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Crysis 2 Review

Crysis 2 has been on the lips of most gamers the past few weeks, and it has generated a lot of hype over the internet. However, does it really live up to its predecessor? Well you can carry on reading this review or head down to your local retailer…I suggest reading the review first.

Developed by Crytek and published by Electronic Arts, Crysis 2 is the latest first-person-shooter (FPS) to grace our consoles and PC systems.

Crysis 2 is set in New York City in the year 2023. The city is in turmoil due to an alien infestation (this is portrayed in the opening sequence as a newsreel style broadcast, which added a nice authentic feel to Crysis 2) and a tactical team has been deployed into New York City via submarine to extract Doctor Nathan Gould.

This was where we were introduced to the new protagonist in Crysis 2, “Alcatraz.” All hell breaks loose when the alien race named the “Ceph” attack the city, destroying everything in their wake. Due to the attack, Alcatraz and his squad are forced to abandon ship and swim to the surface. A secondary attack is then directed at the squad, leaving Alcatraz as the only presumed survivor.

Laurence “Prophet” Barnes proceeds to save Alcatraz but seems extremely overwhelmed, as the initial support team sent to assist him had already been wiped out. Left with no other decision, since the Manhattan virus has infected him, Prophet equips Alcatraz with the Nanosuit 2.0., Prophet then kills himself in order for the Nanosuit to break the link with Prophet and correctly assimilate with Alcatraz.

I will not go into too much detail on the initial story, but I will tell you that the team at Crytek has developed a decent plot line, which offers about 10-12 hours of playtime.

Crysis 2 uses the Nanosuit as a window to the world. Everything you see and do is viewed from a suit perspective, which increases the appeal of this title.

Combat can be played out in two ways; stealth and sneak or all-out armoured assault, but be warned as combat is intense. I found myself loading the game very often after being riddled by bullets. Once you fire on an enemy, your position is given away and every bit of firepower is focused in your general direction. This is due to the A.I. in Crysis 2 being extremely intelligent (which we do not tend to see in other FPS titles), you can either stealth yourself and move away from your last known location or knuckle down and consider your options for the battle ahead.

Crysis 2 displays tactical options that can be viewed through the Nanosuit. These options provide gamers with areas where they can flank enemies, snipe enemies, resupply ammunition, and observe enemy movement; these options greatly assist with the planning of all-out assaults or sneaking past unsuspecting enemies.

Another nice touch is the suit upgrade menu being your actual hand; by selecting individual fingers, various different upgrades can be selected during the course of the game. However, only one of each upgrade can be active at once. This adds great replayability to this title, as previously unlocked abilities and upgrades can be used in completed chapters.

The initial campaign mode was a great experience; the only downside was on the rare occasion the A.I. seem to glitch and run into objects like walls and vehicles without correcting their course.

Crysis 2 is probably one of the best-looking FPS titles I have come across; the level design is stunning and the visuals promote sensory overload on occasions. The only downfall with these beautiful environments is that you tend to focus more on the visuals rather than the actual story progression, so don’t be entirely confused when you have absolutely no idea on what’s going on.

Apart from the graphics, the sound also plays a major role in Crysis 2; hearing bullets echo down the street, buildings being destroyed and even the sound of a much heavier Alcatraz when his armor is equipped is also a very well implemented sensory experience.

Online:
So generally most FPS games do come with a multiplayer mode, but is the online play as good as the campaign in Crysis 2, my answer hell yeah!

12 multiplayer maps await those of you brooding to get online, as well as six different modes of play that offer gamers various choices of what map to play and how to strategise individually or team assault. These include Crash Site and Team Instant Action. There are around 20 weapons to destroy opponents with, as well as some great customisation options to use to your advantage. My online experience was pleasurable although, there have been some complaints about servers being down on occasions.

Conclusion:
Overall, Crysis 2 offers a visually satisfying experience with the sound to match. Game-play encourages a think before you shoot approach, instead of the general run and gun approach that other FPS titles tend to offer gamers; this is where Crysis 2 is unique. The storyline is solid and offers a good all around experience.

The downside:
Crysis offers some great A.I. that will challenge you greatly but on the odd occasion, you will witness them either running into cars or walls like mindless zombies. There have also been some complaints about servers being down on occasion when attempting to play online.

The Breakdown:
Gameplay: 9/10
Storyline: 8/10
Graphics: 9.7/10
Sound: 9.5/10

Predominantly reviewed on PlayStation 3.

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What to expect at rAge 2011

The rAge expo has officially kicked off this weekend at the Coca-Cola Dome in Johannesburg.

ITF Gaming had the opportunity to join in on all the fun by hosting some awesome prize give-aways compliments of Apex Interactive and the team on the Nintendo 3DS stand. The Nintendo 3DS stand is showcasing an array of upcoming 3DS titles to test out, so make sure to swing past the stand and chat to the guys about anything and everything Nintendo related. The team from ITF Gaming will be situated at the Nintendo 3DS on the 01/10/2011 from 10am – 12pm and on 02/10/2011 from 12:00pm to 13:00pm.

Apart from all the Nintendo awesomeness, ITF Gaming has compiled a list of the must see exhibitions at rAge 2011. If you are only joining in on the rAge action on Saturday, then this will give you a preview of what to expect.

Things to check out at rAge 2011:

Nu Metro:
Batman Arkham City
Lord of the Rings: War in the North

Megarom Interactive:
The Darkness 2
Ace Combat: Assault Horizon
Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure
Final Fantasy XIII – 2
Xmen Destiny

Electronic Arts (EA):
Need for Speed the Run
Battlefield 3
Mass Effect 3
Grand Slam Tennis
The Sims 3 Pets

PlayStation:
Tekken Hybrid
Dead Rising 2: Off the Record
Dragons Dogma
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City

Microsoft Xbox 360:
Gears of War 3
Kinect: The Gunstringer
Kinect: Star Wars
Kinect: Disney Land Adventures
Forza 4

Nintendo:
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
Dead or Alive
Resident Evil
Street Fighter
Steel Diver
Pilot Wings
Kid Icarus
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

A few of the major highlights to look out for on Saturday and Sunday will be at the main stage, this will include: Tomb Raider, The Darkness 2, Guildwars 2 and a host of epic presentations and give-aways.

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A look at EA Games rAge 2011

The EA Games stand at the rAge expo 2011 was a demonstration of why the company is one of the principal global interactive entertainment software companies of today.  Sports game fanatics had a chance to play Need for Speed: The Run, FIFA 2012 and SSX (or Snowboard Super Cross). The FIFA series is of course one of the best-selling video game franchises in the world and no annual video game convention would be complete without a preview of the latest FIFA-endorsed version.

Need For Speed: The Run, the 18th game in the popular series is the first game to have been rated T for teen since Need For Speed: Undercover, back in 2009. Contrasted with the very legit, governing body signed FIFA game, The Run features illegal street races across the most hazardous roads in North America. While it appears to follow a linear plot about a racer who must reach the finish line in order to pay his debts both to crooked cops and vile criminals, The Run promises to contribute to the development of story in racing video games.

The EA games stand also offered war FPS (first-person-shooter) fans a chance to frag each other in the Beta version on Battlefield 3, or to play the game’s demo as a single-player experience. It also featured a Mass Effect 3 demo, that I did not look at too closely, as I am anticipating its release and do not want to spoil my experience of the game. It did, however, look promising.

The one game demo that did look out of place amongst the aforementioned titles was The Sims 3: Pets, but then again, as one of the heirs to the best-selling PC games in history, this could not be left out simply according to aesthetic standards. EA has once again showcased its dexterity in creating new versions of the most popular games today. As these games continue to develop I look forward to playing the final releases of the games on show at rAge and excitedly await any future releases from the team at Electronic Arts.

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Mass Effect 3 Launch: Reaper Attack Survived

Friday, March 9th; a handful of Cape Town citizens have assembled at the MWEB headquarters after reported Reaper sightings in the city. Seeking refuge, I encountered Desmond Kurz, the leader of the M-Cave. To my surprise, I was greeted with open arms and a bag filled with goodies. After I had arrived, many more gamers, members of the press and other special guests started to pour into the building.

It wasn’t long before we were all ushered into the M-Cave and encouraged to sit down in front of one of the many screens, PC’s and consoles to take the battle to the Reapers. After every last attendee was inside, Kurz, the Head of Gaming at MWEB, hopped on the mic and welcomed all the guests to this special area of their offices.

After the initial welcome, Kurz proceeded to thank the many sponsors who helped make the event possible. Many attendees were eager to continue with their gaming but Bianca McFadyen from EA South Africa had other plans. McFadyen got the attention she deserved when she started giving away prizes in the form of Mass Effect 3 T-shirts and of course, copies of Mass Effect 3 for the PC and PS3. I was lucky enough to have my name end up being drawn but was for a PC copy of the game. I forfeited the prize so that someone who could actually play the game on their PC would be able to enjoy it. Next time I’ll win something, you’ll see.

Those who have seen our coverage of the 2upGamers 4th Dimension, may have seen that one gamer was brave enough to remove his shirt and dance in order to attend this launch event. Well, it seems that his topless dancing certainly paid off as he was lucky enough to walk away with a Mass Effect 3 Collector’s Edition, courtesy of EA South Africa. However, not before he was asked to remove his shirt again in order to get the prize. So, who’s laughing now?

The guys from Rectron were also in the house and were giving advice on what a gamer “should” have in their PC. They also gave away hard drives during the course of the evening. MWEB also handed out spot prizes to attendees who sat down at the “get along” table. This was a table where an Xbox 360 and a PS3 were set up next to each other, hence the unusual name. See? Co-existence can pay off.

The dinner for the evening was the exquisite meal of good ol’ pizza. To wash it down, tins of Red Bull were handed out. Needless to say, gamers were bouncing off the wall and used this energy to take the fight to the Reapers.

As mentioned before, all who attended the event were greeted with a goodie bag upon their arrival. Inside was a copy of NAG, a copy of GamesTM (a brand new gaming magazine in South Africa), MWEB merch, a R100 Kalahari.com voucher an EA game and a 30% off voucher for GamersGate (a local site with over 3500 titles available for download). Nobody went home empty-handed. Pretty awesome, isn’t it?

The event was a huge success. Even though all activity was scheduled to cease at 22:00, the guys from MWEB were gracious enough to let us stay a little bit longer. A big thanks goes out to Desmond Kurz and the rest of the MWEB Team, Bianca McFadyen and EA South Africa, Red Bull, Samsung, Kalahari and Rectron.

I had such a good time that my good ol’ friend Zombie Dredd (thanks for not trying to eat my brain this time) and I were the last two people to leave the venue. Thinking back now, I totally should have helped myself to one of the many posters littering the wall of the M-Cave. It might’ve been the end of the world after all.

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Need for Speed Rivals Review

Need for Speed is a series known by most gamers, and many non-gamers. The franchise was in production from 1994 and has featured in every major console generation since . However, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for EA’s popular franchise as Need for Speed titles following Need for Speed: Most Wanted have often lacked the spark that made that title so spectacular. Need for Speed Rivals may well have been the best Need for Speed of this console generation, but unfortunately is held back by constant glitches and crashes; marring what would have otherwise been quite a spectacular arcade racing title.

Need for Speed was never known for its narrative quality, but that doesn’t mean it won’t try to tack on a half-baked storyline. Ghost Games’ racing title presents a dichotomy of Racers – who race because they can and evade the cops for the sake of chaos, anarchy, and general disorder, and Cops, who speed for the sake of keeping order, chasing down racers, and protecting the general public from the reckless nature of the drivers. Both drive high-end, incredibly fast cars, and both have access to technology to debilitate their rivals in pursuits. However, the story is largely in the background for most of the title – appearing only in brief, vague clips between chapters.

The title’s main appeal comes from its gameplay; focused on multiplayer, open-world exploration, and Autolog integration, Need For Speed Rivals is an all-encompassing arcade driving experience. The driving mechanics never stray close to realism and as a result, the title is filled with high speed drifting, nitrous-fueled stretches of road, and an unmistakable focus on providing a fun experience to the player, whether in a Corvette or a Ferrari. However, the title does still feel remarkably similar to the Criterion-developed Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit and Need for Speed: Most Wanted reboots – tumbling crash animations and takedowns included. Like these titles, Need For Speed: Rivals lacks the spark, or the fresh ideas which made late PS2-era EA Black Box NFS titles so successful.

Players can choose to play as either police or racers and are able to switch between the careers at any hideout. The careers run parallel to one another and can be played in any order. The variety between the objectives of each cop, and the way they integrate into gameplay (Player cops can chase Player racers, for example) add a lot of appeal to the title and make the multiplayer a more dynamic – and stressful experience, especially when other players are constantly spawning on you and your car is critically damaged. The damage model in the title is fairly limited, unfortunately, so many crashes and wreckages lack the impact they could have had, and damage never seems to affect the handling of the car you are currently driving. Therefore, other than cause for profanity during races, the cinematic crashes and damage features feel tacked on and unneeded.

The multiplayer links intrinsically with the standard campaign in that they are the same modes with and without matchmaking. Whether or not you’re dropped into a multiplayer lobby on launch is entirely up to you, and you can change these settings in the Garage menus. This multiplayer integration gives rise to a new system called “AllDrive”, which allows players to track one another, join friends’ public games, and begin events together by simply being in close proximity to one another in-game. The AllDrive system links quite closely with Autolog, which tracks your driving stats in races and on certain points such as speed traps and speed cameras, compares them to your friends’ times, speeds, and performances, and recommends events and challenges for you.

The last new feature in Need for Speed Rivals is the EasyDrive feature, which allows you to interact with players and navigate to events and map points with very few button presses. The system uses the arrow keys to navigate a small menu in the top left of the screen, while still in real-time gameplay. The experience of using this feature should be closely compared to texting while driving, as it often ends up with you embedded within the nearest barrier, if you’re lucky, or submerged in the closest ocean.

Although these features aren’t quite perfect, they fit quite seamlessly into Need for Speed Rivals. Along with the new HUD and quick event starts, the title works very smoothly and transitions quite easily. There are only two complaints in this department – glitches and load times. Compared to the seamless transitioning of the EasyDrive menus and AutoLog stats, the load times seem endless when entering or leaving a garage. Additionally, when you come out of the garage, things aren’t always right. Sometimes cars haven’t spawned properly, other times you spawn knee-deep in the ground, and lastly, and most seriously, often the game freezes and you don’t spawn at all. The freezing is very common, very frustrating, and a very good reason to shelf this game, despite all its redeeming qualities.

Need for Speed Rivals 3

Visually, the game looks astoundingly good – but once again is marred by glitches. Car models are rendered excellently, the environment and the weather effects look contrastingly beautiful, and the aforementioned HUD blends very subtly into the backdrop. The biggest errors in the graphics department are textures which load sluggishly and pop up incorrectly or in the wrong place.

The audio is superb, barring the uninspired dialogue sequences. The cars roar cacophonously and echo realistically, the sound of skidding tyres blends in excellently, and the soundtrack – while not entirely to my personal taste – fits almost perfectly. Need for Speed Rivals is very loud, and very immersive. An excellent in-game audio performance almost made me completely forget about the shoddy voice work.

Unfortunately, a lot of the title’s immersive quality is undone by the horrific tendency that the game has to freeze. While not all users will experience this (I have only experienced it consistently on one of the two PS3 consoles on which I tested the game), it’s unnervingly common when it does happen and ruins the game. This also tears any lasting appeal the title had apart, as it is incredibly frustrating to have to repeatedly restart your console to try and cope with a glitchy game. It’s a shame, as Need for Speed Rivals, instead of being the best quality of this generation’s NFS titles, now feels like a rushed gem with tons of soiled potential.

Conclusion:
Need for Speed Rivals is fun; it’s most certainly a casual game, it’s accessible, it’s streamlined, and it’s immersive. Unfortunately, at this point it’s also broken, undermining the title’s compelling arcade gameplay, highly detailed visuals, and superb sound performance. While by no means the only issue in a title rife with niggling problems, the constant crashing I experienced while reviewing this game made playing it seem laborious, instead of fun and seamless. There are other issues – texture pop-ups, failed or glitchy spawns, and some balancing issues when it comes to PvP pursuits.

However, with a little more polish and a bit more time in development, Need for Speed Rivals would have been the series’ star turn on the current gen consoles and booming introduction to the next generation. Unfortunately, Need for Speed Rivals instead feels like a rushed gem, with none of the individuality that it’s Black Box predecessors had. Make no mistake, Ghost Games’ introduction into the Need for Speed franchise is by no means bad, but it definitely isn’t a series high.

The Breakdown:
Story: 3.5/10
Gameplay: 7/10
Graphics: 8.5/10
Sound: 9.5/10
Multiplayer: 8/10
Lasting Appeal: 5.5/10

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The Fifa 15 demo will be live soon

Fifa 15’s demo is already live on Xbox One and is expected to hop on to other platforms later today. No word yet on what the demo contains but players will get a chance to see EA’s new Ignite engine and all the new features that it has to offer in action with this snippet of game. FIFA 15 is slated to hit PC, PlayStation 3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One on the 26th of September.

Sam Fourie

Ever so slightly unhinged, this one spends most of his time playing or writing about video games. Also dabbles heavily in tabletop, comics and the occasional bout of music creation.

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FIFA 15 Review

Ask almost anyone what the biggest sport on the planet is and they’ll probably say football. The same would probably apply when asking a gamer what the biggest sports game is; their answer is most likely going to be FIFA. The series has gained quite a following over the years with almost every instalment being an improvement over the last. FIFA 15 has been released recently and seems to take a few good steps forward while also taking a few steps back.

FIFA 15 plays rather similarly to last year’s instalment of the popular football game. Fans of the series need not be worried about any major changes as gameplay remains largely the same. However, there are some tweaks to the game which improve the experience with FIFA 15. Goalkeeping has been improved with keepers now being more fluid in their actions; they will now twist their bodies in an attempt to match the flight pattern of the ball. This is exactly what a real keeper would do and definitely adds to the realism of the game.

Unlike FIFA 14, this year’s instalment has a lot less glitches present in the game. There were times where players would experience instances where a keeper would dive to the opposite side of where the ball was going. For example, a player would shoot left while the keeper would dive all the way right. Thankfully this has been fixed with FIFA 15 and goalkeepers are a little challenging to beat at times. However, I did notice that they seem to panic a little when a player from the opposing team gets really close to their position in front of the net; I took this as my opportunity to score nearly every time. Getting through the defensive back line can be quite challenging but it certainly is exhilarating when you manage to do so right before scoring. It’s actually equally exciting even when not scoring. As a newcomer to the most recent FIFA titles, I enjoyed this quite a bit and could feel my hands tensing up when they were wrapped around my controller.

As mentioned before, breaking through the opponent’s defence can be a challenging affair; this is mostly due to the willingness of your opponent’s AI block the ball at any cost. However, the same cannot be said for the AI players on your team. Most times, I found that the AI players on my team failed to anticipate my passing of the ball to them and because of this, would lose possession of the ball. Being in possession of the ball, however, is a significantly more enjoyable than attempting to steal it away from your opponent. It’s as if the opposing team’s players have a shield around them. Players are going to have to try a lot harder when trying to steal the ball as opposition AI have learned to shift their weight to dodge an incoming sliding tackle. Manage to land a tackle, however, and you may just see one of your players earning themselves a yellow card. That applies to accidental collisions too.

Visually, FIFA 15 doesn’t really fail to impress but it does have a few issues. The addition of wear and tear to players’ uniforms is a small but noticeable feature which contributes to the overall experience. The animations of players dribbling look more fluid and definitely more realistic. With regards to realism, FIFA 15 features instances where the game would cut away from the action for a moment to show a highlight from a match. These range from a recently scored goal to a tackle that may have resulted in a free kick. It’s a nice touch that makes you feel as if you’re watching an actual football match. However, these can take some time and cannot be skipped. While I do like the cutaway feature, I feel that it should be optional; or at the very least, skippable.

Audio wise, FIFA 15 does some good and some bad. The roar of a crowd during a match is enough to make the player feel quite immersed when playing and is something that has improved over the years. The commentary, however, seems to have taken a strange twist. Martin Tyler and Alan Smith have done a decent job at recording commentary but some of it seems a little inconsistent in that each commentator has their own aspect that they would like to focus on. One tends to comment on the FIFA World Cup while the other focuses on how the ball entered the net. The two never seem to stay on one topic and this can be rather jarring for the player.

Conclusion:
FIFA 15 features some decent upgrades but also takes a few unnecessary steps back. While it isn’t a terrible instalment, it does seem to favour a more comprehensive list of new features than it does its attempt to deliver a well-rounded football simulation experience. However, it’s a little hard to deny that FIFA 15 is most likely the best football game on the market.

The Breakdown:
Gameplay: 8.3/10
Multiplayer: 8.5/10
Lasting appeal: 9/10
Graphics: 9/10
Sound: 8/10

Brady Ruiters

Known as Brady Ruiters by day and GuitarDemon by night (Well, on the PSN mostly…) Professional, creative and frank, a self-proclaimed gaming journalist moulded by a passion and fascination for gaming and music, and in turn, taking a crack at shaping the rest of the world with the very same obsession. That, however, remains a trying task.

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Dragon Age: Inquisition Review

Bioware’s Dragon Age series has had a bit of a rocky road as far as I’m concerned . Origins is without a doubt one of the most memorable RPG of the previous generation. The game boasted one of the best RPG combat systems I’d seen in a long time, but the world which it presented had a lot of problems. The scope in which it presented it’s world felt extremely off and the sheer amount of lore that had been written up for the story came off as being overbearing for both the writers and the player.

While Dragon Age 2 was unnecessarily stripped down in terms of the world, combat and mechanics, it delivered a much more cohesive experience and one that felt very suited for the type of game it was trying to be. It was rough as all hell around the edges, and it still came across as if BioWare didn’t really know where to take the series.

Dragon Age: Inquisition doesn’t take the series far from its roots, but it delivers one of the most well crafted RPGs in recent memory and an incredibly rich game of extraordinarily realized and vast scope.

Dragon Age Inquisition (4)

Inquisition picks up shortly after the tumultuous conclusion of Dragon Age 2, where the conflict between the Mage and Templar factions had escalated to the point that full on war between the two sides was imminent. In the opening scenes we bear witness to talks of a peace treaty being interrupted by a giant magical explosion that decimates the hierarchy of both factions and leaves only a single survivor in the form of the player’s character.

Your character doesn’t escape unharmed though, you’re left branded with a strange mark that allows you to tap into the mystical energies that are threatening to tear the world apart by way of a giant portal through which demons are pouring out. Since you’re the only one around who may stand a chance at closing off this breach, you’re quickly inducted into the Inquisition; and organization with the sole aim of closing the Breach and restoring order to the land by any means.

The story that subsequently unfolds is stellar, featuring some of the best writing and characters in any BioWare game to date. It’s the first game in this series to use the massive slew of lore in a way that feels right. No part of the story or world is put to waste, everything and everyone has their own tale to tell and almost every yarn spun is a good one.

Dragon Age Inquisition (2)

The cast is the most interesting and diverse of any game this year and each character is far more nuanced than they first appear. What’s more is that there’s a real sense of loyalty and mistrust between your fellow Inquisition members. Alliances need to balanced carefully and a thankful breakaway from the binary good and evil BioWare choice system delivers some much welcome moral grey areas to traverse.

As with all the BioWare games your party members serve to still be the highlight of the whole experience. Each of them is fleshed out with broad dialogue trees and fully fledged personalities for you to interact with and there’s not a weak link in the bunch. I had favourites to be sure but each party members was interesting enough to warrant you spending some with them.

This emphasis on smaller character arcs and conflicts serves as a great contrast between the larger scale of the overall story and the world changing decisions you’re expected to undertake as a key member of the Inquisition.

This is where the real scope of the game and it’s mechanics becomes frighteningly clear. It moves the focus away from you and your small band of warriors and finally brings attention to the fast network of Dragon Age’s complex politics and alliances and throws you into the middle of it all.

You engage with the various other factions and kingdoms by way of sending your advisers and agents out into the world to undertake missions on your behalf. These are undertaken in real time with the timer ticking down even if you’re not playing. Each missions reaps some rewards and serves to bolster the Inquisition’s power and influence.

You not playing an armchair general though, you can venture out with your own small party to acquire resources and fill requisitions for the Inquisition, which either add to the influence and power of your army, or expand your own personal suite of gear like potions and weapons.

Dragon Age Inquisition (5)

Progression in the main story is actually locked behind advancing the Inquisition’s might to a certain point, meaning that the game practically forces you into exploring. While this could have been a cumbersome and annoying restriction on the gameplay it instead serves to be one of the game’s greatest decisions as it forces you into engaging with the incredibly enchanting areas on offer,

Each of the numerous zones you’ll be roaming around is gigantic and really serves to cater to the wanderlust the game instills in you. From a desolated desert to a verdant mountain range and the dreaded marshlands, there’s a stellar amount of variety in the environments and a staggering amount of things to do and missions to undertake.

Whether you’re hunting down rebels for the nearby mayor or seeking resources for the Inquisition to utilize, you’re constantly progressing and building your forces. There’s no sense that you’re ever wasting time and nothing you do is ever in vain as it all comes back to making the Inquisition a more formidable force.

Dragon Age Inquisition  (8)

Inquisition takes the a lot elements of both Origins and Dragon Age 2 to create the best combat system in the series yet. There’s still a foucs on the real-time, moment to moment combat that sees you engaging enemies in action-lite manner, but the more tactical orientated nature of Origins is here in full.

You can pause the combat at any time to bring up a tactical view mode that allows you to map the actions and movement of each party member individually. A single button press will make all play out, leaving you free to plan accordingly as things unfold. It’s a fantastic system that accommodates a large range of play styles and challenge level without sacrificing any of the fantastic depth.

The combat’s fantastic level of depth is mostly thanks to the wonderful amount of class variety that Inquisition offers. Classes are still divided into the the tried and true warrior, rogue and mage archetypes, but the numerous amounts of sub-classes and specializations available to each opens up a massive amount of variation to the combat and makes it just fantastic to engage with on so many levels.

This is the first game that sees BioWare making use of the Frostbite 3 engine and they’ve leveraged it to some fantastic results. The environments are jaw droppingly gorgeous at times, with the foliage, water and particle effects from spells standing out as some of the best in class.

The texture quality all round is just fantastic and the facial animation on each character is a serious and much needed step up for the series. Subtle nuances in the facial animation speak far more than a whole string of sentences and the game capitalizes on that reality very well.

When you look at the sheer attention to detail and the massive scale of the world it’s quite the achievement. The art style finally differentiates the series from hordes of other generic fantasy universes and lends the game quite a bit of unique flair, which was very lacking before.

Conclusion:

Inquisition is the most fleshed out and fully realized Dragon Age game yet. It uses its  massive amount of interesting lore, some incredible characters and gameplay elements that are as compelling mechanically as they are narratively to create a game that is extraordinarily gripping. It makes you feel the weight and impact of each choice like few other games can and the result is a world that I’ll be happy to return to for a good long while.

The Breakdown:

Story: 9/10
Gameplay: 8.5/10
Lasting Appeal: 8.5/10
Graphics:9/10
Sound: 9.5/10

Sam Fourie

Ever so slightly unhinged, this one spends most of his time playing or writing about video games. Also dabbles heavily in tabletop, comics and the occasional bout of music creation.

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Star Wars Battlefront Review

Developed by DICE and published by EA, Star Wars Battlefront feels like the Star Wars shooter everyone has been waiting for. While it does do quite a bit right in terms of gameplay, sometimes Battlefront loses its way.

The gameplay in Star Wars Battlefront is decent. It handles like your standard FPS game in that you are able to shoot, jump, crouch and use other items such as grenades, the only real exception being that you are able to switch to a third-person view if you so wish.

There isn’t any real single-player campaign in Battlefront. However, there is a Survival Mode, which is actually a lot of fun. The single-player or cooperative mode pits Rebel players against wave after wave of increasingly difficult Imperial soldiers. As the waves go on, soldiers gain upgrades such as increased armour, invisibility and jetpacks. It’s rather rewarding especially on some of the higher difficulties. The only problem with this mode is that there aren’t many reasons to play A survival mission once you’ve completed it, unless of course you just want something to tackle with a friend, which is never a bad thing.

Star Wars Battlefront has a plethora of modes; unfortunately only a few stand out and will most likely be the modes that you will frequent during your time with the game. The modes I found that stood out the most were Drop Zone, Supremacy and Walker Assault.

Drop Zone is an 8v8 mode in which players compete to capture drop pods. Successfully capturing a pod rewards the team with victory points, which adds to the score. This also initiates the next drop and one-use items such as turrets and mines.

Supremacy is essentially Conquest Mode from the Battlefield series. Supremacy features two teams of 20 players fighting for control of outposts over a large map. Like conquest, players are able to make use of vehicles to move around and with enough skill, can ultimately turn the tide in a match. Available vehicles include AT-ST’s and X-Wings. This can also affect the combat behaviour of the infantry as raining down fire forces a change in tactics. It’s dynamic the way it changes and is an enjoyable factor of the gameplay.

Walker Assault essentially combines the gameplay of both modes while giving the Imperials a bit of an advantage as AT-AT Walkers march on toward a rebel base in order to wipe it from the map. Rebels have to capture uplink stations in order to guide their Y-Wings in order to attack the walkers. They’re formidable foes, to say the least, so any damage done to them feels like a real accomplishment. Out of the many modes available, Walker Assault feels like the most authentic Star Wars experience.

What also makes the gameplay rather exciting is the different loadouts that players use when going into a match. One player’s loadout may not be the same as the next, which makes it a variable experience. As players earn XP from combat experience, credits are earned. These credits can be used to purchase different blasters and items to be equipped. The purchased items range from grenades, jetpack boosts and special guns. Three items can be equipped at once in the form of star cards. The left and right cards hold grenades or a sniper rifle with one round; these recharge after a few seconds after being used. The middle card holds expendable items such as a shield, however, more charges can be found around the map. It’s a interesting and good way to handle the progression as it doesn’t lock players to a certain class when playing.

Aside from items and weapons used in loadouts, players can find tokens on the map for various one-use items such as turrets and explosives. In addition, players can also find tokens for vehicles such as AT-ST’s, X-Wings and Tie Fighters, which can make a battle a little more interesting. Hero Tokens can also be found on the map and these allow players to turn into character such as Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker or Han Solo. These characters are a lot stronger than your average soldier and can be devastating once introduced to a conflict. Each character has their own strengths and tactical advantage. Usually once a Hero enters the fray, the opposing force tends to head in the other direction for fear of being annihilated. It’s a nice touch and somewhat funny to see your opposition running away from you.

Unfortunately not all of Star Wars Battlefront’s modes are great. Fighter Squadron is a decent mode for pilots who want to get the hang of the ships but it feels too simple due to it being aerial combat only and doesn’t involve infantry. Blast is your classic Team Deathmatch; it’s fun as a starting mode but it’s highly likely that you won’t be coming back to it after enjoying Drop Zone, Supremacy and Walker Assault.

Then there are modes that just feel like no one would play them. Hero Hunt and Heroes vs Villains don’t really offer anything new to players enjoying other modes. They also have the tendency of being a little tedious.

A lot of the modes in Star Wars Battlefront (and I mean a lot) come across as being filler content and not really something to be enjoyed. It’s almost as if DICE has gone in the direction of delivering as much fan service as possible, which is not a bad thing, but at times it feels as if the game loses its way, forgetting to focus on game modes that work and are enjoyable.

Star Wars Battlefront is a great looking game. When playing the game for the first time, players will see that the visuals in the game are just beautiful. Character models and animations have been well done. The explosions look great and the signature impact sparks of blaster fire has been recreated incredibly. What really stands out, however, is the different memorable locations from the Star Wars franchise and how maps have been created to feel suited for the locations. For example, Hoth is covered in snow and has various ice caverns which creates a feeling of claustrophobia, while Endor is a map covered with hiding places and sniping opportunities thanks to the dense vegetation.

In terms of audio, Battlefront shines most of the time. Blaster fire sounds great and explosions match the visual quality of how they look. At first, the voice work by characters such as Darth Vader and Han Solo seemed fitting but it soon became quite monotonous after a phrase was repeated for the fourth time. Additionally, the one liners spouted by the Heroes felt so cheesy and cringeworthy that you start to wish that they weren’t there. Famous themes such as the Imperial March make appearances here and there; sometimes the original score by DICE goes with it rather well, other times it feels strangely out of place, which is disappointing.

Conclusion:
Star Wars Battlefront is a good game and feels like the authentic Star Wars shooter we’ve all been waiting for. However, the game isn’t great all of the time and loses its way occasionally; this is especially true when it comes to the different modes available with the majority not being very enjoyable. That said, the game handles really well and the different possible loadouts make combat interesting.

Visually, the game shines with its environments and maps. Even better yet, the attention to detail such as scorch marks found on X-Wings. Unfortunately the same can not be said about the sound due to the cheesy one liners and intermittently misplaced soundtrack. However, most of the sound effects such as blaster fire and resonating of a lightsaber are on point and give me a feeling nostalgia.

While it may not be the best Star Wars game ever and sometimes feels misguided, Battlefront still does quite a bit right in terms of being a decent Star Wars shooter and mostly feels rather authentic.

The Breakdown:
Gamplay: 9/10
Multiplayer: 7.5/10
Lasting appeal: 7/10
Graphics: 9/10
Sounds: 8/10

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Unravel – review roundup

Yarny’s adventure in the upcoming Unravel seems to be doing rather well with the critics.

The EA-published game from Sweden, Unravel, is out tomorrow. Developed by ColdWood Interactive, Unravel puts players in control of Yarny, a character made up entirely of , you guessed it, yarn.

Yarney makes his way through Northern-Scandinavia, by completing physics-based puzzles and also includes some platforming.

If you have EA Access on Xbox One or Origin Access on PC, you can try it right now.

Check out some of the scores below:

Unravel is out tomorrow on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

Source: VG247

Brady Ruiters

Known as Brady Ruiters by day and GuitarDemon by night (Well, on the PSN mostly…) Professional, creative and frank, a self-proclaimed gaming journalist moulded by a passion and fascination for gaming and music, and in turn, taking a crack at shaping the rest of the world with the very same obsession. That, however, remains a trying task.