Wednesday, November 19, 2014

GTA V Next Gen does just Enough

With yesterday being probably the biggest release date of the year, including such releases as Dragon Age, Little Big Planet, Far Cry, and GTA V remastered; GTA was my only purchase for now.  I loved getting to play on my 360 last year and looked forward to getting to sink even more time into Los Santos.  I traded in the 360 copy rather quickly once I finished the story mode because of the release of the PS4 and the rumor that eventually it would be ported to next gen.  I can say after putting in roughly 7 hours already I am happy to say that it is the same game with even more features and a gorgeous landscape to play in.  The first person mode is probably the biggest edition and it makes for a whole new game completely.  Having played the 7 hours almost exclusively in first person I can highly recommend the game on that alone.  The population has been given a huge boost seeing more cars and people every step of the way.  Finally the amazing draw distance allows for you to see for miles and not see all of the same texture popping that previous open world games bring with them.

Then there is the online aspect, which sadly I only played for about 3 hours at launch of the original due to issues and trading in the game so fast.  I look forward to getting more time with it and it looks like plenty has been added as well.  Far more options for customization have been added to give characters a more life like look.  While the number of players have been increased to 30 giving it a more chaotic feel to the terror players bring to the city.  I want to shoot for as many trophies as I can and may even go for the level 100 trophy that could lead to the plat.

Back to the first person mode though, I am enjoying playing like this thoroughly.  There were several times I was taken through regular animations but due to the perspective I found myself laughing out loud at what ensued.    Accidentally falling off a building resulted in flipping through the air till I hit the ground.  Getting hit by a car a flying over the hood brought some laughs as again I was sent flipping through the air.  Doing things like parkour running over roof tops is a fun perspective on the regular roll that characters did often but really didn't bring a cool feeling like it does now.

Overall it is the same amazing GTA with even better graphics, fun new first person mode, and some extras for online.  If you never played GTA last gen this is a must have, but if you did enjoy playing GTA V I would highly recommend returning to the game to experience the new items.  Rockstar was smart on this, and if this is what they get from a remaster on next gen, i can't imagine what GTA VI will bring!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare Review

Well I officially got the platinum trophy for Call of Duty and felt I could give it a true review and impressions of the latest installment.  For the most part it is like all other Call of Duty games, but it does bring some nice additions and it makes for a pretty fun time.

Single Player Campaign

I am not a huge multiplayer gamer like many are, so Call of Duty brings something different for me.  I enjoy playing through the single player campaigns a lot more than most and this was no different.  With the reveal that Kevin Spacey was playing a key role in the story, I was very excited to get to play through it,  Now I will say the story was predictable, but that was made up for by the performance of Spacey and the over the top nature that you got from it.

You play as Mitchell, a marine who witnesses his friend die in action and loses a limb, but is redeemed by his best friends dad (Spacey) who is the CEO for a private military agency named Atlas.  As an Atlas officer you look to save the world from a terrorist with some twists and changes along the way.  The tech, gadgets, and vehicles bring a nice change of pace during each mission that lasts around 5-7 hours.  Missions included a driving a hover bike, a car, a tank, a boat, and a plane.  Overall it was one of the better campaigns I have played in the series and Kevin Spacey was a welcome addition that makes it an overall fun play through.

Co-Op Mode

Similar to both zombie mode as well as Horde mode from the Gears of War series, Exo Survival is a fun co-op mode that see's you go against wave after wave of varying enemies.  The nice addition is upgrade points from kills and completing round objectives that lead to kill streaks, perks, and additional upgrades to weapons and exo suit.  It's a fun time, but gets too easy once your exo suits and weapons are fully upgraded.  You can also play the mode offline or online with friends and randoms making it a fun time waster for a while.  The biggest negative is your points and skills are tracked outside of the game and no levels to be acquired like there are in the regular online mode.


Online mode is the bread and butter for most when it comes to COD, but not as much for me.  It was hard to get into and felt almost too fast and chaotic online to really enjoy.  it almost felt as there was no skill needed to compete rather than pulling the trigger first over you opponent.  The maps are small and almost funnel you to each other while also bringing in too many UAV's that allow you to see each other at all times.  With the new jet packs and other mobility added along with the fire power, COD would be wise following some of Halo's MP maps and make some bigger options that bring more space than the small maps that bring the same chaos that a map like shipment yard brought in the past.  

The single player alone is a fun and quick campaign to complete, so because of this I would say Rent the game to take advantage of this.  If you are an MP fan, then you will probably want to buy to sink time into the MP aspect.  Kevin Spacey was a great addition and I look forward to who they add in the future to the series, however, I cannot recommend this as a long term buy due to the short campaign mode.  

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Sony Reveals PlayStation Vue

Sony has revealed a new TV service that will hopefully provide people a way of cutting their cable out completely.  Currently Sony revealed roughly 75+ channels at launch including Fox, NBC, ABC and Viacom, which includes channels like MTV and Nickelodeon.  Pricing hasn't been revealed and Beta testing will begin this month for people who live in New York, followed by Chicago, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles.  The rest of the service will launch early 2015.   The service is said to allow live TV watching, as well as storing certain shows for 28 days in the cloud where you can access them at any time from many different devices.  Pricing has not been revealed however they have said it will not require a contract or have termination fees and simply be a month to month service.

My Thoughts
With so many streaming choices out there the key to success is options.  Hulu Plus is similar but you pay to watch more shows and still have to watch commercials.  Netflix doesn't have new shows the day after so it is a completely different service.  With more and more networks doing streaming like CBS and HBO we may be closer to an ala carte deal for cable and that would honestly be the best choice for consumers.  But honestly would the cable companies even allow it?

As for Sony's foray into streaming and live TV through the internet, the biggest thing will be cost.  The New York Times speculated the service could cost $60 a month, which is better than most cable companies and satellite companies offer.  However, this cost will only be a bargain based on the channels provided.  I believe the internet based TV to win the majority of subscribers is the one that signs up Disney and includes ESPN.  The biggest thing that cable companies have over consumers is local sports and blackouts.  As someone who loves my local sports teams, I can't watch those without cable thanks to blackouts.  This leaves me no option but to subscribe to cable in order to follow my teams.

How well the streaming is will be another big part, but streaming videos hasn't been an issue to netflix and Hulu, but with net neutrality becoming a big player in the media, it could cause problems to things like the vue with ISP's.  I am glad Sony didn't waste time at E3 or other game based shows promoting this service like Xbox did with Xbox Tv.  This was a perfect way to announce the name and give an update to a service briefly mentioned last year at CES.  Only time will tell if the choices and channel lineup expand to make this a true viable option.

What do you think?  Would you consider this service?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

MS Wins Exclusive War 2014, But Sony can Bounce back 2015

2014 shopping season is upon us and it looks to be a good one for gamers as I detailed in my black Friday sales post.  With the year drawing to a close and Sony experiencing one of it's best sales years for PlayStation we get to see that MS is pulling all the shots to try and cut into that lead.  With Xbox bundles going for $330 this holidays, MS could see a jump in sales.  When it comes to games however, MS has hit more than it has missed.  Since launch MS has released Dead Rising 3, Rise, Forza, Titanfall, Sunset Overdrive, and the Halo Master Chief Collection.  Sony on the other hand hasn't seen as many with releases of Killzone, Knack, Infamous, MLB the Show, DriveClub, and LBP3.  MS was smart and made sure to have as many exclusives in the launch window to set themselves apart, and even so the PS4 still out sold the Xbox One.

With MS trying to bridge the gap in sales this holiday, what does 2015 look to bring in the way of exclusives?  Sony may not have brought the exclusives to launch, but they do have the first party studio power that MS does not.  With studios like Naughty Dog working on Uncharted 4 and another game yet to be announced, Sony Santa Monica working on a new game(most likely a new God of War), Media Molecule yet to announce its PS4 game,  Quantic Dream working on the Dark Sorcerer, Sony Bend, and then of course the announced exclusives like Bloodborne, The Order, No Man's Sky, Until Dawn, Let it Die, and Grim Fandango.  Yes, I know some are timed but I will give MS credit with some of their timed exclusives as well.  MS has so far announced Quantum Break, Tomb Raider, Crackdown 3, Fable Legends, and of course Halo 5.  Sony really has a fast amount of exclusives and a variety as well for each gamer out there.  All of this might be why MS is going so hard to make up sales this holiday season when Sony really has nothing and MS has such big titles like Sunset Overdrive and The Halo Collection.

As a Sony fan, I know what Sony is known for and that is the hardware, and also having the most robust network of first party studios that they developed over the years.  These studios are what will make the difference in each platform and I look forward to the many of announcements that are imminent.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Why the PS4 may still Win the Holidays

Microsoft is showing they are going all in this holiday season when they announced a $50 discount on all Xbox bundles.  Many people have now gone on to say that this move will finally get the Xbox One to the number one selling console for the month of November.  However, I believe that this move will not bring Xbox to the front based on a few facts and the recent results in sales that both consoles have had.

This isn't the first deal on the Xbox
MS has done many different promotions since launch and have yet to overtake the PS4 in sales.  The first major promotion was when Titanfall was to be released.  Many claimed the game alone would sell the console, but then MS went all in and decided to discount the Kinect bundle with Titanfall to $450.  Getting the Kinect console for $50 less and a free copy of Titanfall?  No brainer right?  Well PS still outsold Xbox that month with only Infamous Second Son being released.

Next, MS announced, after stating that the Xbox required kinect and would never be unbundled, that a Kinectless Xbox would be coming and would match the PS4's $300 price tag.  Game, set, match right?  PS again out sold Xbox and has continued to since.  In fact Sony has had the number one selling console since launch each and every month and just recently hit the 13.3 million mark worldwide.  

Black Friday Deals have yet to be Released
Many are shocked that Sony has yet to announce any sort of price cut or deal to combat MS's price cut.  However, I believe Sony knows that even with this price cut they will still sell a ton of consoles making the profit that much greater.  But if Sony decides to pull out some sort of deal, it could be lights out for MS's chances to overtake PS during a months sales competition.  This month not only marks the price cut but also the release of MS's biggest release of the year in The Master Chief Collection.  If MS can't beat Sony during a month when the only Sony exclusive is Little Big Planet, they may be in trouble and lose some momentum.  So far the very few black Friday leaks have shown an additional savings on Xbox to a price of $329.99, but a leak has also shown a PS bundle of GTA V and The Last of Us for the regular $400 price tag.  Both decent deals, but it begs the question of whether or not there might be something better.  

Since the announcement of the $50 break, MS has sold out of their Sunset Overdrive bundle at the $350 price tag.  The sad news is people are still demanding this bundle, but MS may have made the mistake to make it a limited run, Losing out on a large number of sales for people wanting this bundle.  usually bundles like this continue for a long time, but many MS reps and reps at other retailers are saying the bundle will not be restocked, another missed opportunity.

So if Sony does any sort of deal they should stay neck and neck with MS, but if Sony matches Xbox's $350 bundle price, look out as we may see a record month for PlayStation during the same time a huge exclusive like The Master Chief Bundle is released.

What Does all of this Really Mean?
Fan boyism aside, and I know this is a PS blog, however all of this is actually a good thing.  No matter what console you back or love, these types of competition only benefits the consumers.  In less than a year Xbox has dropped from a $500 only option, to options ranging from $350 to $450.  With Black Friday around the corner we as gamers will benefit from bigger sales and easier ways to get new consoles and games.  Gaming will become more affordable and everyone will win.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Sony giving Sneak Peak at Upcoming Plus Titles

Sony has done a huge favor to gamers by announcing the next two months worth of free PS4 titles, which includes two AAA titles.  It is a smart move by Sony going into the holidays, but also fan service to gamers as it shows us that finally AAA free games are coming to PS4 very soon.  Here is a list of the announced games coming to Plus.

Injustice: Gods Among Us - PS4
Secret Ponchos - PS4

Infamous: First Light
The Swapper

These announcements are big with so many subscribers Plus expiring who bought it with the PS4 that it makes sense to preview it now.  Not to mention and couple bad months worth of game that didn't bring a ton to make people excited for.  It also hinders the sale of any of these games with gamers knowing it will be coming for free so soon.

I briefly played Injustice at launch, and was unable to finish the story mode so i look forward to going back to work on it.  Not a huge fighting fan but it is a decent game and I always love DC and comic book stuff.

I don't know too much from Secret Ponchos except that the idea sounds interesting and people who have played it have said it has been a lot of fun. The website for Secret Ponchos describes the game as 

Secret Ponchos takes place in a dramatic Wild West setting, full of tension, stylization and attitude reflective of a graphic-novel. In a town crawling with bandits, murderers and bounty hunters you are an outlaw with a bounty on your head and everyone is gunning for you. In order to survive you must be the best and to gain notoriety you must defeat your opponents–claiming their achievements as your own. How many you kill and the rewards you collect define your legacy.

Infamous first light is a prequel DLC that was released as a full retail game.  It follow Fetch from Infamous Second Son and lets us follow along as we find out more about her background from the original game.  It is a super easy plat as well with a 41% completion rate!

Lastly we are getting The Swapper, the fun side scrolling puzzle game that came out last summer.  I nearly bought this when it was released because of a PS Plus sale.  Glad I didn't and look forward to getting to play with it very soon.

Overall, I believe that Sony hit a home run here especially around the holidays and showing us that our patience for a AAA title have finally paid off!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

How Batman Arkham Asylum Changed Everything

I have recently been playing through Batman Arkham Asylum on my PS3 and it has come to my attention that we owe so much to this title for games that we have today.  BAA was probably the first licensed game that succeeded in every category: Story, Graphics, game play, and even voice acting.  It is because of this that we have gotten successful sequels as well as other decent licensed video games such as the recent Shadow of Mordor that copied BAA's combat system.  Comic book games, especially, have seen some of the worst adaptations, which includes the dark knight himself.  Stinkers such as Superman 64, Batman Begins, Batman Dark Tomorrow, Almost any X-Men game, and Aquman on Xbox just to name a few.

Comic book's should be easy to put into games based on the simple fact that the stories are written, characters have powers and attacks, and each villain is a easy boss battle waiting to happen.  However all the games I listed before failed and failed miserably.  The biggest issues those previous games had were the controls.  For some reason it was hard to program the different powers and give the user controls that didn't make it horrible to play.  Cameras were terrible and the lack of open worlds caused the most problems as powers had to be limited as a result.  The biggest culprit of this has been Superman, who has yet to see one single good game created off of his property.  No one can get the flying mechanic right ruining the most essential part any Superman game could have.  There is one game series that almost got it completely right and hasn't been seen or heard from since and that is the Spiderman 2 video game that many thought before BAA was the best comic book game. Opened world web-slinging was done perfectly and honestly Superman could take note.  Add in BAA combat and you have the perfect Superman game.
With Rocksteady, who developed BAA, being done after Batman Arkham Knight, many are wondering if they might tackle a different DC character or a bunch in a Justice League game in time for the Justice League movie that comes out in 2017.  All I want is a good Superman game and I believe Rocksteady could do it.

What Comic book games have you thought have been done well? Bad?  Who should make a new comic book game?  What characters should be used?

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