Battlefield: Hardline Takes the War to the Streets – 3/22/2015

Following the disastrous launch of Battlefield 4 (known as Brokenfield among disgruntled fans) many gamers may be hesitant to give Hardline a play through.

It may not appeal to traditional fans at first, but those who want a different shooter experience will be attracted to its new concept. Despite the change in setting, it is still a Battlefield at its core that will impress fans.

Battlefield: Hardline is not just a unique title because of the new theme but a diverse gameplay setup that appeals to more than just shooter fans.

Single-Player

The story is set in Miami in the midst of a drug war not seen since the ’80s and the police are fighting to shut down the cartels before the conflict escalates. Players take on the role of Det. Nick Mendoza as he works with his partner, Det. Khai Minh Dao, as they try to shut down cartel operations. However, during their investigation they uncover rampant corruption within the department.

Battlefield: Hardline single-player is not so much a campaign but an episodic adventure made to feel like a crime show. The story has been crafted to feel like a modernized version of Miami Vice that also incorporates elements of other hit crime shows.

The gameplay setup is very diverse for a shooter as it combines elements of crime solving, stealth action and RPG to give players a fresh experience. The crime solving mechanism makes the game feel like L.A. Noire with a CSI: Miami tone. Unlike previous games in the series, being stealthy and arresting suspects is highly recommended. However, shooter fans will have their moments to go guns blazing.

Multiplayer

While the single-player episodes are designed for a diverse gaming audience, the multiplayer game was developed for both Battlefield and shooter fans. To achieve this it has taken the gameplay features of Payday and Counter-Strike then combined them into the Battlefield setup.

The multiplayer has eight different types of games that pits cops against criminals in a verity of environments. The gameplay includes heist missions along with hostage rescue while traditional fans could still battle for outposts. There is also the traditional team death-match for those who just want to kill another player.

The heist has criminals stealing the loot then transporting it to a designated location while battling the cops. Hostage is a 4 vs. 4 match were the cops try to rescue hostages or take out all the criminals. Hotwire may be the most unique gameplay mode as the cops must stop the criminals from stealing several designated vehicles (there are a lot of car chases here).

Players could purchase new weapons with the money they earn and unlock new gear after meeting certain criteria. Charters and classes can be customized based on what the player needs.

Overall

However, this is still not a flawless gaming experiences due to a few minor issues that could not be overlooked. For starters, the driving in the single-player story is really pointless and does nothing for the overall gaming experience. The story has too many clichés from crime shows while having the quality of mediocre network shows (which is an issue for those who binge watch The Wire on HBO).

The multiplayer game could have also incorporated more Co-Op and planning into its setup. While borrowing inspiration from Payday adds to the games cops & robbers theme, but the lack of real Co-Op makes every multiplayer game feel like over complicated death-match. Instead there will be a few players working towards the the games objective while everyone else is out gunning for other players.

Gamers may also experience a few minor glitches but most of them will be resolved with future patches.

It should be noted that Battlefield: Hardline may not appeal to many players as the series has been a balance between a gameplay setup that appeals to the casuals who play Call of Duty and the hardcore buffs who prefer Armed Assault (ArmA). The Battlefield series has always tried to include the user friendly setup of CoD into a more massive and challenging experience that ArmA fans could also enjoy. While the simplicity of CoD or the difficulty of ArmA is lost, a balance is found that has incorporate the highlights of both titles. Yet there will always be those CoD gamers who will find the game too difficult while some ArmA fans will feel the game is too juvenile for them.

In a genre that has become saturated with Call of Duty-knockoffs, putting players on to the thin blue line is an excellent change. Battlefield: Hardline shift from the war zones to the streets helps bring a sense of originality to the series.

Written for GameSkinny
3/22/2015
Original ArticleBattlefield: Hardline Takes the War to the Streets

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Review: Far Cry 4 takes players to an exotic conflict of redemption – 11/26/14

Welcome to Kyrat, a landlocked country in the Himalayas that is plagued by corruption and civil war thanks to its despotic king. This is the exotic war zone that players will have to fight through in ‘Far Cry 4’.

Continuing the tradition of its predecessors; the game puts players in the role of a random character then tosses them into a conflict zone influenced by memorable stories. The first game in the series was inspired by The Island of Doctor Moreau, its sequel was a modern retelling of Hearts of Darkness, and the third game morphed the themes of Inside the Looking Glass with the plot of James Cameron’s Avatar along with a little Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

 This time players will embark on a journey inspired by the Nepalese Civil War. This was a 10-year conflict that was fought between Maoist intransigents against the Royalist government and ended with the monarchy being abolished.

The story follows Ajay Ghale as he returns to Kyrat to spread his mother ashes. The moment he crosses the border, the bus is attacked by the military and he becomes the prisoner of Pagan Min, the nation’s despotic king. Ghale is taken to the Royal Palace were he is the guest of honor during a dinner celebration. When Pagan Min steps out for a moment, the player has the choice to stay seated or wander the palace. It’s this choice that determines if he joins the Golden Path in their war against the Royalist government.

Far Cry 4 is a first-person adventure that puts players into an open world that has so much to explore. Kyrat is a magnificent world that has a history of violence and many secrets that are open for exploration. Besides the Royal Army and internal conflict, the natural wildlife is also a force not to be overlooked.

The gameplay setup is identical to its predecessor with minor changes that improves the overall experience. Several new vehicles and a slightly tweaked combat system allow for a better playing experience. While this may feel like a drawback, in all fairness Ubisoft games are more memorable for their story than the gameplay.

It’s important to note that the story is not just an improvement over its predecessor but a moral journey in the backdrops of a civil war. The story will explore themes of redemption, the emotional consequences of a broken heart along with the internal conflicts of traditional values vs. modern values. The biggest driving force in the story are the two characters who are in conflict with each other but bound by a sense of duty to an adopted country.

Unlike Jason Brody from the last game, Ajay Ghale is not some annoying brat who acquires combat skills after taking some hallucinogens. Instead he is a man with a troubled past that wants to put his mother to rest while exploring his families heritage. On the other side of the spectrum is Pagan Min, who seeks to keep control of Kyrat by what ever means necessary. This is a villain that could easily be described as a J-Pop star with the personality and style of the Joker. While he lacks the junkie-style savageness of Vaas Montenegro, he makes up for it with his charismatic charm.

Despite being total opposites, they have this twisted relationship that is very similar to what is shared between Batman and the Joker. A relationship that is best demonstrated in how Min doesn’t taunt or provoke Ghale but instead converses as if they are friends.The common theme that bounds these characters is they have a Western upbringing but have have come to Kyrat for a purpose that evolved into an odyssey to better themselves.

Despite having a solid story and multidimensional characters, the game has a few minor issues that are hard to overlook. Far Cry 4‘s biggest letdown is not that it uses the same gameplay mechanism from its predecessor — it uses of the same content that has become a trope for almost every Ubisoft game in the last few years.

The obvious has been requiring players to climb a tower to unlock a section of the map, a mini-game used in Assassin’s Creed, Batman: Arkham Origins, and Watch Dogs. It’s understandable that the game wants to be challenging, but this mini-game has been played out too much.

Another common trope encountered are enemies having more red on their uniforms than the Red Army, something Ubisoft has an obsession with. Such a uniform design would make sense in the Assassin’s Creed series but no modern military forces has red painted all over their uniform. It was not just in Far Cry 3 but these red armies were also an adversary in Watch Dogs and Rainbow Six: Vegas 2.

Finally it seems that they were a little lazy when it came to changing the players arsenal. Despite a few new additions, the roster of weapons available is the same from Far Cry 3 while using the same texture that was also featured in Watch Dogs.

As stated before, Ubisoft games always seem to have the most clunky gameplay mechanism but its always made up with a memorable story. While its acceptable to forgive them for reusing these tropes and the gameplay, they really need to come up with some original ideas before they start rehashing the story.

Far Cry 4 preserves everything gamers liked about its predecessor while introducing a more memorable story that is rich in context. While it will feel like a familiar game, the journey will make players explore a new world with many wonders.

Final Score: 4.5/5

Written for Digital Journal 
11/26/2014
Original Article: Review: Far Cry 4 takes players to an exotic conflict of redemption

Gamers surprised that Crytek is developing ‘Homefront: The Revolution’ – 6/6/2014

Crytek official announcement that they are developing Homefront: The Revolution has impressed many gamers while pundits in the media are surprised that this sequel was even considered.

The original Homefront was a highly anticipated game that was promoted as a new vision for the shooter genre by having players engage in a guerrilla war against North Korea’s (known as the Greater Korean Republic in game) occupation of America. Its biggest selling point was a story written by John Milius, Hollywood icon who directed Red Dawn.

However the game was meet with mediocre reviews due to what was seen as a bland gameplay that offered nothing original. The failure of Homefront resulted in Kaos Studios having to shutdown while playing a contributing factor that lead to THQ having to file for bankruptcy in 2012.

In a market dominated by the rivalry between Call of Duty and Battlefield while saturated with forgettable knock-offs, Homefront had faded from gamers memories. So when Crytek announced a squeal, the premise impressed the gaming media while also having them ask “why?”

Hayden Dingman of PC World started his article by stating, “I’ll be honest: I’d sort of forgotten that THQ ever contracted Crytek for a Homefront sequel. I’d definitely forgotten that Crytek then purchased those rights when THQ went bankrupt just so they could finish creating said sequel.It exists. Crytek is making Homefront 2—titled Homefront The Revolution—a reality.

Aaron Birch from Den of Geeks started his preview by stating, “Despite the first Homefront being almost universally mauled by the critics, and being seen by many as one of the worst FPS titles in recent memory, a second game is on the way. ” After that he goes into details about the game with some optimism.

In an interview with the development team, David Jenkins of Metro starts by asking, “I know everyone must be asking this but… why? Why buy the Homefront franchise when the basic gist of the story seems easy enough to recreate without the licence? I mean, the idea of America under occupation is interesting but the whole North Korean angle is rather silly and you could’ve easily just swapped in aliens or another country and made pretty much the same game.

In a less optimistic outlook, Jesse Rogalski of Hardcore Gamer stated, “Is the idea of a sequel to a title that undersold, under-delivered and one that can be directly linked to the demise of not only the developer, but the publisher itself, already doomed before release?

Gamers have also shared their concern on social media and forums as many surprised a sequel to Homefront is even being considered.

Despite many asking “why bother,” the premise along with Crytek reputation has sparked gamers interest and are whiling to give it a chance. Rogalski and Dingman do note at the end of their article that the game does look interesting.

Homefront: The Revolution will be a reboot the original game and will have players fight a guerrilla war in an open-world setting built using an updated version of the CryEngine.

Written for The Gamers Progress
06/6/2014
Original Article: Gamers surprised that Crytek is developing ‘Homefront: The Revolution’

Foxconn interns alleged to have sabotaged the PlayStation 4 – 11/17/2013

A forum post published by users claiming to be Foxconn interns alleged that the PlayStation 4 was deliberately mishandled and sabotaged during the manufacturing process.

Several posts about interns sabotaging the PS4 during the manufacturing process had appeared on message boards in China. These post failed to attract attention until reports emerged regarding problems with the system followed by a forum posted on IGN.com by a new user claiming to be a Foxconn intern.

The post claims that the user, “qbroid,” along with interns in the same position, made efforts to sabotoge the PlayStation 4 during the manufacturing process. “qbroid” reinforces his story by also posting claims made by other interns on how they deliberately mishandled or tampered with the console.

“qbroid” states that the sabotage was done in retaliation for how Foxconn mistreated them. The post said: Since Foxconn are not treating us well, we will not treat PS4 console well.

In early October, it was reported that Foxconn was forcing student interns from the Xi’an Technical University to work overtime to assemble the PS4 or risk having their diplomas withheld. The allegations came a few days after Foxconn CEO Terry Gou stated that young people are interested in “easy and relaxing jobs” at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

Foxconn is one of the largest manufactures of electronic products with clients like Apple, Sony, and Microsoft. It has also become infamous for its labor practices and working conditions that have driven several workers to commit suicide.

Written for Digital Journal
10/7/2013
Original Article: Foxconn interns alleged to have sabotaged the PlayStation 4

Waiting to buy a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One could be the smartest thing you do – 11/5/2013

The gaming industry is going to enter the eighth generation of consoles this month, but it may be better to wait before wasting your hard-earned money on a product that will probably be defective.

Like all new technology, the first models will suffer from software glitches because the development team was under pressure to release them on the market around the same time as the competition. Looking back at past trends and current problems in the industry provides a strong case for waiting to purchase these systems.

Xbox gamers will recall the early days, when some of the first models of the Xbox 360 had a defective disc reader. This flaw resulted in a circumferential scratch on the disc that rendered it unusable. It was discovered that some disc drives lack a mechanism to secure the disc solidly in place.

If an Xbox 360 owner was lucky enough to have a proper disc reader, then he risked facing a hardware problem that resulted in the system crashing and the console becoming inoperable: the Red Ring of Death. Affected gamers had to mail their defective console to Microsoft to have it repaired. Microsoft never officially revealed what caused the Ring of Death, but speculation was that it was either a central processing unit (CPU) failure or the use of a poor-quality solder.

Meanwhile, the first models of the PlayStation 3 had hardware that was difficult for developers to work with, which resulted in fewer games being released at launch. Also, the new software was incompatible with so many PlayStation 2 games that the feature had to be abandoned in the slim models.

Back when PlayStation 2 dominated the market after the failure of the Dreamcast, the first models had a disc reader that would wear out and result in the system being unable to read any disc inserted into the console. Sony offered to fix the disc reader and provide a free game while some retailers offered a trade-in for the new PS2 slim.

So has the game industry learned how to minimize potential hardware failures? Of course not! The market has grown so that highly anticipated games will compete and outperform movies at the box office. However, the industry is under such great pressure to move products that testers may overlook serious hardware flaws.

Rumors have emerged that there may be major problems with the Xbox One’s operating system and that Microsoft will be unable to resolve it in time. Adding to the speculation are several games journalists claiming that Microsoft is allegedly pressuring them to not publish reviews until after the official launch.

Supporting the rumors is the fact that Microsoft had to redesign the Xbox One after its Orwellian features and draconian style of digital rights management (DRM) caused an uproar in the gaming community. The system had been in development since 2011, but after its controversial unveiling, the development staff had eight months to remove the unpopular features and ensure the console could function properly. Hence, it’s very likely that gamers might experience major system problems with the first models of the Xbox One.

On a smaller scale, there have been countless examples of how ill prepared the industry has been for highly anticipated launches. Most of these nightmares have been in the last few years.

The most recent example would be last month’s launch of Grand Theft Auto Online, which suffered from technical glitches on day one of its release. Due to system problems, gamers were unable to play the game, and the few that could ended up losing their characters after developer Rockstar fixed the glitch.

In March 2013, Electronic Arts had major problems with the release of Sim City. The game suffered from gameplay glitches while server crashes made it unplayable for a weekend. Worse is that the DRM required players to be connected to a dedicated server even if they were playing the single-player game. This contributed to EA being voted “Worst Company in America” by The Consumerist readers for the second year in a row (beating Bank of America).

That pales, however, to how ill prepared Blizzard Entertainment was with the highly anticipated PC release of Diablo III in 2012. After a decade in development, the game suffered from major glitches when players tried to create a profile and was followed by multiple server crashes. Blizzard underestimated how well the game would sell. Even though Diablo III was a major hit, its success was overshadowed by its disastrous launch.

The first models of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are going to have some major problems while later models will have those resolved. It’s better to wait until they do rather than have a system crash just as you’re about to play a brand-new game.

Written for GameBeats 
11/5/2013
Original Article: Waiting to buy a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One could be the smartest thing you do