Sneak Preview: Assassin’s Creed Bore-Again

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Allow me to first state that I have always been a fan of Ubisoft’s history spanning series and that despite its many flaws I have always found the entries to be entertaining and enthralling in many ways. This particular blog post today is indeed a spoof and not reflective of any actually Origins gameplay or any of the Assassin’s Creed titles although I will be combining certain elements of many of them here.

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The Assassin- we do not know his name yet or what exact time period this is as it seems the Animus has broken down and isn’t processing differences between the different time periods we’ve seen or anything else lately, opens his eyes. Benjamin Franklin is whispering some sort of weird incantation at the foot of the bed. Theon Greyjoy stands in the corner muttering to himself about letting everyone down and that he can never go back to Westeros and face his evil uncle- probably a side quest offered in the season pass bundle.

As you stand up and look around the room your feet buckle and you collapse to your knees in agony. Looking down at your hand you notice that it is a solid red mechanical prosthetic and that you also have some sort of weird green glowing mark or energy emitting from your palm. Just from these few opening moments it seems that Ubisoft is really cashing in on going big or going home, making it their goal to copy the best and brightest that the industry has seen these past few years. I think this could be a really interesting project indeed and I’m excited to see the inevitable decision later on in the game to battle the Animus itself as a final boss and eventually destroy both it and the series as a whole, once and for all in a blazing flame of glory and the best Assassin’s Creed game to date.

I finally gain control of my character after a quick cutscene of Altair and Ezio “meeting” re-cut from good old Assassin’s Creed Revelations. Piloting my Assassin in the familiar slow walk of confidence I stride around the room and interact with several papers and notes scribbled furiously by Subject 27- this game’s new version of ‘The Truth’ it seems like. There’s also some sort of odd wall-art that reminds me of Rat Man’s den from Portal but perhaps for the sake of this game series it would be better referred to as Rat Man’s Eden.

Walking outside, Casandra Pentaghast runs up to me and demands that I look at the gaping hole in the sky where a giant mechanical Reaper-like being is entering our world/dimension/simulation through. It releases a swarm of those alien guys from Saints Row IV who fall to the earth and then set up a tutorial of the new combat system. I hop from cover to cover like it’s Deus Ex: Mankind Divided meets Gears of War 4. Ubisoft is really making the most of the various parts of all the interesting games of the past decade but so far we haven’t got to see all of the amazing ideas they’ve come up themselves.

Eventually I get close enough to perform a stealth takedown on one of the aliens but the game demands I make a $0.99 microtransaction in order to do so because my allotted four takedowns have already been expended. Not the greatest method of moderation but I’ll pay it this one time for the purpose of this preview and also being able to see what must be an amazing kill animation. After a small loading gap and confirmation of my payment plan, my character whips out a small dagger and throws it into the neck of a nearby enemy, thus taking him down. I’m severely underwhelmed but I’m sure there’s more great content on the way.

I take down the rest of the enemies through traditional means- noting that this new combat system seems remarkably similar to the first few Assassin’s Creed games that had no dedicated counter buttons or counter killing. I whip out my Black Flag blowpipe for a gruesome finisher involving a dart to the brain. I swing my chain/sword/axe things that I paid $2.99 to rip directly from God of War. I do some sort of odd super-jump thing courtesy of the exo-suit enhancements added to both locomotion and combat in this newest entry. All in all the experience thus far is shaping up to be like Dark Souls meets The Surge and it’s an interesting new direction for the series ironically filled with old ideas.

Now I get my first opportunity to try out some of the new side content available in this five hour demo segment. It seems that my choices range from collecting chicken feathers to delivering letters in timed races against thieving children. I go with the latter because I don’t feel like giving into the fetch quest mentality and also want to see how the free-running holds up in this newest installment. As the clock countdown begins, I take off and immediately notice that I can spam my boost capabilities in order to quickly mantle almost all objects. I rapidly press the jump button while holding down the bumper, all the while paying close attention to where my opponent is behind me.

As I pass through the third checkpoint gate, suddenly the area is closed off and I am attacked by a massive group of other thieves while my adversary gloats and darts off ahead of me. I only have ten seconds to defeat thirty enemies and then I have thirty more seconds to finish the race itself. Just as I am about to despair the sheer improbability of it all, UPlay happily updates me that I’ve earned the ‘Comet Crushing Finishing Blow’ and the game pauses to give me a tutorial as to the particular usage of said combo. My Assassin yells something along the lines of Hakuna Matata or Kamme Kamme Ha and suddenly the sun is blotted out and a tactical comet nuke thing rips my foes to shreds.

I finish the race with a quick coup de grace on my opponent prior to crossing the finish line where I am awarded with an upgraded belt that offers more running stamina, sort of like The Witcher 3 and various saddles for Roach. The demo ends here because I’ve used up all of my allotted time with the game for the time being. It really seemed to go a lot faster than anticipated so I guess that must mean I was having a blast with all of this newfangled tech and cool stuff this year’s game has to offer. I’ll think of what other thoughts I have when they finally release the story only CG trailer prior to the actual game release. In the meantime, feel free to comment with questions or concerns. Cheers!

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Far Cry 5 Reminds Me of Rainbow 6 Patriots

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Long before there was Rainbow Six: Siege, there was a story-driven Rainbow Six game in the works that would see your group of operatives combating homegrown terrorism on United States soil. Several things have changed for the now multiplayer-centric Siege and yet some things still remain the same- the urban environments and methods of engagement are very similar to what was proposed at times during the development. However, this particular post isn’t to talk about Siege coming from the ashes of Patriots but rather the interesting similarities that can be drawn between two completely different franchises.

Far Cry 5 is technically not the fifth game in the series but canonically it is being hailed as the fifth such installment chronologically speaking. In fact, it is in many ways as much of a departure for the series as Primal or Blood Dragon have been. Instead of being in a fictional country or taking place on a distant and possibly irrelevant island, it takes place in the American midwest. What some people would deign to call ‘God’s Country.’ Ironic, considering the majority of enemies you will find yourself facing seem to be god-fearing, sinner-hating cultists out for your blood. But the most intriguing thing to me is that there are several similarities between the breed of homegrown terrorism shown off in what would’ve been Patriots and the cultist lifestyle and aspect of Far Cry 5.

Far Cry is no stranger to craziness nor crazy people- look no further than the first game features mutants, the third several insane mercenaries, and the fourth a tyrannical and questionably challenged dictator. So it seems only fair that the next step in the process of embracing such insanity and gameplay be to up the ante and throw an entire cult your way. What strikes me as more interesting even than the real-world setting and the interesting questions risen by having such a depiction of American society or lack thereof is the fact that these cultists aren’t just crazy or dogmatic followers but also a different breed of terrorism. They may not necessarily be blowing things up or sacrificing themselves for the sake of zealotry alone but I can’t quite shake the feeling that they wouldn’t if given the chance, or should they expand on a greater scale.

What interests me pertaining to this connection between Patriots and Far Cry 5 is the fact that terrorism is such a terrifying and unique ideology to explore especially as far as games are concerned. We’ve gotten some glimpses of it before in games such as Call of Duty or Red Faction and even Watch Dogs, yet we’ve never really had it so uniquely broken down or vividly shown up close as the newest Far Cry seeks to do. A lot of what I’ve seen so far reminds me of Vaas and his not so charming yet unpredictable cunning and actions. Video gaming is a pretty expressive medium when it comes to being able to both tell/show and allow a player to experience firsthand a situation or story through someone or something else. We can put ourselves in situations both realistic and out of this world without actively harming our minds or bodies and can also see things that portray hyper-realistic scenarios or made-up ideas.

Being able to look through the eyes of an operative on the hunt of the murderous and calamitous cult that rocks Far Cry 5’s Montana should be an intriguing experience and certainly one of the most interesting thus far in Far Cry’s undeniably original characters and plots. To some degree there hasn’t been too much to add in both Far Cry 4 and now perhaps even arguably in Far Cry 5 since the base experience of the excellently balanced and well-thought out Far Cry 3, and yet for all of that the narrative and gameplay has progressed so far and been only enjoyable along the way. Far Cry 5 might be the most excited I’ve been for a game in the series in some time and I do think it will fare really well but also more importantly be a word to the wise of the terrors of evils out there in the world that are merely the other side of a coin such as religion, emotion, and ideology. When taken to such extremes as zealotry or immense ambition, some people alone can watch the world burn.

Patriots was an interesting concept and a sort of push for modernizing the Rainbow Six franchise a little bit more but I like the same application being put towards Far Cry’s formula. The core savage experience is there and the gritty action and tense stalking of your prey and yet there is also this refreshingly believable setting that isn’t in some distant Nepalese fortress or on some pirate infested island or another. In going mundane Ubisoft may actually be choreographing the greatest leaps and bounds the series has survived to date and I’m interested to see where that takes us from a story standpoint especially. Terrorism is undeniably a terrible concept and yet it is effective and has been so for hundreds of years- from guerrilla warfare in uprisings and rebellions to propaganda campaigns to keep a crown. Understanding it a bit better through the eyes of soldiers combating it in a pseudo-American setting should be an interesting task for Ubisoft in their storytelling and design.

This has been a little bit shorter than some of my typical posts and yet it was a thought I spontaneously had and figured I’d best share with you all. If you have your own comments or questions about such things as the games mentioned in this post or the real-world issues brought about by speaking on them, feel more than free to drop comments. Cheers.

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Considerations for Borderlands 3

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It’s never quite too early to talk about a sequel, particularly when it’s a juggernaut franchise for a developer and already known to be in the works. It’s not a matter of when Borderlands 3 will be released or whether it will be made but how exactly it will be created and painstakingly cared for. As I’ve probably already proven to be a big fan of the series and its various incarnations, I’d also like to take a few moments today to talk about some slight alterations that could be made to the existing formula in order to craft a more modern experience and one that will equally stand the test of time as well as its predecessors have.

You won’t find anything regarding graphical updates or technological improvements and advancements here, merely mechanics and gameplay oriented changes or potential thoughts and ideas. Let’s go ahead and lay out the few points (as well as reasons) that I’ll be bringing up: a dedicated slide button, weapon customization, skins, mods, etc.

I’ve played many excellent games lately that manage to skillfully weave together the elements of a Mirror’s Edge-like parkour experience and a roguish weapon toting, bullet spewing gunman’s dream. It seemed to start somewhere either around Bulletstorm or perhaps Call of Duty: Ghosts or Brink’s timeframe, when everyone decided to add cover traversal mechanics such as power slides and leaps and bounds over cover. Since then, we’ve been treated to similar mechanics in pretty much every Call of Duty game as well as in Titanfall 1 and 2 most magnificently.

My argument for this is simple: it’s not only a matter of getting with the times but also a matter of making locomotion outside of a vehicle much more accessible and enjoyable in Borderlands’ massive environments. Titanfall 2 has the best locomotive abilities of any shooter I’ve played to date but I don’t need wall-running or high flying action for Borderlands, just a simple slide mechanic to be utilized and add to the fluidity of combat and action. A simple measure of either pressing the crouch button to crouch or holding it to slide like something out of Destiny even. A faster way to riddle your enemies with bullets and spray plasma all over the place.

My second series of ideas is categorically going to revolve around weaponry and customization and yet it is as multi-faceted an idea as they can come. Borderlands 2 featured literally hundreds of unique skins for everything from its six mainstay characters to land barges and rovers and technicals. And yet the one thing it didn’t have despite having a seemingly limitless supply of weapons that all look and operate uniquely was dedicated upgrade/mod capabilities as well as the opportunity to collect skins to further customize your arsenal.

Yes, I’ll admit you can find pretty much any and every weapon to suit your tastes in Borderlands, however I’d like to be able to cater to my own needs even more than just hoping I pick up a weapon of the type I typically enjoy and also of the brand that works best in my lineup. What if we could pick up loot and then also customize it the more we use it and potentially modify it like some twisted version of Fallout’s weapon bench along the way? Or even earn skins for completing challenges? Or any number of things that other shooters and action oriented games have done before but could work so much better with Borderlands’ already rich plethora of content and freedom?

I don’t think any of these things are remotely too much to hope for or even ask for and for all I know they’re already being looked into and thought out. I do definitely think that they would be welcome improvements to the already existing formula which has undeniably stood the test of time and still operates as well today. Yes, there are always the occasional hiccups with checkpoint systems and useless deaths while in the final stand ‘man down’ state, and yet for every little issue the gameplay more than makes up for it. So why not make that experience even better?

As always, feel free to drop comments and check out my other similar posts in the archive. Cheers, folks.

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Hack Your Reality

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Observer has been drawing a lot of interest lately- not just because it features a former Blade Runner acting talent, but because it also features a decaying cyberpunk setting and some scary technological possibilities. This particular post isn’t an introduction to the possibilities presented by the game which should be releasing very shortly, however it is going to cover some of the interesting connections that this game has with other series- whether through a shared genre or aesthetic or other items of interest.

In fact, if you look at the surface of what the game promises to offer you’ll easily be able to make a few small leaps and arrive at the conclusion that it could be perceived as similar to many other horror or thriller based products and projects. In my mind there are similarities with such games as Murdered: Soul Suspect, Obscure (or ObsCure 1 and 2), and Deadly Premonition. Most of these assumptions of course stem from what the game seeks to provide on paper and what I’ve seen of it thus far, not what the final product may be in and of itself. Be forewarned as I am sure there are going to be relatively minimal spoilers of some sort or another here about one or all of the aforementioned titles.

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Murdered: Soul Suspect is a prime example of a game that sounded very interesting and yet ended up being more of a bore than a thrilling experience. This happens a surprisingly large amount of the time despite there constantly being as many new and original game ideas as there are grossly overdone ones. However, just because it wasn’t the greatest experience out there doesn’t mean it cannot be used as a fundamental learning point and also comparable to some degree to the upcoming Observer.

I think the main way I would tie together a game that focuses on a recently deceased detective battling evil demons and attempting to recreate the circumstances of his murder in order to discover the true nature of his killer and a cyberpunk title that has elements of horror and seeks to explore fear itself is relatively simple. The main comparison here is that both characters are inevitably having some sort of out of body experience or perhaps warped perception of reality- one through death and the other through literal hacking of the human code, that also happens to revolve around emotions such as fear.

As much of a bore as Murdered has been, it is still a really intriguing concept for a game and something that if done altogether different in several aspects could’ve been made into a tense and enjoyable experience rather than a relatively forgettable gimmick-riddled one. I think Observer has the potential to fill a relative void where games like Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem and Murdered: Soul Suspect have gone before. It may be set in a different societal setting and have many different elements and yet the base novelty of tapping into fears screams similarity and as such they should look to the past in order to provide more traction for a gripping future and experience.

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For those of you who haven’t heard of either ObsCure or ObsCure II before- being that it could ironically be considered a fairly obscure title, allow me to explain a bit about the series first. Effectively, it reminds me a lot of what Resident Evil 4 was and remains as an experience and also to some degree in narrative focus as well. In both titles you follow a group of teenage characters seeking to survive a mutant epidemic brought on by strange experiments with flowers and evil characters going after the secret to immortality. Sometimes these mutants can be weakened or even harmed by sunlight and other light sources so it’s also a lot like what Alan Wake became as well. Boy, we really are going down the connection rabbit hole here.

Long story short, I could see potential similarities to this particular series in Observer through chance encounters in hacked fear servers or perhaps even seeing grotesque and horrific visages and enemies as well. If you got to literally look into someone’s mind and peruse their fears then you’re undoubtedly going to come across some Dead Space looking necromorph crap or something sooner or later- well, at least for the sake of video games and entertainment that is. If it was all deep water and dark spaces then it would be fairly accurate but not exactly as entertaining or interesting after all.

I think it would be pretty awesome to see a similar sort of fear mutant or enemy type added to the mix that hunts the player like some sort of Amnesia-like antibody, seeing as they are after all an intruder in another person’s mind. Having a degree of literal hacking countermeasures play out in some sort of wicked scary scenario would add both intensity and entertainment value to the game for sure. In fact, I’m very interested to see how the game handles and plays on a base level so that I can see what kind of adversity besides warped perception and mind-bending logic might get thrown the player’s way.

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Last but not least is arguably the most well-known and well-received title on the list considering it’s relative cult-classic status despite the lack of actual polish on the project. Deadly Premonition is…interesting, to say the very least. It’s something of an X-Files project and is equal parts camp and horror- although typically you can also categorize most of that horror as weirdness and grotesque images. I really hope that Observer manages to tap into some of the Twin Peaks kind of weirdness and subversion without going too far off the deep end with the camp and other odd vibes.

It’s perfectly okay to provide oddities and horror hand in hand but not every game is trying to be Until Dawn and also provided Ash vs The Evil Dead levels of camp and hilarity without any remorse. In fact, if Observer has any camp whatsoever beyond perhaps the occasional easter egg or allusion to Blade Runner and replicants I’ll be dissatisfied for the most part. It is in many ways a child of many similar ideas and projects and yet I think the best and most original ideas are ironically the ones born of many similar themes. Observer even has unique elements of such odysseys as Heavy Rain- it features a man also searching for his son and the possibility of a truly horrible end for everybody involved to some degree.

When your core gameplay and story revolve around tapping and hacking into personalities and dreams and illusions like something akin to Surrogates (2009) then you’re bound to have the potential for weirdness and striking visuals as well as inexplicable supernatural (or in this case technological) involvement. So from my personal perspective I am most intrigued to see how I can categorize this game in the wide expanse of the horror genre and where exactly it’ll fall on a spectrum that includes titles like Dead Space and Battle Toads.

Alright, that last part was a bad joke. Regardless, if you wish to, comment or otherwise give me a piece of your mind. I’m no Daniel Lazarski so I can’t hack my way in, have no fear. Cheers.

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Opening Pandora’s Box (The Right Way)

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If you’re thrown for a loop as to why I’m talking about a game that has been out for roughly five years to this point and that even has a re-released edition that is pushing two to three years, don’t worry. I’ve written a little bit here and there about some of the random chance encounters I’ve had in my lengthy replay of Gearbox’s epic saga part deux and this is about to be the third chapter in the ongoing writing. If you’d like a refresher on what I’ve already talked about then you can always check out this post about face pizza or this one about wildlife refuges.

Today’s particular Borderlands 2 / Borderlands saga-themed blog post is going to cover one very simple and yet equally intoxicating and intricate point: an open world. As the semi-pun of a title may suggest to those of you familiar with the series, we’re talking about the opening up of the world, Pandora, itself. Pandora is as diverse as it is alien. It has many similar biomes to what we call home on our own blue planet and yet for all of that it has vividly alien wildlife and vegetation- albeit with the occasional beaches and palms thrown in as well. From arid badlands to snowy glacial shelves, your journey in Borderlands 2 alone takes you to greater heights and further expanses than any in even the most graphically impressive and diverse landscapes and experiences I’ve witnessed in another game.

What No Man’s Sky promised (and failed) to deliver in an experience that spanned a galaxy, Borderlands 2 accomplishes with gusto in one sitting. Although admittedly the mechanics of the game are sometimes a grind as you loot and level up and riddle everything from adorable fluffballs to the baddest of dudes with bullets, the scenery and the aesthetic themselves never grow old. It’s something Doom (2016) seemingly even regarded and took a page from as despite the gory and gritty and vivid experience of literal Hell, the graphics and the visuals are crisp and pleasing to the eye all the way through and I constantly stopped after clearing an area to gape at scenic vistas or hellish landscapes.

I love the diversity of Borderlands 2- specifically with regard to the colorful cast of characters that spans multiple funny and witty and charming and charismatic personalities, but also with complete regard to the story and the places it will take you. You will explore each region in largely the same way whether on foot or in the seat of your locomotion tool of choice (aka rover or buggy or barge), however that doesn’t make discovering new areas or hidden secrets any less exciting as you climb cliffs and search cracks and crevices everywhere from the Eridium Blight zone’s volcano to Sanctuary’s floating city-scape. From the highlands to the abandoned oases, Borderlands 2 is chock-full of content that doesn’t always feel like the collection or fetch quests of other open world games (although there are a fair amount of those too).

Perhaps the most ingenious way to make the experience both memorable and worthwhile is to throw in a fair amount of easter eggs and secrets and this is exactly what Gearbox does best. I’ve found everything from hidden areas to quest-specific occurrences to outside influences on character names, development, and even interests. Everything from other games- Fallout 3, Minecraft, Mario, Donkey Kong to movies and songs- Danger Zone, Kenny Loggins, is recognized and implemented. Even bonfires and knights make their way from Dark Souls into the equally twisted realm that is Pandora, who would’ve ever thought such a thing possible?

But enough of this scratching the surface kind of talk- let’s dig into the orange level loot and really get to the meat of my personal experience and my most recent runthrough as everyone’s favorite bandit / vault hunter (besides Steve) Krieg.

My most recent exploits have been to further the main storyline here and there while also being sure to work tirelessly on the collecting and treasure quests of such side content as Pirate Booty and Hammerlock’s Hunt. I’ve already seen our dear departed Angel and Roland off into the void sadly so and also Jack’s antics take an even more sinister turn. But things are still looking up for the countless loader bots I’ve confiscated pornographic materials from and gathered bandit body parts for in their attempts at censorship and Pinocchio-like boyhood respectively. I continually interact with other characters in either streams of lead sundaes or satisfied grunts and whistles, as only a psycho such as Krieg could and should.

The current task on hand is to find as much loot as possible and finally upgrade my class mods to meet the purple and orange standard I’ve set throughout the rest of my gear- as only the best will fit in with the most legendary of all rocket launchers and sniper rifles that I’ve thus far accumulated in my campaign of terror against Hyperion and their ilk. All things considered, despite the state of Pandora being turmoil and tumultuous as always, life is good and life is grand in Krieg-land.

As I will always offer and always say, feel free to comment with your thoughts, concerns, or general comments as you please. Cheers.

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Customizing an Experience

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Today’s blog post has to do with character customization or the creative ways in which you can customize your playable experience in recent gaming. I’ve seen numerous games cater to character customization heavily over the years and do it quite well- from Tony Hawk games to Bioware space epics. However, today’s thoughts will be sectioned off into three separate categories- covering four games in total and also character creation, experience shaping, as well as depth of customization. The games in question vary in terms of everything from success to base quality and rating, however the one recurring theme they all share is a depth of custom content. Without further ado, allow me to usher in Dragon Age: Inquisition, Fallout 4, The Crew, and Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.

Character Customization- Fallout 4 / Dragon Age: Inquisition

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The reason I’ve listed two games and not one in this particular category is largely due to the fact that both have a very similar amount of attention to detail in their equally similar character creators. You can literally shape and mold character faces as you please and assuming you’re talented enough you can recreate your favorite celebrity’s face or even go so far as to craft a thrilling rendering of Michael Jackson. You can thank me for that pun later.

Although Dragon Age of course allows you to craft your character in four differing races in addition to customizing their visage and voice work, Fallout 4 has a slightly deeper custom setting- allowing for many of the same changes but also giving the player the ability to more easily mold the character face appropriately as they see fit. Of course you can also feel free to horrifically mutilate it like some of the video runthroughs I’ve seen of Mass Effect with some less than…lovable…looking Commander Shepard builds as well. See below:

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Although Fallout 4’s character builder often has little to no impact on gameplay itself no matter how terrifying you may look or however ugly your poor guy might be, Dragon Age actually factors many of the racial and customized elements into both the narrative and gameplay which is thoroughly fascinating at times when it comes to progress or relationships. It’s truly the little things…

Depth of Design- The Crew

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I think there’s perhaps one reason I still dabble in Ubisoft’s flawed racing MMO and that’s more than likely because of the content customization and the smart loot system that keeps the gears rolling. I’ve never taken the time to purchase the pricey and inevitably not worthwhile expansion content however the base experience still remains fresh enough thanks in large part to the sheer level of custom opportunities and options within each car class and with any of the unique vehicles present in the game.

There are already plenty of different builds you can craft with one specific car but when you add in five separate base game class builds and then the additional ones present in extra content, you’re literally lengthening the lifespan of the game as well. I enjoy messing around in the tuning shops and the car dealerships a lot of times solely to look at unique new designs on cars and really the only thing that could make it better would be to throw in something along the lines of Tony Hawk or Forza custom graphics a la American Wasteland or Forza 4 to present. I’m sure that’ll probably be something further addressed in the budding The Crew sequel which is set to potentially see the light of day sometime in the next year.

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Seeing an even deeper exploration of content and creativity and perhaps even going so far as other games have (such as Madden) in letting players share that content and upload it and download other users’ designs would be a positive development as well. Honestly, creativity and customization will always reign supreme.

Shaping the Experience- Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

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I’m not here to talk about Kingdom of Amalur’s character creation tool, which though alright and slightly familiar if you’ve played the Fable series, is not a highlight of the undervalued gem. Rather, I’d like to guide your thoughts to the fate-weaving dynamic of Amalur, which is wildly underappreciated and could definitely be used in a similar manner in the future in role-playing adventures. Instead of operating much like any traditional RPG skill tree respec of points does, the tarot card-like aspect of Amalur’s class/classless system allows you to change your character build literally on the fly.

Depending on how leveled up you are, specific tiers of cards will be available to you- typically two for each of the three major classes per tier (of which there are six tiers if memory severs correctly). This means you could have more points in sorcery for a magic based class, or perhaps in either dagger or bow builds for ranged or dexterity, or perhaps a tank-like warrior build with a hammer or maul. It may sound similar to other RPG games and elements but the system is versatile in its points allocation and much easier to use than completely redistributing points after using an amulet or charm like in other games.

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It’s quite an interesting design feature and although in some ways it could be similar to Skyrim’s open-ended allocation of leveled up points per ability and essentially granting the player the ability to switch builds on a whim, it does offer a little bit more of a bonus than that freedom would. All things considered, it’s one of the most memorable aspects of a game that otherwise was only underappreciated due to legal issues and the fact that it was similar to many other RPGs despite its unique portions as well. Regardless of what you may think of any of these games, I don’t think their creative elements can be as easily contested as their successes may be. Feel free to leave your comments as always. Cheers.

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Writing Challenge: Give a Game a Chance

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Pokemon has been around for quite some time in various mediums and in varying capacities- games, movies, television and more. However, the purpose of this blog isn’t to talk about the pocket monsters so many of us either grew up with or have come to know and love, rather it is to talk about what games I would give a sequel if it meant having to discontinue such a massively popular series. In this case, if you take any number of annually released series such as Call of Duty or Pokemon and replaced them with something along the lines of a miracle sequel to Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem, I’d be happy for the trade-off opportunity.

In this instance, I’m here to talk about two games in particular that I think not only deserve another chance but another round on me,- assuming I could theoretically make such a decision and my devilish deal only entailed giving up the opportunity to have more games based upon the Pokemon series. The first title would be a sequel to the critically acclaimed and also critically flawed L.A. Noire- I’m thinking perhaps a follow up with much the same aesthetic but set during the time period made popular thanks to Mad Men and set in none other than the Big Apple itself. So, N.Y. Noire if you will.

I really enjoyed the period piece that Rockstar and Team Bondi produced when it came out- everything from the graphically technology used to capture facial animations to the intriguing storyline itself piqued my interest. Some of my favorite things have been investigative shows and stories such as Magnum P.I. and Jack Reacher and this took elements of that and applied it to one of the most intrigued times in the last century of U.S. history as well for added measure. Although ultimately it had some flaws along the way, the entire experience was a good blend of what makes Grand Theft Auto successful and what has also worked in other Rockstar titles such as Max Payne 3 and Red Dead Redemption along the way. I always enjoy the fact that you can look at games like L.A. Noire and just tell it’s a Rockstar game by the quality as well as looks.

Before I go too much more into that however, let me introduce my followup choice or another title I would think into existence if I was allowed the chance. Lost Odyssey was an excellent title when it released and very much like Blade Runner it doesn’t necessarily require a sequel although I’m not complaining too much about the latter getting one seeing as it looks pretty sweet. Lost Odyssey 2 would be essentially what many of us had hoped Final Fantasy XV would be and if I could dream it up then it would certainly be an intriguing as well as worthwhile experience, learning from both the few mistakes of the first game as well as the nearly ten years of gaming that have gone by since its predecessor’s release.

At the time of its release, Lost Odyssey had some neat tricks up its sleeve- storyline that was at time generic and at other times unique, some interesting combat mechanics that we’ve seen replicated of late in titles such as FFXV, and memorable character development. I would not only see that continued, as if it’s not broken there’s nothing there to fix, but built upon even further in a sequel. With both N.Y. Noire and Lost Odyssey 2, there’s so much potential and so much that could be done and it honestly irks me that either game has yet to be built upon further with additional installments available to the masses.

I could probably go on for days about what else I would love to see in these particular projects if they ever saw the light of day or why I’ve chosen to give up Pokemon as my sacred cow for this sacrifice, however I’d much rather hear what others think and what their particular choices might be. Would you perhaps give up Call of Duty or Battlefield in order to get a long anticipated Battle Toads sequel? God, I really hope not. Regardless, feel free to comment as always and sorry for the shorter blog tonight. Cheers.

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Milly Schmidt

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