Tag Archives: Video Games

Keep Your Eyes On That Horizon – A Firewatch Review

maxresdefaultFirewatch is a story-driven game by developer Campo Santo. People call it a walking simulator, and, while that’s true, it’s more about the personal development of your character, Henry, and his relationship with his boss, Delilah. The writing and dialogue in Firewatch tops the list for Walking Simulators for me.

Firewatch released on PC and PS4 in February, and just released on the 21st of September for Xbox One in NA and will release on the 30th of September for Xbox One in EU.

Firewatch starts us with simple text on a screen. Through this text we explore the background of Henry and a woman named Julia. I won’t spoil anything about the back-story here, but it reminds me a lot of the beginning to the movie ‘Up’. The text sequences are broken up by Henry going to his first day on the job, which includes him getting into his truck, starting on the trail, walking the trail and getting to his post. These are nice sequences that give you a feel for your environment and where you’ll be during the course of the game.

It’s the summer of 1989 in the Shoshone National Forest. Henry is here for the whole summer as a Firewatchman. His first few days are pretty eventful as he learns the ropes, chats with Delilah and has other events occur that will begin to shape his summer. What you say to Delilah will begin to shape the tone of the relationship they have.

You progress through a few consecutive days, before finally getting a peaceful summer, at which point, the day count jumps up by a month. You play through sporadic days as events begin to occur, including a large forest fire (which you get the honor of naming), missing persons, and even a mystery that revolves around Henry and Delilah.

The conversations in Firewatch feel more real and genuine than most games in recent memory. Personality, feeling and emotion are put into the dialogue, which truly makes you feel like you are experiencing life through the eyes of a man named Henry.

This story allows you to be comedic, serious, scared, comforting, accusatory, questioning, and various other things, all through what you choose to say to Delilah. There’s no action in this game, so don’t expect to fight wildlife, however it offers a gorgeous location in the Shoshone National Forest, a wonderfully written story with real characters, choice, exploration and an unforgettable, one-of-a-kind experience with a realistic ending for Henry and Delilah based on their backstories and lives.

Firewatch is $19.99 and worth every penny, even if a once-through will only be about 4 hours, I’ve already gotten 8 hours worth of enjoyment, and plan on many more to come.

A good way to look at this, is if you paid $6/hour for every game (standard movie tickets are about this much depending on length and your location), this game would cost $24 for a once-through. $19.99 is a great price, but never fear, as sales are sure to be ahead with Black Friday and Christmas around the corner!

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Divinity: Original Sin – Enhanced Edition. All the fun of a tabletop RPG without all the erasing!

I’m a huge fan of Tabletop RPG’s, in fact, I play Pathfinder regularly. Divinity: Original Sin – Enhanced Edition is the prequel to the original Divinity, which has a sequel, Divinity II – Ego Draconis/The Dragon Knight Saga. While I never played the original (or spinoffs) I played both versions of Divinity II, totaling ~200 hours of my life. Pro-tip: If you own Ego Draconis, your save does NOT carry over to TDKS as they have different coding. That’s due to Atlus buying the title and re-releasing it as TDKS.

Divinity II is an RPG style of gameplay by modern standards. Third person rear-view, run around, open combat, etc. Original Sin (the most recent… Read All I’m a huge fan of Tabletop RPG’s, in fact, I play Pathfinder regularly. Divinity: Original Sin – Enhanced Edition is the prequel to the original Divinity, which has a sequel, Divinity II – Ego Draconis/The Dragon Knight Saga. While I never played the original (or spinoffs) I played both versions of Divinity II, totaling ~200 hours of my life. Pro-tip: If you own Ego Draconis, your save does NOT carry over to TDKS as they have different coding. That’s due to Atlus buying the title and re-releasing it as TDKS.

Divinity II is an RPG style of gameplay by modern standards. Third person rear-view, run around, open combat, etc. Original Sin (the most recent installment) plays out like a Pathfinder or D&D game. It’s actually really tough, even on easy, which I feel is on purpose. That’s how a good Pathfinder/D&D game goes. Everything is turn/round based as you would expect, based on initiative ratings. There are saving throws (automatic) skills, perks, base stats, feats, etc.

You start off with two characters, which you can customize. However, pick your class before customizing skills/stats or they get reset and you have to do it over. You can even choose the AI Personality, which chooses how they act during conversations and decisions, as well as how they will react to what you do/say. You can also choose “No Personality” to manually choose how they will react to every situation, sometimes leading to a mini-game to decide who will win the argument. It’s Rock, Paper, Scissors. You can switch between your party members at any time, and even separate the group to deal with traps.

You can have up to 4 members in your party, and honestly it can get to be a bit much. The good news is, you can play solo, couch-co-op or online co-op. That takes some of the burden off. Each of you then takes control of the main characters (leading to some interesting experiences), and can control either of the other party members at will. This also makes splitting the loot more interesting.

I got this game on an amazing deal on the Xbox One at 74% off. I would have been willing to pay the full price for this game. It truly does an amazing job of giving you the pencil & paper experience without the need for erasing and getting new sheets. The only other thing, is so far, you don’t get the full 100% freedom of say, choosing a killer out of 3 suspects, you have to investigate to find the 100% without-a-doubt killer. That could also be a DM decision, where the Guard Captain wouldn’t believe you without irrefutable proof. I also understand that this isn’t meant to have the freedom of Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishment, so I’m not really upset about it.

Anyone who has ever enjoyed pencil & paper RPG’s should pick this up. It’s got a 60+ hour campaign and is worth every penny.

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Rise of the Tomb Raider – Wrap-Up!

Hey all! It’s been about a month since I picked up Rise of the Tomb Raider. I was going to do a First Impressions, but I just couldn’t put it down! So this is going to be a combination First Impressions/Wrap-Up including the Endurance Mode DLC!

Rise of the Tomb Raider:

Now as many of you know, Rise of the Tomb Raider was secured by Microsoft as a 1-year exclusive, meaning Sony will not see it until November 2016 but it launches on PC on January 29th. A lot of people think it was stupid, but honestly, it was because Microsoft wanting a game like Uncharted to be on the X1, it was a smart move. It wasn’t smart, however to launch the same day as Fallout 4. That being said, about half the people who bought Fallout 4 were disappointed.
Rise of the Tomb Raider was also the best selling Digital game during Christmas week. Unfortunately the deal with Microsoft also got the CEO of Crystal Dynamics fired after 20 years of loyal dedication and hard work. My best guess is because their publisher, Square Enix, is inherently a Sony company.

The good news is that Rise of the Tomb Raider is a phenomenal sequel to the 2013 reboot. Everything the reboot got right, Rise of the Tomb Raider did better and more. The crafting system has been overhauled, survival is not a factor (which was a little disappointing) but Endurance Mode, survival is all there is… Other than searching for relics, of course, but I’ll cover Endurance Mode a little later.
Lara’s hair, for you techies out there, was created using the latest iteration of TressFX, that means that each strand of her hair is individually rendered for more realistic movement during gameplay. Of course, that is removed on the 360 for more fluid gameplay, but that is neither here nor there.

I have played Rise of the Tomb Raider for many, many hours and the gameplay is nothing but fluid, the story is intense and just when you think it’s about to come to a conclusion, it keeps going. Focus has shifted solely to Single Player, meaning a much richer storyline, a more in-depth progression system, more activities to do in-game and more Single Player game modes to keep you immersed.
One thing you may notice a some latency when trying to aim. There have been YouTubers who have shown this latency as a massive problem, making the game nearly unplayable and headshot a nightmare. They are also showing the latency at slower speeds to make the issue seem larger than it is. It takes about half a second for the input to register. Once you get used to it, headshots are super easy. Half a second is not bad considering Rise of the Tomb Raider was built to utilize 100% of the X1’s capabilities.

Some of the activities you can do in-game are helping the Remnants to clear the valley of Trinity and other things to help raise morale, hunt legendary animals for pelts for crafting purposes, find collectables, raid tombs, go high-diving, etc. There are also a few particularly funny achievements, namely the “Bacon!” and “Rotisserie” ones, in which you have to kill a Razorback with a Molotov and shoot a chicken out of the air with a fire arrow.

Rise of the Tomb Raider takes place primarily in Siberia, with one level taking place in Syria. You get to see flashbacks of Lara as a child and watching her father’s descent as she comes to terms with what he was doing all those years. All she wanted was a father, but she slowly begins to understand that what he was doing at the time was for the good of the world and he was trying to protect Lara but not letting her in on what he was doing. She learns he was in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation and chose to try and protect the world and allow Lara to grow up normal, rather than save only his daughter and let the world burn, essentially. Something that Lara discovers when she realizes she took her father’s path while trying to not become him, and ends up giving in to the life of a Tomb Raider.

The Siberian wilderness is tough on Lara, but even tougher is the fact that Jonah is still with her, and she tells him to turn back to safety because she doesn’t want to put his life in any more danger than she already has. Rise of the Tomb Raider is not only a story about Lara Croft and the events that helped shaped the woman she becomes, as well as her trying to clear her father’s name as well as her own, but it also appears to be a story about how in not wishing to be like her father, but at the same time idolizing him, the transition happens without her realizing it and not intending to do her friends harm she, instead, pushes them away just as her father did to her.
It’s only after Jonah appears again that she realizes that in pushing them away, she actually brought them further in to harm’s way and vows to stand by them no matter what. She won’t push people away like her father did, instead her strength lies with her friends, not her solitude. Lara loses herself a few times, but every base camp is a new revelation, and a new time to reflect on what got her here, and why she’s really here.

Rise of the Tomb Raider has a very deep and rich story with a special look inside Lara’s mind and the struggles, both internal and external, that she has to deal with. Something we’ve never gotten to see before. Along with the amazing visuals and sound, gameplay and overall feel of everything, Rise of the Tomb Raider is truly one of a kind and worth every penny.

Endurance Mode:

Endurance Mode is the survival in which you start off on Day 1 and survive as long as you can. You start with a bow and 6 arrows and your climbing axes. You are in the middle of the Siberian wilderness with no map and no direction other than find relics and survive. You need to pay attention to both your warmth level and your hunger level. You will not only brave the elements human enemies and the local fauna, but you will also need your resources to improve gear, light fires, and light the signal fire for your evacuation, in which you will need to survive for 2 minutes while being attacked by legendary animals.

Endurance Mode really will test your mettle and survival abilities as well as your sense of direction, memory, navigation and resourcefulness.

Temple of the Witch:

The story expansion Temple of Witch releases on January 26th and is the legend of Baba Yaga, an old Russian folk tale. I very much look forward to this expansion, as Baba Yaga has interested me for some time now. I will be posting about this expansion once I get the chance to play it, so stay tuned!

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Xbox @ E3

Some of you may be wondering what Sony and MicroSoft came out with at E3. Well, I’ll start with MicroSoft (Since Sony has a lot of variety to cover in comparison). That’s not to say MicroSoft doesn’t have a lot to cover, but MicroSoft focused solely on what games are coming.

Now, a lot of these we already knew about, but there is a good chunk that are brand new names in the line-up.

So let’s get to it. Starting with the Xbox 360, the games are:

  • Forza Horizon 2
  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition
  • Madden NFL 15
  • The Evil Within
  • Alien: Isolation
  • Battlefield Hardline
  • Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel
  • Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved
  • Disney Infinity Marvel Super Heroes 2.0
  • Dying Light
  • Far Cry 4
  • Just Dance 2015
  • Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris
  • LEGO Batman 3
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
  • Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution
  • NHL 15
  • Skylanders Trap Team
  • World of Tanks

 

Xbox One games from E3:

  • Halo: The Master Chief Collection
  • Sunset Overdrive
  • Forza Horizon 2
  • Crackdown (3)
  • Fable Legends
  • Super Ultra Dead Rising 3 Arcade Remix
  • Project Spark
  • Halo 5: Guardians
  • Scalebound
  • Assassin’s Creed Unity
  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
  • Dance Central Spotlight
  • Destiny
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition
  • Evolve
  • Madden NFL 15
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider
  • Shape Up
  • The Evil Within
  • Tom Clancy’s The Division
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  • Alien: Isolation
  • Batman: Arkham Knight
  • Battlefield Hardline
  • D4
  • Defense Grid 2
  • Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved
  • Disney Infinity Marvel Super Heroes 2.0
  • Dying Light
  • EA SPORTS UFC
  • Far Cry 4
  • Happy Wars
  • Just Dance 2015
  • Killer Instinct 2
  • Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris
  • LEGO Batman 3
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
  • Minecraft
  • NHL 15
  • Ori and the Blind Forest
  • Skylanders Trap Team
  • The Crew

One thing I noticed was that Quantum Break isn’t on the list anymore, but I can assure you from the teaser video Same Lake and Remedy Entertainment released last week, Quantum Break will still be Xbox Exclusive and is slotted for a 2015 (I believe they said Fall of 2015).

One thing MicroSoft mentioned was that a good chunk of the cross-platform games will at very least have MicroSoft exclusives, if not launch with MicroSoft first. (Destiny, however, will be launched on PS4 first).

I will be talking about some of these games, so keep reading and look for posts about these games (and hopefully Sony’s side of E3) soon.

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Let the Games Begin!

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I figured I would start games off with Kinect Sports Rivals. A great exclusive title and a fantastically fun game.

KSR was made by reknown Game Developers Rare. You may know them as the creators of Perfect Dark, or even the infamous BattleToads! (A Gamestop exclusive pre-order outfit of BattleToads is available and is fantastic). Rare’s new scanning software plots 86 points on your face. It can register a wink, blinking, small muscle movements and facial features.

Upon the initial render, it scans your entire body, then takes a close up of your face. It registered that I had glasses, asked me to remove them for the scan, talked me through it, then had me put them back on. The scanning software actually got my face VERY close to what it actually is, including my facial hair. The color of my hair was a touch off because of the light in the room, other than it, it was as close as the options would allow, including length of my hair.

On to the important things, the gameplay is super fun, if a touch buggy at times. It’s a Kinect game, it’s to be expected. This game gets right what every other Kinect game has gotten wrong. It registers when you open and close your hand. Alright, I’m starting to gush like a giddy school girl about the awesome new features the Kinect 2.0 and Rare’s scanning tech can do.

Back on track, KSR has a variety of game modes, including; Bowling, Tennis, Soccer, Rock Climbing, Wave Racing and Target Shooting. The Soccer game is the buggiest of all of them and it’s not even all that bad. Just some trouble registering at times. An update is out that I haven’t had the chance to check out yet, so it may be fixed now (or at least better).

Tennis is pretty fun, also pretty easy, unless you’re trying to serve. It doesn’t like to register my serving, thankfully you don’t lose points for failing a serve, you just start the serve over.
Bowling is surprisingly fun, it registers when you spin the ball, when you toss to the side a bit, it registers everything like physics do in the real world, it’s fantastic.
Rock Climbing is my favorite game mode. It feels like you’re actually climbing, you can’t go too fast because it has a bit of trouble keeping up with super speeds, that being said, you can still go a bit fast. You can take a risk and even jump up towards the next section to save a few seconds, or you can pull people ahead of you off the wall.
Wave racing is pretty fun, too. This is the only one you can play sitting down or standing up. This is where it registers when you open and close your hand. You actually turn like you turn on a wave racer. You lean into turns, you let go of the gas (open your hand) and punch it (close your hand) while turning for tight turns, you can even do some tricks off the jumps.
That brings us to Target Shooting. This is an interesting one. You compete, as normal, and you need to be the person with the highest score. There is also a little stun gun that can stun your opponent and keep them from getting a higher score.

Now, when you play against the “AI” you actually play against uploaded avatars. You play against “real” people even though it’s a single player/couch competitive game. That’s pretty awesome.

Upsides to this game? Well, pretty much everything, honestly. It’s awesome fun for everybody, and it has something for every player.
Downsides? it can be a little buggy at times by not registering exactly what you were doing. Those moments don’t happen too often, and even when they do, it’s really not that bad.

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Back On The Air.

Don’t you just HATE it when commercial breaks last forever like that? When it feels like almost an entire year before you get back to what you were watching? Well, the really really, ridiculously (good looking) long commercial break is finally over and Gaming With Grayson is back on the air!

Now that we’re back, I’d like to say, sorry about that. Life happens. Thanks for sticking with it for so long, and I hope you keep reading.

I decided in my absence to purchase an Xbox One. I will update you on their new policies, as well as touch base on the Survival Horror issue again. This, of course, is just for starters. We will also be reviewing games (Primarily on the Xbox One, but I still have my 360 so we may jump back into the vault if people want).

Once again, this page is meant so you can ask me to give my thoughts on something, or let me do the research for you! Feel free to jump over to our Facebook page as well!

Alright folks, we’ll be seeing you again VERY shortly, so stay tuned for the next episode of Gaming With Grayson!

(Will he ever quit with the tv show thing?)

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PlayStation 4

PlayStation 4

Alright, so It’s finally time to hear what’s known about the PS4. Sorry it’s taken so long, but hey, life happens.

So let’s jump right into this thing, Sony is making it mandatory for developers to include the Remote Play function in all the games that do NOT require the PlayStation Eye Camera. So that’s good news for VITA owners, because that means if it doesn’t require the PlayStation Eye, you can play that game on the VITA!

The console itself is still heavily under wraps, but the controller itself has been overhauled for the first time in PlayStation history. (Meaning, third time’s the charm). The button arrangement and basic outline are the same, but the major differences are that it’s smoother and more ergonomic and it has a touch pad added to the front. The controller will also feature a speaker, such as the wii-mote has, as well as a light bar and “share” button. They’ve also changed the triggers so they are a bit easier to use.

The Share button is an integral part in how the console will work, as they are making it VERY social. Sony recently registered for the PlayStation Cloud, so there will be a cloud service, but we’re not sure to what extent, it’s been talked about, however, that it will be used for older PlayStation games.

The Share button will allow you to scan through the last few minutes of gameplay, tag it, then return to playing. The video will upload as you play, so that’s pretty awesome. It will allow you to share your images and videos with your friends on Facebook or Twitter, or any other social networking site.

The light bar, according to the Sony press release, illuminates to match the color of characters in a game to identify players. The light bar also changes during gameplay to provide information to gamers, like when a character is low on health or takes major damage.

Great news for PlayStation owners, You can charge your controller when the console is in standby! PlayStation gamers rejoice! They finally made it happen!

The analog sticks look the same, but are massively improved, they are more precise, the center area is more useable, meaning, you have a better range when using the analog sticks, so it’ll be easier to drive, for instance. Smaller motions will be detected better, so you’ll have better control of everything.

Now sadly, the PS4 will not be backwards compatible. HOWEVER, they have been talking about making the cloud service able to have the older PlayStation catalog. No mention yet on if we’ll be able to play games that we already own.
Good news is, that when you install or download games, they will install and download in the background while you play.

The PS4 also adds more to spectating by letting gamers to broadcast their gameplay in real-time to friends using live streaming services. During live broadcasts, friends can comment on the gameplay and, if someone gets stuck on a level, friends can also join the game in a completely new way. For example, friends can offer health or special items when a player needs them during actual gameplay. It’s pretty awesome sounding, hopefully at E3 they will show this happening.

When a player buys a digital game, it will download in the background, as mentioned before, so you can play it while it downloads. Not only do games download and install in the background while you play, but they can also update and install while in standby mode.

Now for the news you’ve been waiting so patiently for. In an interview with Eurogamer, Shuhei Yoshida, the head of Sony Worldwide Studios, said that you can play your games offline! Social is a big thing for them, but they understand people can be anti-social, or have issues with internet, so if you don’t want to connect, you don’t have to. They obviously hope you’ll still leave it on, but online requirements will be left to the developers and publishers. Sony will NOT require you to be online for any period of time, or once every so often. You can be offline forever if you want to.

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June 8, 2013 · 3:48 PM