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E3 2014 News PC News Playstation 4 News X-Box One News

Star Wars Battlefront

Dice’s hotly anticipated Star Wars: Battlefront received a teaser trailer today.  However, it only managed to tease that the game will recreate scenes from the original trilogy.

Niklas Fegreaus, the design director for Battlefront, explained that the team at Dice has been studying props from the original films and visiting some key locations where the films were shot.  From the early in-game footage that was shown, the frozen tundra Hoth and the forest moon of Endor, seems to stay true to the original source.

There are still a lot of questions left unanswered, for which Fegreaus claims, we’ll “see more Spring 2015.”

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E3 2014 News PC News Playstation 4 News X-Box One News

E3 2014: Far Cry 4 Footage

If you thought that Vaas Montenegro from Far Cry 3 was intense, Ubisoft plans to uproot him as the craziest enemy in the franchise.

 

In a video that was surely built to grab attention, Ubisoft’s first unveiling of the night proved that the publisher wasn’t content to rest on its laurels.  Far Cry 4’s villain, the guy in the pink suit and stylish haircut, not only seems to be extremely cold towards his enemies, he is just as brutal to his own cronies.  Stabbing one of his minions in the throat after humiliating him, he continues to walk up to the player character, fresh blood on his face, and takes a smartphone selfie.  If anyone questioned his villainy, I think you have your answer.

 

Hopefully the rest of Far Cry 4 improves on one of 2012’s greatest games.

 

For more E3 related news, stay tuned to Proven Gamer.

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E3 2014 News PC News Playstation 4 News X-Box One News

E3 2014: Assassin’s Creed: Unity Gameplay

During Ubisoft’s stellar E3 press conference, it was announced that Assassin’s Creed Unity will be released on October 28, 2014.

 

The gameplay, if nothing else, seems to improve upon the NPC count and character animations.  The protagonist, atop of a gargoyle and scaling down the side of a building, seemingly moves at a faster rate than that of previous titles released last gen (including AC4: Black Flag).

 

Assassin’s Creed Unity will be released for Playstation 4, Xbox One and PC.

 

 

 

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E3 2014 Playstation 3 Playstation 4 X-Box One XBOX 360

Mass Effect 4

It’s here; information on Mass Effect exists… kind of.

Casey Hudson, Bioware’s executive producer, revealed some vague information on the title during EA’s E3 press conference. He confirmed that the newest Mass Effect title will feature a completely new cast of characters and a slew of new planets.

Some prototype footage was shown depicting a new portion of the universe, with war-torn environments; which is a vast departure from the locations in the original trilogy.

It is also worth noting that Hudson restated that BioWare Montreal is designing Mass Effect 4, and the Edmonton studio is creating some other unknown IP that is designed to tell “contemporary stories.”

With the creation of an entirely new universe, the team now has a “chance to have a clean sheet of design to start at the most fundamental set of principles you can have,” said BioWare general manager Aaryn Flynn.

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E3 2014 Playstation 4

Resogun DLC

Housemarque Studios’ highly successful PS4 exclusive Resogun will be getting new DLC entitled “Heroes.” According to IGN, it will “feature two new game modes and a patch that significantly overhauls parts of the game.”

The first mode, Survival, changes the traditional formula of having multiple lives to complete a level by giving you only one life. Thus the game becomes even tenser by forcing you to rack up as many points as possible before being killed off. In addition, there will be a new day/night cycle. The further you advance in days, the higher your score, but it also makes your enemies that much more difficult.

The DLC will also offer a variant to the collection of humans. In the original Resogun modes you had to pick up a set number of humans and drop them off at portals, however in the new mode, you have unlimited humans and you simply have to pick them up for points.

Along with the mode alternatives, Housemarque is adding improvements through a graphical overhaul, new sound effects and entirely new music.

The final addition to the DLC brings a ship editor and local co-op to Resogun, in addition to “small tweaks and improvements.”

“Heroes” is set to launch on June 23, and will cost $4.99. Housemarque also announced that it is developing more content for Resogun and has made a season pass available for $7.99. resogun0924131280jpg-e95f56_400w

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E3 2014 X-Box One

Kinect-Free Xbox Ones Allow Destiny To Have Better Resolution

Not content to let the Xbox One version of Destiny fall behind its PS4 counterpart, Bungie and Microsoft has reportedly worked together to upgrade the resolution for its version of the game.

Larry “Major Nelson” Hryb and Xbox head Phil Spencer commented by saying, “…Our friends at Bungie, and I’ve been spending a lot of time down there, they’re going to pick up the June SDK update for Destiny, and they’re going to up the resolution of Destiny based on this change. So I think it’s just a great sign for us.”

Microsoft announced last week that a new, mandatory, update for the Xbox One will allow developers to boost the console’s GPU power. As a result, “developers should find better performance and flexibility from the console.”

Prior to the update, many multiplatform titles run at a higher native resolution on Playstation 4 than Xbox One.

In conjunction with the new update, the $399 Kinect-less Xbox One becomes available today. Many believe that the removal of the Kinect would allow the console to become more powerful, since Microsoft asked developers to dedicate power to the “Kinect reserve.” Now that Developers can bypass this feature, it would seem that they are capable of squeezing in more resolution for their titles.

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E3 2014 News Playstation 4 News X-Box One News

Titanfall 2

Respawn Entertainment and EA have inked a new deal; which will see both developer and publisher produce a sequel to this year’s Titanfall. Given that Titanfall has sold well, reportedly selling 925,000 units at retail from launch until the end of March, it is no surprise that a sequel was in the works.

A source close to the project told The Wall Street Journal that Titanfall 2 would launch on both Xbox One and PS4. However, according to the source, the unannounced game is still “in the planning stages.”  When approached by The Wall Street Journal, EA declined to comment on the matter.

This is significant news considering that the original game was released exclusively for the PC and Xbox platforms (Xbox 360 and Xbox One).

So far there hasn’t been any information on when the game will be released or whether it will be a timed exclusive in favor for Microsoft’s consoles.

Since EA has a press conference at 12 pm PDT, further information may be revealed.

Make sure to check back with Proven Gamer for other E3 related news.

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PC News Playstation 4 News X-Box One News

The Witcher goes to Washington

The President, a self-professed gaming novice, probably doesn’t have a lot of time to spend behind a keyboard and mouse defeating the likes of bandits, witches and demons, yet during a trip to Poland, President Obama met up with the Prime Minister to discuss something rather important: The Witcher.

“The last time I was here, Donald [Tusk, Poland’s Prime Minister] gave me a gift, the video game developed here in Poland that’s won fans the world over, The Witcher,” Obama said. “I confess, I’m not very good at video games, but I’ve been told that it is a great example of Poland’s place in the new global economy. And it’s a tribute to the talents and work ethic of the Polish people as well as the wise stewardship of Polish leaders like Prime Minister Tusk.”

The Witcher originally came out in 2007 to awesome reviews and fanfare. The sequel, Assassin’s of Kings was released in 2011 and was loved by fans for its highly addicting combat system. At the rate that the President enjoys his video games, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, which is scheduled for a February 2015 release window, will be upon us and President Obama will have quite the backlog.

Stay tuned for more Witcher news as E3 lurks around the corner.

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PlayStation 3 Reviews Playstation Vita Reviews Reviews

Final Fantasy X HD Review

When first released for the Playstation 2, Final Fantasy X was a drastic departure for the series.  The series was taken into many new directions.   Non-linearity was fundamental to the franchise, and it is partially the reason why so many gamers loved the early iterations, yet FFX is quite linear (For those that worry about linearity, don’t let FFXIII dissuade you from playing this gem).  Voice acting would also become one of FFX’s largest selling points.  Thirteen years, and four numbered titles later, the company has struggled to build upon FFX’s success.

ff2

The story follows Tidus and his journey through a world where individuals named “summoners,” alongside their “guardians,” are tasked with defeating the world’s immortal enemy: Sin.  The plot seems simple enough at first, but the further you advance the story, the more you realize the grim nature of embarking on such a quest.  Twists and turns are in abundance, making it fun to squeeze every last detail from the mythology.

Despite having one of the most somber plots in the franchise, FFX is among the most visually stunning games of any generation (including the current one).  The artists, not content with reusing the more drab look of previous FF titles, decided to throw in every tropical color available.  Islands, which make up for about one-half of the environments, are reminiscent of the original Playstation’s Chrono Cross rather than more recent island based games: Far Cry 3 and Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag.

Characters have the distinction of having some of the most outlandish outfits in gaming.  Tidus, besides being a glorified water-polo player, is also an extravagant dresser.  Metal gloves, a bright yellow jacket, net inspired shorts, mixed with oversized boots, never looked better.   It’s safe to say that the character artists really went out on a limb with some of their outfits, but it fits extraordinarily well with the world of Spira.

The gameplay is largely the same, with the addition to the international version’s sphere grid.  Turn based gameplay is not for everyone, but if you were to pick one game to try and get used to the system, FFX is that game.  Swapping characters out on a whim keeps the action flowing nicely, while allowing for some interesting strategies on the players behalf.

Prior to the game being rereleased, many fans were nervous that S.E. messed up the whimsical soundtrack of the original game.  While they have remixed some of the tracks, they are mostly for the better.  Half of the time I was so caught up in the action, I hardly noticed the differences.

One of the more quaint upgrades to the game, trophy support has to be one of the best features implemented.  If you needed a reason to revisit Spira, the trophy list will keep you there a while.   Planning on beating the game while getting the platinum? Be advised that it will easily take you around 80 to 100 hours to do so.  Granted, it will be hours well spent.

ff1

Thanks to the remaster, the game is better in almost every regard. Yet the acting and voice-overs still have issues.  Secondary characters are almost flawless, however, the problems lie in the main characters.  Tidus is annoyingly high-pitched when he gets excited, while Yuna sounds depressed, even at times of enjoyment.  Perhaps the former issues are me being nitpicky, but it goes without saying that the most glaring of faults is the poorly executed lip synching.  It plagued the original game, and it is even more obvious this time around.

Despite some minor flaws, Final Fantasy X is the best game the series has produced in over a decade.   You can look at this and scoff at Square Enix’s inability to replicate its success, or you can look at S.E. and admire how they have created a classic that still holds up today.  I undoubtedly fall into the latter.

 

Score:  10/10

 

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News Playstation 4 News

Naughty Dog News

In a recent interview with Game Informer Magazine, Naughty Dog Co-Founder Evan Wells shared what gamers can expect to find in the new Uncharted 4 (speculated name) for the Playstation 4.

“We sure hope you’re surprised by how amazing it looks! It’s going to be an exciting story, and I think people are going to really buy into this one in a way that I think is consistent with the rest of the stories. It’s a stand-alone adventure like all of them are; we don’t expect people to have played the past games to enjoy the current one. But you’re going to get to experience Drake and his crew in a new way.

Even Uncharted 1. If you go from Uncharted 1 to 2 to 3, you can see there’s definitely an evolution in the storytelling techniques and the gravity of the situations and the relationships that Drake’s put in. The next Uncharted will continue that evolution. I don’t know if you’re digging at the theory that’s out there that it’s somehow going to be this departure or that The Last of Us is indicative of the future of Naughty Dog projects. It’s not going to be that sharp of a turn. I think it’s an evolution that people will be comfortable with if they’ve played the previous Uncharted games.”

Although little information can be gathered from the quote, it serves the purpose of wetting the appetite for Uncharted fans.  Hopefully more information will be revealed when E3 comes around in a week.

In additional news, Wells also confirmed that Naughty Dog has been hard at work on a new game, stating, “We definitely have another project on the scale of Uncharted in very early pre-production stages… We have the sizable team that it takes to get something like that off of the ground, but it’s got a long runway in front of it. We have a lot of great ideas and some stuff that is already getting everybody jazzed and excited. So, it’s a long way off before we can really start talking about it in detail.”

Whether the game is a continuation of a previous series (i.e. Jak and Daxter) or a completely new IP is still up in the air.  But for fans of the company, any new game has to be good news.

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Opinions

Why MMOs Aren’t Compelling…To Me

With the release of The Elder Scrolls Online, I began to think about all of the MMO’s I’ve played over the years and the reasons why I still don’t play them.  I haven’t played T.E.S. Online, so I can’t comment on whether it is a good game or not, but it certainly looks entertaining.  More than a few times, I have been drawn in by the lore of MMO’s and then left massively disappointed just as fast as I became enthralled.

I’ve played an eclectic group.  World of Warcraft was the first to grab my attention, as it is for many gamers, Guild Wars 2 was a viable choice for a little while, even its sequel, Guild Wars 3, held my attention longer than most.  Star Wars: The Old Republic came around and I thought this would be the one to lure me into the appeal of the genre; however, that only lasted two weeks.  Lets not forget Conan and Final Fantasy XI.

Many people claim to feel connected to their characters and I honestly don’t know how.  MMO’s aren’t like most story driven games where you see your character experience emotional changing events.  Character development, such as in The Last of Us, isn’t going to happen in any MMO, at least not in any that are out now or within the near future.  Plus how can one build an emotional bond with a character that is forced to go and fetch apples for an NPC or kill a certain type of monster for dozens of hours?

Similarly, I consider myself a story driven gamer and unfortunately most MMO’s have extremely weak plots.  Star Wars was supposed to be the MMO that brought single player gamers into the genre, but the appeal didn’t last.  I thought that the fully voiced characters, which are still quite impressive for the massive scale of the game, and a story that is altered based on your choices, was one of the most fascinating things about it.  All of this was on top of my being a huge Star Wars fan.  While the story of my Sith Warrior was pretty good, the bogged down gameplay became tedious.  In order to expand the story, I kept pushing myself through it.  However, I simply couldn’t do it anymore and eventually stopped playing around the 30-hour mark.

Some people will consider 30-hours a long time to devote to a game, thus it must have been an attractive experience. But in the grand scheme of things, 30 hours doesn’t get you very far in an MMO.

After my Star Wars debacle, I decided to give the genre another shot when I bought Guild Wars 3 on the first day of release.  Character creation was smooth, gameplay was pretty fun, but the story lacked far behind.  I continued to play long after I should have quit, just because the gameplay was so much better than my experience with Star Wars.  However, that can only take me so far into the game.  I eventually felt like I was running around for the sake of attacking creatures.  The grind never stopped and although the community events made me feel involved, I never got the sense that my character had a purpose.  Again, where was the emotional bond between the character and I?

I will admit that RPG’s are my favorite type of video game.  Most of the appeal is the level of exploration that comes with most role-playing games.  But can a game be too vast? I believe it can.  The older I get and the more responsibilities I have, the less time I have to devote to video games, let alone ones that take hundreds of hours to get through.

Lastly, the most fascinating aspect of MMO’s, especially the ones of the RPG variety, is the interaction with other individuals.  The ability to meet and then join other players to take down a boss is thrilling.  However, in all the experiences I have had, there is little interaction between the party and I.  One person is always bound to run around and do their own thing, which ends up getting us killed and them being booted from the party.  Likewise, most people either do not want to use voice chat, or they don’t have the means to, but either way, I can’t stand trying to communicate with somebody via text chat.  It tends to interrupt the flow of the game, and I lose my train of focus.  Maybe it speaks to the type of player I am, or the types of guilds and parties I join, but it never ends the way I intend.

Conceivably I will try my hand at The Elder Scrolls Online and things will be different. But in the mean time, maybe it is best if I stick to single player experiences.

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News

Playstation’s EA Flash Sale

As if you needed anymore of a reason to boot up your PS4 or dust off the PS3, an updated Playstation Store Flash Sale began this Friday morning.  This time EA’s catalogue is being offered with tremendous discounts on major hits, including some fan favorites such as the Dead Space Trilogy, the Crysis Trilogy, Alice: Madness Returns and more recent hits, such as Battlefield 4 and FIFA 14.

 

The sale ends on Monday, March 31st at 12 p.m. Pacific.

 

Title

Sale Price

Original Price

Alice: Madness Returns

$9.99

$19.99

Battlefield 4

$24.99

$49.99

Battlefield 1943

$4.99

$9.99

Crysis

$9.99

$19.99

Crysis 2 Maximum Edition

$14.99

$29.99

Crysis 3 – Ultimate Bundle

$21.99

$43.99

Dead Space Ultimate Edition

$12.49

$24.99

Dead Space 2 Ultimate Edition

$19.99

$39.99

Dead Space 3 Ultimate Edition

$31.49

$62.49

EA Sports FIFA 14

$29.99

$59.99

EA Sports FIFA Street

$4.99

$19.99

Hasbro Family Game Night 3

$19.99

$29.99

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

$9.99

$19.99

Madden NFL 25

$24.99

$49.99

Monopoly Streets

$19.99

$29.99

NBA JAM: On Fire Edition

$3.99

$14.99

NCAA Football 14

$24.99

$49.99

Need for Speed Rivals

$29.99

$59.99

NFL Blitz

$7.49

$14.99

NHL 14

$29.99

$49.99

Shank 2

$4.99

$9.99

*Full List of Games Originally Published by Chieh Chen on the Playstation Blog.

Categories
PlayStation 3 Reviews Reviews

Dragon Dogma: Dark Arisen Review

During the nineties and the early two thousands, Capcom was one of the most prominent developers in the video game industry.  However, after their controversial DLC decisions, the complete destruction of the Resident Evil franchise, and a slew of bad hits, Capcom paled in comparison to its former self.  So when they put out a fantasy RPG just a couple of months after Skyrim released, I quickly looked over the game.  However, having beat Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen, I regret not supporting the game at launch.

Dragon’s Dogma is an awesome game; however, if you are looking for an expansive story filled with a lot of lore, than you should probably look elsewhere.  The main premise of the game is that you take control of a created character, who upon battling a dragon, has their heart ripped from their body.  When a miracle occurs and you survive the attack, your quest begins to hunt down the dragon to get your heart back.  There isn’t much to the story beyond this point.  A couple of interesting ideas are brought up at the end of the game, but the rest are rather dull.

The reason that you will continue to play the game, even after you realize that the story is lackluster, is the amazing combat mechanics.  Part “Dark Souls” and part “Shadow of the Colossus,” the combat is easily the best aspect of the title.  You could mash some buttons and get through the beginning of the game, but if you are planning on surviving past the first two or three hours, you will have to adapt to the fighting styles of each type of enemy.

Mastering your characters abilities is key to success, especially when you find yourself caught in the wilderness at nighttime.  Although the enemy AI is not as brutal as  “Dark Souls,” you will be hard pressed to survive the night.  Especially given that the world of Gransys is ripe with otherworldly and mythological creatures, including Dragons, Harpies and Griffins.   At any given moment, these or the numerous other creatures can, and most likely, will kill you.

Although the game is devastatingly difficult at certain points, you are given all the power you need to fight back.  The mechanics allow you to climb the creature and attack weaker points, which are generally located at the head of the monster.  This is pivotal to winning against your hardest opponents, including the infamous “Ur-Dragon.”  But, just because you have the upper hand, doesn’t mean that you are completely safe.  Often times, the enemy will unleash its most powerful attack with you trying to climb it.

One way to survive in the game is to rely on your pawn, as well as other player’s pawns.  Pawns are non-playable characters that work alongside of you to help defeat monsters.  Throughout the game, you will come across waystones.  These devices will allow you to recruit pawns.  Some will require you to part with valuable currency, but, thankfully, most players will allow you to use their pawns for free.  Learning how to get the best out of the pawns in your party is one of the best ways to ensure victory.  Tired of being low on health? Go to one of the waystones and recruit a magic wielding pawn to keep your HP from dropping too low.

Still, one disappointing aspect of the pawn system is that other players cannot join your game.  If you can use their pawns similar to a cooperative mode, why couldn’t Capcom find a way for other players to join your game, whether as their pawns or their own main characters?  Perhaps if the game gets a sequel, Capcom can implement this feature.

Although there is a new game plus mode, you will find little in the way of challenge.  Enemies do not scale with your level, so most of the time; you will simply mow through them.  If trophy hunting is your thing, it is a good place to clean up some trophies that you may have missed your first time through the game.

The Dark Arisen expansion is the most rewarding experience that you will come across your second time through the game.  It adds a significant amount of enemies to fight, as well the best armor in the game.  Dark Arisen doesn’t drastically add to the story, but you more than likely won’t care at this point.

Expect to play in the 80+ hour range if you are looking to witness everything the game has to offer.

 

 

8.0

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PlayStation 3 Reviews Playstation 4 Reviews X-Box One Reviews Xbox 360 Reviews

Call of Duty: Ghosts Review

I have a long standing, love or hate, relationship with the Call of Duty franchise.  On one hand, I think that Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is one of the most important and influential games in history.  Yet, every Call of Duty since has failed to capture anything similar.  Yes they get bigger with each entry, but this is one of those cases where bigger does not translate to better.

Players take control of Logan Walker, aka generic, voiceless, action hero.  Along with brother, David “Hesh” Walker, and father, Elias Walker, your character will attempt to stop a global terrorist organization and a rouge special agent.  If this all sounds familiar, it’s probably because you have watched/played/read this scenario many times before.

The detractors of the series always make the claim, “if you’ve played one Call of Duty, you have played them all,” and for the most part, I am inclined to agree with them.  The set pieces and characters have changed, yet everything still feels the same.  Each mission consists of you moving from point A to point B, and killing all of the enemies between.  Although levels range from the beautiful vistas of outer space and the ocean floor, it does little to help break up the monotony of doing the same thing over and over again.

The largest selling point, multiplayer, is as crisp as you could envision.  I’ve played a little over eighteen hours online and I never once lost connection to a game or sat for longer than a few seconds while searching for a match.  Surprisingly, while in game, I only experienced latency a handful of times.  This is a large upgrade from previous games, where I would experience lag frequently.

The multiplayer experience, at its core, hasn’t altered much over the years; which may or may not be a bad thing depending on your attitude.  It’s a good thing because the gameplay is as smooth as it has ever been, but a bad thing because it becomes boring within a few hours of playtime.  Thankfully, they scaled back the ridiculousness of some of the perks and killstreaks; which makes the game more satisfying.  Infinity Ward would be wise to bring the series back to its more barebones gameplay that gamers loved about the original Modern Warfare.  This would make players depend on skill based combat, versus running around with a handful of perks that make players annoyingly overpowered.

Invasion, the spiritual successor to “zombie mode,” offers a fun and satisfying release from the standard multiplayer experience.  Up to four players battle against waves of aliens, before attempting to escape that particular zone.  Although I don’t think that Invasion will sell copies of the game on its own, it certainly feels like Infinity Ward placed a lot of time into fleshing out the experience.

Overall I can understand why the developers do not want to take a lot of risks with its multiplayer feature, but they have to do something about the single player experience.  If nothing else, they could remove this component and focus solely on their bread and butter, the multiplayer.

 

7.0

Categories
Playstation 4 Reviews

Assassins Creed 4: Black Flag PS4 Review

The Assassin’s Creed franchise has been a subject of controversy for a couple of years now.  For the most part, that criticism has been warranted.  Once the series became annualized, gamers realized just how stagnant the games were becoming.  Mission variety consisted of trailing an individual and than killing said person.  Of course there were a few optional methods of performing the kill, such as stealing from a person before killing them, or sneaking into a location undetected before striking the person down.  But variety is practically nonexistent.

If you came into Black Flag with expectations that the newest entry would alleviate some of the stagnant mission variety, than you may leave disappointed.  However, and this is a rather large however, this is by far the most fun I’ve had with any game in the series.

Compared to other A.C. games, Black Flag has the simplest story yet.  Most people will probably scoff at this and mark it as a flaw, but it actually makes the game more enjoyable and accessible.  Sure it helps if you know the story of Desmond, but you do not need to have played them to enjoy this title.  Players control, privateer turned pirate, Edward Kenway, through his love-fueled journey to make enough money to support his family.  During this adventure, Kenway gets swept up in the never-ending fight between the Templars and the Assassins.  This conflict hasn’t altered much from previous entries, in that, the Templars are still out for global domination and the Assassins are tasked with stopping them.

If Assassin’s Creed 3 was a slow crawl that built in anticipation, than, thankfully, Black Flag moves from 0 to 60 in the first couple of minutes of gameplay.  Players are given control of Kenway’s flagship, The Jackdaw, with every option to sail and pillage wherever you so choose.  Which is nice, because there are dozens of islands and towns to explore at the players leisure.

Most of the locations contain several chests to loot and secrets to obtain, which breaks up the monotony of sailing from one island to the next.  Although roaming around an island can be fun, the most entertaining feature in the game is sailing.  The development team took what was an interesting mechanic in AC3, and made sailing the main reason to play Black Flag.  Nothing beats sailing your way through the Caribbean, especially when ship-to-ship combat, harpooning locations, discoverable shipwrecks and the occasional storm surrounds players at every turn.

It is also through the sailing mechanics that you notice how beautiful and detailed the world of AC4 really is.  Dolphins swim alongside of The Jackdaw, hurricanes and storms bristle in the foreground before encroaching upon your ship, and whales can be found breaching while you move past their locations.  Once you discover a location that you want to roam around on, lush forests that harbor inner secrets surround the players at every turn, making exploring an island in full 1080p one of the best reasons to own a PlayStation 4.

Black Flag’s gameplay mechanics are more polished than previous titles, but there is some real room for improvement.   There were times where Edward would be running through the jungle and stop abruptly on what would appear to be an easy ledge to climb, especially given that he jumps from heights of fifty feet or greater into a pile of hay without getting injured.

Similarly, while I was playing one mission towards the end of the game that tasks players to sneak into a fort, Edward would continually come to a complete halt while traversing a gap no greater than one foot.   This led me to getting caught repeatedly, forcing me to replay the same segment seven or eight times in a row.   While this didn’t occur frequent enough to make it a major complaint, it was annoying nonetheless.

Meanwhile, current day missions feature a new character, that doesn’t speak, show any emotion, or really have any point other than being the glorified gopher for a voice in his Bluetooth headset.  You are told to go from one location to the next, than back to your previous location for no apparent reason other than progressing the story.  When you are given the ability to discover the Abstergo building, you can’t really do much besides collect sticky notes and hack computers.  Although hacking computers will reveal some hidden information about Desmond and other subjects, there is no real substance to going out of your way to accomplish this.  It’s a shame that Ubisoft can’t figure a way out to make current day events more than a tacked on way to waste time.

As far as multiplayer is concerned, if you weren’t a fan of it in previous games, than this time around will not change your attitude.  It is essentially the same gameplay from the last couple of games, just with different maps and characters.  Although it is fun for a couple of hours, it is nowhere deep enough to make me want to replay it frequently.

Overall, the world of Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag has kept me happily occupied for longer than any other game in the series.  At no point in my two-dozen or so hours playing the game, was I at a loss for content.  While the story isn’t the best, it is certainly stimulating enough to keep you interested in Edward Kenway and his exploits.  Beyond the minor gameplay complaints and lackluster current day events, Black Flag is a game well worth placing into your library.

PG9_10

Categories
PlayStation 3 Reviews

Mass Effect Review

Originally published for the Xbox 360 in 2007, five years later, Mass Effect finally arrived to the PlayStation 3 in December of 2012. During this span, it seemed like Microsoft would not abandon its stranglehold of the original game, even after the second and third iteration found its way onto Sony’s console.

Yet, after a long wait, PlayStation gamers can finally delve into the beautifully enchanting, non-linear, first third of the trilogy. Whether this is your first foray into the game, or if you are, like me, looking to enjoy the game on a different system, than welcome to one of the most fascinating and arguably deepest games of the generation.

Mass Effect starts off by introducing you to most of the series mainstays, most importantly Commander Shepard, who you will experience the game’s events with. Just like the other M.E. titles, customization is at the forefront of the game. From small-scale meetings with a Fan to important decisions that affect the outcome of future games, Mass Effect’s trademark choices are the most evident during this first game.

Although the series’ story is extremely deep and fleshed out, it is not all that difficult to understand. When a rouge agent, of what is essentially a future U.N., helps bring back a hostile and formidable race of aliens unto the unsuspecting universe, Commander Shepard must step up to the challenge of stopping the agent. However, there are a few problems that stand in front of Shepard. Saren, the rouge agent, is one of the universe’s most respected individuals, while Shepard, and the rest of Humanity is seen as unreliable and untrustworthy. It is from this moment forward that you will embark on one of gaming’s greatest stories.

If you have only played the second and third game, then Mass Effect may feel as foreign as the many planets you travel to. The series took a polarizing turn in regards to the combat mechanics; which became a lot tighter and action oriented in later games, character models appear a bit stiffer, and then there are also the notorious elevators that managed to find their way into this version of the game. Small tiffs aside, this game is engaging, thought provoking and sports the series deepest RPG mechanics.

Experience points are handed out for just about everything in the game. From reading a codex, to landing on an uncharted world, you will earn a load of points throughout the game. This is great, because throughout the game, you will continue to experience a large variety of enemies; which will require you to place a high level of experience in specific sub-categories of the leveling system. However, this does not mean you will max out a characters level in one play through; giving you plenty of reason to go back and experience the game a second and third time.

Your character’s class, which you pick in the beginning of the game, and your ally’s classes have various categories that you manually rank up each time you gain a level. Your class, as well as your ally’s class’, determines what kind of weapon and abilities the characters specialize in. Choose a soldier class, and your character will be a master at wielding various types of guns. Choose an Engineer and your character will yield the ability to hack robotic enemies, and sabotage their armor. While Adepts, the most “Sci-Fi” class in the game, can use biotic attacks to destroy enemies.

Its unfortunate, but most of Mass Effect’s original Xbox 360 issues are brought into this version of the game. Loading, especially at crucial moments, takes an extremely long time, the aforementioned elevator rides takes close to a minute to traverse between one level and the next, while framerate issues occur when entering buildings and during conversations. Also during conversations, the voice acting, although with great dialogue, hardly ever synchs up to the individual’s lips. Although none of these problems are a deal breaker, it would have been nice to see some changes to the blatant issues that occurred back in 2007. That being said, I wouldn’t have played and beat the game multiple times on both the Xbox 360 and the PS3 if the rewarding experience of Mass Effect wasn’t so alluring.

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