Thursday, February 19, 2015

No Knight of Mine(The Order1886 Review)(PS4)

The Order 1886

Ready at Dawn

Sony Entertainment

February 20, 2015

2/5 Stars

 

        I recently sat down to play The Order 1886.  The game is the most beautiful ever created on the PS4.  But it also is the one of the most rote third person shooters I’ve ever played with a bad framerate and a story that doesn’t make too much sense.   There is also the little matter that the game from all of the publicity makes you believe that you will be mainly fighting werewolves.  Which is also sadly wrong…

        The Order begins with a poorly paced Prologue sequence that is supposed to teach you the touchy situation based controls.  Other than the third person shooter areas, which are little more than arenas that you shoot enemies in; there are both quicktime events and contextual controls for examining things and using things.  All of this isn’t exactly out of the ordinary.  But it’s the slow, plodding way that the Order uses these mechanics that makes them so terrible.  Considering the number and length of the cutscenes in this game I would have preferred just to have all of the quicktime events just been movies.  It would have made the game less frustrating and perhaps it would have allowed the developers to make some of the slow sections a bit more energetic.

           The Order is by fair the best looking game on the PS4.  There are some sections of this game that are lit so well that it makes them look real.  I was consistently impressed by both the art direction and the amazing animations that some of the characters had during cutscenes.  But that said, when the player is controlling the game; the characters move in some unnatural ways that are only made more obvious by their surroundings and their personal details.  Many times a character would miss what was obviously a cutscene “tripwire.” and just hang in the middle of the screen for a couple of seconds while the PS4 caught up.  I’m sure that the cinematic aspect of the game could be discounted to the designers’ vision for the game.  But more likely it was the lack of horsepower on the PS4’s part to render a fullscreen and have a playable framerate.  Because there are MANY times in this work that the framerate gets so chunky that you are playing at around 15 fps or so.  Then the console catches up or there is a cutscene and everything goes back to normal.  I can now see why so many developers don’t want their games to try for this level of photorealism on the consoles.  It’s because they know that the general audience is used to playing games at 30 fps and would notice immediately if the game didn’t.

       The Order is many things; it flirts with survival horror, interactive movie, and it also makes a good stab at the third person cover shooter.  But the biggest problem with the Order is that you are promised that you will be fighting monsters.  When in actuality the game is more akin to a third person Call of Duty than a anything approaching a game about monster hunting.  You fight monsters a scant half dozen or so times in the entirety of the 5-7 hour campaign.  The rest of the time you are shooting people.  Lots and lots of people.  I was incredibly bored by the end of the game where there is a rather long infiltration sequence where you shoot almost as many people as you did all the way up to that point.  Or perhaps, it was just that I was so incredibly sick of it by then that it seemed worse than it actually was.  The game isn’t difficult, and really these added scenes and this added plot thread seemed like it was designed to lengthen the game.  I just felt that the game should have been about fighting the werewolves not fighting a bunch of guys that you are only made aware of why you are fighting them about halfway through the campaign.

        I LOVED fighting the monsters in the game.  The few times I was allowed to do it, the battles were intense and while they were quicktime event ridden for the most part they were well done.  I don’t know why the writers made the story decisions they did but I really hated them.  The people in the Order are so realistic in every other sense except that they don’t mind mowing down a hundred people or so every other day.  I won’t spoil the story, that is really the only reason to purchase this game.  But suffice it to say that I was disappointed in the final reveal and I was even more disappointed in the crappy end.

       I was very disappointed in the Order 1886.  Not so much for what I got to play but what it could have been.  If the game had a better more monster centric story the rest of the problems of the game could be discounted as minor.  But to have a short, boring game, that relies on quicktime events and a very LARGE number of cutscenes.  I just can’t forgive this game it’s faults.  Perhaps a sequel would be able to fix some of these issues, with someone else writing it hopefully. 

      I have to give a huge amount of praise to Steve West who plays the main protagonist.  He does an EXCELLENT job, as well as MANY of the other voice actors.  They all give incredibly good performances.  Especially with the amount of expression and animation that is allowed for each of the main characters.  I was very impressed with how genuine everything felt.  I think if the Order accomplished anything it was to make a believable world.  I think the story, being better suited to a sitcom than an action movie needed a lot more work and of course, the aforementioned monster angle that was not properly explored.

     On a side note, there are a couple of things I couldn’t find a place in my review to mention.  First, there is quite a lot of HEAVY breathing in this game.  It is pervasive and annoying and I truly wished they didn’t have it at all.  Secondly, the main character’s boots are SO LOUD in this game that it is impossible to believe that he was sneaking up on anyone.  I have never run into two such annoying and distracting sound bugs in any game I’ve played.  They were throughout the entire and game and were incredibly annoying.  So there is the Order 1886.  I enjoyed looking at almost all of the game; but playing it.  I’d have to take a pass on that.

 

      

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Battlefield Hardline Beta(XBOX1) Impressions

 

         This week begins the Beta for Battlefield Hardline.  This game is EA’s answer to the question when people ask,

                 “When is the new Battlefield coming out?”

       Well, this is it, game comes out in March.  Unlike regular Battlefield you are either playing as the heavily armed and well funded cops or the heavily armed and well funded crooks.  Which makes Battlefield Hardline little more than a mod on Battlefield 4.  The campaign which sounds like it will be an episodic style(coming out all at once) that deals with an undercover cop going into a drug cartel etc…  Sounds like someone wanted to make the Battlefield version of GTA or Payday.  I love Battlefield 4, if you look at my PS4 profile you would notice that Battlefield 4 is the game I was playing the most for the first full year that the PS4 existed.  I topped out almost all the classes to the point where I’m just earning different camo styles at this point.  This game is not what I’m looking for in a Battlefield game.  The vehicles are cars, vans, and helicopters.  Which from a crooks perspective, I was like “helicopters?”

        I did play a little of this game in the alpha version and this beta version is definitely better in almost every way.  But the core is the same.  The premise is silly and kind just an excuse to have a non-war setting and non-war campaign.  But for me, that is mainly what I come to Battlefield for.  Not this silly cops and crooks game that certainly has some good new ideas.  Like being able to buy your gun and attachments, but they still are locked until you unlock them with your level or with the number of kills you get with the weapon.  Which adding them money layer on seems a little useless.  How about make everything available from the start and let us buy the stuff with our in-game currency.  But this is one of the few new things in the game.  I do appreciate that they added range to the shotgun’s effectiveness, I also think that will get knocked down when the game comes out and every squad has 3 enforcers and one sniper.

        Currently in the beta they have three modes: Heist(where crooks try to grab money and try to take it to a destination), Hotwire(where the crooks try to steal cars and control them for a certain period of time), and finally Large Conquest(which is just conquest from Battlefield 4).

       Unfortunately, I wasn’t impressed by this game in the Alpha and while the Beta is better I still don’t much care for the game.  I guess I have a hard time getting over the silly concept.  But beyond that, it still just feels like an expansion to Battlefield 4.  Maybe if they were putting out at that price I would be more into it.  But currently this isn’t really looking like a $60 game even with a campaign.

Grim Fandango Remastered Review(PS4)

Grim Fandango Remastered

PS4, PSVita, PC

Double Fine Entertainment

LucasArts(Disney)

4/5 Stars

 

       Grim Fandango originally came out in 1998.  The game truly set the world of adventure games on fire.  The game was definitely instrumental in putting all those wonderful Tim Schafer games on the map.  But since then it’s been pretty difficult for the average gamer to get a hold of a descent copy that would run on a modern machine.  Double Fine Entertainment to the rescue with a new remastered version that is available not only for modern PCs but also for the PS4 and PSVita.  This new game has updated graphics and some developer commentary as well.  I can’t say I was ever a big adventure gamer.  I also can’t say that I’d played much of Grim Fandango back then either.  But I’ve seen the game played through a time or two and I when I ventured into this version many of the old puzzles and scenes came to mind.

      As ground breaking as this game was back in 1998, the game is pretty difficult for the modern gamer to get their head around.  The game doesn’t give the gamer the typical bread crumb trail that many modern adventure games use and the lack of being able to see what items are interactable is also a bit of a problem sometimes.  But since the game has been out for so long, the game does have tons of walkthroughs and such.  Not being a fan of the gameplay in Grim Fandango isn’t much of an issue for me however.  The game has some incredible dialogue and some of the best music I’ve heard in a game.

     So while, I wasn’t a big fan of the gameplay itself; it’s still a pretty incredible game and at the price of what would normally be an indie game.  I can’t say that you would be wasting your money getting it.  Whether you are playing for the first time or are reliving memories of your childhood.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Nintendo, Jim Sterling, and the Creator's Club!



                         
    The thing I can't believe about this is that Nintendo is the third place console, people ARE moving away from dedicated handheld devices in favor of phones and tablets.  So why does Nintendo think they need less advertising and less PR.  Certainly not bad PR like this.  I would be begging my stuff to be featured on Youtubers and Streamers Channels not trying to gouge them every time they do.  I don't often agree with Jim Sterling but I think he has hit the nail on the head here.  I hope all the Youtubers and Streamers simply ignore Nintendo.  I also hope that game journos consider Nintendo's position when promoting them(because so many are Nintendo Fanboys).
     Nintendo doesn't understand PR, that was obvious from their wishy washy stance at Evolution a few years back.  But jeez, if you don't understand it; hire someone who does.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Evolve: The Beta, The DLC, and Everything

 

       For the past week or so there has been some serious discussion on the topic of the new game from Turtlerock and 2K.  Evolves’ basic premise is that four hunters are trying to track down one monster and kill it on an alien planet.  The monster and the hunters are controlled by players.  It’s a new type of 4v1 gameplay that is hardly ever seen outside of mods or indie projects.  Hearing the idea way back a couple of E3s ago I wasn’t exactly overwhelmed with interest.  In fact, at that time I was probably more interested in Dragon Age Inquisition or Destiny to bother to really learn about Evolve.  But the major outlets were going on and on about how great the game was and how a person had to play the game to really understand how good it is.  Outside of 3D and VR, I usually don’t take these kinds of things too seriously.  But last E3(I think), I finally saw a long play session and decided that this game might be good after all.  I played in the Big Alpha(A little) and recently spent almost a dozen hours playing in the Beta that just happened this last weekend.

     The game is FANTASTIC!  Probably my GOTY so far for 2015 and it pretty much beats anything coming out last year easily.  But “Wait!” you say, the game isn’t even out yet!  You are correct, but more people were playing Evolve this last weekend than will be playing on launch day.  Because the beta was open and free.  Which means that no matter how much the servers got slammed this weekend, things weren’t too bad.  So the game can only get better; more modes, more monsters, more hunters, and of course more accurate matchmaking because we will all have ranks that reflect our actual skill.

     While this whole things sounds like a love fest for Evolve.  Some Twitch streamers broke all their records for views, subs, and followers while the beta was going on.  The game is great was the overwhelming sentiment throughout the community.  But this was all predicated on not such a feeling of positivity.  In fact, it would sometimes rear it’s ugly head here and there on a Twitch stream.

                        “This game looks boring…”

                         “This game is the same thing over and over…”

                         “Do you think this game has longevity?”

                        “How do you feel about the DLC issues with this game?”

           DLC issues?  What have we been transported on to a developer interview show rather than a Twitch Stream?  No this is about a little issue that came up earlier in the week before the beta even started.  This was first, that XBOX ONE users would retain all of their progress in the beta and no one else would; second, that on the PC and the XBOX ONE there were these rather large bundles of DLC that came with the game if you paid more money, and third the individual pricing for the different aspects of this DLC was also explained(assumablely to show what a good value the bundles are).   Well, some journalists thought all of this was absolutely deplorable, most having not even read the press release fully that explained.  Some just felt that the whole thing, “sounded shady.”  Which for better or worse somehow always trickles down into the gaming community.  I don’t think that this kind of thing is very widespread and I assumed it was mostly just a way for trolls to troll but still there were a lot of people out there worried about not only the longevity of the game but also the strange pricing model that the game has. So let me see if I can break this down for you.

                       Monster Expansion Pack

                  Pre-order on any system and receive the Monster Expansion Pack, which includes the “Savage Goliath” skin and a new monster character.

                         Xbox One Digital Exclusives($79)

               Players who pre-order Xbox One for digital download can pre-load the game directly onto their consoles any time between now and the game's release on February 10, 2015.

               Pre-ordering digitally from the XBox One store grants users access to unique monster skins and the Third Characters Set Unlock.

                     Unique Skins:

  • Savage Goliath
  • Goliath Magma
  • Wraith Magma
  • Kraken Magma

                  Third Characters Set Unlock:

  • Parnell the Assault
  • Abe the Trapper
  • Caira the Medic
  • Wraith the Monster

                  Gamestop and EB Exclusives

        Pre-ordering from US Gamestop and Canadian Electronic Boutique stores grants users access to four unique skins:

  • Markov’s Lightning Gun
  • Maggie’s Machine Pistol
  • Hank’s Laser Cutter
  • Val’s Anti-Material Rifle

                 Amazon Exclusives

Pre-ordering from Amazon grants users access to the Instant Hunter Pack which includes instant access to four additional hunters:

  • Hyde the Assault
  • Griffin the Trapper
  • Lazarus the Medic
  • Bucket the Support

Additionally, folks who pre-order receive the Monster Expansion Pack, including a Savage Goliath skin and a download of the first new monster character available post-launch.

              Pre-Purchase Evolve Digital Deluxe PC ($79)

The Digital Deluxe Edition Pre-Purchase includes Evolve, Evolve Hunting Season Pass, Evolve Monster Expansion Pack and a giftable copy of Left 4 Dead.

            Pre-Purchase Evolve PC Monster Race($100)

   The PC Monster Race Edition Pre-Purchase includes Evolve, Evolve Hunting Season Pass, Evolve Monster Expansion Pack, Fifth Playable Monster, Two Additional Hunters, Four Monster Skins and a giftable copy of Left 4 Dead.

 

       That is the full explanation all in one place for you.  Most of this is simply the old case of retailers trying to get this or that silly exclusive to try and get more people to buy it.  The XBOX ONE version and PC versions simply strike me as what PSN and XBOX LIVE are doing with their GOLD editions or Deluxe Editions.  Nothing new here. 

      For some reason, this stuck in the craw of more than one member of the press and they felt all of this so terrible and the game was just too big a mess to cover properly and they weren’t going to cover the open beta at all.  And as far as I could tell they hadn’t covered the Big Alpha either except to say that it happened.  Some like Gamespot, decided to tackle the issue head on.  Which was great, but it felt a little odd, like Chris Waters, having played and loved the game tried to defend a pricing model?  To his fellow Gamespotters.

    The game as it comes in the box is whole and complete.  The user can unlock the other Hunters and Monsters by playing the game.  They can even unlock many of the skins by just playing the game.  2K is basically selling access to future content via the season pass model.  This season pass is mostly what is getting caught up in the pricing.  If the user pre-orders they get the 4th monster for free.  If not he is $15.  This isn’t that much different from any of the other pre-order incentives out there.  You can play against ANY MONSTER or ANY HUNTER whether you’ve unlocked them or not.  You just can’t play as them until you do so.  Also, the developers have already said that they aren’t charging for Maps or Modes and that those will always be free to everyone.

 

      I guess it is hard for me to understand the problem with any of this considering how much I love the game and how much time I’ve already invested in both watching and playing it.  I would really love to hear from anyone out there after reading this article and watching the videos what you think.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Resident Evil HD Remastered Edition(PC)

 

Resident Evil HD Remaster

PC, PS4, XBOX ONE

1/20/15

4/5 Stars

 

        After a none too interesting release of the last full Resident Evil game(Resident Evil 6).  Capcom has decided to go back in time to the very first Resident Evil and bring us an HD remastered version that has the content of the Gamecube version from 2002.  However, the game has a significant graphically and audio update since that version.  The game has lost none of it’s original challenge.  While allowing the player to choose from original tank controllers or the more modern alternate control scheme which is more similar to more recent Resident Evil games.

         The very interesting thing about this game is not its’ remade status or being able to play this old game again.  But with the graphical fidelity and the smoothness of some of the animations it could be easy to mistake the game for a modern release if not for one thing.  Every time in the previous game there would be a cutscene or a major change in the camera this game simply freezes for a second or two.  It looks absolutely terrible and makes me wonder why they allowed this to stick.  No matter how good the game looks or how beautiful the textures on the characters or enemies are; the game has this one glaring flaw that assures that you never forget you’re playing a ported, remastered version.

        For people who have never played Resident Evil before this might quite a nice starting point.  There are tons of walkthroughs and hints online so that the games’ puzzle elements are quite pared down if that is how you want to play it.  The game consists completely of jump scares but they aren’t repetitive or wear out their welcome too much.  But if you have played Resident Evil in the past, even if this is the “Definitive Version” of the game.  I don’t know that it is worth the money to pick it up.  Unless, of course, you love the series; then you probably already own it.

      I never much cared for Resident Evil.  I felt like Resident Evil 4 and 5 were the best of the lot and while I do appreciate this game and all that it has meant to people over the years; that doesn’t mean I like playing it.  But a game can be important even if it isn’t necessarily fun and this game was definitely EXTREMELY important back when it came out originally.  I think it might also be important now, for people to understand how survival horror began and what made it important to people at the time and even some people now.  The game can be a lot of fun if you have never been through it before.  For the people who love nostalgia, they will LOVE this Resident Evil because the shiny rosy red glasses of how we think about an old game are definitely working just fine here(with a ton of work to make it that way).

       Oh and if anyone has any red herb, I need it…  I’m not feeling that great right now…