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FPS

  • boxart
    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.

  • boxart
    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.

      

  • boxart
    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.

  • boxart
    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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  •  

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • boxart
    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.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    DOOM
    Developed By: id Software, Certain Affinity/Escalation Studios (Multiplayer)
    Published By: Bethesda Softworks
    Released: May 13, 2016
    Available On: Steam (Windows), PS4, Xbox One
    Genre: First Person Shooter
    ESRB Rating: M for Mature: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language
    Number of Players: 1 offline, 12 online 
    Price: $29.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    Ah nostalgia, it can be a very powerful thing. People love nostalgic properties because it can remind them of the good old days. We’ve been in a pretty big nostalgic boom these days 'cause all of the 80's and 90's kids are now 80’s and 90’s adults. Said adults are not at the mercy of mom and dad, and now have access to their own money. What better way to spend money than on a trip down to your carefree days of childhood, where the only thing you had to worry about back then were grades and Saturday morning cartoons. Doom is the latest attempt to the nostalgia cash in to grab the Millennial's money. But is this Doom only meant to sucker desperate people out of their hard earned paychecks?

    Doom of 2016 is a reboot of sorts of the original Doom series, with the ever known Doom Slayer (or Doomguy) enacting his revenge on the forces of hell with the only way he knows how; by breaking the bones and ripping out the guts of every demon he comes across. In hopes to wash away the bad taste Doom 3 left in many fans' mouths, the Doom of new attempts to return to its roots and bring back the quick and hectic style the series is known for. Doom as you know is a First Person Shooter, where the entire game is seen through the player character's eyes. The plot takes place on the planet Mars where our main character, with the help of two AI assistants, have to stop the forces of Hell from taking over the planet, and a woman by the name of Olivia Pierce who may or may not be the cause of said major issue.

    The gameplay is part action-adventure, with your character walking through the lands of Mars and Hell, finding power-ups and abilities along the way, while fending off the many enemies that want to stop him. Every once in a while, our Doomguy finds himself in an arena-like area, and this is where the game truly shines as you are tasked to eliminate all your enemies in the vicinity.. Doomguy is fast, outpacing every demon he comes across. This gives the game a wonderful sense of speed, as you need to be constantly maneuvering and quickly thinking of a plan to blow your enemies to bits, without becoming bits yourself. Doomguy can soar through the air with little effort, almost as if he had wings, and can turn and stop on a dime. The weapons at his disposal are shotguns, machine guns, rocket launchers, Gauss cannons, and even the ever famous BFG9000 and chainsaw (which are relegated to special type weapons).

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Fast, frantic, fluid combat. Wide variety of weapons and secrets.
    Weak Points: Fairly weak ending. Multiplayer is lackluster.
    Moral Warnings: Usage of demonic powers and imagery. Strong use of swearing. Insanely violent and bloody.

    All your favorite enemies are back like the Cacodemon, Reverant, Mancubus and others, and they got new tricks up their sleeve to try and halt your progress. Like the games of old, your health does not regenerate on its own, so you have to forage for health instead of cowering behind a wall waiting for it to regenerate. The weapons all feel like they pack a punch as they are loud, expansive, and all have a distinct weight and sound to them, as they tear apart the enemies that stand in your way. They even have a few temporary power-ups that can either make you even faster, or eradicate your enemies in one punch. Something fairly unique to Doom is the Glory Kills, taking inspiration from the mod Brutal Doom. They are quick cinematic kills, similar to fatalities from the Mortal Kombat series that one can execute when an enemy glows yellow, giving you ammo and health drops. Glory Kills fortunately do not break the flow of combat, as they are a quick animation and transition very well. You can shoot, perform a Glory Kill, and proceed to hop around the battlefield without missing a beat.

    Did I mention that this game is violent? Because oh is it ever so. You bash, tear and gib your enemies in such spectacular fashion with anything that you can get your hands on, and sometimes even with your hands. Blood splatters everywhere, and depending on the weaponry used, guts will fly. This game is extremely violent, and enjoys every single second of it. The soundtrack and quality of the game mostly consists of types of rock, techno, and metal. If you like that kind of music, it's a very solid choice as they really put you in the mood of the nature of the game. The voice acting isn’t anything to write home about with it being fairly standard. The controls feel sharp, precise, and accurate. I never felt at any moment that the times I died were at the fault of unresponsive controls. The game itself has sharp graphics, and even though it only takes place in three areas, the scenery and atmosphere never feel stale.

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

    Game Score - 84%
    Gameplay - 17/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 45%
    Violence - 0/10
    Language - 5/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 0/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 7.5/10

    There are quite a bit of moral warnings in this game. There is heavy usage of demonic and occult imagery such as the inverted pentagram for example. Your main character is implied to gain his power form Hell itself, your main enemies are demons, there are Satanic symbols seen throughout the game, swearing is present throughout the game with a few F’s and S’s here and there. Oddly enough, your character uses his demonic power to save others, not destroy them (besides the demons), which is a very interesting take for a game. Some of the log pieces found throughout the game even give detail on how the demons are absolutely terrified of Doomguy and the lengths they’ve taken to try and rid of him in the past.

    Besides the game ending on a cliffhanger, and sometimes the game stopping you at points for unneeded exposition dumps, I had very little issues with the single player campaign. Sadly, I personally cannot say this about the multiplayer. The multiplayer side, created by the assistance of developers who worked on Halo 5 and Call of Duty’s multiplayer as well as Disney Infinity? Well, that’s kinda out of left field. Anyways, I wasn't a fan of the multiplayer as it felt slower, floaty, and a bit more laid back, than the high intensity and adrenaline rushing single player. The multiplayer takes a more class-based approach with people choosing a preloaded or customized loadout into battle, akin to Call of Duty and Battlefield to kill each other, and the ability to turn into the demons of Hell from the singleplayer portion. I do have to give it some positives, as it does have some exclusive weapons to its multiplayer portion, as well as the pretty deep Snapmap portion of the multiplayer. Sadly, I don’t have a creative bone in my body so I tend to stray away from user created content, but I’ve heard only good things about that portion.

    Doom took me about two sessions to beat, in which I played 6 hours each. I have not encountered any game breaking bugs, crashes or detrimental glitches while going through. In a way it’s not a very long game, only lasting 13 levels, but there are many reasons to come back for more demon squashing action such as the loads of secrets and lore in each level, with some even being retro levels of the original Doom, played in the modern engine. The multiplayer has a fair replayability with its DLC packs and a fairly lengthy leveling system if that is your sort of thing. Multiple difficulty levels for all types of players can warrant multiple playthroughs (with a Ultra-Nightmare difficulty where if you die even once, you have to start the entire game over again). They even added an Arcade Mode, introduced in a recent update. From a very sour first impression from the cinematic heavy E3 trailer to the lackluster and disappointing multiplayer beta that I took part in before release, my expectations were blown away from the single player. It is a very welcomed and much needed return to its roots and a huge step in the right direction. I personally think shooters need to take notes from Doom as the game is worth buying for the campaign alone. It's a nice modern take on an old established IP and is worth a go for any FPS fan, though for some people new to the whole Doom franchise, the heavy use of demonic imagery, occult usage and gray moral ethics of the characters may turn one off from such an experience.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Drop Dead
    Developed by: Pixel Toys Ltd.
    Published by: Pixel Toys Ltd.
    Release Date: October 26, 2016
    Available on: Gear VR, Oculus Rift
    Genre: FPS
    Number of Players: Single-player, Up to four players online
    ESRB Rating: Not rated
    Price: $9.99

    Thank you Pixel Toys for sending us this game to review!

    Doctor Hironimus Monday has started an apocalypse and most of humanity has turned into brain craving zombies.  It’s up to you and a handful of agents left to save the world.  But how?   Graced with time traveling DNA you can go back in time and stop the mad doctor before it’s too late!

    Drop Dead is an on-rails first person shooter that provides brief pauses to stop the incoming waves of zombies headed your way.  If you’re concerned about motion sickness, there’s a “Take it easy” mode that limits the sudden movements and immersive cut-scenes.  I played the “Full experience” and did not encounter any nausea while playing.

    There are a couple of tutorial levels and thirteen single-player missions to go through in order to save the world from the zombie outbreak.  After each mission is completed you’ll be awarded between one and three stars depending on your time to complete the mission and for your shot accuracy.

    Drop Dead
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Decent action as long as your gun doesn’t jam up or malfunction
    Weak Points: Not many people playing online; dated visuals
    Moral Warnings: Violence and dismemberment; cussing and blaspheming

    While Drop Dead supports using the headset to play, I used my Stratus XL controller and it worked flawlessly with this game.  The controls are pretty straightforward by using the triggers to shoot and the X button to reload.    On many occasions during an ammunition reload my gun would randomly jam or malfunction.  This happens often and usually at the worst moments possible as zombies are surrounding me. 

    Killing zombies wouldn’t be any fun unless you had some nice weapons to take them down with.  The guns you get to find throughout the game range from revolvers to rifles and machine guns.  Though the machine guns pump out a bunch of bullets, they are not as effective as those coming from a shotgun.  Power-ups like energy drinks come in handy and slow down the enemies for a brief moment.  Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for every possible weapon upgrade and power-up, the world is depending on you!

    There’s a wide variety of zombies including fat ones that move slowly and take a lot of ammo before going down to fast and skinny ones.  Some attack with their bare hands while others wield weapons of their own.   It took a couple deaths before I realized I could shoot the balls of acid thrown by the acid-hurling zombies.  Your best bet is to take down the zombies as fast as possible and that means getting headshots as often as you can.

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

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

    Morality Score - 65%
    Violence - 3.5/10
    Language - 2/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    The zombie’s blood is green and splatters as you shoot them.  If you hit one of their limbs, it will detach.  Like many zombies they look pretty disturbing, especially when they get close and crowd around you before succumbing to death.  The visuals aren’t the greatest, but this game is designed to run off of a phone and not a high-end gaming PC.   There’s a decent amount of level variety ranging from farmyards to graveyards.

    The voice acting is decent and the zombies sound like those in many popular horror movies.  The other agents are well voice acted but throw in some blaspheming and minor cuss words (d*mmit).  

    While there is support for online multiplayer I have not been able to successfully get a game going.  I have sent out and received invites but was never able to make a connection.  While multiplayer games are possible, they are hard to arrange with the seemingly small user base.

    If you like zombie games and on-rails shooters, then Drop Dead may fit the bill.  Like many popular FPS games there is a significant amount of violence and some cussing.  The price is a reasonable $9.99 and is worth checking out if you can find some people to play online.

    ***May 2017 Update***

    The Oculus Rift version of the game has the same graphics, but improved touch controls.  The accuracy and tracking are pretty good.  Having a laser pointer would have made aiming a lot simpler, but perhaps that would have made the game too easy.  The ability to dual wield guns would have been awesome, but you can only carry one gun at a time.  The revolver with infinite ammo goes back on your belt when it’s not being used.  Reloading the gun is accomplished by simply pointing it down and waiting a few seconds.  Reloading can be done even faster if you pull the trigger within a short time window.    Sadly the multiplayer lobbies are empty with estimated waiting times between fourteen and twenty-four minutes.  If you’re looking to play this game online, make sure you have plenty of friends to arrange games with.   

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Epsilon
    Developed By: Serellan
    Published By: Serellan
    Date Released: October 1, 2015 (Early Access)
    Available On: PC
    Genre: Tactical Shooter
    Number of Players: Offline, Single Player
    ESRB Rating: Not Rated
    Version previewed: Pre-Alpha 1.0.7.5
    Price: $7.99

    Thank you Serellan for sending us an Early Access code!

    Serellan is a relatively new game studio that was established in 2011.  Their development team has experience working on games like GRAW and Halo Reach.  Serellen specializes in tactical shooters and their first project, Takedown was successfully Kickstarted in 2012.  Unfortunately, it was very poorly received due to dumb and inconstant AI.  According to Reddit, all of the Takedown backers will get Steam keys for Epsilon.  Has Serellan learned from their previous missteps and produced a better game this time around?  Read on for our impressions of the pre-alpha build 1.0.7.5.

    For those players like me who enjoy games similar to Police Quest SWAT and Tom Clancy's Rainbow 6 games, this would be considered a spiritual successor. The story mode takes place in Istanbul, and explains your mission which is to rescue hostages from Unipol. The story dialogue is not voice acted, but has good action movie like background music to accompany the comic style story board.  After the briefing, you are taken to the planning mode/war room. 

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Nice tactical shooter with great graphics, weapons, and game play.
    Weak Points: Difficult to customize your controls; there has not been much as far as updates.
    Moral Warnings: Light swearing (sh*t) during story mode; there isn’t really any bloodshed though you are killing or arresting terrorists.

    From here you get to choose your four-member team.  When selecting your team members, be sure to pay attention to their strengths and weaknesses.  There are only three attributes to take into consideration (assault, stealth, accuracy), but currently they're all identical.  Once your team is in place, you get to choose the weapons each member will equip, the paths each unit will take, and then embark on your journey/mission to rescue the hostages.   Since this game is still in Early Access, the story mode and weapon/equipment availability is still incomplete.   I cannot wait for the rest of the game to be developed and to see how it will progress.

    The story so far is creative, despite taking place in the future, it feels realistic and still in modern times. It isn't as if you are fighting aliens with laser guns or next-gen weapons: you are using modern day assault rifles and current-day explosives. You are kept in the loop on your weapons and explosives choices and selection process, tools, and maps being used, and you are heavily involved in the planning process.  While planning is recommended, it's not required as you can just wing it if you feel like it.

    Once the mission begins, the game switches to a first person perspective where you can instruct your team members on how to proceed.  When pressing the middle mouse button a command circle appears giving you the option to tell your team to fall In/follow you, hold their position, move out, or secure a terrorist or hostage. A hostage/terrorist has to be in sight in order to secure them.  While some terrorists may die, most of them willingly surrender when you open fire near them.  There isn't much blood to be seen, but bodies do not disappear.

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

    Game Score - 80%
    Gameplay - 17/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 3/5

    Morality Score - 84%
    Violence - 6/10
    Language - 6/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    To me the game music is good, the sound of the guns and explosions going off, bullets flying back and forth are all very realistic.  The voice acting is well done with European accents and none of the voices got on my nerves.  The only parts voice acted are the commands and there is no foul language to be heard in game; however, the story sequences have words like holy sh*t.

    I felt the graphics are good and utilize the Unreal Engine.  They still fall short compared to many of the big budget first person shooters out there.  On a positive note, this game doesn't require as beefy of a computer to play it compared to the prettier games out there.

    The controls are easy to grasp, but you cannot customize them.  There is partial controller support, but I used keyboard and mouse.  

    Overall, to me the game was fun, and I cannot wait to see more from this title.  The early access price is $7.99 and is planned to increase as more content becomes available.  Unfortunately, the development cycle has been rather slow with not much being released in the past few months.  It you don't mind mild blood, language, and waiting for this game to develop, Epsilon is worth looking into.

     

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon 
    Developed by: Ubisoft Montreal, Ubisoft Shanghai
    Published by: Ubisoft
    Release Date: May 1, 2013
    Available on: Windows, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3
    Genre: First-person shooter
    Number of Players: Single player only
    ESRB Rating: M for Mature
    Price: $14.99

    Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is a standalone DLC title for the ever-popular Far Cry 3. Although it's very similar gameplay-wise, Blood Dragon is widely different from Far Cry 3 in terms of setting and art style. The game takes place in a futuristic '80s retro style world, on an island full of evil cyber soldiers and blood dragons. Blood dragons are enormous, mutated dragons that roam the island. They are the hardest enemy in the game. Blood Dragon is open-world with a lot to discover, and along with the main story, there are dozens of side missions and achievements that will keep you occupied. Killing enemies nets you experience which, when accumulated, will make you stronger and improve your hit points. Completing side missions will unlock weapon upgrades and other goodies. Although it may seem like there is much to do, you can finish the game in a very short amount of time. The main story took me around 2 hours to complete, but it can take 9+ hours to get 100% completion.

    Being a first-person shooter, Blood Dragon is loaded with intense violence and gore. Blowing enemies' heads into pieces, stabbing through their torsos with stealth attacks and ripping their hearts out of their chests can be very disturbing. Since the enemies are cyber soldiers, the blood is white instead of red. Along with that, swearing is heard at almost every moment in the game. In fact, there is even a button dedicated to flipping off your enemies. Also, there is a sex scene but it's not animated in-game. To clarify, the cut-scenes in this game are comparable to slideshows but with voice over. The sex scene is displayed in images with moaning, and the images do show nudity.

    The gunplay is more or less the same as it would be in any other first-person shooter. Most of the weapons that you can use are guns, but there are also some interesting weapons like the flamethrower. Blood Dragon tries hard to be over-the-top, and for that reason, there are many moments where you will kill a ton of enemies and cause absolute chaos. Even if this is all fine and dandy, the constant enemy waves become a chore, and some of the missions aren't exactly jaw-dropping.

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Action packed gameplay leaves you satisfied; Art style is unique
    Weak Points: Although unique, the art style can be painful for the eyes; Enemy AI isn't very smart; Aerial fatalities are sometimes out of your control
    Moral Warnings: Violence; Gore; Excessive swearing; Nudity; Sexual content

    There were a few things that left me impressed, like chain fatalities, but I noticed that a lot of the fatalities that you perform can happen entirely by accident. For instance, jumping in the air while near an enemy can spontaneously make you stab them in the chest and kill them. In most games, there is a button that you can press when you're above the enemy that will do the same thing, but in Blood Dragon it automatically does it for you. Sometimes it can happen even when you weren't planning on doing it, and this can cause some frustration when you're in the middle of a firefight. The animation itself takes a while, and it got me very annoyed at times.

    I enjoyed how stealth was handled in this game. Sneaking around, throwing dice to distract enemies, and attacking them when they least expect it can be quite satisfying. It isn't as complex as it would be in popular stealth titles, but it's a great addition nonetheless. Enemy AI can be very, very stupid at times. Honestly, sometimes I would just sit there and stare at an enemy, and wait for him to notice that I'm right in front of his face. When you're in a firefight, enemies feel robotic and unrealistic, and only know how to walk forward and shoot their gun. I was playing the game on the normal difficulty.

    Graphically, the game is very impressive, and some may appreciate the unique art style. Unfortunately, I had trouble enjoying it due to the unremovable scan lines. I understand that the aim was to give the game a retro feel, but the scan lines can be painful to look at. I had a lot of eyestrain while playing this game, and had to take breaks just to rest my eyes. Besides that issue, the graphics are great. Everything is designed in such a unique way that I find it impossible to forget this game. The animation is very impressive as well.

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

    Game Score - 77%
    Gameplay - 13/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 9/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 35%
    Violence - 0.5/10
    Language - 0/10
    Sexual Content - 0/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 7/10

    The soundtrack is very pleasant to listen to and works well, and since the art style is focused on a futuristic retro theme from the '80s, the soundtrack is comparable to the type of techno that was popular at that time. If this all sounds very appealing to you, I'm sure you won't be disappointed. I personally loved it, and I'm not much of a fan for this type of music. The sound effects reflect on the futuristic theme as well. You will be hearing a lot of beeps and bloops while playing this game, and it's all very satisfying.

    I personally didn't enjoy Blood Dragon as much as I would have hoped. Yes, the art style is unique and the sound is excellent, but I just didn't find the gameplay to be as enjoyable. The story doesn't take itself seriously, and there are many references to Internet memes and '80s pop culture. The humour in the game is sometimes all over the place, and there are more misses than there are hits. I don't believe I've even cracked a smile once while playing Blood Dragon. I'll admit that there are probably many people who will really like this game and compare it to games like Duke Nukem, but I personally didn't enjoy it.

    The morality issues keep me from recommending this game to others. If you're into humorous over-the-top first-person shooters like Duke Nukem and Bulletstorm, you may enjoy this game. However, for those who would rather play a game that isn't edgy for the sake of being edgy, you may want to avoid this game and spend your money elsewhere.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Far Cry 5
    Developed by: Ubisoft
    Published by: Ubisoft
    Release date: March 27, 2018
    Available on: PS4, Windows, Xbox One
    Genre: FPS
    Number of Players: Up to two online
    ESRB Rating: Mature for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Drugs and Alcohol
    Price: $59.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    Thank you Signo Vir for gifting me this game to review!

    Each of the Far Cry games takes place in a different part of the world and has a unique nemesis that needs to be removed from power. Far Cry 5 takes place in the fictional Hope County in Montana which has been overrun by a gun toting, drug pushing, Christian-like cult called Eden’s Gate. Many of the members were abducted and then drugged and/or brainwashed. Some people join this cult voluntarily, but the majority don’t. In fact, many hopefuls are literally thrown off a cliff if deemed to be “weak.” Active members are called “peggies” by the locals that have yet to be converted.

    Joining Eden’s Gate is a four-step process. You first have to be marked by them and brought to their premises. Avoiding capture is impossible and is required for progressing the game’s story. The second step is cleansing which is similar to baptism but I’m quite sure that my pastor didn’t hold me underwater that long and one dunk was sufficient. Confession is a bit different in Eden’s Gate and makes telling your sins to some random priest in a confessional sound like a vacation. In Eden’s Gate your sin is identified (via torture) for you (mine was wrath) and tattooed on your body. Atonement is accomplished by cutting off the tattooed skin and stapling it to a church beam. This is a very gruesome and bloody process. Even though much of the terminology is the same in Christian circles, the way this cult goes about it is very un-biblical. Baptism, confession, and salvation should be joyous and voluntary events, not bloody and forced upon.

    The game begins with a squad of body-armored law enforcement agents flying into the headquarters of Eden’s Gate with an arrest warrant for the founder, Joseph Seed who goes by “The Father.” Your character can be male or female and is referred to as deputy or rook throughout the game. Not surprisingly, the arrest goes sideways and your squad gets separated and brought to different branches of Eden’s Gate.

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Interesting story with multiple endings; lots of quests to complete; beautiful visuals and wonderful voice acting
    Weak Points: Micro-transactions; some parachute glitches
    Moral Warnings: Christians represented in a negative light; strong language and blaspheming; crude and sexual dialogue; intense violence and bloodshed; gruesome acts described and shown; alcohol and drug use 

    There are three regions that you get to focus on and each has a different ringleader that needs to be crossed off of the Seed family photo. Faith, Jacob, and John Seed must all be eliminated before you can take down Joseph and end Eden’s Gate once and for all. After getting cleaned up and rescued by a resistance member named Dutch, you get to decide which region you would like to explore and/or take down first. Completing regions is done by earning enough resistance points to get the attention of the ringleader and confronting them. Before the final confrontation, there are a couple of unavoidable rendezvous in between.

    Earning resistance points can be done in various ways. Killing VIP members and destroying shrines and other valuable property is one way. Rescuing civilians being forced into Eden’s Gate is another option. Reclaiming bases is an advantageous method for the resistance to regain access to resources and abilities that the cult took away from them. Once a base is flying an American flag again, you can visit shops there to purchase ammo, guns, and transportation. Money is earned by selling animal pelts, collectibles, completing missions, or by retrieving assets left behind in stashes. Be sure to loot any enemy corpses for cash and materials for crafting. Micro-transactions are available if you want to quickly customize your guns and vehicles/planes/helicopters/boats.

    Besides buying gear and accepting story missions at bases, you can also stop by the arcade. The arcade has a map editor and mini-games that can be enjoyed solo or with friends. The ability to join a friend’s world is pretty nice too.

    If multiplayer is not your thing, the AI companions are competent and can usually hold their own in battle without needing resuscitation very often. It should go without saying that some characters are more reliable than others. There are human and animal companions and each one has their own quirks and commentary. Pairing them together (after you unlock that perk in the tech tree) often yields some hilarious but sometimes repetitive dialogue. As cool as it is to have a dog, cougar, or bear fighting alongside of you, a plane or helicopter flying companion is necessary for some air battles.

    Far Cry 5
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 92%
    Gameplay - 18/20
    Graphics - 10/10
    Sound - 9/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 33%
    Violence - 0/10
    Language - 0/10
    Sexual Content - 7/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 2.5/10

    As you unlock achievements you’ll earn perk points which can allow you to activate abilities in the tech tree. I recommend going for the multiple companions, repair torch, and additional holsters (carry more weapons) first. There are so many helpful perks that it’s really hard to choose. Increasing your health and weapon efficiency are good options too. If an AI companion gets killed they can respawn after a set amount of time. There are perks to reduce the cool down period for each companion.

    The characters, environment, and maps look astounding. The Dunia Engine is pretty powerful and everything looks very believable and life-like. Every time I looked over at whatever game my husband was playing, it paled in comparison. The level of detail goes both ways as things can look pretty beautiful, or very gruesome. There’s a ton of blood and gore and each of the ringleaders will give a short speech as they go to meet their Maker and they can be thankful that their tattered and bloodied human body is being left behind.

    Sometimes the violence isn’t visual, but mental. There are some vividly descriptive stories and my imagination was painting some pretty grotesque pictures. For example, one of the characters recounts how they prayed about and ultimately decided that it was God’s will for them to kill their newborn child. The process of ending their firstborn’s life was recounted step by step. The language isn’t always violence centered as there is some pretty crude and sexual dialogue from the companions and other characters in the game. Adelaide is a divorced woman who is very happy with her new lover, well at least with some parts of him as he isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer. Her commentary on yoga positions with him and other bedroom activities are a bit awkward at times.

    Other than a birth scene that shows a brand new baby girl (that wasn’t murdered), there are no children to be found. That’s probably a good thing since all of the adults have foul mouths that drop a cuss word or blaspheme in every sentence. As taverns are liberated the locals tend to party by drinking the night away. Last but not least, there is a drug called Bliss that is grown and processed locally. Several quests involve destroying the fields and processing plants used for creating it.

    With many quests to complete, multiplayer games to join, and weekly tournaments, there’s plenty to do in Far Cry 5. I completed the story quest in twenty-four hours. In that time I only ran into a couple of glitches. In the beginning Steam wouldn’t show me as out of the game until I exited Uplay. The other glitch I encountered a couple of times was dying by deploying my parachute on a really short jump. In the end, Far Cry 5 is a very mature, but enjoyable game. As a gun owning Christian I aligned with the resistance more than the cult and was happy to see that not all of the Christians were portrayed as loonies as many of the other/normal people wore cross necklaces.

  •  

    System Requirements
    Operating System: Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows NT, Windows 2000, or Windows XP Minimum Intel Penitum? 233 or AMD K6-2 32 MB RAM 400 MB HD Space 2x CD ROM Drive SVGA, high-color (16-bit) Win-compatible Soundcard 32-bit Internet service provider with 28.8+ modem or LAN
    Preferred Intel Penitum? 233 or AMD K6-2 48 MB RAM 3D Accelerator card (OpenGL or Direct 3D

    What makes Blue Shift different from the other Half-Life games? You get put into a position where it\'s you against the aliens AND the military. Now, that\'s what I call fun. You get access to areas not available in the other two games, and there are better graphics thanks to the Blue Shift: High Definition Pack. Included with Blue Shift, there is Opposing Force. Having included Opposing Force, Blue Shift gives a whole new definition to online, network gaming. From a Christian perspective, it\'s really good. The game has some swears, but it can easily be disabled from the options menu. There\'s the blood and gore too, most of it can be disabled in the Options menu also. This is one of the best games, I have ever played. Blue Shift can play all of the Half-Life mods (includes over hundreds, plus more are still being made).

    Interesting Tidbit:

    Half-Life: Blue Shift\' is composed of scientific terms. Half-Life is the time in which an element decays. Blue Shift is when a star is moving faster towards a closer point on the magnetic spectrum.

    Overall: 88%

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    ***Overview***

    Any high school in America has a group of people who love video games and talk about them obsessively. Counter strike is one of those rare games that many, not just geeky computer people, rant about. Counter Strike is a mod, a modification to a large game and in this case, Half-Life. The game is totally online (no subscription fee) and pits Counter_terrorists against terrorists.

    ***Graphics***

    The graphics of Half Life: Counter Strike are, well, bad. This game was first created in 1998 so, the graphics are dated. Be sure to look for the blockly blood effects and the boring character models. I give it a C+.

    ***Sounds***

    To make up for the terrible graphics, Counter Strike boasts amazing sounds. To be truly successful in Counter Strike, you need to open your ears to 3d sound effects so you can locate nearby terrorists. Characters also let out a moan of pain when shot, which does add some realism to the field. I give it a B.

    ***Controls***

    This section is going to be really short. If you have played other first person shooters, you will be at home. Be prepared to be awful the first few times you log on to a server though. Some people have \'Skillz\'. I give it an A.

    ***Offensive Content***

    Though the game completely revolves around the fact your team wins when the other team is destroyed. Blood flies in large amounts; especially when a bullet grazes a player\'s head. Because this is an online title, many players swear and use fowl words. I give it a C+.

    ***Underview***

    Overall, Counter Strike is a fun, fast- paced, online gun blaze that has more replay factor than could be imagined. I award Counter Strike a 90 out of 100!

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    System Requirements
    Operating System: Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows NT, Windows 2000, or Windows XP Minimum Intel Pentium? 233 or AMD K6-2 32 MB RAM 400 MB HD Space 2x CD ROM Drive SVGA, high-color (16-bit) Win-compatible Soundcard 32-bit Internet service provider with 28.8+ modem or LAN
    Preferred Intel Pentium? 233 or AMD K6-2 48 MB RAM 3D Accelerator card (OpenGL or Direct 3D)

    \'Opposing Force\', the first expansion for \'Half-Life\' has new creatures, new weapons, new areas of the Black Mesa Facility, and the same heart pumping, adrenaline action as the original. This game continues and expands on what made Half-Life great. \'Opposing Force\' comes in a stand-alone package, or you get it automatically when you buy \'Blue Shift\', the 2nd expansion pack. I highly recommend getting the \'Blue Shift\' package. You get the 2 expansion packs PLUS the High-Definition Pack. This pack updates all creatures and weapons (from the entire Half-Life Series) with higher polygon counts to make them look better than ever.

    Story

    This time around, you are Adrian Shephard, one of the marines sent in to find Gordon Freeman. Your mission takes a different turn when the facility is suddenly overtaken by aliens. You have a new mission. Get out alive. In your mission, you will make your way through areas of Black Mesa not in the previous game. You will encounter brand new creatures. And obtain some new and quite powerful weapons. You will also have some puzzles to solve.

    Gameplay

    If you\'ve played Half-Life and liked it, you will certainly like Opposing Force. The game has expanded on what made Half-Life so good. You are still winding your way through the Black Mesa facility, fighting against some fairly strange looking creatures. You\'ll be using your MP-5 with grenade launcher quite a bit, but will find a new set of weapons (some alien-oriented) to use. I found the new weapons and creatures to be a nice addition. It\'s a first person shooter, but, what has made the series so great is the way they make you feel a part of the environment. The sounds. The sights. You feel like you are really there. You will come across puzzles on your journey. The puzzles range from fairly simple, to more complex. They are typically of the \'how do I open a door\' or \'how do I get from point A to point B\' variety. Remember the Barnacles from Half-Life? They are the aliens with the long tongue hanging from the ceilings? This time around, you will find a helpful item in the game that\'s a Barnacle you can use. I won\'t give away its use, but it is needed to solve some of the puzzles.

    Graphics

    I have only played this using the High-Definition pack (explained above), so I don\'t know what the regular graphics look like. The graphics are somewhat dated but I am still very impressed with them. The pulsating and rippling look of the creatures continues to amaze me. Several times you will have co-operative missions with other Marines. These guys look pretty good too. By 2002 standards, the lighting effects and faces probably have the most dated look. Water effects are very limited. Because of these, the graphics rating is knocked down a bit. But overall, the graphics are very pleasing and believable.

    Sound

    The sound is a mixed-bag. I really enjoy hearing the sound of a creature around the corner before actually spotting it. Your character\'s sounds are also very well done (the sounds of your footsteps, reloading of weapons, and the firing of weapons). Where the sound can sometimes be a problem is when a character is talking to you. Sometimes the voice was too quiet or it was getting masked out by another sound in the room. The sound of a door closing could make me miss a key word or phrase someone was saying. I would have to go back to my last save point and re-listen to what was said.

    Stability

    The game ran great on WinXP. Only once did I have a problem. I had a save point that kept crashing on me when I\'d reload. This happened about three times in a row. I finally rebooted my machine and never had another problem.

    InterfaceThe interface is quite simple and easy to use. There is a heads-up display (HUD) with all you need to know (health and ammo, essentially).

    Christian Perspective

    The game involves a lot of shooting and killing (both aliens and humans). There is also blood splatter when you make a hit. The blood can be easily turned off in the Parental Controls option. I should note, I don\'t actually consider the game to be a strictly all-shooter game. The game is full of puzzles which are sometimes tough enough to give you a good gratifying feeling when you have figured them out. Unfortunately, the language does get quite rough at times. More so than either Half-Life or Blue Shift.

    Longevity

    The game has a lot of life. There are user-created levels you can download as well as a multi-player aspect.

    Final Analysis

    No doubt the game has some terrific game play. The graphics are a bit dated, but still hold up well. I was disappointed to hear some fairly strong language this time around. The heavy violence may be an issue for some. With the ability to turn off the blood, the game becomes much cleaner. I know there are much more violent games available, but some of the scenes are still a bit gruesome.

    Final Ratings

    Game play: A+ Graphics: B+ Sound: A- Stability: A Interface: A Christian Perspective: D

    Overall: 90%

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Half-Life
    Developed By: Valve
    Published By: Sierra Studios/Valve
    Released: November 8, 1998
    Available On: Windows, PlayStation 2, macOS, Linux
    Genre: FPS, Horror, Sci-Fi, Adventure
    ESRB Rating: Mature for Animated Blood, Animated Violence
    Number of Players: 1 offline, 20+ online
    Price: $9.99

    What can I say about this game that hasn't been said before? If you've somehow been on the Internet and haven't heard of Half-Life yet, I applaud your ability to not hear of one of the most popular shooters of all time. For the uneducated, Half-Life is a game made by Valve, released in 1998. However, it is so, so much more.

    Based off a modified version of the Quake engine, which Valve then called GoldSrc, Half-Life was another revolutionary shooter to come out of the '90s. Because it was based on the Quake engine, it had the same beautifully smooth and buttery fast-paced gameplay. As you play through Half-Life, you'll discover that this game encourages daredevil-like speed. Even 20 years after it launched, Half-Life's gameplay is still the template for FPS games. The movement is crisp and almost lag free. The guns are balanced with good hit registration and damage. Not to mention, Half-Life's AI was light years beyond what they had at the time. The enemies don't feel aged, and respond about 2/3 as well as what we have today. Half-Life's gameplay, in my opinion, has aged better than any game in history. Certainly better than other old popular games like GoldenEye.

    And just like its gameplay, Half-Life revolutionized gaming with its stunning 3D graphics. And although they aren't the prettiest nowadays, Half-Life set the bar on intuitive textures, and models with their horrific aliens and monsters.

    The sound of the game hasn't aged [i]horribly[/i]. Playing with my headphones that, I'll admit, aren't the greatest (not a $200 pair) but can hear really good quality, the game is missing high frequencies, or they sound very dampened. The panning is still great, and you can tell where sounds are coming from. The ominous (and sometimes loud sounds) most certainly add to the atmosphere of this game. It can make it feel empty or packed with action. While the bit-crushed and lower quality sounds are a bit dated, they certainly aren't horrible like some other old games can be, with a very present terrible quality.

    The music in this game also is pretty good. While some of the instruments may sound dated or compressed, the melodies are awesome and the music goes great with adding tension or additional feeling to the ambience of this game.

    Now onto the actual story. Half-Life follows the life of Gordon Freeman (not to be confused by his uncle from marriage Morgan). Gordon Freeman works at the Black Mesa Research Facility in Arizona. Black Mesa is a giant testing ground filled with creatures, robots, scientists and more. As a graduate in theoretical physics, Gordon specializes in the scientifically unseen. Aliens, time travel, things that no one should mess with.

    Half-Life
    Science going to far
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Great gameplay, level design and character AI
    Weak Points: Graphics have aged not as well, and the movement speed/controls can be finicky at times
    Moral Warnings: Moderate/borderline severe language (S***, D***, A**, blasphemy), strong violence and bloody gore, light references to cigars/alcohol

    When a mysterious object appears in Black Mesa that nobody knows anything about, the obvious answer is to experiment with it! Because they're scientists! When the experiment goes wrong, because, as we all know, all experiments fail in games, a rift between Earth and an alien planet is opened. Gordon now has to find his way out of Black Mesa while battling aliens, monsters, soldiers and even the world around him.

    In addition to the graphics and gameplay, Half-Life boasts a huge world full of challenges and enemies at every turn, with ingenious level design (we'll come back to it) and an array of guns. Such as, but not limited to, a shotgun, a pistol, a crossbow, an RPG, grenades, and more. And with Half-Life 2's invention of the Source engine, the gravity gun and more, Half-Life is the franchise that kept on giving.

    Half-Life's level design is also as good as its gameplay. With great design choices, Half-Life encouraged players to either run through it at full speed, or take their time to catch their breath, or maybe look at their surroundings. Half-Life's levels were huge and had great ideas such as radioactive waste, pits, low-gravity sections and more. The amazing thing this game did for me, was be able to create a sort of perfect labyrinth of technology and science and tear it apart. It was because of these revolutionary things that made Half-Life an amazing FPS and something that raised the bar for the future of gaming. Now, on to the cons.

    While most things aged well, the graphics did not. While they aren't horrible today, they still look like a game from the '90s. Blocky environments, fuzzy textures, lacking detail and washed out colors. Overall, they aren't bad, but they certainly have aged the worst out of this game. The gameplay is also hit or miss. While it is good and still holds alright today, some things about it can be specifically annoying, such as friction and movement speed. The level design is good but sometimes the placement of characters or enemies can lead to things being not so obvious or overly challenging.

    Half-Life
    Great environments, but poor graphics
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 80%
    Gameplay - 18/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 3/5

    Morality Score - 81%
    Violence - 3/10
    Language - 6/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 5.5/10
    This game displays the consequences of evil and/or messing with the occult. (+3 pts) 

    Half-Life does have some moral issues. While the killing of aliens/monsters could be written off, the killing of human soldiers cannot. This game could have simply made them aliens or something else. I understand they wanted to portray a government cleanup, but it doesn't justify it. The game also allows you to kill innocent scientists, or let them go to their deaths.

    While very few main characters in the game (if any) swear or use crude language, the soldiers you encounter in the game can drop almost all language except an F-bomb. In addition, sometimes characters or enemies can be blown up, and depending on the character, they may be blown into graphic chunks of 5-10 pieces of flesh. When killed, all characters' bodies hit the floor and don't disappear for a short time.

    The aliens in this game can be seen as scary, and this game does have a horror side to it, so it isn't for the easily frightened people. However, if you can handle horror/dread decently, this game won't scare you. Some characters can have cigars, and there are some references to beer.

    In closing, Half-Life was and still is a staple of Fast-Paced FPS Adventure games, with amazing graphics for its time, great gameplay and AI, and perfect level design, despite its moral and aging issues.

    - God's Gaming's Contempt, signing off.

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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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