Good ‘ol South Park. One of the granddaddies of television backlash. Before Family Guy was South Park. An adult cartoon featuring four children living in a rural town of South Park, Colorado who run into various antics and adventures. The series is still ongoing and started in 1997. I remember fondly as a kid not being allowed to watch the show unless my parents watched it first, and if it wasn’t too graphic, we could watch a re-run. The Stick of Truth is a turn-based RPG with roots from the show and features the same humor as well.
You play as The New Kid, or Sir Douchebag despite Cartman ignoring whatever you name your character, which is hilarious. You’re a voiceless protagonist that is swept into the children’s D&D game of The Stick of Truth. There are two factions fighting over it, the Elves and the Knights. Your goal is to continuously get the Stick back from the various people who steal it and it leads to one crazy adventure. Throughout the game, you also have to recruit two factions that are the girls and Goths. This leads to various interesting areas like a UFO where everyone is getting anally probed, to shrinking down to a gnome and battling on the bed your parents are having sex on to crawling into Mr. Slave’s anus and fighting through his intestines. Yeah, it has over the top humor that will offend most and is one of the most graphic games I have ever played, but that’s not a bad thing.
Outside of wandering around the town of South Park discovering the few side quests there are, you can shoot things down and bash open things to find a hidden treasure. Just like any RPG, you have armor, weapons, consumables, and cosmetic items. The weapons and armor come in steadily and I was always happy to have a new weapon that let me hit harder. Depending on the class you choose it will affect what weapons are available in the game as you can only find weapons for that class. There are fast travel points, which are a lifesaver. You have four different abilities you acquire throughout the game such as shoot, buddy commands, shrinking, and using your anal probe to teleport. These are all context-sensitive so you can only use them when you’re allowed, but they give a sense of discovery as you can access parts of the game later on that were blocked before. Your magic consists of…farting. Yes, you fart for magic and you have four magic attacks you learn. Dragonshout, Cup-a-Spell, Nagasaki, and the Sneaky Squeaker. These sound downright hilarious and absurd, but who still don’t laugh at fart jokes?
Combat is where the meat of the game is and it’s flawed for sure, but works. You can only have one other person in your party, but the enemies can come at you as large as groups of six. A strategy is key here, especially during boss fights, as you need to balance consumables, magic, power attacks, abilities, and what your partner is capable of. It’s good to know that the Nazi Zombies can’t be grossed out, but are only weak to bleeding. You can hit them all you want, but you will only do 1 point of damage until their bleeding effects stack up. It’s not too hard to figure out and I only died a couple of times through the whole game. Any RPG fan will be able to dive in and understand right away. The combat is surprisingly deep, but these mystery buffs can frustrate some.
The game is also not particularly long-running at 8 hours if you just finish the main quests. It’s a fun story with awesome humor and tons of references to South Park episodes and geek culture. South Park isn’t afraid to be bold and do what it does best. The jabs at right-wing politics are especially funny as well as name brand references and various other things. South Park’s characters have always been memorable and stand the test of time. This is by far the best South Park game ever made and it captures the show perfectly. Of course, the game isn’t for everyone as some of the humor may come off as childish, crude, brash, or just downright offensive, which is fine. Everyone’s sense of humor is different, but that doesn’t stop this from being a bad game. It may be too simple at times, with combat that can drag on too long, but a lot of love and effort was put into this by the guys who made Fallout 2, New Vegas, and Divinity: Original Sin. I can’t complain there.
Ghost Recon has always been a part of my childhood as it was one of my dad’s favorite games. While we only had the inferior PS2 versions, they were kind of fun to play and really challenging. The slow pace of crawling through enemy territory and deciding the best way to take them all out without dying after 3 shots could sometimes be quite rewarding especially since this is what the series was popular for. GRAW carries this over on the PC version specifically while the Xbox 360 version is faster paced. I personally think this is a much inferior version and the slower pace feels dated and boring.
After so many Ghost Recon games, it was exciting to get a new game in the series on the brink of brand new technology. While the PC version sure looks great, it uses a slightly different engine and is in a first person perspective rather than third like the Xbox 360 version. Everything just feels completely different such as enemies not staying tagged with the orange diamonds and this became a real big problem. You get a drone in this game but it’s tied to a tactical map rather than viewing it in real-time overhead. You can use basic commands to send squad members to an area and take out enemies, but you’re so blind and the angle of the camera for the map is really strange and distorts your perspective. Many times my men died because I didn’t know what was ahead and unless you play at a snail’s pace you’re going to die a lot.
That also goes for your character. Two or three shots and your dead and the checkpoints are so infrequent and spread apart that it leads to many frustrations. The PC version should have a manul quick save feature and it doesn’t. The character walks like a geriatric on a crutch or sprints as fast as a turtle. The maps are bland and void of any type of action or ambiance. Just plain walls, silos, warehouses, and blown up cars. Once I did get a few bad guys tagged I would send my guys out, but stray too far and the tags disappear which is really pointless. Just on the training map alone, I died maybe 6 or 7 times because it’s just so hard to see what’s coming up in a large open map. I need something like, I don’t know, my drone’s tags to stay up and I see where every bad guy is and either skip some or avoid certain areas.
At least giving commands is rather simple as using the mouse wheel or number row tells your guys to stop, follow, attack, or carry out commands set on the map. However, the AI is weird as sometimes my guys would pop people I never even saw and then not engage on tagged targets I told them to attack. They would just stand there and stare and sometimes get shot up and tell me that the target isn’t reachable. With all of this combined, this makes for a buggy and frustrating mess of a game that doesn’t exist on the Xbox 360 version. The snail’s pace alone isn’t fun and is boring and bland and takes away all the character and amazing pace of the console version. Why Ubisoft tried to make the PC slower is beyond me as I wanted the 360 version just with better visuals maybe? Even the art style is completely different despite most of the maps and missions being the same.
Overall, GRAW on PC is a huge let down as Ubisoft thinks we want a slower more boring game? It feels more like Rainbow Six than Ghost Recon and carries with it too many of the issues from past Ghost Recon games. Get rid of the slow pace and animations, make the AI better, and stop making up crawl around a massive map trying to pick off-targets. It’s just not fun at all. Some people may love this, such as those who actually like boring tactical shooters that play at a crawl, but GRAW on PC just doesn’t cut it and shouldn’t exist when a superior version exists on Xbox 360.
Do you trust your government? Do you trust your social media outlets? Do you trust anyone with money or power? That’s what Watch Dogs 2 constantly asks you as you play through the campaign. You play as a hacker named Marcus who is trying to take over what Aiden Pierce did in the first Watch Dogs and take down the corporate conglomerate Blume and their ctOS 2.0 system that is continuously monitoring the people’s every move and step to a creepy factor.
Watch Dogs 2, now set in San Fransisco instead of Chicago, is a gorgeous open-world game full of many activities as well as side missions to complete next to the main campaign. There are also collectibles and various shops in which you can deck Marcus out in cool hip threads. But, that’s not what I want to talk about first. Let’s first talk about this whole “hack anything” gameplay feature that Ubisoft bragged about for Watch Dogs 1 and didn’t deliver. Your main weapon is your cell phone and when you move the camera a white line will connect to everything around you from cars to electrical boxes to people and let you either control it or the citizen’s cell phones in various ways. Steal cash from their bank account, burn their phone up (and kill them in the process), set the police or gangs on them, and even listen in on texts and audio calls. It’s really neat and works much better than the first game and it’s integral for combat when going into restricted areas which are about 90% of every mission’s contents.
When you get to a restricted area it can be as small as a house or as large as a rocket building facility or even a boat. You can either go in guns blazing which is impossible early on as the better weapons are really expensive to buy and you must unlock weapon slots. Your main tools are your RC Jumper Car and your RC Copter. The RC Copter comes in halfway through the campaign, but you get the car immediately and you can complete entire missions with this thing without ever having to walk in. Set up just outside the restricted boundaries and control your RC car through vents, doors, have it hack laptops, and even distract guards by making their cell phone ring so you can roll on by. The RC car has physical capabilities that the copter can not do such as pick up items and physically hack certain things that require access through to main objectives.
The RC copter is great for scouting and remotely hacking things that don’t require physical interaction. Now, there are some missions in which Marcus must physically hack into something himself and these can get a little though. You don’t last very long in this game by shooting as you die after a few shots. It’s better to maybe call in the mafia on a guard and have them shoot it out and thin the herd a bit, or use the cameras around the building and maybe rig electrical boxes and have guards go out that way. Sometimes I would just remotely have a car rampage its way through an area which is a lot of fun. There are so many ways to complete objectives and it’s basically a fun sandbox of hacking and shooting. The RC car and RC copter are a Godsend as some facilities are just too difficult for Marcus to enter without dying constantly.
Then there are a few missions where you just hack your way through via scripted puzzles which are a blast. Making people suffer or humiliating them through various hacking scenarios is just so much fun and I always wanted more. Outside of these missions, scenarios are how you escape from the cops and that’s a whole thing. You do have a cooldown timer when you are caught and once you hid long enough everyone will break off, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. In the city, running from the cops requires either hiding away from streets or ducking down in a car. I would sometimes duck down in a car and when a cop car strolled by I would hack their car and kick it into reverse before they spotted me. It’s really cool to see so many ways to play around with the game from having cranes lift you hundreds of feet into the air and onto a building, to using a forklift to deliver an explosive canister to a group of guards and have them blow up.
That’s what the game is mostly made up of with some side activities such as races, hacking events, real-time co-op side missions, and situations in which another player enters your area and you must find them with your hacker vision before they steal your followers. Outside of this, the story is great with memorable characters that I really cared about thanks to the amazing voice acting and well-written dialog. The cut scenes kept me pushing through this game through an entire week and I didn’t want to put it down. The game uses fake groups that represent real-life corporations such as Nudle (Google), !Nvite (Facebook), and the overall social media trend being used to manipulate the public. It really makes you think about what’s going on in the world today and I have to commend Ubisoft for making real-world problems like racism, sexism, and various social issues present in the game to wake up gamers.
The game also looks fantastic with a very realistic San Francisco such as the Golden Gate Bridge, the famous hairpin street, various monuments, and buildings. The game, however, suffers from a poorly optimized engine with even two GPU generations ahead of what’s required struggling to keep up at max settings at 4K. MSAA anti-aliasing cripples anything but multiple GPU setups and I constantly would go from 90FPS and dip into the 30s during driving scenes or climbing buildings for no apparent reason. Despite all of this, the game looks fantastic.
Overall, Watch Dogs 2 is a sandbox of hacking and shooting with so many fun scenarios and ways to complete them. The story, characters, and dialog are all well written and keep you coming for more and using real-world problems to deliver this story is a plus. Despite the poorly optimized engine, the game looks amazing and the rebuilt San Francisco is a blast. I just didn’t care much for the tedious activities and collecting spray cans and hacker points to max out my research. It just felt incredibly tedious.
Far Cry is one of the many Ubisoft franchises that has been infected with sequelitis and the “Ubisoftitis” specifically. For the last few years, their open world games have suffered from the same stale structure and layout and they had a hard time finding their own personality. Far Cry 5 is one of the first Ubisoft games in a while that has evolved a little and hasn’t quite carved it’s own nook in their portfolio but knocked out quite a few chunks to get started. It feels more RPG like and the activities and missions unfold more organically with the total freedom from the player to go about doing what they want while some activities and missions are constantly revolving and moving a bit.
You play as Sheriff Deputy Rook who gets a call to head to a small county in Montana that is overrun but a religious cult. Things go south when your helicopter is shot down and your taken prisoner along with your State Marshall partner. Joseph Seed is your main villain, and like all Far Cry games, he’s the main focus of the game and he’s a great character. While not quite as good as Far Cry 3, Ubisoft unloaded their full-blown crazy bag here and made some insanely sick characters.
The main goal of Far Cry 5 is to take out Joseph’s three siblings that have taken over a third of map each. These story missions unfold by obtaining notoriety with each sibling as you finish missions and activities. There are three story segments per sibling that are unlocked and you are warped to a story area. These are some of the best parts of the games as each sibling has their own unique way of controlling the people and have their own sick and twisted techniques. The final mission for each sibling requires you to destroy their bunker, and while this gets tedious, it’s only three times in the whole game.
All mission require gunning Peggies down, but some side missions include freeing prisoners from roaming vans, solve Prepper Stash puzzles where you have to figure out how to get into a building or cave, stunt devil activities, and not to mention the all new Far Cry Arcade which has various levels scattered around the world displayed as arcade machines or posters. The level is a short variation that includes objectives that are fast-paced and insane.
While there are a lot of fun activities and missions such as fishing and small item hunting ones, it just isn’t quite enough to completely clear the stale air that Far Cry has created over the last few years. I loved the villains and characters, and the shooting is solid with a massive open world, but there are other issues such as each weapon feeling the same, grinding for cash is a chore, and perk unlocks come at a snail’s pace. You can buy gold bars with real-world cash to quicken the weapon and outfit purchasing, so this is probably why it’s a grind.
For the most part, I stuck with the same 4 guns throughout the entire game as I never really found a huge difference between them, and around 10 hours in I started skipping the side activities and gunning for the end of the story. While the world is fun to explore and there is a lot to do and complete, it all starts feeling the same after so long. The game is nowhere near bad, but just repetitive and requires a lot of patience and dedication to complete, but outside the main story, there’s really no drive to.
Far Cry is at it’s best here and the formula has been perfected and I honestly can’t see where else this series can go. Open world first-person shooters are notorious for getting stale quick and unless they have an amazing story and characters, there’s no reason to stick around for too long. The Arcade mode may keep you coming back if you really love the shooting in this game, but the main story has so much to offer I rarely dabbled in Arcade mode. Overall, the game is well worth a purchase, but if you haven’t liked Far Cry in the past, then this game won’t really change your mind.
An open jungle, a rebel war, a tyrant, a guy who ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time, lots of guns…sound familiar? Yes, another Far Cry run of a giant open world that might be too large for its own good. Far Cry 3‘s mediocre missions were made up for an excellent story with fantastic characters, however, Far Cry 4 seems to be doing the opposite. You play as Ajay Ghale, a man trying to bury his mother’s ashes, but is captured by a tyrant known as Pagin Min. Min is a man who is bringing the people of Kyrat down, and you are here to help the rebel army rise against him. Sounds cliche and boring…and it is. The story and characters are Far Cry 4‘s downfall as they are either just really badly written or uninteresting. Pagan Min isn’t so bad, but the rest of the characters just don’t hit home like FC3 did.
There are honestly more side missions than story quests, but to the point in which it’s overwhelming. Far Cry 4 is huge. Five times the size of Far Cry 3. Despite the story being bland, let’s talk about the gameplay. It’s nearly identical to FC3 in terms of gunplay and the choice of stealth or guns blazing. However, the choice of stealth, I feel, is stilted and guns blazing tends to be the forced choice. There are multiple side quests from destroying propaganda towers, intercepting couriers, taking over camps, storming fortresses, hunting, races, and several others. While all these are fun for a bit, they all wear thin as there are just so many of them. There were missions that required me to sneak into an enemy base, but no matter how quiet I was someone always saw me. The enemies have had this problem since the first game.
Outside of the side missions, you can buy weapons, maps, hunt for treasures (which is probably the most tedious), and skin animals to increase carrying capacity. Gathering plants for syringes is back as well, but all of these things are second hand from FC3, and there’s just not enough here that’s new to make it feel like FC4. Thankfully, the gunplay is rather solid and customizing weapons was one of my favorite things to do. I’m not saying any of this stuff was bad, but it was tedious and felt too similar to past games. Nothing really stands out on its own.
FC4 is also heavily reliant on co-op play as some camps and fortresses are nearly impossible to take over by yourself. I died multiple times and had to exploit strategies to beat some of them. I would give up and wander around collecting treasure, take over a tower, complete some side quests, only to continue getting distracted from the main story. This is usually a good thing, but FC4‘s world feels sterile and empty and too artificial for its own good. Most people would love all these things to do, but it’s all just kind of dull and only good in short bursts.
The graphics are actually quite fantastic and show off the power of next-gen consoles, however, it’s not much different looking than FC3. In the end, after completing the story I felt overwhelmed by the vast amount of things to complete the game and just told myself I would come back to it later when I’m really bored. In the future, Ubisoft needs to work on Far Cry feeling more important with less filler content. Honestly, this series needs a reboot or a complete overhaul to justify existing.
Watch Dogs is supposed to be the next Grand Theft Auto III! The next-gen revolutionary open world game! Well, there’s one big flaw in all that hype. Watch Dogs was developed for last-gen consoles. We will never get a truly next-gen experience until a game is made specifically for next-gen consoles and is no longer ported to last-gen or has those consoles in mind. With that said, Watch Dogs is a solid open world game, but it feels limited due to the scope that it tried to create.
You are Aiden Pearce. A vigilante hacker who is trying to exact revenge on his niece’s death. You get involved in a huge blackmail hacking/drug ring while operating Chicago’s own connected grid. This online grid is called CTOS or Citizen Operating System. Chicago has cameras everywhere (even in places they aren’t supposed to) and is storing all the data on servers. Hacker groups are battling for the data while some have blackmail on city officials. It makes for a pretty twisty story, but that falls flat due to the story being dragged out for too long. One thing that an open world needs are strong characters and Watch Dogs is lacking that. Each character has potential but they are missing that certain something to makes them more than generic or they don’t get enough screen time.
Outside of the so-so story is the so-so gameplay. Now the gunplay is solid with a great cover mechanic and weapon wheel. You also get the electronics on your side such as the gimmicky “camera hopping” ability. You can hack cameras around an area to stealthily blow up stuff and distract enemies. It kind of felt like something similar to the Batman Arkham games. Some enemies have grenades that you can explode remotely that are on them, disrupt their comms, disable reinforcements etc. This stealthy way of combat is actually pretty fun, but gets old in the end because it becomes predictable and almost to easy. Gunning it all the way is tough because you die so quickly. A few shots and you’re dead.
Most GTAlike games have wanted levels and cops that come after you. Watch Dogs does something rather unique in a sense that you can use the city against the cops. With the push of a button, you can raise bridges, activate blockers, blow up underground pipes, change traffic lights to block intersections etc. I just found that the cops can find you way too easily. You are able to craft gadgets to stop enemies. One such item is the Jam Comms. This is used when police are trying to find you. When this happens yellow circles will appear on your map and you much avoid them until the search is called off. I only ever avoided this once in the whole game. My only option was to be found and then escape the police.
Another gameplay element that open world games have are mini-games. Watch Dogs is full of them but neither of them is interesting, including the side missions. Being able to prevent crimes, AR time trials, online contract hunts etc. These are all interesting the first time, but after that, I lost interest. I have yet to talk about what caused Watch Dogs to get such hype and that is the profiler. When you pull out your phone every citizen’s info is displayed. Their job, income, what they currently do/dark secret, and sometimes you can hack their phone conversations or steal money from them. Now this may seem like a big deal but it’s all randomized and after a few minutes exploring this you just won’t care anymore.
That’s the main problem with Watch Dogs at the end of the day. You just stop caring about more and more things as you play. When you start off you’re completely confused on how to use this new hacking/profiling ability. It all seems overwhelming. Once you play for a few hours you start checking off what’s interesting and what’s not in your head. That’s usually not a good thing for a game. Watch Dogs brings a lot to the table but none of it is outstanding or memorable. The graphics are also decent, but even for PC and next-gen consoles there are some ugly spots, the character models are dated, and it all just feels like a last-gen game with a next-gen coating of polish slapped on top.
The Good: Tight gunplay, a strong cast of characters (mostly), hacking is occasionally satisfying and done well, stealth is great, tons of upgrades, clever and fun online modes, open world driving is fun, gang-hideout side quests are tricky and enjoyable, phone apps are entertaining, graphics look pretty good
The Bad: At other times hacking feels forced and gimmicky, not much creativity in puzzle solutions, forced stealth and forced gunplay sections, pointless and annoying reputation system, most side quests are repetitive, the difficulty is random
Watch_Dogs feels tremendously like another one of Ubisoft’s games, the first Assassin’s Creed, in that it sets up the fundamentals and roots of a franchise but it is still incredibly flawed. This time around it’s a lot more inexcusable however because Ubisoft has had a ton of experience with open world games. Nevertheless, it is still a fun and meaty game which I enjoyed for the most part.
It tells the story of Aiden Pearce (otherwise known as “The Vigilante”, possibly the most unoriginal name ever), a hacker who lost his niece Lena Pearce in a car accident staged by a hitman. It’s a revenge story, with Aiden setting out to discover who called for his death and why. Aiden is, for the most part, the typical grumbly mostly-emotionless remorseful killer supposed “badass” protagonist that has been far overused in this medium, but he still has his moments and his journey to seek out revenge is certainly endearing. It’s mostly the side characters which carry the story out in this game, particularly Clara Lille and T-Bone, who both seem to have more depth to them than Aiden himself. There are also standout characters like “Bedbug”, an oddly likable and friendly gangster, and Lucky Quinn, an incredibly unnerving villain.
The story starts off pretty slowly, but picks up by the middle and was overall pretty entertaining. It wasn’t fantastic or super memorable or anything, but it did do a good enough job at progressing the game while still engaging me. The gameplay is Watch_Dog‘s real meat, and it is a mixed bag. Hacking was fun at first, but eventually, the novelty wore off and I came to realize it felt all too scripted and didn’t actually allow for as much freedom as it pretends to. Using hacking to escape from the cops felt pointless once I discovered that if I got into the water I was practically safe because the police have no watercraft, and using hacks during missions didn’t feel like I was coming up with my own solution but instead choosing through a few predetermined ones the developers left for me. In fact, in a majority of the missions, it’d probably be easier and quicker to play without using hacks, whether playing stealthily or guns blazing. The only missions which feel like they take full advantage of hacking are the gang hideout sidequests, which allow you to play through any style that you want, however, these eventually run thin as well because of how similar they all are.
The gunplay feels good (unlike another well-known open-world franchise) but isn’t all too original. The worst missions in this game force you to play a certain style. Having stealth forced makes it a hell of a lot less satisfying, and when gunplay is forced it can get too difficult for someone who had played the rest of the game stealthily. Throughout the game, you’ll get skill points to upgrade your hacking, weapons, driving, and more. However, I unlocked pretty much all the important upgrades early on in the game due to how many skill points you get (both from sidequests and missions).
Driving, like much else in the game, is a mixed bag. Driving controls are more arcade-y than realistic, and you can easily create your own shortcut to destinations by smashing through fences and phone lines. At the same time though, tailing missions and online races control poorly and aren’t fun at all. Also, it’s pretty jarring to smash through a humongous pole just to inexplicably be stopped by a bush you can’t drive through. Motorcycles control poorly, with it being too easy to be flung out of them. Also, NPC’s inexplicably are never ever on motorcycles, you can only find parked ones. And that is just an example of what I find to be ones of Watch_Dogs biggest issues: it’s missing out on the small details.
No, I don’t mean in terms of graphics, or at least the quality of the graphics- the game looks pretty enough (however nowhere near as good as its first E3 demo). What I mean is that unlike GTA V (which is a much better game), Watch_Dogs struggles to create a believable setting and environment. It replicates Chicago well enough, keeping its major landmarks, but doesn’t have any spirit or passion or incredible detail to it unlike, say, Los Santos (and by detail, I don’t mean accuracy to the real-life version). Just like the whole game itself, it feels unsure of what it wants to represent; is it a modern-day version of Chicago, a semi-cyberpunk version of Chicago, or a satire of Chicago? And it’d be okay (maybe even great) if the game could masterfully combine these three different takes on Chicago but it fails at that and instead feels like three different creative directions were taken with designing the setting and feeling of this game.
The water, despite being beautiful, doesn’t react at all if you shoot a bullet at it. Building window’s reflections are fake. And most importantly, NPC’s rarely do anything of interest (and their AI is terrible). The text and phone conversations which are supposed to give them personality repeat far too often, and the name and trait system which are intended to make us care for them instead comes off as a shoddy way to try an inject personality in those characters when in reality the traits change absolutely nothing about them and are merely cosmetic. It’d be better if it was trying to teach us a lesson or make a point (for example, if we could use those traits to say, blackmail them) about the dangers of technology and our online lives, but the game is too confused about what type of message it wants to send out. For example, Aiden is presented as a good guy (and I could tell the game wanted me to believe that), but he consistently does horrible things both inside of gameplay and as part of the story. In many ways, Watch_Dogs feels like it is a game going through its teenage years, unsure of what it wants to be.
On a positive note, the online in this game is pretty great ignoring online races. Hacking other player’s games is an exhilarating and nerve-wracking experience, hampered only by the fact that should your opponent choose to exit the game you are the one punished for it AND if you leave the game on pause to go get a drink or have a snack you may still get hacked which really sucks. Decryption is a fun competitive mode which gets better the more people who play it in which you must work as a team (or individually) to hold a hacking point for a certain amount of time. It, like the gang hideout missions, is one of the few examples of the hacking and gunplay coming together to form a cohesive and fun whole.
Also fun is the somewhat out of place yet hilarious AR games. Everyone should at the very least give the Spider-Tank game a try once. The soundtrack is fine, with only a few standout tracks (particularly the one that plays on the skill tree upgrade menu), but the in-game radio is awful. I put it on mute most of the time, the songs that play are mostly crap.
So, what do I have to say about Watch_Dogs as a whole? It’s fun, sure, but it also feels like it is trying to appeal to far too many audiences without nailing down any single one in particular. It’s a game that has been dragged down by its corporate influences and was hyped to an extreme amount. Yes, it ultimately is an enjoyable and well-crafted experience but it doesn’t have much heart nor soul behind it. However, I’m excited about what Ubisoft has in mind with the sequel that will inevitably come because there is so much potential for this franchise. Just keep in mind most of it hasn’t been met yet, this game is just the baby steps.
Nothing is true. Everything is permitted. This is a saying heard throughout Assassin’s Creed and it really sticks with you. So does the thick plot that has come to take the game industry by storm as well as one of the greatest game characters of all time: Altair. The plot is actually weird at first because it’s a sci-fi story. You are actually Desmond Miles capture by modern world Templars. They stick you in an Animus and use your DNA to access your ancestor’s memories to find the Piece of Eden which can be used to control people’s minds. That one ancestor is Altair set during the crusades. The second story is of Altair who ends up losing his rank and status among the Assassin Brotherhood by failing a mission due to eagerness and stupidity. Your master, Al Mualim, sends on special missions to assassinate key leaders throughout the holy land (Acre, Jerusalem, and Damascus) to keep them from taking the Piece of Eden and using it to win the war.
As you can see the plot is very interesting with a lot of twists. How is the game though? You have a huge open world that is full of side missions and hundreds of buildings to climb. Assassin’s Creed has a parkour climbing system as well as a puppeteering system. You control each of Altair’s limbs in two different states. The “socially acceptable” state allows you to use eagle vision which can show enemies and key targets. You can gently push people away from you and this is key because is you’re running around the city knocking people over the guards will come after you, and towards the end of the game everyone is highly suspicious of you and just a few people knocked over will have the entire guard on your tail. The third thing is obviously combat, but if you hold down the run button you start climbing buildings, grabbing people to toss them, and jumping around.
Assassin’s Creed really tried to introduce crowd psychology into the game and it works here but does feel limited. If you climb buildings people will react by stopping and staring and saying things accordingly. If you use ladders people don’t mind so much. While using rooftops is faster and keeps you away from most guards you must watch out for guards on rooftops who will shoot you with arrows if you don’t get down, kill them, or move away quickly. The climbing works well enough, but there are some controls issues, clipping issues, and other issues with the camera. When Altair is facing a different way then the camera he will jump towards his way instead of the way you’re telling him too. Also, if you run around a pole or near a crate he’ll start climbing it instead of just jumping over or going around. This can get downright frustrating when you are running away from a dozen guards and trying to find a hiding spot.
The game also introduces anonymity via a symbol near your health bar which stays white when no ones suspect you but will turn yellow when you are watched and flash red when guards are on to you. When it does this getaway quickly or kill whoever is watching you. Don’t just kill out in the open or people will run around screaming and call guards. Get away from dead bodies quickly because guards will come by and try to find who killed them or citizens will give you away. If you are caught you need to kill all guards after you or hide. To do this you must break their line of sight and the symbol will flash yellow. When it does find a hiding spot quickly before it turns red again. You can hide on benches between people, stacks of hay, in groups of monks praying, or draped boxes on rooftops. Stay there for a few seconds and you will be anonymous again. You can avoid all this chaos by just jogging, staying calm, don’t flail around and jump around like a monkey in crowded areas, etc.
This whole crowd system is really something else and works well, but feels repetitive and predictable because of the recycled sayings, animations, and it always happens the same way. The combat is the same way because while you can gain new abilities it feels like a counter fest. You can attack with a sword or short sword, throw daggers, but most guards always block and you just stand there with the block button held down and wait for someone to attack and then counter which is usually an instant kill. This gets repetitive and the combat isn’t as deep as it could be since combos are limited, and animations are repeated often. It does control well and feels smooth so I guess that’s better than broken.
The most repetitive thing and the game’s biggest flaw are the constantly repeated missions that repeat dozens and dozens of times. You can save citizens, do some time trial flag gathering missions, escort missions, assassination missions (probably the most fun), interrogation, eavesdropping, pickpocketing, and climbing tall buildings to find viewpoints to put more missions on your map in that area. Sure they are fun at first, but after you have saved the 30th citizen, or climbed the 50th building it gets old and you just want it to end. Some more mission diversity would have been nice.
While it’s cool to be an assassin, sneaking up behind a guard and shoving a punch dagger in his gut, and then running away while he falls to the ground without anyone suspecting otherwise is satisfying you must look good doing it too. Assassin’s Creed looks amazing, even today, and the PC version sports DirectX 10 graphics with some slightly higher resolution textures. The game looks a lot better than console versions and is well worth another play through just for that alone. While the graphics are amazing technically, artistically the game feels very Middle Eastern with a great soundtrack to support that, voice acting, and the whole game feels true to its time. The architecture is great, the clothing, lifestyles, and jobs people do in the game, but it all does kind of look the same with a lot of greys, browns, and whites.
Overall Assassin’s Creed is an amazing experience with a story you will talk about long after you finish the game, great crowd simulation, and the true feeling of being an assassin. If there was some more mission diversity, visual diversity, and smoother controls the game would be perfect. This is a game you can not miss and every gaming fan should play this.
Call of Juarez has been a very rocky Wild West series. The first game was terrible, the second game was great, the third game was horrible, and the fourth game is great. Will the fifth game be horrible? Who knows. What I do know is that for $15 this is a very enjoyable shooter with a pretty good story and a narrative inspired by Bastion. You play as Silas Greaves, a “retired” bounty hunter who went after the most notorious outlaws in the west such as Jesse James, Kid Curry, The Dalton Brothers, and The Sundance Kid.
The story’s cutscenes are told through black and white stills, but the narrative is really fun. If you have played Bastion you will know what I’m talking about. As you play the game it is being narrated as you go. Sometimes things will change right in front of you, on the fly, as Silas narrates his tales. Sometimes you will go through a whole section of a level, a bar patron will ask Silas if that really happened, then he will back up and correct himself. You then play that part again in a different way. It’s really fun, and as you progress you start to question if Silas is really who he is or even telling the truth. The battles get more outlandish and even the patrons start questioning him. The story has a nice twist ending and I was hooked the whole time thanks to the tight gunplay and fun story.
The game is very simple and basic at heart. You get four different weapons: Dynamite, pistols, shotguns, and rifles. There are a couple variations of them, but they shoot damn well and I have to say I haven’t had this much fun in a shooter in a long time. While the enemies repeat often and it’s the same shootouts throughout the level — the environments change often and the fun narrative keeps things mixed up so you are never bored. Every so often you will have a duel with a boss. You need to use the two analog sticks to control the focus on the enemy and the speed of your hand. It’s tough to concentrate on two things at once but it makes it fun and a bit challenging. During shootouts, you can slow down time and highlight enemies in red. You also get a “last chance” by being able to dodge the bullet that would normally kill you. Push both sticks in the opposite direction to save yourself. These little elements are just fun and a bit different from your typical military shooter.
Some boss fights require you to hide and sneak around or use dynamite. There are also hidden secrets in the game that tell the real-life tales and occurrences of these real-life outlaws and skirmishes. They are pretty interesting for anyone who likes some history in their game (Assassin’s Creed fans!) That’s all there really is to it. The game is simple yet a lot of fun. You can do challenge missions afterward and a new game+ to continue with your leveled skills. There are three categories: Trapper/Melee, Long range, and short range. As you advance each section you unlock a special gun in that category and it makes the game both easier and more fun.
Overall, Gunslinger is a really fun game. There’s not much wrong here other than it being bitten simply for some people. The graphics are fantastic, the gunplay is solid, and the narrative is a lot of fun and will keep you hooked to the end (I rarely put the controller down!) For $15 this is one of the best downloadable games you can buy this year. It may also be a good jumping in point for anyone who hasn’t played a Call of Juarez game before.
Some video game comics are a bit iffy. The Fall is a whole new storyline set in Russia, and there’s no Desmond Miles this time around. Daniel Cross ends up losing his memory, he can also see visions of his ancestors from the late 1800’s. Nikolai Orelov is tasked with killing the Tsar of Russia and getting the Golden Staff. In the present Daniel gets taken away to a secret Assassin camp and finds out his true identity.
Daniel himself is a raging drug addict and alcoholic. He has a court order to take psych meds but won’t do it. I loved how they introduced him, but he’s not a very memorable character. The comic series wasn’t long enough to allow this. During the first issue, you are just introduced to everyone and what their common goal is. During the second issue, Daniel finds out who he truly is and why he has these visions. It all comes to an end during the third issue when you find out the major plot twist and how shocking it is.
There is a special edition 4th issue that shows several years later where Daniel has cleaned up and finally meets the Mentor that he has searched for 2 years. There’s another shocking twist at the end, and without this final issue, the other three don’t seem so great. The art is really nice and the series is pretty gory and bloody. There’s a decent amount of fight scenes and the art holds true to the game. I just wish it were longer so we can get to know these characters more; there’s a lot that could have been done.
One thing that video game comics tend to have is a lack of intelligent dialogue. The Fall has great writing and there’s actually reading to be done rather than a sentence or two on each page. Fans will enjoy The Fall and the separate storyline is a welcome change. I just wish it were longer.
The first Red Steel was a highly anticipated on-rails shooter. Back when the Wii came out people were excited for arcade style FPS experiences it could bring home, but Red Steel failed on that delivery with bad controls, a bad story, and uninteresting enemies to kill. Ubisoft must have just thrown everything out the window because they took the same characters and put them in a Chinese/Japanese meets Wild West format with a new art style. There’s still not much content, and it’s pretty bland, but the use of the Wii Motion Plus is top-notch and shouldn’t be missed.
The story is pretty quick and basic. You are the last of the Kusagari clan who is trying to stop the Katakana clan from getting a hold of ore to forge another powerful Sora Katana. Yeah, pretty boring, the characters are underdeveloped, and the whole story is a toss-up. Nothing memorable here at all. You’re here for the action. The game has two basic mechanics, sword fighting, and gunplay. The game does a good job of auto-locking on enemies while you switch around with Z. Thanks to Motion Plus you can swing with 1:1 accuracy unlike any other Wii game out there. Hold your arm all the way back for a power attack, holding A+B allows you to charge your attack. Swing up to throw an enemy into the air and swing down to throw them down. It’s pretty cool to see and do, but you unlock other powers and moves along the way.
Shooting feels great and works really well. Besides shooting enemies you can break stuff open to collect gold which is used to buy upgrades, powers, and armor as well as health. There are side missions peppered throughout the game, but they are pretty uninteresting and by the end of the game you will just want it to end. See, the whole 1:1 sword fighting is fun, but there aren’t very many moves and the game is extremely hard until you unlock them all. The enemies are pretty generic, but there is enough variety to which you have to adjust your strategy. You can’t just go around flailing your arm about hoping to win. You also can’t use every attack on every enemy. There are finishers you can use and you must use these to your advantage. Some moves are nearly instant kill on some enemies, so learn which attack works best on what enemy.
The art style reminds me a lot of Borderlands, but it looks nice for a Wii game. While the art may look nice, it’s very bland. Just a lot of blank brown deserts and empty towns. The game is also very linear, while you can climb up a ledge to find some coins it doesn’t go beyond that. After about 1/4 through it just felt like the same thing and never ended. I wish there was more variety because the fighting system is excellent and shows how great the Wii can be. Once you beat the game it’s hard to have a reason to come back. There’s no multiplayer, but there are challenge missions.
In the end, Red Steel 2 gives players a solid fighting system, but it’s wrapped around bland level design, linearity, underdeveloped characters and story, and a sheer lack of content. That’s not to say the game isn’t worth playing, by all means, go ahead. The Motion Plus tracking in this game is fantastic and really makes you feel like you’re sword fighting and shooting a gun. If only Ubisoft spent 6 more months fleshing the game out more it could have been one of the top games on Wii.