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No GravatarEvery once in a while, there is an awesome game that comes out, and it revolutionizes the way that a person views gaming.  For me, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is one of those games.  It has everything that I demand in a game: a cool story, fun game play, an expansive world, and the ability to customize my game experience as I see fit.  I love the game so much that it’s one of the top games that I’ve put the most hours into, and that’s saying something because I’ve spent a lot of time on many different games.  It’s one of my all-time favorites.  Here’s why:

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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is an open world action role-playing game that was developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks.  It is the fifth game in the Elder Scrolls franchise, following 2006’s Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.  Skyrim was released November 2011 for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC.  A remastered version is coming out for the game for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in October of this year.  The game uses the Creation Engine, which was specifically rebuilt for the game after some of the issues with Fallout 3.  Skyrim got critical acclaim and is consistently rates as one of the best video games of all time.

Set 200 years after its predecessor, Skyrim focuses on Tamriel’s Nordic area (Skyrim, hence the game’s name).  There are two warring factions at odds against each other.  The Stormcloaks consist of Skyrim’s native Nordic folk who wish to rule their own land (and are extremely racist).  The Imperial Legion represents the Empire and wishes to keep the region safe and at peace (but then the native people don’t have control of their own area).  After being almost killed by the Imperials and surviving a dragon attack, the player realizes that Skyrim is in deep trouble if dragons have come back.  Eventually, the player finds out that he or she is Dragonborn, a person born with the soul and power of a dragon.  In the main quest line, the player must find out what is going on with the reemerging dragons; however, there are tons of other side quests that jump into the rich history and politics of the region.  It’s absolutely amazing.

The main story is pretty involved, but it’s the expansive world that really shines with Skyrim.  It’s definitely got one of the best maps that I have seen (I still prefer it over The Witcher 3’s map, which is also quite expansive).  The scenery is gorgeous, especially since I play on PC with the graphics on the highest levels with a few texture mods as well.  Most of the items in the world are extremely interactive.  The people in Skyrim are interesting.  The places are fun to explore.  I’ve gone walking around the map just for fun.  I’ve even read about people who create characters and don’t even play the game; they just make up their own story and go hunting animals, collect things, and just have fun.  It’s so in-depth with lore and back-story that it’s hard not to fall in love with Skyrim.

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However, even though the open world is amazing, my favorite part of the game is actually the game play itself.  I have never quite come across anything quite like it.  For me, even another Bethesda heavy-hitter like Fallout 3 or even Fallout 4 doesn’t compare.  Sure, Skyrim is a first-person, action RPG.  A lot of games are.  The thing that really makes Skyrim stand out is the leveling and experience system.  It’s very simple: you level up what you use.  Whatever angle you want to play with Skyrim, you just have to use it to level it.  In this way, players are not pigeon-holed into a certain class.  Do you want to be a mage who has thief tendencies?  Go for it.  Do you want you want to be a warrior who also can use magic when needed?  Yep!  You can do that.  Do you like being a thief who enjoys two-handed combat?  Why not?

I love the ability to be able to do what I want, when I want.  I love that I can mix and match with the different combat styles and character niches because…why not?  I hate having to decide what class to play because two hours later, I want to change it.  Skyrim lets me do whatever I want.  When I initially played it on Xbox 360, I was a bit limited with the amount of perks that I could get, so some specialization was required.  However, on PC I can do a bit of cheaty, cheat, cheating and add perks when I run out of levels.  It’s perfect for the OCD gamer.  In Skyrim, it’s totally okay to be a warrior/mage/thief all at the same time.

The graphics hold up very well, especially if you are playing on PC and can put on some texture mods.  On the consoles, it is starting to look dated.  Hopefully, it will look great again with the remaster.  However, when the game originally came out, the graphics were hand’s down awesome.  I love the textures of the scenery.  Even though some of the color palate can be very heavy on grays and browns, the game is still beautiful.

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There is something special about Skyrim, and it may have to do with the fact that gamers can easily make fun of it without damaging the integrity of the game.  How many “arrow to the knee” memes have you seen?  How many times have people made fun of the fact that one can eat 99 raw potatoes in the middle of the battle to gain health?  What about trying to kill a chicken?  Or, my personal favorite happens to be: why are all of the lights on in a dungeon that hasn’t been visited by anyone in hundreds if not thousands of years?  It’s fun to make fun of Skyrim because it’s a game that no one has to defend as being good.  Some people might not like it, and that’s fine.  But it’s hard to argue that it’s a bad game.  Therefore, when there are some “silly” elements of the game, it’s enjoyable to point out the shortcomings because even though there definitely are some, no other game even comes close.

There are a lot of games that I have enjoyed over the years, but there are few that I truly love.  The Elders Scrolls V: Skyrim is one that I absolutely will love forever, even when newer and better games come out.  I have about an estimated 415 hours on the game right now between console and PC, and I have thoroughly loved every minute of it.  I actually cannot think of another game that I have spent so much time on.  That’s the power of Skyrim.

By Jessica Brister On 14 Aug, 2016 At 03:38 PM | Categorized As Featured, PlayStation, Reviews, Reviews, Reviews, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments

No GravatarWhen I was handed a copy of Dead Island: Definitive Edition for the PlayStation 4, I had no idea what to expect.  To be quite frank, I had no clue what the game was about, it’s history, and what I would get on this remastered version.  I guess that it was just one of those games that slipped by me at the time it came out.  However, I am glad that I got a chance to play it because I had a great deal of fun.  It wasn’t what I expected.  I was thinking it would be the typical zombie-slasher game.  Instead, I got a surprisingly fun, open-world Far Cry-like game.  There were some gameplay issues, but overall, I would recommend Dead Island: Definitive Edition as a great edition to anyone’s the FPS/open-world/zombie collection.

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Dead Island is an open-world survival horror RPG that was originally released in 2011.  It was developed by Techland (Polish developer who also did Dying Light), published by Deep Silver, and distributed by Square Enix for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC.  It got fairly positive reviews when it came out, though there were some negative marks against it, including game glitches.  The game was remastered for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One May of this year.  There is a sequel “Dead Island 2” that is coming out soon, but there is no release date as of yet.  I did not ever get a chance to play the original release of the game, so keep that in mind as I discuss the Definitive Edition.

The premise of the game is that you are one of four protagonist characters (each with their own special abilities and personalities) on the resort island of Banoi (modeled after an island near Papua New Guinea).  I happened to play as Xian Mei.  After a night of partying, your character wakes up to find that much of the resort has been turned into zombie-like creatures.  Your character, though, is immune.  You are guided by a mysterious voice over intercoms and whatnot (think BioShock).  After meeting up with groups of survivors, you realize that you can’t stay on the island forever and a plan is hatched to leave.

It’s a pretty straight-forward story plot.  It’s nothing super special, but I did like the fact that you didn’t have to worry about zombie bites turning you like you would in say, The Last of Us (more on this later).  The crown jewel of the game is the setting and the contrast between the gorgeous island scenery and the undead and gore all over the place.  I wasn’t expecting such a large map to play around in when I initially started the game.  I also enjoyed the pacing and progression of the story as well as some of the side missions, which some of them are actually pretty darned funny.

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The gameplay itself is a little disappointing for a standard first-person shooter.  You are definitely playing it for the open-world and not a seamless gameplay experience.  Jumping, exploring, and combat are all a little stiff with the controllers.  I got used to it after a while, but it definitely is not one of my favorite gameplay experiences.  Overall, it felt like a Far Cry game with lots of missions, weapons, and vehicles.  It’s an action RPG with three skill trees to add points to: Fury, Combat, and Survival.  XP is earned through completing missions and killing zombies, and you get points toward the skill try for each level earned.  It’s very standard fair for an action RPG.

Dead Island really shines with its reliance on heavy melee combat and its weapon systems.  The melee-focused fighting is actually pretty fun.  I liked that fact that I didn’t have to worry about being bitten (unlike other zombie games) because my character is immune.  I was able to just focus on kicking-butt and killing zombies.  The particular style of zombies that Dead Island have are more of the running kind than the slow creepers, so one of my favorite things to do in the game was throw knives at zombies running toward me and watch them splatter.

Weapons degrade after use, so it is vitally important to keep an eye on them and repair or replace as needed, although the higher level of the weapon, the slower it is to degrade.  If a weapon degrades too much, it becomes ineffective and will eventually completely fall apart if you try to keep using it.  The crafting system was pretty cool, as you can collect items and schematics and use them to build weapons.  Weapons can also be modded as well.  Though melee weapons are highlighted, there are guns as well.

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The graphics are improved from the original release, and they look fairly decent on this current generation of consoles.  The tropical scenery is beautiful and a delight to romp around in for a while.  Obviously, it is a remastered game from 2011, so there is only so much that can be done.  However, I found that it was quite enjoyable on the PlayStation 4.

Overall, I really enjoyed playing Dead Island: Definitive Edition.  There are, of course, some things that I have dinged it on, but the pros really outweigh the cons with this one.  I would have never picked up this game (mostly due to the title; it sounds a bit silly), but I’m glad that I did.  It’s a solid game that I would recommend to anyone looking for a fun, open world FPS.

By Gehennakat On 15 Dec, 2012 At 07:23 PM | Categorized As Featured, PC Games, PlayStation, Reviews, Reviews, Reviews, Uncategorized, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments

No GravatarI’ve been playing Far Cry 3 (FC3) from Ubisoft since it was released and I’m very impressed.  I mean really, it’s rare for a game to come along and take some of the best ideas from other titles and successfully meld them into a cohesive story.  While Far Cry3 isn’t perfect (almost), it sets the bar for what a developers should strive for when creating a gaming experience.  This is also a long adventure with a ton of replay value to keep you coming back for more.

Unlike the unnamed African country in Far Cry 2, Far Cry 3 takes place on the Rook Islands.  It a set of tropical islands in a far off place where people go to get away from civilization, explore, and (unfortunately for our protagonist Jason Brody and friends) get kidnapped by the craziest pirate I’ve seen in a game in a while.   What starts as a vacation with a group of friends clubbing, diving, and skydiving quickly turns into a nightmare of pain, blood, and revenge.

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 Pirates want to extort money from the parents of the groups’ survivors and then sell them again into slavery once they have the money.  Jason and his brother escape the pirates and make for the jungle.  Along the way Jason becomes injured and wakes up under the care of Dennis Rogers, a friend of the local Rakyat tribe.  He acts as your guide through Rook Island.

Far Cry 3 is an open world adventure and it’s hugely open.  It reminds me of Skyrim as far as the sheer scope of the terrain.  See the mountain in the distance?  You can walk there, drive, swim, boat, and even zip line from the top of one of the many radio towers you need to activate to get there.  If walking the lush jungle isn’t your idea of fun you can also fast travel to any outposts you have liberated.

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 To broaden the map and make things more accessible there are outposts and radio towers to clear/activate.  When activated, radio towers will highlight the surrounding areas so you can see terrain, objectives, and even improves items in the shop at cleared outposts. Outposts are scattered throughout the islands and are controlled my enemy factions.  To clear an outpost you simply have to eliminate the enemy presence within.  Once eliminated the outpost becomes populated with friendlies so you can use it as a fast travel location and resupply depot.  In terms of clearing hostiles FC3 gives you lots of options for combat.  You can run into an outpost guns blazing or revert to stealth tactics.  You can take guards out with a silenced weapon (sniper or bow) from ¼ of mile away, use foliage for cover, lure guards to brutal takedown kills, or use my personal favorite… animals.

That’s right; Rook Island is full of wildlife.  They took a page from Red Dead Redemption and Assassin’s Creed 3 and implemented a hunting scheme to level up and make money.  Not only can you take the skins from the animals you’ve downed and trade for money, but also the skins themselves are requirements for crafting new equipment belts.  You can equip up to 4 weapons and 2 different explosive types but to be able to do so you need to craft holsters to carry additional weapons.  The further along the progression the more rare the animal hides needed to improve your holsters, weapons pouches, and syringe packs.   The animals vary from chickens all the way to bull sharks.  The animals are no push overs either, and will sometimes turn the tables on you when you least expect it.

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I was trying to take down an outpost and was hiding in the bushes about 30 meters away from a target when I started hearing a hissing noise.  Thinking it was just amazing audio from the surrounding jungle I continued to stalk my prey.  After a second it started getting louder, and I wondered what was going on?  Right about then is when 4 komodo dragons ambushed me.  Dead.  Respawn.  That’s when I started thinking.  I restarted and began looking for my dragon friends.  I was about to give up when a rather large leopard caught my attention.  I loosed an arrow in his direction and turned tail for my target outpost.  I’m not sure what surprised the NPC’s more; me sprinting headfirst into a bunch of guys, or the REALLY mad cat that laid waste to the guards and their dogs.  Outpost cleared.

On top of the crafting gear you can also make syringes, which are constructed from the various colored plants all over the island (think Resident Evil herbs).  As you progress you unlocking recipes to help with exploration, combat, and even wildlife.

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 All of this part of a very lengthy single player campaign.  With that in mind, there is also a co-op campaign, AND a multi-player aspect.  The co-op is pretty well done and tells a separate story with different characters.  You can join with up to three friends or three strangers.  The multi-player is rough if you’re coming in as a level 1, but I noticed if you play co-op with your friends the XP carries over to your multi-player session.  That way you can level up your perks and get unlocks prior to joining up with live folks online.  The multi-player is your typical Call of Duty style maps and game modes.   That being said the multi-player is a bit laggy and the audio reminds me of the issues from BattleField 2, lots of microphone crackling and popping and if a person quits it will reset the match.  One nice thing about multi-player is the kill cam, instead of watching whoever killed you again; you get to see a 3rd person representation of your character (frame by frame) getting struck by the rounds that killed you and the trajectory they entered and exited.

I could go on and on.  Far Cry 3 is one of my nominees for Game Of The Year and is technically a pretty impressive achievement.  The audio is authentic, the visuals on the island are breathtaking, and the open world freedom to just go and do what you want is refreshing.  With all the linear, stale, First Person Shooter adventures out there you should take a vacation… and this gamer knows of a good island.

By Garrett Green On 10 May, 2012 At 03:53 PM | Categorized As Featured, PlayStation, Reviews, Reviews, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments

No GravatarIn this day and age gamers want a good story as well as great gameplay, every now and again there comes a game that story alone can’t save, but the gameplay is so fun that you tend to give it a pass. Prototype 2 is that type of game. While the story line is weak at best, running around causing complete mayhem and carnage is tons of bloody fun.

James Heller, typical angry black man a la Samuel L. Jackson, return homes from an oversees mission to find his wife and daughter dead by Alex Mercer’s hand. Heller, hell bent on revenge, sets out to kill Mercer. However, Mercer decides to infect you and give you powers, telling you that not everything is as it appears to be and Heller sets out to kill everyone involved. If you feel your knees dry as a bone, that’s because this story isn’t very deep. The story isn’t bad; it’s just not very compelling or important. I also found myself having difficulty with deciding if I even Like James Heller or not. He’s just not likable as a character, he doesn’t seem to care about anything until the story calls for it, and his constant swearing get’s old really fast. The “angry black man” was fine at first but ultimately just turns into a bad stereotype, yes he’s upset at the lost of his family, but there is no other emotions that come through. None of the other characters are likable either; it’s hard to find sympathy for anyone. So more often than not you’ll just kill anyone who crosses your path and be glad to do so.

Speaking of killing, it’s very rare that I enjoy running down the street causing mayhem and destruction and killing every single person in my way so much. This is where Prototype 2 truly shines. Heller has five weapons and a shield you get access to throughout the story along with an assortment of movements and super attacks, and they are a blast to use.  The upgrade system is pretty straightforward with level ups through missions and killing certain targets to become stronger.  By the time you max out all your abilities the world is literally your play ground. Jumping from building to building or gliding across the city only to uppercut a helicopter and then pounce on an unsuspecting foe decapitating him never gets old. In fact, it’s so much fun that it disguises that most of the missions are the exact same. Go find person, kill him in gruesome way, sneak into base, destroy everything, rinse and repeat. It can get a little monotonous at times.

In my first playthrough I did just about everything there was to do and got almost all the trophies. It took about 10 – 14 hours to complete with doing all the side missions and collectables. While I had a blast, I can’t tell you to run out and buy it if you haven’t already. It’ll probably take only a weekend to finish and if you are a completionist you can beat the second play-through in about five hours. It’s a ton a fun so give it a try, but I’d say rent it.

 

By otakuman5000 On 17 Feb, 2011 At 12:21 AM | Categorized As PC Games, PlayStation, Reviews, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments

No GravatarMafia 2 is a great game with excellent graphics and great game play mechanics, for a full review click here. This review is about the DLC titled Jimmy’s Vendetta.

Jimmy’s Vendetta begins with the player who now assumes the role of Jimmy breaking out of prison and taking revenge on all the people that helped put him there by sabotaging or killing groups of people he believes are responsible. These missions are found by markers on a map and when you walk over them you get a little bit of info about the mission on a stylish background. These missions range from car grabbing to killing a bunch of people. It is not until later on in the game that the missions get a little more elaborate, fun and actually take you to places you may not have visited in the main game. Many of the locations however reused from the main game and all locations seem to be in the main over world city. There are no places to go like in the main game where you are inside a building, which makes some missions not fun because cops come running and now you are faced with a firefight from the front and back, but the cops will also shoot the bad guys if they happen to come from that direction so it does add a little relief. This is also annoying because there are no checkpoints, you either pass or fail, and some of these firefights get intense. One problem I had with a few missions was that there seemed to be infinite spawn happening until I moved up and even then I had guys spawning behind me that I know I cleared, it only happened in a few missions but was a little annoying.

Each mission has a scoring aspect to it. The game awards points for headshots, destroying cars, exploding bad guys or for driving fast if driving is involved among other things. At the end of the mission there is a ranking assigned starting from D as the worst and S as the best (D>C>B>A>S) and matches you up on an online leaderboard per mission and overall against others in the world. This does give those hardcore Mafia 2 players a reason to keep playing their favorite missions over and over for virtual bragging rights.

Overall this DLC is not something I would recommend to anyone but the hardcore Mafia 2 players or for those looking to waste some time in Empire Bay while having something to do because this is essentially run around missions. In a game like Grand Theft Auto this would be all those little side quests that some people love and others don’t care for. What really lacked in this DLC though was the dialogue that made Mafia 2 so great, for the few hours this game fulfills there is only two and Jimmy barely says anything, the most dialogue I got was when driving fast. So if you like fetch missions and just looking to kill some time then pick it up, otherwise skip it, you are not missing much or just buy it when it’s on sale like I did.

By otakuman5000 On 16 Sep, 2010 At 01:29 AM | Categorized As Featured, Reviews, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 1 Comment

No GravatarMafia 2 is the story of Vito Scaletta and his adventures in the world of the Italian mob. Being a poor immigrant Vito saw that only men who took what they wanted got somewhere in life, Vito wanted to be someone. He wanted the money, the women and most importantly the respect his father never had. The story in the game takes place in the city of Empire bay as well as a few other locations that are thrown in for a good variety of scenery. These locations all appear in different chapters, with montage cut scenes linking locations, seasons and the story together. The game is also brave enough to make a open world city with a few chapters taking place in the winter which is not done too often.

The graphics in this game look gorgeous for an open world game with a lot of detail put into the city on every season. Winter looks great with tracks in the snow and footprints as well as the driving physics to accompany it. The summer scenes are great looking as well with lush trees and details normally not seen in open world games, mainly the bushes and grass on the xbox 360 version. The closed spaces also have a lot of details added to them with minimal loading times between locations if any is present. Most loading times happen because of cut scenes that are coming up but there is not a single hiccup when in the heat of battle.  Environments are semi-destructible, especially from a large amount of gunfire. The lighting in this game does give a good perception about the time of day the mission takes place in and during the night it really makes the city stand out, though sometimes it is a little too blinding when driving down the street into a well lit tunnel. The cut scenes were done withing the game engine and as far as i could tell were all in real time, there was very little to distinguish some cut scenes from the in-game gameplay. This is a nice touch because the clothes Vito is wearing are consistent, it may not seem like much but its the small details that make games that much better.

The gameplay mechanics in this game aren’t anything that hasn’t been done before but it is done quite well.  Where you may get frustrated is because of the controls because they did not respond well or because of a glitch in the cover system in certain parts however it is nothing game breaking. The only gripe I had with the button mapping is that (X) was used to pick up guns, and also used to move around corners while in cover, this got me killed a few times becauseI wanted to pick up a gun and Vito decided to move along the wall instead into the line of Tommy gun fire. The cover works well overall and if you played Grand Theft Auto you will feel right at home, and if this is your first time with this type of game then it will take only moments to pick up, considering that the first mission is a tutorial on the combat system. The AI shooting at you is pretty smart as well, they take cover and try to flank you when possible. There were a few missions that I found myself checking all around me because I was afraid of being shot in the back by the goons I lost track of while shooting at another group of goons.

During driving missions there are radio stations available for your listening pleasure. However these songs are from the years that the game is based on and a lot of the time I found myself just turning off the radio because I didn’t like the song or it was interfering in the dialogue between characters. At certain points you will get into a car and the perfect song will be cued by the game, making the experience pretty cool but if you are just cruising then this will not be the case because there are too few songs for variety and you will be hearing the same songs over and over. For the cut scenes and the parts that are out of the car, the music is done quite well to set the mood for what is happening on screen giving a very movie feel to the game, at parts I actually felt like I was watching a movie.

The collectibles in Mafia 2 are something very daring for games in general, especially in North America. The main collectibles which are found chapter to chapter are Playboy centerfolds from the era of the game, with complete nudity in high definition. The first one I picked up without knowing I caught myself saying “ohhh, hello..” However these are rarely laying around, they are usually hidden and each magazine is chapter specific so you cannot get them later on, you have to replay the chapter. There are also wanted posters which are actually the 159 developers of the game, these can be picked up any time. During a normal play-through you are not likely to even notice them as they look like part of the scenery, and some are very well hidden. There is even one that requires you to jump a car from the freeway at high speeds onto a building, which is not easy to do at all. As difficult as these collectibles are, it feels rewarding to get them all.

Mafia 2 is a game that has been anticipated by many people that played the original Mafia and loved the story and mechanics. The developer (2KGames) delivered in this case, making a sequel that leaves you wanting more once its over, just one more over the top, no way out, gun battle with a Molotov or grenade thrown in for spice. The visuals are top notch, sounds and music are well done and collectibles are very rewarding to find. There is planned DLC for all platforms so this game will have some legs for those that can not get enough. Only downside to this game is that there is no free roam, but hopefully that will be rectified in the future with DLC. So if you are a fan of open world games, shooters or just gangsters in general pick this game up, you will not be disappointed.