Video Games

World Exclusive: The Division Review (PC)

Having procured myself a copy of a game the world is dying to play, I couldn’t not go ahead and break the nonexistent embargo to provide you all with my thoughts on the next generation of third person shooter MMO RPGs. With online servers currently live for last-minute dev testing and nothing more, I’ve gotten ample time to play through the experience in its entirety. Here’s my full-fledged review of The Division.Tom_Clancy's_The_Division_Box

A desolate New York Cityscape enters my view as the chopper drops off my custom avatar into the middle of a virus-outbreak hot zone, and right off the bat I know I’m in for something revolutionary. Let’s take it back a second, and analyze that first part. Innovation number one of The Division: custom avatars. I can make my guy (or girl!) look like he’s white, Mexican, Asian or even black. He (or she!) can even have black, white, blonde or brown hair. In other words, the customization is detailed enough that it’s like looking into a mirror every time I see my character.

Now, let’s get to talking about the wintry NYC cityscape that makes up this game’s map. What can I say: it’s a breathtaking experience. All the grays and whites are so varied in color, the urban jungle literally pops out at me every time I turn the game on. And the snow, the snow does visual wonders. I practically forget it’s concrete tower after concrete tower from start to finish on the map solely because of how alluring the snow textures are. Star Wars Battlefront, eat your heart out.

Of course, the core of any video game is its gameplay. So how does The Division‘s stack up? Pretty damn well, I’d say. It’s visceral as hell, with enemies constantly firing bullets at you. It’s innovative as fuck, letting you do this insane new thing where you can close car doors. Not re-open them, but hey, don’t want to push too many boundaries before the sequel comes out, am I right? It’s immersive as shit, letting you crouch behind cover, a cutting-edge feature sure to spawn tons of copycat third person shooters down the line. It’s revolutionary as piss, giving enemies health bars so you can actively see how much damage your gun is doing to them. What other game lets you keep tabs on enemies like that?! But most importantly, it’s dynamic as cunt. You can play your way, anytime. Care to shoot a bad guy? Go ahead. Want to fire a gun at a not-so-good dude? The world is yours. Down to penetrate some unrighteous skulls with bullets? Have it your way. You choose your play style in The Division.

And the premise shouldn’t be undersold for its ingenuity. A deadly virus being spread throughout an urban population? That’s never been done before in the entire medium! Ubisoft isn’t just breaking molds with their storytelling. They’re making new ones.

You’re probably wondering about content, at this point. Just how much gameplay can you expect to enjoy in The Division? As much as you want. If you like missions where you collect stuff, get ready for the Game of the Year, baby. This shooter sends you on hundreds of missions where you procure supplies, guns, more supplies, food, and even supplies if  you 100% everything else. And rumor has it, if you 240% complete the game you can unlock an Aiden Pearce costume. GG, Ubi.

If you’re not won over yet by the groundbreaking innovation that is The Division, I’m not sure I can save you. But, I can try. If you’re on the fence about forking over $60 for the game and aren’t sure if you’ll be satisfied with your purchase, allow me to ease your nerves. You only need to spend $40 extra dollars to guarantee year-long satisfaction with your purchase and experience unsegregated gameplay through the revolutionary season pass system. With this, you can pay for the whole game up front and let the content come to you at a carefully planned pace designated by Ubisoft to ensure maximum fun over the course of the year. This game has your best interests for the next 365 days in mind from day one. You can’t beat that.

While I could comment on the expert voice acting and stellar performances in The Division, I just can’t find the right words to describe them. Same goes for the graphics, which have only been exponentially upgraded since E3 2013. So instead of rambling about all that, I’ll finish my review on this note: if you trust Ubisoft to deliver a quality product, then you’ve had this masterpiece coming at you for a long time.

The Scrap Yard

Gaming Culture is Horrible (Street Fighter V Announcement Response)

So, Street Fighter V was announced yesterday. More importantly, it was announced as a PS4 and PC exclusive, which pretty much means only Xbox players are getting shafted here.

For full disclosure, I am not a major fan of Street Fighter (same thing with Tomb Raider when Microsoft pulled this earlier this year), and since I game primarily on PC I am in a perfect position to get this game myself when it comes out. So don’t think what’s coming next is rabid fanboy-ism.

Here’s the short version: the gaming community has grown so toxic and cancerous that I hope the industry crashes, an example of said toxicity being the responses over SFV’s exclusivity earlier today. We live in a world where if Microsoft spends a little money to keep Rise of the Tomb Raider exclusive (although they have NOT clarified on whether it’s permanent or timed-exclusive, so unless Phil Spencer lives in your house, anything you say is speculation) and both Crystal Dynamics and Microsoft themselves get shit upon from every God-damn angle possible, but when Sony does the EXACT same thing with Street Fighter V, everyone is clapping and cheering like it’s the second coming of Christ.

Now, here’s the thing, Nintendo has done this as well, with Bayonetta. HOWEVER, when they did it it was because they were funding the entire thing from start to finish. Capcom has yet to announce whether or not it’s exclusive because Sony paid the big bucks to produce it. This wouldn’t be too surprising considering Capcom is on death’s fiscal door right now, and if that is indeed the case then I say good job Sony just as I congratulated Nintendo for keeping Bayonetta alive.

But again, right now all we have to go on is that Sony paid off Capcom just as Microsoft paid off Square Enix, and that is why I cannot fathom the sheer hypocrisy of the Sony fanboy camp. Just a few months ago they were railing Microsoft for doing this, but now that their beloved Sony is doing this it’s an act of piety? Give me a fucking break.


Review of Bayonetta 2 for Wii U

In short, Bayonetta 2 might just be the finest beat-’em-up of all time. There are good ones, like Devil May Cry, there are great ones, like Anarchy Reigns, and then there are phenomenal ones such as Bayonetta 2. For those saying “not worth buying a Wii U for”, that’s either because you’re not a real beat-’em-up fan or because you weren’t going to buy it in the first place. For anyone with an inkling of interest in this game, know that your anticipation has been completely justified.
Bayonetta 2 signals the return of the titular witch from the original, this time accompanied by a Nintendo-sized budget. All of the original cast return, including sassy rival witch Jeanne and bad-ass bartender Rodin. Some new faces appear as well, but mentioning them would spoil important aspects of the story, so just expect some unexpected appearances. As far as voice acting and story-telling go, Bayonetta 2 is hit or miss. The voice acting is well done for characters such as Bayonetta and Jeanne, but on the other side of the fence you have characters such as Loki who provide some of the worst dialogue and performances in video game history. This falls on both the writers and the voice actors, and while it’s not that important for this kind of game, the lack of truly talented writing and acting do hinder the overall powerful narrative.

In terms of gameplay, if you loved the original Bayonetta or love button mashers in general, then this game has you covered. Not only does it improve upon the original, but it provides so many new weapons and gameplay-altering costumes that the experience feels entirely fresh in a deceptively familiar way. All aspects of the original title are present, including core mechanics such as witch time and animal transformations, as well as the previously unlockable skills such as air-dodge, now available right from the get-go. This means that the game can start expanding and refining on its original foundations right from the prologue, meaning crazy new skills and weapons for veteran players to enhance their experience with right out of the gate. New weapons include everything from a magic bow to a dual-pair of pink, spiky vine-whips (my personal favorites). Each weapon has unique animations depending on if you equip them to Bayonetta’s arms or feet, which results in thousands of different combo-pairing opportunities.WiiU_Bayonetta2_scrn03_E3
In terms of length, Bayonetta 2 clocks in at around fourteen hours, give or take. With tons of different difficulty levels and unlockables, though, there’s ample incentive to replay the entire adventure from start to finish (not to mention that the core gameplay is inherently fun on its own). There’s an online mode called tag climax, a competitive co-op experience where two players try to kill as many demons and angels as possible while competing for the high score. Stages for this mode are unlocked by completing single player chapters, so in a way both modes work together to give each other longevity. Tag climax matches range from five minutes to thirty minutes a piece, and while they’re not especially engaging (not to mention the online community is shitty), the inclusion of the mode serves as a reason to pick up the game every so often for quick bouts of inconsequential action.

Lastly, the soundtrack. Bayonetta 2 has turned one of the most slowly-paced Frank Sinatra songs, “Moon River”, into one of the most rip-roaring and fun pop songs in recent memory. Not to mention the main theme, “Tomorrow is Mine”, is absolutely fantastic in its own right. These two songs sung by the amazing Keeley Bumford, in accompaniment to a fantastic soundtrack including such classics as the “William Tell Overture” mean that pretty much anyone with a love of music will find something to jam out to.

One minor note is that graphical fidelity has been noticeably upgraded since the last time around. Not too much given the hardware limitations, but there is definitely a visible improvement since 2009’s Bayonetta.

With the only minor downside being some occasionally shoddy writing and acting, you are committing a sin against yourself if you love beat-’em-ups and ignore Bayonetta 2. Even I, one of the most casual button mashing gamers in recent memory, absolutely adored every moment I spent with the game and can see the unlimited potential it has to entertain hardcore fans. With one of the most engrossing action experiences of all time under its hood, a glorious female protagonist, a large assortment of content and a surprisingly accessible touchscreen mode (although most players, like myself, will prefer the traditional button scheme), this Wii U exclusive adventure might be the best game Nintendo releases all year (yes, I am considering Smash Bros. in that comment). In short, if there is one console exclusive worth supporting this year with your hard-earned cash, it’s Bayonetta 2.

And if somehow you’re still on the fence, remember that it even includes the original Bayonetta (complete with some snazzy Nintendo-themed gameplay-altering costumes), so you’re getting two of the best button mashers of the decade in one package.

The Scrap Yard

Microsoft’s Rise of the Tomb Raider Exclusive Move is Genius

All of the Lara Croft game case-thumpers went NUTS yesterday when they saw that the proper sequel to 2013’s Tomb Raider was going to be exclusive to Xbox One — at least for quite a few months. There was a whole new level of rage on the internet, one I’ve never seen before. All the little Sony fans and PC players quickly rallied to their best friend to try and change gigantic corporate entities’ minds via some silly digitally signed documents, even. Needless to say, Crystal Dynamics caused quite the stir of controversy.rise-of-the-tomb-raider-splash-left

This means a few things, which I will dissect here. For one, it means Microsoft is stepping up their game (pun completely intended), and really making Xbox One a must-own on top of other great exclusives like Sunset Overdrive, Quantum Break and the well-received Forza and Halo series. Rise of the Tomb Raider just seals the deal.

On the other hand, this is a HIDEOUS move for Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix. They’ve just effectively alienated a large percentage of their fanbase, and when they go back to being multiplatform….. well, let’s just say that it might be more economically feasible for them to just keep Tomb Raider as an Xbox One exclusive in the future (this might just be what ends up happening because of how hurt the Playstation and PC players feel).

Lastly, it means that you, the average gamer, will either kneel to their demands and fork over hundreds of dollars for a console just to play the sequel to How I Met Katniss’ Mother, or you miss out on the game and fume angrily on the internet with stupid petitions that will be promptly ignored until the limited exclusivity timer is up OR until the day you die if Microsoft actually intends to keep it eternally exclusive.

Since I didn’t really care for 2013’s Tomb Raider, I don’t get the fuss. Buuuuut, I will say, you can’t honestly blame Microsoft. They just fronted the boku bucks with an offer attached — Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix were the ones that accepted the offer and embraced it. 

Video Games

Evil is Spelled “Nintendo” Update 5/17/13

You know why sales for the Wii U have been remarkably low since its release? Because Nintendo pulls shit like it did today.

With the new Xbox Infinity and PS4 nearing release, the previously obsolete Wii U is becoming even MORE outdated. Hard to believe, I know. But heck, it’s Nintendo, the company who gave me childhood memories, so why not shell out a little cash to support an old friend, right?

Reason #1) As of today, with no resolution in sight, they’ve been taking down Youtube Let’s Plays and awarding copyright strikes like jackasses. All of these wonderful Youtubers giving Nintendo FREE COVERAGE AND EXPOSURE are getting their f*cking accounts taken down for no reason whatsoever, only because Nintendo feels like it needs to be the nazis of internet video game playthroughs.

Reason #2) No one wants the godamn game pad! No one wants an outdated system! No one wants a Nintendo product that has both of the previous components! Gimmicks are one thing, weak specs are another, but when a console has both, it’s hopeless. When EA and Avalanche Studios both call out the Wii U for being an unusable system with no financial potential, Nintendo should try listening.

Reason #3) This is more of a rant for SEGA, those blue hedgehog housing f*ckers. So, Nintendo practically put them out of business a while back, so what does SEGA do now? Make the next three Sonic the Hedgehog games EXCLUSIVE to Nintendo’s financially failing console. Genius move, guys. The Wii was a cash cow for SEGA, but since not even Wii owners have upgraded (if you want to call it that…) to a Wii U, why bother making Sonic an exclusive? I’m not going to buy a Wii U just for Sonic, far from it! Now I’m just going to have to say farewell to one of my favorite franchises! This is evil on both parties’ parts! This is ass!

Needless to say, I’m pretty riled up. I laugh at the thugs housing a Wii U with fake pride, and look forward to the REAL next generation console news coming later this year at E3. Because say what you will about Sony and Microsoft, but they’ve never gotten this much bad press AND pulled this kind of shit all at one time before.