too many games to play
April 25th, 2020 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

A long time ago, US citizens used to have these things called jobs, and they prevented us from playing our beloved videogames. During that time, when you got home from work, you’d sit back and play whatever you’re playing recently. If you were daring, you might play TWO videogames back and forth.

Except I have five. I’ve divided my time between The Division 2, Doom Eternal, Forza Horizon 4, Battlefield V, and Fallout 76 Wastelanders.

I want to start by addressing Battlefield V, as something was announced that while writing this. Support for Battlefield V is getting dropped, it’s going to get a few more bits of additions but the final patch is on its way. Final. I’m not particularly mad, because well… I can just go play Star Wars Battlefront II instead. It’s been fixed, and it is essentially just an elaborate Star Wars mod for Battlefield. Anyway, both are massive online multiplayer first person shooter games.

The Division 2 was being sold for $3 a couple months ago. Wow, it’s almost like it was an omen. I start playing this game about a supervirus that wiped out millions of Americans and now… yeah. That thing. The Coof. What is it? It’s an Ubisoft game. That says it all. You are in Washington DC, and there’s a bunch of pins on the map. There’s busywork, unnecessary busywork, actual missions, and random faffing about. You know it’s actually rather soothing and therapeutic compared to the other games. It’s a third person multiplayer cover shooter with loot mechanics.

Doom Eternal, on the other hand, is NOT soothing. Accompanied by a soundtrack that can only be described as “the sounds of a chainsaw being transposed to metal” it’s an intense experience. DOOM 2016 started the franchises new first person frenetic kill-room experience. The sequel decided that it wasn’t hard enough and just tosses you to the wolves the moment you start the campaign. Just look at the new banner for this page! It’s balls to the wall action that will make you better at all other shooters.

Forza Horizon 4 takes a special place in my heart.

A free roam racing game with online elements made sure that there is so much shit to do, it’s almost too much. The map looks like an Ubisoft map with the amount of pins on it. Yet, I never got to spend enough time with the game because of review obligations to the page, but let me put I this way. I’ve played what has to be more than 60 total hours of gameplay, and I barely touched the infinite amount of campaigns and races it has. The live events soak up my time. Hell the game even has its own battle royale, no I’m not kidding, look it up.

Finally, we have the Wastelanders DLC update for Fallout 76. Congratulations Ubisoft, you made an extremely boring and empty survival FPS RPG into a slightly less empty version that’s still marginally boring. New content means new character, so I left my two existing characters off to the side. I haven’t touched them in more than a year. The experience is incrementally less boring, but it’s still boring. I spend more time at user camps fiddling with my gear than I do playing actual missions. I’m just glad the game space is getting over implementing survival into every game.

A lot of shooters sure, but they are all very different gameplay wise. And I can’t pick one to stick with because I want to play the others too. Also, I constantly press the wrong buttons in many games, especially Fallout 76, because every one of these has a different control scheme. I get by just fine.

If you’re wondering why I haven’t picked up Super Final Fantasy VII Remake Midgar Edition Deluxe Part One & Knuckles, it’s because I already have plenty to play. Five games on rotation alone, these don’t even count the backlogs of games I want to play. Do yourself a favor and have a look through the games you own. Get cracking at the ones you’ve been meaning to play.

Hate reading? The audio version can be found HERE.

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forza horizon better than forza motorsport
November 5th, 2018 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

Forza Horizon has spent a long time to become a fan favorite. The Forza Horizon racing series of video games have become one of the biggest racing game franchises in the entire industry. WIth the most recent Forza Horizon 4, has the game surpassed it’s progenitor, Forza Motorsport?




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October 23rd, 2018 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

Xbox’s hidden success story.

Forza Horizon 4 is the best racing game ever made.

No, wait, Forza Horizon 4 is the best current gen game ever made.

No no no, Forza Horizon 4 is the game ever made forever. End of review.

Score: 11/10

Okay, no. Fine, I’ll do a real review I guess. Forza Horizon 4 is the eleventh entry in the Forza racing series exclusively on Xbox One (and PC). It’s the racing game for people who love racing games, and also those who don’t. Developed by Turn 10 and Playground Games and published by Microsoft, it’s one of the only killer apps that the Xbox has in terms of exclusive properties. It’s hard to understand why it’s good, even for people who enjoy it. The game in general just has a way of accommodating all types of players. You can play it as a hardcore simulation racing experience full of professional competitors. Or, you can play it as an arcade racer with enemies who are dumb as bricks. Or, you could just ignore the entire game and make a name for yourself exclusively on making liveries and tuning setups for cars. In addition, you can also stare at and sit in the cars you purchased. How could you go wrong?

GRAPHICS: 2/2

The power of the Xbox One is in full bloom on this game. Whether you’re playing it in glorious 4K on your X model, or just playing the vanilla version on your S model, Horizon 4 is absolutely stunning. It’s first party games like these that use the full potential of the Xbox’s capabilities. This game is the first one to feature changing seasons to keep the game lively. Every week, the game swaps between Autumn, Winter, Spring, and Summer. The appearance and condition of the large (but not too large) map change dramatically with every season, promising you a different experience every time you get on. Each one of these seasons is expressed in stunning detail, whether you’re driving across the frozen lake of winter or blowing through the foliage of autumn. Every car is excellently crafted. This is a perfect 1 to 1 model of their real-life counterparts. Not to mention the greatest looking rain effects ever, as the car you’re driving gets littered with tiny specks of water. They glisten on your hood and roof as you sprint through the picturesque city of fake Edinburgh.

STORY: 2/2

This game has an astounding way of keeping you invested in the game. You are merely a competitor in the Horizon racing series, as opposed to being the boss in 3. The game conforms to suit the kind of racing you want to play. Four is the power number in this game. There are 4 racing types: Dirt, Cross Country, Street, and Road. The more you complete in a specific series, the more races of that type will appear on that map. For instance, street racing isn’t my bag, so I stick to playing the other types. There are only 3 street races on my map, but several dozen races of my preferred series dotting the landscape. The same goes for stunt challenges, four of which are: danger signs (jumps), drift zones, speed zones, and speed traps. If you like speed traps and beat them, you’ll get more. If you hate drift zones and don’t bother, there will only be a few.

The racing experience itself does a great showcase of the game to get you into the grove. Before you join the official Horizon roster, you have to prove yourself by playing “Year One” of the festival. You get to experience all four seasons in a very short period of time. During that, you learn of all these game types, as well as learning what earns you ‘influence,’ the progress tracker of the game that determines your driver level. You can get influence from practically everything, from races, painting, shopping, you name it. The game is also content throwing Wheelspins at you. Which sounds like gambling loot boxes, but you CANNOT buy them with real money. It’s simply a reward given to you for taking part in the game, and it is very generous.

Finally, the game also has 4 story modes: Stunt Driver, Drift Club, World’s Fastest Rentals, and LaRacer @ Horizon. These challenge races have replaced the “bucket list” of former games, giving you more context to a litany of racing challenges. It gives the game a lot more power to give you some context as to why you’re driving the car they gave you and what the challenge is. Of course, Horizon has its showcase races as well. Five races in which you perform a Top Gear style race against certain vehicles. You race a train, a large hovercraft, and a VTOL, among other things. Never a dull moment.

AUDIO: 2/2

All the cars sound authentic. All the DJs are as annoying as real DJs. Voices are fine. The licensed OST is certainly a crowd-pleaser. Although it actually features fewer radio stations than the previous iteration, the lineup of songs still fit the mood of the game to a stunning degree. That is if you even care about the soundtrack. I do, but many gearheads may agree that the only sound they need to hear is the sound of the motor.

GAMEPLAY: 2/2

As stated before, you can play this game however you want. When you set up the difficulty, you can choose from more than 8 difficulty levels of driver AI. The AI itself is good because it simulates real drivers, rather than relying on cheap rubber band tactics like other games do. From there you can pick if you need traction control, stability control, or steering help. Then how to see how much help you need with breaks and whether or not you need a line to show you where to drive or just where to hit the brakes. Then you select transmission. Then you set if you want damage to be real, simulated, or completely absent. Then you select if you want the rewind feature enabled. All of these settings determine how much money you get at the end of a race. The more assistance you turn off, the more bonus money you earn. It absolutely is a “play how you want” game that will accommodate everyone.

There’s also a section in the menu screen called “My Horizon Life” that tells you what your progress in every facet of the game. The race types, exploration, photos, cars owned, paint jobs, online races. Absolutely everything is tracked and rewards you accordingly. And those wheelspins you earn are a fine motivator to keep you playing. That’s along with the perks you get just from getting points earned from driving, in or out of races. Also, every week, with the new season, comes new challenges. In the #Forzathon section of the menu, you can view challenges that are started daily, and up to 3 can be completed per day. There’s a challenge of the week that will ask you to buy a certain car or type of car and complete four challenges with it. Furthermore, all this challenge participation will give you an alternative currency (which also CANNOT be bought with real money) that you can spend on special prizes for the season. You can also partake in “Live” events, which is basically a team car meetup where you all head to a place, have a chat, take photos, then work as a team to complete 3 challenges. The multiplayer is seamless, and unless you specifically ask to play alone, you will encounter other drivers. But you have nothing to wait for when you launch the game. Just boom, you’re playing and other people are on the map.

FUN: 2/2

As stated many times, the game constantly finds ways to reward you. Everything you do in this game will get you credits and influence. You can do anything you want to and the game will cater to how you want to play it. The only frustration I’ve found in the game is that during multiplayer races, one bad turn can ruin your entire run. But that’s my fault because I rely too heavily on rewind and drive like a maniac. No more needs to be said. Unless you hate racing games explicitly, there’s no way you can hate on this title.

The developers of Forza Horizon 4 worked very hard in making sure that this installment of the series addresses a few of the sticking point and nags from the prior entry, but even that game was merely just shy of absolute perfection. This one finishes the job while opening up the game to new possibilities for the future. I implore you, please play this game. The demo is free, and you can play the full game if you own Xbox Game Pass. You could get the whole entire game for just a $10 single monthly subscription. Or just buy it, you can do that too. And you should. It’s that good.

SCORE: 10/10

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forza horizon 4 wheelspin
October 6th, 2018 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

You spin me right round, Forza, right round!

Racing fans all over the world rejoice. The official “only game series worth playing on Xbox” has just dropped its newest iteration, Forza Horizon 4. This is the relaxed, more open world format of the game that can be custom tailored to your play style, from arcade racer to hardcore simulator. I haven’t reviewed the game yet but I am confident it is the best racing game ever made. But we’ll have to wait for the review on that.

We are here to talk about loot boxes. They are a sticking point in the gaming industry that has recently left gamers with a bad taste in their mouths. It’s easy to say EA was the straw that broke the camel’s back with their disastrous issues brought up by Dice’s Star Wars Battlefront II. It made national headlines to the point where non-gaming outlets were covering the issue. It inspired several developers to actively patch out the aspect in their games. It even got a country to outlaw it.

Now, Microsoft has been walking on thin ice in regards to this for quite some time. The more recent games in the Forza franchise featured an alternative currency you can buy with real money. This alternative currency could be used to buy cars. But they took a step too far with Forza Motorsport 7, in which you could earn “prize crates”. These prize crates were filled with cars, in-game currency, and challenge cards. The challenge cards were interesting, in that they just offered you a bonus bounty if you complete certain conditions during a race. For example, placing in 5th or better, or making 3 perfect turns would net you some more coin.

Forza Horizon 4 NK Garaffa 1

But the Forza Horizon Wheelspin is present in all four titles in the series. The only difference is you can’t really purchase spins, outside of using perk tokens in later titles. But, still, it is basically a slot machine that has different prizes you can win. The fourth installment expanded on the items you can win. On top of cars and money, they added cosmetics for your avatar, car horns, and emotes. Yes, emotes. However, something else changed with this version. That alternative currency is gone, completely removed from the game. You can’t buy cars with real money anymore, and you certainly can’t buy the wheel spins or the new SUPER wheelspins. You win one item for wheelspins and three items for super wheelspins. The only microtransaction outside of expansion packs is the treasure map, which reveals all of the secrets on your map for just $3.

So what makes a loot box a loot box? Overwatch may not have been the first, but it did codify the concept of loot boxes. The list of items you can win from crates are icons, skins, emotes, sprays, voice lines, victory poses, highlight intros, and loot. So, cosmetics and some currency. But you can pay to get a whole bunch of these, and you get 4 items per box. And one “rare” item is guaranteed in every box, with rare being the second tier of swag, sporting blue. After that, you have purple for epic loot and orange for legendary loot. MANY games that feature “loot” in general, box or no box, use this color-coded system and verbiage for their items. In Forza Horizon 4, that most certainly is the case, the names and colors are the same.

You only win one loot box from leveling up in Overwatch, with some exceptions for certain events and standards. In Horizon 4, the game practically throws wheelspins at you. Level up? Wheelspin. Do a couple stunts? Wheelspin. Buy a house? Wheelspin. Paint a car? Wheelspin. Take some photos? Wheelspin. Buy a few cars? Wheelspin. Get a couple perk points? Wheelspin. I could stop here but I’m going to keep going anyway. Win a few races? Wheelspin. Lose a few races? Wheelspin. Complete a championship? Wheelspin. Drive around doing absolutely nothing? Wheelspin. Participate in a live event? Wheelspin! EXIST? WHEELSPIN! DON’T EXIST? WHEELSPIN!

Forza Horizon 4 NK Garaffa 2

I swear I could not go more than 15 minutes without getting at least one or two wheelspins. That may be because I bought the ‘Ultimate Edition’ of the game and got some generous boosts to start, but even afterward, I just kept getting more and more. It actually got annoying and broke up the pace of the game. Thankfully, you don’t have to sit through a whole wheelspin animation, which is only about 5-7 seconds, not much at all. But even then you can skip that animation, get your prize, and be on your merry way.

So, what’s different about the Horizon 4 wheelspin again? Let’s review. You cannot purchase them with real money. The alternate currency system is not present. You get them all the time. Basic wheelspins will always get you either a car or more money. Super wheelspins will get you 3 of anything else. You do not get unfair advantages in multiplayer for wheelspins. You don’t get cards that change the conditions of earning more. Every spin is a winner (unless you get 10,000CR, that’s pretty lame).

It feels a lot more like the game is using these prizes to encourage you for playing the game. You can and will play the game regardless of the wheel spins. Yet as you play, the game is constantly rewarding you pretty much just for playing it. You may feel appreciated by the game as you continue to get gift after gift after gift. You may feel far more appreciated than you ever felt possible with this inclusion. Despite the “slot machine” appearance, it feels a lot more like you are just being given some free things, instead of gambling. Because of these reasons, I assert that the Horizon Wheelspin is neither a loot box nor a form of gambling. On top of that, I appreciate Microsoft’s nerve to decide not to include alternative currency this time around. I hope this game along with others continues with that mindset for the foreseeable future.



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