Wednesday, July 30, 2014

My Love/Hate Relationship with the Playstation (and clarification on why I went Xbox)

Usually I put colorful meme's in my posts but there are none that don't disparage Xbox, and therefore there will be none. My first Playstation was bought for me by my mother, it was back when the first Playstation around 1996-97. I was incredibly psyched when she brought it home, and even more psyched by the copy of Resident Evil 2 that she brought home with it. The Playstation was different than the consoles I had owned prior to it, in the sense that the graphics (at the time) were amazing and it had discs and not cartridges. I played the living hell out of Resident Evil which of course was followed by, Crash Bandicoot, Jet Moto, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, and Tomb Raider.  I may have spent more time on my Playstation than paying attention in School, usually because I was thinking about getting home to play it. You should pay attention in school, it's at least advisable. But, this console bridged me from enjoying games being a gamer.

For some reason during the next console cycle I went with the ill-fated Gamecube over the Playstation 2. The decision had a lot to do with the Resident Evil exclusivity deal, which eventually fell through and went over to the Playstation 2 anyways. But, I stuck with my decision, and I played on my brothers Playstation 2, especially when GTA: Vice City came out. I thought about seriously purchasing a PS2, but the price just wasn't right, when they released the slimmer model I once again thought about it, but was then quickly informed that due to the compact design and tiny fans, that the console generated immense heat, and the miniature fans couldn't keep up and would fry the motherboard, so I gave up on my hopes of PS2.

As the next consoles were announced I found myself most excited about what the next phase of Playstation would be, Microsoft didn't really impress me with the first Xbox and I expected very little from what would be the 360. But, E3 rolled around and here is this high-gloss weird looking console, with it's boomerang controller, and it's $499-$599 pricing structure that completely turned me off. But, I thought with a price tag like that there has to be great games, and then there were none. I was flabbergasted, it was as if either Sony had become too big for it's own good, or had completely forgotten how to launch a console.

On the other side of the coin here was Microsoft with the Xbox 360 which was not only cheaper, but seemed to have a better selection of games, and I was excited about upcoming games like Halo 3 and Gears of War, so I was sold on the 360. I really held a lot of disdain for the PS3 for a long while into last gen, mainly because everyone whom I met that had a PS3 would just down talk me for having a 360. Their arguments were all trivial and at the time did not matter at all to me. The common ones were "it has a bigger hard drive" (at the time I wasn't downloading digital content all that much, so I really didn't care about how big my HDD was. Having said that I do now.), or "it has a blu-ray drive" (I was still using a rear projection tv and I was too broke to upgrade so I didn't even have an HD TV, so, why should I care. I now have an HD TV with 3D, so of course the 3D Blu-ray feature is more important to me now), or "it has an internet browser" (I have a computer, I don't need it, when Xbox introduced it I still didn't use it.), and the ever famous "you don't have to pay to play online!" (everyone I had talked to said that multiplayer on Playstation was crap anyways, and now you have to pay for it anyways.). No matter how much people demeaned my decision I stuck by it, I was a proud Xbox supporter.

You couldn't have paid me to play on PS3, and then Rockstar announced the Playstation exclusive Agent (which has been absolutely non-existant ever since.), Uncharted began winning crazy amounts of awards, and the final nails in the coffin were the announcements of The Last Of Us and Beyond: Two Souls. Alright, I was sold, I wanted one just so I could play The Last of Us. I began looking on craigslist due to the still unreasonable price of PS3, and considering I was trying to buy one for mainly 2 games I just couldn't justify spending retail for it. As I researched I became more certain that it was a smart move, especially when I learned about PS+ and the Instant Game Collection. Finally I lucked out and managed to pick up a 160GB Super Slim for a whole $85, and that is where the happiness and woe began.

When I got it home the only controller he gave me was a wireless aftermarket Logitech wireless controller, which I didn't mind until I went to set it up for the first time. He had whiped the hard drive, including the system files, which required me to find the files online transfer them to my PS3, then I found out that you are required to have a wired controller, so I had to go out and buy a PS3 branded controller only to find out, it doesn't come with a USB charge cable, and they don't sell any, so I had to go to radio shack to buy one. After all that, the happiness came in, my first experience with the Instant Game Collection landed me Battlefield 3, Xcom: Enemy Unknown, Uncharted 3, and Little Big Planet: Karting. I felt like it was amazing that Sony just handed me 4 triple A games for the price of my membership, and then the annoyance of Sony's install policy left me feeling incredibly annoyed. The games one by one downloaded and then installed, all of which took forever, and caused it to actually take up more room on my HDD than it actually appears to. Navigation on the PS3 was also a nightmare, I still to this day can't figure out what half of the tabs on my PS3 actually do. That last one is probably just me, and there are probably more people whom find them useful, but it's just way more than I could possibly want.

I began buying games for my PS3 only to find that while I enjoyed the single-player experiences of games like Uncharted, Killzone, Resistance, and The Last of Us, the multiplayer portion was absolute garbage, like the tacked on multiplayer in games like Tomb Raider almost. I understood why multiplayer was free on the PS3, because there wasn't a single experience on PS3 outside of third party that was worth experiencing. Playstation exclusives are games that have potential and come up just short. I still haven't completed Killzone 3, or Uncharted 1 or 3. I don't understand what it is about them but for the most part they just aren't compelling enough to keep me playing. The Last of Us, Beyond and Heavy Rain (which both could have been helped by using less of the Six-Axis) were amazing experiences, especially when it comes to The Last of Us, but when there are only 3 games that really blow me away I can't really say that the PS3 is the wonderful machine everyone seems to believe it is.

As the Next-Gen approached I decided I would reserve my judgment for who was offering the games that most called to me. The reveals left me no more decided than I was before, but the Sony crowd was already sounding the death bell, it was quite frankly annoying, like that guy in the multiplayer lobby that just talks shit the whole time and uses cheap tactics to pad his K/D, but has the audacity to call it skill. Then came E3, of course Xbox touted a new Halo, but also introduced Titanfall, Quantum Break, Ryse, Dead Rising 3, and Sunset Overdrive. I was waiting for Sony's announcement, especially with the Xbox One's $499 price tag, Sony came in with a lower price at $399, and proceeded to spend the rest of their briefing bashing Xbox, the only game that made me bat an eyelash was The Order, it is still the only game that I am curious about on the PS4.

But, with my mind clearly made up on picking up an Xbox One, I was still very excited and interested when my friend brought his PS4 over, he brought Battlefield 4 with him and so for a quick comparison I popped my 360 copy in and we played a few rounds of multiplayer. Once we switched over to the PS4 it was clear that my 360 copy looked like muddy garbage in comparison. The lighting effects, the smooth framerate, and the way the gun shined was just amazing. I was in love, but only momentarily, once we stopped playing and I started trying to navigate the PS4 I was once again frustrated and quickly handed the controller over. I can't complain enough about the UI on the PS3 and PS4, I'm sure a lot of people prefer it, but I really don't like it.

But, what really puts me off from the PS4 is the audience it has, I'm sorry I know that between the Sony, Microsoft, and PC crowds that most people come off as arrogant asses but none seem to spew quite as much hate speech as the crowd that has surrounded and supported Sony. You can't say anything bad about Sony without everyone downvoting your comment until it disappears, it's absolutely ridiculous. Common things that straight up annoy me, the IGC for PS4 has been utter crap, defend it if you wish but it really hasn't offered up anything worth downloading even for free (not that GWG has come out strong on the One, but PS4 hasn't really been as great as people make it out to be.). The fact that while they were bashing the Xbox One and it's policies they managed to slip in that it will be mandatory to have PS+ to play online, and not a single person even mentioned it, they just pulled a Microsoft, and everyone applauds them for it. There were barely any worthwhile announcements at E3, while Xbox made their entire show about games, but everyone made it out like Sony blew them out of the water, just because of Uncharted 4. Now, there has been an announcement that the new EA Access program isn't good for their user base, a program that gives users access to EA's entire console catalog on Xbox One (and well what would have been PS4), plus a 10% discount, and 5 days early access on future titles. I figured people would be upset, at least the people who don't rally against EA in some unfounded righteous cause, but the usual happened, a number of people applauding Sony for their "upstanding morals", and anytime someone commented that they would have at least liked to have had a choice had there comments downvoted, one such comment was even voted so low that it was deleted. I see it constantly, graphical comparison articles are filled with PS4 fanboys degrading anyone who says "I can't tell the difference", that's not even a statement that supports one console or another, but if you aren't on the PS4 bandwagon you are apparently an idiot.

Will I get a PS4? Yeah eventually I will, when there is more of a library to pick from, and a price drop. But, am I rushing out to join the mob with the mice and pitchforks? No. As a matter of fact here is a perfect example and it just happened this morning, it perfectly outlines my love/hate relationship with my Playstation. During a recent sale I managed to get Batman: Arkham Origins for $8, that is a hell of a deal, better than anything in the recent XBL sale. I went to install it and was prompted that there wasn't enough space to do it, so I deleted the Install data for Watch_Dogs, I was up to 16GB the download is apparently 15.1GB, so I try again, no luck, so I deleted Payday 2, and Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, now I'm up to 20GB of free space. I navigate back to the download tab, hit download, and get the same message, now I'm really frustrated, I go to my Game Data Tab and deleted Saints Row IV's install data, now I'm up to 26GB of free space, I go back to download it, and still insufficient space. WHAT THE FUCK?! This has annoyed me from the beginning, the Playstation lies about how much space things take up, and how much room you actually have. I have PS+ which comes with cloud storage, but only for saves, I can plug an external HDD into it (with a convoluted file folder system) but once again I can only put saves on it. Which in turn makes the IGC a constant annoyance of deleting and installing and then deleting more than what you had to previously for one game. Why it can't just work like the Xbox, if it says 12GB install, it downloads and installs 12GB, and it does it at the same time, not download the entire file, then install and expand the files in a separate step.

I love my PS3 for the most part, and I don't hate anyone for loving their console. I dislike the ignorance that comes with it, it's universal lately, and it's sad. I love video games, it doesn't matter what console they are on, and I will always choose based on the games that interest me. The Xbox One and the 360 definitely haven't been perfect, and there are tons of room for improvement on both, but the PS4 and PS3 are nowhere near perfect, and Sony is definitely has the ability to be like a mean kid with a big stick, but they know what they are doing, they release games people want to play and I commend them for the things they do right, but I believe that they need to use a little humility when they fuck something up and not just throw free shit at people and call it even. It's a wonderful and competitive market and it's better when we all get along. So, to my Playstation I love you and loathe you all at the same time.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Watch_Dogs (Review for PS3 & Xbox One)

Ubisoft definitely put the hype machine behind it's newest franchise Watch_Dogs, but, does it live up to the hype? Well, that depends on how you look at it. Did it live up to the graphics from it's first E3 showing, clearly no, that was proven prior to retail release. Is it a large and open world? Yes it is, and it takes quite awhile to dig in to everything. Is Hacking really a deep and revolutionary mechanic? Yes and No, most hacking is done through a simple one button push which isn't all that revolutionary, some of it is done with Bioshock style data flow puzzles, which once again is nothing revolutionary, but what happens when you use it is revolutionary. So, as you can see Watch_Dogs was set up to be a game that will be nitpicked for years to come, there was just way too much promise for everyone to be truly satisfied. But, not living up to the enormous amount of hype put upon it doesn't make it bad game, in fact it's a very promising franchise that could change the game if future games in the series can continue pushing the envelope further.

You play as Aiden Pearce, a small time hacker who comes across something he was never meant to see. This spurs forward a series of events that leaves Aiden on a path for revenge. It sounds cheesy, and at moments the gravel voiced Aiden takes it to places that are cheesy, but it is interesting enough to keep you playing until the end credits. Aiden isn't a very likeable or even relatable guy for the most part. He uses people, and causes mass destruction, siphons innocent peoples bank accounts, and even kills people, all things that he is apparently opposed to. He's a little contradicting, and the Christian Bale gravel thing he has going makes it hard to take him serious. But Watch_Dogs does a really great job with everyone else in the story, all of the secondary characters are far more interesting than Aiden, and unfortunately you barely get to know any of them, you don't spend a ton of time with the secondary cast, usually just brief cutscenes or small phone call to guide you towards the next story point. It's unfortunate, but forgivable, this story is about Aiden, I just wish he was just a little easier to sympathize with.

The real meat of the game is marvelous open world sandbox of Chicago. The tagline of "The City is Your Weapon." is absolutely true. After a brief tutorial mission you will be set free in Chicago to do as you please. You can hack back accounts, check-in to hot spots, play poker, speed around the city in a variety of vehicles, take down criminal convoys, stop crimes, and well, whatever you want. The city is full of surprises and challenges awaiting your attention. Side Missions are split up between Gang Hideouts, Criminal Convoys, Crimes, Investigations, Privacy Invasions, and Fixer Contracts. Crimes are one of the first you will come across, as you wander the city with your phone out you will automatically detect crimes, they always go down the same, go to the circle on your mini-map find the victim or the potential criminal wait for the criminal to make their move and intervene. They quickly become tiresome, but if you need a quick reputation boost doing a few will raise it quickly enough. Criminal Convoys task you with stopping a, well, convoy from reaching it's destination. It's fun in theory as you can go about it in a million different ways, planting explosives in the road, rerouting them into a tight space, or just straight up shooting them. The problem, which will quite frequently happen solely by accident is you can not kill your target, you can only knock them down, kill everyone else, but not the target. It's annoying because sometimes you will be off by merely an inch or a millisecond and the target will put themselves directly into your line of fire or and explosion causing you to fail and start over.

Gang Hideouts are really fun, but can be equally frustrating. Essentially it is clear out the enemies by any means necessary, but not the target, yet again you need to knock down the target. These are more fun because beyond knocking down your target, you never have to step foot into the area. Through using Watch_Dogs brilliant hacking you can just bounce from security camera to security camera, luring enemies to where you want them and exploding junction boxes or even detonating a grenade that one of your enemies is carrying. The problem is there is room for error, say you explode a junction box killing one enemy that is nowhere near your target, but what you didn't see was the series of propane tanks that lead straight to your target, and boom, mission failed. You will experience this a lot, but it does add a tactical approach to it that is very welcome. Privacy Invasions allow for you to peek in on random people living their day to day lives, some are boring, some are hilarious, all should be explored. The combat in Watch_Dogs is fluid and responsive, all the guns in your arsenal are useful, but you will most likely find a favorite and stick with it. Earning Skill points (which you do for completing any task) will unlock new abilities for Aiden, the skill tree is split between Hacking, Driving, Combat, and Crafting. There is enough variety in the skills that they are all useful, so there really isn't that skill that you will never need.

Fixer Contracts are a mixed bag, and after the first 4 or so you do, well prepare to do them again, only in a different location. Considering you have to do 40 of them for an achievement/trophy, they are better done in between doing other things. Investigations are little diversions, they all feel like they are building towards something different and eventually end up being the same in the end, they are either a Gang Hideout, or stopping a crime, but they still offer something to keep you playing. These are supplemented by CTOS towers, CTOS Breaches, deciphering puzzles to unlock audio recordings, or locating mysterious packages. In general the sheer of amount of missions and side missions are staggering, even if they do become repetitive after awhile.

Then there are more leisurely diversions, these include Poker, variations of Chess, the shell game (you know the one where you try to follow the little red ball), the AR (Augmented Reality) phone games NVZN and Cash Run, and the now infamous Drinking Game. Chess is by far the easiest, Poker is all luck based, and the shell game and be slightly punishing if you aren't really paying attention. NVZN gives you a laser pistol and unleashes weird pink alien bugs from worm holes, it's a fun diversion and I found myself getting lost in it a few times. Cash Run is exactly what it sounds like, you collect coins while avoiding ghosts while running around a course. The Drinking Game is one of the most sadistic (or masochistic depending on how you look at it) thing I have ever experienced. It's part luck, part skill, and for the most part refusing to give up. For the 15G Achievement or Bronze Trophy, you will have to be all 10 levels of all 3 opponents. In each level there are approximately 5-6 rounds, you will take a shot, your screen will blur and a circle will begin to float all over the screen with no rhyme or reason, you will have to move that circle over a button and press the corresponding button, or you will have to keep the circle within another circle while it fights you every step of the way. It is so bad in fact that there is currently a petition to make it easier. I don't believe it is impossible to do, I think if they had given you 2-3 more seconds it would have made it much more manageable, as I always seemed to fail right as I was about to hit the correct button.

The online portion of Watch_Dogs is  mixed bag, and those on Xbox 360 and PS3 will be missing out on two game modes. Something I was unaware of until I booted up Watch_Dogs on my Xbox One. On last gen consoles you will have the ability to compete in Online Races, Online Hacking, CToS Mobile Challenges, and Online tailing. But if you are playing on PC, PS4, or Xbox One you get all that plus Free Roam and Online Decryption. Ubisoft claims it's because the previous gen consoles couldn't handle it, but I think it's more marketing than anything. I will explain why shortly, first I will talk about the modes everyone gets. Online Races are surprisingly fun, I am not a fan of racing games, I hated racing in GTA V, the last real racing game I enjoyed was Need For Speed: Underground on the Gamecube. But the ability to use all of the same tricks you would use in Single Player, is completely satisfying, solidifying your lead but bursting a steam pipe or raising bollards at the last minute is awesome. I had way more fun with it than I ever thought I would. CToS Mobile Challenges are pretty ambitious, you have a car and someone playing on a tablet has control of a Police Helicopter and the city, the goal is escape, while their goal is try everything they can to stop you.

Online Hacking and Online Tailing are the same with only slight differences. Tailing tasks you with simply observing your target, you can use security cameras, sit in a car, you just need to watch them, but you can't be profiled, if the target moves their phone over you it will identify you and at that point you need to get away from them before they kill you. Online hacking has you install a backdoor, and wait for the sensitive information to download, the catch with this is the moment you initiate the hack the player is given a circle to search to find you, for every 25% of the download the search area get's smaller. It's a truly thrilling experience when you hit 75% and the circle is right on top of you, if the player makes you then the goal is the same as it is with tailing, get away without being killed. If you are the victim of a hack you can defend yourself by using Jam Comms, which you can either buy or craft, this will stop the hack momentarily and give you slightly more time to find the hacker. Now for the  "exclusive next gen stuff", Online Decryption is pretty simple you and a group of other hackers are tasked with decrypting a piece of information, you all start at random points on the map you need to get the information and then hold on to it long enough to decrypt it. Anytime you have the information everyone will be able to see where you are, if they get close to you they can steal it from you, or they can kill it and take it. If you lose it your progress never goes down, gaining it back will start the decryption from where it was when you lost it, first person to 100% wins. Free Roam is exactly what it sounds like, free roaming think GTA Online. So, Online Decryption isn't all that complicated and if Free Roam is exactly like GTA Online, then why can't it run on 360 or PS3? Because if it did, you wouldn't go out and buy an Xbox One or PS4, holding out content makes people feel like they are missing out, and thus will be more likely to upgrade.

Taking Watch_Dogs online is definitely fun, and even when I was being invaded I was quite happy about it. But where the online portion falls short is the leveling system, otherwise known as Notoriety. You gain Notoriety from successfully hacking someone, successfully tailing someone, coming in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd (if there are more than 3 players) in online races or online decryption, or by beating your mobile opponent. But if you fail your hack, tail, or come in anything other than the top in a race or decryption you will find yourself losing your Notoriety. Rather than just having you gain minimal to no Notoriety, you are actually penalized. It's ridiculous, and makes for a rather rough time ahead against some of the better players. Turning off online will completely reset your Notoriety back to 0, this is another reason why I didn't care much about my Notoriety, it's not something you ever really hang on to, you can potentially be hack or tailed while you are in the bathroom and lose your Notoriety. It's a terrible design flaw, and should be eliminated in the next game.

As if all of that wasn't enough there is also a crafting system, it's not incredibly deep, but it's useful for making everything from explosives to devices capable of luring enemies to where you want them, or knocking out the power to an entire area. It's all handled through the weapon wheel, simply hovering over the item and pressing a button will craft the item, so long as you have the proper components which can be found or purchased at pawn shops. But as the picture above shows there is much more under the surface. Digital trips are available on your phone or through select dealers on the street. There are currently 5, 4 included with the game, and one through DLC. Madness has you driving through the streets of hell mowing down demons to fuel your car with souls, while Psychedelic has you belly flopping on giant flowers, I didn't try the third one so I can't explain what it is. But, everyone's favorite is Spider Tank, you are a giant Spider Tank and you get to terrorize the streets climbing on buildings, using your massive legs to crush police and pedestrians alike. All feature the common theme of having specific goals for each round, you even gain skill points that can be spent to help improve your chances of meeting the goals.

Watch_Dogs despite looking better during E3, still looks great on the PS3, and only slightly better on Xbox One. I spent quite a bit of time marveling at the water (something Ubisoft seems to do well), but I didn't notice a great graphical jump between previous gen and current gen. Watch_Dogs is literally bursting at seams with content, it might actually be too much at times, when your mini map becomes over crowded with a million blue icons it's hard to see the little things you might rather be doing. But, you are most definitely getting your $60 worth. With the exception of a slightly flat story, horrible online progression system, and a brutal mini-game, Watch_Dogs does everything else right. You may feel letdown if you allow yourself to buy in to all the hype, or the stinging reviews, but if you just allow yourself to get into the world of Watch_Dogs you will be happy you did. Here's to hoping Ubisoft doesn't milk it's new Cash Cow dry. 8 out of 10.

Titanfall (Xbox 360 & Xbox One Review)

Titanfall was introduced as the Xbox One's killer app, but does it really live up to the hype? Yes and also No, Titanfall is one of the best shooter experiences available right now. But, the poor excuse for what they call a "Campaign" makes it feel like you aren't quite getting everything you paid for. On the bright side Respawn has regularly updated and tried to make improvements and implement what fans ask for. Titanfall is most certainly a solid foundation for what could be a franchise that could put out the big guns of genre, but it will definitely require more tweaking before it is perfect. I fear that Titanfall may suffer the same fate as it's competition, stuck in a yearly release schedule, sucking the franchise dry before it can ever fully realize all the potential it has.

Titanfall has the distinction of being one of the fastest multiplayer FPS's I have ever played (outside of Quake III Team Arena), and with the absolutely amazing freedom of movement, it is an experience like no other. The movement is less Parkour like Brink, and more go where you want, how you want. You are handed the ability to find your own way and develop your own tactics. Snipers can get as high as possible, shotgunners can move quickly and without barriers to get the drop on anyone they wish, and you can even cling to a wall to allow for easy pickings. I actually had to stop myself from simply running around on the ground, like I have been trained to do in every shooter I've ever played. It really is disorienting the first match you play with the realization that you don't have to run on the ground, you can just run on the walls.

The Weapons and loadouts in the game feel extremely balanced, they all have their benefits and drawbacks and no one is invincible. In the early days the Shotgun was so overpowered you could kill people from midrange before they could even react, this has since been fixed, showing that Respawn is committed to making the experience the best that it can be. You will have to get pretty deep into the 40's before you unlock everything which almost makes passing into the next generation of pilot almost painful, but luckily the guns you start with will make you more than able to defend yourself. You will begin to earn Burn Cards, Burn Cards are almost like Call of Duty's Perks, with a twist. A Burn Card will allow you to do everything from add more damage to your gun, or equip your titan with a longer lasting core ability, or allow you to call in a Titan from the start of a match. But, if you die, your Burn Card expires, and with the fact that you can only carry 3 at a time means everyone is still evenly matched.

The real draw however is the Titan's themselves. I have never been into Mech based games, it's just not really my thing, and on 360 I wasn't very good at Piloting my Titan, I would get in and it would usually be exploding shortly thereafter. But since I started playing it on the Xbox One I have gotten way more into Piloting my Titan, there is enough in the custom loadouts that you can makeup for your short comings. Titans can be customized just like your pilot to fit your playstyle. There are only 3 types of Titans the lean and fast Stryder, the midsize Atlas, and the hulking Ogre. Each are distinctly different, and offer you a bit more to think about when engaging hostile Titans. Titans feel and move fantastically and with the dash ability you are just as agile as most of the people on the ground, or you can always step on them. There is honestly nothing more satisfying than watching your Titan plummet down to the battlefield, especially when it lands on an enemy Titan, or punching a Titan only to watch your Titan rip a pilot out of it or rip off it's arms and beat it with it.

Those who like a nice story to go along with their multiplayer madness will be especially disappointed. The "Campaign" is merely background noise to what is going on around you at any given moment. The story centers around two warring factions the government like IMC and the resistance like Militia. You will end up on one side or the other, and play on the maps that come packaged with the game, the only difference is they haphazardly place in plot points prior to the match starting or usually in the middle of all the madness by a person telling you something vaguely important to the story in a little window in the top left of your screen. You won't care, you will too busy fighting to listen, and that is all there is to the campaign. It's really disappointing there is no story mode, there is enough little interesting tidbits that could have been elaborated on in a full fledged co-op campaign, but instead it's "we need fuel, so capture hardpoints to fuel our space craft!"

So, maybe the fact that the game is devoid of singleplayer makes you weary because you aren't very good at multiplayer shooters. Well, you are in luck, this is where Titanfall really sets itself apart from the crowd. You don't have to be great, everything you do helps your team, killing AI controlled bots, capturing hard points, defending a flag, dropping in a Titan, whatever it may be you are rewarded for simply being a part of your team. When I was playing on the 360 I was a better on the ground as a Pilot than I was in my Titan. Well there is a solution to that, by dropping in your Titan and pressing down on the D-Pad will put your Titan in either Guard mode or follow mode. In Guard mode your Titan will defend a position while you are elsewhere, in follow mode your Titan acts like a guard dog following you wherever you go and engaging anything and everything around you. Perhaps you are better in a Titan, well, killing the AI takes time off your build time, hacking turrets takes time off your build time, killing Pilots takes time off your build time, Burn Cards can take time off your build time. It allows you to play to your strengths, and contribute even if you never even scored a hit on a Pilot. It's refreshing, and even when I was having a bad round against real players, I was still able to help my team.

Titanfall is available only on Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PC. So, is there a definitive version, or is there a reason why you must have this on Xbox One? Not really, Titanfall plays exactly the same on 360 as it does on Xbox One, it might be slightly sharper on Xbox One, but it is more so on PC. Titanfall is incredible and addicting and should be experienced, but it isn't the reason you should run out and upgrade your 360. Hopefully Respawn takes care to not allow EA to milk the franchise for all it's worth, and instead really works to make Titanfall 2 even better. Hopefully next time around we can have a formal campaign. 8 out of 10.

Wolfenstein: The New Order (PS3 Review)

It's been 5 years since the last Wolfenstein game, and time has been very kind to it. Wolfenstein succeeds in the fact that is an absolute blast to play from beginning to end.  It falters in the sense that unless you really like doing the same thing over and over just on a slightly harder difficulty, there isn't much there once the credits roll. But, for that first play through, it can only be described as pure unadulterated fun. Which to it's credit is something that has been lacking in the ultra realistic Military shooter genre.

Set in an alternate-reality, where the Nazi's win the war and subsequently take over the world, you play as B.J. Blazkowicz, who during a raid on a Nazi stronghold leave you in a vegetable like state for 14 years. Once you regain your ability to walk and talk again you then become a Nazi killing machine once again, set on a conquest to rid the world of hold that the Nazi's have on it. The story is pretty paper thin, and uses the usual conventions, these are the bad guys, this is why they are bad, these are freedom fighters, they need you to help them, save the world. But, to be honest if you are playing Wolfenstein: The New Order are you really looking for a deep and engaging story arc? But, the characters that you meet are well written and well voice acted. I actually really liked the majority of the characters I encountered. Especially one such instance on a train, Wolfenstein manages to make the Nazi's really despicable almost inhuman people.

The gunplay is the strongest part of Wolfenstein, it is an absolute dream to shoot anything and everything in your path. Don't mistake that for meaning the the gun mechanics are ultra realistic and weighted like they would be in a Battlefield or Call of Duty game, this game makes no apology for being ultra unrealistic. You can carry Pistols, Assault Rifles, LMG's, SMG's, Shotguns, Sniper Rifles, Rocket Launchers, and you can detach any turret and lay waste to all around you. You can also Dual-Wield every gun in the game outside of the turret's. It is truly an awesome feeling to have a Shotgun in each hand, watching the body parts of your Nazi enemies go flying in every which direction. You can even Dual-Wield Sniper Rifles, I don't really know why anyone would want to, but I did, and it was suprsingly fun.

Enemies are quite varied at first, but quickly become repetitive after awhile, the game does like to throw many of them at you at one time, more than likely to nerf the fact that you can Dual-Wield extremely powerful weapons allowing you to dispatch a group quickly. On the Harder difficulties such as the wonderfully titled "I AM DEATH INCARNATE!!!" and "Uber", even with two Shotguns you will begin to feel that you are underpowered. But, it can be made easier through completing simple tasks like "Perform X amount of headshots." or "Kill X amount with grenades." you will unlock a healthy amount of upgrades to level the playing field.

There are a multitude of collectibles to be found in Wolfenstein, most of which are incredibly easy to find, and will be stumbled upon simply by doing natural exploration. In one particular place you can actually access Wolfenstein 3D, which to be honest was pretty amazing. Your Health and Armor are handled as they always have been simply walking over armor or a health pack will automatically pick it up, with your available health and armor display on the bottom of the screen. You can actually have more than 100% health and armor, which was also a nice throwback. To be honest the lack of things crowding my HUD was wonderful, having nothing but my Health and Armor displayed and the text for those is mostly transparent allowed for a full appreciation of the many details of game. The graphics even on PS3 are excellent, ID did a great job making the game look downright gorgeous.

In the end however, for all the good ID did, the game is really, really short. I once again Redboxed this and yet again had a Platinum trophy the very next day. The game should be played, and you should take any chance you can to experience the bloody fun that is Wolfenstein. But, should you drop $60 on a game that you will probably play once, twice if you do a legit Uber run, then the answer is no. There simply isn't enough there to make you revisit it once it is over. Inclusion of arena style multiplayer, or more Easter eggs like the Wolfenstein 3D one, probably would have added a ton of replayability but since all of that is missing, there really is no reason to purchase the game over renting it. 7 out of 10.

Murdered: Soul Suspect (Xbox 360 Review)

Ugh, I almost feel bad writing this review, due to the fact that Airtight Games has now closed it's doors. But, I feel Airtight is less to blame for this than Square Enix. As, at least for me, Square Enix is the place where ambitious ideas go to be, well, unfulfilled. I have seen it with a few games from them, I felt Dues Ex had a lot of really great mechanics and story elements that somehow fell short of being really amazing, and I felt it again with the Tomb Raider re-boot. Why Tomb Raider? Because while the game was simply amazing, Square focused all the post release support towards the abysmal multiplayer aspect of the game, rather than releasing maybe a flip side of playing as the other survivors while Lara was off doing her thing, or at the very least more optional tombs, but instead it was maps.... REALLY?! More maps for a game that never needed multiplayer to begin with?! So, I held fear for the release of Murdered, it looked promising had interesting mechanics, and was set in a place with so much history that this game should have been better. But, as I have become used to, it falls way short.

You play as Roman O' Connor, a detective on the trail of the Bell Killer, whom has been terrorizing Salem as of recent. But Roman suffers a minor setback when he is killed in an altercation with the Bell Killer. So, now Roman is trapped between the living world and the afterlife, forced to solve his own murder before he can move on to the next life. Along the way Roman meets a girl named Joy who can see him, and together they must figure out who the Bell Killer is and why he has been doing the horrible things he has.

This is just one of the areas Murdered never seems to gain footing in, the story is painfully underdeveloped, and criminally short. You never quite have the time to care, about anyone in the story, even Roman, and you spend the entire game with him. Motivations a cliched and sometimes just barely mentioned. What's worse, is that a majority of what I would imagine are the games pivotal moments, and plot twists are so plain to see that when they happen you are left with an almost "oh, OK." kind of feeling. The occasional people you will run into that are trapped there with you are also painfully uninteresting, and for some reason while you can help certain ghosts to move on, the more malevolent spirits you encounter offer you nothing more than the evil reasons they are haunting their chosen victim, but you can't force them to move on, you just leave them there to torture whoever they chose to torture. I really wish they would have given you the option to banish these souls, I'm not entirely sure how it would be accomplished but I think I would have felt better if I was able to, rather than just letting them linger by innocent people.

Over the course of the game you will come across many crime scenes, and in a L.A. Noire style method you simply walk around the crime scene, collect clues, and then make an educated guess based on the evidence. There is absolutely no penalty for guessing wrong, it will actually just narrow your choices. The game more or less does a lot of hand holding. You never have to fear failing, or accusing the wrong person, you will simply guess until you get it right. This takes any and all difficulty out of the game making you simply find the evidence, make a guess till you get it right, then rinse and repeat.

Roman also has a host of spectral powers, all of which you will stop using unless absolutely necessary after the first five minutes.You can possess people and read their thoughts, which seems awesome in theory, until you hear the same exact thought, in the same exact voice, on only the third person you try it on. Seriously, there is painfully little that the residents of Salem are thinking about, and absolutely none of it impacts the game, it is simply there. You also can't move them or make them do anything, unless you possess a cat, then you can access previously unavailable areas, but only when the game places a cat in your path, and you can usually only explore the immediate vicinity of where you found it. You can use a Poltergeist power to make printers spew forth papers in an office building, or cause soda machines to spit out cans, which yet again sounds awesome, but when you realize that no one seems to notice or care when you do it, unless it is needed to progress, it takes all the fun out of even having the power. You can walk through most objects except ones that the game places in your path to prevent you from going to certain areas. Which yet again makes it feel like the game is holding your hand and pointing you towards where you are supposed to be, and not necessarily where you want to be.

The city of Salem is also pretty painful to navigate, I have a 100% completion in the game, and even after everything I never once felt like I knew where the hell I was going. It was usually trial and error, make a wrong turn, run into a dead end, turn around make another wrong turn, run into a dead end, eventually realize I've been going in the completely wrong direction, turn around, repeat. There is also very little to explore in a town so steeped in history. You can't explore a majority of the buildings, your path is blocked at every turn, and only the environments that are vital to the story are the only areas you will be allowed to explore. With the games hundreds of collectibles, even the map that was distributed with the game was inaccurate, making the task of finding collectibles an absolute chore.

Occasionally you will run into these guys, demons are pretty scary, but you can fight them, at all. When demons are around there is spiritual residue left behind by other ghosts, this allows Roman to hide, you can hop from soul residue to soul residue, until you inevitably end up behind the demon allowing you to rip them apart. It was nice the first couple times, but after awhile dealing with them becomes a hassle, and I wish you could confront or distract them using your ghostly abilities, but, your only choice is to hop around until you can get behind them, and then repeatedly button press until they are defeated. But, they are few and far in between , and if they do find you, it just turns into an annoying game of hide-and-seek, where you will hop around until they lose interest and go back to their set path.

Once you have completed Murdered's very short story you will find little reason to revisit Salem, unless you somehow missed a collectible or two, and with the closure of Airtight Games I don't foresee there being any kind of additional content to improve upon the story, or even a sequel that could maybe allow for more freedom and better use of the skills you are handed. I rented Murdered from Redbox, I completed it the next day, the entire story, and every collectible. So, is Murdered worth a $2 rental from Redbox or an addition to your Queue on Gamefly? Absolutely, the game is definitely unique and different than any other game on the market. But, is it worth buying the game for $49.99 or more? No, the extreme lack of exploration, underdeveloped story, and incredibly short completion time make it nowhere near purchasable. 4 out of 10