Top 5 Choices of the Fall 2016 Lineup

1.) No Man’s Sky

When I first saw the teaser trailer for this game back in December of 2013, I remember thinking 2 things: what is the point to this game, and when do I get to play it? In the nearly 3 years that has passed since that time, although I still remain a little shaky on what the main purpose of the game is, the light at the end of the tunnel on when we get to play it is just around the corner: August 9th, 2016. Regardless of my hesitation on whether or not it will provide a gameplay loop worthy of hundreds of hours spent exploring the universe, I cannot shake the feeling that this will be the type of game that you have to experience for yourself in order to understand. I hope it can live up to the expectation that has been built over the years, and luckily we won’t have to wait long to find out.

2.) Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Although Deus Ex: Human Revolution did not exactly set the world on fire when it first debuted on the previous console cycle in 2011, it was still a game that I thoroughly enjoyed playing, despite its shortcomings. While I don’t expect this iteration to break the mold and set the series on fire (although that’d be awesome), from the gameplay that I have seen thus far, the level of polish and Eidos Montreal’s commitment to the lore of the universe has made me incredibly excited to continue Adam Jensen’s story. This is going to be one of those games that most will end up buying during a flash sale at the end of the year due to the busy fall lineup, and end up loving. For me, I am looking forward to seeing how the studio reacted to fan feedback, and if they doubled down on what made the first so special when it releases on August 23rd, 2016. 

3.) Final Fantasy XV

After nearly a decade of development hell, title changes, and entire staff alterations, Final Fantasy XV is finally set to release on Sept. 30th, 2016. Of all the games that are hitting shelves this season, this is far and away my most anticipated. Stunning Titan battles, revised battle system, and a story that promises to be the most captivating since Final Fantasy XI, please take my money. Although it has already proved to be a very different approach to the series from the classic turn based combat system that made the franchise a household name, Game Director Tetsuya Nomura understands the faults in the recent titles and what is on the line with the launch of the forthcoming title. At this point, I highly doubt that no matter how good this game is, it will not be able to justify a 10 year dev cycle, however I cannot wait to experience what they bring to the table.  

4.) Titanfall 2

The day that I heard Titanfall was an Xbox One exclusive and that an open beta was being held, I immediately went to my local GameStop to pick one up. I knew that Vince Zampella and Jason West, minds behind Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, founded Respawn Entertainment, and this was their first attempt at a blank slate. From the reveal trailer at E3 2013, I knew that this was going to give shooters the shot of adrenaline that they needed. I was thoroughly pleased with my purchase and time spent with the game, however I believe due to the lack of single player content and story, it caused the community to move on quickly. Titanfall 2 is already looking like it will address the issues that players had concern over in the predecessor, and giving us more frantic twitch shooting action that we loved so much in the first. With a very busy season for the FPS genre, it is going to be interesting to see if Respawn can carve themselves out their own piece of the market. Regardless, we are going to find out when it hits shelves on Oct. 28th, 2016.

5.) Watchdogs 2

After a somewhat shaky launch of the original Watchdogs due to visual expectations set by the reveal trailer, Ubisoft is hoping to knock Watchdogs 2 out of the park. With the gameplay reveal during the conference at E32016, it is vastly apparent that they are doubling down on the ‘Mr. Robot’ themed world and giving us more of what made the first memorable. During my play through of the original, despite its flaws, I enjoyed the open world and the constant feeling that I could plug into and manipulate anything. Luckily, from what I have seen of the sequel, I have a lot to look forward to. One thing is certain, it is going to be interesting to see how it is recieved by the community, and if this offers the franchise the legs that it is looking for to become the next tent pole in the deep Ubisoft lineup. We will have to wait until November 15th, 2016 to find out. 

GTA V: Be Calm and Shoot On

Be Calm and Shoot On

     As an angst-ridden teenager, my older brother and I owned a PS2.  We had a variety of games at our disposal, but one game rang true to our state of minds at the time.  That game was Grand Theft Auto 3.  Some of my favorite memories involved my brother and I spending sleepless nights challenging each other in who could get to a five star wanted level the quickest.  It was amazing at how quickly our little characters could commit full-blown terrorism, and how much fun it was to wreak absolute havoc in ‘Liberty City’.  Now, since that time Rockstar games has released several other installments into the GTA franchise.  The latest of which is Grand Theft Auto 5 and although this game is already almost 2 years old, it is still probably one of my most abused games.  The insurmountable hours poured into this game is astonishing even to myself. 

     As a game franchise that has been around for nearly two decades, I know I’m not alone in feeling a weird sense of comfort in playing this notorious game.  Of all the mainstream games that have been released in recent years, I feel like this game gets a lot of controversy surrounding it’s violent and explicitly sexual nature.  These aspects don’t necessarily bother me, however I will agree that this game really glorifies the idea of being a criminal.  Whether or not that’s a bad thing, I feel is entirely up to the player and they should really be the ones to use discretion in deciding if it’s a type of game that they want to expose themselves to.  Despite the polarizing opinions on this game, a lot of players enjoy this game.  Does that mean we are all innately bad on the inside?  Or is there something else that keeps us drawn into this notorious game franchise.

     With the latest installment, Rock star Games has effectively combined three different types of games into one.  Like all Grand Theft Auto’s, GTA5 has the typical RPG mode in their main “Story Mode”.  The story mode follows the same cookie cutter gameplay that Rock star has used for nearly all of their previous installments.  The difference this time around is you won’t stick with the same character that you get introduced to in the beginning.  One thing that is new with GTA5, is that Rock Star has also opened up an “Online Mode” for players to access.  This allows them to roam around an online version of Los Santos, while seeing other players run around as well.  You can interact with them as friends, or engage in some PVP.  Although this part of the game has never appealed to me personally, it’s a nice touch for players who enjoy a more MMO aspect to their games.     

      In this same Online Mode, however, you are also able to engage in a racing style game.  In typical Grand Theft Auto fashion, players are encouraged to steal cars in order to get around.  For the online experience, you can steal a nice car and take it to one of the many customs shops to make it unique to you.  You can repaint it and even tune it to your hearts content.  Once you have the car pulled together, you are then able to enter in races found throughout the city with other players in order to gain experience as well as in game currency to further put towards your ride.  This aspect of the gameplay side is probably the most fun, especially if you have your friends online; the more people that are involved with the race, the more ridiculous it ends up becoming.  Rock Star did a great job weaving this aspect into their online experience and I hope that they continue to do so with future installments.

     Unlike other open world RPG’s, this game has a very unique gameplay mechanic that has been around for as long as I can remember.  Whether you’re running around in old Liberty City or shooting up modern Los Santos, you are constantly faced with a morality decision.  At any given moment the player could choose to steal a nice car, shoot up a store for extra cash, or go on an all-out killing spree just for the sake of entertainment.  However, by doing so you’ll increase your ‘wanted’ level and, eventually will have the whole city after you.  Morality decisions are abundant in many modern day RPG’s, however the GTA franchise really was the first to test the waters with this type of consequential gameplay.     

     With this aspect of consequence, it almost makes the players feel like they are that criminal character.  It’s truly exciting when you can go steal that super nice car from some unsuspecting NPC, which then triggers the city’s police force to chase after you. If you lose them, then great! But if you do get caught, you simply get taken to a night in “jail”.  For most individuals, that does not happen in real life.  It’s this taste of living in a world where there’s no major consequence for breaking the law, which really keeps people coming back.

      I’ve found that the moments I crave a really good GTA run, are the moments that I feel the most stressed.  Bad day at work?  Go steal a nice car and take the cops on a joy ride a few times.  Stressing out about money?  Go on an innocent killing spree down a random street to make in game currency.  You guys get the point.  This game is a healthy escape for you to just be, well, bad without dealing with any of the real life consequences that come with it.  It’s a great outlet for all of that negative energy that we all experience in our day-to-day life.  I really urge you all to give it a shot the next time you feel pent up over something bad that has happened in your day.  Take a deep breath, and just remember to ‘Be Calm, and simply Shoot On’.

      So what do you think?  What has been your favorite part about GTA 5 thus far?  What are some of the things that you dislike about it?  Do you feel like this game has helped you over the years, or caused you more stress?  Let us know if the comments below!

       Gamer Tina

Dear Nintendo: This is your time to shine…

Dear Nintendo,

This year’s E3 was a blast. A month later, and still the multitude of games being released in the near future have me scrambling to figure out how I’m going to make enough time for everything I want to play. But there’s also something else that has been keeping my attention, and it’s not so much what was announced, but rather, what wasn’t announced. While Microsoft and Sony had strong showings this year, announcing new titles left and right; you showed up with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Now, while I enjoyed and am thoroughly excited about this release, I couldn’t help but feel your effort was underwhelming this year. And with the looming threat of Sony and Microsoft’s new console iterations set to contend with your upcoming console, the NX; I was expecting more of a presence from you. And yet, I believe Nintendo is in the best position to surprise everyone and become a contender in the console war once again.

Now before I go into what my hopes are on what you have planned, I must confess I rarely play Nintendo games. I’ve repeatedly bought, played, and sold multiple 3DS’s and my WiiU is put away in the box in which it came. While you will always be synonymous with home console gaming, to me, you have become background noise to the loud progressions of Sony and Microsoft. Now, you’ve responded to these competitors in the past by introducing new ways for the public to enjoy games; being the first to fully utilize motion controls. But rather than finding a different avenue than Sony and Microsoft, maybe it’s time to learn from your competitors to improve your overall product. Not saying they are better! But rather I think you can take bits and pieces from them and improve yourself for the better old friend. That’s perhaps the whole reason I’m writing you. To tell you the truth, we need to catch up with the rest of the gaming community and it needs to start with your hardware.

The major reason my WiiU remains in its box is due to the lack of third party support by game developers. More often than not, triple-A titles are released on your competitor’s consoles and you’re left high and dry. Simply, all of this comes down to your hardware not being able to run the same games as your counterparts. The WiiU wasn’t built to support what third party developers are making, and therefore you were left in the dust. But now, you have a great opportunity to finally come out swinging and provide the power that gamers and developers are used to at this point. By securing this vital aspect of your new console, you can begin to rely on what has always been your strength throughout your lifetime, your first party games. 

The major reason I still own my WiiU is because of the unique experiences that only Nintendo can offer. With the release of the NX, we have the potential to see modern iterations of some of the most beloved franchises in gaming. We’ve already glimpsed at the new Zelda game, but that is only one of the many series you have at your disposal. You have to capitalize on these and pump out some new content to feed our nostalgia. Modern updates to these classic franchises with current gen visuals is enough to have fans reinvigorated in the Nintendo brand. While I understand you have to protect these brands, that doesn’t mean we can’t see new versions of Metroid or Mario. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel- but instead polish and install new features, so I want to buy the wheel again.

I believe with the support of third party developers as well as your genre defining first party games, the NX can be the perfect place where a gamer’s nostalgia and wonder can coexist harmoniously. You have the experience. You have the opportunity. I know the majority of buzz is surrounding the PS NEO and Project Scorpio, but that just means you will take your potential fans by surprise. Take solace in the fact that everyone wants to see you succeed, and we will be celebrating when you do. But to reach that success again, you must catch up with our needs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sincerely,

                                                                                                Joe Fatani

First Impressions: Song of the Deep

     My first interactions surrounding ‘Song of the Deep’ came through hearing whispers about it on the Internet.  It had garnered quite a bit of initial hype, and the announcement trailer made it seem like it would be fun to play during a hot summer day.  So, I purchased the game on its release date and have since sunk about 3 hours total into the game.  So far, this game has had some ups and downs in wowing me.  That’s not necessarily to say that it is a bad game.  After all, it has delivered on being exactly the kind of game that Insomniac promised in its trailers and video announcements.  But it is appearing to lack…something.  I know I’m not the only one who feels this way when it comes to ‘Song of the Deep’.  Since its release, this game has garnered some very lackluster initial feedback from critics and reviewers. 

     Firstly, I have to give credit to the design of this game.  ‘Song of the Deep’ is absolutely gorgeous.  Despite having a heavy cartoonish appearance, the setting of this game is by far its most enjoyable aspect.  The game’s designers did an excellent job with the colors and lighting design to make the player feel like they are delving deeper and deeper into the sea.  However, I found that by hour 2 I was already starting to get exhausted with the repetitiveness of what I was seeing since this is not a big game.  The metroidvania design of the game has the player revisit old locations in order to unlock new areas using skill sets and items that the character develops over the course of the game.  Some of the first levels encountered, Glowkelp Forest (Level 1) and Marrow Ruins (Level 3), were by far the prettiest locations in the game up to this point.  The rest of the levels seemed to blend into one another and were just plain boring to look at.

     The game mechanics and controls are smooth, fluid, and easy to learn.  When you learn a new ability it comes naturally to you.  There is nothing that is overtly cumbersome to master or unrealistic to implement during gameplay.  Most of the abilities and items players achieve are done so after completing a puzzle.  As soon as players have obtained the ability or item, they are then forced to utilize it in order to solve the second half of the puzzle.  For the most part the puzzles are not hard to complete, but they are monotonous.  The designers reuse the same puzzles throughout the game, just re done a bit in order to appear new.  Once you’ve done one puzzle, you can be sure there are about 20 other versions of it just around the corner.  It makes it extremely easy to solve since you’ve, essentially, already solved the puzzle ten times before.  This makes for quick gameplay, but it also makes for a lack of enthusiasm for completing your puzzle.  Instead, the puzzles end up just feeling like slight diversion’s in order to prevent the players from beating the game to quickly.

     The story of ‘Song of the Deep’ has potential.  The games designers created the story so that the player feels a constant pull towards the completion of the game.  As a player, you don’t want to stop playing due to having the constant feeling of having a good story dangled in front of your face around every corner.  As a player, you are pulled towards this feeling because up until this point, the games story is just plain…well boring.  There is not a whole lot going on besides having the character enter another level in order to solve another puzzle in order to get another item.  Wash, rinse, repeat.  Every level is cookie cutter with nothing keeping the players there except for that well placed “hit” of ‘good story’.  This design helps fuel the potential story arc that players create in their minds, which keeps them hooked and playing the game.  It fills the player with the promise of delivering something memorable.  I really hope that this game delivers what it has so far sowed and shows that it is not a forgettable game.  I am looking forward to what’s in store, but as of right now I can’t help but shake the feeling that “this is it”.

     Of course these thoughts are on a first impression basis only, and may change after full completion of the game.  A follow up review will be made available in order to really pin point where this game succeeded or failed.  I am hoping that things will start to turn around and I’m left with the feeling of satisfaction for beating the game instead of wondering why I spent so much time sinking into a forgettable game.  At this point, it’s really too soon to tell.  What are your thoughts? Do you agree with our concerns?  Have you experienced these same concerns yourselves?  Share your thoughts and let us know!

   

 

Real Backwards Compatibility on PS4?

During the E3 2015 showcase, Microsoft dropped a surprising announcement that many consider the highlight of the conference: Backwards Compatibility. In the year since then, Xbox has added more than 200 Xbox 360 games to the available catalog, and continues to iterate on almost a weekly basis. From classics such as Mass Effect to the recent addition of Red Dead Redemption, this feature has added a lot of value to the Xbox Ecosystem by allowing players the ability to play games they already own for fee. However, since the introduction its introduction, more often I have heard players inquire whether or not Sony is looking at a similar feature on their platform. While this would most certainly be a “win” for the PlayStation community, there are roadblocks that make the probability off this addition highly unlikely. 

Back in 2013, during what is still considered one of the most notorious E3 showcases, Sony described the integration of Gaikai with the PS4 platform and how the  technology would be utilized. Through applications such as “Remote Play” on Sony mobile devices and the Vita, then PlayStation Now with cloud based gaming in the console space, it seemed like the service was an obvious “slam dunk” for the PlayStation community. When purchased for $380 million dollars, Sony was placing a large bet on Gaikai to handle the aspect of backwards compatibility for PS4 with a subscription based service that boasts a library over 400 games. The only problem with this, is that if you don’t have internet speed that is consistently “good”, then this service cannot do much for you. 

While there are different PlayStation Classics that you are able to purchase through the PS Store, there is no emulator on the hardware that allows you to play these games if you already physically own them. So the question stands: does Sony cut out the legs from underneath PlayStation Now and offer a similar feature as the Xbox One, or do they stick to their guns and try to make their money back through the income generated off of the PS Now Subscription model?

Thus far in the console life cycle of the PS4, Sony has done nearly everything “right” in terms of messaging, product, and overall image to the gaming community- which is a quantum leap when compared to the rocky start of the PS3. Many hold on to the belief that Sony will eventually offer some type of solution that meets in the middle, holding on to the fact that Sony continues to impress. The issue that I see is that PlayStation is still a business, and Sony needs to be able to justify that $380 million dollar check it shelled out for the technology- it can’t simply push it aside for public image/service alone. Basically, Sony is stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Regardless of how you want to spin it, this is an issue that we need to address for the sake of keeping the history of these games alive. Too many times I think of a game that I would love to play, however because of hardware constraints I am unable to play it (PC players I envy you for this). Whether publishers embrace the feature of full backwards compatibility or double down on the subscription style model, classic games are getting lost in the void and this needs to change. Now the questions comes to you, the reader. How would you solve this? Do you abandon Gaikai and push forward on efforts to bring an emulator to the console? Or is this not even an issue that justifies the capital lost? Let me know in the comments below.   

What PokemonGo Must Update to Stay Relevant

 Photo Credit: Forbes.com
Photo Credit: Forbes.com

     It is crazy to think that this game/application has only been on the market for less than a week and already received the response that it has. Between bumping Nintendo’s net value in the stock game more than 9 Billion dollars since its launch, to surpassing Twitters daily active user count, there is no denying the impact that PokemonGO has had across the globe. As I was sitting at a local park yesterday, among at least a hundred other Pokemon enthusiasts, I realized that this was not just a new game but a craze that was sinking its teeth into everyone that played it. Regardless of the age group, it has brought people together in a way that I have never seen before, and I don’t want this to change. However the hype right this moment, it is an entirely different feat to move from the “New Fad” category to the “Essential Staple”. While I know a few of these have been discussed high level for the future scope of the app, here is a list of the updates they need to make sooner rather than later to ensure the game’s longevity.

1.) Pokemon Trading (Obviously)

The ability to trade your Pokemon with friends and other Trainers alike are a necessity within the Pokemon space. If the entire intent of the app is meant to get you outside and work with others (hence the move to dividing players into teams), what better way to push people to go out and talk with each other at the Pokestops than to allow them to swap? This also allows for those that are having a difficult time getting invested into the game(although this is obviously not an issue right now) the ability to work with friends on gaining a backlog of creatures that allow them to level up and evolve them as well. Of all the things I want to see added, this is the feature they need to put out quickly as this will give it a shot of adrenaline it will need in the coming weeks. 

2.) PvP Battles

I think the most common question that I usually get from those inquiring of the games purpose (outside of “Can I catch a Pikachu!?) is “So can I battle other people once I have strong enough Pokemon?” While I usually go into the Pokemon Gym description at this point, I would love to be able to give people the resounding Yes! that they are looking for. I literally can’t think of a better feature that is going to drive people to great lengths of going out and finding their Pokemon, than the promise of being the strongest among your friends, as well as in the area. With the Pokestops already packed with players looking for wild creatures, imagine individuals hanging around waiting to defend their nearby gym? Make this happen.

3.) (Enhanced) Filtering System for Pokemon

While we already have the ability to filter our collection in various ways, down the road as they add more Pokemon and libraries become more vast, we are going to need a better filtering system than the one at present. Yesterday was becoming burdensome having to go through droves of Pidgeys individually just to transfer them for candy. Imagine the ability to pick and select all at once, then engage a transfer with a ‘Candy Summary’ at the end. This is just one of the many modifications they can add to clear up the clutter that will become of these backlogs, and promote a cleaner user experience.

4.) Fix Those Servers!

The promise has been made from those at Niantic, that they are working around the clocks trying to figure out a way for better server support. Although I really can’t blame them, there is no way they could have anticipated the app destroying record traffic held by Twitter and Instagram in only a few short days on the market. However, if you want to turn away potential customers, then give them a buggy product (Insert Weedle joke here). We have gotten the promise for the developers that they are refraining from opening more markets till they have this under control, so hopefully this will come sooner rather than later. In the mean time, luck be with you on spotty connections and I hope you don’t have it crash on you during the final gym battle like it did to me…. Not that I am bitter or anything…

5.) As You Enhance the Product, Provide Tutorials

While it’s been fun to walk newbies through the fundamentals of the game, I can’t help but wonder why a more fleshed out tutorial wasn’t given. It may not be a huge deal at the moment since the product is still Vanilla, but give it 6 months after some larger updates, a newcomer will need a deeper explanation of how it actually works- rather than 5 sentences and a map. The way to sell this game to your friends is by telling them “just try it out, it’s free”, but if they get in there later down the road to a more complex system- it could prove too overwhelming for those just wanting to try it out. You need new customers for a business to thrive, make sure you set them up for success. 

Enough of my recommendations- what do you think? Am I missing something more crucial, or am I on to something here? Let me know in the comments below!

5 Tips to Become a ‘PokeMaster’ in PokemonGO

     In case you have some how managed to avoid all media sites today and as well as the usual chatter at work, PokemonGO has now taken the US by storm. For the first time in more than a decade, I found myself walking to meetings at work humming the tune we all love, and pondering where I will head to first after work to look for a Pikachu. And with what started out as a normal day at the office, turned to pandemonium by the end as people all over were walking around the floor looking at each others “tiny companions” and comparing stats. Basically, this game is catching on quick, and you DO NOT want to be left behind. Even those in the office that would normally scoff at this sort of thing, were bragging of an Abra catch by lunch time. So to make sure that you start off on the right foot, here are a few tips in starting out to ensure you are the local Gym Leader and Pokemon expert.

Preface: This is NOT the typical Pokemon game:

While they don’t stray to far away from the essential formula that made the game a staple for handheld consoles, such as the thrill of the catch, leveling up, and of course gym battles- developer Niantic Labs managed to mix it up enough to keep you on your toes from the beginning. Yes, you are thrown into the mix with your 3 normal options: Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle in the beginning, but from there on you are kind of left to figure it out as you go. This is a game that is going to challenge you to get off the couch and go out into the world, search for Pokestops, and level up your Pokemon in a completely different way.

1.) Leveling up your Pokemon comes from Candy:

Anyone that played an entry of the Pokemon franchise knows allllllll about the grind of leveling up your tiny friends, however this time around it will not come from 1v1 battles- instead it comes from the tasty treats known as (insert PokeName)Candy. With each Pokemon you capture, you will find they come with a certain number of candy, and listed underneath the name info you will find two options: Power Up & Evolve. Both require certain number of candies specific to that Pokemon and the generic Stardust that is used for all Pokemon. Earn candy of that type by capturing more of that specific creature and “Transferring” them in to claim one piece of candy. 

Pro Tip: Never pass up a potential Pokemon capture, even if you already have one- you can trade it in for Candy.

2.) Use your Incense & use them wisely:

If you go to your backpack you will see the items section that you can dive into, take time to go through each item that you could potentially receive one day and become familiar with them. One of the most important is of course the “Incense”, which when activated lures Pokemon to find you for a period of 30 minutes (a clock literally displays in the top right of the screen to keep you posted). During this time, it is wise to make sure you have Pokeballs as well as moving around while in use, instead of sitting stationary. This only increases your odds finding more Pokemon, as well as the different types that could potentially come your way. 

Pro Tip: Not only does this get you more Pokemon, but it gets you XP quickly. Try combining with a “Lucky Egg”!

3.) Diversify the areas you go:

While this one seems like a “no-brainer”, being that this game is literally called PokemonGO, but the game really does want you to get up and make your way to different areas and places. By doing this, you will only increase your odds of finding different types of Pokemon, rather than the same 4 or 5 that live around your neighborhood. Keep in mind the environments you are in as well, meaning if you find yourself by a lake for the weekend- now would be a good time to look for that Psyduck you’ve always wanted. If you find yourself with only replicas of the same Pokemon after a few hours of playing, this means it’s time to get up and MOVE!

Pro Tip: Some of the best ways to get Pokemon at a higher level, rather than the “Candy Method” is by catching them. The more you travel and search, the more likely you are to find that Alakazam!

4.) Pokestops are not “One-time-deals”:

One of the many markers that you will come across early in the game as you investigate your surroundings in the map, will be a blue indicator for Pokestops. The fact the game forgets to tell you, is that these refresh every 5-10 minutes on avg, meaning that if you need to stock up on supplies or just want that extra XP bump of 50 points, make sure to check back often. 

Pro Tip: You are going to go through A LOT of Pokeballs off the get-go while you grow accustomed to the physics in throwing- it is important to stock up on these at the Pokestops often (unless you plan to buy them with cash of course).

5.) Power up Multiple Pokemon Early for the Gym Battles:

While you have to wait until level 5 to gain access to the Pokemon Gyms and claim your team (GO TEAM VALOR *wink*), it is important to start planning for it now if you want to be competitive. It may be easier right now since this game is still getting off the ground, so you will find a lot of the premeditated placements are easier in some cases. However, as the game ages and gets more fleshed out it will be a different story. Since the battles are not turn based, you are going to be trading a lot of blows with the opposite fighter and quick. It is wise to have at least 3 decently leveled Pokemon as you attempt these gyms, but remember that you can always click on the gym icon to get a preview of the CP that is in store for you.

Pro Tip: Share the wealth when it comes to your Stardust in leveling up Pokemon, and remember sometimes it’s easier to catch stronger Pokemon than it is to raise them.

This only begins to scratch the surface of the tips and tricks that can help you be successful in this game. As you come across useful hints, let us know in the comments below. Now please excuse me, there is a Wild Eevee staring at me from my closet…

Thumbnail Picture Credit: Nintendo

Can the ‘Nintendo NX’ Keep Up With Neo & Scorpio?

 Photo Cred: Pocket-lint.com
Photo Cred: Pocket-lint.com

     Winter is coming friends… With the fallout finally clearing from the E32016 conference, we have a mostly clear vision of what the console market has in store for us as gamers. From the not-officially-announced-but-everyone-keeps-talking-about-it PSneo from Sony, to the busy 18 month period Microsoft has in store in launch not one but two consoles: Xbox One S & Project Scorpio. If it were not for the incredible showing that Zelda:Breath of the Wild gave us, most people would call that list complete and move on. However, we still have the forthcoming announcement of the Nintendo NX expected to launch March of 2017. With the official reveal imminent, one can only wonder if Nintendo still has what it takes to remain competitive in a market that seems so overwhelmed with Sony Microsoft products. After all if it is one thing that the WiiU taught us, it is that this is not the Nintendo of old.

     While there is still a ton that we don’t know about the NX, there are a few small facts that we do know. Late last year there were reports going around saying that the upcoming console will boast “industry leading chips” that should rival the power of current generation technology. However, this is was in reference to the PS4 Xbox One, not the upcoming Neo and Scorpio. If it is one thing that has been true about Nintendo platforms since the days of the N64, it is that they have trailed behind their competitors in platform capability and power. While they have found success in obvious ones like the original Wii, in today’s market where everyone is now looking at quicker platform iteration turnover just to keep up with changing technology, I can only hope that Nintendo sees similar success. 

     The WiiU was a clear indicator that Nintendo has to offer a system that appeals to not only the consumer, but to the 3rd party developers as well- without this, they will fail. Now don’t get me wrong, I adore the consoles that Nintendo has given us and I have owned a WiiU since day one (although it is definitely covered in an inch of dust right now). Before you take this as a Nintendo bash, I just merely want to see the publisher succeed. I grew up on their systems and developed friendships with most of the characters in their robust library of titles. The thing that I want to stress is that Nintendo cannot expect or afford to come out and have another half baked system launch with no 3rd party support. Nintendo is wealthy, but money does not last forever and businesses have overhead, they need to succeed with this upcoming console.

     Now I want to pass the question to you, the reader. What do you think it would take to win over the gaming community and court the 3rd parties once more? Are you already planning on buying the console? Or have you moved on from the platform, just waiting for their software to arrive on other consoles one day? Let me know in the comments below.

Will You Play COD: Infinite Warfare?

     It’s been a long time since I truly enjoyed a Call of Duty title. To this day, Modern Warfare is still one of my favorite games of all time, and easily top 3 shooters. While I dip into the franchise every year at some point or another, I have come to accept what Call of Duty is and is not. Over the top cinematics and huge set pieces are synonymous with the name, but gone are the days that I find myself dying to get one more round on multiplayer before bed. While I don’t necessarily die for the chance to play the latest title every year the way I once did, I still appreciate the space that it fills for a large group of people. I know many that don’t consider themselves “gamers”, however, put a controller in their hand for a round of Zombie mode and they love it. Call of Duty is quickly becoming one of the most accessible franchises in existence next to Candy Crush  and Minecraft, but this is not a bad thing. While I understand the frustration people tend to express when they see the franchise removing itself from what made the brand unique a decade ago, I can’t wrap my head around the hate the game seems to get every year without fail.

     Now before you accuse me of expressing the same hatred, let me clarify: I love Call of Duty for what it is. To this day, I don’t know of any shooter that feels more natural controlling and precise when shooting than one of these games. Don’t get me wrong- I love Battlefield and Overwatch, but from the second you say “GO” in the campaign of any Call of Duty title, you have come to expect a certain level of polish that you can only demand from the folks at Activision. As for the multiplayer, between world tournaments and professional players flooding streaming sites, they have dominated this area for a while now (with the exception of League of Legends of course). They have proven when you have the framework for something great, just rinse, recycle, and repeat will still move units. Regardless of what the latest Metacritic user score says, this franchise sells millions of units every year, and refuses to slow down.

     Lately I have been approached the question on multiple occasions: Will you play COD: Infinite Warfare? While the cynic in me will want to respond “no, not this year”, the truth is that I know at one point or another I will find myself making the rounds. With Activision keeping the Modern Warfare Remaster hostage on packaged copies with Infinite Warfare I will have to give it a look (I know the odds of them releasing it separately down the line are painfully obvious, but who has got the time to wait for that? Seriously?). It’s going to be a very busy fall, between titles such as No Man’s Sky and Final Fantasy XV, I will have no shortage of places to spend my time. However, just as I correlate Christmas with a viewing of Home Alone, fall has also found the same comparison with the latest Call of Duty title. I think this is true for vast majority of players that say they won’t play Infinite Warfare, most of the time you don’t plan on playing it- until launch day you see the news filled with it, all your friends are playing it, and you can’t even buy a Dorrito’s bag without having it thrown in your face. You will play it.

     Whether we want to sit here and reminisce on the Call of Duty of old, or look at the direction they are taking now, the franchise has become a staple for gaming culture. For Activision it has become a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. Change the formula, you’re criticized for messing with what made the franchise great. Keep to the same path, and people say that it’s just a re-skin and people are upset anyways. I challenge you to look at this in a different way. I understand that the timeless activity of COD hate has become a tradition in the gaming community, but is it really surprising anymore when the launch trailer hits for that years installment?

     What are your thoughts for this years iteration? If you aren’t going to play it, what would you like to see Activision do with the franchise that would bring you back into the fold? Let me know in the comments below.

     

Playdead’s ‘Inside’ is a Must Play (SpoilerFree)

     Some will want to call this a review, for some it may be an opinion piece, whatever you want to call it, I hope you have one take away from this article: Playdead’s Inside is a game you need to experience. I choose the word ‘experience’ on purpose, because for the 4 hours I spent in this nightmarish world I quickly learned that this is one of those special games that comes around only so often and transcends the stereotype definition of the word video game. Now don’t get me wrong, this is definitely a game. It’s more than a walking sim, and it there will be long moments in which you scratch your head searching for that “Aha!” moment you can finally solve the next puzzle. Now before I go any further, let me preface that if you haven’t already played through this game, it would be wise to go play first then come back to this article. While I am going to stay away from any Spoilers, I still entirely believe this game shines best the less you know about it. 

     Since the announcement of this title back at E32014, this was one of those games that I knew that I was going to play regardless so I told myself I would go on a “media blackout” for this one. No walk throughs, no interviews, no tutorials, and anytime I may see a “Newest trailer from…” I would quickly scroll through to the next piece. The only thing is, with this game there was no need to “try” and stay away from new info; the info wasn’t even there. Playdead announced this game and as simple as that vanished for nearly 2 years until their announcement on the Microsoft stage at E32016 in which they announced the game would be available a few weeks later. The fact that Playdead took this approach the marketing the game (or lack-there-of) told me one of two things: Either this game is not half as good as they had wanted it to be, or it was so good that they knew it could sell on word of mouth alone. Luckily for them (and especially us) it was the latter of the two.

     From the moment I began my journey, it was immediately obvious of the polish this game had. In the 4+ years that they have been silent since they released Limbo, after playing this game I honestly feel like they developed the game in a years time and spent the next 3 combing over every tiny detail. Trust me, it is that beautiful.  The art style is something straight out of a Disney short you’d might see waiting for the newest Pixar film, one of those cosmetics that will not get old with time but allow you to look back and admire the accomplishment that they had in a day when everyone is focused on realism. They understood their direction, doubled down, and nailed it. From the camera angles, to the masterful way they told an entire captivating tale without a single word spoken, Playdead deserves game pushes the boundaries for not only “Indie-developed” titles, but gaming as a whole. Make no mistake, they are an indie studio, made up of 25 employees, it’s astonishing what they managed to do.

     Now if you are reading this and still on the fence because you weren’t really into Limbo, Playdeads previous title, honestly neither was I. While I played through the game, I never really understood the hype that was built around the game. It was solid, artistically beautiful, but for me it never really captured me the way that other titles like Journey did. Keeping that in mind, I came into this title very cautious. I honestly believe that if you’d be hard pressed not to have the need to finish this game if you gave it 30 minutes of your time, not because of the length of the game but because of the desire to unravel the mystery filled story they present. 

     Playdead’s Inside is a game that deserves to be played, for my fellow PS4 players out there, hold strong your time will come. This game has been confirmed as a timed Xbox One exclusive on consoles, similar to Limbo. Although the wait may be longer than you’d like, do your upmost to avoid spoilers, play throughs, and water-cooler chatter on the topic, this is a game that you will want to experience from start to end blindly. Now do yourself a favor, open up your wallet and keep an open mind, if you can manage to do both and purchase Inside I can promise you won’t be disappointed. This will be a game that will stay with you for years to come, and already finds it’s way into my mind when I consider my “all time favorites” list. 

     Now excuse me while I go for another play through… I am just not ready to let this one go, and expect I won’t be any time soon.

Final Grade: 10/10