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PlayStation 4 vs. Xbox One controller

ps4 xboxone controllersIs it just me, or did you notice that both Sony and Microsoft did not spend much time, if any, talking about their video game system's controllers during their respective E3 press conferences on June 10, 2013?  Maybe they did not want to repeat themselves since the controllers were mentioned at their previous press conferences.  However, I, for one, would have liked to hear more indepth details about the new controllers and why they are (or are not)  considered to be an improvement over the current ones.

 

The Xbox One and PS4 battle continues with the video game controllers

Of course, the meat of the new gaming systems is the consoles themselves; however, is it  possible that a controller could sway you more toward buying either the PS4 or the Xbox One?.

ps4 xboxoneHere's information to help you choose between the PS4 or the Xbox One controllers. 

The PS4 controller is referred to as Dual Shock 4.  Unfortunately, the current PS3 (Dual Shock 3) controller is not compatible with the PS4. The PS4 controller will have a touchpad, a headphone jack and a built in speaker.  The controller will support motion detection via gyroscope sensors.

Additionally, the PS4 controller will feature a light bar that will display different colors to alert you regarding your status while playing a video game, i.e. low health, etc.  The controller will have a motion sensor similar to the PS move.  The existing PS move for the PS3 will be supported on the PS4.

The Xbox One's controller basically keeps it current design.  The battery compartment is slimmer and the directional pad on the controller has a four way design.  Each trigger will have independent rumble motors, called impulse triggers where the trigger will vibrate when performiing an action -- for example firing a weapon.

The best way to find out if you like either the PS4 or the Xbox One controller is to actually hold it and better yet -- to play your favorite video game with it.

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Is a video game more enjoyable if you like the controller?

In just a few months you will be able to do just that with either the Xbox One or the PS4 controller when the next generation systems, Xbox One and the PS4 launch during the 2013 holiday season.

Microsoft Xbox One Conference May 21, 2013 Read More

Sony PS4 Press Conference February 20, 2013 Read More 

 

Published in Mom's Minute Blog
Friday, 14 August 2015 18:01

Spearhead’s Stories

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Stories: The Hidden Path is an action-RPG brought to you by Spearhead Games, and will be coming soon to your Playstation 4.  The design director and game designer on Assassin’s Creed III and Assassin’s Creed II, respectively, bring you a magic filled world full of adventures where your every decision affects the game in real time!

Adventure as Reynardo the corsair as you battle the Armada with its eyes set on domination of the entire realm.  Slice your way through your enemies or fly in your airship but be careful what you choose to do as it will have an effect on the outcome of the Story.

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Published in News
Monday, 02 June 2014 00:00

Gaming's Biggest Controller Failures

 In every generation of videogame consoles, a manufacturer attempts to take how we play games past the status quo. Videogames have been presented in the same basic way for nearly 40 years. You look at a screen and control whats on that screen with a joystick and buttons. The screens have gotten bigger and the controllers have added more buttons, but all in all, not much has changed. But each generation, a company tries to move gamers deeper into the experience and expand how we interact with our consoles. And they fail. Every single time. The failure isn’t because it’s a bad idea (well, sometimes it’s a bad idea). Most of the time its because the idea was poorly implemented, lacked support, or simply didn’t work. Or maybe gamers don't want anything new. Is it possible we're satifsifed with how things are and that's why gamers as a group steadfastly reject any control scheme other than a stick and buttons?  

In this article we'll go back through each console generation and look at some of those failed attempts at innovation. We’ll only be looking at 1st party peripherals, the items built by the console makers themselves since they had  best chance to succeed in terms of development and support. That mean famous failures like the Power Glove and U-Force will get a pass.

 


  XBOX One Kinect

xbox one kinectOk, this isn’t a surprise to anyone. Microsoft recently announced that the Kinect will no longer be a required part of the Xbox One console. While this doesn't automatically mean the camera/microphone sensor has failed, lets be honest. It means that it failed. The Kinect was the most advanced sensor of its kind. It could listen to your voice commands, translate your movements into controls for games or media. Hell, it could even tell if you were smiling and when your heart rate went up. Experts will be debating why the Kinect wasn’t embraced by consumers for a long time. But the lack of software support had to have been a huge problem. For most people who had the Kinect sitting in front of their TV, that's all it did..sit there.

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  PS4 PS Camera/Move

PS4-CameraSony’s PR people are the best in the world. Not because they’re great at promoting products. But because when they have a failed product, no one ever talks about it. At the launch of the PS4 was a Camera/Microphone sensor that had many of the features of the Kinect, just not as precise. The camera was a $60 option that the vast majority of PS4 owners have skipped. And the few that did pick it up quickly realized that there wasn’t much they could do with it other that make tiny robots dance in the free Playroom software.

 

ps4-dualshock-4-controllerThe PS4 Controller is also treasure trove of failed concepts. Sony added the ‘sixaxis’ motion abilities to the DualShock 4 controller. You can tilt and rotate your controller and thus have more precise and integrated movements on screen. It’s a feature thats used less than the Sweet n Low packets at a candy store.

Sony also managed to sneak in a PS Move sensor into all of the controllers along with a touch pad. The Dual Shock 4 is equipped with a bright tracking light that is very similar to the original PSMove controller that will allow the the PS4 to have pinpoint accurate motion controls. This has yet to be used in any game (but it's rumored to be important to the upcoming virtual reality headset). And the touch pad is a pretty good way to enter your password when signing into PSN, other than that, its a controller feature that has yet to be exploited.

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 Wii U Tablet

wii u controllerIt’s a 10.5 inch tablet with a screen smaller than my 7 inch Nexus. Nintendo knew their Wii U console was underpowered spec-wise when it was released, but they figured that the innovative tablet controller would be more than enough to alleviate any problems with horsepower. Nintendo has stood behind the controller, even if it does seem forced at times. Blowing into the microphone to turn a propeller on Mario World doesnt really boost your confidence that you made a smart purchase.

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  Xbox 360 Kinect

Xbox-360-Kinect-StandaloneThe first iteration of the Kinect had a lot going for it, a wide range of titles, tons of media coverage as the next big thing, and the unwavering support of Microsoft. But after the initial surge, the games quicky dried up and the consensus of the gaming public was ‘it just doesn’t work’. Microsoft didn't give up easily though and announced the second version would be a required part of their next console (until it wasnt). Meanwhile the original Kinect is gathering dust with development for it at a near standstill.

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  Live Vision Camera 

live-vision-cameraBefore the Kinect there was the Live vision camera. Basically is was a webcam that plugged into your Xbox 360. Why would you want to do that? No reason. None at all. Unless you wanted to play UNO and witness visuals that made Chat Roulette look highbrow. The camera was succeded by the Kinect sensor which for all intents and purposes made the Live Vision cam obsolete. 

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  PS3 PSMove 

playstation moveThis unfortunately shaped device was Sony’s answer to the overwhelming success of the Nintendo Wii’s motion controls. An illuminated bulb tethered to a makeshift gamepad worked in conjunction with the PSEye camera on the Playstation 3 to give you an incredible range of precise movement on screen. And it worked pretty well, too. But people couldn’t get over the fact that it looked like it should be sold at a discount by Adam & Eve, and also the game support for it was almost non existent. The technology would like in as it was transferred to the DualShock 4 controller and Sony still contends that the PSMove works with the PS4, even though there is no software available that uses it.  

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  Nintendo Wii Balance Board

Wii-balance-boardThe Wii Balance Board was going to transform your Wii into the ultimate fitness partner. Instead it spent it's life gathering dust underneath couches all across the world.

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  Sega Dreamcast VMU

Sega-Dreamcast-VMUThe Visual Memory Unit (VMU) for Sega’s Dreamcast added a new dimension to controllers. Think of it as a very early version of the Wii U tablet. Only much, much smaller with its 1.5 x 1inch screen having a resolution of 48x32 pixels. If that seems like it would be too tiny to do anything meaningful, you would be correct. It was intended to be used as a way to display information from your games, and the VMU even had a little controller and buttons on it like a baby gameboy. But in the end only a few games took advantage of it and most just ignored it altogether. 

 

 

 


  Sega Genesis Activator

Sega-ActivatorThe Genesis had its fair share of failed add ons (32x anyone?). But for the purposes of this article, the Activator fits perfectly. The Activator was a large ring that you placed on the floor and stood inside of. It would sense your movements so that you could punch and kick while your onscreen character mimicked your actions. Now, if the Kinect has problems pulling this scenario off in 2014, this 1993 controller had very little chance of success. Its lackluster sensors resulted in unwanted motions and twitching characters that almost never resembled what the player was doing. Since it was a direct controller replacement, you could use it with any game, like say, Ecco the Dolphin (which was actually suggested by the tutorial video). They never explained exactly how punching and kicking in the air corresponded to a dophlin swimming in the sea eating guppies.

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  Nintendo NES Power Pad 

NES-power-padNintendo wanted to get kids moving. Partly to silence critics who said the NES was creating a generation of couch potatoes, and partly to sell a bunch of overpriced plastic mats. So Nintendo introduced the NES Powerpad. The power pad was a large mat you placed on the floor with buttons embedded in it. The uses started and ended with running in place or hopping back and forth like a futuristic form of hopscotch. Unfortunately kids weren’t interested in being active. They had an NES so they -didn’t- have to run around. The Power Pad died a quiet death after having only 11 titles to support it.

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  Coleco Vision Expansion Module #2 


colecovision drivingThe ColecoVision launched with an available expansion module that added a steering wheel and gas pedal to the system. It allowed players a true arcade like experience when playing racing/driving games. Today PC gamers spend hundreds of dollars on steering wheels to go with their driving sims. But in 1982, not so much. The Colecovision’s driving controller only had 4 titles available for it. Which wasn’t nearly enough reason for consumers to get the accessory.

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  Atari 2600 Keyboard Controller 

atarikeyboardOddly enough, the Keyboard controller for the Atari 2600 wasn’t really a keyboard. It was actually a 12key number keypad(0-9 and *, #). As you can expect, there are very few titles that used the keyboard controller. Classics like 'Basic Programming' and 'Memory Match' weren't enough to spur gamers into leaving the world of up-down-left-right and a single fire button.  

 

 

 


 

Game makers continue to try to change how we play games, and even though none of them caught on and infact were often huge failures, I'm glad that they are making the attempt. As consoles get more powerful and games get more complex, we need to search for better ways to interact with the virtual worlds being created. Simplifying everything down to a few buttons and joystick movements deal a huge disservice to gamers and the games we play. Hopefully we'll get a control method that's not gimmicky and actually works. Until then, I'll be yelling at my Kinect and watching Hulu on my Wii U Tablet. 

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Published in All Games Blog

 

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Tomb Raider:  Definitive Edition

Tomb Raider:  Definitive Edition - Unboxing

After playing part of Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition video game for the first time, I have a three letter word to describe it --  "Wow!"  I preordered this game awhile back and have just now had the opportunity to play part of it.  When I received Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, starring Lara Croft on the release date in March, 2014 from Amazon.com, I did an unboxing of this game complete with pictures. I was that impressed by the artistry of the video game packaging which included a hard cover book with artwork from the game that is worthy of framing.  What was missing was a poster of Lara Croft in action as she braves the perils and tribulations of what it takes to survive.

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Tomb Raider Unboxed (game and book) with Pixelbot robot courtesy of DPL looking on 

Of course packaging is just that -- packaging.  What really counts about a video game, in my opinion, is the enjoyment that you experience from playing the game, whether your excitement for the game stems from the action, characters, story line, creativity of plot, or any number of other reasons.  If you ask me which of these choices Tomb Raider: Definitive Collection excelled in, I would have to say the character and the action.

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition - Expectations 

When I slipped the physical video game disc in my PS4, and the Tomb Raider cover art showed on the screen, I was unsure what to expect.  I saw the previous version of this  game played during the holidays by my family member, and at that time, I was impressed by the realistic graphics, as well as the requirement to use logical thinking skills to advance in the game.  At that time, I was a bystander, just looking at the video game playing action, listening to the realistic sound effects as Lara Croft splashed her way through the deep seas, roamed forests, etc., to accomplish her missions.  Just as there is a saying "Seeing is believing" -- regarding video game playing I think there should be a saying "Playing is believing."  It is only by actually holding a video game controller, controlling and experiencing the actions of the video game characters yourself that, in my opinion, you can truly decide if you will not only play the video game again, but will also recommend others to play it as well.

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition - Spoiler Alert

I am going to give you a spoiler alert here, just in case you have not played the game and want to experience the gameplay with the surprises and suspenseful moments in tact.  If you have not played Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, you may want to stop reading here, because the next sections I will be talking about my experiences with this video game, including how Lara Croft got through certain obstacles during the first part of the game, that you may prefer to figure out on your own. I played this game in the normal mode, vs. the easy or hard options. Also as a disclaimer, this review does not cover the complete video game -- only the first parts that I played.

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Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition - Actions/Adventures

I liked the action-packed movie introduction which included actions where Lara Croft seemingly spirals down a long drop before she reaches the bottom. She is visibly in pain, her clothing is soiled and she has blood all over her, including her face. Unfortunately, she also is hurt and has a sharp object jutting in her left side.  My first action in the gameplay was to use the controller to remove the shart object from hurting her -- which I succeeded in doing.  From then on  -- for the part of the game I played, Lara Croft moves throughout the video game environments, clutching her side with her right hand over the wound while in some cases holding a torch in her left hand.  But not to worry, as I played the game longer, eventually she felt well enough to remove her hand from her side, to regain use of both of her hands.  

As I continued to move her along the terrains, I had already decided that this was an exploratory type game, where you use the character to discover the surroundings. However, I stood to be corrected.  I found out soon enough that Lara Croft does a lot more than move around the environments.  Just when I was getting comfortable moving her through parts of the dark cave where she had landed, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, an enemy apppeared and tried to capture her.  I literally jumped when this happened, because this was totally unexpected. From then on, I knew this game would be adventurous and suspenseful.  After about three tries, I was able to get Lara Croft to fight off her enemy, and breathed a sigh of relief when within the small cave she was in, a door closed that blocked the enemy from entering.  

That one particular unexpected action got my adrenalin going.  I kept thinking what would happen next.  I had Lara Croft continue her adventures in the cave by having her to traverse treacherous waters where there was fire on one side of a waterfall and barrels of fuel on the other.  The problem was that in order to get out,  Lara Croft had to go through the waterfall while carrying her torch -- which of course did not work. The water would put out the fire each time, as expected.

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition - Strategies

Throughout the game, you are given pictures of which buttons on the controller to push as well as information on the mission or environment that Lara Croft has entered. Also, when you push the L1 button on your controller, the environment turns to black and white and items that can help you to escape, etc. are lit up brighter than the others. Once you release the L1 button, the game actions, including the colors return.

I studied the environment and saw a hanging apparatus, as well as a street car-like vehicle on another level of the cave area. Both were lit or shined  brighter when I pushed the L1 button so I knew these items were required for her to escape. Also the square button would appear on the screen to push as barrels and boxes floated in the water. When I did so, the barrels would start burning and continued to float in the water.  To give you a visual of where she was during this part of the video game -- Lara Croft was in thrashing waters, among lots of burning boxes and barrels, with debris, old bottles, shoes etc. floating around with loud sounds of waves of water crashing through several areas.

To make a long story short,  I was unable to get Lara Croft to push the street car off the ramp or get her on the hanging apparatus.  This is the first part of the game where I got stuck.  After a phone call for advice, I went back to the game and tried again, this time using different actions to get her out of this cave-like atmosphere that had water and firey barrels and boxes everywhere.  I was unable to pile barrels beneath the hanging apparatus as suggested, so I tried a different strategy which surprisingly to me -- worked.  Somehow I got her into the hanging apparatus. She was unable to swing back and forth -- so I had her to jump from this apparatus. Then I had her to try once again to push the street car which by this time was full  of burning barrels.  Lo and behold -- this time the street car actually moved out of the way.  Previously, it would move just a little and then return to its original position.  When the street car moved, a multitude of actions seemed to happen all at once which resulted in her being in a totally different mountainous environment.  I had Lara Croft jump over mountains where she hung dangerously off tall cliffs. She also had to fight off another enemy in this environment. As a disclaimer -- The apparatus/street car scene actions I did when I played this game, may or may not work for you.  It may depend on the level of game that you are playing, i.e., easy, normal, hard -- or even some other reasons.

Now for the next adrenalin moment I experienced when playing the first section of Tomb Raider:: Definitive Edition.   When Lara Croft reached the mountains, she had to actually climb the mountains, by frantically clawing her way up.  To keep her from falling, I had to keep pushing the L2 and R2 buttons quickly at the same time.  I also had to move the left stick on the controller either right or left to have her dodge large, gigantic boulders before I got her to the top of the mountain.tombraider4  I tried numerous times to keep her from falling by pushing these buttons, even at one time turning the PS4 controller around so the L2 and R2 buttons were facing me.  However, I got her on the mountain-top and kept her away from the boulders by using the controller positioned in the normal way.  My fingers got a true workout here, and with the controller rumbling, the sound effects of her climbing up the mountains, and her gasping -- when she finally reached the top of the mountain, breathing heavily, I was doing just about the same thing.  I felt as if we had both shared a victory at that point, and felt quite exhilarated that she had made it up the mountain safely.  

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition - Likes and Dislikes

Here's  what I liked and did not like about the part of the game I played.  I liked the realistic video game graphics, where the grass moved with the wind. I liked that the game started over close to the part where you may have tried to complete a mission, instead of starting all over again.   I liked the sound effects including the sounds of the rushing waters that in some ways can be a nice sound to listen to, but can also be frightening as well -- especially if the character is on a high mountain, looking down in deep, thrashing waters.   The voice acting, was ok; however, in some of the scenes, the voice actor was difficult to understand, and when the character fell from a tall mountain, I personally think that she could have screamed more realistically.  Also the illustration of the character can be improved in some of the scenes, because in some, her face seems to be swollen at her jaws -- not in all scenes -- but in some.  I liked the realistic movement of the character's eyes, as well as the expression she had which signaled that she was at a loss as to what to do in certain situations -- however, she was able to figure things out. I also liked the voice commands where you actually speak your options, such as showing the maps, pausing etc. 

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition - Highly Recommended

If you have not played this game, and enjoy playing adventure, action games, I highly recommend you play Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition on your PS4.  If you do not have a PS4, you may be interested to know that Tomb Raider is currently free to play on the PS3 for PS plus members.  I also have a PS3 -- but I was happy to play this game on my PS4 where I was able to use the new features of the PS4 and experience the improved graphics and sound qualities.

I'm looking forward to playing more of this game as well as seeing and experiencing via video game play the other adventures/missions Lara Croft will encounter in Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition.

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition is rated M for Mature and is playable on the PS4, PS3, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Windows PC and Mac.

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Published in Playstation 4
Wednesday, 05 August 2015 21:23

Demons Age Announced by Bigmoon Entertainment

Bigmoon Entertainment is bringing Demons Age to the Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC in 2016.  Demons Age is a turn-based, fantasy, role playing game developed by the people who brought you Trapped Dead: Lockdown and Space Empires V: Battle for Artemis.

In Demons Age you will set up your character and be able to hire a cast of diverse characters to help you in your adventure. You can play a single character or in party mode.  Level up by following the main story, solving puzzles, and performing side quests.  Watching the video you can see that it has that classic dungeon crawler feel that makes me reminisce about my days playing D&D.  So if you want to don’t want to roll your dice for your Listen check find out more info at http://www.demonsage.com

Demons Age Screenshot

Published in News
Wednesday, 15 January 2014 17:31

Video Games On Your "Can't Wait" List for 2014

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Now that a brand new year is here, is one of your resolutions to enjoy even more video games in 2014, than you did in 2013?  If so, the video game industry is ready to help you keep your New Year's resolution by offering new games not only for the next generation video game consoles -- the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 -- but for the previous video game systems as well, such as the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and the Wii U.

Limited New Games 

There have been complaints about the low quantity of video games released for the next generation video game consoles at launch; however, I believe the developers are hard at work to provide quality video games, which may take longer than churning out video games as if they were on an assembly line.  I'm not making excuses for the developers, but it's possible that there is a learning curve in upgrading or creating new games for the next generation video game consoles.  Speculations aside, a developer actually admitted that making video games for the next generation consoles was 10 times -- I repeat -- 10 times harder than for the previous video game systems.  Additionally a senior manager from Capcom, Masaru Ijuin, stated they ran into some problems using their original engine, MT Framework -- which is the reason they are now working on a new engine, Panta Rhei.  Of course video game development itself takes time, and there may be a "gazillion" reasons for the limited number of video games for the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 at the current time. Hopefully as the developers get more accustomed to the new video game hardware (or overcome other causes for delayed new video games) -- games will start flowing abundantly, similar to what happened during the tail end of 2011.  I recall during that time -- just about every day a game was being released for the Xbox 360 and the PS3.  I was so impressed with the rapid availability of video games, I gave kudos to the video game industry here.

http://www.moms-minute.com/ms-h-news/210-2011-video-game-news-in-review

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Slow Start for New Video Games

 I'm choosing to take a positive projectory stance regarding the slow start for new video games for the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4. Even with the slow start for new video games, things are looking up for the video game industry as a whole. Did you know the video game industry is estimated to be worth approximately 76 to 100 billion dollars, with the video game console segment currently heading the market?  To keep its market lead, I think it's important for video game companies to develop quality video games -- not only for the satisfaction of the video game player -- but to also keep its lead, and to survive in general -- since it's reported that PC and mobile gaming are on the heels of the consoles -- attempting to take over market share. 

Xbox One and PlayStation 4 Woes

Unfortunately, the new generation video game consoles are not without problems since both systems have failed to deliver on some promises.  A thorough, unbiased summary and assessment of those broken promises are here: http://www.allgames.com/component/k2/item/7217-broken-promises-of-the-next-gen-consoles  

Microsoft - Sony Video Game Issues

The good news is that I'm sure both Microsoft and Sony are aware of these issues and have them on their radar.  The lack of new video games is certainly obvious. In fact, a  video game company has gone so far as to offer pre-order bonuses for the game, Evolve, without the prerequisite gameplay footage available to preview. Essentially if you  preorder this game, you are doing so in the blind.  I guess they wanted to fill the void by at least offering a preorder bonus for a game that is in the works -- with an unspecified, projected release date of the near future.

With the above being said, here is the list of video games that may be on your "can't wait" list of video games for 2014.

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Video Games -- "Can't Wait" List for 2014

Note:  Remember to check the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) ratings of video games and purchase accordingly.

1.  Watch Dogs -- Since the announcement in October 2013 that Watch Dogs would be delayed, Ubisoft has been relatively quiet about the progress of this game.  There was a rumor there would be some "GTA 5"- like gameplay when it is released, which, personally, I'm wishing is just a rumor.  In my opinion, Watch Dogs is one of those video games that will show that a video game can be innovative and exciting to play without an overload of bad language, blood and violence.  I believe this game is certainly worth waiting for and I'm hoping that it will not disappoint.  Watch Dogs will be playable on previous and next generation video game consoles and the PC.  Release date:  Spring, 2014

2.  Titanfall -- Microsoft has announced there will be a special, limited edition wireless controller available for this game which will be designed to have the feel of a military spec item transported from the Titanfall universe. This first person shooter video game won numerous awards as well as a record breaking six E3 critics awards at E3 2013.  Titanfall will be playable on the Xbox 360, Xbox One and the PC.  Release date:  March 11, 2014.

3.  Project Cars -- Slightly Mad Studios plan to give Gran Turismo 6 and Fortza 5 a run for their money.  They are developers of Need for Speed and Need for Speed Shift 2 and are showing they mean business by the stunning, realistic graphics of the cars in this video game as well as the environment.  Having high quality video games Gran Turismo 6 and Fortza 5 as competitors, I'm not surprised the video game graphics of Project Cars have been described as "beyond incredible."  Hopefully the gameplay will measure up as well.  Project Cars will be playable on the Xbox One, Playstation 4, Wii U, Steam OS and the PC.  Release date: Third or fourth quarter, 2014.

4.  Quantum Break -- This third person shooter is described by Remedy as the "ultimate Remedy" game, Quantum Break meshes television action with your video gameplay.  Of course this video game/television scenario has been done before, i.e. the video game Defiance, but the storyline, in my opinion makes this video game stand out.  Here's my take on Quantum Break:

 http://www.allgames.com/all-games-blog/item/6363-quantum-break-a-game-worth-a-second-look

Quantum Break is an Xbox One exclusive video game.  Release date: 2014 (specific timeframe unavailable at press time). 

5. Tom Clancy's The Division -- If you are a fan of Tom Clancy's video games, you should be happy to know that more action-adventure video gameplay is coming your way soon. Video gameplay involves fighting against a virus and other type enemies to save everyone from the fall of society.  This game will have a companion app where you can join your team of friends as a drone from a smart phone or tablet -- anytime and wherever you may be. Tom Clancy's The Division will be playable on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and the PC.  Release date:  Possible 2014. (An anonymous developer is rumored to have revealed they have quite a ways to go before this game is finished).

6.  The Order:  1886 -- In this action adventure video game set in Victorian-era London, you will use advance technology to fight against monsters. Add this gameplay with the fusion of time, and you will have a unique experience playing this video game.  The Order: 1886 is a PlayStation 4 exclusive video game.  Release date: Third quarter, 2014.

7.  Destiny -- With an open world setting, Destiny is described as an action, role-playing first person shooter video game with a "mythic science fiction" type influence.  The unique feature of this game is actions may happen during gameplay that were not necessarily designed or orchestrated by the developer. Destiny will be playable on the previous and next generation video game consoles.  Release date:  September 9, 2014.

Here's more on Destiny: http://www.moms-minute.com/ms-h-news/745-video-games-halo-4-successor-destiny-changes

8.  Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes -- I guess this video game was so nice, they had to do it twice.  The video game is in two parts -- with part one being more of an extended prologue and the action continuing in part two -- Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain -- which currently does not have a release date.  Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes will be playable on the previous and next generation video game consoles.  Release date:  March 18, 2014.

9.  Dragon Age: Inquisition -- Unlike its Dragon Age predecessor, Dragon Age: Inquistion will afford you the opportunity to explore the open video game environment with a mission to save the world.  It will be playable on the previous and next generation video game consoles as well as the PC.  Release date: Third quarter, 2014.

10.  Smash Bros -- In my opinion, this list would not be complete without an Nintendo video game.  Enter Smash Bros -- a fighting game featuring Nintendo characters. This game has been providing fun video gameplay since 1999 and is still going strong.  It will be playable on the Wii U and the 3DS and has the connectivity to play between the versions.  Release date: 2014 (specific timeframe unavailable at press time).

If you do not see your "can't wait" video game for 2014 on the list -- don't fret.  I'm sure if I had extended the list to more than 10 video games -- your game would have found a place -- front and center.

Happy New Year Everyone.

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Published in Mom's Minute Blog
Tuesday, 25 February 2014 00:00

Thief Review (PS4)

thief review 

By Matt Bradford

The City is in shambles, its leaders corrupt, and its people are dropping like flies. One thief possesses the skills and guile to set things right, but he (and by extension, you) will have to wade through a hot mess of an adventure before the day is won.

And yes, Thief is a hot mess. It's the kind that offers just enough to keep you interested, but ultimately leaves you wondering if you're enjoying the ride or holding out for the game you think/hope it can become. To be fair, Square Enix's Thief revival has its bright spots. These, however, are few and far between, and only hardcore fans (or those who haven't played a stealth game in ten years) will stick around long enough to see them shine.

This game again...?

thief 1

The setup is enticing (if not entirely familiar). After a botched job puts Garrett and his partner Erin out of commission, our hero awakes from a year-long coma to find Erin missing and The City in ruins. A disease called the Gloom is eating away at its (very few) residents and the powers-that-be seem more concerned with plotting nefarious deeds than doing their jobs. Can you guess which grumbly-voiced criminal reluctantly decides to save the day?

Swap Gloom with Rat Plague, The City with Dunwall, and Garrett's “focus” powers with Corvo's supernatural abilities, and the comparisons to Dishonored are hard to ignore. Both share a breezy, first person style; embrace similar themes; and accommodate the same “choose your own playstyle” approach to mission objectives (hell, both even have a brothel, mansion, and derelict factory mission to boot). But where Dishonored injects its dystopian fantasy land with a sense of energy, color, and style, Thief remains relentlessly bleak and lifeless at nearly every turn.

thief 4

Take, for instance, The City; Thief's central hub wherein Garrett will spend his downtime running odd jobs and filling his pockets with shiny objects (don't bother asking who he's selling them too or why everyone is poor and yet The City is overflowing with expensive silverware). While nicely detailed and peppered with secrets, it is aggressively bland and void of life. It is a bleak patchwork of locked doors, empty rooms, dead ends, and random loading screens; and its districts offer little variety beyond “dilapidated row of buildings” to “dilapidated row of buildings with a gate”. What few NPCs you will encounter are barely animated puppets who offer little aside from repeated lines of dialogue and the occasional pickpocketing opportunity.

On the upside, The City contains a great number of hidden rooms and secret areas. On the downside, you'll find it hard to give a crap. Truly, the first time you crack open a window and slip in to rob some poor schmuck's bedroom, you'll get a sense that Garrett has hours of thief-like instances just waiting to be found. And then, once it becomes obvious none of these areas are inhabited or pose any real threat beyond the occasional lock or trap, robbing these areas of their valuables becomes more of a chore than anything else. Once you see one empty living room with a nightstand and valuable watch, you'll have basically seen them all. Eventually, you won't even bother.

This sense of lifelessness extends to Garrett's missions. Like The City, Thief's mission locales are barely memorable, offering little to do beyond scour for scraps of paper (plot!) and whatever McGuffin you've been instructed to nab. Even The City's brothel, which should have been one of the more lively and enticing hotspots, is a boring maze of boring rooms, boring hallways, and “hostesses” who aren't so much skilled in the art of seduction as they are with rubbing awkwardly over their clients (and in some cases not moving at all). Here again, you'll spend a bulk of your time eluding the same guards, rummaging through the same drawers, opening the same treasure chests and eventually stumbling across a “hidden ancient secret” which--surprise surprise--is filled with ancient bookshelves, ancient drawers, and dustier versions of things you've seen before.

thief 2By the time Garrett's journey is through, you'll struggle to remember what it was all about. Mostly, because it gives you little reason to care, but also because Garrett himself is about as unlikable and compelling as his world. On brief occasions, you'll engage in an interesting puzzle or exhilarating (albeit heavily scripted) escape sequence. And sometimes you'll resist the temptation to skip a somewhat interesting cutscene (assuming you can put up with the noticeable frame rate drop). In the end, however, all these positive moments will do is make you realize Square Enix had the ability to make something impactful out of Thief, but fumbled along the way.

The lights are on, but no one's home

This being Thief, one would expect any shortcomings to be overshadowed by an expert stealth experience. After all, this is Thief; the series that inspired numerous stealth series when it debuted in 1998. By extension, this reboot should remind everyone how it's done. I mean, that's kind of the only reason a new Thief game should exist, right?

Yeah...about that...

thief 6

Stripped to its basics, Thief is barely more than a inflexible game of shadow and light. Move between the shadows and the world is yours for the taking (or clubbing). It doesn't matter if guards are looking directly at you, if said shadow is cast by one barrel in the middle of a bonfire, or if you're kneeling behind a waist-high statue. Thief's dark areas are magical zones that are invisible to enemies despite the fact that there is a full-grown human who is clearly squatting one foot away from you rifling through a noisy drawer.

On the occasion you do step into the light, expect everyone within a square mile radius to notice. Thankfully, Thief's enemies are mostly idiots, so these situations will rarely end in failure. It's entirely possible to skip stealth altogether and run directly towards the objective, as enemies are easily duped and will always give up the chase for very little reason. Guards on your tail? Duck into the nearest room. Rebels on your back? Climb a ladder and watch as they forget what they were searching for. Better yet, just hightail it for that glowing ball or important door standing between you and the next area. Guards are a-OK with letting you slip through to the next sequence without raising alarm or continuing their attack. Maybe they're union guards? Who knows. Except one of the lines you'll hear time and time again is, “He 'aint my problem anymore”. But actually, yes, he's your only problem.

In some ways, Thief is unintentionally funny to watch. On one occasion, a jeweller caught me red-handed in his dimly lit workshop. As I crouched in place to plot my escape, he back away in fear and soon returned to pacing the workshop in search of the dastardly thief who barely escaped his grasp. This happened four more times as I proceeded to rob him blind, and even when he finally called a guard to come investigate, I was able to scale a nearby walkway and shake my head as both he and the guard gave up the hunt after zero investigation. And then, on another occasion, I stormed the side entry of a mansion with my crossbow a-blazing, only to lose every last one of my pissed-off pursuers by ducking behind a crate. In a dead end.

In short: Garrett's enemies are morons. Or lazy. Or both. Even the game's paranormal foes who can sense Garrett's focus moves are easily avoided with slow movements and shadow hopping. It's sad, too, because judging by the abilities and weaponry Garrett has at his disposal, you're constantly aware that you can (and should) be trying harder. In actuality, the game has a way of making you over-confident in your ability to outwit enemies and find paths which may as well read “Stealth Route Here.” Don't want to deal a room full of guard? Look an inch to your left for a shiny blue grapple point or one of the many conveniently placed vents. Better yet, just run for it; it'll all be over quicker.

Thief's AI was so lacking that I started wondering if the real game was hidden elsewhere in either its Master Thief or custom difficult mode (the latter of which lets you define your own rules). And while guards do adopt heightened senses, they are still easily tricked and outrun. So you'll still be compelled to run around, but you'll likely suffer more bolts to the face than usual.

thief 3Death from a thousand annoyances

It's not just problematic AI and uninspired design that bury Thief's rare moments of inspiration. It's the little things. Things like choppy cut-scenes (on a digital download for PS4), characters that repeat the same animations ad nauseam during conversations, or the countless times you'll hear voices that sound like they're in the same room only to discover you're hearing rogue snippets of dialogue from someone outside and a street away. It's the abnormally long load screens which you'll never see coming, waist high objects you can't scale, arrow abilities that look cool but are never needed, and a slippery PS4 touchscreen inventory system that'll discourage you from using items altogether. It's side quests that offer more of the same, bonus thief challenges that break all the rules in all the wrong places, unituitive mission objectives (curse you, vault!), and brief moments of “hey, this is kind of neat” which last just long enough to keep you on the job.

To steal a line from one of thief's own guards, “I have better things to do”. Surely, Thief is a functional game—and it'll do in a pinch--but there are better games to play. Games like Dishonored, which has oodles more style and finely-tuned gameplay; Assassin's Creed, which has richer worlds to explore; Uncharted, which has a better story and characters to latch on to; and Splinter Cell or Metal Gear, which outpace Thief's stealth mechanics in every way.

Truly, Thief should have been the game that redefined its genre, as its ancestors did years ago. It should have been the technically superior next-gen title early adopters could wave in the face of their last-gen friends (who also have their own version). It should have been...better? Instead, Square Enix's reboot barely comes off as a half-baked Thief clone, which is really the biggest crime of all.

 5.5/10

 thief 5

 

Published in Playstation 4
Thursday, 11 July 2013 00:40

Quantum Break: A Game Worth a Second Look

 

Quantum Break

 

 Did you notice a stand-out video game that caught your interest during E3, 2013?  In my opinion, there were lots of notable video games showcased during E3, 2013; however, there was one video game that really caught my eye.

 

QuantumBreak14

 

 

 

The game that stood out at E3, 2013 among many, in my opinion, was Quantum Break by Remedy Entertainment and Microsoft Studios.  The demo shown was packed with action gameplay and started off with a bang.  Of course, during actual video gameplay, there may be slow-moving parts in the game to advance the plot along, but based on the trailer, these parts may be few and far between.  I especially enjoyed watching the still-action motions and the graphics of objects as well as some of the characters suspended in space and time during gameplay.

QuantumBreak21

 

To give you  background info on this game -- Quantum Break will be an action, science fiction time travel type video game with main protaganists, Jack Joyce, Paul Serene and Beth Wilder.  It is a single player video game, exclusive for the Xbox One. While Remedy Entertainment  is keeping most of the storyline and the  gameplay under wraps for now, it is known the plot  involves an experiment in a lab that went awry --  giving  the characters the ability to manipulate as well as  travel through time. For authenticity, the company consulted with time travel experts to keep the gameplay in this video game as realistic as possible.

 

Similar to another video game, Defiance, Quantum Break will have a television show tied in with the game. The television show guides you on how to play the game and how you play the video game will, in turn, impact the show.

 

Quantum Break has a pending rating and will be available  in 2014.

Published in Mom's Minute Blog
Sunday, 07 December 2014 00:00

Never Alone - Review [PS4]

In this day and age with people shouting from every mountain top and soapbox available, it should come as no surprise that a game like Never Alone exists,a game based on and around another culture and its mythology where you play as a young girl on top of everything else. It’s something that we're probably going to be seeing a lot more of and I'm all for it. I just hope those other games don't skimp out on the "game" part of it all.

Never Alone is based on the lore of the Alaskan Iñupiat. In it you play as a young girl named Nuna and a magical arctic fox. After saving her from a polar bear, the fox starts following the girl around through a giant blizzard. The entire game is narrated by a person speaking what I presume to be the Iñupiat native tongue, and it gives the feeling of listening to your grandpa tell you a story around a campfire, which is fitting. In between all the in-engine bits we have cutscenes drawn to look like old paintings you would find in caves and on native art and whatnot. All of this really helps sell the idea that this is another culture's story being told to us by another culture, and not filtered through white people.

Never Alone 1

When we aren't in the native art style, the game looks kind of weird. The fox and the polar bear look like they don't have enough fur on them, with their coats fading out as it gets further from the body. It gives them this balding effect and I can almost make out the naked model underneath it all. The girl looks fine, but I have a hard time figuring out if the trim on her coat is supposed to be frozen hair, animal bones, or it just glitched out. There are these huge triangles all over the coat and they look like something wasn't coded properly.

The environments don't look that much better. Sure, when you get to the caves and wooden areas, everything looks fine. But when things are covered in snow, it gets bad. The snow never looks or acts like snow. It looks like white dirt that the character models just clip through. And that's a real shame, because it looks like some effort was put into the game in regards to the snow. When you walk on ground level snow there's a slight bit of dust up, and when the snow gets deeper Nuna does a small hop with every step, which is how a small child walks in snow. Believe me, I'm Canadian, I would know. The snow never feels like anything more than a big texture, and it really bugged me.

never-alone 2

But snow aside, where the game really falls apart is in the gameplay. You control two separate characters, Nuna and the fox. I think this game was meant to be played in co-op mode, with one person controlling Nuna and one controlling the fox. But I don't have any friends to play games with, so I had to play it solo. You can switch between the two of them at any time, and when you do the other character becomes AI controlled. Unfortunately, the AI is kind of stupid. So many times throughout this game my AI character would die or screw up puzzles because I had no way that I knew of to tell them to stay put or come or not be stupid. There was a level where I was controlling Nuna and had to jump between blocks of ice that were smashing into the ceiling (because video games). So I jumped and ran across the ice block to the safe area. The AI then did one of three things. He either ran into the safe spot with me, caught up to me then ran back into the crushing maw of death behind me, or overshot the safe spot and fell into the gap between the platforms and drowned. This happened so many times I almost gave up and stopped playing the game. But I eventually made it through there and made the jump to the final platform, completing the level. Or, I would have, if the fox hadn't missed the jump and drowned. Pushing us back to part where one of the previous three things would happen.

Speaking of jumping, it doesn’t feel great in this game. Like a lot of polygonal platformers nowadays, turning around takes off a lot points right off the bat. So many times I tried to make jumps but my character wasn't facing the right way, so I went a foot forward (or backwards) into a bottomless pit. When you do get the jumps right, you have to make it a decent way on to the platform or you will fall back on to the ledge and have to sit through the climbing animations. And then you have the wind to deal with, which is always fun. When it's first introduced, you're given the ability to brace yourself so you don't get thrown back. But almost every time you encounter wind after that first time, you're supposed to use the wind to propel yourself forward to make jumps. It's never really clear on when you're supposed to brace or use the wind, and since the place I'm supposed to be jumping to is blocked by the camera which I have no control over, I'm just sitting there cowering from the winds trying to figure out where the hell I'm supposed to go next.

never alone 3

Also there's the bola. Oh boy, is there the bola. You get this from a magical owl man who may or may not be your grandfather and it's absolutely terrible to use. What you do is, pull the right stick back to charge it up, then flick it forward in the direction you want it to go. There is no precision aiming with this thing. You just fling it and hope it's going in the right direction. And it's dependent on which direction you're facing, too.

The fox can scurry up some walls and wall jump, and it works fine enough. He can also somewhat control spirits. This is entirely dependent on his position on top of the spirit, which basically serves as a platform. When you get to a specific on the spirit, it will move. But, since you probably had to control Nuna to get her up on the platform, you will have to switch back to the fox to move him the quarter of an inch forward to get the platform to activate right. It never feels right doing this stuff and it really pulls you out of any kind of experience when you have to move that damn fox into the proper position.

I believe games being developed by and about people of other cultures is a good thing. I don't really go out of my way to learn about this stuff, but a game could get me interested and teach me something I didn't know before. Hell, this game even has a documentary series in it about the Iñupiat. But the game around all the learning stuff needs to be good. And I don’t think Never Alone is particularly good. The graphics and platforming aren't great, and the computer controlling the other part of your twosome is terrible. Maybe I would have had a different experience with the game if I had played this with a friend or, failing that, the fox that hangs out outside my house howling at me all night. But I didn't. I was alone in this, and I did not enjoy it.

Published in Playstation 4
Monday, 31 August 2015 00:20

Review: I Am Bread [PS4]

Among other such ballyhooed features as a time-saving sleep/resume function and the ability to purchase a rising mountain of slightly remastered versions of games you already purchased between two and 10 years ago, the Playstation 4 also makes it dead simple for anyone to engage in the formerly cost- and technically-prohibitive act of streaming a live performance of their gameplay to all who wish to watch it.

Now let's amend that statement for Bossa Studios' "I Am Bread." Among other such blah blah blah as something something God of War III High-High Definition Edition, the PS4 makes it dead simple for anyone but you to spend their own $13 to play "Bread" on a live stream while you, and not them, enjoy the game's best feature -- schadenfreude -- for free. You need not even own a PS4 to take advantage of this incredible offer.

i am bread Story Mode

"Bread's" gameplay operates in league with the likes of "Octodad," "Surgeon Simulator" (Bossa's previous game) and the ancestral "QWOP," all of which tasked players with doing simple things -- walking around as an octopus, maneuvering a surgeon's hands and running on a track, respectively -- via purposely unintuitive controls that transformed elementary motion into acts of comedy and horror.

This time, you control a slice of bread, whose four corners are mapped to, of all things, the Dual Shock 4’s shoulder (L1, R1) and trigger (L2, R2) buttons. Hold the corresponding buttons to apply weight and grip to those corners, and use the left stick to swing, nudge, flip and fling the bread according to the whims of physics and whatever combination of corners you have gripping onto whatever surface stands between you and the floor.

 From this, a system of movement is sort of born, and if it sounds willfully messy in written form, the words have done their job. Even "Bread's" lone attempt at helpfulness, wherein it denotes each corner's button assignment with a corresponding icon on that corner, sort of backfires. All four icons look nearly identical, and you may wonder, with increasing lament, why the iconic Playstation face buttons weren't used instead or simply offered as an option. (They come into play as well, but in service of a secondary grip mechanic that isn't nearly as instrumental or complicated.)

The objective of all this? Get yourself toasted before too much exposure to the ground or other unsavory elements deems you inedible.

i am bread Free Roam

(Never mind that the walls and furniture you maneuver to stay off the ground appear just as dirty as anything below. "Bread's" definition of what constitutes an edible slice of toast is right up there with its controls in terms of erratic interpretation, so please do not consult it when making real toast in your own home.)

Aggravatingly, "Bread's" physics are similarly temperamental — sometimes obeying the laws of this earth, but just as frequently suffering a crisis of gravity that turns the task of gently steering a simple bread slice into either (a) a reactive guessing game or (b) an experience reminiscent of accidentally wandering into quicksand and trying to crabwalk your way out. Soft touches sometimes trigger wildly erratic flops, while other times, all the jamming in the world on the stick and buttons won't move the slice more than a painfully impotent tick at a time.

Yes, while you're working all this out and seeing these digital tantrums for the first time, "Bread" is funny — not laugh-out-loudly so, because the games that broke this genre in did so with more absurdity, charm, surprise and shock, but amusing at least.

But "Bread's" temperament and sluggishness spell a quick demise for the joke. And once the joke wears off and all that remains is you, these not-quite controls, these not-quite physics, a fickle edibility meter and the constant threat of one wrong anything — from you or the game — undoing 20-plus minutes of monotonously careful maneuvering that had sapped all pretense of being fun to play at around minute four, "Bread" feels less like amusement, or even a game, and mostly like digital antagonism that's designed to be enjoyed by everyone but the person tasked with playing it.

(That, after only three failed attempts, each level tosses in an invincibility power-up that makes failing the level completely impossible is quite telling in multiple interpretative ways. An unspoken admission that the developer recognizes but has no interest in intelligently reconciling the laughable imbalance between the task at hand and the tools provided to complete or even just enjoy it? Or just yet another way for game and audience alike to mock the poor soul who ponied up the $13 sacrifice? All of the above? Take your pick. No wrong answers here.)

i am bread Race 01

The shame in all this is that some genuine novelty peeks through all that contrived aggravation. When you discover, possibly by accident, that you can toast your bread without a toaster, it's enough to wonder if "Bread" could have been a clever environmental puzzle game instead of a practical joke. Physics are sometimes employed to clever effect, even if these instances are telegraphed by the standout placement of certain objects in each area. "Bread's" end-of-level grading system takes toasting technique into account, and had it gone all in on this pursuit and left the willfully obtuse control scheme giggles behind, it could have been a genre unto itself instead of an also-ran.

"Bread's" story mode — which is punctuated by interstitial text that, to its credit, pays off with a clever conclusion and remains amusing long after your smile might fade everywhere else -- accompanies a series of secondary modes that all engender their own ill will in their own special ways.

There's a multiple-item fetch quest mode in which you play as a cracker that's susceptible to breakage as well as dirt and bad physics and is, as such, even more tedious to control. There's a very basic racing mode starring a bagel that's amusing except for the part where you steer a bagel that occasionally betrays everything you're doing with the controller, and there's a zero G mode that's amusing except for the part where you bang your head against a stubborn control scheme that feels like that aforementioned quicksand with a side of frozen tundra mixed in.

Finally, there's a destruction mode, starring a presumably stale baguette, that should be the cathartic foil to the antagonistic game that envelopes it. But even here, where failure is nearly impossible and the only task is to create as much chaos as possible in two minutes' time, a diving framerate and the worst, most not-of-this-earth physics in the entire game join forces to pry aggravation from the jaws of mindless fun.

I am bread CheeseHunt 02

At that point, with all other options exhausted, the only recourse is to quit the game, fire up the Live From PlayStation app, find a stream of someone else playing "Bread," and experience the game as it's most likely intended to be experienced. Only here — when you set out to revel in someone else getting their turn at comedic misery but instead experience pangs of empathy while watching an increasingly dispirited fellow player attempt to justify 13 evaporated dollars by chasing it with countless wasted minutes — does "Bread" feel like a product whose intent and result are in strangely perfect alignment.

Published in Playstation 4
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