Review: ‘Spec Ops The Line’ surprises gamers by retelling a classic story – 6/29/2012

Spec-Ops-The-LineIt’s not the well crafted game play or the creative story that makes ‘Spec Ops: The Line’ one of the biggest surprises of the year, but being the first game in the series that is actually good.

Most gamers would be scratching their head and wondering, “Hey how come I’ve never heard of this game-series?” While Spec Ops: The Line looks amazing, the series had established its reputation in the late 90’s with a bunch of failed attempts at mimicking Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six.

One of Spec Ops: The Line biggest drawbacks is being part of the Spec Ops-series. A game this well crafted would have done well as a standalone title.

It’s amazing what can be achieved with a decade long hiatus. Yet don’t let the series awful history dismay you, this is a great game.

Spec Ops: The Line is a modern retelling of Joseph Conrad’s novella, Heart of Darkness, without any homage’s to Apocalypse Now (I say this in a good way). Set in a disaster torn Dubai, gamers take on the role of Captain Walker as he leads his Delta Force unit on a search and rescue mission for a missing Army Battalion.

The moment Captain Walker sets foot on the recreated Highway of Death; the player will sense is not going to be your typical war game. Dubai is buried thanks to a massive sandstorm while the local population is at war with a rouge army factions.

To accomplish the mission; Walker will have to fight into the heart of the city with his squad while making some tough choices. Without spoiling too much all one needs to know is Spec Ops: The Line will not be the hour of glory but a descend into madness.

While the games biggest strength come from its well crafted game play and dark story, it however fails to offer an acquit multiplayer component. As other games compete to offer the best multiplayer experience, Spec Ops: The Line offers a very mediocre multiplayer experience.

Regardless of its minor flaws, Spec Ops: The Line for the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC is a summer hit not to be overlooked. Compared to what old school gamers were expecting, this has to be one of the biggest surprises of the year.

Final Score: 4/5

Written for Digital Journal 
6/29/2012
Original Article: Review: ‘Spec Ops The Line’ surprises gamers by retelling a classic story

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‘Black Ops 2’ will be a tale of two Cold Wars – 6/25/2012

blops2-boxStarting from its announcement back in early May up until the end of E3 2012, Activision and Treyarch have been revealing small details regarding the single-player campaign of ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops 2’.

The game will be set in two eras starting with the Cold War from the late 70’s until the early 80’s while most the game will be set in the year 2025. For the Cold War-setting; gamers will again take on the role of Alex Mason while the future setting will have gamers take on the role of David Mason (Alex’s son).

The story will start with Alex Mason and his early encounter with Raul Menendez during the Cold War. In the 2025 setting; David Mason and his team must stop Menendez when hijacks America’s electronic defense and use it to trigger a war with the Peoples Republic of China.

It has been confirmed that several Cold War levels will be set in Central America and Afghanistan during the Soviet Occupation. 2025 levels will include a war-torn Los Angeles and Singapore.

More details regarding Raul Menendez and other story related content will be revealed in the months to come.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 is set to be released on November 13 for the PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii U. It will be the ninth game in the Call of Duty-series and the third to continue the story arch that started with Call of Duty: World at War.

Written for Digital Journal 
6/25/2012
Original Article: ‘Black Ops 2’ will be a tale of two Cold Wars

Kojima announces ‘Metal Gear Solid 5’ in the works – 6/20/2012

A young Big Boss in ‘Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater’

In an interview with French game magazine ‘IG’, Hideo Kojima has announced that ‘Metal Gear Solid 5’ is currently in development.

The only information Kojima has revealed is that the game will be using the new Fox Engine and the game-play mechanism will feature a blend of stealth action and interaction with other characters, similar to Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

About Metal Gear Solid 5, I can tell you two things. There will be much question of infiltration, espionage, and convincing people to give you ‘a favor’ like in the last Metal Gear Solid,” said Kojima in the interview.

Kojima has also hinted the possibility that Solid Snake might return.

However according to Dan Dawkins at PS3M, Metal Gear Solid 5 may be set in Africa during 1970’s and gamers will once aging take on the role of Big Boss. This is based on several clues revealed on the MGS-Timeline along with how characters like Frank Jaeger (a.k.a. Grey Fox) and Big Boss have a background story that is set in Africa.

Metal Gear Solid 5 will be the ninth game in the main Metal Gear-series created by Hideo Kojima. The series is famous setting the foundations of the stealth action genre along for its dramatic style of story.

Written for Digital Journal
06/20/2012
Original Article: Kojima announces ‘Metal Gear Solid 5’ in the works

Playing it Old School: Declassifying “Spec Ops” – 6/19/2012

After a decade long hiatus for the series, 2K Games will be releasing Spec Ops: The Line on June 26 for the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. Now Playing it Old School will be going back and declassifying the Spec Ops-series.

By now most gamers should be scratching their head and wondering, “Hey how come I’ve never heard of this game?” While Spec Ops: The Line looks promising, unfortunately the Spec Ops-series has been a series of poor rip-off’s and budgeted blunders.

Spec Ops can be best described as a failed attempted at mimicking the success of Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six. However unlike most half-assed rip-off’s, Spec Ops continued as a series that progressively got worse. Eight Spec Ops games were released between 1999 until 2001 for the PC, PlayStation and Dreamcast.

During this time period, the following tactical shooters were also released:
* Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six (1998)
* Delta Force (1998)
* Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Rouge Spear (1999)
* Hidden & Dangerous (1999)
* S.W.A.T. 3 (1999)
* Delta Force 2 (1999)
* Operation Flashpoint (2001)
* Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon (2002)

Playing it Old School has a tendency to honor and pay tribute the greatest work, but one has to ask why would anyone want to resurrect a forgotten embarrassment? After playing the demo, I’m confident that Spec Ops: The Line would do better as a stand-alone game without being affiliated with any series, epically one like the Spec Ops-series.

Gamers will have to wait until June 26 to see if Spec Ops: The Line is truly a modern retelling of Heart of Darkness. Yet it’s unlikely that it will reignite interest in a forgotten game series.

Written for Bitmob
06/19/2012
Original Article: Playing it Old School – Declassifying “Spec Ops”

Review: Max Payne returns to the PC – 6/4/2012

The box cover for 'Max Payne 3'

The box cover for ‘Max Payne 3’

It has been a long time since Max Payne waged a bloody vendetta against organized crime but after eight years in development, one of gaming’s greatest tragic heroes has returned to the PC.

The gaming industry has changed since 2003 but Max Payne 3 has a solid game play experience while holding on to its fundamental aspects.

Set eight years after the events of the last game, Max Payne has retired from the NYPD and has hit rock bottom with a drinking problem while continuing to be haunted by his personal demons. In an attempt to start a new life, he takes an offer to work as private security for the Branco family in São Paulo, Brazil.

Unfortunately things don’t go well when a street gang called the Comando Sombra kidnaps Fabiana Branco, the wife of Payne’s employer. Payne and his partner, Raul Passos, make several attempts to rescue her only to end in failure. During the course of the game, Payne uncovers a series of political corruption in São Paulo that put him at odds with a right-wing paramilitary forces and the police.

The first thing fans will notice is the absence of the graphic novel panels that had narrated the story in the previous games. The graphic novel panels have now been replaced by cutscenes, but the cutscenes are so well written with rich dialogue that they make up for the panels loss.

Like with its predecessors, Max Payne 3 has taken the gritty tone that is affiliated with the film-noir genre and infuses it with the choreographic action that has become synonyms with the works of John Woo.

The plot is both the most well written for a video game and one of the darkest works of film-noir. To avoid spoiling it, all one needs to know is that what Max uncovers will make you question the value of human life. At the same time it’s so well intertwined with the series that those who are new to the series can easily understand Max’s background.

Yet one also has to admire the challenge of making a film-noir set in sunny São Paulo as oppose to the cold darkness of New York City. Max Payne 3 was successful in keeping the film- noir tone without the natural elements of the genre by maintaining the ominous tone in a tropical setting. Added to this gritty nature is Max’s narrative that guides the gamer as if they were Dante Alighieri being led by Virgil through the nine circles of hell.

Gamers will obviously realize this is not the same Max Payne. The first game had a revenge-fueled character who has nothing lose while the second game has a character who is looking for a purpose in life. This time gamers will take on the role of a Max Payne who has hit rock bottom and is looking for a personal redemption.

New to the series is the multiplayer that will allow players to establish private groups with up to five friends or join public groups. Players will have to work together to complete tasks and earn XP points.

Max Payne 3 has indeed lived up to the expectations of critics and gamers but the PC version is truly superior to the console version.

Gamers have been waiting eight years for Max Payne 3 while PC gamers had to wait an extra two weeks but in the end it was all worth it, because Max Payne always has been and always will be a PC game.

Final Score: 5/5

Written for Digital Journal
06/4/2012
Original Article: Review: Max Payne returns to the PC