Simulating the Season in Madden 17

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It’s taken quite some time but I’ve been working week to week to simulate the entirety of the 2016-17 NFL campaign in Madden 17 respectively and instead of waiting to finish the final weeks I’ve decided to speed things up a bit. I now present to you the Madden viewpoint of the season and how things turned out in cyberspace as opposed to real life.

Week 1 | 16 Games | 0 Byes

  1. Panthers v Broncos | Sim: 27-19 Carolina | Actual: 21-20 Denver
  2. Packers v Jaguars | Sim: 28-17 Green Bay | Actual: 27-23 Green Bay
  3. Chargers v Chiefs | Sim: 35-21 Kansas City | Actual: 33-27 OT Kansas City
  4. Raiders v Saints | Sim: 27-24 New Orleans | Actual: 35-34 Oakland
  5. Bengals v Jets | Sim: 42-24 Cincinnati | Actual: 23-22 Cincinnati
  6. Browns v Eagles | Sim: 21-17 Philadelphia | Actual: 29-10 Philadelphia
  7. Vikings v Titans | Sim: 24-14 Tennessee | Actual: 25-16 Minnesota
  8. Bears v Texans | Sim: 21-9 Houston | Actual: 23-14 Houston
  9. Bills v Ravens | Sim: 16-6 Buffalo | Actual: 13-7 Baltimore
  10. Buccaneers v Falcons | Sim: 42-35 Atlanta | Actual: 31-24 Tampa Bay
  11. Dolphins v Seahawks | Sim: 15-14 Miami | Actual: 12-10 Seattle
  12. Giants v Cowboys | Sim: 27-20 Dallas | Actual: 20-19 New York
  13. Lions v Colts | Sim: 20-17 Detroit | Actual: 39-35 Detroit
  14. Patriots v Cardinals | Sim: 24-20 Arizona | Actual: 23-21 New England
  15. Steelers v Redskins | Sim: 48-27 Pittsburgh | Actual: 38-16 Pittsburgh
  16. Rams v 49ers | Sim: 21-13 Los Angeles | Actual: 28-0 San Fransisco

W: CAR, GB, KC, NO, CIN, PHI, TEN, HOU, BUF, ATL, MIA, DAL, DET, ARI, PIT, LA

L: DEN, JAC, SD, OAK, NYJ, CLE, MIN, CHI, BAL, TB, SEA, NYG, IND, NE, WAS, SF

Week 2 | 16 Games | 0 Byes

  1. Jets v Bills | Sim: 27-21 OT Buffalo | Actual: 37-31 New York
  2. 49ers v Panthers | Sim: 35-21 Carolina | Actual: 46-27 Carolina
  3. Cowboys v Redskins | Sim: 21-20 Washington | Actual: 27-23 Dallas
  4. Bengals v Steelers | Sim: 28-18 Pittsburgh | Actual: 24-16 Pittsburgh
  5. Saints v Giants | Sim: 45-42 New Orleans | Actual: 16-13 New York
  6. Dolphins v Patriots | Sim: 28-20 New England | Actual: 31-24 New England
  7. Chiefs v Texans | Sim: 22-13 Kansas City | Actual: 19-12 Houston
  8. Titans v Lions | Sim: 17-14 Detroit | Actual: 16-15 Tennessee
  9. Ravens v Browns | Sim: 27-24 OT Cleveland | Actual: 25-20 Baltimore
  10. Seahawks v Rams | Sim: 14-6 Seattle | Actual: 9-3 Los Angeles
  11. Buccaneers v Cardinals | Sim: 31-20 Arizona | Actual: 40-7 Arizona
  12. Jaguars v Chargers | Sim: 28-21 Jacksonville | Actual: 38-14 San Diego
  13. Falcons v Raiders | Sim: 28-27 Oakland | Actual: 35-28 Atlanta
  14. Colts v Broncos | Sim: 41-27 Denver | Actual: 34-20 Denver
  15. Packers v Vikings | Sim: 14-12 Minnesota | Actual: 17-14 Minnesota
  16. Eagles v Bears | Sim: 34-17 Philadelphia | Actual: 29-14 Philadelphia

W: BUF, CAR, WAS, PIT, NO, NE, KC, DET, CLE, SEA, ARI, JAC, OAK, DEN, MIN, PHI

L: NYJ, SF, DAL, CIN, NYG, MIA, HOU, TEN, BAL, LA, TB, SD, ATL, IND, GB, CHI

Week 3 | 16 Games | 0 Byes

  1. Texans v Patriots | Sim: 27-12 New England | Actual: 27-0 New England
  2. Cardinals v Bills | Sim: 21-17 Buffalo | Actual: 33-18 Buffalo
  3. Raiders v Titans | Sim: 35-21 Oakland | Actual: 17-10 Oakland
  4. Redskins v Giants | Sim: 28-20 Washington | Actual: 29-27 Washington
  5. Browns v Dolphins | Sim: 24-14 Cleveland | Actual: 30-24 OT Miami
  6. Ravens v Jaguars | Sim: 20-13 Baltimore | Actual: 19-17 Baltimore
  7. Lions v Packers | Sim: 35-20 Green Bay | Actual: 34-27 Green Bay
  8. Broncos v Bengals | Sim: 21-3 Denver | Actual: 29-17 Denver
  9. Vikings v Panthers | Sim: 24-21 Minnesota | Actual: 22-10 Minnesota
  10. Rams v Buccaneers | Sim: 26-17 Los Angeles | Actual: 37-32 Los Angeles
  11. 49ers v Seahawks | Sim: 33-24 Seattle | Actual: 37-18 Seattle
  12. Jets v Chiefs | Sim: 9-6 OT New York | Actual: 24-3 Kansas City
  13. Chargers v Colts | Sim: 30-21 Indianapolis | Actual: 26-22 Indianapolis
  14. Steelers v Eagles | Sim: 21-20 Pittsburgh | Actual: 34-3 Philadelphia
  15. Bears v Cowboys | Sim: 42-14 Dallas | Actual: 31-17 Dallas
  16. Falcons v Saints | Sim: 35-27 Atlanta | Actual: 45-32 Atlanta

W: NE, BUF, OAK, WAS, CLE, BAL, GB, DEN, MIN, LA, SEA, NYJ, IND, PIT, DAL, ATL

L: HOU, ARI, TEN, NYG, MIA, JAC, DET, CIN, CAR, TB, SF, KC, SD, PHI, CHI, NO

Week 4 | 15 Games | 2 Byes

  1. Bengals v Dolphins | Sim: 25-13 Cincinnati | Actual: 22-7 Cincinnati
  2. Colts v Jaguars | Sim: 27-24 OT Jacksonville | Actual: 30-27 Jacksonville
  3. Titans v Texans | Sim: 14-13 Tennessee | Actual: 27-20 Houston
  4. Browns v Redskins | Sim: 37-10 Washington | Actual: 31-20 Washington
  5. Seahawks v Jets | Sim: 30-21 Seattle | Actual: 27-17 Seattle
  6. Bills v Patriots | Sim: 10-7 Buffalo | Actual: 16-0 Buffalo
  7. Panthers v Falcons | Sim: 28-23 Carolina | Actual: 48-33 Atlanta
  8. Raiders v Ravens | Sim: 35-21 Oakland | Actual: 28-27 Oakland
  9. Lions v Bears | Sim: 21-17 Chicago | Actual: 17-14 Chicago
  10. Broncos v Buccaneers | Sim: 42-34 Denver | Actual: 27-7 Denver
  11. Rams v Cardinals | Sim: 14-13 Los Angeles | Actual: 17-13 Los Angeles
  12. Saints v Chargers | Sim: 27-27 OT Tie | Actual: 35-34 New Orleans
  13. Cowboys v 49ers | Sim: 21-10 Dallas | Actual: 24-17 Dallas
  14. Chiefs v Steelers | Sim: 35-31 Kansas City | Actual: 43-14 Pittsburgh
  15. Giants v Vikings | Sim: 27-21 New York | Actual: 24-10 Minnesota

W: CIN, JAC, TEN, WAS, SEA, BUF, CAR, OAK, CHI, DEN, LA, DAL, KC, NYG

L: MIA, IND, HOU, CLE, NYJ, NE, ATL, BAL, DET, TB, ARI, SF, PIT, MIN

T: NO, SD

Week 5 | 14 Games | 4 Byes

  1. Cardinals v 49ers | Sim: 34-13 Arizona | Actual: 33-21 Arizona
  2. Patriots v Browns | Sim: 49-21 New England | Actual: 33-13 New England
  3. Eagles v Lions | Sim: 25-21 Detroit | Actual: 24-23 Detroit
  4. Bears v Colts | Sim: 21-20 Chicago | Actual: 29-23 Indianapolis
  5. Titans v Dolphins | Sim: 17-6 Miami | Actual: 30-17 Tennessee
  6. Redskins v Ravens | Sim: 27-20 Washington | Actual: 16-10 Washington
  7. Texans v Vikings | Sim: 24-17 Minnesota | Actual: 31-13 Minnesota
  8. Jets v Steelers | Sim: 45-13 Pittsburgh | Actual: 31-13 Pittsburgh
  9. Falcons v Broncos | Sim: 27-23 Atlanta | Actual: 23-16 Atlanta
  10. Bengals v Cowboys | Sim: 28-24 Cincinnati | Actual: 28-14 Dallas
  11. Bills v Rams | Sim: 29-14 Buffalo | Actual: 30-19 Buffalo
  12. Chargers v Raiders | Sim: 35-28 Oakland | Actual: 34-31 Oakland
  13. Giants v Packers | Sim: 24-14 Green Bay | Actual: 23-16 Green Bay
  14. Buccaneers v Panthers | Sim: 24-13 Carolina | Actual: 17-14 Tampa Bay

W: ARI, NE, DET, CHI, MIA, WAS, MIN, PIT, ATL, CIN, BUF, OAK, GB, CAR

L: SF, CLE, PHI, IND, TEN, BAL, HOU, NYJ, DEN, DAL, LA, SD, NYG, TB

Week 6 | 15 Games | 2 Byes

  1. Broncos v Chargers | Sim: 29-21 San Diego | Actual: 21-13 San Diego
  2. 49ers v Bills | Sim: 21-20 San Fransisco | Actual: 45-16 Buffalo
  3. Eagles v Redskins | Sim: 28-24 Philadelphia | Actual: 27-20 Washington
  4. Browns v Titans | Sim: 28-27 Tennessee | Actual: 28-26 Tennessee
  5. Ravens v Giants | Sim: 34-21 New York | Actual: 27-23 New York
  6. Panthers v Saints | Sim: 35-32 New Orleans | Actual: 41-38 New Orleans
  7. Jaguars v Bears | Sim: 17-16 Chicago | Actual: 17-16 Jacksonville
  8. Rams v Lions | Sim: 21-21 OT Tie | Actual: 31-28 Detroit
  9. Steelers v Dolphins | Sim: 32-27 Pittsburgh | Actual: 30-15 Miami
  10. Bengals v Patriots | Sim: 28-20 New England | Actual: 35-17 New England
  11. Chiefs v Raiders | Sim: 17-10 Kansas City | Actual: 26-10 Kansas City
  12. Falcons v Seahawks | Sim: 35-27 Seattle | Actual: 26-24 Seattle
  13. Cowboys v Packers | Sim: 28-21 Dallas | Actual: 30-16 Dallas
  14. Colts v Texans | Sim: 24-21 Indianapolis | Actual 26-23 OT Houston
  15. Jets v Cardinals | Sim: 34-18 Arizona | Actual: 28-3 Arizona

W: SD, SF, PHI, TEN, NYG, NO, CHI, PIT, NE, KC, SEA, DAL, IND, ARI

L: DEN, BUF, WAS, CLE, BAL, CAR, JAC, MIA, CIN, OAK, ATL, GB, HOU, NYJ

T: LA, DET

Week 7 | 15 Games | 2 Byes

  1. Bears v Packers | Sim: 28-12 Green Bay | Actual: 26-10 Green Bay
  2. Giants v Rams | Sim: 24-10 New York | Actual: 17-10 New York
  3. Saints v Chiefs | Sim: 27-24 New Orleans | Actual: 27-21 Kansas City
  4. Colts v Titans | Sim: 21-20 Tennessee | Actual: 34-26 Indianapolis
  5. Vikings v Eagles | Sim: 14-10 Philadelphia | Actual: 21-10 Philadelphia
  6. Browns v Bengals | Sim: 42-28 Cincinnati | Actual: 31-17 Cincinnati
  7. Redskins v Lions | Sim: 21-20 Washington | Actual: 20-17 Detroit
  8. Raiders v Jaguars | Sim: 35-23 Oakland | Actual: 33-16 Oakland
  9. Bills v Dolphins | Sim: 24-23 Miami | Actual: 28-25 Miami
  10. Ravens v Jets | Sim: 27-17 Baltimore | Actual: 24-16 New York
  11. Buccaneers v 49ers | Sim: 42-34 Tampa Bay | Actual: 34-17 Tampa Bay
  12. Chargers v Falcons | Sim: 21-17 Atlanta | Actual: 33-30 OT San Diego
  13. Patriots v Steelers | Sim: 31-21 New England | Actual: 27-16 New England
  14. Seahawks v Cardinals | Sim: 21-16 Seattle | Actual: 6-6 OT Tie
  15. Texans v Broncos | Sim: 11-10 Houston | Actual: 27-9 Denver

W: GB, NYG, NO, TEN, PHI, CIN, WAS, OAK, MIA, BAL, TB, ATL, NE, SEA, HOU

L: CHI, LA, KC, IND, MIN, CLE, DET, JAC, BUF, NYJ, SF, SD, PIT, ARI, DEN

Week 8 | 13 Games | 6 Byes

  1. Jaguars v Titans | Sim: 26-16 Tennessee | Actual: 36-22 Tennessee
  2. Redskins v Bengals | Sim: 29-27 Cincinnati | Actual: 27-27 OT Tie
  3. Chiefs v Colts | Sim: 28-14 Kansas City | Actual: 30-14 Kansas City
  4. Cardinals v Panthers | Sim: 35-34 Arizona | Actual: 30-20 Carolina
  5. Raiders v Buccaneers | Sim: 27-21 Oakland | Actual: 30-24 OT Oakland
  6. Seahawks v Saints | Sim: 27-23 Seattle | Actual: 25-20 New Orleans
  7. Lions v Texans | Sim: 14-13 Detroit | Actual: 20-13 Houston
  8. Patriots v Bills | Sim: 35-21 New England | Actual: 41-25 New England
  9. Jets v Browns | Sim: 21-19 New York | Actual: 31-28 New York
  10. Chargers v Broncos | Sim: 42-31 Denver | Actual: 27-19 Denver
  11. Packers v Falcons | Sim: 34-28 Green Bay | Actual: 33-32 Atlanta
  12. Eagles v Cowboys | Sim: 28-27 Dallas | Actual: 29-23 OT Dallas
  13. Vikings v Bears | Sim: 14-10 Minnesota | Actual: 20-10 Chicago

W: TEN, CIN, KC, ARI, OAK, SEA, DET, NE, NYJ, DEN, GB, DAL, MIN

L: JAC, WAS, IND, CAR, TB, NO, HOU, BUF, CLE, SD, ATL, PHI, CHI

Week 9 | 13 Games | 6 Byes

  1. Falcons v Buccaneers | Sim: 27-17 Atlanta | Actual: 43-28 Atlanta
  2. Lions v Vikings | Sim: 24-20 Minnesota | Actual: 22-16 OT Detroit
  3. Eagles v Giants | Sim: 17-14 Philadelphia | Actual: 28-23 New York
  4. Jets v Dolphins | Sim: 28-14 Miami | Actual: 27-23 Miami
  5. Jaguars v Chiefs | Sim: 35-20 Kansas City | Actual: 19-14 Kansas City
  6. Cowboys v Browns | Sim: 28-14 Dallas | Actual: 35-10 Dallas
  7. Steelers v Ravens | Sim: 21-20 Pittsburgh | Actual: 21-14 Baltimore
  8. Saints v 49ers | Sim: 28-13 New Orleans | Actual: 41-23 New Orleans
  9. Panthers v Rams | Sim: 12-7 Los Angeles | Actual: 13-10 Carolina
  10. Colts v Packers | Sim: 35-27 Green Bay | Actual: 31-26 Indianapolis
  11. Titans v Chargers | Sim: 24-17 San Diego | Actual: 43-35 San Diego
  12. Broncos v Raiders | Sim: 35-24 Denver | Actual: 30-20 Oakland
  13. Bills v Seahawks | Sim: 27-23 Buffalo | Actual: 31-25 Seattle

W: ATL, MIN, PHI, MIA, KC, DAL, PIT, NO, LA, GB, SD, DEN, BUF

L: TB, DET, NYG, NYJ, JAC, CLE, BAL, SF, CAR, IND, TEN, OAK, SEA

Week 10 | 14 Games | 4 Byes

  1. Browns v Ravens | Sim: 24-21 OT Cleveland | Actual: 28-7 Baltimore
  2. Texans v Jaguars | Sim: 17-13 Jacksonville | Actual: 24-21 Houston
  3. Broncos v Saints | Sim: 28-22 New Orleans | Actual: 25-23 Denver
  4. Rams v Jets | Sim: 14-13 Los Angeles | Actual: 9-6 Los Angeles
  5. Falcons v Eagles | Sim: 32-24 Atlanta | Actual: 24-15 Philadelphia
  6. Chiefs v Panthers | Sim: 28-21 Kansas City | Actual: 20-17 Kansas City
  7. Bears v Buccaneers | Sim: 26-17 Tampa Bay | Actual: 36-10 Tampa Bay
  8. Vikings v Redskins | Sim: 23-20 Minnesota | Actual: 26-20 Washington
  9. Packers v Titans | Sim: 28-17 Green Bay | Actual: 47-25 Tennessee
  10. Dolphins v Chargers | Sim: 15-10 San Diego | Actual: 31-24 Miami
  11. 49ers v Cardinals | Sim: 27-13 Arizona | Actual: 23-20 Arizona
  12. Cowboys v Steelers | Sim: 35-27 Pittsburgh | Actual: 35-30 Dallas
  13. Seahawks v Patriots | Sim: 21-18 Seattle | Actual: 31-24 Seattle
  14. Bengals v Giants | Sim: 24-17 Cincinnati | Actual 21-20 New York

W: CLE, JAC, NO, LA, ATL, KC, TB, MIN, GB, SD, ARI, PIT, SEA, CIN

L: BAL, HOU, DEN, NYJ, PHI, CAR, CHI, WAS, TEN, MIA, SF, DAL, NE, NYG

Week 11 | 14 Games | 4 Byes

  1. Saints v Panthers | Sim: 28-24 New Orleans | Actual: 23-20 Carolina
  2. Steelers v Browns | Sim: 42-27 Pittsburgh | Actual: 24-9 Pittsburgh
  3. Ravens v Cowboys | Sim: 27-14 Dallas | Actual: 27-17 Dallas
  4. Jaguars v Lions | Sim: 27-17 Detroit | Actual: 26-19 Detroit
  5. Titans v Colts | Sim: 28-27 Tennessee | Actual: 24-17 Indianapolis
  6. Bills v Bengals | Sim: 23-17 Buffalo | Actual: 16-12 Buffalo
  7. Buccaneers v Chiefs | Sim: 24-14 Kansas City | Actual: 19-17 Buccaneers
  8. Bears v Giants | Sim: 17-13 Chicago | Actual: 22-16 New York
  9. Cardinals v Vikings | Sim: 34-28 Minnesota | Actual: 30-24 Minnesota
  10. Dolphins v Rams | Sim: 20-10 Miami | Actual: 14-10 Miami
  11. Patriots v 49ers | Sim: 38-17 New England | Actual: 30-17 New England
  12. Eagles v Seahawks | Sim: 21-17 Philadelphia | Actual: 26-15 Seattle
  13. Packers v Redskins | Sim: 27-21 Washington | Actual: 42-24 Washington
  14. Texans v Raiders | Sim: 28-18 Oakland | Actual: 27-20 Oakland

W: NO, PIT, DAL, DET, TEN, BUF, KC, CHI, MIN, MIA, NE, PHI, WAS, OAK

L: CAR, CLE, BAL, JAC, IND, CIN, TB, NYG, ARI, LA, SF, SEA, GB, HOU

Week 12 | 16 Games | 0 Byes

  1. Vikings v Lions | Sim: 31-24 Detroit | Actual: 16-13 Detroit
  2. Redskins v Cowboys | Sim: 24-21 Dallas | Actual: 31-26 Dallas
  3. Steelers v Colts | Sim: 30-23 Indianapolis | Actual: 28-7 Pittsburgh
  4. Bengals v Ravens | Sim: 21-12 Baltimore | Actual: 19-14 Baltimore
  5. Rams v Saints | Sim: 45-21 New Orleans | Actual: 49-21 New Orleans
  6. Cardinals v Falcons | Sim: 24-14 Arizona | Actual: 38-19 Atlanta
  7. 49ers v Dolphins | Sim: 27-23 San Fransisco | Actual: 31-24 Miami
  8. Jaguars v Bills | Sim: 19-10 Buffalo | Actual: 28-21 Buffalo
  9. Titans v Bears | Sim: 24-23 Chicago | Actual: 27-21 Tennessee
  10. Giants v Browns | Sim: 30-17 New York | Actual: 27-13 New York
  11. Chargers v Texans | Sim: 27-20 San Diego | Actual: 21-13 San Diego
  12. Seahawks v Buccaneers | Sim: 37-26 Seattle | Actual: 14-5 Tampa Bay
  13. Patriots v Jets | Sim: 42-30 New England | Actual: 22-17 New England
  14. Panthers v Raiders | Sim: 25-17 Carolina | Actual: 35-32 Oakland
  15. Chiefs v Broncos | Sim: 24-20 Kansas City | Actual: 30-27 OT Kansas City
  16. Packers v Eagles | Sim:35-24 Green Bay | Actual: 27-13 Green Bay

W: DET, DAL, IND, BAL, NO, ARI, SF, BUF, CHI, NYG, SD, SEA, NE, CAR, KC, GB

L: MIN, WAS, PIT, CIN, LA, ATL, MIA, JAC, TEN, CLE, HOU, TB, NYJ, OAK, DEN, PHI

Week 13 | 15 Games | 2 Byes

  1. Cowboys v Vikings | Sim: 27-23 Dallas | Actual: 17-15 Dallas
  2. Chiefs v Falcons | Sim: 35-24 Atlanta | Actual: 29-28 Kansas City
  3. Lions v Saints | Sim: 42-27 New Orleans | Actual: 28-13 Detroit
  4. Rams v Patriots | Sim: 56-21 New England | Actual: 26-10 New England
  5. Broncos v Jaguars | Sim: 21-20 Denver | Actual: 20-10 Denver
  6. Texans v Packers | Sim: 32-24 Green Bay | Actual: 21-13 Green Bay
  7. Eagles v Bengals | Sim: 33-33 OT Tie | Actual: 32-14 Cincinnati
  8. Dolphins v Ravens | Sim: 28-21 Baltimore | Actual: 38-6 Baltimore
  9. 49ers v Bears | Sim: 17-12 San Fransisco | Actual: 26-6 Chicago
  10. Bills v Raiders | Sim: 27-23 Buffalo | Actual: 38-24 Oakland
  11. Giants v Steelers | Sim: 38-28 Pittsburgh | Actual: 24-14 Pittsburgh
  12. Redskins v Cardinals | Sim: 30-17 Arizona | Actual: 31-23 Arizona
  13. Buccaneers v Chargers | Sim: 27-21 San Diego | Actual: 28-21 Tampa Bay
  14. Panthers v Seahawks | Sim: 28-24 Seattle | Actual: 40-7 Seattle
  15. Colts v Jets | Sim: 24-13 Indianapolis | Actual: 41-10 Indianapolis

W: DAL, ATL, NO, NE, DEN, GB, BAL, SF, BUF, PIT, ARI, SD, SEA, IND

L: MIN, KC, DET, LA, JAC, HOU, MIA, CHI, OAK, NYG, WAS, TB, CAR, NYJ

T: PHI, CIN

Week 14 | 16 Games | 0 Byes

  1. Raiders v Chiefs | Sim: 27-23 Oakland | Actual: TBD
  2. Steelers v Bills | Sim: 21-18 Buffalo | Actual: TBD
  3. Broncos v Titans | Sim: 34-28 Tennessee | Actual: TBD
  4. Redskins v Eagles | Sim: 21-10 Washington | Actual: TBD
  5. Cardinals v Dolphins | Sim: 30-17 Arizona | Actual: TBD
  6. Vikings v Jaguars | Sim: 24-15 Minnesota | Actual: TBD
  7. Texans v Colts | Sim: 21-21 OT Tie | Actual: TBD
  8. Chargers v Panthers | Sim: 27-21 Carolina | Actual: TBD
  9. Bengals v Browns | Sim: 31-17 Cincinnati | Actual: TBD
  10. Bears v Lions | Sim: 24-21 Chicago | Actual: TBD
  11. Jets v 49ers | Sim: 28-23 New York | Actual: TBD
  12. Saints v Buccaneers | Sim: 30-27 Tampa Bay | Actual: TBD
  13. Falcons v Rams | Sim: 28-10 Atlanta | Actual: TBD
  14. Seahawks v Packers | Sim: 34-26 Green Bay | Actual: TBD
  15. Cowboys v Giants | Sim: 24-20 New York | Actual: TBD
  16. Ravens v Patriots | Sim: 24-21 Baltimore | Actual: TBD

W: OAK, BUF, TEN, WAS, ARI, MIN, CAR, CIN, CHI, NYJ, TB, ATL, GB, NYG, BAL

L: KC, PIT, DEN, PHI, MIA, JAC, SD, CLE, DET, SF, NO, LA, SEA, DAL, NE

T: HOU, IND

Week 15 | 16 Games | 0 Byes

  1. Rams v Seahawks | Sim: 17-13 Los Angeles | Actual: TBD
  2. Dolphins v Jets | Sim: 33-21 Miami | Actual: TBD
  3. Titans v Chiefs | Sim: 28-20 Kansas City | Actual: TBD
  4. Steelers v Bengals | Sim: 27-17 Pittsburgh | Actual: TBD
  5. Lions v Giants | Sim: 18-10 Detroit | Actual: TBD
  6. Colts v Vikings | Sim: 24-17 Indianapolis | Actual: TBD
  7. Jaguars v Texans | Sim: 17-10 Houston | Actual: TBD
  8. Packers v Bears | Sim: 28-16 Green Bay | Actual: TBD
  9. Browns v Bills | Sim: 30-14 Buffalo | Actual: TBD
  10. Eagles v Ravens | Sim: 21-20 Philadelphia | Actual: TBD
  11. 49ers v Falcons | Sim: 28-24 San Fransisco | Actual: TBD
  12. Saints v Cardinals | Sim: 34-28 New Orleans | Actual: TBD
  13. Raiders v Chargers | Sim: 21-15 San Diego | Actual: TBD
  14. Patriots v Broncos | Sim: 27-20 New England | Actual: TBD
  15. Buccaneers v Cowboys | Sim: 28-17 Dallas | Actual: TBD
  16. Panthers v Redskins | Sim: 21-17 Washington | Actual: TBD

W: LA, MIA, KC, PIT, DET, IND, HOU, GB, BUF, PHI, SF, NO, SD, NE, DAL, WAS

L: SEA, NYJ, TEN, CIN, NYG, MIN, JAC, CHI, CLE, BAL, ATL, ARI, OAK, DEN, TB, CAR

Week 16 | 16 Games | 0 Byes

  1. Giants v Eagles | Sim: 27-23 New York | Actual: TBD
  2. Vikings v Packers | Sim: 28-27 Minnesota | Actual: TBD
  3. Titans v Jaguars | Sim: 27-20 Tennessee | Actual: TBD
  4. Jets v Patriots | Sim: 20-3 New England | Actual: TBD
  5. Buccaneers v Saints | Sim: 42-34 New Orleans | Actual: TBD
  6. Chargers v Browns | Sim: 27-13 San Diego | Actual: TBD
  7. Redskins v Bears | Sim: 28-17 Washington | Actual: TBD
  8. Falcons v Panthers | Sim: 28-24 Atlanta | Actual: TBD
  9. Dolphins v Bills | Sim: 30-24 Miami | Actual: TBD
  10. Colts v Raiders | Sim: 24-16 Indianapolis | Actual: TBD
  11. Cardinals v Seahawks | Sim: 27-21 Seattle | Actual: TBD
  12. 49ers v Rams | Sim: 20-17 Los Angeles | Actual: TBD
  13. Bengals v Texans | Sim: 34-24 Cincinnati | Actual: TBD
  14. Ravens v Steelers | Sim: 28-21 Pittsburgh | Actual: TBD
  15. Broncos v Chiefs | Sim: 28-27 Denver | Actual: TBD
  16. Lions v Cowboys | Sim: 30-24 Dallas | Actual: TBD

W: NYG, MIN, TEN, NE, NO, SD, WAS, ATL, MIA, IND, SEA, LA, CIN, PIT, DEN, DAL

L: PHI, GB, JAC, NYJ, TB, CLE, CHI, CAR, BUF, OAK, ARI, SF, HOU, BAL, KC, DET

Week 17 | 16 Games | 0 Byes

  1. Saints v Falcons | Sim: 24-21 Atlanta | Actual: TBD
  2. Ravens v Bengals | Sim: 35-20 Baltimore | Actual: TBD
  3. Giants v Redskins | Sim: 24-22 Washington | Actual: TBD
  4. Texans v Titans | Sim: 27-24 Tennessee | Actual: TBD
  5. Panthers v Buccaneers | Sim: 17-10 Carolina | Actual: TBD
  6. Packers v Lions | Sim: 31-26 Green Bay | Actual: TBD
  7. Jaguars v Colts | Sim: 20-10 Indianapolis | Actual: TBD
  8. Patriots v Dolphins | Sim: 35-21 New England | Actual: TBD
  9. Bears v Vikings | Sim: 28-17 Minnesota | Actual: TBD
  10. Bills v Jets | Sim: 30-27 New York | Actual: TBD
  11. Cowboys v Eagles | Sim: 27-20 Philadelphia | Actual: TBD
  12. Browns v Steelers | Sim: 28-10 Pittsburgh | Actual: TBD
  13. Cardinals v Rams | Sim: 21-20 Los Angeles | Actual: TBD
  14. Raiders v Broncos | Sim: 27-24 Denver | Actual: TBD
  15. Chiefs v Chargers | Sim: 28-13 Kansas City | Actual: TBD
  16. Seahawks v 49ers | Sim: 28-7 Seattle | Actual: TBD

W: ATL, BAL, WAS, TEN, CAR, GB, IND, NE, MIN, NYJ, PHI, PIT, LA, DEN, KC, SEA

L: NO, CIN, NYG, HOU, TB, DET, JAC, MIA, CHI, BUF, DAL, CLE, ARI, OAK, SD, SF

Final Records | Split By Division

AFCE- NE 12-4 (1)/ BUF 11-5 (5)/ MIA 7-9 / NYJ 4-12

AFCN- PIT 12-4 (2)/ CIN 8-7-1 (6)/ BAL 6-10 / CLE 3-13

AFCS- TEN 9-7 (4)/ IND 7-8-1 / HOU 3-12-1 / JAC 3-13

AFCW- KC 11-5 (3) / DEN 8-8 / OAK 8-8 / SD 7-8-1

NFCE- DAL 11-5 (3)/ WAS 10-6 (6)/ PHI 8-7-1 / NYG 6-10

NFCN- GB 12-4 (1)/ MIN 10-6 (5)/ DET 7-8-1 / CHI 6-10

NFCS- NO 11-4-1 (2)/ ATL 10-6 / CAR 7-9 / TB 3-13

NFCW- SEA 10-6 (4)/ ARI 9-7 / LA 7-8-1 / SF 3-13

Playoff Picture | Round By Round

WC: KC v CIN | Sim: 28-23 KC

WC: TEN v BUF | Sim: 21-17 BUF

WC:DAL v WAS | Sim: 24-20 DAL

WC: SEA v MIN | Sim: 27-13 SEA

DIV: NE v CIN | Sim: 28-20 NE

DIV: PIT v BUF | Sim: 24-20 BUF

DIV: GB v SEA | Sim: 34-27 SEA

DIV: NO v DAL | Sim: 30-27 DAL

CONF: NE v BUF | Sim: 35-21 NE

CONF: DAL v SEA | Sim: 28-24 SEA

SB51: NE v SEA | Sim: 27-24 SEA

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Ice In My Veins: The X-Files Retrospective Pt. 1/XX

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If you know me at all, then you’ll know that enjoy a wide variety of television shows- virtually any genre is game if it features an interesting story, memorable characters, and overall quirkiness. I enjoy everything from Quantum Leap to Firefly, but the object of my affection for the purpose of this post is The X-Files which debuted in 1993 and has never quite left the scene, fading in and out of existence all the way up until this year.

It is my goal to provide a random blog post here and there with the intent of tackling one of my favorite episodes from each season of the show. I predominately liked the first few seasons, however that’s not to say there aren’t memorable episodes among the latter years as well. The specific episode in question for today’s retrospective look is the eighth episode of the first season, entitled “Ice.” Here’s a little backstory for it for those of you who haven’t seen the show, who have but don’t remember, or for those of you who may be interested. WARNING: Spoilers abound! I won’t ruin every minute detail, but I may come pretty close.

Chris Carpenter- cited with creating the series as we know it and also with the writing and filming of the majority of its episodes, essentially states that this episode was heavily influenced by films such as “The Thing” and novellas such as John W. Campbell’s “Who Goes There?” As with the majority of The X-Files’ episodes, which deal with extraterrestrial or paranormal activity, this episode falls into the former category and deals with a team of deceased scientists inside an arctic research facility. Just where do everyone’s favorite FBI detective duo come in? Sent to investigate the mysterious radio silence of the base, Mulder and Scully (accompanied by several scientists and their pilot) encounter a strange alien organism that has lain dormant in the ice for thousands of years.

For a show rooted in genres and tropes such as the supernatural, horror, modern myths, and conspiracy theories, this particular episode got my blood pumping and my mind thinking. Between the thought of what an organism such as the parasitic worm they encountered could do should it break quarantine, the creeping sensation that anyone in the group could be infected and masquerading as sane, and the moral choices and dilemmas between how best to approach the situation, it is a tense thriller of a forty-five minute episode.

The most obvious inspiration for the episode is John Carpenter’s 1982 rendition of “The Thing” which has since been remade by other cinematic directors to varying success. The X-Files’ take on “the thing” is intriguing in its own narrative and nail-biting, chilling, and overall sensational in my own opinion. It quickly establishes a narrative for the one-off story of the episode and introduces the key characters- three scientists of varying backgrounds such as geology and biology, Mulder and Scully who hardly need an introduction by this point, and the maverick plane pilot crazy enough to fly them to the remote arctic ice core drilling facility.

Sticking to the vein of tense alien horror flicks, the episode goes by but not without killing off a few of its cast for added effect. It helps that the set is one confined location and that the arctic weather outside and the death of pilot “Bear” effectively traps the crew in with the parasite. Knowing next to nothing about the worm-like creature, how it is transferred from hosts, and more importantly how to eradicate its presence in their body, this serves as a tense experience overall. Perhaps the greatest moments of all are when each member of the crew showcases little ticks as lack of sleep and exhaustion get to them, causing viewers to question who, if any of them, may be infected with the parasitic life form.

This culminates into a wonderful scene where Mulder puts Scully’s trust to the test and they square off with guns held on each other, leading the former to be briefly imprisoned on suspicion of infection while the others search for a cure. Later on there is another brilliant scene between them that ratchets up the tension even further when Doctors Hodge and DaSilva ambush Mulder and Scully, seeking to introduce the alien life form into Mulder’s bloodstream in hopes of combating the one they think is already inside. I won’t completely spoil the twist, but needless to say Mulder isn’t the one who is infected and things play out quite differently than expected, blood-curdling screams and all.

As with the best moments of the show, “Ice” embraces the cliches of horror thrillers and tense extraterrestrial encounters, making for an interesting homage and an intriguingly moral episode. To top matters off, when Mulder recommends returning to the base in order to more properly investigate the alien life form found there, he is told that the army has destroyed all trace evidence. As will be a continuing theme for the show, there’s something potentially much larger at stake and in play. Conspiracy theorists abound!

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8 Teams that are More Dangerous than their Records Show

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This little post is entirely too interesting to me in concept and in actualization. There are several teams in the NFL that currently may or may not make the playoffs, but that could also spell trouble for other playoff hopefuls. Their records may not be the greatest, but I aim to detail one powerful team per division and what makes them more dangerous if taken for granted due to their less than stellar records. I will also mention a few other teams that are similarly dangerous but don’t quite shape up to be the deadliest underrated team in their division if need be.

AFCE: Buffalo Bills- In a division where you must compete with the New England Patriots twice a year at a minimum it’s probably hard to keep from feeling demoralized. As a matter of fact, Buffalo actually ran away with a surprise shutout while Tom Brady was out in the two teams’ first matchup. Tyrod Tayor is an explosive player some days and a detriment to the team others, but he’s the best fit for Buffalo at QB right now. LeSean McCoy is an amazing halfback and explosive out of the backfield, often making larger gains by pushing the envelope. The defensive unit has suffered a lot of injuries this year, as has the offense, however they’re still a formidable unit. Sammy Watkins and several Bills receivers have put up big numbers in the past but they’ve faced their own injuries and issues. As it is right now, the Patriots and Bills have both put up 37 touchdowns on the year and have played similarly at home. The difference has been their road success and divisional wins- the Pats are 6-0 and 3-1 whereas the Bills are 3-4 and 1-3.

AFCN: Baltimore Ravens- The Ravens and Steelers are the two teams most primed for a playoff spot in the North this year, that much isn’t up for debate. The real difference maker here is how they fare down this final stretch. True, Baltimore suffers more offensively whereas Pittsburgh has more issues on the defensive side of the ball, however records notwithstanding the Ravens have a slight statistical advantage currently. They’re 5-2 at home and 2-3 on the road which is comparable to Pitt’s 4-2 and 3-3 respectively. The difference comes when you look at divisional and conference games, where Baltimore is 4-0 and 7-2 compared to Pitt’s 2-1 and 5-3. Both the Steelers and Ravens are on a multiple game winning streak although the Ravens are 0-3 out of conference compared to Pittsburgh’s even 2-2 standing. I have no doubt that it’ll come down to the wire, but the ravens have already played most of their divisional games and have less of a chance of falling down here late.

Honorable Mention- Pittsburgh Steelers

AFCS: Indianapolis Colts- The Colts have started to recover some of the ground they’ve lost this year but they’re still stuck in a three-way tie for divisional dominance between themselves, the Titans, and the Texans. The Titans and Colts are both undoubtedly stronger teams than the current Texans however I feel the Colts have the greatest chance coming into the fold right now in time for the playoffs. Houston’s point differential is terrible whereas both the Colts and Titans have a positive spread at the least. The Colts and Titans are virtually comparable in their overall stats- both are 3-3 at home and 3-3 away, 2-2 and 1-3 in the division respectively, 4-5 and 3-5 in conference versus 2-1 and 3-1 out of conference respectively. The difference here is my confidence in Andrew Luck versus Marcus Mariota. Both are amazing and hitting their seasonal strides right now, however Luck has the better weapons right now and the veteran experience necessary to come in clutch.

Honorable Mention- Tennessee Titans

AFCW: San Diego Chargers- The AFC West is almost a division of four powerhouses this season and the top three teams could very well all find their way to the playoffs if it was purely a record driven affair and we could just exempt the AFC South from contention after their dismal year. The Chargers are that team that loses to similarly ranked teams one week due to injuries or mistakes and then bounces back the next week to beat teams like the Chiefs, Raiders, Broncos, or Falcons who are doing significantly better overall. They’re trending downward as of right now and they’ve lost a few games that they blew leads in, but despite probably being out of playoff contention you shouldn’t discount these guys considering they could very easily wreck other teams’ playoff aspirations at the least.

NFCE: Washington Redskins- In a division dominated this year by the Cowboys and with a second place so far securely held by the Giants, where does this leave the Redskins and Eagles? The Eagles and Carson Wentz have been trending downward all season after a hot start, but it’s the Redskins who’ve managed to find themselves again in the second half similar to last year’s wildcard run. Kirk Cousins is a beast and so are some of his offensive tools like Jackson and Reed. Although the Redskins have dropped some games lately and are looking at a best possible record of 10-5-1 right now, making the playoffs is far from out of the question. They’ve played well at home however their divisional and conference play has been 50/50 all year and that is the most troubling aspect seeing as those are the kinds of games they have left as well. Each team in the East is on a losing streak besides the Cowboys, but the Skins could be the most likely to turn it around since the Giants are playing Dallas for their upcoming game and the Eagles are just about too far gone.

NFCN: Green Bay Packers- It’s the Packers and not the Vikings that are the most deadly contender in the North save for the Detroit Lions who have been cardiac kings lately. The Bears are finally showing signs of life but they are near total elimination. The Vikings have the same record as the Packers and a better net point differential but they’ve slowed down considerably and only won a single game since their 5-0 start. The Lions are the surprising leader for the time being and have Matthew Stafford to thank for not effectively being 3-9 like the Bears. The Packers’ road losses and non-conference struggles have hurt them, but they’re not only on a winning streak, they also have the current hottest offense in the division and may be rekindling the run game as well. I don’t know if they can catch up to Stafford’s Lions should that team continue to play well, but Aaron Rodgers has been just as prominent and clutch within his own offense and may have finally compelled them to put in the work to have a semi-successful season again.

NFCS: Tampa Bay Buccaneers- In case you hadn’t looked in a while, the Buccaneers are now tied record wise with the Atlanta Falcons in the South. And they’ve won a few key matchups and surprising victories that have helped to lead them to a four game winning streak while every other team in the division has lost at least one game in the past few weeks. The New Orleans Saints have been my season long pick for close second in the South, but now I’m starting to lean towards the Bucs because they’re on a hot streak and could follow it all the way to a wildcard slot- which they’re currently on track to receive in fact. The Saints are still a dangerous team and the Panthers could always spoil someone else’s chances of a playoff berth, but the Bucs have a shot at even dislodging the Falcons or at least lowering their seeding for the NFC side of the bracket.In a weird turn of events, the Buccaneers are a poor 2-4 at home this season but have gone 5-1 on the road which is equally if not more important.

Honorable Mention- New Orleans Saints

NFCW: Arizona Cardinals- Forget the Rams and their solid defense, forget the 49ers entirely because they’ve apparently forgotten how to play ball- the Cardinals are unsurprisingly the number two and the underrated team in the West. They’ve had as rough a season as the Panthers this year although technically they’ve been playing in a slightly easier division albeit with the Seahawks as their main competitor. When they squared off against Seattle, neither team could gain the upper hand and it went to a tie. Their main struggle has been showcased in their inability to win on the road, where they have gone a dismal 1-4 as well as out of conference where they are 1-2. 5-6-1 won’t keep them out of the playoffs per se, especially considering the relatively weak wildcard contenders in terms of records in the NFC. But their best possible outcome is 9-6-1 and Carson Palmer could continue to use his return to form like he has the past few weeks if they want to have that shot.

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Things Dontnod’s ‘Vampyr’ Should Address

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Dontnod Entertainment is a very interesting game development studio. They have been the creators of some mesmerizing projects that have become in many ways cults classics, as they have been flawed yet intriguing concepts. They’ve crafted the third-person action/adventure title Remember Me, which if memory serves correctly I reviewed and gave an 8.0 despite its flawed premise. They’ve also created the episodic tale behind Life Is Strange which has received critical acclaim for the most part. While they seem to have an affinity for time-based gimmicks and mechanics, their next title seeks to venture to a completely different genre- that of an action role-playing adventure set in early 20th century England.

I’ve been a fan of both of their previous projects despite their limitations and some polarization due to their inherent flaws. However, Vampyr strikes me as a truly intriguing new idea and I hope it can deliver. There are undoubtedly some pitfalls to avoid along the way and I could very easily see this particular game being either their worst yet or falling into some of the same issues they’ve engaged before, however I’d also like to remain optimistic about its chances. As a history buff of sorts, the premise for the narrative alone is intriguing because it is set during the early 20th century in a world ravaged by influenza and strife. The fact that your character is a doctor and vampire truly should make for some memorable morality checks along the way.

Based on the gameplay that I’ve been able to witness thus far, I can already see some of the same elements that plagued Remember Me’s gameplay. Despite Vampyr being less action-oriented than Remember Me’s brawling combat was, the combat itself still looks stiff and even boring at times. Admittedly, it has a way to go until completion, however I hope they can iron these kinks out. Another area of concern is the basic animation of characters. While the voice work that I’ve heard thus far has seemed okay and passable, I’ve noticed time and time again that speech does not line up whatsoever with characters’ mouths and that their movements often come off as jerky and lurching. These two issues alone account for a huge amount of ground in games as animation and fluidity of control are key.

It would be rude of me not to offer some praise as well however, and that is exactly what I’m about to do now. So far I am liking the overall graphical and environmental design of the game. These were also strengths I witnessed in their initial project (Remember Me), as they know how to create both a unique and beautiful look. In this case, it’s a dark and dreary European landscape marred by sickness and chaos. While many areas don’t feature much of a color palette save for shades of brown, grey, black, and darker elements, it works for what the game seeks to convey- a vampire adventure story. While I’ve been able to glean small bits of backstory and information concerning the overarching narrative from a variety of sources, there isn’t much to be known about the story itself quite yet. Therefore, I truly hope Dontnod can deliver both an interesting and meaningful plot and move more towards a better crafted story than their initial game debuted.

As long as they can somehow find ways to not get bogged down in the technical details and to keep the adventure and story fresh and interesting, I could see Vampyr being not only a success but an enjoyable experience. Few can say that about the Spanish flu, in my experience. It has its obvious issues already and the studio has had hit or miss success before with how their games have been received, however I think they’ve had some time to build upon their strengths and I believe this game could be a good one if they continue to work hard and build upon what they’ve already got nailed down. As it stands right now, Vampyr should at least be a middling experience and has no excuse to fail completely unless it does so due to the sheer boredom of combat, tedious storytelling, or bad animation.

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Final Fantasy XV Review

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At first I ignorantly told myself that I would not do a review for Final Fantasy XV because it was simply too big of a game and by the time I’d probably seen enough, my review would be all but obsolete and unnecessary. Well, it turns out I’m a fool for a multitude of reasons and I am in fact here to deliver my verdict concerning the game. This is the first of two long-term projects that has reached completion in this November-December time this year, the second of which would be the eleven year journey that has been The Last Guardian. For a ten year old game, Final Fantasy XV certainly took note of the things Duke Nukem Forever utterly failed to do and sidestepped those issues swiftly. That’s not to say it doesn’t sport its own brand of incompetence at times.

In many ways, Final Fantasy XV playfully reminded me of other open world gems such as the first Xenoblade Chronicles title and Red Dead Redemption. Now, I know these are two entirely different games that share little save for an open format and plenty of side objectives, but it’ll maybe become a tad more apparent as to why I draw these comparisons later on. The trio of Final Fantasy XIII games (XIII, XIII-2, and Lightning Returns) each sought to change the malleable Final Fantasy formula in their own ways, however XV does so in an entirely new way and takes things from a different perspective as well. For such a large and expansive world, it truly is the little things that tend to set Final Fantasy XV apart, save for some of the more dynamic changes such as combat.

The narrative itself is as convoluted as the rest of the series can sometimes get as it stretches across multiple mediums and carries on after literal decades of real-life time. That’s not to say its themes fall flat or that it is terrible, merely that without consulting a fanpage or wiki, you are likely best going into the game as a blank slate and not thinking too much about that good old one-winged Sephiroth guy or anyone named after white fluffy sky pillows wielding larger than realistic swords. Like most of the other Final Fantasy titles, XV carries with it its own lore and themes and for the most part it can essentially be boiled down to a kingdom at the brink of war and friendship, brotherhood, and camaraderie.

Perhaps one of the realest sensations the game has to offer is the thoroughly tangible result of your interactions with your three brothers in arms and party members. Whereas you may encounter guest characters that fight by your side or otherwise advance the story along certain paths, the bulk of your adventure is spent within the confines of four named characters- Noctis, Ignis, Gladiolis, and Prompto. You’re essentially tasked with embarking upon the roadtrip of a lifetime, for lack of a better explanation and due to the fact you start off with a car. Yes, the car you’ve probably seen on all that promotional stuff. By the end of your journey though, let’s just say it gets a heavy duty upgrade and love letter from the auto shop. The brotherhood and camaraderie doesn’t start and stop with combat and side quests though- it extends to every aspect of your adventure as it permeates even the dullest of campfires and areas explored and camped in. No detour is too small, no task too much.

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The most important thing you should before anything else, if you’ve not already discovered it for yourself, is that Final Fantasy XV should not be constrained or defined by series traditions. It may unmistakably be a Final Fantasy title, but by the same token it is a new breed of beast. In many ways its faults and strengths play off of the same notes because travel and atmosphere are definite strengths whereas familiarity to borderline boredom and cheap sameness, lengthy ‘garbage time’ and unavoidable detours, and characteristic similarities detract from the overall experience.

For my mention of the impressively expansive world as well as its equally expansive lore, the one highlight of the complex story is that it keeps things simple and allows players to choose how much they would like to read into it. You’re perfect able and welcome to traipse through with the barest of details and to ignore or glean as much lore as you’d like. It’s there for you to find and the world is brimming with alternatives to main questlines if you’d like to go out and explore it, but by the same token this can sometimes seem a weighty task and nigh impossible due to travel time that is severely frustrating in the opening hours as you’re constantly hindered by an on-rails driving experience. Don’t try to travel from one edge of the world to the other unless you’d like to sit still for entirely too long and arrive somewhere between the doldrums and REM sleep.

I was immensely pleased that, although the narrative has other focuses that are definitely there, this is a story particularly focused on its main protagonists and not so much on the battles or politics of the land. While there are plenty of important moments and events, the time spent with your comrades and friends is balanced as equally if not more important and definitely has a positive impact throughout. For the most part, this is what the entirety of the Final Fantasy XIII timeline lacked- a sense of unity and camaraderie that felt earnest and believable as well as downright enviable. Character development is key in any role-playing adventure and it takes center stage as one of the most brilliant moves in gameplay/narrative design for Final Fantasy XV.

Without ruining their own redeemable and often laudable qualities for those of you who have yet to play the game, each of the four main party members definitely establishes their own distinctive attitude despite them all resembling some anime meets boyband crew. Don’t let their familiar garb and gear fool you- each of the four is their own individual character and story, and it’s entirely up to you to pursue that to your own ends and cultivate whatever relationships you can between the band for the duration of your adventures. Perhaps one of the most interesting elements of all is the natural melding of gameplay and narrative characteristics as each character has their own special “hobby” of sorts that ties into side content such as photography, cooking, and other small yet aesthetically pleasing values and attributive qualities.

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For all the expansiveness of the world, there is sometimes the feeling that it is almost TOO big, which seems a bit ridiculous as far as complaints go, but is made true do to the lack of objectives or opportunities in the most barren of regions. Arguably, these regions are veritable deserts, so who would expect much in the way of enemy encounters or loot there anyway right? Still, it is made all the more frustrating by the fact that these regions often take the most time to traverse, even by vehicle. Trekking around on foot for any extreme length of time is all but completely out of the question as the world is truly gigantic. There are meaningful and interesting side missions to be found quite literally everywhere, loot and goodies in pretty much every nook and cranny, plenty of upgrades and unlockables, and side adventures that culminate in dungeon diving that is entirely missable if you hardly dare to adventure outside of the main quest series.

Combat is one of the biggest and most innovative changes for the series and in my mind one that has been made for the better, streamlining encounters into a rapid response of buttons and role-playing elements that in some ways remind me of Lost Odyssey’s (Mist Walker) ring combat and flourishes. Speed is valued over brute strength and strategy wins the day. You are able to cue up some teamwork-imbued linked attacks almost akin to Marvel Ultimate Alliance’s combo attacks that utilize the powers of two heroes as well. Stringing together successful hits is as much about countering and evasive maneuvers in the vein of the Batman Arkham titles as it is to outright attacking your foes. To make matters even better, each encounter is fairly balanced to your level and style of play with the exception of some of the more difficult boss fights of course.

Some other miscellaneous notes about the game are going to follow. Square very much took the size of the world into mind when crafting some of the enemy encounters and even when creating the special “summons” that each character can utilize here and there during combat once meeting the standard requirements and defending themselves well enough in combat. The world is expansive and as such is populated by particularly nasty and hulking behemoths in certain regions, so powerful and so large that it often takes literal hours of game time during events to defeat them, meaning you may have to come back later for encounters. Surprisingly, this isn’t as horrible an idea as it sounds because you’re not necessarily forced to fight that single battle for the entire time in one sitting anyway. Summons allow you to essentially square off with these larger than life foes in your own monstrous showdown as well, many of which can be seen in action in the gameplay videos available online.

While combat works well, stealth oriented elements fall completely flat in the game and this is put woefully on display towards the end when you are tasked with infiltrating particular areas of the world in the final few chapters of your adventure. The main story and gameplay meld at this point and your experience will be limited until after its completion which allows you back out into the world in its entirety- a strange decision but one that does not terribly affect or impact the game or gameplay otherwise. Enhancements and upgrades will stem from both the main and side paths, meaning there is a healthy balance to be found on and off the beaten path throughout. All in all, the experience is an interesting and worthwhile one even with its mistakes and few artistic missteps along the way.

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Concept: Create a hybridization of Final Fantasy elements both old and new without it feeling like a cheap adventure title with the name plastered on but not really holding onto elements dear to the series.

Graphics: The graphics are for the most part spectacular and the animations are impressive and detailed. Camera angles are odd at times especially when paused mid-combat, however the gameplay never suffers as a result.

Sound: The voice acting is superb and there is an available collection of classic melodies from Final Fantasies both old and new. Some of the Final Fantasy XV pieces themselves are less stellar than others, however the soundtrack is passable.

Playability: The locomotion in terms of vehicles is one of the worst elements of the game as it is such an integral part of gameplay at times. However, combat and overall control of the game handles well once you overcome a slight skill gap.

Entertainment: The world and players won’t lack for activities both main and side content related to dive into. While the experience takes a hit in its later narrative exploits and also in its ability to traverse the expansive world, the overall experience is an enjoyable and worthwhile one.

Replay Value: High.

Overall Score: 8.0

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The Best Deals With Gold, Week of 05DEC

[As Originally Read on GIO.]

After taking a brief break last week to write about some other topics as opposed to my traditional weekly deals, I’ve returned to give you the lowdown on some Xbox 360 and Xbox One steals. For the most part, if you missed my weekly blog post last week and think you may have missed a few deals, the majority of them are also up for grabs this week and in the future for the month.

Sleeping Dogs:Definitive Edition- FREE (Until 12/31/16)

I’m not sure what the words ‘definitive’ and ‘edition’ may mean to gamers anymore as we see so many special editions, limited editions, and deluxe editions of games nowadays. But let me tell you that this last gen remaster for current generation hardware is quite the steal. Not only is Sleeping Dogs somewhat of a cult classic open-world crime drama, but it is a wholeheartedly fun and enjoyable experience as well. It has its kinks but the overall gameplay and narrative is well worth the hassle. Plus, it’s free.

Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour- 30% OFF

Not to be confused with the woefully received Duke Nukem reboot/sequel of sorts from a few years back, this title features Duke at his…Dukiest? It’s a classic game with a semi-remastered style and taste but still holds up for the most part regardless. If you’re into that kind of thing, then the 30% tag may grab your attention as well as your wallet.

Atari Flashback Classics Volumes 1 & 2- $10 (With Gold)

Alright, so maybe you’re not a fan of a bunch of arcadey old games, but for some reason a lot of people who never ever played the good old Atari gems enjoy the aesthetic. There are some familiar names and some more obscure titles in these collections, however each goes for a decent $10 when considered the original asking price for each respectively is $20. If you don’t have gold membership, it’ll cost you about two dollars more. Retro isn’t always the rage but these collections are a decent glimpse at gaming’s past.

Gears of War 4 Standard/Ultimate Edition- 33% OFF (Until 12/31/16)

Gears of Wars 4’s standard edition alone ships with every Gears game from Judgment through 3 in addition to Gears of War 4. This is a steal even if you own some of the titles because you can simply download the ones you don’t have or not download any of them if you already own them all. It doesn’t add anything to the initial price and the bonus for newcomers to the series is you can buy five games for less than the price of one until the end of this month. I can’t emphasize what a quality purchase that would be. And if you want the Ultimate Edition, it’s 33% off the asking price as well which makes it about as much as the Standard is originally.

Upcoming Gems to be Aware of:

Burnout Paradise- FREE (12/16-12/31)

One of the best racing games ever created and one of the best games in the infamous Burnout series is coming to you free and backwards compatible for those of you who have gold membership. This is quite a steal as well. If you enjoy racing games or would like a taste of the series, I’d recommend it for sure.

Outlast- FREE (12/16-1/15)

In the next few weeks, the first Outlast game will be coming to gold members free of charge as well. You’ll have nearly a month to decide whether or not it’s worth your time but if you like horror games and aesthetic adventures, you should definitely give it a whirl. Free is free after all in this case.

I hope these little tidbits will continue to be helpful and I hope that my fellow console players will enjoy the shoutouts and heads up as well. Keep playing games and enjoying yourselves and don’t be afraid to voice opinions and comments below as well.

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Week Fourteen Rankings

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Another week draws to a close in the National Football League and so far the Dallas Cowboys are the only team to have clinched a guaranteed playoff berth thanks to a Washington Redskins loss on top of a Dallas win. As if that weren’t exciting enough, the Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots are both vying for the number one seed in the AFC. That’s something I’m not sure I ever thought I’d be writing, honestly not in this decade at least. Meanwhile the week also saw some blowouts and close victories and losses. Let’s get right down to business.

Winners:

  1. Dallas Cowboys- There’s so much to say about this team and yet at the same time I’m not entirely sure what else could be said about them that hasn’t already been. They’re far from guaranteed an overdue Super Bowl win, however the hype surrounding them is definitely justified this season. They’ve got rookie talent, star veterans, and an amazing offensive line. Look for them to continue to be a threat. They’re number one for a reason. +/- 11-1 *Playoffs
  2. New England Patriots- These guys have been the most consistent team in the league for nearly two decades by this point. The Brady era has been a magical time for New England and they’ve deserved all the success along the way, even if the road has been paved with scandal occasionally as well. I’m saddened to hear that Gronk’s year has ended for good and that the Madden Curse has struck yet again, but I know the team is in a solid place as well. The real question is who’s better, the Pats or that crew from Oakland? +/- 10-2
  3. Oakland Raiders- Things started off a little rough against a tough Bills team with something to prove on Sunday but the Raiders prevailed nonetheless and such has been the story all season. While they were behind well into the third quarter, they came back to win the game by double digits and showed that they can play just as well when it’s a catch-up situation and down to the wire. Derek Carr continues his career season and the Raiders look the best I’ve seen in…well pretty much ever. I’m really eager to see how these guys do once they make it into the playoffs. +/- 10-2
  4. Seattle Seahawks- As surprising as it may have been that the Seahawks dropped a game to the Buccaneers and were stifled on offense almost completely, it’s not surprising that they bounced back in time to trounce a team that hounded them throughout the 2015-2016 season and into the playoffs. In Richard Sherman’s own words, Carolina seems to have gotten the dose of karma they deserved as the Seahawks and Thomas Rawls went on to soundly beat them 40-7. +1 8-3-1
  5. Kansas City Chiefs- The Chiefs are back in the top five again after a truly spectacular performance in Atlanta against the Falcons. Eric Berry made his return home a tour de force and put several numbers on the board including a clutch pick-two that ended up putting the Chiefs back up over the Falcons and squashing Matt Ryan’s comeback attempt. Alex Smith played surprisingly well and exceeded expectations and the defense put on quite a show- and don’t forget Travis Kelce. +1 9-3
  6. Atlanta Falcons- Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Taylor Gabriel put on quite a show yet again Sunday and they weren’t the only guys playing well. The Falcons had some troubles, but in the end they lost a close one only because Eric Berry is a beast and can take away passes from pretty much anybody in this league. A two point conversion that could’ve put them up three on the Chiefs led to a pick-two return and sealed the deal. The playoff race has grown tighter in the NFC South but this team is still incredibly dangerous. -2 7-5
  7. Denver Broncos- The Broncos are pretty lucky this week that the teams below them didn’t do much to scamper up the ranks and surpass them. Paxton Lynch played well enough to fill in for an injured Trevor Siemian but I still can’t believe they let Blake Bortles and the Jaguars get away with the game they did. The final score ended up being 20-10 in favor of the Broncos, but it very well could’ve and should’ve been about double that amount for the Denver defense. +/- 8-4
  8. Detroit Lions- Detroit continues their move up the ranks after stagnating at the number ten spot for a little while. I came into the Detroit-New Orleans game under the influence that Drew Brees would be winning the QB matchup with Matt Stafford who has played excellently this year and boy was I wrong. Not only did Stafford’s team win and defense oftentimes annihilate Brees and take advantages of his reads, but Stafford and the Lions led from the get-go and it may have been the first game where they didn’t trail in the fourth quarter. Also, enter: Golden Tate. +2 8-4
  9. Washington Redskins- The Skins were just one of many teams in the general 10-20 ranked area that lost their game this week, however they came close and I think they deserve to keep their spot for now because it was an eight point game and they very nearly tied it with some fourth quarter magic on the behalf of Kirk Cousins, resident everyman. Arizona may not be headed to the playoffs but that’s not to say they aren’t a dangerous unit and they showed that by stopping the Skins and their impressive offense. +/- 6-5-1
  10. New York Giants- I kind of saw this one coming, especially considering the fact that the Giants have moved pretty slowly on offense this year and that the Steelers always seem to come up big when it counts. I didn’t however, expect it to be such a one-sided affair until pretty late in the second half when the Giants finally put points on the board at all. They were dominated in the first half even if the score didn’t entirely reflect it, and the beating continued in the second half which ultimately lead to them losing by double digits. -2 8-4

Fringe Groups:

  1. Baltimore Ravens- The Ravens really exploded in a good way this week and brought Miami’s hot streak to an abrupt and unceremonious halt to boot. They’re leapfrogging severa teams on this list because they may have finally realized their potential on both offense and defense, and heck even on special teams. They had a pretty fair day and dominated the Dolphins for the entirety of the one-sided match which certainly can’t hurt their confidence going into crunch time in the final quarter of the season while they’re neck in neck with Pittsburgh for division leadership as well. +5 7-5
  2. Minnesota Vikings- Man, what a close game. I’ll bet a lot of us were wondering if Minnesota was going to pull some semblance of their early season antics from out of the cobwebs and put the Cowboys to the test, but they never really managed to push them hard enough even though the final score may suggest otherwise. It was a pretty well-paced game and could’ve been the Vikings’ to keep if they’d ever really pressed their advantages. -1 6-6
  3. Pittsburgh Steelers- The Steelers definitely came to play and I think someone finally told them that they’re battling both themselves and the Ravens for dominance in their division which may or may not have lit a special kind of fire under their tails. They’re not only still neck in neck record wise with the Ravens, but both seek to essentially win out the rest of their schedule in order to secure definite playoff slots as well. It’s time to see if Big Ben’s still got the magic. +1 7-5
  4. Buffalo Bills- After being essentially neck in neck all through the third quarter with the Raiders, the Bills were subsequently held to zero points as the Raiders went on to score a clutch fifteen unanswered in the fourth quarter. I know that must be both frustrating and demoralizing for Rex Ryan’s team, especially considering they know how much talent and potential they have despite injury issues and some flaws on offense and defense. Shady consistently plays well when healthy and the team can hold their own against almost anybody, but sometimes even that’s not enough. Hopefully they can break out for an above .500 season this year. -1 6-6
  5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Don’t look now, but the Bucs are making their case for NFC South title holders. If the Falcons stumble again, it very well could be theirs to gain. The defense came up big when it came to shutting down Philip Rivers and his deep passes, picking him off on occasion and punishing him in the pocket as well. On an even more positive note, Winston’s Bucs have now won more games this year than they did throughout the entire last season. +2 7-5
  6. Miami Dolphins- Oh, you all almost had me convinced that you were for real. And while the Dolphins’ record remains largely intact despite playing in a close race for second in their division, they aren’t as great as it may suggest. The Ravens who are also currently 7-5 put them to utter shame and only gave up a measly 6 points in garbage time at the end of the game. The Fins might need to rethink their approach if they want to have a shot at keeping their current potential wildcard status and making it past the opening round of the playoffs, much less into the playoffs. -4 7-5
  7. Green Bay Packers- Is there a little spark of the old Aaron Rodgers magic shining through all that snow? The QB hasn’t been the main problem for Green Bay this year, although I wish the same could be said for their Sunday opponent. Brock Osweiler is definitely struggling and the weather isn’t his only issue. The Pack Attack finally got a semblance of a rushing attack going and there were some nice spirals and snow angels all around as well. +4 6-6
  8. New Orleans Saints- I’d drop the Saints a little lower if I could justify it, but sadly nobody else picked up enough of the slack to make it past them that hasn’t already surpassed this team. They’re now even further behind in their bid for NFC South supremacy although that could just as easily change. They tried to hang tough with Detroit and they got knocked down, picked off, and kicked around. Drew Brees didn’t have his best day, but then it wasn’t entirely his fault either. -3 5-7
  9. Indianapolis Colts- Sure, sure it was the New York Jets and it was Monday Night Football. But that doesn’t discount the fact that the Colts put up one of the highest scoring games of the week with one of the largest margins of victory we’ve seen all season to boot. They scored a whopping 40+ points on a Jets team that struggled to score a mere 10. It was Andrew Luck versus Andrew Luck and he couldn’t be held back. Let’s not forget Dwayne Allen’s three first half touchdowns either. +5 6-6
  10. Philadelphia Eagles- Not a good day to be an Eagles fan. They’ve had a tough schedule and tough year but this game should not have been so one-sided against them and they knew it from the moment it all went wrong. At one point Cincinnati held a 29-0 lead and the Eagles didn’t even manage to score until two late game touchdowns in the second half. This team continues to struggle with discipline and injuries and those two factors worked against them as the Bengals D shut them down over and over again. -2 5-7

Taking the L:

  1. Arizona Cardinals- Somehow, remarkably the Cardinals are still technically “in the game” even though I don’t foresee much of a playoff future in my crystal ball. Stranger things have happened, but rarely. They showed some signs of life, as did Carson Palmer who finally hit the 300 yards and 3 touchdowns mark in their resounding win over the Washington Redskins. Not only did they quell a potential wildcard contender’s jets for a little bit, but they got some morale back which is just as important. +4 5-6-1
  2. Houston Texans- They’re now on virtually the same level playing field as both the Titans and Colts, so honestly the AFC South is fair game for anybody that isn’t named Jacksonville. I would say all jokes aside, but then I wouldn’t be able to talk about the Texans’ level of play lately either. I don’t know who they had to pay off to get the initial record they did but they’re falling apart at the seams now. -2 6-6
  3. Tennessee Titans- Sure, these guys fell off the wagon a little bit this week and are moving down thanks to the almighty powers of the Bye-Week, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing and they’re not a bad team despite being in this lower tier. In fact, now that the playing field is even more level between their divisional competition, now’s their best chance yet to seal the deal and literally run over their enemies. I hope we get to see some more Marcus Mariota aerial action as well. -1 6-6
  4. Carolina Panthers- Golly, what a beating this team took. It almost reminded me of how one-sided the NFC Championship game was last season but it may have been even worse despite having a similar score. This is not the same team we saw last year and if that wasn’t apparent prior to their 40-7 trouncing at the hands of a vengeful Seattle, then I don’t know how it could be made any clearer. When the first play of the game is an unfortunate bobble and pick, you’re either unlucky or the Cleveland Browns. Either way, not good karma. -5 4-8
  5. Cincinnati Bengals- Finally, a heartbeat and a pulse again. AJ Green going down earlier couldn’t have been a good thing at all for this team but this victory is exactly what they needed even if the season is pretty much shot to pieces at this point. I was shocked at how one-sided the matchup was against Philly because if the Bungles can play that well, they should’ve been able to win several other games that they dropped. +1 4-7-1
  6. San Diego Chargers- One bad game won’t necessarily tank your season, but when you’re already on the verge of a tanked season and you’re fighting for ground in the most dominant of all AFC divisions, you’ve got little room to give up. Philip Rivers didn’t play his best or brightest and his mistakes may have contributed to Tampa Bay’s win as much as TB’s defense did. Rivers often carries his team and so once more, his off day was their off day too. -3 5-7
  7. Chicago Bears- Sorry Chicago, I know you all won by a nice 20 points and I really considered moving you up a spot for that, but there’s no way you’re a heartier team than the Chargers even though they were laid low this week. Kap got benched in favor of Blaine for whatever reason (he sucked too), so it’s no shock that the Bears destroyed the competition this time around. Let’s all hope we see more of that Minnesota/Chicago level action again too. +/- 3-9
  8. Jacksonville Jaguars- I’ll give the Jags this bump in part because they put up some semblance of a fight and in part because the Rams scored the same points but lost by a higher margin (slightly), the Jets were totally obliterated by the Colts, and the Jags deserve one final hurrah for the lost season. That’s basically all I’ve got to say for them at this rate. Blake Bortles is stinking it up and such potential in young players is being wasted as a result too. +2 2-10 *Eliminated
  9. Los Angeles Rams- Somehow Jeff Fisher is getting an extension despite losing more games than some coaches have ever even won or been around long enough to win. And unsurprisingly the Rams also made history by helping Tom Brady to achieve his 201st career win, surpassing Peyton Manning’s career 200 wins. Fun fact because the Pats deserve to be talked about more than the Rams do at the moment and probably always: Brady won 201 in 264 games and it took Manning 293 to hit 200. +/- 4-8
  10. New York Jets- I think I stumbled onto the set of Independence Day 3 because the level of utter destruction I saw out their Monday night could only have stemmed from an alien invasion force or Andrew Luck’s arm. Or perhaps Ryan Fitzpatrick’s darkest dreams… -2 3-9 *Eliminated

Losers’ Circle:

  1. San Fransisco 49ers- Seriously? +/- 1-11 *Eliminated
  2. Cleveland Browns- No. +/- 0-12 *Eliminated
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Prey for the Gods

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One of my most anticipated games of the near future is one that doesn’t even have a specific release date outside of 2017 or beyond. Prey for the Gods looks and feels like something along the lines of Shadow of the Colossus, but it also distinctively creates its own flavor outside of being an obvious homage. If you would like to view some of the amazing trailers and glean a few more details about the game, you can easily do so here. The project has already met its Kickstarter goal and has over 14,000 backers and $500,000 raised.

I think the thing that amazes me most is the fact that No Matter studio (the creators) consists of three guys living and breathing their dreams. It looks pretty impressive and definitely sounds ambitious as well. So the fact that a small team can put in such work not only shines a light on the hard work of independent developers but also on the continually disappearing line separating triple-A and independent titles and publishers/developers in recent years.

The game is being created in Unity 5 and showcases some of the amazing potential of the project. According to their Kickstarter and web pages it has been in development since 2014 and has been inspired in part by Shadow of the Colossus, Deus Ex, DayZ, and Bloodborne. This much is obvious in the concept of taking down and climbing upon hulking behemoths (SotC), inventory management and resource usage (Deus Ex/DayZ), and gigantic boss battles (Bloodborne). They’ve even speculated as to adding elements such as multiplayer and promise to add others such as dynamic snow terrain, weather, and day/night cycles.

The gameplay also promises to offer plenty of freedom in who you battle, when you choose to approach certain portions of the game, and how you go about it all. Looting will be an essential part of the game- from temples you discover to corpses of fallen heroes or containers with key elements inside. Perhaps one of the most intriguing aspects of the game is the simplistic narrative that reminds me a lot of SotC, as well as the freeform exploration of the open world and the survival aspects packed within that outside of the boss battles.

Some of the littler touches that sound incredibly promising include weapons that break a la Fallout or other RPGs, retrieving arrows that have been shot, and grappling directly onto most enemies (even flying creatures). The combined talent of the composers present within the game spans projects such as Gears of War 3, Rock Band 4, Gigantic, Zero Punctuation, Polygon, and The Escapist which is a healthy and diverse array. The combined studio talent itself spans work on projects such as Titan Quest, Dawn of War, and Rock Band among others.

Overall, this is just one of many new projects being developed by smaller studios that show incredible potential and will hopefully release in the future as well. It’s been my goal to cater to all genres and sub-genres of games and as such I dare not discriminate. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how the project goes and having seen the release or almost release (as we near that fateful day) of projects such as Final Fantasy XV and The Last Guardian this month, anything is possible. Hopefully I’ve piqued your interest and I plan on writing more about lesser known yet incredibly promising projects down the road as well.

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Gods and Monsters

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Today’s very early blog comes not so long after my last one, but concerns two games- one already released and recently updated and one that has yet to release, that are of great interest to me. One of those games, as you can see above, is the God of War sequel meets series reboot (in some selective ways anyway). The other title is none other than No Man’s Sky, the game with so much potential that received mixed reviews upon release and still puzzles players in many perplexing ways and also recently released the marginally better received ‘Foundation’ update.

First of all, I would like to talk about God of War (2017) which is among one of my most anticipated titles for the near future and already looking truly spectacular. If you would like to avoid spoilers, I recommend moving on from here to something unrelated. From what we’ve seen thus far, the game has a setting rooted in Norse mythology which is a lot different than the Greek pantheon we saw throughout the original series. While it has so far been confirmed not to be a reboot, there are many elements that are in some ways rebooting and evolving with the series and its new direction.

Kratos’ signature chained blades have been removed (narratively due to God of War III) and replaced with a magical axe which is also more fitting for a Norse-themed character. Plenty more has been changed besides simple aesthetics though, as Kratos has a son and the story itself is more deeply rooted in humanity rather than hatred for the moment. Kratos knows he has done wrong and is doing his best to atone for it in many ways, even if that ultimately will probably lead him to slaughter yet another pantheon of gods and monsters along the way. Combat has evolved realistically but also seems to retain some of the same elements from previous games. Everything we’ve seen up through Ascension seems to return with added capabilities such as Kratos’ son’s ability to aid him from afar with arrows and other light attacks.

The reason I stated earlier that the game isn’t a reboot in the traditional sense despite rebooting both the setting and a lot of the narrative in terms of what direction to go is due to the fact that it takes place after the conclusion of God of War’s Olympus and Greek narrative. This all takes place within the same universe albeit one where Kratos has now deigned to reside in a Nordic setting as opposed to a Greek one. It seems to be more focused on the bond between father and son as well as atonement for past crimes and the regaining of his own humanity, more for his son than for himself. Another note of interest is that it also seems to offer more of a surviving day to day dynamic as he and his son are hunters and gatherers, very much living off of the unforgiving land and battling creatures they encounter along the way.

I’m particularly excited, not just from a story or gameplay standpoint but from a talent standpoint with the game, as the newest voice actor for Kratos is none other than Star Gate SG-1 alum Teal’c (Christopher Judge, mind you). The soundtrack also shows immense promise as it has been worked on and composed by the talent behind The Walking Dead and Battlestar Galactica. In terms of other miscellaneous details and news about the gamer thus far, it is looking incredibly detailed graphically and the world seems to be a lot wider in expanse even though it has already been established that it will be a linear and not entirely open experience as with the previous titles.

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And now for my second and final act. No Man’s Sky has received mixed criticism to say the least. Hello Games should be lauded and commended for their incredible efforts with a small cast of developers, however the finished product is arguably also not everything they promised which shouldn’t come as too much of a shock but is still a little bit of a disappointment. It was definitely one of the most hyped up games of the year and of all-time in some respects and while it hits the majority of the mark sometimes it still feels like a directionless and purposeless romp through a boring galaxy mostly devoid of life.

I would like to say that for what it initially offers and what it offers now, I have been mostly a fan and less of a critic of the game. I enjoy exploration and deep thought at times more so than combat and action in games. It is the thrill of adventure that calls to me most and No Man’s Sky definitely does give a taste of that. I think procedurally generated worlds are a thing of the future and something that I’ve enjoyed immensely already through a few past experiences. In fact, games with the premise set to release in the future such as Capy’s Below and Double Fine’s Massive Chalice which has already released, have been my favorites.

No Man’s Sky recently released an update that essentially rearranges some of the game’s core elements and in my opinion is a better utilization of them then in the previous build. This is almost certainly in direct response to the criticism they have been receiving and I am wholeheartedly glad that they went out and did something about it rather than lashing out against the fanbase instead. The aptly named ‘Foundation’ update essentially offers three starting gameplay modes- a survival, creative, and normal mode each with their own difficulties and modded gameplay elements. As one should expect, survival takes the core premise and ramps up the overall difficulty whereas normal retains much the same experience we had so far experienced to date. The creative mode lies somewhere between the two and has the added benefit of being a sandbox test chamber of sorts, gifting players with nigh infinite resources in their romp across the galaxy and in base crafting paloozas.

The original and still main premise of the game is simply to explore and interact with the created environments and wildlife along the way. However with the added benefit of the free update, players can also gather resources in order to craft more items than before and to found their own base on a home planet. If this sounds pretty cool, know that it is even though crafting these locations can be somewhat of a bore in modes besides creative, where these resources take time and money to locate and peruse. No Man’s Sky is still very large and still mostly uninhabited as our own cosmos may be, and being one lone soul in it can often be excruciatingly boring and longwinded at times as well sadly. There’s no narrative pull besides your own fascination with what the randomly generated landscape may throw at you next honestly.

To spoil it for those of you who weren’t already aware- so steer clear if spoilers terrify you and you don’t want one of the major secrets of this game ruined, the breadcrumb trail to the center of the galaxy really only results in what is essentially a revelation culminating in a New Game Plus of sorts. Needless to say there is literally and virtually no end to the game or its random content, which is pretty fascinating as a matter of fact but besides being impressive is more of the same. I’m glad to see the developers have answered some of our criticisms and hope there is still more they can address in attempts to make the game both more exciting and lively. I’m interested to see where they go next in a literal galaxy of possibilities.

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5 Games I’m Incredibly Excited For

mass-effect-andromeda-game-hd-sdToday’s blog post is going to be about just a few of the games I’m getting pretty excited about seeing in the future. I’m not going to include some of the others (such as Mass Effect Andromeda which is pictured above), but that does not in any way diminish my feelings of excitement or anticipation for them. These five games are ones that I either am looking forward to as continuations of their respective series, because of the promises for new and refined ideas they offer, or simply because I’m intrigued to see how they pan out. So let’s go ahead and dive right in and see what is on our plate.

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Sniper Elite 4 promises to take players to the beautiful land of Italy, circa 1940s WWII chaos and action (if I recall correctly, it’s roughly 1943 in fact). We’ve already been to many other locales such as Russia and Africa and the colorful palette of Italia truly interests me as well. The main reason I am excited for another shot at the Axis of Evil through the scope of a sniper rifle is because the core of the series has always been strong and even though in some ways Sniper Elite III was a step back from the redux/sequel V2, it also opened the world up and introduced a lot of new gameplay options and ideas.

This has been one of my most anticipated games for a long while, essentially since it was announced. I’ve enjoyed the series since its beginning and even more so in the past few years. I’m eager to see what this iteration can do with the power of current generation consoles behind it, as well as the improvements it can make upon the steady if semi-flawed formula presented by Sniper Elite III. One aspect I do hope can manage to be slightly more intriguing is the storyline and overall narrative, which took a hit in III as the pacing left a lot to be desired. So long as the core gameplay holds up and Rebellion offers a few new modes as well, I’ll gladly dish out the cash necessary to play. And seeing some of the fun elements from the Nazi Zombie Army Trilogy or even another addition in that saga wouldn’t be such a bad idea either…

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The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s art direction and overall design thus far has done more than enough to please me. I really do like the melded sort of art style that brings to mind both Twilight Princess/Skyward Sword and Wind Waker in many aspects of it all. It’s something new and yet also something altogether familiar and intriguing and that is definitely a good thing. When I first heard they were crafting the almost customary new tale for the next Nintendo console, I was hoping it would not be some egregious mistake or fall flat and thankfully I’ve yet to be disappointed. It seems like Breath of the Wild will combine many intriguing new elements as well as some of the same old ones we’ve seen and grown fond of over the years.

I hope it can author its own storyline and prove to be as interesting as past entries while also standing on its own legs in that universe. I’m much more curious than I care to admit about where exactly it will fall in the Zelda timeline, however I am also equally pleased if it is yet another entry that stands virtually alone in this respect. Some things will never change and so I know there will be some truly memorable boss fights, puzzles, and exploration for the duration of Link’s adventures. Here’s to a melding of new and old as well as hoping that I find some new tools at Link’s disposal with which to become completely enamored.

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Interesting naming conventions aside, the upcoming Resident Evil 7 (or Biohazard depending upon your localization) release promises to be entertaining and eventful. I admire the developers for wanting to change things up enough after Resident Evil 6 which was by no means the strongest or the worst entry in the series, in order to keep things fresh and reinvigorate the series for yet another few titles. I’m curious about some of the design ideas they have made thus far but not terribly turned off by that same token. In many ways, this game looks to me similar to what Outlast II seeks to accomplish albeit with that still unmistakably Resident Evil vibe about it and taste all around it.

First person combat could amp things up a bit as well as the fact that there’s minimal to no HUD to be seen. I’m definitely one for ambiance and aesthetics and to me that could shake things up quite a bit whether or not you’re a fan of the look. The story seems thus far like it could be more in the vein of the less zombie-filled entries in the series and that also doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. Resident Evil has never been so much about the zombies as it has been about what lengths humanity will go to and whether or not we at times can be the real monsters in terrible situations such as the outbreaks the protagonists have often experienced. Needless to say, the air of mystery surrounding most of the game’s development and details has only strengthened my interest in what could ultimately be make or break for the main series entries.

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Sundered is more than likely the most intriguing and indie-developed game on this list of games. However, that does not in any ways diminish the expanse of what it seeks to accomplish nor does it do anything to diminish my hopes for the finished product. In many ways it reminds me of what Journey sought to show us and what it accomplished as both art and a game. Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of this particular project is after all the fact that it is an entirely hand-drawn experience, thereby quite literally melding video gaming and art in a way few have rendered it before.

I’ll leave the majority of the plot spoilers out of focus, at least as far as this particular post is concerned, however what I have heard thus far intrigues me on many levels. As with Journey’s experience, you are a wanderer of sorts and more than likely seeking to make your own special sojourn, albeit in most instances to escape the hellish surroundings that will otherwise engulf you. This project, like Resident Evil 7, interests me largely due to the fact it is in many ways mysterious and tight-lipped about what exactly it seeks to offer. I have a sneaking suspicion that it will want to show rather than tell what its deepest secrets and greatest mysteries are, and that pleases me greatly.

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I’ve saved the best for last and if you’re surprised then you shouldn’t be. Routine is an entirely too intriguing project to be left off of any lists of upcoming games that are very interesting and that I am personally excited for. Besides the obvious allusions and callbacks to other survival horror adventures in both gaming and film, it is the core of what the game seeks to offer that captivates me the most. I immensely enjoyed what Alien: Isolation sought to offer, what the talented folks at Frictional Games has done throughout the Amnesia series and with Soma, and what Red Barrel offered us through the demented Outlast series thus far. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that I’d be totally stoked for what Routine seems to mysteriously beckon to us with.

We’ve seen more and more little by little with each new announcement and each new trailer or tidbit of information and it has done little to dampen the rising flames licking at my consciousness. I wonder what mysteries this desolate but not quite abandoned facility may yet have to offer us. What horrors of both the synthetic and organic kind we may encounter. And truly what the entire scope of the narrative and game may be. As with a few other games on this list, I’m intrigued not only because it is a new idea blossoming thanks to the culmination of several existing ones, but also due to the fact that it looks entirely too promising to fall that flat.Who knows, we may even get some Turing Test level of humanity checks thrown in as well.

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I do hope you’ve enjoyed my thoughts and won’t hesitate to share your own. There are so many projects that I am eager to see as they release in the future, and so understandably it was hard to narrow that list down to only five that are both mainstream big-time games and more lowkey independently developed titles. Art is art and games are games and games are art, so it’ll be exciting regardless of their size or scope to see how each turns out. I’m excited for more than the singular reason that I optimistically hope they will all be well-received and entertaining. I revel in the thought that my morality and judgment may be challenged in 2017 and in the future and that these titles may offer more than just a nostalgic or campy experience.

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millie schmidt writes... with cats

millie schmidt writes...

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