xbox game pass
April 29th, 2019 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

Keep em coming, Microsoft!

Xbox continues to power on with their greatest asset. The Xbox Game Pass already has a load of great games to play. With this update, there are even more great choices. What’s best about these is their value and length. A lot of the games on offer are solid, well rounded experiences. They aren’t just dropping a few niche and trashy disposable games. They are getting you THE best games from yesteryear. The titles in this pass of theirs are all of the games that if you missed, you need to play. What are they?

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

The original Deus Ex game was an absolute paradigm changer for the PC gaming industry. N’stuff. I’ve never played the original. I started with Invisible War, a game everyone hated but that’s only because nothing could be as good as that first game (and it’s janky AF). But after that failure, the Deus Ex series found life in the prequel series starring Adam Jensen. A man who is basically the Major from Ghost in the Shell but is a gruff dude working big tech security, and later, Interpol. Mankind Divided is a direct sequel to Human Revolution, which came out last console generation. It wouldn’t hurt to play that title, but it’s not absolutely essential to MD, since a lot of the characters from the first game are mere afterthoughts. That and a handy-dandy 11 minute video comes with the game to recap it for you.

What happens next, is you find yourself in a world the producers called the “Mechanical Apartheid“. This is due to a mass hack that resulted in one of the world’s most bloody acts of terrorism, an event where all cybernetically enhanced individuals received some sort of hacking signal that reduced them to turning into a vicious mob, killing everyone (until Adam Jensen stopped). Understandably shook, the world of the enhanced, now known as the slur “klanks”, live under constant supervision by a humanity who doesn’t trust them. But Adam Jensen is special, and because of his skills, he lands a job at Interpol working a counter-terror task force. Over the course of the game, you will explore the streets of Prague while trying to stop an ‘illuminati’-tier conspiracy that if fulfilled, may destroy the freedom of all individuals as we know it. Yikes.

This game is play it your way, and is mainly a tactical stealth action game. You can stealth your way past everything, hack your way past everything, shoot your way pas everything, blow up your way past everything, or mix it up a little bit. Sadly, the project was suddenly forced out the door before it was completely finished. It now serves as what was supposed to be a new trilogy… only the other two aren’t currently getting made. If you go into this game aware that a few threads will be left dangling, you’ll still have a blast.

Check out our review right here.

Prey (2017)

Prey is another game with a littered history. The original Prey came out in 2005 after being worked on for 15 YEARS. No joke, but it finally came out and it wasn’t half bad. Some people may accuse the game of being racist for having an Indigenous American protagonist who uses ancient Indian magic to protect himself, and to that i say get the fuck over yourself. It’s a game. And the sequel is even better.

See, Prey was originally supposed to come out as Prey 2, a pseudo-sequel at best where you play as a bounty hunter who rounded up criminals using gadgets and some parkour. The game disappeared. Then, at an E3, it re-emerged as Prey, which means I now have to distinguish them by release date. This time Arkane Studios made it, the brains behind Dishonored. Just like their other game, Prey became a game in same style as the “System Shock / Bioshock” games.

This one also features a wide variety of powers and play styles. You can shoot your way through, hack your.. YOU GET THE POINT. This one features a far more bizarre plot. You are on a space station (sorry for spoiling the first 20 minutes of the game), where some experiments on a shapeshifting aliens species has gone awry. They have done a LOT to ruin the station, and if you don’t solve all those problems and a single one of them makes it back to Earth, it will be DOOMED. Peep our review here.

Monster Hunter World

Monster Hunter is a much beloved franchise known for its challenge and scope. You don’t simply fight monsters. You track them down, you beat them to a pulp, and then you wear their bones on your favorite armor. So does your cat. The cats are pretty rad in these games. However, for a very long time, MH was a very niche title for a specific audience, yet Capcom broadened that scope with Monster Hunter World.

This version of the game provided updated controls, a new story, and a huge focus on online multiplayer to get a lot of players. And it worked. During a very quiet January, this title popped up and became the surprise first-hit of the year. Actually, not only that, it set a new all-time record in sales for Capcom. It keeps people coming back with a steady slew of both free and paid updates. You’ll never run out of stuff to do.

This series is a tough and very involved game. Hunting monsters takes preparation. And preparation requires a full understanding of the ins and outs of the game. Preparation is key. Everything from crafting gadgets, potions, poisons, and other key items can make all the difference during your hunt. Of course, this game has a very, VERY extensive tutorial that makes sure you’re always on top of what you need to know. Sometimes it feels like the tutorial never ended. But 25 hours was enough for me. Also I cheated profusely and usually just “fired a flare” during the fights. That means 3 people will show up and kill the monster for you. You could possibly play the whole entire game this way if you wanted. And should. JK, but check out our review.

Vampyr

Developer DONTNOD is a game producer that makes the best 7/10 games you will ever play. They are notorious for their storylines, which aren’t simply engaging. No, these devs would prefer to bludgeon you over the head with hard-to-discuss topics like memory erasure, suicide, assisted suicide, drug abuse, unfiltered teenage angst, and high school drama classes. Then, in comes Vampyr, a narrative heavy action melee game with a slower and focused pace. If you wanted to play the “easy version” of Dark Souls this is the one. Not only that but they recently patched in a story mode and a hard mode so you can either play it as super easy Dark Souls or actual Dark Souls.

Maximizing the potential for irony, the story stars a recently vampire’d Doctor, Jonathan Reed. He’s world renowned for his research in… wait for it… blood. Yep, the blood doctor turns into a blood sucker. Vampyr gets about as bleak as it can possibly get. You are in an old london riddled with Spanish Flu. The citizens of London aren’t a particularly happy or nice bunch either. Between researching links between the flu and a vampire epidemic, you also deal with the citizens.

Many of them need your help in more ways than one. Not only do you do random quests for them, as per most games, there’s an additional angle. You also have to diagnose them and craft the cures for their ailments. Also, you get teased by the level up system. Level up from fighting enemies, but you get a huge XP bonus if you kill an innocent. Yeah, that’s this game. Those aren’t even the truly tough decisions either. You’ll encounter those at the end of each act and marvel at how all options seem wrong. We reviewed it here.

The Golf Club 2

This game exists.

The Walkind Dead: A New Frontier

It’s the Walking Dead my guy.

What are you still doing here? Go play one of these.



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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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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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September 4th, 2018 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

MXGA

A few years ago, you used to sign a contract with a cell phone service provider. Then they decided to all move over to leasing options that made it affordable for everyone. Want the new iPhone? They have a payment plan. Want the new Samsung? Payment plan. LG device? Payment plan (also LG is the best). You see the new iPhone, and even though you can’t afford it, you want it. So the companies accommodate you. Now, that same principle is being applied here, only it’s a better deal. The Xbox All Access plan gives you a great deal more than just a smart device.

Xbox 360 was a dominating force in the last generation of games. This came after a generation dominated by the PlayStation 2. After Xbox’s disastrous introduction of the Xbox One and its lack of graphical prowess, PS4 won over the public by a landslide. Dan Mattrick instigated the disaster, but it wouldn’t be the last time he singlehandedly destroys a company. Phil Spencer has been left to undo the damage ever since. Each year, he finds more and more ways to win back the hearts of the people.

Exclusives are still a major power in the console gaming world. This is despite the fact that they are largely ‘timed’ exclusives and don’t always stay exclusive. But being first is still a big deal, and people eager for a game are going to go wherever they can get it as fast as possible. They made the Xbox One X cater to the audience who wanted more graphical power. They even bought up 5 companies that have all made interesting titles, to say the least. Still, that doesn’t change that their current exclusive line-up is… well, pretty pathetic really.

So, now, Microsoft is giving you a new reason to buy their console. This was first made apparent in their 2018 E3 press conference. They showed off plenty of games you could play. Some were exclusive, but many others weren’t. Still, it was a surprising move by the company to focus entirely on games and set a really high bar for the rest of that E3. They ended up showing off more games than any other presentation. They actually stole the thunder from other dev’s announcing projects by showing them off in their own show first.

They also talked a great deal about Xbox Game Pass, a service destined to be the Netflix of gaming. Xbox Game Pass gives you access to a huge section of games for a relatively low subscription plan. For 9.99/month, you get access to this comprehensive list of titles. It’s… a lot of games. A real lot of them. Endless choices and possibilities, it’s chock full of games from every genre. There’s a game in there for everyone, and the library is always expanding. The icing on the cake? All Xbox-Exclusive games will be made immediately available on game pass the day they are released. Which is a great proposition for people who really like the Forza games, for starters. But it’s also a strong promise they are holding, seeing as the earlier mentioned companies they bought will be dishing out Xbox exclusives for the future.

But that’s not the end of it. To get back to the subject at hand, Xbox All Access is sweetening the deal even further. What’s the plan? A two-year long monthly payment plan that pays for three things. The price covers the cost of purchasing the console and 24-month subscriptions to Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass. How good is this deal? Well, $22 USD a month will get you an Xbox One S model, while you can go for the top shelf and pay $36 USD for the Xbox One X, the most powerful console currently on the market.

You could always just fork out $250 to buy the entry-level price for a PS4, Switch, or the Xbox, and then spend another $60 or so per game you actually want to play on it. And then you have to decide if you want to buy each console’s premium service, which will also cost you more money up front. Yeah, that’s no fun. Some retailers allow you to get interest-free financing on purchases that qualify, but this offer is coming straight from Microsoft. Suddenly, the consoles are well within your budget, aren’t they? Imagine being able to afford the best console on the market and access to 100+ games for less than the price of that iPhone you’re leasing right now. Sound good? It should.

There are some caveats to this major deal. You have to go to a Microsoft store to make the purchase. That could be an issue because unlike Apple, they don’t have that many retail stores out there. The deal is also only good while supplies last. Granted, you have to do the same thing with most cell phone providers too. So, yeah, there’s a few extra snags to jump in on this incredible offer.

But this could be the beginning of a great new business strategy. If it skyrockets the sales of Xbox One consoles, that would begin the turning point. With enough success, Microsoft might just feel like extending the offer to other retailers, not just their own. This is the initial stage of a great idea. Maybe one of the other competitors will pick up on this strategy and try it themselves. Either way, this company is putting their money where their mouth is, and they’re offering a great opportunity. Own a console and get access to tons of free games all for small monthly payments. I would always choose the interest-free options over paying for something outright, wouldn’t you?

Has this offer piqued your interest? Will other companies attempt this? Let us know in the comments.



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April 26th, 2018 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

Git Gud from the Get Go

Sea of Thieves is like Wind Waker if Wind Waker gave you nothing to do at every location you sail to. This game is just… I can’t.




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