A final reflection on the games of 2019. It’s a bit late to talk about last year but I filmed this a month ago and it needs to be seen. Consider this a preamble to the HMG redemption arc.
That’s right, 2019 was awesome, I hated it. As of right now, YouTube sucks so I’m going to be sticking with Facebook Watch or any other non-YT video hosting platform. Plus, the FB page is where all the memes are at, so follow the video to my page and SMASH THAT LIKE.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Every year gamers are treated to a very familiar lineup of games for the holiday season. This year Activision decided to shake things up a bit. First they announced the latest Call of Duty installment from developer Treyarch would arrive without a single player campaign. Then they announced that Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 would be releasing a month earlier than normal. And finally they announced no shooter would exist without a challenge from the money backed behemoth. Watch out Fortnite, Black Ops 4 has a Battle Royale mode. Available on Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 ditches single player for a full multiplayer experience. Does it work?
Activision still understands blockbuster video games and the fans of said blockbuster video games. They still know how to put the pressure on developers to make sure the games look good. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is confidently the best looking Call of Duty game of all time. It’s especially impressive because the whole game is online. Unlike previous games there are no scripted moments to use super high fidelity cgi on and then revert to in game. Replicating locations and battlefields from previous games in better quality makes the nostalgia feel justified. Seeing all of this big money quality pushed into a battle royale made even more of an impact. Up until now most Battle Royale’s looked like games in development. Black Ops 4 is the first game with a battle royale that looks complete.
Doesn’t exist. Get over it. It’s sad but just move on. Seriously though, the lack of a true single player campaign is a bit of a bummer. Instead the team at Treyarch included a set of tutorials that feel like the independent special op missions from Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2. It’s a fun experience for anyone who gives it a try but it doesn’t really provide any reason for anyone who’s ever played Call of Duty before to dive in. The Zombies mode also provides a little bit of plot for those really in need but it’s of the same quirky variety as past games. Maybe next time they’ll be kind enough to include some true single player content.
Sound design has always been a weak point for the Call of Duty franchise. Even with the best voice actors and top notch musicians, sound has always felt like an after thought. Black Ops 4 is an exception to the run with very little to brag about. The lack of a single player campaign makes it so the focus of sound design was about creating ambience in multiplayer maps. That was done extremely well making certain perks all the more useful. It also translated well to the zombies mode allowing for certain areas to feel scary enough to add a new layer to the mode. Now the dark corridors provide a slight intensity. The voice acting was decent in the areas where it made sense. It’s hard to tell how good it was though because zombie mode dialogue has always been cheesy.
The Black Ops series has been a major fan favorite in the franchise and with the latest installment it’s super easy to see why. Despite not adding a ton of new mechanics to the game, the team at Treyarch added just enough. Reusing maps from previous games would be awful under most conditions, however in Black Ops 4 it’s great. Not only because of the updated graphics but also because of different weapons, perks, and equipments. Using a fully powered nine-bang has significantly more impact than a standard flash bang. That difference represents entirely new tactics for playing fan favorite maps in 4k. Call of Duty doesn’t sacrifice anything its great at to make space for anything new. Even the battle royale mode feels completely polished and fresh. It’s everything a certain other super serious battle royale wanted to be. Oh, and there are zombies in battle royale.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 as a Party game after a long day of work is a hell of a great time. Solo after a long day of work, not quite as enjoyable. Do not misunderstand that statement. Call of Duty is still super fun for all the solo gamers who just like to kick back and play games. However, this time more than ever, the game is designed for people who love the multiplayer experience. The closest thing to a story in the game are the shenanigans taking place in the zombie mode. The zombie menace is an equal threat to all. The ridiculousness of every single chapter makes for a constant stream of fun. The debate on whether Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is a good game will go on for ever. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 being a fun game can not be contested.
Call of Duty returns to the forefront of online military warfare. It avoids sending any soldiers to the single player battle where it’s already lost to all the other great titles this year. Precisely aiming its sights at any competition that thinks it stands a chance against the unmatched wallet of Activision. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 delivers everything the core fans of the series expect plus more. Even if thats at the expense of the casuals who just wanted a single player military based story campaign to play through.
You know, Black Ops has been the frontrunner in FPS games for a long time. It was only a matter of said time before they made a Battle Royale game mod. But it’s a good mode, along with several other great modes. Check the video on what we think.
It’s officially official ladies and gentleman. Call of Duty Black Ops 4 will be arriving this fall, sans single player campaign. One of the top selling franchises year over year is completely abandoning it in favor of the super popular Battle Royale. For those still attached to the idea of enjoying a game by themselves at home this could be very disappointing at first. However, after a ton of thought, I’ve come to the conclusion that this could be a very good thing. Now before you grab your tiki torches and plan your attack allow me to explain my thought process for just a moment.
First, unofficial data has shown that less than 50% of Xbox players have actually completed a Call of Duty campaign. Yes, I’m going to use the Xbox data as a Playstation fanboy, get over it. With that said, this is not an attempt to bash the Xbox player base, it’s actually almost the opposite. Historically, Call of Duty has been an Xbox favorite. Even with the recent attempt to transition the audience to Playstation, most people still rather play their first person shooters on the green machine. Ask Chet if you don’t believe me. It makes sense for Activision to spend less money on a part of the game that, hypothetically but realistically speaking, most players are completely ignoring. In no way am I defending the decision but I can totally understand the business move.
Which leads into my second point. Battle Royale is huge right now, but technically its still an indie game concept. I mean even the most popular Battle Royale game, Fortnite (sorry PUBG I know how much that hurt to read), was just a crazy idea thrown into a game that was very different to begin with. See, I bet you didn’t even know Fortnite is a totally different game than Fortnite: Battle Royale. That means that Activision has officially positioned Call of Duty as the first AAA Battle Royale game on the market. Seriously, think about it for just a couple seconds. Activision, although tightlipped about how much they spend on development, is known for throwing millions into every game every year. You think the random partnership with Marvel was amazing, let’s see what the people who have the budget to work with Hollywood actors regularly can do. The same people who can assemble some of the most iconic actors of all time to be apart of a secondary game mode (Zombies) can pull off a Battle Royale. Graphics, content, scale, network, literally every aspect of the game just received a small loan of a million dollars. Not collectively either, that’s each.
More importantly for me though is my third and final point. Free up some writers. Call of Duty campaigns have had some pretty crap writing but, there have also been some gems. Black Ops 1 is still my favorite FPS campaign to date, and I finished Crysis 2. And played Bioshock. Oh and Borderlands (a little bit). I mean I can list my credentials if need be but we can all pretty much agree that the campaign from Black Ops 1 is the reason most of us are fired up about the team that gave us that are not giving us more. I choose to look at this as an opportunity. Now without the pressure of having to write a story around the multiplayer component, which is always what it feels like, maybe some writers will have free reign. Maybe focusing Call of Duty on Multiplayer puts us in an alternate universe where Activision produces a FPS series with the powerful storytelling found in Spec Ops: The Line. Got your attention now huh?
Don’t get me wrong, I know this perspective is wildly optimistic but thats kinda my thing. At the end of the day, I believe the campaign was cut to focus on building what may end up being the best Battle Royale on the market. Maybe the business monsters at Activision are secretly working on a campaign mode DLC that they will try to sell us a few months after release. Not sure why I said try though. Or maybe, honestly.
If there really isn’t going to be a campaign in Black Ops IIII then this might be the time for another developer to step up to the plate. We have one particular franchise in mind that needs to be re-rebooted.