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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April 1st, 2019 by Vega Montanez

Claptrap and The Vault Hunters!

After years of speculation and rumors Borderlands 3 will be coming to a console near you. Gearbox and 2K confirmed the long awaited sequel at a keynote during PAX East. Although little information was provided at the initial announcement, Gearbox promised more in the near future.

Check out the trailer!

The next reveals will happen on April 3rd. And, Hopefully we get our bags filled with exciting Borderlands 3 news. In the meantime, true Borderlands fans can rejoice in the second major announcement. Borderlands: Game of the Year edition is will be available on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. When? April 3rd. Why? Well because, why not and it’s getting some big quality updates.

For any newcomers to the series, Borderlands is a First Person RPG Shooter. Some fan favorite elements of Borderlands include a ridiculous range of customization and weapons crafting options and 4 player co-op. I mean who am I kidding, everything about Borderlands is a fan favorite. From the unique comic book aesthetic to the different play styles of each character to the amazing narrative. Borderlands is a series that is experienced not just played.

So it looks like it’s going to be a good year for Borderlands fans and the Gearbox crew. Are you excited for Borderlands 3?

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March 26th, 2019 by Vega Montanez

Another spring, another spring Apple Keynote. Good old Tim Apple (if you don’t get that reference you are not adulting properly) took the stage today to do the usual announcing of new Apple products. Only this time Tim didn’t focus on products in the traditional sense. No, Apple delivered a two hour keynote on the brand new world of Apple Services. An updated news app, with an optional premium subscription. An updated Apple TV app, with an optional premium subscription. An Apple credit card, literally called Apple Card. And most importantly Apple Arcade, Apple’s first official step into the multibillion dollar games industry. 

Meet Apple Arcade

You read that right. After years of rumors and speculations, Apple has officially jumped into the wonderful world of video games. Apple Arcade is an all new subscription based games service that will work across all of your apple devices. One subscription gives full access to the entire library of games, which will include exclusive, on your iPhone, iPad, AppleTV, and Mac. 

And that library of games is looking absolutely amazing. During the keynote Apple had a great video featuring some of the games and developers coming to their platform. Among those developers were Charles Cecil, Sam Rosenthal, Cedric Adams, and the legendary Hironobu Sakaguchi. That’s right the man behind Final Fantasy had a prominent guest spot in Apple Arcade’s world premiere.

Beyond a Steel Sky
Revolution Software

Alongside the incredible stream of games, Apple also took a direct shout at the competition. Apple Arcade will not be a streaming service, instead allowing you to download and play any games any time without the need to be tethered to an internet connection. But wait theres more. Apple also took a moment to proudly exclaim that no games on Apple Arcade will have Ads or in-app purchases. Couple that with the commitment to privacy and a subscription that can be accessed by up to 6 family members, via family sharing, theres plenty of reason for Apple to feel confident with their service. 

Although the Keynote was packed full of cool and exciting announcements, Apple continued the current tech trend of omitting details. As of right now we know Apple Arcade will be available Fall 2019. However, we don’t have answers to some of the more important questions. What is the price of an Apple Arcade subscription going to be? What titles can we expect to be available when it launches? Will there be any exclusives? 

The Pathless
Annapurna Interactive | Giant Squid

Questions? Well, of course!

Apple’s positioning as one of the top mobile device manufactures and the only true alternative to Windows computers gives it a ton of leverage. No Apple user will need to go out and make any additional purchases to enjoy the features of Apple Arcade. Cost of entry being low, Apple can expect huge subscriber counts very quickly much like they saw with the launch of Apple Music. 

Where storytelling and design are pushed further than ever before.

Apple

With Google and Apple entering the world of gaming while Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo are preparing to announce the next generation of consoles, this is going to be an interesting year. The one thing I can say for certain is, this gone be good for us gamers but real bad for our wallets. 




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March 24th, 2019 by Vega Montanez

The annual Game Developers Conference has long been prime real estate for developer focused major announcements. In past years we’ve had the pleasure of witnessing major announcements like Metal Gear Solid 5 but, it’s typically full of panels on super technical stuff. Cough Nerds Cough. This year However, Google took it upon themselves to overshadow all the other cool stuff happening by announcing their long rumored gaming console. Or rather the not gaming console. 

Google Stadia, the official name I can’t quite pronounce, is a cloud based streaming console promising up to 4K HDR resolutions, instant access with no update or download delays, and the ability to play on any device connected to the internet. Have we heard this before? Yea a few times but this is Google. You know the unofficial ruler of the world? Yea, exactly. So I’m pretty inclined to believe they have managed to get the technical stuff to work. And I’m sure everyone in the world is talking about the concerns behind internet speed inconsistencies but I think there are three bigger things to worry about. 

With that said, I have 1 question and 2 concerns, shaped in the form of questions. 

Will I be able to carry my control and play anywhere with WiFi?

Google announced Stadia with a super dope looking awesome remote. I’m not quite sure why the remote looks so familiar but, whatever right? The controller itself is not necessary to play as you can use any standard USB or Bluetooth remote but it does have it’s own perks. Those perks include a share button for streaming all your games you’re streaming (streamception?), and a button that calls for Developer directed help. That’s right friends strategy guides are what Google is aiming to kill with Stadia. 

There is no box associated with Google’s new console, rather platform, and the Stadia Control connects to the cloud via Wifi. So of course my big question at this point is; does this mean i can carry the control and game anywhere? I can just pop a squat anywhere with decent Wifi, cause the wizards at Google said they are optimizing for all internet speeds, and play Metal Gear Solid? Tekken? Devil May Cry? Oh my heart, it can’t handle the excitement. 

Unfortunately, outside of showing off the control design and talking about their cool exclusive buttons, there wasn’t much information around the control. I’m sure that Google has an incredible drip marketing plan for all things Stadia, but I don’t know if I have the patience for it. I just want to pull my Stadia Control out my pocket and scream Let’s Duel!

And now the concerns…

How do developers get paid?

The video game industry is a multibillion dollar business. The cost of producing video games is astronomically high at the Hollywood/mainstream level of gaming. Esports have created an entirely new field within the industry for gamers to work and build their lives around. Games have literally become a part of mainstream culture with movies, books, and even real news outlets frequently referencing their success. Intentionally and unintentionally. 

All of these incredible breakthroughs come together to create a thriving industry that breeds fair distribution of money in all directions. Enter Stadia. Well actually it’s more like enter Google. Arguably the most powerful company in the world. Undeniably the most powerful company on the internet. What will it mean for how developers and publisher negotiate their pay from games streaming on Stadia?

If the music industry is any example, developers will see significantly less money from streaming games than they do on game sales. Sure the games will be more accessible but if it’s anything like say Spotify, which pays about $0.006 per stream, it’s gonna take a lot of streaming to match sales. So how will streams be counted? If I launch Resident Evil 2 40 times, will it count as 40 different streams? How about the hours put into streaming? Will streaming The Witcher 3 one time for 80 hours only earn the handsome polish developers pay for one stream? 

And those are only the concerns around the meaning and value behind the term “stream”. The bigger concerns is how smaller developers will manage to negotiate streaming payouts with the Walmart of the internet. For those who are unaware, Walmart is such a large retailer that it had been documented telling suppliers how much it will pay for products it will sell in its stores. No negotiations, take it or leave it. Google is just as powerful in the internet land. And in order for this to be profitable for Google one of two things will happen.

How much will it Cost?

Which brings us here. How much will Google Stadia cost? Remember I said in order for this to be profitable for Google one of two things will happen? You should, I just said it. Anyway, there are two clear ways for Google to make Stadia profitable and sustainable. The first option is bad for developers but good for consumers. The price of Stadia stays relatively low for gamers, think subscription of $10-$25/ per month, and developers get a smaller pay per stream.

This could make it super easy for google to acquire subscribers but how would it impact games being streamed? At that price Stadia could end up being like a gym membership. Tons of people sign up but a small fraction of the people signed up actually stream games. That means Google makes boatloads of cash while having very little payout. 

Contrary, the cost of the service could put Stadia at a premium level, $50-$99/per month, and pay higher per stream to developers. A premium price point more people are likely to make use of their membership because it’s a significant monthly cost. With more people streaming Google has much more payouts to make impact the overall profit margin. Blah blah business blah blah number blah blah math, I know it’s boring but it’s important. 

Are you ready for Google Stadia?

In my opinion, Google Stadia marks the first time in over a decade where the video game industry is about to see a major shift. Much like the risky launch of the Nintendo Wii and it’s motion controls, Stadia represents an entirely new way to play. The question now is, are we ready for this? If Stadia succeeds, the industry may completely shift away from owning video games to streaming only (like the music industry). If Stadia fails, the industry may turn against the internet based ideas circulating since the botched Xbox One announcement. 

At the end of the day, we are gamers. We just want to play the best games all the time. Who ever makes that easiest gets to take all my monies. Any takers?




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video game tinder
February 4th, 2019 by Arjun Kotecha

What would it look like if your favorite video game characters all had dating profiles?

Video game protagonists have it rough. They usually have to take care of everyone, single-handedly, all by themselves. Many of them are far too busy to give dating a shot, since they never have any free time. But now that some of them have finished the game, they can relax and mingle. And what better way to seek out some company than joining Tinder? Here’s just a few profiles we could see. Let us know in the comments who you’d swipe left or right for.

The catacomb climber strikes again.
He improvises, that’s spontaneous, right?
He’s definitely looking to take things slow with you.
Free is free.
Guess you really can’t buy love, can you?
Bae before Bay. Always.
He’s not afraid of commitments.

There’s more in store if you want. Comment and share, we will make more.




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free 4 me january 2019
January 11th, 2019 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

The mediocrity season is here.

January is normally the dumping ground for bad stuff. Bad movies, bad games, bad manners. Fortunately for us, several (potentially) great cames will be coming out. We have New Super Mario Bros Deluxe, Ace Combat 7, the Resident Evil 2 remake, the second epsiode of Life is Strange 2, and……. I don’t know. I think that’s it. Either way, it seems the free games of January 2018 are….. meh. Have a look at the mediocrity of it all.

Xbox Live Gold

Never Alone – An eskimo girl and a fox do some things. A smart 2D scroller.
Celeste
– Okay, so this game isn’t “Just Okay”, its actually an award winner. So it’s probably good.
WRC6 FIA World Rally Championship
– If you’re a fan of dirt track/rally racing types, now is your time to shine with this fun indie racing hit.
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light
– No, this isn’t a REAL Tomb Raider game. It’s an isometric shooter starring the titular character and some other guy I guess.
Far Cry 2
– This one is tough with an absolutely unforgiving saving system. If you die and don’t have a buddy, prepare to start the entire mission over.

Xbox Game Pass

Life is Strange Complete Season, Life is Strange Before the Storm, Life is Strange 2 Episode 1, Ark: Survival Evolved, Farming Simulator 17, Absolver, Just Cause 3, Aftercharge.

Playstation Plus

Steep – This is a huge snowy mountain sandbox games for those who enjoy Snowboard, Skiing, Paragliding, and Wingsuit. It was very hard to pull off a single trick.

Portal Knights – It’s like Minecraft, but it’s also nothing like Minecraft.

Zone of the Enders HD Collection – A air combat game where you pilot big mecha. Fast paced action and a lot of jetpacking make this oldie pretty good. (PS3)

Super Mutant Alien Assault – A hardcore platformer to the likes of N++ and Super Meat Boy. (PS3)

Warframe: A free to play shooter game, but there’s a Booster Pack available for free.

Nintendo Switch Online:

Blaster Master
Zelda II – The Adventure of Link

WOW! Sounds like a relatively OK time. Get at it.




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October 12th, 2018 by Vega Montanez

It’s like your favorite board game, but better!

The long awaited fourth installment in a fan favorite series has finally arrived. Valkyria Chronicles 4 is a tactical role-playing game developed and published by Sega. And Sega has been on quite a roll this year releasing the games fans want. Released on September 2018 on PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC, Valkyria Chronicles 4 delivers on the promise of continuing a war story. It’s been a long time coming, so the question is does Valkyria Chronicles 4 meet the expectations of the people? Or has the ship of greatness it was long sailed?

GRAPHICS: 1/2

Cartoon graphics are no excuse for characters breaking. In fact, cartoon graphics should theoretically bring this issue to a major minimum. Regardless Valkyria Chronicles 4 suffers pretty often from this issue. The vibrancy of the playing field and landscaping quickly become muddied by mixing of terrains. In some areas the distinction between grass and dirt is beautiful in other areas it’s awful. Characters cut into environments so often that it wouldn’t be hard to believe that was an intentional thing. With all that said Valkyria Chronicles cartoon style is absolutely fun to look at. It’s hard not to enjoy the way the development team at Sega brings the 2D manga look to a 3D realm. It’s a constant battle between love and hate which more often falls in the love category. Unless you hate manga/anime. 

STORY: 2/2

Although the presentation can be quite annoying, the story is worth the trouble. Valkyria Chronicles 4 continues the story of the Imperials vs the Federation in a war started over the ownership of Ragnite. On the surface it is a very basic premise. The thing that drives the story is the way it is told through the experiences of childhood friends, separated for various reasons, coming together as adults in the military. The intensity grows as the stories of what separated them as children continue to unfold. Each interaction between the four lead protagonist gives another insight into falling outs and reconciliations. These little moments make every painful bit of broken up cinematic worth while. Seriously, most of these cutscenes should have been bundled together way better. 

AUDIO: 2/2

Once again, a rock solid audio performance. Every member of the cast present realistic tones that truly represent the emotions in the words. It is very easy to fall in love with the personalities of each character, to the point where watching them die in battle really hurts. The cell-shaded manga art style is coupled together excellently with the Saturday morning cartoon sound effects. Gunfire, explosions, footsteps, and motion all feel perfectly in place to feel threatening yet humorous. The only time the audio isn’t a good time is when the progression system shows what’s been unlocked or traversing the menus. These are probably the most annoying sounds of this console generation. Small criticism against what the rest of the audio delivers, but a criticism none the less. 

GAMEPLAY: 1/2

Tried and true mechanics of tactical RPG’s are hard to change, but in no way is that bad. Valkyria Chronicles does manage to do a few things differently from it’s predecessors however. The first major change comes in the ‘let’s up the challenge” style. This is the first installment that allows units, on both friendly and enemy, to attack when it’s not their turn. This mean positioning characters after an offensive and navigating the field are even more critical then ever. Simply put, if the unit is within range it will be attacked by other units out of turn. This brings the level of strategy necessary to an even higher level. The second major update is the addition of the new Grenadier class. The Grenadier can launch grenades significantly far and do a significant amount of damage at the same time. 

Fans of tactical RPG’s will find these new inclusions incredibly fun, challenging, and strategy altering for sure. However, the lack of an autosave feature is still a major downfall. Very few things exist as infuriating as completing an hour and a half long mission just to have to repeat it. Part user error, part design flaw, but completely annoying. 

FUN: 2/2 

There is something undeniably satisfying about playing games where the task is to outwit the enemy. This innate desire to be more intelligent than everyone else becomes even more apparent while navigating the battlefield. Valkyria Chronicles 4 does an excellent job of pacing the challenge, so every battle remains fun. Things get progressively harder, but Squad E gets equally better. By never forcing the player to feel unmatched in power, the focus remains on being more strategic. The humorous banter between characters and the graphic novel visuals further the entertainment. Seriously, how could anyone not hate to love Raz’s personality? Even with his frequent bone head decisions.

The game that long time fans of the series patiently waited for has arrived. Valkyria Chronicles 4 delivers exactly what the fans wanted. Could it use a little more to make things a tad bit more exciting? Possibly, regardless the game delivers. It does everything right that Valkyria Revolution did wrong without losing the few things Revolution did well. Fans of strategic RPG’s can comfortably place this amazing game alongside XCOM and Fire Emblem. As well as past games in the series. Valkyria Chronicles 4 tells a great story with fun gameplay nestled beside it. 

SCORE: 8/10




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October 10th, 2018 by Vega Montanez

Hey $gtBallZak69, I’ve got some good news!

Sony has heard the cries and complaints and have decided it’s time to let your PSN mature with you. The overly requested PSN Online ID Change feature is currently in the Playstation Review Program. That means it’s pretty much official and just awaiting a launch date.

As of now, it’s available to PlayStation users that have registered as testers for previous PS4 system software betas. Anyone who does get access will be able to do their first change for free. All changes after that will cost $10. For PlayStation Plus members, it will cost $5 after the first change.

In standard typical Sony fashion (yes as a fanboy i can admit they hardly get it all the way right) there are some weird rules. First the new feature won’t be compatible with all games. It will be compatible with PS4 games released after April 1, 2018, and “the majority of the most-played PS4 games” released before this date. That’s right not all PS4, PS3, and PS Vita games are guaranteed to support the feature. Users might see issues or errors in certain games. If you run into any issues with the change, PlayStation will let you revert back to your old ID free of charge.

Makes sense? Yea not really, but hey it’s a start. Enjoy.

 




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October 9th, 2018 by Vega Montanez

Claptrap. VR. Claptrap. VR. CLAPTRAP VR!!!

That’s right, VR continues to make strides in becoming the best way to experience your favorite games. Announced on the Playstation blog, Borderlands 2 will be making its way to PSVR on December 14, 2018. One of the most popular first person shooter RPG’s of all time will be letting you experience its wild gunplay from the most first person perspective possible. The full game will be playable and available for the price tag of $49.99.

“Players will get the opportunity to visit Pandora in the most immersive Borderlands experience yet.”

Although Enhanced for VR, Borderlands 2 VR will not include the online multiplayer making this a single player only experience. The new Bad Ass Mega Fun Time will allow players to slow down time to prepare for the battles ahead. All four characters unique abilities that relied on multiplayer have been reworked into the BAMF Time, but its not entirely clear how.

Borderlands 2 VR is exclusively available on PSVR and pre-ordering the game will unlock a PS4 dynamic theme featuring the four vault hunters we’ve come to love. Let us know in the comments below how you feel about the lack of multiplayer in exchange for the VR experience.




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October 8th, 2018 by Vega Montanez

Are you ready to stream Xbox games?

Early this morning Microsoft announced their official entry into the cloud based streaming world. Project xCloud is the Microsoft vision of the future of gaming. While the plan is still very early in development, Microsoft says they will begin public trials at some point in 2019.

For those of you thinking “Wait, didn’t they say this when they announced the Xbox One?”, you’re absolutely right. The blog post makes quick mention of the previously announced Azure Cloud, a smart move considering we haven’t heard much with that name since the original announcement.

https://youtu.be/uP4E3xNU9pU

Where xCloud seems to differ heavily is that it carries a focus on not only allowing gamers to play on any console or pc but also mobile. Specifically stating “giving mobile-only players access to worlds, characters, and immersive stories they haven’t been able to experience before. Microsoft says they are internally testing input controls to make sure all the games transition seamlessly between the various platforms.

What do you think, is Project xCloud the next big thing in gaming?




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