Reviews

Review: Halo 5 Guardians

After installing a massive 9GB day one patch, hundreds of thousands of Xbox One owners booted up 343’s newest title, Halo 5: Guardians. 343 had a lot to make up for after the release of Halo 4. The multiplayer community in the previous game was bored with the content after a mere two months. At the same time the story was incredibly predictable and gameplay was repetetive excluding a couple new bells and whistle. I personally have not been a fan of the series since Halo 3 (which is easily one of the two best titles in the series), yet Halo 5: Guardians surprisingly has changed my feelings towards the series. This game, by no means is as good as Halo 3, but it certainly plays well for an FPS. Take this how you will, but Halo 5 does not play or feel like a traditional Halo game. I thought it was kind of odd to even associate the gameplay with the series, that’s how different it is. Whether that is a good or a bad thing is up to the player.

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For starters, Halo 5 looks great. The assets from the previous games that have been reused in previous games have been completely redone, providing a much needed face lift for the franchise. According to my El Gato capture device the game runs natively (yes that’s a real term) around 900p and is up scaled to 1080p. This was planned by 343 in order to have a close to 60FPS so the shooting mechanics seemed as clean and smooth as possible when compared to how choppy Halo 4 was. However, the game is by no means a precise and surgical 60FPS that one can see in a title such as Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, the lowest my El Gato capture device ever read on the game was around 48 frames per second during larger scale battles. This honestly didn’t matter that much to me because I was surprised by the visual quality of the effects in the game. Also, the moment to moment shooting normally stays around 55-60 FPS, so you will notice when the drop occurs but it doesn’t take that much away from the quality of the game. I just would like for developers to stay true to their promises since 343 explained that the reason why they down scaled the resolution of the game was in order to have the game locked at 60 FPS, this game is not locked at 60 FPS.

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Back to the effects, Halo 5 sounds and looks great. 343 stepped away from the sepia tint that they used for Halo 4 and instead replaced it with a vibrant palette of colors. The mere amount of variety when it comes to the hue of the different primary colors used in this game made me pause at first because this is easily the best looking Halo game (and that is putting the fact that it is the newest iteration in the franchise aside). The sound design from gunshots to the sound of a Banshee exploding all sound genuine and honestly realistic. Each gun makes distinctive sounds which are varied enough and recognizable enough that players can tell what kind of weapon enemies are attacking them with before they even see the enemy. This is incredibly useful on harder difficulties since every bit of intelligence on your enemies can help you succeed in battle. I am just glad that 343 didn’t decide to lazily cut and paste sound bits from the same weapon and apply it to all guns that fire bullets or plasma.

Contrary to what the marketing behind this game might have informed you about the story of Halo 5: Guardians, is the fact that you hardly play as the series protagonist, The Master Chief, at all. In fact you only play as Chief and his friends from Blue Team only in 3 out of the 15 missions in the entire game. This angered me since earlier this year, 343 claimed that Halo 5 would follow two stories interwoven together. One following Master Chief and Blue Team, while the other follows Spartan Locke and Fireteam Osiris while they attempt to hunt down the former. To “Hunt For The Truth.” Instead players are given a campaign and plot twist reminiscent of Metal Gear Solid 2. In Metal Gear Solid 2, the game was marketed as the next stage in the protagonists story, Solid Snake, instead players realized that they were instead going to play as a new character, Raiden for the majority of the story. This game was marketed as the next title in Master Chief’s story yet I felt like this was more about Spartan Locke and his crew. I wouldn’t mind this if 343 actually attempted to flesh out the characters of Fireteam Osiris. Sure players are given short dossiers on each member of the team, but none of these facts or backgrounds are expresses successfully in the game.

The use and explanation for Blue Team, Master Chief’s long time friends and comrades is also set up and executed in the game with an incredibly sloppy approach. To the unaware players, Blue Team is the codename for the Master Chief and his fireteam. Originally comprising around sixteen Spartan IIs, Blue Teams roster was decreased due to the deaths of over half of its members before or during the Fall of Reach which takes place earlier in the series timeline. Blue Team, like all of the other Spartan II supersoldiers were kidnapped as children in order to be augmented and trained into the  most effective fighting force in the history of humankind. The relation ship between the Master Chief and the other three Spartans, Linda-058, Frederic-104, and Kelly-087 is reminiscent of a real brotherhood that one would find in real military units. Halo 5 does an absolutely atrocious job of attempting to flesh this dynamic out. There is literally one line said by Buck of Fireteam Osiris (voiced by Nathan Fillion) during level 4 of the campaign that explains to the unaware gamer that Blue Team has completed more operations than any other fireteam and that they are a family. That’s it, nothing else is mentioned in game to further explain the actually incredible dynamic between these characters.

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Multiplayer in Halo 5 has proved to me that old franchises can be successfully reinvented in order to appeal to a larger audience and to remain relevant to gamers. Halo 5 currently features two forms of multiplayer combat, Arena & Warzone. Arena is essentially the gamemodes a veteran player would expect to find in a Halo game. Gamemodes such as Slayer, Free for All, and my personal favorite SWAT are all under this category. They all have a new twist however, these gamemodes are limited to 4v4 and are incredibly fast paced. This is partially due to the fact that gameplay in Halo 5 is fast paced and constantly moving. These Arena gamemodes also have a new ranking system to them that is incredibly similar to that of MOBA games such as League of Legends & DOTA 2. I felt that this added a much needed competitive nature to the game and would make it appeal to more hardcore gamers. This was needed in my opinion because Halo typically has an incredibly low learning curve and normally lacks any need of skill at the surface. These new additions of jump jets and cambering along with dashes help raise the learning curve for this franchise in a well executed fashion. The other gamemode that I have been playing non stop is Warzone. Warzone at its core can be described as Titanfall mixed with Battlefield with a touch of MOBA elements. Warzone puts two teams against each other on a large map that supports close combat infantry engagements along with large scale vehicle combat. The two teams fight over control for 3 different points, typically two armories and a center stronghold. By controlling these points the teams gain points. The objective is to be the first team to reach 1,000 VP points. Simple enough right? Wrong. Along with worrying for the other team, players must also worry about incredibly strong Covenant or Promethean enemies that will spawn in at different locations at different times during the battle. If a team manages to kill one of the computer controlled opponents they will normally earn a large amount of VP points that will be added to their team’s total and will also more than  likely gain a powerful weapon from the now dead enemies inventory. These along with several other features that I will let players discover on their own adds some more complicated elements to the gamemode.

I found Halo 5 to be exponentially more enjoyable than Halo 4. That isn’t saying much though considering how much of a dumpster fire Halo 4 was. Halo 5’s new elements breath life into a struggling franchise and helped it become the best selling Halo game of all time. Whether this is due to the fact that it is the first exclusive shooter on the Xbox One or the fact that it is available to a much wider audience since it is rated T for Teens and not M is up to your interpretation and analysis. Halo 5 is by no means the best game in the series but it does succeed in reinventing itself but it also loses some of its original appealing factors by doing so. None the less Halo 5 is miles ahead of Call of Duty Black Ops 3 (Do not expect a review any time soon for that pitiful “game”) and proves to be an enjoyable experience when you put the flaws in the story aside.

Verdict: 8.8/10

Review: Uncharted: Nathan Drake Collection

Frantically jumping from seat to seat, the vertigo setting in, I panic as I make my way up the train. Everything inside the train begins tumble out the back into the valley below as the train inches closer to tumbling off with Drake inside of it. His leaps become more sporadic and desperate as the realization of the dire situation begins to fully sit in. After several more heart stopping leaps of absolute faith I make my way off of the cliff face onto relatively solid ground. This retelling of one of my favorite moments from Uncharted 2 in the Nathan Drake Collection. 

The Collection follows, the charismatic adventurer and thief, Nathan Drake on three escapades that lead him and his friends (and enemies) across the world. The Collection itself is actually three games remastered through the same engine Naughty Dog used in The Last of Us when it comes to visuals. The three games remastered are Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, and Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. All three of the games have an average Metacritic score of over a 91/100 and Uncharted 2 was the official Game of the Year in 2009. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception was given perfect scores from IGN and Gamespot.  Overall these games are action packed almost cinema esque adventures. Yet, what makes them stand apart from the average action adventure game?

 

Naughty Dog, the game’s developer is no stranger when it comes to making noteworthy franchises. They in fact are one of the few developers that has made noteworthy games in three completely different genres. Crash Bandicoot was a phenomenal platformer on the PS1 and PS2. On the other end of the spectrum The Last of Us cleaned shop and won Game of the Year for being a story driven survival-horror game and is regarded by many as being one of the best games ever made. Uncharted at its core is an action adventure third person shooter. However, it also has fantastic platforming puzzles and over the top cinematic gun play experiences as well. Yet, it accomplishes this in a light hearted manner. Not a single Uncharted game has been rated M for mature audiences (although the upcoming Uncharted 4 might be). All of this is combined with perfect voice casting and acting. Nolan North absolutely lives this role when it comes to his performance as Drake. The characters in this series ranging from the father like figure Victor “Sully” Sulivan to the witty journalist and love interest Elena Fisher are also all expressed through expressive performances. The Villains in general are well written. So just from a story perspective, the series has an incredible advantage over other games in the genre.

Now to break apart and describe the various kinds of gameplay one will find in this collection. Each game does a fantastic job of incorporating a controls tutorial into the actual story in each game. For example, the basic mechanics of how to climb and maneuver a 3D spectrum are introduced to the player while they are attempting to climb out of the cliff side train in the opening scene of Uncharted 2. Climbing, whether it be inside an ancient monastery in Nepal to a warehouse in London, inhabits a large portion of the gameplay. Puzzles at times have to be solved through jumping to specific points in a ruin that would be unreachable by any other means. Shooting mechanics are also added to the climbing functions. One moment Drake may be climbing up the side of a burning apartment building in Nepal and may need to shoot a mercenary from the ledge of said building. It shouldn’t have to be stated that Drake cannot wield a two handed weapon such as an AK47 or a M4A1 during these encounters but I felt like I should at least leave that tip in here. The climbing portions and verticality of what would be tedious single planed environments in other shooters is essentially refreshed with the ability to scale the environment in order to get the drop on your enemies.

The moment to moment gameplay centers around run and gunning from cover to cover. As stated earlier, these do not suffer from being repetitive due to the added verticality in the games. You are never simply fighting enemies on a level environment. This is thanks to the level design and creative directors at Naughty Dog. The screenshot above is from Uncharted 2: Among Thieves during a boss battle with a Hind Attack Gunship. Most games would put the player in a courtyard or inside a building. Instead this fight takes place on several burning rooftops in a city in Nepal. The player is forced to frantically jump from building to building, utilizing any weapon they can find in order to take down the chopper. All while dodging gunfire from not only the chopper but also rooftop enemies. The weapons themselves in these games are what one would expect in an adventure game of this genre. The player has the ability to pick (in many cases off the corpses of enemies) weapons ranging from simple nine millimeter handguns to RPGS and Grenade Launchers. There are also usually a variety of each class of weapon Drake may find. In other words there are normally two to three different kinds of assault rifles or pistols to pick from. Some players may favor a classic revolver that deals a lot of damage but lacks ammunition capacity. Others may prefer a semi automatic Colt .45. The decision is up to the player and will drastically call for different play styles. However, the game does force players to part ways with their preferred weapon sometimes during specific encounters. For example you simply cannot beat a tank with an assault rifle, so you are forced to use an RPG. These moments feels necessary though, so I personally did not mind them that much.

 

Visually, all three games look fantastic. Obviously the best change visually from the original to this remastering is the graphical upgrade for Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, the first game. Seeing Nathan Drake being rendered through the same process in all three games in the remastering truly blends all three games into a seemingly transition-less story. I find it enjoyable to play several chapters in each game without really noticing any basic changes to the graphics. The special effects from everything from an explosion to the candid torchlight deep underground all seem incredibly polished and organic. Organic in the sense that the effects seem to be all unique in the specific encounters. An explosion inside a cave simply doesn’t behave or look the same as an explosion that occurs on top of a roof. The sounds design in the game is also incredibly noteworthy. I find the attention to detail, such as the ringing that occurs after an explosion that goes off in close proximity to Drake a nice touch to theses games that sound and look almost like a movie. I can best equate these games to a modern take on an Indiana Jones style adventure game.

The Uncharted series is a must play franchise for any player new to the franchise or a series veteran that seeks a nostalgic trip through incredible set environments and intriguing stories. The franchise has literally never looked better. The shere amount of content a player recieves for $60 is an absolute steal. Three outstanding games that received countless awards for the price of one, who honestly wouldn’t want to play these fantastic games found only on Playstation? I personally cannot wait for the next iteration in the series: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End which comes out next spring but until then, this Collection will suite my cravings for the franchise.

Verdict: 9/10

Review: Forza Motorsport 6

Rain, high speed, stunning visuals and super fast cars. What more could a car enthusiast want? This year marks the 10th anniversary to the first Forza game. To mark this great milestone the developers over at Turn 10 Studios have created this phenomenal addition to the franchise: Forza Motorsport 6. In my opinion this is the first iteration in the franchise that truly feels next gen. For those unaware theForza franchise has been exclusive to the Xbox platform, this is the second game to be solely developed for the Xbox One (The other being Forza Motorsport 5). Yet, this game finally delivers in my opinion when it comes to the amount of content and the overall feel of the game.

forza6_3The Forza series at its core is a racing simulator. The RoundUp’s very own Editor and Chief, Blake Delong ’16, describes it as “very visceral and tactile experience due to the audio and physics.” This is a practical interpretation of the series. Every turn of the steering wheel, just the slightest touch of the breaks has a domino effect on the track. In other words this is by no means a casual racing game. Sure the game gives the player the option to set racing difficulties to novice and even allows players to rewind in real time to correct an awful turn or pass. However, if a player wants to be any good at this franchise, the player has to know their own limits when it comes to reaction times and the limits of their current car. These are the minimal requirements to being mediocre at this game. The mere attention to detail Turn 10 Studios put into this iteration is mind boggling. For example, cars have less grip at night due to a cooler tarmac, this tiny detail is even reflected in the gameplay. Another small detail is how water pools in certain parts of the track, this creates spots of low traction. The developers went to each circuit and mapped all of the low points on every single track in order to provide this realistic aspect. Combining all of these features with countless others provide the foundation to a solid racing experience.

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Now to the actual racing in Forza Motorsport 6. The typical race features a grid start with up to 24 other racers. The majority of your opponents are the “drivatars” or avatars of other real racers in the game’s community. These can even at times be your friends if they have ever played a Forza game. Most races require intense concentration, this is due to the shear havoc a driver can encounter on a circuit. These range from simple 2 lap sprints to endurance races that require several hours to complete. The first type of race mentioned is incredibly easy for new players to jump into. Meanwhile, the latter of which call for far more experience and general knowledge of racing. Other details and effects that do not effect short races such as tire wear, fuel consumption, and dynamic weather all contribute to the greater difficulty in these endurance races. Tires losing grip will more than likely be the first challenge racers will encounter on the circuit. This will force players to literally get better or quit this portion of the game altogether. Tires in this iteration of Forzaabsolutely matter. Fuel honestly isn’t that much of a problem, if you as the player notice that your fuel gauge is low, simply enter the pit stop. Yet, deciding which lap one should stop for gas on is entirely up to the player. My suggestion is you enter the pit stop during a long race sooner rather than later. This allows you some time to catch up to the other racers.

The most difficult aspect when it comes to racing in Forza Motorsport 6 is building experience and mastering the ability to drive in heavy rain. Rain is absolutely unforgiving in Forza. A powerful horsepower filled beast such as the Audi R8 or Pagani Zonda can be reduced to a chunk of scrap metal by simply breaking to much or too little in the rain. The team over at Turn 10 Studios as previously stated went to each individual track and got the precise measurements for the track. This allowed them to properly place where on the track pools of water occur in heavy rain fall. These pools can honestly be a racers worst nightmare since they can lead to hydroplaning and a loss of stability. To make things worse, the player must also watch out for other drivers that may hydroplane themselves and then obscure or block the track. In other words player awareness should be double what it normally is in non wet conditions. Possibly the worst conditions to race in are rainy tracks at night. My experience’s during those kind of races were by no means pleasant ones. This added difficulty in turn tested my abilities as a racer and proved to be absolutely worth it. After mastering (in my opinion) racing in wet conditions, racing in dry conditions proves to be second nature and even easier than before.

Challenges make a return in this iteration of Forza. These challenges are a decent break from the typical racing. One of my favorite challenges puts the player in a super car and they are tasked with passing as many cars as possible. I personally find this enjoyable considering the cars you end up passing are either old VW Bugs or old Fiats. These challenges are also where players can find endurance races and challenges in exotic cars. The challenges as a whole are a nice piece of additional content to a game that already has a fantastic single player experience. The multiplayer is more of the same that the single player is but the drivatars are replaced by actual players so it is nothing ground breaking. However, I find that this isn’t a bad thing to the slightest degree. In fact it is nice that the developer didn’t half make a crummy multiplayer system.

Forza Motorsports 6 is probably my favorite installment in the series or at least ties with Horizon 2. The precise and calculative gameplay is only matched by Gran Turismo but that series is yet to have a next gen installment. If what I have said earlier doesn’t convince you to get this game as a racing fan what I am about to say will. I LITERALLY BOUGHT an Xbox One to play this series. My Xbox One is my Forza & Halomachine. In other words, I was willing to pay the money to just be able to play these two game franchises because they are that good.

Verdict 9.1/10

Review: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

When the embargo for reviews for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain were lowered I waited anxiously for the reviews to be posted. I was nervous that the game I had been looking forward to since 2008 and openly since 2012 was as good as I had hoped it could be. The first review for the game I saw was a 10/10 from Vince Ingenito from IGN. I thought this was odd since this was Vince’s first 10/10 game. Then like a waterfall the accolades and perfect reviews began to be posted in an abundant amount (Currently the game sits at a Metacritic Score of 96/100. This is an average of ALL REVIEWS by MAJOR OUTLETS!). The week that lead up to the games’ official release seemed like it would last forever. Finally after playing the game for an undisclosed but ludicrous amount of hours all I have to say is that this game is nearly perfect. I left some quotes from notable reviews below.
“The Phantom Pain may be a contender for one of the best action games ever made, but is undoubtedly the best Metal Gear game there is. 10/10″- Gamespot
“The Phantom Pain is the kind of game I thought would never exist – one where every minute gameplay detail has true purpose. 10/10″ – Vince Ingenito – IGN
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For those unaware, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is the last game in a TWENTY EIGHT year long blockbuster series (Well atleast the last for the series creator). I highly suggest reading my preview for this game simply because to understand this game and review, you need to know what the heck is going on (you can find it here). I will attempt however to summarize the setting of the game as quickly as possible.

The player controls a character called Venom Snake which is apparently the new alias for Big Boss or Naked Snake. The player awakes from a nine year coma after their Private Military Corporation called MSF (Big Boss’s life’s work is destroyed by an unknown party). The game at its’ core is an epic tale about revenge and more specifically vengeance. As Venom Snake the player attempts to recreate the PMC while at the same time eliminating those that destroyed the original. The purpose for the group now called Diamond Dogs is stated simply by its co founder and ally, Kazuhira Miller, “The world calls for wet-work, and we answer! No greater good. No just cause!” The progression of the story in The Phantom Pain is by no means a pleasant one. Instead, the game follows a once proud hero’s fall from grace and honor.
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Gameplay in The Phantom Pain at its core can be described as an open world – stealth action game. I could best describe this game as a mixture of Far Cry, GTA, and Splinter Cell.Far Cry because the game features dozens of outpost, bases and fortresses that can be captured in the massive open world. The game takes aspects from GTA merely through the scale of the environments the player will encounter. Finally, The Phantom Pain draws several stealth play styles from the Splinter Cell games. The funny thing is that The Phantom Pain accomplishes all of this and executes it with far more success. In addition to aspects from the previous games stated, The Phantom Pain brings its own characteristics to the table as well. One of the more broad features that the game includes is the base building progression that the player controls.
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This can best be described as a professional game developers interpretation of the Clash of Clans genre. In the story of The Phantom Pain, the player as I already stated is attempting to recreate their own PMC after the original’s destruction. Soldiers are recreated to add to your base through a process known as fulton recovery. The player accomplishes this by knocking an enemy soldier out and attaching a balloon like device to their body. After the balloon is attached it inflates and lifts the soldiers up to a safe altitude after which a helicopter snags them out of the air and brings them back to the mother base. After some interrogation and in some cases just a quick chit chat the prisoner will realize that working for your PMC is literally a soldier’s dream. No bureaucracy holding you back, no politics, just brotherhood and comradeship. This is only the first step to your recreation of your mother base. Recruited soldiers can be sent to several different sub teams on your base. These include your Research & Development Team, Combat Team, Intel Team and several more teams that will level up over time and allow the player to manufacture and use better weapons and equipment in the field. Some teams such as the Combat Team can even help you in the field or you can have them run operations on there own in order to increase your GMP. GMP is the currency used to research and manufacture things in the game.
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Now onto the Player versus Player aspect of the game. As the player you can raid other real player’s own mother bases. This is where the Clash of Clans aspect really sheds light. As a player you can personal sneak around another player’s base as Big Boss. You can even steal their assets such as soldiers, cargo, tanks, mounted gun emplacements, etc. Yet, at the same time this isn’t an easy task. As stated the other player’s have plenty of assets to defend their own turf. When creating your base and constructing new struts for the base the player also is given the opportunity to add defense to their base. These include machine guns, guard rotations, drones, and pretty much anything else that could be expected for an action game of this genre. These assets can also be procured in offline play in the game’s story mode as well. In other words if you see a tank in the campaign, don’t blow it up. Rather, disable it and attach a fulton device to it and ship it back to your base. All of these assets will create a more difficult defense which will in turn keep other players out. This feature of base building alone could be a game, yet this is only a fraction of the gameplay and to be honest you can beat the entire game without having to invade another players mother base.
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The main minute to minute gameplay revolves around a dynamic story that takes players to places such as the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan in 1984 to the war torn region of Angola in Africa. All regions are open world and they both have real time passage of time and “dynamic weather”. For example, as Big Boss I may be attempting to sneak into a Soviet outpost, instead of waiting for night (when guard rotation occurs and far less guards are on patrol), I could attempt to see if sand storm is predicted to hit the region on this specific day. The sand storm will decrease the guard’s visibility and line of sight that gives the player a better opportunity to infiltrate the base than even at night. Likewise, in Angola, rainstorms and monsoons can create the exact same effect. The playable environments in all regions of the game are littered with outposts, bases, and fortresses.
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Roads are patrolled by armored convoys and foot patrols. Traversing these roads and the world in general can be accomplished through several different means. For starters the player can request a horse called D-Horse which can be used to navigate the world with more stealth than a jeep since its more quiet. This however doesn’t mean that you cannot procure a jeep, APC, truck or any motorized vehicle. Other modes of transport include simply being dropped on top of your objective via helicopter. Later on in the game you can even ride a robot that can be equipped with arms and an assortment of guns. Players also need to plan routes to evacuate these open environments because if you alert the security that is guarding these areas the entire region can become on alert. If this occurs the player should either exfil via helicopter or attempt to cross the border. How and where the player does this however for example when it comes to a landing zone for the helicopter is entirely up to the player. Just be sure to knockout nearby anti air defenses that can and will shoot your helicopter down.
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Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain truly respects the intelligence of the player. Most games “hold the players hand” when it comes to gameplay and player choice. The Phantom Pain on the other hand gives the player’s the tools and an objective. How this is completed is entirely up to the player. For example I was tasked with acquiring a Russian translator in a mission early on in the game. I personally decided to attempt a more stealth like approach. I waited patiently for the translator to be alone and proceeded to use my tranquilizer gun to knockout all other surrounding soldiers. This culminated with me knocking out the translator and fultoning his entire fireteam to my mother base. This is only one of many different approaches the player can choose. For example, you could burst into the outpost with an automatic un suppressed assault rifle and kill everyone but the translator. Or you could snipe them all from far away. As you can see there are towns of options when it comes to completing your objective. You could even drive a jeep with C4 attached to it and blow it up in the base if that is your kind of approach. The game also allows the player to replay missions, this allows you to perfect your favorite kind of play style and retrieve resources that can be sent back to your base. I felt the amount of freedom in the game was perfect. The game doesn’t let you go completely off the rails but it still allows you to have your own say in how you complete your objective.
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 The game also lets the player choose a buddy to take in to battle.  You can take D-Walker, the robot mentioned earlier, D-Dog, a dog you find in Angola, D-Horse (original right), and Quiet who is a mute sniper. Each buddy has a sort of bond/relationship meter that increases the more time you spend with them on the battlefield. Each one has their own pros and cons. Quiet for example is fantastic at scouting ahead and eliminating enemies from afar. However, rain has a negative effect on her “powers” (which I won’t spoil). You can also go into areas lone wolf style if you want to. Yet, I find that bringing a buddy along can be incredibly helpful. In addition to simply picking them you can also decide what kind of gear they will bring. This is a nice final touch to the system especially if you equip Quiet with a tranquilizer rifle.
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The Phantom Pain’s story also attempts to touch on more “taboo” aspects that typically aren’t in action games or even games in general. This has led to a lot of controversy especially when it comes to child soldiers and blood diamonds and even the portrayal of Quiet as a character. The scantily clad sniper has reasons as to why she wears the attire that caused so much uproar in the gaming community, but her outfit can be changed by the player if you really are bothered by it that much. Personally, I felt that the game tackled all of the “taboos” and dark and morally gray areas quite well. The game may be funny at times but it can absolutely slow its pacing down and show a more mature side to its moral compass. Players shouldn’t quit this game if they are offended by subject matters. If the game is capable of making such an emotional connection then it should be played more because it is accomplishing its purpose as a medium. If a game doesn’t make the player question their own moral compass it then lacks the ability to be an outstanding game. This stands true for all games when it comes to story, not just The Phantom Pain. 
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The greater aspect of the story that takes the spotlight away from all of the awful things the player encounters is the transformation of the main playable character Venom Snake. Venom Snake, voiced by Kiefer Sutherland, was previously a national hero. He saves the world from a nuclear exchange twice first in Metal Gear Solid 3 and then again in Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker. However, as seen in the original Metal Gear & Metal Gear 2 Big Boss/Venom Snake is a warlord that ultimately is a deplorable villain. The Phantom Pain attempts to tackle this transformation. Several INCREDIBLY important twists in this game change the entire history and perspective of the franchise as a whole. I will not spoil them but some things aren’t what they seem and some people are not who as the player you think they are. I could go on about some spoilers that made my mouth drop to the floor but for the convenience of the reader I will leave them out. I felt that the twists near the ending of the game were smart since they actually clear up a couple questions and don’t really leave any lose ends since this is probably the last game in the series. This is because the series creator and mastermind Hideo Kojima was fired along with all of his staff at Kojima Productions in LA by Konami, the game’s publisher. This makes the game as a whole feel bitter sweet. Nonetheless I found the game impossible to enjoy and incredibly hard to put down. There is always something to do, another operation to complete, another item that needs to be researched. I am still not done playing the game. Though I have beaten the story I am still attempting to level all of my base up and research several unique items/weapons.
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Verdict: 10/10 Hideo Kojima went out with a bang with this final installation in the franchise. The game runs incredibly well on my PC and the PS4 version (the other version I played) had little to no stuttering. The ambitious open world design delivers what the developers promised. Gameplay is addictive and incredibly hard to put down. Most of all, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain stands out from the rest of the games out and coming out due to the fact that it isn’t afraid to cover tough topics along with the fact that it respects the intelligence of the average gamer.
This game truly is a masterpiece, a kind of game that has the depth and wide perspective that truly only comes every couple of years. The limitless possibilities to how you can play The Phantom Pain allow creativity for the player. Do yourself a favor and go buy this game if you haven’t already.

Review: Mega Man Legacy Collection

Few franchises stay true to their roots, fewer are successful commercially by doing so. Mega Man for the most part has stayed true to its original ideals. Though the most recent games were lacking when it came to sales. The Mega Man Legacy Collection allows older fans of the franchise with the ability to play the first six games remastered for newer hardware. The bundle of remastered game also gives new gamers a chance to play the first several games in this classic franchise.

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The original Mega Man, which released in 1987 on the NES, has never looked this great. What truly makes me happy as a huge Mega Man fan is the fact that the developers didn’t decide to add a 3D filter to the games’ art style. Instead the pix-elated graphics have been up scaled to look great on HD Tvs and 4k monitors. The game also allows for a 4:3 aspect ratio display setting which gives the game a truly arcade look. In summary the game looks stellar.

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For those unaware, the Mega Man series are for the most part, side scrolling platform action games. The series has been praised for its difficulty in general and its outstanding boss fights. Different weapons and dozens of abilities are also trademark in this series that originally aired on the Nintendo Entertainment system. The games follow the same model for the most part. They are broken up into several stages, each one culminating in a boss fight that if beat, awards the player with a unique weapon/power/etc. The series was praised for its unique game & level design which was revolutionary at the time. The difficulty of the game and the relentless enemy/boss attacks also made the game stand apart from other games that came out in the late 1980’s. The Mega Man franchise & the Metroid franchise were simply the best at their time when it came to platforming games.

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In the Mega Man Legacy Collection, all six original games that are included are worth playing. Mega Man II is my personal favorite but I found myself playing the games in order. This allowed me to further appreciate the progression the series followed. The stages are clean and crisp down to the very pixel. Noticing changes throughout the games in regards to several aspects of the games’ art style also proved to be fun to enjoy. Each game allows the player to save a a single specific point of the player’s choosing. I for one welcomed this since the games’ original password system was an absolute mess and truly doesn’t appear in many other current platformers. I felt Capcom did this in order to give new players a chance to enjoy these near perfect games. The restore points probably help veteran players as well who haven’t played this franchise in over two decades.

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The Legacy Collection features an archival database that includes a bestiary much like the ones in past Witcher games. Fantastic pixel art depicts the common enemies and bosses that the player will encounter throughout the games. The database in incredibly helpful when it comes to planning strategies for specific enemy encounters. Different abilities and weapons are also in the database. In other words, if you want to be good at these difficult games, you should spend a lot of your time reading up on your foes.

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New to the Legacy Collection are the challenge modes. These allow players to replay favorite boss fights and engagements. All of the fan favorites are back and remastered for the newer systems. Challenges such as beating bosses within a certain time period to speed runs of entire Mega Man games prove to be difficult but fun to play. The global leader boards allow players to compare their skills and best times to that of friends and complete strangers. I found some of the challenges to be absolutely ridiculous when it came to their extreme difficulty. Honestly, a player could spend countless hours just attempting to beat all of these challenges.

In summary, the Mega Man Legacy Collection fulfills in bringing nostalgia back to veterans of the series. The new restore point feature makes the franchise more accessible to newer gamers. On top of this, having the ability to play the first six games all on the same console with ease is an absolute plus. I wish more challenges were in the game but there still is a enormous amount of content in this game bundle.

Verdict: 9.2/10 if you have played the franchise before. This remastering absolutely gets in touch with a fan of the series’ nostalgia. Though I wish Mega Man 7-10 were in this as well.

8/10 for those that have never played the games before. Some may be off put by its old school graphics and the difficulty of the games as a whole. Yet, these were some of the best games at their time.

Review: Project CARS

Bent metal, stunning visuals, and heart racing gameplay: Few words can describe the sheer amount of detail put into Project CARS, a racing simulator developed by Slightly Mad Studios. At first glance, the game would appear to have been made by a major publisher’s developers such as EA or Ubisoft. However, the reality is that Project CARS was developed by a small team whose origins can be traced back to Need For Speed: Shift. Slightly Mad Studios, which is based out of the U.K. and is comprised of just over 100 employees. When juxtaposed with the larger developers that can range from 350-800 employees, this number seems relatively tame. If this game proves anything about AAA game development, it is that beautiful games do not require a ludicrous amount of employees and funding. This alone drew my attention to Project CARS.

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Racing simulators, for those unaware of the specifics of the genre, attempt to encapsulate a realistic approach to racing. Easily distinguishable from more arcade racers such as Midnight Club or Burnout, racing sims convey the more serious aspects of circuit racing. Other noteworthy racing sims are the Forza Gran Turismo franchises, yet these two are isolated to either the Xbox or Playstation platforms. Project Cars, on the other hand, is available on multiple platforms from the PC to the WiiU. Obviously, the most unique experience will be on the PC, which is my platform of choice for the game. At the same time, however, I am incredibly satisfied by this small team of developers’ ability to put out their game on so many platforms (the Thursday release on the PC was also a nice change).

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From the moment that the game is booted up, the visuals are the first aspects of the game that stand out the most. I was met with near photo-realistic quality. This amount of detail and hard work put in by the team absolutely accomplished its goal of putting the player behind the wheel of a super car. In other words, everything from the rain drops running down the side of the cars to the unique shadows and lighting exemplify and champion the art of artistic game design (photo-realistic comparison is above). Another small detail that was quite enjoyable was the physics behind leaves and debris on the track. Leaves mask the trail and rush of air behind your vehicle, almost like a small tornado. The amount of time dedicated in order to accomplish such a small feat truly displays this hardworking team of developers’ pride in its work. This alone set them apart from more “mainstream” developers.

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Graphics in racing games can only help polish the games’ end result. Gameplay ultimately makes or breaks racing games. That being said, I have found my time withProject CARS incredibly difficult but rewarding. All actions and shifts of the steering wheel have drastic effects on the handling of the cars. The slightest wrong twitch can send your priceless car into the side of an unwelcoming wall or fellow racer. Project CARS manages to break down the aspects of racing to almost an art, which sounds poetic but is nonetheless true. Rain, which normally is a minor setback in other racing games, truly can screw the player over if the wrong set up is used. The types of tires, break pressure, and even the temperature of the breaks all affect the player’s ability to navigate in the rain. Driving without rain in this game is already difficult enough at times, and rain just makes Project CARS even more realistic and difficult. Ironically, I found the driving mechanics in the game to be not only fair, but also quite easy to understand. The game explicitly explains to the player what different tunes and options on your car will result in on the track. The game does not hold the player’s hand. Rather, it attempts to guide the player in explaining how things such as qualifier rounds and grid set ups can affect your performance. The game itself is far more intuitive and has far more depth than it lends itself to at first glance.

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The cars themselves in the game are also a specific asset when it comes to the gameplay as a whole. In some races, the player will be racing against 20 identical cars that only vary when it comes to finite tuning adjustments. In other races, the player will pick a specific car from a preset class. Regardless, the game’s fair level playing field of giving each racer the same fully upgraded car truly helps distinguish an average racer from a pro. Players can’t depend on better upgrades or cash to pay for better parts. Instead, the skill of the player ultimately proves to be the defining factor between finishing first or last. The game accomplishes these fair playing field conditions by placing the player essentially on a racing team sponsored by a group. In these leagues that the teams compete in, all cars are the same, and all assets are shared. The tournaments themselves occur on a calendar reminiscent of my pro player on Fifa or any other sports game. Races are set in advance and are normally divided into days. This adds a sense of reality and depth to the game. Many racing games have the player magically appear at a starting line, only becoming aware of where they are going to race moments before. Project Cars allows the player to glimpse months ahead into their schedule in order to prepare for the different tracks and cars allowed in upcoming races. It truly feels like a professional and realistic experience, or as close to one as the average player can get to actually racing a two million dollar car down the Mercedes Benz test track in Germany.

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To top off the already incredibly well-made game, the developers have made a phenomenal multiplayer environment. On the PC at least, weekly tournaments and competitions are hosted for various prizes, including some actual cash prizes. The community as a whole is incredibly welcoming, and different brackets for various skill levels of players are available. The developers behind Project CARS have succeeded in making a game with a devoted and deeply interested community. This in turn will increase the longevity of the game and hopefully the game series.

Verdict: 9/10 – Though it lacks the large roster of its competitors in this genre of gaming, Project CARS instead provides the players with an incredibly realistic environment. The attention to detail and the overall graphics of the game are easily the best in the industry at the moment, but, at the same time, the game delivers a precise and fair version of racing gameplay.

Review: Final Fantasy Type 0 HD

Immediately, as I boot up the game, I am met with a dying soldier and a bloodied Chocobo (an animal used like a horse), an incredibly violent scene for a Final Fantasy game. From the very beginning sequence in-game, Final Fantasy Type 0 HD makes the player aware that the themes and topics in this installment will be far darker than before. Final Fantasy Type 0 HD is the remastered and rebalanced version of the PSP game; Originally released in Japan exclusively back in 2011, Type 0 HD reiterates its dark themes. In fact, Type 0 was the first and only Final Fantasy title to receive a Mature rating from the ESRB. Unlike previous iterations in the franchise, Type 0 depicts a gritty and graphic war between four nations. The added gore and blood sets this game apart from the rest and is absolutely geared toward a more mature audience.

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The game takes place in the world of Orience, which is divided into four kingdoms. Each kingdom has its own magical crystal that grants the specific kingdom a certain magical ability. One of the kingdoms, the Milites (white on the map), sparks the beginning of a war between the other kingdoms. The protagonist of the game hails from the first kingdom that was attacked, Rubrum (red on the map). To be specific, the playable characters in the game are all cadets for a special military academy near the border between the two kingdoms. This special academy trains students to wield deadly magic with utmost precision. In total, 14 cadets are playable; each one uses a different play-style and excels and struggles at different situations and fighting specific enemy types. The cadets range from a katana-wielding student by the name of Jack, who is incredibly slow but deals an immense amount of damage, to the quick and agile Ace, who uses a deck of magic cards to eliminate enemies at range and teleport from enemy to enemy.

The voice-acting cast could have been a little better, but it still brings life and diversity to the 14 characters, not to mention the incredibly memorable journey that the students embark on throughout the entire world of Orience during the war. I found the story compelling and even quite tragic in the last two acts.

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Unlike previous games, Type 0 HD takes place during a brutal war. Gameplay and main story missions reflect this motif. Unlike other Final Fantasy games, you aren’t searching for a special weapon or a hermit that holds secrets that could save the world. In Type 0 HD, you wage raids and military campaigns with the only goal in mind being the extermination of Rubrum’s enemies. The cinematics are incredibly saturated during military combat scenes, much like recent war films, which helps encapsulate the different tone of this game. On top of this, the game narrates itself like a war footage documentary. In other words, the game helps explain battles and tasks through diagrams and voice-overs during cutscenes.

The game itself has two different kinds of cinematics, the fantastic-looking CGI cutscenes and the in-game engine cutscenes, the latter of which isn’t that incredible to look at and is the consequence of the game being a port of the original Japanese PSP game. I felt as if further anti-aliasing and reworked textures could have saved this game from mediocre in-game cutscenes because they put the pre-established CGI cinematics to shame. That being said, the graphics in Type 0 HD truly couldn’t be capable on last-gen systems. Though it isn’t the best looking game at all with some muddy textures, the sheer amount of things happening on screen do not cause the game to ever drop frames. At times I counted 30 plus enemies all moving independently combined with environmental effects and aftereffects from weapons and magic. In nearly any other game so far on the next-gen consoles, a setting like this would cause the game to slow down and drop frames. Yet, time was obviously spent more on performance and gameplay over graphics, which isn’t bad since the gameplay is an absolute blast.

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Type 0 HD takes the normal party system that is quite common in the Final Fantasy series and adds a more high risk theme. Unlike other Final Fantasy games that allow party members to be revived using various items, Type 0 HD penalizes the player and forces the player to trade in a different cadet to take the fallen one’s place. On top of this, the cadets do not come back to life until the mission is completed. This can prove to be a significant problem if, for example, your top 3 party members are all slain at once. This would then force the player to equip a B-team of under-leveled cadets to continue the fight, which normally doesn’t go well for the player. To combat this, I tended to use one of my top cadets with two lower level ones, and I attempted to keep all of my party members near the same level. This made the mission perma-death a lot easier to manage. After missions, all cadets are revived and you as a player return to the Academy, which acts as a hub for all interactions in the game. In the Academy, players can buy new gear, attend class for experience, and do other things that a student would do in a college setting. Interactions between members of Class Zero (the group of cadets you play as) also occur behind the safe walls of the Academy.

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When compared to the main installments in the numerical Final Fantasy games, Type 0 HD holds its own. It adds new features and aspects to gameplay such as insta-kill strikes and a unique perma-death for cadets in mission. However, since the game is a port of the PSP version, it fails to truly reach next-gen level graphics and ends up being a muddy mess at times. Yet, performance-wise the game does not show any signs of FPS drop or tearing so I commend the developers on that. At its core, Final Fantasy Type 0 HD is a fun game when it comes to gameplay. It took me a solid 40 hours to beat it, and that honestly didn’t require that bad of a grind.  In summary, the game is fun and the story is great, but the visuals, however, could have used some reworking.

Verdict: 7.6/10

Review: Mortal Kombat X

With graphic fatalities ridden with copious amounts of gore along with impalements and screams of agony, few franchises have impacted the gaming industry as much as the Mortal Kombat series. Parents and kids alike can either curse or praise its violence, which ultimately led to the creation of the Entertainment Software Rating Board, or ESRB for short. In summary, the rating system used by all games in North America was the result of the gratuitous amounts of blood and dismemberment, both of which were delivered in the latest installment of Mortal Kombat X. Taking what they learned from fan feedback about their previous game, NetherRealm Studios took the great ideas from Mortal Kombat 9 and implemented them along with several new features to form this game.

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From a graphics standpoint, Mortal Kombat X does not look as good as the reveal trailer made it out to be. That being said, the game truly looks and plays better on newer consoles and the PC. The game on max settings on my PC does not disappoint me in any way, but I do feel as if the developers could have done a better job optimizing it on the PC. Yet, this game still looks phenomenal. The attention to detail and careful attention the developers put into the detailed textures of the characters and environment truly returns a crisp and clean display to the player’s eyes. There are some outliers to this, such as clipping of player models and collision between articles of clothing and the characters, but that is expected in a fighting game that is so dependent on movement and animation. The animation on the other hand is executed perfectly in nearly every single way. The developers obviously took their time to use motion capture to recreate each punch, jab, and kick to best of their ability. For example, a punch in real life, if executed with the right technique, draws a lot of strength from the puncher’s legs and feet; NetherRealms took their time to model each movement as realistically as possible even when there are no punches being thrown. Unlike other fighting games that feel snappy and quite choppy when it comes to animation, Mortal Kombat X makes each fight feel like a well choreographed and incredibly violent dance. Some assets are used from previous Mortal Kombat games in regards to punches and basic attacks, but I do not see this as a bad thing. Why would the developers change something that already works? In summary, the animation is phenomenal and the graphics look great, but I was really wanting the amazing graphics from the E3 reveal trailer.

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The roster for Mortal Kombat X couldn’t be any better, honestly (excluding the absence of a playable Baraka). Old favorites are still in-game, which is expected, but the newcomers also surprisingly fit in with the series’ regulars. Trademark moves also return for the most part but some of the button combos have been changed (I’m mostly talking about Scorpion’s “get over here”). New characters such as Kung Jin and Erron Black have some awesome and unique moves that actually help them stand up against more powerful characters. But most importantly, the brutality of the fatalities remains intact when it comes to character design and the overall atmosphere of the game.

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This wouldn’t be a Mortal Kombat game if it didn’t have absolutely over-the-top fatalities. To be honest, they are so graphic that I wasn’t comfortable putting any in this review. All I can say is that the game uses every bit of its engine to make the gore and blood look as realistic as possible, which is honestly disturbing but cool at the same time. Some fatalities are let downs, though, but some absolutely go above and beyond and made myself cringe from the thought of these kind of attacks actually happening to a real living being. The fatalities range from simple wounds to bodies being split in half, which explains why I couldn’t put any in the article.

Story mode-wise, Mortal Kombat X has nothing to brag about. The story simply pits all of the characters against each other, but let’s be honest- nobody is playing Mortal Kombat for the story. The main appeal for this series is the idea of sitting down on your couch and beating the senses out of your friends’ characters. This game is successful in allowing players a chance to experience this. Furthermore, I will simply state that the story mode isn’t worth playing unless you have absolutely nothing else to do to pass your time by.

In summary, Mortal Kombat X plays like the other games in the series. However, the game looks better than ever and plays smoother than ever. Though it lacks a compelling story, the overall experience of the game and its brutal atmosphere remains intact and better than ever.

Verdict: 8/10 

Review: Bloodborne

Up until Bloodborne’s release I had yet to play a game that was as polished and unique in regards to gameplay on the current gen consoles. Bloodborne by FromSoftware is relentless and unfair at times but likewise incredibly rewarding. I previously wrote a Preview article for the game back in February (before it came out) which was based on information provided by gameplay trailers, interviews and live demos. (You can read the Preview Article here) For the most part my predictions regarding the gameplay were spot on. Bloodborne takes place in a unique Gothic environment blended with aspects of Victorian age England architecture. From the surface, Bloodborne may seem like a normal hack n slash game, a poor mistake that looks over the amount of detail the developers put into the game engine, combat, and overall world.


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For those unaware, Bloodborne is the spiritual successor to the PlayStation 3 exclusive Demon Souls. Demon Souls in turn was the inspiration for Dark Souls and its sequel. The Souls series is recognized as one of the most difficult games of the last console generation. This is a consequence of its high risk – high reward combat system. The games champion patience and foresight when it comes to building your characters skills and abilities tree. Yet, the games as described by Junior William Chu are simply “eloquent”. Eloquent by definition: is vividly or expressively moving or revealing; at times even forcefully. Bloodborne retains these aspects and then takes it to another level.

Unlike previous Souls games Bloodborne has a more concrete story and plot. Non playable characters are far more helpful when it comes to delivering objective information. This was and still is the largest complaint when it comes to criticizing the series. But the series makes up for this by telling stories through the environment and weapons/item description in game. This leaves the plot up to the players interpretation, contrasting the hand holding story telling style used by basically every other game on the market.

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The plot of Bloodborne is simple at the surface level. The player’s character is seeking a cure to a disease that cause insanity and slowly turns those infected by it into mindless beasts and monsters. The player has been afflicted by this disease and seeks a cure which he/she is told can be found deep within the city of Yharnam. Yharnam itself is a chaotic and broken city with the  majority of the population having already succumbed to the disease. The populace as the player ventures deeper into the city become even more frightening and difficult to combat. The further the player travels within the story, the less human these citizens appear visually. Grotesque and foul beasts add to this nightmarish setting and provide the players with ample amount of jump scares and heart stopping surprises. The player in the beginning of the journey becomes a Hunter, a sort of order dedicated to cleansing the town and realm of beasts. However, the motives without spoiling the game become blurred later into the game. The equipment and abilities tie in significantly to the overall gameplay of this incredibly well made game.

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As stated previously Bloodborne by no means is an easy game. According to the game faqs and trophy guide system for the game only 48.7 percent of all owners of the game have received the trophy for beating the FIRST BOSS. Let alone only 3 percent at the time of writing this article have beaten the game which has been out for more than a week. I myself am on the final two bosses but simply haven’t had the time to beat them. This is the result of the high risk – high reward gameplay. Players health is minuscule and can be depleted in some cases by one hit from some enemies. In return the player does deal a lot of damage to enemies if they have properly balanced out their skill tree and abilities for their character. The consequence of dying still remains as a hurdle for player just as it has in previous games. For each enemy the player kills they are given a form of currency required to level up their character and upgrade weapons and items. However, upon death the player looses all of these and they are left where the player had died. The player can recover these by going back to where they died and picking them up after they respawn.  The difficult aspect of the game reveals itself if the player fails to recover their items by dying, the result is the hard earned currency used to level your character vanishes forever.

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The gameplay’s attention of detail is not limited to the environment and style of the world. The exquisite weapons and attires that can be equipped by the player’s character also add to the brooding atmosphere of Yharnam. Unlike essentially every other RPG or Hack N Slash game on the market, Bloodborne’s weapons can be upgraded and used through the entirety of the story. Hundreds of games require familiarity and constant use of a weapon for several hours at times. Eventually, once you feel comfortable with it, the weapon is too weak or under leveled to actually be useful in a fight. Bloodborne has a relatively small amount of weapons that can be used in multiple kinds of engagements. The developers accomplish this task by giving each primary weapon two modes to engage with enemies. On the PS4′s controller this is accomplished by pressing L1 to transform your weapon into an alternate form. For example, one of my personal favorite weapons, The Threaded Cane, is a cane with a serrated edge that can be swung in shallow quick strokes. If the player presses L1 to transform the cane, he/she will be met with the surprising whip alternate form to the weapon (hence The “Threaded” Cane). This weapon is one of the three starter weapons and its whip form has arguably the farthest reach out of all of the weapons. For players that dislike getting up close and personal to their targets, I highly suggest selecting this weapon. The trick weapons that are equipped in the player’s right hand are only half of the fun in regards to the weapons. Players can equip a gun, torch and even a flamethrower in their left hand. It is foolish to think however that guns would make this game any easier. Since there is an absence of shields in the game (excluding a wooden one that is a joke of a shield), the developers turned to gun (ie a flintlock pistol or blunderbuss) in order to allow the players to stun or parry opponents mid swing. Once the player perfects the timing needed to accomplish such a task the game will become a little more easy. The outcome of equipping a weapon in each hand along with the absence of a shield to cower behind leads to fast paced and aggressive combat. In fact the game rewards the player’s that are relentless. For example, when you are struck by an enemy and lose some of your health pool, there is about a 1-4 second delay on the actual loss of health. During this time if the player decides to strike their opponent they can gain some or all of the lost health back through quick slashes. At first this may seem relatively broken and alien to this style of game but the fact is this isn’t the easiest task to accomplish. Once the player “masters” this technique the game becomes far more manageable.

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However, as much as I would like to not touch on the few flaws of this wonderful game, they are still worth noting as this is a review and not just a rant as to why you should buy this game (You still should though). Bloodborne suffers from both game design and game engine flaws. The game engine flaw is currently being reworked though and will be patched soon. I am of course talking about the frame rate during online play. It dips around about 20 FPS during online play when large amounts of enemies are on screen. The developer is aware of this and is already working on solving the problem. This is quite an easy fix according to FromSoftware. Thankfully this isn’t a new issue for them either, all of their games initally suffered FPS problems but patched the game up afterwards. The other only real flaw in this game is the level design. Despite the various and sometimes truly terrifying levels, I myself just find some of the enemies as re-skins of older enemies from past games. This is both good and bad: On one hand it provides veterans with a since of nostalgia and confidence boosting while also lacking originality. However Bloodborne’s more nightmarish settings than previous games allowed the designers to engineer some truly terrifying monsters. For example there is a walking reptilian beast that has a snake head with smaller snakes attached to it or some grotesque giant spider (my least favorite). Werewolves and man-beasts (however no man bear pigs) also litter the streets of the decrepit city and emote a feeling of repetition.

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What Bloodborne lacks in some enemy designs it absolutely compensates and exceeds by miles. The unique Gothic and Victorian age setting helps the players descend into a hellish realm retaining familiar traits. The game by no means holds the players hand and forces proactive thinking, particularly in the final frames. The unique weapons and faster combat style improves upon the fair but “unfair” Dark Souls esque combat system. On top of this Bloodborne has a far less abstract story, a meaningless fact compared to Dark Souls. Nonetheless this game delivers a quality and truly epic adventure to gamers on the PS4.

Verdict: 9.8/10 Bloodborne is essentially everything it was set out to be as a game in general. It’s highly effective delivery makes it One Of The Best Games I have played in the past three or four years. Though it shares many aspects with the Dark Soulsseries, Bloodborne distinguishes itself by proving to be a more difficult and darker game. I honestly couldn’t recommend this game enough, if you have the patience to die a lot but also seek great rewards for success this game is for you. The players decent into the darkest regions of Yharnam is executed with up most precision by this veteran team of developers at FromSoftware & Studio Japan. This game is honestly on my radar for game of the year and likely many other reviewers due to vast critical acclaim.

Review: Battlefield Hardline

After the rough release of Battlefield 4, expectations were relatively high for Visceral Games. The outcome for this game’s release however went quite smoothly. This was the outcome of several lengthy Betas that were offered by the developer. Compared to Battlefield 4, Battlefield Hardline lacks the game breaking bugs and glitches which is an absolute joy considering I myself am an incredible fan of the franchise. Yet, this game did have some let downs, which I will go into further details regarding its highs and lows.

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Most first person shooters lack a compelling and overall good/great story. This is a side effect of the industry’s market regarding competitive multiplayer gaming. Developers in the gaming industry are spending a larger portion of their time working on balancing their multiplayer game modes, which isn’t a bad thing. It provides gamers with a unique social environment where they can team up with friends and compete in a diverse community. On the other hand this lack of time focused on campaigns or singleplayer story modes often leads to boring and uneventful stories. Battlefield Hardline has one of the best singleplayer experiences that I have played in most recently. It absolutely tops any FPS that has come out in the past two years when it comes to providing the player with a unique story.

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Instead of being a stereotypical gung ho special forces soldier, the protagonist is a detective/agent in a Police Force. It is a nice new theme that already makes the game stand apart from basically EVERY OTHER shooter on the market in the FPS genre. Without going into spoilers for the story, the game begins in Miami, but over time it begins to encompass a larger spectrum. Thought the game does of its stereotypical characters such as a witty one, a pretty awful bad guy, etc, the game’s story is memorable. Unlike other games where the protagonist is out to kill every single person between point A and B, Battlefield Hardline’s enemies can be arrested and spared from a typical death via gun. This adds another feature to the game since I personally didn’t want to kill people unless absolutely necessary. Ordering crooks to “Freeze, and hit the ground!” honestly is more enjoyable than senselessly killing them. This is because for once you are a cop, you are a person behind a badge. You aren’t out to kill, you are merely attempting to fulfill your duty of protecting and serving the populace. The episodic nature of the campaign also makes the overall feel of the game like of an episode of “Cops” or even “Burn Notice” with its action themes. In summary Visceral really outdid themselves when it came to crafting a unique story for a FPS title.

Gameplay in Battlefield Hardline is nothing too difficult to comprehend if you have played previous games in the series. There are some new aspects such as ziplines, tasers, and basically everything else at a police force’s disposal. This has advantages and disadvantages when compared to other Battlefield games when you have access to the hardest hitting weapons in existence. It forces players to be more like tacticians and it requires a lot more planning on higher difficulties because unlike the military, Cops don’t have access to LAW rocket launchers and tanks. I personally felt as if the combat in Hardline was far more precise and at times harder than previous games in the franchise. For example there may be a dozen enemies in the next room. In Battlefield 4 one could simply fire a rocket into the room or throw a pack of C4; Hardline on the other hand forces the player to utilize tactical grenades such as flash bangs and FMJ rounds to take down enemies of the state. But the ability to destroy one’s environment isn’t absent; it just isn’t always the best option (at least in singleplayer. The same can’t be said for multiplayer).

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Unlike previous games, Hardline utilizes a currency system to acquire new weapons and gear in multiplayer. This however doesn’t exempt players from actually unlocking the gear; it has to be first unlocked then purchased. “Cash to Spend” is acquired by killing enemies, completing challenges and following objectives while in game. Though the prices in the image above do not reflect the same ones in game (This is from an Alpha photograph by EA), the overall idea is present. Some guns are more expensive than others and they obviously perform differently. For example, SMGS have little to no range while Assault Rifles can hit targets from farther away if the right attachments are equipped. The same currency model is applied to the previously mentioned attachments as well. Everything from grips to sights are all acquired by spending some cash.

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Multiplayer in Hardline is one word: Chaotic. It plays like a hybrid of Battlefield & Call of Duty. It has the awesome graphics and tactical feel from Battlefield and the unskilled chaos like fast paced action of Call of Duty. Though I don’t care for the latter’s aspects of the game, Hardline still feels like a Battlefield game—Just a more fast paced one, which it seems at times is easier for new players to venture into. The absolute chaos that is an outcome of the addition of fast cars and trucks, and the ability to lean through the window sills of the fast cars adds an adrenaline filled experience. Vehicles such as choppers also provide a feel of tension since they can come out of nowhere when fighting in a crowded city. The scout chopper can absolutely devastate a pack of crooks on the ground and the lack of equip-able heavy launchers can prove to make engagements with them extremely difficult. But if you shoot it enough it will eventually drop out of the sky. Finally, the addition of new game modes adds a breath of new life into the franchise which all FPS’s constantly require.

Overall Battlefield Hardline is everything one can expect from an FPS game, especially a Battlefield one. It however in my opinion is far more enjoyable than Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare since no matter if you are losing or winning it is still INCREDIBLY EASY to have fun.The multiplayer has a variety of aspects open to all skill levels of players and it requieres actual patience and skill to a degree when compared to Call of Duty. I was honestly surprised by this game’s performance and look forward to continue playing it on my PC.

Verdict: 8.3 Battlefield Hardline is proof that the generic military shooter isn’t the only genre that can fit the FPS genre. It has everything a Battlefield game has and more. Yet, it still feels very much like Battlefield 4. I still suggest this game if you are fan of FPSs since no other FPSs come out until this Fall.