Category: Reviews

June 1st, 2019 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

Kart racing mayhem with slightly less cheating BS.

Mario Kart forever held the crown for mascot kart racing games, with Crash Team Racing and Sonic All-stars Racing trailing behind. Team Sonic Racing doesn’t really do much in the way of innovation. It feels a lot more like they just added a new gameplay mode to a multiplayer game that’s already been out. TSR stays literally grounded without the “transformed” shenanigans, and this time all the SEGA “stars” didn’t get any invites. Sad. But this one is actually worth your time!

Team Sonic Racing Graphics

GRAPHICS: 1/2

  • Rock solid 60FPS in single player mode, but frame drop increases in local multiplayer. Split screen also tends to make the other NPC cars look a bit on the jittery side.
  • Brilliant recreations of classic sonic levels. I think. Sonic has had a lot of games, who knows, maybe some were pulled out of their butts?
  • Everything looks internally consistent, but in terms of overall quality, this game does absolutely nothing special to make it shine.
  • Lighting FX and color palettes are incredibly spastic on the casino circuits, with a couple sections that look half-finished.
  • All that said, the car detail is surprisingly thorough. All cars have mods that change the cosmetic looks of the karts (and performance). But even better, the paint schemes are complex and each individual color comes with 15+ different shaders.
  • TFW I can make Tails drive a faux-Batmobile.
  • Sky Road is an absolutely unapologetic Rainbow Road knockoff.
Team Sonic Racing Story

STORY/IMMERSION: 1/2

  • Once again we have a racing game with a plot that it didn’t need. I can’t tell you what happened, I skipped the cutscenes after watching a few.
  • This game practically encourages skipping the cutscenes, as there’s an option on each race in the campaign to skip all the dialog and go straight to the race. Major props for doing this.
  • What’s really egregious is how the plot is carried out. It’s just a blurred out JPG of the track you’re on with PNGs of Sonic characters saying their lines. It’s like watching a kid wave paper cutouts of the crew while mimicking their voices.
  • The script quality also leads me to believe that this was not only written for children, but was in fact written by a child.
  • The campaign itself has a neat little overworld design with normal races and special challenges to keep things fresh. Albeit the CPU drivers get a bit cheaty towards the middle of things.
  • Also, the challenge races were dumbfoundingly challenging. Me and my friend had to take turns playing the same challenge over and over until we both gave up. The vague instructions and tip section didn’t help.
Team Sonic Racing Audio

AUDIO: 1/2

  • It’s a Sonic OST, of course it’s going to have some absolutely kickass tracks. Music tracks, not race tracks (those are fine too).
  • Try to keep playing this game with “team comms” turned on. Every character has about 8-10 phrases total and will say them early and often. Many times they will actually say the same quip twice in a single race.
  • Oh and every single “quip” is the most cringe thing possible. It’s painful. Just imagine Big the Cat saying literally anything ever.
  • Now, when I went into the Garage in the main menu, I heard a remix of the game’s theme song that I absolutely loved. Little did I know, that it was done by The Qemists, a band I love. And DAMN is it good.
Team Sonic Racing Gameplay

GAMEPLAY: 2/2

  • What’s different about this iteration of SEGA’s mascot kart game? This time around its the team gameplay mechanics, which add a lot of neat twists. Races can consist of up to four 3-person teams. Doing several team actions will lead you to victory.
  • Team actions include driving behind your team’s leader to get a “slingshot” boost, sharing/receiving powerups from your teammates, and skimming real close to a teammate who’s been hit gives them a boost. Basically there are a lot of boosts.
  • This feels less random than some of the other mascot kart games. The powerups aren’t very original but some of the more overpowered ones in other games aren’t present.
  • The only real BS factor is the enemy AI, so far playing against them on normal feels far too challenging, as it seems like the CPU team will just magically get an ultimate boost if you’re ahead for more than 10 seconds. This can be remedied by playing the game with real people.
  • Speaking of real people, that’s the best way to enjoy this game. Local multi supports 4 players. Three of you can be on the same team in a team race or all race with their own teams with CPU support. Or, you can go classic with a good ol’ fashioned singles race.
Team Sonic Racing Fun

FUN: 2/2

  • If you’re interested in popping the game in and playing with your friends, you’re in luck. The multiplayer starts with all 15 characters and 18 of the 21 tracks available right from the get-go. No unnecessary grinding in the campaign.
  • There’s plenty of variety to keep things interesting. I ended up playing this game for somewhere around 6 hours straight. Me and a buddy played a for a while, he left. I played by myself. Then a different buddy arrived and we played again. I did not get bored.
  • This game has the dreaded loot boxes in the form of a gacha machine. Only, you can’t buy them for real money, so no exploitative practices here. SEGA actually has ethical standards apparently.
  • Interestingly enough, it’s very easy to earn enough coins to open tons and tons in one go. I opened 41 consecutive boxes from time all by myself, and another solid 30 when playing with friends.
  • There are SOME upgrades in the loot system, BUT all upgrades come with a downside (sacrificing speeed for handling, etc). The prizes you win in the machine do seem to be based on which character you play with. I got back to back to back to back upgrades for Tails early on.

Team Sonic Racing really surprised me. Given Sonic’s poor track record, the game could have been terrible. Instead, I got a slight nostalgia kick after playing for a couple hours. If you’re a big fan of mascot kart racing games and have some friends around, it’s a solid game for parties and easy to pick up. It’s already well priced at $39.99. With summer on the horizon, it’s possible it will go on sale, many games do after a few weeks. I might say wait for a sale, but if you’re a fan of the series, go for it.

SCORE: 7/10




Wait I just gave Rage 2 a 6/10, does that mean this game is better? Guess Team Sonic Racing is the way to go.

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June 1st, 2019 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

It may be called Rage but I’m not even mad.

Allegedly, Rage 2 was an endangered game until Avalanche Studios “rescued” it. I’m not sure that is truly the case. The shooting in the game is still the ultra-satisfying and fast paced action you expect from id software. It’s just too bad there’s this whole map and plot that get in the way of your enjoyment. How so?

GRAPHICS

GRAPHICS: 1/2

  • If you like sand, you’re gonna love 80% of this game. There are spots that aren’t sand, and they actually don’t look as good.
  • There’s no designated aesthetic for Rage. It has been, and always will be, a combination of other similar games smashed together.
  • The draw distance on the map is dismal, and that’s on the Xbox One X version. And don’t get me started on their FOV slider.
  • Some games make you stop and stare in awe at the land before you. In Rage 2, I couldn’t ignore the scenery fast enough.
  • At least there was nothing distinctly terrible about the visuals?
STORY/IMMERSION

STORY/IMMERSION: 0/2

  • I don’t always skip cut scenes on a first playthrough. But when I do, it’s usually another id software game. Like Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, I regularly bypassed the plot out of sheer boredom.
  • The plot is too hard to follow anyway, the game expects you to just know stuff about the lore of Rage, which is something nobody has.
  • Did I even need a reason to shoot baddies? The game could have just said “here’s the bad guys, shoot them” and I would have had a blast.
  • But the game is so serious and the ridiculous action is at odds with the serious plot.
  • The plot also seems considerably unfinished, like it’s one third of a Far Cry game. And just like Ubisoft, they were keen to just litter the map with different stuff to do that earned you points towards being given story missions. One of which was a real slog.
  • This game was finished during a 3-night rental. Well, 4 nights total but I didn’t play it one night. I had to sort of force myself to plow through it.
AUDIO

AUDIO: 1/2

  • Soundtrack sounds like it’s on autopilot. And even worse, there were times where it became grueling. Because occasionally the action music won’t shut off and continues looping.
  • I’m trying REALLY hard to remember any song in this game and I just can’t. I distinctly remember the Mutant Bash TV song being OK. But that’s because it was comical.
  • The guns and explosions are satisfactory. You can certainly feel the impact when you pull the trigger.
  • Voice acting isn’t bad. Not that I know that much since I skipped half the cut scenes. It’s whatever. It did the job bare minimum.
  • When you pick up items of any kind you hear the same exact “pow” noise every time. You also get a chime when you upgrade but there are many upgrades where there’s no sound at all. Really removes the “ooomphf” from leveling up your sh*t.
  • The sound FX are like a poor imitation of Titanfall 2‘s BOMBASTIC level up and weapon sounds.
GAMEPLAY

GAMEPLAY: 2/2

  • Despite the open world feeling like more of a nuisance than a gameplay feature, it does leave a lot of areas to go to. And in all those areas are baddies and you get to shoot them. This game is at its best when you are shooting the baddies.
  • But seriously, id software has first person shooter mechanics down pat. It seems like Avalanche just used the exact same structure they did in their “Mad Max” adaptation, but let id do all the fine tuning.
  • The powers are fun, and while the challenge dramatically change, it’s not bogged down by any RPG elements. Each location just has a challenge rating, from 1-10, and I appreciate that you can just walk on in to a high difficulty area and still win if you’re good enough.
  • There are probably cooler guns, yet I spent the majority of the game with a heavily upgraded version of the starter weapon, the ranger assault rifle. And it never got old. Especially when upgraded to high capacity and faster fire rate. Why aim when you can shoot more bullets?
FUN

FUN: 2/2

  • When this game is a shooter, it’s a great shooter. When this game is an open world sandbox, it’s a boring commute between combat sections. I almost would have preferred to just have a loading screen to teleport me to all the missions.
  • You know what really breaks immersion though? Having a pause menu that stutters and lags when you go from category to category.
  • Also the HUD disappears if you press the “Xbox” button. I had to do this frequently because I was capturing footage.
  • Despite all the complaints above, the actual combat just makes up for it in so many ways. It’s similar to Destiny in a way. They got themselves a great shooter that feels well polished, looks good, but lacks in story and creativity.

As stated earlier, this game was finished during a rental. By the time I finished, I had not done many of the side quests and locations to clear. If I had more time, I might be inclined to do them. But, it’s just not a $60 experience. That campaign is short and there are plenty of elements that keep Rage 2 away from greatness.

SCORE: 6/10




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assassins creed III remastered review
April 22nd, 2019 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

Despite what some online comparisons indicate, the remaster is the superior version of the game.

Let’s preface this one differently. I was a big Assassin’s Creed fan but AC3 greatly reduced my love for it. And Unity murdered it. When I played that game all those years ago, I was disappointed on all fronts. I was also setting really high expectations that could not be reached. And I wanted to beat the game before the real life “December 21, 2012” end of the word scenario so I rushed through all of it. Hated the difficulty, the setting was underused, Connor wasn’t a good protagonist, and lots of bugs and grievances with the detection settings for NPCs.

Well, I either completely sucked back then, or Assassin’s Creed III Remastered is a much better experience. This re-release comes with a remaster of Liberation HD (a remaster of a remaster?) as well. This remaster came out March 29, 2019 and either is free with your Assassin’s Creed Odyssey season pass or in the store for $40. The season pass for Odyssey costs $40 so you have almost no reason to not have that marvel of a game and its DLC packs. So, is it worth a revisit after so many years? Or perhaps, for those who haven’t played it, a decent entry?

GRAPHICS: 2/2

There will be a video on this in the near future but this title is the subject to a bit of controversy. If you look for graphical comparisons on Youtube, you will see that some of them imply it to be superior, yet others imply that it is worse. Whether it is misrepresenting the game on purpose or not, this review is from the “Xbox One X” version of the game, so the most graphically powerful console release. I can personally confirm that the release is highly superior in the graphical department. With the exception of a handful of faces, you’re getting better looks across the entire board. You have better color with HDR, lively landscapes, and incredible textures.

STORY: 1/2

You can’t really change an entire story in a remaster, can you? What you CAN do is try to engage your player more this time around. AC3 tells the story of… Haytham Kenway? Yes, the game pulls a reverse Metal Gear Solid 2. A sizeable chunk of the game has you playing as a character who is completely absent from all of the marketing materials. After a while, you do finally get to Connor or Kanien’kehá:ka (don’t try to pronounce it, just give up). The problem with this character is the game gives him a very rich setup due to the events of the first hours of gameplay. Yet at every turn, Connor manages to remain as dull as humanly possible. More on that in audio.

The other issue is that the setting doesn’t really do a good job at expressing the ins and outs of the Revolutionary War. Sure, there’s a lot of text you can read, but in terms of the game on its own, you basically just jump in and out of several world-famous events. Funnier is that it implies that Connor was at the front of all of them. Paul Revere? Connor? Boston Massacre? Connor. Boston Tea Party? Connor. The freaking battle at Chesapeake Bay? Connor.

Really stretching the believability, but then again this series more firmly expresses itself as alternate history. This makes the second time around a lot more enjoyable. Not to mention, I personally was able to focus more on a lot of content I had to pass on because I was so eager to finish.

AUDIO: 1/2

It’s not every day you come across a voice actor who is a direct descendant of American indigenous tribes with a fine understanding of their languages, but here we are. Noah Watts, of the Blackfeet nation, voices our protagonist Connor. He speaks English and… not English. #OnlyTheFacts | Now, as said before, Connor is a dry and wooden protagonist. This is really not the fault of the actor. The dialog given for his character contains little in the way of flair or emotion. He speaks very directly at all times. He comes in two flavors, deliberate and agitated. That’s it. The rest of the cast wasn’t too great either. As for SFX? They’re mediocre. Nothing wrong about them but nothing to grab your attention.

I must make it painstakingly clear though, this game has one of the GREATEST original scores in the entire Assassins Creed franchise. That genuinely made the game a good experience overall. Quite emotional too, making up for some of the acting.

GAMEPLAY: 2/2

So, at the time it came out, AC3 had a bit of a difficult learning curve. A lot of the combat mechanics, controls, and gameplay style of the game change in the transition from the Ezio trilogy to III. However, coming directly off of AC: Odyssey, the game is retroactively easier to come to grips with. If anything, the game feels more limited. No dedicated stealth mode button. Combat is the old style of “counter-attack kills” that were prominent in most of the series. The simplicity of the game in comparison to the new game actually made it feel a bit more streamlined. It was almost arcade-like to play this game after every game we’ve had since.

It also seems as thought a lot of changes streamline the overall experience. Some redundancies were eliminated. Enemy detection appeared to be slower. The ship combat was easier to handle. Every step of the way, quality of life improvements are there, on every front. Oh, and the load times, those are some short load times. Especially for fast traveling and desynchronizing.

FUN: 2/2

The fact that I took my time to play through more of the game is a very big deal. This time around, I bothered to unlock all the fast travel locations in the underground. It was a bit grindy, but manageable. The silly “homestead” missions actually felt like they were worth the time. That is despite the fact that the “convoy” system of the game was an absolute waste of time and needlessly complicated. I did all the district liberations and recruited all 6 support assassins. I did several of the optional naval battles. Not everything could be helped. The almanac pages are still dumb, as are all of the other fetch items the game throws at you. But I must stress that above all else, I had a much, MUCH better time playing this game again. I was supposed to be playing other games, yet I kept coming back to this re-release time and time once more.

Assassin’s Creed III Remastered is a huge improvement on the original iteration. Between the streamlining of gameplay elements, the simplicity, and the visual quality? This is a good remaster that has been released at exactly the right moment. If it has been a while since you last played, give it another shot. If you’ve never played it, also give it a shot. And ignore the real world plot, it’s still crap.

SCORE: 8/10

If I find time, I would like to play the Tyranny of King Washington DLC as well as Liberation, but that will have to wait.



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sekiro shadows die twice review
April 16th, 2019 by Vega Montanez

It’s been a long time since the Feudal Japan era had some new skin in the game of gaming.

Tenchu was the king of the PS1 era. Then Ninja Gaiden stole the throne. And now we have a new challenger. Developed by From Software, of Dark Souls fame (and Tenchu for real old heads), Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is a third person hardcore action RPG published by Activision. With a lot of similarities, many people have been comparing it very much to the Souls Series since its release for PS4, Xbox One, and PC on March 22nd, 2019. Is the story, action and adventure worth the intense challenge?

GRAPHICS: 1/2

Without question, Sekiro takes place in one of the most interesting worlds in video games, especially of recent. Vast mountains and beautiful landscapes turn from peaceful scenery to bloody battlefields in seconds. The development team at From Software definitely put their all into balancing the feel and look of the environments. But, even with all that effort, graphically it isn’t doing anything unexpected or dazzling. The character animations are mostly incredible, which is critically important for a precision based game. However, Sekiro never feels as stunning to look at as some of the other games released this generation.

STORY: 2/2

Twists and turns galore in this adventure of how a lonely boy gets adopted by one of the most dangerous men on the planet. Actuallym it’s even crazier than that. It’s really a master shinobi adopting an orphaned boy and making him a master Shinobi. Then that new master Shinobi being tasked with protecting the legacy of the Ashina family. Seriously, the game gets so deep in the lore that its damn never impossible to really explain it without spoilers. All that needs to be noted is that the story is fire. 🔥🔥🔥 Need further validation? Every single thing you find in the world, key item or plain inventory, has a story attached to it.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice |
From Software

AUDIO: 2/2

It’s always important to remind oneself that no-one could ever truly say what the past sounded like. But, when a company makes their world so realistic that people are willing to debate the realism, they win. In this case the sounds in Sekiro win. There’s an immediate tension generated deep inside when the sound of a blade draw comes whirring out the screen. Or the way the blood splatter and gurgle just make skin crawl. The most important sound in the game however, is the giant roosters cooing. Those damn roosters.

GAMEPLAY: 2/2

Precision, Precision, Precision! Every single step in Sekrio: Shadows Die Twice is about precision. But unlike past games Souls games, the Wolf is extremely agile. And that’s what makes the game great. The precision strikes feel that much more satisfying when everything feels like it’s happening at mach speeds. On top of the standard gameplay most souls devotees are familiar with, Sekiro has a very strong emphasis on stealth. Shouldn’t be much surprise considering the game is based on the ninja (aka Shinobi) and samurai, but man did they nail it.

The single stand out super feature of the game is by far the prosthetic arm. In all its gadget filled wonder, it adds an additional element of action to the game. At times it’s easy to feel like SpiderMan swinging through the air with the grappling hook. Meanwhile, the various other upgrades bring elements from other incredible heroes and warriors to the forefront. Without spoiling too much it’s important to note that a lot of the upgrades can be missed entirely. In true Souls fashion however, these boss battles prove to be controller breaking tough. And your tiny little health bar leaves very small room for error.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice |
From Software

FUN: 2/2

Stealth crawl through tall grass. Hang off the ledge and shimmy across to the other side. Come up and stab samurai through his damn chest. Oh, not a fan of stealth? Hang on, let’s try a different scenario. Walk calmly across the battlefield. Make eye contact with samurai. Draw blade and assume posture. Block then parry samurai’s strong offensive. Slice samurai off balance and stab him in his face. How’s that? See there are so many ways to approach any battle in this game that all play styles work. Want to rush in to battle and take on three samurai at a time, feel free just strike with precision. Want to run across rooftops and drop down on unsuspecting monster size targets to avoid a long battle. Go for it.

It is incredibly easy, once you get the hang of things, to get lost in the captivating world that From Software has created for hours. Even the enemies that look the same all approach battles differently. Almost as if their personalities are on display just as much as their swordsmanship. Despite what the media is saying, this game is not terrifyingly challenging. It is for sure realistically dangerous. One wrong move and its death. That rollercoaster thrill is fun.

The quiet pairing of From Software and Activision created a game the world needed. The redemption of the ninja and samurai. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is the unofficial spiritual successor to Tenchu. And despite all the games being great, except for Tenchu Z of course, this one ended up so much better. Sure, it might be a bit more challenging than the standard third person game but it’s worth the price of admission. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is a must have for any gaming fan’s library.

SCORE: 9/10




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division 2 review
April 10th, 2019 by Vega Montanez

A Nation Divided.

Ubisoft and Tom Clancy have shared what is quite possibly the longest healthy relationship in all of gaming. Seriously, fact check it. And Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 is the latest entry into this abstract marriage. Released on March 15th, 2019 on Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC The Division 2 is a third person multiplayer squad based action shooter. Developed by Massive Entertainment, The Division 2 aims to be the improvement of everything that was great about the first installment. 

GRAPHICS: 2/2

The Snowdrop Engine looked amazing 3 years ago when it was first used on The Division. Division 2 however, is the first true example of what the Snowdrop Engine is really capable of. As soon as the game launches everything looks incredibly amazing, but that’s not the big selling point. The big selling point is the amount of control, even on consoles, the player has over the visuals of the game. Ubisoft’s proprietary engine allows for so much customization to allow anyone to set the games visual to exactly how they’ll enjoy it most.

The freedom and control the Snowdrop Engine offers coupled with the fact that the game looks great is incredible. Every animation, from person to animal to explosion, looks fantastic. Nature blends itself well into the concrete settings of post apocalyptic destruction filled D.C. Character movements look and feel astonishingly natural, especially for a game so tethered to online. Take some time to kickback and just enjoy the scenery. It will not disappoint.

division 2 review one

STORY/IMMERSION: 1/2

Within the world of the Division exist a major crisis. It’s been a little over half a yeas since the initial infectious outbreak that brought down the U.S. And now things are reaching anarchic levels of bad. Members of the Joint Task Force have defected and left the white house completely vulnerable to the Hyenas and the Outcast. The worst has literally come to fruition and there’s a lot of work ahead to make things better. The story itself is great however the presentation not so much. 

Being an online multiplayer game diminishes the value of the story and makes it really hard to feel like a part of it. Lines between campaign missions and side missions are very blurred because the real gameplay goal is to become stronger. Very rarely does the game stop and allow for the narrative to position itself upfront and center. The focus was clearly on gameplay and shoot’em up mechanics over narrative delivery.

AUDIO: 1/2

The Division 2 has a very unique sound design issue. The world is designed to be chaotic and feel unsafe. However, unless there is a nearby firefight the visual fidelity makes everything feel peaceful, somber, and a bit messy. It has a post car accident feel. Everything looks like something really bad happened, but that bad thing passed. The emptiness of the world makes space a very lonely audio feeling. The good news is this ambience is nearly perfect for an online squad based shooter. Considering most of the sound will be the nonsense chat amongst the squad. 

division 2 review two

GAMEPLAY: 2/2

Third person cover based shooters typically suffer from inconsistent character behavior. Everyone whose ever played has fallen victim to being completely exposed to the enemy because the game misunderstood your cover request. Division 2 has not entirely fixed this but it doesn’t suffer as much as other games. Not sure why, but not complaining. Outside of that major genre flaw, everything in the game feels great. The dynamics of weapon modification is pretty cool even if it suffers from the online game issue of racing to higher numbers.

A lot of the tactics of understanding weapon mods is removed because the overall goal is to increase the overall gear number. That number represents the truest strength of the character. The controls in action are super tight and have a vast number of customization options to fit any play style. And the development team is being super supportive of the community, listening to request and complaints. 

division 2 review three

FUN: 2/2

Despite being a multiplayer game, The Division 2 is still incredibly fun as a single player game. The squad based combat with friends online is hands down the best way to experience this game. However, the experience alone is just as fun, especially if you don’t mind the added challenge of doing it alone. The frequency of ammo and supply restocks make it feel endlessly exciting. The thrill of an even match against enemies keep the action nonstop. Are far as third person shooters go, there really isn’t anything on the market as exciting as The Division 2.

The Division 2 is an incredible sequel and an incredible example of “games as service” done right. The load times could be better, but once the game is loaded hours could fly by without feeling gaming fatigue. Although Division 2 is an online multiplayer game, it is accessible to anyone who enjoys single player third person cover based shooters. Simply put, save for the lack of narrative focus, this is a great game. 

SCORE: 8/10

division 2 review four



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metro exodus review
April 6th, 2019 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

In Soviet Russia, train rides YOU!

The Metro series of videogames are all based on a series of novels by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. The book was originally released in 2005 and the videogame adaptation, Metro 2033 was released in 2010. Metro Last Light followed that up in 2013, and now we have Metro Exodus. It was developed by 4A Games and published by Deep Silver. In this entry in the game, you leave the traditionally claustrophobic tunnels of the Moscow metro for the great outdoors. Your quest is simple, find a place to start a new settlement. It is a lot harder than it sounds. Many things go awry on your journey. This series is a mix between an FPS and survival horror, where you have to be more conservative with your ammo and resources, don’t have regenerating health, and have a lot of gadgets to fiddle around with. So, what’s the deal with this 3rd entry?

This review is based on the Xbox One X Enhanced version of the game.

GRAPHICS: 2/2

On a technical level, the graphics are fantastic. You’re looking at some absolutely great lighting with a full night and day cycle that feels real. The contrast between the spacious open skies and the darkness of the tunnels is large. Animations are top notch, which is a big bonus for this game. There are a lot of in-engine scripted sections where people do a LOT of talking (more on that later). From just a purely visual perspective, everything looks as real as they can get. If I really had to go nitpicking, I would say that there are two locations in the game that look dull because they look so real. Yes. As in, the big open desert wasteland map was a big open desert wasteland. The snowy lake area is just a bunch of bright-ass snow. But I’m really reaching here, these visuals are off the hook.

STORY/IMMERSION: 2/2

This is also gonna sound more like a criticism than an accolade, but there is too much story in this game. The script for this game had to be massive, because every single character you encounter has a lot to say. Every enemy encounter is loaded with stuff. There’s a lot of stealth in the game so you have plenty of opportunities to eavesdrop on everyone. And those are just random encounters. The setpiece locations themselves are filled to the brim with story as well. They make an absolute masterpiece of world building based on what you see and hear. All of that is before I talk about the Train scenes. Good lord, there is a lot of dialogue on that train. The train serves as an exposition/character buffer between locations, and is rather amazing. You get to learn all about EVERYONE on this journey with you, and there are many tales to be told.

There is one scene on the train where you’re in the control car with 3 different pairs of people. And they are all in different corners of the head end, talking to each other.

Some may take issue with these bits. For one, the train sections are really LONG exposition dumps. 30 solid minutes of people talking to each other. I haven’t seen this much discussion in a half hour since the opening “speech” in Old World Blues from Fallout: New Vegas. Honestly, this game has a very slow pace. The talking is a great bit of respite after a stressful mission. The other point, which is a bit more annoying is that people very frequently talk over each other. But, this isn’t a bug, it’s intentional. There is one scene on the train where you’re in the control car with 3 different pairs of people. And they are all in different corners of the head end, talking to each other. You would have to replay these scenes multiple times to hear everyone properly. I personally didn’t think this was a problem either. It added to the realism.

Finally, the over-arching plot itself isn’t really much of a traditional story. The entire point of the game is simply finding a place to settle outside of the Metro. The hardships you encounter along the way compose the parts of this story, but every stop is more like an intrusion than a narrative. You walk into a weird cult, you reason with the cult, you leave. You encounter some… crazed survivalists in a bunker, and then you leave. Trying not to spoil here. It’s just a big series of literally crashing into the middle of other people’s stories that have nothing to do with you. Once again, I find this aspect refreshing. Not everything has to be about saving the world.

AUDIO: 1/2

The OST was tolerable, but altogether not to outstanding. For all of the interesting monsters, their noises and growls don’t have the same impact they did in prior titles. There’s some faux-zombies in this title, and they sound like zombies. The guns are interesting but also don’t sound all that interesting. Most important is the voice acting. Despite being FULL of lore and story, the English voice cast still sound like a bunch of Americans faking a Russian accent. It’s charming in a way, but still objectively not too great. Many say to play the game with Russian audio on instead, but that would involve far too much reading. It is still competently put together and has its moments.

GAMEPLAY: 2/2

This game is hardcore, even on the easiest setting. You cannot expect to just run and shoot your way through the campaign. You will burn through resources and crafting tools so fast. I believe there could be a point where you can legitimately run entirely out of resources and have to start the chapter over, probably.

The gameplay loop is quite engaging. Each major stage after every train scene is a wide open map. Pleasantly, they aren’t gigantic, but actually very decently sized play areas with plenty to explore. It’s not easy to get from point A to point B. You can make waypoints, but the locations aren’t as simple as the map makes them out to be. You spend your time with a lot of gadgets on you, and you’ll need all of them. You have a lighter, the map, a backpack, headlight, battery charger, and a wrist gadget just to name a few. Your backpack serves as a mobile crafting station but you can’t craft the best gear on it. It’s good for getting you out of a bind if you have low health and know health packs. Your health doesn’t regenerate in this one, so you gotta take care of yourself.

Even if you have a lot of ammo, it will still get you killed if you charge in guns blazing. Stealth is almost mandatory when you deal with human enemies.

Combat is slow and deliberate too. Even if you have a lot of ammo, it will still get you killed if you charge in guns blazing. Stealth is almost mandatory when you deal with human enemies. As for monsters? Well… good luck. You’ll need it. Here’s a testament to the immersion of the gameplay. After I finished this game, I started playing Far Cry New Dawn. There were many times where I found myself pushing buttons that are supposed to bring out my lighter or flashlight. I kept forgetting I wasn’t playing Metro anymore. That’s right, the game is so engaging it will actively ruin other FPS’s for you. Maybe play a fighting game afterwards.

FUN: 1/2

The fun you can have in this game is widely subjective to your tastes. I got what I wanted out of this. A tough as nails survival horror game masquerading as an FPS. I’ve had friends tell me they absolutely hate the game and get annoyed by it the whole way through. And there’s people who loved it. And people who liked it but didn’t think it was Metro enough. That’s my opinion, it’s good but at the same time it does seem a bit out of its element compared to the other titles. There’s that, and the game has its fair share of some truly frustrating moments. Despite this, I pressed on and on, even when the game got maddeningly hard.

SCORE: 8/10

Pick this up if you like horror and shooters. Just keep in mind that its a very nuanced experience.




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outcast second contact
April 1st, 2019 by Zeke Gonzalez

It’s a glob eat glob world out there.

Outcast: Second Contact is a action adventure game developed by Appeal and published by Infogrames, with the remake put out by Big Ben. The game is set where a US Government agency successfully sends a probe to an alien world in a parallel universe. You wake up, and are greeted by an aliens race, at war with its own kind. Two group , Talan and Xue. Xue, is ruled by a dictator who has enslaved the Talan. Glob is their version of God, and they interpret the words of their God differently. Your job is to fight back and win over the hearts of the people. In turn, they will help you in your rebellion.

GRAPHICS: 1/2

To be honest, the graphics are poor. They remind me of Tomb Raider on PS2. It does have some color to it, sure. It’s got shades of tan and some blue in there. But the texture is grainy and it looks a bit like Turok. There aren’t a whole lot of detailed shadows either. Your main character is wearing what he has on the cover, so that’s pretty straight forward. A group of spiders in the game look like dust being kicked up. Like, if you were looking at brown static on South Park.

STORY/IMMERSION: 1/2

The story is deep in the sense that it’s fully fleshed out. But it’s not all that interesting. Glob vs God is an example of how much work they put into their creativity. The setting is an alternate version of planet Earth. I think, that’s what they were trying for, nothing crazy. In terms of immersion, the detail is still there. There are differences between the tribes and what they believe along with deep seated conflicts. You’re some type of messiah from the prophesies.

AUDIO: 0/2

It seems that there are like three voice actors. Possibly four. Absolutely nothing stand out to me here. It’s all throughly mediocre. But seriously, I think the cast had like five guys. Nothing remarkable about the sound FX or the OST.

GAMEPLAY: 1/2

On normal mode that game is pretty challenging, but it gets easier. That’s because you find people that will heal you for free, and money is pretty easy to get. You have somebody who will forge bullets for you too. So if you don’t mind the travel time you can beat the game essentially in a few hours. That would work in practice if not for the rampant amount of glitches. Whenever you talk to an NPC, the camera is incapable of focusing. That said, at least the bugs were not too crucial, just dumb. I fell under the map a few times, that was fun.

FUN: 1/2

Well, it wasn’t bad. It was somewhat entertaining. The shooting mechanics are fine but I guess I wanted more? It did keep me coming though. There was a bit where I got frustrated. It almost seemed impossible to dodge the bullets coming my way. Seems it was like a percentage thing. It was impossible not to get hit. At the time I was playing this short game, I took breaks between this and replaying Fallout 3. And streaming free games on twitch.

Overall, even though this game just wasn’t great, I still had a bit of fun. If you’re playing this for free, it may be worth your time. You’ll know quickly if you like it or not. I still feel ripped off in a way. They should have been paying me to play it instead. But no, it’s fine. It’s fine. I’m only a master in memes.

SCORE: 4/10




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trials rising review
March 19th, 2019 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

Motorcycle gamers are going to rise up.

The Trials series of video games are physics based motorcycle stunt/racing games. Trials Rising is the fourth mainline game in the main series, (not including the original browser games). It was developed by Red Lynx and published by Ubisoft Kiev. It also came after 5 years since the last entry, so it is easy to say that it is “long-awaited”. In these games, you ride a motorcycle across some larger-than life racing tracks. The challenge is in making sure you balance your bike properly, along with the throttle, and some complex maneuvers to manage some of the tricks. It features not only a slew of mind bending tracks, but a very robust track editing system. One that allowing users to make complex tracks of their own to be played and shared. This keeps the content flowing even when you’ve finished all the tracks that came with the game. Or, likely before that, because the level of difficulty can get insane later on.

This review is for the Nintendo Switch version of the game. Its portability will factor into the rating.

GRAPHICS: 1/2

So this game has a moderate downgrade for being on the Nintendo Switch. To date however, I’ve yet to play it in docked mode. That’s right, I’ve been playing this game on the go at all times. And the graphics look pretty decent on that small screen. Which is not saying much, but there are some levels in the game where they really go overboard with the visuals and they look great. At the same time, there are always a few assets that look low-res or jaggy. The rider doesn’t look that great either. Still, its nice to see them take location into consideration. Every stage of the races are based on where on Earth they take place, taking you across many different cities and continents. So, main takeaway is that the graphics are not technically brilliant on the Switch, but some stylistic choices in some levels look fantastic.

STORY/IMMERSION: 1/2

Let the record show that this is the first time the story section of our reviews have been renamed to include immersion. I’m sick of having to explain what games win in this category if they don’t have any plot.

The “plot” of this game, so to speak, is actually more cohesive than older titles, as it actually contextualizes what you are doing. You are competing in the Trials worldwide championship. This amplifies the asynchonous multi-player aspect of the game, where you get ranked against other players worldwide. This is also the first game to have an in-depth tutorial that you can revisit to learn how to do some of the more difficult maneuvers.

“I am very grateful that they really give you the time to learn to pull off some very difficult jumps like performing a bunny hop or landing on an incline.”

Unfortunately, the progress of the game, although smooth at first, eventually grinds to a screeching halt. You see, you play several trials, and you can get a bronze, silver, or gold medal for your final time. Each track also has a “contract” for you to fulfill. This is basically a challenge like “do 6 backflips” or “finish with less than 5 faults”. It’s daunting at first until you realize you can do them separately.

Still, the supercross championships really get tiresome. In order to unlock more tracks, you either have to complete these, or go back to old tracks and grind out experience to unlock gated content. The game stops dead once you have to partake in a championship where you have to win 3 consecutive times. Not cool, needs to be patched out. This is Trials, having a perfect run 3 times straight is a big ask, and it isn’t fun.

Still, it’s always hilarious to see your driver die horrendously at the end of very track.

AUDIO: 2/2

The delight I had once I heard the soundtrack was jaw-dropping. For the first time ever, Trials has a licensed OST! Now, don’t knock licensed music in a game, sometimes a great playlist can really help a game in place of original music. This game chooses to hit you with some old school music, the kind that gives me Crazy Taxi vibes. Old school punk, old school hip hop, old school metal, and just a touch of EDM from the early New Zeroes. It is guaranteed to please a lot of older-aged millenials. Have a listen if you don’t believe me. No reason to talk about the rest of the audio. There is no voice acting, the bike sounds like a bike, the props sound like props.

GAMEPLAY: 2/2

The one major change from this game and the last one is actually the removal of a feature. In Trials Fusion, you could perform a trick by moving the right thumbstick while in the air. Its not in this game, but it is kind of unnecessary. The challenge is big enough and the contracts keep everything exciting. Other than that, this is a game that can be very addicting, and very fun. That is, if you are okay with the kind of gameplay where you might have to replay a level many times to get a better time.

Or, eventually you will find yourself on attempt 86 of one particular jump. Simplicity is the look of the game, but you will be surprised as to how in-depth the controls can get later on. That’s all there is to it. You don’t have to be a fan of racing games or motorcycle games to enjoy this title. It’s about overcoming unique challenges, not so much the racing, even though that is present.

FUN: 2/2

I first played this game while on a Bus ride from Providence to New York city, roughly a 4 hour nonstop trip. After reading for a bit, I eventually broke out the Switch and started playing. The next thing I noticed was when the bus got to NYC and started to slow down. I was absolutely enraptured by the game. The surprise soundtrack, the layout of the game, the excitement of playing a Trials game on a portable console. They all just came together perfectly and I had a great time. The only problem I had is that there are loot boxes to unlock custom appearance, but they are sadly abysmal. However, you can easily ignore them. When you finally do get stuck on a level, you can just as easily jump onto the user content section. Then you can play some amazing tracks there instead.

This is the kind of game the Switch needs. By and large, Trials Rising is already a great entry in the series. Having handheld access to play it on long bus rides or simply waiting in general can really enhance your day. You can pick this title up for any console you want, obviously. Just note, if you wanna save some money, the physical copies cost way more than the digital ones. Gold Edition copies that feature the season pass are the only hard copies of the game, usually for $40. Or you can just spend $25 digitally on the base game and then get the season pass later if you really like it. Which I definitely recommend if you’re new to this series.

SCORE: 8/10




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yakuza kiwami 2 review
March 6th, 2019 by Vega Montanez

The saga continues…

Yakuza. The name brings fear into the hearts of many. One of the longest running games in history is the center piece of the game with the same title (feels like this has been done before). Yakuza Kiwami 2 is the latest remade title in the franchise serving as a remake of the sequel originally on PS2. Released worldwide on December 7th, 2017, the remake carries a lot of updated visuals and a few updated gaming mechanics. Published by SEGA and developed on the dragon engine, Yakuza Kiwami 2 continues the adventure of Kazuma Kiryu.

GRAPHICS: 2/2

One of the most powerful components of Yakuza when it originally released on PS2 was its graphical fidelity. It looked more stunning than 90% of the games on the market. Yakuza Kiwami 2 keeps the long running series history of incredible graphics very much alive. As an official remake it is exciting that the development team used the same engine as the most recent release. Everything in the background pops with just enough vibrancy to coexist with the forefront objects. Emotions can truly be seen in the faces of every character including the useless NPC’s on the streets. Cutscenes transition to gameplay incredibly smoothly.

STORY: 2/2

The game picks up immediately after the events of first. It continues to build the relationships established in the first game with little room for new comers. Without spoiling the events of either game, Yakuza Kiwami 2’s story really starts to flesh out who Kazuma Kiryu really is. It also gives the player a lot of back story to some of the major antagonist who were involved in the first piece of the story. From start to finish the experience is emotionally captivating.

AUDIO: 1/2

As an American gamer with interest in Japanese storytelling, the lack of American voice-overs is still a bit of a disappointment. The subtitle translation is still nearly flawless. The sound of the city is slightly lacking and in many points can feel lacking and hollow. When the ambiance gets it right though, it gets it perfect. The chatting of people on the street corners about the fight that just took place really fills in the liveliness of the world. It’s pretty clear the development team has mastered the art of carrying assets.

GAMEPLAY: 2/2

One thing that has to be addressed is that most Japanese game developers have an obsession with trying to fit in every possible gameplay mechanic in one. Yakuza as a series is no exception. Kiwami took the original and packed it with all the flavor from the newer games. While Kiwami 2 took the first remake and swapped out the story line. The over abundance of mini games still exist. The dynamic fighting styles are even more exciting with new over the top finishers. Kiwami 2 does feel a little bit faster paced in between the action, but that could be very subjective. Either way, It’s a remake that delivers on all its promises.

FUN: 1/2

Yakuza games, by non-fans, have always been treated like the Japanese version of Grand Theft Auto. This comparison is a bit deceiving though. With a slew of different gameplay styles, the complexity of the game may be discouraging to many. Those who find themselves deeply ingrained in the story will enjoy exploring everything it has to offer. The fun factor in this particular series comes from the amount of depth to the Japanese culture that can be explored. As a pick up and play for a few minutes probably not the best option as it is hard to really get anything out of that. However, the game is fun enough to make the 3-4 hours of gameplay per sitting to get anything done is more than worth it.

Yakuza Kiwami set the standard extremely high for the remake world. Updated visuals put a brand new spark into the entry of an amazing series. Well balanced gameplay and outrageous unique elements keep the game exciting and fun during every session. The most powerful element of the game however is absolutely the story it tells. Loyalty, conviction, self development, and growth are all just a few of the topics that the narrative covers. Yakuza Kiwami 2 is proudly more of the same.

SCORE: 8/10

That’s a wrap for reviewing remasters.



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kingdom hearts 3 review
March 2nd, 2019 by Vega Montanez

Disney & Final Fantasy Forever

Kingdom Hearts 3 was developed and published by Square Enix and let’s just jump on into it.

GRAPHICS: 1/2

Kingdom Hearts 3 is a game 13 years in the making. It kinda shows. The game doesn’t look bad. It’s a cartoon design how could it? But it doesn’t have any huge flair either. It lacks the Pixar sheen thats makes the 3D animated films outstanding. On the other hand, it does have the illustrious color of the classic 2D Disney films. It just doesn’t do anything to really stun the player. Although, the way the team managed to recreate environments from some of the greatest movies of all time is incredible, the initial wow factor fades quickly.

STORY: 1/2

Where to begin? Quite literally might be the single toughest question the development team had to handle. And boy did they miss the mark. There is no way to get into Kingdom Hearts 3 without having played the series before, assuming Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2 are enough. The game immediately throws a bunch of characters in without any introduction. Not necessarily to who they are, as most are Disney icons, but rather how they impact whatever is going on. And because of this there is hardly any explanation of what’s going on. It’s probably a great finale to a great series, but as a standalone title it opens with way too many questions.

AUDIO: 2/2

Similar to the graphics, the development team’s ability to recreated classic sound effects was astonishing. The hours and man power that must have went into this absolutely paid off. The family film feeling was in every valuable sound bit. Coupled with the incredible voice acting, the world could not have felt more alive. Sure the menu sound suffers from the Square Enix gold standard of using annoyingly sharp chimes for menu navigation, but worth the trade. The sound design makes for Kingdom Hearts 3 to be a truly immersive experience.

GAMEPLAY: 2/2

Kingdom Hearts 3 has an incredibly balanced combat system. The key blades weapon setup that gives each keyboard two nearly opposite play styles adds an incredibly strategic layer to the game. Coupled with the magic skills, it moves the needle way past the hack and slash threshold. Exploring the universe, rather the “Ocean Beyond”, quickly turned itself into it’s own super fun fast paced minigame. There are so many elements to explore, nearly every gameplay aspect could be its own game.

FUN: 2/2

This game makes itself very easy to keep playing. Battle after battle, the combat felt exciting. Some players might want to adjust the control setting for their preferences. It’s hard not to want to be a part of the adventure even though the game makes its so damn hard. Inclusion is the only barrier for newcomers. With that said theres no way that anyone who understand the story aren’t going to enjoy the hell out of this. The combat system is great, flying the ship is way more fun than it should be, and the worlds are colorful, oozing imagination. It really feels like a major Disney event. All major Disney events are fun.

Kingdom Hearts 3 might be the greatest finale to a long running series to date. However, it ignores all new players by providing no welcoming entry point. The game is a ton of fun to play, so it’s hard to imagine anyone who loves the series being disappointed at all. The only real way to fully enjoy Kingdom Hearts 3 is certainly to play all the games before it. Or at least watch the recaps on Youtube.

Score: 8/10




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darksiders 3 review
March 2nd, 2019 by Vega Montanez

When you’re last gen but you’re fun.

Game development studios go out of business all the time. It’s the unfortunate part of the industry that keeps every on their toes. What does not happen often, if at all, is a game publisher going out of business. Then there assets and trademarks being purchased at auction. And finally, one of their biggest franchises gets brought back to life by the new owners. However, crazy it sounds, this is the story of Darksiders 3. The release date was on November 27th 2018 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. It picks up where the previous games left off and puts you in control of the only horsewoman of the apocalypse. Developed by Gunfire Games and Published by THQ Nordic (remember the story) the third person hack and slash action adventure game hopes to build on the foundation laid before it. Does Fury get an adventure as awesome as War & Death?

GRAPHICS: 1/2

The first thing most gamers will notice is that Darksiders 3 looks a lot like Darksiders 2. For reference, DarkSiders 2 looked a lot like DarkSiders 1. So yeah, the graphics are nothing to really be blown away by. The impressive part of the graphics feeling dated is (with the remasters in existence) the timeline of events feels super coherent and natural. In a weird way, rather than feel like the graphics are outdated it feels like the game is bringing the player to a specific point in time. Whether this was intentional or not it makes it super easy to overlook the minor graphic issues. And the game development team did an excellent job at making sure there were no glaring graphical faults. Not the prettiest tool in the shed but not ugly enough to ruin the experience.

STORY: 1/2

The Darksiders series tells an incredible story when all three games are put together. Individually, each games story is really good but it’s very clear something is missing without the experience with the previous games. Fury is on a mission to take down the seven sins that have taken over earth. That reads interesting but not quite enough. It’s missing the flare of knowing everything that led to this point. Like War being framed for causing the battle that destroyed earth and ruined the balance. Or that Death is on his own unapproved mission to prove his brother War’s innocence. Or perhaps the suspicious story from the Char Council that Strife is off on a mission and he can not be reached. See now the story is much more interesting, however all those pieces come together from playing every game. Great story spread across three good games.

AUDIO: 1/2

Similar to the visuals, the audio in Darksiders 3 sounds very much like it’s predecessors. Again this does an incredible job of creating the feeling that the events of the game are indeed taking place simultaneously with Darksiders 1 and 2. For anyone who’s played the previous games the roars of monster and the destruction of items in sight will sound very familiar. For those new to the series, it’s a hit or miss. Some menu sounds are absolutely annoying with their sharp chimes. However, most of the sounds in game, from sword swinging to landing from a large jump, are pretty action packed. The adrenaline inducing sound effects and music add to the fast paced excitement even if it sounds like a last generation soundtrack.

GAMEPLAY: 2/2

This is where each game in this series really separates. Each development team for the Darksiders series has had the privilege of working with nearly identical environments with a different protagonist. In Darksiders 3 the player takes control of Fury, often recognized as the least predictable of the four horsemen. Fury specializes in using her whip and magic to overcome most battles. This makes her similar to Death in that she more effectively dodges than she does block. Yet, similar to War, she is very up close and personal, using her whip and magic to close the distance more often than end the fight. The introduction of a few new enemy types and the strengthening of others makes the experience unique to Fury. Enemies that could barely hurt the hulking War are a larger threat to Fury. Learning to play to each Horseman’s strength and weaknesses is what has every fan of this series asking, when do we get the 4 player co-op DarkSiders game?

FUN: 2/2

Fast paced hack and slash third person action. That sentence is the literal definition of a fun game. The Darksiders series does a great job of combining puzzle, platform, and adventure game mechanics. Darksiders 3 is no different. It embodies basic RPG elements like growth and skill charts but it’s mostly about reflex reactions. Battles involve accurate timing for both attacks and dodging. Puzzles scale in size from small levers and dials to entire environments that need to traversed with precision. All these great pieces of other fun games make Darksiders 3 the type of game that requires effort to stop playing.

Darksiders 3 does a great job of being exactly what fans of the series want at the small risk of being too much for newcomers to handle. The team at Gunfire Games have done an excellent job of providing a solid hack and slash adventure during the genre’s major drought. Any fans of fast paced action, unique gameplay mechanics, and challenging puzzles needs to get their hands on this. Or any of the games in the series, honestly.

SCORE: 7/10




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crackdown 3 review
February 25th, 2019 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

Why did this take five years?

The original Crackdown game came out in 2007 and received a lot of attention after it was revealed that you would get access to the Halo 3 multiplayer beta if you bought it. That’s one way to get attention, and as a result, a decent number of Xbox fans got to play it. Crackdown 3 was originally teased at E3 2014 and has finally been released. It is a freeform sandbox action game developed by Sumo Digital and published by Xbox Game Studios. You play as an agent of “The Agency” a group of super-powered police, with extraordinary strength, aim, jumping, running, and others. Your goal is to take down a crime syndicate, and in this third installment, an oppressive corporatist regime. This particular game lets you play as, basically Terry Crews. Xbox fans have waited a long time for this console exclusive game, so how is it?

GRAPHICS: 1/2

The graphics in the game are a bit odd. It seems like they were trying to be cel-shaded while not being cel-shaded. Some elements have that cartoon look while others have some very defined textures. Absolutely a mixed bag. But it’s not just the textures and bright neon lights, the cutscenes are inconsistent as well. In the beginning of the game you get a full animated, pre-rendered primer, which gets cut short. After that you get motion-comic cutscenes that seem rather low-effort. Then you also get in-game cutscenes here and there. The last are the worst. I’ve frequently had animations fail, with my agent glued to the air while a guy in a mech threatens you. Other in-game cutscenes stutter. And this is on the Xbox One X. The playable agents also appear to be a little lacking in quality. Terry Crews as Jaxon looks fine, but the rest of the characters look like they just used a face generator from Mass Effect. Andromeda. But with that weird inconsistent cel-look.

STORY: 0/2

I don’t know how you can do worse with a story like Crackdown, but they managed to do the unthinkable. They added a plot to the game that actually made it less enjoyable. In the original games, the plot was basically “Here are the bad guys, go get ’em”. This game gives all the enemies their own stories, but they are all really half-assed and emotionless. I cannot remember a single character’s name or what their deal even was. This guy is the chemicals guy because reasons. This guy is the guards guy because reasons. This guy has captured monorails cuz reasons. That moonshine stand needs to be destroyed because reasons. It would genuinely be better if I were just told to go at it.

But they try to characterize it so hard, it becomes cringe inducing, with motivations that don’t make any sense and asinine monologues. Worse off is the over-arching plot. Short spoilers for the very beginning of the game, the Agency is sent to a city to fight some kind of “blackout” but get killed in the process and time passes by a few years (I think). Next, a character revives your agent of choice and unleashed you into the city. The story is simply that the blackouts caused everyone to flee to the city because it still has electricity. No really. And then it turns out the city is run by a ruthless corporation, TerraNova, who immediately enslaves all the refugees. Yeah, makes perfect sense to me.

AUDIO: 1/2

If you don’t particularly like it when you hear a lot of useless banter over the radio while you’re doing stuff, you are going to have a bad time. The legendary “Voice of the Agency” played by Michael McConnohie returns with a vengeance. The whole shtick with his character, is he’s sort of the real protagonist of the story since your agent doesn’t talk much. Both in the original games and this one, he frequently says dumb things over the radio based on what you’re doing, such as:

  • Skills for kills, agent!
  • Sounds like there’s a hidden ability orb nearby, you should look for it.
  • Burn baby burn.
  • Wow, now that’s an explosion.
  • You’re unstoppable.

In the original game, this quirk was done every once in a while, and it has a certain charm about it. However in 3, he has something to say every five minutes. It would get annoying real fast for most players. I like it personally, but objectively, it’s super obnoxious. Still, his voice is amazing, and he needs to do audiobooks. As for the other characters? Largely forgettable. They did very little with Terry Crews other than the opening cutscene. The soundtrack sounds like a royalty-free selection of faux-dubstep tracks that fail to impress. Most of the guns and explosions are pretty satisfying. Also, the iconic sound of the agility orbs are still there.

GAMEPLAY: 1/2

Rather than having any campaign missions whatsoever, the game has you just complete a series of objectives. You just do this until you clear enough to fight the boss in charge of those battle locations. So, no real campaign here, you basically just make your way around the map, playing section after section. To give it some credit, the main map isn’t full of empty spaces between objectives. All challenges are located relatively near one another. You won’t spend a lot of time driving because it’s so easy to jump from one to the next. Honestly, it’s a welcome change to have a more tight-knit experience than most sandbox games. But a sandbox it still is, and it has plenty of flaws.

One activity has you liberating militia members by freeing them from holding cells around the city. This activity will literally take you one minute or less, as there aren’t that many guards, but even if there are, all you have to do is jump over to the prisoner release panel and hold LB. That’s it, you’ve freed the prisoners, and any enemy in the area freezes in place while you get a “mission success” screen. In another location, all you have to do is blow up either machinery or storage tanks of a substance called “Chimera”. I’d tell you more about it, but I can’t because I missed the one point where they said what the stuff was and it’s not really brought up again after that. Then in another, you have to capture monorail stations because an evil AI is using them to… move drugs? Don’t remember.

Had a hard time with glitches that were rather annoying. I’ve had input lag in sections where the screen gets busy, and other sections where the controls weren’t even responding. Also ended up getting an OP assault rifle in the middle of it the game. Once that happened, the game was barely a challenge. I might have to play it on harder modes to see if it’s better. Even then, once you piss off enough of the 3 different police factions? You get a city lockdown and are immediately inundated with enemies that are 4X as tough. When that happens, I just let myself die. It is more fun than dealing with that mess. The game’s idea of “challenge” is having you fight a boss while dozens of enemies spawn in at the same time.

FUN: 1/2

I had fun in the 3 days it took to complete this game. Every achievement I got after the first boss was a RARE ACHIEVEMENT. That’s sad. The game is just out and I’m getting rare achievements because not enough people bothered to finish it? Oy. Anyway, playing Crackdown 3 felt like a retread of the original game. It was enough to take me back to when I had just started College and got the original game. But by the end of it, you get tired of the game. You may get bored after finishing a few bosses. It’s a pretty low effort affair. Then again if you just decide to start jumping around, collecting agility orbs and doing side activities, you may find a sort of Zen. Seriously.

Saints Row 4 took to this sandbox super-powers type game and made it an absolute riot. But this new title feels like it’s a huge step backwards. It’s less of a modern Crackdown and more of an Agents of Mayhem experience. Which also wasn’t very good (and that was the same devs as SR4). My roommate found the game fun because he had never played it before. So, don’t pay full price for this game. Don’t bother with it unless you have Game Pass. It’s cheap enough to get a three month pass for the amount of titles you get to play. It’s a mediocre experience but if you “rent” the game by getting game pass, you will find yourself with far superior titles to play afterwards.

SCORE: 4/10




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