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Injustice 2

In a world full of games that are created almost solely for  online multiplayer, “Injustice 2” is a breath of fresh air.  Though it features an online mode, it also allows play with the person across the couch, which is something that most games seem to have forgotten about.

Injustice 2 is a pretty basic surface level fighting game with a variety of characters and locations, but extra care has been taken to make this a particularly fluid and fast paced combat experience.  Certainly, it takes some practice to string hit combos and meter-burning moves together, but after very little time spent, the controls begin to feel very natural.  Each level has different inanimate objects to interact with (boxes,  bombs, a crocodile in one level, etc..) and pushing your opponent to the edge of the room allows you to literally knock them into a new location, adding a cinematic touch, and a sense of epic scale to the proceedings.

Taking and dealing damage fills a meter at the bottom of the screen which can be used for powerful meter-burn attacks, but if saved grants the ability to unleash a devastating special attack on the enemy.  These are engaging and insanely brutal assaults upon the enemy that are nearly impossible to defend against.  The beautiful thing about these: they are perfectly choreographed to — though breaking multiple rules of logic in the process — sum up the character’s personality in four or five hits, even one of which would be lethal if true physical laws were considered.  Joker sits his foe down in an electric chair, and smashes their head to the side with his crowbar, Damian Wayne’s Robin slashes the opponent with his sword before further impaling them with a flurry of shrukiens, and Batman unleashes a series of technologically augmented attacks that culminate in blasting the foe with a hail of fire from the batwing (which only fires rubber bullets of course).

There is not a lazily finished aspect to this game.  The environments, characters, and cut scenes are all exquisitely rendered.  Every character looks great, with inspirations hailing from DC movies that have been released since the last game, comic attire, and a “slightly-more-armored” motif which seems to be unique to this game’s aesthetic.  There is a complicated and immersive online system with various guilds and endless unlockable gear that actually boosts character statistics.

Then there is the campaign, which may be the best instance ever of this many DC hero’s all woven together.  Not only does it succeed on merit of combining nearly half of the populars in the DCU, but it is an actually compelling, and more importantly cohesive story that will please all but the staunchest lover of marvel.  The story mode often provides options before a fight as well, which solves the old problem of becoming stuck with a character that you simply do not play well as.

This video, recorded  by myself if a pretty good example of the manic excellence you are in for, should you try this game.

All in all, Injustice 2 synthesized what was great about its predecessor, as well as learning from the few problems that existed in the original.  If you are a fan of superhero games, fighting games, or just something you and a friend can play in your living room, check this game out!

Playing Spies Vs. Mercs

 

You pan your sighted machine gun across the inky-black room as a faint shadow runs across your vision off in the distance.  You retreat slowly into a corner and crouch down, nervously reloading your rifle.  Scanning the landscape for possible cover locations, you shoot a syringe full of adrenaline into your right arm to clear your vision.  A flash emanates from the shadows and the lights all around you flicker before going out.  Your gun fires neurotically into the darkness, hitting nothing.  You hear footsteps and hurl a frag grenade; gripping the controller with sweaty white-knuckled hands all the while.  You glance upward just in time to see your end.  Death comes from above as a black clad assassin with three glowing lights on his mask pounces on you and slices your throat.  As you wait to respawn, you watch him hack the terminal you were guarding and slink back into the darkness.  You are playing Spies Vs. Mercs.

Splinter Cell Blacklist is a 2013 stealth action game that while largely ignored by many of the gaming community, has been lauded by its small fan base for its brilliant marriage of silently lethal and guns-a-blazing play styles.  While all of SCB is a fantastic experience, Its multiplayer was by far its most rewarding aspect.  And yes, I say was because Blacklist has yet to be remastered for PS4

Spies Vs. Mercs (SvM) was fairly easy to pick up, and featured a variety of game modes with different, but fairly simple objectives.  There was the obligatory death match mode; Extraction, which tasked teams of mercs with walking into a den of spies, grabbing a briefcase, and walking out; SvM Classic, which found spies using standard night vision and mercs with only a flashlight and standard issue rifle; and the game’s crowning glory, SvM Blacklist: which let players loose with unlimited customization.

In SvM Blacklist, there are two rounds, so each player gets a chance with either playing style.  The first team to hack three terminals wins; if neither does this, whoever hacks the most wins.  If both hack three, the game is a draw, but that’s about as rare as a spy beating a merc in a shootout.  The spy must initiate a hack for the real action to begin.  Once this happens, they must remain in the zone until the transmission reaches 100%.  The hack stops when a merc kills them, at which point another spy must continue the hack, or lose all progress.  These matches are catalysts for deadly games of hide-and-seek that feature some of the most organic suspense in video gaming.

Playing SvM, the gamer experiences a strange sense of perfectly imbalanced symmetry.  Yes, a merc’s heavy assault rifles, shotguns, and various explosive devices are absolutely capable of ripping through a spy’s paper-thin armor in no time, but the map is built with spies in mind.  The merc must constantly check their corners, grate openings, and ledges — all of which can hide a deadly spy.  Every advantage on the playing field has a check or balance.  Spies have enhanced vision, but a disruptor suit worn by a merc can jam it.  Mercs can send out a recon drone to scope out a hack site, but a well placed emp or trophy system device will destroy it.

This video is a pretty decent example of how an SvM match goes down

Killstreaks are uncommon in SvM.  With only four to a team — with wildly different strategic playing styles and objectives — a kill is work.  It takes patience, perception, and precision.  More importantly, it is not the objective. As the hacker, you’re best play is to find a good spot and stay out of sight; as a defender, wandering about usually means death.  SvM was a nearly perfect multiplayer experience that sadly, was experienced by few; a game where winning could never be a fluke, and team coordination was essential for victory.

Battlefield One: The Devil’s Anvil

I’ve been experimenting with share factory lately. It’s an extremely interesting and effective piece of software for the PS4.  I recommend that anyone with the capabilities to do so, check it out.  This was m first edit longer than ten minutes, using the new operations map for battlefield one as footage.  Enjoy!

For Honor: First Impressions

For Honor is a new Ubisoft game, coming out on February 14th.  Ironic considering the day’s theme, and its contrast with the general object of the game.  For Honor has a fairly simple premise; standins for medieval england, Norway, and Japan are inexplicably thrust together.  The warriors of the nations must fight for their own survival, no matter how little sense this makes.  I, like many, am willing to excuse the poorly executed backstory, and merely revel in the fact that someone has actually created a game, where a dude with a broadsword, a battle-ax, and a katana can violently coexist.

The following is solely based on my experience with the game’s beta. I am aware, that many other features will be added, including playable characters.  Know that I am not jumping to conclusions about the final product, merely relaying and commenting upon my experience with the pre-release.

One major pro is the fact that for Honor has what may be the most excessive customization system of any game I’ve played in a long time.  Not only are multiple color schemes available, but loads of cosmetic options are offered for the individual personalization of one’s chain mail, bamboo armor, or bare chest (if you use a viking character).  In fact, all of the little details in the game are pretty perfect.  The many maps — though they have little effect on the battle’s outcome — are rendered to an immaculate resolution, and look about as good as a wide open area for bladed combat can.

Where for honor fails, is when it lazily tries to be like other multiplayers.  The dominion gamemode pits players against each other as they fight for zones A, B, and C (sound familiar?).  Where it is unique? You don’t get a gun.  It is next to impossible to combat more than two enemies at once; the game’s mechanic only allows you to lock on or block blows from one enemy.  So while you decide to be brave and take an enemy control zone, but happen upon two enemies, the result is your getting hacked and slashed to bits while scrambling to defend yourself.  That mode is positively maddening.

Conversely, the games Duel mode (1v1) is an absolute delight.  Two players duke it out in a series of five rounds, the winner being the one who wins more.  It is so simple, and yet, oh so complicated.  There is a rather steep learning curve to the game.  After being demolished by player after player who seemed to be light years ahead of my skill level, (curious considering the beta went live three days ago) suddenly something clicked.  Its all about the timing really.  Blocking your enemies blows at the right moment, and positioning strikes when he is off guard.  If your foe is a good blocker, use a guard breaker, slamming him with your shield, or in one particularly awesome instance, kicking them back with a Samurai Nobushi class.  For Honor’s combat system is easy to learn, but harder to master.

The graphics of combat as well as the mechanics are excellent.  Most exemplified on the games execution system, which allows players to finish their opponents off with an elaborate flourish, or brutal final stroke.  Looking like a page torn from a Frank Miller book, there is a strange beauty in the violent display.  The executions, and their variety are oddly poetic; whether the match was close, or the winner simply destroys the loser, these deft dispatches are a sight to behold.

I probably won’t buy For Honor right away.  $60 is a lot of money, especially when I already know that I won’t enjoy four of the 6 gamemodes.  With that said, it has the potential to be revolutionary.  This combat system that Ubisoft Montreal has concocted is the type of thing I’ve been wishing existed for years.  I have hope for this game, and I can;t wait to see what new features are included in the full release.

Battlefield 1: The Change of Pace the Gaming World Has Been Waiting For

Battlefield one is the excellent counter to Call of Duty’s infinite warfare, and a perfect answer to the longing of many gamers (myself included) to play a shooter that doesn’t cast them as a barely human cyborg, powered by cybernetic implants. It is the difficulty of BF1 that makes it so compelling. It is incredibly inconvenient every time you reload your weapon, and your character takes 30 seconds or so to do it, but at the same time, a little grin creeps on to my face each time it happens. Health is hard to regain, unless you have a medkit, and it is not uncommon to be unable to ADS because of the gasmask on your face, protecting you from a deadly cloud of mustard gas. It’s these little details, that make this game so compelling.
The story is incredibly powerful as well. From the opening sequence where you play as about 5 different characters, all of whom inevitably perish, the game powerfully conveys the hopelessness of a war where battlefield tactics had yet to catch up to the death dealing technologies of the period. The Short anthology type stories do a great job of highlighting specific aspects of the war. These stories are extremely moving, as they manage to connect you to the characters and create meaningful development over the course of only three or four levels.
BF1 also features an immensely fun multiplayer. The most enjoyable aspect of which is the new operations feature; a bit of a cross between domination, and rush, with the large scale chaos of conquest. One match will take about 3 rounds, and sometimes moves to a different map. Usually at least once in a course of a match, one side is reinforced by a zeppelin, train, or dreadnought battleship. The scope of the matches is monstrous. Each time you spawn in, the camera zooms into a spot on the map, speaking to how small, helpless, and inconsequential each soldier must have felt; especially when there are things like Zeppelins looming in the sky, raining death on all who dare to venture underneath.
Whether you are a hardcore fps gamer, or someone who is interested in history, and compelling heroism, Bf1 is a mightily entertaining experience.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End; a Fitting Goodbye to a Beloved Franchise

Uncharted 4 is excellent, and to be perfectly honest, would be a great game even without its captivating narrative. The introduction of the rope to game-play, as well as some ante upping on stealth mode are wonderful additions. The game is perfectly paced. The intensity ramps up higher and higher as the story continues. Firefights are much rarer than past installments, and very unique. This game-play variety surprisingly adds a lot to the story. Nate no longer feels like an unstoppable killing machine, but more like an aging man, past his prime, simply doing his best.

Of course, without the story, Uncharted would just be…well.., it wouldn’t be AS amazing. But the cinematic plot does not disappoint. It incorporates flashbacks, without using them as a crutch, and unlike past games the plot progression continues even after the cut-scenes end. Those long walks through a path, awkward climbs up rustic buildings, and in this games case, drives through the desert now host interesting conversation rather than mindless, albeit often hilarious banter.

The set-pieces in the game are equally amazing. The breathtaking landscapes sometimes prompt a few minutes of inactivity where the player just stares at Naughty Dog’s meticulous attention to detail. And with the new photo mode, this is even more magnificent.

Reportedly, this is to be the last game in the Uncharted franchise. Prior to playing this game, I was disappointed. “I hope its good” I thought, resolving to spend my last few weeks with Nathan Drake and CO. as well as possible, relishing every moment. But A thieves end is different. It does something next to impossible for a gamer. It satisfies. That desire for more that the player felt after uncharted one, two, and three, is totally absent. I may never see Nathan Drake again, and I’m okay with that. From brutal brawls, to death-defying leaps; wide open mountains, to claustrophobic caves, this game is practically perfect in every away.