Mass Effect: Andromeda Official Launch Trailer


It’s been five years since the Mass Effect 3 ended Commander Shepard’s fight against the intergalactic menace known as the Reapers. While there were many who didn’t like how the trilogy ended by way of choosing which color circle it was still a satisfying conclusion to one of best game series in recent memory.

One bittersweet note was the fact that it was the last game that I played co-cooperatively with long-time site video game writer Semtex Skittle who passed away a year after the game’s release.

From what I’ve seen of Mass Effect: Andromeda since it was first announced two years ago this looks like a new direction in the series that Semtex Skittle would’ve found refreshing and worth revisiting the game universe.

This launch trailer for Mass Effect: Andromeda definitely follows in the cinematic trailers of it’s three previous entries. Here’s to hoping that this new story in the series lives up to the original trilogy’s legacy.

Dragon Age: Inquisition Has Arrived


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I’ve not been buying that many games this year, but this is one little title from EA’s BioWare I know I must have and play before year’s end. That title is the third game in their fantasy rpg series Dragon Age.

Dragon Age: Inquisitor will mark the arrival of BioWare onto the nextgen platforms (Xbox One, PS4) and looks to combine what was good with the first two titles in the series while trimming off what went wrong with those two.

The game already looks gorgeous from just clips and gameplay videos shown leading up to this release. If the title looks to expand on the world-building that has been laid down by the first two titles in the series then I should expect to be playing this game for at least a minimum of 80 hours, if not more.

Now, I just need to decide on race and class for my character.

Horror Review: The Evil Within


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The Evil Within’s announcement was met with huge expectations for being an original horror title directed by Shinji Mikami, creator of Resident Evil, benchmark of modern horror videogames. Over the years he personally directed a few projects with very fluctuating results, but his leadership of the Resident Evil games was competent, and they only really squandered when he cut ties with the series after his involvement right after Resident Evil 4, which many regard as one of the best games of the last decade. No pressure in this new intellectual property then.

And I’ll just straight out say it. It’s a disappointment. It would be hard not to be one. But it’s not a normal disappointment. If it were I’d give it a passable review and say that people might enjoy it just for the effort. However, The Evil Within is, pardon me, utter piss. I realize negative reviews are very “in” nowadays and people do them just for the sake of it, but this one is sincere. I wouldn’t buy something on retail price crossing my fingers, HOPING, it would be such a mess. I spent cash on this shit. This money was invested. I wanted it to give some return in the form of entertainment. Which was wishful thinking, of course.

First of all let me talk about the technical issues. Full disclosure; I played the PC port; not a good option, apparently. To be honest I only had one issue with it, but I understand that “it is not a good port” because this piece of trivia was bombarded on me by my peers. So don’t buy the PC version, it’s bad (maybe until they release some patches). That being stated, we’re left with “the game”. The real horror.

Probably under the pretense that this would make the game scarier, the development team decided that the camera just had to be forever stuck on letterbox view. This is not just pretentious, it is an OBSTACLE. It takes maybe a third of everything in your field of view. Your eyes are hindered by two monstrous gaps of black bars, top and bottom. And you need to actually look at stuff to be able to pick them, so you can only imagine how this is cumbersome on the playing experience (By items, I mean ammo, medicine, documents, same kind of thing that was in Resident Evil). Are you a fan of collecting stuff? A perfectionist maybe? You’ll either spend more time than you should inside one map to make sure you’ve gotten everything or you’ll forget that. Chances are you’ll miss items either way. This camera is out of this world. It is a monster incarnate full of spite toward you. Catching inbound enemies is an equally hard job, as the lack of proper vision of your immediate surroundings makes it hard to realize if you’re being chased, or to know exactly how many enemies are around you. This might lead to some unintentional scares if that fancies you, but fact of the matter is that it’s simply put, bad camera mechanics. And let’s not talk about the obtuse amount of film grain. That being said, this title is not entirely offensive on a visual scale. The art and graphics are quite nice, even if hamfisted on the gore. It’s just too bad it’s so hard to see it properly.

Apparently it actually covers something around 45% of the screen

Actually, it seems to cover something closer to 45% of the screen

A document early on the playthrough makes a point of telling you that the protagonist, Sebastian Castellanos is one of the fastest ever policemen of Krimson City to rise to the rank of detective (I feel like the name of the city might have been suggested by me when I was 14 and thought I was really death metal) . You will quickly notice though that Detective Castellanos isn’t the physical marvel he is laid out to be. The act of sprinting in the beginning takes a full 3 seconds from top speed to complete exhaustion. At his best, Sebastian can run for ten seconds before needing to stop and breathe in the middle of a full herd of enemies (which he WILL do if you rely on sprinting too much). He’s not a very good shot either, even at ranges close to point blank he’ll miss often unless you upgrade his weapon. Walking is awkward, running away is awkward, shooting is awkward. Some of these can be improved by buying common sense into the game in the form upgrades for the character with green goop. Seriously, that’s their currency. I confess to maybe having missed something, but I don’t think that part was ever explained.

If you think objectively about it, Resident Evil was awkward. Even the fourth one. The controls were always strange at best. It comes to me that, while people were begging for a new, good Resident Evil, Mikami acknowledged their wants and needs. That’s what The Evil Within is. I mean, the zombies are there, the alien controls as well, and it’s ever so slightly scarier, which was another major complaint, since some viewed the Resident Evil series as having swayed from survival horror to mostly action with some horror elements. In this sense, people got just what they asked for: A survival horror made by Mikami that is very much like Resident Evil. However since Resident Evil 4, Mikami directed two titles, a four year gap between each of them (2006, 2010, and The Evil Within in this Gregorian year of 2014), and the other two were not even close to being horror games. So what we got is a newly released outdated survival horror with ten year old survival horror mechanics.

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What happened!? I heard there was a good game in here!

The sad realization is that maybe Shinji Mikami isn’t a master of horror. The Evil Within isn’t very scary past the few initial chapters, where you’re completely powerless (and maybe this was this game’s real element, which in my opinion he failed to realize). Some of the more tense parts orchestrated by him come from trial and error, when some scripted event or other makes you face something new, something you’re totally willing to fight against. Then, upon closer inspection, you notice your head has just been pulverized by this new thing you perceive. So it occurs to you that you don’t fight this thing, you run from it. Of course, that’s after you died. Not very fair, honestly. The story is intriguing, but extends itself far too much. My interest was gradually lost on what could be a great mixture of body and psychological horror. It failed because while the art was on the right spot, the writing lost its way and somewhere it just became a zombie game. And I hoped it would pick up again. It never did.

It seems The Evil Within has few redeeming features and is somewhat obsolete in a very weird way. The space reserved for its image projection is malevolent. The gameplay is unimpressive and clumsy. It is artistically well intentioned, but ultimately poor. It does have, however, a very nice character in the form of an otherworldly and cryptic nurse that helps you through the story during dreamlike sequences. Her personality and oddities make her seem like a character from a Suda51 game, maybe something learned by Mikami in his time working with Suda on Shadows of the Damned. Man, now that’s a good title. Suda is really good, isn’t he?

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Horror Review: Yahtzee Croshaw’s Chzo Mythos Part 2 – 7 Days a Skeptic


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Following the success of 5 Days a Stranger, Yahtzee decided that, no! A one hit wonder just wouldn’t do! He had more horror tropes to nod to, more space to cover! And speaking of space that became the setting of the futuristic sequel 7 Days a Skeptic. Most flawed of the series from a narrative standpoint, it might be, however the most horrorific of them.

Skipping a few centuries right into the the year 2385, 7 Days (a game awfully ominous when referred to like this) is played through Jonathan Somerset, experienced psychiatrist of spaceship Mephistopheles. On exploration duty for the Earth 7_Days_A_Skeptic_by_kyetxianFederation, the ship’s crew of Jonathan and five others find a sealed metal box adrift in space. Upon inspection, they find that it contains the remains of John DeFoe, character of some importance to the first game as players might recall. As the crew returns to their assigned duties, leaving the box unopened, Dr. Somerset realizes things start to grow veeeery eerieeee.

With a premise and aesthetical style reminiscent of sci-fi horror movies, particularly Alien, 7 Days is a nice shift while still retaining the characteristics that made its prequel scary. The isolation and inability to run away makes sense when away means out in the vacuum of outer space. Dream sequences still mix into reality, giving it an ethereal feel at times. And it further expands the tales of the series’ supernatural killer, giving him a more active role this time, which makes some parts really fucking scary.

It may sounds ridiculous and hamfisted at first to go from modern to futuristic in one game while still keeping the same themes, but it’s a title that does so unpretentiously. 7 Days a Skeptic is enjoyable and very very creepy and you should play it just for that. And if you don’t do it for the cold spike you feel while being chased by an insane murderer, play it for its sequels because, boy, it’s worth it. And I’ll get to that soon.

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Horror Review: Yahtzee Croshaw’s Chzo Mythos Part 1 – 5 Days a Stranger


maxresdefaultSome are not aware that Yahtzee Croshaw of The Escapist fame was somewhat famous as a developer before his venture into journalism. I myself am still a fan of his for his work making games instead of his deconstruction of them. And that’s mostly because of the Chzo Mythos Quadrilogy, a series that works as a homage to slasher horror films from the 70s and 80s, as well as an independent horror tale with firm Lovecraftian roots and damn good story.

In the first game, the more famous 5 Days a Stranger, you control Trilby, legendary gentleman thief named after a hat. Breaking into a mansion on top of a hill, a fine place to rob as horror tales go, Trilby finds that the window he entered through is inexplicably sealed. It is un-unlockable. It has become unbreakable. It is now thoroughly impassable. Even worse, he finds nothing of value, aside from four other prisoners of a strange house, equally confused with the situation.

Needless to say, people start getting murdered, it becomes a great deal of stress to the survivors as the mystery begins. Who is killing these people? How is this house so hermetically sealed? And we know why Trilby is there, but what about the others? Dream sequences start muddling into reality in-between the twists and reveals in this murder house. What they discover is strange enough to last for three other games.

5_Days_A_Stranger04Made with AGS (Adventure Game Studio) in 2003, 5 Days a Stranger is a refreshing attempt of rescuing the genre, popularized by Sierra and LucasArts with titles such as Leisure Suit Larry and Monkey Island. It’s an excelent adventure game in its own right, being by the time of its release Yahtzee’s most competent game in terms of art, and from a game design standpoint, very well thought, aside from a few pixel hunt sequences which can annoy its player into resorting to a walkthrough, though that was long common in adventure games anyway. 5 Days a Stranger went on to win several awards as an indie adventure game. This, in 2003, was quite an achievement

Inspired by eerie hentai visual novel Nocturnal Illusion (very horrorific in its own right, pornography aside) and classic horror movies like Friday the 13th, 5 Days a Stranger is part of what ascended Yahtzee into internet fame. And besides all that, eleven years ago, it was evidence of how adventure games, which had fallen so high, could still thrive. An amateur game that served as an influence to many others adventure titles released in the last few years. Also, it’s free to play. A gem of the internet, indeed.

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Horror Review: The Walking Dead Season Two


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The Walking Dead by Telltale Games scarcely needs any introduction. Widely agreed to be one of the best games of 2012, its narrative dictated by your choices punched at the player’s gut with its strong emotional content in a subtle sidestory of atonement, fatherhood, and of course, survival, in the zombie universe of The Walking Dead.

Clem does keep that hair short, whether you like it or not.

Clem does keep that hair short, whether you like it or not.

However, the gameplay and its difficult choices were an illusion. A magic trick. As long as you looked at the story you didn’t notice how much you didn’t make a dent at the course of the storytelling. Two playthroughs will prove that the story is almost exactly the same, even if you interpreted protagonist Lee Everett two polar opposite characters. Not that it mattered, since it was made to play once; to become emotionally involved and keep your little saved game until next time, for the next season, much like the TV Series.

And so it came to pass that Season Two came out. Through the emotional roller coaster we go again, load your season one save for vaguely rewarding shoutouts to your playthrough of season one. This time the story is set two years after the its predecessor. You play as Clementine, Lee’s (now) eleven year old protegé. Having survived through the hell zombie apocalypses tend to dish out, young Clem is not the the little girl up in the treehouse anymore, having become sullen and untrusting, used to the bedouin life of scavenging and killing after society breaks.

The story does progress ostensibly slow at first. Episodes One and Two may appear as uninspired reflections of the original game and may be hard to tolerate for some, but it’s worth it. Seeing the full game, they are justified. The magic trick was being set up again, with more flair this time. As you start interpreting this little girl’s choices and behavior, you start to become emotionally involved again. Her persona becomes an extension of your own (Verily, in a way, you become an eleven-year old, which is super fucking weird). By episode three it’s all set, and you’re looking at the magic hand again, while the other supposedly weaves a defined scenario.

Reminder: Eleven years old.

Reminder: Eleven years old.

This time is different though. If in the first game you (Lee) took the role of leadership, in Season Two, you (Clem) are the pivot character. People want to do what’s safer for the child, she is the motive of concern of every survivor group, and being forced to take sides ultimately creates different paths that don’t end the same way, in contrast to Season One. The multiple endings pay off. Enthralled by this story, you’re encouraged to follow through it as if you were a wildly different person, with feelings and thoughts. You feel the weight of being Clementine.

From the beggining of episode three to the end of five, the last one, Clem is swept in a crescendo of intrigue. The group is trying not to break and she is often encouraged to voice her opinions, except when she disagrees with someone, in which case it doesn’t matter because adults know better. But that may also mean that she’s agreeing with another person, and her opinion is defended as the most important because the weakest needs to feel safe. You can’t seem to fix this group, driving it further into discord in fact. You may take one side entirely or try to keep things nice and easy for everyone, and in the end you are responsible for Clem’s fate. For better or for worse. The subject “Clem” and the subject “you” are sort of interchangeable in this paragraph.

The new season is more emotionally complex and more morally ambiguous. Really, it’s about the evil that men do rather than zombies. Though not an entirely original concept, Season Two does create a very nice example of it. It’s difficult to say if it’s better or worse than the first one. It’s just different. However, it shows improvement in its immersion and narrative, and proves that Telltale is capable of carrying on the quality of their own version of The Walking Dead.

Review: The Wolf Among Us


The-Wolf-Among-UsThe Wolf Among Us was the first game released by Telltale after the extraordinary success of The Walking Dead. They had finally found their element, and decided (prudently) to stick with it. But how do you follow up a title based on a comic book series recognized by some as the best game of its year?

It’s simple. Make another title based on a comic.

Fables, the series Telltale’s following project was based upon, is about fairy tale characters we grew up reading about secretly living in our real world, in a real city, hiding their existence by creating their own society. None of that Once Upon A Time cutsey niceness. They are opressed and opressors, have severe flaws in their characters, vices and, in some cases, signs of antisocial personality disorder. That is to say, they’re often psychopaths.

I'll reconcile the shit out of you!

I’ll reconcile the shit out of you!

The game gives you control of Bigby Wolf, sheriff of the fables. As you might have guessed, previously known as the Big Bad Wolf of Little Red Riding Hood and Three Little Pigs fame. Reformed and willing to put his past behind him, Bigby tries to reconcile the poor and rebelious with the powerful and bureaucratic, in a very socially imbalanced society of mythical people.

Bigby is the most human of all characters, ironically. Given the task of upholding the law in this broken, small society where everyone knows everyone else, he lives a lonely life, being recognized and feared for doing his job, which frustrates him. His tendency to bend the rules makes the fables’ mayor office see him as a loose cannon. Bigby is a noir hero, chain smoking and full clad in trenchcoat. Bitter with having to raise his hand against unsatisfied citizens and with the impunity of guileful villains; forced against rebellion, but resentful towards the bureaucrats, he often passes his own kind of law. His humanity is revealed through conversations with the only people close to him. Colin, one of the three pigs he used to terrorize, and Snow White, secretary of the mayor office and object of his affections.

the-wolf-among-us-004The amount of deviance from the path of justice in the game vary depending on your playing style. As you solve a series of murders during the span of the game, you decide how violent Bigby will be towards everyone, from the mostly innocent to the very guilty. However, this is not a story about choices like The Walking Dead, but about people leading double lifes. By taking fables, one of our most powerful cultural symbols of purity and innocence, and twisting and corrupting them, The Wolf Among Us is a modern and allegorical story with heavy noir influences, with fantasy and magic playing a part in the narrative.

It is not without flaws, however. It should be noted that, as the game needs a central story, the mystery of the series of murders obfuscate this amazing world, and one purely interested in the big picture; the unjust society of the fantastical, would be better served by reading the Fables comics. The Wolf Among Us has lots of ups far too early in the game and a few too many downs too late into it. It serves as a decent mystery thriller, and more importantly as an origin story for the comic book series, and it does have absolutely thrilling moments. However, it doesn’t bring much new to the table of longtime Fables fans other than focusing on one of the most interesting characters of its mythos.

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As a standalone story, The Wolf Among Us has amazing action sequences and is a very exciting story up until the last quarter where it disappoints. As part of the Fables series, and possibly first chapter of others to come, it’s a perfect entry point and highly recommended. The complexity of its premise and excellence of some of its moments more than compensates for the lackluster closure of this first chapter. If that’s not enough to convince you, play it for Bigby Wolf, who might just be the coolest detective in videogame history.

Trailer: The Walking Dead: 400 Days


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One of the most critically-acclaimed video game titles of 2012 returns sometime in late 2013 with a new season of episodic content. The Walking Dead by Telltale Games announced at E3 earlier today that new DLC content will be arriving sometime later this year.

This new season will be called The Walking Dead: 400 Days and it looks to take adventure point-and-click success story of 2012 further into Robert Kirkman’s zombie apocalypse world. There’s no word on whether a certain Clementine will make an appearance in this new season, but the producers from tElltale Games have made it known that they plan to try and get the video game more in line with the tv series on AMC and maybe even get the acting talent from the show in showing up on the game.

The Walking Dead: 400 Days is set to be released in late 2013 for the Xbox 36, PS3, PS Vita, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X and iOS.

Trailer: Titanfall (Official E3 Announcement)


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Titanfall is the first title to come out of Respawn Entertainment. This is big news in the gaming community. It’s the title many have been waiting for not because it’s any good (it’s not out yet so no way to gauge whether its good or bad), but because of who is making it.

Respawn Entertainment is the studio made up of former Infinity Ward developers and it’s two co-founders after a very acrimonious split (which included lawsuits and counter-lawsuits) with parent company Activision. There’s little love-lost between these two groups. Those who left had wanted to make something other than another Call of Duty title while Activision only wanted more Call of Duty titles (it continues to be a billion-dollar money maker for the company).

So, it’s now 2013 and at this year’s E3 we finally get a glimpse at Titanfall and exactly what Respawn Entertainment wanted to make but couldn’t while they remained with Activision. It’s been called a mecha first-person shooter. It looks to try and combine the run-and-gun aspects of this team of developers’ Call of Duty and Medal of Honor lineage with some Mech action.

Titanfall looks great from the announcement trailer released today at the Microsoft E3 Presser. It looks to be a title being put in the forefront as one of the new Xbox One’s exclusive titles. This means if one wanted to play this title when it comes out they can only play it on the Xbox One (Xbox 360 for those not willing to adopt the new system early) and not on the PS3 or the upcoming PS4.

Titanfall looks to drop on the Xbox One, Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows sometime in the Spring of 2014.

Trailer: Dragon Age: Inquisition (Official E3 Trailer)


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With Mass Effect 3 now over a year gone it’s time for BioWare to concentrate on moving forward with it’s fantasy rpg franchise which seems to have languished on the sidelines after the very controversial second title in the series. I speak of BioWare’s Dragon Age series and what fans of the title seem to consider a lost opportunity to make it the fantasy equivalent of Mass Effect.

The first game in the franchise was well-received but not without some complaints about the title’s gameplay mechanics being too reliant on micromanaging and less on intuitive controls. The second title was suppose to fix the problem when it came to combat which it did, but then this sequel brought up complaints about a storyline that felt rushed and game environments which relied too much of reusing the same backgrounds and layouts.

Now we have the announcement from EA and BioWare that the third game in the franchise will look to combine the good things about the first two games while looking to fix the problems which many saw as keeping the franchise from reaching great status.

Dragon Age: Inquisition arrives at this year’s E3 with a trailer which looks to be pre-rendered cinematics but with the title set to be released on the upcoming nextgen systems of the Xbox One and PS4 there’s a good chance that future gameplay trailers will look exactly like this trailer. Only time will tell whether that’s the case or not.

Dragon Age: Inquisition looks to drop on the Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4 and Microsoft Windows in the Fall of 2014.

Oh yeah: Morrigan and Varric are back!