United Front Gaming http://unitedfrontgaming.com Friday The 13th: The Game /microsoft/post/friday-the-13th:-the-game Fri, 26 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 Rise & Shine <p>Reviewed By: Ricardo Benitez<br />System: Xbox One (also on PC)<br />Genre: Action<br />Rated: M<br />Players: 1<br />Cost: $14.99<br />Release Date: 01/13/17<br />Publisher: Adult Swim Games<br />Developer: Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team<br />&nbsp;<br />I am currently facing one of the big bosses featured in Rise &amp; Shine. Roughly halfway through the game, I run into a myriad of bullets signifying a brick wall. As I dodge about, I try to usher my remote guided bullet to where it needs to go. Failing, I end up dying. Again and again; I&rsquo;m just not quick enough to juggle my armaments and land hits before being blown away. I'm upset. REALLY upset! Like throw my controller across the room and journey outside for a much needed breather. And yet, I&rsquo;m so driven to beat the game that I jump back in, guns blazing&hellip; <br /><br />Rise &amp; Shine is arcade shooter with puzzle platforming elements &ndash; a combination of two genres, offering up twice the challenge. It follows the exploits of Rise, the game&rsquo;s young protagonist, after his planet is assaulted by Nexgen Space Grunts. During their attack, he witnesses the death of the Legendary Warrior (who looks suspiciously like a certain Nintendo character that is involved in many Legends... eh? eh?!) and is given a magical, wise-cracking gun named Shine. Together, these two heroes take it to the grunts. Fun times!</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/rise-and-shine-screen.jpg" alt="rise-and-shine-screen" /><br /><br />As the game progresses, you&rsquo;ll blast an assortment of bad guys, dodge a multitude of projectiles, and platform your way through each level. New gameplay mechanics are introduced in the form of special bullets. Like the aforementioned guided bullet, used to solve puzzles as well as murder stupid difficult bosses. The idea is to switch between these different bullets, utilizing the right ammo for a given situation. That said, there is an art to the juggling; this isn't a run-n-gun type of game in the traditional sense. You must use the Left Trigger and Right Analog stick to aim, then right trigger to shoot. Bumper buttons are also utilized to switch between different types of bullets while the Left Stick is used to move Rise. It isn&rsquo;t a bad control scheme but it does take some getting used to. I would even venture to say I'm still not used to it. I have a problem with aiming in this game. I've logged around eight hours and I still miss. A lot!<br /><br />A lot of my missed shots can be attributed to all of the dashing and jumping I had to do while contending with the controls. With so many enemies converging on my small patch of cover, it grew difficult to switch between different ammo and dodge around &ndash; forget about aiming. This of course can lead to a frustrating experience with later levels practically besiege by enemy bullets. That&rsquo;s not to say that I wasn&rsquo;t entertained. Completing tough battles brings about such a sense of accomplishment that I can't put the controller down. I mean, just like in any other game I enjoyed toppling bosses. But some of these guys were so tough that just surviving was a feat; I cherished the challenge if you will. &nbsp;</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/rise-and-shine-screen-3.jpg" alt="rise-and-shine-screen-3" /><br /><br />Taking a step away from the gameplay, Rise &amp; Shine&rsquo;s colorful aesthetics are absolutely stellar. So much is hidden in the backgrounds and the animation is the best I've seen in a long while; even better than the awesome Rayman Origins/Legends. If it wasn't for the barrage bullets covering the screen and the constant threat of death, I would say to take time and smell the roses. There is just so much going on visually, it&rsquo;s a shame that most of it is missed due to the action.&nbsp; The soundtrack was also great as it effectively drew me into the action. Without missing a beat, the score would swell and I&rsquo;d be up to my eyeballs in explosions.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/rise-and-shine-screen-2.jpg" alt="rise-and-shine-screen-2" /><br /><br />Be prepared to die. A lot. At first is will be due to getting used to the controls. Then because of the bullet-hell encounters. You must have fortitude to continue through. I've rage quit a few times&hellip; occasionally crying into a pillow for few hours. But I always returned. I don&rsquo;t know if I&rsquo;m a gaming masochist or an adrenaline junky. Either way, I was mostly entertained!<br /><br />Gameplay: 9<br />The platforming is great and responsive, however shooting feels a bit loose for the accuracy needed. That said, it is fun once you&rsquo;ve accepted how difficult it is to complete. <br />&nbsp;<br />Graphics: 10<br />The beautiful hand drawn stylized artwork, both background and sprites are the best I've seen in years.<br />&nbsp;<br />Sound: 9<br />The music helps to get the adrenaline pumping!<br />&nbsp;<br />Replay Value: 6<br />Would most gamers come back after finishing the game? Probably not. That said, those of us who stick it out to the end aren&rsquo;t the average gamer anyways. We&rsquo;d do another tour&hellip;as long as our controllers are still intact&hellip;<br />&nbsp;<br />Final Score:<br />&nbsp;<br />8.5<br /><br /></p> /microsoft/post/rise---shine Wed, 25 Jan 2017 12:00:00 Path of Exile is Coming to Xbox One! <p>Written By: Kenneth Seward Jr.<br />Date: 01/19/17<br /><br />Grinding Gear Games recently announced that their hit online ARPG, Path of Exile, is coming to the Xbox One later this year. Finally, console gamers can take a crack at the award-winning Free-to-play title! <br /><br />Like most good ports, this version will include all five of the previous expansions. It&rsquo;s also include the new content coming to the PC (via the 3.0.0 expansion) as well as the long-awaited Act V. Basically, what this means is a whole lot of content for gamers to playthrough.<br /><br /><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/D7GGf4-1O-E" width="854" height="480"></iframe><br /><br /><em>"For three years, PC players have enjoyed Path of Exile's visceral combat, deep character customization and addictive item hunt,"</em> said Chris Wilson, <br />co-founder of Grinding Gear Games. <em>"We have spent over a year adapting Path of Exile specifically to the Xbox One, creating an experience equivalent to playing with mouse and keyboard on PC." </em><br /><br />While it&rsquo;s great that PoE is making it&rsquo;s console debut, I&rsquo;m a little concerned by the exclusion of local cooperative options. At least, that&rsquo;s the vibe I get from the trailer. With Diablo 3 being such a hit on consoles, which offers couch co-op, it seems like a misstep not to include it here. That said, being a f2p title, updates are always on the way. <br /><br />Path of Exile is coming exclusively to the Xbox One later this year. Feel free to check back here as we continue to cover all things gaming! <br /><br /></p> /microsoft/post/path-of-exile-is-coming-to-xbox-one Thu, 19 Jan 2017 12:00:00 PlatinumGames Responds to Scalebound Cancellation! <p>Written By: Kenneth Seward Jr.<br />Date: 01/11/17<br /><br />Microsoft&rsquo;s announcement of Scalebound&rsquo;s cancellation has caused a stir with fans. Outside looking in, the game appeared to be coming along nicely. I mean, the past E3 demo looked cool!<br /><br />While we don&rsquo;t know why Microsoft shut down development on the game, we might have gotten a clue as to what happened via PlatinumGames&rsquo; <a class="external" href="https://www.platinumgames.com/official-blog/article/9223">Official Blog</a>. Here the developer states how they are sorry that Microsoft Studios announced the cancellation of Scalebound &ndash; as in, it was Microsoft&rsquo;s decision, not ours? They also state that they are disappointed things didn&rsquo;t work out given how they were looking forward to completing the game (paraphrasing).</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/scalebound-screen-2.jpg" alt="scalebound-screen-2" /><br /><br />Of course, this doesn&rsquo;t prove much of anything; I&rsquo;m sure Microsoft is just as bummed by the cancelation as Platinum. Maybe PlatinumGames needed more time and Microsoft refused to play ball. Or maybe Platinum missed important milestones needed to secure further funding. One thing is for sure, MS has been canceling games left and right (remember <a class="external" href="http://unitedfrontgaming.com/microsoft/post/3313/microsoft-announces-lionhead-press-play-closures-">Fable Legends</a>?), most of which looked promising; not like the Phantom Dust remake that only existed publically as a teaser trailer at E3. Hopefully, other interesting titles won&rsquo;t meet the same fate. I really want to play Sea of Thieves&hellip;<br /><br /></p> /microsoft/post/platinumgames-responds-to-scalebound-cancellation- Wed, 11 Jan 2017 12:00:00 Dishonored 2 <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: $59.99<br />Release Date: 11/11/2016<br />Publisher: Bethesda<br />Developer: Arkane Studios<br /><br />There is a very good chance that I am the only person who doesn&rsquo;t believe a sequel needs to be better than its original work of art. I feel that, as long as things progress in a way that allows for meaningful growth amongst the main characters, then everything is ok. Of course, that&rsquo;s not to say I don&rsquo;t enjoy a good upping of the ante. It just means that creating more of the same doesn&rsquo;t automatically equal a failed attempt at something great.<br /><br />Dishonored 2 takes place fifteen years after the events of the first game. Emily Kaldwin has been restored to the throne in Dunwall and her father, Corvo Attano, acts as her bodyguard and mentor. For the most part, life has been good to these two. Emily is doing her best to act as a proper Empress despite loathing the politics that comes with such a position. She&rsquo;d much rather spend time amongst the people like an ordinary person or continue her secret training with her father. Corvo, on the other hand, is content with his station as it&rsquo;s the easiest way to protect Emily from would-be assassins. Even though they aren&rsquo;t living in dire straits like before, recent events have proved a bit concerning. Someone calling themselves the &ldquo;Crown Killer&rdquo; has been murdering anyone who speaks out against the Empress. This of course has lead people to believe that Emily has put a price on the heads of her detractors&hellip;</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/dishonored-2-review-screen.jpg" alt="dishonored-2-review-screen" /><br /><br />Things really take a turn for the worse during a ceremony to honor Emily&rsquo;s mother, Jessamine. As things were about to get underway, a witch named Delilah Copperspoon* crashes the party. She tells everyone that she is Jessamine&rsquo;s half-sister and true heir to the throne, right before staging a coup with some of Emily&rsquo;s guards. Her loyal forces drop like flies after succumbing to stabs in the back. Even Corvo fails to put up a decent fight. In mere moments, Emily&rsquo;s world is again turned upside down. What happens next differs slightly depending on which character is chosen to lead the narrative. I picked Emily, which resulted in me being knocked unconscious as Corvo is turned to stone.<br /><br />Obviously, our hero of choice is forced to flee Dunwall; with the royal guard cutting down anyone aligned with Emily and subjects who think she caused the deaths of political rivals, there&rsquo;s no safe haven in the city. Thankfully, an old friend of Corvo just happened to be visiting that day. Using the skills learned from her father, Emily makes her way to this friend&rsquo;s boat before heading to the city of Karnaca. The good news: Emily is somewhat safe. The bad news: Karnaca is just as corrupt as Dunwall used to be.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/dishonored-2-review-screen-4.jpg" alt="dishonored-2-review-screen-4" /><br /><br />From here, the plot unfolds like it did in the first game. The player will have to deal with Delilah&rsquo;s co-conspirators &ndash; either by using lethal force or some other, morally sound way &ndash; before heading back to Dunwall. Upon doing so, they&rsquo;ll slowly learn how things came to be as they are now. Secret meetings, dark experiments, black magic &ndash; these surface level encounters do a decent job of explaining what&rsquo;s going on. That said, players who delve deeper to really understand the motives of each character will be rewarded with some of the most interesting lore this side of a Tolkien novel. Arkane Studios should be commended on their efforts to make Dishonored&rsquo;s world a living, breathing, yet horrible place for gamers to visit.&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br />While most of the plot presented is acceptable, I have some reservations when it comes to how Emily/Corvo&rsquo;s immediate troubles were handled. The issue with following the previous game&rsquo;s formula is that this isn&rsquo;t the previous game. Corvo was locked away for six months after being accused of killing Jessamine. When he&rsquo;s finally freed by a loyalist group, he learns that the political landscape has changed. Certain people have come into power which affected the wellbeing of those living in Dunwall, including that of a young Emily. His motive for revenge wasn&rsquo;t just to get back at those who framed him but also to clear the way for his daughter to take the throne; if any of these people where left in a position of power, they could pose a threat to her like they did her mother. So it made sense for Corvo to go after these particular people before ultimately challenging the current rulers of Dunwall. <br /><br />This set up doesn&rsquo;t work a second time around. Sure, there are people in high places who wanted to place Delilah on the throne. But to go after them instead of Delilah initially felt like a waste of time. For one, very little time had passed since the coup. Anyone who had ascended to a seat of power wouldn&rsquo;t have been able to establish a strong grip on the position. Not everyone was loyal to Delilah as those outside of her circle barely knew who she was. Taking down her friends in Karnaca wouldn&rsquo;t move Dunwall&rsquo;s political needle in anyway. And even if it did, our heroes don&rsquo;t take advantage of these situations. The best example I could give is how Emily handles the Crown Killer. After finding proof that she had nothing to do with those murders, she goes back to hunting the other people on her list. At no time did she use that information to prove her innocence.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/dishonored-2-review-screen-3.jpg" alt="dishonored-2-review-screen-3" /><br /><br />The other thing that made this set up bothersome was the weak cast of characters. I counted a total of three adversaries that actually had an interesting persona. Most seem to be just there as a place holder, their past giving&rsquo;s being more intriguing than the person I&rsquo;m actually hunting; a Duke who the game says is vile is shown to be rather tame upon meeting. By comparison,&nbsp; when I learned more about Delilah&rsquo;s background, I was all the more disappointed. There is so much to her story, that when I put her next to these blank slates, I felt robbed. Robbed of a noteworthy enemy, a charismatic rouge, or a greedy scoundrel. The archetypes are there, they just aren&rsquo;t fully utilized.<br /><br />There are some standout encounters here and there though, especially in the last third of the game when the truth really starts to manifest. One thing I have to note is how the story changes based on your actions. Just like in the first game, if you kill everyone in sight, you&rsquo;ll increase the world&rsquo;s chaos. Taking a non-lethal approach will of course do the opposite. Things change depending on the overall level of chaos. Dialogue between characters will change, people will become more or less hostile, and there will be more bloodfly infestations (more on them later). If you&rsquo;re looking for a positive outcome and a safer environment, low chaos is the way to go. As a game mechanic, I still feel like I did when I reviewed the first Dishonored. <em>Although an increasingly dark and sinister environment is an interesting story element, it almost negatively impacted the gameplay; heightened chaos meant much greater difficulty.</em> Basically, the game subtly pushes you to be good while promoting a &ldquo;do it your way&rdquo; approach. It would have been nice to have the option of being bad or good without impacting the difficulty overall.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/dishonored-2-review-screen-5.jpg" alt="dishonored-2-review-screen-5" /><br /><br />With all the different choices it&rsquo;s possible that a better explanation of the events was present. Maybe the lack of relevance for much of the early parts of my first playthrough was based on my choices as Emily. Then again, I didn&rsquo;t see much difference when I played as Corvo (I didn&rsquo;t complete the game with him like I did Emily though). Besides providing reasons to start a new campaign, the open story did give reason to add interesting gameplay elements. Or rather, Arkane was looking to bolster the options seen in the last game and provided a multifaceted story to help in that regard. Either way, there&rsquo;s a lot to like here despite who you play as. <br /><br />Emily doesn&rsquo;t start off with the best powers. Her &ldquo;Far Reach&rdquo; ability, while similar to Corvo&rsquo;s &ldquo;Blink&rdquo;, isn&rsquo;t as good thanks to the fact that guards can see her pulling herself across a room; Corvo actually teleports, making his movements harder to track.&nbsp; Once it&rsquo;s upgraded though, Far Reach proves more useful. It goes from pulling Emily around to pickpocketing important items from NPCs at a distance. It even allows her to grab enemies and fling them back towards her to either kill or subdue. Then there was &ldquo;Domino&rdquo;, a spell that connects multiple enemies together so that whatever happens to one happens to them all. Using both abilities in tandem made clearing densely guarded areas an easy feat. I&rsquo;d link a couple of guards together, pulling one over to me for a choke hold, which resulted in room full of unconscious soldiers. <br /><br />These supernatural powers made way for some serious watercooler moments. Though, the shining star in my eyes had to be the hand to hand combat options. New to Dishonored 2 is the ability grab an enemy after a parried attack. From here you can put them in a choke hold and knock them out. What this means is that, if you&rsquo;re seen by an enemy and are forced to fight them, you don&rsquo;t have to kill them. Every stealth-based game that promotes non-lethal options going forward needs to have a mechanic like this or they&rsquo;ll fail their audience. Period!&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/dishonored-2-screen-3.jpg" alt="dishonored-2-screen-3" /> &nbsp;<br />Beyond the action, I found Karnaca to be just as fun to explore as Dunwall was. Due to city position on the coast, a lot of its power comes from windmills. The strong winds often caused storms, blanketing the area with dust which alternated between helping or hindering my ability to sneak about. Some buildings have been condemned due to bloodfly infestations. These deadly bugs lay eggs in dead bodies, increasing their numbers whenever a foolish person tries to loot these decrepit places. For the player, however, these places could be valuable areas to explore. The lack of security makes them a great choice for circumventing guard posts and walls of light &ndash; gates that block access to more secure locations. Just as long as you don&rsquo;t make any sudden moves or get too close to a hive, drawing the ire of the bugs. <br /><br />The dusty streets of Karnaca allowed for multiple routes to and from a mission&rsquo;s location. Once there, you were greeted with more history &ndash; some noteworthy events may have taken place there years prior, coloring how the place is currently used. Like The Clockwork Mansion, which is easily one of the more fascinating levels featured here. Pulling certain levers throughout the mansion will cause your immediate soundings to literally transform. Stairs will fold and collapse into the floor, walls will rotate away, and large fixtures will slide across the room to make way for something else. None of this is done via a cinematic either. You can walk into these spaces, descending or ascending along with the movable parts of the room. These transformations are needed to solve puzzles but just from a visual perspective, it was quite fascinating.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/Dishonored-2-gif.gif" alt="Dishonored-2-gif" /><br /><br />Speaking of how things look, Dishonored 2 is a bit of a mixed bag visually. On one hand the stylized characters and environments are lovely. I especially like the soft, pastel like colors that border dangerously close to being muted. On the other hand, the game seems to have difficult time dealing with the finer details. Textures will often bleed onto objects as you approach them. Look away for a second and then back and you&rsquo;ll notice they&rsquo;re missing again. In some places, these details wouldn&rsquo;t load in at all. What I found most odd was the prioritization of certain &ldquo;objects&rdquo; over others.&nbsp; The ocean never lost its luster, looking like a moving oil painting. Emily&rsquo;s hands however looked rough for most of the game; not rough like she&rsquo;s had a difficult life but rough in terms of the anti-aliasing. Something you saw all the time was somehow inferior to something you only saw on the way to a mission. <br /><br />All and all, Dishonored 2 is a good game. The gameplay is just as engaging as before, the additions to certain mechanics fuels this aspect. It does have some rough edges though. Not so much in how it shares the original game&rsquo;s DNA &ndash; that I&rsquo;m totally fine with. It&rsquo;s in how the story is written, which narratives are initially emphasized, and how many memorable characters are present. It&rsquo;s true that Emily&rsquo;s character developed over the course of the game, but a lot of her growth was tied to the level of chaos instead of any meaningful encounters with other characters. What resulted was a plot that felt a little lopsided at times. And while I wouldn&rsquo;t go as far as saying that this sequel wasn&rsquo;t needed (I was mostly entertained), it didn&rsquo;t sell me on its relevance&hellip;not completely. <br /><br />Gameplay: 8<br />The entertaining stealth mechanics help to provide an enjoyable experience. Plot wise, the game could have been much better though.<br /><br />Graphics: 7<br />The stylized world and pastel colors really work well together. Too bad the finer details were lost during production. <br /><br />Sound: 10<br />The voice work and music were great. <br /><br />Replay Value: 8<br />Emily and Corvo&rsquo;s journeys are different enough to warrant a second playthrough. The chaos system and different story threads also help in this regard. <br /><br />Final Score: <br /><br />8.2<br /><em><br />*Delilah Copperspoon was actually introduced in the <a class="external" href="http://unitedfrontgaming.com/post/1939/dishonored:-the-brigmore-witches">Brigmore Witches</a> DLC for the original Dishonored. You don&rsquo;t have to play that expansion to understand what&rsquo;s going on, currently. It does help, however, to clear up a few things about her past. </em><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /></p> /microsoft/post/dishonored-2 Sun, 4 Dec 2016 12:00:00 Darksiders: Warmastered Edition <p>Reviewed By: Ricardo Benitez<br />System: Xbox One (Also on PS4, Wii U, PC)<br />Genre: Action/Adventure<br />Rated: M<br />Players: 1<br />Cost: $19.99<br />Release Date: 11/22/2016<br />Publisher: THQ Nordic<br />Developer: Vigil Games/Kaiko<br /><br />Seemingly returning from the land of forgotten games, Darksiders is back. After Darksiders II: The Deathinitive Edition, I always wondered if the powers that be would go back and give a bit of remastered love to the original Darksiders. Wish granted &ndash; Darksiders has been Warmastered&hellip;er&hellip;remastered? <br /><br />Darksiders: Warmastered Edition is of course, better than the original that was released six years ago. Not so much in the gameplay department as the controls and such remain untouched. The visuals have been revamped though. Sharper textures and other graphical aids make the game pop. The developers have also, most notably, upped the framerate and resolution to 60fps and 1080p with 4K support (something PS4 Pro/PC users should be happy about). It is absolutely mind blowing to play this with such a buttery smooth framerate; seriously, wait until you ride War&rsquo;s fiery steed. It is truly an awe inspiring sight.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/darksiders-warmastered-screen.jpg" alt="darksiders-warmastered-screen" /><br /><br />Taking a step back for those who haven&rsquo;t had the pleasure of playing the original game, Darksiders follows the exploits of War, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Certain steps need to be taken in order to kick off the end of the world. The Horsemen are there to make sure these requirements are met at the right time. Unfortunately, the apocalypse starts prematurely. Making matters worse, War is blamed for the downfall of man; starting things up early destroyed the balance that was kept between the armies of Heaven and Hell. Because of this, the demons were able to triumph over the angles and humans alike. In order to clear his name, War will need to battle his way through the ruins of Earth in search of the true culprits. <br /><br />The premise is as exciting as the gameplay &ndash; when asked how to describe Darksiders, I always say it&rsquo;s a mix between God of War and The Legend of Zelda. Large open areas lead to &ldquo;dungeons&rdquo; filed with puzzles. New equipment allows access to areas previously outside of War&rsquo;s reach. Action packed fights and large boss characters are sprinkled throughout. Basically, it&rsquo;s a good time waiting to happen. There are some sticking points that were carried over from the original game. While they haven&rsquo;t aged well, the game is still really entertaining. &nbsp;</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/darksiders-warmastered-screen-2.jpg" alt="darksiders-warmastered-screen-2" /><br /><br />Going back to what was enhanced, namely the graphics. The game really does look good. Not as good as AAA games released nowadays, but much better than before. I love that the upgrades didn&rsquo;t harm the art style. And I have yet to see the frame rate drop below 60*. Everything else, from the music to the voice acting is still great. With everyone going gaga over the next biggest baddest military shooter or long awaited action RPG, I&rsquo;m sure most will overlook this title. Personally, I&rsquo;ve already recommended this version to friends looking for something different. An inexpensive thrill that&rsquo;s sure to fill an action adventure void we seem to be suffering from.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/darksiders-warmastered-screen-3.jpg" alt="darksiders-warmastered-screen-3" /><br /><br />THQ Nordic and gang excel at showing the other companies how a remaster should be handled; with appropriate loving care and respect to both the developer and the fans. It does what all remasters should set out to do. Enhance without destroying the source material!<br /><br />Gameplay: 9<br />Just as fun as it was over six years ago!<br /><br />Graphics: 9<br />Looks like Darksiders, but prettier. The bump in resolution and framerate is an absolute dream.<br /><br />Sound: 10<br />Orchestral swells and superb acting by Mark Hamill and Phil Lamarr take this to a whole new apocalyptic level. <br /><br />Replay Value: 10<br />The remastering makes this 10 hour campaign worth playing through again and again.<br /><br />Final Score: <br /><br />9.5</p> <p><em>*The Wii U version is 30fps, not 60.</em></p> /microsoft/post/darksiders:-warmastered-edition Tue, 29 Nov 2016 12:00:00