Thursday, February 26, 2015

Dying Light Review

     Hello everyone and happy Wednesday. hope your all doing great.  Today I will be reviewing yet another zombie game BUT WAIT, THERES A TWIST!!!!!  This zombie game is awesome with cutting edge graphics, a large open world and parkour to zip around with ease, this is Dying Light. I started following Dying Light's development about two years back and was immediately excited for the release of an open world parkour zombie game, something that would set the standard for the zombie genre.  In February after so much anticipation all my hopes and dreams were brought to me through greatness of this game.  I will admit that the story could use some work, but you can only carry zombie scenarios so far before you find yourself in the endless loop and cliches and stereotypes, so I wont hold it against my love of this game.  Dying Light is a open world sandbox RPG zombie game set in the fictional city of Harran that centers around protagonist Kyle Crane.  The city of Harran is placed under quarantine after the outbreak of unknown virus, and BOOM; zombie apocalypse.  The rest of the world is fine and the Global Relief Effort (GRE) is sending in supplies to sustain the remaining survivors while the Ministry of Defense is talking about firebombing the city out of existence.  So the game starts with the GRE sending in Crane to retrieve a file from rogue GRE agent Kadir Suleiman which if released contains a toxic form of the virus, at least thats what they say, wink wink.  After being on the ground for thirty seconds, Crane is immediately attacked by bandits, beaten up and bitten by a zombie after killing the bandits, but suddenly he is saved by Jade and Amir; some people. Amir dies, Crane passes out and Jade takes him to the Tower, the safe area for Brekens group. Not the best special agent to send in to retrieve a highly dangerous file, you find out hes cool later, but thats then and this is now so thats how it is. Crane is told hes infected but can take "Antizen" to suppress the virus so he sets off to help these people in whatever way he can while trying to get the file back.  Now that the stage is set, we can begin.  After a quick prologue with some instructions to the basics of the game and an introduction of the cast, you are released to explore this large scenic world made of sheet metal and dead things.  The first I noticed early on in the game is the inefficiency of weapons, as whacking zombies with table legs didn't seem to do much more than flicking them in the nose would do.  So for your first hour of the game you'll run away from most fights, which later on is still a good idea at times due how quickly stamina drains.  Crane can also gather some local herbs used to make drugs which increase his skills for a short period of time. You can raise your maximum efficiency in combat and free running through perks on the skill tree which are obtained as you gain XP which go towards the three tress; combat, stamina, and survival.  The first two allow you to run faster, hit harder, have more energy for both tasks along with learning new fight and parkour moves.
Crane luring zombies with firecrackers 
The survival tree contains crafting skills for weapons and equipment, XP for this tree is gained by helping survivors, completing missions or collecting packages dropped by planes.  Some vital perks on the survival tree are the grappling hook, the ability to arm traps such as explosive cars and electric fence traps.  As your survival rank increases, so will the quality of loot found in the world with certain areas containing certain items.  Gathering supplies is a large part of gameplay, with the stuff gathered you can make electric machetes and sorts of neat gadgets. Crane also knows how to lockpick every lock ever which grants him access to locked houses, chests, and storage compartments in cars. Blueprints are scattered all over the world contains new recipes for weapons, buffs, and explosives, just to name a few.  While traversing the terrain almost any location can be reached, no where is off limits which is good because in one mission you have to collect UV light bulbs atop a 500 ft bridge, survivor XP is also taken away every time you die, so it pays to be careful.  Another staple in the genre since Left 4 Dead came out is "special" zombies, so as you move along in the game you'll see exploding zombies "Bomber", spitting zombies "Toad", 9 ft tall super muscly zombies "Demolisher"  and super fast insta-kill zombies "Nightmares".
  Another defining part of the game is seen on the cover "Good Night, Good Luck", when the sun goes down zombies become more hostile, Nightmares come out and will chase you all around Harran.  Later in the game you acquire weapons strong enough to kill them in two or three hits but the catch is that more zombies you kill at night, the more attention you attract gives you a wanted level that can be shook at safehouses.
Two players taking on a demolisher
Virals don't like UV light, you have a UV flashlight that can be used for a short duration of time or use flares found off airdrops. While it is the most dangerous at night planes drop the most valuable airdrops at night which really doesn't make any sense whatsoever since Cranes the only person in Harran who doesn't spend the night in a corner sucking his thumb and crying.  As I just mentioned, safehouses are very important to gameplay, as you can access your storage there, sleep through the night, and sometimes buy or sell things to the local trader.  There are a multitude of safehouses scattered across Harran both in the Slums and Old Town (the two districts you visit) that can be activated clearing out the undead, securing all entrances and turning on the power.  There is also a multitude of side quests to take on as well as random encounters like fighting bandits to save a survivor.  Theres also this guy named "Rais"(actually Kadir Suleiman) who has really brutal lackeys that go around terrorizing everyone including you and your buds, so take them out because you have a gun and they don't.  Rock, paper, shotgun as they say. Theres also a four player co-op feature added in, so if you want to run around kicking zombies off cliffs with your friends, no problem. The one recurring thing that bothered me is the realism put into this game, I mean in the sense of human anatomy.  If you can chop a guy in half and watch as his guts gush out while hes screaming bloody murder without grimacing then you have removed yourself from humanity. Overall Dying Light's gameplay is what carries it above and beyond while the story does its job.  Not to say it was bad, there were people with feelings and a protagonist that had some personality instead of being bland and stone faced like every other apocalypse protagonist. I've played it for about seventy hours now, so I like it and hope to see this kind of quality in the future for other zombie games.  I hope you all have enjoyed this fast paced review and I will be back next week with more game.
This has been Jacob Arnold, signing off.

One of the coolest trailer I've seen in a long time

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Witcher Review

     Hello everyone and happy Wednesday, hope your all doing great.  As CD Projekt Red marchs ever onward to completing the Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt, which looks like it could be one of the best RPGs ever, I wonder back to older times when they were just beginning their grand adventure.  Though The Witcher released way back in 2007, I thought to pay tribute to the original, also the game trough at my feet is almost empty and since I'm not made of money and am unable to buy all the new releases coming out.  I also don't possess a two thousand dollar gaming PC, sorry for being such a square, so I can't play all my friend's games that they lend me which is why I don't review PC exclusive games, but today is the exception to that rule, so pull out that confetti cause its time to go to fantasy land.  The Witcher is an PC exclusive released in 2007 by CD Projekt Red based off the novels written by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski that takes place in a mid evil land known made of several kingdoms.  Its kind of like Lord of the Rings with more swearing and racism.  The player follows the story of Geralt of Rivia, a witcher.  In the early days of man during their arrival in this dimension and event known as the Conjuncture of the Spheres put many monstrous creatures into the land.  To counter the brutality of the monsters humans created witchers, who were specially augmented from childhood to be stronger, faster and better than any warrior through vigorous training and later mutagens that made them superhuman.  This was done by a process known as the Trail of the Grasses which consisted of ingesting powerful herbs and modifying certain parts of the witcher's bodies, as a result of the trials witchers appear pale and have animal eyes.  They can also ingest hazardous potions that grant strength along with supernatural abilities and resistance to poisons, there also immune to all diseases.  The witchers also use Signs, these minor magical spells prove very useful to witchers (see picture).  As time moved on, humanity became stronger and no longer needed the witchers to protect them and they became shunned by all as mutants, and hated like the dwarves and elves, traveling the land as monster hunters for hire.  Like I said, lots of racism, you will kill alot of guys over racism.
 So the game opens with Geralt running through the woods in a hazy state with someone calling his name over and over again.  Geralt is found unconscious by his fellow witchers and taken to the witcher stronghold of Kaer Morhen.  There are very few witchers left in the world, even fewer in Kaer Morhen, where there was 30 witchers and 40 students at Kaer Morhen, there is now 4 witchers and one student after a large attack many years back.  After recovering, Geralt can remember nothing of his past until two days ago when he was rescued.  When talking to Triss, a sorceress at the castle armed bandits invade the castle along with two sorcerers accompanied by a giant insect like creature.  After fighting off the bandits, Geralt can chose whether to stop the theft of the witchers secrets or kill the insect.  Choice is a key gameplay mechanic throughout the series, each will lead to different outcomes and a overall different ending, I hear the Witcher 3 will have 36 endings.  BioWare also helped on this project making it no surprise that moral choice is present, anyone whos played Mass Effect will know what I'm talking about. So Geralt chooses his desired path, find out these bandits work for Salamandra, some not so nice guys that want the secrets of the witchers for their own purposes.  After the attack everyone sets off towards a different part of the continent while Geralt sets off for Temeria and so his journey begins.  The combat is pretty straight forward meaning you click on the thing you want to kill followed by a few more clicks executed at the right time which create a combo that deals more damage.  There are many types of weapons you will use, mainly the witchers steel sword that is used against humans and witchers silver sword thats used against monsters and wraiths.  Theres also a bunch of useless side weapons that you will never use and were taken out in the second game because of said uselessness. Geralt also uses signs which can be learned throughout the story (see picture for effects).
Geralt wandering the wilderness
The many plant types spread throughout the world can be made into potions used to enhance Geralts abilities, these vary from given night vision, recovering health faster, or dealing more damage.  One annoyance the player will constantly face is that apparently Geralt's amnesia extends so far that he forgets how swords work on monsters because he has to research a monster by reading about it before he can fulfill the contract on the target. This can be annoying because you have to buy the books to research the creature and they can cost up to 400 orens, and for that sum I would expect the game to give me the magical sword of damnation that turns people into radishes or something thats actually useful.  Imagine what an awkward conversation that would be for an expert monster slayer for a How to book on monster slaying.  If you chop anythings head off, it dies.  Except a Hydra, but were not in Greece, are we?  Did I mention that Geralt is also perhaps the most famous witcher ever, known for his outstanding skills and knowledge, now reduced to a sap that will give away all his money for a book.  Anyways, moving on.  The player can rotate between fighting stances to suit the enemy type Geralt is fighting, be it fast, strong or group oriented (also another stupid feature taken out in the sequel).  As Geralt progresses through the game his level will increase, allowing you to upgrade his skills trees that his effect strength which determines his sword skills, his Magic skills that determine his effectiveness with Signs, and his general skills that effect his health and resistance to stuff.  The game is played out in five chapters along with the prologue and epilogue, they each have their different locations and unique quests to go with them.  Also alot of fetch quests and with it comes even more walking, but thus is the medevil RPG way.  There is also a crafting system that allows Geralt to give certain items to a blacksmith and ask them to craft a sword or new set of armor which can make a big difference when fighting enemies. Overall The Witcher is a fun game that can take some warming up to, although one can really appreciate the features of the second game once the first has been beaten and if your playing both on PC your save file from the first game can be transferred over into the second.  I'll probably review that game within the next couple months.  I hope you have enjoyed this review and I will be back next week with more games.  This has been Jacob Arnold, signing off.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Just Cause 2 Review

     Hello everyone and happy Wednesday, hope your all doing great.  Today I'm reviewing a game that was a blast to play, even if my shitty PC couldn't run straight with all the explosions happening everywhere.  Also since the sequel is being released in a couple of months and looks even more over the top than its predecessors, it only makes sense to review Just Cause 2 before the third one is released.  (Also I reviewed the multiplayer mod way back when and its been bugging me since)  Developed by Avalanche Studios, this massive open world  third-person shooter game is set on the fictional island of Panau centered around CIA operative Rico Rodriquez who is sent in to overthrow the Dictator Pandak Panay.  Its basically North Korea if North Korea was a island, even has a 4 ft tall leader with a high voice, oh, except they have working nukes. Just Cause 2 is one of those rare gems that fulfills the over arching desire one has when playing video games: to destroy everything.  The main gameplay mechanic centers around destroying enough stuff to fill up your Chaos meter to unlock another mission.  The world of Panau is 400 squared miles large, making it really annoying to get around in, thankfully your well equipped. Rico is equipped with many tools to help him fight communism like his grappling hook that can latch onto anything from people to buildings to anything, but most importantly it propels him forward when it latches on to something.  A quick way to get around is to propel yourself forward with the grappling hook and then in mid air activating the parachute, throwing the player into the air which they can then continue to pull themselves along with the grappling hook.  Rico most powerful ability is the power to defy physics, for example he doesn't need to use his parachute when falling from terminal velocity, he only needs to grapple the ground to increase the speed in which he would become hamburger with an accent and he turns out fine. He also has the ability to surf of a jet while its hitting top speed and then hoping off five feet off the ground.  His grappling hook can also detach and work as a sturdy cable, say, attaching a cable to helicopter and the ground is pretty effective, also fun to watch. Even though he might as well not need them since there are conveniently placed explosives all over the place, Rico can carry four weapons; two sidearms and two multi-handed weapons from rifles to rocket launchers.  He can also fire twelve gauge slugs from sawed off shotguns with one hand, in both hands at the same time, VIDEO GAMES!!!
Rico blowing stuff up while car surfing
 Just Cause 2 also comes off as a very silly game, which makes it weird when it tries to be serious about the rebels cause when moments ago you were flying a harrier jet into a shrine of the Great Leader.  Did I mention the final boss battle is fighting the dictator on active nukes mid air as their headed off to destroy most of the world, this game knows how to fuck around when it wants to.  There are a few design flaws they didn't seem to consider and not talking about the glitches but those are expected to come with an open world game the size of Asia, I'm talking about the delivery system.  Throughout the story, Rico can call his friendly Texan mentor to drop him upgraded weapons or vehicles, however for every item wanted you must get it individually instead of scanning all your groceries and then checking out, its a painful process.  The game also has multiple factions that you can help throughout the course of the game like the Roaches, an organized crime syndicate, the Reapers, a bunch of whiny socialist rebels, and the Ular boys, an ultra-nationalist group who don't like anyone but their own country men.  You are basically the back bone of all these groups, as they seem to have that ongoing awareness to use the protagonist to solve all their problems without getting off their lazy asses.  The overall summary of this game is that you can blow everything up, not sold?  Well, theres also a multiplayer mod so you can still blow up everything...with your friends. (heres a link to that review)  Hope you've enjoyed this explosive review and I will be back next week with more games.  This has been Jacob Arnold, signing off

Thursday, February 5, 2015

D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die Review

Cover Art
     Hello everyone and happy Wednesday, hope your all doing great.  Today I am dipping into the very shallow pool which is the point & click adventure genre.  Very popular during the 90s, the popularity of the genre has declined yet still has some gems that we all smile at to today such as the Monkey Island franchise.  So today I bring a game from that fading genre called D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die, an exclusive for the Xbox One made by Sweary.  Centering around protagonist David Young who gains special powers after taking a bullet to the head giving him the ability to see the events of a past event through objects related to said event he calls "mementos".  David worked for the police force as a very useful detective because of his gift up until his wive was mysteriously murdered and with her dying breath she said something about "D".
  So then, and stay with me here, David quits the police force and goes about investigating everyone with a name starting with "D".  For anyone in modern America whos seen a cop show, one would thing they'd need a little more to go on than that. At some point a scantly clad women who thinks shes a cat to the point of not speaking and hunting mice moves in with David.  It was at this point where I paused with sadness, put down the controller, and went outside...for a couple of days.  A week later after doing things with my life I was walking by my Xbox One and remembered I had a game to play so I could review it.  It was a rather dry year in 2014 and since I don't any games stockpiled, I'm kind of scraping the bottom of the barrel here.  Since I got the Xbox One for Christmas, I haven't had it for long so I've been playing the only game I have for it which is the next-gen version of Grand Theft Auto V (even though I played through it three times), which I will probably review in the future once I muster up the strength to write that novel of a post.  So until The Witcher 3 comes out, I'm probably not going to be reviewing too many Xbox One games.
Action fight
Where was I...Oh right!...crazy half naked cat ladies.  I'm betting that that bullet took some basic senses with him, including the one to make him not sound mono toned about everything.    Anyway, constantly searching for a year or so following the incident, David is confronted by an old cop friend who is concerned for David on account of him investigating every person on Earth whose name starts with D and brings him some evidence to speed up this impossible investigation. Throughout the course of this game, the player interacts with a variety of objects but is constantly bogged down by a stamina feature.  [My following statement is not quoted from The Escapist "Yahtzee" in any way, I just share the same views on the matter, please don't sue me.]  Everything David does drains stamina, from opening doors to conversing with people.  Although, something that came off strange to me was the action sequences where David partakes in heated gunfights and a good deal of fist fighting yet walks away not even the slight bit winded.  To regain stamina David gulps down every food item in sight, his cat person roommate can also sell him food.
  The player is also graded on each thing in accordance to how its actually supposed to happen, so everything you do it wrong and leaves you wandering why not just watch a movie.  I got this game for free by the way.  The overall problem I had with this game was it was boring with an unimaginative narrative.  Sure, it had a good plot and some good ideas but is evened out by the generic bits when its not being fucking weird, once again; cat ladies.  But then again, perhaps I'll never understand the land which is modern Japan and you'd be right to say that.  Moving on, as I said earlier the point & click adventure genre is dying out, so it takes something special to stand out today.  I hold Telltale's The Walking Dead as such an example.  With a good setting, engaging characters and a story influenced by your decisions makes it a heart wrenching masterpiece.  While there are a few episodes to come in season 1, it may pick up the pace were episode 2 fell flat, but until then my opinion stands firm.  Hope you enjoyed this review and I will back next week with more games.  Until then, have fun.
This has been Jacob Arnold, signing off.