Shadow of Mordor Review

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Welcome to the adventures of Broseph and his Caragor, Corgi!

In this group of Glorious Writing Bastards… thing, I am pretty much the biggest Tolkien geek to have ever graced it. So with that out there you can assume why I lost my shit when Shadow of Mordor came out.  Granted, it may not be a perfect Lord of the Rings story, it is still a kick-ass, and I risk sounding pretentious saying, it might also be a revolutionary game. After what happened with Destiny, I decided to wait it out and watch a few reviews. I never heard anything catastrophic so I ran to the nearest game store and bought it for the PS4. Somehow I got all the Pre-order DLC, I don’t know why though, but I’m not complaining!

Was my excitement well worth it? Well its a complicated answer.

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*Bane voice* “So you think darkness is your ally…?”

The game as a whole was really good. Combat was great, voice acting was superb. But its crowning achievement was the Nemesis System, the system that simulates the Orc “hierarchy” in the game. Orcs you encountered will recognize you, they’ll remember your actions throughout the story (although not that many) and what you did to them if they survive their encounter with you. Hell, there was even a small unspoken detail in which they can be brought back from the dead and the proof of this can be seen on their bodies: Bleached skin and blue eyes is one of them.  This adds a lot of  role-playing opportunities to the game, cause you know, I’m into that. But to fully understand what I meant by “complicated answer” I need to dissect the game a bit. Here goes!

Story:

The story was by far the most disappointing part of the game. You play as Talion, another damned bird referenced name, a ranger in the Black Gate of Mordor who not only is murdered but used in a blood sacrifice along with his wife and son by servants of the Dark Lord Sauron, The Black Hand. You are denied death by an Elf Spirit that sticks to Talion and is essentially immortal until he can kill the one that cast the curse on him. It seems like your typical revenge story. The thing that ticked me off was the fact that the campaign itself was really short, in fact it felt like a giant tutorial.  But further analysis by fans indicates that the story is SO much deeper than what was presented, though don’t count on it until it’s confirmed.

The most frustrating thing is the fact that it just ends with… no ending. There was no ending to the game. I remember beating it, and I was just sitting there for 5 minutes asking myself “That’s it!?  What happened?!”.

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Dominating Orcs can be a life savor in large battles.

Look at it this way, You are receiving the best blow job ever, its great, you’re having a great time and then, out of nowhere, the girl or guy just leaves. Without a word. Nothing, that’s it. And you are left confused all alone in the room. That’s how the game and story played out for me at the end. With the way the game ended it left me a sign there might be  a sequel or a post game DLC. To be honest, I don’t understand what happened during the development. There is a story DLC that was announced Day one after release but it won’t be available until Winter. The game just fell short at the end, was it time constraints, budget cuts, both? I don’t know.

Gameplay:

Afraid of this being just an Assassin’s Creed clone? Yeah, throw that out of the window. The game has its own unique charm when it comes to gameplay. Picture this, Arkham City’s combat and Assassin’s Creed’s Stealth had a baby and this baby made a system in which your assassination targets were unlimited and unique in their own way. THAT is what Shadow of Mordor is. It borrows a bit from other games, to make its own formula. And it did a good job at that. In some ways you can say that it did better than Assassin’s Creed.

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Stealth killing a captain can be very satisfying sometimes…

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An Orc, with rank and power level.

In the Nemesis System, Orcs have their own personality, their own names and ranks. The difficulty on each target can range from completely pathetic to “hardass motherfucker that’s immune to every special attack and has to be killed in honorable combat or the shadiest way possible”. Let me give you an example from personal experience. There was ONE Orc that would not go down, the dude had a shield, I couldn’t vault over him and had a poison weapon… oh and his health regenerated for each hit he did on me. That’s how hard the game can be sometimes. But the rest of the game is filled with the generic Orcs, you can take a about 40 of them, but you CAN be overrun so you should avoid huge conflicts, especially since there are 2 ranged classes in Orc society and they don’t always wait for their turn A la AC.

Conclusion:

Should you get this game with its annoying Mass Effect 3-ish ending and vast DLCs problem? I still say yes. Story aside, the game is wonderful and the new Nemesis system makes it one of the most unique games currently for this generation.  I assure you that you will probably have fun with it, killing legions of Orcs and assassinating captains and Warchiefs for maybe 15 to 20 hours and it will still have a bunch of replay value. But if you want to be smart, wait a couple of months, when they (undoubtedly) release a “GotY” edition with all DLCs, don’t waste the extra cash or if you got the game like me, wait for reviews and maybe get the Season Pass if its worth it, and it better be. The biggest problem the game has? Dev/Publisher decisions. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going back to terrifying and killing Orcs around Mordor.

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I need to teach Corgi to stop playing with his damn food!

-Broseph

Microsoft Sure Knows How to Anger Indie Devs

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Microsoft has really dedicated itself to dig its own grave since the anouncement of the Xbox One. One of their latest attempt is a new policy that won’t allow indie developers to release their content for the Xbox One unless it hasn’t already been realease for other consoles—Microsoft HAS to be the #1 choice if they want release on their platform. Really? Is this at all necessary? I get that you’re trying to get content for your system first, but this kind of stuff simply turns the developer into your enemy, not your friend.

Now, Microsoft did clear up that this would be handled case by case and it wouldn’t apply to everybody, so there’s a chance that the games will still get through and the policy won’t really be acted upon, but it still is an unnecessary obstacle.

Indie developers tend to be small studios trying to make a living off the one thing they love, Video games. When you tell an indie developer that they have to prioritize you if they want to make money they’re going to, quite naturally, get pissed. People need to make a living, if you want to make a deal with a developer so that they launch a title for your console first, go ahead and buy them off, but don’t force them.

One of two things will happen if this policy stick: Small indie devs will only launch their content on the console to their benefit, and later deal with Microsoft, in hopes of a multi release, or they forcefully launch the Xbox first, risking their income (Not all games sell the same in every console, plus the PS4 has a sales lead so far.)

Removing freedom from the devs might look like there’s a chance for profit, but pissing off the people that can generate that profit for you will certainly not earn you their favor.

-TumblerPiston

New Call of Duty Announced… Yay…

So the new Call of Duty trailer and release date of is out, and, not surprisingly, I’m not impressed. I doesn’t take five seconds to realize Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is going to be, by far, the most grandiose of all of the CoD game to date. With empowering exoskeleton suits, fancy ship cloaking and—let’s not forget—House of Cards’ Kevin Spacey, this new installment to the franchise is gearing up to be a “testosterone filled, action-pumped joy ride to the extreme”.

The DreamCast team has yet to discuss the trailer, but the rest of the guys have never been much for loving this particular gaming series, if anything I’ve been the most supportive of it with a couple of random purchases here and there. There’s no denying that the CoD games are good—great single-player and addictive multi-player tend to do that for a game. The issues stand in the multi-player experience. Many players, including myself, claim that the multi-player side of the game is a rehash installment by installment, logically, issues have arisen as Activision releases one on a yearly basis, but here’s the thing, I don’t blame them.

The FPS genre doesn’t really allow for a huge level of diversity, it always come down to “Have this gun, now go kill something.” Also, the fact is they’re making money, any smart business would continue to milk this as long as there’s a profit involved.  Quite frankly I also agree with what the CoD fans that say “if you don’t like it, then don’t buy it.” It really all comes down to preference, CoD is going to keep doing what it does well, shooting stuff and making players rage, and, though I’m not going to dish out $60 for an experience I’ve already had plenty of times, anybody else is welcome to do whatever they want with their money this November 4th, free country and all.

Broseph’s Adventure in Star Wars: The Old Republic

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Play as Sith, Go around a planet and do quests. Have to choose whether to be a goody two shoes or a complete psychopath, apparently being a smart Sith just doesnt exist in this game. Go around doing quests taking over the planet for the Empire, feel like I accomplished a lot. Find out that the Jedi/Republic side of the story is going around the same planet cleaning up my mess and undoing everything I did. Feel like I accomplished nothing. Leave the planet after doing the last quest, to only then tell me that there is an extra chapter to planet’s story and do more quests. Ask myself, why I should do this all over again. Leave for another planet, do the same thing, right before I leave… they drop the same extra quests bullshit again… Why did I play this game? KotOR 3, that’s why. But that’s not going to happen, now that Bioware decided to think that distorting the story, and completely stopping the possibility of a true sequel is a good idea.

There was nothing in the game that made me feel accomplished with my character’s advancement. I didnt feel like an awesome ass Sith Lord, All I felt like was a dual lightsaber wielding lackey going around and doing favors for people. The biggest restriction this game gave itself was that it is declared cannon. I’m a big Star Wars fan myself, but if this game wasn’t canon in any way, it would have led to many unconstrained amazing adventures that would’ve added to the continuing playability of the game and a more a interesting story.
Maybe add a multiplayer function where a faction conquers the other’s capital, they would receive huge bonuses, and access to enemy exclusive items, you know… like a war. But at no point in this game, which is about a war between the Sith and the Republic… did it actually feel like an actual WAR! At no moment did I feel like my faction was risking resources or territory in a battle. Just a hack slash, thank you ma’am  PvP matches like again, most games. SWTOR didn’t have anything innovative, it was simply a company’s semi-successful attempt to take advantage of the growing MMO market and showing nothing exciting for it.

The game was just a WOW in space except 10 times more repetitive, and even more annoying with the “Free to play” policies these people have. Too many limitations and no baiting to make me interested in being a subscriber,the crafting did not help in any way (And, seriously, Companions doing every thing for you?) I had no motivation in finishing the game.  Just look at it this way. Finish the game with one character/class, only to begin anew and go through the tedious cycle all over again. It’s no surprise why some people preferred Star Wars Galaxies. The game was rich in community and more of a “form your own adventure” thing.

The Space Combat, was atrocious… its just a rail shooter. At first it was fun, but i noticed a few small problems right away. First, you are limited 3 space missions a week, if you are F2P . 3? 3 missions for a rail shooter that adds little to nothing to the Games War or my story. I eventually got a subscription, missing 3 days  cause of a patch they screwed up mind you, and after playing the space missions for a few days I noticed it… They are recycling MAPS. all that money put in this game and they repeated the Dragon Age 2 problem. And second problem… it doesnt contribute in any way to the DAMN WAR! SWTOR is advertised as a faction based MMO, yet its a game where everyone wins. Its the sort of experience that strives to make you feel powerful and important, when you really aren’t. You are not changing anything, you are not unique in anyway in this game.

What makes an MMO worth playing is its people. On the positive side, the comunity is pretty good, for me, this is what kept me in the game for so long. If you can find a good group of people, I assure you, you WILL have fun with them. This isn’t a game to be playing like an antisocial adventurer. Some missions require you to either grind or take buddies with you, the latter is extremely advised, mainly cause you receive less to no experience if you are higher level than the quest or enemy. So the game is a no no, playing solo.

In the end, The Old Republic is not really a bad game. There are just loads of better MMOs to play out there, some being non subscription based like Guild Wars. The crafting is limited and confusing for most of the time, being handled by companions and only having 3 crafting skills at a time. Once you start playing its recommended you find a good guild to join and make friends, that’s where most of the fun is. But my biggest recommendation is to play Guild Wars 2 or the Star Wars Galaxies EMU, do not pay a subscription fee when there is a Non-sub counterpart that offers a more complete MMO experience.

                                              -Broseph

Why I’m Afraid of The Elder Scrolls Online and Other MMOs

Recently I’ve developed a fear. I’ve been playing video games for a long time and I grew up in a scene where single player and split-screen multiplayer was the go-to experience—presently, it’s not quite like that. Since the advent of the internet the gaming world has changed—admittedly, for the better—and we’ve reached the point where I start to worry, thanks to the Prevalence of MMOs.

MMO’s have been around for a long time (since the 70s to be more precise) and they’ve been a great source of entertainment for many players around the world, and I personally have enjoyed playing them, but MMOs themselves are not the cause of my concern. What has become a problem is major developers turning their unique and amazing singleplayer experiences into a mish mashed MMO shit-storm. One of the most recent examples is The Elder Scroll Online (ESO).

Combat feels a little lackluster, but there's hope for better future versions

Combat feels a little lackluster, but there’s hope for better future versions

We had a chance to play ESO in two of the recent betas, and we’ll have a lot to say about that later (Let’s just say it was good and bad) and excluding our critique, the game is a perfect example of my particular fear. Now that “Bethesdimax” has turned our beloved Elder Scrolls series into an MMO, will we still see single player games? Will we get to visit the provinces of Tamriel in all of its glory instead of the dumbed down experience MMOs have proven to be? My assumption is, no. Think about it, how could it be good for business?

ESO is supposed to encompass ALL of the world of Tamriel, if Bethesda releases another installment it would basically be saying “I know that ESO is doing great, and is providing a grand scale Elder Scrolls world, but let’s release a much better single player experience” as a long running fan I would simply cut my monthly subscription, and dedicate the next few hundred hours of my life to this game, and sure it’s a temporary loss, but temporary in millions is still “Not good for business”.

Another great example was the disappointment that Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR) was. Now, I didn’t quite play this to its finishing point so I can’t say how good or bad it was, but Broseph did and, well, here’s a quote from an upcoming article.

“There was nothing in the game that made me feel accomplished with my character’s advancement. I didn’t feel like an awesome ass Sith Lord, All I felt like was a dual lightsaber wielding lackey going around and doing favors for random people.”

The previous being a sentiment that players of the original Knights of The Old Republic would never share.

I believe that this series would have done better had they taken the single player direction. SWTOR is games were you could strip the multiplayer out and would still be an entirely playable game, albeit a crappy one.

But speaking of a more personal experience, to me the immediate definition of a “Dumbed down single player experience for the sake of multiplayer” is Neverwinter. I played both of the Neverwinter Nights series previous installments (Including an exorbitant amount of mods) and they were amazing top-down RPG games that required strategy, know-how and dedication to triumph over the challenges the game threw at you. Neverwinter, the MMO iteration of the game, is literally a hack-and-slash 3rd person game that as far as I read (I couldn’t bear playing another minute of it without risking permanent life indignation) is entirely soloable, a prospect that only the mad would attempt in the previous entries (especially the second one.)

This is why, fair readers, I am afraid. I believe there will be a time where almost every game will incorporate some form of multiplayer, but this is something that I see in the future, where there’s people with better ideas and the tech necessary so that games don’t require getting intensely dumbed down. My greatest hope is that I’m wrong, and that ESO will be an amazing game worthy of the Elders Scrolls name, but quite frankly, I doubt it.

-TumblerPiston