Outlaws To The End

Warning : This review will contain spoilers. Why anyone would read a review for a six-year-old game they haven’t played yet is beyond me, but I’d be giving people on the Internet too much credit if I didn’t include a disclaimer. So…there you go.

“Every man has a right to change, a chance at forgiveness.”

The year is 1911. John Marston’s family is kidnapped by a group of ruthless Government agents. In order to secure their safety, John must revisit his past and hunt down each of his former gang members. He meets several people along the way who will help him.

So far, I can tell almost immediately that the graphics are a bit dated. The graphics were at the top of their game back in 2010, but we’ve come a long way since then. However, I am playing a last generation game, so I completely understand the graphical difference here. That’s not to say the game isn’t impressive, though. There’s still a lot to adore here. There tends to be some lag during horseback riding. Draw distance is quite impressive here. The worst lag I encountered was upon using the scope on the sniper rifle; the frame-rate just diminishes. Red Dead Redemption does feature a gorgeous day-night cycle with dynamic weather, which features some of the best sunrises and sunsets I’ve ever seen in a video game.

The weapons in Red Dead Redemption seem very similar to Grand Theft Auto V. The white reticle dot is the same and everything. It would be safe to bet that the combat in this game was a test for Rockstar’s next GTA installment. While there’s plenty of guns to choose from, I mainly used rifles and shotguns.

So far, I’ve been helping a woman named Bonnie MacFarlane around on her family’s ranch, herding cattle, watching the grounds at night, and lassoing and breaking in wild horses. Catching horses was a bit frustrating for me. The controls didn’t seem to work too well. Then I realized that I wasn’t holding R2 down, so I was basically throwing out the lasso and then dropping it. Once I figured this out, breaking horses was a cakewalk. There are several different horses to find and break throughout the game; each with their own characteristics.

Much like GTA, there are strangers to help and random events that will occur throughout the game. Since I’m new to the game, and I’m taking in all of the scenery, most of the time I miss what’s going on with a random event and I’m dead before I can even react. You see, not everyone is nice in New Austin. Some folks will even stop you on purpose or use a lady in distress to convince you to pull over. Once you’re off your horse, you’re dead. That is, unless you give the robbers your money or use Dead Eye Targeting to take all of them out in swift precision.

Part of the main attractions of Red Dead Redemption are survival skills and hunting. Being out in the Wild West can be rough, and towns aren’t always close by. If you find yourself in trouble, you’ll have to use your skills to create a makeshift camp area for the night, or you can always fast-travel to a safe location. Expect to hunt everything from birds to bears in this game. Herbs can also be collected. Treasure maps help locate treasure all throughout the game, getting progressively more difficult than the last. Mostly, all of the items collected will only be used to sell for money back in towns.

It would appear that this game has taken a few steps back from recent Rockstar games. I find it very strange that John can’t swim. What happens when you try? DEAD. Thieves’ Landing is the worst for this, as I keep missing the bridge in the middle of town when I’m riding fast on my horse and dodging people. Sometimes I’m going so fast, that I end up in the water.  I guess no one could swim in 1911? If that’s the case, good on you Rockstar for being historically accurate.

The game takes place in three different territories : New Austin, Nuevo Paraiso, and West Elizabeth. America is basically what you’d expect from a Western atmosphere. Mexico isn’t quite what I was expecting, and it’s easily the longest story section of the game. Unfortunately, Mexico drags on for a bit too long for me. John ends up being the quintessential errand-boy; helping people from both sides of the war, and neither are suspicious about it. Of course, almost everyone promises to help John to find his former gang members, but most of the time, they have their own agendas. Of course!

Each of the territories have several little townships which have doctors, general stores, gunsmiths, tailors, saloons, and some even have movie theaters. Probably the best thing about these locations are the games, such as horseshoes, five finger fillet, and table games such as Poker, Blackjack, Liar’s Dice. Liar’s Dice was easily my favorite, as it was very fun, easy to pick up, and even easier to win. Everyone knows about the table games, but this is the first time I’ve ever heard of Liar’s Dice. The game is actually very simple. A player will put in their bid, and then the the other players can either increase the bid, or call the original bidder’s bluff. If the bid is true, whomever called the bluff loses a die. Repeat until players lose all die.

Marston eventually tracks down Williamson, Escuella, and van der Linde, with the help of his new acquaintances. John states that his former gang members were “good men who turned bad.” Williamson and Escuella I didn’t care for, because I knew they were bad. However, I felt for Dutch Van der Linde. Dutch, much like Harvey Dent, thought he could be a decent man in an indecent time. He attempted to be the Robin Hood of the Wild West; robbing from the rich and giving to the needy. Unfortunately, Dutch finds out the hard way that his methods simply don’t work. It not only drives Dutch to madness, but it also drives everyone away from him. He becomes isolated and flees to Cochinay where he leads a gang of savages.

After John’s former friends have been dealt with, the agents cut him looose….or so we think. John returns to his home to reunite with his family. Everything seems to be going well; John purchases cattle from MacFarlane’s ranch, and teaches his son Jack how to hunt.

I figured this was the end of the game.

I was wrong.

It’s much to happy to be the ending.

U.S soldiers and lawmen led by Ross start showing up at the house and shooting at the family. John manages to cover his family enough that they are able to escape. John stays behind to deal with the agents, but he quickly finds that he’s outnumbered. John peeps through a crack in the barn door to see Agent Ross and at least a dozen men with their guns drawn. John steps out. Dead Eye is automatically initiated. I begin locking on to targets one-by-one. Before I can target less than half of the enemies, I’m blown away. John meets his fate on this day by Ross and his men. The worst part about it? There was no way around it. I was crushed by this. Turns out, Abigail was right when she said, “the life we led, that doesn’t go away. It’s never over.”

It’s very rare in video games that the main character of the story dies.

But this still isn’t the end.

The game picks up years later, as the role shifts over to Jack Marston. Standing over the graves of John, Abigail (who passed away just three years later), and Uncle (who died in the fight against the agents), Jack is dead-set on revenge against the man who killed his family. Jack heads to Blackwater and talks to an agent about Ross. The agent gives Jack his location. Ross has been retired for many years, but the agency continues to contact him, since he was one of the best. He was also one of the worst. Jack arrives at the Ross home and speaks to his wife. Ross is on a hunting trip in Mexico with his brother. Jack heads down to Mexico and confronts Ross. The confrontation ends in a duel. Revenge has never felt more sweet. Jack turns to face the screen, and the logo “RED DEAD REDEMPTION” pops up.

Surely, this is the end?

Undead Nightmare marks the return of John Marston as he returns home to find his world flipped upside down in what appears to be some sort of twisted alternate reality of the apocalypse. The dead are walking the Earth and feeding on the living! Abigail and Jack get bit, and John rides off to see if he can find a cure and some answers to all of this.

Undead Nightmare changes up the game’s tone a bit, and plays more like a survival horror game. Ammo and places to rest are scarce, so John will have to make every shot count and help survivors clear out the undead in each town in order to make safe territories. The problem with this is that every two or three in-game days or so, I had to drop whatever I was doing to go and save a town that was under attack again. This never ends.

The Four horses of the apocalypse can be found throughout the map, these four special horses have special abilities, and can run forever without getting tired. Apparently if you do everything in the game, you can break a Unicorn! I wanted to do this very badly, but I just didn’t have the time.

A new weapon, the Blunderbuss, is pretty cool : it uses Undead body parts for ammo, and can take out a bunch of zombies at once. Think of it like a Western BFG.

The best part about Undead Nightmare is the end. John still meets his same fate in Red Dead Redemption, but this time, he rises up from his grave as a playable zombie. That’s right; zombie John Marston. He walks crookedly, and makes growling noises. Talking to people like this is hilarious. It’s total fan-service, and I loved it.

All in all, Red Dead Redemption is a fantastic, memorable game with excellent storytelling that I can’t believe I waited six years to play. I decided to jump into the game because there were a lot of rumors circling around about either a remastered version or a sequel. As I am writing this, Red Dead Redemption 2 has been officially announced for a Fall 2017 release by Rockstar, with a trailer coming out this Thursday. The game does have a few flaws with the dated graphics and the duration and story flaws of the Mexico adventure. If it weren’t for Mexico’s flaws, Red Dead would be a perfect game. It’s still a great one. Undead Nightmare’s only flaws are the repetitive nature of saving towns over and over, and the fact that there are just more time-consuming things to do that are too similar to the main game. There’s plenty to see and do for both the main game and the DLC that will keep the player occupied, but I’ve had enough. I spent about 60+ hours overall (50+ with Red Dead Redemption, and 10+ with Undead Nightmare). As much as I’d like to spend another 50+ hours getting the Platinum trophy, it was time to move on to something else. However, now that Red Dead Redemption 2 will be released this time next year, my mind begins to fill with excitement. Early rumors are only heightening my excitement, as people are beginning to think that Read Dead Redemption 2 will not be a sequel, but a prequel focusing on the period when John was a part of Bill Williamson’s gang. I think this would be incredible. However, the reveal picture which is rumored to feature Marston, Williamson, and Escuella doesn’t seem to show a female silhouette (John’s wife Abigail was also part of the gang. They both quit the gang after John was left for dead). Anyway, Thursday will reveal all!

On to Mafia II. Yes II…not III. :\

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The COG In The Machine


With Gears of War 4 coming up in a little over a month, I’ve finally jumped into the beloved series. This is the first time I’ve been a multi-console owner, and this is the first Xbox game I’ve ever played.

Gears Of War begins 14 years after E-Day, also known as Emergence Day. The two superpowers of planet Sera (the Coalition of Ordered Governments, also known as COG, and the Union of Independent Republics) fight over the planet’s natural resource, also known as Imulsion. This leads to the 79-year-long Pendulum Wars. After the Pendulum Wars came to a close, Sera became overrun by Locust Horde and many major cities had to be destroyed. Lead hero, Marcus Fenix of Delta Squad, is rescued from his cell by his pal Dom. The squad is tasked with heading deep underground to detonate a resonator, which will map out the Locust tunnels. When the resonator doesn’t work as planned, Delta Squad settles for Plan B : crippling the enemy stronghold by deploying the Lightmass Bomb. Things become more complicated when General RAAM makes it his personal agenda to stop the Gears at any cost.

Gears is a third-person cover shooter. The controls feel as if I really am controlling Marcus. They’re very bulky / clunky…kind of like Resident Evil controls. Cover is quite detailed and deteriorates over time upon shootouts. The control scheme is quite simple and easy to get used to. This helped tremendously since Gears was my first Xbox game.

The main weapons in Gears are pistols, magnums, assault rifles, burst rifles, sniper rifles, shotguns, grenade launchers, and frag grenades. One of the assault rifles has a chainsaw attachment that can be used as a melee weapon. The Hammer of Dawn is a special weapon which uses satellite technology to take out large targets. Due to the satellite requirement, the weapon only works outside with a clear view of the sky.

The graphics are gorgeous. I’m not sure how the original Gears looked in comparison with its Xbox One counterpart, but it’s very solid. The game doesn’t very have much color in it; it’s a pretty dark game. This helps to show what the planet is like after being in war for almost a century.

The Locust Horde reminds me of the Chimera from Reistance. They mostly resemble the goons from that awful Mario Bros. film. Enemies come in all different shapes and sizes. Many of the enemies appear from emergence holes in the ground. They will continue to come out of the hole until a frag grenade is thrown, which closes up the hole.

COG Tags from fallen soldiers are collectible items which contain comic story segments. There are 33 total COG Tags throughout the game, resulting in 5 comic book issues. The comic books help add to the overall story. These stories are comprised of the COG battles against the Union, Marcus’s father (Adam Fenix) coming to terms with leaving the war behind to develop weaponry (he creates the Hammer of Dawn used in the game which actually ends the Pendulum Wars), and a young Marcus’ start in the COG army.

I appreciated that Gears kept throwing in new and different things to keep me engaged in the single-player experience. I wasn’t just shooting from behind cover, I was driving vehicles, riding in carts, and turning levers. While I enjoyed the game immensely, I did feel that the story was a bit lacking. It could have been better. I wanted to know more about these characters and how the disaster happened. I wasn’t quite sure why the missions took place where they did (Why did we go to Fenix Mansion? What was the importance there?). I felt that the comic collectables did a better job at explaining the Pendulum Wars and the overall story. I’m assuming the story will be explained further in the sequels. I also thought it was odd that General RAAM, the game’s primary antagonist, is only shown like three times in the entire game. In the end, Gears was a fantastic way to start my Xbox experience. I can’t wait to check out the rest of the games in the series.

 

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Next up : Red Dead Redemption & Undead Nightmare!

Hands-On : Titanfall 2 Tech Test


Prepare For Titanfall…2

Titanfall always seemed like a very interesting premise to me. However, having the original game being an Xbox exclusive, multi-player only game was a deal-breaker for me (I didn’t have an Xbox at the time of release, but I also don’t have an Xbox Live membership). Fortunately for me, Titanfall has gone multi-platform for its second installment, Titanfall 2. Not only has the game switched to my console of choice, but the game has included my gameplay preference as well : a single-player campaign. With the game quickly approaching on October 28th, I thought I’d do a little write-up on the Titanfall 2 Tech Tests that took place over the weekend as well as this upcoming weekend.

The Tech Tests allow for players to choose a network based on their location. Players can find the best network that works for them. Each Network has their own designated “Happy Hour”, which increases points earned for faster leveling during this timeframe.

Players can choose and customize their Pilots, Titans, and more. Pilots all have different attributes that can be chosen, such as the primary and secondary weapon types, grenades, and special abilities. There is also a custom loadout. For the Tech Test, choosing between several pilots, two Titans (Ion and Scorch), and several attributes were the available options. Obviously, Scorch is fire-based, and Ion is energy-based. More options became available as I leveled up. Some can even be purchased with points. For the first week, Pilots had the following abilities : Pulse Blade, Holo Pilot, Grapple, and Stim. The second weekend will include the previous abilities, plus the Cloak. Titans Ion and Scorch will be available both weekends. I chose a Tactical Pilot with a primary assault rifle and a secondary anti-titan gun.

Titanfall 2’s first tech test is comprised of two maps (Boomtown and Homestead), and the second weekend will add Forwardbase Kodai. There is also a training level which is great for newbies like me to help get a feel for the game. Titanfall’s Tech Test consists of three different game modes : Pilots vs. Pilots, Bounty Hunter, and Amped Hardpoint. Pilots vs. Pilots is just plain deathmatch; no Titans involved. Bounty Hunter involves a money system for each kill earned. The money needs to be banked. The team with the most money at the end of the round wins. Titans are considered “Special Bounties”. Amped Hardpoint is Titanfall 2’s version of “Capture The Flag”. Hardpoints must be captured, and then “AMP”ed (for more points) if possible. This takes exactly one minute. Defending something for a minute is definitely not easy, but somehow I was able to capture and “AMP” a Hardpoint all by myself. After the match, the losing team on any game mode can attempt to make it to the evac ship before the timer runs out. The evac ship can be destroyed by the other team.

In terms of gameplay, Titanfall 2 feels very familiar. This was helpful since the Tech Test was my very first Titanfall experience. It feels very much like Call Of Duty. The movement and gunplay is very fluid and fast. Mechanics such as auto-sprint, sliding, wall-running and grappling (which can be used to climb as well as take out players) set Titanfall 2 apart from its competitors. After a specific amount of kills, my Titan meter was full and I was able to call my Titan to the battlefield. As epic as the giant mechs are, they were a bit difficult to control, and I didn’t feel as invincible as I had hoped. I hope to work on this more in the next Tech Test. For Titanfall 2, each Titan has their own unique feel and play style. Another nice thing I recognized was that the leaderboard does not keep track of how many times I’ve been killed. This is helpful because I know I can get frustrated if I’m focusing on my Kill / Death Ratio. Titanfall 2 only records your kills. I didn’t realize this until after a few matches, but some modes include AI enemies that you can kill for quick points. These AI enemies don’t count towards kills, but they will help Titan meters fill up much faster. All in all, I had a blast with my short time playing the Titanfall 2 Tech Tests so far, and I can’t wait to jump back into it this weekend as well!

Update 8/26/2016 

Respawn has taken player feedback to heart, and have made some changes resulting in a patch for this weekend’s Tech Test. I really appreciate that they actually listen to their fan-base and make changes to the game based on their feedback. Listen up, EA! This is how you run a business! Thank you, Respawn. The patch notes can be read here : 

https://forums.titanfall.com/en-us/discussion/3323/titanfall-2-pre-alpha-tech-test-weekend-2-patch-update-x1-ps4#latest

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Welcome To Hell

DOOM

Here are a few steps you should follow :

  1. Buy DOOM right now, if you haven’t already.
  2. Immediately remove the plastic.
  3. Flip over the God-awful cover art to reveal the true DOOM cover.
  4. Immediately insert the disc into your console of choice.
  5. Get ready to have a rad fucking time.

DOOM has finally returned, and not just in the form a brand new reboot, but also in a way that’s very reminiscent of the old games. No bullshit; this is classic DOOM at it’s finest, and at the same time, like it’s never been before.

As soon as I finished Uncharted 4, I hopped right into DOOM. I can’t say enough about this game. It’s easily one of the funnest games I’ve ever played. The key of the game is to stay in motion, so it’s very fast-paced. It’s very fast-paced, free-flowing, and feels just the way it should. Movement is the key to survival, so the player will have to constantly stay in motion, chaining skills together as they go. Besides the weapon wheel, there’s a chainsaw and glory kills that can be used to eliminate enemies. The chainsaw, much like Big Daddy’s drill, consumes fuel. Each enemy consumes a certain amount of the fuel before it has to be replenished. The bigger the enemy, the higher the amount of fuel consumed. Glory Kills are melee kills that can be pulled off in several different ways. They can be achieved by attacking an enemy until they become stunned (the enemy glows and flickers like an arcade game boss). The enemy only remains stunned for a short period of time (the flickering will become faster when it’s close to going away), so getting to them and pressing R3 in time is key. Combining the weapon wheel, the chainsaw, grenades, and the brutal glory kills are the keys to surviving the battle. The BFG, once collected, aids tremendously in do-or-die combat scenarios.

Each level has specific goals, but you’ll need familiar colored access keys to get where you need to go. Doom plays very much like an arena game. Each level features several rooms with waves of enemies.

I played the DOOM on the “Hurt Me Plenty” difficulty, and it was still challenging enough to be fun. Some wave encounters can be very difficult, but it just takes some time to figure out the map and which weapons work the best on certain enemies.

Weapons, suits, health, armor, dexterity; all can be upgraded. Runes are earned from trial challenges which also unlock attributes. Praetor Tokens can be collected from dead soldiers. These tokens upgrade the environmental resistance, area-scanning technology, equipment system, power-up effectiveness, and dexterity of your suit. Your arsenal is upgraded by finding Field Drones, which upgrades the Weapon Mods.

Just like Wolfenstein, DOOM features secret areas which unlock sections of maps from the original game. Pulling on a secret lever will open up these areas. I wish that these were full levels like they were in Wolfenstein, but that’s okay.

DOOM was a welcomed change that, in all honestly, wasn’t much of a change at all…if that makes any sense. I was instantly brought back to memories of my childhood; playing DOOM on the 32X at my Cousin’s house (they always had the cool stuff when I was a kid). DOOM instantly put a smile on my face every time I played. It’s just so good, and the fun-factor is huge. The story isn’t finished here, so I absolutely can’t wait to see what happens next.

 

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A Thief’s End

Uncharted 4? Check. Uncharted 4 DualShock 4? Check. Limited Edition Art Books of the entire Uncharted Saga? Check. What a perfect way to say goodbye…

Due to the fact that this is a very recent game, I will be keeping things short to avoid going in to spoiler territory. The screenshots, however, may include spoilers. For your own risk, if you haven’t beaten the game yet, I’d suggest not reading this review or viewing the pictures.

Uncharted 4 picks up a few years after Drake’s Deception. We see a settled-down Drake, who has put aside his treasure hunting for less desirable treasure hunting (he now works for a company who has legitimate permits for searches). Drake and Elena finally have the chance at a normal life like they’ve always told themselves they’d have. Unfortunately, it doesn’t last long. Drake’s older brother, Sam, who was thought to be dead, reamerges 15 years later. Sam is in trouble, and Nate is the only one who can help. Sam promised half of pirate legend Henry Avery’s treasures to a very bad man, if they manage to find it. If not, Sam is as good as dead. So; in true Godfather fashion, as much as Nate wants out…he gets pulled back in. Finding Avery’s fortune won’t be so easy, as Drake’s old “partner”, Rafe, is also seeking it for himself. Uncharted 4 is a race to find the treasure and save Sam.

Honestly, where do I begin with this game? Graphically, Uncharted 4 is easily the most beautiful game I have ever played, without question. There is a level of quality and detail here that goes above and beyond anything that has come before it. Water has its own physics, like when a breeze blows against a steady pool. Rocks, shake, and debris roll and move away from directions they originated-especially when on a steep hill. Shade even affects shallow pools of water, detailed by darker areas. The main characters have more detail than ever before. Faces have undergone a complete production. The game is all in real-time, so there’s this sort of seamless branch between the cut-scenes and gameplay. Clothing acts accordingly to the environment. The clothes even have their own degree of fabric detail. The game is utterly gorgeous. There are screenshot opportunities everywhere. Speaking of the environments, the areas in Uncharted 4 are larger than they’ve ever been before. Some areas (such as the Jeep driving in Madagascar) are quite massive and allow for a lot of exploring. Naughty Dog has always been known for their impressive games that really push the boundaries of not only what’s possible in a game, but what’s possible for the console. It is shocking to know that Uncharted 4 was not pushed to the PlayStation 4’s limits, but it’s safe to assume Naughty Dog’s next game will.

This is the largest Uncharted game yet. When I say largest, I mean largest. The main story is about 16 to 20 hours long, and takes place over 20 chapters. These chapters are much longer than normal, boasting massive areas of exploration. I really appreciated the game’s length, as it kept me coming back for more. I played the game a little bit at a time to fully savor it.

The Uncharted series has always been known for its storytelling, and Uncharted 4 does not disappoint. It is the greatest treasure hunt I’ve ever experienced. Much like an Assassin’s Creed game, A Thief’s End had me researching pirate history left and right. You know that you’re really into a game if you find yourself researching things like that. What always interested me about these games is the unknown. These cities could have actually existed, and they’re out there, just waiting to be discovered. It makes me want to go searching. In the meantime, I’m treasure hunting through Nate-through all of these characters, and that’s a really special thing.

I was honestly worried about Naughty Dog introducing a new Drake into the mix, but Sam fits in very easily. It definitely doesn’t hurt that  the amazing Troy Baker has joined the rest of the cast. 

Enemy encounters are a bit different in most of the locations in the game. Tall grass allows Nate to hide and take out his enemies using stealth. This also helps to hide when discovered. Nate now has a new rope ability as well, which allows him to climb, rappel, and swing. The combat is heightened when a rope swing is combined with a takedown from above. Ever so satisfying.

Throughout a couple larger areas in the game, a Jeep is available to drive. This Jeep comes with a wench on the front that can be wrapped around an object to either help the Jeep climb, or help to create a new path. 

Uncharted 4 doesn’t have the most difficult trophy list, but the 6-hour speed-run trophy is keeping me from going for the Platinum. There are your typical difficulty trophies, treasures, and specific weapon kills, but Uncharted 4 is far too wonderful to be rushed through at all, let alone for a trophy.

The end has finally come for our favorite thief / treasure-hunter extraordinaire, and Uncharted 4 delivers on all cylinders. Naughty Dog has done it again. This time, they’ve done something really special. Uncharted 4 is by far, one of the greatest games I have ever played. In terms of the series, I’d say it’s just a peg below Uncharted 2. The Uncharted series has always been known to feature bold stories, massive action sequences, the best-of-the-best in terms of graphics, but most importantly, it has heart. For me, it’s not  about finding the treasure as much as it’s about the journey on the way to the treasure, and the relationships that these characters go through along the way; especially Nate and Elena.

That’s what I’ll always remember the most.

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Maximum Velocity

Great things come in small packages.

Velocity Ultra is a typical 2D veritcal scroller with a neat (and intuitive) twist…the ability to teleport! Originally released as a PS mini title, Velocity has been given a high-definition facelift, renamed to “Velocity Ultra”, and made its way to the PlayStation Vita.

In Velocity Ultra, The player controls a ship called the Quarp Jet which can teleport, shoot, and collect survivors. Velocity Ultra makes excellent use of the Vita’s touch screen to make teleporting seamless (or you can use the square button if you’re not into the touch aspect). It just feels like they were made for eachother. The game is very fast paced, and several missions have a time limit.

Velocity Ultra is an awesome little space shooter. With 50 story missions, challenges and more, Velocity has a lot of replayability. If you’re a fan of games like Galaga, Centepede, and Life Force, you’ll love Velocity. I had a lot of fun with Ultra, and I can’t wait to play 2X.

Puzzle Noir

Ah; 1920’s noir. Cabaret, gangsters, Jazz; it’s all here. A young girl named Didi Sneaks out of her bedroom with her imaginary  friend Dawn to have a night out on the town.

The gameplay in Contrast may be between Didi and Dawn, but the story is about a father struggling to get his family back. To make things worse, Didi’s father is in trouble with the mob for breaking too many promises.  Didi’s real reason for sneaking out is to help fix all of her father’s problems. This requires repairing all of her father’s failed attractions.

Shadows are a major feature of the game. Didi and Dawn are actually the only three dimensional characters in this world. Everything else is a living, breathing, shadow.

Dawn is able to jump into shadows, which totally changes up the gameplay. The shadows allow for Dawn to pop in and out, which helps her reach places she wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach. The puzzle elements are lifted to new heights during these sequences, and some of them were actually quite challenging to figure out.

Contrast can easily be completed to 100% with very little effort. The collectables can’t be missed as they’re glowing and in plain sight. There are a couple trophies which require completing something on the first attempt, but retrying is as easy as restarting from the last checkpoint.

Contrast does a fantastic job of nailing the look, sound, and feel of 1920’s noir with its soothing jazzy tunes and bright neon lights. The game is short and sweet, topping out at only a few hours of gameplay. I wish it was a bit longer. The story isn’t bad, and there’s actually quite a few reveals that happen along the way. This helps makes it all worthwhile.

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