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 : 


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Welcome To Hell


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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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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Chiller Choices

Warning : This game contains hot girls in Leather Jackets and Yoga Pants.

Until Dawn (one of the latest PlayStation 4 exclusive titles, which was actually first developed as a PlayStation Move title) may present itself as a horror movie reminiscent of the 1980’s, but there’s much, much more going on behind the scenes. I don’t want to go into much detail since the game is so new, so just know that it features a winter lodge, teenage drama (even though all the actors and actresses are older), mysteries, clues, and a ton of jump scares.  The gameplay is very much like a Quantic Dream (Indigo Prophecy, Heavy Rain, Beyond : Two Souls) or Telltale (The Walking Dead, Wolf Among Us) title, but it’s actually made by Supermassive Games. The player controls a group of 8 characters and, ultimately, controls their fate. Until Dawn is based around the Butterfly Effect; all of your choices have consequences that weave within the entire storyline. This new PlayStation 4 exclusive title features voice and motion capture work performed by Hayden Panettiere, Peter Stormare, and Rami Malek, among others.

It would have been great if Until Dawn and the Uncharted Collection switched dates; the former is the perfect game to play during the scariest month of the year. However, I’m just glad there’s a fresh new PlayStation 4 exclusive out to play. And boy is it a good one. In fact, it’s damn good.

As stated earlier, Until Dawn is built around the choices the player makes. This results in a very high replayability factor, as essentially everyone’s game could be played differently. Going back and making different decisions than you did before opens the story up to all sorts of new possibilities. Until Dawn features a fully functioning decision system. Some decisions require split-second responsiveness, and are quite drastic to the story. There are many games that include player choices, but more often than not, those choices don’t really alter the game in any way. Until Dawn really flipped the switch on this. The choices you make in Until Dawn are drastic, and they will affect everything.

Until Dawn is a very cinematic game. The controls are simple; the left stick controls the character’s movement, the right stick controls any items within the character’s hands (sources of light, weapons, etc…) as well as choosing between decisions, and the the rest of the buttons (triangle, circle, square, and R2) are used for QTE’s.

After each chapter (and when you resume the game from where you left off last time), the game will show what happened in the previous chapters based on the choices that you made. There’s also a creepy psychiatrist who prompts you to pick which things scare you, how honest or charitable you are, and which characters you prefer. This changes the game to really make it a unique experience; unique to the person playing.  These doctor visits become more and more strange and grotesque as the game goes on.

Until Dawn marks my 30th Platinum Trophy. It wasn’t very difficult, but it was extremely fun. The Platinum requires saving the entire group, killing the entire group, some character-related trophies, and collectables. The collectables really are essential in Until Dawn, as each item collected adds one more piece to the final puzzle and gives the story a lot of extra weight. Some collectables are even so crucial that they determine whether a certain character lives or dies.

Until Dawn is the quintessential “horror movie game”. It’s full of great scares that will have even the hardcore horror fans jumping. I consider myself a hardcore horror fan, and no lie – this game almost gave me a heart attack. It’s the perfect game to play with a group of friends with the lights off, and just let them make their own decisions. It’s a pretty cool party game in that aspect. To put it simply : Until Dawn is the best horror movie I’ve seen in years. When Uncharted was delayed from what could have been a perfect Fall 2015 release, I was worried. Thankfully, it appears that Until Dawn, Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture, Tearaway Unfolded, The Uncharted Collection, countless Indies, and multi-platform titles will keep PlayStation strong throughout the Fall, Holiday season, and ready for a great new year of success in 2016.

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Blu-Ray Tuesday Haul : Tearing You A New A New One

Happy Tuesday, everybody! My how time flies by. It feels like it was only yesterday that I was bringing you last week’s haul. This week brings Tearaway from the Vita to the PlayStation 4, and GameStop has begun selling the 20th Anniversary Dualshock 4 ahead of Amazon’s release date of September 18th. No movies this week! 

I’ve only played the demo for Tearaway on Vita. I’m looking forward to playing and reviewing both versions to see exactly how much different they really are. The Crafted Edition contains some popular PlayStation characters as well as he soundtrack to the game. 

Last holiday season, PlayStation unveiled their 20th Anniversary PlayStation 4 bundle, decked out in OG PlayStation gray. I wasn’t really interested in the bundle itself, but I really wanted the controller! There is one subtle difference, though. The touch pad on the controller that came with the bundle has an all-over print of the triangle, square, x, and circle buttons, while the new controller’s touchpad is solid black. Either way, this controller is a nice touch to celebrate PlayStation’s upcoming 20th anniversary tomorrow. 

That’s all for this week. Next week? Nothing much….only FURIOUS 7! Until then!  

Let’s All Go To The Rapture 


Everybody's Gone To The Rapture™_20150812133745

Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture is a first-person exploration game with a deep narrative. There is no combat, shooting, or jumping. This is truly an exploration game. It’s all about walking around and interacting with things.

The game takes place in the already quiet England town of Shropshire County in the 1980’s. Strange things start happening within the small town; birds fall from the sky, people begin to feel flu-like symptoms, other people begin to disappear, and strange streams of light start popping up all over town.

It is unknown who the player is whilst playing Rapture. During the game, you’ll travel through small towns, wooded areas, campgrounds, and countryside farmlands. The story unfolds as you progress through these areas. The goal of the game is to uncover as much as the story as possible, but it’s entirely possible to finish the game without doing so. Each area has golden orbs that direct you to important things in each area. The narrative is mostly told through activating specific conversations and scenarios, entering houses or places of business, and interacting with radios, telephones, and televisions. The only problem I had with the interior locations was that there just weren’t enough of them. Throughout the entire 6 or so hour story, there are only about 20 buildings which you can actually enter. It just felt really small, but it makes sense. The only buildings which you can enter are ones that are relevant to the confines of the story.

The graphics in Rapture are some of the best I’ve seen from a smaller dev team. Rapture has a strange sense of reality; the world feels very much like it actually exists. Because Shropshire County felt so real while playing Rapture, I started wondering if it was actually based on real towns in England. Each area has its own lighting and weather patterns. These patterns aren’t real-time; they just change whenever a new chapter of the game is reached. However, I noticed that the frame rate dropped quite considerably during areas where the trees would blow in the wind, moving their shadows in different directions as the sun hit against it. The graphics are so impressive that Shropshire County as a whole, feels like a real place, which in many ways, it is! Rapture also boasts one of the greatest video game soundtracks I’ve ever heard. The music fits every mood perfectly within the game.

Rapture has a Platinum trophy that involves playing through the game at least three or four times. I avoided going for the Platinum, and this is rare, but it’s because I felt that it would make me hate the game. All that slow walking, looking and listening to things. I really enjoyed my playthrough, and the last thing I want to do is hate this game.

Coming from the same team that developed a Half-Life 2 mod (Dear Esther) and Amnesia : A Machine For Pigs, I assumed that I’d encounter at least something at some point in this game. Nope. There’s more action in the narrative flashbacks than anything else. The ending was also very anti-climactic. Nothing happens, and much like Prometheus, I was left with more questions than when I started! If anything, the game leaves it up to your own interpretation of what happened, essentially. The pacing is frustratingly slow, but it works. It just sort of fits as you’re traversing around this eerie town. I get it. There is an option to walk a bit faster by holding R2 down for 7-8 seconds, but who wants to do that? Your finger will surely suffer from doing this for an extended amount of time. First-Person exploration games certainly have boomed lately. They really have become their own genre, and are becoming quite popular. Exploration games prove that great storytelling can exist without combative scenarios (some better than others). I feel that Rapture really only succeeded on half of what makes it so special and unique. Exploring the town in any order is fine, but the game falls short on discovering and telling the story. I just think retelling the story through a bunch of glowing lights isn’t helpful to me. If I can’t see or differentiate between them, how am I supposed to have empathy for these characters? I understand that these flashbacks are of people who no longer exist due to what happened, but it would have made more sense to at least show them and then fade out. The problem that I have with this is that I can’t relate to what I can’t see. Having more enterable locations that fit along with the storyline would have been nice. For a map that’s quite large and filled with places to go and things to explore, this made the game feel empty. I also didn’t understand all the British lingo. Those are really the only problems I had with the game. Rapture is a unique experience. I’ve played some other exploration games, and this is definitely the best I’ve played. It may seem like I’m giving the game a lot of flack, but Rapture is actually a great game. I loved my time with it. It’s not bad, it’s just different. It’s worth experiencing, at least once. Here’s to hoping DLC is made down the line that will further explain the phenomenon, and help answer some questions.

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