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.
Kingdom Hearts 3 was developed and published by Square Enix and let’s just jump on into it.
Kingdom Hearts 3 is a game 13 years in the making. It kinda shows. The game doesn’t look bad. It’s a cartoon design how could it? But it doesn’t have any huge flair either. It lacks the Pixar sheen thats makes the 3D animated films outstanding. On the other hand, it does have the illustrious color of the classic 2D Disney films. It just doesn’t do anything to really stun the player. Although, the way the team managed to recreate environments from some of the greatest movies of all time is incredible, the initial wow factor fades quickly.
Where to begin? Quite literally might be the single toughest question the development team had to handle. And boy did they miss the mark. There is no way to get into Kingdom Hearts 3 without having played the series before, assuming Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2 are enough. The game immediately throws a bunch of characters in without any introduction. Not necessarily to who they are, as most are Disney icons, but rather how they impact whatever is going on. And because of this there is hardly any explanation of what’s going on. It’s probably a great finale to a great series, but as a standalone title it opens with way too many questions.
Similar to the graphics, the development team’s ability to recreated classic sound effects was astonishing. The hours and man power that must have went into this absolutely paid off. The family film feeling was in every valuable sound bit. Coupled with the incredible voice acting, the world could not have felt more alive. Sure the menu sound suffers from the Square Enix gold standard of using annoyingly sharp chimes for menu navigation, but worth the trade. The sound design makes for Kingdom Hearts 3 to be a truly immersive experience.
Kingdom Hearts 3 has an incredibly balanced combat system. The key blades weapon setup that gives each keyboard two nearly opposite play styles adds an incredibly strategic layer to the game. Coupled with the magic skills, it moves the needle way past the hack and slash threshold. Exploring the universe, rather the “Ocean Beyond”, quickly turned itself into it’s own super fun fast paced minigame. There are so many elements to explore, nearly every gameplay aspect could be its own game.
This game makes itself very easy to keep playing. Battle after battle, the combat felt exciting. Some players might want to adjust the control setting for their preferences. It’s hard not to want to be a part of the adventure even though the game makes its so damn hard. Inclusion is the only barrier for newcomers. With that said theres no way that anyone who understand the story aren’t going to enjoy the hell out of this. The combat system is great, flying the ship is way more fun than it should be, and the worlds are colorful, oozing imagination. It really feels like a major Disney event. All major Disney events are fun.
Kingdom Hearts 3 might be the greatest finale to a long running series to date. However, it ignores all new players by providing no welcoming entry point. The game is a ton of fun to play, so it’s hard to imagine anyone who loves the series being disappointed at all. The only real way to fully enjoy Kingdom Hearts 3 is certainly to play all the games before it. Or at least watch the recaps on Youtube.
This overview of Life is Strange 2 Episode 1 took place during a podcast. But it went on for so long we had to remove it from the podcast. We put it here instead. I mean, you could listen to use talk about the game. Or you can just sit there and be mesmerized in this latest rendition of DANKVISION.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.