Assassins Creed – Saudi Version

Post by Mark

assassin


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Pokémon Super Bowl Commercial

Post by Patrick

Twenty years of Pokémon, that’s pretty crazy when you think about it. I still remember playing Pokémon Blue when I was 10 on my Gameboy Color. [Youtube]

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DOUBLE JUMP: A Gaming Podcast with Patrick & LuckyGG

Post by Patrick

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I’ve always wanted to start a gaming podcast and I finally got the opportunity to do so. I recorded a “test” episode with Yaqoub and Abdullah from Lucky Generation Gamers and it was an interesting experience where I learnt a lot. Originally we wanted the episode duration to be two hours at most. So I created a word document with an outline of what topics we’d discuss. Since this would be our introductory episode we wanted to have introductions to start things off, going through our history with video games, discussing our favorite consoles and games. Then we’d talk about games we’re currently playing before going onto news and a quick overlook over our favorite games of 2015.

That’s what we ended up doing but we went over the time limit we set ourselves by 50 minutes. So ultimately it could have been more structured. I personally should have discussed in detail why I liked Super Metroid or Legend of Zelda instead of wasting time listing consoles I’ve previously owned. In the end we spent 50 minutes discussing ourselves, but I think we could have cut that time in half if we used it more wisely.

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We’re still trying to figure out the schedule for Double Jump, but we’re aiming to record an episode once a week and I think I’ll continue to write a short blogpost to accompany every episode we publish to discuss things I learnt or experienced before, while and after recording the show. This podcast is still very much a work in progress. We’re working on improving the podcast so constructive feedback is always welcome. Once we finalize everything our podcast will feature original music composed by Marskyera (who is the composer behind the indie game GNOG) and I’ll finally have a proper logo and branding designed.

Who we are:

Yaqoub Al- Hussaini
Patrick Makhoul
Abdullah Boushehri

Where to hear it:

iTunes
Android
Play in new window
Download


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Games of the Year: 2015

Post by Patrick

1 – Splatoon
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There are two unique aspects to Splatoon. The first is that a big studio was able to successfully release an entirely new game that played around with an already established genre and the second unique aspect about Splatoon is the fact that Nintendo was able to successfully do a good job with an online shooter. There are a lot of great things about Splatoon. The art direction, the music, the characters and all the different kinds of weapons and clothes you’re able to unlock and purchase. Add to that Nintendo consistently supporting the game, releasing free content after free content and there you have my favorite game of the year.

2 – Super Mario Maker
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When Nintendo first announced Super Mario Maker I didn’t think much of it. It seemed like software they were going to release just to make up for the lack of games being released on the Wii U. I’m not generally a fan of user generated content or games made to take advantage of user created content. I never really enjoyed LittleBigPlanet which this seemed similar too. Boy was I wrong. Super Mario Maker is incredible, innovative and intuitive. Creating levels is easy and there are a lot of great levels to play. The amount of things you can do with the tools Nintendo give you is incredible. I enjoy creating more than I enjoy playing other peoples levels, but what I love the most is being able to download a person’s level and seeing how they created something and being able to take that and find a way to implement it into my levels. It just adds a whole new level of depth to the game.

3 – Bloodborne
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Bloodborne is the most atmospheric game to have come out in 2015. It’s dark, gothic and scary. The game does a good job at making you feel dread. The combat is hands down the best of 2015. It’s fast, brutal and intense. Like the Souls games, the story in Bloodborne is vague, but still clearer than whatever was happening in those other games. The lack of shields in the game is clever and forces you to fight a certain way. The game forces you to adapt, and if you can’t, then you can’t really succeed in Bloodborne.

4 – Rocket League

Rocket League is the biggest surprise hit of the year. It’s addictive, easy to get into and a ton of fun. It also helps that the developers have been supporting it since launch with a bunch of downloadable content and seasonal changes, like the ice hockey mode during Christmas.

5 – Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate
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Besides Splatoon and Rocket League, I don’t think I’ve had as much fun playing online with friends than when I was really into Monster Hunter earlier this year. I understand that this game isn’t for everyone but if you’re able to grasp the mechanics, you’re hooked. I love how every Monster Hunter player has a story of great battles, sad losses, favorite and least favorite monsters. Every hunter specializes in one weapon or another, while having a secondary weapon that they use “for fun”. One of the biggest positives of Monster Hunter is the great community that welcomes new players, helps them and isn’t as toxic as other online communities.

6 – Life is Strange
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Another surprise hit of this year has to be Life is Strange. A game that was inspired by old school point and click games and that adds an interesting time travel mechanic. The story and characters are captivating, the music is great and the choices you make in the game feel like they actually matter. The dialogue (especially early in the game) is corny at times, but if you see past that then you’ll see a game that is filled with emotion and care. Life is Strange is just on another level when you compare it to games in similar genre’s.

7 – Xenoblade Chronicles X
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The previous Xenoblade game was one of the best RPG’s to have come out in the past 10-12 years, if not the best. The genre has been in decline for quite some time so it was nice to see such a high-quality RPG come out in the west. Xenoblade Chronicle X might not have the same impact or quality as its predecessor but it’s still a great game. The world is massive, varied and beautiful. It’s one of the best open-world environments I’ve come across. The ecosystem feels real and there’s a sense of wonder and excitement that comes with exploring the world. It also helps that you get to ride in cool, giant mechs and fight giant monsters. The games main story takes some time to pick up and even though its interesting at times, it’s also somewhat generic and cliché. The game does have some great twists and turns though.

8 – Assassins Creed Syndicate
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I feel bad for Assassins Creed Syndicate, mainly because everyone still remembers the crappy game Ubisoft released last year. Thankfully they seem to have learnt some lessons from that and released this excellent game. The combat and the movement has been improved, exploring London is a blast and the two main characters are interesting. I also enjoyed the various side-quests, in particular, the Dreadful Crimes, which is basically solving murder mysteries. Also Eyvie Frye is a badass.

9 – Witcher 3
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Witcher 3 has won the most Game of the Year awards this year and for good reason. The game was a lot of fun, I enjoyed some of the side-quests and the characters you interacted with. The main storyline was interesting as well. The biggest issue I had with the game is that I just didn’t enjoy Geralt. Other issues I had was that the combat wasn’t all that great, the world was uninteresting to explore and there wasn’t a variety in environments and lastly Geralt’s skill trees didn’t really matter. I loved the way Witcher 3 portrayed war.

10 – Fallout 4
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If I was being biased, I’d put Fallout 4 in the top 5, but I have to be honest with myself and admit that Fallout 4 has some annoying flaws, the biggest being that the quests in Fallout 4 tend to be one dimensional. But I love exploring the worlds Bethesda create and Boston in Fallout 4 is no different. The art direction in Fallout 4 is fantastic and the sound design is brilliant. Bethesda also fixed one of the main issues in their previous games: Combat. The shooting mechanics in Fallout 4 feel great and a huge step forward from past Bethesda games.


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Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector

Post by Patrick

neko-atsume

A few months ago a Japanese iPhone game went viral and became a cult sensation. But the only way to play the game was in Japanese, but it wasn’t such a big deal because the game wasn’t really that complicated. I wouldn’t even necessarily call it a game. It’s kind of like a Tomodatchi, but then again, you’re not really raising a creature and nothing dies in the game. The whole aim of the game is to try and attract cats to your yard. You do that by placing toys, food, boxes, pots or anything really that the in-game shop sells. Rare cats also appear when you buy specific items. So for example a cat in a cowboy costume will appear if you place a cowboy hat in the yard. The game has no lose-state or win-state, it’s just a relaxing app to play around with throughout the day. The game developer finally released an English version of the game this past month. So be sure to check it out, in the App Store, it’s free!


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Destiny: The Taken King (or the game Destiny should have been)

Post by Patrick

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A few months ago I reviewed Destiny and didn’t think much of it. I didn’t like it. It felt like it had potential but it was lacking a lot of content and felt like a glorified beta version of a game. When The Taken King was announced and I started reading more of what it had to offer I started feeling cautiously optimistic. Characters were supposed to be more fleshed out, Nolan North came in to take over from Peter Dinklage, they were balancing multiplayer, making the random loot drops more frequent, there would be more variety in missions and just more content in general.

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After spending some time with The Taken King I have to say that I’m impressed by the changes Bungie have implemented. I wish this was the game they released originally. There’s more story, heart and character within the first 20 or so minutes of the Taken King than the entirety of Destiny 1.0. I still feel like there could be more content in the game, but this is a big step in the right direction. Bungie have done a good job implementing a lot of mysterious elements in the new area you unlock in the Taken King. The Dreadnaught. The Dreadnaught is interesting, but can get repetitive over time because it’s not really a huge area and it’s not really visually impressive like a planet can be. The thing is that even though the Dreadnaught isn’t as big as the other areas in the game it’s filled with secrets. You’ll find treasure chests scattered around the ship that require specific keys.

Bungie have done other things to keep people playing Destiny. One thing they’ve done is release quests that last 24 hours and that drop unique loot. To activate these quests there are a number of pre-requisites that are needed; usually these pre-requisites are unknown until these quests activate. Once the 24 hours are over, there’s no way to get these weapons until Bungie activates the quest again. This is a cool quest system to have but at the same time it kind of sucks for some of us because of the limited time these quests are active. It doesn’t tend to be a problem if you’re still in school but for someone who works (and is married) it takes a lot more effort to complete these quests so I end up missing a chunk of the game.

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The Crucible, the PvP mode of Destiny is still a lot of fun. With the Taken King there are more maps to fight in, so there’s a lot more variety which keeps things fresh for longer. The only problem with the Crucible is that if you don’t own a good shotgun or a good sniper rifle, chances are you’re not going to do well in it. That should be a pre-requisite for even joining the Crucible. Bungie are planning on re-balancing the weapons so the shotguns aren’t as powerful as they are now, but that update still hasn’t gone up. Another positive addition to the Crucible is a quest-line. Basically different challenges you have to complete while fighting in the Crucible that reward you with experience points and loot.

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The problem with Destiny right now is that the content is still limited. I’ve reached a point where I don’t need to play Destiny constantly. I play it a few times a week for an hour or two before switching over to something else. I’ve recently started playing it with friends and it’s a whole different experience than playing it with random people online. So that’s keeping things fresh for now. I originally would have never recommended Destiny to anyone, but with the addition of the Taken King that changes. The game still has issues, but it seems as though Bungie are listening to some of the criticisms the game has received and making the appropriate changes. Hopefully this lasts.

I highly recommend reading Kotaku’s investigation into what happened with the development of Destiny, as it sheds a lot of light on why Destiny launched with such lackluster content.

Score:


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The Legend Of Zelda Orchestra on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

Post by Patrick

That’s a 74 piece orchestra.

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Star Wars Battlefront

Post by Patrick

Star Wars BF

Earlier this week EA and DICE opened the beta for Star Wars Battlefront to everyone who owns a PC, Xbox or PS4. I got to spend some time with it and at first I wasn’t sure what to think of it. It doesn’t help that the beta is pretty limited in what it has to offer. There are only two levels for competitive multiplayer and one level for single-player/co-op. It’s obvious that the developers are trying to make this game as accessible as possible, it’s aimed towards a casual audience and to the fans of the franchise. That’s not necessarily a bad thing either. It really depends on what the full game ends up offering its players. If the other game modes and maps are lackluster than this is going to be the kind of game that people play a lot of at first and gradually stop playing entirely after a month or two. But if the game modes and content are exciting and fun, then I think players will forgive the fact that it doesn’t take a lot of skill to be good at Battlefront.

It’s hard to judge the entire game on the beta, but if we were there are a couple of things that worry me. Largely the spawn points in the level based on Sullust were terrible and reminded me more about Call of Duty than it did Battlefield, which has a pretty decent spawn system. In Hoth you can end up being spawned right by, or behind an enemy and either get an easy kill or be killed which makes for a frustrating time. Another issue I have is that the different weapons we had access to didn’t really make a difference in a persons ability. Most of the time kills are based on who shoots first, no matter what weapon they have. Once you are under fire, you’re limited in what you can do to avoid getting killed, unless you’ve unlocked the jetpack which allows you to jump long distances. But you want the jetpack? You’ve got to play the game for quite some time to level up and to eventually unlock it (among other, better equipment).

Overall I enjoyed my brief time with Battlefront and I’ll be buying at launch. The game is beautiful, the menus are sleek, the music and sound effects incredible. The entire presentation of the game is just wonderful and spot-on. But then again, I’m a big fan of Star Wars. Battlefront won’t convert anyone into a Star Wars fan, but it’ll keep the fans of the franchise entertained. People who dislike or just don’t care for Star Wars will end up avoiding this game because there aren’t any interesting, new or innovative game-play features or mechanics. Most likely that won’t even matter because there are a lot of fans of the franchise that want to play a Star Wars game. Ultimately, this will be the kind of game I play when I take breaks from a game I spend a lot of time in, like Fallout 4 which will be released a week before Battlefront. I won’t be surprised if a lot of other people will be doing the same.


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Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Review

Post by Patrick

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Trying to write about Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is tricky because it’s such a massive game. I love a lot of things about the game, but there are also a lot of things that bother me about it. It’s a love/hate relationship.

For those unfamiliar with the series, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is an open world, stealth action game. It’s possible to play this game without having played the previous Metal Gear games, but you’ll obviously find some parts of the story confusing. Luckily there are a lot of Youtube videos that do a decent job explaining everything someone new to the franchise would need to know.

I’ll be avoiding specific story spoilers

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I’m going to get right to it. Every Metal Gear Solid game has had their share of special moments. The Metal Gear Solid franchise is known for its cast of memorable villains and variety of interesting boss fights. MGSV isn’t very memorable in that regard. In the 65+ hours I’ve played, it had less than a handful of those moments. Gone are the cutscenes and in are the cassette tapes. Cutscenes in previous games were lengthy (especially in MGS4) but I believe cassette tapes are a step back. The game development had budget issues, so maybe this was a way to cut back and save some money? Either way, listening to cassette tapes can be annoying. One of Kojima’s inspirations for MGSV were tv shows, so credits appear before every mission revealing the cast of characters that will show up in that particular mission. So there isn’t an element of surprise when the games villain suddenly appears because you already knew he was going to be there. So story twists and narratives are kept to a minimum. A big aspect of the game is Mother Base. You can visit your base in-between missions but the problem is Mother Base is pretty horribly integrated into the game. There is no reason to go back to Mother Base except for a bunch of dumb target-practice related side-quests and to activate some cutscenes. It’s a dull place. On top of that the menus for Mother Base (where you can micromanage your troops and equipment crafting) are confusing and convoluted. Lastly (and if you follow me on Twitter this comes as no surprise) I find Quiet (a deadly sniper with paranormal powers) to be a dumb character. It’s a shame because she had the potential to be memorable. Instead Kojima designed a character purely for the sex appeal, to be eye candy. This wouldn’t necessarily be wrong, but Kojima stressed that there would be a good reason to why she was barely dressed. The reason turned out to be stupid. It doesn’t help that while you’re in the helicopter in-between missions, Quiet is in the background “stretching” and sticking her butt in your face (not joking). While in cutscenes camera angles tend to focus on her chest, so it’s hard to ignore her.

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But even with all those negatives, MGSV has a lot of positives. Previous games in the franchise were strictly stealth games, MGSV has opened that formula up a bit and you can go into a base guns blazing. Depending on your objectives some missions will punish a non-stealthy approach, you won’t automatically fail the mission, but it will make it much harder. Kojima created a great sandbox experience that features a ton of flexibility. Everyone will have a different experience based on how they play the game and on how the game reacts to their actions. For example in one mission my objective was to find a specific target and catch him before he left the mission area on helicopter. As I was doing it the first time around, I barely caught up with him before he was able to escape. When I tried the mission again, I got to the base before him and saw the helicopter crash while trying to land in-between some trees. This caused the target to hide in a tent while his guards investigated the surrounding area for enemies. Making it easy for me to sneak in behind the general and capturing him. The fact that the game has AI that can make mistakes like that and adapt to a situation like that is amazing.

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Afghanistan and Africa feature huge maps and even though they’re quite empty, they’re pretty to look at. Technically this game is a marvel. It’s locked at 60fps and runs smoothly with no framerate issues. MGSV also features the best dog side-kick I’ve ever come across in a video game. Dogs in games tend to be dumb or just unnecessary. D-Dog on the other hand is incredible. The only downside is he makes the game kind of easy. If you bring him along on missions he’ll be able to pin-point every enemy and every hostage in your surrounding area, even if they’re in a building. Quiet can make the game really easy too. She can scout a base be able to pin-point enemies as well, the difference being that she can only pinpoint the ones that are visible to her. The advantage Quiet has over D-Dog is the ability to snipe enemies. The problem is enemies start to adapt to your play-style so you can’t milk one tactic over and over again. If you snipe or use Quiet to snipe, enemies will eventually start wearing helmets and body armor. They’ll have scouts patrol areas around bases and have their own snipers looking out for you. If you do most of your missions at night, guards will start wearing night-vision goggles. You use a lot of sleeping gas and smoke grenades? They’ll start wearing gas masks. The game features a crafting system that unlocks more equipment as you recruit better soldiers for Mother Base.

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There are aspects of this game that could have been polished more and (like the story) that feel unfinished. The world, the freedom you have as a player and the amount of content in the game are aspects of this game that are just amazing. Is it the best game in the series? In terms of story, not at all, but in terms of gameplay? Definitely.

Score:


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Playstation Plus Games for September

Post by Patrick

Grow Home

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Grow Home is an interesting game that looks like an HD version of a Playstation 1 game. You control a robot (named B.U.D.) exploring an open world and your goal is to grow and harvest something called a Star Plant, which looks like a giant beanstalk. To grow the Star Plant you have to find crystals that are scattered across the environment by climbing mountains and exploring your surroundings. The controls feel clunky and strange at first because you have to use L1 to grab with B.U.D.’s left hand and R1 to grab with his right hand, to climb you alternate pressing the triggers. The game features a great sense of scale and verticality that most big budget games fail to achieve. If you can get used to the controls, there’s a fun, relaxing game in Grow Home. It has little replay value, but it’s good while it lasts.

Super Time Force Ultra

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Super Time Force Ultra is a fun, fast paced 2D shooter action game. Think of it as a mix between Mega Man and Metal Slug, but more colorful and featuring some pretty wacky characters. The Super Time Force squad feature a bunch of different characters and each using a specific weapon. Each gun has its pros and cons. For instance the sniper rifle can shoot through walls, but has a slow rate of fire. The games gimmick is that every level has a time-limit and your squad is able to control time. So if you die in a level, you can rewind time and redo the part. The stage select screen looks a lot like Mega Mans, but instead of choosing what boss you’ll be fighting, you get to choose what time period to go too. The game also features a big cast of characters you can unlock, each with their own unique weapon. Super Time Force has become one of my favorite indie games, I think the ability to control time is an interesting gimmick and creates some tense moments, I really enjoy the silly sense of humor and I like the time travel aspect.

Telsagrad

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So I’ve saved the best for last. I’ve known about Teslagrad since it was announced and released for the Wii U last year but I never got around to purchasing it because there were just too many other games to play. Teslagrad is a puzzle/platformer with a mix of metroidvania elements. You control an orphan who escapes the kings guard into an abandoned castle. The game mechanics revolve around magnetism and electricity. One of the biggest issues I have with the game is the difficulty curve. You could solve a puzzle easily in one room and when you move into the next, the difficulty will spike up and get incredibly challenging. There isn’t that gradual buildup in difficulty, it goes from easy to hard and back to easy. Luckily, the checkpoint system is very forgiving in the game. Whenever you enter a new room, the game saves. So when you fail, the game doesn’t pull you back too far and there aren’t any loading screens so it takes a second to load back up. The narrative is there but it’s kept at a minimum, so the focus is exploring, finding secrets and solving puzzles. If I were to compare this game to anything I suppose it would be Ori and the Blind Forest. So if you enjoyed that game, you should definitely check out Teslagrad.


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