Category: PC

#4if

Commonperson’s #4iF Failure

This year my goal was to finish Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Halo 5, Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak and finally Grim Fandango. I am sad to report, I failed, and miserably. I had a 50% completion rate in no small part due to the release of several games including the time sink of Xcom 2 (reviewed on our site here by Scroo). What this exercise really hammered home is the dilemma of the modern gamer, prioritization.

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate:

Assassin's Creed Syndicate
The Frye twins in action

First to touch on the games I played, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate was a solid experience, the game finally delivered on the promise of the franchise that has been missing in the last three entries. While I love Black Flag’s sailing mechanic the story missed out on a lot of elements and made me feel uncomfortable with the protagonist but not nearly as much as I outright disliked the leads of both Rogue and Unity. Simplification was the key, the use of the Frye twins (which was very hard to not make Futurama jokes about) kept the narrative fresh by switching between the two depending on the type of mission and preserving stylistic integrity of the character preventing ludonarrative dissonance from being a problem. This is one of the few times I’ve actually gone for completionism, the side quests were all solid fun and while they were plentiful they were never overwhelming like in Unity (which I basically just walked away from saying “screw this” when I couldn’t see my objectives for all the clutter of side quests). This title is well worth playing.

Halo 5: Guardians

Halo 5 Halo 5 Osiris TeamHaving bought this at the same time as Syndicate and not touched it I was actually able to finish the game rather quickly. Splitting the narrative between Blue Team with its succulently voiced Master Chief and Osiris led by Spartan Locke (or the Master Chief Grouch) the game was solid enough. There were some changes, Locke originally portrayed by Mike Colter (who is busy now being Luke Cage) didn’t return and was replaced by sound alike actor Ikè Amadi. Honestly, unless I was told, I wouldn’t have heard a difference. Amadi does his best with a bad script. I went into the game relishing the opportunity to spend time with Buck (aka my Mancrush Nathan “Captain Mal Reynolds” Fillion) to find very little actual interplay between the team members. There’s some random background chatter and the lush and beautifully rendered cut scenes which would actually make for a great movie/tv series on their own but beyond that there was no real difference who you were playing with.

Regardless if you were the Chief or Locke your companions were pretty brain dead AIs. Playing on Heroic the game never felt too tough, I was able to make it through the game with some strategy but the AIs of your companions are downright stupid often ignoring pleas for help or just running blindly into fire. Your enemies on the other hand would often coordinate attacks and make use of flanking and cover very effictively. If only my squad were so smart! The squad level commands were Spartan (forgive the pun) at best. You essentially had resurrect me, go here, use this vehicle and attack that. You don’t want to be worrying about issuing a ton of commands in a combat heavy game, understood, but some more strategy and differing play styles by your AI companions would be nice. Even the ability to set behaviour like in Mass Effect would have been cool (like get Buck to use heavy weapons or Fred to focus on sniping).
The story itself is the framing device to the next arc of the Halo universe. It feels like we may finally be done with the Flood/Covenant/Precursor story and introducing something entirely new. Allies become enemies and new alliances are forged but in the end the story felt annoying because of some of the reversals that just felt silly and the fact that much of this could have been resolved with a simple call back to base or a 5 minute conversation. That being said, the same could be said about 90% of action movies out there so there’s that.

Multiplayer is tight with none of the Halo Master Chief Collector’s Edition issues and due to its design even joining in months later thanks to a lack of a class system I didn’t feel overpowered by my opponents. The arena material was classic halo and the addition of mobility powers and clambering change the dynamic enough to make it feel fresh. The best part though is the addition of Warzone. This adds large scale team vs. team vs. environment play and is a sort of capture and hold based game play with points being accrued for destroying Precursor and Covenant who drop into the field of play. This is the most fun and revolutionary addition that could be a game on its own. One little possible concern is the addition of card packs but having played the multiplayer it’s easy enough to earn these requisition packs which unlock gear in Warzone matches as well as cosmetic material. That said, all of this can be earned simply by playing the game and I’ve not once had to buy any in game or even been compelled to consider it.

In short, if you like Halo and the universe Bungie created you’ll enjoy where 343 Industries are taking it. If you don’t you may not really enjoy the gameplay which can be at times frustrating due to working with team AIs that feel like they have brain damage. However, given the ability to play co-op, this could change the feel of the game especially with friends you can to something more enjoyable. Really with a 16 mission campaign that depending on play style can be run in 5 to 6 hours unless you are a fan of the universe or the multiplayer I’d suggest waiting for a sale.

 

Grim Fandango Homeworld Deserts of Kharak

 

That brings us to my shameful failures, Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak and Grim Fandango, to be honest I barely touched them. I did get a bit more time in with Homeworld but I found the lack of ability to issue commands in formation or line up where my units sat on the 3D environment frustrating and over the month of February, I had several betas pop up that were limited time, a couple of “Seasonal events” roll around in a few games I regularly play and the release of several new titles.

When I started gaming in the late 70s there were literally a handful of games a year. Many of them rehashes of existing games with just different plastic sheets you'd tape to your TV.

During the 80s and 90s it picked up but it still wasn’t the same kind of frantic pace you have today. You could get away with buying “all the games you want” because even at its peak during the "Holiday Season" it was still only a few dozen games at most which means you wont be overwhelmed.

But now we have new games showing up on a weekly basis. This doesn't count Betas, DLC, season events and so on. All of this makes it a challenge to just focus. I have access to Steam, PlayStation and Xbox and these libraries are littered with titles I’ve not finished. Many of these games are great - as long as I'm playing them - but I never really seem to make any headway through my backlog because of the sheer constant barrage of New Hotness that might be floating around in the gaming world. Thankfully, those games in those libraries aren’t going anywhere and I can always return to them, but as time marches forward it feels harder and hard to return to these abandoned games.

It makes me wonder if it wouldn’t be better if game companies cut development in half and focused on titles making really amazing experiences versus the constant iterations on old titles, re-releases, HD Upgrades, and the crazy release schedule we deal with now. In the end, no one forces me to buy these games and I’m lucky enough to have disposable income enough that I can live easily with my poor impulse control, but if I was a kid who didn’t have a lot of cash it would have been frustrating. I guess I’m lucky enough to have grown up in a time where 5 of my friends could split the cost of a game and share it using floppy disks to copy the game. Man, how the times have changed.

Do You Sometimes Feel LIke You Could Take Over The World?!

If so, then GOG has the perfect game for you: Day of the Tentacle. Better still, it's Day of the Tentacle remastered, so you get a modern looking game and modern sounds alongside the original charm of the DOS version - which you can flip to at [almost] any time.

And time is of the essence, because you'll be cast into three time periods while you play - the past, the present and the far future. Use twisty time-travel logic to solve puzzles spanning all three ages and witness the hilarity as LucasArts works it's curious brand of comedy magic.

It's a magical time, because if you pre-order between now and March 22, GMT you will also get exclusive Day of the Tentacle wallpapers, courtesy of GOG.

You can pre-order here.

I’ve Been Playing XCom 2…

And man it isn't messing around!

Those of you that have been playing it already know that XCom 2 is a step up from Enemy Unknown and Enemy Within. I was expecting a bit more of the same great game play that those previous titles handed us, but what XCom 2 doles out is nothing short of punishing. And it's excellent!menuscreenI'm only playing on normal difficulty and I'm having to reload saves several times per mission so that I'm not losing my veteran soldiers. I think by the third mission I played, my basic, barely promoted soldiers were already coming up against mechanical units and mind controlling Sectoids. No unit in this game is easy to go toe to toe with.

Each project that's researched, each improvement made is met with furious resistance. Just get your best soldiers healed up? Ready to take on that black site finally? Awesome, let's go... Well, now there's an urgent mission available, if it's skipped the enemy gets guaranteed reinforcements for a month... shit guess we gotta do that. At least we've got experimental armor for our soldiers... well they have heavy units with plasma weapons that can bypass armor... what now? Grenades, perfect, take that!... wait, Shield Bearers... They cast an energy shield on all of their allies in a radius that soaks up damage before allowing units to be vulnerable... Get up there with your power sword Rangers and slash that guy up!... Great but now we're out of cover... and oh good a Viper has come to bind our ranger and take them out of combat until they're either dead or the Viper takes damage... Now we have wounded soldiers and it'll take days or maybe weeks before we can assault that black site that we were so prepared for. Who knows what will happen between now and then?

It's like that every step of the way and it's wonderfully stressful. actionIf you were into XCom: Enemy Unknown, you're gonna be into XCom 2. Just be prepared to lose, a lot. If you're already playing XCom 2, good luck and godpseed Commander.

System Sellers and Why I Bought a PS4

I recently bought a PS4, which is the main reason why I haven't been too active writing new articles for Twinstiq. Let's make one thing clear. This is not a console wars article. The thought of buying an Xbox One has never even crossed my mind. What I'd like to do here is to take a trip down to Memory Lane and remember the titles that sold me consoles since the 80's. Let's face it, it's all about the games.

Read more

Hearthstone: League of Explorers Review: BRB. Dodging A Collapsing Temple.

Hearthstone's solo adventures are always a pleasant change of pace. Instead of beating up on other people, we're beating up on imaginary bosses. These bosses are generally thematically linked through some crumbs of story that get doled out as each wing of the adventure unlocks.

In the case of League of Explorers, the story's wrapped around a kind of Indiana Jones-like concept, where you help both prominent Warcraft lore figures and newcomers alike to banish a thief named Rafaam from the current dig you're on.

It's simple and fun - for the most part. It also introduces new adventure mechanics, new cards with thematic ideas and my very favourite Murloc - something I thought I'd never say - in the form of Sir Finley Mrrgglton.

So, as Peter Molyneux might ask...what's inside the box? Read more

Overwatch Closed Beta Starts Again- Februray 9th

Well the title says it all, the Overwatch closed beta is coming back on the 9th. Balance changes have been made to characters and AI bots, there are a couple of new maps and even a new game mode.

I have to say that as guy who's not really a fan of games like this any more, this one looks fun. And if you also think it it looks fun you can click this link that will take you to a Battle.net post containing more information and a sign up link at the bottom.

 

[feature image and info sourced from Blizzard]

I Played It Twice And I Changed

I've been playing video games for a very, very long time at this point. The first couple of times I stood in front of anything that resembled a game was back in 1979 or 1980. I don't recall which one it was now - might have been Asteroids. Might have been Space Invaders. All I know is that the moment my eyes took in that crude joystick and those round, red buttons of the arcade machine, I had found a kind of home. A hobby that has, so far, spanned a lifetime.

I dove headlong into that hobby.

And I played.

A lot. Read more

#4if

Greywolfe’s #4if

I got into #4if pretty late. The first year I tried it, [2012] my computer blew up and I had to postpone it to March of that year to get it done. The second year, I got three out of four games done - I ended up trying to plow through a game that just took too long. In 2014, I think I sat it out completely. Last year was...well, it was depressing. Joystiq went away and I wasn't sure if I was going to try and attempt it, but in the end I did - I didn't finish [silly Hand of Fate got in the way] but I gave it a whirl.

This year, I have four games all lined up and ready and I'm going to try my very best to finish them off.

What am I playing? Read more

Prince of Persia: Sands of time Review: Time In A Dagger

Way back when - back when PC's were still young-ish and AAA-gaming was a little like indie gaming is today, there was a guy named Jordan Mechner. He wanted to make very visual, story-intense games. But the thing is, the hardware wasn't quite at the point where he could do what he wanted. So, instead of making photo-realistic, beautifully rendered games - because he couldn't - he made stunningly realized pixel-based games that had the most fluid movement you could possibly imagine.

His first design was the masterfully simple Karateka. Always go right. Flip between fight stance and run stance. Kill the bad guys. Watch the story unfold. As simple as Karateka was, it summed up Mechner's way of creating games.

Between Karateka and Prince of Persia, five years would pass - and while the graphics got better, they were still not realistic. Which was fine. Prince of Persia was moody and simple - the motion of the prince was what was important. And boy was he fluid.

This doesn't quite bring me to Sands of Time, but it does illustrate the main point I'm trying to make - a lot of Jordan Mechner's games are about the fluidity of the body - and how beautiful it can seem when running or jumping or engaged in combat.

And that, in a nutshell, is where Sands of Time absolutely delivers. Read more