The Game I’m Dying to Tell You About…

Whether you’ve gotten the idea from this page or not, the fact is that I love movies, books, games, and writing. Not necessarily in that order, but that’s the order my fingers demanded I write them in. So there’s that. I’ve played a LOT of games, I’ve written about a few here, and I talk about them frequently with my friends. Hell, I’ve been streaming quite a bit on Twitch since I got my PS4 a bit more than a year ago. (I still find it strange mostly talking to myself, so I don’t often broadcast with my microphone on.) If you’ve been paying any attention to my Twitch page recently, then you know I’ve been playing a LOT of Dying Light.

A few things you need to know about me and my relationship with horror, the undead, and the horror-survival videogame genre. I don’t generally write in horror; it doesn’t interest me much, and never really has. On the whole, I find horror films silly and mostly going for over the top gore and cheap theatrical tricks to scare the audience. I find suspense much more appealing; what you see on screen in a horror film is make up and faked. What is done in suspense films is almost purely mental, and almost certainly possible; what one can do with such tools… Well, lets just say that I’ve taken pleasure in plying psychological warfare in a few stories. But I don’t write much about the undead… In my opinion, the old stories, legends and mythology are the best. What they don’t cover, Dungeons & Dragons covered to my satisfaction, so with the rare exception, I don’t write about them. They’re fine as they are.

While my bias against horror films can’t really be carried over to videogames (the characters, while perhaps photorealistic and carrying verisimilitude, are completely fictional and you don’t identify with them in the same way as actors on screen) I just haven’t been interested in the gore factor for the most part. I played the original Resident Evil on the first generation PlayStation, along with its sequel, but as I write this, I’m finding myself hard pressed to name a single horror genre game that I played since that time until the release of Left 4 Dead and its sequel. Truth be told, I played those two for the social interactions with some friends I rarely get to see, though I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t enjoy them.

A few years ago, Dead Island came out to rave reviews and I considered picking the game up. A few friends raved about it but I wasn’t in any hurry to play it. It just wasn’t my thing, though I was admittedly curious. A couple years passed, I got engrossed in The Last of Us, which while technically a horror game was, I’d say, far more of a suspenseful game than horror. But then (to get to the point)… Techland released Dying Light. My buddy, looking to use a Sony supplied weekend coupon accidentally purchased it after watching some streams of it being played by some reviewers. Upon release, he immediately got sucked into the game and ranted and raved about it. But he’s far more into horror than I am, I thought. It’s right up his alley.

And it is. He suggested I check it out but acknowledged that it might not be all that interesting to me, so using SharePlay over PSN, I played for a couple hours on release day. I’m not going to say it was the best experience of my life, but I found it very engrossing. I did get slightly motion sick, which I attributed at the time (and apparently correctly) to the disconnect between my PS4, the approximately 2,000 miles between us, and uncounted miles that the digital video traveled from his home in the Seattle area and mine in Detroit, and for the control signals I sent back to have effect. Mind you, everything was nearly instantaneous,  with no noticeable lag, but there was something that caused me to develop a headache in that short time I played. Nonetheless, I played for another 3 hours over SharePlay two days later. The next day, my payday, I bought the game, and I’ve played almost nothing but Dying Light ever since.

Though it is indeed a horror survival game, it’s like saying Grand Theft Auto is a driving game. There’s so much more to the game than simply surviving. There are tons of side missions to be performed, and when you don’t feel like doing a mission,  you can roam and explore the open world environment, fighting and killing the various types of zombies for fun and profit. There’s a distinct role playing game element to it as well, as you don’t just look for weapons to kill all these monsters, but you learn new skills to fight and evade them, not to mention learn how to craft new tools and weapons along the way. Unlike Destiny, not all of the missions are “go here, kill that”; more than one has been to find and recover something for some one, or to go save someone in trouble. One of my favorite missions… Well, you’ll just have to play it yourself…! Get bored just running around? Play with a friend! The game supports at least 4 players in co-op mode, though they only recently fixed a bug that kept me crashing back to the PlayStation home screen.

To make it even better, I don’t know how many hours I’ve put into it thus far, but I’m only just now reaching the 50% completion mark. I don’t mean to pile on to Ready at Dawn’s problems and join a bandwagon bashing the apparent 5-10 hour length of The Order: 1886, but if you get into Dying Light, you will be playing it for a very long time. Techland did a kick-ass job on Dying Light, in my opinion, and it makes me wonder what I missed with Dead Island.

The game isn’t perfect, however. There are the occasional bug that you’ll hit, like the co-op crash I mentioned above, and there was an easy way to exploit another bug (a race condition I do believe) to duplicate items but it was patched. Though that particular duplication bug is history, there’s another one that’s slightly more difficult, but just as reliable. It’s only a matter of time until it’s patched too, but as you can see, there are both positive and negative bugs in the game. I’m sure Techland is hammering away on them even as I write this, but aside from the now dead co-op crash, I haven’t encountered any show stoppers.

So what do I think of Dying Light? If you like killing zombies, you will probably love the game. If you like parkour, you’ll probably have a hell of a lot of fun in the game as well. Is it worth the $60? I personally say hell yes, and I’m definitely considering the season pass to get any expansions that might be released. Should you buy it? That’s up to you. Take a few of my broadcasts for a drive and decide for yourself.


It’s been a little while since I last made a blog post, anywhere, let alone here… It’s now 2014, and much has once again changed in the world. Detroit has entered bankruptcy, Iran is playing nice (for the moment at least), the economy has picked up… Of course, there are so many things that haven’t changed that I’m not even going to name a few… But what’s surprised me the most is a little game I never heard of before seeing a demo video of it running on a PlayStation 4 kiosk at a Game Stop in Port Huron back at the start of December… A game called Contrast.

The basic premise of the game is that the main character, Dawn, must use her ability to slip in and out of the shadows literally to solve puzzles and circumvent obstacles.Though that’s interesting enough in its own right, the reason behind her actions is a little, sometimes painfully annoying, girl named Didi.

Didi’s sole purpose in life seems to make you do stuff that makes her life better, and Dawn is always willing to comply. So, no, this isn’t a free will open world game but there are frequently multiple ways to accomplish most tasks. There’s also a series of sub-missions that involve memories played out as shadows on building walls, these shadows, when you become one, allow you to reach not so hidden but otherwise inaccessible collectibles called luminaries. The main reason to collect the luminaries is the sake of collecting them, however they are also used to power some devices in the game as well. All of those devices are necessary to manipulate shadows that will enable you to accomplish tasks and solve puzzles, but never fear: if you can’t do some of the memory wall puzzles, there’s usually enough luminaries that are easily obtained for you to continue moving forward.

Aside from some of the shadow puppet theater, there’s no actual violence in the game which makes a nice change of pace from many other games that use a 3d environment. Didi’s story is very much the focal point of the game, and it’s a very engrossing one at that. There’s a lot going on with just her family, but as interesting as it is, it doesn’t mask the question you’ll start asking from the very beginning… “Why…?”

I’m not going to state the full question, despite my normal spoiler heavy posts, because I admire and respect the game enough to keep my trap shut. But trust me, it’s an obvious and simple question, for which you only get close to having an answer for towards the end of the game. Still, the pieces of that proverbial puzzle are there for you to solve to your own mental satisfaction. But the highlights of the game for me are all of the little touches in the game honoring cultural icons, the dialog which occasionally have pauses that completely change the contextual meaning of what’s being said, and the overall film noir look and feel of the game.

Forgive the pun but I don’t know what compulsion the team felt to develop this game, but personally, I’d put it down as the second best game of 2013, which is really amazing for a core team of seven people. Not that I am any authority of anything in any field, but the only game to surpass it last year was Naughty Dog’s “The Last of Us”. Whole I’m a huge fan of their games and stories, the only reason I’m giving them the victory over Contrast is the length of the game. Not that Contrast is a particularly short game, it can indeed be completely experienced (I’d hate to say “beaten”) in just a couple hours, but “The Last of Us” has a lengthy, very involving story. Both games are great in my opinion, and I enjoyed both in different ways; TLoU got my heart pumping, but Contrast, to put it mildly, was fun. As much as I love the former, it was rarely a game that could be considered fun, it was a tense, drama filled experience and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Well that about concludes my spiel on Contrast, but I do want to say that if you have a PS4, get this game! You should be able to get it for free at this point in time, I don’t think you even have to be a PlayStation+ member. But even if you do have to pay for it, I feel you could do a lot worse for your money. There are some bugs in the game but those will get worked out with time.

There’s a bit more information at the PlayStation Blog about Contrast that you might find interesting, and if you don’t have our want a PS4, you can also buy it on PC through Steam.

My Take on KillZone 3

Although I’m not going to go into any detail, I’ll confess that I’m biased in favor of my PS3 rather than m Xbox 360. It feels better put together, seems to have more power, and I don’t have to pay to play online with my friends. So, yes, once again I am biased. In the interests of full disclosure, this isn’t exactly a professional, journalism oriented site. Strictly speaking, it’s a blog, though I’m trying to be honest, objective, and fair in most cases. Except for when it comes to my feelings towards Siffie.

Now, I could tell you the basic storyline of KillZone 3, but I don’t even know most of it. I can tell you what I know based on the ending of KZ2 and what I’ve seen in the promos for KZ3, but you can find that on just about any site. Not being a real journalist does hinder a good preview/review because I haven’t seen any more than what the average person has: I didn’t exactly receive a review copy from Guerrilla Games. Still, from what I’ve seen in the open beta, the maps are incredibly detailed, huge, and flat out beautiful. The Frozen Dam map is quite nice, and I love the fact that it’s not even remotely symmetrical. Symmetry is fair, and is often present in multiplayer games, especially in first person shooters, but it makes learning a map entirely too easy. The lack of symmetry makes them interesting and gives players spending time to learn them a huge advantage. I love that.

One of the biggest improvements in the game over KZ2 is the frame rate. In the previous game, the frame rate was usually pretty good but it often would get bogged down if there were a lot of players in the same area, dropping grenades, etc.. From what I’ve seen in KZ3, aside from two occurrences a few seconds apart, there was no noticeable slow down in the 6+ hours that I’ve played in multiplayer. This is good. This is really good.

Guerrilla has tweaked the multiplayer classes a bit from KZ2, and it’s obvious that they learned a lot from the prior game. For starters, they’ve eliminated the Assault class, with the rocket launcher as its default weapon. The Saboteur has migrated into the Infiltrator and the Scout has been renamed the Marksman. The Engineer and Tactician are still there, and still provide similar roles to what they did in the prior game, but there are some things you’ll need to know.

First, the primary and secondary abilities of each class now have three levels each, offering increased functionality and abilities with increasing skill level. For instance, the Marksman primary ability, cloaking, only works for a limited time. Unlocking the next level allows you to remain cloaked until you kill an opponent. Unlocking the top level allows you to remain cloaked even when killing an opponent if you use a silenced weapon. The secondary ability, which works automatically, keeps the sniper off the enemy radar to an extent. Maxing it out, and it completely disables the enemy radar and the Tactician’s marking ability within 15 meters.

This is great. But the drawback, versus KZ2, is that you no longer have the ability to mix and match secondary abilities from other classes. So, my KillZone 2 Combat Engineer (an engineer using the Tactician’s secondary ability to summon air support drones combined with the primary turret building ability) is history.  I understand why it’s gone: it could severely hamper teamwork, and often had results unforeseen when Guerrilla released KZ2. For instance, my Combat Engineer could hold down an area by himself by building two automated turrets, adding air support, and getting behind cover with a shotgun. So far, in KZ3, the only time I’ve been able to have two turrets simultaneously is after I’ve gotten killed, and came back to build another one. A slight irritation I have with the new version of the Engineer is that he no longer comes with the shotgun, but now is equipped by default with a light machine gun that isn’t nearly as effective. On the other hand, one of the maxed out abilities of the Engineer is the ability to hack enemy turrets, and take control of them. I haven’t done that yet, but frankly I’m drooling over unlocking it.

Another change is that the C4 explosives are no longer a secondary ability of the Saboteur/Infiltrator. It is now available to all classes, once unlocked, and can replace grenades. Personally, I prefer grenades over the C4, but I like having the option to use it and still have my normal secondary abilities.

Perhaps the biggest game changer is what has happened to the Tactician. No longer does he wield spawn grenades to give his allies a tactical advantage at any point on the map. Now, like Capture & Hold objectives, there are several specific spawn points on the maps that the Tactician must capture in order to utilize. And just like Capture & Hold objectives, they can be captured by the enemy by simply being within a certain radius of the spawn point. The more Tacticians in the area, the faster it gets captured. This change prevents a common occurrence from KZ2: a Tactician would run into an objective and drop a spawn grenade right there, which would cause extremely chaotic battles and cause objectives to be lost or won entirely too easily. Guerrilla to fix this early in KZ2 by eliminating the temporary invulnerability when spawning in at locations other than the base, but ultimately it still caused a tremendous amount of chaos, and grinding through lives. The new system works better, I think, though it makes camping them entirely too easy. Once you know where the spawn points on a map are located, it’s just a matter of finding a good position to be the spawn camping bastard that everyone hates.

Another minor gripe is that the Marksman’s tier 3 primary skill allows them to remain cloaked after making a kill with a silenced weapon, but the only silenced weapon the Marksmen has regular access to is a silenced pistol. There is no option for a silenced rifle, assault or sniper, in his arsenal. Besides the silenced pistol, I think there’s a silenced submachine gun that the Tactician has access to, but, needless to say, the game’s sniper class should have normal access to a silenced sniper rifle, even if it’s not as powerful as the mid or top end rifle.

All in all, I’m very impressed with the game, and I’m really looking forward to seeing everything else that it has to offer. Though I’m currently unemployed and short on funds, I’ve already pre-ordered my Helghast edition, primarily for the cloaking sniper figurine. I’m even weighing the cost of getting the PS Move and Sharpshooter accessories to try to take the experience to another level, but I’m not yet convinced to do that… For those of you interested in a rating, I’d have to give KZ3 something in excess of 9.0 but not quite a 10. It’s really, really good, but then I’ve only seen a single level.

Review: Star Trek Online

I’m a Star Trek fan, but let’s get something straight: I am neither a Trekkie nor a Trekker. I am just a fan that has enjoyed most of the Trek legacy and hopes that a new series will one day wander back on to TV sans Rick Berman.

So when I found out about STO, I was curious. The boss, Mr. Cardassian Head himself, egged me on and convinced me to pre-order and get the lifetime subscription. He swore that if I wasn’t entirely satisfied, he’d pay me back for it AND let me leave his lab for a month. Can’t lose right?

First of all, I knew he was lying from the start. He’s evil and a genius, but not unpredictable. Still I get to be a lifetime subscriber to a new game that I’ll get to watch evolve. Still a win because I still wish I had that option with World of Warcraft.

So I buy it and start playing. Early on, I noticed that the missions are even more repetitive than those in WoW, but there are the missions that break the monotony. But for the most part you fly to a solar system, destroy any enemies and/or scan anomalies and sometimes beam down to a planet to do the same. Boring after the 30th time you do this.

The thin motivation for doing this countless times is that you get bridge officer points to spend on skills that improve your ship piloting and combat abilities, and when you get enough you get promoted and a new ship.

Though I’ve now had this game since mid-January, I hadn’t played much since February when I made Commander 4 and stopped playing out of boredom. On Friday I decided to try to get some more of my money’s worth out of the game, and pushed my character up to Captain 5 today.

You want to know something? This game is still boring.

The one saving grace of this game is that if you get a sufficiently powerful ship, like a Defiant class escort, there are times when it actually feels like and episode of Star Trek Deep Space 9.

Beyond that, it mostly feels like any Bermanized Star Trek series: predictable, combat oriented, pointless, and more often than not, boring.

How predictable? I don’t even bother to read missions any more other than to see where I’m supposed to go. The biggest surprise I’ve had in the game recently was a new game mechanic that required me to to shoot control panels to deactivate a force field that protects another control panel that disables another force field. Brilliant. Who do I kill now?

There’s the option to explore as well, but that exploration yields more of the same with little more to offer. You never discover anything amazing, or never before seen… Just something ripped out of the existing series’ mythology.

Maybe I’d enjoy this game if I played it with a friend or two but as of now, I’d rather not play at all because if the boredom doesn’t irritate me, the bugs and limitations do.

While you do move about in a 3Dish environment while flying your ship, you are limited to moving forwards or backwards like an airplane: you can’t just go straight up or down, you have to angle your ship generally in that direction while moving forward or backwards.

You don’t currently have the ability to see any interior of your ship except for the bridge. When on a planet, you have to move around plants you should be able to just push through. And worst of all: today I discovered a bug in the bridge officer point rewards. It indicated I received 501 points, but gave me less than 470, which makes me wonder how many points I’ve been cheated out of.

My verdict? Don’t waste your time with STO unless you have money to throw away and are the most diehard of Trek fans. If that’s the case, I can give you a PayPal address to send money to every month.

The boss hasn’t stopped laughing at me. I wonder if I can find a way into his bedroom tonight to smother him in his sleep…

Oh a rating? I’m not even going to give it one, because that might give someone the mistaken impression that I have some dignity left after becoming a lifetime STO subscriber.

Review: Super Street Fighter IV

I’m not entirely sure why he wants me to review a video game, but as he says, I’m not the evil genius, he is. So, I’m going to be telling you a bit about my personal experience with Capcom’s Super Street Fighter IV on the PlayStation 3 console. Once upon a time, I was reasonably good playing Street Fighter II and its derivative titles, but until last year I hadn’t played any of the titles in more than ten years. Suddenly, there was Street Fighter IV, and a fellow associate convinced me to get it. The Evil One apparently hadn’t figured out how to incorporate games into his grand scheme at that time, so this was purely a fun oriented mission.

I enjoyed playing SFIV, though being an old school player, I never could get the hang of the ultra combos or the EX special moves. Nonetheless, my associate and I had a lot of fun beating the hell out of one another. Among our favorite competitions where Dan vs Dan (damn blonde Dan to hell!), Ken vs Abel, and Chun-li vs Sakura. A quick explanation about Dan vs Dan: we felt that Dan was such a pathetic character that if we managed to master him and be able to defeat anyone with him, then we’d truly be masters of the game. Needless to say, we feel that we’ve achieved this goal.

All that said, there were some things in SFIV that got dropped from SSFIV that I miss. They’re insignificant, mind you, but I miss them anyway.  In the new Endless Battle mode, which grew out of the ability to create custom matches, you no longer see the character your opponent has selected until after both of you have chosen. Again, not significant, but it was that touch that lead to the Dan-Dan matches more than anything else. I also miss the win-loss statistics that were given after each match so you knew readily when you were on the losing side for the night. Most of all, I miss some of the alternate outfits and colors that I either unlocked or bought in SFIV, now to be replaced by others in SSFIV. Maybe they’re still there, waiting to be unlocked again, but I think some went away. (Blonde Dan, if you’re gone, may you rot in hell!)

The new features are quite nice, however. I do like the fact that all characters are unlocked right from the start; I never did unlock Seth, Akuma, or Gouken on SFIV despite beating the game with all the other characters. I also love the replay feature; especially after performing two ultra combo finishes for the first time ever against a stranger last night. (I’m sure he’s wanting my head as much as the boss probably does…) Most of all, I love the fact that all the characters now have two ultra combos that you can choose from when you select your character.

Ultimately, the things I miss from SFIV aren’t enough to get me to even put that disc in my PS3, but I still miss them. Maybe they’ll return in an update… I hear the Evil One has contacts at Capcom… But I’m not going to hold my breath. If I had to rate the game, I’d give it 9.0 out of 10.0 somethingerothers as a game in general, and a perfect 10 in the fighting game category.