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Killzone Shadow Fall Review

Killzone Shadow Fall Logo

Killzone Shadow Fall is a typical launch title.  It’s a solid game in its own right, with gorgeous visuals, but isn’t the mind-blowing experience we all hope launch titles will be.

Killzone-Shadow-FallStory & Presentation

I really had no idea what was going on here. The last Killzone game I played was Killzone 2 and there has been an additional PS3 and Vita titles between then and now. They didn’t brand the game as Killzone 4 so I imagine that at least thought it could stand on its own but that’s not really the case. If I was confused then I imagine somebody completely new to the series must be completely lost.

Aside from from providing minimal backstory I think the problem lies in how the game presents itself. In the first level, which is more of a tutorial, you play as the main character when he’s a kid. Then before the second mission you see time jump ahead several times until it’s 12 or 14 years and through all of that a series of confusing scenarios play out. It seems you join the military, and then make Shadow Marshall, then at one point you get captured and are part of a prisoner exchange, etc. This all happens in the span of a few minutes. From there the narrative just seems to bounce all over the place and you’re never quite sure how you got where you are. After you beat the second mission the third drops you off in space outside some station. [Read more...]

PS4 Launch Day Game Roundup

We spent most of the morning setting up the system and working through general placement logistics. It’s a real mess up here and with the Xbox One due out soon it’s only getting worse. I’d show you a picture but I doubt Keen would ever own up to this cord jungle.

After the initial patching and mass downloading of free stuff we decided to check out some of the launch exclusives and share some quick impressions before we eventually get to reviewing.

Knack-PS4

Knack

This game is getting pretty badly panned across the board but Keen and I don’t quite share that sentiment. I mean, sure, it’s nothing mind blowing but it is enjoyable all the same. We put in several hours of the co-op and were enjoying ourselves the whole time.

It’s part platformer, though only lightly, but mostly action-brawler. You run around levels as the titular character and bash on bad guys while collecting various artifact pieces that increase your size. It’s actually pretty neat to see the character grow over time and completely decimate foes that earlier were giving you grief. So far it seems to be pretty linear but there are a few secret areas along the way for you to collect. In co-op mode the second player plays as a robot version of Knack and can fight alongside and even heal you. It’s all on one screen and the camera follows player 1 which means P2 has to keep pace or get left behind. It all works out pretty well, although Keen screamed at a few of his off-screen deaths.

Really my only complaint about the game is it’s take on difficulty. Being the typical fun-hater than I am, I put it on hard from the get-go. Unfortunately the game seems to go for the whole pseudo-difficulty of just making everything that hits you take all of your life. It can be a little frustrating, especially with no block, and having to re-do segments several times due to cheap deaths can make your co-op partner rage. Or maybe that’s just my experience.

Killzone-Shadow-Fall-PS4

Killzone: Shadowfall

I played the first two games and the PSP game but I haven’t touched the series since then. Having missed out on 3 and the vita game I have no idea what is currently going on story-wise in the game. Something about the Helghast’s planet getting made uninhabitable by the Vektans so now they have to share Vekta. I need to hit a wiki page or something.

Anyway,  this evening I played through the first few segments and I’m really enjoying it so far despite the confusing narrative. The game looks absolutely fantastic and runs very smooth. It definitely makes me excited to see what the system will be capable of down the road. There are a lot of really neat lighting and visual effects.

In the first main level you initially have to sneak in with just a knife and take out guys with stealth all while avoiding cameras, etc. You also get a handy little echo-location type device which can spot enemies through walls, but it will emit a large sound and alert enemies if you activate it for too long.  One cool thing you can do is jump onto a guy from above, stab him in the neck, and then throw your knife at another guy in your field of view. It’s very reminiscent of the kind of thing you could pull off in FarCry 3. The first gun I got was a really awesome combo weapons. The first configuration was some kind of automatic weapon that shoots little blue things and the second form turns it into a long range rifle that charges up and releases a powerful shot.

Probably the coolest thing I’ve seen so far is the little drone that follows you around. It can do basic stuff like hacking terminals for you but it can also order it to kill enemies, stun them, defend you, and create a zipline. The last one is actually pretty awesome. If you need to get access to an area below you then you can order it to shoot a zipline which you can slide down. The drone, which I think is actually called an OWL or something, can also revive you if you die. Provided you have adrenaline or something.

More To Come

We’re also going to be trying out CoD: Ghosts and Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag this weekend and we will be sure to write up our impressions of them. Since the PS4 can stream straight out of the box we might even look into doing that as well, but so far our internet connection hasn’t been very cooperative. I think Keen also has plans to try out DC Universe and some other free-to-play titles as well.

It’s been a pretty smooth launch so far and we made it through the whole day without bricking our system. Take that .4% failure rate!

Star Wars Battlefield

Now that EA has exclusive rights to publish Star Wars games, I hope they take full advantage of the license.  Not that I expect a whole lot from EA with an infamous track record like theirs, but I still believe they have tech, talent, and precedence to leverage in favor of some really good Star Wars games.  The one I’m waiting for is Star Wars Battlefront in the Frostbite 3 engine.  I want to see Star Wars Battlefield.

star wars battlefield

Imagine the Frostbite 3 engine with destructible environments. Imagine being able to fly an X-Wing out of a hangar aboard a Mon Calamari Cruiser, dog fight with a TIE Figher, then nose dive through the atmosphere of a planet to join a war being waged on the ground with AT-ATs laying siege to a Rebel base. Maps could take place throughout the Star Wars timeline, with vehicles, weapons, tech, and ‘classes’ providing an enormous breadth of choices and possibilities.

Battlefront was always an amazing idea with underwhelming execution.  Battlefield is always an average idea with incremental execution.  Combine the two and you’ll have an amazing idea with an incremental execution which may just revive and perfect both franchises with one stone.

Anyone else have any cool ideas you wish EA would explore now that they have a force-grip hold on one of the most amazing licenses in the galaxy?

Update: Apparently it has been said already (like a day or two ago) that there’s a good chance this will happen.

“The opportunity to do a new Battlefront, for example, which is one of the very popular Star Wars games, or some of the other traditional games that were made, is very exciting.”

And here’s a video of what they DIDN’T do with Battlefront 3…

Bioshock Infinite Review

Bioshock Infinite Review

I just beat Bioshock Infinite a few hours ago! One less distraction from my new Pinball addiction! Seriously, though, that pinball stuff is like crack.

But yeah, Bioshock Infinite, just beat it, etc. Actually, ever since then, I’ve spent several hours trying to decipher the game’s story and ending. I won’t spoil anything, but it’s pretty fascinating stuff. Approaches similarities to Stargate/Trek/Dr.Who levels of metaphysical complexity and nonsense, but still… Fascinating stuff.

Infinite has a lot going for it. The protagonist is instantly more interesting than that of the previous games because he has an actual personality and speaking part. The character glued to his hip for the majority of the game, Elizabeth, is surprisingly bearable. They were smart not to make the game one giant escort mission. Actually, if you look at it, she is the one escorting YOU around the whole game. She is invulnerable, constantly tosses you supplies like health and ammo, can shift useful terrain/items into existence, etc. Wow, I JUST realized the game is one giant escort mission… But the player is the annoying escortee! I’ll continue on once I scrape my mind off the ceiling. Read more after the break!

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To be, or not to be, MMO

This past weekend I spent my time playing in a couple of beta tests for upcoming MMOs.  I kept having the same recurring thoughts: Should these be called MMOs?  Should they be marketed as MMOs?  Wouldn’t they do so much better and garner more public favor if they were presented to players in a different light?

Take Defiance for example.  I think it’s a really fun game.  Trion is billing Defiance as a massively multiplayer game.  Sure, Defiance could be construed as an MMO, but I think calling it something else may be better.  The console market doesn’t really like MMOs all that much, and the MMO market doesn’t really tolerate games which loosely conform to their impossible-to-meet standards.   Defiance feels more like an online version of Borderlands 2.  Just the feel of the game alone resembles an action game, a shooter game, and coop experience.

Neverwinter is another example.  Neverwinter feels like an action-rpg closer to Diablo than a MMO.  The combat is action packed.  The gameplay reminds me of a dungeon crawl experience I might find in Baldur’s Gate Dark Alliance or, like I mentioned before, Diablo.

There may be a lot of players running around alongside me when I play a game like Neverwinter or Defiance, but those players aren’t what make the experience for me.  I could be playing with a group of 5 or 6 people tops and get the same satisfaction.

Not being MMO isn’t a failing; my gosh it might even be a compliment.  Marketing Defiance as a typical MMO, instead of the next evolution of RPG shooters sorta sets the wrong expectations.  The MMO crowd gets confused, and the RPG shooter crowd avoids it.  Neverwinter could be a more persistent evolution of the action RPG instead of a highly instanced, shallow MMO.  Change nothing about either game, but simply alter the way they are presented to set the right expectations.