What are you hiding, Ethan? #Gaming

resident-evil-7-hands

I’ve been trying to come up with words to describe the marvelous wonder that is, Resident Evil VIIIt’s been a great while since I’ve been legitimately spooked behind my own controller–and to be honest, I am so thrilled with how this has turned out.

Continue reading “What are you hiding, Ethan? #Gaming”

Life is Beautiful…

LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL … so far.

LIFE IS STRANGE

Earlier this year, Dontnod released the first chapter of their new game entitled Life is Strange. The episodic storytelling experience follows the tale of Max Caufield, a young woman who returns to her hometown in Arcadia, Oregon to attend an institute to follow her dreams of becoming a professional photographer. Rich snobs, bullies, jocks and all of the inevitable tropes of being a teenager all fall to the story’s B-Roll when Max discovers that she is something special. The story unfolds and begins to tie knots in the web of ultra-realistic characters in this setting.

Continue reading “Life is Beautiful…”

Watch_Dogs: The view from here

This is my POV of Ubisoft’s latest game, Watch_Dogs.
Warning, there are minor spoilers in this rundown! 😉

Fixer spotted you                 source: gamespot.com

I was lucky enough to get a first glance at a demo of this game at last year’s Gamestop Expo.  The demo booth was run by one of the Frag Dolls (Esper!! <3) and one of the play-testers from Ubisoft.  Aiden was voiceless, and we saw the vigilante miss an opportunity stop a crime, hold up a shop owner and evade the police, flawlessly.  I was mesmerized.  Since its announcement at E3 2012, I have wanted this game.  Nothing stopped me from wanting it.  The hype, the trailers, the gameplay footage, the other news outlets talking about it. Nothing.

Picking it up on May 27th — I find myself intrigued and ultimately pleased with how the game turned out!

So far, I’ve managed to put a few hours into this massive game, playing most of the story missions to pass time.  Here and there I’d stop to play some poker, even managed to become entertained by the puzzle solving games they’ve made with chess and I’ll even grab a few of the incoming transmissions to stray me from the linear way.  However, I’ve found that the incoming mission offers, the phone calls from various characters in the game, the mini-games along the way, all the way down to the HUD, the game is very very busy.  Normally, this would bother me but this actually poses a very nice mirror to our own lives.  You hear your phone buzz, you go for it. It’s a text message from a friend.  You hear that ringing on your computer, it’s another friend on your social media page  Then a little notification pop-up from the television.  It’s your console alerting you that another friend has logged into their account. I won’t really dig too deep into the meaning of this, but it seems like a very symmetric juxtaposition of our reality with technology and what is to come.

Hacking the City                        source: ubisoft

I haven’t had much experience with the online portion of the game, other than a handful of fixers coming into my game.  It’s frustrating sometimes; when I’m trying to get across the city to a mission I try to start the mission but am blocked from this since someone is trying hack me. It is random which is a bit realistic as life is unpredictable but with this mode overall I am a little disappointed we can’t hack our own friends yet. Even though I see something like that possibly getting out of hand — I think being able to log into someone else’s game to create some havoc would be quite entertaining.

Another thing I have noticed, and I’m sure your other friendly neighborhood gamers have said the same, is that Watch_Dogs has no sense of morality; there is no consequence for your actions.  A close comparison to this game is Infamous, the open-world sandbox type of playground, but what that game had that this title lacks is its meter that leads to a different ending if you make “wrong” or “right” decisions.  I put them in quotes simply because it is definitely up for interpretation whether or not certain actions are deemed in good faith or with bad intent.  For example, in Watch_Dogs, you are allowed to hack into a bank account of a woman walking down the street.  When the analysis pops up that she is a cancer survivor with a gross income of only 20,000 a year, there’s no remorse felt by the lead character Aiden Pearce.  Hell, even the trio of GTAV had some scruples.

This now leads into my next point: Aiden Pearce has not found his way onto my list of “likeable” characters.  Now, I understand each character has a reason for their attitude or actions but I’ve been playing this game for a while now and I’ve only come to find that he’s somewhat of a douchebag.  Driven by the anger which stems from the death of his niece Lena, we meet Aiden on a mission, already in a state of despair.  As we move beyond the mission to its completion, we meet a couple of his colleagues — to whom he is a complete jerk, blowing off any assistance.  I find him to be very cold, and because of this, he is detached from absolutely everything.  Not sure if this was done on purpose to give us an undesirable anti-hero, something different than the norm, but I can honestly say I’m not entirely sure how to understand him. While I admire his determination to seek justice, he just seems like such a downer with a one-track mind. The others featured in the game, like his partner Jordi Chin or Clara Lille seem to have more of a three-dimensional aspect about them, I’ve found them quite entertaining and bring some life into the story.

Jordi Chin & Aiden                source: ubisoft

Don’t let my opinions of Aiden fool you, though. Watch_Dogs is actually a pretty spectacular game. The controls are pretty comfortable, aside from the driving (I prefer the motorcycles!), and the scenery looks amazing.  It makes you wonder what sort of surveillance is being run now, and how far we are from a fully electronic city like this future-Chicago.  Even with the reservations I’ve listed above, I am still enjoying the game.  I’m hoping to see some things turn around for Aiden in the end.  I still have a long way to go before the end of the main storyline, but Stay tuned for my followup to this as I progress!
Thanks for tuning in!!
-IC Krys

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The Unfinished Gamer Returns

I know I’ve been a bad gamer…and I haven’t blogged in a great while, but things are finally settling down and I will be getting to it, I promise! As it was on high demand (on facebook) I will be picking up Fallout 3 to finish it very very soon! However, I’m sure you guys are aware that Fallout 3 is an open world game, aka distraction game, aka shiny over here and now you’ve gone so far away from the story that you might as well keep on salvaging your bottlecaps from this “dungeon” and get back to it maybe someday…that it will be very difficult for me not to do side missions but I hope to get it finished up so I can finally put my thoughts onto that virtual paper about it.

You have a mancave? I have the Assassincave.
 

I also got back into Assassin’s Creed III recently and will be wrapping that one up as soon as I can get a few hours to myself and just play through the game.  So far, the multiplayer is pretty fun too as I was surprised to find players still lurking those servers.  As far as the single-player story is concerned, there was something about that separation anxiety with my beloved Ezio that I couldn’t bear to “cheat” on him with Connor but I’m actually digging the game so far. I managed to fight my way through as Haytham and am playing as Connor now. Just reached a pretty good twist in the game, and I look forward to seeing what will happen.  Unfortunately, internet memes, gamers with no spoiler alert and NOLAN NORTH have actually spoiled the ending for me, BUT, I will continue on. Even after hearing what the outcome was for LOST I still want to watch it.

Me and Nolan North from GameStop Expo 2013

Alrighty folks, I just wanted to check in with you real quick, to let you know that I have finally finished the Last of Us.  IC Chris and I have discussed that this year’s Game of the Year contenders are racking up pretty quickly, and Last of Us had so many stunning aspects about it that set it apart from many games this entire generation.  As we already reviewed The Last of Us on InsertController.com, I will just give you a brief rundown of my experience.

The gameplay: smooth.  The graphics: phenomenal.  The soundtrack: haunting.  The action: edgy. The writing: top-notch…and of course, the acting: superb.  One of the many Troy Baker games out this year (with a surprise cameo from Nolan), The Last of Us does not disappoint, even to the very end.  I am such a huge fan of Naughty Dog and look forward to future titles from them, new IPs or otherwise *coughUnchartedcough*… Ellie and Joel were such a dynamic duo; relatable in some ways, dysfunctional daddy/daughter relationship was both cute and tragic at the same time.  The jumpscares and unfortunate circumstances as well as some of the predicaments were heart-racing and had me at the edge of my seat.  The detail that went into the game was mind-blowing. I found the end to be a bittersweet resolution to a compelling tale.  Worthy of a solid 5/5.

Stay tuned for more from me, the Unfinished Gamer!… until next time Players!

-IC Krys

The Unfinished Gamer: Hitman Absolution

Welcome back, Agent 47.

I know I’m late to the game, but that’s why I am dubbed the “Unfinished Gamer”.  Most of the time I find myself so immersed in a game, ready to complete it when I hit a wall of sorts.  It may be distractions, work, family, or just nothing at all.  I came upon Hitman again after a long draught of not playing games at all, and was so happy I had given it another chance.

As a fan of the series, this is actually only the second of the four console-released Hitman games I have ever finished.  Why? Because it’s controls have improved so far beyond its original capacity that it made the game less frustrating, more intuitive and allowed 47 to be a little more crafty and showcase his expertise as an assassin.  Details are present; If you are walking on wood versus concrete, the sound is different.  If you fire your specialized Silverballer pistols versus a UMP in the game, the suppressor sounds much different than non-suppressed and the AI will act accordingly.  Even though it was a little far-fetched in a sense that 47 would be noticed instantly in disguise…I felt that the mechanics for dumping or stashing a body, stealing a uniform and utilizing improvised weaponry were all improved in this latest installment to make up for this minor flaw.

Kills are more brutal and 47 shows that he is back, with a vengeance.

In a previous blog, I mentioned that I put the game down for a while because I was frustrated only to pick it back up and find out that the area I had been working on was simple to pass and I was back on my feet in no-time.  (Yes, in the strip club.) The atmospheres in the game vary and with each changing locale, civilians come in more than one form! Chefs in Chinatown, Mechanics downtown, doctors in the lab, all obstacles to get around in each area.  Each environment has different things to interact with, too.  Hide as a hotel maintenance worker by grabbing a mop, or a civilian waiting for a train by grabbing a pamphlet at the kiosk.  Do you want to make the target suffer an accident and escape unseen? Or do you want to get up close and personal? So many choices in each area.

This the first game in the series that I feel has an actual (substantial) story, and isn’t just a series of contracts with a very loose storyline.  Diana, your handler from the Agency, is your first target and the tutorial level is a great opening for the game.  Turns out you have to find and protect a very special little girl but don’t worry, I won’t explain rest as it does get pretty intense. The voice work of stars Powers Boothe, Tracy Lords and Vivica Fox are actually done very well, and kudos to Marsha Thomason (Diana) and David Bateson on his reprisal of Agent 47 as they brought these characters back to life. The character design on these principals as well as some of the other AI was great, enhancing the visuals to a standard reaching beyond even that of Hitman: Blood Money.

When I finally came to the bitter end of Hitman: Absolution and the credits began to roll, I was struck with this horrible feeling… It is over. I was so hooked to this game after picking it up from my hiatus that I was very sad to see that it had been completed.  Even though the replay is moderate on it, due to their user-created contracts and harder difficulties and challenges, that first playthrough ending usually cuts the deepest. Though I must admit that as the game went on and the AI became ridiculously evil I had to shoot em up, despite the scores being rated on sneakiness and style…but I at least attempted style.

This is the type of game that takes a very patient gamer, one who enjoys gritty and brutal gaming, stealth, improvised gaming and perhaps, a completionist due to the scoring and ranking the game does with you and your friends list. The game pulled far enough from its predecessors and maintained most of the nostalgia (cue: Ave Maria) and it was very much worth the wait.  Hats off to you, IO Interactive and Square Enix.  Between all of the replay factors I listed above and Easter Eggs in the game, I’m sure I will be back to attempt this as a Professional.

Likes:
Visuals are stunning
Voice acting and sounds are incredible
Replay= moderately high
Controls are 10x better than previous games
47 is back. ❤

Dislikes:
AI notices you in disguise way too quick, even on lower difficulties
A couple of hiccups in gameplay
Villain’s were easily unlikable though their motives were only lightly developed
I have to wait years before possibly hearing of another installment, maybe? (no spoiler)

I give Hitman: Absolution a 4 out of 5.