Category Archives: Xbox One

The Ebb and Flow of Tides

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Planescape: Torment was and is one of my favorite games and also happens to feature one of my favorite universes. I’ve read the novelized version of the companion to the game and it is as much a fun and darkly intriguing mystery as the game itself was and is. Therefore, Torment: Tides of Numenera has been on my radar for quite some time and is truly something that I know I can and will enjoy playing through. This particular blog post is my first for the month (and first in a little while after my short hiatus) as well as a preface to what will soon be my review and report for the game, seeing as it just released.

So far I just want to share some of my thoughts going into the game, as well as a few tidbits from what little I’ve personally played thus far. Mind you, I don’t want to spoil any key elements to the plot or anything so for the most part I’ll be doing my best to avoid that here and in the future. I’ve played literally less than an hour in-game and therefore I’m assuming I’ve yet to even brush the surface of any grand scheme in terms of plot within the Planescape universe this time around as well. For the most part this is just going to be my thoughts prior to booting the game up and my reaction to the fan service that actually led to this title being developed in the first place.

Lately my time has consisted of a few measly things- living and laughing with my loved ones, working, studying important and intricate information on occasion, binge-watching Luther for the sheer heck of it, and salivating over Tides of Numenera and the promise it brings with it. I have greatly enjoyed the sudden influx of semi-traditional role-playing games in the last few years, from Pillars of Eternity to Torment. While I do love the action-RPGs that we see littering the desolate gaming landscape nowadays as well, I can’t help but always miss the “good old days” of classical role-playing as well. And as such, I constantly return to titles like Fallout 2 and Planescape. Whether you’re a fan of the old vibes of the 1990’s or the Baldur’s Gate II vibes from the early 00’s, the last few years have been kind to you if you like tradition meets neo-RPG style adventures.

Although the story of Tides of Numenera seems to largely be a microcosm built within the expansive universe of Planescape lore, it boasts some familiar elements for those of you who’ve played the first game or even read the book(s). When you place a society a billion years into the future truly anything can happen and that is no more apparent then the moment you begin this game. I really enjoyed watching the trailers for the game in the build up to its release and one thing that struck me as the most impressive but also the most obvious was the duality of choice. Choices can have any number of outcomes and as gamers we know this better than most people. Seeing the branching topical storylines in the trailer for Numenera was as awe-inspiring as seeing some of the new and interesting zones I’ll surely be able to travel to later in my own adventure.

I understand that some people greatly prefer the action-RPG archetype to that of the wordy, text-loving Zork II-style classical role-playing genre, and I hardly blame you. Games like The Elder Scrolls (series) and Fallout 3 (or New Vegas and Fallout 4) have plenty of lore and extra side content to discover completely at your own behest. And yet the original titles such as Fallout and Baldur’s Gate and Planescape that offer oftentimes lengthy conversations that rival or surpass Mass Effect in their depth and design are so much better still. I love tense action and leveling up my characters, but something I surprisingly miss a lot in newer games is that break from the action and the ability to truly revel in revelations and deep pondering of philosophical and interesting content. Sure, games like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided handle some extremely relevant and important topics such as technological advancement versus mankind itself, and yet that game is still more a shooter than it will ever be a story.

The best elements of every story at some point must stem from the sheer fact that it is a story in the first place. And that is largely why Tides of Numenera strikes me as a much needed breath of fresh air. Ironically so, to some degree. It is very much old school in some ways but then again why fix what was never broken in the first place? Just because it features plenty of text and character driven choices in its own “craft your own adventure” style of set-up, Torment is no less exciting than the action-fueled adventures of Commander Shepard and the Normandy in its own ways. It is a realm and world-spanning adventure and a worthy continuation of the series as far as I can tell.I’m definitely looking forward to playing it more and more, even if it will be splitting time with my trilogy runthrough of Mass Effect in anticipation for Andromeda’s release.

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Games I Didn’t Review in 2016: Titanfall 2

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I have played both Titanfall titles for what probably amounts to a decidedly ridiculous amount of time. I reviewed the first one a long while ago and enjoyed it profusely despite its connectivity issues and other flaws. The second one is very much the Modern Warfare 2 to Infinity Ward’s Modern Warfare 1 in that it steps up the game in almost every single way, adds much more content, increases the replayability tenfold, and then makes other tweaks and adjustments that you never even realized needed to be taken care of but now cannot function without. I guess it’s fitting that Respawn would be the company to produce such a gem, especially with their roots in Call of Duty’s past as well.

Titanfall 2 is without a doubt the greatest first-person shooter title I’ve yet to play on the current generation of consoles. And that’s truly saying something, because there have been some spectacular gems along the way these past few years. My reasons for this lofty accolade are many and yet they all tie in to some of the same facts and opinions as well. For example, one thing that Titanfall 2 does that few other games save for perhaps the Battlefield series have yet to match or come close to, is offer a stunning degree of customization in the multiplayer client. I’m constantly surprised- not just by the amount of camouflage or titan chassis and colors or items offered, but by the entirety of the package provided with the base game devoid of microtransactions in terms of what is already available to players through simple unlocks.

Granted, if you want to pay a dollar or five here and there, you can unlock neat special chassis and camo patterns and packs, but even at the base level without these minimal transactions there is so much available to players. Another thing that is surprisingly done quite well is the leveling and unlocks system. In the first game there didn’t seem to be too much available upon leveling up one of fifty times or making it through another generation and essentially hitting the “prestige” level and restarting. In Titanfall 2 this has been remedied by the addition of golden tickets of sorts that are called merits. Instead of hitting a specific experience cap, you gain x amount of merits per level, per weapon, per perk/feat, per titan, etc etc. All of these combine in your after action review of a match and go towards your overall level and unlocks- of which there are many, many, many things to unlock and discover (whether that be weapons, attachments, camouflages, perks/feats, etc).

Moving away from the multiplayer content for a moment, let’s discuss the equally interesting and exciting single player mode. Yes- this Titanfall title actually offers one and doesn’t skimp by adding in radio bursts of exposition and story to campaign labeled multiplayer matches. I really enjoyed fleshing out some of the characters from the first Titanfall in a standalone story of Titanfall 2’s own creation. The single player does a good job of gradually introducing mechanics and attributes of the multiplayer content through loadouts for titans and weapon pickups for pilots- essentially operating as an interactive and fully immersive tutorial. The story is in some ways cliche for the shooter environment and yet in many others it is truly interesting for all the ways it explores the relationship between man and machine. I won’t ruin any of the spectacular moments the short campaign offers, but I will say it boasts impressive mechanics, some original ideas here and there, and plenty of tight shooting, platforming, and even interesting Singularity/Portal-esque mechanics.

I came into Titanfall 2 wondering how they were going to improve upon the interesting foundation laid by the original title and I came out of my first few hours with the game totally blown away. It’s no mere matter of adding a single player campaign or perhaps adding a few additional titan classes to the mix. Titanfall 2 has completely changed a lot of things around without losing the allure of the original experience or sacrificing anything that couldn’t be built newer or better. The community is thriving so far and the developers are constantly providing reasons for us to play the game- from daily rewards and bonuses to dropping free map packs and additional content every few months like they did with the original game as well. In an industry dominated by microtransactions and paid content, Respawn and Titanfall 2 have made an excellent environment and case for providing what the players want free of major additional charges. Yes, even they aren’t perfect, but it’s much better than $20 a pop for Call of Duty maps and constant barrages of new weapons to pay to win with.

I don’t even think my glowing words can necessarily do the game itself the justice it deserves, but I’ll let the near 90% in average reviews and ratings do the talking for me. If I had to gauge the game appropriately on my own scale, I’d probably give it a 9.5/10 and that’s quite rare for me considering most titles I review typically fall within the 7.5-8.5 range on the spectrum. I’ve honestly enjoyed every single element of the game, even with the few flaws it has, and even considering the fact that most multiplayer game modes operate virtually the same with slight modifications. That’s truly a testament to how exciting and exhilarating the overall experience is.

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For Honor Review

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In the week since Ubisoft’s For Honor released, I’ve been either playing the game or reading and watching anything related to it. I’ve read and viewed other people’s reviews, talked to them about their thoughts, and tried to talk myself out of writing my own review as well. That last point is not for lack of positive reinforcement, nor is it for negative reasons in regard to the game itself. However, I feel like everything I am about to say is going to in some ways sound pretty redundant, and that irks me above all else. It’s a good thing in a way- if everyone who plays and reviews a game is largely in agreement, then you’re bound to be getting the best possible feedback on your product or as a gamer.

I played through the beta period with a friend not long before the game became openly available, and some things have changed since that time while others have remained the same for better or worse. For Honor is at its best when you completely ignore the story and focus on the combat itself. I am not saying to ignore story mode in its entirety, as it will definitely help you out where multiplayer is concerned and as far as gaining experience overall goes. However, do not get sucked into the narrative itself as you will only emerge confused as to what the ruckus is really all about and why samurai are fighting knights who are fighting vikings. It’s as bonkers as you’d think and as bonkers as it sounds and even more impressively, it’s probably less believable than the events of Resident Evil 7 and their impact (or lack thereof) on its protagonist.

Like pretty much every other reviewer has said to this point in time, For Honor knows what it does and it does it well. If it were a merchant it would be selling death sticks- yes, that’s a Star Wars reference and joke. To take it one step further, the combat is such a priority and so well played out and played up that if this were Star Wars, For Honor would be the severed arm laying on a cantina floor roundabouts Mos Eisley. Now, reeling our thoughts back in and not straying too far from the source material here… In case you didn’t get the memo, combat is an important and impressive thing within For Honor and it is implemented in a way somewhat similar to that of Nioh’s complex yet fluid mechanics. What I mean by this is combat can be boiled down to simple mechanics and yet the ways these mechanics mingle and interlock become complex to understand on a grander level.

Whether you choose to play as a samurai, knight, or viking- heck, even regardless of what heroic class or caste you choose within those three factions, the combat can be boiled down to virtually the same controls and mechanics. Now, one class and one faction may of course handle differently than another, but mechanically they are both stable and familiar once you’ve got the basics under control. You choose between one of three positions- essentially left, right, and high/up. These positions correspond with greater reactionary time given to defense, offense, and overall speed and agility as a result. Similar to Nioh in some respects and simpler/different in others, all three directional positions can be changed on the fly and at a whim by players, lending to breaking combos, counter attacks, parrying and ripostes, dodging, switching targets, and so much more. Simplicity is sound and beauty and even simple mechanics fluidly combine to form a complex melee mesh.

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In case that wasn’t enough for you, don’t forget that battle-ready warriors must also be strategists who account for stamina expended, area of effect items and attacks, enemy ballistics, the ebb and flow of massive skirmishes, and other visceral and intangible factors. Hopefully you’ve all played enough of the Souls series by now to recognize the importance of stamina and why button mashing doesn’t quite work as well in melee brawlers as it does in traditional fighting games. In terms of overall realism, I hope you aren’t considering that as a factor for purchase because you’ll be sorely disappointed- however, as it stands, For Honor offers a semi-realistic and authentic melee experience that more than competently gauges the experience and challenge as a whole. It’s a very psychological experience and should definitely be different player to player when you consider the immense skill and understanding curve from class to class, person to person, faction to faction.

No matter what modes you take part in the mechanics and game remain largely unchanged- even between single and cooperative play, 1v1, 2v2, and so forth. The gameplay is almost always tense in skirmishes whether it be at the start or the thrilling and blood-soaked conclusion. Rarely will you so incredibly outmatch or outpace an opponent or opposing team unless you managed to exploit mistakes or openings and double or triple team their only remaining player. The whole 1v1v1 kind of setup is truly entertaining and interesting to see played out and it helps that it works remarkably well in execution as well as conceptually. Don’t worry about getting left out to dry by incompetent teammates however, as most modes also account for leveling the odds against multiple attackers by gifting you the power of revenge (mode) and devastating combos.

Like most traditional fighters and even other online hack and slash brawlers, For Honor offers more than a handful of playable characters between its three factions. Unlike most other games however, it is not as simple as you would expect to switch between them. Although every character is virtually the same on a fundamental basis, each faction boasts several classes that are far from the same old class in the other factions’ offerings save for a cosmetic upgrade or change. Each class offers varied range, capabilities, combos, chains, and more. On top of that, you can actually customize this even further to a certain degree whereas finishers and coup de grace are concerned, among other items of interest. While story mode will act as somewhat of a tutorial for certain classes and help you to warm up to gameplay and the variance between factions and methodology whilst fighting, it’s still quite a jarring difference in reality and really forces you to learn not just your own character but your opposition’s as well.

As with many fighting titles, each character is very much a give and take sort of proposition- meaning while one class may offer plenty of strength and attack power, another may have them beat on light attacks and plenty of stamina. You must be tactical and strategic even in your choice of class within your faction, and that’s perhaps the most interesting thing to note about a game that otherwise looks like a simple and repetitive hack and slash multiplayer experience. In many ways, even if the story does not, For Honor digs very, very deep and maintains its focus without sacrificing vision or fluidity of design. Each character has their own potential for earning gear and upgrades to cosmetics, statistics, and prowess as a whole. It’s a pain to slog through match after match in search of hard to come by earnings, so I’d recommend playing through the story mode as well for some slightly easier currency pickups, as well as finding collectibles and performing side tasks. If you’re careful and pay attention to how you pursue certain upgrade paths and characters, you won’t have to suffer through the plethora of microtransactions that plague typical Ubisoft and online-heavy games.

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And now we come to the relatively minimal negative aspects of the game, save for the aforementioned microtransactions which are of course deplorable but thankfully (relatively) avoidable as well. For Honor is a visceral and gripping experience- certainly one of if not the best fighting/hack and slash/brawling game I’ve yet to play. And yet for a game that focuses so much of its real estate on the online infrastructure it is afforded, that online aspect can be such a bear to deal with. I know it has only been a week thus far, and yet I still had higher hopes for the servers and the matchmaking- especially seeing as that’s obviously the main focus of the entire project. Disconnects and network bumps or errors must be addressed in the future, and sooner rather than later. If they are remedied then I have no doubt it’ll improve the experience as a whole.

Concept: Vikings, knights, and samurai fight for a thousand years in a conflict that nobody really cares too much about because we’re all too busy watching this one guy get his head lopped off and his body lifelessly tumble off a bridge and into some beautifully rendered water.

Graphics: The environments are varied and textured to an amazing degree. Characters looks great even though they are all strikingly similar up until you’ve leveled enough of your gear to truly make a name for yourself and stand out from the pack. Every environment also features accompanying dynamic weather changes and patterns which look and feel believable and fantastic.

Sound: Although you’ll mostly hear cries of pain and anguish, metal on metal, and other sounds typically associated with combat or films, the soundtrack is a great, resonant accompaniment as well.

Playability: Like any good fighting game, For Honor is easy to grasp and difficult to truly master. The mechanics are simple and straight forward, the means to defeating all of your enemies are laid out in front of you, and yet the path towards your objective is sometimes blocked by an incredibly agile samurai warrior who claims your life time and time again.

Entertainment: For Honor is a semi-flawed experience in that its fun and atmosphere hinge upon a networking system which boasts many prevalent issues at the current time. However, the experience as a visceral fighting game and realistic depiction of combat and battlefield tactics is unparalleled and often well-realized. It is a fun experience if you can handle connectivity issues for the time being.

Replay Value: High.

Overall Score: 8.0

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Absolving Us of our Sins

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Today’s post has to do with two games that are coming in the as of yet undetermined future, but supposedly within the bounds of 2017. The first title is Absolver- an action oriented role-playing game seeking to meld concepts of RPGs and MMOs in terms of story and open-world gameplay. The second is similar in design but follows a more rogue-like situation as it is none other than Capybara’s Below. While these two games bear similarities in both initial glances and potential expectations, they couldn’t be more different upon looking at the winding paths they’ve taken during their development and overall tenure in creative production.

I’ll start with Absolver, which is being developed by Sloclap- a studio made up of former Ubisoft veterans who have worked on a number of titles in the past including Ghost Recon. It is being handled on the publishing side by Devolver Digital- more widely recognized for their work on the Shadow Warrior reboot and sequel. In terms of technicality, the game is going to be rendered fully in a version of Unreal Engine 4 and therefore should be pretty versatile in what it can handle and how it can evolve throughout the single and multiplayer components of the campaign and story.

The game is set in a fantastical land rife with martial artists and warriors seeking to prove themselves worthy of admission into a class of peacekeepers which derive their names from the title of the game itself- Absolvers. The game seems to want to meld plenty of preexisting attributes from other titles into an original and inventive experience, which is commendable to say the least. Players will find themselves in 3v3 and 1v1 matchups against computer controlled and player controlled opponents throughout the story as they traverse an open-world setting. While at its core it wishes to be a fighting game, movesets will be determined by collected cards and skills- meaning the more gear and bonuses you desire, the more exploration and combat you’ll inevitably face.

As of right now, the game is set to be initially released for PS4 and for PC, which brings me to my smooth jazz transition to Below- set to show up on Xbox One and PC initially. Below has been in development for what seems like a very long time, and has consistently been one of my most anticipated titles of the year. Luckily, it seems like we may have an opportunity to actually witness its arrival in 2017 and alongside a slew of promising content and activities as well. I’ve already mentioned that it shares some single and multiplayer similarities to what Absolver wishes to accomplish, that it is a rogue-like title, and that it too has an evolving and open world. What also catches my attention is the fact that perspective and exploration play an even larger role in Below than combat and evolution seeks to.

It is, at its root, an adventure title seeking to send your tiny player-character into the world and the depths of caverns and crags in an ever-evolving experience and story. You will very definitely be able to write your own experience and your own narrative in the way you explore and the things you discover. The difficulty and overall mechanics sound very close in execution to Salt and Sanctuary- a title that many have enjoyed comparing to an independently developed Dark Souls, essentially for lack of a better comparison. If you think back to Double Fine’s Massive Chalice, which featured randomly generated worlds and stages and an interesting overarching narrative woven into the player-characters’ survival, you’ve probably got a firm handle on what Below seeks to encompass.

While the finer points and details of both titles are inevitably not going to release until closer to said games’ actual release dates as well, I’d like to think I know what to expect but also am open to welcome advancements and surprises. Below has been a long time coming and even Absolver has been in development for several years now, so it’ll be nice to see how they are received and if they live up to the hype and anticipation. I like to think that indie experiences constantly surprise and baffle us more than their triple-A competition, and that they’re more likely to garner praise and receive cult followings than to be belittled like annual releases and large IPs. I know today’s post has been a brief one but I’ll leave you with a gorgeous picture of Capybara’s adventure title as compensation.

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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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