United Front Gaming http://unitedfrontgaming.com UFG Goes Hands on With TESO: Morrowind! <p>Written By: Kenneth Seward Jr.<br />Date: 04/24/2017<br /><br />One of the great things about certain longstanding franchises is their ability to make the player feel like they belong. Stepping foot into the Commonwealth for the first time in Fallout 4 is a memorable experience. Not just because of the traumatic events that lead to its current state, but because we&rsquo;ve ventured through similar locals before; there is familiarity. The same can be said about the Elder Scrolls series, as most of them take place on the planet Nirn, specifically on the continent of Tamriel. The difference between each Elder Scrolls title was the time in which players visited this fantastical place. &nbsp;<br /><br />For this reason, it&rsquo;s understandable that fans of The Elders Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited are excited for the upcoming Morrowind expansion. That last time anyone had the pleasure of journeying to that region of Tamriel was back in 2002, when The Elder Scrolls III hit the scene. Heading back there fifteen years later is akin to going to a high school reunion after graduating college; despite the numerous monsters, cultists and Daedric hordes trying to kill us, it can be a nice place to visit&hellip;</p> <p>&nbsp;<img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/teso-marrowind-screen.jpg" alt="teso-marrowind-screen" /><br /><br />Even though this expansion takes place roughly 700 years prior to the events of The Elder Scrolls III, your hero&rsquo;s journey starts in a similar fashion &ndash; that is, it does if you create a new character. The brief intro ends with you being held captive on a slave ship headed towards Vivec City, the capital of Vvardenfell island. Your time in shackles is short lived however, thanks to a sneaky stowaway. Apparently, the ship&rsquo;s captain was kind enough to accrue a large bounty before tossing you amongst his other prisoners. This, of course, resulted in someone coming to claim his head (our stowaway). And because you look like you can handle yourself in a fight, she decides to free you in exchange for the extra muscle. What comes next is a series of fights that minimally act as a tutorial. Once you&rsquo;ve dispatched most of the slavers and freed some of their captives, you&rsquo;ll come face to face with the captain. This encounter culminates in his ship going up in flames as multiple explosions erupt from its bowels. From here, you&rsquo;ll again awaken to mixed company. I&rsquo;d assume with a concussion given the fact that you were knocked unconscious twice in one night. <br /><br />After you&rsquo;ve made it to Vivec City and subsequently cleared your name &ndash; the city&rsquo;s guards were concerned after finding you floating amongst the remains of the slave ship &ndash; you&rsquo;ll run into some of Lord Vivec&rsquo;s servants. For those that don&rsquo;t know, Lord Vivec is one of the three immortal god-kings of Morrowind and Vvardenfell&rsquo;s guardian. For years, he&rsquo;s helped to maintain peace by defending Morrowind from invasions and such. Things haven&rsquo;t been going so well for him as of late though. Someone or something is draining his power at a rapid pace, leaving him in a weakened state. This is a serious problem given his position as a protector; he&rsquo;s currently keeping a meteor from crashing into the city by suspending it in mid-air using his will alone. To find out what&rsquo;s going on without drawing the suspicion of those in his care (namely the people of Vvardenfell), he secretly sent servants to an ancient tomb not far from his palace. Before they could get on with the business of summoning someone of great importance, they&rsquo;re ambushed by Daedra. This is where you come in.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/teso-marrowind-screen-4.jpg" alt="teso-marrowind-screen-4" /><br /><br />Going any further into the story could lead into spoiler territory. However, what I can say was that the main quest line is rather entertaining for a longtime Scrolls fan. Some of it has to do with the quests themselves. While they aren&rsquo;t anything we haven&rsquo;t seen before gameplay-wise, at least not early on, the reasons I&rsquo;m gallivanting all over Morrowind are intriguing. Furthermore, there&nbsp; is this odd sense of nostalgia. Though I&rsquo;m revisiting a familiar place, it isn&rsquo;t what it once was. This is because of the passage of time or rather, the lack thereof. Take Vvardenfell for instance. One of the first things I noticed was all the construction going on; the citywasn&rsquo;t finished being built. <br /><br />It&rsquo;s hard to explain the feeling of going to a place &ldquo;before&rdquo; the first time you visited years prior&hellip;you know, because time travel isn&rsquo;t a thing. Of course, even if it were the same year in ESO time, it would still be different. For obvious reasons, the parts of Morrowind I explored are better realized than in the previous iteration. The mysterious home of the Dark Elves returns, bust in a different way.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/teso-marrowind-screen-5.jpg" alt="teso-marrowind-screen-5" /><br /><br />Now returning to my comment about choosing to begin a new character, you do have the option to use your previous ESO characters. The reason one might choose to start with a fresh face is because of the new Warden class. This nature-based magic user seems to be a combination of the Dragonknight (Tank) and Sorcerer (damage dealer/healer) classes which is interesting considering its role as a support. The Warden&rsquo;s three skill lines are Animal Companions, Green Balance and Winter&rsquo;s Embrace. The first allows one to summon animals during a fight but not in the way you&rsquo;d think. Instead of summoning them into battle as NPCs, he or she uses them as projectiles. For instance, the Scorch ability sends a row of Shalks (think giant crab) at enemies in a straight line. It&rsquo;s sure to do a decent amount of damage if properly positioned before casting. That said, the crabs don&rsquo;t stay in the battle like a Sorcerer&rsquo;s Familiar&rsquo;s or Winged Twilights. <br /><br />The Warden&rsquo;s Animal Ultimate does conjure a powerful ally in the War Bear though. Depending on the circumstance, he can either turn the tide of battle or give you enough time to heal by drawing the attacks of nearby enemies. The Green Balance skill line is all about helping to keep your group alive. The Fungal Growth skill allows the Warden to grow mushrooms that heal allies in a coned-shaped area in front of them. Healing Seed is similar, though it grows healing flowers in a large area. These types of abilities are good, but they don&rsquo;t allow for the Warden to out heal other classes (at least not early on). What makes them stand out though is the Warden&rsquo;s passive abilities, particularly Nature&rsquo;s Gift. At level 1, this passive restores 125 Magicka or Stamina whenever a Green Balance ability is used. While the Warden might not be able to heal very well right away, passives like this allow him or her to use their abilities more often, making up the efficacy deficit of this skill set. Combining this with something like Maturation, which grants &ldquo;minor toughness&rdquo; to temporally increase a player&rsquo;s max health, you start to see how useful this new class can be.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/teso-marrowind-screen-3.jpg" alt="teso-marrowind-screen-3" /><br /><br />The last skill line, Winter&rsquo;s Embrace, is more on the defensive side of things. Frost Cloak for instance, will wrap all nearby allies with a cloak of ice. This will grant them Major Resolve and Major Ward, increasing their physical and magickal resistance, respectively. The Frozen Gate ability is similar to the Dragonkight&rsquo;s Fiery Grip as it allows you to pull enemies to you. It isn&rsquo;t as good on activation because it requires them to run over it before being pulled (or in this case teleported). However, it does root them in place once they&rsquo;ve been pulled and if you morph it into Frozen Device, it&rsquo;ll also reduce their damage output.&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br />Ultimately, I found myself liking the Warden. I think this class is quite flexible especially if you&rsquo;re looking to dabble in all of the skill lines as opposed to focusing on one. I have some reservations when it comes to how similar it is to other classes at lower levels. They just seem to do the Warden&rsquo;s job better at first. That said, after a few levels the combinations of select abilities and passives make them a jack-of-all-trades&hellip;but in a good way. And while I can&rsquo;t speak of any end game variations or special builds given my limited time, I&rsquo;m sure the Warden will prove to be valuable asset to any party.&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/teso-marrowind-screen-2.jpg" alt="teso-marrowind-screen-2" /> &nbsp;<br /><br />Like always, there&rsquo;s so much to talk about when it comes to games of this ilk. I could write tons on the different locations, promising quest lines, and exciting dungeons. What you really need to know though is that Morrowind is more than worth your time. This is especially true if you&rsquo;ve played The Elders Scrolls III. The Warden seems like a good addition to the list of classes; I wish I had time to really dig into the different skill lines. Bottom line, if you&rsquo;ve never played ESO or stopped after reaching the level cap, Morrowind is a good reason to jump in or return when it launches June 6th! &nbsp;<br /><br /><strong>Editor&rsquo;s Note:</strong> <em>Feel free to read our <a class="external" href="http://unitedfrontgaming.com/post/2283/the-elder-scrolls-online-review-part-1">review</a> of The Elder Scrolls Online. Just know that the game has changed for the better since its release!</em> <br /><br /></p> /pc/post/ufg-goes-hands-on-with-teso:-morrowind Mon, 24 Apr 2017 12:00:00 Guardians of the Galaxy Episode 1: Tangled Up in Blue <p>Reviewed By: Kenneth Seward Jr.<br />System: PC (Also on Xbox One, PS4, iOS, Android) <br />Genre: Adventure<br />Rated: T<br />Players: 1<br />Cost: $24.99 (Full Season)<br />Release Date: 04/18/2017<br />Publisher: Telltale Games<br />Developer: Telltale Games<br /><br />I know I&rsquo;ve said this before but, Telltale is a machine. Their ability to release multiple licensed titles over a short period of time is nothing short of impressive. Not so much because of the time it takes to develop them &ndash; which isn&rsquo;t surprising given how &ldquo;small&rdquo; each adventure is &ndash; but because of their level of quality. Telltale has nearly perfected the episodic gaming approach to storytelling. <br /><br />Their latest series, based on Marvel&rsquo;s Guardians of the Galaxy, starts off with a bang in the most literal sense. Minutes in and Star-Lord (charming leader of the Guardians) is receiving a distress call from the Nova Corps. Apparently, Thanos is taking it to the Corps on a nearby Kree planet. The Guardians fly in to assist but are blown out of the sky&hellip;er&hellip;space by the mad titan. Their ship crashes right outside a Kree temple, which as luck would have it, happens to be where Thanos was headed. Unfortunately, they are too late to rescue the remaining Nova Corps though. Looking to make things right, the Guardians do something downright crazy. They venture forth in hopes of confronting Thanos on their own!</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/guardians-of-the-galaxy-ep-1-screen-2.jpg" alt="guardians-of-the-galaxy-ep-1-screen-2" /><br /><br /><strong>Side note:</strong> <em>I assume those of you who are interested in this first episode are aware of who these characters are. If you aren&rsquo;t, no worries as the game does a great job of explaining who&rsquo;s who. Besides, you can pretty much guess who is or isn&rsquo;t a good guy based on my review&hellip;</em><br /><br />&hellip;and so the hulking tattooed brute Drax the Destroyer, along with the other Guardians, took the fight to Thanos. Faces where punched, bodies were thrown, and energy blasts destroyed much of the environment. I won&rsquo;t go into what happened next beyond stating that things took an interesting turn. Fast forward a few hours later and our heroes are contemplating life as they knew it. Moral and existential dilemmas are coaxed out of each of them between celebratory shots of alcohol; just what does one do with oneself after a lifelong goal has been achieved? The short answer: get into a whole lot of trouble. <br /><br />&ldquo;Tangled Up in Blue&rdquo; does a good job of easing gamers into an already established narrative. Like the first episode of Telltale&rsquo;s Batman series, this isn&rsquo;t exactly an origin story. That said, it doesn&rsquo;t assume you know who these people are. Well, I mean, it does but not in a bad way; you&rsquo;re given enough information to easily follow along regardless of your level of GotG fandom. It also doesn&rsquo;t seem to be a rushed attempt to capitalize on the upcoming film. This could very well be a story ripped from the current comics, sans a character change here or there, providing a sense of adventure that only these characters can provide.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/guardians-of-the-galaxy-ep-1-screen.jpg" alt="guardians-of-the-galaxy-ep-1-screen" /><br /><br />Speaking of adventure, this episode is packed with action! What made the fighting entertaining was that you weren&rsquo;t just controlling Star-Lord. Sure, he&rsquo;s the main character when it comes to making tough decisions (moving the plot along) or solving this episode&rsquo;s brief puzzles. But when the blasters and swords come out, it&rsquo;s a team effort. During battle, I could go from pouncing on foes as Drax to swinging stone pillars as Groot with the game&rsquo;s smooth transitions between each hero&rsquo;s perspective. Not to sound cheesy, but it really felt like you were part of this group which, in part, strengthens the team aspect. <br /><br />Like most Telltale games, the talent behind these characters did their job well. Of course, Nolan North&rsquo;s Rocket Raccoon stole the show; like good depictions of the Joker, he just sounds like what we&rsquo;d imagine Rocket to sound if he were real. A good script lent to this achievement. With witty banter and well-placed jokes, there isn&rsquo;t much room for error. Building on the audio quality of the voice acting is the&nbsp; great soundtrack that paints key moments in nostalgic hues. When a character has a flash back to a certain time, so does the player but in a different way.&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br />From a visual stand point, this series gets high marks for graphical fidelity. Telltale&rsquo;s past titles had great aesthetics that made them appealing to look at. GotG is the closest they&rsquo;ve come to achieving a certain level of realism. Everything is still comic book-like with its bright color palette and stylized caricatures, but there&rsquo;s a sense of weight to the characters that was either missing or not fully realized before.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/gotg-screen.jpg" alt="gotg-screen" /><br /><br />All and all, &ldquo;Tangled Up in Blue&rdquo; was a solid introduction into the crazy that is GotG. Marvel fans will eat this stuff up. Most Telltale fans will be entertained as well. Here&rsquo;s hoping that the next instalment can continue to push the envelope in exciting ways!<br /><br />Gameplay: 10<br />The plot is interesting and the action segments are entertaining. There really isn&rsquo;t anything I can complain about. <br /><br />Graphics: 10<br />Most of Telltale games score well here. Still, GotG is one of the best-looking games they&rsquo;ve developed thus far.&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br />Sound: 10<br />The cast did a great job. And the music&hellip;I mean come on! <br /><br />Replay Value: 6<br />There are a few reasons to go back through this episode. But like every other episodic game, most will wait to see how their choices pan out as the series progresses. <br /><br />Final Score: <br /><br />9<br /><br /><br /></p> /pc/post/guardians-of-the-galaxy-episode-1:-tangled-up-in-blue Mon, 24 Apr 2017 12:00:00 Two Worlds II DLC Dropping This May! <p>Written By: Kenneth Seward Jr.<br />Date: 04/21/2017<br /><br />TopWare Interactive has finally given a release date for the upcoming Two Worlds II DLC, Call of the Tenebrae. You know, the DLC that was <a class="external" href="http://www.unitedfrontgaming.com/post/3337/topware-interactive-announces-two-worlds-iii-">announced</a> for the six-year-old game&hellip;alongside Two Worlds III. No? Well&hellip;yeah, there&rsquo;s DLC coming! <br /><br />Topware revealed that they had created a new engine, multiplayer maps and more for the PC version of TWII a while ago. However, during the development of the Tenebrae, things kind of blew up. Check what Alexandra Constandache, CEO of TopWare had to say on the matter: <br /><br /><em>&ldquo;When we started development on Two Worlds II: Call of the Tenebrae in early 2016, we underestimated how excited our team would be to get back to Antaloor. It took longer than expected, but we ended up with a 10+ hour adventure that is nearly a full sized release! Due to how large Call of the Tenebrae became, we&rsquo;ve decided to release our game as an add-on to Two Worlds II, in addition to a standalone version for fans both new and old.&rdquo;</em></p> <p><em></em><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/two-worlds-ii-cot-screen.jpg" alt="two-worlds-ii-cot-screen" /><br /><br />10+ hours, new enemies, weapons, achievements, multiplayer options and an HD upgrade&hellip;sounds like TopWare had a lot going on. It makes sense that the add-on was delayed. Fan won&rsquo;t have too much longer to wait though. Two Worlds II: Call of the Tenebrae will be released on PC, Mac, and Linux on May 25th for $14.99 (it $9.99 for just the DLC add-on). The follow up DLC &ndash; Shattered Embrace, multiplayer map packs, digital content like soundtracks &ndash; will be release late this year via a Season Pass. <br /><br />While that&rsquo;s all and good, as a fan of the series, I&rsquo;m more concerned about Two Worlds III. Like, when is that coming out? &nbsp;<br /><br /></p> /pc/post/two-worlds-ii-dlc-dropping-this-may Fri, 21 Apr 2017 12:00:00 The Walking Dead: A New Frontier Episode 3: Above the Law <p>Reviewed By: Kenneth Seward Jr.<br />System: PC (Also on Xbox One, PS4, iOS, Android) <br />Genre: Adventure<br />Rated: M<br />Players: 1<br />Cost: $24.99 (Full Season)<br />Release Date: 03/28/2017<br />Publisher: Telltale Games<br />Developer: Telltale Games<br /><br />There&rsquo;s nothing like family. Brothers, sisters, overbearing parents &ndash; they&rsquo;re the people that are supposed to have your back. This is of course, a sentiment of pre-apocalyptic society. When the world ends, all bets are off&hellip;</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/the-walking-dead-new-frontier-ep-3-screen.jpg" alt="the-walking-dead-new-frontier-ep-3-screen" /><br /><br />Take Javi and his older brother David. After their shocking reunion, outside of the New Frontier&rsquo;s gates, David carries a wounded Kate and confused Gabe to the hospital. Javi and the rest of the group are put into quarantine. The tension among them is palpable; given recent revelations, the others felt that Javi had some explaining to do. Just how much did he know prior to recent events? And whose side would he be on if things went badly? Moments later, David returns to retrieve Javi. As they walk, David explains how he made it to Richmond before meeting up with the New Frontier. He goes on about how life is better here than in most settlements (they&rsquo;ve come a long way). Javi of course, sees things differently. <br /><br />This season&rsquo;s focus has always been on family. Each episode seems to analyze what it means to be a part of one. David&rsquo;s position within his group ultimately puts him at odds with his brother. After failing to win over the governing counsel, Javi&rsquo;s friends (sans David&rsquo;s wife, son and doctor Eleanor) are sent packing. And while David does offer some aid, he is more or less ok with this brother being on his own. This episode doesn&rsquo;t just deal with the unique conflicts that can arise between blood relatives though. The fate of Clementine&rsquo;s &ldquo;adopted&rdquo; brother AJ is revealed. A flash back gives way to a heart wrenching moment that I won&rsquo;t spoil here. Just know that there are some difficult choices in store for gamers. &nbsp;</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/the-walking-dead-new-frontier-ep-3-screen-2.jpg" alt="the-walking-dead-new-frontier-ep-3-screen-2" /><br /><br />&ldquo;Above the Law&rdquo; is one of the better episodes of this season. I did take issue with the hurried opinions based on minor choices &ndash; I don&rsquo;t understand why characters can constantly flip between hating and loving Javi. I understand someone not agreeing with his (my) choices. But some of the anger seems unwarranted or even wasted given how easily people get over their grievances. Still, most will find themselves on the end of their seats as things progress. With two more episodes left, this latest installment is definitely the precursor to something great. At least, that&rsquo;s what I&rsquo;m hoping for!<br /><br />Gameplay: 9<br />&ldquo;Above the Law&rdquo; is pretty good. With no bugs or glitches, interesting story developments, and a few watercooler moments &ndash; not bad! <br /><br />Graphics: 10<br />Everything looks great!<br /><br />Sound: 10<br />Same as the graphics&hellip;except dealing with sound.<br /><br />Replay Value: 8<br />There seems to be multiple outcomes &ndash; more so than what I&rsquo;ve seen previously at least. Granted, this is most likely due to the choices made in prior episodes. <br /><br />Final Score: <br /><br />9.3</p> <p><em><strong>Editor's Note:</strong> Click <a class="external" href="http://www.unitedfrontgaming.com/blog/post/3698/the-walking-dead:-a-new-frontier">here</a> to see how the other episode fared!</em></p> /pc/post/the-walking-dead:-a-new-frontier-episode-3:-above-the-law Wed, 12 Apr 2017 12:00:00 2Dark <p>Reviewed By: Kenneth Seward Jr.<br />System: PC (also on Xbox One, PS4)<br />Genre: Stealth/Survival Horror<br />Rated: M<br />Players: 1<br />Cost: $24.99 <br />Release Date: 03/10/2017<br />Publisher: Bigben Interactive<br />Developer: Gloomywood<br /><br />It didn&rsquo;t take much to sell me on 2Dark, back when I was first heard about the title. The dark story, about children being kidnapped and a grizzled detective who puts everything on the line to save them, certainly piqued my curiosity.&nbsp; Honestly though, the &ldquo;newest game from Fr&eacute;d&eacute;rick Raynal, the creator of Alone in the Dark&rdquo; tagline was what made me take a closer look...<br /><br />2Dark is centered around a former detective, Mr. Smith, and the happenings within an incredibly eerie city called Gloomywood. For years, the city has been plagued by a string of child abductions, something Smith has experience firsthand &ndash; his wife was slain and child taken while on vacation years back. Becoming obsessed with finding his children he ended up venturing outside the law while apprehending a suspect. This, of course, resulted in him losing his badge and ultimately souring his reputation. None of that deterred him from his search though. Unfortunately, for everyone but Smith, the child abductions continued. His hope was that if he caught whoever was taking these kids, he&rsquo;d find out what happened to his children. Maybe even find them alive.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/2dark-screen-3.jpg" alt="2dark-screen-3" /><br /><br />You&rsquo;ll step into Smith&rsquo;s shoes as he investigates different locations that he believes are tied to the most recent kidnappings. An abandoned circus, mental hospital, a luxury hotel &ndash; each one a maze of locked doors and secret rooms. Darkness will act as a fickle ally when entering these places uninvited. Turning off your flashlight helps in hiding your presence to those who mean to do you harm. At the same time, it&rsquo;s dangerous to wonder about in the dark; a wrong step could send you plummeting into a pit or gored by a spike trap. Speaking of steps, moving hastily will also draw attention. Waves of sound can be seen emitting from your person whenever you move, less so if you&rsquo;re sneaking. Resources like batteries for your flashlight or bullets for your gun are hard to come by. Other objects, say a butcher knife resting on a counter in the kitchen, are easier to find. Though their usefulness will vary. That lumbering beast wearing a pig mask won&rsquo;t go down without a fight. Unless of course, you attack from behind when he least expects it. <br /><br />The goal for each level is to find the missing children and guide them to safety (a glowing spot located outside near the exit). A child might be chained to a wall in the basement of a house. Another might be locked in a crate, crying as they await transport. All of them are susceptible to an untimely death if you procced carelessly. They&rsquo;ll follow you on command and wait when you signal them to do so. Take too long while they&rsquo;re in tow or come across something frightful (like a dead body you forgot to move) and they&rsquo;ll whine or scream respectively. These audible outbursts might alert psychopaths within the general area. It is possible to lure enemies around using found objects. Throwing a piece of hard candy near their location will cause them to take notice, allowing you to mosey on by. Whatever the case, a straight up encounter should be avoided as Smith can only take a few hits before dying. And having a group of kids following you might make it hard to flee once spotted. Basically, things can go from bad to worse in a heartbeat.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/2dark-screen-2.jpg" alt="2dark-screen-2" /><br /><br />Thankfully, you can save your progress at time by stopping for a quick smoke. Combining Smith&rsquo;s lighter and cigs in his inventory makes him light up for a few seconds. This helps when you come across a sticky situation and you aren&rsquo;t sure how to proceed. Like when trying to free a kid from a room without waking a dog while it&rsquo;s master patrols the general area. It&rsquo;s also great since the game doesn&rsquo;t autosave (at least not during a level); old school mechanics for the win! As long as you don&rsquo;t save in a bad spot, forcing you to restart the entire level, or are seen smoking by an enemy, you&rsquo;re golden. <br /><br />Smith&rsquo;s journey is filled with tension. This is especially true when you realize that not everyone is out to get you, per se. There are innocent people among the crazies. Circumventing their gaze is more difficult &ndash; you can&rsquo;t just kill them like the others. I mean, you can but the story will change if you do. The last thing Smith wants is for the police to be looking for serial killer and not the kidnappers. Not that it&rsquo;s particularly a good idea to kill every enemy you come across either. But at least you&rsquo;ll have some sort of moral footing in those cases, given how depraved some of these people are. <br /><br />Stepping back a bit, there is an overarching narrative here. All of these killers are linked in a really interesting way. Unfortunately, some of the novelty is ruined given how over-the-top everything is. A person amassing wealth by selling decrepit dolls made from the bodies of her young victims is one part horrible, one part &ldquo;wait&hellip;seriously?&rdquo;. The idea that someone would host a dog fighting ring where the dogs fight malnourished children is absurd. Reality isn&rsquo;t void of insane events, but some of 2Dark was&hellip;well, too dark. And with it being all connected&hellip;these seedy activities would have drained Gloomywood of all of its children years ago.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/2dark-screen.jpg" alt="2dark-screen" /><br /><br />That&rsquo;s not to say that I didn&rsquo;t appreciate the campy noir-esque story. It provides the right amount of B-movie fun &ndash; like the early Resident Evil games, just less complicated. I just didn&rsquo;t think people would care as much about Smith&rsquo;s struggle as they would have otherwise; because the story is so unbelievable at times, it can be difficult to see these characters as real people. The same goes with how the game ends. It doesn&rsquo;t ruin the game, but the &ldquo;what&rdquo; and &ldquo;why&rdquo; just doesn&rsquo;t add up in a convincing way. The gameplay wasn&rsquo;t without issues either. There are times when the game would glitch, forcing me to abandon my plans.&nbsp; For example, the levels are set up to include situational puzzles where learning the pattern of a guard&rsquo;s patrol is important. And while it&rsquo;s possible for them to veer off course based on what&rsquo;s going on, they tend to stick to one area. However, a few times I had to deal with enemies being frozen in place. For whatever reason, they wouldn&rsquo;t resume their patrol, making it impossible to get pass them without being seen. My only options at that point&nbsp; were a needless fight or restarting the level.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/2dark-screen-4.jpg" alt="2dark-screen-4" /><br /><br />Despite all of this, 2Dark is rather entertaining. I don&rsquo;t think it&rsquo;s going to be genre-defining like Fr&eacute;d&eacute;rick Raynal&rsquo;s earlier work. It could lead to a new franchise of sorts though. There&rsquo;s so many places that Gloomywood could go with this set up. New characters, places, maybe toss in some supernatural elements. They could be on to something! <br /><br />Gameplay: 8<br />2Dark is B-movie amusement in game form. Some campy elements and a few glitches keep it from excelling though. <br /><br />Graphics: 9<br />The retro graphics and stylized stills add to the game&rsquo;s creepy vibe. <br /><br />Sound: 8<br />The voice work isn&rsquo;t bad and the ambient sounds and music help to heighten tense moments.<br /><br />Replay Value: 6<br />Some start the campaign over to see slight changes in the story, complete levels in alternate ways, or to try out a harder difficulty level. Most will be done after the first playthrough. &nbsp;<br /><br />Final Score: <br /><br />7.8<br /><br /></p> /pc/post/2dark Mon, 3 Apr 2017 12:00:00 Inbetweengames Launches "All Walls Must Fall" Kickstarter! <p>Written By: Kenneth Seward Jr.<br />Date: 03/23/2017<br /><br />Inbetweengames have launched their Kickstarter for their upcoming title, All Walls Must Fall!<br /><br />We talked briefly about All Walls Must Fall <a class="external" href="http://www.unitedfrontgaming.com/pc/post/3729/inbetweengames-to-knock-down-walls-with-new-indie-title-">last week</a>. So I won&rsquo;t go over all of the finer details. I will say that it&rsquo;s a tech-noir tactics game that features time hopping agents who must stop a nuclear strike while visiting a night club in Germany&hellip;that um&hellip;you should definitely keep an eye out for.<br /><br /><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/rEUCG_aX-wg" width="854" height="480"></iframe><br /><br />Inbetweengames is describing it as &ldquo;X-Com meets Braid&rdquo;. That explains it all. Not really. But it does make it sound interesting no? Again, I&rsquo;m looking forward to learning more about All Walls Must Fall; alas, I haven&rsquo;t had time to play the alpha. Once I do, I&rsquo;ll share my thoughts. In the meantime, head over to its <a class="external" href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/inbetweengames/all-walls-must-fall-a-tech-noir-tactics-game?token=abe9b18c">Kickstarter page</a> and check it out for yourself! <br /><br /></p> /pc/post/inbetweengames-launches--all-walls-must-fall--kickstarter Thu, 23 Mar 2017 12:00:00 UFG Goes Hands on With Battle Princess Madelyn! <p>Written By: Kenneth Seward Jr.<br />Date: 03/22/2017<br /><br /><em>&ldquo;Nostalgia can be a powerful yet precarious element of game design.&rdquo;</em> This is a quote from a <a class="external" href="http://www.unitedfrontgaming.com/pc/post/2749/citizens-of-earth">review</a> I did of a retro-inspired video game back in 2015. The sentiment was that, developers looking to recreate the magic of yesteryear must do more than just emulate the past &ndash; incorporating retro aesthetics and a &ldquo;hardcore&rdquo; difficulty setting will only get you so far&hellip;<br /><br />There are many reasons why holding onto the past without acknowledging modern design is detrimental to good game development. For one, what made a title successful might elude newer developers, making it difficult for them to separate the good game mechanics from the bad. This is especially true when you consider that some games were designed poorly, despite our found memories of them; for some reason, we thought it was a good idea to require gamers to beat Ghosts &lsquo;n Goblins (and the sequel, Ghouls &lsquo;n Ghosts) twice before actually completing the game. Of course, this isn&rsquo;t to say that retro themed games can&rsquo;t be great. Just that it isn&rsquo;t the easiest challenge to overcome when making video games. <br /><br />This is why I kept my enthusiasm in check after seeing Causal Bit Games&rsquo; &ndash; and independent gaming start-up company based in Canada &ndash; Battle Princess Madelyn game for the first time. The last thing I wanted to do was get all excited for a new and shiny platformer, just to have my hopes dashed when the game is finally released. I&rsquo;ve been hurt in the past. I did however, jump at the chance to play Battle Princess Madelyn after being offered a &ldquo;first look&rdquo; at the pre-alpha build. Long story short, I&rsquo;m glad I didn&rsquo;t pass on the opportunity! <br /><br /><em>Yes, this is the pre-alpha build that is currently available on the game&rsquo;s Kickstarter page. Press codes were sent out before it launched. Stop jumping ahead!</em></p> <p><em></em><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/battle-princess-madelyn-screen.jpg" alt="battle-princess-madelyn-screen" /><br /><br />Short story long, Battle Princess Madelyn is a 2D side scrolling game that&rsquo;s reminiscent of the Ghost &lsquo;n Goblins series. It follows a knight in training, Madelyn, as she goes about freeing her kingdom from the clutches of an evil wizard. To do this, she&rsquo;ll need to traverse through several dangerous locations while dispatching a verity of enemies/monsters. I&rsquo;m talking skeletons warriors, zombies, bats, some type of slime monster &ndash; all popping up just to be slain with a well place spear to the face or&hellip;whatever constitutes for a face on the slime creatures. Two hits against our heroine is the prerequisite for death, one to knock off her armor and one to finish the job. Again, it&rsquo;s a lot like Ghost &lsquo;n Goblins (or rather Ghouls &lsquo;n Ghosts given the 16-Bit visuals). <br /><br />In terms of making this feel like a Capcom classic, Causal Bit Games did a good job. What made me excited was the inclusion of new elements. After completing the first two levels, I was taken to an overworld map. From here I could enter a town to buy items, take on side quests &ndash; which sends you back into past levels, taking alternate routes to find missing loved ones or key items &ndash; and speak to NPC&rsquo;s about the current happenings in Madelyn&rsquo;s world. This isn&rsquo;t a huge addition, most of the aforementioned elements aren&rsquo;t in place right now, but it&rsquo;s content that helps sell the game&rsquo;s story. Here you get to talk to the people you&rsquo;ve saved as opposed to only seeing them right before the end credits scrolled. It also extends the playtime in a natural way without bloating the experience; players can skip the town and its trappings if they so choose.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/battle-princess-madelyn-screen-4.jpg" alt="battle-princess-madelyn-screen-4" /><br /><br />One of the things that stood out to me was the appropriately tuned difficulty setting. What I mean is, newcomers to this genre will actually be able to pass the third level within the first few hours of play. As much as I loved the older games Battle Princess is designed after, they were really tough way back when. The arcade version was just brutal, though that was mainly because you had to shell out 25&cent; to continue playing past death. That&rsquo;s not the case here. Don&rsquo;t get me wrong, you will die a lot. You just won&rsquo;t want to throw your controller out the window when you do. And for all of you masoc&hellip;er&hellip;hardcore gamers out there, I&rsquo;m sure there will be a difficulty setting that lets you really amp things up. <br /><br />Because this was a pre-alpha build, I wasn&rsquo;t able to get very far. That said, I really enjoyed what I did get to experience. The old school platforming was entertaining, the difficulty felt right, and the promise of more content (sidequests and such) has me anticipating the game&rsquo;s release. Apparently, judging by the fact that nearly every stretch goal for the Kickstarter has been reached in five days&rsquo; time, others are just as eager to play. Will Battle Princess Madelyn be the next big retro inspired game to be released on modern consoles? That I can&rsquo;t say. What I can say is that this might be the first game I back on Kickstarter in like, forever!</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/battle-princess-madelyn-screen-2.jpg" alt="battle-princess-madelyn-screen-2" /><br /><br />Battle Princess Madelyn is set to be released on the Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, Wii U, and PC. Of course, as the <a class="external" href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/causalbitgames/battle-princess-madelyn?token=02f40852">Kickstarter</a> isn&rsquo;t over, there&rsquo;s no release date to be shared. We&rsquo;ll be sure to continue covering this title as things progress though.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Editor's Note:</strong> We updated this article to fix an error - we called Causal Bit Games, "Casual" Bit Games...yeah, we're gonna go sit in the corner now... <br /><br /></p> /pc/post/ufg-goes-hands-on-with-battle-princess-madelyn Wed, 22 Mar 2017 12:00:00 Stories Untold <p>Reviewed By: Kenneth Seward Jr.<br />System: PC &nbsp;<br />Genre: Adventure<br />Rated: N/A<br />Players: 1<br />Cost: $9.99 <br />Release Date: 02/27/2017<br />Publisher: Devolver Digital<br />Developer: No Code<br /><br />One of the scariest games I&rsquo;ve ever played was a texted-based thriller called Sleuth. First released back in 1983, Sleuth placed players in the shoes of an investigator looking to solve a murder. This was done by searching through rooms in a large estate, interacting with objects and questioning guests. Once the player can identify the murder weapon, the murderer and the room where the murder took place, he or she will then round everyone up and accuse the culprit. Easy right?<br /><br />Well, of course it isn&rsquo;t. Not only is it tricky to figure out who did what &ndash; you must keep up with everyone&rsquo;s stories to find out who is lying &ndash;&nbsp; but you also have to do it before the killer takes notice. Obviously, they don&rsquo;t want to you solve the mystery; your snooping about the place paints a giant target on your back. After you&rsquo;ve started interviewing different suspects, the game will alert you that the killer is growing more and more suspicious. At one point, they&rsquo;ll even start stalking you. What makes it scary is the lack visual/auditory information you&rsquo;d get from more recent games, forcing you to use your imagination. As time goes on, the tension rises as your mind tries to deal with the idea of being stalked. And then, like a well-timed phone call to a fearful Drew Barrymore, the end is signaled by an alarm and bright red text explaining how the killer murdered you. <br /><br />Now you may be wondering why I&rsquo;m writing about Sleuth and/or what it has to do with No Code&rsquo;s <em>Stories Untold</em>. The reasons are simple. For one, I wanted to explain how a text-based game could be scary without talking about the plot from Stories Untold. And two, note that at times, Stories Untold provides a more thrilling experience than one of the scariest games I&rsquo;ve ever played.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/stories-untold-screen-2.jpg" alt="stories-untold-screen-2" /><br /><br />Stories Untold is a game with four text based adventures disguised as a compilation tape of sorts. The aesthetics scream creepy 80&rsquo;s TV show as each &ldquo;episode&rdquo; begins with the same opening though they feature completely different stories (the font and musical score are reminiscent of Netflix&rsquo;s hit show, Stranger Things). An overarching theme connects all four adventures, making way for a secondary plot as you complete each one. And&hellip;that is about as far as I want to go when it comes to a synopsis. Majority of the fun comes from trying to figure out what&rsquo;s going on and how or why things are happening. <br /><br />Strange things (heh) will happen while you play, some of which break the 4th wall in disturbing ways. This is mostly seen in the first adventure, The House Abandon. When it beings, you (the player and the protagonist) will be sitting at a computer playing a game called The House Abandon. The story will type itself out across the old CRT monitor, explaining how you&rsquo;ve come to the house. From there, you&rsquo;ll be able to type in key phrases to move things along. Typing &ldquo;get out of the car&rdquo; or &ldquo;open the front door&rdquo; and pressing enter will have the game shoot back a detailed description of how these actions were completed. At a certain point, the game within the game will start saying things that are a little too real.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/stories-untold-screen.jpg" alt="stories-untold-screen" /><br /><br />What&rsquo;s great about Stories Untold, is that unlike Sleuth, the fear doesn&rsquo;t just come from our imaginations. Things happen apart from the writing on the monitor; the opening of a door, for a second, fooled me into thinking that someone was behind me while I was playing. There&rsquo;s also voice acting, harrowing music, and jump scares &ndash; none of which overshadow the innate eeriness of a text-based game. This results in a genuinely creepy 2017 version of a game from this genre. &nbsp;<br /><br />Unfortunately, some of the fear dissipates as you move through the later adventures. Some of this is due to the stories&rsquo; being broken into a series of puzzles. They aren&rsquo;t especially tricky, but what&rsquo;s needed to solve them often makes them more difficult than they should be. One of the adventures has you entering codes found on micro-film, which are hard to make out given the poor lighting and fuzzy images. Zooming in helped a little. Still, some numbers and letters resembled each other, unnecessarily prolonging the process. &nbsp;<br /><br />There&rsquo;s also an issue with word recognition. For some reason, Stories Untold is strict on what words do what (or anything for that matter). It&rsquo;s an old problem for text games in general but here it&rsquo;s made worse by how specific everything tends to be. Typing in &ldquo;go around back&rdquo; doesn&rsquo;t work while &ldquo;follow the lawn&rdquo; sends my character to the backyard. Even more baffling, a &ldquo;check the backyard&rdquo; might&rsquo;ve resulted in a &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t understand what you&rsquo;re saying&rdquo; response. Mind you, the hints that were given told me to go to the backyard (like, the word backyard is in the description of what the game wants me to do).</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/stories-untold-screen-3.jpg" alt="stories-untold-screen-3" /><br /><br />Constantly entering commands that don&rsquo;t do anything or, in the worst case, cause you to accidently loop back to a room/object with a similar description to what you&rsquo;re look for, acutely sucks all the tension away. Things would have been better if all of the adventures were structured like the first one. That&rsquo;s not to say that I didn&rsquo;t ultimately enjoy the experience. It just means the Stories Untold isn&rsquo;t as amazing as it could have been&hellip;<br /><br />Gameplay: 8<br />This text based adventure can send chills down one&rsquo;s spine. The overly difficult puzzles and word recognition problems hurt the experience though. <br /><br />Graphics: 8<br />The retro vibe is great,&nbsp; the Stranger Things-like theme sells it. There are some hiccups when it comes to visual cues needed to solve puzzles. <br /><br />Sound: 8<br />The music and voice acting was decent. The ambient sounds helped with immersion. <br /><br />Replay Value: 4<br />There are some visual tricks that help to explain the hidden story. But they aren&rsquo;t significant enough to cause one to replay the game if missed; basically, once the mystery is solved, there&rsquo;s no point in replaying, at least not for a very long time. <br /><br />Final Score: <br /><br />7<br /><br /><br /></p> /pc/post/stories-untold Thu, 16 Mar 2017 12:00:00 Stories Untold /pc/post/stories-untold Thu, 16 Mar 2017 12:00:00 Inbetweengames to Knock Down Walls With New Indie Title! <p>Written By: Kenneth Seward Jr.<br />Date: 03/15/2017<br /><br />I always wonder what happens when developers leave a major studio. Whether it be due to layoffs, change of heart, or a canceled project, a dev&rsquo;s future isn&rsquo;t always certain. Recent years have shown that one of the most popular things to do is to turn inward &ndash; as in, starting an independent studio and going it on your own!<br /><br />This brings me to inbetweengames, an indie studio made up of ex-YAGER developers (Spec Ops: The Line, the canceled Dead Island 2). Since leaving the major, they&rsquo;ve been pretty busy; they are currently working on a tech-noir tactics game called All Walls Must Fall. It&rsquo;s a rather interesting sounding title. The elevator pitch: gamers are to command a group of secret, time hopping agents in the year 2028. Their job is to foil a plot to end the Cold War with a rogue nuclear strike by utilizing stealth/deadly combat during a continually looping night.</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/all-walls-must-fall-screen.jpg" alt="all-walls-must-fall-screen" /><br /><br />Procedurally generated levels, isometric view, pausable real-time tactics with actions that coincide with the music (the game takes place in a night club in Berlin, Germany) and more round out an extensive features list. What has me most intrigued is the social stealth and crowd simulation. The idea is to reflect current global issues as well as represent Berlin diverse culture. Based on what they&rsquo;ve done with <a class="external" href="http://www.unitedfrontgaming.com/post/1326/spec-ops:-the-line">Spec Ops: The Line</a>, this might be the more noteworthy aspect of the game&hellip;</p> <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/unitedfrontgaming/files/all-walls-must-fall-screen-2.jpg" alt="all-walls-must-fall-screen-2" /><br /><br />Of course, I haven&rsquo;t gotten any hands on time with All Walls Must Fall. That fact will be changing soon we were given a key to the pre-alpha build; I&rsquo;ll be sure to report back on my findings once I&rsquo;ve had a chance to check it out. In the meantime, be on the lookout for the game&rsquo;s coming Kickstarter, launching March 22nd, as well as our continued coverage. <br /><br /></p> /pc/post/inbetweengames-to-knock-down-walls-with-new-indie-title- Wed, 15 Mar 2017 12:00:00