Category Archives: Xbox One

Sniper Elite 4 VS Sniper Elite 3

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There are two things that I would very much like to stress to begin this particular blog entry: one- this is not a review, and two- many, many, many despotic dictators were hurt in the making of this blog post. Now that we’ve covered that, I think we can truly begin in earnest.

Sniper Elite 4 (Italia) recently released to mostly critical acclaim and I must say, as a fan of the series since its inception and soon-after reboot, I’m a fan as well. There are some aspects of Sniper Elite 4 that make it much more accessible than the previous two major installments, and yet curiously these same aspects sometimes make the game more challenging. Whereas Sniper Elite 3 (Afrika) featured a relocation warning of sorts between sniper shots or loud noises, Sniper Elite 4 does no such thing and immediately (as well as more realistically) expects players to handle this business on their own, free of warning.

As if the series could further refine its base concepts- that being gunplay that is predominately dominated by sniper battles, it somehow succeeds on this front as well. Sniper Elite V2 was received quite well for its mostly realistic portrayal and depiction of sniper mechanics in-game. Sniper Elite 3, though less-acclaimed overall, refined these techniques even further and opened the playing field to a wider variety of takedowns with the addition of sniper versus vehicular enemy type encounters. Needless to say, Sniper Elite 4 ups the ante for the third consecutive time with additional sniper options, more sensible and refined mechanics, and of course added takedowns- featuring more creative ways to kill the Fuhrer (to boot!).

I worry that the series may accidentally stagnate here in the near future if the trend of solely basing its gameplay off of WWII skirmishes and Karl Fairburne continues, however I do have hope that once they’ve thoroughly visited every major theater of war, they can continue into perhaps even modern conflicts with refined mechanics and technological advancements in combat. Sniper Elite’s modern day competition is essentially limited to Sniper: Ghost Warrior and thus far it is a battle Elite easily wins despite the latter series slowly improving itself over time (and the third title dropping later this year). Experiencing the tense action of Sniper Elite and utilizing a visceral setting such as the jungles of Vietnam would be truly awe-inspiring and potentially the best sniping idea since All Ghillied Up.

That having been said, let’s not stray too far from the matter at hand and the topic for discussion- how does Sniper Elite 4 compare to its immediate predecessor?

Despite its truly disappointing qualities and a great many flaws, once I got into Sniper Elite 3 (Afrika) I had a blast. The mechanics were rich to begin with in V2 and yet somehow they took everything from level design to weapon and equipment models so much further with the slight edge in technology over the console gap. What a difference three years can make. And the same can be said for Sniper Elite 4 in comparison with its direct predecessor as of right now as well. Sniper Elite 4 is truly a next generation Sniper Elite, and it is abundantly clear. Whereas Rebellion was still learning the ropes of what was possible with Sniper Elite 3 and as ambitious as it was it fell short at times, Italia is fleshed out a lot more and an overall better experience and more aesthetically and mechanically gripping world.

Granted, the experience by now can only be refined so much here and there, and yet the tweaks and additions that have been made in terms of assists and lack thereof work in perfect cooperation with the preexisting mechanics and ideas. There is a greater array of options when it comes to combat although stealth is still one of the ironically most finicky parts of gameplay in the series. There are more environmental opportunities and the game can be played in an entirely new way even when compared to Sniper Elite 3, much less to V2. All things considered, while each title in the series has had their fair share of minor flaws, Sniper Elite 4 is characteristically the most complete package to date. There is much less of a grind when compared directly to Sniper Elite 3 despite the campaign featuring the same number of stages that take roughly the same length of time to complete. And let’s not even get into the depth of the cooperative offering- it’s potentially expansive to say the least.

All in all, Sniper Elite 4 only does a few new things and even those are mostly aesthetic or minor gameplay and mechanical adjustments. However, the overall presentation is what Sniper Elite 3 could’ve or should’ve been, and therefore it is the clear winner where the two are compared. I’ll not lie when I say this post should and probably will be more helpful to those of you who have at least played a game in the series prior to this one and are deciding whether or not to purchase the latest and potentially greatest iteration. However, bear in mind that this is also by no means a review of the game or anything other than its mechanics in comparison to those of its predecessor. So I make no guarantees as to how it’ll hold up under much closer scrutiny than a day or so can give.

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Resident Evil 7 Review

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I just want to say that, first of all I will do my best to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible. I know that the latest chapter in Capcom’s zombie-fueled saga has only been out for not quite a month, and yet I feel like everywhere I’ve turned I’ve run afoul of spoilers and videos and all kinds of crazy stuff. So I’m going to discuss a lot of things in general terms when it comes to the story and the overall plot and setting, but I’ll be sure to dial it in and hone in on the important factors that should be touched upon in any respectable review as well. It’s been a short few weeks and yet we’ve already been treated to some arcade-style downloadable deals and add-ons, which is far from a bad thing either in this case.

In many ways, Resident Evil 7 is the reinvention that fans longed for and that the series needed, although once the outer layers are peeled away and the gentle facade of the beginning acts fades away you’ll soon come to see that it may be different, but the fundamentals are largely unchanged for better or worse. Resident Evil, for better or worse, has always had its viruses and its villains, and that aspect has not changed at all. You may be tempted to think there’s a lot going on in the Louisiana swamps that cannot be explained away as easily as the delights of Umbrella Corps have been in the past, but even with the twisted logic of the series’ past, these events can be explained in the present as well. Resident Evil 6 was a game that I thought was okay as it stood on its own and for what it offered, but when taken for the sum total of its plot and where it should stand in the larger RE universe it was just plain bonkers and had plenty of holes and lazy writing.

Resident Evil has always fallen victim to plot holes and whether or not players can get rid of their disbelief and just enjoy the games for what they are, so even with this reinvention, few things have changed there. Resident Evil started as a simple concept and its only become more and more convoluted from there on out. The first two main games are probably the most straight forward, but from then on with the successive third, fourth, fifth, and sixth entries things have only gotten grander and worse as far as plot can be concerned. I respect Capcom for largely toning it down with Biohazard and keeping things on a smaller scale, although still hinting that the title is a perfect fit in the semi-reimagined universe all the same. But that doesn’t change the fact that even some simple things such as procedural character damage magically healed and limbs magically reattached and VHS tapes still being used in 2017 and a seemingly omnipresent camera that is never shown onscreen or on characters just don’t ad up.

Like I’ve said- Resident Evil has always been about the experience first, the tense boss fights and survival-horror elements still present in the more action-oriented titles of the series in recent years. Once you’ve dispensed with pleasantries and mostly ignored the wild plots that are typically a mess anyway, you can settle into solid gameplay and fluid mechanics with relative ease. Capcom has done a wonderful job of crafting something seemingly new and yet deceptively archaic in its design and interpretation, making Resident Evil 7 a perfect fit for the series in that it expands into new directions in some ways with the plot and graphics and characters, and yet still retains the same brand name and doesn’t so drastically change the formula as Resident Evil 4 did once upon a time. If your main worry was that a first-person perspective could never work with a series such as Resident Evil, then worry no more because that is perhaps one of the brilliant strokes the game pulls off and never has much of an issue with outside of expected clippings and occasional environmental travesties.

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While I’ve got to give Resident Evil 7 points for originality in some cases, I’d also have to ding it for taking some credit where credit is not due- at least not to Resident Evil 7. Many of the plot elements may be new to Resident Evil, and yet they’ve already been done by other horror titles such as Silent Hill and F.E.A.R as well. In fact, the bulk of the story itself stems from essentially some mix of Silent Hill 2 and F.E.A.R 1 and 2’s own plot mechanics. And while this is totally acceptable even if it is not so original, it’s just a weird thing to notice if you’ve played those other titles and sense a mildly disappointing amount of deja-vu throughout Biohazard’s campaign. Resident Evil 7 treads new ground for the series in many ways and yet it follows the same cliched tropes of horror as a genre in general, and I suppose you have to take what victories you can, but that really rung hollow to me. An every-man searching a supposedly abandoned setting for his wife in what turns out to be a cunning trap and descent into veritable madness- it’s not quite the first time we’ve heard that line.

The largest criticism I have for this game, if you couldn’t tell from the paragraphs I’ve written on it already, is the plot. So now that I’ve pointed out that it’s bonkers and doesn’t ever quite add up, even mechanically in-game, let’s move on to some other critiques and praises. One last tidbit that’s semi-related though is that Ethan Winters as a playable character, while promising in exposition, is perhaps more boring and predictable than even Chris Redfield has become lately. He barely reacts to anything- bashing his missing wife’s face in with an axe, getting limbs severed, seeing a man whose entire body has been lit on fire and subsequently blown apart with a shotgun coming at him with pulsating brain matter showing through his destroyed skull, or even picking up the telephone every fifteen minutes when the omniscient NPC enemies and allies manage to pinpoint his exact location in the house and contact him. Getting over disbelief in a far-fetched plot is one thing, but things just not registering for the main character like they should is another annoyance altogether.

Thankfully, while Ethan is largely forgettable and the small array of side characters who aren’t trying to kill you are actively just as memorable, the antagonists- both actual and perceived, are the larger attraction where characterization is concerned. The Baker family- those crazies you’ve probably seen in the trailers over and over or played with in the few demos released, are the main draw in the beginning of the game especially (although they’re still memorable in the latter portions as well). Each has their own distinct personality, own distinct powers and abilities, and also their own distinct domain on their family lands. In many ways, they are there to herd players towards eventual endgame objectives, and yet the more you encounter them the more you come to wonder about their origins before you finally understand them later in the game. Resident Evil 7 is a lot of smoke and mirrors, but the crazy stuff and tragic details surrounding the Bakers is definitely not just a bunch of smoke blown needlessly your way.

Probably my largest bone to pick with Resident Evil 6 in retrospect is the fact that it so often and so boringly broke up combat and the tenseness of situations by presenting players over and over again with locked doors. To be fair, in many ways that is sort of an age-old Resident Evil thing, and yet Biohazard somehow avoided this mundane searching and backtracking by actually making it bearable. I think it may be largely due to the fact that the game features a much more organic and intriguing environment rather than the linear and forgettable monstrosities of the previous title. It’s not less confined or expansive, and yet suddenly backtracking to collect a key or disarm a booby trap or uncover some new evidence doesn’t seem altogether lackluster or painful. Naturally, expect your fair share of needless jump scares over and over again and expect them to be old after an hour or two- but such is the Capcom way sometimes.

In some ways Resident Evil 7 brings the series back down to earth and back to its roots, and yet in others it is even more fantastical than the last entry. Thankfully, one thing it does well is craft more believable and entertaining boss fights and encounters. Every enemy seems thought out rather than hastily thrown at you like Resident Evil 6 was wont to do. The Bakers and the other more powerful adversaries each come with their own specific methodology to battle, although a much more prepared player can potentially blitz their way through earlier encounters with sheer firepower and determination. Action is still a large part of the game, but it has taken a step towards being more cinematic so that the bulk of the experience can be returned to its horror roots. It makes for a better and overall more enjoyable and tenser experience to be sure. The gunplay and most melee moments are handled quite well although there are some unexpected hiccups here and there specifically where reactionary movement is concerned with special weapons. On the whole however, the first person perspective increases the enjoyability of the well-oiled combat both aesthetically and physically.

All things considered, Resident Evil 7 is the return to form that the series needed even if it ultimately doesn’t change things up quite as much as it probably could or should’ve. It is by no means Resident Evil 4, but then that isn’t necessarily a bad thing either. It stands largely on its own although there are still obvious and subtle connections to the rest of the series, making it a tad clearer than expected as to just how it fits in with the other titles. The expansion of the universe and video game lore is welcome and for a series that constantly retcons its own ideas and even who’s alive and who’s dead, it largely adds onto the Resident Evil fiction without taking anything else away in turn. Given the chance, whether you’re a newcomer to the series or a longstanding fan, you should give the game a chance- it’s as good a jumping on point as any, especially given the lack of need to know information considering past titles.

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Concept: Reinvent the Resident Evil series as we know it, adding a breath of freshness to a series that has otherwise begun to grow stale over the years. Introduce new characters, a new plot, and new gimmicks along the way.

Graphics: Particularly great animation and environmental work adds ambiance and aesthetic thrills to the tense adventure. Add in the fact that limbs are lopped off and gore is always present and you have a graphically sound and impressive piece of work.

Sound: There is often little to no sound and yet that works in a genre such as this. When there is something to be said or done, the voice acting is about on par with most triple-A titles and doesn’t disappoint. The minimalist soundtrack ratchets the tension at all the right times as well.

Playability: Exploration and tense combat are given their equal due and are the largest elements in play throughout the game. It handles well for the entirety of the campaign and is an incredibly well-played experience to boot.

Entertainment: Most of the entertainment can be derived from the expansion of the lore and in-game details strewn about the world. Making subtle and not-so subtle connections to the other games in the series is what Capcom often does best and it works here better than it probably ever has before. In an experience that could’ve been largely standalone, Capcom unites Resident Evil 7 with previous titles in thrilling and interesting ways.

Replay Value: Moderately High.

Overall Score: 8.0

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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: 21-13 Kansas City
  2. Steelers v Bills | Sim: 21-18 Buffalo | Actual: 27-20 Pittsburgh
  3. Broncos v Titans | Sim: 34-28 Tennessee | Actual: 13-10 Tennessee
  4. Redskins v Eagles | Sim: 21-10 Washington | Actual: 27-22 Washington
  5. Cardinals v Dolphins | Sim: 30-17 Arizona | Actual: 26-23 Miami
  6. Vikings v Jaguars | Sim: 24-15 Minnesota | Actual: 25-16 Minnesota
  7. Texans v Colts | Sim: 21-21 OT Tie | Actual: 22-17 Houston
  8. Chargers v Panthers | Sim: 27-21 Carolina | Actual: 28-16 Carolina
  9. Bengals v Browns | Sim: 31-17 Cincinnati | Actual: 23-10 Cincinnati
  10. Bears v Lions | Sim: 24-21 Chicago | Actual: 20-17 Detroit
  11. Jets v 49ers | Sim: 28-23 New York | Actual: 23-17 New York
  12. Saints v Buccaneers | Sim: 30-27 Tampa Bay | Actual: 16-11 Tampa Bay
  13. Falcons v Rams | Sim: 28-10 Atlanta | Actual: 42-14 Atlanta
  14. Seahawks v Packers | Sim: 34-26 Green Bay | Actual: 38-10 Green Bay
  15. Cowboys v Giants | Sim: 24-20 New York | Actual: 10-7 New York
  16. Ravens v Patriots | Sim: 24-21 Baltimore | Actual: 30-23 New England

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: 24-3 Seattle
  2. Dolphins v Jets | Sim: 33-21 Miami | Actual: 34-13 Miami
  3. Titans v Chiefs | Sim: 28-20 Kansas City | Actual: 19-17 Tennessee
  4. Steelers v Bengals | Sim: 27-17 Pittsburgh | Actual: 24-20 Pittsburgh
  5. Lions v Giants | Sim: 18-10 Detroit | Actual: 17-6 New York
  6. Colts v Vikings | Sim: 24-17 Indianapolis | Actual: 34-6 Indianapolis
  7. Jaguars v Texans | Sim: 17-10 Houston | Actual: 21-20 Houston
  8. Packers v Bears | Sim: 28-16 Green Bay | Actual: 30-27 Green Bay
  9. Browns v Bills | Sim: 30-14 Buffalo | Actual: 33-13 Buffalo
  10. Eagles v Ravens | Sim: 21-20 Philadelphia | Actual: 27-26 Baltimore
  11. 49ers v Falcons | Sim: 28-24 San Fransisco | Actual: 41-13 Atlanta
  12. Saints v Cardinals | Sim: 34-28 New Orleans | Actual: 48-41 New Orleans
  13. Raiders v Chargers | Sim: 21-15 San Diego | Actual: 19-16 San Diego
  14. Patriots v Broncos | Sim: 27-20 New England | Actual: 16-3 New England
  15. Buccaneers v Cowboys | Sim: 28-17 Dallas | Actual: 26-20 Dallas
  16. Panthers v Redskins | Sim: 21-17 Washington | Actual: 26-15 Carolina

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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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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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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The Best Deals With Gold, Week of 21NOV

[As Originally Read on GIO.]

Last week I detailed some of the best Xbox deals with Gold and digital downloads. This week I will be highlighting some newer deals as well as timely Black Friday additions. Let’s go ahead and see what’s in store for the week then shall we?

Join Xbox Live Gold- $1 ON BLACK FRIDAY

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon- FREE (Until 11/30)

Did you like Far Cry 3? Do you like open world adventure games? Do you like gritty and nuanced science fiction adventures? Are you even human? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you may want to check out the standalone downloadable Far Cry adventure that turns komodo dragons into giant laser dinosaurs and enemies into cybernetic juggernauts. I’m not even kidding. Go out there and have some fun wreaking havoc upon their poor souls.

Forza Horizon 2 / Bundle / Forza Motorsport 5- 60% OFF

Each of these three items- the Forza Horizon 2 10th Anniversary Edition, Forza Horizon 2 Bundle, and Forza Motorsport 5 are 60% off respectively. If you’re a fan of the series or racing games and sims in general, then this might be more than worthwhile to checkout. As an additional note, there is also a Forza Horizon 2 / Forza Motorsport 6 Bundle available at a 45% off discount. So there’s that option as well.

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons- 75% / 80% OFF

Depending upon whether or not you purchase the Xbox One or 360 version, you could save an additional 5%on costs. The two are pretty comparable so if you’re looking to save money then don’t sweat it that much. Brothers is a couple of years old now but no less entertaining, vivid, and moving. It is a narrative and puzzle driven adventure game featuring two brothers as the title would suggest. Definitely an experience to have and appreciate if you enjoy adventure titles and good stories.

Bound By Flame- 75% OFF

Very much an almost Dark Souls RPG enthusiast, Bound By Flame is an entertaining role-playing adventure game that has several interestingly implemented elements. The studio behind it recently created the interesting if flawed Mars RPG called The Technomancer. So if you’re intrigued by the premise of most RPGs and want a heavily discounted adventure title that’s not too shabby, this is probably a game you should look into.

Terraria- 80% OFF

Very much akin to Minecraft in many ways, this adventure indie darling always pops up in the discounted deals section and is still insanely popular. Whether or not you ever tried the PC version, I implore you to at least give the Xbox versions a look. Both the Xbox One and 360 versions are the same discounted price. If you enjoy simulations or adventure and survival games then you should check it out.

I hope this short blog has given you some insight into a few of the best deals you can currently get on Xbox Live right now. If digital downloads aren’t your thing I urge you to reconsider your position, because even despite their pitfalls they can be pretty helpful at times as well. PlayStation Plus has a lot on sale right now and on offer so if you are a PlayStation kind of guy or gal you should head over there as well. And don’t forget to check Humble Bundle and Steam and everything else my fellow PC gaming friends.

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Hitman: Season One Review

[As Read on GIO.]

Many of us were somewhat skeptical when IO Interactive announced that the next iteration of the Hitman saga would be an episodic release and span almost a year’s worth of time per season. I do have to say, all things taken into account, it went a lot better than it truly could’ve gone. On their own each episode is relatively weak as they offer scant content and measly gameplay. However, as a complete package the deal is sweetened a little bit even if it still has yet to approach even Absolution’s level of narrative or length. Hitman: Season One offers players six episodes and two “summer bonus” missions. One upfront bonus to the episodic release format is that it allows tweaks to be made along the way that can substantially change the experience for the better by the time the season finale rolls around and the entire package gets pushed out.

Now, I reviewed Hitman: Episode One way back in March of 2016 and that specific review can be easily accessed here. As a review, the majority of the gripes I had with the game at the time focused less on the overall quality and more on the available content which was scarce as was to probably be expected. The launch itself was pretty messy, the content was barely enough to sate players’ appetites for an entire month and a half or so that each episode was supposed to tide us over for prior to the next episode’s release, and the plot was at times incomprehensible. I’ve only sense been able to understand more of the threadbare plot through reading up on it thanks to the Hitman Wiki. A lot of the “Intro Pack” offering was bland and had the feel of a tutorial or demo for the most part. The highlight of the entire deal is probably just the graphics and the quality of controls as the game handles excellently and also looks gorgeous to boot. The replayability takes a substantial hit until you factor in more episodes but the expanded sandbox also adds some more flavor and maneuvering to the mix.

Before I dive into my “Complete Package” review, let’s just cover the basics of what it actually offers you as well. So far, Hitman: Season One has been comprised of six episodes and two bonus missions offered in the so-called “Summer Bonus Episode.” We’ve been to Paris, Sapienza, Marrakesh, Bangkok, Colorado, and Hokkaido. Most of these plays have been colorful and bustling with life, which is always key in such a sandbox experience as Hitman. The Summer Bonus Mission also takes place respectively in Sapienza and Marrakesh and is an alternate timeline of sorts to the season’s initial narrative adventure. I definitely suggest that you read both the wiki page and the summer missions blurb on the Hitman website for more information, but be aware of potential spoilers as well. Overall, in short I will save you from reading the entirety of this lengthy review by saying that this is not Agent 47’s greatest adventure and far from the best story, but it is a solid experience and fundamentally improved when viewed as an entire package and not one episode.

On paper the narrative sounds very engaging and cinematic and should please all conspiracy buffs and franchise fans. In execution however it is a different beast entirely. It is not bad, merely sparse and lacking. There is somewhat of a lack of replayability at times in the sandboxes but rest easy if you missed the narrative the first time around because you won’t discover any enlightening details on the second or third trips either- it simply isn’t there to be found. I will say, fans of the series will get more out of the story than newcomers but only marginally so. This lies more in the semi-revelation of who and what has been masterminding your assassination bids for the majority of the game, as well as some of the hints dropped throughout as to where your next adventures may take place. Do take note also, that if you are a PS4 player there is an entire alternate mission timeline available to you from the getgo entitled the “Sarajevo Six” missions. Essentially, this takes you through each of the locations detailed in the normal timeline with the added benefit of offering a secondary story. While the majority of the quality remains the same, this story is in many ways more straightforward and more entertaining.

Speaking of locations and locales, each sandbox is extraordinarily large in comparison to Agent 47’s previous adventures. Whereas Absolution offered a few large areas such as Chinatown, every single mission that this particular game offers is large and expansive. While this is entertaining at times, it also leads to some frustration as one minuscule detail can undermine an entire operation and lead you to simply run and gun your way through an assassination instead of taking the eight hour route through an infested area. Instead of memorizing entirely too complicated guard patterns in even larger areas, finding that one special item in a sea of similar items, or switching disguises an obscene amount of times, many people will more than likely settle for the easy kill rather than the obscure “accident.” It saves time and sanity. The series has taken upon itself to add and interesting feature that tracks “opportunities” for special kills, however this severely hurts the discovery factor that Hitman is known for while at the same time leveling the playing field and taking away some of the frustration.

One of the most unforgiving aspects of the game is the unbelievable sight-lines that certain enemies have as well as responses and lack of truly required skill when compared to trial and error guesswork required to progress meaningfully in levels. When you expand the size of each sandbox, there comes with that a certain expectation that enemies won’t be able to see you coming before you’ve even seen them. Instead, many of the guards and enemies operate like snipers in Battlefield and can apparently sense you from miles away before you’ve even come remotely close to contact with them. This is a cheap way to add built-in difficulty and feels forced particularly in the second half of the season when the environments and locations become more hazardous to Agent 47’s health anyways. The game often does a poor job of making it clear what disguises will and won’t work in certain situations, meaning sometimes the same disguise will work one time and won’t another. With these added frustrations, replaying levels becomes a necessity and also a curse.

Besides the initial missions or the PS4 exclusive content, there are also added online contracts and “escalation” missions. While these mostly focus on assassinating NPCs in a variety of ways or using increasingly more obscure methods of assassination, they don’t maintain some of the freshness that even the mundane normal missions do. The replayability takes a hit particularly with “Escalation” missions as you must repeatedly take out the same characters in a multitude of ways. Contracts have been updated as the season has progressed and have become not only easier to navigate but more fun to play through as a result, however that does not diminish the fact that you are virtually required to have a firm online connection in order to even consider playing Hitman. If you do not have a stable connection you can and will lose everything from progress and secondary objectives to unlocks and stats.

In summary, Hitman: Season One is an interesting side note in the series’ saga but is not the next stop on anyone’s list of destinations for where the series should go. Season Two will hopefully bring with it a host of needed changes and tweaks while maintaining the fundamentals of what makes this one still marginally a success for the standards of the series. Expand the voice acting so that it goes beyond the small-minded trash that the majority of this adventure’s work was. Alleviate some of the more frustrating aspects of the game while maintaining the sense of urgency and cautious trial and error that Blood Money and Absolution elicited so well in players. And if you’re going to continue with the episodic approach then definitely add more content between releases to alleviate boredom and to usher in more reasons for replaying singular missions.

Concept: Play as Agent 47, a hitman with a penchant for the elaborate and over the top, obscure kills that we’ve come to love and appreciate over the years.

Graphics: The game looks beautiful but sometimes the frames drop due to so many characters jammed into each mission’s expansive environments.

Sound: NPC dialogue is a real waste and the team behind the dialogue is mostly comprised of apparently the same core people because you can easily differentiate persons one through six from each other in each setting. Get more voice actors in there.

Playability: Despite frustrating segments throughout, the controls never falter and for the most part are the saving grace of the experience.

Entertainment: Each mission offers a plethora of exploration but at the same time each brings with it different frustrations and can make replaying them more of a chore and bore than truly entertaining.

Replay Value: Moderately High.

Overall Score: 7.5

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The Best Deals With Gold, Week of 14NOV

[As Originally Written on GIO.]

Last week I gave a general heads up to Microsoft console surveyors about Xbox Live -related content and free or discounted games. This week I’m aiming to do the same and to highlight some of the newer deals that have come on down the pipeline as well.

The Escapists- FREE (Until 11/15)

This is one of last month’s Games With Gold and it is still available for roughly another week or so. It may not seem too interesting compared to the newest Call of Duty or Civilizations VI, but this prison sim has its quirks and is truly an entertaining package especially if you invest in some of the downloadable content. Give it a try if you enjoy strategy games or indie tales with black humor involved.

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon- FREE (Starting 11/16)

Did you like Far Cry 3? Do you like open world adventure games? Do you like gritty and nuanced science fiction adventures? Are you even human? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you may want to check out the standalone downloadable Far Cry adventure that turns komodo dragons into giant laser dinosaurs and enemies into cybernetic juggernauts. I’m not even kidding. Go out there and have some fun wreaking havoc upon their poor souls.

Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition- 50% OFF

If you’ve been a longtime fan of the series or you played the DMC reboot a few years ago, this might be an interesting title for you to pick up. As it is, if you enjoy action games or hack and slash adventures it may also be something worthwhile to enjoy. It’s not too heavy on the wallet and it also features the majority of any downloadable content that came with the Demon Hunter Bundle pack all those years ago as well. More content for a lower price is never really a bad thing.

Resident Evil Revelations 2: Deluxe Edition- 60% OFF

If you enjoyed the first game or you’ve enjoyed some of the Resident Evil titles in the past, or perhaps even this game itself, the Deluxe Edition may be for you. It should include the bulk of the episodes- including downloads and extra content as well. After all, it is the vaunted ‘Deluxe’ edition. Sixty percent off is virtually a steal for a game that is pretty damn good in terms of quality gameplay, storytelling, and atmosphere. As a side-note, the season pass for RER2 is also on sale for 60% off.

Devil May Cry: Definitive Edition- 67% OFF

Remember when Tomb Raider (2013) and a bunch of like-minded games all released so-called ‘Definitive Editions’ with the launch of the new console generation? Well this reboot took that approach as well and released the full game with downloads and all with a slight performance and graphics boost as well. And now it’s discounted to nearly one/third the original price. So if you thought it was a good buy to begin with, this is a complete and utter steal. Seriously, you should try the game if you’ve never played the series and you should try it if you want dry wit and mind-bending fun.

Dirt 3 and Dirt Showdown- 75% OFF

If you’re into racing games and racing games that have a plethora of modes then these two titles could be for you. Both are discounted to roughly the same price and both are originally Xbox 360 titles, meaning they’re available for virtual download from the marketplace. In my opinion, Dirt 3 offers the more complete package and Showdown is more of arcade afterthought, however they are both chock full of content and differing modes and it is entirely up to you which to buy or whether you would like both or not.

Darksiders II- 80% OFF

This is quite possibly one of the best deals I’ve seen in a long time, short of completely free titles of course. This game is not only a large and expansive quest but an entirely open and enjoyable world and narrative. The first Darksiders did many things well and the sequel truly only improved upon that formula and added so much more. If you’ve yet to play the game but like action-oriented RPGs and adventure games then you should definitely try it out. As a side-note the season pass is also discounted at an 80% rate.

I hope this short blog has given you some insight into a few of the best deals you can currently get on Xbox Live right now. If digital downloads aren’t your thing I urge you to reconsider your position, because even despite their pitfalls they can be pretty helpful at times as well. PlayStation Plus has a lot on sale right now and on offer so if you are a PlayStation kind of guy or gal you should head over there as well. And don’t forget to check Humble Bundle and Steam and everything else my fellow PC gaming friends.

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millie schmidt writes... with cats

millie schmidt writes...

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