The Game Guy

'Watch Dogs' reivew - Tech boom

Tuesday, 27 May 2014 03:01 AM Written by

 

Watch Dogs box artThe wait is finally over for Ubisoft Montreal’s “Watch Dogs.” After five years of development and nearly two years since it was first announced, this unique take on the open-world genre is ready to release. A development period like this one brings lofty expectations. Judging by the game’s quality, it looks like Ubisoft may have found their next big franchise.

 

It’s no easy task to make waves with a new open-world title. Rockstar Games’ “Grand Theft Auto” series casts a large shadow over the genre, while the popular “Saints Row” series has carved its own humorous niche. “Watch Dogs” proves there’s still room for innovation. That innovation is the power of modern technology.

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ArkhamAttention Batman fans, AKA everyone: there’s a new trailer for “Batman: Arkham Knight.” Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and DC Entertainment released a first look at the gameplay of this highly anticipated title set to release later this year.

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WolfensteinCover“Wolfenstein: The New Order” could be a wrongful victim of stigma. Classic franchises often receive the reboot treatment with the sole purpose of cashing in on the recognizable name. Reboots are more often lackluster than they are noteworthy, but “The New Order” is the exception. MachineGames created a story-focused first-person shooter that stays engaging for nearly its entire tenure.

In a genre that continues to put more of a focus on multiplayer modes, this new “Wolfenstein” goes against the grain. There are no multiplayer modes of any kind. Instead, narrative takes center stage with the story of an alternate history in the post-World War II era.


Captain Blazkowicz fights for the U.S. forces in 1946 to take down the German regime. While carrying out a mission, he’s struck by shrapnel that lodges itself in his brain. The injury puts Blazkowicz into a 14-year coma. He wakes in 1960 to learn that the Nazi Army is the world’s superpower, since the American forces surrendered after Germany dropped the first atom bomb.

Not being one to sit back and let evil succeed, Blazkowicz becomes a key member of The Resistance. “The New Order” follows him and his small team in their quest to dismantle the Nazi forces.

Blazkowicz isn’t the most dynamic character, but his persona fits with a soldier’s mentality. His primary skill is Nazi killing. He combats brutality with brutality, which has always been the general nature of the “Wolfenstein” franchise.

I’m admittedly always a fan of seeing fictional takes on historical events. “The New Order” succeeds because of its in-game world. Exploring this steampunk-esque nightmare of evil atrocities is the chief pillar that supports the entire experience. The German regime is obsessed with achieving power through science. Their land is patrolled by mechs. Other enemies have their flesh infused with metal. Gigantic robotic dogs called Panzerhounds keep any opposition in check.

The steampunk WWII style isn’t a new concept, but this one succeeds thanks to its detail and devotion to the idea. German grenades are named after their assumed inventor, Nikola Tesla. Popular music of the era is all sung in German. The world is littered with newspaper clippings that reinforce the strength of the Nazi army and the hell it has brought on the world. The game is occasionally campy a la a Quentin Tarentino movie, but the world feels authentic throughout.

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The gameplay is a clean approach to throwback first-person shooting mechanics. “The New Order” features fast paced gunplay with choice. The arsenal is the typical fare of pistols, machine guns, rifles and knives. Each weapon can be dual-wielded to add some extra firepower with the sacrifice of speed and accuracy. In a surprising turn for a series that has never been about subtle combat, stealth plays a large role in many of the levels. Blazkowicz can sneak around and take out enemies from behind. This is particularly helpful when eliminating officers who have the ability to sound the alarms and call reinforcements.

Blazkowicz has sets of skills that can be upgraded based on the style of play. Different perks can be unlocked by racking kills in a specific fashion like running and shooting or knife throwing. It’s difficult to unlock all of his perks in one playthrough, but fortunately you can replay chapters to look for collectables and unlock more perks. Secrets called Enigma Codes unlock additional game modes, but there are a lot of them and they aren’t easy to find.

The story also promotes multiple playthroughs. Decisions have to be made throughout the story that slightly alter which characters are present and cutscenes of dialogue. These decisions aren’t earth-shattering ones that will give you a completely different ending, but they’re important enough to make me curious about the other paths.

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These kinds of story elements as well as the brilliantly realized environment keep “The New Order” engaging, but occasional moments within the base of The Resistance grind the action to a halt. The Resistance headquarters is often a stopping point between missions. While there, Blazkowicz’s skills are reduced to fetching items for different Resistance members. The gameplay becomes so tedious in these moments that I dreaded ever being brought back to the HQ. At one point, Blazcovicz mutters “I’ve become an errand boy.” How do you think I feel, Blazzie?

The game often suffers from technical problems in the sound department, a much larger issue for a game driven by narrative. Character dialogue and Blazcovicz’s inner monologue are almost always drowned out by ambient noise or the game’s score. I tried playing with headphones, and the result was no different from my soundbar. There are no sliders to adjust voice and music volumes, so it stays a problem with no solution.

Aside from the poor sound editing and occasional lull in the action, this game is a surprising success. When a game is strictly single-player, the story needs to deliver. This story does, plus brings polished gameplay as an FPS. “Wolfenstein: The New Order” is a sleeper hit of 2014.

8.75 out of 10

 

Pros:

Brilliantly realized environment
Tight throwback FPS gameplay
Perks and decisions promote multiple playthroughs

 

Cons:

Poor sound editing
Fetch quests

 Platform   Xbox One (reviewed), PS4, PS3, Xbox 360, PC 
 Release Date   5/20/2014
 Price  $59.99
 Rated   M for Mature
 

 

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MarioKart8BoxartNintendo seems content with playing it safe when continuing first-party series for their Wii U home console. Recent games like “Super Mario 3D World” and “Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze” provided the fun factor fans expected, but failed to take risks to separate themselves from their predecessors. “Mario Kart 8” continues this mentality. It brings the series into beautiful high definition but otherwise stays firmly stuck in its lane.

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KinectThe Kinect 2.0 died before it could even live. With the announcement  of the Xbox One being offered without a Kinect, game development built around the motion controller will likely die with it. Sure, the Kinect was the center of many complaints about the Xbox One, but not everything the Kinect brought to the gaming landscape was horrible. An Xbox One without a Kinect will be a mix of positives and negatives. 

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Microsoft cuts Kinect from Xbox One

Tuesday, 13 May 2014 11:26 AM Written by

KinectThe people talked and Microsoft listened. Starting June 9, Microsoft will offer a Kinect-less Xbox One for $399. The existing console runs for $499 with the motion and voice controller as part of the package. 

Xbox Spokesperson Major Nelson posted the news on his blog , giving the following statement:

“Since the beginning, we have focused on delivering great games and entertainment experiences for you. Your feedback matters to us and it shapes the products and services we build.”

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Nintendo announced two upcoming Pokémon games for the 3DS. “Pokémon Omega Ruby” and “Pokémon Alpha Sapphire” will launch in November later this year.

Both titles are completely new games in the series. The Nintendo press release states, “[‘Omega Ruby’ and ‘Alpha Sapphire’] are a fresh take on the ‘Pokémon Ruby’ and ‘Pokémon Sapphire,’ which launched in 2003 and were fan-favorite hits on the Game Boy Advance system.

The announcement is coming on the heels of dismal financial news and a slashed forecast for the big N. Nintendo posted a net loss of 23.2 billion yen for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2014. The Wii U sold 2.72 million units during that time, which falls well short of the company's projected 9 million. Total Wii U shipments have reached 6.17 million.

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TheShowCoverSports games are finally starting to trickle into the next-gen platforms. We have “Madden,” we have “NBA 2K,” and now we have the PlayStation exclusive “MLB: The Show.” “MLB 14: The Show” continued its long running hit streak when it released for the PS3 and Vita last month. While the PS4 adds some extra gloss, that comes with some new problems.


Let this be addressed first: “MLB 14: The Show” for PS4 is not a rushed cash grab. This isn’t a watered down version of last month’s PS3 edition. All game modes, gameplay updates and flexibility are all included in the next-gen version. Gameplay is virtually untouched. The improvements are all in the aesthetics.

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