The Shadowrun expansion, Dragonfall, released on Steam in February. It is set in the free state of Berlin – headed by Monica Shafer. Naturally, your first mission goes horribly wrong.
If you haven't played Shadowrun previously, you first must create a character and customize to your liking. You may choose between races of either Human, Elf, Dwarf, Ork, or Troll. I personally prefer Elf – as I like to play as tall characters. (I made sure I was as tall as I could be in Final Fantasy XIV.) Afterward, you are tasked with choosing a job, class, or in Dragonfall terms, your “Archetype.” This could be either a Street Samurai, a Mage, a Decker, Shaman, Rigger, or Physical Adept.
Once this is taken care of, customizing the look of your character begins. Unlike other games with this feature, the customization is fairly limited. You are not given much variety here. If you're not wanting to spend too much time here, the game can automatically select a look for you, as well. From here on out, you can customize your stats (physical resistance, quickness, ranged combat, accuracy, etc).
Life Was Good Until...
The game opens up with your team leader, Monkia, gathering outside of Harfield Mansion. Your mission is to raid a data vault, but naturally, things go wrong when you come upon a military base underground. I hope you don't become too attached to Monika, because she'll be killed as she tries to gain access to the base – but not before she leaves you with a faint message.
My Turn, Your Turn, My Turn, Your...
I was never a huge fan of turn-based combat. Some games handle it better than others. I can manage it at times, but here, I am unable to to maintain my patience. I found myself more concerned (and spending more time) getting my team positioned in the right places, at which point, an obstruction blocks my weapon's fire, forcing me to reposition the team once more. When I finally got the system down, I found it lacking any sort of joy
The combat system is simple, at best.
What's it All About?
The world of Shadownrun is fairly immersive. I found myself more wanting to explore and see what I could find, rather than follow the objectives I had been presented with. I shared the same sentiment when playing the classic Dreamcast title, Shenmue.
Editor's Note: Many thanks to Kevin C. for writing up this review for 2old2play.
In Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes Solid Snake makes his jump to next-gen in a stand-alone prequel to the upcoming Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Does Hideo Kojima’s latest project have the chops to stand with its predecessors in this beloved and venerable series? It took less time than you think to find out.
Changing the Game
MGS vets will notice that a few things have changed since the series jumped to the new consoles. First, Kiefer Sutherland is the new voice of Snake, and he does an admirable job, but it’s still going to piss off the fanboys. Cardboard boxes are also apparently a thing of the past and players actually must be stealthy in a Sam Fisher kind of way: utilizing low-light areas, tall grass, and obstacles. Codec conversations were also omitted this time around in favor of regular radio and cassette player.
Just the Tip
MGS V: Ground Zeroes’ main mission is set entirely in an installation on the tip of Cuba. XOF bad guys, led by a dude named Skull Face, for obvious physical reasons, captured two of Snake’s allies in order to initiate a Trojan Horse attack on Snake’s FOX group. Snake’s mission is to rescue the allies, a boy named Chico and the explosive Paz, and deliver them to safety in time to eat lunch during a UN nuclear inspection of Snake’s mother base. Several side missions, all set in the same installation as the main mission, vary in mission objectives. One mission is a double assassination, one is a rescue mission, and there’s an intel grab. Nothing terribly groundbreaking here.
The Groundbreaking Part
Although the missions have sort of an old hat feel to them, this game is doing some brand new stuff that I have never seen in a video game, and I don’t mean that in a good way. I don’t know how to break this gently to the fanboys, so I’m just going to say it: the game is criminally short. The game is so short, in fact, that it isn’t much more than a demo. I personally have no problem with game demos, until somebody tries to charge me thirty fucking bucks for it...then it’s a problem. Konami is charging thirty dollars for a game where the main mission took me just 61 minutes to complete. Yeah, there’s a handful of side missions, but the play time on those is only 10-15 minutes each. That puts total game time somewhere between 2-3 hours to finish everything.
Something else I have never personally seen in a game is the dev placing himself prominently as a character in one of the side missions. Check this out, Hideo Kojima not only puts himself in the game, but once the mission is over he hangs out with Snake in the chopper on the menu screen and fucks around with the mission list. I’ve seen devs put themselves on posters in Duke Nukem 3D, while Doom 3: BFG had messages from the development team in email form on the marine’s PDA, and even Rare used likenesses of their guys as faces on the bad guys in Goldeneye, but they never put them in a fucking helicopter next to the main character! What kind of egomaniacal dick puts himself in his own game? The good news is that you can kill him.
The game looks great, the voice acting is top-notch, the graphics are fluid and very smooth, and the story is engaging. However, charging folks $30 for a demo is a classless fucking money-grab and sets a very dangerous and expensive precedent for future games if this kind of thing gains traction.
Fuck Hideo Kojima’s overpriced demo and wait for the full game.
Currently available for the Xbox One and PC and later this month for the Xbox 360, this Titanfall review is based on play from the closed Alpha, open Beta, and the retail release Xbox One versions of the game.
Nothing Really New, Just Nicer to Look at
When the Xbox One was officially announced, there was a lot of armchair critiquing within the various gaming circles that I associate with on which game would be THE game that would be this generation’s Halo or Gears of War. Forza brought us the drivatar system that, when it works, is a great way to play bump cars against 15 or so other AI competitors that mimic your douchebag friends’ abilities to T-bone you at the start of a race. Dead Rising 3 brought us so many details in graphics and the missions were totally…. ZOMBIES!!! KATANA!!!! Must kill them!!!! What was I saying about Dead Rising 3? Oh yeah, there are just way too many fun-filled zombie-related activities in that game to keep you focused on doing any of the missions that it is a paradise for someone like that has ADH-SQUIRREL!!!
Aside from these two Xbox exclusives, there were smaller exclusives as well as the cross-platformers from the Call of Duty, Battlefield, and Assassin’s Creed franchises that you could play to help you justify purchasing a next-gen console. With quite possibly the exemption of Forza 5, these were all the same games as their predecessors and there really was nothing new, they were just nicer to look at. If you don’t believe me, come to San Diego and I’ll give you my Wii. You can play a system that’s at least two generations back. I hear they have Hannah Montana Extreme Wrecking Ball releasing for it the moment Hannah Montana gets out of rehab.
Enter the Titan
At the same time that the Xbox One was announced at E3, another game was announced to much fanfare -Titanfall from Respawn Entertainment. While other games were bragging about how they were exclusive to this or that console or how they would be getting DLC first over the other consoles, Titanfall quickly made a hole in this virtual room of games by garnering enough gaming awards to err, uhm, fill a Titan and then some. Electric Playground Best of E3, Electric Playground Best of E3 (Shooter), CNET 12 Most Exciting Games of E3 2013, IGN Best Shooter to name a few and this was while we were all still wondering what the game truly was about.
Was it going to be good? Was it going to be fun? What exactly was it about? The details were sketchy but the one thing that kept people coming back for more was the fact that this game had giant mechs in it called Titans. GIANT MECHS CALLED TITANS. Nuff said and if you can’t get behind playing a game with Titans, you should come to San Diego and I’ll give you my Wii so that you can play Hannah Montana: Dora the Explorer Deathmatch - it’s a fighting game on rails - and we will forget that you ever called yourself a gamer.
What Does the Vince Say?
The game was quickly met with skepticism upon the announcement that the game would have a campaign mode called multiplayer campaign and that it would be played over the multiplayer space instead of the traditional “Johnny likes to play with himself” space that all other game campaigns occupy. Additional skepticism grew when Respawn CEO and Chief Titan Pilot Vince Zampella announced that the game would be 6v6 instead of the typical team numbers found in other FPS games. A lot of my people went from armchair critic to armchair game developer with this news, bashing the 6v6 mechanic as being lame and saying that it would never work. Boy were they wrong…
Although there is a story/plot, Titanfall is like a great porn movie. You don’t watch it for the story until AFTER you’ve watched all of the “action” scenes. Wait, did I just type that out for everyone to read? Crap, my delete button doesn’t work so the site editor may have to censor that or let it stay…
What I mean is that although there is a story and although the story does have some depth to it, it’s not deep enough (what is it with this porn analogy - doh, analogy!) it takes a back seat to the action that happens in the game. As soon a chapter starts, you’re on a jumpship itching to plunge to certain death but now without first start kicking virtual butt. Depending on which chapter you are playing, the game mode is either Attrition (Team Deathmatch) or Hardpoint (Domination) - see there we go again with the porn analogy and if hardpoint domination doesn’t remind you of a porn movie, come to San Diego and I’ll give you my Wii. It doesn’t remind me of porn either.
The story elements are simple enough to follow along. You are part of either the IMC or the Militia and you fight the other side to try and prove who has the bigger Titan. That’s where Titanfall kind of misses its mark - If you are getting it to play single player, don’t. Single player doesn’t exist. You will be disappointed.
Thankfully, Titanfall’s campaign includes an element that it utterly excels in - multiplayer. You have to play the campaign if you want to unlock the Stryder and Ogre along with a few other perks along the way but you really aren’t simply playing campaign. You’re playing multiplayer as well in a very meta kind of way. That’s what makes up for a somewhat weak story in the campaign and by the time you finish campaign, you will be ready to take on the quagmire that is multiplayer and unlike other FPS games where you are either good or not, you will find something to be good at in Titanfall.
Whether you like to hunt and take out other players or Pilots or whether you prefer to molest game AI in the form of Grunts or Spectres, Titanfall’s got you covered and then some because just when you think that you are dominating on the battlefield, you get notification over your Comms that, “Your Titan is ready.” Then you hit that down button on your D-pad and it’s a whole new world of hurt! You go from a sack of blood and bones to a nuclear-powered, bipedal tank with guns that make Doom’s BFG look very tiny. You become an unstoppable force of nature that wreaks havoc on - “ENEMY PILOT ONBOARD YOUR TITAN!” Excuse me while I take care of this minor inconvenience. Okay. I’m back and that’s better. As I was saying before I was interrupted, you become a badass inside of a mech the size of a building and life is good!
The magic is in the 6v6 (human vs. human) vs AI vs Titan mechanic found throughout all modes of this game. If you’re like me after a few drinks and can’t aim without spraying the whole area of your TV screen hoping that you will randomly land a shot on something, don’t worry, you can always hunt down the AI Grunts or Spectres. If you prefer perform on a higher level and have the reaction time of a tweaker strung out on speed, there are 6 human enemy pilots on the opposite team that you can hunt but you have to be quick. Unlike other games that give you limited sprint abilities, the pilots in Titanfall go through rigorous physical training and can sprint indefinitely while jumping great heights with the help of jump packs. When you’ve racked up enough points from Grunts, Spectres, and or Pilots, you get rewarded with a Titan that you can call in earlier than the requisite 2 minutes. If you are a pacifist and decide to just wait it out, your Titan will be ready in 2 minutes with little to no effort.
So there’s a little something for everyone and when you call in that Titan for the first time, remember to look up in the sky because it will be like your first kiss - an experience you will never forget. Respawn spared no expense either. Turn your sound up too… The rendering of your Titan piercing the atmosphere, producing a sonic boom, and landing on the ground is an experience in itself that you need to completely consume.
Respawn Entertainment did a spectacular job with this game but they haven’t stopped working. Issues like trying to find matches, getting disconnected from your party, party chat dying at random times, etc. pop up from time to time but unlike the other EA game that I will not mention by the name of Battlefield 4, Respawn is proactively doing all that it can (and as fast as it can) to put the player experience first. They have not only set the bar in a game where we expect to be wowed, but they are also setting the bar in the kind of support that all other game developers should be providing. Bravo Respawn, bravo!
I mentioned a few other games at the beginning of this article but none of them truly capture the essence of next-gen gaming as much as Titanfall does. Titanfall really feels like you are playing a next-gen game and as I mentioned above, it has something for everyone to enjoy… even non-FPS gamers like all of you that are coming to San Diego to take my Wii. You will find something to enjoy in this game so if you have an Xbox One but haven’t already picked this game up, pick it up because you are missing out.
The view from the ledge of the clock tower, home to the master thief Garrett, shows a city in distress. Dissenters are being hanged in Stonecutter Square, a plague called “The Gloom” is ravaging the population, Moira Asylum is overrun with terrifying creatures, and Baron Northcrest is up to some evil and twisted shit. What this city needs is a hero; what they get is a thief.
Friction in the Workplace
The master thief and his impetuous protege, Erin, are off to steal a gem for a client in the prologue. Erin, resentful about Garrett’s preaching, and Garrett, preachy over Erin’s resentfulness, start squabbling on the roof of the job site which attracts the local guards. Shit goes downhill very quickly and Erin falls to her death. Garrett wakes up one year later being carted into town by a couple of beggars, which also goes downhill very quickly forcing Garrett to slip away in the shadows. Garrett reconnects with his old fence to sort out what happened in the time he lost and to discover Erin’s fate. The master thief has some work to do.
A Thief and His Tools
Garrett has an established reputation in the city, and his wanted posters are everywhere and, no, you cannot tear them down. Garrett starts off with a bow and a lockpick set, both of which can be upgraded later. The bow is ideal for taking out enemies at a distance, which is handy because Garrett is the world’s worst melee fighter. The fact that he refuses to carry anything more deadly than a blackjack only further compromises his combat usefulness. I guess it’s honorable to drive an arrow into someone’s head as long as you don’t use a sword. Garrett has access to some nifty arrows with a variety of uses: water arrows put out torches, choke arrows knock out dogs and birds and extinguish flames, fire arrows ignite flammables, blast arrows explode, broadside arrows make holes in guards, and sawtooth arrows make larger holes in tougher guards. Garrett also uses primitive flashbangs and can hurl bottles for a distraction. The blackjack is used to knock out folks from behind. It’s almost useless in actual combat, so don’t let it come to that: the loading screen is quite lengthy if you let him die.
Garrett can also purchase a razor, wrench and wire cutters from the arrow vendor outside of Basso’s office. The razor allows Garrett to liberate paintings from their frames, the wrench opens grates and the cutters disarm traps. You should buy these as soon as you can afford them. Garrett’s claw, procured from Erin in the prologue, is used to access those hard to reach places.
Experience gained can be used to upgrade Garrett’s abilities. These upgrades can also be purchased from the Queen of Beggars, who acts as sort of a sage for the master thief. She holds court just around the corner from Basso’s place of business.
Players utilize the clock tower as Garrett’s stash box and base of operations. Any unique or particularly valuable items are added to Garrett’s collection in the tower to be fawned over at the player’s convenience. Basso sends birds carrying messages to the tower on a regular basis.
Thief was developed by Eidos Montreal, the company responsible for bringing us Deux Ex: Human Revolution, and published by Square Enix. Like Deus Ex, Thief is a very dark and shadowy game. The city itself is under a perpetual supernatural nightfall, which works in Garrett’s favor. Keep Garrett in the shadows for maximum effectiveness-extinguishing torches and candles when possible. Thief provides players a light meter in the bottom left of the screen that indicates whether Garrett can be seen or not.
Garrett’s trail for the truth takes him through the run-down wood and stone streets and rooftops of the city, into the Baron’s mansion, inside a brothel, down to a couple of underground cities, and into the bowels of a mental institution. Some environments include puzzles that must be solved to progress, but nothing too mentally strenuous. The game borrows the level-grading system from the latest Splinter Cell game, rewarding players for either being sneaky, opportunistic, or predatory. Some bonuses can only be taken advantage of utilizing one of these three particular play styles.
As far as stories go, Thief tells a pretty good one. I felt genuinely motivated to both progress the plot and pick up side jobs from Ector and Basso. Most of the performances felt appropriate for the time and personality of the the character with one glaring exception: Garrett. Our master thief is unenthusiastically voiced with a modern, non-regional American dialect, making him stick out like a sore thumb. The protagonist should never be the least interesting person in the game.
Level progression is fairly steady as long as the player is in predator mode. Going stealthy drags the game to a near standstill while crouching, waiting, and timing movements. Since Garrett is not a particularly gifted fighter, and players are rewarded more handsomely for being stealthy, Thief can be a very slow-moving game. The introduction of supernatural elements to the series may cause some Thief veterans to cry foul, but it didn’t necessarily spoil the game for me.
Thief gets points for environments, story, gadgetry, NPC performances (the Thief-Taker General in particular) and providing gamers with an authentic and interesting atmosphere in which to do business. However, the game’s crawling pace, lackluster protagonist performance, and limited replayability force me to advise waiting for a sale. It’s a good game, it’s just not a great game.
If you played any of the previous Lego games from Traveller’s Tales then you pretty much know what to expect. If you saw any of the Marvel movies, especially The Avengers, then you pretty much know what to expect. The game is called Lego Marvel Super Heroes...what did you expect? That’s not to say there aren’t a few surprises along the way. Don’t discount this title as a movie tie-in as it does have it’s own storyline and it’s a good little game to boot!
Did you hear that?
Traveller’s Tales Lego games almost always entertain me. My first experience, probably like many others, was with the Lego Star Wars games. It was as if chocolate met peanut butter but in game form...and with Lego and Star Wars. The game was light, fun, humorous and, for me, set the standard by which I judge all other Lego games. I loved how they were able to tell the story through simple minifig body language. The key to those games and others was that you knew the story. You didn’t need the words to move it along. The environments and characters were familiar and when you minifig shrugged or tilted his head you knew exactly what they were saying.
Then Traveller’s Tales broke that “magic” when they introduced voices into Lego Batman 2. At first, voices from my minifigs was a tough pill to swallow. In fact, I had a hard time playing it at first and I kept putting it aside. It dawned on me one day when I was watching my nephew play the Star Wars game why TT added them. My nephew knew the Star Wars story and knew in a basic sense what he had to accomplish to get past that mission. These newer games had new untold stories and I could see how that might leave the younger players lost. I finally accepted these little plastic people talking to me and other characters in the game so when I first loaded up Lego Marvel Super Heroes and heard voices such as Agent Phil Coulson’s (voiced by Clark Gregg) it was a pleasant surprise.
That is actually how I could classify this entire game; it’s a pleasant surprise. In my opinion, Marvel as a universe on whole always had a lighter take on its characters and storylines than it’s main rival DC. If I were to compare Lego Marvel Super Heroes against Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes I would say the same thing. This game is light, fun, doesn’t take itself too seriously and maintains the better game play elements from previous games. It doesn’t try to do anything radically different but in this case that is perfectly fine. I remember constantly dying in the Indiana Jones games trying to jump to a swinging rope or onto a ledge. I wasn’t timing it wrong, I was off the sweet spot by what seemed like a fraction of a millimeter while the camera angle continually worked against me. Those games became a chore to slog through quite quickly. Not once did I feel that way about Lego Marvel Super Heroes.
The story is basically several Saturday morning cartoon plot lines back when Saturday morning cartoons were good. League of villains trying to takeover and destroy the earth. League of good guys banding together to stop them. Through the course of the main missions you will play as Iron Man, Hulk, Wolverine, Spiderman, Thor, Storm, Jean Grey, Cyclops, Mr. Fantastic, Human Torch, The Invisible Woman, Black Widow, Hawkeye, The Thing and more (watch for a recurring cameo). All uniquely voiced and all with distinct personalities based on their comic book personas.
Always look on the bright side of life
This is still a Lego game so their minifig personalities are based more on the lighter Marvel Universe comics than the other more mature versions of themselves. That should be expected as this is a game geared for kids, and the kid that thrives in some of us “older” kids, and it enhances the fun. The dialog between characters is ripe with inside jokes and even some more geared for the adults. When Director Fury commands you to get those gosh darn snakes off his gosh darn helicarrier or goes into a Pulp Fiction type rant I couldn’t help but smile and chuckle. When The Human Torch comments that the rainbow bridge leading to Asgard just makes him want to race (which is exactly what I thought when I watched the first Thor movie) I had a good little laugh mainly as I can’t stand that Rainbow Road level in Mario Kart. The best lines aren’t all saved for the heroes, the villains have a few of their own as well.
Typically when I play these games I break everything I can to make sure I get 100% of the studs needed and as many extras as I can find. I play this way so that when I play with my kids, who only like playing in free play, a number of characters are already unlocked and the mission becomes secondary to just having fun. This time, while I tried to get 100% of the studs needed I also tried to stick to the mission at hand and not venture off. When I finished the game in about 12 hours I had just over 20% complete. It isn’t a long game when looking at the main mission alone but that other 80% leaves a lot of game left to explore.
Below the line
There are a few disappointments with this game. Same couch co-op is there, like many other Lego games, but for some inexplicable reason online co-op is absent. Why would that be left out? This is the perfect game for online co-op and Traveller’s Tales included it before on other games so there is no reason why it couldn’t happen with Lego Marvel Super Heroes. Playing couch co-op is what I love to do but the rotating split screen has got to go. It sounds like a great idea on paper as it gives you the whole screen to work with but it will work against you more than a number of times while you play. As the split rotates around to follow you or your partner's character, the camera shifts as well forcing you to continually adjust aiming or you’ll risk suddenly losing sight of your target. In Free Play, which is all about changing to the right character, the selection screen flips to whatever side of the screen you are on or plunks itself in the middle. More than once Mrs. Soup and I cursed this scheme while we played. While the character selection is color coded it never seemed to pop up where we expected it would.
Lastly, the control scheme seems off. Normally, this hasn’t been an issue in most Lego games but for some reason I had a bitch of a time controlling my minifig when walking, flying or driving. At their normal pace everything was fine but when they all of a sudden get their giddy-up you had to hang on for dear life. I found myself, more often than not, easing off as soon as the minifig sped up. This annoyed me as many a time you had to walk your little yellow avatar to the next mission. I have an issue with walking in games from point to point to start a mission. I understand that there are many side missions to be discovered along the way but I should be able to just choose the next mission without wasting five minutes getting to the next start point. I know, five minutes....”stop whining Chunky”...but when my game time is getting harder and harder to carve out of my day that extra 20 minutes or so of just walking is 20 minutes I could use to finish a mission, pick up the dog crap in the backyard or do the dishes to earn some all important brownie points with Mrs. Soup!
All in all, besides the points listed above, this is a fun game. Given that Lego Marvel Super Heroes can be found for $30 or less at this point I recommend picking this title up-especially if you enjoyed other Lego games, have kids and want to play with them, have something they can play together, enjoy the Marvel universe or all of the above.
In February 2012, Double Fine made history when they became the largest crowd funded game in Kickstarter history raising over $3.4 million dollars in just three months. They exceeded their initial goal of $400,000 in mere hours; proof that the world is indeed still hungry for an old school Tim Schafer point-and-click adventure game.
The original plan in the Kickstarter pitch? The game would feature a small development team and be completed by the fall of that same year. That didn’t quite happen in practice but now, just under two years later, backers and anyone who wants to buy a copy can get their hands on Episode One of Broken Age on Steam. Episode Two hopefully follows later this year.
Tim Schafer of Double Fine and the internet’s reaction to him making an Adventure game
A Clicking of Age Story
Broken Age follows the lives of two adolescent characters, Shay and Vella, in their transition from carefree children to the harsh reality of adulthood. Denis Leary’s “Life’s Gonna Suck When You Grow Up” would be a great theme song for the game! You can play as either character and switch back and forth whenever you like. In Episode One, the stories are for the most part separate and there isn’t any interaction between the characters.
Shay appears to be alone on a spaceship that caters to his every need like an overbearing nanny. His parents are omnipresent via screens that are close ups of their faces and they frequently nag him for things like brushing his teeth and eating right.
He is expected to have a daily dose of adventures which are little contrived scenes where he plays hero to stuffed animals his mom knits for him. You quickly get the sense he is growing bored with the monotony of lone space travel and is looking for ways to go on real adventures.
Vella is a teenager from the town of Sugar Bunting. She was chosen to represent the village in the Maiden’s Feast, a great honor. It turns out the Maiden’s Feast is when the villages dress up their girls in local finery (Vella’s baking village dresses all the girls up like cakes) as potential sacrifices to Mog Chothra, a beast that terrorizes all the villages of the land once a year. Vella believes this is an absurd tradition and tries lobbying others to kill Mog Chothra instead. I’ll stop here for spoilers.
Keep It Down Now, Voices Carry
Broken Age has quite the all-star cast of characters. Shay is voiced by Frodo himself, Elijah Wood. Jack Black and Wil Wheaton play some scene stealing characters. There are also some of my favorites from cartoons such as Richard Steven Horvitz (aka Invader Zim and Raz from Double Fine’s game Psychonauts) and Cree Summer (Penny from Inspector Gadget and Elmyra from Tiny Toons). Although my favorite where the heck have I heard that voice moment from the game was trying to place who voiced Ginny Westcott. She’s been in many Double Fine games and Day of the Tentacle, but where I actually recognized the voice from was the damn talking LeapFrog Letter Factory thing all my nieces and nephews had on their refrigerators. And now, once again, the letter A song will be permanently embedded in my brain!
CEO of Harmonix Music Systems Alex Rigopulos not only voiced a character but he actually plays some version of himself (the character’s name is Alex) in the game. This honor was one of the special backer funding options and brings me one step closer to my dream of a Double Fine and Harmonix team up on a game!
So How About That Gameplay?
Broken Age is a traditional point-and-click adventure. It uses a single click context based system so you really only need one button. There are a few different cursors which you can learn the context of pretty quickly. There is no in game hint system nor does it have the special button you can press to see all the interactive objects within a room. I tend to like having that special button in adventure games but there wasn’t much trouble with pixel hunting or too many rooms with lots of interactive objects so it wasn’t too bad without it here.
According to my Steam stats, the game took me 5.4 hours to play which isn’t too bad for a two episode adventure game. 10-12 hours for the full game seems reasonable. The puzzles were about right in difficulty and I didn’t need to cheat at anything. Any time something started to get frustrating I just switched back to the other character and tried something different for a while.
The gameplay is the traditional: walking around talking to people and finding stuff to solve puzzles. It also features one of my favorite adventure game cliches: how many times can I click through options to keep getting terrible jokes? Woohoo, lots of awesome space cereal names! It also has the traditional “fun” phrases you get when trying to combine objects or solve puzzles at random. My favorite was every time I tried to use a talking plastic knife on anything I wasn’t supposed to I got:
Shay: “I don’t want to stab that.”
Knife: “I do!”
Walking Around in a Painting
Double Fine went with a very specific art style for the game that is best described as walking around in one of lead artist Nathan Stapley’s paintings. Having seen lots of concept art and screenshots as a backer, I was skeptical of it being a little too dream-scapy. However, once you are in the game it works really well and you do get lost in the story book worlds. It can sometimes be a little difficult to figure out which parts of the landscape you can interact with verses which you can’t though, especially in the cloud area.
Peter McConnell, who also worked on Schafer’s other games Brutal Legend and Grim Fandango, composed the game’s score. It really captures the mood for the different locations and actions in the game and contributes to keeping you fully immersed in the world.
If you enjoy point-and-click adventures in general you are sure to enjoy this one. It features many elements of old school ones as well as updated graphics and an all-star cast. While thus far it doesn’t replace any of my old school Lucas or Sierra Games as a new favorite, it’s solid and I can’t wait for the next episode. I give it New rating, but my only caution might be to wait until the next episode releases so you can play it altogether since Episode One ends on quite a cliffhanger!
2old2play scored a review copy of Zen Pinball’s latest table(s): Super League Football for the PS4. Before you get your hopes up for getting to sack Peyton Manning with a silver ball, by football they mean soccer. I tried looking up what European’s call pinball, but apparently its just pinball.
The table runs $2.99 USD on consoles (you get to pick your team, but more on that later) or $1.99 USD for mobile and PC. I took it for a test drive on the Playstation 4 and tried out each team.
As with anything I get to review as an early adopter of next gen systems, I had to wait 45 minutes for system updates and downloading the game itself before I could actually play. I still don’t understand why my PC and XBox 360 are lightning fast over wireless for updates but PS4 and WiiU just can’t get it together. All of the machines are within a foot of each other on the same network. Is this some sort of net neutrality precursor in the video game industry?!
Can I actually play pinball now?!
Once installed the title screen music for Zen Pinball on the PS4 is pretty annoying.Annoying to the point where I hit mute while I was browsing menus and waiting for the rest of the tables to finish downloading. The Zen interface seems pretty much the same on the PS4 as on Android or the WiiU so nothing really new there. Just a front end to download whatever tables are available and change some settings.
Super League Football is technically only a single new table but you can buy different versions (basically skins) of it depending on your team preference. The gameplay is nearly identical no matter which club you pick. The differences are in aesthetics of the table like pictures of the current squad on the playfield , team logos on bumpers, and the mascot off to the side.
The clubs in the image below are available at launch and Zen is hoping to get more to sign on in the future.
Choosing a team sets your allegiance and gains points for you club in the online leaderboards. Sales of the specific table you chose are reported directly back to the clubs as well, for bragging rights. Or you can just play as Zen Studios if you don’t want to choose a side.
I played soccer in my youth and have even been to a World Cup game but never got into the league teams. Instead of phoning it in and talking about “ludicrous displays” IT Crowd style, I checked in with my Scottish friend that actually follows soccer (because I am a real journalist unlike most “news” channel hosts) about which tables to check out. He confirmed that the problem with Arsenal is that that they always try and walk into the net. Then said something about Liverpool being tosser chihuahuas and the Italian league being corrupt. Also that Real Madrid has Ronaldo, currently the best player (and highest paid according to wikipedia) in the league. I was sad to find he was not the same Ronaldo I knew when I actually followed soccer nor is he Coach Z in the latest Homestar Runner Dangeresque film.
Since “research” did not help me pick a favorite table, I went with who has the coolest mascot. Any team with the creepy soccer head guy is immediately off the list (I’m looking at your Liverpool and Real Madrid). I was between AC Milan’s devil or AC Roma’s wolf. Final edge wolf as I can’t resist anything with cute googly eyes. The Zen table gets a bonus shout out for a sheep mascot and replacing the players with a bunch of pasty white guys who I assume are the development team. FC Barcelona gets honorable mention for least annoying club anthem.
Even if you don’t really care about the soccer theme its still a pretty cool table with a lot of interesting things going on. Zen likened it to a “modern version” of Midway’s 1994 physical pinball table World Cup soccer:
World Cup Soccer (Midway 1994), is one of the greatest pinball tables ever created, and we have long been thinking about creating a modern day version football pinball table that would capture the essence of the game in today’s climate, include the biggest clubs and players, and create an exciting level of competition that makes club football so entertaining. Working with the biggest clubs in the world and involving players like Lionel Messi, Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, Gerard Piqué, Francesco Totti, and Andrea Pirlo, really takes this pinball experience to another level.
World Cup Soccer is a fun table and would get my ultimate vote for best mascot with Striker but these tables are a good modern virtual substitute.
Play the stupid game already!
The tables have the usual ramps, bumpers, and targets you’d expect in a pin. The ball actually looks like a soccer ball instead of the normal silver. It makes it a lot easier to see when there is spin on the ball as its speeding toward you and fits nicely in the overall theme.
The really interesting part of this game is the mini playfield. It simulates a goal complete with goalie and defenders which you can decrease the number of by hitting a series of target and ramp shots.
The ball launch animation is a virtual player kicking the ball up the ramp. Being a pinball purist I don’t really like it when virtual tables do something there’s no way you could do on a physical table so I wasn’t really a fan of that mechanic. Plus the novelty wears off after like the first two balls. #thatswhatshesaid
A somewhat unique feature I did like is the table has extra flippers in the outlanes where you can take a sort of corner kick for a last minute save. I apparently have cat like reflexes when it drains down the left side but I don’t think I ever made a recovery if it was draining right.
The audio for the table simulates the din of the crowd as if you were at a real soccer match. Sounds cool in theory but is pretty annoying in practice. Thankfully they did at least spare us anyone in the crowd having Vuvuzelas or I probably would have had to play with mute on. Each team does have its own anthem playing in the ambient noise as well. There seem to be different modes in the game and sometime it focus on the crowd noise and other times it plays the anthem. Both are equally annoying. The commentating also seems extra repetitive but maybe that’s because my greatest pinball skill is hitting precisely the same shot over and over again which is usually the exact opposite of the real shot I’m aiming for. I must have heard the multi-ball comment “Its almost like there’s two balls on the pitch” about a bazillion times after playing for a few hours.
If you get halfway decent at a table, there is also a game within the game where you are actually playing matches in a season against other clubs as you play. If you can manage not to lose all three of your balls in the allotted time of the match you win or lose your match with your opponent depending on who scored more goals. Matches are set in two halves with halftime multiball session in between the two.
At the end of regulation if you lost all your balls, you see if you won your match and you’ll move on to another week of play. There are 10 matches against 5 different teams in a season and different teams have varying degrees of difficulty as opponents.
I did find you can hack your way into getting through a game by just catching the ball on a flipper and holding it till the clock runs out. I feel like they should have added a cheat rule for that that would tilt if you tried to hold on a flipper for say longer than 30 seconds.
Final Pin Spin
The table is fun even if you could care less about soccer but overall I’d say you can wait for a discount.The gameplay is solid but ultimately the sounds drove me crazy. I do however give Zen props for mixing up their target audience with this as a departure from their recent Superhero and Sci Fi tables. It's not terrible but I’ve liked a lot of their other tables better.
Capcom doesn’t mess around when it comes to its bread and butter genre: survival horror. The venerable Japanese developer may have cut its teeth on fighters and arcade classics, but zombie games like Resident Evil and Dead Rising have been its money makers for over a decade and, with Capcom’s current financial trouble, they’re doing their best to knock this one out of the park.
The game starts 72 hours after the latest zombie outbreak, in the city of Los Perdidos, California. Nick Ramos, former auto mechanic and current zombie survivor, was tasked by a group of folks holed up in a diner to see if there’s a way out of town. The military collapses the bridges and tunnels out of town, as it turns out, effectively sequestering Los Perdidos from the rest of California. Panic ensues and a couple of the diner folks decide to feed themselves to the zombie horde. Meanwhile Nick, his boss Rhonda, and a trucker named Dick haul ass farther into town to Rhonda’s auto shop. Once Rhonda gets her piece of shit flatscreen working we find out that not only is Los Perdidos cut off from the rest of the world, but the military is going to drop a shit ton of incendiary ordnance on the city...just to be sure. Now the three amigos absolutely must get out of town before the barbeque starts, and the clock is ticking.
Two’s Company, Three Million’s a Crowd
Despite instituting a law requiring every citizen to be fitted with a Zombrex-dispensing GPS microchip, the entire city is now overrun with literally millions of undead. The storyline is a bit obfuscated, and it only gets muddier as the game progresses. Fortunately, Dead Rising has never been about top-notch storytelling, so I have no intention of docking Capcom Vancouver for their ridiculous story. We don’t play Dead Rising for a story, we play it to kill a bunch of zombies. On that, Dead Rising 3 delivers.
The streets of Los Perdidos are filled to capacity with the walking dead. Although Nick is certainly no soldier boy, his mechanic skills are put to good use crafting weapons out of ordinary stuff. Nick’s skills are so superior to his predecessors that he doesn’t even need a workbench to craft his death-dealing toys: Nick can do it on the fly. DR3 also allows Nick to use his skills to modify vehicles into something that would make Grampa Munster proud. My favorite was the Rollerhawg: part chopper, part steamroller and 100% zombie flattening and burning death machine! Vehicle modification types number in the dozens, with weapon types numbering in the hundreds.
Despite the frantic ticking clock and always overwhelming hordes of undead, there are quite a few side missions at your fingertips. These missions vary from saving lone survivors, who may or may not join you, finding “tragic endings,” obtaining supplies, and securing safe rooms. Nick gains experience for rescuing folks, making stuff, killing walkers, and side mission stuff. This XP can be used to upgrade Nick’s skills and abilities.
Dead Rising For The Next Generation
What impressed me most about Dead Rising 3 is the fact that the game seems finished at launch, unlike many of its fellow launch titles. The zombies are numerous, but it rarely seems to affect the framerate. The fact that the zombies are wildly varied is another feather in DR3’s cap: you’re not fighting the same 5-10 zombies all of the time. Did you hear that, Ryse? DR3 has more than six enemy types! Jealous?
Microsoft Studios plays publisher for Dead Rising 3, so expect it to remain an Xbox One exclusive. The pure power of the XB1 is on full display as the game retains smooth action and impressive detail even with hundreds of zombies on screen. The initial loading screens are lengthy, but once the game is on deck there is no pausing to load. You can play a very long time without seeing a loading screen and loads generally indicate chapter progression...or death.
Co-op is smoothly integrated and really improves Nick’s chances at surviving and completing missions. Of course this depends on your co-op partner. At one point I had some random guy join me; he flatly ignored my request for help with dispatching the lunatic in the Zen Garden which ultimately proved impossible as a solo endeavor. Another battle, later down the road with a biker gang, proved to be too difficult without help. The boss battles are interesting and the difficulty is definitely ramped up for a two-player assault.
Kinect commands work surprisingly well in this game. Players can attract a group of zombies by simply yelling “over here.” I kind of skimmed the Kinect tutorial, but apparently it is deeply integrated into the game. I was anxious to start killing shit so I ignored much of the Kinect stuff, but what I used worked very well. It’s extra peripheral functionality for players looking to get some use out of their Kinect.
The game is good, but it’s not perfect. I don’t really like being forced to rely on some random dipshit to complete a boss battle. Not only did the dude ignore me when I tried to take on the Zen Master, but the guy fell asleep or something and died only to respawn while I was taking the Rollerhawg out for a spin. Firearms are fairly forgiving, the melee weapons miss a lot, and the head stomp maneuver only works about 30% of the time. I had a nice run on one part with a katana sword, but found myself unable to head stomp the 10 or so zombie torsos that still clawed their way after me. The combat controls are pretty simple: X to attack and Y for a heavy attack. The other stuff, such as inventory management, was a bit counterintuitive and players may need a period of reacclimation before they get back in the swing of things if they take a break to play something else. I could only play for two hours or so before I had to break off and change games. The game is best enjoyed in short sessions, preferably with a reliable co-op partner...unlike the guy I played with. I call him Sleepy the Sandwich.
The Final Verdict
Although I personally think that the market is oversaturated with zombie games, Dead Rising 3 does exactly what a genre game should do: allow the player to kill a shitload of zombies while being assaulted by and immersed in a George Romero nightmare. Many zombie games cut corners and retread games. Dead Rising 3 progresses what a survival horror game should be, cuts out what doesn’t work, and makes the good stuff better. I’m not particularly a fan of the genre but I must give Dead Rising 3 its props: it is very good at what it does and worth every penny of your sixty dollars.
Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way first - If you played the PC version of Diablo III then you played the ultimate version. If, however, you thought what the PC version was missing was some local co-op action then I would suggest you may want to revisit New Tristram again.
Do you hear what I hear?
When I first heard Diablo III was being released for consoles I was mildly interested but having played through on the PC I thought it would be more of a bargain bin buy. I am a sucker for Achievements and if I can get them quick and easy the better! It was while I was writing an article on it for the Weekly New Releases that I found Diablo III supported local co-op! The kicker was that both Mrs. Soup and I love a good fantasy game so I jumped on the opportunity to play with my wife!
I always loved Blizzards games from the first Warcraft on. I was impressed not only with the quality of game play in each of their games but it’s their cutscenes that send shivers up my spine. Those scenes have always set the mood, exploited every ounce of oomph my PC had and brought me into their world. Diablo III is the same. Why am I putting importance on the cutscenes? As much as I love Blizzard the rest of the so called story between those scenes have always been a little threadbare for my liking. I have excused it in the past but we have seen large advances in storytelling in games and the dialogue in Diablo III is cheesy at the best of times.
The good thing is the dialogue is at a minimum and the hack and slack is at maximum! If you need a coles notes version of the story : The ultimate evil has arisen again and all of Heaven and Earth are threatened. It is up to you to save all of humanity and the gods above by slaying everything in your path. That is pretty much it. Simple, straightforward, no real surprises along the way.
You are gonna shoot your eye out kid!
So how does it play? Actually, I was quite surprised at how well the controls were mapped out and how easy it was to move my hero around while targeting and, in my barbarians case, hacking the living or undead crap out of everything in my path. Mrs. Soup managed to take her Demon Hunter and provide ranged support and in too many cases bail my strategy be damned ass out. Both of us picked up the controls relatively quickly but it took a little longer to find our characters strengths and weaknesses.
I am not great at setting all my hotkeys in most of my PC games. I have the best intentions but generally rely on one or two easy to reach keys and the rest of my abilities go to waste. Having all the abilities mapped to different buttons and triggers actually simplified things for me and I found myself trying more combinations than I normally would. One other major difference I noticed that may turn up the noses of those PC enthusiasts was the lack of need to replenish Mana and in most instances Health (at least on the normal difficulty).
Oh this isn’t a costume. I’m an elf!
The character customization in Diablo III is on par with the PC version. I had my barbarian made in a matter of seconds but Mrs. Soup likes to take her time. Playing on the PC I played as the Demon Hunter and thought it would be a good fit for her as she isn’t the charge ahead kind of player. She was happily surprised that not only could she choose a gender but after choosing the female version she found her to be relatively clothed! More than once I have heard about the females in RPG’s must be superior at everything as most of their outfits tend to be Princess Leah in a gold bikini while all the guys are full on stormtrooper or Boba Fett. Don’t get the wrong idea, neither of us are prudish and we both know the artists design these females for the predominantly male demographic but I was happy to not be laughed at when my character perished while a scantily clad ranger in the back ran away from the fight.
Besides the character customization, the maps, the story, the progression are all same as the PC version minus the much maligned and soon to be closed Auction House. I was never a fan of that feature and viewed it as a hive of scum and villainy so I did not shed a tear when it didn’t make it to the console versions. Diablo III added AI characters that you meet on quests that can join your party in Single Player. They are actually pretty decent AI and do help out a fair bit. These AI characters are available on the console as well but when playing co-op they join you only for a short time and basically stand around and are useless after that. I would have liked them to stick around and provide some added variety to our party but after a mission or two they hightail it back to camp and hang out with the rest of the characters you picked up along the way.
The light only lights on one side
I have highlighted only some of the differences between the PC and Console versions but there is one difference that on the surface looks like it would work great on a console but more often than not it made me angry.
The Console Version of the Inventory
The inventory screens and shopping/upgrading/crafting screens were all redone to make it easier to navigate with thumbsticks. I think Blizzard mostly succeeded at making it easier to use with a gamepad but the sensitivity seemed to be a bit off. I was constantly going to the wrong section of the inventory to look at things as I likely moved the thumbstick ever so slightly before I hit the button. We also noticed that in each category of inventory the loot you picked up would resort itself after every item you sold. This had each of us buy back a number of items we inadvertently sold. Not a big deal but more of just a pain in the ass. We did notice, however, that if you start selling from the bottom the items tended to stay in order with the rare/magical items up top and the normal items below.
The PC Version of the Inventory
If you haven’t seen it the Diablo I, II & III PC version of the inventory it is a big grid. Each item has a certain size and can take up more than one square. If your squares are full or the item you want to pick up is larger than the squares available you are out of luck. If you have enough squares but they are not adjoining you could always play inventory tetris and move pieces around to create the size you need.
The console version is more of a 1 to 1 relationship. Regardless of size each piece counts as 1. As you level up you gain more room. What I love about the PC layout is ability to see everything you have all on one screen. With the console version everything you pick up is categorized and placed in the approriate position. If you picked up a helm you would move the cursor to your helm and you could browse through all the helms you are carrying and the one you have equipped.
Then he got an idea. An awful idea.
There is, sadly, one unforgivable sin in the console version of Diablo III. One that if you only play as single player you would never notice. Blizzard forgot the cardinal rule of co-op gaming: “Giveth each player thy own menu”
According to Raptr, Mrs. Soup and I put in about 30 hours from beginning to end of Diablo III. While I believe those 30 hours were well spent in gaming and quality time with the Mrs., when I played the PC version back in 2012 I finished it in around 15. Why double? Well the easy answer would be there was two of us but in reality Mrs. Soup loves trying on all the new loot and then gazing at what each new piece of armor, ring, helm, pendant does to boost her abilities. We spent a lot of time in the inventory, shop and gem management screens. I spent most of that time napping until I heard her chime up “Done! Look at my new outfit!”.
I wasn’t napping because I was bored or had sold all my goods. I was napping because only one person can be in the bloody store or inventory screen at a time. The other person is sitting there, waiting, and waiting...and waiting until the other player is done. I don’t know if this was an artificial way of extending the game playtime but that was it’s exact outcome. Originally I would have guessed that we would take maybe 20 hours to finish as she likes to explore and expose the map but also find all the little side quests. In most RPG’s I start off a game that way too but usually get to a point where I just want to be done and start to find the most direct path to the finish line. My lovely wife has way more patience than I do but when we play together I have learned to let her direct as much as possible. That has been a hard lesson to learn but it makes our play time much more enjoyable.
Overall if you haven’t played Diablo III on PC and you have someone that you could play through on co-op I would recommend you pick up this game. I gave the multiplayer a quick try as well and if you find a good group or have a good group of friends to play with you will enjoy that experience as well. However, if you have played the PC version and looking for more Diablo III you are better off waiting for the expansion Reaper of Souls than picking up this game. Unless, like me, you have someone to play it with.
There was a serious drought of couch co-op RPG/Hack and slash type games in this last generation and Diablo III is a welcome addition to the genre. That being said, the only reason I am giving this a Price Drop, is that it has been out for some time and you should be able to find it on sale.
Welcome back to Redview County. Those of us who played Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit back in 2010 should already be familiar with the core concept and topography of Rivals, as it is essentially a sequel to Hot Pursuit. In NFS Rivals, players assume either the role of a racer, converting speed and fuel into adrenaline, or a cop, whose sole purpose in Redview County is to bust racers by any means possible. Let the conflict begin.
Why Redview County?
Due to its unusual variety of environments, Redview County has become a haven of street racing and speeding. Environments range from snowy mountain roads, sun-baked rock and desert, winding coastal parkways, forested drives, four lane freeways that lend themselves to top-end speed, and a smattering of small towns. A new racer, who calls himself Zephyr, arrived on the Redview scene and cranked it up a notch. The police, in turn, respond by escalating their efforts, causing the racers to respond in kind. Regardless of which side the player is on, game progression unlocks faster cars and better weaponry, known as pursuit tech, and progresses the ridiculous storyline.
My Life As An Outlaw Racer
Naturally, I chose to start the game as a racer. Racers are given the choice of a couple of basic cars from which to choose. I chose the Porsche Cayman over the Mustang GT mainly because it was the same car I started Hot Pursuit with, and I never regretted my choice. Through the course of my racer career I unlocked several cars, but relied heavily on my Cayman, the Mustang GT, Mercedes SLS, Enzo Ferrari, and Pagani Huayra. Other cars available to racers are: Aston Martin Vanquish, Audi R8, BMW M3, 2013 Vette, Dodge Challenger SRT8 392, Ferrari 458 Spyder, Ferrari 599 GTO, Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, Ford GT, Lamborghini Aventador, Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4, Lamborghini Veneno, Maserati GT MC Stradale, McLaren 12C Spyder, McLaren P1, Porsche 911 GT3, Porsche 918 Spyder, and the Viper TA. Racers earn speed points more quickly than cops, but racers must buy their own cars and pay for upgrades, which meant that I didn’t receive the achievement for ten cars in my racer garage until I completed the racer career. Cars are upgradeable, but not tuneable, as is the case with nearly every NFS title. Racers can upgrade up to five levels in five categories: durability, toughness, control, acceleration, and top speed. Pursuit tech options include Electrostatic Field, EMP, Jammer, Shockwave, Stun Mine, and Turbo-all of which give the game a Mario Kart feel.
Racers are tasked with completing objectives to progress in level. Completing races, participating in head-to-head races against a single racer, hot pursuits, interceptor challenges, and banking speed points and utilizing weaponry are all alternately required to progress.
The currency, used to buy upgrades, cars and pursuit tech, are called speed points. Points are gained by driving dangerously: drifting, driving into oncoming traffic, high speed, jumps, and near misses. The more of a traffic menace the player becomes, the bigger the paycheck. However, cops will steal your speed points if you get busted, so bank them at a hideout before that happens. Wanted levels act as speed point multipliers, so the higher your wanted level, the more speed points you earn, but this also makes you a more tempting target for the fuzz. Driving as a pack will also increase your income, so buddy up and take on a lobby as a team.
I Am The Law
Playing as a police officer gives players the chance to run down their friends and steal their speedpoints. Cops are tasked with busting racers, single-car interceptor events, running down multiple racers in hot pursuit events, and being first on the scene in rapid response events in order to progress their careers. Cops do not have to purchase their vehicles or performance upgrades, but they must spend speed points to purchase and upgrade their pursuit tech. Available 5-0 vehicles are: Aston Martin Vanquish, Aston Martin One-77, Bentley Continental GT, BMW M6 Coupe, Bugatti Veyron SS, Chevy Camaro ZL1, Ferrari 458 Italia, Ferrari FF, Ford Mustang Gt 500, Hennessey Venom GT, Koenigsegg Agera R, Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4, Lamborghini Gallardo LP 560-4, Lamborghini Murcielago LP 670-4, Lexus LFA, Marussia B2, McLaren 12C, McLaren F1 LM, Mercedes C63 AMG Black, Nissan GT-R Black, Porsche 911 Turbo, Porsche Carrera GT, and the Viper GTS.
Pursuit tech options are a bit different for police. Cops do not have all the pursuit tech options that the racers do, such as Turbo, Shockwave, Jammer and Shock Mines. Instead, they gain the Shock Ram, Spike Strips, Roadblocks, and the ability to call a helicopter to lay down spike strips in front of their prey. Cops also have access to the EMP and Electrostatic Field.
Most of the lower level police cars are utter shit, and I found myself sticking to single player until I was able to acquire the One-77, at which point I unleashed the unholy fury of Redview County’s finest onto an unsuspecting multiplayer lobby and started stealing speed points from my whining, helpless prey. This is no racing sim and there are no bonuses for driving clean. Rivals is a full contact vehicular beatdown. Drive accordingly.
Has EA Learned Its Lesson?
NFS Rivals was developed by Ghost, in association with Criterion, and published by EA games. Downloadable content, in the form of car packs and in-game currency, was available almost immediately, so expect to be out some cash in the future if you want to keep your garage current with your rivals. If the player does not change the settings to a single-player game, then NFS Rivals will be an always-online experience, complete with the server issues that EA players are all too familiar with: host migration, lost connections, slow loading, and endless searching for someone to play with. Many times I sat through lengthy loading screens and ended up in a room by myself anyway. Rivals, naturally, is at its best with friends in the room, some playing as cops and some as racers.
I played both the 360 and XB1 versions. I found the XB1 version looks better while the competition on the 360 is better skilled: I can run over players all day on the XB1, as either a cop or racer, without losing speed points while the players on the 360 gave me a run for my money. The environments are full of drifts, jumps, and places to wreck out. It’s a nice change of pace from my typical sim racing but the cars felt arcadey and artificial, and using the brake instead of the e-brake to initiate a drift was kind of hokey. Apparently, the e-brake is dedicated to 360 degree turns. I was a little disappointed with the lack of old school muscle on the roster, but the game doesn’t suffer much from their absence, as the cars on the list are insane and fun as hell to drive.
My biggest complaint with NFS Rivals is pop-up. It’s annoying when this happens in any game, but when you’re driving 200 mph and a minivan materializes 50 feet in front of your Veyron SS you’re going to crash. Then you’re going to struggle to find appropriately vile profanity, because not any old cuss word is going to work in that situation. Play something else if folks in the house are trying to sleep. Pop-up occurred more frequently on the 360 than the XB1, so next-gen has the advantage there. However, the game sometimes pauses itself on the XB1, which has the same effect that pausing does in every driving game in a multiplayer lobby, you drive off the road. Sometimes it would also spin the view of the car, like jamming the thumbstick to one side would do. I don’t know if this was my Day One controller going weird on me, or if it was the game, but it didn’t happen on the 360.
Need For Speed Rivals is a fun arcade-style racing experience that is best when played with friends. Nothing has more potential for fun than an hour or two of cops and robbers with some buddies. When it fires on all cylinders, it’s every bit as good as NFS: Hot Pursuit. The glitches, multiplayer issues, general EA shittiness, and monotonous single player, however, are enough to lose a full star from the final rating. Need For Speed Rivals is available on the PC, PS3, PS4, XBox 360, and XBox One. Pick it up on sale.