Month: July 2015

Batman: Arkham Knight, A Past Due Review

Once again we find ourselves dawning the Cowl to save Gotham from the grasp of another famous Supervillian. This time Scarecrow takes the helm of a plot to cover Gotham in fear, with the aid of the (not so) mysterious Arkham Knight.  Like my previous Past Due Review of the Witcher 3, this review will not be scored but instead cover the game on a component by component basis. Such as, animation quality, character and environmental modeling, lighting, particle effects, audio, game mechanics, level design, and more. Every facet of the game will be discussed for at least a paragraph, exploring which sections work well and which ones are the Batmobile...



Starting off with the best aspect of this game, as well as the other Arkham games, the animation quality in Arkham Knight is superb. Both the combat animations and walk cycles show a great understanding of the animation process with well thought out poses that are strung together through fluid and confident motion. Animations between Batman and the thugs he beats up are hardly ever out of sync, matching up extremely well while keeping the action flowing. We’ll talk a bit more about the team fighting later on, but the if the animations say anything about how well done they are you probably get a good idea of what I’ll have to say about it.
If I have any criticism to offer here, it would have to be that the facial animations can be a bit inconsistent. Selena Kyle, Tim Drake, and Commissioner Gordon for example are great. But the big bats himself along with Scarecrow, the Riddler, and Nightwing look pretty awkward any time they open their mouths. I've got an example below, Light Early Game Spoiler Warning:


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Overall, I would say that the character models work well. But again there are some inconsistencies from model to model. Topology across the board looks great, and I’ve never noticed anything that seems out of place from the games grimy, gritty, and dirty art style in any of the characters. I think what really makes or breaks some of these models though are the textures.

Character Modeling

There are no stand out textures, and none of them seem like they have a very high resolution. I can look past that considering the size of the open world, and characters as a whole are fine. However, every object looks like there is a blur overshadowing that item. While the artists took great pains to make these complicated patterns, they just look washed out if you look at them individually.
I will say though that as a whole, each character is unmistakable, even if you barely know any other Batman villain aside from the Joker. Lack of advanced mapping techniques aside, these characters do look like their iconic comic book counterparts, and at the end of the day, that’s what matters. Even if I wish the enemies didn’t all look the same within their respective groups of enemy types.

Environmental Modeling

I said this back in my Witcher review, but I’ll say it again: Yes, character and environmental modeling are not at all the same thing, and anyone who thinks otherwise can answer to this mother f*****
Another great aspect of these Arkham games has always been the incredible sense of atmosphere their environments are able to create. Arkham Knight is no different in this case, areas themed to their respective supervillains are filled with easter eggs and other tiny little details that act as great flair to the hallways and back alleys of Gotham. Being broken up into island sections, the city itself feels and looks massive, with each island having its own theme that some may find doesn’t quite fit the gothic theme of the city. I personally felt a few areas came off a bit more Blade Runner then they did Batman's home turf. Drones, holograms, giant colorful neon signs, and video billboards just don’t scream Gotham to me. Don’t get me wrong I’m a huge cyberpunk fan, and this kind of environment certainly fits with the Arkham Knight’s heavily Philip K. Dick inspired garb, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it threw people off. Gotham to me means tall and ominous gothic inspired buildings that crawl with character, not smart TV's and sci-fi accessories.
With that said, the environments reflect the kind of Gotham they have built quite well. And keep an eye on those Billboards I mentioned, they deserve a second glance.


What should be the most important element of a game about Batman is sadly one of the worst visual elements of Arkham Knight. Even with brightness turned down as far as possible, the game still comes off way too light. Which is ironic since this is easily the darkest Story of all the Arkham games.
If you darken your monitor or a screenshot, as I have on the right, everything seems to pop a lot more. I know that you need to be able to see what’s going on, but there’s better ways to do that than having a fill light be nearly as bright as your main light source. What I find frustrating is that the lighting team clearly shows great knowledge of what it takes to light a scene well, even sneaking in some sweet looking Rembrandt lighting every now and then. But none of it gets to be celebrated since the shadows are all overpowered by fill or area lights, washing out the all the hard work that they’ve clearly spent a lot of time on.
But again, when you edit the image to appreciate the lighting that is hidden under there, it is done incredibly well. Shadows fall in all the right places, light off in the distance draws the eye across the cities beautiful vistas, and it makes me wish the game looked like the second image below 100% of the time.

Particle Effects

This game’s smoke is easily the best I’ve seen in a game, ever. Everything else just comes off as serviceable in comparison to it. It’s not that the little sparks, or electric charges aren’t great visual effects, but compared to the smoke effects that your Batmobile creates as you peel out into the streets of Gotham you tend to forget other effects are even in the game. And the streaks of rain that move across your cape will draw your eye as you explore the city. The only odd looking effect is one that looks pretty epic at first, but after a few passes over it begins to look fairly phony in comparison to everything around it. I wish I could describe what this effect is in more detail but that would enter heavy spoiler territory, and it’s hard enough to write a review about this game without spoiling anything in the first two paragraphs. But for those of you who have played the game or watched a let’s play I’m sure you can guess what I am talking about by the image on the bottom left.

Audio Effects/Soundtrack

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Once again Rocksteady has provided another rock solid element to Arkham Knight’s utility belt. The audio effects in Arkham Knight are just as solid and meaty as they have been in the past. Punches that land as you bounce from enemy to enemy sound impactful, gadgets from your utility belt each sound uniquely appropriate, and the fluttering noises your cape makes as you glide through Gotham are complemented by the ambient sounds of the city. The voice acting, as I mentioned earlier, can be a bit hit or miss. Some characters sound incredible and their performances match up well with their animations. But others sound awkward, flat, and at times don’t match. Thankfully there are only a few instances of bad dialogue, but when they happen, you will definitely notice them.

New Steam Store Releases: Ronin

This week, the new release highlight on the Steam store appears to be Ronin. An indie game that just came out of Early Access, Ronin is, by designer Tomasz Waclawek's own admission, a "rip-off" of the 2013 indie hit Gunpoint (though it seems to be a slight improvement, in my opinion). Also new this week, a single-player only, third person perspective remake of How To Survive, a party game from the creators of You Don't Know Jack that incorporates the use of your phone, and a pretty cool-looking space combat sim. Now just go follow this list of three easy steps:

  1. Rip off a popular indie game on Steam.
  2. Profit.
  3. Jump past the break to see more of this week's new releases.
  • Ronin (Devolver Digital, Single-player, $12.99) (Controller Support, Steam Achievements)
  • How To Survive: Third Person Standalone (505 Games, Single-player, $9.99) (Controller Support, Steam Achievements)
  • Quiplash (Jackbox Games, Multi-player, $9.99) (Controller Support, Steam Achievements)
  • The Battle of Sol (Bit Planet Games, Single-player, $14.99) (Controller Support, Steam Achievements)
  • Divide By Sheep (tinyBuild, Single-player, $4.99) (Steam Achievements)
  • Infinifactory (Zachtronics, Single-player, $24.99) (Steam Achievements)
  • Legends of Eisenwald (Aterdux Entertainment, Single-player, $29.99) (Steam Achievements)
  • Scarab Tales (Playito, Single-player, $6.99) (Steam Achievements)
  • Anna's Quest (Daedalic Entertainment, Single-player, $19.99) (Steam Achievements)
  • Devouring Stars (BulkyPix, Single & Multi-player, $9.99) (Steam Achievements)
[Image: Devolver Digital]

Andrew J Amideo

Games To Play When It’s Independence Day (USA Edition)


July 4th is Independence Day, here in the good old US of A, and while it is customary to spend the evening eating hamburgers and watching fireworks shows, there really isn't any prescribed way to spend the day. Some people might decide to go see a movie or a baseball game, others may choose to hang out by the pool or go play a round of golf. All great options, certainly. But what can you do if it happens to be raining, or you just don't feel like stepping out into the sweltering summer heat?

Why not spend time catching up on some great games? Better yet, why not play ones that would allow you to pay tribute to the holiday and/or America itself? Here is a list of a few such options:

Read more

Good Night WRUP

Phew, that was close. It’s still Friday, at least somewhere in the world. So, WRUP… yeah…WRUP. What should we talk about? Oh, right, quick update on the whole Twinstiq thing. The site will continue, but you will see a dial back in news. We can’t keep up with big sites and it’s just sucking too much energy and time from everyone. There was the idea floating around that we could make news collection posts, which basically consist of headlines and links.
Do you like the idea, or have an alternative? Tell us in the comments.

So, what’s everybody playing over the weekend?

  • Andrew J Amideo (@Andoro36): BioShock Infinite. Riptide GP2.
  • Billy Colley (@Amuntoth): I'll finally have some free time this weekend so I plan to get a few Let's Plays up, a video review, and if I have time after all that I'll play a little bit of Dragonball Xenoverse, which I finally picked up and am thoroughly enjoying.
  • Cody Hall (@Yoda0VGs): If I manage to break free of life's heartless grasp, I will be finishing up Batman: Arkham (We all knew who it is) Knight. And expect another totally nessarilly lengthy review to follow.
  • Dante:Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm and Fire Emblem: Awakening.
  • Greywolfe (@lostwolfe, YouTube): i picked up and am in the throes of playing tengami from the weekly "eye candy" humble bundle.  so far, i'm quite liking it, but the desktop port HAS PROBLEMS[tm] - larry 5 will prroooobbably actually have gameplay, this week.  i'm also coming to a spot in kyrandia that i detest:  the magic altar.  [but then, a lot of that game has very hit and miss qualities] and i'm currently sortakinda enjoying the spider brawl in hearthstone.  we've seen it before, which makes it bad, and the meta's a little face-y, but it's at least a change from mech mage.
  • Jimmy Vegas (@JimmyPhantom17): Dead Rising 3 DLC and if I finish it, some Tales of Symphonia
  • John Rausch (@visitzebes): I might play more Yoshi's New Island. I didn't quite attain my goal last weekend.
  • Thomas Ortsik (@Dr_Strangethumb): Maybe New Game+ Arkham Knight. Could use some more material for a possible upcoming review.
  • Trisha Baumgartner (twitch): Work work, Zug Zug. Finished Saints Row 4, now I'm going to play Gat out of Hell finally
  • Trey Valeska (@Trey_Valeska): Super 3D Noah's Ark.
  • Richard Mitchell (@TheRichardM): Zombicide, God willing.
  • Sam Prell (@SamPrell): Would you know my name? If I saw you in Heavensward?
  • Susan Arendt (@SusanArendt): The Witcher
  • Mike Suszek (@mikesuszek): I'm playing FREEDOM: THE GAME.
  • Anthony John Agnello (@ajohnagnello, Twitch): Cursing the dumb open worldy stuff in Arkham Knight, loving the rest. 243 riddles to face Riddler? All those mines and towers? Shut up, game.


New Nintendo eShop Releases: Ocarina of Time!

Aww, yeah! Ocarina of Time is now available on the Wii U! (Via the Nintendo 64 Virtual Console.) I may already own it on GameCube and 3DS, but now I can finally play it the way God intended...on Nintendo 64! (Virtually, that is.) Whatever, close enough. I can't wait to finish this post so I can go get to downloading!Also new this week, another Samurai Warriors game for the 3DS (yawn), an intriguing multiplayer platform game where you start at the end and have to backtrack to the beginning, and an interesting looking Japanese strategy RPG. Dust off your virtual cartridge, fire up your virtual console, then jump past the break to see this list of new releases.

Wii U


[Image: Nintendo]

Andrew J Amideo
[Source: Business Wire]

Comcept tease Red Ash which bears more than a slight resemblance to Mega Man Legends…

Don't You Dare, Comcept! Don't Mess With Me Like This!

Gah! I've no words. Prediction: KickStarter later this year. It seems like everything dead is now alive and new. Or it's a new anime and I can dig back into my hole.
In the above teaser is a logo for Studio 4°C, a Japanese animation company. I smell another transmedia property coming along. To be fair though, Mega Man Legends was little more than a playable anime.I hate to say it but as a big fan of Mega Man Legends, this didn't really hit me the way I imagined it. I could have sworn I predicted this some time around Bloodstained's debut but I never imagined I'd see the concept emerge so soon. I'm not enamored with Comcept's track record either. They seem to work much in the same fashion as Mistwalker, acting more as consultants and not purely as developers. To that end, I'm not even sure I'd consider them a "developer". Guess their name Comcept really fits them. I've never played Soul Sacrifice (no Vita) or Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z, and their Zak and Wiki-ish game, Kaio, never made it to fruition. So, whatever this is might never see the light of day either. I guess Fallout 4 really spoiled me but I don't want to know about things until they are a bit more viable. Console or ridicule me below. Also, Bugs vs. Tanks was kinda weak.


Source: The YouTubes

Opinion:  Championing An Indie Conference At E3

Words By Greywolfe

One of the blips on every gamers’ radar is the annual E3 conference.  Usually, we get to see upcoming games or we get to hear about projects that are in the pipeline for the future.  Occasionally, there’s some hardware reveals too.  It’s like Christmas for our industry, except, you know, in June.

The problem – and the problem I have had – historically – with all of these conferences is that there’s a surprising lack of diversity at show.  Everyone’s bringing a new iteration of a shooter [and this is a particular problem, in fact.  There are so many shooters that it’s difficult to get invested/interested in them] or a new version of a sports game or a slightly updated driving game.  To me, this feels pretty bland.

The bright spot – at least for me – is almost always the indie games, because the indie developers are often trying something different.  So, I’d like to propose that E3 have an “indie conference” in the style of the Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft conferences.

Each of the conferences had folks managing who was up on stage at any given time.  Naturally, an indie conference would have to find someone like that.

And now, your host, Morph!

We Know It Can Be Done

First, let’s start with the obvious:  can it actually happen?  The answer is yes.  One of the most awesome things to come out of E3 2015 was the PC Gaming Show.

PC is not really a “unified platform” – not in the same way that Xbox One, Playstation 4 and the Wii U are “unified platforms” – as such, there should not have been a way to make a conference for PC, but this was a solvable problem with a sponsor that stepped in [in the form of AMD] who probably under-wrote the whole PC Gaming Show for the sake of advertising.  While I wouldn’t want indies to be in that sort of debt to someone like AMD, at least we know that it is possible to host something like this.

We can also see that there are a host of games that would benefit from such a platform:  during their conferences, Microsoft and Sony essentially skated right across their indie offerings, barely giving us glimpses at each title.

A dedicated conference would allow those indies to stand up in front of an actual audience and do a little more than just a tech demo.

All you'd really need to do - to be

Cloud Imperium made a "little movie" of their showing at E3 - this could be a template for indies.

But How Might It Work?

The biggest problem with having indies at E3 is the cost:  most developers who are in this particular boat probably don’t have the money to fly out to an expensive convention just so that they can show off their game in a public space.

This, too, is a solvable problem:  at this year’s show, Cloud Imperium [the folks behind Star Citizen] were not actually on the show floor, instead, they sent video to the actual PC Gaming Show that they put up on large screens for folks to follow.

In this same way, developers could set up “booths” with their own computers at their own workplaces where they could demonstrate their games through – for example – Twitch streams, Skype calls or various other methods.

The other – quite large problem – is financing.  I thought that having AMD as a sponsor was not a bad idea, but I didn’t like the implementation of their sponsorship in that particular program.  Instead, I feel that indie incubators should help out in this respect – with – perhaps – slightly longer spots for the actual developers that they are helping along.  [this would be a twofold win – it would keep the show on point and it wouldn’t be obtrusive – which was one of the biggest issues I had with the AMD sponsorship of the PC Gaming Show.]

Finally – and as for the line-up, I would hope for a diverse set of developers showing a diverse set of games.  As I mentioned in my introductory paragraph, part of the reason I’m a little jaded when it comes to E3 in general is that it seems to be a haven for me-too-ness.  There are a lot of people showing off a lot of games, but they all seem to boil down to “here’s a sports game” or “here’s our shooter we just made” or “here’s a new driving game in our present franchise” – and while I applaud that those games exist for people who are into them, I have long since contended that gaming could be about many and varied things.

Games like Tacoma are interesting, to me.  Games like Beyond Eyes have a story – and a vision – that very few AAA games can match.  I loved the presentation that the developer of Unravel gave – that was more heartfelt than any of the quite scripted jokes that happened at this year’s show.

One other large problem I had with the PC Game Show was that it was too long.  Two and a half hours – particularly given how it played out – made it by far the longest conference there was.  I didn’t mind the format so much – Day[9] was an excellent host – but there was too much talking and not enough showing.

Instead, what I propose is that each developer gets five or so minutes to show their wares – and I do mean show.  None of this “we’ll talk for ten minutes and show a two minute trailer of what we just talked about.”

This particular method – of having a developer come up and show something to the crowd, while talking to a host such as Day[9] should happen for about an hour.  At that point, the conference should end for that day.  On day two, the same thing should happen again and so on for each day of E3.  This way, there’s news every day about indie games – again, making this a bit of a win, since they will be part of the round up that news sites do and keeping the idea of indie visible to the public.


I strongly believe that there needs to be a real indie space for developers at E3.  My ideas may not – entirely – be the best, but, hopefully, this is a platform that gets people talking about the way it might be done.  I certainly hope to see something like this next year, when I’m sure I’ll be following the conferences again.

Images courtesy of Pixabay

New PlayStation Store Releases: BlazBlue Comes To PS4

This week, BlazBlue has come to the PlayStation 4 with the release of Chrono Phantasma Extend. No word yet on whether or not the game is compatible with PlayStation 3 arcade sticks (so, I'm guessing not), but it seems that Japanese peripheral maker Hori was nice enough to create a limited edition Chrono Phantasma stick that works with both systems. Could be a good investment, if you've got the scratch (and are able to find one). Also new this week, an ancient Konami arcade shmup, a Shonen Jump fighting game mash-up, and a Kickstarter horror/adventure game that just happens to have a file size of 666 megabytes. Crazy, right? Acquire a compatible fight stick, select your character, then jump past the break to see more of this week's new releases.
PlayStation 4

[Image: Arc System Works]

Andrew J Amideo

Warhammer Rising? Or Getting Watered Down?

Warhammer: Storm of Magic has been announced, and it looks extremely similar to Hearthstone. Granted, the actual card gameplay could be very different, but you're still talking about a card game on the PC with great looking animations. Still, as a lover of all things Warhammer I can't help but be excited about it. I think they should have gone with Warhammer 40,000 in order to help differentiate the game from Hearthstone, but I still like Warhammer Fantasy so for me it's not a total loss. Continue past the break for the video and my thoughts.

This has got to be at least the fifth Games Workshop game announced this year if I recall correctly, which is really a double edged sword. When Relic had the license I really enjoyed Dawn of War 1 and 2, and I couldn't get enough of Space Marine as well. There's something about killing Orks in the far future that really gets my gears going. Still, Relic was relatively reserved with the license, only putting out of a few games in the years that they had the rights to it.Now there are dozens of Warhammer Fantasy and 40,000 games that have recently come out or are coming out soon, and it's starting to worry me. The overall quality has gone down a bit to be sure, more like triple B quality games than the triple A that I felt the Dawn of War games were. That doesn't mean the games are bad, but they are focusing on smaller games with shorter development times and this begs the question:  are they flooding the market?


Not Total Warhammer? Seriously?
That's the worry isn't it? It's great that I'm getting more games in my favorite settings, but if they continue to focus on more simple games will I ever see a Dawn of War 3 or equivalent? I know we're getting Total War: Warhammer sometime in the near future, but Creative Assembly don't exactly have the greatest track record and adding all of the fantasy stuff could mean that the first Total War of this type could be a buggy mess. I think most of us still remember the disaster that was Empire: Total War.  Combine that with lackluster games like Space Hulk (which I still enjoyed), and the horribly ported Kill Team (a game that could have been amazing but was so poorly ported as to be nearly unplayable), and you have to start worrying that people will begin associating Warhammer with mediocre, buggy and unfun games.

Still, with games like Total War: Warhammer, Warhammer: End Times - Vermintide, and Mordheim: City of the Damned on the way with the potential to really be amazing, things aren't entirely hopeless yet.

If Games Workshop can continue to walk this tightrope of allowing smaller developers to develop more simple, cheaper games, while also allowing more experienced devs to build larger and more intriguing games, then things could work out very well for me and the other Warhammer fans out there.

What do you think? Are you already a fan of Warhammer Fantasy or 40,000? Are you excited about all of these games coming out, or the ones which recently came out? Are you just as worried as I am that they might be watering down the brand with less than stellar games? Let us know in the comments down below.

Wild Season Gets More Seasoning in Latest Patch

The above video is our look at the Wild Season beta from last month, and it looks like its already a bit outdated. I suppose that's bound to happen with betas, so continue past the break to see what they've added.
It looks like the developers have addressed some of the crippling issues I ran into during my attempted playthrough. You can now play until Summer 18 Firefly event, which means you can continue the story longer than you could in the earlier beta. They've improved the camera, increased run speed, updated the sound FX (I hope that means they HAVE sound FX now), added animal raising and fixed purchasing of items and animals! They've also fixed the shipping bin, which means you can finally make money now that you also have the ability to spend it!I haven't had a chance to give the new beta  a go yet, but I am excited about it. Why? Because I want a Harvest Moon game on PC, simple as that. Or at least it was until the newest Harvest Moon was announced for PC as well, which better light a fire under Wild Season's developers because that has got to be a pretty painful announcement for them.

In case you're curious about what's changed, I have included the patch notes, below.

Have you played Wild Season? Are you excited about the upcoming release, or are you more excited for the Harvest Moon release on PC? Let us know in the comments below.

Patch Notes
-        Story until Summer 18 Firefly event. (this event’s a whooper!)
-        Windowed Mode (still has some issues)
-        Added "leave blank for default" text in text input window.
-        New camera positioning
-        Added gift giving
-        Faster movement (the developers are eager for your feedback on this)
-        Added star quality logic. (back end only)
-        Updated SFX.
-        Animal shop now works
-        Female intro video when starting a new game
Fishing (old rod is in your chest. Buy bait fromt the general store)
Animal Care
Story up to Summer 18
Horse Betting
Full mouse support
Gift Giving
-        Fixed Shipping bin (You can now make money!)
-        Fixed minimap.
-        Selecting female is now less buggy
-        Animals can now be carried (just farm ones not town ones)
-        Consumables can now be consumed (effects/mileage may vary)
-        Fixed missing item quantity in inventory.
-        Fixed in inventory when selecting stacked items.
-        Fixed quantity display bug when buying more than 1 item from general store.
-        Fixed missing seed and deed in quick start option.
-        Fixed getting stuck in plateau entrance
-        Fixed couldn’t input anything in the main menu
-        Fixed music in game scene is muted on start when you started a new game. (can be fixed by adjusting the volume on the pause menu)
-        Control are now remappable in options and in game pause
-        Fixed visual bug in the HUD of the season icon
-        Fixed cats and dogs movement
-        Fixed camera sometimes won’t follow the main character
-        Fixed Volume so it’s not SUPER Loud when you start
-        More feature fixes.
Author: Billy C
Game: Wild Season