Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy

wpid-wp-1411096769276.jpegPublisher: SCEA6.0

Developer: Naughty Dog

Release Date: 12/3/2001 (Ps2), 2/12/2012 (Ps3), 6/18/2013 (Vita)

Rating: Everyone 10+

MSRP: $29.99

Also Available On

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The Good: Cute atmosphere and graphics, HD improvements look good

The Bad: Terrible controls, platforming segments are a frustrating nightmare, mini-games are ridiculously difficult, extremely short with little story in between, collect-a-thon theme is a chore

I can’t begin to tell you how many chances I have given this game throughout my childhood. When I first tried the game back in 2002 I had no idea what to even do. The game does not give you any hints, there’s no map, and there certainly aren’t any traditional objectives. The story is somewhat entertaining, but it’s cut short due to the short length of the game.

You play as Jak who is just an average dude that gets stuck trying to do…something. Well eventually you find out  you’re trying to find all the mages to open their portals and find out why they are missing. Then Daxter gets himself mixed up in Dark Eco and becomes an ottsel. He’s your sarcastic yet slightly annoying sidekick through the entire game.

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The main issue with Jak and Daxter isn’t the story or the fact that  you have no idea on where to go or what to do. It’s the platforming mechanics. They are sluggish, slippery, and just awful. In fact I have played worse platformers with better controls. Just simply jumping from platform to platform can be a chore that causes multiple deaths. It also doesn’t help that the platforming segments are excruciatingly difficult. I went from area to area tearing my hair out because the game is so frustrating. Even the mini-games are ridiculously hard and require meticulous memorization and reflexes. Now I don’t want my hand held through the whole thing, but make it fun while also being challenging. The entire game felt like a huge chore.

The whole point of going through these areas are to collect Power Cells. These are needed to progress through the three areas of the game. By the third section you need 73 and there’s 101 in the whole game. That’s a lot of frustrating platforming. To acquire these power cells you need to complete one of the eight objectives in each area. Some require fighting certain enemies while some require finding items or going through a platforming segment. The biggest problem with this is that the levels are so poorly designed. I got lost all the time not knowing where to go or even an indication if where I’m going or what I am doing is part of the objective.

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Here’s another big problem with the game. It was one of the last “collect-a-thon” games similar to Donkey Kong Country 64 and various other 3D platformers of the time. Collecting Precursor Orbs to buy power cells is just a chore. I despise collecting like this in a game because to me it feels like an excuse for filler content.

I seriously could not take it anymore after almost getting to the final boss. I spent hours in frustration and anger and probably died over 100 times. Dying wouldn’t be so bad if you had more than three hits before you died and it didn’t take 50 green eco orbs to get a health piece back.

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At least the graphics are nice and the game has a nice atmosphere and charm about it. The Vita and PS3 versions have upgraded lighting effects, some texture filtering and anti aliasing thrown in for good measure. The game looks pretty decent even for a 12 year old game.

Clash of Clans

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Developer: Supercell6.0

Release Date: 10/18/2013

MSRP: Free

 

 

Also Available On

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The Good: Charming graphics and sound, deep city building and clan management

The Bad: Heavy handed micro transactions will ruin the entire game for most people, battles are completely reliant on the shoddy AI, upgrading units can take days and weeks, you lose all your troops during a battle

Clash of Clans is probably one of the most guilty for micro transactions. It’s right up there with Candy Crush Saga, many coin dozer games, and various other “free-to-play” games. However, at its core, Clash of Clans is a solid strategy/city building game.

There’s no story here and there really doesn’t need to be one. You end up making your own story and memories with the various friends you will add to your guild and clan battles. You start out with just two builders and some gold to break out the city. The game lets you level up to around 3 or 4 without really putting much effort or time into the game. Once you build your town hall you can start on resource gathering which are mines and elixir extractors. When you level these up they will collect more elixir over a period of time. These resources are stored in gold and elixir vaults which are also leveled up to increase your storage cap. Soon you can build walls around your most important resources which is your town hall and vaults. Eventually you can start bringing in defense against attackers such as archer towers, cannons, and mortars. Once you spend a long time in the game you can eventually get other defense towers.

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Once you hit level 3 or 4 this is where people’s patience and dedication will really start to where thin. Once you upgrade something to a higher level, not only did it take many battles to collect the gold, but upgrading will eventually take hours, days, and then weeks. Yes real time days and weeks. My least favorite part about all this is the fact that once you send your troops into battles the survivors are also gone for good. This means waiting again for troops to build up. Once you get high level troops such as healers, dragons, and wizards it can take up to 30 minutes just waiting for everyone to train.

 

Let’s take a break from talking about all the waiting and get into the core of the game: Battles. Battles are all nearly based on luck and the AI. Towns will have red barriers in which you can’t deploy troops inside that area. This means really knowing your units and what they are capable of. For example it’s a good idea to send in giants, bombers, and hog riders first to tear down the walls and then send in the barbarians, archers, and other units to clean up. Here’s the problem. Once you deploy them they just run loose by themselves. You can’t direct them or command them after that. Some times they will go for the buildings or units you want, and some times they completely go the opposite way getting killed or ruining your whole attack. This gets frustrating when you have to wait 15 or more minutes to train more troops to try again.

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If you can stomach all that, the absolute worst part is upgrading. Some times I will spend less than 1 minute in the game per day. You get two builders but it costs 500 gems to get more which is about $5 a piece. If you really love this game then it is a good financial investment, but otherwise you will collect your mined resources, upgrade a tower and a vault and have to wait for hours or days if you get high enough in the leveling.

 

Outside of all that the game looks great and has a unique sense of style that other games have tried to copy since. The clan battles can be really tense especially if you have a full 50 person clan against another 50 person clan. Scoping out their villages and trying to coordinate in the chat to see who is best to attack which village can be a blast, but that’s only if you can find 50 other people who have the patience that you do and will actually cooperate.

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For experience reasons, no I didn’t just play the game for a week and call it quits. I have actually been playing with a few friends for over a year. While I have had to come back after long breaks I do find it enjoyable some times and other times just down right a waste of time. This isn’t a game you sit down with for a few hours and chip away at. It takes months and even years to get to the highest levels and have amazing villages. Or just a lot of money if you want to waste it on that.

With that said, Clash of Clans is a love hate of free to play games. It’s a fantastic game at its core, but is one of the worst offenders when it comes to micro transactions. I wish it wasn’t so heavy handed on those and let the player have a bit more freedom.

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Metro 2033 Redux

metro-reduxPublisher: Deep Silver8.0

Developer: 4A Games

Release Date: 8/26/2014

Rating: Mature

MSRP: $24.99

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The Good: Incredible graphics upgrade, whole areas were completely reworked, solid shooting mechanics, stealth areas are a lot more enjoyable now, incredible atmosphere still holds up well

The Bad: Feels incredible linear, on the short side, there are still some bugs and AI quirks, story is still a bit incoherent if you haven’t read the novel

If you haven’t already read the novel, Metro 2033 is probably one of the best post-apocalyptic novels ever written. The novel really gets into your head and takes the whole post-apocalyptic Russian lore and myths and brings it to life. Metro 2033 was ahead of its time in 2010. While the game looked decent on Xbox 360 is really pushed systems on PC. The game was one of the first to fully utilize DirectX 11. As a game itself it had many issues such as huge AI problems and a somewhat in cohesive story, but underneath it all it oozed atmosphere that no other game could provide at the time. This is all tidied up and wrapped up in one big next-gen ribbon. The game is worth a replay for vets and well worth any new comers’ time.

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You play as Artyom, a “chosen one” who must stop the Dark Ones that have invaded his home station in the underground Moscow metro. While his station was overrun, he is trying to make his way to Polis to get help to fight off the Dark Ones. Instead he must find a mysterious and once forgotten nuclear missile silo called D6. His journey is terrifying, even humans can be as horrible as mutated beasts.

Most of the game sees you either fighting your way through monsters or stealthily pushing through Communist or Nazi frontlines. Back when the game was originally released these stealth sections were nearly broken due to the AI being able to detect in the most odd circumstances. The AI has been tweaked but can some times still show a bit of awkwardness. While some areas have been completely reworked with even new enemy placement, I still found myself confused as to whether I could sneak through the area or shoot the place up. The stealth path would be too well hidden or in an odd place. However, this was pretty rare and I really love how these areas were given attention. The atmosphere is just so incredible. When you get into populated areas you actually feel “safe” and enjoy every minute of light and peace. One area that became extremely scary was the Library. Mutated gorillas called Librarians that stalk is just down right scary.

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The shooting mechanics themselves are fantastic. Each gun has its own personality and you will easily find your favorite three or will experiment. There is a wide variety of gun types ranging from revolvers, assault rifles, bolt guns, pneumatic guns, and even shotguns. However, they all feel unique to the setting. Each gun looks beat up and worn and somehow piece mealed together to just kind of work. There are also a variable amount of throwables such as knives, fire bombs, shrapnel grenades, and various others.

It wasn’t just the gameplay parts that were reworked. Entire outdoor areas were rebuilt to look more next-gen. Compared to the original Xbox 360 version, Metro 2033 Redux looks like a whole new game. Incredible attention to detail was taken when combing back over this game. Thankfully, due to the power of next-gen consoles, we get all the fancy DirectX 11 graphics that the PC version got plus some. Despite being a remade game, Metro 2033 Redux is one of the best looking games out on consoles right now.

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With that said, the game is a little on the short side and it feels a little too linear for its own good. Yes, you are in a cramped metro, but I feel like it would have been a good idea to explore this place more. The game is extremely scary, the monsters are freaky but awesome, and there are some pretty fun scripted events. For a 4-year-old game it has held up so well to recent games and just shows how far ahead the game was back in the day. If you are a fan of Fallout, STALKER, or any other post-apocalyptic game you should give this a spin.

Watch_Dogs

14-05-29-15-53_0_watch_dogs_ps4_coverPublisher: Ubisoft8.0

Developer: Ubisoft Montreal

Release Date: 5/7/2014

Rating: Mature

MSRP: $59.99

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The Good: Hacking and profiling abilities are interesting, tight gun play, large open world, a lot of mini-games and side missions, decent story

The Bad: Characters are never fully realized, all these missions and mini-games aren’t very interesting, hacking and profiling just gets old after a while, feels more last-gen than next-gen

Watch Dogs is supposed to be the next Grand Theft Auto III! The next-gen revolutionary open world game! Well, there’s one big flaw in all that hype. Watch Dogs was developed for last-gen consoles. We will never get a true next-gen experience until a game is made specifically for next-gen consoles and is no longer ported to last-gen or has those consoles in mind. With that said, Watch Dogs is a solid open world game, but it feels limited due to the scope that it tried to create.

You are Aiden Pearce. A vigilante hacker who is trying to exact revenge on his niece’s death. You get involved in a huge black mail hacking/drug ring while operating Chicago’s own connected grid. This online grid is called CTOS or Citizen Operating System. Chicago has cameras everywhere (even in places they aren’t supposed to) and is storing all the data on servers. Hacker groups are battling for the data while some have black mail on city officials. It makes for a pretty twisty story, but that falls flat due to the story being dragged out for too long. One thing that an open world needs are strong characters and Watch Dogs is lacking that. Each character has potential but they are missing that certain something to makes them more than generic or they don’t get enough screen time.

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Outside of the so-so story is the so-so gameplay. Now the gun play is solid with a great cover mechanic and weapon wheel. You also get the electronics on your side such as the gimmicky “camera hopping” ability. You can hack cameras around an area to stealthily blow up stuff and distract enemies. It kind of felt like something similar to the Batman Arkham games. Some enemies have grenades that you can explode remotely that are on them, disrupt their comms, disable reinforcements etc. This stealthy way of combat is actually pretty fun, but gets old in the end because it becomes predictable and almost to easy. Gunning it all the way is tough because you die so quickly. A few shots and you’re dead.

Most GTA like games have wanted levels and cops that come after you. Watch Dogs does something rather unique in a sense that you can use the city against the cops. With the push of a button you can raise bridges, activate blockers, blow up underground pipes, change traffic lights to block intersections etc. I just found that the cops can find you way too easily. You are able to craft gadgets to stop enemies. One such item is the Jam Comms. This is used when police are trying to find you. When this happens yellow circles will appear on your map and you much avoid them until the search is called off. I only ever avoided this once in the whole game. My only option was to be found and then escape the police.

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Another gameplay element that open world games have are mini-games. Watch Dogs is full of them but neither of them are interesting, including the side missions. Being able to prevent crimes, AR time trials, online contract hunts etc. These are all interesting the first time, but after that I lost interest. I have yet to talk about what caused Watch Dogs to get such hype and that is the profiler. When you pull out your phone every citizen’s info is displayed. Their job, income, what they currently do/dark secret, and some times you can hack their phone conversations or steal money from them. Now this may seem like a big deal but it’s all randomized and after a few minutes exploring this you just won’t care anymore.

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That’s the main problem with Watch Dogs at the end of the day. You just stop caring about more and more things as you play. When you start off you’re completely confused on how to use this new hacking/profiling ability. It all seems overwhelming. Once you play for a few hours you start checking off what’s interesting and what’s not in your head. That’s usually not a good thing for a game. Watch Dogs brings a lot to the table but none of it is outstanding or memorable. The graphics are also decent, but even for PC and next-gen consoles there are some ugly spots, the character models are dated, and it all just feels like a last-gen game with a next-gen coating of polish slapped on top.

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The Good: Tight gunplay, strong cast of characters (mostly), hacking is occasionally satisfying and done well,  stealth is great, tons of upgrades, clever and 7.5fun online modes, open world driving is fun, gang-hideout side quests are tricky and enjoyable, phone apps are entertaining, graphics look pretty good

The Bad: At other times hacking feels forced and gimmicky, not much creativity in puzzle solutions, forced stealth and forced gunplay sections, pointless and annoying reputation system, most side quests are repetitive, difficulty is random

Watch_Dogs feels tremendously like another one of Ubisoft’s games, the first Assassin’s Creed, in that it sets up the fundamentals and roots for a franchise but it is still incredibly flawed. This time around it’s a lot more inexcusable however because Ubisoft has had a ton of experience with open world games. Nevertheless, it is still a fun and meaty game which I enjoyed for the most part.

It tells the story of Aiden Pearce (otherwise known as “The Vigilante”, possibly the most unoriginal name ever), a hacker who lost his niece Lena Pearce in a car accident staged by a hitman. It’s a revenge story, with Aiden setting out to discover who called for his death and why. Aiden is, for the most part, the typical grumbly mostly-emotionless remorseful killer supposed “badass” protagonist that has been far overused in this medium, but he still has his moments and his journey to seek out revenge is certainly endearing. It’s mostly the side characters which carry the story out in this game, particularly Clara Lille and T-Bone, who both seem to have more depth to them than Aiden himself.  There’s also standout characters like “Bedbug”, an oddly likable and friendly gangster, and Lucky Quinn, an incredibly unnerving villain.

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The story starts off pretty slowly, but picks up by the middle and was overall pretty entertaining. It wasn’t fantastic or super memorable or anything, but it did do a good enough job at progressing the game while still engaging me. The gameplay is Watch_Dog‘s real meat, and it is a mixed bag. Hacking was fun at first, but eventually the novelty wore off and I came to realize it felt all too scripted and didn’t actually allow for as much freedom as it pretends to. Using hacking to escape from the cops felt pointless once I discovered that if I got into the water I was practically safe because the police have no watercraft, and using hacks during missions didn’t feel like I was coming up with my own solution but instead choosing through a few predetermined ones the developers left for me. In fact, in a majority of the missions it’d probably be easier and quicker to play without using hacks, whether playing stealthily or guns blazing. The only missions which feel like they take full advantage of hacking are the gang hideout sidequests, which allow you to play through any style that you want, however these eventually run thin as well because of how similar they all are.

The gunplay feels good (unlike another well-known open world franchise) but isn’t all too original. The worst missions in this game force you to play a certain style. Having stealth forced makes it a hell of a lot less satisfying, and when gunplay is forced it can get too difficult for someone who had played the rest of the game stealthily. Throughout the game you’ll get skill points to upgrade your hacking, weapons, driving, and more. However, I unlocked pretty much all the important upgrades early on in the game due to how many skill points you get (both from sidequests and missions).

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Driving, like much else in the game, is a mixed bag. Driving controls are more arcade-y than realistic, and you can easily create your own shortcut to destinations by smashing through fences and phone lines. At the same time though, tailing missions and online races control poorly and aren’t fun at all. Also, it’s pretty jarring to smash through a humongous pole just to inexplicably be stopped by a bush you can’t drive through. Motorcycles control poorly, with it being too easy to be flung out of them. Also, NPC’s inexplicably are never ever on motorcycles, you can only find parked ones. And that is just an example of what I find to be ones of Watch_Dogs biggest issues: it’s missing out on the small details.

No, I don’t mean in terms of graphics, or at least the quality of the graphics- the game looks pretty enough (however nowhere near as good as its first E3 demo). What I mean is that unlike GTA V (which is a much better game), Watch_Dogs struggles to create a believable setting and environment. It replicates Chicago well enough, keeping its major landmarks, but doesn’t have any spirit or passion or incredible detail to it unlike, say, Los Santos (and by detail I don’t mean accuracy to the real life version). Just like the whole game itself, it feels unsure of what it wants to represent; is it a modern-day version of Chicago, a semi-cyberpunk version of Chicago, or a satire of Chicago? And it’d be okay (maybe even great) if the game could masterfully combine these three different takes on Chicago but it fails at that and instead feels like three different creative directions were taken with designing the setting and feeling of this game.

The water, despite being beautiful, doesn’t react at all if you shoot a bullet at it. Building window’s reflections are fake. And most importantly, NPC’s rarely do anything of interest (and their AI is terrible). The text and phone conversations which are supposed to give them personality repeat far too often, and the name and trait system which are intended to make us care for them instead comes off as a shoddy way to try an inject personality in those characters when in reality the traits change absolutely nothing about them and are merely cosmetic. It’d be better if it was trying to teach us a lesson or make a point (for example, if we could use those traits to say, blackmail them) about the dangers of technology and our online lives, but the game is too confused about what type of message it wants to send out.  For example, Aiden is presented as a good guy (and I could tell the game wanted me to believe that), but he consistently does horrible things both inside of gameplay and as part of the story. In many ways, Watch_Dogs feels like it is a game going through its teenage years, unsure of what it wants to be.

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On a positive note, the online in this game is pretty great ignoring online races. Hacking other player’s games is an exhilarating and nerve-wracking experience, hampered only by the fact that should your opponent choose to exit the game you are the one punished for it AND if you leave the game on pause to go get a drink or have a snack you may still get hacked which really sucks. Decryption is a fun competitive mode which gets better the more people who play it in which you must work as a team (or individually) to hold a hacking point for a certain amount of time. It, like the gang hideout missions, is one of the few examples of the hacking and gunplay coming together to form a cohesive and fun whole.

Also fun are the somewhat out of place yet hilarious AR games. Everyone should at the very least give the Spider-Tank game a try once. The soundtrack is fine, with only a few standout tracks (particularly the one that plays on the skill tree upgrade menu), but the in-game radio is awful. I put it on mute most of the time, the songs that play are mostly crap.

So, what do I have to say about Watch_Dogs as a whole? It’s fun, sure, but it also feels like it is trying to appeal to far too many audiences without nailing down any single one in particular. It’s a game that has been dragged down by its corporate influences and was hyped to an extreme amount. Yes, it ultimately is an enjoyable and well crafted experience but it doesn’t have much heart nor soul behind it. However, I’m excited for what Ubisoft has in mind with the sequel that will inevitably come because there is so much potential with this franchise. Just keep in mind most of it hasn’t been met yet, this game is just the baby steps.

 

Killzone: Shadow Fall

20130901014244!Killzone_Shadow_Fall_BoxPublisher: SCEA8.0

Developer: Guerilla Games

Release Date: 11/15/2013

Rating: Mature

MSRP: $59.99

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The Good: Fantastic visuals, excellent gun play, fun multiplayer suite, decent story

The Bad: Campaign has poor pacing, only one large outdoor area, too much filler sprinkled in campaign

Sony’s little FPS that could has become a console seller. Back in 2004 Killzone was deemed a “Halo Killer” by Sony but was met with unexpectedly low fanfare due to pushing the PS2 too far and feeling too heavy and sluggish to play. The fourth installment in the main console franchise has perfect itself in some ways and has taken steps back in others.

The story takes place years after Killzone 3 with Helghan finally destroying itself due to the constant mining of the unstable element Petrusite. Vekta formed a peace treaty with Helghan to share their planet. This obviously never worked out because now Vekta wants every last Helghan destroyed so this causes a civil war. You play as a Shadow Marshall who is working for both sides in a way. You must find Stahl and kill him as he is making a massive weapon that will wipe out the entire planet.

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The story is fairly decent compared to past Killzone games, but the actual campaign is poorly paced. Not only does it drag on for far too long but the same type of “arena” type bursts of gameplay are repeated. Stealth sections are also compromised due to poor enemy placement and just overall poor stealth mechanics. At least the shooting part is fun and feels like the most balanced of all the Killzone games. The enemy types are still not very varied which is a real shame. There’s your usual grunts but some have shields or energy fields surrounding them which gets boring after a while. Every once in a while you will find an automata enemy that will be a pain to take down.

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Shadow Fall tries throwing in little things here and there to make it feel different from past games but it doesn’t really work. Things like anti-gravity movement, space battles, large open environments, and “choose your own objective”. These things are just sprinkled in to stretch the already long enough campaign. That’s not to say it isn’t enjoyable but there are obvious splinters in this hand of a campaign that you can just tell were put there to lengthen it. I really loved the opening as it was cinematic and unlike anything done in a previous Killzone game, but they let the ball drop with only that one segment.

You get a personal drone which is kind of borrowed from the PS Vita game Killzone Mercenary. Using the touchpad you can select a grapple line, attack mode, defense, and EMP burst. This all really comes in handy and changes the way you play the game. I also like the adrenaline shots you can get to revive yourself after dying. I also loved the open forest environment in the beginning of the game. I felt this was the strongest bit, but after that you’re stuck in cramped corridors and boring space ships. I feel this was just to show off the power of the PS4 then quickly move you along.

The multiplayer suite of Killzone is fun and some of the best on PS4. Upgrading your soldier and weapon layouts is a standard for FPS games these days, but it’s nice to see it again in a Killzone game. The game is greatly balanced and the maps are a lot of fun to play with so you won’t be disappointed.

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Let’s talk graphics. Shadow Fall is probably one of the best looking console games ever made, but it’s still not pushing the PS4 to its limits. There are some ugly textures up close and the closed off cramped areas of the last half of the game don’t look very impressive. The outdoor areas are beautiful with fantastic lighting effects that would cripple the PS3.

As it is, Shadow Fall is a must have in any PS4 owners collection, but don’t expect a revolutionary or even memorable campaign or Killzone game.

Battlefield 4

battlefield4ps41jpg-884a01Publisher: EA

8.0

Developer: DICE

Release Date: 10/29/2013

Rating: Mature

MSRP: $59.99
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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

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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.