Is Watch Dogs The GTA Killer?

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In just a couple weeks we will be introduced to the first real open-world game on next-gen consoles – Watch Dogs.

After a delay that was most likely due to the overwhelming popularity of Grand Theft Auto V and the fact that Ubisoft also had the release of Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag to deal with as well.  Regardless of the reasons for delay, Watch Dogs is a combination of the two games.

The open world of Chicago is combined with many similar mechanics from Assassin’s Creed in the combat/parkour  animations.  While you aren’t necessarily jumping from rooftops into wagons full of straw/hay ( I never understood the realism of that).  You will be able to hack into the numerous forms of electronic surveillance and other devices in order to accomplish your mission (or side mission).

The easiest comparison to Watch Dogs’ multiplayer (which is also a seamless experience – more on that soon) can be found in Assassin’s Creed 3’s  multiplayer where numerous players try to disguise themselves as NPCs (Non-Playable Characters) and move in for the kill on you or any other assassin.  In the case of Watch Dogs, you will see that players from all over can join your single-player game and start tracking you down and try to hack your device as well – all while trying to act like ‘some other character’ roaming around the world.

The general idea of this game is intriguing and it is coming at a perfect time for next-gen gamers that might be wondering where the hell their good games are these days.  Fear not, Watch Dogs is almost here – and it looks like a winner.

Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes – The Best ‘Cheap’ Game Since The Orange Box

Before we begin, yes –  Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes can be played through in a matter of minutes (I completed my first play-through in 63 minutes).

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Snake is back.

That said, Ground Zeroes (GZ) is far more than just a ‘one mission preview’ of the coming Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain.  It is a showcase of sorts for a franchise that has grown over the last few decades.  Not only is it graphically superior (even on PS3) to its predecessors, but it has also taken major steps in gameplay and control.

Metal Gear Solid has been a rather clunky handling game since its inception on PS1.  The side menus for sorting all of the items are gone.  Replaced by a relatively simple D-Pad navigation system for equipped weapons and items.  Other actions can be taken with the new ‘iDroid’ which is basically a quasi-3D PDA that Snake carries around for navigation, cassette and music functionality.  It is a less ‘high tech’ and attached (don’t forget you are supposed to be in the year 1975) Mk2 from MGS 4.

The real improvements to this game are noticed in the actual gameplay.  While MGS3: Subsistence and MGS4 both used the rotatable camera, they still had the clunky gunplay that most MGS fans (and haters) might recall.  For those that don’t know this reference – you basically had to play Twister with your fingers on the controller if you wanted to take out enemies quickly and precisely.  While it became more fluid as you played the game it usually fell short of expectations that games like Splinter Cell pushed for in handling (especially aiming and shooting firearms).

Ground Zeroes doesn’t have that problem anymore.  You now have the ability to handle weapons in a way that is closer to Splinter Cell than ever before.  For some of the MGS ‘purists’ I am sure they will try to raise hell over this new move, but really it is an improvement to the gameplay.  While it may seem to some to be a ‘dumbing down’ of the controls, it is far from that as the challenge is still there – just in a more organic fashion.

The aspect of the game I was most worried about going into this new MGS title was the new voice of Snake.  With the news that David Hayter was no longer the voice of our reluctant hero I became skeptical that anyone could take over the role with the same quality.  Then it was announced that Kiefer Sutherland would be the voice of Snake (aka – Big Boss).  Simply said – he does not disappoint.  At first when Snake says his typical “Kept you waiting, huh?” your reaction will probably feel like when you accidentally called the wrong number and a voice you don’t know says ‘Hello’.  Fear not.  By the time you get to the final part of the game you will see and hear why Sutherland is a welcome addition and change in Snake.

MGS: The Phantom Pain is now my most anticipated next-gen title.
MGS: The Phantom Pain is now my most anticipated next-gen title.

Not only does this game make improvements, but it is also full of other side-missions and other minutia that will keep you busy until The Phantom Pain comes out.  Also, the availability of this title on PS3/360 makes it a joy for those of us that have yet to buy into the next-Gen consoles as we bide our time for the better developed games and the inevitable hardware malfunctions/bugs to seep out and get fixed like last gen consoles (RROD/YLOD).

If you are a fan of the MGS franchise or trying to decide whether to jump into the series – this is worth a purchase.  Not only will you enjoy the additions, but chances are that it won’t leave your system until The Phantom Pain comes out.

Titanfall – Will It Swing The Console Battle?

Now that we are only hours from the release of 360/XB1/PC exclusive Titanfall there are many in the gaming community that may be seeing this as the first launch of a next-Gen console missile strike of sorts.  Titanfall is developed by the former founders of Call of Duty’s Infinity Ward.  While this might already drive many to consider this game as some sort of ‘sci-fi/mech COD’ doesn’t  seem to veer from that as it is only for online multi-player action.

Titanfall is the first major post-launch console exclusive for next-gen systems.
Titanfall is the first major post-launch console exclusive for next-gen systems.

Titanfall is also coming out on XBox 360 as well as the newer XBox One.  This might be one of the more frustrating aspects for gamers that noticed a drastic drop in quality of development of games like Battlefield 4 when comparing console performance.  Titanfall has amazed many eager gamers with videos and other announcements that make this game something new in the shooter market.  It isn’t as if there has been a shortage of shooter games over the last eight years of 360/PS3.  Some have been stellar (COD, Halo, Battlefield and Gears of War).  Others have fallen flat (MAG, Frontlines, Unreal Tournament and the list goes on).

Now, on the eve of the first real battle of the next-gen console war we are getting ready to see if Titanfall will be a dramatic success or a colossal failure.

What Console War? – XBox One and PS4 Aren’t Much Different

I have been fielding questions from friends, family and NoobTubeTV visitors lately and now I will just put this out there for everyone to read.

The next-gen consoles really aren’t that different from each other.  With some minor differences in RAM speed and other internal tuning the consoles are relatively similar machines on the inside.  The real difference will come in the $100 difference in price on release day with the PS4 being the cheaper of the two.

Here is a side-by-side comparison of the system specifications.

Playstation 4 vs Xbox One specs

After going down this list of specs you won’t see much different in the primary specs.  Also, for those that say that PlayStation Online Network is free and XBox isn’t… that argument is over as PS3 will now have a fee to play multiplayer games.  However, that doesn’t mean you will have to find a new receiver for Netflix as it should (still) work just fine with the free online account.

Also, there are conflicting reports out there and let it be stated here that neither system is ‘backwards compatible’ with titles from older consoles.  However, the PS4 will be able to stream games from the old system if that is any consolation (no pun intended).  So, keep that PS3/360 if you plan on wanting to play Grand Theft Auto 5 for the foreseeable future.

What other questions do you have about the coming release of the new consoles?  Put them in the comments section below.

XBox One – What You Need To Know

The Tuesday that many gamers had been waiting for has come and Microsoft announced the latest iteration in XBox consoles.  It isn’t much of a surprise to hear that they are planning a release ‘later this year’.  While this most likely means a retail release for the holiday season, it would be interesting to see them try to beat the Playstation 4 to the punch with a release prior to that time period.

XBox One

Some of the other details include a BluRay Disc Drive, 500GB harddrive and an 8-core CPU to go with 8GB of RAM.  The system will also have wireless-N tech for networking.  USB 3.0 ports will help for a faster connection for Kinect and other peripherals – it will be interesting to see how far they really want to take Kinect at this point.

In terms of backwards compatibility – none.  This isn’t really a surprise as the 360 and PS3 had virtually zero backwards compatibility after a couple years.

Used games?  The rumors were swirling and they will continue to swirl because Microsoft didn’t address this issue at all.  It does seem that you will have to install every game to your harddrive which would make for an interesting issue when dealing with enormous games on BluRay discs.  Will you have to uninstall old games and then start switching between them after awhile?  The move away from being ‘used game friendly’ isn’t going unnoticed, but many gamers out there won’t do much to prevent this move as they continue to buy big budget titles like Call of Duty and Madden without thinking twice.

Hopefully, the limitations of second-hand games will create a more picky audience of gamers.

(No price points have been discussed, but look for it to be similarly priced to the PS4)