Tag Archives: PS4

Review: Horizon: Zero Dawn

horizon cover
via Amazon

Horizon: Zero Dawn (2017)

PS4 / Rated T

RPG / Action / Adventure

Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Developer: Guerrilla Games


In the months leading up to Horizon: Zero Dawn’s release I thought it was just a unique third-person action game starring a very capable female machine hunter named Aloy roaming around a seemingly post-apocalyptic open world full of tribal inhabitants and bad-ass looking robotic dinosaurs…or whatever you want to call them.  It just looked like a cool third-person action game and I did not think twice about it.  It was an anticipated title of mine but I did not think it was going to blow me away like it did.  Like damn…this Guerrilla’s first foray into this genre of games really impressed me on almost every front.

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via US Gamer

Aloy’s tale begins during her days as an outsider, living off the land with her father Rost.  The two having been together for the better part of her formative years, until the day Aloy decides to put her skills to the test by participating in the trials, with the goal of joining the tribe that shunned her and her father years ago.  After a successful day at the trials (among other things that I will not spoil) she becomes a member of the tribe and soon begins to learn secrets about who she really is, and the deeper mystery that blankets the world of Horizon.  It is the looming mystery of this semi-familiar post-apocalyptic world that acted as the driving force that kept me playing through the game.  The game’s scope starts off small but as you begin to meet new characters and venture farther into the world, things start to open up and things get crazier as you begin to learn about the machines, why they exist, along with a host of other mysteries.  There are a lot of crazy ideas and concepts boiling under the game’s surface…more than you would initially imagine.

The best part of it all?  These crazy plot points that you encounter later in the game are extremely satisfying.  Any writer can throw together some hogwash that connects the dots and explains why things exist the way they do, but Horizon’s writers give some satisfying answers that are actually plausible…all things considering.  It is a fantastic bit of science fiction that comes to an end in a pleasing way.  I would be fine with the story ending the way it did, but I would be open to another iteration in the series, in whatever form that would take.  The game has done very well for Sony at this point, so I would not be surprised to see a sequel in the future.

horizon 2
via Forbes

Now let’s talk about powerful and capable protagonists.  Aloy serves as the backbone for the entire story.  If there was no Aloy…the game’s story would only amount to a withering skeleton.  I was infatuated with her character, as she was tough but also smart.  Over the course of the game she unravels a whole bunch of eye-opening revelations that would make the average person nauseous.  The way in which Aloy interprets what she sees is what makes her character so fascinating.  She is a very well-written character that deserves utmost praise.  The rest of the game’s cast were also strong.  I was most intrigued by the game’s various social structures that they present to the player.  Maybe it was just me, but the ratio of women to men leaders far favored the women.  In fact, this is probably one of the most diverse games I have ever played in terms of its various characters.  That is not necessarily a selling point for me, but it is certainly a breath of fresh air from some of the other games out there.

Perhaps the game’s biggest draws at a surface level is its combat, specifically versus the hordes of deadly machines that you will come across in the world.  You fight a fair share of human enemies while overtaking bandit camps and other locations, but the lion share of combat involves those dope machines that you have seen from the trailers.  What makes these machines unique are the various components and weak points on their bodies.  It is a fool’s errand to rush into a fight, spraying and praying with your bow-and-arrow.  Each machine has a strategy that works best for taking them down.  Using Aloy’s focus ability, which is a scanner attached to her ear, you can analyze the machines and plan the most viable fight strategy.  Perhaps tripping a machine with a tripwire and then sending a barrage of arrows in its direction towards its weak point is the way to go.  Shooting a machine’s cannon of its back might be a better approach.  Nothing is more satisfying than giving a machine a dose of its own medicine.  There are many different strategies you can take, which is a sign of engaging gameplay.  I love these types of games where tactics are just as important as the weapons you bring into battle.  You can have the best weapons in the game, but could have your ass royally handed to you on a platter by one of the Behemoths if you do not know what you are doing.  Another aspect I adored about the game’s combat is its sense of scale.  The machines you fight in the beginning are small and manageable, but as you discover new monsters they begin to get bigger and more terrifying.  It makes taking them out on your own that much more rewarding.

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via Imgur

Horizon’s world is chock full of collectibles and side quests for Aloy to partake in.  However, this leads me to one of my minor gripes with the game, and that is its side quests.  I was never bored during my time with the game’s side quests, but a good bit of them fell short in the writing department.  Some quests are just your basic “go kill x number of x machines,” while some are a little more substantive and provide some interesting stories.  Unfortunately, a lot of these quests just fall a teeny bit short of greatness.  There was one quest in, for example, involving a father and his estranged daughter.  It starts off as a simple “find my daughter” quest, but then it evolves into something a little more distressing.  The game’s writers had something great on their hands, but did not do anything with it.  They set up a remarkable story, but then proceeded to swing and miss on its execution.  There were several ways the quest could have gone down, some more impactful and darker than the others, but the game’s writers took the easy way out wrapped the quest up prematurely.  This is just one single (and vague for fear of spoilers) example of some side quests that did not quite hit the mark.  This small shortcoming is what sets this game apart from games like the Witcher 3 and the Fallout series, where the side quest writing is stronger.

To no surprise, the game looks very beautiful.  I mean, they did not put a photo mode into the game for decoration.  There are a lot of different environments that you will explore, ranging from dense forests to arid desert plains.  Each of them look stunning at various times of the day.  I often found myself marveling at the incredible vistas that were a commonplace.  The character models looked just as beautiful, but I found that there seemed to be some technical issues during scenes of dialog.  There were some prominent lip-synching issues that were hard to not notice and the character animations during some of these scenes looked too robotic.  There were times were their upper-body movement did not seem natural and at times it felt like I was watching two animatronics at a Disney Theme Park.  Fortunately, aside from these issues, Horizon looks remarkable.

horizon 4
via iDigital Times

All my expectations for Horizon: Zero Dawn were met and sometimes even exceeded.  It is one of those games where I will instantly recommend it to you if you own a PS4.  If you own a PS4 and have not played Horizon yet…I do not know what you are even doing with your life.  I do not think the game unseats Uncharted 4 as my favorite PS4 exclusive, but it sure does give Naughty Dog’s masterpiece a run for its money.  Bravo to Guerilla Games for delivering an absolute barnburner of a game.

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Review: Unravel

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via Wikipedia

Unravel (2016)

PS4 / Rated E

Puzzle / Platformer

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Developer: Coldwood Interactive


When this little indie game from Coldwood Interactive named Unravel was first announced at EA’s 2015 E3 press conference, it immediately caught my attention.  A very nervous Martin Sahlin, the game’s creator, came out on stage and proceeded to introduce us to the game, and its adorable little star, Yarny. (Seen below)  I remember being instantly intrigued with its mechanics and instantly charmed by the games irresistibly cute visual style.  It later went on to release in early 2016, but it seemed to be a game that largely flew under people’s radars…including mine.  After about a year I finally dipped my toes into what Unravel is all about and I was met with a very charming experience with some unique platforming elements that make it standout from some of its peers.

As I mentioned before, the game stars a small red, cat-looking creature named Yarny, who is made entirely of yarn.  Yarny is constantly in awe and wonderment as he explores the objects and environments around him.  The game starts you in a small house that includes pictures of different locations that are important to the homeowner’s life.  Yarny explores these environments and collects memories along the way, slowly telling the emotional and nostalgic stories of the homeowner and their family throughout the years.

It is a very gripping story structure that drives you through the game.  There no cut scenes and a scant amount of characters, but the whole story is told through pictures and mirages in the environments that you explore.  Some of these stories were a little tough to understand, but the game does a fantastic job at capturing the various moments and emotions that families experience, whether it is the happy moments or the sad moments.  It is harrowing at times and will most likely relate to your life in some way.  Unravel, despite its simple concept, has a way of resonating with players, making it a special experience.

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via Coldwood Interactive

The game is made up of twelve different levels spanning environments like forests, mountainous hilltops, and snowy valleys…to name a few.  These levels require you to use Yarny’s body made of yarn to get pasts its various obstacles and dangers.  Yarny can create rope to swing across gaps, make bridges, and maneuver objects.  If that was not enough, Yarny also unravels (insert title card) as you make your way through the level.  If you are overzealous with your yarn usage, you will eventually run out of yarn and Yarny will be stripped down to his basic frame.  To combat this, there are various “checkpoints” in the levels that allow you to re-spool, giving Yarny more yarn to work with.  I did not find myself running out of yarn too much, but it does add another layer of complexity to the levels and their thoughtful design.  In terms of overall difficulty, the game is not too challenging.  There are moments where the game will get you, but death is never really a burden given the generous checkpoint system.  You also can warp back to the latest checkpoint if you find yourself stuck.

One gripe I have with Unravel’s mechanics are the floaty controls that sometimes make tougher platforming sections a little frustrating.  There were some moments in the game were tighter controls would have been more helpful.  There is a trophy (on PS4) that requires you to go through each level without dying and I quickly found myself giving up because the controls were not as up-to-snuff as I would have liked them to be.  There is also the tiny issue of freshness when it comes to the game’s mechanics.  Unravel does a commendable job, for the most part, of giving you new challenges that change things up, but this evolution in gameplay starts to taper off when you get to the later levels.  Due to the game’s simplistic nature, it is tough to constantly give you new ways of using the mechanics at your disposal.

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via Coldwood Interactive

But let us talk about the game’s main attraction: just how darn cute the whole thing is.  There is an enormous amount of detail that went into the game’s visual style from the environments to Yarny himself.  Everything has a tactile feel to it and Yarny looks super realistic.  Coldwood Interactive most likely drew some inspiration from Nintendo’s games like Kirby’s Epic Yarn and Yoshi’s Wooly World.  The game’s score is also well done, meshing perfectly with the game’s heartwarming story of family and nostalgia.

Despite the few issues I had with the game’s mechanics Unravel still manages to invoke tons of feeling, something you do not see too much from puzzle-platformers.  The game’s eye-popping adorability is what pulls you in but it is the gripping and emotional story that convinces you to stay.  It is a relatively short, but powerful, experience that manages to do some cool things with its yarn-based mechanics.  Unravel is worth your time.  It is worth it alone just to see Yarny’s curiosity of the world around him.

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Review: DOOM

doom-cover
via Pinoy Tech Blog

DOOM (2016)

PC / Rated M

First-Person Shooter

Publisher: Bethesda, Zenimax Media

Developer: id Software, Certain Affinity, Escalation Studios


DOOM doesn’t waste any time before throwing you right into the action.  There’s a demonic invasion…and it’s your job to kill every single demon that falls in your path.  DOOM is a constant thrill ride from start to finish, turning the notch of intensity up with every level you play.  I’ve only played the game’s campaign, but that was all I needed out of this experience.  I just needed an excuse to kill a lot of demons…and DOOM delivered in every way.

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id Software has created a game with a hell of a lot of style.  (Pun certainly intended…yay for bad jokes!)  The game’s initial moments, which have you donning the iconic suit of the Doom Slayer, immediately set the mood and tone for the rest of the game.  As you make your way to an elevator, the main theme starts to play and we get the game’s title sequence.  Perhaps the best part of it all is the final beat of the song, which perfectly syncs up with your character cocking his gun, ready for the hell-bent mission awaiting him.  It’s the perfect introduction for the game, immediately putting you in the right mood.  It’s always important for a game to nail its initial moments, and DOOM’s first impression is outstanding and wild.

Understandably, the story tends to take the back seat for most of the game.  DOOM takes place on Mars where a UAC facility is being invaded by the evil and demonic forces of Hell.  You play a man who wakes up on an alter in the bowels of the UAC facility.  Upon freeing yourself from your chains, you quickly find your Praetor Suit, the suit that turns you into the Doom Slayer.  You then begin to realize that the facility’s demonic invasion has been enabled by Dr. Olivia Pierce, the game’s main antagonist.  With help from Dr. Samuel Hayden and the facilities’ VEGA system, your mission is to prepare yourself to stop Hell’s forces and end the demonic onslaught for good.  There’s nothing complex about the plot which mainly serves as an excuse for you to make your way through the Martian facility and eventually the pits of Hell.  It’s hard to knock the game because of its story since the game clearly knows what it is all about and why people are playing it.  You’re here to kill demons and DOOM clearly recognizes that, which is a good thing.

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via ONRPG

Besides the campaign’s objectives and waypoints, the other force that drives you through the game is the metal soundtrack that accompanies your every action.  Unlike most games where the soundtrack is mostly passive, DOOM’s soundtrack is an active soundtrack, one that really motivates you to kill the demons that step in your path.  The soundtrack, written and composed by Mick Gordon, is full of gritty and electronic metal.  It pairs with the game perfectly and does a great job at painting the game’s atmosphere.  There were many times where I was bobbing my head to the beat of the music while murdering hordes of demons onscreen.  It just felt right.  It made for some kick-ass moments.  It’s an example of a well-realized soundtrack that really jives with the game it’s accompanying.

When it comes to the actual act of demon slaying, this aspect of the game felt great as well.  The combat is extremely smooth and fast, which worked perfectly for this game’s style and feel.  The game runs nicely as well, which also enhanced the gameplay.  There’s a variety of guns that you unlock as you make your way through the game.  These guns all felt right and the upgrades that you acquire through skill points that you collect also make for more varied gunplay.  The shotgun and the heavy machine gun are your best friends, but weapons like the Gauss Cannon and the rocket launcher are a good way to go when battling tougher and beefier enemies.  I never felt like I was using the same weapon for too long.  I was constantly switching weapons to give myself the advantage when battling certain enemies, which is great from a game design standpoint.  There are also glory kills, which allow you to “finish off” enemies when they are low on health.  The advantage of performing a glory kill is that the enemy drops health when performed.  These kills were a novelty in the beginning, but they begin to grow old as you advance in the game.  The variety of these kills tapers off quickly and they become quite repetitive.  I never stopped performing these kills because of their benefits, but it’s a shame id Software didn’t do anything to change up the formula.

doom-3
via WCCF Tech

There’s no shortage of demons for you to kill in the game.  The game relentlessly throws demons your way left and right, which makes for a thrilling experience.  It’s non-stop action from start to finish with little bits of respite sprinkled throughout.  The enemy variety is great, starting you off with a couple of measly demons.  As you progress your way through the game, more enemy types are thrown into the mix, each with different strategies and move sets.  By the time the final level comes around, all the enemy types are joining forces to get a piece of you, making for some hectic late game firefights.  In addition, there are only a couple of boss fights in the game (three to be exact) which were a little underwhelming.  The three boss fights, including the final boss, were epic and grand in scale, and a lot of fun, but I would have liked to see a little more.  There were a good deal of open rooms with waves of demons coming your way.  It would have been nice if some of these rooms were actually boss fights, especially earlier on in the game.  This is only a minor complaint with the game however, as the action is still very relentless and a ton of fun.

I only played the campaign, so I can’t speak on the multiplayer modes or the Snapmap functionality, but the campaign alone is enough for me to recommend this game to anyone who hasn’t already taken the dive.  DOOM’s campaign is extremely polished and it has a ton of style which is established right from the get-go. The combat is great and only made better with the superb soundtrack that drives you through the experience.  At the end of the day, I came to DOOM because I wanted to kill endless scores of demons, and I can’t think of any other game that nails this experience better than DOOM.  Get ready to kill a lot of demons…Doom Slayer.

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Review: No Man’s Sky

no-mans-sky-cover
via Moby Games

No Man’s Sky (2016)

PS4 / Rated T

Action / Adventure

Publisher: Hello Games

Developer: Hello Games


What do you get when you mix together a fresh new idea, an unconventional publisher-developer relationship, a massive development cycle, and hype levels the size of space itself?  You get No Man’s Sky, a game that I really wanted to like.  Sean Murray and the team at Hello Games promised to make an expansive game rooted in boundless exploration and science-fiction nostalgia.  They teamed up with Sony to bring a console exclusive that would be revolutionary to gaming.  Unfortunately, the game was treated like a AAA game with the size of an indie studio.  When you pair that with a plethora of broken promises and an unclear scope, you get a game that lets a ton of people (like myself) down.

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via Gear Nuke

Again, I really wanted to like No Man’s Sky.  The game brought and touched upon a ton of different concepts and ideas that would have made for a fantastic game if handled with a little more care.  The prospect of getting in a space cruiser and flying through the endless expanse of space, exploring different planets and their wildlife on the way, is an idea that should get any sci-fi nerd bouncing with excitement.  On top of that, a fluctuating space economy and the ability to interact with different alien species paint should have made No Man’s Sky the space exploration game we all were waiting for.  So where did it all go wrong?  Why did the game fall short of its expectations?

One reason is reality of the game’s planets versus what we were promised over the course of the game’s prolonged development and PR cycle.  If you watched any of the game’s demos, you probably saw a lush and vibrant ecosystem, filled to the brim with a wide range of mystical creatures roaming about.  It’s a setting that looked ripped from a painting.  It was beautiful, and it got a lot of gamers excited to explore the game’s randomly generated planets for themselves.  We all bought a ticket for the hype train.  We all bought in to the Sean Murray’s tremendous vision, one that might have been a little too far-fetched.

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via Segment Next

At the end of the day, No Man’s Sky is just a game.  A game with limitations, just like any other game.  What Hello Games was promising fans was a game that would exceed technological innovation.  Instead, what we got were computer-generated planets that looked barren and empty, usually with some sort of radiation or extreme temperatures that make exploration a major pain in the ass.  Instead of these mythical creatures we saw in pre-release footage, we got a fair amount of atrocities that looked like the by-product of an animal creation algorithm gone wrong.  Remember EA’s character creation game Spore?  The creatures that you encounter in No Man’s Sky look like Spore rejects.  The ecosystem in the actual game just doesn’t match up with what we saw leading up to the game’s release.  This made planet exploration a bummer, especially when I started to see a lot of the same animals and planets over and over again over the course of my travels.  Random generation is great, but the limitations of such a system started to become apparent after my visit to my fifth planet.

Besides flora and fauna, you can also explore abandoned outposts, monoliths, and other structures, some populated and some empty.  Inside these buildings you can find new items, upgrades, money, and directions to other locations of interests.  The variety of these buildings, just like the animal and plant variety, starts to quickly wear thin as the buildings you explore start to become super familiar as you go on.  The monoliths, which are essentially ancient alien structures, are the most intriguing structures to explore as they offer the most variety and they also look amazing as well.

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via Investor Place

The universe of No Man’s Sky feels empty as well.  Talks of a space economy and different alien species that you could interact with made me believe that the world we would be exploring would be a living and breathing galaxy.  Instead, members of these different alien species stay in the same spots, whether it’s in a space station or a planet’s outpost.  They talk in foreign tongues which makes it next to impossible to feel like you are actually having a conversation with an alien.  You can find tomes throughout the galaxy that help you understand these species’ languages, but this doesn’t help the fact that these NPCs that you encounter are lifeless quest givers.  The space economy does deliver in that you can find different prices for materials in different space systems, but I don’t think these prices are determined by any meta-statistics.  If I were to sell tons of iron to a space trader, the price of iron across the galaxy would not go down, which is a shame.  A space economy that actually reacted to players’ buying habits would be amazing.

Combat, whether it’s on foot or in the sky, is largely underwhelming.  While exploring planets, you have a multi-tool, which allows you to mine for materials as well as fight enemies.  You can upgrade the tool with better upgrades and abilities as you go.  When exploring planets, your only enemies are aggressive creatures and the flying sentinels that scour the planetscape, waiting for someone to cause trouble.  The creatures are easy to take down with your multi-tools’s blaster but the sentinels become a real nuisance as they traverse through the air.  The gun combat doesn’t feel great and I often found myself recklessly shooting my gun in an attempt to destroy the sentinels.  Combat does get easier with subsequent upgrades, but it never felt fun, which is a big problem.  In the air, your space ship has blasters and lasers that aid you in taking down pesky space pirates you track you down if you have any valuable cargo on board.  These fights were the most frustrating of them all.  The space pirates zoom by you and do nimble acrobatic maneuvers through the air as you try to shoot them with your sluggish aim.  Your best bet is to park yourself in place and turn your ship around in an attempt to take down the enemy ships.  This, again, was not fun at all and was the source of a good amount of deaths.  In fact, most of my deaths in this game came at the hands of space pirates.  Luckily they have no interest in your cargo as you can go retrieve your lost goods in the same place where you went down.  There are no stakes to these fights, which makes them a little easier to swallow.

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Up to this point, I have probably talked about half of what you do in No Man’s Sky.  The other half you may ask?  Well, you are going to spend a lot of time with inventory management, which is another major detriment to the game’s experience.  The thing I like about No Man’s Sky’s user interface is the inspiration it draws from Destiny’s user interface.  Unfortunately, navigating through your inventory becomes a hassle thanks to the limited space that you have right from the get-go.  Your Exosuit (your spacesuit) has an inventory as well as you ship, which usually has a larger inventory.  These inventories are pretty small in the beginning which makes resource mining a pain.  I constantly found myself having to sacrifice some materials in order to make room for rarer materials and items.  It also doesn’t help that suit and ship upgrades take up inventory spots as well, which makes upgrading your gear a tougher decision that it should be.  Your inventory space should never get in the way of upgrading your gear.  In order to expand your inventory, you either have to purchase suit upgrades at outposts or obtain bigger and more expensive ships with more space.  Again, as a player you should never have to upgrade your inventories in order to make them useable.  Moving resources and items around in order to make room for other things is a big portion of the gameplay, which is a major shame.  It starts to become a drag really quickly.  I’m not exaggerating when I say that half of your playtime will be spent in the game’s inventory menus.  You’re going to be managing your inventory a lot…which is not my idea of a good time.

Finally, I feel like I need to talk about the multiplayer aspects of the game, rather the lack of multiplayer features that the game has to offer.  You have the choice to name the systems, planets, animals, and plants that you discover in hopes that another player will stumble upon your discoveries.  Why else would name these things?  However, the reality of such a massive random generation algorithm means that millions of planets are being created.  Sean Murray has made it pretty clear that the chance of stumbling upon someone else’s discovery are pretty slim.  Over the course of my playtime, I found nothing that was discovered by someone else.  Because of this, I found myself skipping the naming process, sticking with the randomly generated names that the game gives to these different aspects of the universe.  I stopped claiming ownership of such discoveries, because in the end, they don’t really matter.  Realistically, no one is going to stumble upon your discovered planets…which is a damn shame.  This is the theme of No Man’s Sky.  It’s a damn shame.

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via Segment Next

I could go on for multiple paragraphs, but this review is starting to run long.  There’s a bevy of great ideas and systems that No Man’s Sky implements, but they all feel half-baked and undercooked.  Black holes, Hyper drives, puzzles, and the mysterious Atlas are aspects of the game that I haven’t talked about.  However, none of these things managed to stick out because they were either mishandled ideas or cheap by-products of another random generation.  I admire Hello Game’s commitment to fixing the game and trying to make it a better experience for players after the game has launch, but a lot of these problems could have been fixed if expectations were tempered and promises weren’t made.  The No Man’s Sky we were expecting versus the No Man’s Sky that was put on shelves are two different products that tell two different stories.  One could have been a defining addition to gaming history while the other was the product of a hype train gone off the rails.  I wanted to like No Man’s Sky so much, but in the end it’s a game that just can’t get into.  Who knows, maybe the game will be different in a year’s time with the developer’s plans to update the game, but I don’t think I will be making the return trip into No Man’s Sky.

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Review: Batman: The Telltale Series – Realm of Shadows

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via PlayStation 4 You

Batman: The Telltale Series – Realm of Shadows (Episode 1) (2016)

PS4 / Rated M

Adventure

Publisher: Telltale Games, WB Games

Developer: Telltale Games, WB Games


Batman has been made great again.  Recently, Batman games have been hitting it out of the park, but it wasn’t until Rocksteady Studio’s Arkham series that the series found its stride.  They portrayed a grittier side of Batman, a vigilante willing to do anything to serve and protect the grungy city that is Gotham.  What about Bruce Wayne?  Everyone knows that Batman’s identity is the rich bachelor Bruce Wayne, but we’ve only had glimpses of him in the video games.  With the mission of exploring both sides of the caped crusader, Batman: The Telltale Series comes to us with the first addition to its episodic series, “Realm of Shadows.”  The episode finally lets us take the role of both Batman and Bruce Wayne as one fights crime in the night and the other navigates the tricky landscape that is politics.  It’s a fascinating start that occasionally gets bogged down in a lot of unnecessary backstory.

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via Press A Key

Characteristic to most Telltale games, Batman’s strongest suit is its story which is more multi-faceted than any of the studio’s games.  In the first episode alone we are introduced to a multitude of different subplots.  The game does a good job at splitting up the amount of time you play as both Batman and Bruce Wayne.  As Batman you patrol the city streets at night, keeping the city of Gotham safe from goons and other evils.  On the other side, players navigate Bruce Wayne around the sphere of Gotham’s elite socialites.  Defense Attorney Harvey Dent is campaigning to take spot of mayor from the corrupt Hamilton Hill and it’s up to Wayne to support him and get him to that spot.  Unfortunately, your forced to support Dent, whether you want to or not, but the extent of Wayne’s support is determined by the player.  The Batman segments are about what you would expect but making choices as Bruce Wayne is really unique and sometimes stressful.  Every single little detail, down to a simple handshake, can change Gotham’s opinion on Wayne, which makes every decision you make pretty important.  As it turns out, entertaining a schmoozy dinner party is a lot harder than you would think.

Hamilton Hill isn’t the only form of conflict that players will have to deal with.  As Batman you stumble across the sneaky Catwoman who has her eyes on some sensitive files that she needs to obtain for her employer.  In attempt to put a stop to her shady dealings you let her get away, but she comes back in a rather unexpected way, one that will bring some deeper and unwanted trouble.  There’s also the powerful crime boss Carmine Falcone who has his hands in many of Gotham’s webs.  His criminal dealings have been driving the city into a hole and his many connections could put a wrench in Harvey Dent and Bruce Wayne’s political campaign.  Finally, we’re also introduced to Bruce’s childhood friend Oswald Cobblepot, who could be an alley or a nuisance depending on how you approach things in Gotham.

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via MMoga

The story, which also includes series favorites like Vicki Vale and Commissioner Gordon, is pretty fascinating and has the possibility of going in many different directions, hopefully.  There’s one facet of the story that falters however, and that is the insanely unnecessary amount of backstory that is apparently crammed into every nook and cranny.  Anyone familiar with Batman’s story knows that Bruce Wayne’s parents were killed in a theater alley and that the city of Gotham is pretty ugly and corrupt.  Unfortunately, Batman feels the need to belabor these points way too hard.  Your constantly reminded of these facts over and over again.  This backstory is probably necessary in some sort of fashion for those unfamiliar with the caped crusader’s story, but do we really have to talk about the death of Bruce’s parents every five minutes?  Hey!  Hey!  Remember when your parents died!?  Yeah that must suck huh.  There’s even a couple at Bruce’s dinner party that describes the death of Bruce’s parents in brutal detail.  These examples of bashing the player over the head with repetitive backstory is a sign of weak writing, which is a shame since the rest of the story is really well-written.  I’m willing to bet that this type of backstory is going to stop after the first episode, but the inclusion of all this repetition is pretty bad.

There’s three gameplay modes that players will become familiar with over the course of the episode and the rest of the series.  Firstly, the traditional style of Telltale’s adventure games is the main slice of interaction that players will take part in.  You choose your dialog options, which in turn helps shape the story that you want to see play out.  Then there’s the quick-time events, which come into play primarily during Batman’s segments.  Quick-time combat isn’t new to the Telltale games, but Batman’s combat feels a lot faster and requires a lot more focus.  There’s a meter at the bottom corner that fills up with each successful button press during a combat sequence.  When the meter fills up, you have the ability to perform a finisher, a move that involves two button presses instead of one, something new to the Telltale games.  Obviously the combat doesn’t rival Rocksteady’s Arkham combat, but Batman’s combat is fast and fluid, and a lot of fun.  Lastly, we the first episode contains a detective sequence that involves scoping out an environment examining various areas and objects, connecting them together to piece together what took place at the scene.  It isn’t too challenging to play detective, but the first episode’s segment was a fresh change of pace and pretty unique.  There’s also a segment that involves planning out a plan of attack using Batman’s investigative abilities.  I hope we get a lot more of these types of play styles over the course of the series as they were some of the best parts of the episode.

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via VG24/7

Again, the game’s presentation style is similar to Telltale’s previous games, but with an improved engine to boot.  The improvements aren’t drastic, but the game’s art style and lighting do the series a ton of favors.  The game feels like a comic book brought to life, which is the best case scenario for a game like Batman.  The voices for both Batman and Bruce Wayne (voiced by well-known voice actor Troy Baker) are fine, but they could be better.  Troy Baker fits into the role of rich bachelor pretty well, but it’s Batman’s voice that could use some work.  The vigilante alters his voice, giving a bass-boosted voice to the character.  The voice just sounds way too heavy for my liking.  Turning down the voice’s bass levels would do the character wonders.

I am heavily anticipating future episodes from the series, which should all release by the end of the year if things go according to plan.  The first episode closes its doors with a bunch of open sub-plots that leave us with a lot of questions and excitement.  There’s also a massive wrench thrown into the story at the very end that could spell a lot of problems for Bruce and his family’s name.  It comes out of left field, but provides a unique angle, one that hasn’t really been explored in Batman media.  With the absence of a need for backstory, the future episodes could be something special and fun for fans of the caped hero.  What are you waiting for?  Get out there and help change the face of Gotham City.

batman e1 score

Vault-Tec Needs You: Vault-Tec Workshop Impressions

Have you ever found yourself wandering through a vault in the Fallout universe and wondering what it would be like to build one of those vaults for yourself?  Have you wondered what it would be like to practice experiments on the vault dwellers within?  Now this dream is a reality in the Vault-Tec Workshop, the latest string of DLC add-ons for Bethesda’s Fallout 4.  It’s essentially a more fleshed out version of the studio’s mobile game Fallout Shelter, which is novel in concept. Vault-Tec Workshop doesn’t go without its faults though.

vault tec workshop 1
via WASD

The add-on starts you off with a quest calling you to investigate a mysterious cave, a new location added into the game.  Inside this cave you find what is seemingly an abandoned vault, although you hear a woman’s voice over the loudspeaker.  After defeating the enemies that are trying to break in through the vault door, you open the vault and come into contact with a new acquaintance, Valery Barstow, a ghoul who was meant to become the overseer of the uncompleted Vault 88, the vault in which you discovered.  After walking into the main area, you find a huge cave with loads of abandoned construction equipment and some feral ghouls who used to be a part of the crew.  After getting to know a little bit about Barstow and her ambitions for Vault 88, she sets you free with the task of finishing Vault 88 and the experiments that it was meant to run.  It might seem unethical at first, but that’s the question you will have to repeatedly struggle with as you continue to welcome in new settlers and complete different tasks for Barstow.  You can either murder Barstow in cold blood or complete her unethical, and sometimes devious, experiments on the settlers you welcome in.  It’s your choice, which is what I like about this add-on in particular.

The settlement space that the add-on gives you to build your vault is definitely the biggest space in the game by far.  You have a massive system of caves that you can explore and clear out to make room for your vault.  The game encourages players to reach level 20 before starting the DLC, because some of the enemies you will have to clear out are pretty tough.  Once you have explored and cleared the cave system, you have a massive cave at your disposal…which you pretty much can’t take advantage of due to the settlement size constraints.  You know that bar in the upper right corner in the workshop HUD that indicates “size”?  This size constraint unfortunately still applies to your vault, even though it gives you a massive space to work with.  If you’re on console (I have been playing on PS4) then you can pretty much forget creating a vault that spans the entire cave system.  If you want a vault that’s nice and furnished, then you’re pretty much going to have to stick to the main area for now, until mods come out that allow you to remove the size limitations.  It’s a pretty large oversight, but I understand that console limitations prevent you from creating vast vaults.  At the end of the day it’s a hardware constraint, but it’s still rather unfortunate, especially when your teased with such a massive building space to play around with.

vault tec workshop 2
via Video Games Zone

When you take into account all of Bethesda’s previous workshop add-ons for the game, Vault-Tec Workshop is probably the biggest and best addition to the constantly growing workshop feature set.  The add-on gives you a pretty hefty set of new workshop elements that give you the ability to create your very own Vault-Tec vault.  There’s a bunch of pre-sets that allow you to build hallways, atriums, dining spaces, living spaces, overseer offices and much more.  There’s also a host of new furniture options that relate specifically to what you typically find in vaults around the world.  Everything from Vault-Tec posters to diner benches have been included, allowing you to personalize your vault to your liking. Perhaps the most practical addition to the workshop is the Vault-Tec generators, that have the ability to produce 150 or 500 electricity.  These generators are powerhouses that will allow you to power up even the heftiest of vaults.  You can build all of these elements outside of the add-on’s underground area in any settlement of your choice, which can potentially lead to some unique creations as well.

For all you diabolical folks who want to conduct experiments on your vault’s dwellers, you get a pretty nice array of experiments to choose from.  In all, there are four objects that allow you to conduct three experiments each, which totals up to twelve experiments in all.  These objects range from elliptical bikes to soda machines to slot machines.  These experiments are not as crazy as some of the others that you have seen in other vaults, but they are enough to suffice.  You also can’t create your own, so your stuck with what the add-on gives you.  There’s a population management terminal that allows you to manage all of your vault dwellers, which provides a nice and easy way to get a glance at what everyone is doing.  You can also equip your dwellers with their very own Vault 88 jumpsuits and Pip-Boys, which is a nice touch in itself.  The add-on goes pretty far in letting you create what feels like an authentic vault.

vault tec workshop 3
via Film Games Etc

Despite the size limitations that inhibit you from creating expansive vault systems, the Vault-Tec Workshop is a nice addition to Fallout 4.  Sure, in the end it’s just a console version of Fallout Shelter, but the add-on provides enough items and features to make it worth taking a look at.  At the end of the day, I would have preferred a little more story add-ons like the previous Fallout games, but these workshop add-ons will suffice for now.  Nuka World, presumably Fallout 4’s final piece of DLC, is coming out next month, but Vault-Tec Workshop should be enough to hold over fans in the meantime.

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens Demo Impressions

E3 is here and the gaming landscape for the coming year is slowly starting to be formed.  The big publishers have come out swinging and a ton of big games have already been announced.  One of these games, perhaps smaller compared to some of the other titles, is LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  The game, based on everyone’s favorite movie from last year, comes out at the end of this month but a demo has been made playable to the public.

The demo focuses on one level in particular that occurs pretty early on in the game.  It takes place on the planet of Jakku and puts you in control of Finn, Rey, and BB-8 shortly after they meet up with each other for the first time.  Just like the movie, this meeting only lasts for a couple of seconds before they notice a group of Stormtroopers lurking around in search of Finn, a runaway Stormtrooper trying to break apart from his once evil ways.  You quickly grab Rey’s arm and start to run amidst the crowded streets of Jakku, thrusting you into the level’s start.

lego star wars force awakens 1
via Digital Trends

Before I go further, it’s worth mentioning that the game is strictly based on the events of Episode VII.  The cut scenes and characters are fully voiced using the movie’s audio.  However, it’s been noted that there are some side stories to be told, ones specifically created solely for the sake of the game.  TT Games got the actors from the movie to come in to do specific voice work for these missions, which is pretty cool.

Upon starting the level, I quickly started to mess around to see what’s new this time around.  Anyone who has played a LEGO game before should feel right at home in terms of gameplay.  You still roam around the level bashing stuff and collecting studs.  There’s obstacles that block off secret areas until you go into free play, where you can play as all the characters.  You can also collect minikits that reveal more secrets up finishing a level.  It’s pretty standard fare for any Lego veteran.  Not much has been changed up to rock the formula.  The three characters you start out controlling are Finn, Rey, and BB-8.  Finn is your average blaster-wielding character who also has the ability to use a grappling hook to reach hard-to-access areas. Rey is more of a melee character, using her staff to devastate enemies up close.  Not to be outdone, she can also throw her staff to take enemies out from afar.  BB-8 isn’t a typical character, but he has some abilities that can come in useful.  First off, he can sneak through small openings to reach secret areas.  He also has a stun attack that can electrocute enemies.  Finally, he can operate rotary switches, opening up new parts of the level.  Your probably not going to use him much, but he sure does look cute flying around the level making those signature beeping noises.

lego star wars force awakens 2
via Digital Times

As I started to make my way through the first part of the level, I was quickly introduced to the multi-builds.  In previous games, you can destroy objects to reveal piles of Lego bricks, which you could then build up to create useful objects.  With multi-builds, you can build different objects using the same pile of Lego bricks.  You indicate the direction in which you want to build the Lego bricks and then you proceed to put them together just like you normally would.  After your done using the first object, you can then break it down and build the other option.  It’s an interesting mechanic that encourages experimentation.  Sometimes you will build objects that are completely useless in the grand scheme of the level.  Other times you will have to build all the different objects in order to progress.  The mechanic was demonstrated a couple of more times over the course of the level, which was pretty neat.

After making my way through the first area, I then stumbled upon a broader combat zone, in which I was quickly forced to get to cover to avoid incoming fire from a group of First Order Stormtroopers.  This is the part where the firefight mechanics were shown off.  The game quickly turned into a lite-cover based shooter where I was able to move from cover to cover, finding opportune times to attack my enemies.  While behind cover, you can pop up using the left trigger and then shoot using the right trigger.  The controls weren’t hard to master and I soon found myself mowing down a bunch of troopers.  This is an early section, but I didn’t find this sequence particularly difficult.  I worry that these sequences will get repetitive as you get farther in the game.  I hope they either find new ways to freshen up the gameplay or they limit these sequences altogether.

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Once the Stormtroopers were neutralized, I kept on making my way towards the Millennium Falcon.  I was then introduced to SN-1F4, another droid character.  It’s a miniature sifter droid, so it doesn’t do much besides reveal secrets in the sand.  I used the droid to reveal some Lego bricks which helped construct a turret, a piece of heavy artillery that allowed me to shoot down some X-Wing fighters from the sky.  Once the coast was clear, the path to the Millennium Falcon was finally made clear.  In the movie, the reveal of the famed freighter was a special moment but in the game, there was hardly any fanfare upon the ship’s discovery.  It’s not that big of a deal but it’s those kinds of movie moments that I want captured in Lego form.

This led to the aerial portion of the level, in which you pilot the Millennium Falcon.  Just like previous Lego games, the first part of the sequence was totally on-rails.  As I made my way through, I eventually stumbled upon an open area where I was granted free reign.  The controls took some getting used to, but I eventually got the hang of them as I flew around blasting down more X-Wings.  I eventually reached the final portion of the level, which switched back to on-rail flying.  As I escaped from the inside of the Star Destroyer ruins, the level came to a close.  I got a glimpse of Kylo Ren’s character as he was sulking around in his Darth Vader themed room.  Staying true to the movies, one of his officers came to inform him about the BB-8 getting away, which infuriates Ren, sending him into a room-trashing tantrum.  It was good to see that the bouts of Lego humor are still what makes these games so appealing.

lego star wars force awakens 3
via Comic Book News

I was only able to play through one level, so it’s unclear how many different levels are going to be in the main game.  If I had to take a guess, we’ll probably get around fifteen with the addition of side levels.  It’s also unclear if we are going to get an open world.  Not much has been said about this, now common, aspect of Lego games.  We might get some hub-worlds in lieu of one big open area.

There was lots to enjoy about the demo but it left some concerns as well.  The Lego series hasn’t been privy to change.  The classic formula has pretty much been the same for years now.  There are some new mechanics being thrown in this time around, but it’s hard to say if they will be enough to make this game stand out from the rest.  If you’re a fan of the Lego games, especially the Lego Star Wars games that gave the series legs, then you will most likely want to give LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens a try.  It’s looking to be a charming retelling of the big movie with a lot of cool stuff packed in for Star Wars fans.

lego star wars force awakens 5
via Segment Next

Review: Day of the Tentacle Remastered

dott cover
via Entertainment Factor

Day of the Tentacle Remastered (2016)

PS4 / Rated T

Adventure

Publisher: Double Fine Productions

Developer: Double Fine Productions


Tim Schafer is a genius when it comes to adventure games, and I genuinely mean that.  All you have to do is take a look at his past work, which includes games like Grim Fandango, the Monkey Island series, Full Throttle, Maniac Mansion, and most recently Broken Age.  His latest trend, one that I wholeheartedly enjoy, is bringing some of these classics back, like Grim Fandango, as remastered versions.  Double Fine’s latest remaster project, Day of the Tentacle Remastered, brings back the wacky time-travel adventure that stars three odd-ball teenagers and one very evil purple tentacle.  The remaster beautifully modernizes the story while retaining the charm and amusement of the original.

dott 1
via multiplayer.it

You take control of the nerd Bernard Bernoulli, the weirdo Laverne, and the heavy metal roadie that goes by the name Hoagie.  They are a band of misfits that must work together to put a stop to the evil Purple Tentacle’s plans of world domination.  In order to stop Purple Tentacle in his tracks, they have to enlist the help of the mad scientist Dr. Fred and his janky time machine.  Dr. Fred attempts to send them back in time so the kids can shut off the contamination machine that is the source of Purple Tentacle’s powers, but thing’s go horribly wrong as you would expect.  The three kids are split up into three different time periods, the past, the present, and the future.  They must work together, in different eras, to bring a stop to Purple Tentacle and, in turn, save the world.

The game’s story, primarily designed by industry veterans Schafer and Dave Grossman, is consistently great and on point throughout the entire adventure.  Day of the Tentacle features a variety of comedy styles, ranging from benign potty humor to wry, sometimes dark, humor.  Every joke works well and there are a very slim few that don’t connect, even twenty years later in this day and age.  There was one early moment in particular, involving a down-on-his-luck product designer who puts a gun to his head in his hotel room, only to reveal a bright “BOOM” flag upon firing the weapon.  It was a shocking moment that still managed to paint a smile on my face.  The inclusion of time travel also makes for some great story and character moments as well.  Watching as Hoagie instilled his heavy metal slang on the founding fathers in the past makes for some great comedic material.  The story is smart and sharp all the way through till the credits roll.

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via Polygamia

What made Day of the Tentacle so unique from other adventure games of its time was its time travel mechanics and the ability to switch between the different characters in their respective time periods.  It makes for some inventive puzzles that require some smart solutions.  Speaking of puzzles, unlike most adventure games of its time, the game never had any puzzles that require obtuse or abstract solutions.  Everything that you do makes sense and I never had to bash random items together in hopes of progressing the story.  The game makes you feel smart by letting you solve the problems in logical and clever ways.  With that being said, there were still some tough solutions, especially towards the latter half of the game.  It made me wish there was a built in hint system, which these remasters seemingly never have.  The game wasn’t overtly difficult, but a little dynamic hint system would have gone a long way.

There’s a layer of polish that lathers Day of the Tentacle Remastered that delightfully brings the game to life in this modern era of games.  Every screen was reworked from the ground up, giving the game higher resolution graphics.  The art isn’t the only thing got reworked, as the music was given a remastered treatment as well.  Maybe the best part about it all is that you can switch between the remastered and classic versions of the game on the fly with one press of a button.  I constantly found myself switching between the two just to marvel in the amount of work that was put into the remaster.  There’s also the inclusion of concept art, developer commentaries, and a fully playable version of the original Maniac Mansion, a little Easter egg that could have been found in the original version as well.  This amount of work that the game’s original creators put into this version of the game shows in every nook and cranny.

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via Fan Pop

As far as remastered games go, especially adventure games, Day of the Tentacle Remastered holds up extremely well, in large part thanks to Tim Schafer and the team at Double Fine.  The game features a hilariously absurd and clever story that’s chock full of witty humor and ingenious references.  It also has a bright and cheery look that translates every single little detail from the original.  If you haven’t played the original, this is about as good as the game is going to get.  Now, the wait begins again for Tim Schafer’s next remaster project, Full Throttle.

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Also available on PC and PSVita.

Fallout 4: Far Harbor Impressions

Because of the nature of the article, spoilers might be littered throughout.  If you haven’t gone through the DLC already, proceed with caution.

Here it is, the Fallout 4 add-on we have all been waiting for is finally here.  The two previous pieces of extra content, Automatron and Wasteland Workshop largely centered around the main game’s workshop component.  While this necessarily isn’t a bad thing, their certainly a far cry from Bethesda’s normal post-launch content rollouts.  The two pieces of DLC had some cool stuff, but they pale in size to Bethesda’s normal expansion content.  The latest piece of DLC, Far Harbor, is the first piece of major story DLC that adds a substantial questline, Bethesda’s largest landmass for a DLC, new characters, and new enemies.  Like I said before, this is the DLC that most fans have been anticipating since it was first announced, alongside Automatron and Wasteland Workshop.  Now that it’s out, I have spent some quality time with the new content and I have some thoughts…some positive and some negative.

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via Find My Soft

Your adventure begins when a new case gets sent into the Valentine Detective Agency.  It involves a young woman who has run away from home, leaving her parents in distress.  It’s up to you and Nick Valentine (a companion I highly recommend bringing along with you for the adventure) to get to the bottom of her disappearance and the reasoning behind her wanting to leave home.  Upon arriving at her coastal home, clues lead to her whereabouts in Far Harbor, a deadly island in Maine that’s enveloped with the Fog, a radioactive nightmare.  This thus kicks off your boat ride to Far Harbor, where you discover a deeper conflict, much bigger than the case of Kasumi Nakano, the girl you are tasked with finding.

There’s three main factions that call Far Harbor their home, the harbor men and woman of Far Harbor, the synth colony of Acadia, and the Children of Atom.  Upon setting foot on the island, it doesn’t take long to grasp the amount of tension brewing between the three groups.  There all at a standoff, and it’s up to you to bring peace or to cause chaos.  There’s a variety of different endings that result from your actions.  If you play your cards right, you can leave far harbor with all three factions living in a sort of harmony.  You can also leave with all three factions destroyed.  Let’s just say that it’s insanely easy to mess things up if you’re not careful…which is where I found myself upon Far Harbor’s ending.

far harbor 2
via Attack of the Fanboy

When you give a visit to Acadia, you meet the synth named DiMA, the weird-looking synth that you probably saw from the trailer.  He seems like a nice, peaceful synth who doesn’t want to cause trouble, but you soon learn that there’s a darker secret he’s keeping from you.  Upon unearthing some of his dirty deeds, I demanded that he travel to Far Harbor and fess up to his deeds.  During my play-through of Fallout 4, I was a big advocate for the truth.  I didn’t like to lie if I didn’t have to.  I thought having DiMA be honest with the citizens of Far Harbor would be the right thing to do.  Unfortunately, this is where I was sadly mistaken.  The harbor men carried out the justice that needed to be done for DiMA’s doings, but despite my pleadings, they also found Acadia, and all the innocent Synths (including Kasumi) within, guilty as well.  Before I knew it, DiMA and Acadia were brutally murdered and wiped from existence…all because I thought the truth was the way to go.  One of the island’s main factions was destroyed, and I was only two hours into the DLC.  What have I done?

This bothered me.  After kissing up to the different factions, I made the decision that I wanted Far Harbor and Acadia to survive to the end, while the Children of Atom could be destroyed.  I understood that there were some innocent souls in the Children of Atom, but they seemed like the bad guys with the bad intentions of wiping everyone off the island.  In my eyes, they had to go.  But here I was, two hours in, and Acadia was killed right before my eyes.  I then had to carry out my mission of destroying the Children of Atom, which left the citizens of Far Harbor the sole survivors on the island.  This isn’t necessarily a “bad ending,” but it felt pretty depressing.  Especially since when all was said and done, I had to travel back to the Commonwealth and break the news to Kasumi’s parents that their daughter was brutally murdered in cold blood because of one synth’s actions.  At least that’s what I told them.  How was I supposed to tell them that it was my actions that killed their daughter?  In my pursuit of honesty and truth for Far Harbor, I ended up telling a lie in the end.  It’s this kind of irony that sucks…  In the words of Nick Valentine, “case closed.”  It wasn’t the way I wanted things to turn out, but the truth was indeed found and Kasumi was brought home…in a body bag, unfortunately.  Just another cruel day in the wasteland.

far harbor 3
via 4Players

As a result of my choices, Far Harbor was sort of a bummer for me.  There’s nothing wrong with the story, in fact, Bethesda did a fantastic job with the story.  There’s a lot of great and interesting ways in which you can resolve the island’s issues…it’s just unfortunate that my way, which in my eyes was the right way, turned bad…pretty quickly.  Sure, I could load up an old save and replay the events to work more in my favor…but that’s just not my style.  I live with the decisions that I make and move on…it’s what makes these games so great.

Despite the story’s strength’s I did have some issues with some of the smaller aspects of the story.  For instance, DiMA’s monologue about synths and their identity didn’t really hit home like it probably should have.  At one point she even poses the question, “are you a synth?”  It made me step back and think…but then I realized the holes in DiMA’s thinking.  The player was clearly alive before the bombs fell, a time in which synths weren’t even in the picture.  You then black out in cryo-sleep in the vault, waking up years later, but c’mon, does the game really expect me to believe that in that time the player was switched out with the body of a synth?  I don’t think so.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s an inherently interesting idea, but it’s also half-baked, especially considering the fact that it was never once mentioned again for the rest of the story.  A thought cast into the wind.  There’s also issue with the game’s ending.  After destroying the Children of Atom by setting off a nuclear bomb in their facility, the DLC was essentially brought to a close.  I “cleansed the land.”  After traveling back to Far Harbor, where I expected to get greeted with fanfare, I was instead met with silence and…well, nothing.  Everybody was carrying out their own business, with not a care in the world to talk to me.

far harbor 4.png
via PS4 Daily

Umm…guys, did no one notice the gigantic nuclear explosion to the west?  No?  What about the whole, “Let’s destroy the Children of Atom!” thing?  Yeah…I did that!  I took them out, just like you wanted.  Does no one care?  Hello?  Oh god…someone talk to me so I don’t go crazy…

Okay, maybe it was a bug or an issue with the game, but it still dampened the experience.  I was expecting the bow to be tied on the story…but instead I was left to my own devices.  There was no closure.  Just a “quest completed” notification.  I didn’t let this get to me too much, but I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed…even if it was just a bug.  I also understand that I might be in the small minority that was bothered by this.  That doesn’t make it right though.

But enough of this negativity, huh?  Let’s talk about where this add-on really shines and that is with its locales and its enemies.  The island of Far Harbor is by far the biggest landmass Bethesda has ever created for a DLC.  To give you an idea of how big it is, I’d say it is probably around a fourth of the size of the Commonwealth.  The environment hearkens back to another piece of Fallout DLC, which was Point Lookout.  There’s a lot of coastal locations mixed with swampy bogs as you make your way towards the mainland.  Although some areas seem to be recycled from some of the main game’s locations, like the bowling alley, there is still a good bit of variety in the island’s landmarks.  Probably one of the coolest places for players to explore is Vault 118, a full-size vault hidden away under a cliffside resort.  It marks the first time Bethesda has put a full-scale vault inside one of its expansions.  It’s also home to a quest which might be one of the best parts of Far Harbor.

far harbor 5
via Imgur

Then there’s the creatures that roam the island.  Far Harbor is no walk in the park.  It’s a hostile place with a bunch of new monsters that want to have you for dinner.  Some of the new enemy types are rehashed versions of Mirelurks and Ghouls, while others are completely new, including Anglers and Gulpers.  There’s also some larger enemies that will mess your day up if you’re not careful.  There’s a hermit crab that uses the back of a bus as its shell.  It’s as terrifying as it sounds and it made for a pretty lengthy encounter.  That’s just a sampling of some of the enemies that you will encounter during your travels.  Want to know a pro-tip?  Maybe pack some Radaway before you leave for the island, because you will surely need it.

Far Harbor left me conflicted in the end, but I still can’t deny that I had a lot of fun with Bethesda’s first major expansion pack for Fallout 4.  The story is engaging and the characters that you will meet along the way are just as great.  You will even get a new companion, who’s old but still a bad-ass.  There’s plenty of places to explore and things to do, with around ten to twelve hours of content to tackle.  It’s without a question that this is the best piece of DLC that the game has to offer right now and it makes me excited for what’s to come in the next three add-ons.  Just promise me Bethesda that you leave the workshop expansions at home…please.  We need three more add-ons like Far Harbor.

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via Find My Soft

Review: Bully

bully cover
via Neoseeker

Bully (PS2 – 2006) (PS4 – 2016)

PS4 / Rated T

Action / Adventure

Publisher: Rockstar Games

Developer: Rockstar Vancouver


I never remember high school being this intense.  In Rockstar’s PS2 classic Bully, which is now available on PS4, you take on the role of the new kid.  You start off pretty low on the high school hierarchy, but you eventually work your way up to bigger and better things.  Along the way you accomplish some weird, random, and insane things, stuff I never remember doing in high school…probably for good reason. (Probably) When you think of Rockstar, Bully might not be a game that comes to mind, but it’s a game that’s worth a good amount of praise.

bully 1
via Lakebit

As I mentioned before, Jimmy Hopkins is Bullworth Academy’s newest student.  After being expelled from numerous schools beforehand, which he is very proud of, Bullworth Academy is his final landing place, a place that will supposedly whip him into shape.  The school might be tough, but let’s be honest, there’s nothing stopping Jimmy from his habits.  After meeting some kids and making new friendships, Jimmy becomes determined to make his way up the high school totem pole, not stopping until you literally rule the school.  All of your classic high school cliques, including the nerds, jocks, greasers, and preps, are present and you have to make some alliances along the way if you want to rule them all.

Although your primary goal is clear from the get-go, the journey to achieve this goal is fun and often times ridiculous.  The game’s story and it’s writing is top notch and provided for numerous laughs, way more than I initially thought.  The dialogue is clever and the situations that Jimmy gets himself into are completely insane, especially as you get into the later chapters.  The story starts off pretty grounded, but then starts to go places as the game goes on, especially when the rest of the world, or in this case “the town,” opens up to the player. The characters that Jimmy comes into contact with, including the game’s antagonist Gary Smith, are all pretty enjoyable as well.  Gary Smith is a pretty big dick, so his characterization was pretty well done.

bully 2
via PS4 Pal

The thing I appreciate the most about Bully is the fact that it’s basically Grand Theft Auto, but instead of guns you have slingshots and stink bombs and instead of thugs and the police you have bullies and the school’s authority figures, who are absolutely ruthless by the way.  Technically there are also police in the game, which is kind of ridiculous in its own hilarious way.  Just like any other normal school, you should expect to be disciplined for violence against other students, or any other mischief for that matter, unless you can find a way to get away with it.  Bullworth Academy cracks down pretty hard on just about anything you do, but that shouldn’t worry players since getting away with your dirty deeds is pretty easy to do.  Just prepare to do a lot of running.  Running away from the school’s authority or the police is a majority of what you’ll be doing.  Life’s tough as a bully.

Bully’s mission structure favors short bite-sized missions over long and drawn-out affairs, which actually works to the game’s benefit.  A good portion of the missions involve you doing some pretty stupid things that often work best in shorter experiences.  You’ll partake in a majority of the missions on the academy’s grounds, but the story will also take you outside of the academy’s walls into the town of Bullworth, which is surprisingly big for what I expected.  There’s also a good amount of side missions, although most of them are relegated to fetch quests or beat-em-up missions.  Some of the missions might not be super imaginative, but I never found myself getting bored.  In addition to the missions, you can also partake in go-kart and other BMX-style races, carnival games, newspaper delivery, and combat training…because you know, that’s what high schoolers are into I guess.  There’s also a relationship component to the game that can lead to some hair-pulling fights depending on the girls you kiss.  Let’s just say there’s no shortage of trouble that you can get yourself into.

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Gameplay is where Bully starts to feel a little dated.  Combat handles pretty well and usually only involves punching or slingshot attacks from a distance.  Other weapons in the game, like firecrackers or potato guns, offer some variety in combat as well.  There’s also items like marbles and stink bombs that can give you the upper hand in fights as well.  The first part of the game is pretty tough since everybody hates you and wants to pick a fight, however, once you start to make more alliances and upgrade your arsenal, fights become a lot less frequent and when they do happen, they are much easier to handle.  You’re also able to ride bicycles and go karts, but these can get a little squirrely at times, especially the bicycle which I found myself wiping out on a lot if I wasn’t careful.  Perhaps the most frustrating part of the game were some of the classes, which are basically glorified mini games that you have to attend until you complete them.  (You can skip class, but that basically makes you a refugee in hiding until the class times are over.)  There are five classes in all, and most of them are either boring and unimaginative or frustratingly difficult.  I never remember Art class being that difficult.  Also, if Chemistry was as easy as just pressing buttons, then I’d probably be a scientist at NASA by now.  The classes are essential in that they grant you access to upgrades upon completion, but they are not fun whatsoever…which is maybe the most realistic thing about this game.

Never did I think a teenager’s rise up the high school totem pool would be so fun.  Bully provides a unique experience; unlike most traditional games we are used to.  Some of the game’s mechanics might not date well, but the overall experience still stands as one of Rockstar’s best.  This game makes me crave another dive into Bully’s world via a sequel, although that still remains a pipe dream at this point.  Now, this is the part where I would say I wish my high school experience was akin to this game, but then I realize how terrible that would be.  Bullworth is not a normal or sane school by any means, but boy was it fun.

bully score

Also available on PC and PS3.