enfrdeitptrues

FPS

  • A-Tech Cybernetic VR (Oculus Rift) (Preview)

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    Game Info:

    A-Tech Cybernetic VR
    Developed by: Xreal Games
    Published by: Xreal Games
    Release date: March 15, 2017
    Available on: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift
    Genre: FPS
    Number of players: Single-player though co-op is promised
    ESRB Rating: Mature for violence, blood, gore, strong language
    Price: $14.99

    Thank you Xreal Games for sending us an Early Access preview code of this game!

    I have played several FPS and zombie shooters in VR; there are some good games and some poorly implemented ones out there. Even though A-Tech Cybernetic VR is still in Early Access, it’s pretty well polished and looks quite promising so far. Co-op gameplay and more content is promised and I look forward to checking both out when they become available.

    Before diving into the first of three chapters currently available, you should select your difficulty level and go through the tutorial. In there, you’ll learn how to move, equip, fire, and reload your weapons. To move, you can either walk or teleport. If you easily get motion sickness, you may want to stick with the teleportation system.

    A-Tech Cybernetic VR
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Lots of weapons to choose from; solid controls and gameplay
    Weak Points: No co-op yet and the interface is a little rough around the edges
    Moral Warnings: Lots of violence, blood, and gore; strong language including h*ll, d*mn, f*ck

    There are plenty of weapons in this game ranging from lead pipes, crowbars, pistols, and machine guns, to bow and arrows. The hard part is scrounging enough ammunition. You can holster your unused pistols and carry around a flashlight to illuminate dimly lit areas and a pipe or a crowbar as a standby for when your ammo is low.

    Many areas will be inaccessible until you locate the required key cards. It’s kind of funny how big they are in this game which makes them easy to grab in VR but totally a hassle if they were that size in real life. They’re about the size of a clipboard and you’ll often find them near mangled bodies of soldiers or scientists.

    A-Tech Cybernetic VR
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 88%
    Gameplay - 17/20
    Graphics - 9/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 64%
    Violence - 0/10
    Language - 5/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    There is a lot of blood and torn apart bodies in this title. With the dimly lit areas and excellent sound effects, you may get a jump scare or two throughout your playthrough. The visuals are well polished and this game utilizes the Unreal Engine nicely.

    Aside from the zombies and violence, you’ll encounter a fair amount of language in this game. The scientist whose body you’re inhabiting isn’t too fond of your presence and is quite verbal about his displeasure with your company. You’ll hear him say h*ll, d*mn, and f*ck a few times. I like how my Steam name was shown in the game’s dialogue. Instead of pronouncing my name, he often referred to me as grunt. The voice acting is good in this title.

    A-Tech Cybernetic VR ran pretty well for me and I did not experience any issues while playing the game. There is some minor graphical distortion while loading, but that didn’t impact the gameplay any. I like what I am seeing so far and the price of entry is a reasonable $14.99. If you’re still unsure, there is a free demo to try. I look forward to following this game’s future progress and updates toward its release later this year.

  • Aftercharge (PC)

     

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    Game Info:

    Aftercharge
    Developed by: Chainsawesome Games
    Published by: Chainsawesome Games
    Release date: January 10, 2019
    Available on: Windows, Xbox One
    Genre: First Person Shooter
    Number of players: Up to six online
    ESRB Rating: E10+ for fantasy violence
    Price: $19.99

    Thank you Chainsawesome Games for sending us a review code!

    Aftercharge is the latest game produced by Chainsawesome Games. We previously enjoyed and reviewed one of their previous titles, Knight Squad. Aftercharge is a cross-platform multiplayer game that has two teams of three players either defending or attacking energy generators scattered across the map. Currently there are only a handful of maps, but hopefully more will release in time, along with the upcoming competitive mode.

    After completing the tutorial, players can try to find an online match or play against some bots locally. Unfortunately, playing against humans during the week is rather difficult. On the weekends, you can usually find a match to join. No matter which route you take, the matches will consist of two battles where you switch sides/roles.

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Multi-platform multiplayer; bots to play against
    Weak Points: Not enough humans to play against; not many maps
    Moral Warnings: Robotic violence

    As a Workonic robot your goal is to destroy all of the energy extractors that the enforcers are guarding. The robots are invisible, though they can be detected by the enforcers when you either punch or are in close proximity to the enemy. Each extractor takes ten punches so chances are you won’t have an opportunity to take it down without being noticed.

    There are several robot models to choose from and each one has a unique ability/power. There can only be one of each type on a team. I liked the bubble and healing shields, but there are powerful laser and pulse attacks available too.

    The enforcers have different abilities as well. Some can call down air strikes, while others can place magnetic traps or proximity mines. The recharge stations and jump pads are helpful too. All of the abilities require energy to be placed, which can be replenished at a recharge station or at any functional energy extractor.

    Aftercharge
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 80%
    Gameplay - 15/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 94%
    Violence - 7/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    A match is won by either all three robots being deactivated or by all of the energy extractors being destroyed. Though robots can be resurrected by teammates, energy extractors cannot be repaired or restored after they have been damaged.

    The visuals are very colorful and as you level up, you can unlock new color schemes for different characters. The characters also have different dances and moves available too. The maps are adequately sized for six players and are not too big or cramped. Hopefully more well-designed maps are added to the game, as there isn’t much variety at this point in time.

    There isn’t much background music, but the music that plays as your robot is decommissioned is pretty funny. Thankfully, the bots are pretty good at reviving downed allies. The rest of the sound effects are fitting.

    Aftercharge is pretty family-friendly and mostly has robotic violence. The Workonics can punch the enforcers, but there is no blood.

    Overall, Aftercharge is a fun game that could benefit from more players and maps. Until that happens, I can’t justify paying $19.99 for this game. It’s certainly worth picking up on sale though. The cross-platform play is nice, but ultimately doesn’t matter if you’re playing with bots most of the time.

     

  • Aim Hero Preview (PC)

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    Game Info:

    Aim Hero
    Developed by: ProGames Studio
    Published by: ProGames Studio
    Release date: September 5, 2016
    Available on: Windows
    Genre: FPS
    Number of players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: Not rated
    Price: $4.99

    Thank you ProGames Studio for sending us this game to review!

    First person shooter games are very competitive and your virtual life depends on fast reflexes and accurate aiming.  Aim Hero can help you improve your skills in popular games like CS:GO, Overwatch, and Paladins. Support for more mouse configurations is in the works for this early access title.  Currently this game is a little rough around the edges with its limited music and map selection, but it still has potential in increasing your skills to give you an edge over your competition.  

    There are seven training modes with numerous targets to shoot with varying speeds, directions, and angles.  Most of the training modes last three minutes with the exception to the Fast Aiming mode which only lasts for ten seconds.  A majority of the training sessions have unlimited ammo except for the Penta mode which only gives you a few shots to hit the moving targets that maneuver horizontally across the screen.  

    At the end of each session you’ll get a training report which will display the total shots fired and how many of them hit the targets.  Your accuracy will be calculated and scored accordingly.  Your misses are tracked and subtracted from the score.  Negative scores are possible and your best score will be stored for future reference.  Ideally your best score will be the current round indicating that your aiming is indeed improving.

    Aim Hero
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Great training software into increase your accuracy in popular FPS games
    Weak Points: Not a wide variety in maps or music; the targeting doesn’t seem to be precise
    Moral Warnings: You’re just shooting targets so it’s pretty clean

    Some of the training sessions only have one map while others have a few to choose from.  The developers plan on adding more.  All of the map choices have bare bone visuals so don’t expect the lush and realistic environments that popular FPS games offer.   

    I achieved a 97% accuracy in the Classic mode that has multiple targets fading into existence.  If you miss, there will be a mark left on the screen for a short while afterwards.  If you’re looking to hit moving targets then you’ll find the Strafing, Penta, Simple, and Lightning Gun modes fun.  Most of the game modes equip you with a pistol but as the title suggests, the gun shoots lightning in the Lightning training session.

    Despite having a good Gamdias gaming mouse and a high quality SteelSeries mouse pad, I can only blame my aging body for my poor performance in the Reflex mode.  Targets are fairly predictable in all of the other modes except for this one where they suddenly appear and disappear just as quickly.  You have to be fast and have decent hardware to do well here.  Like most FPS games, Aim Hero will bring out carpal tunnel symptoms if you have it.  I’ve had to do a few wrist shakes mid-session to ease oncoming pain.  

    Aim Hero
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 62%
    Gameplay - 15/20
    Graphics - 4/10
    Sound - 3/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 100%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Cat owners should take note that their cats may find the moving red targets fun to watch.  One of my cats enjoyed watching me play and sat in front of my monitor to join in the fun.  Since you’re only shooting moving targets and not humans, this game is safe to play for people of all ages. As long as your wrists can handle the stress!

    The visuals and sound effects are pretty bare bones and there is only one music track that constantly loops as you’re playing.  You can lower the music volume as well as adjust your difficulty in the game options if you desire.  Hopefully more unique maps and music get added to this game in the near future.

    Despite the lack of content, there’s plenty of potential in this title.  The developers actively listen to and implement suggestions given by the community.  The asking price of $4.99 is reasonable and this game is worth picking up if you want to entertain your cat or improve your FPS skills.

      

  • Amid Evil (PC)

     

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    Game Info:

    Amid Evil
    Developed By: Indefatigable
    Published By: New Blood Interactive
    Released: June 20, 2019 (PC); coming 2020 (Switch)
    Available On: Switch, Windows
    Genre: Action-Adventure; First-Person Shooter
    ESRB Rating: M for Mature: Blood and Gore; Intense Violence
    Number of Players: single player
    Price: $19.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    We’re in the timeline where people are starting to make spiritual successors to all of those retro first-person shooter games that shaped the genre to what it is today. Don’t get me wrong, I do love many modern shooters out there, but there is something special about the ones that were released back in the distant ‘90s. They just scratch that itch that games like Halo, Call of Duty, Rainbow Six, Counter-Strike, and so on just miss out on. There are dozens upon dozens of Doom homages and Doom WADs (Wheres All the Data?) out there but Doom wasn’t the only retro FPS out there. What about Quake, or Hexen/Heretic, or even Blood?

    Amid Evil remembers that it wasn’t just Doom that shaped the FPS genre. Amid Evil, by Indefatigable, is a retro-inspired FPS that blends the movement and feel of Quake and taking the setting and scenery of Hexen and manages to do something of its own. The narrative starts with evil (dubbed the Evil Force) having already won. They’ve taken over the seven sacred worlds. Many heroes and warriors have attempted to save them—all have failed. Recently, a distinct warrior from a distant world has successfully traversed the Black Labyrinth and obtained its prize, the Axe of the Black Labyrinth, acing as a symbol and key allowing him to travel to and from the corrupt worlds. The Ancients have dubbed thee, The Champion.

    The Gateway of the Ancients acts as the hub world of Amid Evil. You will choose the difficulty by walking through specific gates, with each path acting as an interesting obstacle as to what to expect. Easy is a simple path to the portal that will lead you to the levels, while Hard is a small platforming section. Each difficulty either increases or decreases the number of enemies in a level. There is a fourth semi-secret Evil difficulty that does require some finesse to find the secret entrance to it. It’s for a good reason too because not only does Evil further increase the number of enemies in a level, it also increases enemy movement and a few other things. It’s no wonder they tucked it away.

    Each world is divided into an episode that includes three levels and a boss. The first two levels must be done in order, while the other four can be done in any order of your choosing. The last world is only accessible by completing the six previous worlds. Worlds and levels start rather simple and start to get complex and huge in the later parts. Every world looks different from each other as well. Astral Equinox, the first world you access has you going through temples and caves, while The Forges starts in a murky and foggy outside and ends with you in an industrial refinery. Every level is wonderfully crafted and contains huge arenas where you get swarmed by enemies and tight corridors with enemy placements that halt your progress. Most levels have switches that you simply run into to activate platforms or bridges, and keys that unlock doors, giving you a valid excuse to explore these wonderfully-crafted levels.

    Amid Evil
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Huge expansive levels; every weapon is a joy to use and unique from each other; enemies are wonderfully designed; great sound design in both music and sound effects
    Weak Points: Some of the later platforming sections can be a bit bothersome; the Star of Torment weapon can be a bit overpowered against bosses
    Moral Warnings: Incredibly violent, ranging from body explosions, the staining of the enemies blood to the walls, bisecting, decapitation, and impalement of enemies to walls; huge usage of magic with some being occult (in the context of the game)

    Amid Evil wouldn’t be a Quake spiritual successor if it didn’t have a bunch of secrets to find. Some of these secrets can range from pretty simple finds to “How did he even think of that?” I still haven’t found every secret. Most secrets give you earlier access to weapons that you would find later on in a level, health pickups, or the scarce powerups, which only a few are found throughout the entire journey, and even less so on higher difficulties. Even the boss levels have secrets to find.

    Taking queues from Hexen and Heretic, Amid Evil’s weapons are different from the average FPS. Instead of guns like a pistol, machine gun, shotgun, and rocket launcher, The Champion uses mystical weapons of great power because a mere bullet isn’t going to stop some of these nasty enemies. The introduction weapon is the Axe of the Black Labyrinth. The very prize that The Champion received from the Black Labyrinth is his go-to melee weapon. What makes this melee weapon useful beyond the first level compared to may other weapons is that it “senses evil.” With the swing of the weapon, it will bring enemies right in front of your face to be swiftly chopped down. The enemies will come to you, making the axe an ever-useful tool for more situations than you realize.

    The second weapon obtained is the Staff of the Azure Orb, a staff that shoots homing orbs. It does decent damage but is best used against flying enemies. The third weapon obtained is the Whisper’s Edge, a sword that shoots wide beams that have a bit of crowd-control with it striking multiple enemies. The fourth weapon is the Voltride, a trident that shoots lightning and has the unique property of being able to overcharge an enemy. Every weapon has an overkill feature, which for the most part is just a more exaggerated form of killing. The Voltride is pretty unique in that regard that its overkill serves a purpose. Any enemy overkilled by the Voltride will have the lightning dispersed to nearby enemies, also making them explode.

    The fifth weapon obtained is the Celestial Claw, a creepy dark staff that pulls planets from random timelines and dimensions, shrinks them down, and shoots them at the enemy. If that isn’t the absolute coolest thing any piece of media has done, I don’t know what else to say. It’s pretty much the rocket launcher of Amid Evil—and with it being Quake inspired that does mean you can rocket jump. I guess, in this case, it would be “planet hopping” instead. The sixth weapon (and my personal favorite), is the Star of Torment. Anyone familiar with the Flak Cannon will understand its function. This mace-like weapon shoots dense crystal shards at enemies, being very devastating at close ranges. The final weapon, and the strongest of them all, is the Aeturnum. It’s the strangest looking weapon out of the bunch too. It’s more or less the BFG9000. If you want a lot of enemies dead, it will not disappoint, but its ammo is also the rarest to come across.

    It doesn’t end there with these crazy weapons! Each weapon has an alt-fire, activated with Soul Power. Every enemy in the game when killed drops souls, and when you have enough, with the simple press of the right mouse button, actives Soul Mode, empowering all of your weapons. Your Axe of the Black Labyrinth becomes this mashup of a drill and chainsaw, tearing through anyone in its path. The staff of the Azure Orb releases a stream of orbs that liquify enemies into water. Whisper’s Edge’s projectiles become larger, pierces through enemies, and bounces off of walls. Voltride lets out a continuous beam of electricity and automatically overcharges every enemy. Celestial Claw decides it needs slightly more power and instead shoots [i]Suns[/i] that also have a much larger explosion radius. Star of Torment takes a page from the Azure Orb and gains homing properties. These shots also split into shards that target more enemies. And now you’re wondering how can the Aeturnum be powered up, it already kills everything, right? Well, in this case, Aeturnum now shoots [b]black holes[/b]. It’s when you want enemies to become extra dead—and believe me, it does come in handy.

    Enemies are a cornerstone of almost any FPS. Bad enemy design or bad AI can sour the experience. Amid Evil has unique enemies for every world, which not even Doom or Quake have. One world has a melee enemy called the Sun Seeker that is pretty similar to the first enemy you encounter in the game, but this enemy instead jumps towards you. Alone, these enemies are weak and die very easily, but it is when they are either in packs or combined with other enemy types that they become the most dangerous enemies in the game. The enemy AI from what I’ve seen also actively tries to dodge your attacks. In most cases, enemies would simply run headfirst into certain death but there are many instances in which these enemies will sidestep your weapons. The fact that each world has different enemies and the combinations of these enemy placements are done with such care and thought that makes every encounter just as enjoyable (or heart-racing) as the last.

    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 96%
    Gameplay 19/20
    Graphics 9/10
    Sound 10/10
    Stability 5/5
    Controls 5/5

    Morality Score - 60%
    Violence 0/10
    Language 10/10
    Sexual Content 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural 0/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical 10/10

    Another thing that I cannot stress enough is the sound design for enemies. Every enemy has unique sounds for their movement, their attacks, and even their deaths. Distinct sound is crucial for fast-paced games as people react faster to sound queues than they do for visual queues and the fact that Indefatigable understood this shows that he knows his work. The musical score is also great. It isn’t a heart-pumping soundtrack like most of its genre, instead aiming for ambiance. These are strange, mystical worlds that The Champion is going through so the music echos through your speakers, immersing you in its magic.

    Now with it being a retro FPS means that its visual style will reflect it. Yes, Amid Evil uses low polygon textures— and yes it is a cost-cutting measure, but just because it doesn’t have the graphical fidelity of modern FPS's out there doesn’t mean that it is bad. Amid Evil is a colorful game and the low-quality textures work out in its favor. The enemies may not be any more detailed than an N64 game, but I think it makes the enemies feel all that more alien. The usage of lighting and shading are expertly done, and when you look closer, all of the weapons are spites—and they look amazing. The developer is also implementing RTX (ray tracing) features for people with more modern Nvidia graphics cards so the shading and textures look even better. As of the moment of this review, the RTX is in its beta features and only available for Steam. The later levels also get ridiculous in its design and are a spectacle to behold.

    Getting to the moral warnings, Amid Evil is a hyper-violent game, not to the surprise of many. Enemies that you wouldn’t even expect to bleed can potentially explode into a bloody mess with stains left on the walls and pools of blood on the ground. With the overkill feature, enemies explode, are decapitated, bisected from the torso, crucified to walls, and disintegrated. The Champion can be on the receiving end of violent deaths too. He can be squished or crushed, burned, sliced in half, and explode.

    When going through the lore, there are many statements to magic, supernatural elements, and occult mentions, in the context of Amid Evil. Pretty much everything, either used by the enemy or yourself is imbued with magic. An entire world has The Champion face off against mages and wizards, as well as their crystal beasts created by alchemy. The first world accessed is one half of the planet Astronmica, where inhabitants on the dark side worship the moon god. The other half is where the worshipers of the light side worship the sun god. The level of The Sacred Path contains wraiths as well as a being called shrubniggurath, which is not only a humorous plant-based pun but also a reference to the similarly-named deity of the Cthulhu mythos. Then there are the demons of the void, creatures of pure darkness and chaos. And a bit of a minor spoiler, after you defeat the final boss, The Ancients overseeing the whole thing invite you to chill with them for the rest of eternity.

    I only wish I played Amid Evil sooner. Made mostly by one guy, with some assistance from his publishing team New Blood Interaction, Amid Evil is an excellent entry to the FPS genre and will gain a cult following if it already hasn’t done so. Nearly every part of this game is crafted with such care, love, and attention that it’s really hard to be unimpressed by it all if you have even the slightest interest in first-person shooters. Of course, it isn’t a perfect game with some platforming sections in the latter half being iffy and the Star of Torment being able to turn bosses into a joke. They are but very minor weak points in such a joyous adventure and there are many reasons to come back to it, from epic fights, finding the rest of the secrets (not just secret locations, but secrets as to how weapons interact with enemies too), trying out Evil difficulty which can prove to be a worthy challenge to even the best players, a horde mode where they shove you in an area and have you fight against every enemy in the game in random assortments for as long as possible, and a secret level that’s worth experiencing for the sheer hilarity of it all. There is also free DLC available called the "Ancient Alphas" that let you explore alpha levels and areas, as well as levels that were removed from the final product.

    I love Amid Evil and could honestly say even more about it, but I think I’ve gone on long enough. For $20, it offers more than enough for the ride. I completely understand if the brutal violence and the multitude of supernatural elements happen to turn you away as it is quite a lot to take in. However, if you can get past that, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice if you like shooters and skip over this gem. Keep an eye out for the Switch version coming out sometime in 2020 if you’d prefer a more portable experience.

  • Arizona Sunshine (Oculus Rift)

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    Game Info:

    Arizona Sunshine
    Developed by: Vertigo Games, Jawalkers Interactive
    Published by: Vertigo games
    Release Date: December 6, 2016
    Available on: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift
    Genre: FPS
    Number of players: Up to four players
    ESRB Rating: Not rated
    Price: $39.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    Thank you Vertigo Games for sending us review copies of this title!

    Trapped in the Arizona desert with sand and zombies as far as the eye can see, your only hope is to make contact with other survivors via a weak radio signal.  Armed with a pistol and a few rounds of ammo you make your way across the desert in search of better weapons and supplies.  

    Traveling in this 3D VR game is done via teleporting so motion sickness isn’t much of an issue.  The only problem I experienced was with all the turning around I did; I would lose tracking due to my body facing the wrong way.  To properly enjoy this title, you’ll need plenty of space to move around in.  

    Up to two players can join in the campaign, which only lasts a few hours if you can survive through it.  There are four difficulties: easy, normal, hard, and apocalyptic. Scrounging around for ammo will be necessary since it’s not always lying about.  Be prepared to search through abandoned cars, filing cabinets, and buildings, with some of them requiring to be unlocked first.  

    Arizona Sunshine
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Well-polished VR experience; funny dialogue; cross-platform multiplayer support
    Weak Points: Short campaign; nobody to play with online
    Moral Warnings: Lots of blood, guts, and gore; swearing (d*mn, sh*t, f*ck)

    The zombies are most vulnerable to head shots and conserving your ammo is a must in this game.  Not surprisingly, many of the zombies are outfitted with football helmets and construction hats to protect what’s left of their brains.  When shooting the limbs off of zombies, they’ll still come crawling in your general direction so make sure they’re completely dead before writing them off.  Some of the zombies are fast and others take their time coming your way.

    Killing zombies is a pretty messy process so expect to see lots of blood, guts, and gore throughout your desert adventure.  The main character has some pretty funny commentary throughout the game, and most of it is laden with colorful language.  Not that they’re even remotely attractive, but some of the female zombies are wearing bikinis.

    There are two game modes with one of them originally being temporarily restricted to Intel i7 processors.  After much backlash from consumers, the developers apologized and opened up all of the modes to everyone.   Besides the campaign, there’s a Horde mode which supports up to four players.

    Arizona Sunshine
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 86%
    Gameplay - 16/20
    Graphics - 9/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 59%
    Violence - 1/10
    Language - 5/10
    Sexual Content - 6.5/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    The Horde Mode tests your survival skills against waves of zombies coming in your general direction.  After each successful wave, some ammo is made available to you.   There’s a limited number of explosive barrels and grenades to utilize, so make them count!   

    While virtual reality is still in its infancy, it’s difficult to find other people who own VR headsets.  Sadly, your chances of finding people to play online against are even slimmer.  Playing between platforms (Rift + Vive) is possible over a local area network (IP address).  

    If you’re looking to blast zombies to bits in VR with friends online, then you may want to look elsewhere.  The single-player experience is still fun, but short.  I wouldn’t recommend paying full price for Arizona Sunshine, but if you catch it on a sale it’s definitely worth picking up.  It’s a gory, but funny game that’s definitely not suitable for children.

  • Arkshot (PC)

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    Game Info:

    Arkshot
    Developed by: Code Avarice
    Published by: Digerati DIstribution
    Release Date: May 19, 2016
    Available on: PC/Mac/Linux
    Genre: FPS
    Number of players: Up to four players online
    ESRB Rating: not rated
    Price: $4.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    Thank you Digerati Distribution for sending us a review copy of this game!

    Code Advarice has been around for a little while and we reviewed their temporarily removed Steam game, Paranautical Activity.  Their latest title, Arkshot, is an online only first person bow shooter game that has remained on Steam, but nobody is buying or playing it anymore it seems.  I’m really bummed because this game looks fun and I really wanted to shoot stuff with a virtual bow and arrow after watching the Arrow TV show.

    Sadly, Arkshot is multiplayer only and there are no bots to play against if you have no friends or anyone online to spar with.  During my limited play throughs I’ve only seen three other players besides myself online at the same time.   Because of the multiplayer requirement, I only recommend picking up this title if you have friends that own it as well and they’re willing to play it with you.

    Once you find people to play against, you’ll have plenty to do with the five game modes and fourteen maps to choose from.  Some of the standard game modes are included like Capture the Flag, King of the Hill, and Deathmatch.  There are a couple of new modes as well including Slow Down where each kill makes you slower and Head Hunter where you have to collect skulls and bring them to a kiosk to get credit for them.  Most of the game modes are won by being the first to achieve the pre-determined number of kills.

     
    Arkshot
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Unique bow based first person shooter game with a wide variety of maps, customizations, and game modes available
    Weak Points: Nobody to play against and no bots make this game useless unless you have friends that own it
    Moral Warnings: Violence with triangulated blood on the ground when you’re shot with an arrow; language (sh*t) within the game; crude and sexual humor with erotic and bodily noises as taunts

    If you’re new to the game or stuck with nobody to play with, I highly recommend checking out the training area.  In here you’ll learn the basic maneuvers and about the available power-ups.  Be sure not to loiter since a sky arrow comes in your general direction every twenty-seconds.  Moving is done via the WASD keys and the shift key activates sprinting.  The space bar is used for jumping and you can combine that with a right mouse button to glide.  

    There are a ton of power-ups including invisibility (until you draw your bow), arrows that shoot clones of your character, bubble shields, shrinking for thirty seconds or double your stamina and movement for half of a minute.  One of my favorite power-ups is the ability to jump in mid-air.  Some arrow power-ups are available as well including smoke screen arrows, push back arrows, and weightless arrows that bounce and pierce.    Since you can only carry ten arrows at a time, you’ll have to be on the lookout for resupply stashes or pick up used arrows off of the ground.

    There are lots of customization options to set your floating ranger like character apart from the rest.  You can set the color of its cloak and hat via the color bar.  The face can be customized with a decent variety of masks.  There are quite a few bows to choose from as well.  One of them is named “boner” as it’s fashioned with a spine like appearance and has skulls on it.  While that bow wasn’t phallic in design, other parts of the game are sexualized with the ability to taunt players by yelling “penis” at them or orgasmic sounds.   There doesn’t appear to be swearing in the taunts, but the chat box’s description says to type your “sh*t” in there.  

    Arkshot
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 58%
    Gameplay - 5/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 69%
    Violence - 4.5/10
    Language - 6/10
    Sexual Content - 6.5/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 7.5/10

    Like many first person shooter games, violence is to be expected.  When shot a player’s body will disappear and leave a puddle of triangulated blood.  The graphics as far as I could tell are decent.  They’re fairly colorful and moderately detailed.  I can’t comment on the multiplayer maps since I was not able to create or join a match successfully.  The training area is well thought out and easy to navigate.  There are plenty of targets with various moving patterns to practice on.

    From what I was able to hear, the background music is decent and the announcer voices are well done.  Again, I can’t comment any further without being able to play the game.

    While I don’t anticipate being able to play this game any time soon, I do hope to try it at a LAN party or after a Steam sale or a Humble Bundle.  Perhaps when the game gets even cheaper more people will be online to play it.  Until then I suggest holding off on getting this game until you know you have people to play against.

  • Arktika.1 (Oculus Rift)

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Arktika.1
    Developed by: 4A Games
    Published by: Oculus
    Release date: October 10, 2017
    Available on: Oculus Rift
    Genre: FPS
    Number of players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: Mature for Language, Blood, Intense Violence
    Price: $29.99

    Thank you 4A Games for sending us this game to review!

    Arktika.1 was developed by 4A Games who are known for their popular Metro series. With Oculus publishing this title, it should come as no surprise that it’s exclusive to the Oculus Rift. While there is much to like in this game, there are some serious flaws that should be considered before buying it.

    The story is serviceable as the remnants of mankind are scattered into various colonies during the second ice age. You are deployed to an outpost in Russia called Arktika.1. Your task as a mercenary is to protect the outpost’s inhabitants from violent raiders and zombielike creatures called Yagas. There are also machine threats like turrets and hostile robots to contend with as well. In other words, you’ll have plenty of things to shoot at during your missions.

    Besides rechargeable armor, you’ll also be equipped with two different kinds of side arms. They reload in different ways too. One of them reloads by bringing it to your hip while the other revolver-like gun is reloaded by flicking it to the left and the back. They hold different amounts of ammo as well and they start off carrying ten and six rounds respectively, but you can upgrade their magazine size with money earned during the missions.

    Arktika.1
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Great graphics; fun and exciting gameplay
    Weak Points: Scaling is off as I had to alter my height in the Oculus settings for this to be playable
    Moral Warnings: Extreme violence, blood, language, and blaspheming; males wear full body armor but females wear skintight clothing in frigid temperatures

    Depending on your mission performance, you’ll be awarded credits for your hard work. If you destroy valuable technology, it will be deducted from your pay. Between missions, you can shop for upgrades in your control room. I highly recommend getting the laser sights and damage multipliers on your guns. The armor upgrades are worthwhile as well. The interface is easy to use and I like how the items are 3D printed in front of you after you purchase them. The meta VR headset training room is neat too.

    Movement in this game is done via teleportation. All you have to do is locate a hologram of yourself in designated locations and click on the A button and suddenly you’re there. This is great for boss battles as you can move around quickly before they have a chance to reach you. The missions will give you plenty of locations with varying degrees of cover. You’ll have to find the best vantage points to take down different bandits and Yagas in your way.

    The enemy AI is pretty good and they’ll take cover and move around quite a bit making them hard to hit. Unlike your typical zombies, the Yagas are pretty nimble. Take them out quickly and don’t let them gang up on you.

    Visually speaking,  this is one of the better looking VR games I have played.  The characters are lifelike and I found it humorous that the males are fully armored and dressed appropriately for the -36 degree Fahrenheit weather while your female companion is wearing the equivalent of a scuba diver’s outfit.  

    Arktika.1
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 80%
    Gameplay - 16/20
    Graphics - 9/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 3/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 66%
    Violence - 4.5/10
    Language - 0/10
    Sexual Content - 8.5/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    The voice acting and background music is well done as well. The Russian accents seem spot on. The raiders will hurl all kinds of insults at you and pretty much use every curse word known to man. Apparently not much changes with cursing in the future. Unfortunately, God’s name is thrown around flippantly in this game as well.

    As great as this game is, there is one serious flaw: the scaling. When I first launched this game it was unplayable. I didn’t realize that I wasn’t supposed to be sticking out of the vehicle in the intro. I figured I was a gunner in the army style jeep like vehicle. Nope. I was suppose to be sitting in the vehicle and able to reach an access card in the glove compartment. While I was able to open the glove compartment, I wasn’t able to reach the access card. Closing out and recalibrating my sensors didn’t resolve this issue a second time around, though I was in the vehicle this time. According to this Reddit thread many people have experienced this issue and there have been several refunds as a result. There is a developer based work around of setting your height to 5’9” and that seemed to do the trick for me (I had it set to 5’7” previously). Even with the new height, I ran into other obstacles like properly holstering and reloading my weapons, and using various levers in game. As annoying as those issues are, the game is still playable for the most part.

    Thankfully, Oculus has a good return policy as long as you apply for a refund within fourteen days and have less than two hours of playtime. Hopefully, you’ll have a smoother experience than I did if you choose to purchase this game. There is a lot to like, but there is also plenty of content to warrant its Mature rating.

  • ATOMEGA (PC)

    boxart
    Game Info:

    ATOMEGA
    Developed by: Reflections
    Published by: Ubisoft
    Release date: September 19, 2017
    Available on: Windows
    Genre: FPS
    Number of players: Up to eight online
    ESRB Rating: E 10+ for fantasy violence
    Price: $9.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    Thank you Ubisoft for sending us this game to review!

    ATOMEGA is an online only first person shooter where you begin as a comet-looking ATOM and collect blocks to grow and evolve into the ultimate Omega form. In total, there are seven forms, which all behave differently and get more powerful yet slower with each transformation. The ATOM form is nimble, invincible, and unable to shoot anything.

    Once you collect your first block of mass you become a Cel and can finally fire your laser a few times before it temporarily runs out of energy. In this form, you can move quickly and you’ll have to since you’re the most vulnerable target on the map. More evolved EXOFORMs can shoot you down or simply stomp you back into your ATOM form. Fallen EXOFORMs are a great place to collect mass and grow rapidly.

    ATOMEGA
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Fun and family friendly game; low price point
    Weak Points: Online only; four player minimum; not much gameplay variety; only one map; unbalanced
    Moral Warnings: You’re shooting down other creatures

    There is only one map in this game and it has areas that are only accessible for smaller EXOFORMS. Hiding from the bigger creatures while collecting blocks to grow is a great way to stay alive. When firing at other EXOFORMS, be sure to aim for their ATOM as it seems to do more damage. Another helpful thing to do is to collect and use hacks to give you more power, defenses, or escaping capabilities.

    In total there are ten different hacks you can utilize, but you can only arm and use one at a time. The blink hack is useful for teleporting you out of danger quickly. Extra shields or firepower come in handy for intense battles as well.

    All in all, ATOMEGA is a simple game of trying to stay alive long enough to become the most powerful creature.  My kids really enjoy this game and it’s not bad when it comes to violence as the EXOFORMS turn back into blocks when they’re defeated.  The biggest hurdle is making a comeback once you're shot down.  Being a Cel in a world of Superiors is pretty rough.  

    ATOMEGA
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 78%
    Gameplay - 14/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 94%
    Violence - 7/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Players earn experience for each completed match and they can unlock new colors and glyphs/decorations for their blocks. Players who achieve Omega status are awarded massive points and an Omega symbol in the player rankings chart. Steam trading cards and achievements are also available if you’re into those.

    The visuals are charming and the map is well laid out. I wish more maps and gameplay modes were available though. Maybe more content will be released in the future? There’s not much to say about the audio as there isn’t any background music. The sound effects are good though.
    Upon release, there are plenty of matches to join. However, you need at least four players to join or else you’ll get booted out of the five minute waiting/warm-up session. The asking price is a reasonable $9.99, but make sure that people are still playing the game or that you’ll have friends to join you before biting the bullet. ATOMEGA can be enjoyed by the whole family but it’s best in short spurts as its simple concept may lose its appeal after a while.

  • Crysis (PC)

    System Requirements
    CPU: Intel Pentium 4 2.8 GHz (3.2 GHz for Vista), Intel Core 2.0 GHz (2.2 GHz for Vista), AMD Athlon 2800+ (3200+ for Vista) or better
    RAM: 1GB (1.5GB on Windows Vista)
    Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT, ATI Radeon 9800 Pro (Radeon X800 Pro for Vista) or better with 256MB or more of Graphics Memory
    Storage: 12GB
    Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c Compatible
    Optical Disk Drive: DVD-ROM
    OS: Microsoft Windows XP or Vista
    DirectX: DX9.0c or DX10

    Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

    On an island filled with a hostile army and infested with unknown aliens, you need to adapt, engage, and survive with the help of your nanosuit. In this game, you play Nomad, a Special Forces officer equipped with a nanosuit that grants you enhanced armor, strength, speed, or the ability to cloak. Your main objective is to rescue U.S. nationalists that have been taken hostage. The nationalists taken were archeologists; your secondary objective is to find out what they uncovered and why the Korean People’s Army (KPA) seized control of it. These are your main objectives, and you get several others throughout the game.

     

    Crysis is not a sequel to FarCry; the storyline is completely new, so you don’t have to be familiar with FarCry to enjoy this game. The latest CryTek engine (CryEngine2) is used, but there is a price to pay: even the most powerful computers can be brought to their knees running this game at the highest settings. I have a quad core, with two 8800GTs running in SLI, and I felt my system struggle to deliver decent frames per second. As painful as this was, the game was still worth playing and upgrading for.

    The Head’s Up Display (HUD) is pretty similar to the one in FarCry. There’s the enemy detection meter, which alerts you when you have been seen by your opponent. Your available ammunition, grenades and health are on the lower right hand side. If you have a scroll mouse, scrolling changes your weapons and pushing in on the scroll wheel brings up your nanosuit menu.

     

    Some missions will have you download KPA intelligence from their computers. There are frequency jammers and anti-aircraft devices that will have to be deactivated as well. To get the job done you can use any weapon or vehicle you can get your hands on. Whatever was uncovered by the archaeologists wasn’t human, and it’s not friendly either. Your squad will be picked off one by one and you\'ll have to watch out for the KPA as well as the aliens.

    The island is pretty big, and you can walk, drive, or fly around it. You can drive civilian vehicles as well as army jeeps and tanks. Some missions will require flying. Even though you\'re not a pilot you can find yourself in a helicopter or a carrier jet. Like you, the vehicles have hit points, so make sure you get out of it before the damage reaches 100%.

    For weapons, there are pistols, sniper rifles, grenades, machine guns, shot guns, chain guns, rocket launchers, and more. You can install add-ons to many of the guns. For example you can add laser pointers, sniper scopes, and silencers. There are a couple of occasions when you get to laser paint a target with your binoculars and call in for an air strike. Needless to say, there are a lot of explosions to be seen. Finding weapons is easy; ammunition on the other hand can get tight at times. If you run out, you have your fists.

    The soldier artificial intelligence is really smart. They will attack you from multiple fronts, and they will snipe you and communicate to others when you have been discovered. You’ll be called a variety of names when discovered. There’s a lot of foul language in this game. The alien AI isn’t that smart, but their lack of brains is made up for in brawn.

    The graphics are dazzling if you have a powerful enough system to enjoy the highest settings. The landscape is gorgeous and the alien stronghold is breathtaking. The character models are very lifelike and believable. The physics in this game is great, too. You’ll actually feel like you’re there when there are earthquakes and avalanches. Rocks and debris will fall everywhere, so you have to keep on your toes.

    When it comes to the sound effects, they are phenomenal. The weapons, explosions, and vehicles all sound realistic. The voice acting is great as well. The musical score is good too, as it adds mood without overdoing it. Perfect.

    This game ran pretty stable for me. My only complaint is that it often started in windowed mode and I had to do an alt+enter to fix it. There are some patches available that I applied.

    Multiplayer is available and there are plenty of servers online. It’s not too hard to find a populated server to join in the fray. There are two game modes. Instant Action is a deathmatch game that allows up to thirty two players. Power Struggle has you play as either the KPA or the US Special Forces. Whichever side you are on, you have to develop new weapons, retrieve alien technology and annihilate the headquarters of your opposition. In multiplayer modes, you have access to weapons not available in the single player game. These include mines, TAC launcher (nuclear warhead), nano disrupter grenade, repair torch and more.

    Crysis is rated M for the violence, language and gore. When you find the remains of several of your squad mates, it’s not a pleasant sight to see. When being attacked, your enemies and comrades will use expletives. Every swear word in the book is used.

    If you like first person shooter games, this is a title worth looking into. Just make sure you have a powerful enough system to handle it. This game is very fun and the story is good. Like many mature games, I don’t recommend playing this with young children nearby.

    Final Score
    Game Play 18/20
    Graphics 9/10
    Sound 9/10
    Stability 4/5
    Controls 5/5
    Appropriateness 36/50
    -4 for war violence
    -2.5 for blood spray
    -2.5 for gore
    -5 for swearing
    Overall 81%
     
  • Crysis 2 (PC)

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Crysis 2 (PC)
    Developed By: Crytek
    Published By: Electronic Arts
    Release Date: March 22, 2011
    Available On: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
    Genre: FPS
    Single/Multiplayer
    ESRB Rating: M for violence and swearing
    MSRP: $60

    (Click here to jump to the moral section!)

    Thank you GamersGate for sending us this game to review!

    Unlike the previous Crysis entries, you don’t start off in the famous Nanosuit or the elite government agency that uses them. You play a marine named Alcatraz who is being shipped out to New York for a mission that you’re not fully briefed on. En route, you're attacked and the submarine you’re on is sunk by aliens. Barely surviving, you are pulled out of the water by Prophet, the main character from previous Crysis games. It's not long before he gives you his Nanosuit; it’s the only thing that can keep you alive in this new urban battlefield.

    Like many games, you start off with a quick tutorial showing you how to crouch, sprint and jump. You’ll also learn about the Nanosuit's capabilities, including the ability to cloak, use heat vision and activate an armor mode. There’s also a tactical visor that can show you the locations of objectives and the closest ammunition stashes. I’m happy to report that the ammo stashes are plentiful in Crysis 2.  My biggest complaint in the original Crysis games is that there was never enough ammo. Grenades are a little harder to come by, so I usually stock up on them.

    Besides grenades, you can have some fun with C4 explosives, guided missiles and machine guns.  Some shotguns and sniper rifles are thrown into the mix as well.  You can customize your weapons to use laser sights and suppressors/silencers.  When you kill aliens you earn points to upgrade your Nanosuit even further. You can learn new attack moves and abilities like enemy tracking.

    Highlights:

     

    Strong Points:Beautiful graphics; engrossing story and cut scenes.

    Weak Points: No offline LAN or stand alone dedicated server package; if you want to play this game online you have to play on rented servers.

    Moral Warnings: Lots of swearing and blaspheming; every swear word imaginable is used; violence is a given and there’s plenty of human and alien blood and guts to be seen.

     

    You’ll have plenty of enemies in this game.  In fact, you start off the game with both humans and aliens firing at you. The marines are after a Dr. Gould, the only one who has the answers regarding your suit and its abilities to decode the alien virus that is killing the population of Manhattan and possibly the world. So instead of trying to kill Dr. Gould, you must find him and bring him the answers he is looking for.

    Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. Most of the game is a cat-and-mouse chase and every time you get close enough to make contact something gets in the way and you have to meet up with him at another location. While the character development is believable, I miss the camaraderie of being on a tactical team in the previous games.  You’re mostly on your own in this game.  Fortunately, later in the game, human enemies stop shooting at you and there are some moments when you fight alongside a Marine squad.  The AI is top notch and the fights are fast and furious.

    The fights can get really tough and the odds are never in your favor.  The suit is great but the energy on it doesn’t last very long. Energy is what holds your shields up or keeps you cloaked.  If you run out of energy your defenses will be down, quickly followed by your health.  If the battles are too much for you, you can change your game difficulty on the fly.  Saving on the other hand, cannot be done whenever you want.  Crysis 2 uses check points and when you die, you’ll be brought back to the last check point. As much as I miss the quick saves, I will admit that the check point system is pretty generous and there are plenty of them.

    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 92%
    Game Play: 17/20
    Graphics: 10/10
    Sound: 9/10
    Controls/Interface: 5/5
    Stability: 5/5

    Morality Score - 64%
    Violence: 2/10
    Language: 0/10
    Sexual Content: 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural: 10/10 
    Cultural/Ethical/Moral: 10/10

    For those gamers who like achievements, there are enough here to satisfy you. There’s a funny achievement for going past red light cameras and getting speeding tickets.  The developers have a sense of humor and it shows in some of the Easter eggs put into this game.  You can also collect dog tags, souvenirs and car keys to gain access to new vehicles and gear.

    When you’re done with the single player campaign you can try your hand at multiplayer.  Your Nanosuit upgrades and enhancements carry over into the online play. There are ranked and unranked servers so if you care about your character’s progress, only play on ranked servers.  The ranked servers keep track of your character's experience earned which unlocks new player classes and gear.  Ranked servers can also compare your character stats with other players wold wide.

    Like many multiplayer games as of late, your character gains levels from experience earned by killing opponents and completing objectives. The upgrades you can get vary on the type of soldier you are.  For example if you prefer to snipe, the enhancements you will get include better sniper rifles, scopes, and heat vision to detect cloaked players. If you're sneaky, your available upgrades will improve your stealth, tracking, and cloaking abilities.

    The online system is managed by Gamespy and there are a lot of servers but only a handful are populated. I bet this is because you can only play on rented game servers and can’t do a LAN game or set up your own server with a dedicated server package.

    There are various game modes including Assault Mode, Extraction, Team Assault, Capture the Relay and Instant Action.  Many of the modes involve capturing or defending objectives while the Instant Action and Assault Modes are just about killing the most enemies.  Instant Action mode is the equivalent to death match where you want to have the most kills under your belt before the round is over. The killing is pretty brutal in multiplayer, for example; you can slit your opponents throat and watch all your deaths in slow motion.  The maps are all new but still take place in an urban environment.  I have played on indoor and outdoor maps and have found them very roomy and detailed.  The maximum number of players per map is 16.

    While I thoroughly enjoyed the single player campaign I can’t recommend Crysis 2 for everyone.  The violence is pretty intense and there’s a lot of human and alien blood splattered as you’re pumping lead into them.  Violence is to be expected in a first person shooter but these days foul language is bundled in as well.  I’m not talking about random taunts here and there either.  Every swear word I can think of is used in this game repeatedly and the Lord’s name is thrown in for good measure too.  Those are my biggest complaints and they’re substantial ones.  On a positive note, there’s no sexual or supernatural content anywhere.

    The graphics are stunning and the city environment is believable.  I haven’t been to New York so I can’t vouch for how accurate the maps are.  While I like the city settings, I must say that this entry into the franchise isn't as “open” as the jungle-based predecessors. Yes, you get rewarded for exploring a little but there are a lot of locked doors that guide you on a rather narrow path.

    The music blends into the game very well.  When the battles get intense the music sets the mood and keeps your adrenaline pumping.  The voice acting is spot-on and is mostly getting fed to you via suit transmissions. However in battle you’ll hear soldiers talking and taunting the aliens calling them Squids and so on.

    With the excellent story, audio and visuals Crysis 2 is quite a fun ride. There is multiplayer but without LAN support or the ability to set up my own server I won’t be playing it.  I don’t have the urge to play through the single-player campaign again and quite frankly would rather play a game where it’s safe for my kids to be within ear shot of it.  I really didn’t like the extreme swearing and wish there was a way to disable it.

     

  • Crysis 3 (PC)

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Crysis 3
    Developed by: Crytek
    Published by: Electronic Arts
    Release Date: February 19, 2013
    Available on: PC, Xbox 360, Playstation 3
    Genre: First-Person Shooter
    Number of Players: Single-Player
    ESRB Rating: Not rated
    Price: $12.50 on LeapTrade

    Crysis 3 is the fourth game in a graphically stunning series of video games(previous ones being Crysis 1, Warhead, and Crysis 2), and definitely improves upon it's predecessors in that aspect, but does it live up to the rest?

     Crysis 2, the previous game, was shunned by players for being too different from the first, Crysis 1.  It has a weak multiplayer community, linear gameplay, and a very different environment from Crysis 1. Hopes were high that the third game would go back to it's roots and return the original gameplay and style that made Crysis 1 so popular. It wasn't in vain. 

    Crysis 3 is a very gorgeous game, to say the least. Environments are beautifully detailed, and the level design in that regard is top notch. The game plays itself off in a futuristic scenario where aliens, called 'Ceph', have been waking up around the world and the protagonist, Laurence Barnes (Also known as Prophet), has had to kill them off. 

    However, at the same time, a corporation called Cell is using a private army to make use of the energy the aliens have, and exploiting customers by providing what seems at first free energy. New York City has been encased in a so-called "Liberty Dome", and Cell have created a large energy harvesting facility within. Prophet was captured by Cell, however you start off the game with a friend and former squad member, Psycho, making a return to the series and setting you free. You join Psycho in a resistance against Cell.

     

    Crysis 3
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Great gameplay, refined and fluid, a lot of replay value
    Weak Points: Multiplayer is almost completely dead, campaign is only 6-8 hours long
    Moral Warnings: Bad language & profanity used frequently, lots of violence

    All of this results in the game being set in New York City (again - Crysis 2 was set there as well), however with a big twist.  Because of the 'Liberty Dome' created by Cell, New York City is now essentially a massively over sized greenhouse.  This makes for quite a unique environment. The city is overgrown, run down, and inhabited by animals, however not quite an unrecognizable jungle yet.

     The gameplay is fluid, and with the nanosuit making a return, it's very versatile. The suit has several functions ~ two of which are constantly active, and two which are optional. Constantly active suit functions are super-strength and super-speed, and optional functions are going invisible and using shield mode. The nanosuit also includes a Nanovision function which is pretty much a thermal mode for the visor. The nanosuit itself is also able to be upgraded, and you can increase the effectiveness of certain actions by doing so. The level and map design fits the nanosuit really well, and makes for a fluid and streamlined experience. The four different difficulty levels will appeal to a very large skill demographic, and whichever difficulty you play on, you can always approach situations the way you want to and finish each level in your own way.  Enemies will chatter in the background as you fight them, and the A.I. is very impressive overall, as in the previous installments of the Crysis series.

    Crysis 3
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 96%
    Gameplay - 18/20
    Graphics - 10/10
    Sound - 10/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 60%
    Violence - 5/10
    Language - 2/10
    Sexual Content - 9/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 8/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 6/10

    There is a fairly large arsenal of weapons in the game, and almost all weapons can be upgraded with extra parts found off other weapons, such as grenade launchers, scopes, and grips. One very particular weapon makes it's way into the game, a very special bow that is connected to the power of the nanosuit and has enough power to 'stop a rhino dead'. It has several different arrow tips and modes which make it a very deadly and versatile weapon indeed. All the weapons are fun to use and it's very good to be able to upgrade them.

     Crysis 3 has a lot of bad words, however I didn't notice profanity as much as I thought I would. The violence in this game is only mild, and never does it reach a point where I would say it's particularly 'gory'. Your enemies consist of Cell and the Ceph, and neither have much gore that can be inflicted on them. Cell will receive bullet wounds and you can see blood, but there is no dismemberment or that kind of thing going on. Ceph, being aliens, will only spurt out jelly-like flesh. The most gore you will see are a few rare parts where you will see nanosuit users that have been dissected as Cell has tried to remove their nanosuits.

     The multiplayer component to the game is well made, but it has an almost completely dead player base in most areas of the world and is almost completely unplayable because of it. When you do find a match, it's really fun, and you can upgrade your weapons and unlock new ones. It features weapons and attachments that are found in the campaign, however you unlock them differently.

     Overall, the game is streamlined, fun, versatile, and immersive. You will most likely find yourself playing certain levels - if not the entire game - several times over just so you can play them a different way. 

  • Crysis Remastered (PC)

     

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Crysis Remastered
    Developed By: Crytek/Saber Interactive
    Published By: Crytek
    Release Date: September 18, 2020
    Available On: Windows, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One
    Genre: Action/First-Person Shooter
    Number of Players: 1
    ESRB Rating: M for Blood, Strong Language, Violence
    MSRP: $29.99

    Thank you Crytek for sending us this game to review!

    Way back in 2007, Crysis was one of the most groundbreaking first-person shooter games ever released at the time - and it's still aged incredibly well. Despite being stuck on a now-ancient DirectX 10 codebase, it pushed the cutting edge of graphical fidelity for several years after its release - you couldn't reasonably expect to play the game on maximum settings at 1080p for several years, and at 4k? You couldn't really do that until the last few GPU generations. Now that computers can indeed run Crysis, it was time for Crytek to challenge the cutting edge once again, with Crysis Remastered.

    Interestingly, rather than go straight for the high-end like they did last time, they first released Crysis Remastered on the weakest piece of commonly-supported hardware this time around, the Nintendo Switch. While it was by all accounts an excellent port, of course it doesn't hold a candle to either PC version on proper hardware. After considering community feedback, they chose to delay the game in order to make it look as good as they possibly could. And it does look really, really good - but they also made some compromises that have many gamers scratching their heads.

    It first has to be said that all versions of Crysis Remastered used the 2011 Xbox 360/PS3 version of Crysis as a base, rather than the original 2007 PC version. From what I have read, there were pros and cons to this decision. The game engine itself was a bit better optimized, and filled with less spaghetti code overall, so in some ways it makes sense. On the flip side, at least some of those compromises crept their way into this 2020 release, even on PC.

    For example, it's well known that the console releases removed a level, the divisive 'Ascension'. While I never got that far on Crysis for PC, my wife did (she wrote our original review all the way back in 2008 here. Be warned that this rather old review does not conform to our modern review format.) From what I understand (and vaguely remember from watching her), it was a level where you pilot an airborne craft, and it felt quite a bit different than the rest of the game. Nevertheless, it's no longer present, even on PC.

    Crysis Remastered
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Entertaining gunplay, with enough variability and challenges to keep things interesting; excellent graphics
    Weak Points: Based on a more recent console port rather than the PC original, so along with the graphical upgrades were certain downgrades; no multiplayer like the original had; no save anywhere (which is a huge downside for me)
    Moral Warnings: Lots of realistic blood and violence, though blood can be turned off; most common curse words, including 'f*ck', 'sh*t', 'b*st*rd', and uses God's name in vain, like 'God d*mn' and 'Jesus'

     

    As for the story and gameplay itself, feel free to refer to the aforementioned older Crysis review for more details, but to summarize, you play as Nomad on a team of elite combat troops for the US government who are setting foot on North Korean islands in order to rescue people who you lost contact with, and eventually investigate some rather strange occurrences there - without the Koreans' permission. So you end up fighting perhaps hundreds of Korean forces, not to mention aliens, while inside your powerful Nanosuit which grants you superhuman speed, strength, defense, and even cloaking. Together with the arsenal you arrive with and eventually collect while on the island, you are a force to be reckoned with. Being able to run, jump, swim, and take hits better than pretty much anyone else around makes for a fun time, despite being vastly outnumbered. And it's still fun to play.

    The default controls mirror the console releases rather than the PC original, so one of the patched-in options was to enable classic Nanosuit mode, which allows you to use middle-click to choose the suit mode, somewhat like the original had. Gun attachments still require their own button, unlike the original that had them also accessible via middle click. Leaning was also recently patched back in also, though the default keystrokes aren’t really usable, and should be adjusted to match the old bindings (Q,E) if you use classic nanosuit mode. But it’s slowly getting there. Of course controller support is quite good now as well.

    Other reported issues (or differences, depending on how you look at it) include alterations to some physics behaviors, and a lower frame rate for some of the destructible environments. I admit that I have not seen a good side-by-side comparison of these things, but I accept their word on this. What I have seen, though, is that there are now checkpoint saves only - and I emphasize only. Before, those existed - but you could always save whenever you wanted to. The lack of save anywhere is a huge quality-of-life loss that makes this game no longer feel like a proper PC game. And for a series (and developer!) that not only started on PC, but became famous because of how much they took advantage of the platform, this is a tragedy. Also, the multiplayer modes are all gone - this is now a single-player only affair. While I didn’t play it too much, Crysis did have a fun LAN play mode (not to mention a long dead GameSpy online).

    Crysis Remastered
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 86%
    Gameplay - 17/20
    Graphics - 9/10
    Sound - 9/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 68%
    Violence - 1/10
    Language - 5/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 9/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 9/10

    With those rather unfortunate caveats out of the way, I've really enjoyed my time with Crysis Remastered. The spark that makes the game so great - the combination of stealth and bravado, the excellent weapons handling, the open and interesting maps, human and alien opponents - are all here and just as interesting as they always were. The music, voice acting, and combat sound effects are just as excellent as they always were. Some of the odd technical quirks of the original, like sometimes starting in a 24Hz video mode (just to name one), are no longer present here. The real-time ray tracing, that doesn't require RTX hardware to use (though it does take advantage of it – and I do have it available) is also great, and helps with the immersion. They also raised the bar for maximum settings to a new ‘Can it run Crysis?’ mode that’s above Very High that will punish even the most powerful computers available today, just like Crysis did back in its day.

    Having played both versions back to back, I definitely prefer how Remastered looks and plays despite the flaws, with one caveat - I really want my real-time saves back. I sincerely hope they give us this badly-missed feature back. They have been actively patching the game since release, with several major issues already patched, so there is hope. I was also surprised that the game does not utilize cloud saves in any way; I have several other Epic Game Store titles that do, so it’s not a platform issue. As an aside, this game does work on Intel Ice Lake integrated graphics on my GPD Win Max at 1280x800 (though with minor graphical glitches) on low; that broke with various driver versions, though it works again on the latest Intel beta driver. The sky doesn't look right, though. It otherwise looks fine as long as you don’t look towards the sun. Either way, the game engine scales up and down fairly well to both higher end and lower end hardware.

    Violence is of course incredibly prevalent in this title, as you shoot and kill quite a number of human and alien creatures. Blood is disabled by default, which is nice, though I suspect finding bodies to loot might be easier to find with it on (I played with blood disabled). Nevertheless, even with it off, there are some disturbing scenes with impaled humans where blood is shown, even with it off in the options. Being a game where you are at war, curse words are also uttered, with words like 'f*ck', 'sh*t', 'b*st*rd', represented, and God's name is spoken in vain, with phrases like 'God d*mn' and 'Jesus'.

    Crysis Remastered is a very pretty remake of an already great-looking game that has stood the test of time as a modern shooter classic. This remaster, while imperfect, does little to take that away. Crysis was, and is, a lot of fun to play, whether in this form or the original. While it’s hard to say that Crysis Remastered is better than the original in every way, because it isn’t, it’s still a great way to experience Nomad’s first foray in a Nanosuit – much to the sadness of North Koreans and aliens everywhere.

  • Crysis Warhead (PC)

    Crysis Warhead (PC)

    System Requirements
    CPU: Intel Pentium 4 2.8 GHz (3.2 GHz for Vista), Intel Core 2.0 GHz (2.2 GHz for Vista), AMD Athlon 2800+ (3200+ for Vista) or better
    RAM: 1GB (1.5GB on Windows Vista)
    Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT, ATI Radeon 9800 Pro (Radeon X800 Pro for Vista) or better with 256MB or more of Graphics Memory
    Storage: 12GB
    Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c Compatible
    Optical Disk Drive: DVD-ROM
    OS: Microsoft Windows XP or Vista
    DirectX: DX9.0c or DX10

    Crysis Warhead is a stand alone game that adds a parallel story to Crysis. In this game, you play Psycho, a Special Forces officer equipped with a nanosuit that grants you enhanced armor, strength, speed, and the ability to cloak. On an island filled with a hostile army and infested with unknown aliens, you need to adapt, engage, and survive with the help of your nanosuit. Your main objective is to kick alien butt, but you\'re doing it from Psycho\'s perspective. There are some minor references to the Crysis storyline but it\'s not as cohesive as I thought it would be.

    Just like Crysis, you will be given primary objectives to complete. There are often optional secondary objectives that are in your best interest to complete. These usually involve uncovering weapon caches to restock your ammunition. Some missions will have you download Korean People\'s Army (KPA) intelligence from their computers. There are frequency jammers and anti-aircraft devices that will have to be deactivated as well. To get the job done you can use any weapon or vehicle you can get your hands on. A good portion of this game involves acquiring and securing a captured alien.

    There are many enemies to fight and you\'ll need some good firepower to blast through their defenses. For weapons, there are pistols, sniper rifles, grenades, machine guns, shot guns, chain guns, rocket launchers, and more. You can install add-ons to many of the guns. For example you can add laser pointers, sniper scopes, and silencers. Needless to say, there are a lot of explosions to be seen. Finding weapons is easy; ammunition on the other hand can get tight at times. If you run out, you have your fists.

    The soldier artificial intelligence is really smart. They will attack you from multiple fronts, and they will snipe you and communicate to others when you have been discovered. You’ll be called a variety of names when discovered. There’s a lot of foul language in this game. The alien AI isn’t that smart, but their lack of brains is made up for in brawn.

    When it comes to having an advantage over your opponent you won\'t get very far without your Heads Up Display (HUD). It\'s identical to Crysis, but orange in color instead of green. It\'s equipped with an enemy detection meter, which alerts you when you have been seen by your opponent. Your available ammunition, grenades, and health are on the lower right hand side. If you have a scroll mouse, scrolling changes your weapons and pushing in on the scroll wheel brings up your nanosuit menu.

    The HUD also has a compass that points you in the right direction for your objectives. The island is pretty big, and you\'ll be doing a lot of traveling. You can walk, drive, or take a train to get anywhere you want. Even with all of these options, you\'ll find this game more linear than Crysis. You can drive civilian vehicles as well as army jeeps and tanks. Like you, the vehicles have hit points, so make sure you get out of it before the damage reaches 100%.

    The graphics are dazzling if you have a powerful enough system to enjoy the highest settings. The landscape is gorgeous and the alien stronghold is breathtaking. The character models are very lifelike and believable. The physics in this game is great, too. You’ll actually feel like you’re there when there are earthquakes and avalanches. Rocks and debris will fall everywhere, so you have to keep on your toes.
     
    A tweaked CryEngine 2 is used, but I didn\'t notice any performance increase. It still managed to bring my computer to its knees running this game at the highest settings. I have a quad core, with two 8800GTs running in SLI, and I felt my system struggle to deliver decent frames per second. The latest Nvidia drivers did seem to help. As painful as this was, the game was still worth playing and upgrading for.

    When it comes to the sound effects, they are phenomenal. The weapons, explosions, and vehicles all sound realistic. The voice acting is great as well. The musical score is good too, as it adds mood without overdoing it. Perfect.

    This game ran pretty stable for me. My only complaint is that it often started in windowed mode and I had to do an alt+enter to fix it. There are some patches available that I applied.

    Crysis Wars is the separate multiplayer portion. It comes bundled in the box on its own DVD. You need this DVD to run a dedicated server; I was disappointed in the lack of a downloadable dedicated server program. It’s not too hard to find a populated server to join in the fray. There are three game modes. Instant Action is a deathmatch game that allows up to thirty two players. Power Struggle has you play as either the KPA or the US Special Forces. Whichever side you are on, you have to develop new weapons, retrieve alien technology and annihilate the headquarters of your opposition. There\'s a new game mode called Team Instant Action that combines the strategy element of Power Struggle but maintains a points system to claim victory. In multiplayer modes, you have access to weapons not available in the single player game. These include mines, TAC launcher (nuclear warhead), nano disrupter grenade, repair torch and more.

    Crysis Warhead is rated M for the violence, language and gore. When you find the remains of several of your squad mates, it’s not a pleasant sight to see. There were a couple of memorable scenes worth noting. There was one cut-scene where Psycho refused to kill a KPA soldier because he was unarmed. In another scene you see Psycho grieving for a fallen comrade and takes it out on a nearby KPA soldier by drowning him. (He was armed). When being attacked, your enemies and comrades will use expletives. Every swear word in the book is used.

    Crysis Warhead is much shorter than Crysis, but the price only $30 or less. Some gamers are turned off by the SecuROM Digital Rights Management software used. One advantage is that you don\'t need the disc in your drive to play. If you like first person shooter games, this is a title worth looking into. Just make sure you have a powerful enough system to handle it. This game is very fun and the story is good. Like many mature games, I don’t recommend playing this with young children nearby.

    Final Score
    Game Play 18/20
    Graphics 9/10
    Sound 9/10
    Stability 4/5
    Controls 5/5
    Appropriateness 36/50
    -4 for war violence
    -2.5 for blood spray
    -2.5 for gore
    -5 for swearing
    Overall 81%
     
  • Dead Effect 2 (PC)

     

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Dead Effect 2
    Developed by: BadFly Interactive
    Published by: BadFly Interactive
    Release Date: May 6, 2016
    Available on: Android, iOS, PC, Mac, Linux
    Genre: FPS
    Number of Players: Up to 2 online
    ESRB Rating: Not rated
    Price: $19.99

    Thank you BadFly Interactive for sending us this game to review!

    Dead Effect 2 continues where the previous game left off.  On the spaceship ESS Meridian, death was conquered by a mad scientist, but many of the test subjects turned into zombies as a result.  Instead of being rewarded for stopping the madman, your character wakes up in a lab being experimented on.  A cyborg named Danette aides in freeing you, but needs your help in return.  In total there are twenty missions and over one hundred and seventy Steam achievements in this 3D first-person shooter game.

    There are three characters to choose from and each has a different weapon specialty.  I played as Jane Frey who is an assault specialist that prefers shotguns.  The other two characters are male and they include Gunner Davis who uses heavy weapons and Kay Rayner, a sword wielding melee fighter.  The melee character is recommended for experienced players.  There are multiple difficulty levels to try if you’re looking for a challenge.  Grinding is required if you want to have a powerful and well-equipped character to tackle some of the tougher bosses.  You can also have a friend join alongside you in-game to help as well.  Unfortunately, I was unable to find anyone to join my games when online.  There is an active topic on the Steam discussions for people looking to connect with others though.

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Good amount of weapon variety and plenty of zombies in space to test them out on
    Weak Points: Horrible voice acting; obvious mobile port 
    Moral Warnings: Gruesome violence, gore, and strong language; female cyborg has visible nipples

    Experience is earned by killing zombies and sometimes they will drop equipment or credits to buy ammo, medkits, weapons, armor, or implants.  There’s quite a lot of customization that you can do to your characters and they have a skill tree with helpful abilities that you can unlock.  Upon completing a level you’ll get scored on how much money and damage you did and how quickly you completed it.  The better you do, the better rewards you can choose from.  Each level has several hidden tablets that are worth finding to read about the game’s backstory.  Some of the tablets will also have door access codes that will save you some time hacking if you can find them instead.

    Aside from shooting and slicing zombies and soldiers, you’ll be tasked with several mini-game puzzles to use various doors and generators and so forth.  Some of the puzzles have you matching sound waves or by connecting certain numbers to equal a specified sum.  

    At the beginning of each level, the game will warn you if you're below the recommended level for completion.  If you’re not strong enough, you can replay previous missions to earn more experience and money.  The boss battles are especially tricky if your weapon is not effective against them.  I like how you can pay to respawn in the same room and the boss’s health will remain where you left it.  If you find that your weapon is totally worthless, you can buy another at the store that changes inventory every twenty minutes or so.  

    Dead Effect 2
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 70%
    Gameplay - 13/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 6/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls/Interface - 3/5

    Morality Score - 63%
    Violence - 1/10
    Language - 5/10
    Sexual Content - 8.5/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    With a wide variety of zombies, soldiers, and mutant dogs attacking you, there’s rarely a dull moment.  For an FPS game, Dead Effect 2 does a lot of things right, but it does have some flaws.  This title was originally released on mobile devices and the interface is overly simplified for PC users.  A more intuitive shopping interface would have been nice.  For example, a way to buy multiple quantities of consumables would be much appreciated.

    Another common complaint is the slow walking pace.  While the movement speed is lacking at times, it is bearable.  Those looking for adrenaline rushed Sonic speed will be disappointed.  My final complaint is the voice acting, which is often emotionless and laughable at best.  Thankfully the audio is redeemed by the fast paced rock music that gets your adrenaline pumping while slicing and dicing zombies into pieces.

    It should come as no surprise that this game is violent and there’s plenty of bloodshed and bodily dismemberment to be seen.  You can blow up zombies with explosives, riddle them with bullets, or hack away at them with a chainsaw.  There’s lots of options and weapons to choose from.  As if the blood and gore wasn’t enough to keep this game from the eyes of little ones, headphones should also be worn to prevent kids from hearing every curse word ever created.

    The $19.99 price tag for the PC version seems a bit steep since the mobile version is free to play with in-app purchases.  If you don’t have a mobile device to try this game on, there is a demo available on Steam.  I strongly recommend trying it before parting with $20.  Even though Dead Effect 2 does have its flaws, it’s still a decent game and is worth picking up on sale if you can find it at a good price.

  • Dead Effect 2 VR (Oculus Rift)

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Dead Effect 2 VR
    Developed by: BadFly Interactive
    Published by: BadFly Interactive
    Release date: October 3, 2017
    Available on: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift
    Genre: FPS
    Number of players: Up to eight online
    ESRB Rating: Mature for Intense Violence, Blood and Gore, Strong Language
    Price: $24.99

    Thank you BadFly Interactive for sending us this game to review!

    While I haven’t played the original Dead Effect game, I have enjoyed and reviewed the sequel when it was released in 2016. Owners of the $12 non-VR version had an opportunity to purchase the VR edition at a 75% discount, but that offer has ended now that the game is out of Early Access.

    Though the beginning cinematics are shown in an outer space theater mode, the rest of the gameplay has been reworked for VR and it runs great. The controls work well and it’s nice to actually use my hands for the fingerprint scanning in the game. The teleportation movement is very responsive and much faster than the slow pace of the regular game. Better yet, I did not experience any motion sickness playing this title! If you’re familiar with the standard version of Dead Effect 2, you’ll be reminded again about how bad the voice acting is as it has been left intact in the VR edition.

    Fans of Steam achievements will enjoy collecting 163 of them despite the standard version having 177. The story and gameplay remain the same though the weapons have been tweaked for VR and I find myself more accurate with the VR controls instead of using a mouse and keyboard.

    Dead Effect 2 VR
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Solid VR controls; no motion sickness; multiplayer!
    Weak Points: Cinematics are shown in a theater mode; no online games to join
    Moral Warnings: Gruesome violence, gore, and strong language (*ss, sh*t, f*ck) ; female cyborg has visible nipples

    Dead Effect 2 VR continues where the original game left off. On the spaceship ESS Meridian, death was conquered by a mad scientist, but many of the test subjects turned into zombies as a result. Instead of being rewarded for stopping the madman, your character wakes up in a lab being experimented on. A cyborg named Danette aides in freeing you, but needs your help in return.

    There are three characters to choose from and each has a different weapon specialty. I played as Jane Frey who is an assault specialist that prefers shotguns. The other two characters are male and they include Gunner Davis who uses heavy weapons and Kay Rayner, a sword wielding melee fighter. The melee character is recommended for experienced players. There are multiple difficulty levels to try if you’re looking for a challenge. Grinding is required if you want to have a powerful and well-equipped character to tackle some of the tougher bosses.

    Experience is earned by killing zombies and sometimes they will drop equipment or credits to buy ammo, medkits, weapons, armor, or implants. There’s quite a lot of customization that you can do to your characters and they have a skill tree with helpful abilities that you can unlock. Upon completing a level you’ll get scored on how much money and damage you did and how quickly you completed it. The better you do, the better rewards you can choose from. Each level has several hidden tablets that are worth finding to read about the game’s backstory. Some of the tablets will also have door access codes that will save you some time hacking if you can find them instead.

    Aside from shooting and slicing zombies and soldiers, you’ll be tasked with several mini-game puzzles to use various doors and generators and so forth. Some of the puzzles have you matching sound waves or connecting certain numbers to equal a specified sum.

    Dead Effect 2 VR
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 76%
    Gameplay - 14/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 6/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 63%
    Violence - 1/10
    Language - 5/10
    Sexual Content - 8.5/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    At the beginning of each level, the game will warn you if you're below the recommended level for completion. If you’re not strong enough, you can replay previous missions to earn more experience and money. The boss battles are especially tricky if your weapon is not effective against them. I like how you can pay to respawn in the same room and the boss’s health will remain where you left it. If you find that your weapon is totally worthless, you can buy another at the store that changes inventory every twenty minutes or so.

    The single player VR experience is good on its own, but the fact that it has a multiplayer option should definitely make VR owners add this title to their Steam wish list. Just make sure you know friends who have this game. Sadly, I could not find any public games to join. The Steam community is pretty active and I have seen at least one topic for people looking for Steam friends to play together.

    Morally speaking, it should come as no surprise that this game is violent and there’s plenty of bloodshed and bodily dismemberment to be seen. You can blow up zombies with explosives, riddle them with bullets, or hack away at them with a chainsaw. There are lots of options and weapons to choose from. As if the blood and gore wasn’t enough to keep this game from the eyes of little ones, headphones should also be worn to prevent kids from hearing every curse word ever created.

    Dead Effect 2 was originally released on mobile platforms and is free to play with in-app purchases. If you would like to get a 2D feel of the game before parting with $25, I recommend checking out the mobile version. If you’re looking for a solid VR FPS game with multiplayer support, Dead Effect 2 VR won’t disappoint you.

  • Death Horizon (Gear VR)

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Death Horizon
    Published by: Dream Dev Studio LLP
    Release date: September 22, 2017
    Available on: Gear VR
    Genre: FPS
    Number of players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: Mature for Blood, gore, and intense violence
    Price: $4.99

     

    Thank you Dream Dev Studio LLP for sending us this game to review!

    It’s been a while since I used my Gear VR as I’ve been spoiled by the clarity and quality of the Oculus Rift instead. I found out the hard way that my Galaxy S7’s screen protector is not compatible with my Gear VR as it was cracked after using it. Sadly, that was just the beginning of my problems.

    When first launching Death Horizon I was immediately dropped into the game with my machine gun ready and given orders to kill every zombie infected with the T12 virus. This nasty virus makes former humans look hideous and gives them glowing red eyes that are easy to see in dimly lit areas. Some of the zombies will move fast, but most of them are slow. Occasionally, you’ll run into zombies that hurl green globs of slime at you.

    Death Horizon
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: When working properly, this game is easy to navigate and fun to play
    Weak Points: This game constantly stopped responding for me; ran into several glitches and many of them were show stopping ones
    Moral Warnings: Lots of blood, gore, and dismemberment; some language (hell)

    Shooting zombies is done by tapping the control pad on the Gear VR headset. In the event of your gun running out of ammo, it will automatically reload. You can manually reload by swiping down on the control pad. Moving is done by looking at waypoint markers and doors can be unlocked by focusing on their illuminated locks. When working properly, the controls and movement are easy to use. Sadly, my experience with this title was anything but.

    When I first played the game, I made a decent amount of progress by clearing the first area and radio signaling my squad leader informing him of my intent to rendezvous with the rest of my team. I was then introduced to more hordes of zombies and dispatched them accordingly. Things get pretty frantic when there’s a lot of zombies and I noticed several performance dips and complete game lockups. My phone was still responsive, it’s just the app that’s buggy. To further test my hardware, I fired up Drop Dead and that game ran smoothly and let me exit it on my own terms.

    Death Horizon
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 36%
    Gameplay - 5/20
    Graphics - 6/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 0/5
    Controls - 0/5

    Morality Score - 73%
    Violence - 2/10
    Language - 7.5/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Thankfully, there are many checkpoints in Death Horizon, so progress loss is usually minimal. After my first couple of crashes, I was alerted to an update for the game and installed it. Sadly, my progress was lost in the process. To make matters worse, several new issues cropped up after the patch. The game’s menu is completely gone. Launching the game shows a Unity logo and drops you into the game. If you pause the game and tell it to take you to the main menu, you’ll just get a black screen. Resuming the game works and sometimes may fix a broken checkpoint.

    I now experience a game breaking bug that won’t let me progress any further after making my first radio contact with my squad. I’ve gotten past this section before the patch so I don’t think it’s a problem on my end. Replaying the game several times brings me to the same point with no option to move forward. Aside from not being able to progress the game’s story, I also noticed inconsistencies with the game’s ammo system post-patch. Most of the time the ammo is infinite but you’re limited to the gun’s capacity. Sometimes the ammo is maxed out at 199 rounds; I also had the gun capacity showing 999 for me which is nice, but definitely not normal.

    In the end, Death Horizon is too glitchy to play or recommend. The asking price of $4.99 won’t break the bank, but be ready to utilize Oculus store's less than 2 hours of playtime and fourteen days old return policy if you run into problems playing this game. The rating of Mature is warranted for the excessive amount of blood, violence, and gore shown in this game. If you’re itching to take out zombies on Gear VR I recommend checking out Drop Dead since that game runs flawlessly.

  • Destiny 2 (PS4)

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Destiny 2
    Developed by: Bungie
    Published by: Activision-Blizzard
    Released: September 6, 2017 (PS4 and Xbox One), October 24, 2017 (PC)
    Available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
    Genre: First Person Shooter MMO
    ESRB: Teen (Blood, Language, and Violence)
    Number of players: Single Player Campaign. Online Multiplayer. Online required for all modes.
    Price: $59.99
    (Amazon Affiliate Link)

    Note: This review is based on the PS4 Pro version and might not look, sound, and perform the same on other consoles and PC.

    As many video gamers know this is one of the most anticipated sequels in gaming history. How would Bungie bring a worthy sequel to one of the most successful games in video game history? Destiny 1 and its expansions have kept gamers playing regularly for 3 years and even after Destiny 2's release gamers still go back to it just for fun with their friends. Myself, I went back to Destiny 1 to work on a few quests and strikes I wanted to play again to get psyched for Destiny 2. This sequel takes the first game and refines many aspects that video gamers love and then gives us more to enjoy. I would like to say that Bungie is one of the top video game developers and once again they deliver a top notch product.

    As a Destiny 1 fan I kept up to date on Destiny 2 since its announcement. Destiny fans knew that a sequel was coming since Bungie had hinted extensively that one was in the works. Most of Bungie's development studio had been focusing on the sequel these last few years and only a smaller team worked on the expansions, updates, and patches for Destiny 1. Once Destiny 2 was officially announced, the Destiny gaming community went into serious hype mode until the game released. I've been looking forward to another great story, new planets, and reconnecting with friends that may have taken a break from Destiny and now are eagerly waiting to continue this amazing journey.

    For those tens of millions of video gamers, or "guardians" as Bungie calls us, we are given the option to bring our original characters over or create a new one. I chose to bring my warlock class over and continue his adventure protecting mankind and vanquishing evil. The story this time has an evil Cabal (alien race) leader named Ghaul (or as fans have now nicknamed him Gary) strike at the guardians tower on Earth and then try to seize control of the power of the Traveler ( a large orb about a 10th of the size of the moon) and take over the power it gives to guardians to protect the universe from evil. Thus as Ghaul (aka Gary) takes control of the Traveler (so he thinks) the guardians lose all their powers and abilities and become mortal.

    Destiny 2
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Smooth as butter shooting mechanics; beautiful graphics; superb sound; and great story telling.
    Weak Points: Lacking many areas to explore. Somewhat short story.
    Moral Warnings: Violence; Some blood on aliens killed; some language; use of magic and guns.

    As you are now mortal you are forced on a journey to find a way to stop Ghaul and his minions, the Red Legion, from destroying the Earth and all of humanity. Without trying to spoil the story too much, let's just say you have an incredible and enjoyable story ahead. The player will make his/her way to a new safe haven called The Farm where you and other fellow guardians will try to regroup and take back your tower and free the Traveler from Ghaul's evil schemes. This journey will have you travel to new planets and a new area on Earth.

    I really enjoyed the story and character throughout my adventure. It's not that long of a story at roughly 6 to 8 hours but it was quite fun. The story in some ways took me longer because in between playing the story missions I would find myself wandering around and fighting enemies on the different planets and Earth for better weapons, gear, and other items. For me, the story, if you count these side activities, would amount to 20 or more hours of gameplay. I just had so much fun (like in Destiny 1) upgrading my guardian's equipment over and over and over again (it's an addicting mechanic Bungie has implemented).

    Even after I completed the story I keep wanting to go back to see what other new items I can get from chests, enemies, and vendors. This loot grinding that Bungie started in Destiny 1 and perfected in Destiny 2 is true genius. My friends are always talking about the newest weapon, armor, or other item they equipped on their guardian. This excellent and refined loot system is one of the many reasons gamers keep playing Destiny 2.

    Another reason gamers keep playing in such a large numbers is the after story content and the areas to explore. In Destiny 2 you can participate solo or with up to two other friends in Patrols, Lost Sectors, Adventures, and Strikes. These activities can take a few minutes (Patrols), or longer engagements like the other three mention above. If you want to battle against other guardians for fun and competition, you can try the Crucible mode which pits two teams of four guardians against each other on beautiful smaller maps. The longest Player vs Enemy AI (PvE) activity in the game is Raids (currently there is only 1) which can take several hours and requires six very high level guardians to participate in it.

    Destiny 2
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 96%
    Gameplay - 20/20
    Graphics - 9/10
    Sound - 9/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 86%
    Violence - 6.5/10
    Language - 8/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 8.5/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Bungie has already announced that they will be bringing additional content like Iron Banner Player vs Player (PvP mode) and Trials of the Nine (PvP mode), as well as other smaller seasonal events and activities like in Destiny 1. Also there have already been announced two expansions coming to the game. The first one will arrive in December 2017, and the second one in the Spring of 2018. Bungie also constantly updates the game with new patches almost weekly to fix small issues that the community has experienced. Nearly all Destiny gamers have been pleased with how quickly Bungie squashes bugs that pop up in their Destiny series of games.

    In regards to graphics and sound, Destiny 2 is a major upgrade over Destiny 1 (which looked great). The lighting, particle effects, depth of field, enemy, NPC's, weapons, armor, etc. have been given a significant upgrade and polish. I really enjoy exploring all the various areas in the game and seeing the lovely details Bungie has put into the game world. You can tell Bungie is a developer who loves to make their games stand out from the crowd. The sound quality is top notch, from the sound of your gun firing, to the enemies' unearthly conversations to themselves and to you. I loved also how the environments seem to come alive on my Sony 7.1 surround sound. This game was made to play with your stereo system loudly so you can hear all the things that are going on in the world your guardian is adventuring in.

    Bungie once again created a game with amazing controls and stability. Controls in a first person shooter is what Bungie does best. Every gamer who buys a Bungie game knows that controlling your character whether in Halo (the ones Bungie created) or the Destiny series can rely on the best of the best in controls. I have had no known issues with stability in my gameplay and thus I'm confident it will continue to be this way through out the game's life cycle (much like Destiny which had few over the 3 years it's been out).

    This game isn't recommended for younger children or even pre teens. It does have blood from time to time in the game, but not overwhelming. The aliens' blood is black and will splash on the ground and disappear. The foul word a*shole is in the game, but not the Lord's name in vain. Each type of character (Titan, Warlock, and Hunter) use a form of magic but in the game it's an ability granted to the guardians as Light power given from the Traveler. Lastly, the aliens look can be very scary for younger children and pre teens.

    So far, I've had a great time playing this amazing science fiction video game. I would highly recommend this to older teens and adults (just don't play around younger children). If you enjoy first person shooters and MMOs then this will be right up your alley because this combines both seamlessly. Well if you don't mind I have some more adventuring to do; I need to get (or shall I say I want) my equipment upgraded more so I can be better prepared for the Crucible.

  • Destiny: Rise of Iron (PS4)

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    Game Info:

    Destiny: Rise of Iron
    Developer: Bungie
    Publisher: Activision
    Released: September 20, 2016
    Available On: Playstation 4, Xbox One
    Genre: First Person Shooter
    Number of Players: 1 (Up to 12 Online)
    ESRB Rating: T for Teen (Animated Blood, Violence)
    Price: $40.25 for the Destiny collection
    (Amazon Affiliate Link)

    Rise of Iron is the latest expansion for Destiny, a massive multiplayer online game developed by Bungie, the company behind the Halo franchise. Destiny released in September of 2014 and has had its share of ups and downs since. From its impressive, yet lackluster debut to its expansions from the mediocre to the impressive, players have been riding Destiny's content rollercoaster for two years. Now with the ‘Rise of Iron’ expansion, new and returning Destiny gamers should wonder whether this ride is about to get bumpy again.

    The story begins with a modern day mission to Mars that changes the course of human history forever. Astronauts come face to face with the Traveler, an extraterrestrial intent on bestowing gifts to humanity. Centuries of space exploration and prosperity for all mankind followed. Unfortunately, the Traveler's enemies sought to undo his work and destroyed Earth and its colonies. All seemed lost in this Collapse until the kind Traveler sacrificed itself to push back their evil forces. The broken god's corpse among the ruins was all that remained of humanity’s Golden Age, and small robots called Ghosts now search tirelessly for potential Guardians - those who can wield the Traveler’s power.

    In size and scope, Destiny’s universe rivals Bungie’s previous franchise: Halo. It tells numerous stories, including one you yourself can create. You can customize your avatar and choose to play as a Human, an Awoken (transformed humans after the Collapse), or an Exo (self-aware war machines from the Golden Age). As a Guardian and member of the Vanguard, it is your duty to protect humanity from the forces of darkness. There are, however, three other organizations working towards their own political goals as this struggle rages on: the New Monarchy, Future War Cult, and Dead Orbit. Players can further customize their Guardian by aligning with one of these factions to earn faction-specific gear. By the end, you'd have an entirely unique Guardian, your own identity in this large universe that Bungie has created. The problem Destiny's plot had was that much of the game’s lore was not found in the game. Unlocked story cards forced players to visit Bungie’s website in order to understand much. However, the developers have long addressed this issue in their expansions. The story in ‘Rise of Iron’ finally sheds light on the events following the Collapse. This new campaign not only makes it clear why certain things are so, but helps better round out the game's world. It's also nice for longtime Destiny players to revisit original locales and see how they've changed over the years. It’s a nostalgic adventure for those who have been loyal players. Ever since Destiny's first release, these changes are most welcome.

    Graphically, Destiny is gorgeous. The game’s cinematic opening really helped set the stage for a beautifully crafted space opera, and the world's designs from the landscapes to the equipment are superb. Rust and plant covered buildings truly gives the impression of a post-Collapse era. The day-to-night cycle on each world is also impressive. Not to mention the first person perspective let's you enjoy the highly detailed graphics and improves overall immersion. Even on the Moon, there are noticeable lighting changes depending on the time of the day. Audio is also a cut above the rest. Aside from a beautiful musical score, Bungie hired a number of professional actors to voice the game’s characters. This all-star list includes Bill Nighy, Nathan Fillion, Lennie James, Lance Reddick, Gina Torres and James Remar. It is easy to see why Destiny was the most expensive series of games ever made, costing Activision more than $140 million to develop.

    Destiny: Rise of Iron
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: A well-crafted space opera; Solid mechanics; wide variety of weapons and armor pieces; looks good and runs smoothly
    Weak Points: Stifling WiFi requirements; Too much level grinding; Unbalanced multiplayer
    Moral Warnings: Gun Violence

    Destiny's gameplay allows players the ability to either play solo, with friends, or with random players. Solo play is what a lot of players focus on to get their character (which you create) "Light Level" high enough so that you can face challenging single player story mission, Strikes, Raids, and PVP matches against other players. Your "Light Level" is Destiny leveling system, which can be increased by finding or buying weapons and armor pieces which have a "Light Level" associated with them. It's this grinding for more powerful gear that keeps millions of Destiny players coming back for more. This game has easily the longest staying power of any shooter game on the market.

    The addition of classes and subclasses, however, changes how players approach enemy engagement. Each subclass has different abilities that can cater to any player's individual play style. For example, Titan subclass Striker is geared towards close encounters, Sunbreaker tailors toward midrange, and Defender is a support class. Where Destiny gets really unique is that despite a strong emphasis on first person shooting mechanics, it acts like a role playing game. Everything from subclasses to weapons and armor are leveled up by killing enemies and completing objectives. Selecting which subclasses and abilities along with weapons and armor, can very well determine the outcomes, especially when on a 'Raid'. Thankfully, players can carry numerous weapons and armor pieces with them. Better yet, Bungie had added a Destiny Gear Manager app for computers and mobile devices that lets players transfer said gear to and from their vault without returning to a social hub. This is especially helpful, since different circumstances demand different preparations.

    After completing story missions, there are numerous activities for players to enjoy. For those who wish to continue exploring, 'Patrols' give them tasks to perform within this greater planet sandbox. These tasks vary from scouting locations to assassinating high ranked enemies. Players can also replay 'Strikes' through the various Strike Playlists, which vary in difficulty and rewards. Now, the heart of Destiny is grinding, which really just means repeating frustrating tasks for better gear. Previous expansions like ‘The Taken King’, released in August 2015, gave players an assortment of new gear to collect, but did not address the insane amount of time it took to obtain them. Recent updates have addressed this issue in a few ways. They increased the legendary weapon and armor drops, allowed Strike drops to be collected form Horde chests, and changed the faction rank up reward system. With these changes, I have found myself getting far more legendary gear than I did previously. I can now readily choose my rewards and have a means to get them quickly. Bungie has also reworked in-game public events so that players are guaranteed fifteen Legendary Marks and a legendary engram for completing their first public event every day. As a result, it's not uncommon to find three or more players willing to aid you. Now drawbacks still do exist, but these updates considerably reduced the grinding, making for a much more enjoyable experience.

    However, as enjoyable as it is to dwell in Destiny’s environment, there is a significant downside to it. There's so much you can do by yourself that it's hard to understand why the game constantly requires other online players in order to run. This, by extension, prevents you from pausing. You can't grab a bite to eat, and you can forget about bathroom breaks. While most story missions take anywhere between ten to twenty minutes, 'Strikes' take roughly half an hour or more, and 'Raids' are at least an hour or two, depending on your team’s skill. This also means you're out of luck if your internet connection is cantankerous, and there are numerous network errors from Destiny servers to begin with. ‘Rise of Iron’ failed to fix the problem. I experienced a number of these errors. Though infrequent, nothing is more frustrating than having the time to play but being unable to.

    Aside from the post-story mission grinding, there are community events held fairly regularly which reward players with unique gear. Some of them, like the Iron Banner’s bounties, have been reworked so that players of all skill levels can complete them. Previously, these bounties included challenges like becoming the top scoring player in the match and getting a ten kill streak. These bounties would not only deny players a large amount of points needed to rank up in the Iron Banner, but could deny them the ability to receive the gear available to more skilled players. Iron Banner bounties are now tied to continued play, not exceptional performance. Post-match rewards have also been adjusted to not only drop more frequently, but be rewarded regardless of Iron Banner rank. This has made the event far more accessible to all players, not just the most skilled. It also gives the players an added incentive to return to Destiny each month when the Iron Banner is on.

    Destiny: Rise of Iron
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 82%
    Gameplay - 15/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 9/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 87%
    Violence - 6.5/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    What's worse is that Destiny's multiplayer is horribly unbalanced. Bungie hadn't taken any significant steps to fix it either. The uneven perks between weapons and character subclasses proved to be enough to give any one player a significant advantage. Although Bungie has altered a number of subclass perks for the sake of reinstating balance within the Crucible, it turned tons of subclass skills nearly useless even in regular gameplay. Cheating has also become a very serious problem in Destiny - especially in the weekly Trials of Osiris tournaments. Despite Bungie’s promise to stop this through temporary or permanent bans on caught cheaters, the problem seems to be getting worse, not better. At this point, I’d suggest Bungie either change some tournaments' structures or remove them from gameplay altogether. A handful of other minor issues also add to the problem pileup. Destiny's multiplayer really could have been an enjoyable break from the singleplayer, but too much is lacking for it to hope to compete with other popular competitive games.

    Destiny is also plagued by microtransactions in the form of the Eververse kiosk. Players can purchase special dances and emotes to further customize their characters. Though they are not as intrusive in this game as they are in others, it is a bit annoying for a developer to nickel and dime players who have spent over seventy dollars to purchase Destiny: The Collection, and more for those who have been buying each expansion upon its release. The Eververse kiosks just provide relatively little for players who aren’t willing to spend a few dollars on amusing emotes.

    When discussing morality in Destiny, it's hard not to discuss the obvious parallels between the Traveler and Jesus Christ. The game's populace even worship it like a god and wait for its resurrection. Considering that far too many games lately mock faith and those who have faith, I found it refreshing that Destiny had this spiritual aspect to it. That doesn’t excuse the animated violence, and parents should adhere to the game’s teen rating. A final warning on morality: be careful while playing online. During my experience with the game, I have met as many bad people as good. I have found myself playing Raids with people who are not only intolerant of religion, but openly mock those who have religious beliefs. Fortunately, there are Christian Destiny clans which players can join.

    Despite its rough start, Destiny has become one of the best games of its generation for its single player content. The ‘Rise of Iron’ expansion adds to the improvements brought by ‘The Taken King’ expansion and last April's update, offering more story content and gear for players to collect. If players are looking for a solid first person shooter to enjoy, this is one that shouldn’t be missed. If, however, you’re looking for a solid online multiplayer shooter, I would recommend looking elsewhere. It's a shame that Bungie still hasn’t been able to address all the many issues that have been plaguing its online play. Oh, well. It's not about how Destiny started. It's about how it finished.

  • Deus Ex: Invisible War (PC)

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    Game Info:

    Deus Ex: Invisible War
    Developed By: Ion Storm
    Published By: Square Enix
    Released: March 5, 2004
    Available On: Steam (Microsoft Windows)
    Genre: FPS/Sci-Fi Adventure RPG
    ESRB Rating: Mature (Blood, Violence)
    Number of Players: Singleplayer
    Price: $6.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    DISCLAIMER: This game required I used the fan-made Unified Patch in order to allow me to play this game at all. Everything in this review should be regarded with this in mind.

    In 2000, Ion Storm released Deus Ex, a game where your choices mattered, all playstyles were viable, and every tinfoil hat conspiracy theorist was right. It had its rough spots but overall proved an excellent game. Invisible War is the 2003 sequel (released in 2004) that attempts to maintain the excellence of the original Deus Ex, though its ability to do so is a mixed legacy.

    In the original game, protagonist J.C. Denton stopped billionaire megalomaniac Bob Page from trying to become a digital overlord over all of humanity's communications and technology. In the process of trying to fix things to undo what Page had started, J.C. accidentally triggered the Collapse, in which all global communication was severed and humanity entered a worldwide depression.

    Twenty years later, two factions called the World Trade Organization and The Order are vying for world control, and several other groups like the survivalist Omar and the extremist reborn Knights Templar have ideas of their own on how the world should rise from the ashes of the Collapse. As for you, you are a student of the Tarsus Academy, a system of schools that test bio-modifications on certain applicants to make them useful agents for all walks of life, or so it seems, until the facility you, Alex Denton (who can be male or female), are training at is attacked.

    Deus Ex: Invisible War
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Improved character modeling from the first game
    Weak Points: Much more simplified gameplay and tiny levels
    Moral Warnings: A world religion with many heretical if vague concepts cribbed from many other religions; mentions of drug use; lots of violence; options to do many unethical acts including theft and murder; mildly sexualized outfits for a few characters; some crude language; some blasphemous references to Christianity (generally from the villains, one faction has more neutral and even positive references to Christianity)

    Since then, you discover you are not only at the center of one conspiracy that could change the fate of the world post-Collapse, you are now also the potential agent of several other interlocking conspiracies that could reshape mankind's destiny. And it's up to you to decide who will reforge society from the Collapse's ashes.

    As a sequel to the original Deus Ex, Invisible War has most of the same basic elements. There are multiple game paths to the same objective, several factions, and endings for them, and several different outcomes for certain activities. Unfortunately, a technical limitation as a result of how the game was developed hobbles all the above.

    The original Deus Ex was designed for PC and later ported to PS2, which had to redesign a few areas and streamline the game somewhat to accommodate the PS2's limitations, but otherwise was similar to the PC version. Invisible War was designed for Xbox first, then ported to PC, meaning the PC version is subject to the limitations of the Xbox version, and that includes greatly cramped areas and forced streamlining of many game elements for a console.

    This has several issues gameplay-wise. For one, the wide-open areas to explore are now quite claustrophobic and cut down into many smaller areas, limiting room for combat and exploration. To its credit, the game still tries to deliver the latter, and the former did get some improvements such as smarter enemy AI and better-aiming controls for the player compared to the original. Another problem is that the interface was designed for the Xbox controller and it somewhat unintuitive for PC, though the in-game tutorial does a decent job compensating for this. Finally, a lot of the complexity that made the original interesting was sacrificed for Xbox limitations.

    Lockpicking and electronic locks are now rolled into one, which makes choosing between picking a lock and brute-forcing the keypad electronic locks easier, but makes player choices for alternative playstyles smaller. Combat still has lethal and nonlethal options, but much less consequence is assigned going either route, so the player is less encouraged to refrain from bloodshed or the reverse compared to the original. The nanotech mods were simplified, mainly for the better, but it's now far easier to abuse them, which can kill some of the challenges from the original to be had in using them only when would be most needed. Finally, the game is oddly worse off for being completely open-ended.

    Deus Ex: Invisible War
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 56%
    Gameplay - 12/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 5/10
    Stability - 1/5
    Controls - 3/5

    Morality Score - 48%
    Violence - 4/10
    Language - 6/10
    Sexual Content - 6/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 6/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 2/10

    In the previous game, while you had complete freedom to complete objectives how you wished; your choice of a faction to work for was largely on rails until the end of the game, where you had to choose a side. Invisible War leaves you free to work for any faction you wish or even do objectives for all of them until the end, which does give more initial freedom, but makes the ending choices less meaningful. In the original, while forced to help out nigh all factions, you got a chance to learn their ideologies and faults, and when the time of decision came, it made picking who you would ultimately side with impactful. Invisible War's endings are all different, but all that changes in the end is who you have to fight; the final levels are essentially not much different. In the original, you could have vastly different ending level experiences depending on which faction you elected to support.

    Graphics go for a continuation of the cyberpunk aesthetic the previous game did, but now it looks a lot less depressing and dark. While partially a stylistic choice, it does mute a lot of the oppressive atmosphere that made the original such a dark yet tense experience. Character models, lip-syncing, and other details are much improved from the first game, however, which are all welcome improvements.

    Controls are serviceable on keyboard and mouse, but it's obvious this game was designed for a controller first. Navigating the interface via the keyboard is a bit difficult at first, but since there is no controller support, one will have to get used to this. Sounds are decent though not remarkable, and outside the opening theme, which is a rather beautiful remix of the original Deus Ex theme, is rather forgettable really. Voice acting is the only real bright spot, and even then the worst is just generic boring, not so bad it becomes a meme bad like the original, which was part of the charm to the original.

    Stability is the worst part of this game. Even it's original 2003 release was not the most stable game in the world, and the Steam version, while being patched with the latest official patches, is a game that has been left to rot and requires the fan-made Unified Patch to be playable on modern PCs. Without it, multicore processors will not work well, if at all. Also, resolution support is absolutely terrible without the UF patch, and while there are some very minor issues like the occasional crash (though the frequency is quite rare) with the UF patch installed, this tends to be every several hours into play, not every 10-30 minutes like the game would be without the fan patch.


    As for the moral side of things, violence is going to be a major way to solve problems like the last game. While nonviolent options exist, it's still possible to hurt and kill enemies quite badly, though the gore and blood displays are far less prevalent than the first game. Language can be crude at times, though it's about the same level as the first game, with lots of PG-13 level swearing from the cruder characters. Sexual content is somewhat less prevalent than in DX1, but much less than in the previous entry (mostly midriffs exposed at worst here, as opposed to even more revealing outfits some ladies sported in the prior DX).

    The occult and supernatural are generally absent, this being a sci-fi game, but there is a major red flag concerning one of the factions. The Order is a faction that is supposed to be a world church that arose in the wake of the Collapse. Their beliefs are an incredibly generic mishmash of many other faiths, and while the only concretely defined morals they have are a denunciation of materialism and desecration of the human body with things not intended for it, they do contain some cross-like symbols as well as namedropping concepts from Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, among a few others. They have an extremist splinter faction called the Knights Templar that is the bloodthirsty fanatic aspect of their beliefs who are devoid of most of the more inoffensive traits of The Order (which does do genuine charity work for the lower classes in places). However, despite this good aspect, their beliefs are still an utterly heretical (from a Christian POV) religion, though one without a godhead or a concretely defined afterlife.

    Deus Ex: Invisible War

    The ending paths all have their issues as well.


    Illuminati: If you choose to put the world under a revived Illuminati, this ending has some major red flags because of mention of worship of a non-Christian deity and some Lucifer-like dialogue (the Latin root of Illuminati and their ideology of considering themselves the elite among humanity lording over the rest also does them no favors).

    Templars: This ending puts the world under the rule of an extremist, neo-Luddite cult that demands regular purges of anyone they deem unclean, and since they are a fanatical version of the Order, this ending also does little to make them a moral alternative. Worse, they are entirely comfortable with genocide to the point they are a racial purity cult with a religious excuse and the fact they are more than willing to murder children in the name of their cause makes them a terrible moral option.

    Helios: In this ending, you manage to help JC Denton from the last game finish what he tried to do to fix the world in the first. This ending, while careful to avoid blasphemy in giving it any outright religious meaning, does use a lot of Christian symbolism, including a Christian Trinity like analog. Given this is a continuation of the Christian theming used in the first game and JC has no higher motive than a sincere belief in eliminating the barriers between humanity and making them all equals with a shared ability to commune via a digital consensus, it's the least morally objectionable of the endings, especially since his ideology promotes free will in terms of individual thought as opposed to the other endings (which impose some form of limitation on this). It is also the most silent on the subject of religion, with its respect for individual belief despite promoting a shared communal consciousness further leaving it the least morally reprehensible choice.

    Omar: This ending involves rejecting all the other paths so that humanity can turn into a mutated being that can survive anything. This ending path is somewhat ambiguous in how it plays out, but does involve basically ending all hope for the human race as it currently exists so they can survive as something greatly divorced from how we were created. It has a disturbing ubermensch-like evolutionary credo devoid of any moral restraints and a quite depressing message that amounts to "let everything die a miserable death so something more resilient can flourish in time".

    Aside from the endings, while there are options to do good things, like create a cure for a long-term ecological disease vector and help convince a religious fanatic of the Order to realize they were believing false doctrine, the option to do lots of vile things as well is still present. Worse, unlike the first game, it's still possible to kill anyone, including an entire school of children. Mentions of drug use are prevalent, and while alcohol is present, using it does have negative consequences and will poison you due to the biomodifications of your main character. Finally, there are fewer reasons to stay on a conscientious and moral path and less in-game motives to do so because the rewards and reminders to do so are far less prevalent than in the prior game, which had tangible results and benefits for showing humanity and moral restraint.

    As a Deus Ex game, it has its moments, but it feels like a cramped, Diet Coke version of the original game. The need for a fan patch to make it remotely playable on modern Windows computers (with even more variable success on Linux via Wine/Proton) does not make this a game I'd recommend either. Morally, it's quite disappointing, especially because the first game gave actual consequences that encouraged moral behavior, which is far less emphasized in this game, while still letting you act like an amoral sociopath with far fewer consequences.

    Overall, unless you are a die-hard Deus Ex fan, and even then I find it hard to recommend, this is not something I'd expect people to play, and honestly, it could have been far better than what it was.

  • Deus Ex: Revision (PC)

     

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    Game Info:

    Deus Ex: Revision
    Developed By: Ion Storm
    Published By: Caustic Creative
    Released: October 13, 2015
    Available On: Steam (Microsoft Windows and Linux via the Proton middleware for Steam)
    Genre: First-person Action-Adventure
    ESRB Rating: Mature (Animated Blood, Animated Violence)
    Number of Players: Singleplayer (optional Multiplayer mode)
    Price: Free (requires original Deus Ex to be installed)

    When a video game is considered a "classic", it means the merits of the game have stood the test of time for all who play it, and the non-linear Deus Ex by Ion Storm deserves the title of "classic". Considering reinstalling it has become a video gaming meme; it's worth anyone's time. In the case of Deus Ex: Revision, a free overhaul mod of the original (currently available on Steam, GoG, and the Caustic Creative development website), it argues the core game is still good, but the player can and should benefit from modern game design techniques and other enhancements, if they so choose.

    Stripped to its base, DX: Revision attempts to design the original game levels using modern-day gaming techniques that were not in vogue in the early 2000 era of the original game's release. Many game maps are much bigger, filled with more set pieces and life, and are more accurate to the real-world locations many of the levels are based on.

    Graphically, this means many things. Some levels, like the UNATCO grounds and building, these were overhauled to be a more convincing international counter-terrorist organization's base instead of the rather slap-dash version of the original game. Some areas were made closer to their real-world counterparts, like Battery Park and Hell's Kitchen in New York, and some were simply provided a few more set pieces to lend a more authentic feel, like portions of the Hong Kong levels.

    Gameplay is generally close to the vanilla structure of the original if one disables the other enhancements, but the improved set design does fix many areas where alternative solutions to the same problem were limited on many maps. They also stay true to the game's main hook of allowing any type of player to approach a level by any gameplay choice they deem fit.

    Deus Ex: Revision
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Extremely nonlinear gameplay that allows any type of playstyle; excellent music
    Weak Points: Some flat voice acting
    Moral Warnings: Extreme violence with blood and gore (though the blood and gore can be disabled); Drug use and ability to sell drugs to others; Frequent PG-13 level swearing; Some references to Greek mythology and Christianity, the latter in occasional blasphemous ways by the villains; Option to kill in cold blood almost anyone in the game, including children; Implied prostitution; Thievery can be actively engaged in by the player

    Gameplay can also be enhanced with many new features for easier control and graphical fidelity, but these can be switched off for a more vanilla experience. When left on, many characters receive a high definition face-lift, many textures and models look far more detailed, and many effects and animations have much higher quality.

    Several independent modding projects for the original game are bundled as togglable addons for Revision. Shifter, which randomizes loot and offers more unique weapons, and Biomod, which overhauls augmentation enhancements as well as including the enhancements of Shifter. These can be toggled on or off for your preferences in gameplay, or you can stick with a vanilla Deus Ex gameplay style. Many other tweaks from other mods are possible, such as options to make enemies much smarter than they were in the original or options to make the game laughably easy, and the player is given extensive freedom to pick and mix these options as they wish.

    Sounds were overhauled and the player can use a remixed soundtrack, the PS2 port soundtrack, or the original soundtrack at any time during play. DX: Revision also incorporates many of the bugfixes that were never implemented to fix issues in the original game by default and even includes a New Game Plus mode that allows replaying the game to achieve different endings without having to sacrifice player builds from prior playthroughs.

    However, this is not a perfect mod by any means. While many bugs are fixed, this includes many "good bad bugs" that could be abused to benefit the player in the original game, though some can be re-enabled to a degree via the in-game option toggles. Some of the set design changes cause some weird placement bugs for many scripted characters that aren't usually game-breaking but do complicate some of the more extensively overhauled maps. Finally, while the core of the game is identical in structure and layout to the original, a lot of cut or poorly implemented content is restored, so some levels will have some moderate changes in terms of dialogue, layout, or gameplay options, on top of the pre-existing Revision alterations.

    Deus Ex: Revision
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 92%
    Gameplay - 20/20
    Graphics - 9/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 46%
    Violence - 2.5/10 (+1 if blood/gore disabled)
    Language - 3/10
    Sexual Content - 6/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 8/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 3.5/10

    This works on both WIndows and on Linux via Wine or Steam's Proton service, depending on how Revision is installed atop Deus Ex. It will work fine with no known issues on both, but Wine/Proton users may have issues with in-game achievements, especially Steam, but actual gameplay and performance should be unaffected.

    As compared to the original, Revision is Deus Ex at its pinnacle of graphical and level design fidelity without straying from the original game's tone and concepts. In the gameplay department, it has lots of options for more varied and interesting experiences in many more ways than the original already did.

    The original Deus Ex, regardless, still holds up as a classic, and it's highly recommended one play Revision only after playing and beating the original to better appreciate the changes offered by Revision. Revision offers a truly "revised" take on a gaming legend, and while it doesn't displace the legend in terms of being worthy of its laurels, it's a worthy alternative way to play it that comes highly recommended.

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About Us:

Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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