Month: August 2016

World of Warcraft: Legion (PC) Review 13

World of Warcraft: Legion (PC) Review

Please note: The information and experiences gathered for this review were done through a combination of beta testing and live realm gameplay. This is an MMO and the game is always changing.

It all started with a simple discussion between high school friends about upcoming games and what we were excited for—that was nine years ago. Someone had mentioned the upcoming expansion for World of Warcraft, The Burning Crusade. When I got home from school that day, I promptly looked up information on the game, and after about an hour I thought to myself “This could be interesting.” Nine years later I am still playing WoW, and I’m as excited as ever for the latest installment, which goes by the name of Legion.

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EVE Online Introduces Free-to-Play Options in November

EVE Online Introduces Free-to-Play Options in November

After over 13 years on the market, EVE Online will be shifting to a free-to-play model that will allow players to partake in the game without a monthly subscription.

Developer CCP Games explained the new feature through a lengthy blog post on the EVE Online website, that describes pre-set characters called “Clone States” that will be playable for free.

Here’s CCP’s in-universe explanation as to how these characters will fit into EVE Online’s world:

“This feature is built around the complex biotechnology which originally gave rise to the capsuleers: clones. Technological advancements in New Eden have led to a new way of manufacturing and augmenting clones, unlocking the possibility for a variety of distinct Clone States. With this technology, clone manufacturers can now build and distribute clones which possess a base state, the Alpha state. They can be enhanced or otherwise altered to achieve other states, but the Alpha state will always exist underneath. The state of a given clone may affect its access to trained skills, its ability to train new ones, or the rate at which new skills are acquired.”

When the feature launches later this year, free players will have access to two Clone States, described as follows:

“The Alpha Clone State is the new base state for all clones and it will be available to any character in New Eden at any time. Clones in the Alpha state will be able to train and use a specific set of skills including tech one Frigates, Destroyers and Cruisers for your faction along with essential weapons and modules. Alphas will also train skills at a reduced rate compared to Omegas.

The Omega Clone State is obtained by augmenting basic clones using neural expanders and cerebral acceleration technology, granting unlimited skill access. Omega clone state will behave exactly as your subscribed characters do now. ”

Alpha Clone States will be usable by unsubscribed accounts, while Omega Clone States are available to subscribed accounts, with the feature currently slated to launch in November. For an in-depth look at how Clone States function in-game, check out CCP’s blog post.

F1 2016 (PS4) Review

F1 2016 (PS4) Review

The F1 franchise has been depressing for the last couple of years, so much so that F1 2013 never even made it to Canada. In the fall of 2014 The Codemasters released F1 2014, a game that was so bland and by the numbers that I compared it to Twilight star Kristen Stewart. A mere 9 months later they released F1 2015, a steaming pile that screamed contractual obligations until it was hoarse. Just in time for the last ¼ of the actual 2016 F1 season, The Codemasters have released F1 2016 and I don’t think I could be any happier. The Codemasters could not have turned things around better if they had Vicki Sue Robinson’s song playing on loop during the entire development process.

F1 2016 (PS4) Review 4The odd thing is that the gameplay itself in F1 2016 hasn’t changed all that much. You can still play a single race, race online in multiplayer, perform a time trial, or try your hand at the season long career. The difficulty level and length of each race is still changeable. Loading into an event weekend, practicing, qualifying, and racing are more or less the same as ever. Your ability to set up your car hasn’t changed all that much, and the game still does its best to make you feel like you are living the life of an actual race car driver.

What has been added in F1 2016 are things like a manual start to each race, the addition of the formation lap (which the game makes optional and I rarely saw used) and the online Multiplayer Championship mode that lets 22 players compete against each other over the course of a season. They’ve also added tutorial videos during the career mode to instruct new players on the different functions of the car or game. These videos pop up smartly when a specific situation (usually the one the video explains) happens during gameplay. These changes might seem cool, and usually are, but their effect on the overall game is minimal.
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The real change, and what makes F1 2016 so amazing, is the attention to detail that was given to the game’s physics and the track/car modelling. The cars, which to be honest have always felt pretty good, feel even better this year due to the updated physics. It’s hard to come up with a word that properly explains why they’re so great since we’re dealing with a feeling here, but I would say that “harder” would be the best word. You can push the F1 cars harder than ever before and they can stick to the corners as only a drivable jet could. They’ll also fight back if you’re messing around or get out of line. When you do screw up, the damage animations of these cars are also very impressive. Being aggressive often results in a front wing that slowly deteriorates or tires that hang from broken suspension arms.

F1 2016 (PS4) Review 5When it comes to the tracks in F1 2016, I was finding bumps on the road of the Monaco street course that I never noticed in other videogames before. It’s a small thing, but every time you dip your tire off track the controller would shake slightly to simulate the feeling of debris on your tires. On top of that, the brand new European Grand Prix street course at Baku, Azerbaijan looks amazing, and the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal looks as close to the real thing as I can remember. The weather effects are also a visual meal to consume when you’re not focusing on trying to get a multi-million dollar racecar around the track; that said, you should be warned that the weather often changes the track’s characteristics in unexpected ways.

In terms of game modes there hasn’t been much change. Fans of the couch based split-screen will likely remain pissed off since it is still not in the game, but they may enjoy one of the three career modes. There is a normal career mode that lets you role play a custom made driver like last year, a pro career mode with every difficulty level in the game set to extreme, and a championship season mode that forces you to take on the role of a real F1 driver instead of making your own avatar.

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F1 2016 (PS4) Review 7

Beyond those differences the three career modes are so similar that I wonder why they bothered to separate them. The only difference of note is the fact that the normal career (role-playing a custom driver) mode is more bloated than a lactose intolerant man at a milk convention. The problem is that since you’re playing dress up, everything around you is also dressed up behind some other action you must take. If you want to progress to the next race you have to go to your virtual team lounge and use your virtual laptop. If you want to know what your owner expects of you, you have to listen to the same pre-recorded voice mail every time. If you want to race you have to watch the ten second long broadcast quality television slate every time, which consists only of a race car that turns into the words F1 2016. It’s true that you can skip the slate a few seconds in, but its presence only reinforces the feeling that everything takes mores steps than needed. Other modes, like multiplayer, suffer less from the bloat issue, but no part of this game is completely free of it.
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The game also spends a lot of time trying to replicate the feeling of a television broadcast during most of the racing events, but these “broadcasts” come with the problem of being too short on content. By the second race of my career I was already bored of seeing the same canned animations repeated, and the commentator’s dialogue is sparse. That said, it would only be fair of me to admit that these are tiny flea-sized problems on the back of F1 2016, and like fleas the game would have been better if they were never there in the first place.

In the end, I am very happy that F1 2016 exists. It really is the F1 themed racing game that The Codemasters should have made all along. The physics and modeling are worthy of the current console generation, and that is not something that could have been said in the last few years. The menu is overly cluttered, and the fact that The Codemasters felt that they needed 3 career modes is just silly. However, regardless of those drawbacks the game satisfies almost any whim or wish you could have as you climb behind the wheel of a racecar.

Hitman's Full Season Coming to Retail in January

Hitman’s Full Season Coming to Retail in January

Square Enix and IO Interactive have announced that Hitman’s full season will be available at retail on January 31st of next year.

The physical edition of the game, called Hitman: The Complete Season, will be available on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, and will cost $59.99 / £49.99 / €59.99 on consoles, while the PC version will run you $49.99 / £39.99 / €49.99. The disc will come with all five of Hitman’s locations (Prologue, Paris, Sapienza, Marrakesh, and Bangkook), as well as all challenges, opportunities, Escalataion Contracts, and community created Contracts.

European fans will be able to buy a Day One Edition of Hitman (as of this writing there is no word on other territories), which will feature a Steelbook case and the following contents:

  • 3 Bonus Missions Pack – Includes “The Icon” and “A House Built on Sand” missions, plus the brand new upcoming “Landslide” mission.
  • Original Soundtrack – Featuring the original game score.
  • The ‘Making of’ Hitman Documentary – Charting the journey from showing the game to our fans for the first time before E3 2015, through to the digital launch in 2016.
  • Hitman Requiem Blood Money Pack – Includes the signature Blood Money white suit, white rubber duck and chrome ICA pistol.
  • The PlayStation 4 version includes the 6 additional exclusive The Sarajevo Six missions

“The disc combines everything we have learned, refined and updated over the course of a 10 month live season. It’s the direct result of live input, development and feedback from our players,” says Io-Interactive’s Hannes Seifert. “Especially for our fans who want to own the game in a box, we’ve made it a high quality SteelBook box. We also added loads of additional downloadable bonus content to release on the 31st of January for everyone getting this beautiful edition of the game on a disc and everybody owning the digital Full Experience or upgraded versions of the game.”

Hitman began rolling out in an episodic format earlier this year, with each periodic update bringing a new location and new objectives for players to complete.

For more on the series, check out CGM’s review of episode one.

This War of Mine Developer Announces New Title

This War of Mine Developer Announces New Title

This War of Mine developer 11 Bit Studios announced an all-new game coming to PC in 2017.

Titled Frostpunk, this IP is set in a frozen future, where mankind struggles to survive. Frostpunk wants to challenge morality while making players explore if the need to survive can change people and whether that change is good or bad. It actually sounds like the kind of content you’d see in your typical zombie or apocalypse movie or TV show, but fleshed out in a completely different environment. Sort of like Lost Planet meets The Walking Dead.

“This is a deeply serious game created for a mature player. Looking back at This War of Mine, we’re pushing boundaries even further, but we’re not pointing at reality in the same fashion,” says Michal Drozdowski, creative director at 11 Bit Studios. “We’re putting human nature under a microscope to ask about what happens when people need to stay alive.”

Not much is known about what the game is exactly, aside from a trailer and a small description, 11 Bit Studios has not revealed much. The 56-second teaser shows a man laying in the snow, frozen to death while a snowflake falls on his face while sombre music that brings thoughts of winter plays in the background. But in terms of actual gameplay, nothing has been revealed yet. Still, there is a pre-order open for Frostpunk for those willing to take the risk.

It wouldn’t be a large risk considering the developer’s pedigree. There is no denying that Frostpunk has a large shadow to live in. This War of Mine currently sits at an 83 Metacritic score with both users and reviewers praising its intense atmosphere. Frostpunk looks to be treading that same ground with an intense trailer and a view on society that may or may not be uncomfortable for some.

The Final Station (PC) Review

The Final Station (PC) Review

I still don’t know how I feel about Snowpiercer. After the fantastic and chilling premise wears off, its blemishes are made bare, truly tying in to the concept that maybe, after a point, the world isn’t worth saving. But before you get a chance to ponder all that, you’ll be intrigued and guessing from start to finish. Much like that film, The Final Station is a great concept with a lot of bright moments, but the follow-through is lacking in some areas.

The Final Station (PC) Review 2The Final Station‘s story is told through clever use of setpieces, dialogue, and atmosphere—almost always providing the player with some form of input. The world has fallen victim to a terrible virus, which has infected much of the populace and caused them to mutate into feral ghoul-like creatures that look straight out of a Miyazaki film. Taking up the mantle of a conductor, you’ll be personably responsible for the lives of your passengers and constantly putting yourself in harm’s way with limited resources. It’s a large cross to bear, that’s for sure.

I like the commitment to minimalism especially. Instead of just outright telling players all this, it’s left to for them to infer it from radio messages, emails, and literature, most of which is optional. Even the intro is stylish, as you kind of just get up for work like it’s a normal day before realizing the horrors that lie before you. This semi-rote method bleeds through to the gameplay loop though, which leads to a straining experience in more ways than one.

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The Final Station (PC) Review 4

The chief aspect is survival, viewed through the lens of a 2D platformer of sorts (though you cannot jump) with a basic aiming reticle and the ability to use environmental weapons like chairs or other pieces of furniture. The idea is that the more you scavenge at checkpoints the more you’ll bring back to help your passengers, at the risk of dying outright to the infected yourself. It’s not all open-ended however, as progress is literally gated by “blockers,” which impede your trip until you locate the combination code to get to the next station and repeat the process anew.

The Final Station (PC) Review 5The more interesting half of the game is in train management. Just like a Sim game (albeit on a very micro scale), you’ll need to tend to your people, feeding them or providing medical attention as needed. If they make it to their destination you’ll net a ton of cash, which can be used at trading posts to buy more gear. You’ll have to juggle all this as your train gets bigger, more demands factor in, and the vehicle gets more complicated after adding in ventilation systems, lights, and a lot more. It’s fun running back and forth keeping people topped off with food, and equally hectic when the air is shut off, suffocating everyone on the train.

If their hunger meter drops and their health depletes they’re dead, and you’ll only earn a fraction of your bounty by looting their corpse. It’s harrowing the first several times, but since Station hardly ever gives you a reason to care about your crew you never really feel the impact.
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The Final Station ends up being a linear game in the end (I dispelled the illusion of choice by playing it again and finding not much changed), but this short train is worth riding at least once. Combining light simulation aspects that only get better over time with a survival mode with diminishing returns is an interesting concept that shouldn’t be ignored.

Livelock (PC) Review

Livelock (PC) Review

Is it just me, or do top-down shooters tend to select the most generic of topics to house their gameplay in? Zombies, aliens, and now with Livelock, it’s robots. Whether intentional or not, Livelock feels like a Transformers game without the branding. This comes complete with one-dimensional robot caricatures, references to a never ending cyber war, and a generic apocalyptic antagonist.

Livelock (PC) Review 9To be fair, it’s clear that Tuque Games have committed to accompanying the robot-on-robot action with some meaningful context. The fairly well-realized conceit is that you’re the last of the uncorrupted machines, tasked with restoring humanity from the devastation it brought upon itself. This kicks off the events of the main campaign.

This narrative framework, however, doesn’t change the fact that the campaign isn’t really concerned with telling an engaging tale. With the story told indirectly via audio-logs and a sort-of narrator who guides you through the 21 missions that make up the campaign, it’s hard to care about Livelock’s ultimate outcome. It’s serviceable enough to facilitate the action, but nothing that science fiction hasn’t seen before.

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Livelock (PC) Review 6

Speaking of the action, this is where the game finds its raison d’etre. The combat is punchy and fast-paced, and is tied together by a neon colour palette. In the heat of the moment, the screen can look like a stupendous firework display of chaos, even amidst the typically drab environments that we’ve come to expect from every dystopian future earth.

Livelock (PC) Review 5The three playable classes ensure that this action is as strategically oriented as it is explosive. With the exception of Catalyst, the starring robots boast great design work, with Vanguard in particular looking brilliantly like Optimus Prime on steroids (sorry for the continuous Transformers comparisons, but they really are hard to shake). Each class offers a different means of play, which can essentially be defined as the roles of damage, tank or support. There are more nuanced forms of variation within these roles, however, as you are able to upgrade and tinker with your abilities in the loadout menus, or change to a different character altogether, to accommodate the situation you’re about to jump into.

All three are fun to play as, and exhibit enough variation to warrant trying them all out at some point if you can. Booting up your shield as Vanguard will be gratifying to anyone who’s played as Reinhardt in Overwatch, for example, whereas Hex’s mines are a great way of covering your back, considering enemies tend to emerge from any corner of the screen. The diverse range of attack styles and qualities of the enemies themselves ensure that you’re never lost for a challenge, whether you’re playing solo or with friends.

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That said, Livelock is a game that is inherently more enjoyable when played with friends. The character roles complement each other in a way that was clearly designed for co-operative play. In fact, playing alone is a rather boring and lonely experience that I’d recommend avoiding, even if it means playing with strangers online.

Livelock (PC) Review 4With that considered, it’s a shock that Livelock doesn’t support local co-operative play. You can play with friends online, and the lobbies and menus are easy enough to navigate. Still, it’s a real shame that you can’t enjoy couch co-op in the same room. On top of the campaign, Livelock includes an endless wave-based mode for players to test their mettle against dynamically generated hordes of enemies. This doesn’t offer anything particularly new that the campaign didn’t already feature, but it’s a good time-waster if you just want to cut to the chase.

The real disappointment of Livelock is that it doesn’t do anything particularly original or interesting. Everything works well enough, and there are definitely moments of fun to be had when you’re making scrap metal out of your foes. However, there’s nothing that lets it truly stand out amongst other top-down shooters on the market. There is some intelligent and thoughtful design work to be applauded here, especially with regards to the gratifying dynamics of combat, but the game never manages to genuinely impress or engage you. If you still get a kick out of giant robots shooting each other up, or simply just want to pass the time in the twilight weeks of summer, then Livelock may be able to do something for you. Otherwise, you may want to invest your cash elsewhere.

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