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Dying Light Review - PS4
by: Luke Horn - 02/05/15
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Genre: Action Zombie Survival Game
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, and PC
There is a moment in-between the dying light of day and the approach of night that reveals the fear in the soul of man. Dying Light’s intriguing contrast of the day and night cycle brings about this idea. During the day you jump from balconies and rooftops trying to avoid the hordes of zombies while you scavenge and complete missions. You think to yourself, “this isn’t so scary”. However, when the light of day sets and you enter the night cycle super zombies known as Volatiles emerge. They immediately begin howling and instantly you know they carry your death. You have two options – run for safety or hide. Fear sets in.
Dying Light starts with an adrenaline filled first-scene and quickly becomes a slow burn. The opening scene has Kyle Crane, a secret government operative, jumping from a plane into the city of Harran – a fictional city set in ancient Turkey. His mission is to infiltrate the Tower and find a secret file which contains critical data about the zombie virus. He is immediately bitten and then saved by Jade Aldemir –the sexy heroine. She takes him to the tower where the prologue starts. The beginning of the game has moments of boredom as you begin to understand the mechanics which heavily revolve around parkour. I urge you to push through! As you pass the prologue and begin to bite into the game, you quickly realize the intrigue it possesses.
The weapons system is one of the most likeable and friendly parts of the game. As you collect weapons, you are introduced to an easy system of modifications and upgrades. As a gamer I found it refreshing that I didn’t get slowed down by a weapons creation system that you have to spend hours on. The cooperative mode was fluid and entertaining. Who doesn’t like bashing in zombie brains with their friends? It made me feel like I was starring in Shaun of the Dead with my besties. And the “Be the Zombie” mode was exhilarating as you can invade another gamer’s world as a Night Hunter zombie and try to kill them.
There are a few issues with the game. The mechanics of the parkour system are at times frustrating, the map can be confusing, the climbing of ridiculously tall obstacles can create gamer stress and the distance you have to cover can be annoying as there are no instant travel points.
So the question is to buy Dying Light or not to buy Dying Light? Yes it harkens to Dead Island and has smatterings of gameplay that remind you of Far Cry and Fallout. It has shortcomings and lacks deep characters. But shouldn’t gaming also be about entertaining gameplay and connecting with your friends? For me it is a must buy. I give it an 8.0. A review code for PS4 was provided for this report.
Game of Thrones: Episode 3 "Sword in the Darkness" Review - Xbox One
By: Alan M. Wasserman - 03/26/15
“Words are wind. Choices define who you are.” These words as spoken to Asher Forrester by his estranged uncle about halfway through Telltale Game’s latest installment of their Game of Thrones series. The quote sums up just about every game in Telltale’s library of games but resonates even more true in the GoT series. The game picks up right after Episode 2 leaves off as Asher, Beshka, and Malcolm are traversing the dessert outside of Meereen as they continue their flight from the Lost Legion. They find themselves cornered in a cave with nowhere to run as the Lost Legion finally catches up with them. The duck into a cave to hide and what they find in the cave is more dangerous and amazing than the Lost Legion and quickly you must choose between your friend, Beshka, and your family, Malcolm, as they engage in battle and both appear to be on the verge of being defeated. I try not to spoil plot points in these reviews, but let’s just say what you find in the cave is something Daenerys Targaryen has lost.
The game continues the story of the royally screwed House Forrester and their plight against the forces that move against them. Rodrik and his family must deal with Gryff Whitehill and his men moving into Ironrath and disrespecting everyone in the family including mimicking the death Ethan from Chapter One. Rodrick and his council must decide to move against House Whitehill or rescue the youngest Forrester, Ryon, from Highpoint, seat of the House Whitehill. The choices you make could save or destroy the family.
Mira Forrester continues on as the handmaiden of Margaery Tyrell, though her actions seem to constantly disappoint the Queen to be. You find out from your friend Sera, also one of the Handmaidens of Lady Margaery, that Margaery is looking to replace you and because you did not stand up for Sera previously she did not come to your defense. Will the Queen send you packing? Only the choices you make will decide your fate. More importantly, Mira’s relationship with Tyrion Lannister and the deal they struck for Ironwood may destroy the Forrester family after the death of Joffrey at the royal wedding.
And then there is Gared Tuttle, the squire sent to the wall for killing a Bannerman of Roose Bolton. He has become a full fledged member of the Night’s Watch. One of the best parts of this chapter is the trip to the Weirwood Tree north of the wall, the same place Jon Snow took his vows in the books and on the TV show. There you say the vows of the Night’s Watch along with your other brothers, just as Jon Snow did before you. After it’s over Jon welcomes you to the order and to Rangers. Just as you are returning from the Weirwood, your Uncle who sent you to The Wall to begin with, shows up with a quest for you. You must desert your new Brothers in the Night’s Watch and search for the North Grove, a “forest in a forest” as it’s the key to save House Forrester. What choice will you make? Honor your vows or desert and go North of the Wall in search of riddle.
No game that I play has me sitting on pins and needles with every decision I make. Did I just doom someone else to die? Will this choice screw me over 3 chapters from now? Just like life, the choices we make define who we are. It’s one of the things Telltale continues to refine more and more as they evolve in their version of storytelling. Their other games like The Walking Dead or The Wolf Among Us had choices to make, but I never felt anxiety at making them. The worst part is most of the choices in this chapter of Game of Thrones had that dreaded countdown, so you couldn’t agonize over it or think about what you were going do. There was some really good combat in this chapter as well as you had more choices over what to pick up, where to hit, and whether or not to deliver a killing blow. They clearly are taking some cues from the Borderlands series there. I say this after every chapter, but this was my favorite installment so far. Spending more time in Meereen and on the Wall was nice change from Ironrath and King’s Landing where a good portion of the other chapters took place. And finally at the end you get introduced to none other than Khaleesi Daenerys Targaryen as Asher tells her where to find what it was she lost. She warns Asher to “choose his words carefully.” I would warn Asher to choose his actions even more carefully. Of course if he chooses poorly, I have only myself to blame. 10 out of 10! A review code was provided for this report.
Until the next chapter....Valar Morghulis!
Xavier S H previews Xbox One version of Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments. A review code was provided for this report.
Shadow of Mordor Review - Xbox One
by: Alan Wasserman - 10/20/14
Shadow of Mordor was nominated and won a ton of awards at E3 this year. After playing it for 12+ hours I can tell you that every one of those accolades is deserved. The game was created by Warner Bros.; the same house that brought the Batman Arkham games to life, from the get go you can feel the influence of those games in Mordor’s free flow combat system. The ability to chain attacks together with finishers and takedowns should feel very familiar to veterans of the Batman game. The leveling system is pretty robust; you can level up your character and each of the weapons he uses. While the amount of weapons you can use is limited to a long sword, a bow, and a broken sword .Talion uses as a dagger for executions and silent takedowns, the range of what you can do with them is pretty impressive.
The hero of the story, Talion, is a half wraith/half human anti-hero. After watching his family gets ritually slaughtered at the hands of an Agent of Mordor, Talion is “reborn” as death has rejected him. During this process he is linked to a wraith who shares a similar path and story to his own. Together they launch their plan for revenge so they both can rest at peace and join their families in the afterlife. The interactions between Talion and the wraith are pretty entertaining. The wraith is a central historic figure in the Tolkien universe and plays sort of the moral center of the story, while Talion plays the brute who likes to use force of will and arms to get his way. The creators of the game have taken pieces and parts from Tolkien’s less popular works (like Unfinished Tales, the Silmarillion, etc) and included them in the game to make it accurate and deep without messing with the core story from Lord of the Rings or the Hobbit.
The unique thing about the game is the Nemesis system. Each area of Mordor (there are 2 in the game) has five War Chief Uruks who are super powerful. Each War Chief has 1-2 body guards made up of the lower level Uruk and Orc captains. There are fifteen Orc Captains. When you start out you don’t know who any of the captains or war chiefs are. You have to interrogate lower level orcs or find Intel to uncover who they are and what their strengths and weaknesses are, what or who they are afraid of or what enrages them. The captains hang out in areas called strongholds and sometimes while you are on your way to a mission point or to get a collectible you stumble upon 1 or 2 (I’ve had as many as 3) captains in one area and a huge fight ensues. I literally have been so swarmed by orcs and Uruks that the whole screen is full of them and button mashing ensues to get Talion jumping back and forth chaining together attack to clear out the fodder to take down the Captain.
When you kill a captain you are granted a rune that you can attach to one of your three weapons that enhances it in certain ways. It can increase the amount of damage you do while mounted, or give you chance to regain life on an execution etc. The strength of the rune depends on how he was defeated. Taking advantages of his weaknesses and fears will grant you a higher level rune. Captains are not immediately replaced, but once you are defeated the Nemesis system then goes into action. The Uruk that killed you gets promoted to Captain, then about ½ of the open captain slots are filled by other unknown Uruks or those captains who were present at your defeat are majorly promoted to elite captains.
The purpose of the Nemesis system is that my game should be slightly different than anyone else’s. The Orcs that defeat me in combat will not be the same as the ones that get you. As mentioned each of the captains have a specific weakness, one that I love to exploit is that some of them can be killed with a single headshot. The bow in the game fires pretty far and its awesome and hilarious to shoot a captain from 200ft or more away, follow the arrow as it kills them and the watching all the orcs in the area run away like cockroaches with the light turned on.
For completionists the game has a ton of collectibles and things do to do outside of the main story line. You can roam the lands of Mordor and find hidden artifacts that provide backstory to the world and the characters you encounter throughout the game. Furthermore there are elven inscriptions called Ithildin, collecting each one completes a doorway similar to the one seen in Lord of Rings that leads to Moria. Each area, flora, fauna, and person you discover unlocks more lore about the world of Lord of the Rings giving it a robust and deep backstory that you can explore at your leisure.
The games achievements are pretty straightforward. Some are related to story missions, others to collecting items or completing side quests. They pop with fair regularity so you’re each session you feel like you are moving toward full completion.
I rate games based on how much I enjoy them and how challenging they are. But I also take into account how eager I am to dive back into the game after I have been away. This game has me completely engrossed and each time I turn off the counsel to go to bed I think about when I’ll get to turn it back on again.I give this game 9.5 out of 10.