Tag: Action

The Order: 1886 Review – A beautiful mess

The Order: 1886 Review – A beautiful mess

The Order: 1886 is rated M for Mature

**Some Spoilers**

The Order: 1886 was a game that I had pretty low expectations for going in. I knew this game was going to be a short, guided experience. This is a game on rails with very little exploration.¬†It’s perfectly content with sitting back, telling you what to do, when to do it, and where to go. While this may be ok with some people, I had a hard time looking past these constraints.

Story

The Order is one of those games that starts from the near-end of the game, then rewinds to the beginning to have you play things out. The whole idea of a covert special ops sort governmental unit is nothing new, but the melding of steampunk style technology, Knights of the Round table werewolves, vampires and Nikola Tesla had me very intrigued.

I’ve always wanted Tesla’s cool inventions to be in a game, and steampunk is always welcome in my book. I was actually surprised by how good the story was. It was filled with interesting, conflicted, complex characters that seemed very real with their own viewpoints on the world around them. On top of that the story at large had many great twists and turns that kept me engaged, and while some I saw coming, most were pretty interesting and definitely helped to motivate me to see this story through to the end.

The fog is strong with this one
The fog is strong with this one

Visuals

By far, this was the best part of the game. Everything is exquisitely detailed, and 1886 London really comes alive. The sound design as well was superb, and each of the weapons not only sounded fantastic, but were a joy to use. The Thermite Rifle was an obvious standout to me. To use it, you have the primary fire fling out a bunch of highly flammable magnesium, then using the secondary fire you hear this “thwoom” sound of a flare sort of thing that sets the magnesium ablaze. This was satisfying to use because not only does it make cover irrelevant as you can shoot over it, but it sets your enemies on fire(i’m totally not a pyro) ūüėÄ

The werewolf transformations were also incredibly disturbing, as you see a normal human transform their body into a ghastly beast before your eyes. The incredibly dark sections looked stellar as well, and the lighting in this game is top notch. Your lantern flickers in the darkness as you strut towards the mysterious future ever so slowly, and you hear the scurrying of rats as well as other little creatures beneath your feet. It’s all really quite immersive, but what brought me out of this was the aspect ratio. The Evil Within is the only other game that i’ve played that’s done this, and it’s a fad that I would like to see die a quick, painless death. The Order displays in a¬† 2.40:1 aspect ratio, which you can see below.

At least The Evil Within had the smarts to put the fullscreen option in a patch that was released later on, but The Order never wisened up. It creates a lot of problems that led to much frustration. It can be difficult to see over cover, and a lot of the time you just can’t tell what the heck is going on. It works for a movie because there are many different angles and you don’t have to control what is going on. It’s just not something that works for a game, and the whole “cinematic” argument for this is just silly. If you really believe in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio so much, fine. At least give me an option to play in regular fullscreen! I hope they make this adjustment in the sequel.

ARGG damn black bars
ARGG damn black bars

Gameplay

By far the weakest part of the game.¬†There are many things that really ticked me off here, to the point that a couple times playing through the 7-8 hour campaign I had to put the game down and play something else. For starters, the only real incentive to explore is to find audio logs. Now pretty much every game in the last 5 years or so(some even before that) gives you the option to listen to audio logs while you play the game. Not here. You have to go into a menu, select the audio log, then wait as it plays it. You can’t do anything else. At first I was fine with it, but then over time I just wanted to exit out of the menu, and listen to it as I walked around. Whoever thought that was a good idea needs to get with the times. It’s 2015. If I pick up a goddamn audio log I want to be able to listen to it while I play the game. The voice acting is good, but the content of these logs was not so incredibly interesting that I wanted to sit at the screen and wait for it to finish.

Second, the game¬†literally¬†restricts when you can run and when you can’t. This is another issue that just grates on you the more you play it. Maybe I’m not that interested in the surroundings and want to just get on with the game?! Why the hell can’t I just run when I want to run? Is there a part of the The Order manifesto that says I can’t at least do a jog in a non-combat indoor section? WTF?

Third, the stealth sections are shit. Luckily there aren’t many of them, but they are the “get seen and die” sort that was also employed in Killzone: Shadow Fall’s epilogue that made me want to throw my gamepad into the wall. Somehow The Order manages to be worse than this by employing a QTE (quick time event) mechanic into the stealth, so even when you creep up on a guy and he doesn’t see you, you still have to press triangle at a certain time. This leads into my last complaint.

Oh man, the QTE’s! There a lot of them, so I hope you like button mashing! I’m sure I knocked a significant amount of life off of my gamepad just playing this, as there were a many section where I had to mush on X for what seemed like forever. QTE’s are something that should be used very rarely in a game, and it just came off as lazy here. They use it a lot, and I grew sick of it very fast just as I have in other games.

Now, this is a shooter at heart, that’s why I played it. In that respect, it’s ok! It’s not better than stuff like Tomb Raider or Uncharted, but it’s solid enough. The shooting feels decent and gets the job done, but little things like having to equip a grenade instead of being able to assign it to a shoulder button really make this game feel like a polished last-generation title. It could’ve been a lot more streamlined.

Lastly, this is more of an observation than a complaint, but local/online co-op was a huge missed opportunity here. In a single player only game, not having any sort of multiplayer really sticks out. You are pretty much always with an A.I. partner of some sort, so why not just have the ability for someone else to control them? I think this would’ve given the game a bit more staying power.

Verdict

Overall, The Order: 1886 was a bit of a disappointment.¬†I can sadly add this to the pile of lackluster PS4 exclusives. This is worth a playthrough for the solid graphics that create a believable world and an ok story that keeps you somewhat engaged. If you can rent it or borrow it from a friend that would be ideal, ¬†but don’t spend more than $10 on it. It’s pretty forgettable stuff, and i’m not sure they are going to be able to make a solid sequel to this without some huge changes.

Score: 6.0/10

Hitman Absolution Review

Hitman Absolution Review

This is a review I wrote last year for GiantBomb, but I just wanted to give everyone a preview of what to expect from my video game reviews, because I enjoy these the most. I spend more time with video games than any other media, sometimes over 20 hours so there is a lot of stuff I have to say about them. I will be finishing up Mafia II soon, so look forward to that review. In the meantime, check out this review of the most recent Hitman game, Absolution and let me know what you think. – Peace!

Hitman Absolution was a game I never expected to play. It popped up on the Xbox Live games for gold program so I thought I would give it a shot. Little did I know how much I would be sucked in.

Story

The game thrusts you right into the thick of things as the Hitman agent 47 and starts you off on a routine mission for the Agency. Your task is to bring down Diana Burnwood, your old handler who has now “gone rogue” according to the Agency. At first, you think ok, she is going to be my first target out of many. While this is true, you end up trying to save her daughter, Victoria, because you find out she is gifted, and the agency wants to recruit her to turn her into their own “super” soldier. Its a nice twist that I wasn’t expecting and gives 47 a great reason to stay on the run, with each step he takes trying to keep Victoria safe and alive.

Gameplay

As someone who never really got into the Hitman series except to watch some friends play for a few good laughs, Absolution plays very nicely and to anyone who has played a third person shooter will be right at home. The tight controls make it easier to play this game, as it requires great patience and some minor planning. The whole disguise system works well, and you can stay disguised as long as your “instinct” bar has some remaining in it. The finite value of this requires you to constantly stay on the move, using it in appropriate bursts so that you stay hidden and To keep “instinct” going you have to kill people to use their disguise and regenerate your “instinct” bar.

Handling the situation like a boss
Handling the situation like a boss

Once you get past this concept, and if you sneak around correctly, you will do very little shooting. When you do the actual weapons feel not all that satisfying to shoot, with the sniper rifle excluded. This is forgivable though, since this is a stealth game, not an action game. One part of this game that does harken to some action games is the setpieces in the game. They are truly wonderful to behold, and will keep you on the edge of your seat as buildings explode, things fall apart, mass amounts of police chase you, and more that I wont spoil. They are a great surprise and make the game that much more engaging. The kills here are very brutal, but also extremely satisfying. The core Hitman formula is still intact here: recieve target information and location, sneak into location, kill a couple guys, hide the bodies/take the disguises, then find a death trap to coax them into. You really feel like a predator, stalking your prey, setting up a trap, and then watching as they fall into it. Demented fun!

2651603-hitman-absolution-terminus-hotel
One of my favorite moments from the game. Really shows off the power of the engine and attention to detail.

Visuals

Frankly, this game has no right to look or sound as good as it does on X360. For comparison I installed Absolution on my PC to see how it stacked up to the X360 version, and they were a lot closer in quality than I thought. The PC version looked marginally better, but not enough for me to recommend it over the X360 version. I played on the X360, and it looks very good. There is a lot of detail, little to no bugs/crashing, and a general sense that each location you visit was meticulously designed and labored over. All the fictional places feel real, and the locations designed around real world locations feel very alive as well, and the realistic crowds help that feeling of immersion as well. Speaking of immersion, its been a long time since I have played a game that sounded as good as Absolution does. It fully used my surround setup, and there were times when people would walk in my room and ask if I was talking to anyone. I had to assure them that it was just a game. I’ve never had to do that with a game before. Overall very impressive job here with the Glacier 2 engine. It looks great and has fantastic surround sound mixing.

Value

This is a single player only game, but once you beat it, you can try and go back to each stage to get a higher score, or get knee deep in the “contracts” mode. This allows you not only to create your own scenarios for you/others to play, but you can play other people’s creations as well. I’m not the sort of person that cares about scores or multiplayer all that much, but i’m sure if you had some friends to bounce off of with this mode it could be quite fun.

Overall, Absolution is a great game that just takes a little patience to enjoy. If you go in expecting that, and not another CoD/Splinter Cell, you will come out a very happy gamer!

8/10 – Great Stuff

Banshee Seasons 1-3 Review

Banshee Seasons 1-3 Review

**Minor Spoilers!**

TVMA, 1 hr episodes, Cinemax Network

This show is a guilty pleasure of mine. I remember feeling that way when I was hearing about it, I just had this lingering idea that I wanted to watch it, and i’m glad I did.¬†Before I go any further, let me say that this show is very graphic and really earns the mature rating. So now that we got that out of the way lets get into it shall we?

Banshee is about an ex-con Lucas Hood (Antony Starr) who assumes the identity of a sheriff that was murdered right when hes passing through Banshee, a small Amish town in Pennsylvania. He really starts taking the role seriously and disbanding his own brand of justice. Its not by the book but he has his reasons and you sympathize with him because his character is pretty well fleshed out. The other characters are all very believable and well done, especially his old flame, Carrie Hopewell (Ivana Milicevic) who is a beautiful fighter that you really get to understand as the story wears on.

Don’t mess with Carrie

Banshee is really all about the action, it just helps that the characters are solid as well. There is a bit of disbelief you will have to suspend to enjoy this show, but its well worth it as the directing and script keep things going at a steady pace, and the choreography is fantastic. Things get very visceral in this show, and im not going to lie, season 3 will have you on the edge of your seat. This is one of those few shows that really does get better with each season, I cant believe they are ending it next season. Some of the action sequences are so good, I felt like I was watching a live action version of Mortal Kombat. The villain in the show, Kai Proctor (Ulrich Thomsen) is amazing. You get to understand why hes become the monster he is, and you really sympathize with his need to break away from the Amish tradition that he was thrust into and become his own man, while avoiding the law and making shady deals on the side.

There are a few other characters that are very fleshed out and paid meticulous detail to that I wont spoil here. Banshee is one of those shows that just keeps getting better. If you like season 1, just keep watching, trust me.

Things get so crazy in season 3 you’ll be watching 2-4 episodes in a row. Its so well done, so addicting, that it just feels like a long, epic action movie that you just happen to be in the middle of. Turn up the sound, tell the neighbors to shut up, and watch some ass get kicked. Banshee is one of my favorite action shows, and one my favorite shows in general. No one feels safe, and the show really goes all the way. Check it out.

Score: 9.5/10