United Front Gaming http://unitedfrontgaming.com Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn <p>Reviewed By: Ricardo Benitez<br />System: Xbox One (Also on PS4, Switch, PC)<br />Genre: Beat 'em Up<br />Rated: T<br />Players: 1<br />Cost: $19.99<br />Release Date: 06/5/2018<br />Publisher: Saber Interactive<br />Developer: Big Deez Productions<br /><br />Growing up in the 90s, I fondly remember going to my friend's house and playing Shaq Fu on their SNES; we weren't very picky back then. In fact, we were limited by what our parents decided to purchase for us due to name, brand, and advertising bombardment. It wasn't Street Fighter 2, but we had a great time eating and drinking sugary snacks and cola while getting through the fights. Fast-forward to 2014 and Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn is prominently featured on Indiegogo's crowdfunding site. A retry on the game that I so fondly remembered&hellip; <br /><br />Yes, I have rose-colored glasses when it comes to Shaq Fu. No, I haven't played it since the early 90s. My memory of the game is loads better than the reality - I came close to supporting the game&rsquo;s development via Indiegogo but decided against it. So, I can understand why some might have seen Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn as a wasted endeavor. That said, the idea of it being a Beat&rsquo;em Up instead of a fighter was intriguing. Especially considering that Shaq (and everyone involved with making this game) weren&rsquo;t taking themselves too seriously. Which is the right move considering the random premise. Basically, it looked like it would offer up a fun, old school experience. Four years later, Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn is finally released. Upon receiving our review code from Saber/Big Deez Productions and jumping into the game, I quickly learned that my predictions were wrong!</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/shaq-fu-a-legend-reborn-screen-7.jpg" alt="shaq-fu-a-legend-reborn-screen-7" /><br /><br />A Legend Reborn takes it all back to the drawing board, with an opening animated sequence telling the story of Shaq as an abandoned orphan growing up in China. Since he was so tall, he was bullied by his peers. This led to a martial arts master taken interest in him &agrave; la The Karate Kid. From there, he grows up and&hellip;no one cares. You&rsquo;re Shaq and you beat dudes up because reasons; the shallow story is just a means of getting into the action. This wasn&rsquo;t a bad thing of course (not taking things seriously is key). Fans will be looking forward to the action-packed gameplay, over-the-top baddies, and challenging encounters. Maybe some humorous one-liners. But mostly the punching and kicking. &nbsp;<br /><br />Unfortunately, the fighting is stilted. Characters seem like poorly dressed, cardboard versions of the bad guys from older games. The hitboxes seem slightly off as well; you never seem to connect with Shaq on screen. Pressing jump will make Shaq jump, but not in one fluid motion. It&rsquo;s like he has to think about his movements before acting. That, along with the seemingly random special moves (where characters are tossed into the screen) and portions that require you to DDR your way through an encounter, make A Legend Reborn feel cobbled together. As if Big Deez pulled ideas from other Beat&rsquo;em Ups, threw them into this game, but forgot to polish them up/do anything new with them.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/shaq-fu-a-legend-reborn-screen-5.jpg" alt="shaq-fu-a-legend-reborn-screen-5" /></p> <p>There were no humorous one-liners either. That&rsquo;s not to say that the developers didn&rsquo;t attempt to add in some comedic moments. It just that the game is laden with cheesy humor that doesn&rsquo;t really work. The jokes are mostly crass and tasteless, with some that are borderline racist. I&rsquo;m actually concerned about the writing process &ndash; was Shaq even involved? One thing I can say for sure is that it he had a great time recording his lines. That kind of enthusiasm, for what it&rsquo;s worth, goes a long way to making A Legend Reborn okay to grind through. Just ok. For short periods of time. <br /><br />Honestly, it seems as if Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn should've been released on the Xbox 360 or PS3, which makes sense considering when the crowdfunding originated. One would have hope it could've taken a bit more advantage of the technology available today. Or, if it was sticking with the old school vibes, at least polished them. As it stands, classic titles like Turtles in Time play better than this. But my biggest complaint though, has to be the lack of co-op. Shaq Fu SCREAMS for local co-op and it is nowhere to be found. It is, quite literally, a travesty that there are no cooperative modes of play, even online options. With all the faults that Shaq Fu has, the game would still be worth a run through with a friend. I could see having a few drinks with the buds I played with back in the day and barreling through this thing. But it's just not there.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/shaq-fu-a-legend-reborn-screen-6.jpg" alt="shaq-fu-a-legend-reborn-screen-6" /></p> <p>There's a lot that isn't there, to be honest. With subpar jokes, subpar gameplay, and dated graphics and material with no regard to what makes a Beat 'em Up work, I can&rsquo;t recommend Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn to fans of the genre. It&rsquo;ll most likely collect digital dust on your dashboard, never to see the light of day&hellip;<br /><br />Gameplay: 2<br />Stiff and generic controls oppress an already depressingly subpar game.<br /><br />Graphics: 4<br />It would have better if Big Deez had utilized a retro look. Instead, the 2.5D visuals feel dated. <br /><br />Sound: 6<br />Enthusiastic voice acting from Shaq. The rest remains forgotten.<br /><br />Replay Value: 1<br />No local co-op, generic controls and gameplay, and dated (slightly racist) pop culture material put this game in the "delete now" section of my hard drive.<br /><br />Final Score:<br /><br />3.3<br /><br /></p> /microsoft/post/shaq-fu:-a-legend-reborn Tue, 19 Jun 2018 12:00:00 Jurassic World Evolution /microsoft/post/jurassic-world-evolution Tue, 12 Jun 2018 12:00:00 UFG Goes Hands on With The Darwin Project! <p>Written By: Ricardo Benitez<br />Date: 04/04/2018<br /><br />I don't play Fortnite. I tried it. One game. It just isn't for me. My go-to battle royal game has been PUBG for a long while now. It's not perfect, but it hits all the right spots for me; you parachute in, collect stuff, and then hunt down the enemy until you are the last one standing. There's no fort building or arcade like trappings (or even traps for that matter). It basically provides an exciting, yet &ldquo;realistic&rdquo; experience. So, you can imagine how I felt after seeing Scavengers Studio&rsquo;s The Darwin Project &ndash; a game where players have to fight using bows and arrows during what seems to be a second Ice Age&hellip;</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/the-darwin-project-screen-5.jpg" alt="the-darwin-project-screen-5" /><br /><br />If you guessed I was anything but intrigued, you&rsquo;d be wrong. I won&rsquo;t lie though, at first glance I thought a battle royal made up of ten players sounded way too small. I also questioned the need for a Director (more on that later). Neither of those things would have stopped me from taking a closer look &ndash; even if we hadn&rsquo;t received a preview code from Scavengers, I would&rsquo;ve checked out the game when it released into Early Access/Xbox Game Preview. <br /><br />Like I said, at first glance, the 1v10 set up seemed way too small. This is especially true when considering how big the map is; I just expected there to be significant lulls in the action due to the large battlefield. In reality though, the large environment proved necessary. You see, The Darwin Project drops players into a snow-covered arena with just their wits, an axe, and bow. To survive the cold, they&rsquo;ll need to build fires and/or craft warmer gear. Arrows needed to combat other players can be crafted from wood gained from cutting down trees. Extra martials can be gathered to create things like bear traps, fire arrows, shields and so on. Cutting down trees, building fires, running instead of walking &ndash; most of these things actions will attract the attention of other players. They&rsquo;ll see your highlighted footprints for a limited time, which will send them right to your location.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/the-darwin-project-screen-3.jpg" alt="the-darwin-project-screen-3" /><br /><br />The gathering of resources makes the early moments feel a bit slow when compared to other battle royal games. At the same time, the tension that&rsquo;s built up when crafting and such helps things stay interesting. Personally, this aspect is what I found to be special about the Darwin Project as a whole. The player dictates the plan, not the map and item locations. Every game is substantially different, with each outcome spawning from each player&rsquo;s plan of attack. It can be difficult to map out a safe route or take time to make more arrows when your footprints keep giving your position away. Fights between players usually comes down to their ability to aim (accounting for distance and such when using arrows) and their current gear. Meaning that you won&rsquo;t die super quick upon being spotted. Still, being clever rather than aggressive will help stave off death. That is, until the Director gets involved. <br /><br />The Director is where any predictability goes out the window. This optional role affords god-like powers, allowing a player the means of helping or hindering each contestant. Their abilities range from dropping health packs to turning an individual invincible for a limited time. They can even make a person hypothermic and unable to warm up regardless of their gear. The idea is to help keep matches close. That said, it is possible to be a total tool during play. To combat the potential for abuse, Scavengers implemented a star system. In order to be the Director, players will have to play five games and have a star rating of a least three &ndash; players are rated by other participants using a 1-5 scale. Meaning they&rsquo;ll have to be familiar with the game&rsquo;s mechanics and not be perceived as a jerk by their peers. If there score dips below three stars, they lose access to the Director&rsquo;s chair. <br /><br /><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Efcps3br5FY" width="854" height="480"></iframe><br /><br />The Darwin Project is rather entertaining. It offers up some interesting mechanics, a cool environment (no pun intended) and imaginative elements; the Director role really shakes things up, in way that&rsquo;s reminiscent of the Hunger Games. There aren&rsquo;t that many items to find or craft &ndash; sans some rare gadgets that offer a huge advantage &ndash; but they all fit to creating unique combat situations. Keep in mind that The Darwin Project is still an Early Access/Xbox Game Preview title; while I haven&rsquo;t had any connection issues on my Xbox One X, your mileage may very. New updates are flooding in though, with latest being Due Mode getting added as a permanent part of the game. Here&rsquo;s hoping for we&rsquo;ll get larger updates, like a new map or the ability for a streamer&rsquo;s audience to control the Director on console like they can on PC, sooner than later! <br /><br /></p> /microsoft/post/ufg-goes-hands-on-with-the-darwin-project- Wed, 4 Apr 2018 12:00:00 Call of Duty: WWII <p>Reviewed By: Kenneth Seward Jr<br />System: Xbox One (Also on PS4, PC)<br />Genre: FPS<br />Rated: M<br />Players: 1-2 (2-18 online)<br />Cost: $59.99<br />Release Date: 11/03/2017<br />Publisher: Activision<br />Developer: Sledgehammer Games<br /><br />It was only a matter of time before the next Call of Duty theme reverted to simpler times. Whether it was due to the nostalgic trappings of older titles or the clamor of the fans who disliked where the franchise was headed, the writing was on the wall. That doesn&rsquo;t mean the decision to tackle an old war was a good one &ndash; the success of EA&rsquo;s Battlefield I notwithstanding. There are multiple reasons why developers moved away from historically- based shooters, one of which being how worn the subject has become. <br /><br />Call of Duty: WWII stood poised to showcase its European theatre by opening with an Allied invasion of Normandy. Army Private First Class Ronald Daniels, the star of the show, battles his way up the beach with his fellow countrymen. Orders are barked by his Sergeant as he moves through trenches, clearing out Nazis on the way to the enemy&rsquo;s bunkers and machine gun encampments. The scene is mostly chaotic. Enemy artillery pounds the beach, leaving crimson painted craters and scattered limbs in their wake.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/call-of-duty-wwii-screen-6.jpg" alt="call-of-duty-wwii-screen-6" /><br /><br />The explosive display was sure to wow newer audience members. Long time patrons would&rsquo;ve noticed the similarities to older scripts; the events of D-Day (and World War II in general) have been covered extensively in past titles. And while some of the campaign&rsquo;s major events included new locations and unfamiliar faces, they were often utilized in the typical CoD fashion. When it comes to our heroes, we get some banter about who&rsquo;s waiting for them back in the states and how much of a jerk their commanding officer was. A lot of the talking dealt with the coming mission though, making it difficult to care about these characters at first. Brief chats and clich&eacute; lines surrounded by war jargon hinderd the narrative. On the gameplay side, we got stealthy treks behind enemy lines, bombastic car chases, and desperate charges against overwhelming odds moments before the cavalry arrives. Basically, more of what we&rsquo;ve grown accustomed to over the years. <br /><br />None of this redundancy would cause gamers to stop playing in protest of course. Even though it treads familiar ground, the action is palpable at times; my stomach dropped when I witnessed Daniels&rsquo; fall from an exploding bell tower. Whether they occurred during the fortification of a prized location or while providing support for fellow countrymen, the frenzied fire fights always got the blood pumping. Sledgehammer, like the other CoD developers, knows how to create engaging action sequences. Small but impactful changes to the formula (like the removal of regenerating health) heightened these encounters. I especially liked the heroic actions &ndash; times where Daniels would choose to save fellow countrymen by dragging them to safety or by slaying their attacker &ndash; as it allowed for instances of self-sacrifice that weren&rsquo;t exclusively cinematic. No, that sort of treatment was saved for the larger than life moments. Like when a train is derailed and its cars rain down around our heroes after being flipped into the air.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/call-of-duty-wwii-screen-4.jpg" alt="call-of-duty-wwii-screen-4" /><br /><br />The story also picks up a bit towards the end. It&rsquo;s only after spending a significant amount of time with Daniels&rsquo; squad do we start to see how well they&rsquo;re handling their predicaments. It never reaches the heights of&nbsp; Band of Brothers or Saving Private Ryan, which seemed to be the goal alongside providing an authentic depiction of the war, but it did give the viewers heroes to root for. This is true even for some of the supporting characters&hellip; <br /><br />Some of the best segments were the ones that were absent of the normal run and gun. Take the &ldquo;Liberation&rdquo; chapter, where our focus shifts to&nbsp; Camille Denis (or Rosseau), one of the leaders of the French Resistance. Camille and her partner were tasked with infiltrating the German headquarters located in Paris. Their goal was to collect a briefcase armed with explosives from an informant; they were to be planted in strategic locations, signaling the moment when their allies waiting outside were to attack. Unlike the other missions, majority of this one was handled without firing a single shot. Things were still tense though. Not only did Camille have to keep up her disguise, where giving the wrong answer to a scrutinizing Nazi soldier could mean death, she also had to hide her emotions. Her cover was that of a Nazi official sent to deliver travel documents to Polizeifuhrer Heinrich, the SS Police Leader of France. A hated individual, Heinrich was also the man responsible for the death of Camille&rsquo;s family. Their inevitable meeting was easily one of the most memorable moments of the game.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/call-of-duty-wwii-screen-5.jpg" alt="call-of-duty-wwii-screen-5" /><br /><br />All and all, CoD: WWII delivered a decent campaign. The cast was well voiced, drama ensued, and there were interesting breaks from the normal routine. Sledgehammer played it a bit too safe when it came to the overall gameplay and plot, but you can&rsquo;t really blame them. I&rsquo;d imagine most of the stories pulled from WWII would have similar unfolding of events. Or at the very least, they&rsquo;d be forced through the same lens to make them enjoyable for Call of Duty fans looking for an action-packed experience. At the end of the day, this is entertainment. And the campaign, despite its weaknesses , is entertaining.<br /><br />The multiplayer offerings are also entertaining but for a different reason. Instead of adding more options, a ton of gaming elements were stripped away/toned down. There are still classes, perks, and killstreaks but they are streamlined into easily digestible versions. For example, the classes (called Divisions) provide one major and three minor perks this time around. None of them are super impactful &ndash; the Airborne Division allows you to add silencers to certain guns, the ability to vault over obstacles quicker, and to run slightly faster and longer than normal. Weapons have the normal unlockable add-ons like better scopes and grips that reduce recoil. Gone are the crazy perks, special abilities (like being able to rewind time), craft table stat-boosting for weapons and so on. This translates to more even gunplay and less confusion preparing for it. Players can focus on shooting each other as opposed to crunching the numbers on all the different &ldquo;options&rdquo; at their fingertips.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/Call-of-Duty-WWII-gif.gif" alt="Call-of-Duty-WWII-gif" /></p> <p>Contrary to what one may think, the removal of the extra fluff and introduction of classic weapons doesn&rsquo;t slow things down a bit. Players won&rsquo;t be wallrunning or double jumping around a map this time around. Still, it doesn&rsquo;t take long to sprint to a contested location during a given match. There&rsquo;s no guarantee you&rsquo;ll make it there of course, as fire fights are rampant and death comes quick. This is due to how powerful the WWII arsenal is, regardless of the respective rates of fire. The balance is a little off causing players to lean towards certain weapons &ndash; the shotguns and submachine gun are especially lethal. <br /><br />All of the classic match types &ndash; Team Deathmatch, Domination, Kill Confirmed, Capture the Flag, etc. &ndash; make the cut. A new arrival, called War, looked to shake things up. It&rsquo;s similar to other objective based modes in other shooters, where one team has to complete a set of tasks while the opposing team tries to stop them. The offensive team will have to do things like guide a tank to a certain location or plant and guard a bomb, all within a given time limit. It&rsquo;s the defensive team&rsquo;s job to hold the lines until the clock hits zero. Whatever the outcome, at the end of a round, the roles are switched. The winner is determined by how successful they were in each role. If there&rsquo;s a tie &ndash; like both teams won a round a piece &ndash; then they&rsquo;ll be judged by how quickly they completed their objectives. War isn&rsquo;t the most unique mode ever and won&rsquo;t compete with Overwatch (or any other objective based game). It is, however, a fun alternative to the bread and butter options found in every CoD. <br /><br />There&rsquo;s also a new public space called Headquarters, where players can pick up contracts (time sensitive assignments that net XP, in-game currency, and supply drops), test out their weapons at a gun range, watch pro CoD matches, try out some mini-games and so on. It&rsquo;s a nice idea, as social hubs go, and I love how you can try out scorestreaks on AI controlled enemies. I was a little concerned with how it serves as a means of getting people to purchase loot crates though. While visiting the headquarters, players can call down supply drops, the contains of which can be seen by anyone nearby. Offered as a means for the player to brag about the cosmetic items being unlocked, it&rsquo;s also a way of tempting others to buy them. This is especially true when someone snags something rare. One can argue that this practice isn&rsquo;t entirely immoral, as it&rsquo;s possible to win these boxes through continual play. It does feel a little heavy handed though, considering how Sledgehammer didn&rsquo;t hide their motives; there&rsquo;s a &ldquo;social mission&rdquo; that actually rewards players for watching other people unlock items.&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/call-of-duty-wwii-screen-2.jpg" alt="call-of-duty-wwii-screen-2" />&nbsp;<br />Most players will be satisfied with the game&rsquo;s competitive options. Some of the maps have more effective layouts than others in terms of spawns and choke points, there&rsquo;s the occasional bug to contend with, and the systems developed to push loot boxes and microtransactions isn&rsquo;t entirely welcome, regardless of how cool Headquarters is conceptually. Beyond those things though, CoD: WWII&rsquo;s running and gunning is as exciting as it ever was. That&rsquo;s not the case with the ever-popular Zombies mode. And by that, I mean this is the one area where Sledgehammer totally knocked it out of the park. New features like a prologue that teaches newcomers what to expect and guided objectives prop up its simple, yet allusive narrative. The visual improvements also help by replacing the campy vibes with &ldquo;realistic&rdquo; depictions of the undead; Zombies is more horror than comedy this time around. An extensive list of straight forward perks makes surviving with friends (or strangers) a little easier. &nbsp;<br /><br />All of these things increase Zombies&rsquo; accessibility. While it doesn&rsquo;t show players how to solve the story-based puzzles, the guided objectives at least give them an idea of what to do. The abilities and perks help staving off death slightly longer than before, creating a &ldquo;just one more time&rdquo; affect. And the fact that the perks aren&rsquo;t confusing makes them more desirable. It&rsquo;s easier to see how effective an unlimited ammo perk is vs. a &ldquo;burn zombies who attack you&rdquo; ability (though to be fair, there are perks that act in a similar fashion in this game as well). Teamwork is required to survive for any solid length of time. Overcoming the odds feels great but failing isn&rsquo;t so bad either. There are secrets that can be discovered, additional objectives to find, and extra characters to unlock with each playthrough. Basically, Zombies has been elevated above its horde mode trappings to provide a generally entertaining experience regardless of how well each player performs. That isn&rsquo;t an easy thing to do!</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/call-of-duty-wwii-screen-7.jpg" alt="call-of-duty-wwii-screen-7" /><br /><br />Call of Duty: WWII is the throwback that fans wanted. Sure, the move past modern warfare didn&rsquo;t always fair well. While I&rsquo;ve always felt that the franchise maintained a certain &ldquo;DNA&rdquo;, the push towards futuristic engagements caused Call of Duty to teeter on the edge of its subgenre; it wasn&rsquo;t Halo, but (for some) it wasn&rsquo;t exactly CoD either. So, it should come to no surprise that this WWII was well received. Personally, the risks that were taken and the changes to the formula are what excites me most about this yearly released title. I&rsquo;m not looking for a developer to reinvent the wheel, just to do something interesting with it. And in that regard, Sledgehammer did an ok job. Thankfully, they also delivered on what was expected of them. <br /><br />Gameplay: 9<br />The campaign offers an engaging experience. It does rely heavily on the past; Sledgehammer played it a little too safe. The good news is that the multiplayer and Zombie modes make up for the &ldquo;by the numbers&rdquo; story. <br /><br />Graphics: 10<br />Call of Duty: WWII might be the best-looking Call of Duty ever, especially on the Xbox One X!<br /><br />Sound: 10<br />The voice work, sound effects, and music (regardless of mode) is well implemented. <br /><br />Replay Value: 9<br />The competitive multiplayer has been made accessible again and Zombies is at its best!<br /><br />Final Score:<br /><br />9.5&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br /></p> /microsoft/post/call-of-duty:-wwii Mon, 26 Feb 2018 12:00:00 Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus <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: 10/27/2017<br />Publisher: Bethesda Softworks <br />Developer: MachineGames<br /><br />One of the things I loved about the MachineGames <a class="external" href="http://unitedfrontgaming.com/post/2353/wolfenstein:-the-new-order">Wolfenstein: The New Order</a>, was the juxtaposition of absurd happenings and the realistic treatment of characters. It featured bombastic gameplay where the player could duel wield rocket launchers, battle giant robots, and eviscerate unsuspecting Nazi soldiers while traversing a space station. Crazed villains would survive grievous wounds, as if it was their destiny to monologue one more time before dying. This sort of thing was nestled by quieter moments, where the heroes mourned their fallen. Bouts of laughter would erupt during celebrations, however short lived. Conversations between NPCs weren&rsquo;t wasted on idle chit chat; they spoke about their lives, past and present, while incorporating recent developments brought upon by the player. This balancing of extremes brought about something grand, providing a refreshing experience that hasn&rsquo;t really been matched till now.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/wolfenstein-ii-the-new-colossus-screen-2.jpg" alt="wolfenstein-ii-the-new-colossus-screen-2" /><br /><br />Following the events of the last game, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus opens with William &ldquo;BJ&rdquo; Blazkowicz (the protagonist) being rescued after successfully destroying Deathshead&rsquo;s fortress. This sizable blow to the Nazi regime left Blazkowicz in critical condition. He was so messed up that he fell into a coma &ndash; a predicament not unlike his fourteen-year stint in the psychiatric asylum in The New Order, only this time he&rsquo;d awaken months later on a stolen U-boat. Explosions rock him out of his coma as crazed Nazi commander, Frau Engel&rsquo;s forces attack via a flying ship. Armed soldiers board the boat and force their way into the lower decks. As the bullets are flying, Blazkowicz fights back while confined to a wheelchair; he literally rolls up on his enemies before opening fire. And that&rsquo;s the sane part. &nbsp;<br /><br />The gunplay is still over-the-top in all the right ways. It&rsquo;s fun sneaking through an environment to silently dispatch enemies. Blazkowicz is mean with an axe, able to surgically remove limbs before burying it into a Nazi&rsquo;s skull. Going in guns blazing is also an option. Lasers, shrapnel spewing grenades, and hand cannons are just some of the tools used in the field. Each instrument of death is upgradable with scopes, fiery bullets, armor pricing rounds that&rsquo;ll blow holes through cover. All of which are needed considering how good a shot the Nazi&rsquo;s are. Robotic dogs that breath fire and mechs outfitted with rocket packs &ndash; even alligators will make the going tough.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/wolfenstein-ii-the-new-colossus-screen-5.jpg" alt="wolfenstein-ii-the-new-colossus-screen-5" /><br /><br />This isn&rsquo;t the easiest shooter. Old school mechanics (like needing health packs) will keep players on their toes. It never gets too frustrating and there are multiple difficulty settings for those of us that just want to see how the narrative unfolds.&nbsp; The upgrade system helps keep things entertaining, regardless of your skill level &ndash; the play-based perks system has returned from The New Order.&nbsp; Snag enough stealth kills and you&rsquo;ll become sneakier, move faster while crouching, etc.. Take out multiple bad guys with explosives and you&rsquo;ll eventually unlock armor upgrades, reducing the amount of damage you take from grenades and such. The system basically encouraged you to play your way. &nbsp;</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/wolfenstein-ii-the-new-colossus-screen-3.jpg" alt="wolfenstein-ii-the-new-colossus-screen-3" /><br /><br />The combat can be exhilarating, to say the least, but the interactions between characters is what really sells the drama. Because the Nazis were able to catch Blazkowicz with his hospital gown open, he and his crew had to find help. This leads to them rescuing a resistance group in the ruins of Manhattan, swelling the cast quite a bit. All of the important roles push the narrative in intriguing ways. Take the militant Grace Walker, an African-American woman who helps lead the group, for example. She&rsquo;s a tough character. Quick to sound off on any jive turkeys; she provides a bit of humor with dialogue that inches ever so close to a bad stereotypical depiction of an angry black woman. But before she crosses that line, she&rsquo;s reeled back in by moments of authentic emotion. Grace&rsquo;s demeaner can be campy yet, she&rsquo;s always believable.<br /><br />Actress Debra Wilson did a fantastic job bringing Grace Walker to life. The same can be said about the other cast members. Their voice acting and motion capture work provided many a memorable moment. Then there are the NPC&rsquo;s not directly linked to our hero BJ. The things they say are nuanced, offering up more story for anyone willing to wait around and listen. Take the secondary American characters who wanted to defect to the Nazis. It was disconcerting to see these men trying to fit in with their oppressors as they practiced derogatory chants in German. Though it was hard to hear, their depiction (and how people around them were affected) mirrored past and present happenings in the US in thought-provoking ways.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/wolfenstein-ii-the-new-colossus-screen.jpg" alt="wolfenstein-ii-the-new-colossus-screen" />&nbsp;<br />I could talk for days about how MachineGames&rsquo; handling of racial issues made me feel. The long and short of it: whether it was through the game&rsquo;s brutality or the feelings of the supporting cast, they wanted to be clear on how they felt about Nazis, white supremacy, and racism in general. And while I don&rsquo;t condone violence, outside of defending oneself, my thoughts are aligned with the developer. The right side won WWII! <br /><br />Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is more of the same. A hodgepodge of retro and modern elements, realistic displays of emotion and ridiculous happenings &ndash; I&rsquo;m amazed at how well it all works together. MachineGames also added more content without padding the experience; optional side missions and scattered collectibles encourage longer play. At the same time, it&rsquo;s a much better game than The New Order. I cared about Blazkowicz and his extended family. I felt their anger and their joy. It was a rollercoaster of awesome! <br /><br />Gameplay: 10<br />MachineGames has outdone themselves once again; they&rsquo;ve created an interesting drama while staying true to Wolfenstein&rsquo;s campy roots. <br /><br />Graphics: 10<br />The game looks really good!<br /><br />Sound: 10<br />Solid voice acting from everyone involved. The music and sound effects were great as well. <br /><br />Replay Value: 10<br />The New Colossus if fun enough to playthrough more than once. And while I normally don&rsquo;t include DLC when weighting this category, having the option to experience more of Blazkowicz&rsquo;s world is favorable. <br /><br />Final Score:<br /><br />10<br /><br /><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/ufg2final-without-background-copy.jpg" alt="Medal of Honors Award" /></p> /microsoft/post/wolfenstein-ii:-the-new-colossus Tue, 16 Jan 2018 12:00:00 L.A. Noire (Remastered) <p>Reviewed By: Andre Thomas<br />System: Xbox One (Also on PS4, Switch) <br />Genre: Action Adventure<br />Rated: M<br />Players: 1<br />Cost: $39.99<br />Release Date: 11/14/2017<br />Publisher: Rockstar Games<br />Developer: Rockstar Games/Virtuos<br /><br />Before we received our review copy of L.A. Noire, I was just a typical Xbox One owner. You know&hellip;a person who enjoys the current landscape of games while also contemplating buying an &ldquo;evolved&rdquo; version of that console. When I received word that I would be reviewing Rockstar&rsquo;s remastered version of L.A. Noire, I was beyond stoked to jump back into fictional 1940&rsquo;s Los Angeles crime scenes. This was especially true considering its updated visuals; I thought the original version looked incredible when it was released years ago. Long story short, I ended up buying an Xbox One X in order to experience the game in 4K. And while I wouldn&rsquo;t advise anyone to upgrade just to play L.A. Noire, I certainly feel like the purchase was worth it; the game looks freaking gorgeous! &nbsp;<br /><br /><em>I won&rsquo;t delve too deeply into the story because this is a remake, but here&rsquo;s a gist of what the game is about. You are Cole Phelps, a World War II veteran turned LAPD officer trying to find his way back into civilian life/find something meaningful after being in a war. As you rise up the ranks in the force, you&rsquo;ll need to survive a failing marriage, mobster hits and corrupt officials &ndash; all while trying to solve some of the most mind-boggling crimes ever written in fiction.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;<img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/l-a--noire-reboot-screen-3.jpg" alt="l-a--noire-reboot-screen-3" /><br /><br />Team Bondi (the original developer) and Rockstar not only brought about an amazing narrative but also the means of delivering a sense of realism not seen in any other game at that point. That isn&rsquo;t hyperbole, as L.A. Noire was the first video game ever to be shown at the Tribeca Films Festival due to its story and the advancement in facial animation technology in games. A character&rsquo;s facial expressions have never been more important than they are in this game&hellip;<br />&nbsp;<br />What made L.A. Noire such a huge hit was how much detective work was actually required to solve a crime. This isn&rsquo;t your typical cop game where you have a linear finish to every crime. You will have to search for you own evidence and pay close attention to every person you come across during an investigation. Yes, there are action sequences and such but it isn&rsquo;t GTA. You are a detective, so you are solving already completed crimes which don&rsquo;t usually involve interaction with the criminals themselves until they are being interrogated. That said, I enjoyed finding clues and interrogation even more than the action sequences due to the amount of depth that is put into each investigation.<br /><br />What&rsquo;s also great is how well each role is voiced, with awesome acting made more believable via facial animations. There is so much emphasis put on eye contact, emotional changes during a conversation, etc. that you can&rsquo;t get caught up in the norms of today (like checking your twitter) while interacting with people in-game. I took my eyes away from the screen once to chase my son and apparently missed a suspect smirking a bit while lying about part of an investigation.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/l-a--noire-reboot-screen.jpg" alt="l-a--noire-reboot-screen" /><br /><br />This attention to detail was lauded back in 2011. Now imagine the enhanced 4K version; I nearly skated through the game once I obtained my Xbox One X as I could easily read almost every single expression on each character&rsquo;s face. With updated button prompts now saying &ldquo;Good Cop&rdquo;, &ldquo;Bad Cop&rdquo;, and &ldquo;Accuse&rdquo; (as opposed to the vague Truth, Doubt, and Lie options) there was significantly less room for error when choosing the proper line of questioning. This meant that my wife and I could be sure of our assumptions as we examined facial expressions after asking questions and/or revealing our acquired evidence. I say &ldquo;we&rdquo; because of how inviting L.A. Noire is. The story and voice acting can be enjoyed even if you aren&rsquo;t the person holding the controller. <br /><br />Rockstar games does an incredible job of making sure every one of their titles feels similar yet completely different from one another. Most of them feel &ldquo;real&rdquo; even if their narratives are farfetched. Their usual treatment of an open world &ndash; though with adjusted gameplay focused on detective work &ndash; fits perfectly with the backdrop of the 40&rsquo;s. Similar to Mafia III, the city looks and feels like a place in time where I wouldn&rsquo;t have been able to live as freely as I do now (being a person of color). I say that with certainty because L.A. Noire does a fantastic job of showcasing the issues people faced back then. There are still some campy elements of course. Like charming characters that while based on real people, are also caricatures of their real-life counterparts. All of it blends into a memorable experience, even years later.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/l-a--noire-reboot-screen-4.jpg" alt="l-a--noire-reboot-screen-4" /><br /><br />If it isn&rsquo;t obvious enough, L.A. Noire is just as great today as it was when it originally released. The enhanced visuals, alone, makes the game worth the price of admission. They could have just gave me the original game and I would have been totally fine. But to make gameplay adjustments and 4K enhancements&hellip;their desire to improve on what came before says a lot about Rockstar (beyond gearing up for a possible sequel, if the game sells well). It&rsquo;s a no brainer for me, L.A. Noire was great before. Now it&rsquo;s a classic!<br /><br />Gameplay: 10<br />L.A. Noire is just as entertaining as was years ago&hellip;even more so!<br /><br />Graphics: 10<br />The game looks great on the Xbox One. It looks amazing on the Xbox One X! <br /><br />Sound:10 <br />The voice acting is on par with a Hollywood film. The soundtrack and sound effects are great to as they literally play a part of every crime.<br /><br />Replay Value: 8<br />Once you have figured out how to solve the crimes, it&rsquo;s a bit of a breeze. But playing though it again in black and white changes the overall feel. Plus, this version comes with all of the previously released DLC, giving you more reasons to keep playing.<br /><br />Final Score:<br /><br />9.5 <br /><br /></p> /microsoft/post/l-a--noire--remastered- Tue, 28 Nov 2017 12:00:00 The Evil Within 2 <p>Reviewed By: Kenneth Seward Jr.<br />System: Xbox One (Also on PS4, PC) <br />Genre: Survival Horror<br />Rated: M<br />Players: 1<br />Cost: $59.99<br />Release Date: 10/13/2017<br />Publisher: Bethesda<br />Developer: Tango Gameworks<br /><br />A developer doesn&rsquo;t have to reinvent the wheel when creating a sequel to a popular game. That&rsquo;s not to say that a developer can&rsquo;t learn from previous efforts, building on what worked while discarding the rest. Just that their sole reason for making a sequel shouldn&rsquo;t be to outdo what came before; if they focus on telling the best story or developing the best experience possible, they&rsquo;ll naturally make a better product. This seems to be the case with Tango Gameworks and their Evil Within series!<br /><br />The Evil Within 2 opens with a dream sequence &ndash; our protagonist, Sabastian Castellanos , relives the house fire that resulted in the death of his daughter and disappearance of his wife. Moments later he is seen awake, drinking his sorrows away in a seedy looking bar. Three years have passed since the Beacon Mental Hospital incident. In that time Sebastian has done all he can to track down the shadowy organization called Mobius. Like Jill Valentine trying to warn people about Umbrella, no one believed his claims; his superiors thought he went crazy, which is why he&rsquo;s no longer employed. Things couldn&rsquo;t get much worse. That is until his former partner and Mobius double agent Juli Kidman walks into the bar. As you can imagine, Sebastian wasn&rsquo;t happy to see her. The only thing that saved her from a bullet was the revelation that Sebastian&rsquo;s daughter Lily was still alive. Mobius faked her death in order to cover up the apparent kidnapping &ndash; she was to be used as the Core for a new STEM system.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/the-evil-within-2-screen-4.jpg" alt="the-evil-within-2-screen-4" /><br /><br />STEM is a device that allows for a shared consciousness experience, where a Core (the mind of one individual) is used to create a virtual world. Similar to the Matrix but shaped by one person. Unfortunately, these artificial environments can be altered by individuals with strong mental capacity, specifically those of the psychotic nature. This explains how Beacon was transformed into a hellish place filled with monsters. Apparently, this is also happening to Union, the town created by Lily&rsquo;s mind. Things seem worse this time around though. Lily has gone missing and Mobius has lost contact with their operatives that went into Union to retrieve her. This is where Sebastian comes in. Mobius wants him to head into the deteriorating town and find Lily before it&rsquo;s too late. <br /><br />The plot is rather intriguing despite following a familiar path. A secretive corporation&rsquo;s experiment goes awry, besieging a small town before rendering it to ruins. At the center of the chaos is a small child; she appears to be the key to combating whatever is causing people to turn into the Haunted (fast moving zombie-like creatures). I can name more than a few games with a similar tale. Thankfully, there are unique elements sprinkled about that help to elevate the story above the been-there-done-that feeling. <br /><br />Interesting characters are abundant in this installment. Some are psychotic, and therefore have the ability to twist and bend sections of Union into corrupted extensions of themselves. Whatever the case, everyone is looking for Lily. Being the core, she can unlock a path leading to freedom, boost a person&rsquo;s powers within Union, or worse. What ties these people together (besides Lily) is how they all seem to be suffering in one way or another. And because they are all trapped in Union, these issues can literally manifest right in front of them. This is true even with Sebastian. His feelings of guilt and regret weighs heavily on his shoulders, giving a certain antagonist a means of manipulating him.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/the-evil-within-2-screen.jpg" alt="the-evil-within-2-screen" /><br /><br />The overall story is not quite as convoluted this time around. There are some confusing parts, most of which are explained as things progress, and sections that seem to act as padding to extend one&rsquo;s play time. The story hinges on Mobius&rsquo; desire to control the world using STEM. I won&rsquo;t go into specifics on how they planned on achieving this feat, only to say that it doesn&rsquo;t make much sense. The events taking place in Union don&rsquo;t affect the real world beyond someone&rsquo;s death; if they die when plugged into STEM, they&rsquo;ll die in real-life. Even worse was a perplexing move to link with STEM on a more &ldquo;personal&rdquo; level. It was laughable in a deus ex machina type of way&hellip;<br /><br />Aside from some odd choices, the story is mostly solid/easy to follow even if you&rsquo;re new to the series. I for one, really enjoyed how things played out. Especially with Sebastian, who somehow grows as a character despite not having much of a personality. Though his dialogue leaves much to be desired, his eventual reunion with select characters is heartfelt; he goes in with all of this baggage and comes out better on the other side. It&rsquo;s an emotional ride to say the least.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/the-evil-within-2-screen-3.jpg" alt="the-evil-within-2-screen-3" /><br /><br />The plot isn&rsquo;t the only place to learn about these characters. The environment is just as important in conveying what went down in Union. Which brings me to a concern I had before starting up the game. Just how convincing would this new world be considering I know that it&rsquo;s a simulation? I mean, for the first game, there was no notion of STEM early on. Things felt real for the lack of a better term. There was also the fact that Union is mostly an open environment. The claustrophobic corridors of Beacon Hospital and odd village-like surroundings have been replaced with store fronts and lawn ornaments; there are some interior locations that are similar in design but for most of the game, I was out in the open. To my surprise, Union is a worse place to visit than Beacon (but in a good way)!&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br />The streets aren&rsquo;t exactly littered with the Haunted&hellip;at least not early on. There are pockets of them, usually surrounding an overturned car &ndash; feasting on the remains of a Mobius solider &ndash; or wondering through someone&rsquo;s backyard. This perpetrates a false sense of safety. If I stay clear of the mob, I&rsquo;ll be fine. Not true. Tango made sure to place these horrid individuals in the sneakiest of places. There was one time when I was making my way past a group of them. I noticed some weapon parts by a parked car. Thinking I could grab them and quickly upgrade my pistol, I wandered over. As soon as I got near them, a Haunted woman crawled from underneath the car. I panicked, firing off a few shots (missing all of them) telling the rest of her kin that a human was nearby&hellip;I died seconds later.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/the-evil-within-2-screen-5.jpg" alt="the-evil-within-2-screen-5" /><br /><br />The Haunted would burst through doors, crawl from under things, and just seemingly pop up out of nowhere. This uncertainty made me second guess exploring my surroundings. &ldquo;Do I really want those bullets? That corpse over there looks shifty.&rdquo; I made sure to keep quiet, ducking behind cars and darting down allies &ndash; the game didn&rsquo;t have to force me to play stealthily. Even in the daytime, I was uneasy about being out in the open. Things really got crazy after completing a certain side mission. Using Sebastian&rsquo;s communicator to pick up radio waves, I was able to find an echo or a past event that&rsquo;s been &ldquo;burned&rdquo; into the environment. This person&rsquo;s echo made mention of a ghostly presence that haunted her. Minutes later I was transported to an abandoned hospital and hunted by a giant apparition named Anima. I managed to escape that place, landing back in Union, but the ghost followed. I&rsquo;d occasionally run into her hours later; the temperature would drop and I&rsquo;d be shrouded in fog. I&rsquo;d then hear her humming Clair de Lune as she slowly walked around, her footsteps shaking the ground. <br /><br />The Evil Within 2 has some of the most grotesque looking creatures in survival horror. One of which, the Guardian, assembles herself using multiple dead bodies &ndash; not body parts, but whole bodies sewn together to form her torso and limbs. The good news is that Sebastian has dealt with this sort of thing before. You can silently take down the Haunted by sneaking up on them, something I&rsquo;d recommend. Icons representing sound and sight indicate how alert your enemies are. If seen, your best bet is to deal with them quickly (so they don&rsquo;t alert their friends) or run. Actually, running away is a viable option in most situations. In some cases though, you won&rsquo;t have a choice as a few encounters will require you to fight swarms of monsters. Smart use of the environment will help mitigate your dwindling resources. Kicking over a barrel and shooting the oil that spills out will engulf nearby enemies in flames while firing electric bolts into pools of water will stun them.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/the-evil-within-2-screen-2.jpg" alt="the-evil-within-2-screen-2" /><br /><br />Though I was cautious when it came to exploring Union, it was still necessary to search for resources. Things like bullets or health syringes are hard to come by. That said, if you find enough weapon parts, medicinal supplies, and other materials, you&rsquo;ll be able to craft needed items at various crafting tables (located in safehouses). It&rsquo;s possible to craft when out and about, but you&rsquo;ll use more resources when doing so. Deciding whether or not to wait till you get back to a safehouse before crafting can be tough. Especially if you&rsquo;re a long way off from the nearest one and your path is blocked by the Haunted. <br /><br />Deciding how to level up Sebastian is also challenging. Though he&rsquo;s an ex-cop, he isn&rsquo;t in the best of health. His stamina is laughable, just like in the last game. Raising this stat is will allow him to run for longer distances. Adding more health will help him to survive more hits. If you fancy being sneaky, you can increase his crouching walk speed or unlock the ability to pull an enemy from around a corner. This was came in handy during one awesome segment where the game went from third to first person. There are some skills you&rsquo;re going to want to build up regardless, given how you level up. Killing enemies and collecting the gel they leave behind is the only way to do so. It might behoove you to better Sebastian&rsquo;s aim for those times when stealth fails but you still want to score some gel. <br /><br />Surviving the horrors of Union can be tough. Thankfully, Tango listened to the feedback that was given about the first Evil Within. Unlike that game, you won&rsquo;t find super frustrating sections that seem unfair; they designed this game with a decent difficulty curve that slowly ramps up overtime. They also added three different difficulty settings based on how you want to play. Maybe you&rsquo;re just interested in the story and not the &ldquo;survival&rdquo; part or perhaps you want things to be insanely challenging, you can choose what&rsquo;s right for you. My choice was in the middle, which allowed for a tough experience with low amounts of ammo and such but nothing that would cause me to quit in a frustrated rage.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/the-evil-within-2-screen-6.jpg" alt="the-evil-within-2-screen-6" /><br /><br />When it comes to survival horror, there hasn&rsquo;t been a sequel that totally eclipses its predecessor like The Evil Within 2 does since Resident Evil 2. I don&rsquo;t say this lightly. It&rsquo;s understandable if this statement is taken with a grain of salt given how critically acclaimed the original Resident Evil was; Tango&rsquo;s title was nowhere near being as genre defining as that title. Still, this herculean jump in quality is the closest we&rsquo;ve gotten to matching what happened when RE2 was first released! <br /><br />Gameplay: 9<br />The Evil Within 2 is much better than its predecessor. Its plot has a few wonky parts and there is some padding towards the end though.<br /><br />Graphics: 9<br />Most of the time, things look great. A few close ups reveal how bad some of the characters look at times though. <br /><br />Sound: 10<br />A great use of ambient sounds helps sell the horror. The dialogue, sound effects, music&hellip;they aren&rsquo;t bad either!<br /><br />Replay Value: 8<br />The multiple difficulty settings, unlockable modes, and the new game plus offer enough reasons to return to Union.<br /><br />Final Score:<br /><br />9<br /><br /><br /></p> /microsoft/post/the-evil-within-2 Tue, 14 Nov 2017 12:00:00 Elex <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: $49.99 <br />Release Date: 10/17/2017<br />Publisher: THQ Nordic<br />Developer: Piranha Bytes&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br />There isn&rsquo;t much more frustrating than playing a game that feels incomplete. Exemptions like Early Access titles aside, some games just shouldn&rsquo;t be on the market before their bugs have been worked out &ndash; developers are seemingly using software patches as a crutch to allow games to come out before they should. I don&rsquo;t believe that to be the case with Piranha Bytes. That said, I feel that Elex is a prime example of how to ruin a great game by sending it out &ldquo;incomplete&rdquo;.<br /><br />Now of course, developers aren&rsquo;t out to sabotage their reputations with poorly received titles. And I totally understand needing to release something in hopes of recouping some of the money that went into creating a game. But when deliver an experience that&rsquo;s filled with technical issues, you risk alienating your customers. Or at the very least, make them weary of your future titles. &nbsp;</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/elex-screen-5.jpg" alt="elex-screen-5" /><br /><br />Elex has some promise. Set on a Maglan &ndash; a planet that was nearly destroyed by meteor &ndash; where multiple factions battle one another for survival. The key to outlasting their rivals is a substance called Elex that provides power for machines and magic. Most use it for forge a future in this bleak world. Others, namely the Albs, were transformed after ingesting Elex; they&rsquo;ve become powerful, emotionless beings. Our protagonist hails from this group. After experiencing a tragic event, he was able to change his ways (sort of speak) before joining a different faction. What follows is a memorable journey through the wastes with charming characters, deadly monsters, and interesting if not fully realized mechanics. <br /><br />Things start out rough. Due to the lack of Elex in our hero&rsquo;s system, he&rsquo;ll start to feel emotion that he couldn&rsquo;t beforehand. One would think he&rsquo;d start down the path of self-enlightenment or be pissed after being left for dead via the tragic event I mentioned earlier. The thing is though, I didn&rsquo;t know what he was after. Though the plot is engaging, the character development for the protagonist is awful &ndash; after several hours of play, I still don&rsquo;t know what his true motivations were. Well, besides my personal choices (like choosing who to side with). In a game like Fallout: New Vegas, the player chooses how the story unfolds. At the same time, the focus is always on getting answers from Benny, the mobster that tried to kill you at the start. That&rsquo;s not the case here. There is a plot but nothing that could be tied only to the protagonist on a personal level.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/elex-screen-4.jpg" alt="elex-screen-4" /><br /><br />The gameplay doesn&rsquo;t make up for this shortcoming. Moment to moment fighting, switching between melee and ranged abilities can be fun. But poor camera angles, balancing issues, and troublesome AI hurts the experience. Enemies will randomly go from putting up a decent fight to being nearly unbeatable. This makes not fights where I can&rsquo;t properly see what is attacking me worse; not only is this dodo bird-turkey-monster fusion thing hard to kill but I can&rsquo;t rightly land my attacks thanks to the camera angle. My AI partners were no help as they often failed to acknowledge enemies who were hell bent on killing us. <br /><br />On top of all this were poor quality of life systems and rampant technical issues. For instance, at certain points, the game won&rsquo;t show you where to go next. I spent over an hour in a faction&rsquo;s zone, being told to &ldquo;find people in the camp to help&rdquo;, with no direction on who to talk to in order to begin these missions. When I was presented with a location of interest, sometimes the game wouldn&rsquo;t recognize I was there; it&rsquo;s super frustrating to go to a place only for a bug to stop the game from triggering an event. Other times Elex would glitch, causing the wrong thing to occur. I wasted 20 minutes in a tavern speaking with the owner expecting to eventually get a mission based off the conversation we were having, just for him offer me a drink that I never received. I see him pour a glass, I get the option to pick it up, and then the tavern owner and other people in it treat me like I stole the drink. My wife and I sat there in utter confusion as I ran out of the tavern and reloaded from my last save point so I could reenter the camp.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/elex-screen-3.jpg" alt="elex-screen-3" /><br /><br />I don&rsquo;t need hand holding but I would like some indication of what I&rsquo;m supposed to do. And when I get to that location or finish a task, it would be nice if the game recognized it for what it was &ndash; me completing a mission. Odd design choices and bugs like these were everywhere, which made it difficult to complete Elex. The premise is cool &ndash; it&rsquo;s like Fallout with magic &ndash; and it&rsquo;s visually pleasing at times. The story isn&rsquo;t bad either, sans your character. But the rest of the game felt rushed. It isn&rsquo;t exactly broken, but it does feel like it could have used a few more months of polish. Here&rsquo;s hoping Piranha&rsquo;s next game doesn&rsquo;t follow suit. <br /><br />Gameplay: 4<br />It can be fun, sparingly. The technical issues/bugs and odd game design hurts the experience.<br /><br />Graphics: 6<br />The game looks like a current gen title, but that&rsquo;s not saying much.<br /><br />Sound: 7<br />The voice overs and sound effects are decent. <br /><br />Replay Value: 5<br />There are different endings and such. Personally though, one playthrough was enough. <br /><br />Final Score: <br /><br />5.5&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br /></p> /microsoft/post/elex Tue, 7 Nov 2017 12:00:00 Battle Chasers: Nightwar <p>Reviewed By: Kenneth Seward Jr.<br />System: Xbox One (Also on PS4, PC) <br />Genre: RPG<br />Rated: T<br />Players: 1<br />Cost: $29.99<br />Release Date: 10/03/2017<br />Publisher: THQ Nordic<br />Developer: Airship Syndicate<br /><br />It takes a skillful developer to balance nostalgic gameplay mechanics with modern elements, classic remakes notwithstanding. The idea is to bring back what was entertaining while eschewing the flaws and poor design choices that the industry has outgrown. This is something I&rsquo;m sure Airship Syndicate, which is made up of ex Vigil Games employees, are capable of. Unfortunately the quality of their first title, Battle Chasers: Nightwar doesn&rsquo;t seem to showcase this ability. <br /><br />Based on the fantasy comic book series Battle Chasers, Nightwar acts as a spin-off of sorts. It still follows the story of Gully, a little girl whose father leaves her with magical gauntlets after suddenly disappearing one day. It doesn&rsquo;t continue the arc established in the comic though. Instead, Gully and her companions are shot down over a mysterious island by a band of pirates. Their case of &ldquo;wrong place at the wrong time&rdquo; turns into a lengthy adventure, featuring magical artifacts, ancient cults, and powerful monsters.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/battle-chasers-screen-5.jpg" alt="battle-chasers-screen-5" /><br /><br />The premise is decent. Fans of the comics will be right at home, recognizing favorite characters like the swordsman, Garrison. Newcomers aren&rsquo;t left in the dark though. There&rsquo;s just enough information to get them invested despite not being aware of what happened prior. Regardless of what camp you reside in, the early goings should be intriguing; the questions surrounding Gully&rsquo;s attackers and an evil sorcerous keep the wheels spinning for a few hours. The plot does start to run dry after a while though. Without giving too much away, things go from trying to find or rescue missing companions to stopping Destra (the sorcerous) from resurrecting powerful enemies. The game essentially has you chasing this one person all over the island, going from one boss fight to the next, with very little to go on. Stopping her from unleashing an unstoppable force upon the world isn&rsquo;t the worse goal to have, but that alone doesn&rsquo;t create a compelling story. &nbsp;<br /><br />The cast of characters are interesting to say the least. Though our heroes fit nicely into the normal RPG roles &ndash; the rouge, warrior, mage and so on &ndash; they can be rather charming. Conversations had during overnight stays in a local inn offer background information, elevating the group above walking stereotypes. The overall plot doesn&rsquo;t do much with these characters though. It would be nice to hear more about Garrison&rsquo;s demons or to learn more about his ties to Gully&rsquo;s father. Instead we get light banter right before a battle, decent fireside chats, and some implied motives &ndash; great literary devices to have when introducing these characters, but nothing that would lead to any real character growth.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/battle-chasers-screen-6.jpg" alt="battle-chasers-screen-6" /><br /><br />It&rsquo;s a shame really. Battle Chasers: Nightwar is a lengthy game, as most turn-based RPGs tend to be. One would assume that there was plenty of time to present a more fleshed out story. Especially, with Joe Madureira, the creator of the comic series, as the CEO/Creative Director at Airship Syndicate. Expectations aside, what made the surface level plot harder to endure was the grindy gameplay. As you go about hunting down Destra, you&rsquo;ll end up trekking to new areas that continually introduce opponents several times stronger than your crew. Surviving these encounters can be tough, prompting a return to a previous location to level up. Unfortunately, none of the enemies you&rsquo;ll face offer much in the way of experience points. Even after successfully taking down a large group of monsters that were three levels above me, I got maybe 500 xp for my trouble. Which wouldn&rsquo;t be bad if that number wasn&rsquo;t divided between my chosen heroes; it took thousands of points to level one of them, let alone my entire three-man party. The absence of true side quests doesn&rsquo;t help either. There are special bosses you can fight via hunts that offer decent loot and a ton of coins but very little experience. Outside of rare cases where defeating one can unlock a new Burst (more on that later), fighting them wasn&rsquo;t very beneficial. &nbsp;<br /><br />Other design choices add to this problem. Items in shops cost a lot of money but coins aren&rsquo;t dropped very frequently from dispatched opponents. Dungeon interiors are randomly generated each time they are beaten. Not completely, as each room is mostly the same, just placed in a different order while housing different items. This includes forges used to craft better gear. Meaning that unless you forgo completing a dungeon once a forge was found, you&rsquo;d have to go back and search for another in these randomized areas to craft. That is until you can upgrade one of your shops to include one in the main town. But then that goes back to the lack of coin issue. Certain hunts (the only thing resembling side quests) can only be started by obtaining an item that randomly spawns in a particular dungeon. And because the dungeons interiors are randomly generated&hellip;well, you can see where I&rsquo;m going here. Money, experience, crafting stations, even the means of doing a side quest can be hard to come by.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/battle-chasers-screen-3.jpg" alt="battle-chasers-screen-3" /><br /><br />In order to complete Nightwar, I had to grind completed dungeons over and over. Some of which had to have their difficulty settings raised so I could potentially get better loot. I hunted nearly all of the special bosses, equipped two of the most powerful items in the game (I unlocked Gully and Red Monika&rsquo;s legendary weapons) and I still had trouble leveling up enough to face the game&rsquo;s final bosses. While I certainly felt accomplished by the time the credits rolled, that feeling was overwhelmed by my need to be done with the game. The adherence to old RPG staples, mainly the grind-heavy gameplay, bleeding into most of the game&rsquo;s mechanics sucked out all of the fun. And given Airship&rsquo;s <a class="external" href="http://community.airshipsyndicate.com/t/steam-and-gog-new-patch-is-live-oct-12-2017-v-23098-update/3428">announcement of a patch</a> to adjust these balancing issues, it would seem that I wasn&rsquo;t the only person complaining. Add in some glitches &ndash; one of which that often crashed the game right before a certain boss fight &ndash; long load times and frame rate issues and perhaps one can understand why I wanted to cut my time with this game short.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/battle-chasers-screen-2.jpg" alt="battle-chasers-screen-2" /><br /><br />Of course, there were some highlights. Little things like no random enemy encounters, a cool system that rewards you for finding/reading lore, and great turn based combat helped to stave off some gameplay fatigue. I especially enjoyed all of Nightwar&rsquo;s strategic elements, including the awesome &ldquo;overcharge&rdquo; mechanic that allows you to build extra energy for casting strong abilities. This is tempered by a turn-based system that changes a character&rsquo;s position on a time line based on how they attack. It works like this: normal attacks are instantly executed when picked. Though they are weaker than special abilities, they provide overcharge per use. This overcharge provides a buffer to your mana pool and is used first when performing certain moves. So instead of using 20 mana points to heal your party or summoning lighting, you&rsquo;ll use however many points of overcharge you&rsquo;ve built up first. Ideally, you&rsquo;d want to use a few normal attacks before a stronger one in order to save mana. That changes if you&rsquo;re in dire need of something (like a heal). <br /><br />Regardless of what you choose, the time it takes to act must be considered. The strongest moves usually take the most time, pushing a character further down the line &ndash; enemies who might have attacked after Gully completed her turn, can do so beforehand. Sometimes it&rsquo;s better to go last though. When an enemy starts casting an ability, like you, they&rsquo;ll be repositioned on the time line. This is because it takes a turn to set up these larger moves and another to unleash them. Using a stun ability will stop them from casting, wasting their second turn. Meaning that they&rsquo;ll need to take two more turns to attack if they choose to do that move again. <br /><br />Then there are the Bursts. These are powerful moves that can change the tide of battle &ndash; like the limit breaks from the Final Fantasy series. Taking and receiving damage slowly builds a burst meter. Each level of the meter allows for a different Burst per character. These moves are great because not only are they really strong, they are also performed instantly. Everyone in your party shares from the bar, so if one character uses all three levels during their turn, you&rsquo;ll have to build it back up before using it with another. The balancing of Bursts adds another layer of strategy on top of everything else, giving players a well-rounded arsenal to play with. This is somewhat bittersweet as a strategically thrilling battle still leaves a bitter taste when it is rewarded with little XP to share between my characters and minimal additional loot&hellip;</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/battle-chasers-screen-4.jpg" alt="battle-chasers-screen-4" /><br /><br />There are plenty of things that I&rsquo;m neglecting to mention. That said, none of it changes how I felt when playing Battle Chasers: Nightwar. This title exceled at producing intense fights, where strategic thinking is needed in order to win. It is visually pleasing, with aesthetics reminiscent of its comic book origins. And the musical score is enchanting, often altering the mood of an event with a change in melody, but not so much so that it alienates itself from the larger theme. Outside of these positive attributes, Nightwar struggles. The game&rsquo;s design philosophy seems to be stuck in the past. As if the point was to make the player grind in hopes of padding the experience, a notion supported by how lackluster the campaign is; the plot can literally be summed up with &ldquo;Thank you heroes! But Destra has fled to another labyrinth&rdquo;. All of this is coming from someone who really wanted to enjoy this game. As the landscape became flooded with shooters, open world experiences, and shoddy survival games, I rooted for this turn-based RPG. Sadly, it did not meet my expectations! <br /><br />Gameplay: 5<br />The turn-based combat is the saving grace. Most of everything else is either riddled with glitches or poorly designed mechanics, none of which is helped by the poor plot. <br /><br />Graphics: 9<br />I like the comic-book stylings.<br /><br />Sound: 8<br />The soundtrack is well done.<br /><br />Replay Value: 1<br />Even with the optional New Game +, I had very little reason to keep adventuring once the credits rolled. <br /><br />Final Score: &nbsp;<br /><br />5.8<br /><br /></p> /microsoft/post/battle-chasers:-nightwar Wed, 1 Nov 2017 12:00:00 Dishonored: Death of the Outsider <p>Reviewed By: Kenneth Seward Jr.<br />System: Xbox One (Also on PS4, PC) <br />Genre: Action/Stealth<br />Rated: M<br />Players: 1<br />Cost: $29.99<br />Release Date: 09/15/2017<br />Publisher: Bethesda<br />Developer: Arkane Studios<br /><br />The Dishonored series is known for empowering the player. This was done by utilizing multiple systems that would alter the world based on our choices during different events. The biggest example of this came by way of the chaos system, which tracked how many characters were slain over the course of the game. Killing everyone standing in your way or opting for a more humane way of dealing with enemies meant the difference between a negative or positive ending. <br /><br />While this was deemed a good thing by critics and fans alike, I have always felt that Arkane was being a bit unfair. That the sense of urgency I had in how the plot unfolded was corrupted by the chaos system for two main reasons. The first was that the world was negatively impacted by killing people; the higher levels of chaos didn&rsquo;t just give you a bad ending, it made the game more difficult. The second reason was this notion of a &ldquo;good ending&rdquo; &hellip;which, if you look closely, means true ending. This is evident in Dishonored: Death of the Outsider as the entire premise was made possible by one of the endings of Dishonored: The Knife of Dunwall &ndash; Billie Lurk&rsquo;s current behavior and personality is directly tied to that expansion&rsquo;s level of chaos&hellip;</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/dishonored-death-of-the-outsider-screen-2.jpg" alt="dishonored-death-of-the-outsider-screen-2" /><br /><br />Basically, there was never a choice. I mean, you can choose your own path. But there was pressure, psychologically/subconsciously to push you towards a certain play style. At least, that&rsquo;s the way I felt &ndash; who doesn&rsquo;t want to see the &ldquo;real&rdquo; ending when playing a game &ndash; which is why when I learned that Arkane had removed the Chaos system in Death of the Outsider, it was freeing. I still made morally sound choices that ultimately affected the story. But I felt better about making them; there were no arbitrary mechanics &ldquo;forcing&rdquo; me to do &ldquo;the right thing&rdquo;. The difficulty didn&rsquo;t change if I chose to kill someone or couldn&rsquo;t find a way to get rid of them without killing them. Just a change in a newspaper clipping, a change in the guards. But nothing that made things so difficult that it hindered my enjoyment of the game. No increased infestations of rats or blood flies.<br /><br />Other changes, like removing the need to find magic elixirs and granting every ability upfront, supplements this new found freedom. Instead of focusing on gaining certain abilities, I was able to more immediately concentrate on the mission at hand. Taking down the Outsider is a lofty goal. That&rsquo;s not to say our protagonists, Billie Lurk and her mentor Daud, aren&rsquo;t talented assassins. It&rsquo;s just that the Outsider is like a God &ndash; he&rsquo;s the one who&rsquo;s been bestowing dark magic to select individuals for centuries. Thankfully, a cult called the Eyeless worship the Void (the place where he resides). They&rsquo;ve compiled all sorts of artifacts, ancient text, and more in hopes of one day meeting the Outsider. It&rsquo;s possible that they also know how to kill him or at the very least, found a way to reach the Void. Infiltrating their secret meetings and learning all I could was a tricky, yet entertaining endeavor thanks to some of the game&rsquo;s new abilities.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/dishonored-death-of-the-outsider-screen.jpg" alt="dishonored-death-of-the-outsider-screen" /><br /><br />Billie&rsquo;s bread and butter is the Displace ability. Similar to Blink, Displace allows her to teleport a short distance away. The difference though, is that it creates a marker that needs to be placed in the environment. What&rsquo;s great is that Billie can teleport to the marker even if it means going through solid objects; as long as she has line of sight on the marker she can teleport to it. The trick is to find a way to place the marker on the other side of these objects. This is where another ability called Foresight comes in. Using it will cause you to safely &ldquo;ghost&rdquo; around the level, spectating where all of the nearby enemies are for a few seconds. It can also place a marker in areas your physical body can&rsquo;t get into. For instance, it&rsquo;s possible to use Foresight to move through a vent into a locked house and place a marker inside a bedroom. You could then use Displace to teleport through the bedroom&rsquo;s window, even though there are bars blocking your access.<br /><br />My favorite ability is called Semblance. This one allows you to take the face of a living NPC (after knocking them out of course), disguising yourself in hopes of entering an otherwise, inaccessible area. The catch is that if someone sees you attacking someone, the person&rsquo;s body who&rsquo;s face you stole is found, or if you switch abilities you&rsquo;ll blow your cover. Not only that, but it constantly drains power. Meaning, you&rsquo;ll need to get where you&rsquo;re going in the fewest steps possible. <br /><br />These powers help to sidestep some of the obstacles found in other Dishonored titles. To keep things challenging, Arkane thought up some interesting problems for Billie to solve. Environments are littered with guards, traps like electric floors prevent easy access to objectives, and interesting architecture make maneuvering around without being seen difficult. Curve balls like dogs who can sniff you out even when using Semblance are thrown in from time to time. All of it cultivates an engaging experience &ndash; where the going can get tough but in a way that allows you to seek out unique solutions using all of Billie&rsquo;s powers. &nbsp;</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/dishonored-death-of-the-outsider-screen-3.jpg" alt="dishonored-death-of-the-outsider-screen-3" /><br /><br />Stealthy traversing seedy environments while searching for clues and dispatching enemies is as entertaining as ever. Even more so thanks to the removal of the chaos system. I only wish the story wasn&rsquo;t so ambiguous. By the time the credits rolled, I knew the gist of what was going on and why Billie sought out the Outsider, but I still had a lot of unanswered questions. For instance, I found out how the Outsider came to be but not the why. And the why is really important because it acts as one of the supporting elements that holds up the story; the entire Dishonored universe hinges on what happened to this character. Not explaining things completely makes the ending(s) feel less impactful. Your final choice will make sense for the most part but it won&rsquo;t matter as much as it could have if this missing information was present. <br /><br />It&rsquo;s ironic how vague I have to be in hopes of not spoiling anything, while criticizing how vague certain parts of the story are. The truth is though, the expansion wasn&rsquo;t created just for gamers to don the shoes of Billie Lurk. I assume it was also created to shed some light on the more enigmatic elements of the Dishonored world. Namely the Outsider. Now to be fair, it&rsquo;s possible that I missed some lore found in a discarded note or a random book. That said, I shouldn&rsquo;t have to search through archives to find clarity on an important plot point. Death of the Outsider is definitely still worth checking out of course. It just isn&rsquo;t a great as it could have been! <br /><br />Gameplay: 9<br />Dishonored: Death of the Outsider encourages player agency in ways that the other Dishonored games couldn&rsquo;t. It&rsquo;s an entertaining romp that is only hindered by a vague narrative. <br /><br />Graphics:&nbsp; 7<br />The same as Dishonored 2: the stylized world and pastel colors work well together but the finer details struggle to stay in focus. <br /><br />Sound: 10<br />The voice work and music were great, again. <br /><br />Replay Value: 8<br />Complete the game once and you&rsquo;ll unlock a Game + mode that allows the use of powers featured in Dishonored 2. This in turn creates a reason to go back through the game; you&rsquo;ll be the most powerful character besides the Outsider. <br /><br />Final Score: <br /><br />8.5<br /><br /></p> /microsoft/post/dishonored:-death-of-the-outsider Sat, 7 Oct 2017 12:00:00