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.
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.
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.
EIC for Hard Mode Gamers, chet:( has been a long time fan of Microsoft. From being strictly a PC gamer, to the original Xbox, the 360, and the One, he’s stayed with Windows and Xbox for a very long time. Now that time has changed, and he recently bought a PS4 for the sake of the website, here’s how he feels about it.
I’ll take “not the original game title” for $100, Alex.
Prey is the spiritual successor to a 2006 title that also simply goes by the name “Prey.” Originally, the old title was supposed to get a direct sequel that involves being a space bounty hunter and chasing after criminals, yet sometime in 2014, the game was unceremoniously axed. Fast forward to 2016 and this new game that shares the same title pops up, and is the center of many debates on whether it constitutes a sequel. Also, can developers just give a new game the same title because it’s been long enough since the last one? Developed by Arkane Studios, makers of the Dishonored franchise, and published by Bethesda, this game raised the bar on the “play it your way” style of games. In this one, you find yourself on a space station infested with aliens that can turn into any object they want as well as aliens who just walk around killing people. Fun times, eh?
This game does visuals in a stunning and very clever way. When facing enemies like “Mimics” or “Phantoms” the game’s lighting goes a bit haywire and in very high contrast, because you suffer from “fear” when you encounter them. Each weapon in the game is uniquely balanced to fit into the world and designed accordingly. Also, being on a space station, you would be rotating constantly. So the developers took special care to make sure that aspect not only looked good but dynamically affected the rest of the locations. Since the station is revolving in real time, certain locations with windows will slowly change lighting and shadows based on what’s outside your window. It’s very clever and well implemented throughout all of the game’s locations. There’s also the “looking glass” technology that feels like a bit of a technical marvel, serving as a sort of video that can display 3D renderings that look more like they are a window into a new room rather than a simple video.
While the story is good and intriguing, it’s hard to find yourself really engaged in the overall narrative. For all its creative bends and curves, the game does boil down to your average “alien invasion” story. A lot of the drama that unfolded before the alien attack takes place in this sort of game’s favorite exposition dumps, audio logs and emails! It does a good job to express all of the goings-on that happened while you were unavailable, but none of the characters are all that compelling enough to have you really investigate. Plus, once you do finally encounter other living survivors on the station, they seem rather stiff and one-note. The game is constantly finding excuses to make you take the long route to what should be an easy destination because dangling that carrot works for some. It did grow tiresome after awhile. It was also made worse by the midpoint of the game in which you’ve accumulated so many side quests, you might get anxiety in trying to figure out where to go next, or where you even should go to at all.
The sound in this just plain “works” for the most part. Most of the conventional weaponry sound as they should, and you also get some individual weapons with unique sounds. The soundtrack is average at best, with a lot of synths roaring over your every encounter with the alien Typhons. It sometimes gets annoying, because you can get to a point where encountering a certain type of enemy is no longer as threatening as it was earlier in the game, but you still get that jarring chord that’s supposed to scare you more than the enemy itself and it comes off as obnoxious. As for voice acting, it’s all just alright. Your character doesn’t talk very much even though you see yourself talking in recordings, which makes your silence more suspicious than characteristic. There’s stuff to be enjoyed here, but it’s brought down by a frequently used battle song you’ll hear when you encounter enemies, and you will get sick of it.
As said earlier, this game really does feature as one very well-implemented “play your way” approach to the game. You can sneak, go on the attack, science your way through, or turn yourself into the monsters you’re fighting once you gain the ability to learn new abilities. Just when the upgrade tree seems too oppressive, some more abilities pop up as the first quarter of the game comes to a close. The idea of using the psychoscope, a scanner designed to analyze living Typhon, is a neat one for helping you learn about the strengths and weaknesses of enemies as well as the new abilities based on what they can do. At the time of writing this, I tried to pursue the path of not using any alien mods, as they can affect your treatment on the station. It’s quite a difficult path, but not necessarily due to a lack of capabilities. The difficulty comes in the fact that every enemy encounter is more than just a quick fight. It’s stressful and feels like a big ordeal.
And that’s just one of my gripes about the game. Even on Normal mode, every enemy encounter you have will usually result in your death because they are a lot stronger than you and have a ton of attacks and abilities that make them a real force to be reckoned with. This is okay at first because it makes you really consider how you are going to approach enemy encounters. But as the game rolls on, your ability to dispatch enemies, despite having more abilities later on, starts to feel like a chore. Even on the lowest difficulty setting, the combat does turn a bit wonky, especially if you end up in open conflict with too many enemies. Another problem is the loading times. They are extremely…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..long. When you transition from one map to the next, you get a loading screen, which slowly jogs along from the left to right. But then after that loading screen, you don’t get to play because ANOTHER loading screen pops up, this time with dots and no progress bar. Eventually, the game concedes and lets you play. But it’s a real hassle because paired with the difficulty of the enemies and the loading times, dying over and over again may wear your patience thin.
Prey delivered on what it was supposed to be: a new game that challenges the boundaries of gaming by having some interesting design choices on how you go about getting around the ship and the many ways you can handle a problem. It’s too bad the game has so many buzzkills in the form of enemy aliens absolutely wrecking you and the snore-inducing loading. It’s a game to pick up if you enjoyed its cousins like Bioshock, Dishonored, and Deus Ex, but be prepared for some truly frustrating elements in a game that is extremely well-designed.
September 1st, 2017 by Wayne "Big Gorgeous" Henrique
More than an average game.
Prey or pray both sound the same but mean different things. This is a game about discovery of self. Man or woman doesn’t matter. It’s left to the player to decide. We start in this beautiful world of light and technology. A world of science and nature in all its sparkle and shine. But after learning and being tested our character is awoken only to find him or herself in the same place only darker, full of monsters, fear and the unknown. Through trial and error our hero and the player find weapons and clues, and as any great RPG game our character learns and adapts to use these tools found and made and most of all learned. It’s about adapting this new knowledge to find answers and destroy the monsters that inhabit this digital world. This game is scary and can make you jump. The mimic can be anything and everything. So look out, and some monsters are right out in the open and are shaking to look at.
But not everything ugly is scary, and sometimes we have to watch out for what we “think” we know. Eventually our chosen character learns how to mimic and blend and become what he was so afraid of. Learning to change is good and if I wanna move forward I need to adapt to the situation. Thinking about what you’ve learned and embracing the unexpected while being vigilant in the present and listening when you have to. Especially to find the clues and unlock the secrets in this game.
It’s fun and beautiful and challenging but it also can be adjusted to the player when needed. The graphics, even when frightening, are beautiful in all their digital glory. The gameplay can get a little tedious but with anything practice and patience will unlock more and more answers. Controls while a little daunting at first can be easily learned, and as gamers we find the common button layout. But even that can be adapted to the player. If you want a challenge, if you wanna find clues and answers, this is a game for you. It’s not easy by any means but even the smallest victories bring joy. If this sounds like a game you wanna play or sounds enticing. Find a way to play it with an open mind just like anything else we have to do in life.
Wayne and Kurt at Hard Mode Gamers discuss many many many many titles of 2017 and with July being a slow month for games, take to discussing the year. What is the best game of 2017?
Also that chair was made for kids okay?
ALSO: Kurt rambles on for like 2 minutes on how annoying it is that every game coming out is doing the open-world thing and is waiting for the day that Call of Duty decides to do so.
In this short minicast, Kurt has an epiphany on his collection of games, as pointed out by Wayne. He also accidentally says “sold digital copies” at least twice so forgive him, he is bad at explaining things.