Fallout 4: Nuka-World: A Review

Fallout 4’s Nuka-World expansion is a mixed bag, with some odd choices in terms of story direction. The premise is that the ‘Sole Survivor’ must go to the Nuka-World abandoned theme park, now run by raiders, to act as the leader of said raiders. There are three factions you can control.

Gameplay

Nuka-World provides fun gameplay with underwhelming story decisions. Firstly the good, characters, environment and fighting. The combat was great with a variety of monsters and creatures to kill. New weapons added variety in unique ways. Also Fallout finally received an AK variant rather than a PVC pipe with a scope attached to it for an assault rifle. The three gangs, and their respective leaders, add variety and are interesting. The way they operate is sadly not reflected in there attack methods. Other characters are genuinely well written and pleasant to hear. I found myself skipping dialogue a lot less which is always great. I won’t spoil too much, but a character from Fallout 3 makes a cameo, but only has a few idle lines and one fetch quest. Now for the bad; Choices in the story and interaction with the environment. While the ambiance of the world space is certainly there I can’t help, but feel that the rides and attractions which still work are boring. A lot of the rides will move and have places to sit in, but don’t let a player sit on the actual car, rocket or whatever other ride it is. You can only really ride one ride, which you have to clear out before hand, so you have seen everything already. Lastly the choices in the story. Bethesda makes it so that you either have to go fully through with the raider plan or kill all raiders to turn power on and ‘fix’ Nuka-World. The fact that to be good you have to kill everyone is just bad writing on Bethesda’s part. It seems strange that Bethesda wouldn’t have the foresight to allow you to talk or come to a truce over the use of Nuka-World and set boundaries for Raiders in an RPG. All in all gameplay is a little above average.

Sound

The sound of Nuka-World sets a tone for the DLC. While usually I would discuss the new radio stations they are not very important. Instead the soundtrack itself provides ambiance and is better than any other soundtrack from Fallout 4 and its extra content. Inon Zur has done well at supporting the setting of Nuka-World through his music.

Narrative

Nuka-World begins with a radio signal and brings you to a monorail taking you to the park itself, now run by raiders. The raiders give you a test, but rather than join them they make you their boss. The story revolves around you, just like Fallout 4’s base game which is undesirable in an RPG to say the least. Additionally while Fallout 4’s base game made it difficult to be a bad guy Nuka-World makes it too hard to be a good guy. In both the base game and Nuka-World you are forced to kill everybody and essentially skip all the quests and the fun if you don’t want your preferred companion to dislike you. The only problem is that Nuka-World has no companions that fit into its story except for the one added with the DLC. Overall the story, in terms of choice, is weak.

Graphics

Graphics are the same as the base game of Fallout 4, but special effects such as mist are used. New textures were added but at the same low quality, even on Ultra settings. Also like Fallout 4 in general assets and junk are littered about, with very little care given. Graphics are average to weak.

Verdict

Nuka-World provides a fun experience, in terms of its environment and stages of gameplay. The story lacks a good choice and makes it hard to play as a good character, which is bad writing on Bethesda’s part. However this expansion is very fun to play, and doesn’t force settlements into the gameplay.

score: 6.5/10, Better than Average

Cordially

N1sFoop

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Hitman episodes 1-3: A review (PC)

This review is done differently. If you haven’t played any of the previous games this review is not a good jumping off point watch or read any other review.

Hitman is a very blatant game. If you look at the title you know exactly what you are getting into. You are hitting men. Wether it be with a moose, knives, bullets or your bare hands you have a very simple goal; eliminate your target. The way you go about this however is when it gets tricky. You can’t just shoot a man in the face in broad daylight in the middle of a bazaar. You can, however, shoot a man in the back of the head in a secluded, ungaurded point in his routine.This is where Hitman shines. It is the thrill of the hunt, planning and executing the perfect hit that drives you to replay massive levels again and again with the goal of doing it faster and more creatively then the last time. Hitman is about building up a routine and then perfecting it with different weapons and methods.

Its broad concepts and moment to moment gameplay feel great. Hitman refines the ideas seen in previous games without losing any of its luster. The incredibly controversial “Focus” Mechanic has been dumbed down to great effect. No longer does it detract from the recon and tailing required for planning nor does it let you take out a room of people with ruthless efficiency. Now it emulates Agent 47’s reflexes with the ability to see unlucky victims through walls. Shooting is strangely realistic and I recommend people try to fight their way through a level once just to mix it up.

Hitman has always been a bit clunky to control but this installment smooths out traversal and the control scheme to a point where any old person can pick up and control agent 47 without too much trouble. The levels are huge with almost endless possibilities to take out a target. Think the first real level of blood money times at least three. The planning phase is a interesting addition allowing you to stash equipment and choose your starting spot, disguise and gear. Hitman’s AI leaves something to be desired however. They occasionally see through walls, shoot walls and walk over bodies without noticing them. This is coupled with their set routines being interrupted for up to 30 seconds if you accidentally bump into them. On the other hand they are absolutely ravenous once they begin to hunt you.  Once you are spotted running is about as effective as wiping your ass with peanut butter and then doing a triathlon with a rottweiler.

Speaking of things slowing down (pretend those last two sentences didn’t exist) we need to talk about the framerate. I have a GTX 980 an Intel 17 4790k and 16 gigabytes of ram and in crowded areas or just looking at the ocean I get 30 FPS or below. It only takes a handful of people to drop it below 40 which is worrying for a game that looks a year or two old. This kills the experience because some, less crowded levels run at a solid 60 FPS and are much more enjoyable because of it.

Episode: 1, Paris

Paris, the first episode in the saga of death that is Hitman is a little lacking compared to the other two. The two targets are much harder to kill and it feels almost oppressive how set in stone the ways to kill them are. The first floor of the massive building the level takes place in is really quite dull compared to the other floors and the surrounding area due to it being mainly just one massive frame dropping crowd. A lot less intricacy is involved in infiltration here as well. Once you find a security outfit you have basically free run of the fashion show. The one redeeming quality for me was the many ways you could climb to the top floor and really make use of the verticality being seen more in not only Hitman but stealth games in general.

Episode: 2, Saspienza

Saspienza is the pinnacle of the three episodes and reminds me a lot of one of the levels from Blood money. The manor you have to infiltrate is surrounded by a section of a small city with shops a milling about. The inhabitants and their routines are believable (except for the guy who walks up and down stairs washing his face). The guards are easier to avoid due to the abundance of walls that tend to accompany houses. Just when you think you have seen the entirety of the mansion you head underground to destroy a virus in cramped quarters of a secret lab. The lab is full of close calls and risky maneuvers which add to the tension of conventional Hitman stealth.

Episodes: 3, Morocco

Morocco breaks the streak of verticality that was seen in Paris and Saspienza. It focuses on horizontal, multi level buildings connected by a dense urban area. Morocco also gives you access to it’s rooftops which give way to interesting and detailed house interiors. It combines the ideas of Paris and Saspienza to create satisfying social stealth that doesn’t quite hit the spot Saspienza did.

Verdict so far

Hitman has more than enough content to be worthy of purchasing at this point. It’s a satisfying and fresh stealth game that has reinvigorated it’s predecessor’s signature style. It is, however, held back by some patch-able technical flaws.

Score: 8/10, Great

Cheers,

Earlegrey

 us on twitter! @Refractiongrey
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Path of exile impressions

If you have been on steam for more than 2 years you might have heard of a popular little MMORPG called Path of exile.  It is renowned for it’s extensive endgame, unobtrusive cash shop and great single player experience.  The game takes after games like Diablo, Tochlight and Titan Quest due to it being a loot driven click fest about maxing out unique characters. POE is instance based so you wont have to worry about too many uninvited players stealing your sweet loot or missing out on any experience. This instance based style does wonders for the game. This is the first MMO besides ESO that I can say nails a fun single player experience. When playing single player you can really take in the incredibly dark fantasy world grinding gears has created at your own pace.

The setting of POE is amazing! Although POE doesn’t have much of a story the unique world has fantastic lore with dark secrets for those who like that sort of thing. It also has a decrepit, salvaged look to it making it all the more interesting. Wraeclast is a dangerous place and this is reflected perfectly in the horrible monsters, shambling dead, exotic wildlife and everything else in between. It all feels grimy and dark. Think Diablo 2 but more exotic. The armor and weapons you collect give a good feeling of progression with their design. You start off punching zombies with a pot on your head and end up shooting ice out of your hands wearing you flaming thong of +1 badassery. It is quite satisfying. That said you do get a lot of junk loot and you will have to play a little inventory Tetris to get it all to fit in your backpack.

While gallivanting around the many unique regions in Wraeclast you will occasionally level up. Every level you get one passive skill point to spend on the MASSIVE passive skill tree (seriously, Look it up). This huge array of available abilities makes every players character feel unique. The traditional MMO trinity; tank, healer, damage has been thrown out the window to create crazy hybrid classes like a magic user that focuses on critical hits or a tank that uses a bow for crowd control. POE is about creating a class that suites your style and it gives you the tools to do so.

POE uses skill gems instead of active abilities that come with your class. They are picked up and socketed into armor which gives you access to their unique abilities. This adds a whole new layer to gear optimization; making sure you have the right color and number of gem slots. The only problem I have had so far is that POE can be quite tedious if you play for more than an hour. If you like the grind however,  (You masochist) then this is the perfect game for you but if your like me you might find it to get tedious when played for extended sessions. This tedium can be alleviated by bringing a few buddies but i still recomeend playing it in short bursts. POE is a fun a game that remembers it’s roots but still feels fresh. It is a glorious homage to the ARPGs of yesteryear and needs to be in your steam library. Leave a comment and let us know what you think.

Cheers,

Earlegrey

Find us on twitter! @Refractiongrey

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/user?ty=h&u=3310677

Fallout 4 Far Harbor: A Review

Fallout 4’s Far Harbor expansion is a massive improvement to the game. The use of assets and effects create a solid environment and narrative. However in some places more than others the game feels lacking. In Far Harbor the player must travel to a new island and resolve a conflict that rises there.

Gameplay

While there are some holes in the game play of Far Harbor the whole experience feels extensively better than the Commonwealth and Fallout 4’s base game. Far Harbor includes several improvements, great experiences and some bad ones. First, the good; Companions, interaction with the story and atmosphere. While there is only one companion in the expansion he is actually quite good. His story and actions are actually interesting and he seems to interact more with the separate factions. Speaking of factions the three featured are all well-developed and present a good back story for you to make your own decisions which have a real impact on the story. Instead of 4 different ways to say no, Far Harbor uses factions like New Vegas to decide the closing of the story. Lastly what I find to be  the most interesting important part of Far Harbor is its environment and ambiance. The use of graphics and sound are incredible overall they form a very pleasing atmosphere, which is leaps and bounds better than the original game. Included in the atmosphere are some new creatures. The creatures are actually quite tough and really seem to emphasize the foggy, dense environment. Other mediocre and mild additions include new settlements and some new weapons. Now that the good has been explained here is where most of the bad lies, the quests. Many quests in Far Harbor are extremely boring. These mostly consists of running and moving with very basic fighting. They are almost all fetch quests. I would like to say it would be nice for Bethesda to think outside of the box for these quests, but they have already done it, and it is disastrous. What should have been an easy puzzle section turned into what seemed liked hours of boring, grueling first person puzzles. These puzzles consisted of a simulation using the settlement system to place blocks to guide a beam. It is a sort of laser and mirror puzzle. In total there are 8 of these which are repetitive, annoying and just boredom inducing. Overall game play may be good in some aspects such as environment, but the quests leave a lot to be wanted.

 

Sound

The sound of Far Harbor is somewhat important in terms of ambiance and music which does a good job setting the tone. Otherwise the voice acting and sound effects are practically the same as the base game and mediocre at best. Sound in an action game is very important and still leaves something to be desired.

Narrative

A basic narrative of Far Harbor starts with a case presented to you by Nick Valentine. The case involves a kidnapping which takes the player to Far Harbor. Far Harbor is an island that is home to three main factions. These are a group of synths, the Children of Atom and lastly the people of Far Harbor. The narrative comes together very well and actually gives a better ‘true’ RPG Experience than the base game. This is due to the player themselves not having to be attached to the story in any way since its not somebody you know that is being kidnapped. In total the narrative is quite good.

Graphics

While technically the graphics and texture quality remain the same as the base game of Fallout 4 several improvements made in the way graphics and effects are used inside the game. Overall with the use of fog, landscapes and lake creatures Bethesda created a very atmospheric experience with a chilling feel. All in all the graphics although technically not improved are still an important aspect of Far Harbor.

Verdict

Far Harbor is a real improvement on not only the poor precedent set by the Automatron and Wasteland Workshop DLCs, but an improvement of the whole game of Fallout 4. However with the DLCs hefty price tag of 25 USD  (€ 24.99 / £ 19.99), I can not recommended this piece at its full price. Far Harbor, for its price, leaves a few things to be desired.

score: 6/10, Above Average

Cordially

N1sFoop

Early access preview: Vagante

Vagante is a strange game. If i was too describe it in short it would sound like this: A love child of Dark souls and, strangely enough, Spelunky. It takes Dark souls sheer difficulty, slow, methodical movement and Deep RPG mechanics and combines it with Spelunky’s level design and Rogue-like tendencies. This combination makes Vagante a tantalizingly dangerous romp through a dangerous dark fantasy world.

Vagante is hard. Very hard. You will be shot, stabbed, crushed Magicked (?) and bludgeoned. The threat of a bloody end around every corner perfectly captures the feeling of creeping through a long forgotten dungeon. This makes the games clunkiness only more noticeable. The delayed attacks, methodical jumps and deadly traps and enemies mean you have to take it slow and think about every action before you take it. this slow pacing can be a  double edged sword. Right now there aren’t many incentives to take “just one more” run. Yes you can unlock perks called Backgrounds but this isn’t as rewarding as it sounds. This means that the 160th spike back rub only leaves you feeling mildly perturbed not excited for your next try, you masochist. This could be fixed with purchasable upgrades  between runs (Rogue legacy) or checkpoints (dark souls).

I recommend buying into Vagante’s early access if only to see were this game goes. The Developers and community are great. Multiplayer is fun if a bit buggy. If you like a challenge, try out Vagante.

Cheers,

Harrison

Good Robot: A Review(PC)

On paper Good Robot is a very simple game: Fly around neon levels shooting Bad robots (Opposed to the morally righteous one you are) whilst collecting weapons, Hats and various upgrades. Each combat scenario is a short dance of lights and lasers which is fairly tense due to the fragility of your character. However even with it’s intense combat and colorful backgrounds the game feels unsatisfying and doesn’t deliver the feeling of progression with each death that most games of it’s ilk have.

Sound:

Good Robots sound is  above average. While weapons sound simplistic and rather rudimentary with the standard array of pewpews and muted explosion,  the pumping electronic soundtrack is energizing and is well worth buying on it’s own.The soundtrack compliments the visuals well to emulate the feeling the game inspires.

Narrative:

Good robot’s story isn’t really told after the introductory statements of a CEO. However, the writing that is seen in item descriptions and tips is very funny and feels incredibly underutilized. Besides that there is not much else here which is a pity because there is already a wonderful Douglas Adams feeling to the flavor text.

Graphics:

The highlight here is the wonderfully use of colors which contrasts nicely with the mainly dark backgrounds. The simple but weirdly emotive character design is charming and very Disney unique. This and the hats you collect combine to make a Ushanka and Bonnet filled neon acid trip that is unique to this game. The background melds well with the bits of destroyed machinery you will unavoidably create and helps push the post robot takeover vibe. This is the strongest part of the game.

Gameplay:

It being a 2D shmup the actual minute to minute gameplay involves shooting at polygons which your corporate overlords deem as bad. It is HOW you shoot things  your corporate overlords deem as bad which is intersting. The variety in destructive devices is simply mind boggling and speaks volumes to the creativity of the developers. The real depth, however,  comes from the way the enemies behave and the different tactics you have to use to destroy them. Different enemies will employ different weapons wich keeps you on your toes due to the lethality of each one. The only real progression you make outside of each run is a building knowledge of the game. The problem is that besides the aforementioned knowledge you just get a score and a witty line of writing. This is where good robot falls flat. It simply gets boring. There is no definitive gameplay loop that is appealing to anybody other than high score fanatics. Good robot is lacking anything more than roaming around a colorful environment shooting things. I wish there was something else here but fun weapons and interesting enemies eventually dry up which leaves you with a painfully average shmup.

Verdict(deep sigh):

Good Robot is a visually interesting game that knows how to have fun with it’s weapons and enemy designs. However a complete lack of engaging mechanics and underutilized writing leaves this cute little game empty and boring after just a couple hours. If you really just want some fun and difficult shooting pick it up on sale but otherwise I cannot bring myself to recommend it.

Score: 5/10 Painfully average

Sincerely,

Earlegrey

Fallout 4: Automatron DLC: A Review

gfxautomatronThe basics of Fallout 4’s Automatron DLC are you can build robots and have them do stuff for you. Additionally there are a few quests, but nothing to write home about. Automatron also reintroduces a character from Fallout 3, The Mechanist. Essentially you have to stop robots and use their parts to reverse engineer your own robots.

Narrative:

The DLC presents a few quests in which you help a robot who was defending a caravan take out the Mechanist. By getting rid of the Mechanist you rid the Commonwealth of its robot problem. Not only are robots rogue in the commonwealth, but there are new types of raiders. These new raiders are called ‘Rust Devils,’ the utilize robots to attack you. Overall narrative is well made.

Sound:

Robot sounds are great and the voice acting is solid. The rest of the sounds are supplied by the base game. All in all sounds are are good.

Graphics:

The graphics are of the same quality as the rest of the Fallout 4 game. So they are pretty bad and mediocre.

Gameplay:

As stated before this DLC only presents a few quests. Sadly, the majority of these quests are either fetch-quests or a kill-everything type situation. Overall the quests were made poorly and very bland. While narrative and dialogue is great, the gameplay does not shine through in anyway. Quests and bland and repetitive and the main story-line’s gameplay is dis-interesting at  best. The final boss fight consists of the same copy-pasted robots coming after you. The only difficulty is the amount most of them are taken out in a couple shots. This part of the gameplay is approximately 45 minutes to an hour. There is a chance for redemption however. Automatron enables you to create and modify your own robot companions which also work as settlers in settlements. Firstly, the good, the DLC allows you to create insanely effective robots which seems to be balanced somehow. The customization is solid and you may choose different paint-jobs and voices for you bots. This is due to the need for leveling and perks. Now the perk Robot Expert is finally useful. Additionally robots made can be used as settlers. The only difference between settlers and bots is just the positive of not needing water and food and the negatives of not being able to take the job of a storekeeper. After the main quest and robot building there are only a few new enemies in the commonwealth to be wary of. These include rogue robots which include robobrains, eye-bots, protectrons, assaultrons and other mechanical conglomerates. Other than this a new type of raider, rust devils, were added to the commonwealth. They use robots to attack you along with weapons. Overall this DLC is not worth the money it costs upon release ($10 US).

Verdict:

While automatron has good customization and overall adds to the settlement mechanic I can’t say this for the overall game. This DLC sadly falls short on a few fronts such as quests and price for content. At ten dollars this DLC is not worth the price right now.

3/10

Poor

Exclusive Battle Brothers interview

all questions answered by Jan Taaks, Founding Partner and Managing Director at Overhype Studios

Elevator pitch:

Battle Brothers is a turn based strategy RPG mix which has you leading a mercenary company in a gritty, low-power, medieval fantasy world. You decide where to go, whom to hire or to fight, what contracts to take and how to train and equip your men in a procedurally generated open world campaign. Do you have what it takes to lead them through bloody battles and to victory?

The game consists of a strategic worldmap and a tactical combat layer. On the worldmap you can freely travel in order to take contracts that earn you good coin, find places worth looting, enemies worth pursuing or towns to resupply and hire men at. This is also where you manage, level up and equip your Battle Brothers. Once you engage a hostile party the game will switch to a tactical map where the actual fighting takes place as detailed turn based combat.

 

Q: What were your main inspirations for Battle Brothers?

A: The main idea behind the game was the original X-com from the 90ties which i consider one of the best games ever made. We wondered why nobody took the same concept but transferred it to a medieval/fantasy setting? This is how the idea for Battle Brothers was born.

 

As we went on with development other games also influenced development in certain aspects. Most importantly Mount & Blade, Jagged Alliance and Heroes of Might and Magic.

 

Q: What made you choose such a low fantasy, almost realistic setting?

A: We felt that there is an abundance of high-fantasy games out there with dragons, fireball throwing mages and crazy barbarians covered in spiky armor. We went more in the direction of Lotr where magic and fantasy races like orcs and goblins exist, but they do so in a very “realistic”, dark and gritty way.

 

On top of that, we are huge enthusiasts of medieval weapons and armor so we did want to keep them close to historical gear. We felt it also added a lot to the grim and dark atmosphere of the game where death is around every corner.

 

Q: Combat is a big part of battle brothers, was there any goal you wanted achieve in it’s design?

A: The tactical combat is actually the core of the game and we developed it into a working prototype before even starting with designing the worldmap. When starting out the main goal for us was to make the tactical combat challenging and fun. It is the core of the game and players will spend most time here so if the combat is not fun and engaging the whole game falls to pieces.

 

Regarding actual combat mechanics we decided to go with a classless system where the skills are granted by the type of weapons that are equipped. The player should be able to switch equipment on the fly and change his combat tactics without having to re-skill all his mercenaries or starting a new game. On top of that, we wanted to allow for as many viable equipment choices and tactical approaches as possible so that there is not one “dominant” strategy but each player can develop his own playstyle.

 

Q: The art for the game is amazing. What made you choose this style?

A: (Answer by Paul Taaks, Art Director):

The basic style of painting is just my personal favorite, so that’s easy to answer. The more interesting part is how we developed the depiction of characters and environments.

The current style of the game is the result of a long, almost evolutionary process.
Regarding the characters, the original idea was to have full body figures with animations, just like in the old Xcom: Enemy unknown.
Being a team of 3 we pretty soon realized that the resulting workload would crash the project, so we had to invent something that would give us a maximum of flexibility with a minimum of work.
That’s why we went with character busts. This way we can show all equipped items, injuries etc and don’t have to deal with work intensive animations.

Explaining how exactly the environment tiling works would go a bit too far, but we crafted a system consisting of tiles, transitions, details and objects to achieve a look that is as natural as possible. The organic environment enhances the immersion and takes away a bit of the “boardgamey” feel of the busts.

 

Q: What is early access like? Has it been good for the game?

A: Early Access is kind of a double edged sword. Originally, it was intended to help balance and test a game prior to release for a timeframe of maybe 3 months. It is only meant for companies that have the development fully funded and do not need the money from the EA.

However, many small companies use it to fund their running development over a long time and some of these fail, for whatever reason, and the game never get’s finished. There have been a lot of really bad things happen with EA titles over the past years but it also allowed for a lot of amazing games to be made.

 

For us it is a great thing as it both helps test and balance the game while funding further development so it is safe to say that without Early Access there would be no Battle Brothers.

 

Q: How has Battle Brothers changed since it’s inception?

A: A lot. It moved away from a pretty close copy of X-com mechanics towards a rather realistic medieval-mercenary-simulation. By now we feel that it is a very unique game and its origins are very hard to track down to a single game or other piece of inspiration.

 

The game further changed during the Early Access phase where we get constant feedback from players testing the game, finding inconsistencies, suggesting ideas, finding balance issues and so on. With the kind of iterative game development we are using the game is in a constant flow, it is “alive” if you will.

 

Q: What has been the biggest challenge you have during development? How did you overcome it?

A: We have been working on Battle Brothers for 4 years now, most of this time we were working normal day jobs and then work on Battle Brothers in the evenings and weekends. All while having only a very vague idea if the game will ever be successful.

The biggest challenge was keeping yourself motivated over all those years without giving up on the project or losing the drive to finish it. I think this is where most Indie-Game projects fail. What helped us keep going is the fact that we wanted to create a game that we want to play ourselves. So even if everything else fails we will still have created a great game for ourselves. If you are not 100% invested in the game you are making chances are it is not going to get finished. So as an advice to people thinking about making a game: Make a game that is exciting to you, a game that you really want to play and that you think will be amazing and that you are passionate about. You will lose motivation very quickly if you just make a “random game”.

 

Q: Anything exciting coming soon?

A: We just published a big Worldmap Update that changes around the whole strategic part of the game. Right now we are adding different combat environments and more contracts to the game so there is something new in the game every other week.

 

Q: Do you have a release date yet?

A: Definitely 2016 but we have not decided on a final release date.

Tom Clancy’s The Division(PC): A review

The Division is a masterful recreation of Destiny’s loot cycle but finished and sharpened to a fine edge with more content than you can shake a stick at. It is also one of the first to try to follow destiny in the vain of the “Multiplayer loot shooter”(Really hope that is not going to be a new genre).

Narrative:

The game’s story follows a customized Division agent after a bio terrorist attack on Black Friday. The plot makes good use of it’s near apocalyptic setting. A silent protagonist was not a good choice given that on some occasions your character “tells other characters something” and it pulls you right out of it when they answer a unasked question. But although the story is not spectacular it serves as good framing for your actions and makes all your victories that much sweeter. It also treats LGBTQ characters as not just caricatures but as full fledged characters that are a part of day to day life.

Sound:

The voice acting in The Division is amazing. Each character is portrayed very well and sounds realistic. Guns and other weapons pack the appropriate punch and sound really good from faraway as they echo through the streets. Ambient noise like character movement and wind also sound wonderful.

Graphics:

The game looks great and contrary to popular belief was not scaled down that much from the E3 conference. The way cover is represented is great and doesn’t have random immersion boxes that seem to have fallen from the sky. Particle effects are great and add to the feeling of the game. All the menus also look amazing and do a good job immersing you in your environment. Word of warning though, 60 FPS requires a really beefy PC if you plan to run it on ultra.

Gameplay:

The Division is a finely tuned machine of looting and shooting with such a satisfying progression system that it becomes an incredibly addicting cycle. The pacing is wonderful because instead of a level based system it’s leveling system takes a back seat to the base building progression were resources acquired through missions are used to unlock perks, talents and new abilities and there mods. The system is gratifying and coupled with its addictive gun modding mechanics make the loot cycle engrossing and gives you plenty of room to customize your loadout.                                                                                                                                Besides PvE The Division has a PvP area called the dark zone. this is were all the best enemies and loot is. But there is a twist, while in the dark zone you cannot equip the gear you pickup unless you extract it by helicopter and players can kill you and take your unextracted dark zone loot. These players who engage in PvP are marked as rogues and can be hunted for currency for a minute or two. This tension combined with the local only voice chat system makes encounters tense and dangerous and playing both rogue or rogue hunter is fun.                                                                                                                                                                    The gun play in the beginning of the game is satisfyingly lethal on both sides going down in a handful of shots in the later game the enemies become bullet spongy taking a clip or two to take down. Although it may take a lot of bullets to take down a single enemy i never found myself running out of ammo in the late game because i was averaging 700 spare rounds this is a huge missed opportunity to add another layer of thinking to gunfights and gives little meaning to the restock boxes scattered throughout the world.

Verdict:

The Division is a refined and streamlined Multiplayer experience with inventive PvP and well paced PvE with a focus on ambushes. The progression is satisfying and gives a great feeling of rebuilding new York. It is some of the best fun I have had in a public lobby or with other players in a while.

8/10

Great

Sincerely,

Earlegrey

 

 

Cities Skylines: an Editor Review

Cities: Skylines is a pretty neat game to fill the SimCity void after SimCity 4 (2003), which was just over a decade long. Skylines, like any city simulator before it, is a management of electricity, water, and happiness. As well, the player also has to balance zoning for residential, industry, and commercial properties. It boasts an active community and developers who interact with players. Skylines is also single-player only unlike recent SimCity(2013) games.

Graphics 

Cities: Skylines graphics are beautiful and realistic, especially in night mode. Watching your city grow looks quite nice from afar. Although if you happen to zoom in the game can look a bit displeasing. While things are not very detailed the main problem resides in strange clipping in building parts usually occurring with slopes or jagged land as well as very blurry textures.

Sound/Voice

Skylines contains no voice acting, only sound effects. From afar your city may be peaceful and quiet with birds chirping and cheery music. Zoomed in you hear a busy street with train, bus, and car noises. Also, that damn chirping bird at the top of the screen is pretty annoying, but can be disabled in the settings. Sound is very average and not too important to the quality of this game.

Narrative

Like almost all city builders Cities: Skylines has no real story, but you could make your own.

Gameplay

Cities: Skylines is entirely based on three factors and a few subcategories to focus on later. These three being mentions earlier as water, electricity, and happiness. These are all influenced by some subcategories. Included in this are traffic, transportation, police, fire, and medical services. Additionally, districts can be set allowing for specific regulations according to where you assign them. Different districts also can have different specializations. These include farming, oil, and ore for industry’s as well as tourism for commercialization. Transportation and traffic are keys to help all of your services. If traffic is a problem then firetrucks can’t reach fires, garbage piles up, and industry cannot get the recourse they need. Transportation can fix this, by using public transportation you can limit traffic increase, especially when you avoid using taxis and buses. That said, traffic is by far the hardest thing to manage in this game. Speaking of difficulty, this game really lacks it. Even after the Hard Mode, which simply isn’t enough to satisfy the audience for this game, this audience being the ‘hardcore city builder crowd’ for games like SimCity 2000(1993) and SimCity 4. This makes Skylines have more of a relaxed environment and lets you focus on beautification and making your city pretty. Again this unfortunately, does not cater to the crowd this game was meant for, making out Skylines to be a casual game for beginners and intermediates. While not making up for the difficulty this game’s community is extremely active. Not limited to the steam workshop which has over 70,000 assets and mods, the community also shines in the developers interactions with players. Most player requests have been or are being patched in as well as included in DLCs.

Verdict

Cities: Skylines, while not catering to its mass audience, is overall a great city builder. Even though it is not the best looker it shows potential in community mods, assets and a developer willing to listen to players. All in all I found myself sinking almost two hundred hours into Skylines within the last six months

8/ 10: Great