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Moon Chronicles: Episode 1

Moon Chronicles is an episodic first-person shooter and remastered version of the DS game ‘Moon’.  The first episode contains the first four chapters of the game along with a bonus training mission all for $8.99. The rest of the game, releasing over time, will be spread out across three more episodes for about $1.99.

moon-chroniclesEpisode 1: One Small Step

Gameplay in Moon Chronicles is driven by waypoints guiding you through exploration and investigation of a moon facility. Throughout the levels you’ll be confronted by drones and spider bots along with a couple boss fights.  Accessing computer consoles will give you access to more story information as you try and discover what happened to the rest of your team.  [Read more...]

Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare – The BEST shooter I’ve played in years

Plants-vs-zombies-garden-warfare

Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare came out near the end of February with pretty much no hype or fanfare. I’m not entirely sure if it was really marketed at all. It was actually several weeks later that I noticed it had indeed come out, initially on Xbox One and 360 only, and that’s when I started paying attention. After watching several videos and streams I just knew it was something I would enjoy, and I was totally right.

The Basics

pvz-engineerThe game is a third-person shooter with the Plants vs. Zombies theme. Garden Warfare is essentially multiplayer only but you could play split-screen offline if you really wanted to. There are several modes including a horde-style defense mode where four plants defend their garden from waves of AI zombies, your regular TDM mode where you have to get 50 kills, Gardens & Graveyards where zombies are trying to push through 6-7 gardens to complete their objective while the Plants defend, and a newly added Gnome Bomb mode where each side has pickup the gnome and use it to blow up three objectives. Gardens & Graveyards is easily my favorite but I do enjoy all of the versus modes. The horde-style defense mode, the name of which escapes me right now, is one that I haven’t quite put a lot of time into. Mainly because it’s the kind of thing that requires good communication and a certain level of competency that I have yet to find. [Read more...]

Titanfall Review and Giveaway

Graev and I have been pretty excited about Titanfall ever since we played the beta.  We both consider ourselves to be ‘average’ when it comes to first-person shooters.  We’re never going to top the K/D ratio charts or consistently lead a team to victory, but we enjoy the action and get-in-get-out fun from your everyday gamer perspective.

Your options are vast in today’s marketplace.  Call of Duty and Battlefield dominate the FPS space with consistency.  Is Titanfall a contender?  Should you spend your money and give it a ‘shot’?  Read on for our complete thoughts on Titanfall and a chance to win some free stuff!

Overall Gameplay

Gameplay in Titanfall is uniquely intense without ever subjecting the player to a lapse in action like one might find in Battlefield.  The 15 available maps are on the smaller side, but with only 6 players per side and a squadron of AI controlled grunts it somehow manages to feel ‘just right’.

Leaping through windows, jumping rooftop to rooftop, wall-hanging, jet packing around, sprinting, cloaking, hanging off enemy and friendly titans, and leaping into the waiting arms of your titan — an experience you simply have to experience at least once in your life — are all enough to make any match satisfying.  The opportunities to use the map to your advantage while doing all of the above are incredible and easily a distinguishing factor between the novice and experienced players. [Read more...]

Thoughts on the Titanfall “Beta”

I put quotes around Beta because any game that gets a huge public beta, especially this close to release, seems to serve mostly as a promotional tool for a feature-complete product.

Keen has been playing the Titanfall PC beta and I’ve been trying out the Xbox One version, which was the platform I had originally planned on getting the game for. However, now that I’m getting Keen’s old PC, which is a significant upgrade to mine, I’m tempted to get the PC version so that we could play together.  Having only played the Xbox One version I can’t really comment on any differences there might be. Just throwin’ that out there.

titan-and-pilotTitanfall’s acrobatic elements are pretty cool. I think wall-running makes every game better. It’s really easy too since all you seem to need to do is jump alongside a wall. It might be one of these things that is easy to use but harder to master. At the start of a few matches I saw some guys pull several maneuvers to gain a lot of height and distance and get themselves through the top window of a nearby building. They were like ninjas running along the tops of a bamboo forest in one of those martial arts movies.  Another thing that is awesome is how you can mount ledges. More FPS games need to let you mount ledges and climb up.  PC players seem like they would have an easier time with all of the acrobatics since they can jump and turn the camera at the same time. Since the controller has you jump with the face button and control the camera with the right stick you are force to either have very precise and fast movements or claw your hand to move the stick and jump ant the same time.

The actual Titans are fantastic, but it seems to cause Battlefield Vehicle Syndrome. In case you haven’t heard of that, since I just made it up, it’s the feeling that enemy vehicles are incredibly difficult to take down but for some reason whenever you enter one yourself the armor is made out of wet cardboard. I also seem to have some problem aiming with the shoulder mounted rockets since they seem to want to curve perfectly around my target rather than hitting it. Being able to latch onto an enemy Titan and rip its hatch open and fire at its circuits is pretty rad, though. I also like how you can exit your Titan and leave it to guard the outside of a building while you run in to clear it or capture a point.

I’m not totally sure how I feel about the 6v6 player limit. Usually I prefer FPS games that have a lower player limit but by that I usually mean something like 8v8 or 12v12. They’ve also included a few grunt bots in the multiplayer for some some reason. Maybe this is to kind of fill out the matches so they don’t feel dead or perhaps they wanted to make it feel more like a FPS MOBA by adding in some AI creeps. Either way they don’t seem to pose any kind of threat, at least not in the game modes I played.  I also like how when your team loses you can try and make it to an evac point before they kill you off; like it cheapens their win and softens your loss.

There’s a definite Call of Duty meets Brink vibe in Titanfall. It all looks promising, and I think we both enjoy the Beta enough to pick it up.  Production quality is incredibly high; heck, watching your titan grab you and put you in its chest is something you have to experience — it’s amazing.  The features are all there, etc.,  but neither of us are really certain yet if there’s a long-lasting appeal.  Have you tried out Titanfall?  Let us know what you think.

MMORPGs of 2013

As 2013 comes to a close I want to reflect back on the MMOs I played this year.  It was a weird one for MMOs, and I think this restrospective is quite telling.

Ultima Online Forever

KGC Haven First House UOF

KGC First House UOF

I began the year playing UO Forever, a player-run shard.  Practically the entire Keen and Graev Community played together, and we met a dozen new friends.  I was reminded of how glorious it is to be able to focus on nothing but gathering materials and crafting.  In its prime, UO was able to provide such a fulfilling experience to so many different playstyles.  I was one of the top crafters on the entire server, placed the very first house, and became one of the richest players with the largest merchandise selection.  The highs of building a player city, and the lows of being ganked repeatedly by other players, were a great way to start the year.  This year’s adventure in UO lasted about 3 months.

Defiance Shadow War Objectives

Defiance was a flop for us.

Defiance

Graev and I were originally uninterested in Defiance.  Then, out of nowhere, we must have been bored enough to pay attention and get interested in playing.  We played the beta for a bit, and slightly after launch, and quickly realized it wasn’t for us.  We couldn’t get past how generic the game felt, and ultimately decided not to play longer than a few weeks.  I’m pretty sure this is the way most people felt.  Neat idea, pairing with a TV series and all, but overall “meh.”

 

Project 1999

KGC in Crushbone camping the Orc Trainer.

EverQuest Project 1999

My next stop this year was yet another player-driven MMO server: EQ Project 1999. I think I played twice this year… I’m still trying to remember.  I’m positive I played back in April, but I think I went back sometime during the Summer as well.  I played as a Dwarf paladin and a Gnome Enchanter, and rekindled my love for Norrath.

Together with members of KGC, we camped Crushbone Orcs, Crocs in Oasis, Aviaks in SK, all sorts of stuff in Kunark, the bowels of Guk, Sol A, and more.  I remembered why I love games that require players to group, and why it’s so awesome to have a massive world all about PvE.

FFXIV Christmas

Keen during FFXIV’s Christmas Event

Final Fantasy XIV

FFXIV launched in August, and for the last four months has been the MMO of choice for me and the community.  FFXIV started really strong, albeit more themepark than I had hoped.  The leveling content is solid, and perhaps one of the more polished MMO experiences outside of a Blizzard product.  The class system truly embraces the themepark model by allowing one character to essentially be everything.

Where FFXIV has fallen short for me and a lot of the members in our community is the the end-game.  FFXIV focuses on raiding the same bosses over and over, and for a while had a huge leap in difficulty between the grind and hardest encounters people wanted to see.

Thankfully patch 2.1 finally came out this month which added PvP and Housing. I confess myself disappointed by the incredibly high prices for housing and dumbed-down and unbalanced PvP.  Overall, I don’t know how much longer I am going to last in FFXIV if they don’t do more to make the game about Final Fantasy instead of about being a theempark.

As you can see, 2013 was… an off year for MMOs.  It makes sense if you think about it.   This year has been entirely about waiting for the next big thing.  EverQuest Next Landmark, WildStar and The Elder Scrolls Online all officially launch in 2014.

The best things to come out of MMOs for me in 2013 were the friends I’ve made.  I’ve made at least a dozen new friends — most now a big part of our gaming community — and hope to continue playing with them for many years to come.  That’s why I play MMOs, and even in a year like 2013 it’s nice to know that people still make these games worth playing.

I’m curious to hear your impressions of 2013’s MMOs.  What did you play?