Recently I was invited to participate in the alpha for Bungie’s new game Destiny. I was able to try out one of the game’s story mission’s, explore a massive slice of the game world as well as a three team raid and the multiplayer. I wanted to share my thought’s with everyone who might be on the fence about the game. First off Destiny is a absolute stunner with gorgeous lighting and incredible vista’s, helping to bring this amazing science fiction world to life. I started off the alpha with the story mission which had me checking out activity in an old array station. The mission was pretty straight forward in it’s design but it did showcase how Destiny goes from open world MMO/RPG to tight responsive first person shooter and doesn’t miss a beat. Once I finished the mission I was set loose into a huge slice of the game’s open world, there was a airplane graveyard, a shipyard filled with massive ships, rusted and falling apart. Destiny does a great job of making it’s world varied and interesting to explore. The game then allowed me to scan for beacons that give the player a side mission to do, most of them being kill X number of enemies or kill a certain enemy or gather X amount of a certain item, these missions are a welcome distraction but they aren’t anything special and they do start to repeat after completing a few of them. I then decided to take part in a CO OP mission with two other players in which we had to destroy a target. The CO OP runs pretty well, with only match that had a minimal amount of lag. The three character classes work well in the CO OP with each player having their own skills and special powers with which to combat the various alien races with. The only issue I had with the CO OP was that at times it feels like you need more players with how things are balanced. I spent some of my time in the alpha at the hub area where the player can buy new armor and weapons as well as customize their ship and join their friend’s. Finally I jumped into a round of the game’s multiplayer and give it a shot. I personally did not like the multiplayer all that much, it has a very Halo feel to it with players having shields and being able to jump into the air and rain hell on other players, it just wasn’t my cup of tea. However I can see the multiplayer getting a pretty big community behind it in the weeks and months after Destiny’s launch. Overall my thought’s of Destiny are overwhelmingly positive, the alpha showcased a lot more than I was expecting it to show, giving me just a small slice of what the game has to offer. With an open beta in the coming months and release soon after, I can say that Destiny is looking like it is gonna live up to all the hype and be one of the biggest games of 2014.
Murdered Soul Suspect tells the tale of Detective Ronan O’Connor. Ronan is a detective in Salem Massachusetts, which during the time the game is set, a mysterious figure, nicknamed the Bell Killer is terrorizing residents within the town. Without going into major spoilers for the game, the hook here is that Ronan is murdered just moments into the game’s opening. Ronan’s death allows the player access to a host of special abilities to discover the truth of your death.
Gameplay – Playing Murdered Soul Suspect feels like LA Noire with a supernatural aspect thrown in for good measure. You explore different areas in the city of Salem, uncovering little bits and pieces of the story. There are side missions and collectibles to find, which unlock more lore about the city and it’s people. The side missions mostly consist of helping The spirits of the deceased to find their closure. The game is for the most part, puzzles and exploration, with simple combat here and there. The combat is easy and doesn’t put up much of a challenege at all. It requires you to sneak up behind an enemy and perform a quick time event. Overall the gameplay is average but some quest are pretty interesting and getting to understand more about the people of Salem makes up for it.
Graphics- Murdered isn’t a looker by any streach of the imagination. The visuals are average at best, doing what they can to get by without being amazing. Facial animation and lip sync is okay, at times it will take the player out of the moment during a emotional scene. The design and look of the world is really nice and kept me exploring every inch of Salem, parts of the city are ghost remnants of old Salem and they give the world a really interesting look and nice vibe. Graphically, Murdered is a game that while not having the most technically amazing graphics, it’s artistic style helps it to stand apart from other games.
Audio- Sound design is one of Murdered Soul Suspects best aspects. The soundtrack is pretty low key for the majority of the game. The main theme is easily one of my favorite pieces of music in recent memory. The way the it slowly brings in a violin is absolutely haunting, adding even more the haunted aspects of Salem and the diverse history of the area.
Negatives- While it may seem like I loved Soul Suspect and I did, the game does have it’s fair share of issues. The way the game is designed and how the story unfolds keeps the game on a very linear path. There are times where the game opens up and allows you to explore and find collectables, the linear nature of the game makes you feel like the game is always holding your hand. The game is also lacking in difficulty, with the combat being extremely simple and posing no challenge to the player. There were times when I would get lost while exploring the world and trying to finish a main or side quest.
Verdict- Murdered Soul Suspect is a game that many people slept on and didn’t think would be any good. While the gameplay is sometimes linear and not very challenging, the story is well acted and kept me interested and made me want to discover who killed Ronan. The issues that the game has may keep some people away and it’s not gonna win awards or generate massive sales, despite all these things I feel as if the game has what it takes to become a cult classic.
Castlevania Lords Of Shadow 2 is the concluding chapter of the Lords Of Shadow trilogy. The game takes place one thousand years after the events of the first Lords Of Shadow with Dracula awaking from his years of slumber to find a world vastly different from what he remembers. Dracula’s former friend and mentor Zobek comes to ask for his help in stopping the return of Satan. Satan’s followers are preparing for his return and it’s up to the prince of darkness to stop them.
Gameplay – The gameplay remains largely unchanged from the first game. The biggest change comes from the powers that being the prince of darkness grant. You are now able to drink the blood of your foes to regain your own life along with two new weapons. Those weapons come in the form of the Void Sword and Chaos Gauntlets. The Void Sword has you recover health with each strike while the Chaos Gauntlets allow you to break enemy shields and armor. The platforming makes a return as well yet it’s lacking the Polish this time around and it takes a back seat. The combat is still as fun as ever and switching weapons and powers is a blast but the combat lacks a sense of impact that would help to give it a more visceral vibe. The skill system was reworked allowing you to use skills and unlock more skills by using said skills. Overall the gameplay is very similar to the first game but the new weapons and skills give the gameplay a fresh feeling whilst not ruining what made the series great.
Graphics – Graphics wise Lords Of Shadow 2 looks like a step down from it’s predecessor. Where the first game was absolutely gorgeous, with amazing vista’s and locals, Lords Of Shadows 2 features mostly bland modern day settings like factories, subways and abandoned buildings. When the game does send you back in time the graphics are allowed to shine, with gorgeous Gothic castles and statues. It’s Just a shame that you don’t spend much time in these locations. Character models look good but not great. Textures are muddy and bland with lots of grey’s and brown’s. Overall the Graphics are a step backwards from the absolutely stunning first game.
Audio – Lords Of Shadow 2 is a stunner in the sound department. The orchestral score is magnificent and really works to draw you into the world. The voice acting is once again knocked out of the park. Overall the sound in Lords Of Shadow is where a lot of the attention seemed to go, allowing you to be brought into this fantastic world.
Negatives – Lords Of Shadow 2 doesn’t really have that many negatives to speak of. The game locked up and required a reset, audio cut out on certain scenes and the game’s map is completely useless.
Verdict – Castlevania Lords Of Shadow 2 is a game that had such promise but also had a difficult challenge in bringing Castlevania into present day. Sadly the game falls short of reaching those heights. In trying to bring the game into a modern setting something was lost along the way, something that made the first game so great.
If you were to look up absurd, crazy or wacky in the dictionary you’ll most likely find a picture of Saints Row 4. The fourth entry in the Saints Row franchise takes everything good about Saints Row the third and turns it up to eleven. Since we’ve last seen the Saints they’ve been helping various organizations with secret operations, During one of these missions you through a series of actions end up stopping a terrorist plot and becoming the president of the United States. Jump ahead a few months and you’re the president, deciding whether or not to cure cancer or end world hunger. The party doesn’t last long when an alien army and their leader Zinyak attack earth, amongst the chaos of the attack you and your fellow saints are captured and trapped inside a virtual recreation of Steelport. The perks of being in a virtual world is that you gain superpowers like super speed, super jump, glide and fire and ice blast.
Gameplay- The gameplay in Saint’s Row 4 remains largely unchanged from past games. The biggest change comes from the superpowers, which allow you to get across the city in the blink of an eye, or go gliding around the city like Superman. The third person shooting is as good as it ever was, even if it’s still behind most third person shooters. Various side activities return from past games, but with the added twist of superpowers. Regenerating health is now gone in favor of health pick ups to keep the player always moving forward. The armory of weapons the player has at their fingertips is as over the top and wild as ever, including a dubstep gun, a alien ray gun and various guns from film and television. The difficulty is pretty low Thanks to the the superpowers, but the game tries to balance this by throwing wave after wave of enemies at you. Overall the gameplay is polished if a little too familiar.
Graphics- Graphics wise Saints Row 4 is barely above average. Character models are good, even if the facial animation leaves something to be desired. The graphics probably took a dip in quality to allow for superpowers, however the games use of particle effects makes up for the lackluster graphics, they give the battles great visual flare. Overall the graphics get the job done, but they are Nothing to write home about.
Audio- The audio in Saints Row 4 is great. The various guns in the game all pack a satisfying punch. Each and every voice actor and actress brings their character to life with their own unique touch. The soundtrack is also filled with various tracks and genres, from rock to rap and reggae to pop. Overall the audio in Saints Row 4 is very well done.
Negatives- Saints Row 4 has a few drops in it’s framerate during very hectic battles with multiple enemies on screen at one time. The game does recycle a lot of the activities from Saints Row the Third and makes them side quests, which comes off as lazy on the developers part. I also encountered a couple freezes which required a hard reset of the console, along with screen tearing and lip synching problems.
Verdict- Saints Row 4 may feel very similar to Saints Row The Third, yet the addition of superpowers gives the franchise a fresh feel. The game is also just an absolute blast to play from start to finish. Overall Saints Row 4 is a Fun if a familiar game that doesn’t do much in the way of innovation but does provide one Hell of a ride.
Remember Me presents a world in which memories can be shared, stolen and erased. This ability comes via a new technology called Sensen, Sensen allows the user to have direct control over their memories to do with what they wish. With this technology the Memorize Corporation has direct control over the people and their mind’s. This prompts a small group of rebels known as Errorists to take it into their hand’s to bring down Memorize. Among them is the best memory hunter in the city, Nilin. Players step into Nilin’s shoe’s and begin their mission to take down the Memorize Corporation.
Gameplay- The gameplay in Remember Me is a mix of third person combat and platforming. The melee combat feels very similar to the Batman Arkham games. You chain together punches ands kicks to form combos. The combos can be imbued with special effects, such as regaining health, extra damage and reducing the waiting period for your special abilities. The combat does however feel clunky and rough around the edges, the lack of a counter attack ability makes dodging the only option. The platforming is the classic run, jump and shimmy along parts of the environment. It doesn’t offer anything new and it’s not all that polished or refined. The jumping has a slight delay from when you push the button and when Nilin performs the action. Remember Me is also a very linear game, it almost always funnels you down corridor after corridor for the duration of the story. there are also memory remixes,which allow you to go into someones mind and change certain things in order to make them think or do something differently. These sections only happen every now and again, it’s a shame Because they are the most interesting. Overall the gameplay is rough around the edges and clunky, but there is still Fun to be had.
Graphics- The graphics in Remember Me are above average yet still not up to next gen standards. The character models are very well done, even if stiff facial animation exists here and there. The world of Neo Paris is brought to life in amazing detail, everywhere you look there’s something interesting to look at. The amount of time the developers went to in order to bring this city to life really pays off for the player. Overall the graphics of Remember Me do a wonderful job at bringing to this world to life and alive with atmosphere.
Audio- The audio in Remember Me is outstanding. The combat has a satisfying punch to every attack. The world is alive with the Sounds of the future technology and people going about their days. Nilin is brought to life perfectly by actress Kezia Burrows, who’s vulnerability and strength makes sure the player connects and comes to care about Nilin. The soundtrack in Remember Me is truly outstanding, the mix of orchestral and electronic really fits into the Neo future world of Remember Me. Overall the audio in Remember Me is definitely the best thing it has going for it, the composer and audio department really hit it out of The park.
Negatives- Although Remember Me starts strong it very quickly becomes a mess plot wise due to various out of nowhere plot twists that do not Make a lot of sense. The combo lab system, while a great idea very quickly falls far short of it’s potential. The very linear nature of the game hurts the pacing and allows boredom to set in before you reach the games climax.
Verdict- Remember Me is a unique game that has some pretty big flaws, yet the world it creates and the characters that inhabit it are truly unique and worth experiencing. The gameplay may be slightly unpolished and rough around the edges, but it serves to let you explore the world and discover it’s wonders. Remember Me has some big questions for the player about technology and how much is too much.
The third game in the Arkham series, Batman Arkham Origins is a prequel that attempts to tell the story of a young and inexperienced Batman. Crime boss The Black Mask places a fifty million dollar bounty on the Batman’s head. This draws eight of the world’s deadliest assassins to Gotham City, including the likes of Deathstroke, Bane, and Firefly. The story takes place over one night around Christmas time. The story is told very well. The twists and turns that the story takes kept me hooked until the very end. The eight assassins aren’t all that interesting with the exception of Bane and Deathstroke. The major plot twist is very easy to see coming and it dampens the impact of the reveal. The story overall is a fantastic Tale with great supporting characters, even with some les than interesting side characters the story is still captivating and had me hooked.
Gameplay- The Gameplay in Origins retains much of what made the past Arkham games so great. The freeflow combat, the predator stealth sections, and the amazing feeling that you are the Batman. Origins attempts to freshen up the formula by adding in new moves and requiring you to use Batman’s gadgets during combat in a more offensive capacity. One place where Origins shines is in it’s boss battles against the eight assassins. Each battle is test of the skills that you learned throughout the game, be it countering against Deathstroke or using crowd control against Copperhead. The Gameplay does however feel less polished and less smooth than the previous two Arkham games. Overall the Gameplay in Origins is still as fun as it was in the previous games yet at the same time it feels very similar while also feeling less polished.
Graphics- The graphics in Origins are an improvement over the prior Arkham games but only slightly. The world is the largest it’s ever been,yet it feels barren and lifeless. The city is covered in brown’s and grey’s covered in a snowy finish. The city very quickly begins to blend together and nothing stands out. Gotham is also empty with the exception of enemies, it is explained why this is but it still makes the world feel lifeless. Character models have gotten a significant update this time around. The lip synching however is completely off and really takes you out of the experience. The animations are once again extremely well done, helping to sell every punch and kick. Overall the graphics are very good, yet the lifeless world and bland world design really hurt the experience.
Audio- Audio wise Origins is nothing special. Roger Craig Smith does his best as the younger Batman, although he does tend to over do it in certain scenes. Troy Baker on the other absolutely knocks it out of the park as the new Joker. Baker is able to convey the sense that this Joker is the younger version of Mark Hamill’s Joker. The various other voice actors do their jobs well enough but none of them are anything special. Overall the audio in Origins is good but nothing really stands out, with the exception of the two leads.
Negatives- Origins suffers from the same thing that all series tend to suffer from after three games, that sense of similarity and not adding anything new. Fatigue sets in pretty fast in Origins, this isn’t helped by the fact that with the exception of the story Origins isn’t all that interesting. The Gameplay begins to feel boring after you’ve fought just a couple of groups of enemies. The game doesn’t do a good job at keeping the player engaged in it’s world. The horrible lip synching and the less than smooth combat do not help any.
Verdict- Batman Arkham Origin’s attempt at telling the story of a young and naive Batman is well worth experiencing, but it fails in several key areas. The game fails to add anything new to the series. Feelings of fatigue and sameness set in very early on. Origins tries it’s best to deliver a truly compelling origin story but it fails under the weight of it’s own ambition.