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Alien: Isolation First Impressions

Having only experienced two hours of Alien: Isolation with no plans to rush through it, I feel that now is the opportune time to give my early opinions on it while they’re still relevant.
alien-isolation-screenshots-7-alien-isolation-tips-to-help-you-survive-the-xenomorphAlien: Isolation does something that no other horror game does, making you feel both safe and completely exposed simultaneously. The feeling of safety comes from the rock solid controls and overall mechanics of the game, making you feel secure in your movements and actions. On the other hand, the nerve-wracking exposed-feeling is almost always around because there’s a Xenomorph on your trail for a good chunk of the game. But you’ve heard this all in the pre-release press blurbs and advertising stuff, so I’m here to say a few things that haven’t already been hammered to death via gaming website propaganda.

One moment early on in the game (forty minutes in or so), you’re traveling with a companion, who, during a cut-scene, gets impaled by the Alien’s tail. This is pretty standard fair, as in horror games almost always the protagonist’s companion gets killed at some point. So, after that boring intro-to-the-alien cut-scene, you are then tasked with running to a shuttle transport. Obviously, now that you know the Alien is lurking around things are more tense, especially with the added dramatic piano tremors. But what made me nearly piss myself is the fact that if, when the train pulls into the station, you wait more than five seconds to move to the next area, the Alien will come charging towards you (and you have nowhere to run at that point so…). That is an optional scare, the scariest kind of all. Most will go through the game and never experience that, being all the happier for it. The fact that during the cliche hunter introduction sequence you actually run the risk of being hunted against all video game norms makes Alien: Isolation a bundle of surprises. alien_isolation_6-100371845-origEven standard encounters with the Alien are near-piss inducing, as when you see him carving up humans on the other side of the room and you realize the only way to advance is by going over there and accessing an elevator out in the open, it’s one of the most heart-thump inducing experiences in gaming. Overall, if I wrack up the courage to play more than the two-plus hours of Alien: Isolation that I soldiered through, I have no doubt that the game will give me more memorable moments to shit myself over. And in that respect, I can already name it the best horror game I’ve ever played. No cliches, no safe assumptions, just one intimidating AI Alien with no rules.

The Scrap Yard

Destiny: The Over-Hype Train That Chugged Past Watch_Dogs Station

Have we learned nothing whatsoever from Watch_Dogs?

Well, the silly geese that actually thought Destiny was going to BE something have been proven wrong today, as they’ve unwrapped their copy of the Broble (JonTron™) for PS4 and Xbox One only to find a boring, mediocre game inside. The majority of reviews are lukewarm, stating that it is boring, repetitive and, oh, what’s that? Everything I listed in my “preview” for Destiny. Just take a peek at Metacritic.com to see the proof.

And sure, you can retort with “it’s meant to be played with friends you jealous troll!” But let’s be honest, setting a dog turd on fire in your backyard is only fun when in the company of friends, too.

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Gamerrob’s Top 10 Games of the 7th Generation

Before we get started, everyone who doesn’t know this needs to: “generation” refers to a time period of gaming, not how many more gigaflops the PS4 has over the Wii U (so, on a side note, Wii U is next gen, goofballs). Anyway, that means a Wii title will be present in this list, and even a PC title. Why? Because it’s my list and I can do whatever the hell I want. So, enjoy my top 10 games of this past generation of gaming!

10.) Civilization V (PC)Scenario Gameplay

The epitome of board-based strategy-centric time management gaming would be an understatement. This was my first real, genuine addiction to a strategy game, and like any good addiction, the addict never forgets the first time.

9.) Transformers: War for Cybertron (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)

This was the first game, in my humble opinion, to master the whole three player co-op experience. Not to mention it’s one of the best third person shooters available, and has a little franchise called the Transformers in it. Optimus Prime could slice open five decepticon spiders while Bumblebee was flanking the enemy tank with assists from Ratchet, all while your friend was shouting through a headset blasting “The Touch” in the background.

8.) The Amazing Spider-Man (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)untitled

Most of this game is stolen from Arkham Asylum, but not only does it capitalize on its stolen elements, it perfects them and throws in some touches of its own. Featuring the best boss fights in third person action-adventure history, extremely fast-paced and fun traversal of an open world and the best stealth/open-combat gameplay around, The Amazing Spider-Man was a movie tie-in to best all other movie tie-ins.

7.) Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii)

This game, next to the original Super Mario Bros., is my all-time favorite Nintendo game ever. Featuring every awesome Nintendo character under the sun, not to mention Solid Snake and Sonic the Hedgehog, unbelievable amounts of content and insane bouts of nostalgia tickling fan service, this remains the best fighter I’ve ever played.

6.) The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)news_20_minutes_of_skyrim_gameplay-11878

Middle-earth meets Grand Theft Auto, with an entire universe of lore behind it from previous games. Skyrim was its own universe, complete with frost trolls, sorcery, mystical dwarven ruins, legendary swords and best of all, dragons. Lots of dragons.

5.) Dishonored (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)

Quite possibly the best first person action adventure title to ever grace consoles, Dishonored housed some of the most creative level design, gameplay and art direction I’ve ever experienced. It’s remains one of the only two games I’ve played through the campaign of more than three times.

4.) Portal 2 (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)

Creative puzzle solving? Check. Awesome co-op? Check. Great characters and dialogue? Check. Portal 2 was just a blend of a lot of very good things which fused together to make something even better. Pulling off a puzzle game this good isn’t just a challenge, it’s borderline impossible.

3.) Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)deus-ex-human-revolution-fight

RoboCop meets Hitman sounds good on paper, and plays even better on my TV. Human Revolution took what was a cult classic and revitalized it into a living, breathing universe worthy of the current generation of gaming. Not to mention the TRON-esque art style created a level of atmospheric immersion that no other game in recent memory could even come close to pulling off.

2.) Sonic Unleashed (Xbox 360, PS3)

This will probably win the award for most controversial pick of all-time, right next to the debate of who’s better in the first Hitler vs. Vader Epic Rap Battle of History. While half of this game is just barely satisfactory, the other half is so undeniably revolutionary for Sonic the Hedgehog that it definitely deserves a high ranking spot on this list. It remains one of my favorite games of all time.

1.) Vanquish (Xbox 360, PS3)vanquish-sega-new-screens-1

Five playthroughs of this game later and I’m still having a rocket-boosting slow-mo-shotgunning ball with it. Gameplay this tight and addicting can only mean one thing: It’s made by Platinum Games. There’s a reason they’re one of my favorite developers of all time, and this game is that reason. Its six hour long single player only campaign has provided me with more fond memories than any other game this generation. It’s that good.

The Scrap Yard

Gamestop Expo 2013 Post-Expo News and Opinions

While all of the mainstream kids were at PAX Prime, us cool cats in Vegas were checking out Gamestop’s annual Expo, featuring everything at PAX and then some. From next-gen consoles to Sonic in a Mario display, almost anything imaginable was there (except for a hands-on Watch Dogs demo).SonicMarioDisplay

First off, good news. Current generation games that were on display are looking great, such as Batman: Arkham Origins, Sonic Lost World and Titanfall (yes Xbox One fanboys, it’s coming to 360 and PC as well!).

The Arkham Origins demo was great fun, but some of Batman’s new gadgets made him extremely overpowered in the demo (remote batclaw, anyone?). Hopefully the full game still manages to challenge players.

Sonic Lost World was fun too, but primarily on the 3DS. My earlier analysis of the boring Wii U trailers was, in fact, correct, as Sonic doesn’t feel fast and/or exciting on Nintendo’s quirky console. Luckily, Sonic retains his trademark speed and FUN on the 3DS version, featuring faster paced levels and better Wisp usage. In short, if you own a 3DS you might just be getting the best version of the game.

Titanfall was the biggest surprise, as up until Gamescon a few weeks ago no one had gotten a chance to play it hands-on. Well, it’s flipping amazing. There was an hour+ long line to get into the multiplayer demo, but it was well worth it. Two teams of six rocket booted and quick-scoped their way around the map in what I assume would be Iron Man’s version of Call of Duty, but that all changed with the Titans. Once the giant robots got involved, conventional FPS mechanics hit the fan and the game really showed its true colors (which were amazing amber and f*cking awesome indigo). Even better, everyone got a Titan at one point or another, meaning that no one was left out of the Gundam robot fun.

Two of Ubisoft’s biggest and most anticipated games, Assassin’s Creed Black Flag and Watch Dogs, were present but not hands-on. There was a special screening for each, showing content not currently on the internet. While it was cute, there should’ve been a hands-on demo this close to both games’ launches, and the Watch Dogs demo sparked some serious concerns over the PS4 version being better than current gen versions graphically, but more on that later.

Microsoft’s massive set up at the Expo included demos for Ryse, Kinect Sports Rivals and even a photo-op with Dead Rising 3’s zombies. My verdict on the new Kinect is that it’s still a door stopper, although it IS better than the current Kinect. Not by much, however, as it still reads movements relatively slowly and still can’t process overlapping body parts, such as putting one arm over your chest. Kinect Sports Rivals wouldn’t have been much fun had the Kinect worked better, however, as the game was boring and felt like a poor imitation of Wii Sports Resort.

Ryse looked really boring, even though expo-ees weren’t allowed to even play the Kinect version. There was a one-on-one showroom where you could watch a Microsoft employee play a demo up close and personal, but that was as close as you got to Ryse: Son of Rome’s Kinect functionality.

Sony had demos of their new PS4 racing game Drive Club and Warframe’s PS4 port, but everything else was PS3 content (Beyond: Two Souls and The Puppeteer). Nothing was impressive and while Sony’s booth was big, it lacked impact.Vegas 2013 021Vegas 2013 020

The one big issue worth mentioning with what gamers saw of the Xbox One and PS4 was that the visuals weren’t impressive, far from it. If anything, most next gen games on demonstration looked just barely on par with some current PS3 titles, and a tad better than current 360 titles. The Watch Dogs PS4 demo looked bleh, and anyone who’s pre-ordered a next gen console would be wise to listen to myself and Adam Sessler and cancel that pre-order as soon as possible. Fanboys will be fanboys, but smart consumers should hold off, as these machines don’t seem to be living up to the hype they’ve generated whatsoever.

Those were the biggest highlights and disappointments of Gamestop Expo 2013, give or take a couple of games (such as Super Mario 3D Land and Bayonetta 2 on Wii U, which both had great demos, and a couple of less pressing games like Wolfenstein: The New Order and The Elder Scrolls Online). It was well worth the $35 admission price, and I highly recommend avid gamers to go to next year’s expo, as it’s as enlightening as it is fun.

The Scrap Yard

Review of Aliens: Colonial Marines for Xbox 360 —– Not the Worst Game Ever

As the title states, I definitely don’t think Colonial Marines deserves the heaps of hate it has been so abundantly receiving; far from it. While the game definitely isn’t good enough to win any awards come GOTY time, it’s a solid enough cooperative first person shooter to at least warrant a rental, contrary to what everyone else has been saying.images

Aliens CM picks up right where Aliens 3 left off, to my knowledge. The plot is shallow at best, maintaining a run-of-the-mill superficial narrative throughout. But let’s get real, the Aliens movies were never about their amazing plot lines and beautifully crafted characters. They were about seeing aliens with mouths inside of mouths eat the guts out of space marines who thought they were tough. In that respect, Colonial Marines delivers.

There’s enough action to keep any trigger-happy marines happy, and there’s a lot more marines vs. aliens content than other reviews had previously lead me to believe. You only spend a fourth of your time versing rival Weyland Yutani troops, with the emphasis being on the aliens and a darkly lit survival horror atmosphere. While it’s never actually scary, I definitely got more chills within minutes of Colonial Marines than I got in all of Metro 2033. There are moments where you’ll gingerly shine your headlight at a corner of the room, only to see a yard long tail scurry out of view and leave you nervous to tread onwards. With that said, the actual gunplay eliminates all possible tension and previous suspense in favor of a more arcade-y shooter experience. Once the aliens show themselves, they stand on two feet and just start slashing wildly, leaving themselves wide open for your insanely huge arsenal of firearms to penetrate every inch of their black-shelled bodies. It’s mindless shooting that requires no ammo conservation whatsoever, as the minute you run out of bullets for one primary weapon you can swap off to any of the other seven which renders you an overpowered beast on the battlefield.

The previous description of the gunplay is extremely prevalent in co-op. With a full squad consisting of four half-decent players, you can level any alien or Yutani threat in your way without so much as breaking a sweat on soldier difficulty or lower. I experimented on Ultimate Badass difficulty for three missions, and even then there was little challenge with a full squad of kick-ass teammates. The fact that there wasn’t much challenge didn’t make things boring, it just allowed me to experiment with some of my lesser-used guns and gave me an opportunity to go all-out Rambo instead of smart, conservative marine. If you can play in co-op, it’s definitely the way to play. The online community isn’t exactly bustling, but I managed to have a minimum of two teammates with me at all times in my campaign playthrough. 

While the cooperative multiplayer faired well, the competitive didn’t soar quite to the same heights. In the very first round of team deathmatch I played, I glitched through a wall texture and sat in a green, enclosed space unable to move until the round was over. Things did get better after that and I didn’t experience any other glitches, but it was a seriously bad introduction to Colonial Marines’ competitive aspect. The multiplayer modes themselves aren’t anything special, with the usual team deathmatch, base defense, survivor being present along with a neat mode where you have to advance through a stage as a marine without getting killed off by an enemy player’s alien. The issue is that no one plays any mode other than team deathmatch and survivor, so I rarely got to enjoy a match of the other two modes which were surprisingly fun in the short windows I had to experience them. Playing as an alien is a fun diversion, and although the controls are clunky and are seriously underpowered when versing an alert marine, it still allows for some fun tactical espionage when you and your alien compatriots team up on an unsuspecting soldier and take him out with a brutal tail mauling.

Overall, I actually had a fun time with Aliens: Colonial Marines. I don’t know if it’s because I went in with zero expectations because of all the bad press surrounding it, or because I watched Aliens 2 and Prometheus over the weekend. I just enjoyed it in the way that a young kid enjoys running through a sprinkler. Sure, it feels stupid and inferior to the vastly superior pool, but it’s great for what it is. That, combined with all of the cool references to the Aliens films, made for a game that I think everyone should at least give the benefit of a doubt and rent.