Battlefield 4

battlefield4ps41jpg-884a01Publisher: EA

8.0

Developer: DICE

Release Date: 10/29/2013

Rating: Mature

MSRP: $59.99
Also Available On
pc
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The Good: Fantastic visuals, amazing audio, excellently executed gun play, fun multiplayer suite
The Bad: Campaign is a serious let down, multiplayer feels a bit too familiar, doesn’t do enough to be really considered a true sequelThe biggest competitor against Call of Duty has always been Battlefield. While both games have drastically changed over the years they both still compete for the most action packed single player campaign and an addictive multiplayer suite. Battlefield has been the superior game for the past few years for many reasons. Not only does the game look better but the campaign actually has a decent story and feels more organic and better paced. The multiplayer is actually challenging and requires a lot of skill rather than who can quick scope the fastest.

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While many fan boys may disagree and send me angry emails about that statement one thing is for certain. Battlefield is a huge game, but did anyone even want BF4? BF3 was a fantastic game and was well balanced. BF4 feels very similar to the last game without much changes besides a new campaign and maps. The campaign is actually rather disappointing and not nearly as fun as BF3‘s campaign. It’s short, typical, and feels very generic compared. The story is forgettable despite having some ground. A civil war in China has broken out and the US government is involved but you never really know why. There’s a lot of loose ends and loop holes and by the time the credits role you just won’t care.

Multiplayer is as fun as ever but doesn’t have as memorable maps as BF3. I loved having all the same modes and an easy to navigate server browser on the console. The game feels just as balanced as BF3 but there’s just a little bit of that magic missing. I didn’t have the same long play sessions I used to have with BF3.

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The graphics are fantastic and they make BF4 one of the best looking next-gen games out right now. The textures are superb, the lighting is gorgeous, and the sound and physics are top notch. I’m not kidding about the sound. Battlefield has had some of the best sounding guns and explosions since Bad Company and that still hasn’t changed.Overall Battlefield 4 just doesn’t do enough that’s new like BF3 did. I honestly felt the game could never have been released and fans would still be happy with an HD upgrade of BF3 for consoles. As it is, if you can find it cheap enough, BF4 is well worth the purchase and play through. Just don’t expect anything as ground breaking as BF3.

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Overall Battlefield 4 just doesn’t do enough that’s new like BF3 did. I honestly felt the game could never have been released and fans would still be happy with an HD upgrade of BF3 for consoles. As it is, if you can find it cheap enough, BF4 is well worth the purchase and play through. Just don’t expect anything as ground breaking as BF3.

 

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

A-Link-Between-Worlds-Box-Art (1)Publisher: Nintendo8.5

Developer: Monolith Soft

Release Date: 11/22/2013

Rating: Everyone 10+

MSRP: $39.99

Available Exclusively On

3ds

 

 

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The Good: Looks decent, fun dungeons and bosses, solid Zelda gameplay

The Bad: Turning into a painting isn’t as useful or fun as it should be, just A Link to the Past remake, short and too easy, 3D effects don’t add much

So here I was thinking this game was going to be something completely new and exciting when I realized it was pretty much a port of A Link to the Past. That’s not really a bad thing since many younger gamers have never played that game before. What I also didn’t like was just how easy and short the game was. The dungeons themselves aren’t really all that hard but more confusing and some puzzles are really hard to figure out. With that said the game is enjoyable but some may not like it.

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It all comes down to feeling like every other Zelda game out there. There’s not much to set this apart, and when you’re done with it you will just shrug and move on to the next game. The dungeon layout and the bosses are clever and fun but I just wish there was more to this game. One thing I also didn’t like was having to buy the equipment to keep it. If you rent equipment and die it will be sent back to Rovio’s shop in which you have to go back to your house and rent it again, and return to the dungeon you were at. At least there are warp spots which is a serious lifesaver. In all honesty, if these weren’t here I doubt most people would be able to stomach getting around.

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Most dungeons involve a certain element or weapon. The boss in each dungeon also requires this weapon to defeat it. The sand rod, fire rod, ice rod, bomb, and various other weapons from past Zelda games make an appearance. However, the story involves Sages being turned into paintings and that’s where the whole “Link Between Worlds” thing comes in. This feature is actually quite gimmicky and the game would have been fine without it. It’s used as a segue between puzzles or just used briefly to get around. Flattening against a wall and shuffling side to side isn’t exactly a game selling feature and I felt it was poorly used here.

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The game’s 8 dungeons may actually be enough for most people, especially Zelda fans. The most frustrating part was how to get to each dungeon since you can easily get lost or spend hours just wandering around aimlessly. The lack of direction has been abundant in the Zelda series and I feel needs to change. However, once again, some fans may be happy with this and that’s fine.

Overall, A Link Between Worlds is one of the best games available on 3DS and a fine Zelda game. It’s only issue is that it’s the same type of Zelda we have played numerous times and not the revolutionary Zelda we have come to expect from games like Phantom Hourglass. The 3D effects don’t really do much for the overall experience (like 99% of 3DS games) and can be just as enjoyable with the 3D turned off.

PlayStation 4

2495936-9012444134_80ba47fd6e_oDeveloper: Sony9.5

Manufacturer: Foxconn

Release Date: 11/15/2013

MSRP: $399.99

 

 

 

 

 

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The Good: Fantastic design, amazing controller, extremely powerful, Vita remote play is finally a reality

The Bad: Slow WiFi card, not much in terms of customization, lacking features that were promised at reveal

So here we were are. Everyone who grew up in the 90’s has gone through four PlayStation console cycles. I remember 11 years ago when I got my PS2 I thought that the PS3 was going to be something incredibly futuristic akin to something out of a sci-fi movie. While that wasn’t the case at all, the PS4 gets us one step closer. The PS4 may not be the huge leap that the PS2 to PS3 was, but it’s enough to completely create a whole new generation of gaming.

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First Time Look and Setup

When you get the big blue hefty box home you realize that the thing is huge. It makes the PS4 seem 5 times as big as it really is. Outside of the design of the box to get you to buy it it’s rather plain inside. The first thing your eyes are drawn to are the sleek edges of the PS4. It’s has a much better design than the George Foreman grill esque design of the original PS3. It actually looks like a space monolith. A third of the console has a sleek black look that is known to Sony products (and the fingerprints). While the rest of the top has the rough black material similar to the slimmer PS3’s. The front bezel is designed like it was cut at an angle with a knife. It’s double tiered with the disc drive to the left and the USB ports nicely hidden to the right. The power and disc eject button are well hidden and lined up with the LED line separating the slick and rough part of the top casing. The rear of the console shows the vents and a simple Ethernet, HDMI, power, and audio optical cable. Very simple and easy to understand. The PS4 logo is shown nicely on the front left bezel of the console. This is a sexy console and probably the best designed one from Sony since the slim PS2.

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Setting the PS4 is really simple and easy. Once you get your HDMI and power cable in you must power it on via the console button. Now I didn’t know where the power button was until I read the quick start guide. It’s really hidden and you wouldn’t even think of it being lined up with the LED bar. After it turns on you must connect the PS4 controller with the USB cable included to pair it with the system. After this you log in to your PlayStation account and set up your WiFi. It’s really as simple as that.

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UI and Settings

The PS4 UI breaks away from the XMB that was born with the PSP and used on the PS3 along with some early Blu-Ray players. However, the system still uses the foundation of the XMB bar mixed with the Vita’s app switching. Settings, friends, PS Store, messages, and all that stuff is one click above your games, movies, and media library. I like this double stack instead of a long menu full of sub menus. However, it’s very plain. There are no themes or wallpaper settings even as of this review. Hopefully more are to come.

There are a good amount of settings that allow you to pretty much adjust everything on the PS4. The PS4 now has a standby mode that is more advanced than the PS3. You can charge controllers, download updates, and various other tasks including (at a later time) immediately resume a paused game. The only issue is that the standby mode uses more energy than previous consoles ever have.

The system also records your gameplay footage and will snap screenshots with the touch of the Share button on the controller. I thought this would be useless but have actually captured some awesome footage and shots that I thought was only possible on PCs.

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Under the Hood

The PS4 is the most powerful of the three next-gen consoles. The PS4 has finally moved away from custom-made hardware seen in previous Sony consoles that made coding a pain. The system uses 64-bit hardware that is seen in PCs today. The system has two quad-core Jaguar CPUs developed by AMD. The GPU runs at 2.75 GHz and can compute 1.84 Teraflops. The system also has 8GB of GDDR5 RAM which is faster than standard RAM seen even in the most high end gaming computers. The system has a 500GB HDD which can be swapped by the user which is a nice gesture by Sony. The USB ports are 3.0 instead of 2.0 seen in previous consoles. For the first time ever this is the first Sony console that does not have an analog output, this is HD only. What does this all mean? That the PS4 is 16 times as powerful as the PS3 and is the most powerful next-gen console (a little like last generation as well).

My biggest complaint about the hardware would be no 5 GHz WiFi card. The system only supports the slow 2.4 GHz bandwidth which will not give Sony the faster downloads speeds they need for the larger next-gen games and streaming of games. If you can set your 2.4 GHz band to wireless N mode if you can to get the most speed out of the PS4. This also causes issues with the Vita’s remote play over WiFi. I could not get a stable connection and ultimately the PS4 had to connect directly to the Vita itself for stable true remote play.

The Controller

My favorite part about the PS4 is the amazing controller. The PS3 controller wasn’t all that great, but Sony made a huge come back with the DualShock 4. The ergonomics of the controller are just fantastic. The handles are longer, the analog stick are concave with better rubber grips and are spread further apart. The triggers (R2 and L2) are much improved and no longer make your fingers slip. The newest addition is the touch pad on the front of the controller. Most people probably shake their heads wondering what Sony is doing to their controllers again, but this thing is actually useful. It doesn’t get in the way and can be used to navigate maps, quick time events, and text input among other features that haven’t been thought of yet. This is probably technology left over from the rear touch pad of the Vita. The DualShock 4 also has a strange LED light on top that has had many gamers upset. It’s extremely bright and is really leftover tech from the Move. It’s used to track the controller with the PlayStation Camera. However it is used as indicators in games such as health and notifications. The controller took a page from the Xbox 360 controller and added a headset jack to the controller as to get rid of the long cables having to connect directly to the console.

This controller even tops the Xbox 360 controller if you can believe that. Another major move is the banishment of the Start and Select buttons so often remember on PS controllers. Now there is an Options and Share button on either side of the touch pad. The Options button is used for start and well…options. It’s rather useful and is the evolution of the select and start button. The Share button is for social media goers, and I promise you will be hitting that button more and more as you have the console.

 

In the end the PS4 delivers some great content, but it’s very limited as the first batch of next-gen games get released this holiday. The PS Store is pretty empty and lacks demos for new buyers. There’s not many features to keep you busy for days and even the games are slightly limited. But the PS4 has great hardware and a great future ahead. The $400 price point was a smart move compared to the terrible launch of the PS3.

Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z

39742Publisher: Tecmo Koei5.0

Developer: Team Ninja/Spark Unlimited

Release Date: 2/28/2014

Rating: Mature

MSRP: $39.99

Also Available On

x360

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The Good: Fun enemy design, fast paced combat, Miss Monday is hot

The Bad: Mindless frustrating combat, ugly visuals, does the name poor justice, doesn’t feel like a Ninja Gaiden game, why zombies?

The Ninja Gaiden series is very beloved to long time fans. The reboot for Xbox was considered one of the hardest games ever made at the time and required extremely precise skill. Yaiba is a spin-off of the series and takes  a kind of comical take on it. This isn’t exactly good. Taking the helm is a studio notorious for terrible games like Legendary. That game was considered the worst game made that year. Spark Unlimited has a lot to live up to and I’ll cut this short: they don’t live up to it.

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The Z stands for zombies. Yes, and you don’t even play as Ryu Hayabusa. In fact you play as someone he’s killed who gets a robotic arm and wants to seek revenge. He’s accompanied by a busty hot intelligence woman who relays your objectives to you. The story is pretty throw away, but Ninja Gaiden is known for fantastic combat. Yaiba has a good combat system, but the game relies on fighting way too much and doesn’t break up the monotony.

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A weak, powerful, and flail attack are all available. The fighting is lightning fast, but some times way too fast. Zombies are represented with comedic puns and act just as stupid. Life is acquired by performing a finishing move on a stunned zombie. The gore and finishing moves are cool but only the first 5 times. The rest of the game is made up of overly easy parkour that is performed with quick time events. The boss fights are slightly more interesting but not by much.

The combat gets hard in a sense that it feels unbalanced. Some enemies can disable your flail arm, some times too many are thrown on you, and there’s a really irritating knock back animation that can’t be interrupted. Occasionally the environment can be interacted with, but I honestly saw the same patterns after the second level. This game could have been so much more, but it turns out to be a frustrating unbalanced joke.

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The graphics also take on a comic book style which is way different from the traditional Japanese art style seen in the other games in the series. They also look technically unimpressive with ugly low res textures. Most fans will be highly disappointed in a game bearing the Ninja Gaiden name and not taking it seriously. Maybe a more talented developer could have done better, but what’s here is something that never should have been.

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The Typing of the Dead: Overkill

typing-of-the-dead-overkill-pc-downloadPublisher: Sega8.0

Developer: Modern Dream

Release Date: 10/29/2013

Rating: Mature

MSRP: $14.99

Exclusively Available On

pc

 

 

 

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The Good: Two modes in one game, cheesy dialog and voice acting makes the game funnier, crazy monsters

The Bad: Ugly and dated visuals, playing through the game twice may seem boring, extras not worth unlocking

The House of the Dead was a hit zombie light gun game back in the 90’s in the arcades. This huge Sega hit spawned a game called Typing of the Dead that featured Agent G and heroes wielding keyboards instead of guns. The game was highly addictive as words and sentences popped up on enemies. If you typed everything correctly the zombie would die. A reimagining using the Wii hit House of the Dead: Overkill takes the main game and turns it into a keyboard typing fest and it’s a blast.

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The story and voice acting is intentionally left to be cheesy to make fun of the absolutely abysmal voice acting from the original games. It adds a comedy factor. While it’s not nearly as bad as previous games it’s still enough to bring back memories. Agent G and Washington are after a man named Papa Caesar who has somehow killed Washington’s father and released a zombie virus among the world. Along the way you meet various characters, but non of them are really memorable. The wacky story and over the top adult content such as swearing and gore is a blast.

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The game is on rails like any light gun shooter. As zombies pop up you just type away with what you see. Each level is unique with its own themed zombies and bosses. The zombies are well done and the game can be some times down right gross. The bosses are both funny and disgusting to look at, but overall the typing portion of the game is only as difficult as your typing skills permit. Thankfully you don’t have to include punctuation or anything like that. Just type what you see as fast as you can. Some times you have to save civilians for more points, but outside killing zombies there’s nothing else in the levels. If you spam the Tab key you can get all the hidden extras which makes it much easier to unlock everything.

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Thankfully this is only half the game. The other half is the actual light gun game using the mouse to shoot. Basically it’s two games in one, but if you play through one it will be tough to get through another due to repetition. It’s not like you can choose another ending or go down multiple paths. The game is really only good for one play through unless you are extremely bored. The extras aren’t really anything worth unlocking either.

For what it is the game offers a lot of content for the small price, but playing through the game twice in different modes just doesn’t seem appealing for the amounts of cheese the game layers on.

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Threes!

73312119-587a-40b7-a148-63767f4a9de5Publisher: Sirvo9.5

Developer: Sirvo

Release Date: 3/12/2014

Rating: Everyone

MSRP: $3.99

Also Available On

ios

 

 

 

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The Good: Fantasticaly simple and addictive gameplay, charming visuals and audio

The Bad: May require too much thinking for some people

Mobile gaming hits are usually casual friendly like Angry Birds, Farmville, Flappy Bird, and many others. Most of those games are fairly mindless and don’t require much thought. Along comes Threes, a game that requires strategy and thinking and that is beyond just a simple tile sliding game.

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Threes is simple, minimalistic, and quite charming. The board is made up of 16 tiles. You get 6 random tiles made up of numbers 1, 2, or 3. You must slide these tiles into each other to add them up. If you slide to left everything on the board will slide to the left. This single gameplay element is what departs it from regular slider puzzles. With this in mind you have to be careful to slide all the tiles in the right direction. Once you get 3 you can slide 3 and 3 together to make 6. Two of those makes 12 and so on. However, the higher number you have the harder it is to get another number like it together to join those two. It’s a brilliant gameplay design that gets extremely addictive.

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It takes a lot of practice and sliding randomly won’t get you anywhere. You can easily gridlock yourself without even realizing it if you aren’t careful. Thankfully, Threes is pleasant to look at and listen to. Each number tile has its own voice and caricature and the simple washed out white design is easy on the eyes. Even the music is charming and great to listen to. This is the kind of zen game that Angry Birds or Clash of Clans can’t get to.

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Even if you aren’t a fan of numbers or math you are missing out on one of the best mobile games ever made that doesn’t require micro transactions. Even that alone is worth the purchase.

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Murdered: Soul Suspect

murderedsoulsuspectpcjpg-0a5b5dPublisher: Square Enix6.0

Developer: Airtight Games

Release Date: 6/3/2014

Rating: Mature

MSRP: $39.99-$59.99

Also Available On

x360

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The Good: Great story with twists and turns, interesting ghost mechanics

The Bad: Dated visuals and gameplay, combat with demons feels shoehorned and unnecessary, can’t really connect with characters, open world is lifeless and boring, investigations feel like aimless pixel hunts

I haven’t been so misled by a game than Murdered. A murder mystery game about a cult in Salem, Massachusetts (my favorite type of murder mysteries) all wrapped around a serial killer known as the Bell Killer. You play as a ghost detective named Ronan who gets murdered by this killer during an investigation. You have a bratty teen named Joy who helps you in the real world and the story all comes to a nice close at the very end.

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It’s everything in between that really disappoints. This game not only feels about 10 years old but is some times down right boring. In each area you have items that need to be “examined” this turns into pixel hunting like the adventure games of yore. Some times I found myself to frustrated because the examine button wouldn’t come up unless you were facing it just the right way, that’s glitchy and annoying. Once you find all clues in an area you conclude the investigation by picking three of the clues that relate to the scene. This is where some of the nonsense gameplay comes in to play. Most of the time you don’t even need all the clues to conclude and most clues are pointless for the scene. I feel like I’m hunting for all these clues as just filler for gameplay.

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Is there any combat? Not really. A shoehorned combat scenario was put in by sneaking around demons and executing them with weird button combos. Sneaking around them is pretty tense, as is running from them. But was this merely an excuse to be able to die in the game to call it a full on game? The only other way I died in the game was getting hit by a ghost train in one area. There’s also an open world which is boring and lifeless. The game is also full of items to find which is archaic and just plain boring. Why would I run around in an empty boring world finding items I could care less about?

There are actually rules to this game though. Just because you’re a ghost you can’t walk through everything otherwise you’d be clipping into gaming abyss. Most items can’t be walked through and ones that can’t have a blue aura around them. You can teleport yourself which only comes in handy for a few parts of the game. You can possess people to read their minds or influence them during an investigation. This isn’t nearly as cool as it should be.

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The only thing that kept me going was the story. The twists and turns were just interesting enough to make you think you figured it out and then it turns out to be something else. The game actually has a satisfying ending with no cliffhanger. When I played through this whole game I just couldn’t help but feel how dated it looked and played. The graphics, while not ugly, are simple and boring. This game would have looked amazing about 5 years ago. I also didn’t feel an attachment to any characters because of how boring and cookie cutter they felt. Ronan is just your typical New England cop, Joy is a snotty goth brat, and the other characters don’t really show up enough for you to care about them. Soul Suspect had a lot of potential but in the end it felt like there wasn’t really a goal of what to do outside of the story.

If you’re a fan of adventure games I would give this a shot. Murdered isn’t going to revolutionized the nearly forgotten point and click adventure style gameplay, but it is worth slogging through the gameplay for the interesting story.

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