Category: PC

Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco And The Time Rippers Review: Roger’s Timey-Wimey Adventure

Please note: some of the links in this review will take you off-site. These have been set up to open in a new window.

Where do you go after you've made three games in a universe and have - rather neatly - tied the series up? When confronted with this problem, Al Lowe chose to go in a completely bizarre direction, "skipping" Larry 4 and giving us a somewhat cartoon-y, rather crass and not very pleasant New Larry. I wasn't really a fan, as you can tell from this review.

The Space Quest saga had a similar quandary to ponder.

Read more

Hitman: First Impression- DRM Anyone? Update

UPDATE: Alright, so after playing through the Paris episode it does appear that cinematics are included along with each DLC addition. I can't say for sure they're not also sold separately since the frame is available for purchasing a cinematic. You can see for yourself in the fourth screenshot in this article.

And in the spirit of fairness, replayability has also taken another step higher by the "Contracts" mode. This is a game play option that allows players to create and post their own contracts in any of the playable missions and locations for others to play. Just enter the Contracts tab and create one for folks to check out or play one someone else has made. This screenshot explains the creation. For the original article, proceed below.contract

 

So recently I bought a new CPU and motherboard for my computer and with that came an activation code for the -Hitman, full experience-. The game went live this morning at 9am pacific time and I jumped in to see what's up with the newest iteration of Code Name 47's escapades. Here are my thoughts so far.

Upon startup I noticed that settings include quite a few options, one of which is the activation of DirectX 12. Hitman and Rise of the Tomb Raider, are two of the first games in the industry to receive the use of DX12 and I was pretty happy with the effects it's had on both. I'll say that I noticed no real visible difference in the look of either game, just that performance was far and away better.

I've been reading about people having issues with Hitman's performance. Crashing often, poor frame rates, stuck load screens etc. I can't speak to that since I have experienced none of those things personally. In fact the game loaded quite quickly for me once I had my options configured the way I wanted them and it runs on the highest settings I'm allowed at a consistent 60fps.

Now let's talk about that for a second, "...the highest settings I'm allowed". I can turn everything up as high as it will go except textures. They are stuck at medium, high is greyed out. This seems to be linked to graphics hardware. I myself have a 3GB card so I'm allowed to choose up to medium settings, cards with 2GB are limited to low. I'm not sure what it takes to run high because there's no explanation (none that I found as of yet anyway), could be 4GB could be 6GB. Hell, the aforementioned Rise of the Tomb Raider, wants more than 4GB of VRAM to run the highest texture resolutions, but it doesn't lock you out of trying it. Hopefully IO-Interactive will pay attention to people complaining about this and go ahead and unlock the settings. I won't hold my breath though. Worth noting here is the important fact that medium textures don't look too bad, but that doesn't mean I appreciate not having the choice to see for myself what the high setting would be like.47Game play itself is... well it's Hitman. Everything feels like traditional Code Name 47. Now, my last experience with a Hitman title was with Blood Money back on the PS2, and I liked it quite a bit. So after that everything added to the IP is new to me. That said, this latest installment has added some "features" I use the term lightly, like: talking with NPCs, being able to throw found objects at targets to knock them out, instinct mode and the ability to blend in to an environment to avoid suspicion. 47 has had occasions where he's had a voice before but not really (at least to my memory) in a way that could effect game play. That's not to say he has dialogue options or anything but it does seem that talking to, and listening to conversing NPCs can lead to intel on opportunities to help complete your mission. On the one hand that's pretty cool, on the other, 47 having a conversation with someone seems to be a bit out of character.

Instinct mode (hold CTRL on PC) will activate a kind of "Witcher senses" type deal and allow you to see and track targets through walls. You can turn this off in the settings if you wish. Aside from that it's still the good old -stalk your target, change your clothes, hide in plain sight- stealth assassination game we all like. And I have to admit that I do like it based on that at least. Instinct modeWhat I don't like is the play model. Hitman gives you the option to buy the Inroduction Pack for $15.00 which will give you access to basic content in the first episode. After that you can buy the Upgrade Pack for $49.99 and this will allow you to receive the rest of the game as it's released. Or you can spring for the $59.99 Full Experience and again I use the term loosely "have it all". What you actually get is the first episode just like everyone else, but you no longer have to upgrade to get the rest of the game as it's released. Essentially it's the game plus a season pass... blegh.purchase screenSo here's what you'll get when you start: The Prologue consists of three small, replayable training missions and a few cinematics. Yes, it appears they're even selling cinematics. You'll also get the Paris Episode, which I've yet to play since Steam hadn't yet installed it. That's being taken care of now as I'm writing. So for $15.00 you're probably getting an appropriate amount of content, selling cinematics (probably) as DLC though is pretty damn idiotic.

The Upgrade Pack is your season pass, and as mentioned above will allow content to be installed automatically as it's released. That's going to include six more episodes and five more locations to be released throughout 2016 starting in April. Presumably, you'll also be able to purchase episodes singly as DLC as they release.

One other thing to take into account is that you're locked into online play. Meaning if you lose your interwebs, you're booted from the game. At least there are auto saves so when you regain your connection you can probably just pick back up where you left off. There is an offline mode but it's separate and save games will not be compatible. Unfortunately for online play, down the line this could have the implication of service being stopped by Square Enix, and no longer being able to play at all.online onlySo based on my first impression would I recommend Hitman? Well, that depends. If you don't mind the DRM, the somewhat limited graphical options, or the possible pay walls then it might be worth it to you. It's still got a great feel, it's still 47 being a badass, untouchable assassin, it's pretty good as far as gameplay, it runs great (in my experience anyway) and for $15.00 you're getting content with quite a bit of replayability. On the other hand, if you're not alright with all that stuff, don't even look twice because you don't have a choice anyway. Let me say this. I wouldn't have bought this title if it hadn't accompanied a piece of hardware for my PC in the form of a redeemable code. training

System Requirements for Hitman are as follows

MINIMUM:
OS: OS 64-bit Windows 7
Processor: Intel CPU Core i5-2500K 3.3GHz / AMD CPU Phenom II X4 940
Memory: 8 GB RAM
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 / Radeon HD 7870
DirectX: Version 11
Storage: 50 GB available space

RECOMMENDED:
OS: OS 64-bit Windows 7 / 64-bit Windows 8 (8.1) or Windows 10
Processor: Intel CPU Core i7 3770 3,4 GHz / AMD CPU AMD FX-8350 4 GHz
Memory: 8 GB RAM
Graphics: Nvidia GPU GeForce GTX 770 / AMD GPU Radeon R9 290
DirectX: Version 11
Storage: 50 GB available space

 

Rise of the Tomb Raider gets DirectX 12 today: First in the industry, Kind of

As of today, March 11th, 2016, Rise of the Tomb Raider will implement one of the industry's first integrations of DirectX 12. This is great news.... really.

Steam users will automatically download the small 129mb patch and will expect to see some pretty big improvements in performance across the board. This doesn't mean that folks without Windows 10 can't play any more as DirectX 11 is still an option.

Grab the newest video drivers for your graphics cards to get the best performance as of yet. AMD users, make sure you choose the 16.3 hotfix driver suite.

Nvidia drivers here

AMD drivers here

I myself finally cracked and jumped on the Windows 10 bandwagon so I look forward to seeing the changes first hand.

You can read the patch notes here

And you can check out the dev blog post on the subject here

The Division first day: Bungie take out your notebook

The Division Character SelectionThe Division, Ubisoft’s latest open world extravaganza launched yesterday and we are finally sinking our teeth into the gameplay experience. Ubisoft decided to not release the game to the press early with the logic being this is a multi-player experience and without adequately populated servers it would be hard to judge the quality of the final release product. Originally intended as a full-fledged MMO before being scaled back and given the shaky starts to the last few Ubisoft products that involved large scale online components (The Crew and Assassin’s Creed Unity) this was a risky proposition on their part.

For the most part it appears to have paid off, there were two betas leading up to release that were highly populated (Ubisoft provided numbers showing six million users during their open beta). For the most part, so far, the servers have remained stable. I’ve experienced a couple of instances of queues getting onto the server and one crash where I had to drop out of the game and log back in (luckily it returned me to my party which was at the final boss in a mission). Other than that the game has been fairly solid over the course of gameplay starting at 5am and ending at 10pm on launch day.

The gameplay itself is nothing new, none of the core mechanics changed between the betas and release the only change being the unlocking of crafting and higher level powers as well as access to more quests. The game itself is a mashup of Gears of War cover mechanics, Assassin’s Creed open world play with toned down parkour and Destiny loot cycles. Nothing is new in this game but that’s not entirely a bad thing, the gaming community is often caught up in the cycle of reinventing the wheel. Ubisoft have iterated on their own already-refined technology, applying it to a larger palette.

While the Snowdrop engine has been shown to be capable of some beautiful graphics, the level of detail has been dialed back. However, the Xbox One version is still getting some of the best visuals in a game to date. This is made obvious during the very first moments of gameplay.

After a brief cinematic you are shown your character’s face reflected in a car window, you have a handful of customization options available (not nearly as many as traditional MMO gamers would appreciate or even offered by the closest cousin of this game Destiny) you still get an opportunity to make your character feel your own and it’s done in a way that is unique compared to the generic “generate your character” screens found in many other games. Once past this introduction you play out a handful of scenarios in possibly one of the most elegant tutorials I’ve seen in years. Playing in a sliver of Brooklyn you get to learn the core mechanics of gunplay, map traversal and interface management before being dropped into the hell on earth that is post Dollar Flu Midtown Manhattan.

The gentle start in a controlled environment allows for familiarization with the core concepts of how things work in The Division. As I mentioned earlier, the game is a third person cover shooter similar to Gears of War. In fact the entire mechanic may have been ripped out of one of the Gears titles with even some of the triggers for movement aping those titles. You have two traversal buttons with A attaching yourself to cover and B using a navigation button. Tap A to attach to whatever cover you are next to or point your character at a spot of cover and hold A to sprint and slip into cover. B lets you leap and vault over and around cover keeping your character moving. Shooting is likewise similar to the Gears series with certain scope attachments allowing you to slip into first person zoomed shots. You have the ability to combine three weapons with one of the three being a dedicated “sidearm” slot the other two are entirely up to you based on your style of play.

Once you are dropped into Midtown Manhattan you are presented with a near 1:1 representation of the city stretching from just south of Central Park to 14th Street. For THE DIVISION Hell's Kitchenthose thinking this is a small area, the 1 to 1 ratio makes this a rather vast playground which includes landmarks like the Empire State Building, Radio City Music Hall, Times Square and the Flatiron Building as well as neighbourhoods like Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen. Having recently visited the city the attention to detail in capturing some of these landmarks is amazing. While not perfect it’s still very impressive and truly felt like I was visiting the city not just some generic urban centre. What makes this even more impressive is you have access to much of the complicated and maze like New York subway system as well as the ability to access many of the buildings in the city.

Ubisoft have given us a really impressive sandbox to play in but what do you do once you are there? Well there are a series of core story missions that advance your game and move you forward in the plot (a middling techno-drama that you would expect from a Tom Clancy novel) as well as several events that pop up around the city like storming a rioter base, rescuing hostages or hunting down a bounty on a criminal. As you complete these events you earn resources you can use to add improvements to your home base all the while leveling up your character allowing access to more powerful equipment and abilities.

There are a couple of standout features that really make this game engaging, the first is the seamless match making. The various missions or quests that you have scattered around the city are best tackled in a group. Having a handful of team mates really allows for some fun tactical thinking and it’s always nice to have somebody there to revive you should you be gunned down. You can very easily search for a team or join an existing team right from the map and you are teleported to the start area once you join the team. The next compelling twist on the open world multiplayer pastiche is the Dark Zone, this is an area of the city which was so badly hit by the Dollar Flu that it is an Escape From New York style city within a city walled off and with no rules. This area holds the hardest missions and the greatest rewards but it’s also open season where not just the environment but also the players may be out to get you. I’ve previously experienced this during beta and it was quite the challenge. For the most part players obeyed the Golden Rule but every once in a while a pack of wolves would gun you down. The exciting challenge of this is when they did you would lose XP (Dark Zone XP is tracked separately from that of the main game) and the Rogue Agents (as they are called in game) would be able to steal your loot. The only way to get your loot out of this heavily infected area is via pick up locations scattered through the Zone which is basically announcing to everyone around you AI foe and Rogue Agent alike that you are there ripe and ready for the plucking.

This led to some great emergent gameplay during the beta where I would help other players fend off AI opponents as well as the occasional rogue agent. The only real down side being in a hot firefight if you are not good at checking your targets you may accidentally be marked as Rogue. When you do go Rogue a bounty is posted on your head (increased based on your kills) and it’s open season for all non-Rogue agents to hunt you down and kill you. There’s not a lot more satisfying than catching the guy who shot you earlier and getting a little well-earned vengeance.

This is where Bungie really need to take note, this game most closely resembles a third person cover based version of Destiny. Destiny’s largest problem has been party match making, missing from many of the missions and the jarring load screens where you sit in space waiting for your team to all load into the map. This kind of break in gameplay doesn’t exist in The Division and matchmaking never took more than a handful of seconds during these early days. Additionally the entire conceit of PvP (aside from the Sparrow Racing or the House of Wolves event) in Destiny always felt jarring and out of place for the in universe fiction that they set up, for the most part the PvP just seems separated from the gameplay proper with little reason to exist outside of padding. The Dark Zone region of The Division gives players an actual compelling reason to put themselves at risk and also a real tangible reward for “going Rogue”.

The Division The HighlineWhere the game is failing in these early hours is the one area that they are least able to tweak at this point which is the setting and the story. While the setting of a vibrant and varied city like New York with its near photorealistic representation is visually stunning it also makes for a very grounded in reality game. This means your character model can mix it up with some cool urban threads but at the end of the day he or she is wearing a hat, a scarf, a jacket, a shirt some pants, boots, gloves and a backpack. Hardly the Space Armour of Destiny with its Future filigree and glowy bits. The same applies to your guns, so far aside from a DLC sawed off shotgun that you can use as a sidearm everything seems sort of "generic gun". Yes you can customize and modify the guns with attachments which are reflected in game as well as apply different paint schemes to them but in the end they all blend together without any of the character you find in other games like Destiny or even the Call of Duty games with their over the top character customization and “future weapons” found in the last two entries.

This early into the game, it’s hard to judge how well The Division will fare, but it’s certainly a fun ride so far. If you enjoy post-apocalyptic scenarios like The Road or Escape from New York this may be the game for you.

#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