Monday, March 27, 2017

Screenshot of the Week #117: Intergalactic facepalm!

                What a week this has been! Trying to finish NieR: Automata while playing as much Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds as possible without ignoring Mass Effect: Andromeda is quite a feat for a gamer. But since I did get to talk a bit about Automata and Battlegrounds in the past weeks I’m going to focus on Bioware’s latest intergalactic exploits.  
                Andomeda’s technical problems are all over the internet by now but I’m going to stop and comment this game that can’t find a middle ground between good and bad elements. For someone who has given this series a good amount of time in the last decade, Andromeda is a sensible subject. Over time I did lose my trust in Bioware but not my expectations. So, I wanted Andromeda to succeed in being a better game and learning from the mistakes of Mass Effect 3 or Inquisition and surprisingly it did, but at what cost? Mass Effect: Andromeda has taken the semi-open-world recipe of Inquisition and improved on it by adding variety in the tasks required for map completion, adding actual quests and more generally more content which isn’t only about walking around to collect and discover. Another step forward is the combat system and character progression tied to it, which comes with some issues, but it’s generally better than what we had in the past. Shooting feels fluid and there are plenty skills available to make some interesting builds. I have to admit that things sound good so far but it goes straight downhill from here. While the Andromeda does have the visual and technical capabilities of a 2017 game, it is riddled with horrible animations and other issues which chip away from its graphical fidelity. But this wouldn’t have been such a big problem if what made Mass Effect a successful series was still in the game, quality writing. The series has had its ups and downs in terms of storytelling and companions, but this fresh start is quite hard to digest. I’m a fan of RPGs and I put a great deal of value on story, companions, dialogues and choices, yet in 30 hours of Andromeda I’ve found little quality in any of these defining criteria.
                The game is taking a lot of heat at the moment and there’s a split in the community between those criticizing the game and those valiantly defending it. But I don’t think there is much ground to stand on when trying to defend this Andromeda. The improvements might be great but are they really welcomed knowing their costs?
Even Scott Ryder can't bear this anymore...


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Things you should know about Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds!

                The creator of the popular ARMA 2 & 3 mode, BattleRoyale, has returned with an extremely promising game with an extremely generic name, Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds. After spending more than 75 hours playing during three weekends of closed beta tests and overcoming a good part of the game’s huge skill ceiling I thought it’s a good idea to share some of my findings.
Here are a few tips and tricks as well as words of wisdom which could be useful to everyone:

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Screenshot of the Week #116: Glory to Mankind!

Between Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds CBT, LawBreakers CBT and NieR: Automata it was a busy gaming weekend. I did give the two closed beta tests a fair share amount of my time but NieR: Automata came on top in a surprising way. Why surprisingly? Because I tend to have a problem with games which aren’t ported all that well and NieR is one of those games. But I pulled through as I was sucked into a world where anime meets The Witcher 3 to fascinating results. My stubbornness does make me suffer as I’m using mouse and keyboard which doesn’t allow to fully using some of the game’s mechanics. But I tend to forget about some of Automata’s obvious problems while slashing through mechanical enemies and enjoying the surprisingly well written quests part of an intriguing narrative. There must be strange times when RPG is coming to life from where was little hope for while the promised games fail to achieve that.
NieR: Automata has captured my heart with its sexy anime style, dynamic combat and a story that’s as intriguing as it can get. I’m torn between wanting to see the endings (there are many) as quickly as possible and enjoying the game’s experience at the pace it was design for.


Monday, March 13, 2017

Screenshot of the Week #115: A Bolivian vista!

Ghost Recon Wildlands has lost the tactical elements which defined the series for half a decade to a streamlined gameplay that’s closer to GTA or Just Cause than the original game or the follow ups GRAW 1 & 2. But while this article could turn on a typical rant I’ll reserve that for a potential upcoming review and instead focus, briefly, on one of Wildlands’ greatest qualities.
Wildlands is by no mean a tactical simulator but surely is on the right track of becoming a screenshot simulator. The game’s action takes place in Bolivia an enormous land riddled with human and wild life spread throughout a wide range of biomes which naturally transition from one another. This meticulously crafted open world is a true spectacle of landmarks and vistas capable to take your eyes away from the game’s visual vaults. When I’m tired of running around grinding through repetitive objectives I take a deep breath as I look around me and see something like this:
This view!


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Resident Evil 7 Review!

                A video game series is defined by its iconic elements but doesn’t always have to stick with them until the end. Change might be necessary to combat staleness and bring a series back on an evolving track and CAPCOM is doing just that with Resident Evil 7.
                After the main games have derailed towards an action heavy fiasco with a steroids infused Chris Redfield kicking the life out of zombies and all the mutated monsters of the universe, Resident Evil 7 returns to the roots featuring a mysterious house inhabited by science defying monsters in the familiar tone of the series beginning. The game has shifted from the classic 3rd person camera that has more or less defined this franchise for decades into a first-person “isolated view” to better synergize with the setting and obviously with VR, a bold move that I applaud. Resident Evil 7 has a new protagonist, a new look and a new perspective. By opting for a first person view and a new protagonist, Capcom is trying to revive the almost lost survival horror and for the most part of this game it actually worked.
Ethan Winters is haunted by a past that he just can’t let go and follows a lead into the bayous of Louisiana to find his ex-wife Mia. In a landscape almost taken from first season of True Detective, Ethan arrives to an abandoned farmhouse in which no man in his right mind would enter. Driven by a need for answers or maybe the rekindled fires of love, Ethan ventures into a house that puts the setting of most horror movies to shame. Inside, creeping in the shadows await the Bakers, a family of immortal lunatics which for some weird reasons try to embrace the protagonist as one of their own (it’s not a good thing). Overwhelmed by pain and with more questions than answers, Ethan is set on getting out alive.
This looks like a lovely home!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Screenshot of the Week #114: Battlegrounds #1!

                One would think that in the launching week of Torment: Tides of Numenera this article would be about it, but that’s not the case. I backed the game almost three years ago delighted by the idea of a spiritual successor to the beloved Planescape: Torment. Yet, this game which used to be full of promise didn’t really grab me into its world. The combination of fantasy and sci-fi makes for an interesting universe and the story’s premise is intriguing enough but the gameplay mechanics are a lackluster. The dialogue system is a disappointing interrogation while the character progression and combat system are extremely basic. This isn’t what I was expecting from the spiritual successor of possibly the best RPG ever made, so I turned my attention to another game.
                A few months ago Battlerite’s Closed Beta Test took me by storm and got me playing like a maniac wishing the Early Access release would come sooner. This week I was hit by an even stronger drug, Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds. The Closed Beta Test dedicated for duos went from Friday to Monday and I had a blast playing it with a premade and even by myself. Battlegrounds resembles ARMA 3’s Battle Royale mod as the two share the same mastermind, Playerunknown, but the improvements stemming from a standalone title make all the difference. The game is mixing the simulator mechanics of ARMA 3 with a few arcade elements to create a smooth gameplay that’s accessible to almost anyone but with a high enough learning curve to continually push the players. The end result is an extremely addictive game capable of an infinite number of situations with an atmosphere so intense that I could almost feel adrenaline coming out through my eyes.
I played like a madman through the whole weekend and if the servers were still online I would have probably skipped on this article to continue playing like a madman. The game isn’t flawless, especially since it had no optimization and there were enough glitches to ruin a match, but having a gameplay that imitates ARMA 3 (to a degree) without inheriting its engine related problems made for a pretty great experience. I’m looking forward to the next weekend to see what improvements are made and obviously to play some more!! Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds will be available soon through Early Access but considering the state of the Beta I’m confident it won’t stay in an unfinished state for long.
We did it!