Posts by GordonFroman117:
Release Date: August 19th, 2014
Developer: HB Studios
Publisher: HB Studios
Platform: [Reviewed: PC], PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Rated: E for Everyone
Let’s get this fact out of the way – I don’t play sports games. As far as golf goes, Grand Theft Auto V’s virtual course is the only experience with golf I have, and it was pretty fun, so it counts I suppose. So what does The Golf Club deliver for seasoned players? Or maybe more importantly, what does The Golf Club do for rookies like me?
Accessibility is a major focus with The Golf Club. Starting with Tee-Off, I quickly jumped into a half round of golf as I’m introduced to a disembodied caddy that will accompany players throughout your time in The Golf Club. The course in Tee-Off lets players get accustomed to the controls and mechanics; knowing how much power to put in a swing, when to fade or draw, and checking the direction of the wind is simple enough, though judging power behind your putt needs some getting used to. I was surprised how easy it was to pick up and play, and for someone that isn’t into sports games, that a major plus from me.
Outside of Tee-Off is Play A Round, Tour, and Tournament. For those looking to prove something, these modes have players looking to best one another in the leaderboards by having the best possible round(s) of golf on each course. Lastly, it’s the Greg Norman Course Designer that will keep players coming back. The self-explanatory mode features a fully featured course creator that provides the tools to craft the courses of your dreams.
While the Unity Engine doesn’t demand a heft rig, the fidelity in which The Golf Club is presented is clean and crisp on any platform. The tranquility that I would have imagined if I played a real game of golf is captured perfectly. No music can be heard while playing a round -just you, the chirping of birds, probably the croaking of frogs, and your trusty caddy to make you feel immersed, as if you were really playing a peaceful game of golf.
This has been a very positive experience for me. I was able to play decently well enough, learn a few things about golf, and I made a nifty little course of my own that I poured hours into. It’s that accessibility I mentioned before that made this game; presenting players an easy access golf game to have fun with while providing fun and challenging gameplay. Now I noticed that a Career mode is missing, as many other golf titles have. It loses some of that driving factor to keep playing as there is no incentive other than to prove who plays better, but the game provides enough for pros and newcomers alike to find plenty to do in The Golf Club, especially the course designer!
Overall Rating: 4/5
The gaming drought of 2014 is thankfully coming to an end, and a new wave of games is headed our way. Among four first person shooter titles coming out this fall, two in particular have an interesting connection to each other. Bungie, who once developed Halo, has since passed the torch to 343 Industries and is now inching ever closer to the launch date of their latest title, Destiny. Not too far behind that, 343 Industries is also releasing Halo: The Master Chief Collection – a collection of every Halo title featuring the Master Chief, packed into one disk. Two titles, both of whom share Bungie’s legendary legacy of excellence, are about to clash for top dog in the FPS market, but which one should you get this holiday season? Should you go with the newbie, or the undisputed FPS sci-fi champ?
Now it may be unfair to compare the two, seeing as Destiny isn’t even out yet and Halo is already a well-established series, but I believe Destiny’s beta spoke volumes. Looking at both games now, you could say that they are very comparable; however, Destiny is establishing itself away from its predecessor and simply saying that the two are alike would just be false, despite some similarities.
Halo: The Mater Chief Collection tells is linear, story-driven game, recollection the events that will lead up to the upcoming Halo 5: Guardians. Halo set the bar for first person-shooters back in 2001 and others claimed to be a “Halo-Killer” in an attempt to dethrone it, but Halo stood tall in a league of their own. Halo then skyrocketed itself past our atmosphere with the release of Halo 2, which improved upon everything in the original and changed the face of competitive online multiplayer on consoles. Halo 3 brought the original trilogy to an epic and (personally) heart-wrenching conclusion, and after Halo went to 343, Master Chief was needed once again, to face against an ancient foe in the new Forerunner story arc. Every major Halo title, over 100 multiplayer maps (6 of which have been remastered), a streamlined UI for the best possible Halo experience, the Halo: Nightfall live action series, and an invitation to the Halo 5: Guardians beta. Dang!
Destiny seems to be living in Halo’s shadow at the moment; some frequently stating that Destiny is just a multiplatform Halo clone. But neigh I say, it ain’t that way! In my Destiny Beta Impressions, I completely gushed about it, but I will recap some of the things I have mentioned. Unlike any other shooter out there today, Destiny has merged FPS, RPG, and MMOs together into one unique hybrid. You can build your own character, gather friends to form a fireteam, and roam the solar system in a fight against The Darkness. The signature Bungie feel is definitely there: the feel of the controls, the soundtrack, a grand sense of scale, it’s all there. How you go about playing the actual game would be akin to Borberlands if it mixed with a MMO. There are three classes to choose from, all of whom have different powers, abilities, armors, and you can progress through the game any which way you like: as a lone wolf, with friends, or just interact with others as you come across them.
Both Bungie and 343 Industries have a clear goal for their future, and that is to make 2 of the biggest franchises of this upcoming generation. Destiny seems to be the next big step for the first-person shooters as it enters territory not yet explored by the genre. The Master Chief Collection is bringing Xbox One users the absolute largest collection of games since The Orange Box, blowing it completely out of the water in terms of sheer content. Choosing either/or is easily justifiable, they’re both fantastic additions to gaming, so much so that I’d be inclined to suggest purchasing both. But everyone has different tastes, whether you like one, the other, or none of them.
To those who believe that this article applies to them, get whatever one you want. To be really honest, the amount of content in The Master Chief Collection is staggering; anyone who owns an Xbox One would be hard-pressed to find a better deal than this, let alone in general. Destiny on the other had has yet to prove itself, though it is still from that Bungie pedigree, basically ensuring us that a fun time will be had. Only when it finally launches, will we be able to justly analyze Destiny by its fullest potential. I for one am excited to play through them both.
Gamescom 2014 over in Cologne, Germany saw big names in the gaming industry like Microsoft and Sony talk about their games and announce some new stuff. Both had great conferences this year, but Microsoft had something up their sleeve, the one thing that caught the attention of everyone that tuned in online or attended the show personally – Rise of the Tomb Raider being exclusive to Xbox One.
“Coming Holiday 2015, Exclusively on Xbox”, this made everyone, including some Xbox owners upset, and to a degree, it’s understandable. Tomb Raider has always been a multi-platform title and then a sudden announcement of exclusivity had PlayStation and PC owners ready to grab their torches and pitchforks, ready to boycott the newest Tomb Raider. I on the other hand believed that this was a smart move on Microsoft’s part; having an already well-established and well known action series be only on your console is just a good idea in a business perspective. Microsoft doesn’t have an action/adventure IP all to their own like Sony does with Uncharted, and now with this announcement, they have one in Rise of the Tomb Raider – at least for a while.
Phil Spencer, the head of Microsoft’s Xbox division, made another announcement later on the week to clarify that Rise of the Tomb Raider is, in fact, a timed exclusive. Mr. Spencer mentioned the details about the deal that they made with Square Enix, saying that he in no way bought the exclusivity or IP, and that there is an obvious “duration” for their deal. Where it ends up and what is done with Rise of the Tomb Raider is all up to Square Enix.
While it cushioned that blow that many gamers felt, it lessened the punching power that this news originally had. Regardless of now being a timed exclusive, this still works in Microsoft’s favor, as they still have an answer to Uncharted which has also been slated for 2015.
In the end, Rise of the Tomb Raider will still make its way to PlayStation and PC, but for how long it will take to get there is still unknown. For now, the only solid bit of information that we have is that it will be a timed exclusive for Xbox platforms.
Due to a high demand by fans, a rerelease of the 2002 remake of Resident Evil will make its way digitally to Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PC across North America and Europe in early 2015.
Using the latest resolution enhancement and 3D model technology, game resolutions and textures have been significantly upgraded, including 1080p support on next-gen consoles, resulting in characters and backgrounds coming to life in greater detail than ever seen before in Resident Evil. Not only will the graphics impress but the tense sound effects have been fully remastered with 5.1 surround support for a greater gaming atmosphere. Players are now able to choose not only between experiencing the terror at the classic 4:3 ratio or a stunning 16:9 widescreen mode but also the type of control scheme they play with. The classic control scheme remains for fans of the original play style or there’s an alternative scheme where the character moves directly in the direction of the analogue stick, utilizing the standards of the current generation of gaming. Both the control scheme and the display options can be toggled between at any time during gameplay.
Check back for a solid release date of Resident Evil!
Game Reviewed: Road Not Taken
Date Released: August 5th, 2014
Developer: Spry Fox
Publisher: Spry Fox
Platform: [Reviewed: PC], Mac, PlayStation 4
Rated: E for Everyone
Puzzles must have that eureka moment to them, and with that, must also be satisfying in its reward. Mixing rougelike elements into a puzzle game adds interesting outcomes where no two paths are the same and the risk-reward tugs on your very morality. Do I risk my life to save another? Or do I condemn others to death to save myself? Do not let the pleasant presentation fool you, underneath lays a somber journey of lost and death.
The story centers on the exploits of our protagonist who is simply known as a ranger. After making your way to a new village, you are tasked in rescuing children who have lost their way while picking berries, which is the village’s precious commodity. As the years go by, you call the small village your home, form friendships, and can even get married. But it is within the wilderness where your true character will be tested and your decisions will impact how your story will unfold, one brutal winter at a time.
Tackling the harsh winters in the forests is one that requires careful planning and calculating. The main objective each year is to rescue a certain amount of children lost in the woods and deliver them to a parent. The Mayor accompanies you and his idea of success is rescuing only half of the children. This is where the risk-reward comes into play. Rescuing all the children will leave you in good standing with the villagers and make your heart happy. But deciding that the risk is too great will save your hide, but the villagers of the children you let die will remind you that you’re their killer.
Your health is determined by a number in the upper-right corner of the screen, this indicates how much more energy you have before you collapse to your death. Many things can reduce your energy: being attacked by animals, walking into spirits, or moving objects in the cold. To help balance the loss of energy, rescuing children and consuming food will boost your energy.
Being able to complete a level will allow you to carry over all the items that you have accumulated so far, plus an extra bit of energy for the increasingly difficult levels. Dying however, forces you to give up everything you’ve collected and start again.
Along the way, dozens of objects and creatures, such as wolves, trees, bears, foxes, statues, and witches, will change the way to tackle each area of the map. As a procedurally generated game, no two playthroughs will be exactly the same; the layout of the map and objects are guaranteed to change, meaning that you cannot solve different puzzles using the same solution twice.
Rougelike games will have players learn through trial and error – always learning new things each time you play. Figuring out the mechanics behind each object lets you tackle them later on with a more strategic mindset, already knowing what they can do and how you can solve the puzzle at hand.
What I really liked about Road Not Taken is the ability to fuse 2 or more items into one useful (or sometimes harmful) item. Discovering these combinations changed the gameplay a little bit a time and can provide new means of getting yourself out of a conundrum without giving the player a complete edge over the situation; this is how the experience keeps fresh and intriguing throughout. And the inclusion of an in-game journal that keeps track of all the secrets and combinations that you discovered is a really nice gesture from the developer.
On the surface you could say that Road Not Taken is a delightful game that is cheerful and has lots of cutesy elements to it, and it does. The game is full of hand-drawn sprites that delight all the senses, with critters and that make you go “Awwww”. The soundtrack, as small as it is, is an incredible symphony of instruments and atmosphere. Walking through the woods, you are greeted by the howling of wind and moans. And entering an area with a bonfire soothes with a melodic tune of flutes and birds chirping – a stark contrast compared to the game as a whole that I felt like I could just stop and relax while I let it play.
But it’s the themes that paint Road Not Taken in a darker shade than one would have previously realized. Even when talking with the townsfolk, touches of vanity, greed, and jealousy can be seen. The pleasantness of the world’s design contradicts greatly with the dreary mood that surrounds it. It’s an unsettlingly strange quirk, but that’s the extra layer of charm that the game possesses.
Road Not Taken is a puzzle game unlike any I have played before. While you get that eureka moment when solving the games many puzzles, the reward lacks. After completing the game you being the game all over again, and honestly, there is no real reason to go a second time. Once you’re done discovering all you need to complete the game, there’s nothing left to keep you coming back for more. Regardless of that, the art, the increasing challenge, the music, and even its saddening theme resonate together to create a unique experience. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Road Not Taken and I would definitely recommend playing through at least once.
Overall Rating 3.75/5
Dragon Ball Z is a cultural phenomenon that is regarded as one of the most influential anime of our time, accompanied by a passionate and die-hard fan base that will forever cement it as a powerhouse in anime for decades to come. Since its first airing in Japan in 1989, Dragon Ball Z has spawned multiple dubs for countries around the world, numerous games, and of course, 14 previous movies that tell of in-between stories that feature some of the most awesome moments in Dragon Ball Z. Now the fifteenth entry, Battle of Gods (first debuting in Japan in 2013), has finally made its way here in the U.S. and it’s quite different from what we’ve seen before.
[There will be spoilers below! I will put warnings in advance if you haven’t seen it yet.]
Our story begins between the 10 year gap of chapters 517 and 518 of the manga (or between the defeat of Kid Buu and the last World Martial Arts Tournament of Dragon Ball Z). Lord Beerus, a god of destruction that is quick to temper, has awoken after decades of slumber to check on a premonition that was foretold. After Whis, Beerus’ attendant, tells him the fate of Frieza at the hands of Goku, Beerus recalls a dream of an entity known as a Super Saiyan God fitting Goku’s description. The thought of finding a worthy adversary sends Beerus on the hunt for the fabled Super Saiyan God, which eventually leads him towards Earth, and with him, its potential destruction.
Unlike the other movies, Battle of Gods is very humorous and stays true to the light-hearted moments of the series. The majority of the setting takes place at Capsule Corp. on Bulma’s birthday, meaning that the whole gang is there and it made me feel all sorts of nostalgia. Even Emperor Pilaf, Shou, and Mai make an appearance as youths because of a wish they made before the events of the movie, and basically retcon the non-canon GT entirely. Speaking of non-canon, many consider Battle of Gods to actually be canon to the main series due to the creator, Akira Toriyama, being deeply involved wtih the movie.
Out of everything in Battle of Gods, I’d have to say that Lord Beerus is my favorite antagonist out of any of the movies, and maybe even more than the main villains of the show. Beerus isn’t the typical single-minded villain where world domination or destroying Goku and friends is his only reason for being. Beerus is a very likable, multi-dimensional character that has many traits of a fantastic bad guy – quiet and calculating, loud and roaring, joyful and content, and angry and bitter. Plus, the fact that he’s an anthropomorphic purple sphinx cat makes me think of an Egyptian god, which not too oddly, helps drive home the fact that he’s seen and feared as a god.
When I stated that Beerus isn’t a typical villain, it’s because he’s really isn’t even a bad guy to begin with. He is simply a deity who’s become so bored that he went out of his way to prematurely awaken from his 50 year nap to see if there was someone worthy enough to be his arch-rival. Even though he is a god of destruction, he treats the destruction of planets more like a job rather than for enjoyment like, for example, Frieza. The overall way he goes about things is hilarious; he’s a very animated character, that along with his design, comes across as laid-back and humorous, but still very intimidating. Throughout the movie he is regarded as a terrifying force of nature, so much so that even the Supreme and Elder Kai fear Beerus.
Early on in the movie you are able to witness Beerus’ power in a fight between him and Goku and let’s just say that things don’t go to well for our hero. Vegeta has heard of Beerus before and tries all he can to make sure that Beerus’ short fuse isn’t lit, which results in one of the funniest moments from Vegeta ever. Even the all-powerful Shenron gets shaken when he realizes that he is in the presence of the god of destruction, going so far as pardoning himself before he departs!
Beerus is unlike any foe that the Z Fighters have ever faced in terms of sheer power. He is a honest-to-goodness god whose job is to destroy planets. Now there is a well-established formula to Dragon Ball Z and it goes like this: heroes live in peace, strong bad guys show up, heroes discover new powers to defeat enemies, repeat. Something like that. But nevertheless, the enjoyment for me with this series was to see how powerful they would become and how crazy the fights would be.
In the final battle with Goku and Beerus you still get all that, you still get the new hidden abilities never before obtained, but this is where I absolutely loved where they took this movie – Super Saiyan God is not a permanent transformation that Goku can achieve or control at will and Goku still loses. Yes, you read that right, Goku loses the fight against Beerus. This is a total departure from what we all have come to expect and it wasn’t even a close fight, Beerus won.
Goku still manages to save Earth from annihilation. During their fight, Goku tests out his newfound Super Saiyan God powers; in the middle of the fight Goku returns to normal, but was still able to still keep up with Beerus, unlike before. Impressed at just how much stronger he has become, Beerus spares the Earth. In the end we still get our happy ending, and with all that has happened, I loved how the movie shared certain bits of information with us at the end. It is very open to the viewer’s interpretation, which can and will lead to hours of discussion. What that information is will be something for you to learn for yourself (I gotta keep something a secret)!
[You’re safe here!]
As to be expected, the entire FUNimation dub cast reprise their respective roles and do a fantastic job. Other voice actors fill in their roles very nicely, especially Lord Beerus voiced by Jason Douglas. The sound effects for the fights are bombastic and booming; every punch landed had a nice boom to it and each impact felt like the ground beneath my feet was shaking. And even the original opening theme “Cha-La Head Cha-La” was revamped and covered by the rock group, Flow.
Battle of Gods is simply stunning to look at. Every scene is crisp and the animation is smooth like butter. Looking back at the old-school episodes and then seeing this movie, the difference is night and day. I mean c’mon – 1996 to 2014 – of course the animation would improve by a great margin. But it is the fights that will make your jaws drop; watching Goku and Beerus fight at the end where they fly through the clouds is one of the most dazzling things I’ve seen. Magnificent use of colors, new CG animations to capture close up and intense fights, this is a real step up from the previous films, for sure.
Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods is funny, gorgeous, and action action-packed. Fans of the series will have no problems fully enjoying themselves, but even if you’re not the biggest fan of the show, I wholeheartedly believe that you will still get something out of it. I for one found myself loving every moment and can’t wait to see if Super Saiyan God ever makes a reappearance!
Game Reviewed: The Counting Kingdom
Date Released: August 5th, 2014
Developer: Little Worlds Interactive
Publisher: Little Worlds Interactive
Platform: [Reviewed: PC], Mac, iOS
Genre: Strategy, Indie, Casual
Rated: E for Everyone
There is a clear, all too obvious line between fun and boring. When it comes to educational games, there are too many that try to actually teach you something like you were in a classroom, missing the point entirely when it comes to an interactive video game – having fun in the process. The Counting Kingdom is a wonderful exception to this and provides a colorful adventure across different lands, equipped with the power of math.
Legions of cute (yet destructive) monsters are descending upon five lands and their kingdoms and it’s up to a math magician to keep the cuddly critters at bay. Including the tutorial stage, each kingdom has six stages to complete, and as you advance to the next stage each one becomes progressively more complex than the last. There are some new mechanics introduced later on in the game that provides just the right amount of challenge and at regular intervals without throwing players for a loop with a sudden spike in difficulty.
A basic understanding of math is all that is required to complete this game, but still manages to be challenging. At the start of a level you are given three “number spells” to choose from, and on the field are the monsters with numbers written on them. Choosing one or more monsters on the field will add up the total, and if you have a spell that equals that total you can select it to destroy the monsters on the field. Monsters will move in on the board much like the zombies from Plants vs. Zombies where every turn will see more and more creatures moving in on your castle wall. Every turn a monster isn’t destroyed, more monsters will be in play, but it also opens up the possibilities of finding new solutions with your spells.
As you progress through the game, new challenges and elements fall into play. Potions can add or subtract a monsters value, move them one space, freeze or even destroy an entire row. You will eventually need to combine spells to total the ever increasing values of the monsters, and if there is a particular spell that isn’t all that useful, you can discard it in exchange of another one. The only nitpick I have with this game is that it doesn’t tell you the max number spell combos can reach. It didn’t stop me from completing a stage, but a spot on the side that lets players know the par would be nice.
The later stages of the game will introduce you to a couple of new monsters that change the game up a bit. A monster in a box is protected from your first attack and a king monster that adds 1 to neighboring monsters each turn. Occasionally, multiplication will be implemented in several stages in the form of tiles; if a monster were to reach these “x2” tiles, the value of that particular monster doubles indefinitely. These later stages can become quite testing of the players math skills, but the value is automatically changed and can still be dealt with using all the skills learned playing though the game. And when you’ve completed all the levels, there is a Free Play mode where you can play a stage at any difficulty you choose.
I watched my niece play The Counting Kingdom and was quite astounding. She loves how friendly, inviting, and vibrant the presentation of the game is and the music is a magical mix of enchanting, serene, and lively. When I asked her what she thought of the game she smiled and said that it was fun and that it didn’t even feel like she was doing boring math problems!
Giving this game a go for myself, I see that The Counting Kingdom has been expertly crafted and succeeds where many have failed. Being a game and an educational tool is an extremely hard thing to do, especially when it has to be fun to make learning effective. The Counting Kingdom not only heled my niece improve in math in the short amount of time she’s played, but she also fell absolutely in love with it. It’s a very difficult feat to seamlessly blend fun and math into one, but for The Counting Kingdom, they go hand in hand.
Overall Rating: 4.25/5
The adversity you face in Dark Souls II is perilous, their inhabitants cruel, and the history of Drangleic is soaked in blood. FromSoftware now has unleashed a new quest for the brave to conquer, and ultimately face unrelenting death once more.
The first chapter of The Lost Crowns DLC trilogy, Crown of the Sunken King will take players deep within the subterranean Necropolis of Shulva. Once there, players are tasked to undergo new horrors, traps, enemies, and bosses, in search for the three lost crowns King Vendrick once owned. Crown of the Sunken King features an entirely different world within the DARK SOULS II universe, where stepped pyramids span a vast underground cavern and death lays in wait around every corner.
Crown of the Sunken King is now available on Xbox LIVE, PlayStation Network, and Steam. Crown of the Old Iron King and Crown of the Ivory King will be available on August 26th and September 24th respectively.
Check out our review of DARK SOULS II here.
A quick update for those who don’t know - the Xbox One version has now been optimized and is running 1080p/30fps just like its PlayStation 4 counterpart. Following the June update for the Xbox One, this update freed up some GPU horsepower from the Kinect and into the hands of developers that need that extra bit to push the game to console standards. Now both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions will run exactly the same.
The beta that just passed have many confused some players, many pointing out that Destiny was running 900p. In order to get the beta ready for its release Bungie had to keep Destiny at 900p, but fret not, come September 9th the Xbox One version of Destiny will be at full 1080p.
Destiny will also release on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
Mad Catz announced the first products in its range of licensed audio headsets for Xbox One under the TRITTON gaming audio brand.
Previously announced at E3 2014, the range of headsets has been specifically tuned to the needs of the gamer. Headsets now available include:
TRITTON Kama Stereo Gaming Headset
•A fully featured stereo headset featuring audio controls and precision-balanced 40mm speakers. Kama is also compatible with MP3 players and a wide variety of audio devices.
TRITTON Kunai Stereo Gaming Headset
•Designed for extreme comfort and extended gaming sessions, the Kunai comes to Xbox One with superior stereo audio, high-quality build and an eye-catching design. Kunai is also compatible with MP3 players and a wide variety of audio devices.
TRITTON Kaiken Mono Chat Headset
•Crafted for the Xbox One console’s online environments, TRITTON’s officially licensed Kaiken Mono Chat Headset delivers clear in-game chat. The Kaiken intuitively connects to an Xbox One wireless controller through the included headset adapter. Also compatible with nearly any device with a 3.5mm jack, it only takes a few moments to get ready for online dialog.
If you have an Xbox One and been wanting a gaming headset, you can head over to http://trittonaudio.com/prod/xbox-one.asp and preorder a pair today.