen from this final chapter of Rocksteady’s epic trilogy screams awesome. My only worry is story. Arkham Origins has had the best story of any of the Arkham games and that was even done by Rocksteady.
dragon
3. Dragon Age Inquisition-Bioware appears to have a megaton hit on their hands. I have loved everything I have seen and greatly appreciate that Bioware’s pledge to listen to fan feedback wasn’t lip service. My only gripe? The cities. Or lack thereof. Will there be cities to explore? And will they be as thriving as they are in Witcher 3 or will all the NPC’s be stuck in mud?
No-Mans-Sky-concept-a
4. No Man’s Sky-The idea of exploring an infinite galaxy sounds incredible. The atmosphere looked beautiful. And every player starts the game on a different planet? How cool! But will this game live up to the ambitions of its creators?
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5. Evolve-I came into this e3 without a concern or care in the world for this game. After watching it in action, I can safely say I was so wrong for ignoring it. Fun is the word that best describes it. An incredible amount of fun.

Surprises

lego
1. Lego Batman 3. Ok, don’t laugh. I loved Marvel Superheroes. And this comes from someone who is not the biggest fan of Lego games. So color me surprised when I saw this and thought, “Wow, that looks like a blast.” I’m keeping this on my radar although I am not guaranteeing a purchase. Not just yet.
shadow
2. Shadow of Mordor. I’m sold. The Nemesis system is one of the best things to happen to this new generation of consoles. The game looks and feels great. If the story can be on par from the gameplay that was shown than this will end up being the LOTR game I have always wanted.
rainbow six
3. Rainbow Six Siege. I’m a little sad that Patriots was canceled after showing so much promise. However, the hostage situation multiplayer matches looked fantastic. It made you think. It made you sweat. If this game can continue down this path it will not only distinguish itself from COD and Battlefield, it will also be a blockbuster hit.

Honorable Mention

far-cry-4-3
Far Cry 4-The game looked beautiful. I have major concerns with story. I also question Ubisoft’s ability to create a living world. And does there need to be so much profanity? It may be an attempt to come across as cool, but to me it is just lazy writing.
Assassins-Creed-E3-Unity
Assassin’s Creed: Unity-Perfect time period selected what with it taking place during the French Revolution. Four player co-op? Yes. I was particularly intrigued by the murder scene investigation the player stumbled across. However, I am a bit turned off but what I feel is too much hand-holding in Ubisoft’s games. Also, after Assassin’s Creed 3, I am still fatigued with the series. So much so that I never bothered played Black Flag. This game has my attention, but it is surely divided at this point.

Disappointments
1. Mass Effect Trilogy-So maybe I got my hopes up. But seriously, this would have been awesome to have on the next gen consoles. 1080p/60 fps, all dlc included, and the combat in ME 1 tweaked to perfection. But the conference came and went without even a whisper of its existence.
2. Mass Effect 4-Concept art? Really? The game is playable, but all we get is concept art? Listen, I know you don’t want take the attention away from DAI, but still. A teaser trailer would have been significantly better than a few pieces of concept art.
3. Bioware’s New IP-Ok…what did I just see? A building. Day and night cycle. Right. What’s the point? Give me a name. A teaser trailer. Something to latch my excitement upon. This felt absolutely pointless.
4. Star Wars Battlefront-I get it. You went to some locations. You’re staying true to the Star Wars brand. But this feels like a theme that was pretty consistent with the entire EA conference. We have lots of cookies in the oven, but nothing to show right now. Like, nothing. No teasers. No game footage. Nothing. I don’t know whether to be excited or stumped. Therefore, I am left disappointed.
5. Last Guardian –You vehemently defend the notion the title is not canceled, but can’t so much as show a building with a day and night cycle. Man, we got that from Bioware’s IP. And what, Last Guardian has only been in development since the rise of the Grecian Empire under Alexander the Great. If it’s canceled, admit it. If it’s in development, then show it. At this point, you need make a decision and stick with it.

Overall, e3 2014 was a “Play It Safe” event. I understand the reasons. However, the lack of WOW moments has made what was a solid show mostly forgettable.

e3 2013 Review

My Top Ten:

The Witcher 3 (Best of Show): This open world gem looks to define what next generation consoles are truly capable of. Rich in story, incredible sword play, and a stunningly realistic landscape make this my number one most anticipated game-period.

 

Watch Dogs: As a person who studied film and met his future spouse in the Windy City, this is somewhat of a biased pick. I love that Ubisoft has completely recreated the city of Chicago. It is gorgeous. I adore the sci-fi thriller story they have cooked up for this new IP. This game has so much potential. It is one to watch for sure.

 

Batman Arkham Origins: All my fears about Rocksteady not working on this one have been washed away. The game looks terrific, plays like an old friend, and will undoubtedly have an awesome story to boot. I am not sure how they intend on incorporating the multiplayer feature. I am also saddened that Kevin Conroy will not be voicing Batman in this one. Still, I have been satisfied by how this one is coming along.

 

Dragon Age Inquisition: I owe it to Bioware for allowing me to attend e3. This was the main reason I was there-to see the progress that has been made on the new Dragon Age title. I am disappointed that no game play was shown (it would be higher on the list if some was shown). However, the trailer was beautiful. The musical score top notch, the graphics improved, an epic tale was teased, and old friends were revealed. I am also glad that the team is being given plenty of time to do this one justice. Fall 2014 cannot come fast enough.

 

Final Fantasy XV: I have never been a fan of Final Fantasy. The last one I played was VII. However, this one intrigued me. It had plenty of escalating conflict and tension. The action was fast paced and looked like fun. I was sucked into the story from the onset. For the first time in years I am actually looking forward to a FF title. Color me impressed.

 

Metal Gear Solid V: My hope here is the story will actually make sense and will not be too over the top. Everything else I saw from this title wowed me to the core.

 

Kingdom Hearts 3: This one bleeds all kinds of awesome. It has been a long time coming and fans of the series will be pleased for sure. Will Marvel and Star Wars be making appearances since they are now Disney property? Maybe. Either way, I love RPG’s and this was icing on the cake for me.

 

Destiny: Before e3, I was not really feeling it for this one. But then they showed off the game play and I was reminded of Borderlands on steroids. If they can add the magic of Halo to the sheer enjoyment of Borderlands, with a solid sci-fi story to boot, I am sold.

 

Battlefield 4: I was not expecting this to make my list. I am not a military FPS sort of person. However, I loved what I saw of the intense 64 player matches. The game looks like a lot of crazy fun with plenty of suspenseful moments. If it can do it all at a full 1080p at 60fps, I may just have to give it a shot. If it can also deliver a gripping campaign with a great story, I am 100% in.

 

Titanfall: I really liked this one. The idea of jumping in and out of giant mechs was super cool. The game was action packed and the sci-fi feel was great. I am hoping this beast decides to grace the PS4 in the near future, but for now Xbox fans have a nice little exclusive gem on their hands.

 

Honorable Mentions:

  1. Infamous Second Son-The game play filled me with a whole lot of excitement.
  2. Assassin’s Creed IV: Blackflag-I’ve been waiting for a decent pirate game since Sid Meir’s Pirates!
  3. Killzone: Shadowfall-I have never been a big Killzone fan but this series may have finally hit its stride.

 

Biggest Surpise: The Sony E3 conference, of course. I really don’t need to include any detail here.

 

Biggest Letdown: Mircosoft’s Attitude. I’ve been a loyal customer of theirs since they entered the gaming market. That’s going back to PC days. They really have this sort of arrogant attitude that causes me to lose interest in anything they have to say. It was weird.

 

Top 5 MIA:

  1. Bioware: The trailer for Dragon Age was nice, but what about the game play? We heard nothing about their new IP, Mass Effect 4, or whatever new Star Wars game they happen to be working on. Also, we heard nothing on any updates for the Old Republic. It was rather odd to tell you the truth.
  2. RTS Void: Ok, Total Rome II showed up and wowed me, but where was everyone else? No Warcraft 4? Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-Earth 3 (I loved the second one)? Star Trek Armada 3 (best Star Trek video game series ever)? What about Age of Wonders III which is due this fall? It was odd to have this entire genre sort of glossed over.
  3. Fallout 4: I can understand Elder Scrolls VI being a no show, although I want that one more than just about anything else. But I know The Elder Scrolls Online is taking center stage right now. Still, why no news on Fallout 4? It seemed like a missed opportunity.
  4. Superman: The Arkham series has shown the world that superheroes can be translated into great video games. Man of Steel is proving to fans that Superman can be converted to the silver screen and totally rock. So why no Big Blue in video game format?
  5. Fable IV: Yea, I know they announced a Fable Anniversary Edition. And yea, it looks ok. But this series has always had so much potential and has never quite lived up to what it could be. You know, a funnier, light hearted Zelda with customization options. Fable 3 was mediocre at best. Fable The Journey was utter rubbish. Fable IV needs to come along and redeem this once promising series.

 

Hype-Train:

  1. Star Wars Battlefront: Sign me up. I’m all in.
  2. The Order 1886: Alternate history? League of Extraordinary Gentlemen? Booyah.

 

System Wars: The Sony Playstation 4 won the PR machine hands-down. It has a lot of steam. Now they just need to throw in some more substance.

 

One Man’s Junk

We forsook the aged for youth.  We placed our value on progress over understanding, innovation over experience, instant gratification over pondering consequences.  In short, evidences of our great knowledge are everywhere, but wisdom is seldom found

This dilemma has no other explanation.  The digital revolution brought us e-books and mp3’s.  Television and movies can be streamed.  Comics, magazines, and newspapers can all be read on tablets.  We are fine with this because of convenience.  We are enamored with it because the technology looks so pretty and smells so good.  We have failed to consider the long term impact on intellectual property rights of the goods we buy.

When book stores and comic shops completely go the way of record stores, perhaps then that cartoon light bulb will flicker on above our heads.  Loss of ownership over the goods we buy?  Nonsense, right?  Yet, that is preciously what has been gradually happening in the interactive entertainment industry.

Imagine the repercussions a ban on used items could have.  You would be paying for the right to “borrow” items to live on and those said items can be stripped from you at a moments notice.

That’s the attitude behind proposals to eliminate the sale of used games.  One idea gaining a lot of steam is inserting a chip into next generation consoles that disable them from playing used games unless you pay a rental fee.  Game publishers protest that they are not making money off the sale of used games.  However, authors don’t cry they don’t make a penny off used book sales.  Directors don’t hide their heads in shame over the sale of used DVDs.  What makes games any different?

It began with the digital revolution.  Today it is common place for new games to be released as bug filled messes.  It can be patched later, if they get around to it.  In order to inflate the price of the game past $60, certain elements are packed into downloadable chunks and sold separately.  Buy the game used and you are forced to pay for an online pass.  Don’t think for a moment that other industries are not taking notice.

Who owns the property you buy?  Well, if its 100 percent digital, it’s easy for publishers to say they do.  You are paying to be entertained by it and no more.  Your rights to use can be canceled at any time and will be nonrefundable.  We are essentially feeding a big, bad wolf that will turn on us at any moment.

A clear message needs to be sent by us, the consumers.  Corporations are deaf to protest rallies, picket lines, and angry letters.  The only thing they listen to are dollar signs.  We must speak with our wallets.  If that chip goes into that system, I don’t buy it.  If the game is broken, it can stay that way on the shelf.

Yes, piracy is awful.  I understand that artists deserve to be paid for their work.  However, I am against hurting honest consumers, like you and me, because of a few rotten apples.  It’s time we ponder long and hard over the long term effects of a completely digital society.  Are these fancy technological advancements really to our benefit?  Or will it be to our decline?

By D.L. Timmerman

Writerofthings1@gmail.com

Next Gen Gaming

The rumors are spreading on the internet faster than the latest viral youtube video.  Spend too long eyeballing quotes from one “insider source” and you’re likely to have it debunked by an update a minute later.  Going on seven years, this is the longest gap between generations of game consoles in the history of the interactive entertainment industry.

To put this into perspective consider that the Xbox 360 was behind computer technology when it hit store shelves in November 2005.  Translation: console gamers are fumbling around in Gremlins while their pc buddies are cruising by in BMWs.

Over the past seven years we have seen an explosion of digital content.  Add to this the majority of yearly best sellers in the gaming world contain some element of multiplayer, and it’s safe to say that online functionality is now a staple of gaming.

Coinciding with the advancements of technology this past generation has brought is the cost of production.  Stars Wars The Old Republic and Red Dead Redemption had budgets exceeding $100 million.  Big budgets mean that the price for failing to meet sales margins may lead to layoffs and bankruptcy.

We already know that the Nintendo Wii-U will be launching this fall and will incorporate the use of an innovative tablet controller.  What direction will Sony and Mircosoft take?  Let’s put aside Sony’s present financial woes for the moment to offer up some conjecture:

The sale of used games has hurt the industry for years.  Rumor has it that a chip will be inserted into the new Xbox that will disable the play of used games.  True or not is beside the point.  This is a major issue that will be addressed in some form.


Expect an expansion of Xbox Live and the PSN Network. You know the new Xbox will have an updated Kinect attached and Skype will be squeezed in.  Both systems will allow every release to be purchased digitally.  And fully anticipate the new Xbox to have a Blu-ray player.

I would love to see new consoles crammed with enough new technology to make even the purring engine of a Ferrari jealous.  The reality is that Mircosoft and Sony will probably go the cheap route and offer up a cpu and graphics card powerful enough to play next gen games.  That would entail offering up older but working technology that would bring the price of consoles on par with where they are now.  It still stands that the Xbox controller needs better D-pad functionality.

Backwards compatibility is a must.  Not to mention a killer line-up of launch titles.  The Xbox 360 has been lacking 1st party titles and exclusives.  They risk losing core-gamers in their pursuit of a causal audience.  The PS3 has been hurt by inferior online play and developers unable to take advantage of the hardware.  This is why most multiplatform releases are generally better on the Xbox.

Uneasy economic times make for a puzzling transition.  I think we will see the new Xbox hitting store shelves late 2013, followed by the PS4 unveiling in 2014.  The next generation of gaming must pave the way for new trails to be blazed and worlds to be explored.  With interactive storytelling in its infancy, next gen gaming could prove to be a defining moment.

by D.L. Timmerman

writerofthings1@gmail.com