F1 2018 Review

Since I can remember F1 has been part of my life.  From a young age I was in front of the TV watching the likes of the late great Ayrton Senna do battle with Alain Prost, until that tragic day...  I watched as Schumacher won nearly all of his championships.  What I am trying to say is that I have lived and breathed Formula 1 since I can remember.  Once i was old enough to manage the keys, it was just logical that my mother would put me behind F1 1992 on PC.  I consider myself to be quite knowledgeable when it comes to Formula 1.  Whether it be tactics, track knowledge, team history and general terms used in F1.  So when Apex Interactive sent me the new F1 2018 by Codemasters I felt like I was the right man for the job...   Image result for f1 2018 game   First things' first, I have probably not touched a F1 game since I was a kid and I can't explain why.  This means I have zero reference regarding how F1 2018 compares to its predecessors.  When I fired up F1 2018 I was simply blown away!  First order of the day, naturally, is to jump into the career.  You have the option to create your avatar and mildly customize him as well as pick a helmet design and manipulate the colors to suite your style.  Next up is choosing the team you want to join.  I would have liked to see the game start you off in a lower team and make your way up the ranks, but F1 2018 allows you to pick whoever you please, I went for the realistic approach and joined Sauber.   Image result for f1 2018 game   I considered myself a bit of a racing-sim-amateur so I went for assists, after one lap I decided to push the difficulty level up by at least 2 levels.  Removing the assists and ABS.  Suddenly the game came to life!  Not only do you have to be so connected and in tune with your race car, you actually need to use your free practice sessions to get to know braking zones, corners and your car in general.  A nifty feature that serves more than one purpose, is the training programs that are allocated to you during practice sessions.  These range from learning the track. Fuel management, Tyre management and qualifying laps.  These challenges reward you with some knowledge of how to go about your upcoming race as well as research points which you car pour into the development of your car.  And so my F1 journey begins.  After a brief introduction of the magnitude of screens and settings and adjustments that you have at your disposal I decided to jump straight into the action and headed off to Melbourne Australia.  I was met with a barrage of settings and things that I could adjust which, if I had no F1 knowledge would have blown me away.  Luckily I could grasp all the technical jargon from listening to many years of Murray Walker and made a few adjustments and set off on my first out lap... With the introduction of the new halo safety system the cockpit view is somewhat difficult to get used to.  You now have a large pillar in the middle of you field of view which complicates things...  But seeing as this is a sim-racer i chose to stick with it and i quickly got used to it.  The attention to detail on the steering wheel is simply astounding.  Not only can you see all your car info from tire temperatures to engine management settings your driver will throw his hands in the air if a fellow driver cuts you off at at turn.  All very nice touches which improves the realism.    Related image   Graphically everything looks really nice and even though you race along the tracks focusing on the road, not really the surroundings, it really has got a nice feel to the environment around the track.  I had hardly gone around the track twice when my engineer told me rain is approaching soon and that is when this game stepped up even more.  Suddenly race tactics changed.  Drivers were diving into the pits, others staying out to try and take advantage and risk of not going over to wet tires just yet.  I was panicking due to the struggle with grip I was having.  I cautiously made my way into the pits and got my wet tires.  After losing a few spots I had to fight my way back up the leader board.  I eventually ended the race in 6th position.   Image result for f1 2018 game 720p   After a few rather average looking scenes of teams celebrating etc I was taken to a debrief where you get shown how your view and rep from other teams change depending on your performance.  But what I really found post race was how intense of a racing sim this game is when you turn up the difficulty level.  Not only was my fore arms sore from gripping my controller so tensely but I was physically tired.  That is part of the beauty of this game.  Not only is it just a F1 racing game.  It forces you to know your own driving ability as well as understand the sport of F1 and how the cogs of the team work together to produce a great race weekend and how suddenly things can change due to rain.  The game seamlessly throws the rain into the mix and everything changes faultlessly.  Tyre degradation, team tactics etc are amazing!  Not only is it the type of game that focuses on all aspects of the F1 brand like contracts and team development that caters for the more die-hard fans of F1 but it can be played by casuals racers as well.   Image result for f1 2018 RDR   In between race weekends there are also classic events and short track events to change from the intense racing of F1.  You can jump into race cars of yester year and take them around shortened sections of well known tracks like Suzuka.  This brings a welcome change of pace and its a nice touch.   Overall I think anyone who is even remotely a F1 fan should get this game.  Whether you are a casual-  or sim-racer.  F1 2018 has enough to keep everyone coming back for more and the multiplayer is sure to attract many more people.  Codemasters has taken their F1 game and turned it into a franchise to compete on the level of FIFA, Madden, NBA and all the EA sports titles.  If you are any sort of F1 fan and want to play F1 when you are not watching it, this is the game you NEED!   Image result for 8 out of 10 stars  

a very special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying me with this review copy

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No Man’s Sky Review

It does not matter how well Hello Games' improves and evolves the extremely ambitious No Man's Sky, it will always be considered one of the bigger disappointments in gaming history.  This is due to many factors like Sony egging the developers on as well as the gamers can be blamed for not noticing the warning signs in time.  We do not live in a world where a entirely procedurally- generated universe would ever work as well as expected, ambitious as it is it did sound a lot better than what the end result turned out.   Image result for no man sky 720p   Fast forward 2 years and Hello Games' deserve some credit, they have been grinding out new updates and fixes to No Man's Sky free of charge, as well as brought it to the Xbox.  All of those culminated to the "NEXT" update. One of the major problems with No Man's Sky is the way it was marketed...  It was never really specified what type of game No Mans' Sky was trying to be.  What it ended up being is a sort-of Space trader with elements of games like Rust and Don't Starve.  You start the game when your spaceship crash lands on a unknown planet with you as a player having zero clue what to do.  Apparently the updates have made your mission of finding the center of the galaxy as well as unearthing the secrets of the alien intelligence named atlas.  Although this goal still is EXTREMELY vague!   Image result for no man sky 720p   To achieve anything in No Man's Sky you need resources.  Your ship needs fuel as well as your spacesuit and your multi tool which is essentially a gun, scanner and gatherer.  If you do not need all the resources you have gathered via exploring and using your multitool you can sell it off at trading stations for, hopefully, a good amount of profit.  Unlike games like ARK your hunger is not an issue, in NMS only thing you need to worry about is your spacesuits' ability to withstand the extreme heat and cold of the various planets you explore. It took me a rather long time and lots of forcing to initiate any form of combat and i was rather disappointed with it.  Gun play is rather bland and flat, yet it is still easy.  It is kind of expected with a game like No Man's Sky seeing as it's not a shooter.  Secondly the game is too laid back to have its player do things you should do in shooters.  The space combat is better, by better I don't mean great, just better than on-foot combat.   Image result for no man sky 720p   The thing that No Man's Sky really does well is the visual artwork.  NMS can produce some tremendous vistas at times which can make you forget about all the grinding less than stellar game play!  Realistic clouds float around overhead when you are on the planet surface with lush fauna and flora.  Something I loved was how when you come in to land on a planet your ship passes through clouds which can be seen through your cockpit.  As much as all the procedurally generated fauna and flora along with the string of dinosaurs, aliens and dragons look great their lack of any form of artificial intelligence becomes glaringly obvious rather quickly. Multiplayer does make this rather bland game a little bit more exciting.  I mean it is always better to be bored with a friend than on your own right?   Image result for no man sky 720p   When analyzing No Man's Sky the way I have now it is easy to think that it is a terrible game.  At its core idea and build it has the best foundation for a game, only thing is that with all the updates and changes the foundation is all that has changed, it still has a rickety shed built on top of that foundation.  Hello Games can possibly fix this with lots and lots of resources being invested into No Man's Sky but whether or not it would be worth the effort is where it gets tricky.  In terms of potential No Man's Sky is endless! Maybe the problem occurred right at the start of this title's life when the hype was aiming at the stars but the end result struggles to get out of the earths' atmosphere...   Image result for 5 out of 10 stars  

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying the Review game 

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Vampyr – Hauntingly Ambitious

What is Life but Death, pending...

  These are one of the lines that really struck me when I started up Vampyr.  Vampyr, a game by DontNod studios, is set in  morbid 1918 London right after World War 1 during the outbreak of the Spanish flu.  As the name suggests, Jonathan Reid, you, are heading back from the war when you somehow turn into a vampire.  I did find that in the early stages it felt like I had missed something in the story but nothing to put you off.   Image result for vampyr 720 So as being a vampire goes you tend to have a insatiable thirst for blood.  But what truly creates a predicament is that Jonathan is a doctor.  The game does a great job of trying to tempt you into giving in to your primal instinct and lust to feed which will make you significantly stronger.  Or do you stick to your oath of protecting human life...  This is a major theme throughout your journey in Vampyr.  The game tries to tempt you into feeding on helpless victims as it even gives you more XP.  It says so during loading screens as well just to really try and tempt you. Image result for vampyr 720 This is where Vampyr really stands out.  I was drawn into the dark environment and surroundings, yes the colours and palettes are gloomy and morbid but that's what you expect from the type of game.  Upon closer inspection you will find the city is a living organism.  Every single inhabitant you come across has their own person story and whether you choose to help them in a number of quests is completely up to you.  No matter how large or insignificant their roles in the story seem, they all have a place and a repercussion to what could happen in the world if you choose to sink your teeth into them. Image result for vampyr 720 The narrative side of Vampyr is really strong, yes at times it treads on familiar and somewhat cliche grounds at time but that can be looked over easily as you strive to get behind what really happened to Jonathan and how he came to have his affliction and the eternal lust for blood.  This is what made me resist the urge to murder every single inhabitant simply to grow stronger and have nothing stand in my way.  No, I needed these people to help me piece together what really happened to me.  Killing them doesn't always show you its consequences immediately either.  I killed off a seemingly insignificant bar maiden and felt nothing for it.  She was rude to me.  I am a vampire.  I did what any normal vampire would.  Only much later did I come to curse my actions when her death triggered a significant impact on the story line.  Another aspect of Vampyr is the overall health system of districts in the city.  Kill off inhabitants of the district and the general health will decrease.  Until you reach a level where all manners of foul creatures will start to inhabit the district.  This helps to hammer home the idea of not killing for fun as keeping the districts healthy as well as keeping yourself strong is a continuous balancing act.  Image result for vampyr 720p DontNod really were being clever, you might wonder why, knowing what you know now, even kill off civilians?  That way you keep the health up in all the districts and if you get stuck just lower the difficulty level.  Oh no my bloodsucking friends, there is no difficulty level,  if you are stuck somewhere, only way to get stronger is to feed.  And we are back to the balancing act I have mentioned previously.  The civilians are walking XP, and the more you interact with them the more you learn about their families.  The more XP they are worth.  Again, therein lies the foundation of Vampyr, do you harvest the XP from that beggar on the corner who has told you about how he lost his wife and child to the plague so that you can become stronger and make the game easier?  Or do you grind it out and let him be? On to the more functional things.  Visually the game is stunning and disappointing at the same time.  It is able to set a mood of dread that permeates through each of the districts.  But it is this mood of dread that makes the game seem bland and colourless at the same time.  The environments have been fleshed out spectacularly and they feel lived in and alive.  I found voice acting to leave alot to be desired and lip syncing was not great. Image result for vampyr 720p The fighting system leaves a lot to be desired.  It feels clunky and repetitive.  You will find yourself dodging and hitting until the enemy is dead.  Nothing special here.  Vampire abilities do sweeten the pot a little bit but nothing to truly rescue the fighting system.  Vampyr could have been great, and it could still be if DontNod address the issues and patch them quickly.  For the players who are looking for a narrative journey that will have to walking away still thinking if you made the right decision long after you put down the controller, then Vampyr is for you.  Don't expect stellar combat and bright and vivid visuals.  Prepare for moody and eerie beauty.   Image result for 7.5/10 stars    

Thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying this game for review      

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OnRush – Fun-loving, fast paced Chaos

When the copy of OnRush arrived at my desk, specially sent from Apex Interactive, I was rather torn.  I am not the biggest racing game fan, yes I do love cars and I do love gaming yet mashing the two together never really got my heart racing.  More a slight flourish every now and then.  But at the same time, who would give up the chance to put a free game into their console, fire it up and play it only to have to give your honest opinion on it? So off I went, opened up the cover popped it and did the small 2.4gb update, and off I went.   Image result for onrush   At a very crude level I suppose you can call OnRush a racing game, but that is the only thing it has in common with the likes of Forza and Need for Speed.  In OnRush the aim of the game is not to beat your opponent to the finish...  Oh no, in OnRush there is no first place and last place, or even laps for that matter.  Simply a winning and a losing team, and the race itself is called a stampede.  And that is a very accurate description of it.  It is simply a mashup of cars that careen through a course causing destruction and mayhem at frequent intervals.  This somewhat chaotic approach to racing takes time to get used to but once you accept that you are not going for hotlaps and fast sectors in OnRush the game has a certain charm to it that keeps you loading up another "stampede".   Image result for onrush   Another thing I quickly noticed was that during OnRush my acceleration button was firmly planted ALL the time.  Most of the time in conjunction with the boost button, because speed makes everything better in OnRush!  The boost can be generated in a few ways, namely, taking out other players, getting air, or doing tricks and barrel rolls on bikes or driving over dead drivers tombstones. If with all that you still find yourself without boost, the game provides literal "fodder" yes they are called fodder in-game as well, which you can take out and gain some boost. Apart from the boost gauge you get your Rush meter, filling the Rush meter activates what is easiest described as your boost on steroids!  The screen blurs and a aura appears around your car with the change of soundtrack which really sells the feeling of you truly blasting of after, or ahead of the pack.  Although this Rush features surely sells the part of making you seem invincible but in OnRush you will quickly learn that you are far from untouchable!    Image result for onrush   There is also a fair amount of vehicles to choose from each bringing with them a set of advantages for example the Blade, a motorbike that leaves a trail of fire when you use Rush.  The outlaw, drains boost from opponents when you pass them.  Many more ingenious features have been built into the vehicles which I really think adds to the fun- factor of Onrush.      Image result for onrush gameplay   In OnRush you have 4 game modes at your disposal of which Overdrive is the most basic.  The aim of OverDrive is to simply rack up as many points for your team by keeping the boost going, demolishing opposing team members or activating your Rush.  This is a perfect way of warming up.  Countdown is a race against the clock where each team is allotted 30 seconds to rack up points while driving through gates which give you a few extra seconds to keep going.  Lockdown is the OnRush version of king of the hill.  You will find a circle moving along at generally the same pace as the stampede and the aim is to keep your team in this circle for 5 continuous seconds, which sounds like no time at all, until you try it...  Lastly you have Switch which ,like the name suggests, has you starting off with the starter vehicles like the blade or outlaw and with every wreck you are required to upgrade to the next class of vehicle until you reach the top class at which time your mission changes to elimination to get rid of the opponents remaining switches.   Superstar mode is OnRush's take on single player mode.  Although it feels more like a tutorial to the multiplayer than a actual campaign.  Did I mention you can Co-op with up to 6 people, that's a nice touch.  Each mission is created and made to suite the vehicle given to you which is more of a way to familiarize you with all the cars and their abilities.  

Summary

When I fired up OnRush I immediately felt some old-school Burnout in the mix and with the vibrant art-style it really gave me some Overwatch mixed in there, and even the menus all have a sense that the developers of OnRush definitely played a load of Overwatch, which is not a bad thing.  Graphically Onrush is really good, it looks, sounds and plays like a game that is meant to be fun, and that is what it is.  If you are looking for a serious racing sim-like game then steer clear of OnRush.  If you want to join a few friends, cause mayhem and have fun OnRush is your game!  OnRush will change the way you think of racing titles and that is, what I think, the developers were trying to achieve.   There is no other arcade racer like this.  Period! Image result for 9 out of 10 stars  

Thanks to Apex Interactive for being so generous and allowing me to try this game out.

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Late Shift – Review

I recently took the plunge and got stuck in with gamepass and my oh my am I pleasantly surprised...  So many great titles to choose from.  This all turned into me spending increasing amounts of time behind my console.  I realized this and thought maybe I should try and find a title that I can either get the missus involved in or have her co-op with me.  We have tried all the minecrafts and split screen co-ops and she enjoyed it but she wanted something that grips her and tells a story. I scoured through the many titles available with Game Pass and that is when I saw LATE SHIFT.  I had no idea what it was about but Lauren said it looked interesting so I downloaded it.  No hype, no reviews, no videos watched, nothing.  I was going into this blind, which, at times, is a better approach.  No hype means no let down if the game turns to crap in the first couple of minutes.

WHAT IS LATE SHIFT?

  I fired up the game and what met me had me intrigued from the onset. I am not going to give away too much in terms of story line and plot but I rather want to focus on the type of game LATE SHIFT is.  How often while watching a movie have you wanted to shout to the actor to run away, or to keep their mouths shut instead of blabbering on like an idiot.  We all have.  LATE SHIFT gives you that option.  You make the decisions and influence the story and decide what happens to the mild mannered car-guard...  I know what you are thinking.  "This is a telltale-type game where I make decisions" blah blah blah.  This is something totally different.  This games doesn't wait for you to make a decision to continue it plays like a movie.     LATE SHIFT is great on more than one level.  It incorporates gaming, which we all love, and watching a move, which we love as well.  This correlates to even the people who don't have the controller in their hands can still participate in watching this interactive movie.  This makes it great to do with gaming and non-gaming friends and family alike.

THE STORY 

With a not-so-mainstream game like LATE SHIFT its easy so expect a pretty shallow and lack-luster story and acting in this cinematic-game/interactive movie (you decide). The basic story is that of Matt who works the late shift, hence the name, at a parking garage.  Not too far into the game/movie he gets himself embroiled in a heist of a valuable artifact, which ultimately threatens to destroy his life and possibly kill him.  The script and the acting is that of a top class big budget movie.  The author himself is known for scripting movies like Sherlock Holmes, with Robert Downey Jr.  

VERDICT

  Image result for late shift game   LATE SHIFT doesn't fall into either category.  If you are looking to watch a movie then its not quite a movie, if you are looking at playing a game then you are going to be disappointed with the lack of involvement.  But if you can appreciate LATE SHIFT for what it is, a interactive movie, you will be greatly rewarded.  With a wide variety of endings, I've only managed 3 so far, this provides you with a movie that has the possibility to draw you in multiple times and surprise you with every outing.  If that isn't the best type of movie then I don't know what is. If you have Game Pass and you want to spend some time with friends or loved ones enjoying a movie yet get some gaming in whilst doing so, LATE SHIFT is perfect for that.   Image result for 5 out of 10 star
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Burnout Paradise Remastered – Review

>>>NO CRASH TEST DUMMIES WERE INJURED DURING THIS REVIEW<<<

*They were all on sick leave.*

  Burnout Paradise was first released over 10 years ago, yes 10 years, on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.  The game was a sure hit with beautiful visuals and the trademark Burnout crashes. Back then, yes it still feels like a lifetime ago, the game felt great as a arcade racer, looked amazing with detailed car models and mind-bending crashes, felt like you were watching crash test dummy videos as the cars crumpled and buckled from the impact. 10 years later how does the remaster stack up? Let us have a look, shall we?  

GAMEPLAY

  Comparing the game from when I played it on Xbox 360, it is still exactly the same game. That being said, in no way is it a bad thing, oh no, the game is still addictive fun and a sheer joy to play. Burnout is the only game to turn crashing from an “Ah Damn!” moment, to a “Daaayum!!” moment. There is just something about watching a car approaching the moment of impact in slow-motion... For those who played it, and bought the DLC, you are not missing anything. It is still all there, ready to be taken for a spin once more, with improved visuals of course. For those who didn’t play Burnout Paradise on the Xbox 360 and PS3, now you have NO excuse. Lastly, for those who are new to Burnout Paradise, it is basically an Arcade style racer highlighting the crashing of cars at stupid fast speeds, all while taking part in several game modes spread out in the open world fictional city of Paradise City. In Free Roam Mode is where you find most of the fun. You are tasked at finding and smashing billboards, find marked shortcut routes and really large ramps to get some good air.  The formula is really basic, no fancy tricks, but it is an exhilarating feeling when blasting between cars in the opposite lane while your boost is like a refill drink at Burger King.  That moment gets somewhat elevated when you manage to hit a ramp.  Even though the cars feel a slight bit on the light side in terms of weight, the impact from landing indicates anything but. Each vehicle has its owns stats and type, making it easy to select the right one for the job.  Removing any form of trial and error from the equation and putting you straight into the action.  Believe me, comparing stats is fun.  Trying to figure out which is best, but when there is smashing to be done, I want to be there as soon as possible.  

SOUND

The soundtrack, in typical EA fashion, is mainstream and as always varied with music ranging from Rock to Hip Hop.  The mass majority of the music is perfect driving tunes.  Even though the selection is unchanged from music that was popular back then, it just further enhances the nostalgia.  Whether you just cruising, or speeding like a bat out of hell, the music is a fine choice. But let’s talk about the real soundtrack of the game, when the cars crash. As stated before, when you are about to hit an obstacle, it goes into this slow-mo moment, at this point you see the car make contact and you witness the carnage.  It is the sound of how the car crumples, that is the soundtrack.  The twisting of metal while colliding into another car is sheer enjoyment on the ear, your eyes can’t have all the fun. With all the music and The Sound of Crashing aside, there is a Radio DJ by the name of DJ Atomica making the atmosphere enjoyable as if you are part of some big event in the city.  At the start the DJ acts as your guide, telling you about what is what and what to do as you take part in an event type for the first time. Having a DJ in a racing game nowadays is almost a standard, but when Burnout Paradise was released, it was refreshing with its own personality and made sessions enjoyable.  

VISUALS

Image result for burnout paradise remastered jensen The original Burnout Paradise was great looking game on the Xbox 360 and PS3. Even for an arcade racer, the graphics was always smooth and solid no matter how aggressive you are during a Road Rage or just flying off jumps. In the remaster the visuals are as crisp as a frozen lettuce leaf.  The resolution has been bumped a lot to give it a razor sharp look.  60 frames per second has never looked so good. Burnout Paradise is not shy on its selection of vehicles. The 150+ on offer is also a treat to look at, even when turning that sleek sports car into a Dinky Toy against a concrete wall.  

VERDICT

Burnout Paradise Remastered is by no means a new game, but it’s a firm reminder of a simpler time of arcade racing. 10 years, yes still feeling old, has done nothing to its charm and doubt it ever will.  Burnout proves that chaotic fun is still the best fun.  Keep your fastest lap times and drift bonuses, I want to see carnage at breakneck speeds while cars are flying into other cars like no one’s business. If arcade racers if your thing, Burnout is your game. If you want to play something truly amazing, Burnout is your game. Want a racing game for you and your friends, Burnout is definitely your game. That being said, if after all that you are still not convinced you to get this timeless gem, then let me leave you with this….    

I would jump into Burnout Paradise Remastered in a heartbeat to simply relive the nostalgia, therefore I rate it...

Special thanks to Prima Interactive for supplying me with this review copy.

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UFC 3 – a Rookie’s Review

As the title suggests, this is a first look at a UFC title, so be aware I have zero reference points...  Gloves on, mouthpiece in!  Time to step into the octagon.

EARLY IMPRESSIONS

I have never touched a UFC title before, well maybe a demo… I think. So for me this is completely out of my comfort zone in terms of gaming.  New territory I have only seen in videos.

So my impression of UFC 3 was, at most, daunting because I had no idea what I’m getting myself into. So I took a deep breath and Pressed Start.

So I jumped in and went straight for the Create-A-Fighter mode, I was greeted with a fair amount of options to play with.  I am happy that there is variety in the mode to create all manner of fighters.

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After creating the perfect representation of myself, a chiseled behemoth of a fighter, with dashing good looks ( I have to recreate myself you know ;) )   I proceeded to a few practice fights. I quickly realized that the beat’ - em - up style is vastly different from those of Tekken and Dead or Alive. So I had to adapt or this wasn’t going to go south, rather quickly!

I took my newly created fighter into Career mode, and adapted style of playing a beat’em game, to the Octagon to see how it goes.  It didn't.  I lost by way of submission.

My early impression thus far is good.  I got my butt kicked in the first fight, but instead of making me want to quit, it made me want to learn from this and adapt even more, which I did and won by knock-out.  It felt great landing that knock-out punch, so much that I wanted it more. So my journey as UFC fighter began.

GAMEPLAY

The game has an extremely solid feel to it. This is further enhanced by the incredible graphical detail of each fighter.

The movement is different from what I am use to in games like Tekken.  I want to say a delay but the word delay must be taken with a pinch of salt.  This style makes me plan my offence and defense very carefully.  With this slight "delay" comes a sense of strategy, aimless button mashing will get you knocked down and out before you hit your second sequence of buttons.  Strategy is key.  Well timed and thought out attacks are devastatingly effective compared to button mashing a front hand jab hoping to drop your opponent eventually.

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The character model movement is spot on.  How they react to getting punched and kicked gives you the visual feedback that you actually doing damage.

UFC 3 matches are not to be considered a sprint race, quite the opposite they are marathons.  If you go all out throwing punches and kicks like you playing an arcade brawler, you will lose, badly.  You have to manage your stamina and decide when the right time to attack is.  Landing a blow against an opponent that is blocking compared to missing entirely, I would rather take on a block.

The grappling side of things is a monster in its own right, this is truly a art form that when mastered can be magnificent but as a beginner it can be tough to get to grips with.   The ground game can be handled easy, but when it comes to a submission move, it is difficult for a new comer as the feedback on that is rather minimal. It is easy to lose at submissions when you are new to UFC, but as they say, practice makes perfect.

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Damage is also indicated accurately like a real UFC fight.  Faces swell up and blood get spilled, and when landing a heavy damage dealing blow,  the screen tilts and wobbles as your opponent stumbles, all while the crowd goes wild.  It may sound like you are winning, but the fight can drastically turn with just one well-placed kick to the face. So it is always best to keep your guard up.

GRAPHICS

As far as the graphics go, it looks really great. You would easily mistake the game for a live UFC match on the TV if you gave it a quick glance.

The character models are super accurate and when landing those punches to your opponents face, you can see the blood, sweat and fortunately no snot, flying off your opponents face.  Keep in mind also, it counts for your fighter too, but it still looks great none the less.

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I will be honest about a few things. Some of the character models look weird, almost like cartoonish, but this does not mean they don’t pack the punch they are famous for.

In game there are some graphical oddities like certain head movements when punched or kicked, arm movements and even fighters walking into the ring barrier like it’s an invisible wall, but these are not game breaking or even enough to take you out of the moment.

All in all, the game looks great from start to finish and custom characters fits in like they were meant to be there.

REPLAYABILITY

UFC 3 has all the bells and whistles like any other beat’em up title. Fight Modes, Career Mode, Practice Mode and Online Fights.

Fight Mode is your straight up jump into a fight and enjoy with no loss or gain, just plain old fun.  It is also the best place to get a feel for the game in a real fight.  You can get the same in Practice Mode but in my opinion it’s only good for practicing to land punches and kicks. It also makes you a tad lazy in managing your stamina.

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Career Mode is where the game really shines.  You can either choose any of the existing fighters in the roster, or create your own, and yes there is even a feature to upload your own face to your fighter.  After you tinkered with your fighter’s appearance and style, you start your career with a starter fight to lead you into what the UFC is about.

In career mode your stats do not simply build until you are a unstoppable force with a iron chin.  You have to train to keep your health and stats up for each upcoming fight to ensure you have the best chance of winning.  You are assigned points you can spend on various activities during your training.  From gym sessions to self-promoting to create hype.  This does give you the sense of being more involved with your fighter’s progress, making each victory well earned.

Image result for ufc 3 career mode

I decided to go onto the online octagon and see how I would stack up. I obviously expected to get my butt handed to me on a silver platter.

I didn’t do too badly actually, I still lost, but It was exciting and fun.  I still have a long way to go if I want to be an online champion at UFC 3, but until that day, I will have to train hard.

UFC 3 also boast and Ultimate Team mode, which does have a fair share of loot boxes but this is only within the Ultimate Team mode. You can also acquire other items via the store that you buy with in game currency. Items switch up after a time limit so it’s never the same.

From all that is on offer, UFC 3 is a rather beefy package to sink your teeth into.

FINAL VERDICT

UFC 3 was nowhere near on my radar of games I would try, but I’m sure glad I did. It’s a proper brawler that I can see being used as a way to settle arguments.

It isn’t everyone’s type of fighter, but I would recommend it if you are a gamer that enjoys these type of games with friends.

I will be spending more time with UFC 3 because my victories feel earned. I genuinely get stoked when I get a knockout on my opponents.

Just like the real UFC, I stepped out of comfort zone and gave this game a try only to discover I loved it.

   

Image result for 8 stars out of 10

Special thanks to Prima Interactive for sending me this review copy.

Image result for prima interactive

Written by: Ghost86 Edited by; BigJapester11  
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Star Wars Battlefront 2 – the Force is strong, mostly!

Much can be said about Star Wars Battlefront 2. Good, bad and some neutral. So let’s start with the good.

CAMPAIGN

Star Wars Battlefront 2 starts off right before the destruction of the Death Star and then continues on from there. You are put in control of a few characters throughout the story, but the main focus is on Iden Versio, an Imperial Special Forces Trooper of Inferno Squad. Image result for star wars battlefront 2 2017 Playing through the somewhat short single player campaign, it is evident that not enough was fleshed out with the characters, if you are a new comer to the Star Wars universe. However, it is still an enjoyable piece of the game. Let us be realistic here, Battlefront was never known for its single player, so actually having one this time around is fun and great to look at. Image result for star wars battlefront 2 2017 With 13 chapters, it mixes up the gameplay on foot and in vehicles. Both plays, and feels great. Whether you are in First Person or, Third Person view, you will be pulling off headshots and Starfighter kills with ease. But don’t let the game’s first outing with a story side make you believe it’s a cake walk, even on normal difficulty the A.I. can take you out if you are not careful. The selection of weapons on offer is not huge but very distinct and can be changed up via loadout boxes throughout the mission. They sound like they were pulled straight from the movies and packs the same punch. Blasters obviously don’t run on ammo, but with an Active Reloading style mechanic in place, all weapons either have the quick reload or the damage boost. It is not a unique system but it works really well. Image result for star wars battlefront 2 2017 Vehicles segments also has the choice between First and Third person viewpoints. I myself prefer the Third Person perspective. I didn’t lose my accuracy and I was far more aware of where the craft was in the environment, but mainly because I like the look of vehicles. The story itself is fast and goes from one big scene to the next, which not entirely a bad thing, but a few more chapters wouldn’t have hurt. Other than that, it’s a treat for a Star Wars fan. Image result for star wars battlefront 2 2017

[PLEASE NOTE]

Some Bad News Below...

 

MULTIPLAYER

Battlefront 2’s multiplayer is what it’s famous for. It is pure Star Wars style battles between The Empire and Rebels, for the most part anyway. Seeing blaster fire flying into the air, fellow soldiers getting shot down right in front of you or explosions ripping vehicles apart with devastating force, it is all there and presented really well. However that is when I actually did play a few times. Most of the times I was in and out of menus trying to find a match. At times I felt I was playing around in the menu more than the actual multiplayer side of the game. Related image The reason for this is mostly due to the controversy leading up to the game’s launch.  With micro-transactions stating and drawing a line between the two types of games out there, those who just want to play and those who spend real world money for huge advantages. With that, I suspect a lot of gamers didn’t buy the games until further notice. Because of this, it hinders my review for Battlefront 2’s multiplayer. With the lack of a Server Browser, it makes looking for match manually, impossible. Image result for star wars battlefront 2 2017 Even though the multiplayer side of things is currently unreachable, Battlefront 2 does offer non-online arcade options. It can be played solo or with a friend via split screen co-op or versus. Battle Scenarios is pre-set encounters from the various eras of the Star Wars universe with unique rewards to unlock. Custom Arcade lets you tweak the battle styles for some jump in and have fun style action. With the standard Hero characters and the standard troopers to choose from, these two modes has a decent amount of fun within them.  

FINAL VERDICT

Star Wars Battlefront 2 is fun game, whether you a Star Wars fan or not. Graphics are stunning. Cut-scenes have a beautiful level of detail that you would think you are watching a movie. The game’s menu deserves special mention here. It has the standard Star Wars theme orchestra music playing in the background. Icons representing the different modes are animated with a wire frame outlining of well-known items. I am sad the multiplayer had such a troubled start but I am hopeful it will be in full swing in no time.  

As always I would like to say a special thanks to Prima Interactive for providing me with this review copy.

  Image result for Prima interactive   Image result for 7 out of 10 stars Written by: Ghost86 Edited by: BigJapester11
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L.A. Noire – 1940’s bloody Glamour!

There are few games that sets the tone and atmosphere of the 1940’s as perfectly as L.A. Noire. While not a new game, it has always been at the back of my mind since its first outing on the Xbox 360 back 2011. Image result for la Noire xbox 1 720p The first question I was asked was “Why Play It Again?” Short answer, “Why Not?”   L.A. Noire’s setting of a 1940’s Los Angeles is historically accurate enough to keep me just wandering the streets. It gives an idea of how life was back then. It was a time of good old fashioned hard-work, and that carries over to what L.A. Noire is about. Image result for la Noire xbox 1 720p The game puts you in the shoes of Cole Phelps, a man of the law, tasked to solve crimes and mysteries. This involves searching and inspecting clues in the environment and question people to help your investigations. It is made interesting by the game’s unique feature of realistic facial animations. This is where you have to use your own initiative to tell if the person in question, victim, witness or suspect, is either, lying or telling the truth. You have to watch their faces when they talk and make a judgement. Image result for la Noire xbox 1 720p Wrong judgment calls don’t impede your progress in the story, but it does influence your overall rating after each case. This leaves enough room to replay the cases again to better your score. L.A. Noire is not a remaster, but the facial animations is still incredible. It is rare for a game to use such a feature that makes the player have to use their own instinct to get answers out of the people they interrogate.   Compared to other open world titles, L.A. Noire is smaller, but a fairly decent size of the city is given to explore and will take some time to drive from one point to another. The story itself plays off in a somewhat linear fashion, but it still gives you the chance to go off the beaten track. The city itself is beautiful, it’s a joy to drive through and has the personality and charm that is a pleasure to get lost in. Image result for la Noire 1080p Controls wise, the game feels good, but there was times it was just a slight bit clunky, but never so much I felt like throwing my controller like a broken boomerang. The driving side of things is in a sense Overly Sensitive. Cars are rather twitchy when taking turns which translates into the feeling of them being lightweight but still pretty solid. You can either drive yourself or let your partner drive to the set destinations, which then give you an overall better rating at the end of the investigation. Image result for la Noire 1080p Since you are part of the police force, more careful driving is required. But with the authentic sounding radio channels and sweet old school jazz, driving like a law abiding citizen almost comes naturally. Then again it could be the fact that you are not driving a sports car.   L.A. Noire is as much a joy to play now as it was on the previous generation. Again, it is not a remaster. It is a straight up port and is perfect if you missed it the first time and want to break away to something truly unique in presentation and style. From start to finish I wish I could have experienced the 1940’s in person, but L.A. Noire gives me that opportunity and it deliveries it beautifully. Image result for la Noire 1080p   Once again a special thanks to Prima Interactive for supplying me with the game to review.   Image result for 8 out of 10 stars Reviewed by Ghost86 Edited by BigJapester11
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Syndrome Review

Step into the shoes of Chief Technician Galen onboard the Valkenburg, a spaceship that has lost power and seems to have no occupants onboard, or does it? You awake from a deep cryosleep dazed and confused only to find darkness and absolutely no one around. You quickly discover that some alien life form was brought onto this ship and has resulted in the entire crew either being dead or converted into crazed, blood thirsty creatures. How will you escape? Syndrome is a sci-fi survival horror game developed by Camel101 and Bigmoon entertainment. It is played in the first person view. Now if you enjoy a good horror game that has many jump scares you will most definitely enjoy this one. With a relatively small install of 5.47GB, you will be playing in a flash. But don’t judge the quality based on this as dynamite comes in small packages. An issue I encountered quite quickly was a slight graphics glitch where the inventory menu and certain parts of the game looked incredibly grainy. I sent this info through to Bigmoon entertainment and within a few days they had released an update that fixed all the issues and I was on my way again. Image result for Syndrome game 1080p Syndrome is best played in the dark as the lighting is extremely low due to a power failure aboard this spaceship you find yourself stranded on. The aim of this game is to explore, interact with objects, find supplies and hopefully weapons which you quickly realize are scarce. It has an eerie soundtrack that plays constantly and is great at achieving a rapid heartbeat and instilling fear deep within your mind! Image result for Syndrome game 1080p Early on in the game you are contacted by two characters, Commander Neomi and James "Jimmy" Marko. Commander Neomi asks you to come to her location and help her and her marines out of an area they are locked in. James "Jimmy" Marko warns you that Neomi cannot be trusted and convinces you to try and restore power to the ship, in order to travel to a more populated system to find help. While exploring the passages of this huge space craft you encounter these mutants that are quite difficult to kill so I found myself evading them rather than fighting them. James helps you over a radio to find your way around but, the deranged creatures are relentless and very quick to attack if they hear you. So far I have come across a creature that can't be killed so you have to avoid him at all costs. It took me a few tries to realize I couldn’t kill him(frustration was rife). Related image I have played Syndrome for about 2 hours now and I am enjoying it. I found the plot to be very clever and was impressed by the originality of the storyline. The graphics are good and the gameplay is quite fluid. I do however feel that in order to appeal to a larger group of gamers the developers could’ve made the game a little brighter as I believe a lot of people would be turned off by the sheer darkness. Also, the combat style is quite simple and primitive and you find yourself hacking away a little crazily sometimes without achieving much damage. Related image I am optimistic that there is more to come regarding Syndrome. It is obviously not an AAA game but has a lot of potential to be great. Is it worth all the frustration of sometimes feeling out of control, I think. If this was the developers objective, then I feel they have achieved what they set out to do. If you are a fan of this Genre, give this game a try. You might be pleasantly surprised. Image result for 7 out of 10 stars Keep gaming….EliteJedi
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Need For Speed Payback – Chaos and Destruction done Right!

From the moment you get control of the car, you know Need for Speed Payback is going to be a very fast and very over the top action racer. On the surface, the game looks great. It is a visual treat of glossy shine and more wheel spins than a Vegas slot-machine. Cars glisten like they just rolled straight off a car showroom floor and roar like monsters when revving them up. Image result for need for speed payback customization 1080p Seeing as NFS Payback is an arcade style action racer, it is not without the camera angles to boot. When doing a burnout, a slide around a particularly bendy corner or taking out a pesky cop car during a chase, you are presented with a view point to boost the moment of awesomeness. Thankfully these viewpoints can be toggled while in game with same button changing your camera. Rather handy when you want to focus on the race at hand. My favourite part of this action camera is when taking out said annoying cops during a high speed chase. My least favourite part is that said high speed chases are story locked. Image result for need for speed payback customization 1080p The backdrop ranges from Urban to Desert, each with a generous offering in size and beauty to look at while just cruising along. The off-road sections are new to NFS. While not a stranger to off-road vehicles, it is a first to actually put them to use for their intended purpose, which makes for some fresh gameplay. No matter what the race type, there is a car for it. The car count stands at 74, which doesn’t sound like a lot by any means, but those on offer are some of the finest. Image result for need for speed payback customization 1080p The upgrading system is different from what is usually the standard. Parts are unlocked via Speed Cards when winning races, the selection of parts cycle at Tune Up shops after a set time or you win them from Rolls. So you might not always get the part you want, but they always make your ride faster. This is not the ideal system, but to be honest, I would prefer the classic Putting-Whatever-I-Want-Into-My-Car system. Need for Speed Payback also offers a rather nice Photo Mode, with some decent settings and filters, anyone can take brilliant snapshots of their cars. Just pressing a button, you can take a photo right in the middle of the action. Image result for need for speed payback customization 1080p Now, scratching a bit deeper, there is a story to Need for Speed Payback. As the title suggests, it’s a story of betrayal that all leads to, well payback. In all honesty, do not expect a Hollywood script of drama and full character development, all that has been reserved for the main part of the game, the cars and driving. The main characters here are Tyler (you), your buddy Mac (the off-road nut) and Jess (the one saving everyone out of a tight spot). Each of these characters are unique in their own right, but they don’t bring something truly special to table. But again, I am letting the cars do the talking with screeching tires and thunderous engines. It is high octane action that Need for Speed is famous for.   NFS Payback is fun, fast and ferocious and it makes that evident from the start. If you are a Need for Speed fan and like your arcade racers, this will make you smile.   Image result for 7 out of 10 stars      

thanks to Prima Interactive for supplying us with this Review copy!

Image result for Prima Interactive   written by : Ghost86 Edited by: BigJapester11
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The Turing Test – So much more than a puzzle game!

When I started The Turing Test I had absolutely no clue what it was about, I had kept myself from reading reviews, watching some Youtube videos, even just reading a description.  Too many times before has a single bad review or remark spoiled a game for me and I was not taking this risk again.  Then again after playing Oxenfree, (read my review here) which is another great title that was on offer with this month's Games with Gold subscription, I didn't have high hopes to be met with two great titles in one month.  But was I mistaken...   It is good to know what the Turing test is, except for it being a first person puzzler in which you navigate a range of rooms with puzzles that gradually increase as you continue.  In the real world the Turning test was developed by Alan Turing in 1950 as a way to test a machine's ability to exhibit  intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human.  So keeping that in mind I jumped into The Turing Test.   You awake on a spaceship guided by a friendly (questionable) AI called Tom guiding you through the beginning stages all while explaining the situation that has befallen your fellow crew and the ship you are on.  Many people might be saying this is a Portal-copy but The Turing Test is void of all the humor found in Portal, instead Tom, your new best AI-friend brings up the interesting topic of free will, what it means to be human and of course the AI test the game draws its name from.   The Turing test has a very effective way of storytelling, not only does Tom tell you what has been going on while you were in cryosleep, but you are able to scratch through your fellow space explorers personal belongings while on the hunt to find them, where they are trapped (or are they?) within the space ship.   I could go into details about how each puzzle room felt a little familiar and hospital-like in their squeaky clean look and how the Europa, your space ship, never developed its own sense of character but it doesn't really matter.  Same with the puzzles, yes after a few puzzles all the ones that follow felt familiar, yet I did not care.  Around the mid-way point in this 7 to 8 hour game the story and plot start driving you to the next puzzle.  I have yet to find a title that had me this driven to jump through metaphorical hoops, and physical platforms, to get to the next stage JUST for the next bit of information and to figure out what is really going on the Europa!  Don't worry, unlike Portal or The Witness, the Turing test never turns its puzzles up to 11, it seems contempt with simply scratching the surface in terms of puzzles and rather having you enjoy it than getting frustrated and losing the plot of the story. The Turing Test is so much more than just a puzzler.  Once you reach level 3 or 4 of the puzzles, you, well I, started to find myself thinking more about what my AI friend Tom was saying and I became weary of him, thinking more of what he was saying rather than just accepting it, and when the plot twist hits, which it will, it comes without warning, the whole story is turned upside down, and you will feel and contemplate existence and what really makes us different from computers.  This is when the Turing test really hits its straps as a story driven game more than a puzzler.   Not only is this gaming visually wonderful to look at, even with its monotonous rooms, when you do see a change of scenery it is tremendous, all while giving you a visceral experience all while probing your feelings towards a scenario that is ever increasing in the extremely technologically driven world we live in today.  After Life is Strange I did not think a game will be able to pull me into its narrative quite like that again.  The Turing test did, and it had me laying awake in bed contemplating life.   If you haven't downloaded it yet, I would highly recommend this title if you ever need to just get away from your daily routine of Battlefield, Call of duty or Forza.  Get it before it goes off Games with Gold for the month of October.  
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Shadow of War – a review of my experience thus far!

For any true Lord of the Rings fan Shadow of War is simply a must!  It has a very authentic LOTR feel and places you right back behind enemy lines in the boots of your favourite Ranger Talion with the infused spirit of Lord Celebrimbor.  Together they are back slaying orcs and taking names!  As of yet I am not too far into the game so I will give you a brief review of aspects that I have encountered thus far without giving away the plot completely! Lets jump in(to Mordor!).

Difficulty

Image result for shadow of war Middle-earth: Shadow of War has three difficulty settings.  Easy – to play through and enjoy the story. Normal – some features of the nemesis system are implemented but not the whole experience as well as captains and warlords are easier to fight.  Nemesis – This gives you the full experience of the nemesis system which makes Middle-earth: Shadow of War such a unique games.  That being said don’t expect to cruise through this game without dying, ALOT!

Captains and Warlords

Stepping into Mordor you will find many foes but along the treacherous way you will encounter Captains and Warlords, these brutes are more ferocious and powerful than their underlings.  In Shadow of War after defeating captains they will come back after a time, but unlike Shadow of Mordor, these captains come back changed Orcs or Goblins, definitely not in a good way either!  They will look different, fight differently and even say different things! Image result for shadow of war With my luck I have found the only orc captain with some South African heritage.  His name is Shaka and I have killed him multiple times.  First time killing him I didn’t use an execution to kill him I just kept on pounding him until he succumbed to my blows.  Second time I used an execution but ended up chopping his arm off and stabbing him through the stomach.  The third time he died by poison and this gets me excited to see how he returns and whether he returns at all, they say third times the charm...

Captain’s quests

A large part of Shadow of War consists of building an army to fight the might of the evil armies!  With this you need to dominate enemy captains and make them see that your way is the right way, and better than dying!  Dominating enemies will turn them in your favour and they will do your bidding.  When you dominate a captain and want him to do something for you command him to either fight another captain, become a warlord’s bodyguard, which can be very handy when you need him to betray his boss and kill him so you don’t have to.  In the previous game these events would be marked on your map and you could do them as you please, well, things have changed in Shadow of War, you now have a time limit.  If you decide to interfere with enemy missions you lose a turn on the other outstanding quests.  Each quest has a three-turn limit and then it resolves itself. Image result for shadow of war This makes the game little bit more interesting because you think of sending a weaker captain you control against a stronger enemy captain and help him out but that is not always the case.  Sometimes you give that weaker orc up to get two stronger captains because of the time limit.  This gives the game a very strategic aspect when it comes to picking your battles.  You sometimes need to lose the battle to win the war.  In the words of Cersei Lannister: “this is the game of thrones, you either win or you die”

Dominated Captains

Image result for shadow of war dominating an enemy xbox The developers really changed it up when dominating a captain or warlord compared to the first game.  In Shadow of Mordor once an orc is dominated he is forever loyal to you and the only way for him to leave your army is to die.  In Shadow of War orcs get dominated and join your army but don’t think that is a done deal.  Certain races, Orcs and Ologs, have a little trait called “blood brothers”.  Once you dominate one of these and then try to slay one of their own expect a betrayal from one of your once “loyal” captains.  I experienced this first hand during a particularly tough battle with an Orc when out of nowhere 4 of my “captains” arrived and in an act of betrayal proceeded to help their brother in beating me into submission!

How to train your Dragon, I mean Orc

Image result for shadow of war main character As mentioned before Shadow of Mordor the only way to improve your captains and warlords level are by doing commanding them to do missions.  In Shadow of War you get a second choice…Pit Fights!  First rule of Pit club is nobody talk about Pit club!  No really this is way better than doing missions, it gives you a better sense of how your captains fight and of course anything goes in these fights.  Any traits they have for extra troops, mounts, traps and bombs are in the fight.  You can’t partake in these battles but it sure is awesome watching a angry Olog turn a Orc into moosh!

Final Thoughts

All in all it’s a good game.  Monolith did a stand-up job and improved a lot on the first game to really showcase Shadow of War as a bigger and better and improved in every way from Shadow of Mordor.  It’s a game that will keep you busy  and if you get bored with the single player , just head over to the online conquest section where you try and take over other players fortresses.  I did not mention this in my review because I have yet to try it.  Only part that leaves a slight bitterness in my mouth is the dreaded loot boxes.  In my opinion this has become a cancer in the modern games.  I prefer to embrace the grind to make my captains and warlords powerful rather than fork out some of my hard earned cash on a virtual improvement. If you like the first game you will love the second,  new comers to the series should check out some specials to find Shadow of Mordor to really understand and appreciate this game.  

My Final Rating for this game is 8 ½ out of 10

Image result for 8.5/10  

written by Willie Botes, Edited by JP du Preez

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Path of Exile – Review

The first ever PC-game I bought as a kid back in the early 2000's was a little title named DIABLO 2, yes many gamers might laugh and pass comments like "wow you are old", or "Diablo 3 was so crap" and they would be correct on at least one of those 2 statements...  But no matter your opinion on the top-down RPG genre, Diablo refined and perfected the craft and for many years Diablo 2 was untouched as the epitome of this genre.  Then came Diablo 3...  In an attempt to attract new players to the genre and game, Blizzard decided to, in my opinion, dumb down the game in terms of controls as well as story and gameplay and with that they drove away alot of die-hard fans.  Many updates and patches and lost fans later Diablo 3 became a playable game but the genre felt old and stale and when a lesser known title, to me at least, PATH OF EXILE, happened to stumble into the foreground I didn't have much hope for it. But was I surprised beyond belief! Path of Exile is more hardcore and less polished than the likes of Diablo 3.  Deciding to drop some of the aesthetically pleasing aspects for ludicrously deep character progression which you will go far to match in any game.  When I started the game up I was met with a overwhelming creation screen, overwhelming not in a bad way, but in a good way.  The amount of  options when creating your class of character was staggering.  Here is a quick bit of info regarding the classes:

Classes and skills

  • Duelist: He fights with melee attacks and can also summon an AI minion to fight alongside him.
  • Templar: Fires projectiles, including three balls of lightning at once and a chain lightning attack.
  • Witch: A female spellcaster with high intelligence.
  • Ranger: She uses a bow and is extremely dexterous, but can wield swords as well. Despite being a glass cannon, the ranger is my class of choice.
  • Marauder: A melee fighter with tremendous strength.
  • Shadow: A dexterous and intelligent fighter, he uses short-range weapons and traps during battle.
  • Scion: She can develop into any character build thanks to Path of Exile's skill system. This makes her an advanced character, and she must be unlocked later in the game.
this is only the tip of the iceberg tho as the skill tree system is something magnificent.  The passive skill system is similar to many other RPG skill trees but instead having a individual skill tree for each character, Path of Exile decided to create one big tree that can be accessed by all the characters. You can mix and match abilities by unlocking skills along various branches which you can use to reach other areas of the skill tree.  With this in mind it might take first time players a few tries to find the style of character that suites their play style.  With such a vast tree, respecing your character is quite a tortuous job.

Gameplay and Combat

[ngg_images source="galleries" container_ids="1" display_type="photocrati-nextgen_basic_thumbnails" override_thumbnail_settings="0" thumbnail_width="240" thumbnail_height="160" thumbnail_crop="1" images_per_page="20" number_of_columns="0" ajax_pagination="0" show_all_in_lightbox="0" use_imagebrowser_effect="0" show_slideshow_link="1" slideshow_link_text="[Show slideshow]" order_by="sortorder" order_direction="ASC" returns="included" maximum_entity_count="500"] Like most RPG titles Path of Exile places a large emphasis on exploration and collecting loot.  It has small MMO elements namely public towns where players can meet and group up or trade some unwanted items.  With titles like this you normally place skills on a hotbar.  Path of Exile amps this up by allowing you to use RT to access another host of hotkeys allowing you to apply a magnitude of skill which to devastate your enemies with. Fighting feels tight with lots of variations between the characters, during combat you will auto target your enemies and might not always target the closest target which can become a slight irritation if you are a more hand to hand combat character which will see you walking through a group of enemies to attack the one right at the back, taking some serious damage in the process. Health potions and other benefit providing potions are assigned to the D-pad as well as the bumper buttons.  These carry limited charges that refill when you visit a town. Tapping down on the D-pad brings up the map, which on a massively random-generated map like these, are extremely useful when trying to find your way around. Inventory management also gets a Path-of-Exile-spin to it.  Each item takes up a varying amount of space in your bag.  What this creates is that you will think more about what you're picking up as to the amount of loot you pick up.  Other titles will see you picking up just to pick up and sell when you reach a store later, not Path of Exile. Scrolls are much the same as other Diablo-like games, one is used to identify rare items, the other to teleport back to town.  Town portals are significantly more scarce than in Diablo so travels to town will be alot less frequent.

Overall impression

You could be forgiven for not expecting much from a 4 year old, free to play title like Path of Exile.  Hell I did!  Most companies who have tried to make a title to rival the likes of Diablo have failed miserably over and over again.  Path of Exile is definitely not a mega-budget title like Diablo but you would never say that when you play it.  Yes it is not graphically as good as Diablo but wow does it do all the other parts so stupendously well! Whether you are playing this solo or with a friend or 2, this game is very enjoyable for anyone who is a fan of the genre.  Best part is you get a free to play game without all the usual Free-to-play limitations.  Looking at the history of Path of Exiles on PC you can expect a multitude of updates to fix, improve and expand this game.  The developers have even promised extensive graphical improvements for the Xbox One X.  There is also rumors of couch co-op coming in the near future which will make this title even more enjoyable!  
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Oxenfree – a true hidden Gem

Games with Gold for September might be mostly notable for major titles like Forza Motorsport 5, with all of its extras and expansions, Battlefield 3, playable on Xbox One via Backwards Compatibility and then a lesser known title named OXENFREE.  I had not heard much about this title but me, being a sucker for a free game, decided to download it as it didn't have a very large download size, and fired it up to give it a go before I pass judgement on what would most likely be a rather weak title. When I fired the title up I went in with a blank slate, zero expectations.  That's a good thing right? no expectations mean zero chance for being let down.  Boy oh boy was i pleasantly suprised!  What met me was a game with a very unique painterly art style that really tickled my fancy the moment it started.  What drew me in from the very beginning is the simplistic beauty yet when you dive a little further into the details you will find an immensely well fleshed out environment that  takes note of all that is needed. Image result for oxenfree 1080p The setup for the game goes as follow:  "Every year in the small town of Camena, a group of high school seniors secretly spend the night partying on a nearby decommissioned military island.  This year the group includes you - Alex- and your newly introduced stepbrother Jonas.  You have just met up with your best friend Ren, his secret crush Nona, and Nona's constant companion Clarissa to start the night off on the beach"   Image result for oxenfree Yes I know what you are thinking it sounds like a cliched thriller but I promise you that these high school characters are not just going to be murder-fodder.  From the very beginning of the game the character development is constantly evolving.  during the first couple of minutes of the game I had found myself simple standing around on the boat where the opening scene plays out, listening to the characters chat about their lives as I grew to know them.  It was like being a invisible friend to the then, party of 3. To say that the characters in Oxenfree are constantly chatting would be a understatement.  You play as a female named Alex, who can walk, talk, interact and even do some basic environmentally based puzzles if the need arises. You will also encounter ghosts that scare and threaten you but none of these things are really what define Oxenfree, it is primarily a game about conversation, and the heart and soul of this game is the speech-bubble interface. Image result for oxenfree 1080p During this 4 - or so hour adventure there is hardly a time that the characters are not constantly chatting, with that comes the need to pick Alex's responses with the speed that you would expect in real conversations.  Oxenfree does not offer any pauses, much like real life, with constant banter between the characters with quick responses required from you to avoid the conversation moving on without you.  Not in a bad way that some games continue whilst assuming you have made a response and they go off on their next pre-programmed rant.  No, if you decide that your silence is a valid response to the last conversation the game will acknowledge that and so the game adapts.  If you were to interrupt someone mid-sentence they will notice that and react to that now, and in future conversations... This whole concept might sound similar to the systems used used in Telltale and Bioware titles but this one is much more advanced and in depth than any of the aforementioned titles.  The speed of this system at work is what truly sets Oxenfree apart.  This feature while being the pinnacle of the game can also be the most frustrating, but in the frustration it shows you just how close to real life it is.  Not giving you time to deliberate a choice, forcing you to make quick, bold and sometimes silly choices that can and will come to haunt you.  What really hits this conversation mechanic home is the stellar writing nad strong voice over performances, expect ums, uhhs, incomplete sentences, thoughts and trail offs that don't lead to anything in particular.  It really feels like you are speaking to actual human beings.  All of the attention to detail and meticulously crafted dialogue mechanic gives Oxenfree an immense story with alot of texture and depth.   Image result for oxenfree 1080p I know I have sung the praises of mainly one aspect of Oxenfree so let me try and digress slightly and give you some further insight into this title without giving too much away of what is to come. Oxenfree has a supernatural aspect to it which I will let you discover for yourselves but there are certain spots on the island that you find yourself on where you can pull out Alex's radio and tune into otherworldy frequencies.  This is where the supernatural scares will start to come in.  All the frequencies that Alex find, hint at the dark and twisted history of the island that had remained hidden for decades.  This game has you taming the supernatural forces, save your friends and trying to find the truth behind what really happened on the Island. My personal opinion of Oxenfree would be that it is a really worthwhile title, if not for the interesting storyline or the beautiful scenery, then for the wonderful dynamics and mechanics that are at play in this game. I have been quite the fan of titles like the Telltale series and games with similar mechanics but I can easily say, thanks to a little Indie Title called Oxenfree, none of the other games in this genre will be able to match this perfect little gem.  I certainly hope to see more from this studio in the future.  
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COD WW2 BETA – a View from the Trenches!

With the WW2 Beta weekend at our backs and everyone settling in to there normal mundane routine of life I thought it fitting to write a short, I hope, review,recap, call it what you want, of Call of Duty World War 2 Beta.  Please do take note that this is a Beta so don't go knocking it with statements like "Battlefield 1 is better" because my simple yet to the point reply will be " well, it is COD, not BF!"  What people forget is that COD is a completely different title to the likes of Battlefield.  COD focuses on the fast frantic pace that only a Call of Duty title can accomplish.  Yes COD has been dominating the Shooting Genre since the franchise came to fruition many years ago.  They have had there ups and downs namely Modern Warfare and Infinite Warfare respectively.  But none the less the fans keep coming back to the titles in a hope of going back to the glory days of WW2, and finally that day has come. Image result for call of duty ww2 Lets get stuck in!

the Trenches of Normandy are back!

With Call of Duty coming home, so to speak, to where it all started in World War 2 they have left all the technology where it belongs, in the future.  This makes the combat more gritty, tactical and realistic!  If they are doing this to the Multiplayer section of the game expect the Single player side to be even more gritty and tactical than ever before.  From the initial startup of the game it is instantly recognizable as a COD game.  COD players will know what I mean by this it is something I can't quite verbalize.  Yet, there are a few key differences.  Firstly boosting has been removed from the game completely which I think is awesome, it also gives the game a slightly less frantic feel adding to the tactical gameplay.  It really gives you a slightly more relaxed feeling when you know that some robotic terminator isn't going to come wall-running over your cover and murder you while you aim down the sights! Image result for call of duty ww2 beta maps The weapons also feel like accurate representations of their historical counterparts barring a few tweaks that I personally think needs to be made to the damage inflicted by the weapons.  Personally I didn't find larger caliber weapons to have that feeling of being more powerful like they should, but this is why it is still a BETA and Sledgehammer have sent out a survey to all those who partook in the BETA to get their impressions on what they would like to be changed or liked and disliked.  (good on your Sledgehammer). Image result for call of duty ww2 beta maps aachen What I did find to be a very nice touch was the ability to have a closer inspection of your gun mid-match.  Pressing the Y button would make your soldier look at his/her weapon of mass destruction and revel in all its glory or not-glory depending on how good your aim had been up to that point. At this point I can hear the BF fanboys and -girls say that the weapons are not as accurately depicted as it is in BF etc etc and I will once again say:  This is a BETA and this is COD!  right, moving on! Image result for call of duty ww2 beta weapons  

Less Frantic, but not Slow!

  With the exclusion of the technological aspects which made the previous titles like Infinite Warfare, Black Ops 3 and Advanced Warfare so fast-paced and frantic, it has made the game feel less rushed but by no means does that translate into a slow-paced game.  WW2 still requires some speedy reaction times otherwise you will find yourself at the respawn spot quite often.  This should not deter new players as you get the hang of it quickly and once you get to know the maps your deaths will slowly start appearing less and be replaced with your name being on the left of the kill feed instead of the right.  For Non-COD players new to the franchise there is going to be a rather steep learning curve if you decide to venture into the campaign before jumping into the multi player as players will be investing serious time into the multiplayer from the startImage result for call of duty ww2 beta The graphics immediately caught my eye, I had been playing BF1 pretty much non-stop from launch till about 6 months ago so i had grown accustomed to BF1 graphics and in WW2 they are different and that is exactly what made me smile.  COD isn't trying to copy Battlefield, they don't need to, they stick to their signature look and that works for them, the numbers don't lie.  The lighting and and weather is spectacular.  I noticed it even more when I was frantically scrambling through a half-demolished french farmhouse trying to flank a few unsuspecting soldiers around the corner.  The environment is  really well populated and react well to the interactions such as running through water or firing into it.  Sledgehammer games really did the research on this one in terms of capturing the time period as well as the locations and costumes.  

Perks & Classes

The Perks & classes might have a different name but they are essentially the same as previous COD titles with loadouts and perks.  Not that there is anything wrong with that.  Why fix something that isn't broken? Image result for call of duty ww2 beta divisions You have the ability to choose between Divisions, for example, Airborne, Infantry, Mountain, which will each give you a different array of perks. Image result for call of duty ww2 beta divisions Basic Training skills give you the ability to carry a primary weapon as a secondary for example.  Nothing to major from previous COD titles Image result for call of duty ww2 beta divisions  

Game Modes

Image result for call of duty ww2 beta divisions During my time with the BETA I did try each mode at least once but playing solo is not as fun so I played what the majority of the party wanted to play.  Lots of Domination was played but I was mostly interested to see what the new "War" mode had in store.  In War mode you will have an attacking and defending team, there are a few loose story based objectives that the attackers need to capture in order to move on to the next eventually reaching the final objective and winning the round if captured.  During the BETA only one war map was available.  What I found that 2 of the objectives namely the Bridge and the Church was really tough to attack with rather tight choking point causing the attacking team to get slaughtered severely if they did not have a plan! Image result for call of duty ww2 beta divisions   It is a refreshing modes with endless possibilities so I really hope that Sledgehammer games can make it work to become a signature game mode for all future COD titles  

Teaching WW2 to a new audience

In a interview one for the developers said that they feel they have a huge responsibility to try and be as accurate in their portrayal of the horrors of WW2 seeing as the last time they ventured into this era was around 10 years ago.  The audience has changed significantly!  To the older audience who were gaming back when COD started out this game will be a way to show how far the franchise has come and to the new audience it will be a benchmark for future titles who want to stake a claim in the WW2-era fast paced shooters.  

Final Verdict

Call of Duty WW2 Beta was very fun and I am sure that old-COD players who have long dreamt of returning to where it all started will excited to get boots on the ground come November.  For players new to the COD franchise prepare yourselves for an immense campaign like we have come to know with all Call of Duty titles (except IW), their signature Zombie mode as well as an amazing fast paced multiplayer that will keep you saying "just one more round" until the early hours of the morning. Yes there are a few things that need to be fixed and changed and Sledgehammer games is doing a good job of ironing that out by means of surveys and BETA sessions.  So if you are not yet convinced on this title because of a few things be sure to fill out those surveys and pester them with what you want to see via social media, because we as the players have the sway and the major companies are inclined to listen if you are willing to speak up! Hope to see you all in future BETA's or in the Trenches or on the beaches come November! Image result for call of duty ww2 beta divisions    
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RagingInfernoZA Takes a closer look at Destiny 2

So the Destiny 2 Beta has come and gone, we were even blessed with a couple of extra days to play the beta and get our fill of some glorious looter shooter action.   Now I’m huge Destiny fan, I love the franchise but I’m also the first to admit that it has flaws. The Destiny 2 beta would then, of course, have its own flaws to contend with. The beta starts you out in the middle of a battle where our beloved Tower is under siege from the Red Legion, a feared Cabal war tribe. If you’ve played the prequel you’d immediately know that Bungie has really sunk their teeth into the story for Destiny 2 which is a big change up for the series which previously had a very stuttered and hard to follow storyline up until the Destiny: The Taken King DLC. The story mission was littered with cut scenes as well as major NPCs popping in to our mission and interacting with us which is a first for Destiny. But while the storytelling has picked up, I felt that during the PvE play I felt constantly underpowered, now I’ll chalk it down to a change in the weapon balancing as well as it being a very limited beta. Bungie have also made changes since the beta build of the game, mainly they increased power ammo drops so you’ll be better equipped to handle some of the tougher enemies. The strike was another example of improved storytelling as well as an introduction to some new boss fight mechanics. I’m optimistic that this is not just a flash in the pan and that we’ll see more dynamic boss fights in D2. I loved the strike, despite feeling underpowered by myself with a full fireteam I felt we were always up to the challenge. The gun play in Destiny is unparalleled, running, jumping, flying around and shooting your enemies and using your abilities to escape or protect your teammates or just HAM on some enemies is just tons of fun. Now we move on to PvP, I like the reduction in team size from 6 players to 4, it feels like it will help balance the game out a bit better as well as make it more competitive. The 2 maps we played (Midtown and Endless Vale) were stunning to look at and pretty fun to play too. Both game modes on display were good fun too, I had some epic countdown games and some furiously fast and frenzied control games. I always have hope for Destiny’s PvP because Bungie are always tweaking and improving it as they go and they learn from past mistakes. So who knows? Maybe D2 can help Bungie break into the esports scene, I certainly hope it can.   So all in all, D2 felt exactly like what it is, a sequel and sequels generally bring improvements and so far, it’s looking good. So I’ll just ask you this... Will you join me fellow Guardians? Will you watch your legend grow? Hopefully I’ll see you guys in the Farm on September 6th. RagingInfernoZA, out.   James Mackay better known as RagingInfernoZA to the Xbox Community is a dedicated Gamer and Xbox Fanatic with a passion for Destiny.
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Titanfall 2 – One Year Later

Titanfall 2, a name that is met with many different reactions, none of them bad.  But what really sprung to my attention when I asked around regarding this title was the fact that so many people would say something along the lines of “ wow I still really really want  to get that” or “ I am definitely getting it once it’s on special”.  So many people love the game without even having played it which is very rare, not many other franchises are able to get that reaction from people but yet Titanfall 2 has not received the attention and fanfare that it truly deserves.  So let’s have a look at Titanfall 2 roughly a year post launch!   Titanfall 2 was created by Respawn and EA which already gives it quite a pedigree, but where I think it met its first stumbling block was when it got released too close to a big Rival in Battlefield 1, secondly not much hype was made of Titanfall 2 in comparison with Battlefield 1 which was also created by EA and DICE.  Never the less Titanfall 2 soldiered on and in good fashion.  Let me get into the details for those of you considering picking up this title.
  • Campaign
Image result for titanfall 2 1080p wallpaper Respawn and EA really listened to the fan after the lack of success of the Original Titanfall, so with that they gave the sequel a single player campaign.  Not only did they give you a roughly 7.5 hour campaign, they gave you 7.5 hours of pure unadulterated magic!  The visuals are spectacular, polished and vibrant!  The characters, be they human or Mech are loveable, yes I love my mech don’t judge me.  You feel a sense of attachment and care for your metal friend!  The story might, at times, be a little cliché but it is easily forgotten when you truly take it what is given to you!  Even if you had to play this game only for the campaign I would recommend it!
  • Multiplayer
Image result for titanfall 2 1080p wallpaper If you haven’t gone out and bought Titanfall 2 yet, and you are still reading this article then this section should make you jump up and get it.  Multiplayer is where Titanfall 2 truly stands head and shoulders above the rest, it is simply intoxicating!  As a pilot you have a few abilities which I won’t get into too much but it creates a fluidity of motion that can only be compared to Mirror’s Edge but even more fast paced and accurate.  You can seamlessly go from grappling up a building to jumping to a wall, wallrunning, jump while cloaked into an amazing execution.  Did I mention the amazing ability to use Mech robots?  With the creators ditching the old Titan loadout system for a more distinct variety of Titans each with their own skill set it made for a more balanced and fair fights.  The multiplayer experience also offers a lot in terms of continuing to play, with lots of unlockables etc.  Servers are stable I have been able to count on one hand the amount of issues I have experienced over my time with Titanfall 2.  Matchmaking is also very good, I never felt like I was completely out played by an opposing team which means the balancing is really well managed.  With around 14 game modes and a always increasing plan on providing more in the future this game has really got a good recipe going.
  • Season pass/ DLC’s
Image result for titanfall 2 1080p wallpaper Ahhh what can I say about this topic, many people hate the idea of paying extra for premium features others agree with it that only the hardcore players should be willing to spend extra money on features to make them better.  With Titles like Battlefield and the COD franchise sticking to the Paid-DLC approach it has seen, especially Battlefield 1 in South Africa, a rift between players, many servers are not used and stand empty because not enough season pass owners play on them, for various reasons.  If you are the only one of your friends with a season pass, playing on DLC servers can be very lonely.  Yet again Titanfall 2 has the jump on the competition.  It delivers regular and meaningful updates and DLC’s to ALL players.  Yes you read correctly all DLC’s are free to everyone who owns the game.  Each DLC to date has produced new maps, Titans, pilots and even a game mode!  This is very good for the game health as you won’t close off your player base behind paid-walls.
  • Conclusion
Image result for titanfall 2 1080p Roughly one year later and Titanfall 2 is only improving, it might have been a little slow out of the blocks but ever since that it has been ever improving and producing good content that really treats its players to a amazing experience.  This title puts a smile on my face and makes my heart race every time I start it up.  I will enjoy it until the next iteration makes its appearance and I will be sure to grab it. Titanfall 2 might be considered as a less of a success compared to larger titles like Battlefield and Call of Duty but it is a extremely well made and polished game!  It has a smaller player base than its rivals but I have never had problem finding a match to play.  For anyone who has not yet experienced the exhilaration of calling down your first Titanfall, when you play it you will know what I mean, this game is a gem and you truly need this as part of your library! Hope to see you all on the battleground Pilots. PS : if you haven't heard yet TitanFall 2 is heading to the EA ACCESS vault really soon!
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