Double Jump: Episode 2

Post by Patrick

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After a long break, Double Jump podcast is finally back. In this episode we discuss Doom, Uncharted 4, Overwatch, Pocket Jockey and a few other things. Since it’s been a long time let me re-introduce what Double Jump is. It’s a gaming podcast I co-created with Yaqoub Al- Hussaini who is one of the hosts of LuckyGG and we’re also joined by Abdullah Boushehri also from LuckyGG. The goal of Double Jump is to discuss games we’ve been playing, news that we find interesting and regional news that we feel our listeners would be interested in.

We’ll be recording episodes every other Tuesday and each episode will be around two hours in length. In between our group shows I’ll be recording a solo show on Mondays so there will be content coming out every week.

So hope you guys enjoy the show, feel free to give us some feedback and don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast.

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Game Review: Doom

Post by Patrick

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Doom was one of those games that I wasn’t allowed to play when I was a kid but I did anyways. It was dark, atmospheric and kind of scary. The games were unique at that time and basically laid the foundation for future first person shooters. Since then Id software tried to recapture that magic with various other games like Doom 3 and RAGE but were never really were able to reach the heights of Doom I and II…until now.

There was some hesitation from fans when the new Doom was announced since the market was oversaturated with first person shooters and it would take something special for the new Doom to make a dent. The development history of the game was troublesome, Id Software had completed a Doom game, didn’t like what they had created and then restarted the development process from the beginning. So there were a lot of questions that needed answering, would the new developers be able to design levels as good as John Romero and co.? Would the new developers be able to create the same fast-paced action that were present in those original games? Would they try to create a more immersive narrative even though those older games didn’t really rely on one? Even then, would a first person shooter with a reliance on gameplay over narrative even succeed nowadays when narrative seems important to the consumer and the players?

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I was able to get my hands on Doom a few days before its official release and even though the multiplayer beta was disappointing, I was really looking forward to the single player campaign. As the games release date got closer, it was revealed that no review copies were sent out to any of the major websites so many people were expecting the worst. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting when I put the game in, I hoped for the best though. Thankfully what I got was nothing short of incredible. The game has incredible visuals and art direction, the environments look great, the monsters look extremely detailed and the animation is top notch. The music and the sound design are also fantastic and suit the game perfectly. Another aspect of the game that adds to its value is it doesn’t take itself too seriously. The developers built a ridiculous and amusing lore surrounding Doom-guy. They took this generic guy and turned him into this legendary warrior that demons fear. He has a personality even though he doesn’t say a word, it’s all in his actions. The game plays fast, it’s brutal and the music accompanying the action is memorable. The way the game starts is brilliant and probably one of the most memorable introduction to any game I’ve played.

The developers were successful at modernizing Doom in a couple of ways. First off is you can now upgrade your weapons, thankfully it’s not convoluted. Each weapon has two upgrade paths and the manner in which they’re presented is simple and straight forward. Your armor can be upgraded as well and like your weapons, the process is simple. You can also upgrade the amount of health, armor and ammo you can carry. You’ll also come across demonic runes that present a challenge and if you complete the challenge you’ll unlock a rune that you can equip that will also help you out in some way.

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Other ways the developers were able to modernize Doom is the games level design. The original Doom games had complex level designs that were maze like and contained plenty of secrets to discover. The developers were able to take that feel and successfully modernize it. Levels have a lot of verticality to them and you’ll be jumping around quite a bit. It sort of feels like a Metroidvania kind of game in some ways. You’ll get lost in the levels the same way players did in the original game. The levels have secrets and even when you know where they’re located, some secrets are still tricky and challenging to get to.

The game also features two other modes besides the single player campaign mode which are multiplayer and Snapmap modes. Multiplayer is self-explanatory and I haven’t really touched it since release because I’ve been spending all my time playing through the campaign while the Snapmap mode is where all the user-created content will be. Snapmap lets you create and share your own levels and challenges. I’m actually impressed by how much content Doom has to offer.

Its been a while since I’ve enjoyed a first person shooter as much as I’ve enjoyed Doom. It might just be the best single player first person shooter I’ve played. It’s memorable, it’s fun and it’s very violent. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a fast-paced action game that doesn’t take itself very seriously. I’m relieved it turned out this good since I chose to play Doom before Uncharted 4. I don’t like giving out perfect scores (I’ve only given 5 games perfect scores), but Doom deserves it.

Score:

Post by Patrick


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Event: GX 2016 & Kuwait Battle Royale

Post by Patrick

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This weekend gamers in Kuwait are going to be treated to two events revolving around video games that will be taking place simultaneously at the Millennium Hotel & Convention Center. The first event is GX 2016 which is a general video game convention where people will have stalls selling video game merchandise and where you’ll also be able to check out cosplayers (famous cosplayer Tali xoxo pictured below will be there) and take part in some competitions to win prizes. The big news here is that two renowned video game companies will also be taking part: Tecmo Koie and Square Enix. Both will be holding mini-press conferences to announce some important news for this region and Square Enix will also have a special video message for us.

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The other gaming event taking place will be the Kuwait Battle Royale. The Kuwait Battle Royale is a local video game tournament featuring 7 of the biggest current fighting games: Street Fighter V, Super Smash Bros Wii U, Mortal Kombat X, Pokken Tournament, Dead or Alive 5, BlazBlue and Guilty Gear Xrd. The cool part about this event is that the organizers have flown in the official EVO commentators to take part and the contestants will be a mix of regional and international talent so it should be pretty fun to watch.

The event will start on at 5PM on Thursday and end on Saturday. The full schedule can be found on the organizers website.

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Game Review: The Division

Post by Patrick

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The Division has been out for quite some time now and it’s taken me this long to write about it because I wanted to make sure my opinions didn’t change the longer I played the game. The game has generally been received well by critics, but as always that doesn’t reveal the extent of a games quality. If you don’t know what the Division is, it’s a cover based shooter with RPG mechanics, that’s a quasi MMO. Think of Destiny, yeah. It’s sort of like that.

The set up for the Division is simple. A lethal virus breaks out during Black Friday and spreads across New York City, ravaging the city and killing thousands. Manhattan is quarantined and the US Government activates sleeper agents known as the Division to assist emergency responders to bring stability and order to the city.

The game puts you in the shoes of an unnamed Division agent. You create your character and you’re forced into action. After a few missions you unlock your base which is split into 4 distinct sections. You have the general area where the stores and your stash are located. You have the medical, the security and a tech area. Whenever you upgrade each section you’ll see your base grow, with more personal and more people populating the base. It’s a great thing to see and very satisfying to observe. Each base upgrade also helps your character by adding perks or abilities. So you have more then one reason to upgrade your base. It also makes you think about what upgrade to choose first. Think of these three sections and the abilities they unlock as different play styles: If you focus on the medical section you should consider yourself a healer, if you focus on the tech, a rogue and if you focus on security a tank. Obviously you can mix and match, but generally this is how I thought of it.

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I enjoy enemy A.I. that is dynamic and that are smart. Bar some inconsistent moments the A.I. in this game is that. The enemies will try to outflank you so seeking cover in one place isn’t going to guarantee you safety. Your best bet is to shoot, cover and move. Staying out in the open will most likely lead to your death. The game features different groups of gangs that each offer different challenges. Within these gangs you’ll come to be familiar with the different types of enemies you’ll face. There are your melee enemies, who are probably the dumbest of all enemy types. They’ll just run up to you and try to hit you with a bat. They’re easy to kill, but if they do end up hitting you, they’ll deal a lot of damage. Then you have the other typical enemy types: a sniper, a shotgun, and regular grunt who uses automatic rifles. Depending on what gang you’re facing you’ll face more types of enemies. For example there is a gang called the Cleaners. They usually come equipped with flame-throwers and will burn anything that comes close to them. Then you have the boss-type characters who have a ton of armor and take some time to kill. Sometimes you’ll have to fight more than one and these fights can be pretty intense.

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Gaming Podcast: Double Jump Episode 1.5

Post by Patrick

The official second episode of Double Jump has been delayed indefinitely because one of my co-hosts just got married. So until things settle back down with him, here’s a solo episode I recorded a while back. In the podcast I discuss a few 3DS games I’ve been playing, the closure of Lionhead Studios and the Nintendo Direct. Recording solo was a challenge since I’m used to having discussions with co-hosts, but it was an interesting experience nevertheless. Talking to myself for half an hour felt like I was back in school presenting a project to a class.

We’ll be recording “.5” episodes whenever there’s a lull in recording either due to busy schedules or if we have a few ideas that don’t fit into the main show. Recording this episode made me realize that I’d have to use a different format than the one we use for our full episodes so instead of discussing what I’m playing and the news, solo episodes will focus on one specific topic. So until we get back on track with our main show, I’ll be recording more solo episodes and should have another one recorded this week.

Until then, enjoy!

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Introducing Double Jump!

Post by Patrick

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I’ve been interested in Podcasts for the longest time but I was always hesitant to get into it because I’m more of a writer than a speaker. But then I ended up meeting some of the guys from the LuckyGG Arabic gaming podcast who encouraged me to take a chance and start my own Podcast especially since there aren’t many English podcasts about video games in this region.

I co-created the podcast with Yaqoub Al- Hussaini who is one of the hosts of LuckyGG and we’re also joined by Abdullah Boushehri also from LuckyGG. The goal of Double Jump is to discuss games we’ve been playing, news that we find interesting and regional news that we feel like our listeners would be interested in. The goal is to record an episode a week and publish it every Wednesday. These episodes will be two hours long.

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I’m also planning on recording Double Jump episodes where I’m on my own and some episodes with a different co-host each week but this is still a work in progress, hopefully I’ll be able to start publishing those episodes sometimes mid-March.

We recorded and published our first episode last week and I’ve linked to it at the end of this post. We’re learning as we go and I think Yaqoub and Abdullah both did a great job especially since English isn’t their first language. I also appreciate the fact that they’re willing to go out of their comfort zone for me. I’m learning a lot after listening to just this one episode and feedback is always welcomed so feel free to leave a comment with suggestions or thoughts.

In this first episode we discuss a variety of games, mainly The Division Beta and Street Fighter V. We also discuss some major news that came out these past few weeks like the pricing of the HTC Vive. Our first episode is available everywhere!

iTunes | Android | RSS | Play in New Window | Download

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Review: Sphero BB-8

Post by Patrick

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With the release of Star Wars Force Awaken, a lot of new Star Wars merchandise has gone on sale like clothing, Lego’s (the Millennium Falcon is KD170!), new figurines and now a new addition, the Sphero BB-8. Being a big Star Wars I’m pretty much on cloud nine. Not only was The Force Awakens a great movie, the new toys look great and even the clothing isn’t bad at all. So I was excited to test out the BB-8 and I was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked.

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So what’s so cool about the Sphero BB-8? You can control it using your smartphone and it’s compatible with both iOS and Android devices so no one is left out. This little guy can move fast and can take a beating. When I first tested it out, the first thing that popped into my head was that BB-8 would make a great (albeit expensive) toy for my cat. It was impressive watching it speed across the floor especially that the BB-8’s head is attached to the body using a magnet and two little wheels so it stays in place while the rest of the body rolls. It has barely fallen off, even as I’ve hit the wall multiple times and the legs of chairs. The body itself has an “upright” position that corrects itself with the help of the stabilizers that are part of the internal mechanism. There’s also a gyroscope and accelerometer that will assist in controlling BB-8 by being aware of its movements and make subtle and slight adjustments to help you out.

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If you get tired of controlling it you can set it to patrol mode. Patrol mode works similar to the way a Roomba does. The BB-8 will roam around your room on its own and will move around objects, like chair legs or people. What’s cool is that there is an event log that that lets you know if BB-8 hit a wall or detected an object.

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The price tag for the BB-8 is steep, it costs KD69. Ultimately, this is a cool piece of tech, but it’s not something I would play with everyday. Right now I have it on my shelf next to my Samus figurine and my Super Mario Amiibo and sometimes I’ll tease my cat with it once in a while, but at the end of the day it’s a glorified figurine. House guests will find it impressive and it makes for an interesting topic of discussion. I love the BB-8 and it’s unique in a world of cheap toys. It’s a Star Wars toy that can be enjoyed by kids and adults.

If you’re interested in the Sphero BB-8, it’s available at the Avenue’s branch of Fantasy World which has a new section catered towards adults called THE EDGE. Fantasy World also has the largest collection of Star Wars toys that I’ve seen in Kuwait so far, including nice figurines of Kylo Ren, Finn and Rey.

Post by Patrick

Full Disclosure: The Sphero BB-8 was provided by Fantasy World to review on the blog.


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Video Game Review: Star Wars Battlefront

Post by Patrick

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Star Wars is one of the most recognizable entertainment brands with a huge cult following 38 years after the first film was released. The gaming studio DICE is also a great studio with a reputation for making fantastic large-scale multiplayer shooters. So you’d think putting these two together you’d get a home-run of a game but for some odd reason, Star Wars Battlefront isn’t the game it should be. Instead, it’s an online-only bare bones multiplayer shooter.

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DICE for the uninitiated, are the studio behind the critically acclaimed Battlefield series, a game known for its online multiplayer. It features large scale maps, destructible environments, vehicles, and objective based modes that encourage team work. Battlefield also features a character class system: assault, engineer, support and recon classes. Each class has unique abilities, for instance engineers can repair vehicles while support units can revive fallen soldiers. The Battlefield games also feature an unlock system that encourages you to play more to gain more weapons and more customization features, like skins for your guns, new camo for your soldier or new attachments for your weapons. Battlefield has been my favorite multiplayer shooter because of all these things. All in all, if any studio was going to make a new fantastic Star Wars game, DICE would be it.

But DICE played it too safe. Star Wars Battlefront feels like an introduction to online shooters for the casual gaming audience which in itself, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There are nine multiplayer modes with some of these multiplayer modes having up to 40 player battles (so 20 v 20). Each mode has up to four or five different maps based on the Star Wars worlds Tattoine, Hoth, Endor, Sullust and Jakku. You can choose to either be a Rebel soldier or a Stormtrooper and as you level up you unlock new weapons, gear and abilities. When you’re fighting you’ll also come across various items you can pick up on the battlefield which includes things like shields, turrets or the ability to control certain vehicles. Once in a while though, you’ll come across an item that will let you take control of a hero or villain like Han Solo or Darth Vader, depending on which side you’re fighting for.

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November Cat Adoption Campaign at K’s PATH

Post by Patrick

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Ever since I was a kid, I loved having a pet. I’ve had a turtle, rabbits, birds and a dog (not all at once thankfully). Ever since getting married my wife and I have been debating whether or not we should bring a pet into our family. Problem was, my wife loves cats and I was never a cat person, I love dogs. My opinions of cats were pretty generalized. They’re independent, have an attitude and just aren’t really affectionate (at least not as much as dogs). But, owning a dog would have been challenging because of our work schedule among other annoyances (like walking a dog in the heat). So I decided to research different cat breeds and discovered that even though cats can’t be as affectionate as dogs, they can still be loving and they can still be great companions, but only if you pick the right breed for you.

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Last week, as chance would have it, K’s PATH posted a picture on Instagram of a lovely Balinese kitten. Balinese cats are related to the Siamese and they’re similar in temperament and in looks. They’re also Hypoallergenic which means they’re good cats to own if you have allergies to them (like both my wife and I do). The Balinese are also very vocal and love to communicate with their owners, they’re friendly and don’t mind having anyone petting them or playing with them. And even though they are independent to a certain degree, Balinese enjoy chilling on the couch with their owners.

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So the next day after seeing the Instagram post I called K’s Path. The process for adopting a cat from them is pretty extensive, but simple. You book an appointment for an interview at their facilities in the morning from 10AM to 1PM either on Wednesday, Friday or Saturdays. The entire family (or whoever is going to interact with the cat extensively) has to go. So I made an appointment and my wife and I drove up there Friday morning. The drive was pretty long, about an hour or so from where we live in Salwa. Once we got there we were met by friendly staff and their offices are pretty laid back with cats relaxing or playing out in the open. We were interviewed for about 30 minutes and asked various questions from our history with pets, what kind of environment our house is like, if we have any knowledge on raising cats and so on. Once we were done with the interview, we were taken to a room with the Balinese kitten. They do this to make sure that the kitten would interact well with us and to make sure that it’s the kitten we actually wanted. The Balinese was sharing a room with a couple of other kittens and we got the chance to play around with all of them and even though I nearly picked a different kitten, we were certain we wanted the Balinese.

Once we were done with that room we went back to the interview room to finish up the process. Normally the charge to adopt a cat is KD35, which includes vaccinations, neutering, and a microchip. But if you adopt a cat in November, the fee is just KD10 and if you don’t bring an animal carrier, K’s PATH would supply you with a used one for an extra charge of KD5.

So if you were ever on the fence about owning a cat, pay them a visit this month. I’m absolutely in love with the kitten we got (named him Link, duh) and couldn’t be happier.

Visit the K’s PATH website or instagram account for more information.

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Call of Duty: Black Ops III Review

Post by Patrick

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What can be said about the Call of Duty franchise that hasn’t been said before? For better or for worse, the games don’t really evolve much. I enjoyed last year’s Advanced Warfare, I thought the campaign mode was fun and I enjoyed maneuvering with the EXO suits. It gave the game a sense of verticality that it was missing. Going into a Call of Duty game you already know what you’re going to get. So I expected a short, but fun, adrenaline filled campaign mode, great multiplayer and a decent zombie mode. Sadly, what I got out of the game was something much less. It’s disappointing how far the campaign mode strayed from what they created in Black Ops II which had had branching paths and multiple endings, and had a narrative that was captivating and intense. There’s a lot of content in Black Ops III, but it’s a case of quantity over quality.

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I primarily enjoy playing single player games. So the first thing I did going into this new Call of Duty was just that. You start off by creating a character, choosing the gender and then a face. The problem is the majority of the faces all look the same. Not sure why they didn’t include a simple feature that allows you to pick a face and then a hairstyle or something along those lines. Being able to choose to play as a badass woman was cool though. But then I got referred to as “him” within the first few minutes of the game and that should give you an idea of how much attention went into campaign mode. It’s pretty lazy all around. The Call of Duty games aren’t known for their writing, but they have a reputation for being enjoyable. The campaign in Black Ops III was paced weirdly, the tutorial levels were too long and when major things happened, the game didn’t really do a good job at building any suspense or any sort of climax. Things just sort of happen. On top of that the narrative seems to be pieced together by borrowing basic themes and ideas from other games, like Deus Ex Human Revolution. Your character has a set of special abilities, some of them are cool like being able to control enemy robots or making enemies explode, but some of them are lame, like sending a swarm of cybernetic flies to distract human enemies. If you’ve played Bioshock, these should feel familiar, because they work kind of like Plasmids. When you finish a mission you’re sent back to your base where you’ll be able to walk around and interact with computers to upgrade your abilities, customize your character, look at the collectibles you’ve found or read more about the narrative, which is cool but I didn’t really care enough for the story to really spend my time there.

So what are some things that I liked in campaign mode? There were some fun firefights, some of the abilities you get are cool to use and the game ran incredibly smoothly. One other thing I really appreciated was the fact that you can play campaign mode in split-screen with a friend. It’s nice to see developers still include this especially when you have 343 Industries removing split screen from Halo 5, which I personally thought was a really dumb move since split-screen was such an important part of the Halo games. But I digress, that’s a different post for a different time. Finally, it was cool seeing Katee Sackhoff (Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica) in the game, I hope she does more work related to this industry.

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So it’s pretty known fact that most players will spend most of their time in multiplayer. Unlike the campaign mode, I enjoyed my time playing against other people. Multiplayer mode in Black Ops III is slightly different than its predecessors. The biggest change in multiplayer is that you now have to choose from a set of characters called “Specialists”. You start off with four to choose from and you unlock more as you level up (there’s 9 in total). Each Specialist has their own personality, look, their own set of abilities and a unique special weapon. It’s a shame that you can’t customize them much. You unlock different kinds of cosmetic equipment as you play with them, but it just takes too long to unlock anything. There also isn’t a large variety of armor either. Another slight change in multiplayer is that the game doesn’t automatically unlock weapons for you as you level up. Instead “unlock tokens” make a comeback. You gain experience and level up, and you’re awarded with unlock tokens that you can use to unlock new weapons. You still get rewarded for using a weapon consistently with attachments, like scopes or paint jobs. There’s also a good variety of maps (12 to be exact) and most importantly most of them are fun. Like I mentioned earlier, I enjoyed Advanced Warfare and I enjoyed the way you were able to move through the maps. I think they’ve improved on that in Black Ops III, but instead of Exo suits you’ll be using thrusters, which is a momentum based system, allowing you to jump more than once, wall run and slide across the ground. All in all, multiplayer is pretty solid.

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Zombie mode is now fully fleshed out and has its own campaign mode called Shadows of Evil. You take control of one of four characters who are voiced by Hollywood celebrities like Jeff Goldblum and Ron Perlman. You’ll be navigating through the fictional Morg City slaughtering zombies while you try to stay alive. This mode is only cool if you’re playing it with other people, it’s not worth investing your time in if you don’t have friends to experience it with. You can go online and play with random players but it’s not as fun, especially if you can’t properly communicate with them.

At the end of the day it’s unlikely Black Ops III will win over any new fans. On the other hand, if you’re a fan of the franchise then chances are you’re going to enjoy this and you’re going to welcome the new (albeit slight) changes to multiplayer. The question remains if the game has the longevity that the previous games had, especially since customization is extremely limited. Specialists are a cool addition, but I don’t believe they really change multiplayer enough. There’s a ton of content here, but there’s no real reason to go back to the campaign mode once it’s over and the zombie mode can be frustrating if you have no one to play with. I’m personally sticking with Destiny for my first-person needs because that game just has more things I enjoy. It’ll be curious to see what direction Call of Duty goes from here now that they’re futuristic. How far will they go? Or will they go back in time and bring back their World War II games? Or maybe they’ll play around with a time travel mechanic and develop a game that features World War II and futuristic stuff? Time will tell.

Call of Duty: Black Ops III was supplied by X-Cite. The game is available on PS3 (online only), Xbox 360 (online only), PS4, Xbox One and PC.

Score:

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