E3 Is Dead – Long Live Corporate Prosaicism

As we move past E3 2017 and into the second half of the year it is starting to feel more and more like gamers are reaching a similar jaded point to movie-goers.  Then again, maybe it’s the other way around – take a look at the box office numbers for a majority of movies anymore and you will see a similar downward spiral.

No matter how you look at it, the state of video games is still strong.  I feel like the trend of indie games has finally hit a downslope as there isn’t much out there that I am hearing about to make me think of some of the big hits we experienced a few years ago.

E3 came and went without giving me much pause this year.  The Xbox One X doesn’t impress me any more than the Nintendo Switch does with portable controllers.  It’s just a lot of ‘meh’ when it comes to my needs and general taste as a gamer.  Maybe it’s because I am a bit more difficult to impress as I get older.

The few games I am looking forward to that were either covered at E3 or are simply coming out soon are:

Shadow of the Colossus –

This was one of my favorite titles on PS2.  I fought the urge to buy it on PS3 simply because I didn’t have a lot invested in the system or my game library.  SotC was one of the most beautiful games I had played simply because it felt like I was walking through a misty dreamscape the entire time.  The idea that a world was there with giant bosses to hunt down and figure out on the fly made it all the more intriguing.

Wolfenstein 2 – The New Colossus (yes, another use of the word ‘colossus’) –

The New Order truly surprised me from a story perspective.  It included a lot of humor and some unsettling circumstances that made it fun to kill Nazi’s again (it doesn’t actually get old).  Wolfenstein was announced by Bethesda while they didn’t announce anything for a new Elder Scrolls game that wasn’t MMO related or money grab related with their newname for a paid mod system.  Wolfenstein looks like another game that will be fun as hell to play through.  My only wish is that it had some sort of multiplayer along the lines of the old PC game ‘Return To Castle Wolfenstein’.

Call of Duty – WWII –

I can’t help but find myself excited to play through this campaign.  Why?  Because there aren’t going to be stupid booster jumps and wall running.  There won’t be any sort of futuristic guns that can somehow shoot plasma charges or whatever the hell they have been doing since Advanced Warfare.  The multiplayer in COD has taken a back seat for me over the last few years.  Now that I have more important things to take care of or spend time doing, I really don’t care about my place on leaderboards.  I probably won’t buy this on day one, but I will certainly give it a try.

Crash Bandicoot – N Sane Trilogy –

My brother and I used to play the Crash Bandicoot all the time as kids on our PS1.  This game really has my nostalgia more than anything.  I think it might be something I wait to buy for some time simply because there isn’t anything ‘time sensitive’ about this game in my opinion.

 

I am on the fence with one of my annual purchases…

Madden 18 – Of the many things I am hoping for, it is the continued improvement of Connected Franchise Mode.  There are so many parts of the Madden experience that can be improved for fans of franchise mode that I find myself on the fence when it comes to disappointment or content with the progress.  The new cinematic mode ‘Longshot’ seems to be playing at the desires of Youtubers and their ilk.  I must say, it looked somewhat interesting, but if I want to play a story game I am going to stick with legit RPG’s and such.  Madden needs to stick to what it is trying to do the best – and that is making a strong simulation football game.  If you want to be honest about sports games at this point you will see that they are turning into microtransaction machines for their Ultimate Team modes far more than improving the actual game.  I can’t really blame them for bending to the whims of their corporate masters.  I can speak with my wallet and to that end, I have been siding with the growing numbers of people that wait to play these games until they come down in price or get them on eBay just to keep the money out of the publishers hand a bit more.

The other aspect of Madden that has all but turned me off completely is the community that EA Tiburon has generally focused on over the last few years.  I refuse to give these guys any sort of shout out or publicity – suffice to say that they all generally gather in a specific online sports gaming forum, run YouTube Channels, are a part of the ‘Game Changers’, live on Twitter, or a mix of all of those things. They seem to think they are experts when it comes to the game of football.  They also seem to grovel at the feet of EA Sports.  They will occasionally say something to make a point of false contention, but in the end – they are in this for their own motivations and have no reason to bite the hand that feeds them (monetarily, with free games, extra access, etc.).

Obviously this criticism comes off as me either being a hater or some sort of jealousy.  I am actually proof reading what I type down and try to remain honest and critical when it comes to my work as well.  My real beef with the Madden community is that it isn’t a functional community anymore.  The YouTube crowd and Madden Tournament crowd has destroyed this community.  The idea that there is almost literally no other football game for anyone to play goes further in destroying the community in terms of feedback, conversation, and synergy.  The ongoing monopoly is hampering creativity with Madden as well as MLB The Show.  When these games both have to copy the style of NBA 2K in order to bring something new to their games it would be laughable if it wasn’t so sad.

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The Witcher 3 – Making You Wish You’d Played 1 & 2

Stay Classy
Stay Classy

I remember when Newegg was handing out copies of The Witcher with GPUs back in 2007-2008 as a way of trying to convince you to go through with the sale.  Many gamers that tried to adopt The Witcher were often left annoyed with glitches and uneven gameplay as it seemed to be a game with potential – but only just.  Others just let this game fall by the wayside because it was a PC title relegated to the loud minority of hipster PC gamers that most others try to avoid (Hey, PC gamers!  Elitism doesn’t help your cause!).

When The Witcher 2 came out I took some notice as I actually had a PC that could play the title without worrying much about performance issues.  Then again, they were also trying to get whoever they could to play the game before the juggernaut that was (and remains) Skyrim came out 6-months later in 2011.

Now that we are finally entering into the first real batch of next-gen titles and there is no Skyrim, Fallout or anything else to worry about – The Witcher 3 might be in a position to convert many of us to share our playtime with whichever title Bethesda releases next.  Here is my initial reaction to the game after about 2 hours of gameplay on the hardest difficulty (Death March).

It is a combination of many games –

Dragon Age in terms of third person control schemes (which could use a bit of refining in certain aspects).

Skyrim/GTA5/Red Dead Redemption in terms of sheer immensity and scale.  The mini-map reminds me more of a GTA feel than anything (maybe Watch Dogs).  The size of the world is similar to both titles as it essentially wants to swallow your soul and make you a part of the Witcher universe. Couple that with a trusty horse named ‘Roach’ and similar controls to Red Dead and you have a fair comparison.

Bloodborne… Oh, we meet again.  Well, kind of anyway.  I lost my first battle against a group of ghouls over 15 times before learning the mechanics a bit more each time around.  If you give yourself the proper time to actually learn the controls (which become close to intuitive – minus the ironically clunky ‘quick selection’ menu (L1 on PS4) you will find that this game is as challenging as Bloodborne, but it is quite a bit more enjoyable for those of us that actually like to feel like we are playing through a story instead of jumping into some sort of world without stories or meaning.

This game has a lot of potential from the get-go simply because there is a story to be had.  There is no multiplayer functionality and that is a good thing.  In my experience as a casual gamer that actually has a full time job and other priorities in life (you know, family, exercise and living in-general) this game feels like it could last for at least 90-100 hours of gameplay without me even thinking I am bored with it.  There is too much to see, do and discover in this game for me to give it a true ‘here is everything review’.  I can say that selling Bloodborne and playing this is a breath of fresh air that makes me want to learn the lore of The Witcher in order to follow some unknown storylines.  Oh… and by the way – you don’t have to feel like you are missing out on the storyline of past games as they fill you in and even include a compendium in the initial games to bring you up to speed.

Did I forget to mention they include a full map of the world, a soundtrack and even an all-too-classy ‘Thank You’ note to we the gamers with the announcement that they will release free DLC throughout the life of the game.  This doesn’t mean that larger expansions are free, but for them to acknowledge any of this is above and beyond what other companies do.  So, props to CDProjektRed – good on you.

In short and to answer your questions about this game here are a few responses.

Is it buggy? – Well, yes.  There are some issues with glitchy video sequencing and some clunky controls on occasion, but those are all fixable in early patches and don’t hinder the game experience.

Is The Witcher 3 hard? – Oy!  Well, I would have screamed ‘yes’ during my first hour or so of getting my ass kicked by ghouls.  But then something started to click and it suddenly made sense in the same way that Bloodborne and Assassin’s Creed made sense as far as dodging and countering and trying to actually be tactical in your fighting.  Stay disciplined and you will love this game.  Get sloppy and it will punish you.

Should I get this game? – If you are looking for an open-world title and you aren’t obsessed with GTA, Bloodborne or Dragon Age… ABSOLUTELY! This isn’t going to cure you from a Skyrim addiction so much… and that is okay!  I am still playing the hell out of Skyrim and plan on it until the next Elder Scrolls game comes out.  The Witcher is the first game (in my opinion) that is friendly to open world fantasy realm people on next-gen consoles.  I have never felt that way about Dragon Age… it was always too waypoint oriented in my mind and if I am in an open world – I want to explore.  That is The Witcher 3 and that is why you should buy this game.

Grand Theft Auto V – Too Big To Fail?

With the release of GTA:V only two weeks away there are millions of gamers chomping at the bit for a chance to devote their spare time to murdering innocent people in the street, taking cops on crazy chases, organizing heists and playing the occasional mission in the story mode.

Grand Theft Auto V is almost here.
Grand Theft Auto V is almost here.

If you consider the fact that Rockstar has stated that this game will be bigger than virtually every GTA game put together there is room to worry about the potentiality for major bugs in the code.  While this is obviously something that will be an issue at some point (as it has been with almost every game during this generation) one can’t help but wonder if this game might be so large in scope that it succeeds much like Skyrim has for a few years – even with the bugs.

The marketed depth of GTA:V prior to release is something that has driven me to wonder if this is setting up many people to wait out the release of new consoles as they play one of the most beloved series in gaming over the last 10 years.  The question is, will it be enough to keep you from feeling like you have to get the PS4 or XBox One when they release?

Quick Tips For A Happy Christmas of Gaming

You just got it!  The game you have been waiting for for months (or years).  Now the time has come to  go into your gaming realm and avoid the family on this joyous day!  There are a few things to consider quickly before we let you go bury yourself in gaming bliss.

It is Christmas Day and you are a noob. It doesn’t have to suck… but you have some things you have to do first.
  1. MAKE SURE IT IS THE RIGHT GAME! – Did you get the game for the correct system?  Is it the right version (Battlefield 3 or Battlefield 3 Premium)?  Is it brand new?… If it is, don’t be too immediate taking off that plastic wrap and use the 10 seconds you have to read the game and make sure it is the right one!
  2. Is there an installation necessary? – If there is some sort of time involved to install the game before you even get a chance to play it (Metal Gear Solid 4… or any game you want to put on your 360 HDD to prevent unnecessary spinning of the disc) you should go get it started and then find something else to do/open.
  3. Give yourself a moment to learn the feel of the game if it is an FPS.  This is primarily for online shooters like Call of Duty or Halo.  (Don’t let yourself be the ‘Christmas Noob’)
  4. If you are getting Madden or any other sports game make sure you give yourself a challenge and get some sliders before you jump into a career mode.  This can often be key in having strong longevity in your games.
  5. If there is DLC you want/need make sure you buy the points first and give yourself the time needed to download and install.

Happy Holidays and Happy Gaming

What More Do You Want From Shooter Games?

The best-selling games on consoles seem to come down to First Person Shooters every single year.

While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it does drive me to wonder what else I really want from my FPS gaming experiences.  There seem to be three choices when it comes down to decision-making.

Arcade/Deathmatch Style – Call of Duty is the quintessential example of shooter games that revolve around picking up the controller and smacking other gamers in the face.  It is a fast-paced game with slight differences between weapons.  Not to mention a huge group of core gamers that are dedicated to the game they have come to love (or even sometimes, hate).

What More Do I Want?I have been hoping for years for the sniping in this game to be nerfed.  However, that is the ‘charm’ of Call of Duty games…  the weapons are subjectively rated and designed.  In many cases there isn’t much of a difference between using a magnum side-arm and a MK-14 as long as you ‘know how to handle them’.

I don’t want Call of Duty to change, primarily because I know that every time I turn it on I will be able to play it for an hour or two before I get so fed up with connectivity or quick-scoping spawn trappers that I turn it off and put in a different game.

Objective Based/Simulation – Battlefield 3 is designed with huge maps and team-play as the primary components.  While some of the interactions with vehicles is far from ‘simulation’ the weapons and handling of the game in-general present a much more ‘realistic’ feel to the game.  The recoil of the weapons makes for tough decisions to be made at times when you try to determine if you want more power or more control.  This is a primary difference between BF3 and COD games.

Also, objectives are the primary gametypes for Battlefield games.  This is something that tends to escape the common COD player than ventures into the land of Battlefield.  They will often try to come into a game of Rush or Conquest and try to turn it into some sort of Team Deathmatch.  While this is quite useful in Conquest, it is far from useful if you are the attacking team in Rush.

What More Do I Want? –A preventative measure to keep teams from spawn camping with vehicles like helicopters.  This is a great game, but people that are new to it will find that it is unforgiving when you play Conquest mode against seasoned teams of gamers.  It is one of the biggest downfalls in game design when you make it nearly impossible for a losing team to recover.

 

Sci-Fi/Fantasy – Halo, Fallout and The Elder Scrolls series all fall into this category for the most part.  They are either based in a realm that doesn’t exist or in some sort of alternate universe.  Fallout is the only potential threat to this category, but in reality it still has ‘laser’ weapons.  Much like Fallout, Skyrim has magic and other spells that make it fantasy related.  Halo is based on other planets or regions of the universe and uses weapons that either don’t exist or close to that description.

What More Do I Want?–  This category is difficult because there isn’t a lot to base anything off of in ‘real life’.  The issue I have with Halo is recoil with weapons feeling non-existent.  In general, Halo has a feel to it that makes it seem like the gamer is playing the game with a lot less ‘motion’.  There is almost a floating sensation when playing Halo.

What’s the point?

When thinking about any of these things it leaves me thinking that any of the things I wish would happen in FPS games are subjective at best and pointless at worst.  Most of the games we choose to play revolve around what we have had time to find a love for over the years.  Chances are good that you have already pre-ordered a game this fall or at least plan on asking for one of them during the holiday season.

Take that as a sign that you really don’t have a lot more you want out of a shooter game.  Otherwise you wouldn’t pre-order something before you hear about, let alone see any real changes.

Are You Not Entertained? – Actually… No. – The Downward Spiral of Annual Game Releases

If sports and first person shooter (FPS) Video Games were a ‘Nation’ and I were the President of Sports and FPS Video Games, I would have to say that the State of our Union is weak.

This isn’t coming from the stand-point of the gaming companies like Electronic Arts or Activision (judging by their weakening stocks I would say that they feel the same), but from the aspect of gamers.  There are numerous games that have grabbed our attention and held onto it for a few years such as the Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Mass Effect and some others that you might be able to throw out there in the comments section below.  However, sports games and some shooter titles are constantly being thrown at us every year during the summer or fall.

What is becoming more evident as we get closer to the end of this generation of consoles (XBox 360, PS3 and Wii) is that sports and shooter games are really coasting along for the last few quarters before they jump into a new fray of next-gen console development (aka – more of your money).

We have recently focused on games like Madden NFL and NCAA Football sense they are the primary Summer Releases for EA Sports.  The next game that will get our full attention is Black Ops 2.  Call of Duty is a game that is technically released every two years if you want to dive into the fact that it is split between development teams (Infinity Ward and Treyarch).  However, the series itself is pretty much the same concept with a few nuances that make each game slightly different.

These games feel disposable at this point.  We aren’t in a time period of creative thoughts in entertainment in general.  Movies are the same way with sequels and remakes that really aren’t too dissimilar from what annual sports games and FPS games like Call of Duty are doing.  The publishers of these games like to sell you on trailers and big budget marketing rather than actually take the time to be creative and take a chance with something new.

If in 2013 there would be an announcement that Madden and Call of Duty would not be released in order to drive creativity and innovation in each series, would you applaud this decision or take it upon yourself to scream in ALL CAPS that it is the worst thing that ever happened to gaming?

NoobTubeTV would applaud this decision but what is your take?