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Dying Light - Review [PS4]

 

It’s a common theme, the world is in danger of being overrun by mindless zombies. The outbreak is held at bay by a quarantine trapping both “biters” and survivors alike. The survivors band together into two groups, Runners and Bandits. And so it goes, the conflict between the living and dead as well as between the living and the living.

You play as Crane, an agent of the Global Relief Effort (GRE) dropped into to the writhing hell hole that is the Harran ona mission to secure a file from the leader of the Bandits, Rais. Early on in your campaign you’re befriended by members of the Runners faction that are lead by Brecken, a parkour instructor who’s trained his followers the art of fancy jumping and climbing to keep them one step ahead of the zombies while they scrounge the city for supplies. You’re almost immediately welcomed into the fold by the runners after coming to the rescue of one of their members. Soon you’re asked to go on missions, after a bit of fancy running and jumping about training, which are comprised mostly of fetch quests and dungeon crawls. Being a typical modern city though the dungeons of Harran are comprised of sewer tunnels and the corridors of high-rise apartment buildings. Eventually the Runners need antizen, a drug that’s used to prevent infected survivors turning into flesh eating monsters, from the Bandits and you’re volunteered to broker a deal. Of course the bandit leader is a charismatic psychopath who’s against any deals that have a potential to be fair. Rais orders you to run errands for him, reneges on his deal and a recipe for conflict is concocted. Through the course of the story you grow attached to some of the Runners and their wellbeing soon becomes your primary concern. Personally I found the story formulaic and the NPCs do what they always do, ask you to do favors for them. There are plenty of side missions available but I spent 19 of my play hours focused on the story missions alone.

The open world first-person gameplay of Dying Light is like something Dr. Frankenstein would have dreamt up. The developer essentially spliced together elements from several triple-A titles. Movement is reminiscent of Mirror’s Edge, your ability to run and jump and climb is indispispensible in traversing the city. Dungeon exploration right down to the lock picking mechanic is highjacked from Skyrim. There are several locations in the open world map that can be cleared and made into safe houses similar to Far Cry(unfortunately there are no zombie elephants). There are a lot of other features of Dying Light that are cherry picked from other games but overall they are implemented rather well. Your weapon load out can run the gamut from water pipes to hatchets to rifles. All the weapons can be upgraded to enhance their effectiveness and all behave rather different. Blunt objects will crunch and rebound as you’d expect and slicing weapons will cleave ever sosatisfyingly when upgraded properly. The gun play is a hot mess, right clicking R3 will allow you to aim down the sight but if your hungry opponents get too close you’re better off switching to a scythe and decapitate them before you’re overrun. Besides the mindless zombie drones there are some more deadly variations. Some are faster, some are stronger, some explode with little notice and others will spew green toxins at you from several yards away. In some cases it’s well advised to stick to the roof tops when running from place to place. It’s the best way to navigate the open world while the undead try their best to gnaw on your heels . When you get to the dungeon sections avoidance is less of an option but it still pays to be cautious. Melee fighting drains stamina so having a quick route of retreat to catch your breath is good practice (a la Skyrim).

The sound design and graphics are very well done. Besides a bit of open world jank this is where the game shines. I played about a third of the game with headphones on.The sounds of screams, moaning, feet shuffling and the horror music is nerve racking when you’re playing at night, in the dark, with a bit too much rum in your system. There are jump scares in the game but they are fairly well spread out so when they do happen they are effective. Also when they don’t happen you feel kind of foolish. The city of Harran really looks like an outbreak has taken place. Besides the fidelity of it all, abandoned vehicles, buildings and lunches all appeared to have been turned upside down right in the middle of life. The architecture of the city proper and the “old” city are well varied and provide a beautiful landscape from a distance when your zipping down a zip-line. Walls with blood streamed hand prints, boarded up doors, improvised booby traps and graffiti messages to other survivors depict the the gruesome struggle between living and dead. It’s a beautiful mix of metal, concrete and organic matter that you wish you had more time to explore if you weren’t being hounded awful day and gruesome night. Oh the night! When the sun goes down, you can’t see more than a foot in front of you and ultra violent zombies come out to shred you to pieces. You do get a stat boost for operating in the dark but unless you’ve leveled your weapons and character you might not make it to the morning in one piece. Furthermore, while this might sound morbid but I was very impressed with the level of detail that went into rendering severed body parts. Under close inspection you can see clearly the sinew, bone and marrow of the recently re-deceased. Anatomically, I’ve never seen another game that is its match. It may be something that goes unnoticed by most but if you do play this game, examine your slain, it’s awesome.

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To reiterate, it took me about 19 hours to complete the story and there was still a lot of side missions that I didn’t get to and miles of landscape of hidden treasures that I didn’t fully explore. This game is a loot and leveling junky’s wet dream. There’s a lot of real estate to mine for swag to upgrade weapons and endless fodder to max out your character. While obviously not necessary to complete the story, if you’re into collecting this game has extra value. If you’re looking for an intense and deep story with revolutionary gameplay mechanics you should probably look elsewhere.

 
If you'd like to find out more about Dying Light check out the website at:http://dyinglightgame.com/

Win A Shirt Weekend 9/24 - 9/25 Pacman CE 2

This Weekend, 9/24 - 9/25 you can win a limited edition All Games ‘Legacy’ t-shirt by beating me in a videogame. I’ve flipped a coin and this week, the game is ‘PacMan Championship Edition 2’ (Championship 2: Single Train Course). Available on the Xbox One, PS4, and PC(Steam) .

To win, you just have to beat my score by the end of the weekend. Post your score on the AllGames Website, or on Twitter (#allgamesWASW) and everyone who beats my score will be entered to win one of these beautiful high quality limited edition AllGames Legacy collector's items t-shirts. (we can ship to US or US Military Base addresses)
Win a Shirt Weekend

You can also bypass the contest altogether and get your own Lecagy Shirt from the AllGames Shop (allgames.com/shop)!

Here’s my current highscore to beat, 2,869,250 , and I’ll be updating it all weekend with (hopefully) better scores.

 

Score to Beat: 2,869,250Win a Shirt Weekend Score

 

Divinity Trailer at Gamescom!

DOSEE logo

Larian Studios revealed the Divinity: Original Sin trailer at this year’s Gamescom.  Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition is being published to your Playstation 4 and Xbox One this Autumn by Focus Home Interactive.

                This classic RPG game has turn based combat that will keep you on your toes (or on the edge of your couch if you prefer), use your spells and abilities to take out your enemies alone or with a friend.  In Divinity you will be able to explore the world of Rivellon by yourself or in co-op mode where you will share your couch and the screen.  Stick together and you will be on one screen, wander apart and you will automatically be moved to a split screen!  For more info check out www.larian.com

DOSEE PS4 Split07

  • Published in News

MLB 14 The Show Is Broken

There are only a handful of games that I play all year long. MLB The Show from Sony San Diego is one of them. It's always missing out on the spectacle of E3, because the latest release has already hit the streets. If you want info about arguably the greatest sports game franchise ever created, you'll usually get it in January as we get closer to spring training. MLB 14 The Show is actually the first baseball game to have no competition on game consoles. With MLB2K finally being put out of its misery, PlayStation owners had the only game in town, literally.

Normally this would not be an issue. MLB The Show is actually worth the price of a PlayStation 3 console for just this one game IMO. In fact, it was the only game I've repeatedly played on the aging console since 2012.  The game is not without the occassional bugs. Online play included a 3rd strike pitch in the dirt that would freeze the catcher allowing the batter to score an inside the park home run while the ball sat a few inches from home plate. Thankfully, that bug is gone this year but what's worse is that the game people consider the best simulation of a sport, has some serious visual glitches and high weirdness that makes the game mostly unplayable online against other human opponents.

This is not a problem for the millions of gamers who buy MLB The Show for the single player and franchise modes. The problem is a result of the developers rebuilding the online codebase from scratch. After a disasterous release in May, the developers issued this statement regarding the horribly sync issues occurring in online games.

This year, we strove to revamp our online gameplay from the ground up. The goal was to provide 100% parity with the feel and input response of our offline gameplay. We have accomplished much of this: input and timing for Batting, Pitching, and Fielding online all feel the same as offline with virtually zero latency. As a result of this overhaul and our emphasis on a minimal latency experience, a number of visual anomalies and issues of synchronization have manifested that we are actively identifying and working to resolve.

It is a process, one with growing pains, but we are confident the significant changes we’ve made this year will help to lay the foundation for a vastly improved online experience, both in terms of fixes we will deliver in the near future and also for subsequent entries in the series. We can also assure you that our highly anticipated PlayStation 4 debut will benefit from many of our immediate learnings and fixes from day one."

Some of the visual anomalies are just jarring, like when a ball disappears in mid air instead of being caught by the player standing a few feet away. Or when a ground ball that seemingly makes it into the hole is magically caught by a time warping 2nd baseman. Other anomalys affect strategy as you see a ball sail past the catcher, which causes you to advance the runner from third to score. But the ball didn't get by the catcher on your opponents screen, so you are called out at the plate. This happens all the time in various ways throughout the game.

The worst problem the game faces is freezing. Yep, frozen players, frozen games, frozen PlayStation. Most times you'll need to power off the PlayStation and start all over, taking a loss and a disconnect mark on your profile.

The development team released a patch, but it didn't fix the glaring issues of freezing, warping, and visual anomalies. Here it is over 2 months after release, and the problems still exist making online gameplay a crap shoot. Spend a half hour playing a glitch filled game, only to have it freeze up and force you to start over.

You can't return a video game for a full refund if the mode you play is broken. The majority of customers play offline modes, so they aren't really complaining that much. It's like having a copy/printer/fax machine that works incredible when directly connected to your computer, but leaves smears, smudges, and streaks on documents when connected via wifi. 

I'm pretty sure I'll be skipping launch day releases in the future, the only way publishers will stop releasing broken games is if people don't buy them. Sony put out a press release about record breaking sales, while the people that bought the game for online play were left rebooting their PlayStations and wasting time

 

Video Games: How Shenmue 3 Was Guaranteed to be Funded

 SMH - Shaking my head about the "third" party funding of the Shenmue 3 kickstarter which successfully ended on July 17, 2015.  If you haven't heard, Sony is the "third" party.  Yes -- I get that Shenmue 3 was a long awaited video game, and yes, I understand  the ultimate goal is to get full funding of a video game to make sure  the video game actually comes to fruition.  What I do not get is a video game that garnered over $6 million dollars while at the same time having the financial backing of a major company like Sony.  

Call me naive, but I thought the purpose of a kickstarter was to be the primary funding vehicle to ensure there is enough money to follow through on making a video game or whatever project the funding was being asked for.  I was unaware, until I did some research, that Shenmue 3 was guaranteed to be made regardless -- mainly because of the backing of a giant software/hardware company like Sony.  It's news to me that a kickstarter can be used to subsidize the funds a company already has earmarked for the game.  Since that company is Sony, I'm sure the amount funded for Shenmue 3 is in the millions.

Shenmue 3Shenmue 3

Let's talk numbers.  The requested amount for the Shemue 3 kickstarter was $2 million.   The kickstarter's goal was reached when over $6 million was raised at its conclusion. It was indicated the game would be produced if only $2 million was raised;  however, if $10 million dollars were raised, there would be more of an "open world" for the Shenmue 3 video game. It's my understanding some gamers and backers of the kickstarter wanted to know more specifics about what the funds would be used for; however, this information was not provided. This nondisclosure did not seem to negatively impact the funds raised for Shenmue 3 during the kickstarter.  In fact, Shenmue 3 broke records by being the first video game to raise the largest amount of money within 8 1/2 hours of the kickstarter being announced.

Shenmue 3Shenmue 3

So just what was Sony's part in the funding, other than guaranteeing the game would be produced?  Well, when the Shenmue 3 video game is completed, it will be playable on its gaming system -- the PlayStation 4 as well as the PC. Sony is also the publisher of the video game.  Given its deep pockets, Sony has stated that additional funds will be provided to market the video game for its PlayStation 4 video game system.

Even though it was not specifically stated in the kickstarter that Sony is involved in the funding, the partnership of Ys Net  (developer) and Sony was mentioned during an interview with Sony's Adam Boyles.  It was also inferred the kickstarter was used as a means to guage the level or range of interest for a Shenmule 3 video game to be produced.

Shenmue 3Shenmue 3

A question that begs to be asked and answered is how much money did Sony provide to ensure Shenmue 3 was made.  For now, mum's the word since, to date, Sony has not divulged the amount.  I'm sure this amount is and will be sizeable.

My thoughts are with all of the other hardworking developers who may have dreamed of having a kickstarter, or who may have even had one; however,  were not given the extra boost of being backed and funded from a multi-billion dollar  company like Sony.  My advice to these developers is that even if a strong backing from a large  company for your video game is not forthcoming, continue making exciting games that  will be of interest to gamers on a large scale.   In other words, build a better mousetrap, I mean -- build a better video game, and the gamers will fund your project, maybe even to  level of success  experienced by the developers of the Shenmue 3 video game.

Shenmue 3 is scheduled to be released December 2017.

Rollers of the Realm [PS4]

The fun thing about indie developers is that you never know when they are going to come up with something unique. Take for example Rollers of the Realm, by developer Phantom Compass; it combines video game pinball with a role-playing game (RPG).

Since a majority of your gameplay will be playing pinball the story is kept light, but engaging. You start as the Rogue. She has come to town with her dog looking for some easy targets. Eventually her dog gets kidnapped by the town blacksmith who wants to make the dog his dinner. The Rogue encounters a drunken Knight who decides to help her recover her dog and a Healer who wants to help defeat the blacksmith. You work your way through different pinball tables, which represent various parts of the town, until you finally encounter the Blacksmith in his forge. When you finally defeat him you find out his brother is the evil Baron of the realm and now you have to hide in an outlaw camp to avoid capture. Here is where your adventure really starts.

The gameplay mechanics are your typical video game pinball: flippers, bumpers, teleport holes, rails, etc. What makes it different is that each character in your party is represented by one of your balls on the table. Each ball has its own specialty. The Rogue has the ability to steal gold from characters on the table and does "backstab" damage to enemies. The Knight is a larger armored ball that can do more damage and can break boxes easier. The Healer can heal your flippers and has a special power of bringing back lost balls, if you have enough mana. All the balls can generate mana by hitting things like torches and other special items on the table. The other characters can also use the mana pool in order to activate unique magic powers. The Rogue can summon her dog to the field for "multi-ball" action and the Knight can temporarily block the gutter so he can't "die." You can swap between the balls as needed by trapping the ball with one of the two main flippers and then selecting the character you want.

rollers of the realm review 1

As you play you gather gold. This gold, in typical RPG fashion, can be taken to shops where you can purchase items to upgrade each character. You can even add new members to your party by "hiring" them from the shop.

The tables play out much like any other pinball game; somehow make the balls into certain places to progress further. Other times you have encounters where you have to defeat all the enemies on the table. For the most part, the pinballs physics are sound given that there are certain exceptions for powers of the characters. Difficulty does ramp up as the game progresses; you'll even eventually get tables that are multi-tiered that you have to work through section by section to clear the whole table.

I love both video game pinball and RPGs so for me Rollers of the Realm is a bit of a no brainer. I do have frustrations with the pinball aspects, but then again I have those same frustrations with regular video game pinball. I may love the genre, but I am no master of it, so sometimes trying to manipulate a ball to go into certain places can be a little bit of a challenge.

I am really enjoying Rollers of the Realm. There is an arena mode that you can open up after a while that lets you "grind" to earn more gold so you can buy those power ups you just know you are going to need for later levels. In fact the one complaint I would have is gold seems to be hard to earn so grinding takes a bit longer, but if you've spent any amount of time in World of Warcraft you know grinding all too well.

rollers of the realm review 3

I say if you like video game pinball definitely check out Rollers of the Realm, the characters and powers add a unique twist on the normal fun game of pinball. If you are an RPG fan it might be hard call to recommend. You have to be up for something very different than what you are used to as far as "adventure."

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.

Lies, Damned Lies and Game Trailers

 

Mark Twain has been noted as saying, there are three type of lies. Lies, damned lies, and statistics. If Twain played videogames, the quote would probably be ‘There are lies, damned lies, and game trailers’. Since the earliest days of videogame consoles, developers have used a slew of different ways to entice gamers to make a purchase. And none of them involved being truthful to players.

When videogames first hit the market there was almost no way for the underpowered hardware to portray anything meaningful to the player via the screen. Atari Combat Box ArtAtari Combat Box ArtGamers were told they were looking at a biplane, or a tank, or even a dragon protecting a castle. But not really. Instead they were staring at a grouping of odd shapes and listening to different variations of white noise masquerading as sound effects. The box art for these games promised incredible worlds filled with action and adventure. These painted covers attempted to tell the story via artwork that the console couldn’t with pixels. 

Those box covers were lies. But at the time, everyone understood that we were complicit in the fraud. The Atari 2600 would create as complex a picture as it could muster, and we’d fill in the missing pieces with a healthy dollop of imagination. It worked. I can still remember the thrill of stealing gold trinkets while dodging balls of searing flame in DragonFire, or narrowly avoiding a cannon shot in Combat.

Combat on the Atari 2600 Combat on the Atari 2600

As games grew more sophisticated, the hardware they were played on became more varied and diverse. Home gaming consoles gave way to home computers and the myriad of options that came with them. A ‘PC’ could mean anything from a monochrome TRS-80 to a Commodore Amiga boasting millions of colors. With only a handful of game magazines available, one of the most important factors in deciding whether or not to buy a game was the screenshots displayed on the back of the box. Defender of the Crown - Amiga screens shownDefender of the Crown - Amiga screens shownThis small image, maybe 2 inches square, was the game’s only way of convincing you that it was worth your hard earned allowance.
This screenshot was a damned lie. While it may have been an image from the game, it was rarely from a version of the game that ran on the lowly Atari 400, Commodore 64, or CGA equipped PC that millions of people owned. Instead the picture shown on the box was from the one of the rarefied graphical powerhouses like the Atari 1040ST or Amiga 1200. You would stare longingly at the vibrant colors and detailed images on the back of those game boxes, only to watch in disappointment as your 4mhz computer with 64k of memory failed to live up to promises that were made with a $2000 piece of hardware. But still, those screenshot were from actual games on actual, if mostly unattainable computers. And if you looked hard enough, you could make out the small print that admitted ‘images from Amiga Version’.

Today videogame systems are orders of magnitude more powerful than the consoles and home PCs of yesteryear. Games have become so complex that it can take dozens of people, millions of dollars to produce a top selling title. Developers have tools at their beck and call that coders from prior generations only dreamed of. And instead of fanciful cover art or misleading screenshots on the back of game boxes, consumers are wooed with the latest type of lie, the game trailer.
For some reason, publishers aren’t content with enticing gamers with the incredible graphics and immersive sounds that modern consoles are capable of. Maybe they don’t believe that people would be intrigued by what the Xbox One or PS4 could produce with their multiple core chipsets and gigabytes of storage. Instead, time and time again gamers are outright lied to in form of a gametrailer that is at best misleading or at worst a complete fabrication.

NetherRealm’s Mortal Kombat X was announced with a trailer that showed a pair of intricate CGI warriors locked in a brutal battle in the middle of a frost bound forest. The gaming community rejoiced at the return of the legendary fighting game that seemed to actually use the power that had been missing from the next generation of consoles. But it wasn’t long before that trailer proved to be nothing more than fantasy. MKX was released to much fanfare, but without a trace of the graphic wizardry from the announcement teaser. What happened? The game that was released seems to be a enhanced incarnation of the game engine used for Injustice, and while it’s still a top notch fighter, it’s a far cry from what was first paraded in front of the public.

The Madden Series is another offender of the game trailer showing you something patently different from what you’ll actually be playing. The low camera angles highlighting the spinning, jumping acrobatics of the player is far removed from the three quarter overhead view that you’ll be using for the vast majority of the game.That slow motion shot of the dirt being thrown up by cleats will only be seen on the youtube trailer, and never make an appearance in your online scrimmages.

EA premiered the trailer for the long awaited Star Wars Battlefront to a convention hall full of diehard Star Wars fans that breathed in every frame of the spectacular looking game. Even though the words ‘Game Engine Footage’ are emblazoned on the screen, it’s hard to imagine a control scheme that would allow for the multiple camera angles and character motions shown. While some form of the game engine may have been used to create the cinematic trailer, you can be sure that those arent the scenes that gamers will be interacting with. Instead the audience was shown what amounted to a barrage of cut scenes.

It’s a trend so prevalent that we’ve become used to it. No single company is more or less to blame. It’s practically the industry standard. More and more, games are being sold with a bill of goods that bear no resemblance to reality. Instead of being shown what we’ll actually be playing, we’re shown what a 3d artist was able to dream up and render out. And now that game demos have all but disappeared, gamers have less information to go on when purchasing a game than in years past. Pre-orders are pushed heavily with discounts and bonuses as developers are asking customers to put down money for a game before its released, based on footage that most likely doesn’t portray any aspect of what they’ll actually be playing. And that’s sad because games today can truly be breathtaking. The next gen consoles that grace today’s living room are capable of astounding visuals. The actual gameplay and interactivity has progressed to a point never before possible. That’s more than enough to sell a game. They don’t need an artists rendition on a box cover. They don’t need misleading screenshots from an overspecced super computer. And they don’t need a gametrailer devoid of real gameplay. All games need to sell themselves are the games themselves. There’s no need to lie about it. And yet, the lies remain.

Broken Promises of the Next Gen Consoles

 

After months of hype and extensive PR campaigns, the two big next-gen consoles, the Playstation 4 and Xbox One, have been launched. They are the most powerful, most connected, and most innovative gaming consoles ever released. Or at least that's what their respective companies have been telling everyone for the past 9 months. The question now is, do these two gaming behemoths live up to the promises they made when they were revealed to the public? Did the features that Sony and Microsoft promised gamers make it into the final consoles? Both consoles haven't delivered on more than a few of the claims that were made when they were first shown earlier this year. This article will highlight some of the biggest omissions that may have excited the prospective buyer, only to turn up missing when you powered up your new next-gen console for the first time. For the purposes of this article, game delays and software changes won't be held against the consoles. The very nature of game development means that if the game you’re working on is exactly the same at launch as it was 6 months before launch, then you’re doing something wrong. So there won’t be any mention of missing 3rd party launch titles, or slight UI changes. This article will focus on big features that would have been a major factor in how the consoles operate.

 

PLAYSTATION 4

FRIENDS TAKE CONTROL

promises ps4 1The PS4 launched first on Nov 15th so it’s fitting that it takes the lead. The Playstation 4 announcement presentation started off with tech specs, powerpoint slides, and promises of a totally connected gaming experience. You would not only be able to stream games, but your friends will even be able to hop on and take over your controls to help you through a level. This feature was brought up twice during the presentation, by both lead architect Mark Cerny and Gaikai founder, David Perry. We’ve all had times where we have a friend who can effortlessly get past a boss which has proven impossible for you to get past. It would be great to have that friend jump in and take over via the internet. Well, at launch, you can stream your game from the PS4 to Twitch.tv so that your friend can watch you die over and over, but having them ‘jump in and take control’ isn’t an option.

IMMEDIATE LAUNCH

promises ps4 2‘Launching directly into a game from bootup ‘into the exact spot you left’ was a feature that many gamers were salivating over. Being able to play a game, turn off the system to go to work or school and then coming back, turning on your console and immediately being placed right where you left off sounded too good to be true. And it was. The PS4 does have a standby mode, but it’s used mainly for charging the controller and downloading files in the background. Coming out of standby will place you at the familiar cross media bar, and even then, starting up a game will take you to the title’s start screen, and not at the point in the game where you left it.

PREDICTING YOUR PURCHASES

The Playstation Store was slated to predict what you wanted to buy, before you bought it. It may sounds a little 'Big Brother-y', but according the Cerny, the PS4 would keep track of what you like to play, your favorite creators, and genres. The system would then be able to predict what you wanted to play and pre-load the game on your system before you even bought it. When you do finally decide to buy the game, it would be ready and waiting for you, already downloaded on your console. This Big Brother-like feature was quietly dropped and there has been no mention of Sony keeping tabs on what you’re doing and predicting your next purchase before you make it. Although Sony’s latest update to the privacy section on the terms of service, which states that they reserve the right to monitor any and all PSN activity shows that they haven’t completely forgotten about this ‘feature’.

Perry also announced that Gaikai integration would allow gamers to play titles from the PS3 directly on the PS4. Gaikai would stream the game to you using ‘the fastest gaming network in the world’, theoretically giving the Playstation for access to the complete library of it’s predecessors titles. Gaikai has not only been absent from the launch, but theres no set date for that service to start up.

 

The PS4 did manage to fulfill most of what it promised gamers at launch. Great graphics, a better controller, and a more social feeling to the system compared to the PS3’s lonely island approach to gaming. But Sony did over promise on some key features in the user experience. Whether those features were removed due to marketing (Privacy concerns with ‘predicting’ buying habits), or pricing considerations (removing the PS Camera was widely seen as a move to reduce costs), the end result is, the PS4 has broken a few of the promises it made when it was first announced. It’s possible that some or all of these missing features will be added in the futures, but it’s just as possible that they will never see the light of day.

XBOX ONE

promises xb1 1The Xbox One’s reveal event was very different from the PS4. Instead of presenting specs and game previews, the focus was placed on the overall experience in using the system. The star of the show was definiately the user interface with Microsoft letting everyone know they were ready to change the way we interact with our entertainment.

YOUR NEW REMOTE

One of the first features shown was the now famous ‘Xbox On’ command. Just saying those words will turn on the console and talk to all of the components in your home theatre. ‘No more switching inputs’ was the tagline. This tagline is accurate, except for the part about switching inputs.  If your Xbox One is the only device in your home theatre, then yes, you wont need to lift a finger to get the system on the screen. But if you have other devices hooked up, like say a PS4 or a bluray player, then you’re still going to have to manually switch the inputs on the TV or receiver, because the Xbox’s control of your home theatre doesn’t include changing those inputs. Its a seemingly small omission that becomes a much bigger deal for those people with more extensive setups.

VOICE CONTROL

Another huge feature of the Xbox One is the extensive use of voice commands. And while controlling the Xbox One with your voice works (admittedly with varying degrees of success), the phrase that stands out from the announcement event is ‘conversational. The Xbox One’s voice commands are implied to be almost ‘Siri’-like. During the demonstration, they were presented in a way that seemed very natural and matter of fact. If you want to play Forza Motorsport, just say ‘Play Forza Motorsport’ Makes sense. But say ‘Play Forza’, and nothing happens. ‘Start that driving game’..nothing. Xbox One expects you to say specific words in a specific order. It’s not Siri, and it’s not conversational, even though it was touted as a conversational voice interface.

WAVE YOUR HAND

promises xb1 2The next user interface update is the use of Gestures. The Xbox one was set to have a ‘universal gesture language’ to control your system. Want to move to the next screen? Just wave your hand. Yusef Mehdi even demonstrates it a few times. It doesnt work. Waving your hand in front of the TV screen only results in a slight breeze of air. If you have an Xbox One, try it. Instead of the smooth, graceful motion, you'll instead have to place your hand up, palm out flat, wait a couple of seconds for the Xbox one to recognize it, then make a fist (grabbing the air), and then swipe. It’s a tedious process that's miles away from the effortless movement seen at the announce presentation.

SNAP SKYPE

The use of Skype on the Xbox One was a large part of the presentation. While playing a movie, Skype is brought up, snapped to the sidebar, and the user carries on a converation while watching their favorite video. Don't bother trying to mimic this action. It isn’t possible. The Skype app on the Xbox One can’t be snapped at all. It’s either the main section of the screen or nothing. Which  makes  having a mini version of your skype partner on the side while you gaze at Star Trek Into Darkness in HD or play a game, unlikely.


The announcement events of the PS4 and Xbox One both showed off a lot of features. But not all of them made it to launch. Some ommissions were big news, but others were quietly dropped without so much as a whimper from the companies or press. These two systems will be with us for a long time to come and no doubt will go through many changes. Features will come and go. Just make sure that when you make a decision to buy a next gen console, the features you want to use actually exist and arent just 'Coming Soon' promises that may or may not appear in the future. 

 Watch the original reveal videos:

PS4
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 XBOX ONE
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Bombing Bastards Becomes Busters

Sanuk Games, the Bangkok-based developer, has announced that their hit game - Bombing Bastards - will be coming to the Playstation Store on September 15th and we be available for your PS4.  The game that was given a 8.5 out of 10 from AlwaysNintendo will be available under the name Bombing Busters, name change at the request of Sony, for $6.99.  Previously available on Steam and the WiiU, Bombing Busters took a long hard road to be ported to the Playstation 4 but now on the 15th you will be able to explode those baddies to your hearts content.

You and Dr. Wallow will try to one up Brain and take over the Galaxy instead of just the World in 30 different mazes on five different worlds.  Blast away in single player mode or with up to four of your friends in the multi-player mode.  Get more information at www.sanukgames.com

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