don't preorder games
April 23rd, 2019 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

Just wait!

This has been on our minds for quite some time. While we maintain that we are, ourselves, a video gaming news outlet of some kind, we have to draw a line. Game after game after game is being released with no content, huge day one patches, and incredible price drops as early as one week. There is absolutely no benefit to pre-ordering a game, as the download bonuses are never anything interesting or good. Deluxe editions are a joke. And then you get games like Battlefield V, Anthem, and Fallout 76 that are absolutely unfinished. Enough is enough. We will no longer give publishers the “benefit of the doubt”. We’ve done that 3 times and been burned 3 times, and we’re done with that.

don’t preorder games. don’t preorder games. don’t preorder games. just don’t.



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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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October 9th, 2018 by Vega Montanez

Mech meets Metal Gear!

Is it just me or am I really starting to have some pull in the video game industry? After releasing my review of the best mech game available on current generation consoles, we get a release date for a new one. Left Alive, a new spin-off from the Front Mission series, will be available on PS4 and Steam on March 5, 2019.

Left Alive is an upcoming third person survival action shooter set in a dark and gritty war torn world. With art designs by Metal Gear character designer Yoji Shinkawa, this game quickly found its way on my “must play” list. Square Enix has shrouded the game heavily in mystery. However, Left Alive plans to tell a story focused on three unique protagonist fighting for survival.

The game will let players decide between stealth and wit gameplay or going guns a blazing against enemies of all sizes. And armor. That’s right, as shown in the trailer, players will be able to pilot giant mechs into battle. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a proper narrative game with heavy man vs machine elements. Unless we’re still counting TitanFall 2, of course. 

Let us know in the comments below, does this game excite you as much as it excites me?




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September 30th, 2018 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

Living in the shadow of someone else’s dream.

The reboot series of the old Tomb Raider games was the breath of fresh air it needed. Developed by Eidos Montreal alongside Crystal Dynamics and published by Square Enix, Shadow of the Tomb Raider serves as the third installment of the new series. Notice I didn’t say end. It’s not an ending, it’s a promise of more to come, most likely. The only problem is, just like the original series and its multitude of half-baked sequels, Tomb Raider seems to be running out of steam. Less than stellar sales have been reported and the title was grossly over-SHADOWED (kill me) by the likes of Marvel’s Spiderman for PS4. But with the likes of Uncharted and other big cinematic action/adventure capers, what happened? Was the game bad? Uninteresting? Let’s have a look piece by piece.

GRAPHICS: 2/2

This first category is a little hard to score. For one, this review copy was done on the Xbox One S, so I can’t fault the game itself to some minor imperfections. Especially from a technical level, everything looks great. But at the same time, there’s also no variety in the entire game. Jungles, jungles, jungles, and more jungles are the game’s bread and butter. The color green was one of the biggest stars of the game. Also, the main village you eventually encounter seems a bit rushed, with some less than stellar textures and some character animations that don’t sit right. However, there are many action sequences featuring cataclysmic events that are well executed. And the main characters all did have a high level of detail and polish.

STORY: 1/2

This is also a difficult score. The ongoing plot involves you hunting down an artifact and encountering a group of indigenous tribals. In turn, they need your help with guarding the prize. So… it’s the exact same story as the other two games. It was practically ticking off a checklist of the ways it was similar to the prior games, especially Rise. In the last two games, I was more than willing to explore the optional tombs and do sidequests because I was so immersed in it. When it came to this game, I honestly could not give a damn about the option quests, tombs, and collectibles. Nothing held my interest, neither the nonsensical plight of the tribals or the promise of adventure could get me to even bother. Optional tombs give you special abilities, but the combat was easy enough that I didn’t care.

What was really good was Lara’s arc herself. As the centerpiece, she is completing a final character transformation from the first game to this one. It started off with her reluctantly having to kill enemies in the first game. In the second, she saw killing as a necessary evil. The third time around, she’s literally a predator who will not even think twice about killing a small militia. And at one point, she does do that! From covering herself with mud to hide in tree vines, hiding up on tree branches, and sneaking through tallgrass, she did it all. There was a long stretch of the game where it felt a lot more like I was playing Assassin’s Creed. Watching her complete this character arc, as she deals with repercussions she never thought she’d face? It’s a great experience. Too bad it’s wrapped around the same boring story.

AUDIO: 2/2

Jonah! Jonah! Jonah! That name is the new “Press X to Jason”. For such an independent woman who ain’t need no man, she sure is needy when it comes to talking to her companion on the walkie. Well, that’s not actually true. Jonah just constantly puts himself in danger anytime you leave him alone. That aside, voice acting is on point. As with a lot of leading ladies lately, Camilla Luddington did a top-notch performance as Ms. Croft. She had many emotional crescendos that gave me actual feelings. That doesn’t happen that often. The sound effects were solid and effective, with lots of rubble crashing and ice pick thwacking action. The music had some interesting styles in there as well. One of note was while fighting the enemy tribals. The music incorporated their chants into the song to serve as percussion instruments. Very creative.

GAMEPLAY: 1/2

Okay so let me reiterate, this is practically identical to the prior two games. Only the combat feels incredibly easy on its default setting. Another major change is the structure. This game is far more linear than previous games, and for the large part leads you on a direct path throughout. Not that it’s a bad thing, if anything, more games could benefit from having a more focused path. The game does open up a bit, just not to the degree of prior games. Now the critical mistake in this game is thinking anyone wanted underwater sections. Nobody asked for those. Absolutely no gamer has ever enjoyed underwater levels (with the exception being games entirely based on swimming). Thankfully, these sections are also fairly linear and short. The biggest problem of the game is the actual platforming and climbing bits. There were many times where I feel like button prompts weren’t connecting. It happened too frequently while playing. I’d go for a jump into a wall with the ax, press the button, and Lara just doesn’t land it. Sometimes the directions she jumps in from area are a bit erratic. The previous game didn’t have these issues, but they weren’t as elaborate either.

FUN: 1/2

It came to a point where the climbing wasn’t fun anymore. It felt more like a mandatory roadblock instead of gameplay. The combat sequences, on the other hand, were pretty good, despite being few and far between. Playing as Assassin Lara was an absolute blast, and you can stealth your way through most of the game. In fact, even the final boss had optional stealth bits. There was one section that was a forced open conflict, but it was placed in a great spot. Also, despite dying many times due to what I felt to be a wonky climbing section, the reload time for when you die was nigh instantaneous. I died more from failing to connect a jump than any combat sequence, and I only died once during one particularly difficult section.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider was an excellent piece of character development for the new and improved Lara Croft. It’s just too bad the game was such a copy/paste job, doing nothing new and giving you little in the way of other interesting characters or challenges. And the dumb underwater bits really hurt the game. This game gave no implication that this is our heroine’s final tale, so we may yet see another adventure in the franchise. I just hope they find a new way to liven things up.

SCORE: 7/10




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September 28th, 2018 by Vega Montanez

Damn the sad news has finally arrived. I knew something was fishy with all the backpedaling good news this week. Sony officially announced that the PSX event we’ve come to love in its short time will not be happening this year.

Sony cites a lack of announcements as the reason for canceling the show. As a major fan boy I think it’s risky for me to say this is a good move but it’s a good move. It’s better to deal with one bad Day then the outcry for ever of a bad event people paid money to go to.

Let’s see if they chose to go the Nintendo route with some sort of web presence. Or maybe nothing at all.




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July 19th, 2018 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

Vampyr is an action-adventure game featuring melee combat and advanced character interaction. It was published by Focus Home Interactive and developed by DONTNOD Entertainment, makers of Life is Strange and Remember Me. You play as Jonathan Reid, a very successful doctor who specializes in blood transfusions. In an ironic twist of fate, he becomes a vampire (called Ekons in the game, and no, the spelling “vampyr” was never used in the entire game) and becomes entangled in a mystery. The city of London has been struck with overwhelming cases of Spanish Flu. Your overall quest is to simply cure this disease plaguing London, but that’s not all. While beating crazed vampires with a large stick can be fun sometimes, you also have to help the citizens of the city. You do so by traveling to safe spots, talking to people, learning about them, and treating them for a variety of medical issues. The other twist? You get EXP from doing quests, but if you find yourself having a hard time, you can choose to feast on anyone from the populous. It’s not that simple though, killing the wrong person could result in destabilizing an entire town if you’re not careful.

GRAPHICS: 0/2

DONTNOD have never really done great in the graphics dept. Their best work comes from Life is Strange, but that’s only because the art style masks the lower texture details. This game has functional graphics at best. The city streets are full of nothing but brown, grey, and dark red as if the game took a page out of the last console generation’s “realistic” trend. Reid himself is very well detailed in the amount of care that has been put into his appearance, but he is the only exception. Everyone else either looks passable at best, but more often than not they look bad. Imagine facial textures that are worse than Mass Effect Andromeda. Actually, that goes double for character animations too, as characters will sort of sway back and forth unnaturally while you speak to them, and lip sync could do with some improvements. The lighting effects seemed to just consist of very flat looks, and the shadows are very poor if they even bother to show up. I tolerated these dull graphics for the entire game but there wasn’t a single moment where I was impressed with anything.

STORY: 2/2*

I’m having a hard time with how I should score this section. The main plot is interesting enough, and if you’re a big fan of vampire stuff and in-game lore, there’s plenty to dig into. The real talent on display is the NPC interactions. In your travels you will meet people who are out at night going about their business. You can approach any of them and talk to them about how they feel, what they do, and if there’s anything you can do for them. And yet it gets deeper still, as there are special dialog options for every character that you can only learn either from gaining their trust, talking to others, or eavesdropping. Once you’ve unlocked these secrets, you can compel a character to answer questions about the information you learned. You’ll find yourself going back and forth between NPCs talking to them as you learn more and more and complete tasks for them.

This is one of the few games where helping out characters who can’t help themselves has a legitimate reason. The city streets are very treacherous and filled with all sorts of fiends, so most of the people are justified in asking you if you can help out. But all that said, there’s a bigger problem at large, as the quality of writing varies greatly from person to person. You’ll find characters with astoundingly hidden depths, and then you’ll talk to people how are cardboard cutouts. The other problem is the flow of logic when you talk to people. Also, the majority of the plot in this game is delivered by having stiff one-on-one conversations. You run into the same problem you had with games like Mass Effect 1 where the dialog options you have usually fall to “TELL ME MORE ABOUT X.” You can also have a character say something very very distressing in one interaction, and then immediately go back to their default mood if you ask them basic questions. Overall, the case here seems to be a solid example of quantity over quality, and your mileage may vary on this fact.

AUDIO: 1/2

But, here lies the other problem with the plot. The quality of voice acting also leaves room for a lot of improvement. While core characters are relatively good with their delivery, the same cannot be said of all the NPCs. A lot of the characters have very wooden dialog and can sometimes sound like they were simply rehearsing the lines and but accidentally made that the final cut. A lot of the accents don’t sound genuine, and there were even a couple of times where their accents slipped into something else. But that’s enough about the characters. The game is redeemed with a really rich, soulful soundtrack that matches the aesthetic of 1918 London, while also not being afraid to add in some more modern touches. The combat also has some satisfying sounds, with blood splat, thwacks, flamethrowers, and gas guns all sound exactly as they should.

GAMEPLAY: 1/2

As said before, the game revolves around talking to people, healing, and completing investigations. At first, the doctor treatments were interesting but it soon became tiresome due to an interesting but very stressful game mechanic. Before that, let’s talk about the combat. It’s a bland, slow and deliberate system with some sluggish reaction times to button presses and seemingly unfair fights that are based solely on numbers. If you’re level 15 and you face someone at level 18 or so, you’ll find that no matter how hard you hit them, nothing tends to hurt them until your level matches theirs. This is especially true of bosses, who have a mountain of health and are relentless. I haven’t had boss fights this bad since Deus Ex: Human Revolution. The melee itself is a generic take on the Souls style, but it simply lacks the depth and response that makes those games so great. What’s worse is if you are under-leveled, you have to do a load of backtracking to find a place to level up and then make your way back. You also do not get your health syringes or bullets back when you die from a boss battle. If you used all of your health packs you are shit out of luck.

And here comes the interesting part. Leveling up. In order to use your XP to upgrade abilities, you need to sleep. Find a bed at a hideout or return to your room at the hospital and go to bed. But when you sleep, the next day arrives. Anyone who was sick and untreated will get sicker, people you healed will get better, people who were previously unhealed become sick, and any action you took in the district that deeply affects that location will take place. That’s right, you basically have to bank all your experience points and make sure everyone in the four boroughs of London are nice and healthy before you take that nap.

FUN: 1/2

Sitting back and diving deep into the character interaction is fun and all, but this game is not without a plethora of killjoys. Loading times are really long, where launching the game will send you to a black screen for 20 seconds. You have to wait for certain interiors to load and that takes a long time, sometimes nearly a minute of waiting. Dying also drops a really long wait time on you. Oh, and if you run too fast across town, you’ll get a freezeframe loading screen for about 5-10 seconds. That, combined with the crapton of backtracking you will be doing doesn’t help. Especially because there’s NO fast travel. Granted, the map isn’t too large and once you’ve run around the whole world enough (and you will), you get to learn the routes without having to consult the map. You’ll need to know the map and the community screen as you’ll also be running all over the place to make sure everyone has been healed before you rest. Again, the tedium of facing down boss fights will bear down on you, often leading to frustration as you must make your way out and then come back just to fight an enemy that has a higher number than you. But, the interactions are still fascinating in their own right.

Vampyr is a deeply flawed game, yet somehow I could not take my hands off it. Up until the day I decided I wanted to beat the game as fast as possible, I was pretty engrossed in the world this game offered. Something, I’m not sure what, just kept me coming back again and again, playing it for long stretches as I did everything in my power to help everyone. Or at least I did until I needed to beat the game quickly and just decided to kill everyone. But fancy that, interact with an NPC you don’t like? Get the instant gratification of killing them. There are a lot of personalities here, and you will definitely find some people kill-worthy. This is a low scoring game but it’s one of the best low scoring games I’ve played in quite a while.

SCORE: 5/10




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