United Front Gaming http://unitedfrontgaming.com Valkyria Revolution <p>Reviewed By: Andre Thomas<br />System: Xbox One (Also on PS4, PSVita) <br />Genre: Action RPG<br />Rated: T<br />Players: 1<br />Cost: $39.99<br />Release Date: 06/27/2017<br />Publisher: SEGA<br />Developer: Media.Vision<br /><br />There&rsquo;s a reason that certain games are popular in different parts of the world. Certain aesthetics, gameplay mechanics, naming conventions &ndash; really it comes down to our cultural differences/preferences. It should come to no surprise that franchises like Call of Duty sell well in the Americas. That said, there are genres that are genuinely well received no matter where you go&hellip;<br /><br />SEGA&rsquo;s Valkyria series has a cult following here and abroad. It made sense for them to port the latest title, Valkyria Revolution, to North America; though it won&rsquo;t sell as many copies as it did in Japan, it still should do well. The question is, can it stand in the same light as its predecessors when it eschews some of its staples (like turn-based combat)? I believe it could, as long as those new elements are properly polished.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/valkyria-revolution-screen-2.jpg" alt="valkyria-revolution-screen-2" /><br /><br />Valkyria Revolution&rsquo;s background is reminiscent of Victorian England (during the European industrial revolution). Set in a period centered on an impending war between two factions, we get a sense of d&eacute;j&agrave; vu &ndash; there is an economic disparity between the small kingdom of Jutland and the tyrannical Ruzi Empire. Because of this, Jutland is forced to liberate itself from Ruzi&rsquo;s grip via combat. The only problem, other than the fact Jutland is outgunned, is that the Ruzi are allied with a Valkyria. Thankfully, Jutland has an elite team of warriors who utilize Ragnite &ndash; a mineral/energy source that can infuse itself with weapons, technology, and magic &ndash; to combat strong foes. <br /><br />The premise isn&rsquo;t anything new, though the hidden motives amongst our heroes is interesting. For some, it&rsquo;s all about heroism and looking out for those who can&rsquo;t defend themselves. Others are out for revenge. I mean, from the beginning to the end it&rsquo;s all about this band of heroes and how their secrets could ruin their chances of defeating the Ruzi. A small gripe I had was in how everything is told via a flashback. While the plot twists are somewhat predictable, due to how the story rolls out, it&rsquo;s the character development that really shines. This is also true when it comes to the gameplay.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/valkyria-revolution-screen-4.jpg" alt="valkyria-revolution-screen-4" /><br /><br />I loved the &ldquo;circles&rdquo; feature in how it helps you focus on every character within your party. When people within your squadron have things in common, they tend to meet up outside of missions and discuss the many facets of their life. Whether it is something small like the women discussing what they find attractive in a man or characters consoling one another as they deal with the death and destruction that results from war, it&rsquo;s always worth your time. Not everybody here wants to fight and it becomes evident as the game goes along. So much so, that&rsquo;ll you begin to empathize with them as you pick who you take into battle; I would actually choose people who seemed built for battle over the characters who feared for their lives on a regular basis. They clearly are not real, but the time I spent with them in-game made me feel as if I was rebelling with them. I wanted their success as if I would benefit from it&hellip;beyond completing just completing the game.</p> <p>Though I enjoyed the character interactions, I have mixed feelings about Valkyria Revolution&rsquo;s combat system. It allows you to move in real-time, but pauses when issuing attacks to give you time to strategize. The problem is that in this game, these two game styles don&rsquo;t flow together well. In FFXV, for instance, you had to change a setting in order to pause the gameplay. Not only that but it paused even when you weren&rsquo;t attacking. Valkyria Revolution only pauses to issue commands, causing this stop and go gameplay. The combat isn&rsquo;t bad per se, it just isn&rsquo;t always fun, given the frequent stops. <br /><br /><strong>Quick tip:</strong> <em>choose your parties attacks and style of play before you jump into battle. Because it&rsquo;s easy to just focus on your character, I often forgot about checking on my teammates. This made some fights difficult as they&rsquo;d last longer than they needed to, especially when facing certain bosses. </em></p> <p><em></em><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/valkyria-revolution-screen.jpg" alt="valkyria-revolution-screen" /><br /><br />That aside, what really set me over was the art style and voice acting. I tend to give English dubs of Japanese voice over work some slack. As an avid anime fan, I understand how difficult it is to find great voice actors and/or a proper reworking of the script for Western audiences. So I wasn&rsquo;t too upset with what I heard while playing. Plus, the music is so incredible that it actually helped the voice work; a dramatic scene was more so, given the score. But where the game lost me was in the art design. The new GOUACHE rendering engine gives everything a unique, paint on canvas vibe. It also looks dated and sometimes, out of focus. There&rsquo;s no weight to the lines, emphasis isn&rsquo;t put on things that may need finer details (like people&rsquo;s faces) and it lacks the appeal garnered from the cel shaded look of old &ndash; which is funny considering I just said the visuals seem dated. It fares better during cut scenes, aside from some bad animations. &nbsp;</p> <p>There are genres that are genuinely well received no matter where you go. Because of this, publishers aren&rsquo;t afraid of porting over select titles. There is an inherent risk though. At lot of the time with JRPGs, the issue comes from being stagnate. They are stuck on what worked in the past while ignoring new staples in the genre. What&rsquo;s interesting here is that Valkyria Revolution isn&rsquo;t as entertaining as it could have been due to newer features, not old ones. The combat isn&rsquo;t great, the new engine only seems to provide bad animations and dated visuals, and the new plot/setting isn&rsquo;t very strong. The character development is great and I liked the music. Unfortunately, that isn&rsquo;t enough to warrant the 50 or so hours of gameplay. I admire and respect SEGA for trying to change the landscape of their franchise (even if it&rsquo;s only a spinoff), but maybe they should have had Media.Vision stick with the old adage &ldquo;if it ain&rsquo;t broke, don&rsquo;t fix it&rdquo;. Or at the very least, don&rsquo;t make it worse! <br /><br />Gameplay: 6<br />Valkyria Revolution isn&rsquo;t a bad game. It just fails to live up to it&rsquo;s potential. <br /><br />Graphics: 6<br />The painterly look doesn&rsquo;t work for me; at times it&rsquo;s ok, sans some bad animations. <br /><br />Sound: 7<br />The music was great!<br /><br />Replay Value: 6<br />If one can get over the stop and go combat and ok story, I can see someone coming back for more. <br /><br />Final Score: <br /><br />6.3<br /><br /></p> /microsoft/post/valkyria-revolution Tue, 27 Jun 2017 12:00:00 The Surge <p>Reviewed By: Andre Thomas<br />System: Xbox One (Also on PS4, PC) <br />Genre: Action RPG<br />Rated: M<br />Players: 1<br />Cost: $59.99<br />Release Date: 05/16/2017<br />Publisher: Focus Home Interactive<br />Developer: Deck13 Interactive<br /><br />Usually when were sent titles to review, the choice of who review&rsquo;s what is due to our availability at that time. We&rsquo;ll lean here or there depending on our preferences of course. But for the most part, we review whatever is put in front of us. That&rsquo;s not the case with The Surge. When I was presented the opportunity to review it, I gladly accepted. The main reason: I&rsquo;ve never played a Dark/Demon Souls game&hellip;<br /><br />This, as a writer, had me excited because it&rsquo;s easier to be impartial to a game I have zero experience with. Not only that, but as a gamer, it was a chance for me to branch out and try something new. For those of you who have played this title, you know how much of a frustrating surprise I was in for.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/the-surge-review-screen.jpg" alt="the-surge-review-screen" /><br /><br />The Surge is constantly being called a &ldquo;sci-fi souls&rsquo;&rdquo; game mainly due to its combat being so similar/extremely difficult. You are Warren, a survivor in a fading world where giant robots and men in mech suits looking to kill you. It isn&rsquo;t as generic as it sounds, though the plot is a bit buried by the overwhelming need to survive. There is information for those who seek it, everyone else will learn what&rsquo;s going on after spending hours in this dystopian future. Of course, by that time who is really worrying about the plot? I was too busy screaming at my TV as another foe got the better of me. <br /><br />It wasn&rsquo;t too difficult to learn the ropes concerning combat. The frustration came from how tough the game got as I went along. The thing is though, I was having a good time. Some of my enjoyment can be contributed to the sci-fi backdrop. We&rsquo;re used to seeing this type of thing in a medieval or fantasy based game that it made The Surge seemed more interesting. This also lends to the gameplay. Battling enemies using Warren&rsquo;s exoskeleton, where you can amputate their limbs to use as weapons, sounds great on paper. It&rsquo;s even better in game. Deck13 implemented a great system that allows you to target different body parts of enemies. Dodging attacks, countering &ndash; the moment to moment fighting his fun but being able to customize your suit with upgrades from enemies add to the excitement.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/the-surge-review-screen-2.jpg" alt="the-surge-review-screen-2" /><br /><br />Exploring a new world is always exciting. The same thing can be said of the seemingly abandoned corporate complex Warden wakes up in. That is until you run into a set of enemies who don&rsquo;t fight fair. And by fair, I mean they broadcast their presence. I don&rsquo;t know how many times I got ready for, what I thought, was going to be a one on one fight and somebody behind me jumps in. Oddly enough, I found the spontaneity to be one of my favorite parts of the game. Again, it frustrated me; I had plenty of moments when I yelled obscenities from pure shock of being attacked out of nowhere. The pure randomness of their spawning makes every corner more nerve wrecking, just hoping that something with better armor than yourself could be waiting to destroy you. <br /><br />There&rsquo;s give and take. Being able to literally see the piece of gear on the enemy you are fighting and dismembering them to take it from them is just awesome. It&rsquo;s one thing to hope a drop happens, it&rsquo;s much more inspiring to fight when you see the prize ahead of you. That said, none of it comes easy and you will spend plenty of times restarting from a checkpoint. I promise you that it happens to the best of us, so just hit &ldquo;load from checkpoint&rdquo; and go right back at it!</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/the-surge-review-screen-4.jpg" alt="the-surge-review-screen-4" /><br /><br />What hurts The Surge is how little character development we get out of Warren. I tried to be understanding of the man&rsquo;s plight. I mean, come on, the guy woke up surround by dead people and homicidal robots. But something about him as a character just bored me. If I am going to run through hours of gameplay with a character, especially in a game as difficult as this, it helps to have a story that&rsquo;s compelling enough to push our protagonist forward. As I said before, the game doesn&rsquo;t take long to become a super difficult hack and slash type of game. After a while, it starts to turn into a grind for better gear as opposed to an epic story of survival. <br /><br />I can already hear the rpg fanboys screaming &ldquo;Well duh, Dre! Grinding is a part of every RPG.&rdquo; Though I&rsquo;m new to Soul-like games, I&rsquo;m aware of the trappings of RPGs. I have lost countless hours grinding for gear, but at least in the past, there was an ultimate goal. It should not take you twenty hours to learn about who your character is and why does the world look as bad as it does. It takes almost an entire day to even get some sort of depth out of Warren&rsquo;s story. With all the best fights in the world, it means nothing if gamers get bored with hacking and slashing. The reward on the other side is so worth it in the end. It just takes all day to get there.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/the-surge-review-screen-3.jpg" alt="the-surge-review-screen-3" /><br /><br />All and all, I enjoyed my time with The Surge. Though it has a mindless first half, the increased AI&rsquo;s difficulty and diversity in the enemies made turning around every corner exciting. That said, I&rsquo;ll be leaving this subgenre to its fans. I&rsquo;m glad I was able to experience The Surge &ndash;&nbsp; it was fun to get away from medieval caves and into the future with violent tech. I&rsquo;m just not so keen on this level of difficulty without a worthwhile reason via the plot. <br /><br />Gameplay: 9<br />The Surge is great. The story is a bit of a letdown early one and it can be crazy tough. That said, it&rsquo;s very entertaining. <br /><br />Graphics: 9<br />It&rsquo;s certainly easy on the eyes. <br /><br />Sounds: 8<br />The sound effects are cool and the soundtrack is decent. <br /><br />Replay Value: 5 <br />As fun as it was, there is no way I am playing through this game again.<br /><br />Final Score: <br /><br />7.8<br /><br /><br /></p> /microsoft/post/the-surge Mon, 19 Jun 2017 12:00:00 The Darwin Project is Coming to the Xbox One! <p>Written By: Kenneth Seward Jr.<br />Date: 06/14/2017<br /><br />Scavengers Studio revealed that their upcoming battle royal title, The Darwin Project, was coming to the Xbox One!<br /><br />During Microsoft&rsquo;s E3 press conference, we got a brief look at what The Darwin Project is all about. Taking place in a post-apocalyptic landscape in the Northern Canadian Rockies right before an impending ice storm, a new game of sorts is announced. This game (or project) challenges participants to fight each other while trying to survive the cold. It&rsquo;s basically, Battle Royal/The Hunger Games but without the story constraints; this seems to be purely for entertainment as opposed to punishing a group of people.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/the-darwin-project-screen-2.jpg" alt="the-darwin-project-screen-2" /><br /><br />The Darwin Project is a third-person experience with an emphasis on survival. Players must survive the cold while tracking opponents, crafting tools, setting traps and so on. One of the more interesting aspects is the game&rsquo;s Show Director mode. This mode allows a player to survey the entire arena aboard an invincible drone. From here they&rsquo;ll be able to influence the outcome of a match via tools that are slowly unlocked. Like in The Hunger Games, the director will be able to lock down zones, call in airstrikes, and basically assist/hinder players as they see fit.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/the-darwin-project-screen.jpg" alt="the-darwin-project-screen" /><br /><br />As of right now, The Darwin Project is slated for launch on the Xbox One and PC in spring 2018. It&rsquo;ll be joining The Culling and Playerunknown&rsquo;s Battlegrounds &ndash; two more titles where the object is to be kill a bunch of strangers online. Fun times! <br /><br /></p> /microsoft/post/the-darwin-project-is-coming-to-the-xbox-one Wed, 14 Jun 2017 12:00:00 PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds is Making it's Way to Xbox One! <p>Written By: Kenneth Seward Jr.<br />Date: 06/14/2017<br /><br />Microsoft seems to really dig battle royal-like games. At least, that&rsquo;s what it seems like given recent announcements at E3. Their latest move &ndash; PlayerUnknown&rsquo;s Battlegrounds is launching exclusively on Xbox One&rsquo;s Game Preview Program later this year!<br /><br />Developed by Bluehole, Inc., PlayerUnknown&rsquo;s Battlegrounds drops players into a realistic 8x8 km island where they&rsquo;ll scavenge for weapons and gear before battling each other to the death. Check out the trailer below to see what I mean: <br /><br /><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/m0Tnp-3W3z4" width="854" height="480"></iframe><br /><br /><em>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re super excited to welcome PLAYERUNKNOWN&rsquo;S BATTLEGROUNDS to the Xbox One Game Preview Program!&rdquo;</em> said Chris Charla, Director of ID@Xbox, Microsoft.&nbsp; <em>&ldquo;Since its launch on PC earlier this year, we&rsquo;ve been enthusiastic players and it&rsquo;s been awesome to see its meteoric rise to popularity! We&rsquo;re eager to collaborate with the team at Bluehole to bring PUBG to the Xbox One community, especially with console launch exclusivity.&rdquo;</em><br /><br />Console launch exclusivity&hellip;sounds like Battlegrounds will eventually end up on the PS4. Unless this it&rsquo;s releasing alongside the Xbox One X (in which case it stills sounds like a temporary thing). Whatever the case may be, Xbox fans will be able to get their hands on this title in the near future. <br /><br /><br /><br /></p> /microsoft/post/playerunknowns-battlegrounds-is-making-its-way-to-xbox-one Wed, 14 Jun 2017 12:00:00 Black Desert is Coming to Xbox One! <p>Written By: Kenneth Seward Jr.<br />Date: 06/04/2017<br /><br />A bunch of PC games are headed to the Xbox One. This included PearlAbyss&rsquo; MMORPG Black Desert. This action-packed game already had full gamepad support &ndash; it makes sense that it would end up on a console soon or later&hellip;<br /><br />What&rsquo;s really interesting, besides the game itself, is that Black Desert looks to be a console exclusive. PearlAbyss CEO Jung Kyungin stated that <em>&ldquo;[They] chose Xbox because of its hardware performance, market penetration, and marketing power. Especially, Microsoft has promised us with full marketing support and has actively engaged with us from the beginning. That is why we believe that Xbox is the best console partner for Black Desert&rdquo;.</em> While that statement doesn&rsquo;t entirely exclude a PS4 release, as of right now, it&rsquo;s only coming to the Microsoft&rsquo;s consoles. <br /><br /><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/XYP57phnIgQ" width="854" height="480"></iframe><br /><br />Black Desert has been a hit with gamers for years (it was released in Korea in 2014). That said, I personally haven&rsquo;t had the pleasure of playing it. I&rsquo;m sure this will be rectified when it lands on the Xbox One early next year! <br /><br /></p> /microsoft/post/black-desert-is-coming-to-xbox-one Wed, 14 Jun 2017 12:00:00 Prey <p>Reviewed By: Kenneth Seward Jr.<br />System: Xbox One (Also on PS4, PC) <br />Genre: FPS<br />Rated: M<br />Players: 1<br />Cost: $59.99<br />Release Date: 05/05/2017<br />Publisher: Bethesda <br />Developer: Arkane Studios <br /><br />When I first heard that Prey was being developed by Arkane Studios, I was both excited and afraid. I was excited because Arkane is a great developer who isn&rsquo;t afraid to try new things. I was afraid because this new Prey seemed nothing like its predecessor; I didn&rsquo;t want them to use a popular property to prop up a new franchise. After spending a significate time in the final product, I&rsquo;m afraid to say that my fears were warranted&hellip;<br /><br />Prey takes place in an alternate future timeline &ndash; one where the failed assassination attempt of JFK sparked an accelerated Space Race. Our extended presence in space led to some interesting events in history, a major development being an encounter with hostile aliens called the Typhon. Exhibiting special abilities (like mind control), the aliens are contained rather than destroyed. Fast forward to the year 2025 and a company called TranStar builds the Talos 1 research/space station. Its sole purpose: to develop advances in neuroscience so humans can utilize the Typhon&rsquo;s abilities.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/prey-review-screen.jpg" alt="prey-review-screen" /><br /><br />This is where our protagonist Morgan Yu comes in. As a part of the research team on Talos, he was tasked with undergoing tests that would alter his brain*. He would take what&rsquo;s called Neuromods to gain specific skills from the different types of Typhon. After a short period of time, the neuromods would be removed (I assume for further testing) resulting in Morgan losing some of his memory. This is one of the reasons that, when the Typhon inevitably escape their cages to wreak havoc across the station, Morgan has no idea what&rsquo;s going on.<br /><br />Prey starts out promising but fizzles once things get going. Outside of the very beginning and the very end, the story is conveyed through scattered emails and audio files, most of which dealing with past happenings aboard the station. Similar games normally use these mechanics to deliver secondary information that enhances the main conflict. The newspaper clippings about missing persons in Resident Evil 7 help to establish its dark atmosphere; these maniacs have been abducting people for some time now. They aren&rsquo;t to be trifled with. Arkane used this method for delivering more than just the lore and backstory, instead used for Prey&rsquo;s main plot. &nbsp;<br /><br />As expected, the results vary. The side quests were really interesting in that they revealed information about the Talos 1 crew. Some people died heroically, others weren&rsquo;t so lucky, and some were into some crazy stuff. Figuring out what happened was fun and normally led to new weapons or useful materials (more on that later). The things is, because of the nature of side quests, I was ok with missing a few during my playthrough. They&rsquo;re optional. The game&rsquo;s plot isn&rsquo;t optional&hellip;or at least, it shouldn&rsquo;t be treated as so. Regulating key moments through emails that can be missed isn&rsquo;t smart. Not only that, it can be boring to have sit and read through them. A lot of the things that would invoke a sense of urgency, like the impending slaughter of former colleagues or the threat of the Typhon reaching Earth, were undone by the way the critical information was delivered.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/prey-review-screen-4.jpg" alt="prey-review-screen-4" /><br /><br />To be fair, there&rsquo;s no way to miss certain plot points. Players will ultimately walk away knowing what went down. It&rsquo;s just that there is a lot riding on what the player knows, from moment to moment gameplay to the plot twist at the end (which I feel is made better when the audience is fully aware of what&rsquo;s going on). Holding everything but the scraps for the start and finish felt uneven at best and sporadic at worst. <br /><br />What&rsquo;s really baffling is how mundane Prey is. The game features all of the elements we&rsquo;ve grown to expect from this subgenre. The corporation that may or may not be evil yet is the catalyst for reprehensible behavior, a friendly AI whose motives are questionable, a space station in various states of ruin &ndash; you know, the basics. The problem is that it doesn&rsquo;t do anything unique with them. Prey follows a worn formula to the point of eschewing its identity. Ironically, that wasn&rsquo;t a problem for the game this one is named after. Arkane excluded nearly everything that made the first Prey stand out, replacing what was unique with a &ldquo;by-the-numbers&rdquo; experience. This drastic undoing of a anything remotely related to Prey (or the canceled Prey 2) makes one wonder if it didn&rsquo;t share its namesake would gamers be excited for this title&hellip;</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/prey-review-screen-2.jpg" alt="prey-review-screen-2" /><br /><br />All that said, this doesn&rsquo;t mean that the game isn&rsquo;t worth playing at all. Battling the Typhon can be fun at times, especially when you go up against the Mimics. Unlike their larger brethren, these guys are rather smart. Instead of charging right at you, they&rsquo;ll hide in plain sight. This is done thanks to their ability to turn into inanimate objects like trashcans or that nice box of bullets you so desperately need. There was this one time where I thought I had outsmarted one of them. After setting up a turret I went to an adjacent room to lure the pesky critter to its doom &ndash; I had run out of ammo and didn&rsquo;t want to use my wrench. When it came into the room and noticed the turret, the mimic immediately turned into a coffee mug. It then waited till the turret rotated to one side before transforming back into itself and escaping into the hallway.</p> <p>There&rsquo;s also the Neuromods system for upgrading Morgan. At first the only things you&rsquo;ll be able to unlock skills and attributes that fall on the human side things: hacking machines, more health, etc. Later though, you&rsquo;ll be able to unlock Typhon skills, like the ability to shapeshift. I once pulled the same trick on an enemy that the Mimic did on my turret. After failing to sneak past a group of Phantoms, the more humanoid versions of the alien, I ran into a room and quickly transformed into a gun (there was one sitting by a body, so I used it for reference). The Phantoms rushed in, looked around a bit, and then went back to what they were doing. It was exhilarating.<br /><br />As you build up your arsenal of Typhon skills, the aliens will start to see you as a bigger threat. At one point they&rsquo;ll send the largest of their group, the Nightmare, to hunt you down. This giant can kill you with one hit and will follow you throughout parts of the station. The best course of action is usually to hide until it goes away, though you can try to kill it. Making matters worse is that the station itself will turn on you. Turrets, detecting Typhon in your system, will fire on you. If a human survivor notices you using one of these abilities, they&rsquo;ll fight you. I have mixed feelings about it given how the game seemed to discourage the use of the cooler abilities. However, this built in deterrence does tend to keep things from becoming too easy.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/prey-review-screen-3.jpg" alt="prey-review-screen-3" /><br /><br />Speaking of easy, a nifty crafting system lightens the burden of having to find bullets. Talos 1 is full of useless junk that can be recycled into their base materials. These materials can then be used with a fabricator (think space age 3D printer) to make items like health kits and bullets. Of course, you&rsquo;ll need find different fabrication plans or blueprints to make them. With all the necessary parts the crafting system becomes a real boon. Because the game can be rather tough at times, being able to create needed items helps take the edge off.&nbsp; <br /><br />The story, or lack thereof, is the main sticking point for me. Unfortunately, this affects the gameplay. The plot is the reason players can expect a mundane jaunt around the space station. Backtracking to locations to collect an item or two before being greeted by more enemies is the way it goes. There are some entertaining elements. The different skills Morgan can unlock allow for multiple options for bypassing many of the game&rsquo;s obstacles, which in turn can change the game&rsquo;s outcome. The side quests were also interesting. Beyond that though, there&rsquo;s isn&rsquo;t much here that hasn&rsquo;t been done better in other titles. And while that isn&rsquo;t a bad thing (if it isn&rsquo;t broke don&rsquo;t fix it) the lack of a specific voice beyond a few cool tricks makes Prey feel like a game I can pass on. You know, as opposed to the highly-anticipated game it was marketed as. <br /><br />Gameplay: 7<br />There are a few good mechanics, most of which were advertised in trailers and such. There isn&rsquo;t much more to the game and the plot isn&rsquo;t great. That said, Prey can be fun at times. <br /><br />Graphics: 8<br />Prey is visually appealing. Not as much as say Dishonored, but it isn&rsquo;t bad either. <br /><br />Sound: 8<br />The game&rsquo;s score and voice work is pretty good. <br /><br />Replay Value: 4<br />The only reason to replay Prey is to check out the different endings. Personally, that&rsquo;s not enough for me. &nbsp;<br /><br />Final Score:<br /><br />6.8<br /><br /><em>*Morgan Yu can be a male or a female. I chose the male version, which is why I say &ldquo;he&rdquo; throughout the review. </em><br />&nbsp;<br /></p> /microsoft/post/prey Tue, 30 May 2017 12:00:00 The Culling Lands on Xbox One Next Month! <p>Written By: Kenneth Seward Jr.<br />Date: 05/25/2017<br /><br />Xaviant has announced the launch date for their battle royal game, The Culling on the Xbox One. Console gamers looking to kill in the name of survival and glory, can do so next week&hellip;<br /><br />We were told that The Culling was coming to the Xbox One&rsquo;s Game Preview program <a class="external" href="http://www.unitedfrontgaming.com/pc/post/3685/the-culling-gets-its-biggest-update-to-date-">back in January</a>. Since then, we haven&rsquo;t heard much; outside of new updates and fixes for the PC version. Today though, we got a press release explaining how things have progress.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/the-culling-xbox-one-screen-2.jpg" alt="the-culling-xbox-one-screen-2" /><br /><em><br />&ldquo;We are thrilled to bring battle royale to Xbox One with The Culling,&rdquo;</em> said Xaviant CEO and Founder Michael McMain. <em>&ldquo;Our team has put a tremendous amount of effort into controls, optimization, and balance to make sure the Xbox experience is top-notch. We couldn&rsquo;t be more excited to use feedback from Game Preview players to take The Culling to the next level.&rdquo;</em><br /><br />Making the experience top-notch is key. That&rsquo;s not to say The Culling <a class="external" href="http://unitedfrontgaming.com/pc/post/3315/ufg-goes-hands-on-with-the-culling">wasn&rsquo;t fun</a>. If just that console players aren&rsquo;t as forgiving when it comes to playing games that are still being developed.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/tT2udNkjPJI" width="854" height="480"></iframe></p> <p>The Culling will hit the Xbox One on June 2nd. We&rsquo;ll be sure to keep you abreast of interesting information about this title as things progress.</p> /microsoft/post/the-culling-lands-on-xbox-one-next-month Thu, 25 May 2017 12:00:00 RiME <p>Reviewed By: Kenneth Seward Jr.<br />System: Xbox One (Also on PS4, PC, later on Switch) <br />Genre: Puzzle/Adventure<br />Rated: E10+<br />Players: 1<br />Cost: $29.99<br />Release Date: 05/26/2017<br />Publisher: Grey Box<br />Developer: Tequila Works<br /><br />A young boy wakes up on a mysterious island, apparently thrown from a ship during a violent storm. His tattered clothes and the lofting waves are the only things that feel familiar. Stumbling to his feet, he surveys his surroundings. It seemed like any other island he might have passed during his travels. Except for the large tower in the distance&hellip;<br /><br />RiME&rsquo;s premise sounds like something we&rsquo;ve heard before. Plenty of games start with a protagonist who ends up in a strange place after some calamity. Most of the time they have no recollection of what led to their predicament. Witnessing an injustice, hearing about a random stranger&rsquo;s plight, a mystical artifact beckoning them to a nearby town &ndash; there&rsquo;s usually something that piques the character&rsquo;s interest, allowing them to regain their memory while dealing with current events. This isn&rsquo;t the case with RiME. At the onset of this young boy&rsquo;s adventure, sure. There are some similarities. The moment you take control though, things change in an extraordinary way.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/rime-screen-5.jpg" alt="rime-screen-5" /><br /><br />There is very little exposition if any in RiME. The boy never speaks and there&rsquo;s no text (sans a button prompt or two). The narrative is conveyed partly through the environments; ancient ruins are adorned with murals that give vague hints. Colors imply intent or meaning, some of which aren&rsquo;t apparent right away. Statues are positioned in ways that invoke a sense of wonder. Even the puzzles that temporarily impede progress feature thematic aesthetics. Most of what is seen has a very specific reason for being. None of it will make much sense early on. That said, as you make your way around the island, things will slowly become clear. <br /><br />The narrative is also conveyed through the game&rsquo;s wonderful soundtrack. You see, though the island is pretty much an open environment, the game is broken up into levels. Each level has a unique score singling different feelings. The music also accompanies the boy&rsquo;s experience, swelling when his emotions are high. It didn&rsquo;t necessarily prompt me to feel a certain way while playing. Rather, they pushed whatever I was feeling at the time to the surface; the game has some powerful moments, often sad, that makes it difficult not to sympathize with the boy&rsquo;s predicament. &nbsp;</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/rime-review-screen-3.jpg" alt="rime-review-screen-3" /><br /><br />Nearly everything in the game is there to peel back the layers of this mystery. This is seen in the gameplay as well. Take the puzzles for instance. Getting past locked doors, moving platforms into place to reach a new area, and bypassing certain dangers all require a bit of logic. Nothing too drastic though; even people who don&rsquo;t play puzzle-based games shouldn&rsquo;t find things too difficult. This is partly due to the early parts of RiME, which help to establish a language of sorts. It teaches you, without any real prompting/words, how to interact with the environment. This is also due to how the story unfolds. Without going into any details that might spoil things, the puzzles aren&rsquo;t just there to pad the experience. Their solutions become more apparent as the story beings to piece together. After a certain point, the choices I made while trying to solve each puzzle just felt right. &nbsp;<br /><br />There is so much to take in while playing RiME. Whether it be the interesting landscape or the symbols etched into the walls. That said, it was the mystery of this boy&rsquo;s past and present that made it impossible to put the controller down. Just who is that cloaked figure who watches from afar, only to disappear when you get close? Why am I following a magical fox? And what&rsquo;s up with these ghoulish entities that flee from me one second and chase me the next? It&rsquo;s all very intriguing. This is a good thing considering how long it takes to before things start making sense. The levels themselves aren&rsquo;t too long. However, if one were to get stuck on a tricky puzzle, I can see them losing interest. Not entirely, just enough to put the controller down for a while. With no words or text to help guide the experience, it&rsquo;s understandable for things to grow a bit stale. <br /><br />I would encourage them to keep going though. The ending is worth any slow points they might encounter. And while I&rsquo;m sure some will be able to guess what happened before the final scene, the reveal is still pretty awesome. What was astonishing though, was how the game doubled down after the credits rolled by allowing you to select which level to return to (I&rsquo;ll let you figure out why). Or how the game&rsquo;s collectibles &ndash; puzzle pieces, trinkets, secret images &ndash; help to tell an even larger story. There&rsquo;s so much here that I feel the first playthrough was just scratching the surface.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/rime-review-screen-2.jpg" alt="rime-review-screen-2" /><br /><br />Ultimately what I want to get across is that RiME is an amazing experience. It starts out a little slow, but is very rewarding for those that stick with it. I was far more entertained than I thought I would be. Tequila Works has outdone themselves, easily becoming one of my favorite developers. I hope they continue to experiment. Continue to tell great stories. And continue to impress in all of their future endeavors!&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br />Gameplay: 10<br />A great story told in a unconventional way and excellent gameplay = RiME being one of the best game I&rsquo;ve played this year. <br /><br />Graphics: 10<br />Simple gorgeous. Interesting note: they seem to get better as the game progresses. <br /><br />Sound: 10<br />There virtually no voice work outside of a hum or yell. That said, the soundtrack is stellar and the ambient sounds help sell the experience. <br /><br />Replay Value: 9<br />RiME gets better with each play through; the collectibles, once acquired, tell a secondary story. I don&rsquo;t expect people to constantly revisit the game, just enough to see all there is to see. <br /><br />Final Score: <br /><br />9.8<br /><br /></p> /microsoft/post/rime Thu, 25 May 2017 12:00:00 NBA Playgrounds <p>Reviewed By: Andre Thomas<br />System: Xbox One (Also on PS4, Switch, PC) <br />Genre: Sports<br />Rated: E<br />Players: 1-4 (2-4 Online)<br />Cost: $19.99<br />Release Date: 05/09/2017<br />Publisher: Mad Dog Games<br />Developer: Saber Interactive<br />&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br />I remember growing up as a kid, having diverse sports titles to play on any given system. Basketball, football, hockey &ndash; you name it, there were different versions of each sport that brought their own spin to the genre. Nowadays, thanks to the monopolizing of licensing deals via select companies, we don&rsquo;t see nearly as many sports titles being released. As cool as it would be to have another arcade styled NFL game (or a game that&rsquo;s able to fairly compete with Madden), EA&rsquo;s grip on the license keeps that from happening. Thankfully, that&rsquo;s not the case with NBA titles&hellip;<br /><br />Enter Saber Interactive&rsquo;s NBA Playgrounds, a title that looks to bring back the days of arcade basketball fun. You know, with cartoonish NBA stars competing in 2-on-2 games on an assortment of courts &ndash; at first glance, it would seem just like the classic arcade title, NBA Jam. Its look is as about as far as the comparisons go though. NBA Playgrounds seemed to go for the more casual fan of basketball while, at the same time, provide a challenge for long time enthusiasts. The big head ball players make it easy to feel like you can jump directly in and be a pro at this game. I was one of the many victims who assumed I could just hold the turbo button and go for broke until I got shut down at the rim.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/nba-playgrounds-review-screen-2.jpg" alt="nba-playgrounds-review-screen-2" /><br /><br />This was a good thing at first. Being able to jump in and play made the game approachable to people who&rsquo;ve never played arcade basketball games. It was able cool to be able to get better, utilizing skills learned from basketball sims like NBA 2K. That said, it wasn&rsquo;t long before I noticed how these too concepts weren&rsquo;t working the way they should. Taking shooting for instance. With most basketball titles, the release point of the shot is extremely important because it dictates your chances of getting the ball into the basket. Games that have this featured usually do a good job of explaining when to release the ball. That&rsquo;s not the case here. NBA Playgrounds offers a basic tutorial on how to shoot, but it isn&rsquo;t as clear as it should be. After each shot, the rim shows you if the timing of your release was good/bad but it never seems consistent. Throw in the fact that the timing varies from player to player based on their position on the court and you can see how shooting three&rsquo;s can be frustrating at times. &nbsp;<br /><br />What makes this worse is that perfect shots, for those who somehow master the inconsistency, reward the player with a more points. A three pointer nets four points, sometimes. This inconsistence can be also seen in the arcade side of things. Building up a meter via blocking shots/other skill based moves, leads to power ups. The thing is, these powerups are random in nature. One second you&rsquo;ll have something decent like increased speed. The next you&rsquo;ll get a boost to your three pointers, making all of them worth six points. The game can feel more chaotic than it needed to be, is what I&rsquo;m getting at.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/nba-playgrounds-review-screen.jpg" alt="nba-playgrounds-review-screen" /><br /><br />What also hurts this game is the lack of fluidity between events. Every time someone scores, for example, there is an odd pause that doesn&rsquo;t allow you to pass the ball in. In a sport like basketball where the game is extremely fast paced, stoppage can literally change the entire momentum of a game. In a pure NBA simulation title, the game only stops for free throws, timeouts, and reviews of shots in crucial moments in the game. But in a game with none of that stuff, what is the point of stopping the ball every time somebody scores? I can understand the need to keep players from being overwhelmed, epically if the other team gets getting power ups. But because the game doesn&rsquo;t move as it should, the moment to moment gameplay can wear on the experience. <br /><br />With all of that said, I still had fun at times. Doing super dunks, forcefully stealing the ball, making an impossible shot (when you&rsquo;re lucky enough to do so) harkens back to the days when arcade sports titles were numerous. This isn&rsquo;t a new NBA Jam or NBA Street, but it is decent in its own right. There isn&rsquo;t a huge roster of current or historic players in the game but Saber is expected to add more players later. Most fans will be pleased with stars like Lebron James, Stephen Curry, Allen Iverson, and Magic Johnson though.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/nba-playgrounds-review-screen-3.jpg" alt="nba-playgrounds-review-screen-3" /><br /><br />If you&rsquo;re looking to scratch that nostalgic NBA arcade itch, then there&rsquo;s no reason to not pick this game up. I was certainly excited when the NBA Playgrounds was announced. But with NBA 2K already such a huge hit, I don&rsquo;t think there is much room for NBA Playgrounds. Or rather, basketball fans aren&rsquo;t as hungry for an arcade styled b-ball game as Saber had hoped; it&rsquo;s still hard to find matches online. That doesn&rsquo;t mean that we shouldn&rsquo;t have options when it comes to our sports games. This just means that the developers are going to have to rethink things before trying to tackle this issue.&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br />Gameplay: 6<br />It can be fun at times, especially if you play with friends. That said, the inconstant gameplay hurts the experience. <br /><br />Graphics: 8<br />The cartoony design of the players and people surrounding the court, blended with modern-ish graphics allows the game to feel familiar visually even though most of these people haven&rsquo;t played in years.<br /><br />Sound: 6<br />Decent&hellip;nothing of worth to note. <br /><br />Replay Value: 6<br />Playing with friends locally is fun. There isn&rsquo;t many people playing online though.<br /><br />Final Score:<br /><br />6.5<br /><br /></p> /microsoft/post/nba-playgrounds Fri, 19 May 2017 12:00:00 Toby: The Secret Mine <p>Reviewed By: Ricardo Benitez<br />System: Xbox One (Also PC, Wii U, iOS, and Android)<br />Genre: Puzzle Platformer<br />Rated: E10+<br />Players: 1<br />Cost: $9.99 <br />Release Date: 01/19/2017<br />Publisher: Headup Games<br />Developer: Luk&aacute;&scaron; Navr&aacute;til<br /><br />At first glance, Toby: The Secret Mine instantly reminds you of Limbo. The art style with its black and white tones, similar puzzling nature, and minimalistic approach to storytelling all hark back to that hit indie title. Unfortunately it doesn&rsquo;t quite reach the bar set by Playdead back in 2010&hellip;</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/toby-screen.jpg" alt="toby-screen" /><br /><br /><em>"A peaceful way of life in a small mountain village is shattered. Someone has kidnapped most of its residents. A few brave souls tried to rescue their friends but none have returned.<br /><br />&hellip; Brave little Toby didn&rsquo;t want to just sit and wait to see what happens next, so he has set about on his own to solve the mystery. Entering the deep forest, he sees this may be an adventure bigger than him, but he won&rsquo;t stop. "</em><br /><br />Toby begins with these words sprawled across the screen. They provide a reason for you to go traversing this strange world. The goal of course being to rescue your friends from some dastardly fiend &ndash; this larger, silhouette of a character that Toby chases throughout the entire game &ndash; while avoiding the numerous traps/environmental hazards. This thin narrative is stretched across 21 handcrafted levels, all of which reinforce Lukas&rsquo; artistic touch; they feature a design and feel that a lot of developers working within this genre dream of creating. <br /><br />When it comes to the story, I wish there were more to it. I mean, with Limbo, it was all about the mystery of this little boy&rsquo;s plight. In Toby&rsquo;s case, we already know what&rsquo;s going on (for the most part anyways). I guess the fact that there was a little more at the start of the game lead me to expecting more from the plot? Regardless, the gameplay is what&rsquo;s most important. The speed at which Toby moves takes some getting used to. Same with the jumping, as he tends to go higher than what is needed to make reach certain platforms; combined with his quickened pace, his floaty jumps makes it easy to accidently sail past an intended landing area. All of this is at the developer&rsquo;s discretion. Long presses or taps of the jump button won&rsquo;t respectively increase or decrease the heights toby&rsquo;s jumps.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/toby-screen-2.jpg" alt="toby-screen-2" /><br /><br />As I moved through each level, I started to notice that I wasn&rsquo;t just having a problem controlling Toby. I also couldn&rsquo;t seem to land on certain ledges. Just looking at it in game, it would seem as if he could obviously reach a platform. But when making the jump, I&rsquo;d somehow catch the edge of the ledge before plummeting into the pit below. I had to maneuver in such a way that Toby&rsquo;s body wouldn&rsquo;t touch the ledge with anything but his feet (something that took several tries to get my head around). There were also some glitches hindering my progress. Most weren&rsquo;t too bad, though I did occasionally fall through the world and be forced to restart the entire level. <br /><br />This actually brings me to another issue, namely the options within the pause menu. There is no &ldquo;go back to checkpoint option&rdquo;. Only a restart to return to the main menu &ndash; basically when I got stuck via a glitch, I had to start over instead of loading a previous checkpoint. Thankfully the levels are short enough to dismiss any bouts of real frustration. Still, it can be a bit annoying to have to restart the same level more than once for something you had no hand in.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/toby-screen-3.jpg" alt="toby-screen-3" /><br /><br />The game isn't all glitches and floaty mechanics though. As I mentioned before, the artwork is high quality and reminiscent of earlier games of this type. Also the audio is spot on, from the buzzing of beehives to your footsteps when walking on different surfaces. Sound cues are sometimes ignored by indie games, but this one comes through with flying colors. The fact that Toby: The Secret Mine was developed by a one man team adds emphasis to the parts that were well received!<br /><br />Gameplay: 5<br />Floaty jumps and some glitches hinder what could be an entertaining experience, even with the noteworthy puzzles and excellent level design. <br /><br />Graphics: 9<br />At times subdued but very gorgeous. The Foreground is black and the background features a lush atmosphere.<br /><br />Sound: 10<br />Details that are sometimes taken for granted by other developers are in definitely on display here. <br /><br />Replay Value: 3<br />Without a grand mystery, an intriguing story, or levels that suffer from glitches, there really isn&rsquo;t a reason to return to Toby&rsquo;s world once the game is completed. <br /><br />Final Score: <br /><br />6.8<br /><br /></p> /microsoft/post/toby:-the-secret-mine Mon, 6 Feb 2017 12:00:00