Stepping Away From the Group

Posted: November 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

Effective immediately. I’m posting this here since if anyone sees it it’s likely the two people who would see it anyway. But if no one sees it whatever. I’m not even sure Podcast Infinite is still a thing. I would have liked it to be before making this decision but alas it’s not so whatever. Acknowledging that likely no one gives a crap about it or seemingly gave a crap about me considering the two other people that posted on this website have started a new podcast. I’m just going to come out here publicly in the best and only way I know of to get ahold of these people anymore and say that i’m done.

No hard feelings but i’m not dealing with this drama. First all this stuff with nooch that I kind of had to sit between and then I find out that you guys start a new podcast without even just letting me know hey we are starting a new podcast. We don’t want you apart of it but yea it’s there. It really shows how good of a friend you can be when you do something like that. But like I said no hard feelings. I’m just done with it. You don’t want to be my friend that’s cool i’ll treat you people the same way I treat others on PSN. And considering the lack of response I’ve gotten the last few weeks it’s about time for that to come due.

So i’m out. Best of luck to both Kyle and Nooch in their future podcast. It’s probably the last you’ll hear of me in this sort of setting again. Group things just don’t work well for me. Peace

-Ryan

Prefacing this op-ed with this. Out of the three in the podcast, I am probably the most indie game sound. I play a lot of games that aren’t played by tons of people and I’ve quite a few indie games under my belt. I love some of them. The reason I’m posting this blog is the heavy influence the new consoles seemingly have on indie games. I don’t think this is a bad thing, just really skeptical on it. For one huge reason and I’ll get to that in this blog.

Let me preface all of this though by saying that there are some great indie games out there. From the behemoth, giving us Battleblock Theater, Alien Hominid, and Castle Crashers to the creators of Journey of which the game’s soundtrack was nominated for I think a Grammy. There are some great indie games out there. And it’s not a bad thing that the new consoles are focusing heavily on it. Because some of these indie games really deserve more love. But then there are the ones that make me skeptical for this big indie push.

And those indie games are the ones I’ve seen on Xbox Live Arcade. Hopefully you being here you know a little about me. Knowing that I used to be a huge “Xbot” which is a term used by my buddy Kyle that basically means I played a lot of Xbox games. I was basically an Xbox fanboy. So I’m ranting a little bit. What I’m getting at is I had an Xbox 360 and it took over a large portion of my life at that time. I was seemingly always on it. I had nothing better to do. And there are a lot of times when you just get bored of playing the same game over and over and over so you got to find something else to do. At this time I had nothing else to do but play video games. I know sad right? So I went on to the Xbox Live Arcade area. Which was basically the area where all the indie games were at. And there is some crazy stuff in that area. Stuff that really shouldn’t even have been allowed to be on a console. I’ll use a game called Monkey Poo Flinger as an example.

So the premise of Monkey Poo Flinger is you are a Monkey, in a zoo, throwing your monkey poo at patrons passing by. When you do this you earn points and you earn enough you move on to another stage, unlock certain things, stuff like that. The just of everything that are in a lot of games. Kind of like a horde mode that’s a full on game that only costs about a dollar. The problem with all this is the concept. Again I say you are a monkey, in a zoo, flinging poo at patrons(young children, old men and women, and random people in general just wanting to visit the zoo and have a good time) to earn points.

And the sad part is, that this isn’t even the worst of it. Of course there is a lot of creativity in a lot of indie games but there are also the indie games that really shouldn’t exist. Indie games that don’t even come close to taking themselves seriously. Of course the behemoth’s games could be classified under that genre as well and I love the behemoth. But trust me when I say there is a lot worse than just these things. And that’s a scary thought. Especially with all this self publishing talk. If it works like it does on Xbox 360. We will see more of the same. Either passable indie games that are fun for a half hour or indie games that promote near naked animated women or allow you to fling poo at patrons, or the really good ones that come once in a blue moon.

So basically what I’m saying is, all this focus on indie games is cause for skepticism and not just praise. Because even from what I’ve seen so far for the indie games on show. Octodad and such. These games far from take themselves seriously. And that’s great in a lot of cases but even the most non-serious triple A title does have moments where it slows down a little bit. I always feel like I’m alone in this sort of thing. But I speak my mind anyway. All I want is more games that know I’m going to spend more than a few hours doing which is what indie games boil down to. Even some of the greatest indie games out there, they don’t take you long to beat or get bored of. So basically just proceed with caution with all this indie news. It’s great and all that they are getting more of a focus. Some of them truly deserve it. But people shouldn’t be upset that people like me don’t care that these indie games are getting a huge focus. I personally have a ton of skepticism. And it will never ever go away because of my experiences on the Xbox Live Arcade area. I truly don’t remember if that’s what the indie games area was called on Xbox 360 but whatever.

So that’s all I have to say on the matter. Big reason I posted this was because I missed out on the podcast this week for multiple reasons and they briefly talked about it on the podcast and I feel my bit needed to be said. Indie games no matter what can be quite the experience. Good or bad. Thanks for reading All Star, if this is your first time here and you haven’t listened to the podcast which is doubtful then I advise checking it out. Anyway have a very beautiful rest of your day and PI

-Ryan

What’s up All-Stars?! This week’s show is all about Gamescom. Kyle and Nooch tackle all of the Gamescom news and give their opinions on the PS4 release date, the 15 new game announcements, the Vita price drop and much more! On Episode 8, Kyle and Nooch each made 5 Gamescom predictions. This week, find out who got the most right! For the dedicated PI listeners, there are a few important housekeeping notes near the end of the podcast. Also, be sure to stay tuned at the end for some glorious bloopers! PI!

P.S. Troy Baker – we love you!

You can listen to the show here.

-Kyle

Splinter Cell: Blacklist Review

Posted: August 25, 2013 in PC, PS3, Reviews, Xbox 360

My first review, My first full Splinter Cell game. Only played one other and never completed it. That one being Splinter Cell Conviction. Backstory, someone in the PI group kinda needed to review blacklist and I was the only one interested in the game though I only ever really played a portion of one Splinter Cell I still liked what I saw from Blacklist at E3. So there was really no other choice. I can say having played Blacklist now it is one of the toughest games I’ve played in my lifetime and I’ve actually said that about the last of us. I never played a Splinter Cell game really though so I don’t think that distinction ever held up. Now I know these games are hard if you want to be stealthy. At least they are for me. It’s not cause the stealth is bad more so I’m just bad at it in this game.

I’m not going to do what my colleagues did and call the game out on graphics or anything because that sort of thing in gaming isn’t a big deal to me. If the graphics are gorgeous great, but if they look fine then they look fine. I’m not picky when it comes to this sort of thing because certain colors don’t even come up to me. Kind of a warning for other reviews I do as this will be the only time I post it. Maybe as a disclaimer in others but no promises. So this review will mostly consist of what you truly care about. The gameplay, Is it good? The story, Is it entertaining? And does the game have lasting appeal? All of these questions will be answered sort of in this review. I am no expert at doing reviews but I’ll give it my best effort.

The Story

I’ll start with what is my least important aspect of the game that I listed. That’s the story. I’m not saying story isn’t important mind you, I’m just saying that a game with a great story and crappy gameplay is not as fun as a game with an ok story and fun gameplay. So, the story in Blacklist as always casts you as Sam Fisher. Resident hero of the Splinter Cell franchise. You are charged in the story with basically bringing down this terrorist organization, I wanna call it, called the blacklist. Hence the name blacklist I guess. And that’s really the just of it.

The game’s story isn’t really a highlight. It takes you to interesting locales and interesting things happen, but nothing that is really that mindblowing. And as a matter of fact, nothing that I haven’t really seen before already. For this reason, the story is ok. Nothing to special at all about it. The best part about the story to me was how it took you to interesting locales. Not just in other countries but in America itself. You go to Philadelphia, someplace in Louisiana, and at one point and this was my favorite part of the whole game, Chicago.

See, you being here means you likely listen to the podcast but if you don’t you should know this meant a lot to me because I’m from Chicago. It was the city I was born and raised in. And I absolutely love the city. So seeing it realized in any video game in video game form is truly jaw dropping for me. So when Sam Fisher first arrives in Chicago I instantly recognized where I was and that was Navy Pier. It was so cool for me to know, holy crap I’m visiting something in a video game that I’ve actually been too in real life. A bit surreal. It takes the cake for my current favorite moment in video games.

The story though kinda does something that pisses me off royally. It takes away some of the freedom that you get in the game in some of the missions. To use an example. In one area you are completely forced to not kill anyone until a certain point in the mission. You are also forced to not get detected by anyone. This is really hard to do considering the ridiculously inconsistent AI that the game has. This kind of thing is what side missions are used for. Side missions restrict what the character has to do. The main story should be used for player freedom and choice in a game that has it a lot.

These instances happen 5 times throughout the game. And every time it happens it gets frustrating. But it’s okay as the gameplay is still solid for the most part throughout. One other highlight in the story for me was an actual enjoyable “final boss” fight. It’s not necessarily a final boss fight but it has the vibe of one. You have to be sneaky in this fight or you die literally instantly. The thing about this was though that I wasn’t expecting a final boss fight here. Maybe that’s why it was so good for me. Also because it was different from every final boss I’ve ever fought. Not about shooting him a ridiculous amount of times till he finally dies. No you be sneaky and that’s it. That’s the fight. Simple.

I don’t know if this is really story related but it’s a highlight. Checking in with the crew of the paladin, those being Charlie, Briggs, grim, your daughter, Sarah, and an unnamed person I won’t spoil was also a highlight for me. Hearing the conversations they would have with Sam about the stuff happening in the story was pretty cool to me. My favorite dynamic was with his daughter. I had to go check on her every time I completed a mission to make sure everything was still good.

One final thing the game does with choice was giving you the option to kill or spare certain people in the story. I’m not sure if it changes anything up in the story because at the end it seemingly doesn’t matter either way. I will say though that some of the ways that people die in the kill option are pretty brutal. One in particular that I won’t spoil. That’s all for the story bit of the game. Solid, but not mindblowing to sum it up.

The Gameplay

So for me this is the most important aspect. And it will kind of tie in with the lasting appeal bit. There is a lot to do in Splinter Cell: Blacklist. Or at least for a game of its nature. Being a stealth oriented third person shooter, you like me would probably expect some linear story telling and as a result a lot of go here and kill this guy type of fights. If you are thinking that is what you’ll get in Blacklist, you’d be wrong. See the main appeal for me in blacklist has been I can play Sam Fisher the way I think Sam Fisher would act. As if I’m literally Sam Fisher. Not in the sense that there is player choice but in that you can go through the whole game much like my game of 2012, Dishonored, without killing a single person. How this is possible, don’t ask me because I don’t do that kind of thing. I do stealth all the way up until the shit hits the fan and then I go in guns a blazing. Then back to stealth. You can choose to do this, you can choose to go full stealth but killing people or you could choose to go the whole game guns a blazing like people do in a lot of games.

The way the game puts you into Sam Fisher’s shoes doesn’t just stop there though. Already good enough for me and it goes further. The entire game is accessed right from the start and every thing that you can do, be it co-op, single player, or multi player they are all accessed from the single player hub. You press the start button and you see it all and can access it all immediately. I think this is a great technique and more games should use it. It’s kind of innovative, never really seen it before. But from that main hub you can leave the screen and walk around on the paladin. Go and upgrade the ship, buy weapons, find other missions that the group gives you and such. This is also a really cool idea I just wish it could have got put to more use. I’d like some conversation options so I could learn a little more about my crew a la Mass Effect. No romance or anything just a little bit more knowledge about the team is fine.

Back to playing how you want to play. You can customize your Sam Fisher to be the best Sam Fisher YOU personally want him to be. Not a lot of options but it’s still a welcome addition. What I mean is you can choose the loadout you go onto the field with. The game never forces you to go into battle using this. It recommends items but it never forces you explicitly to do so. And you can customize Sam’s outfit. And no this isn’t a cosmetic thing either. The outfit customization actually adds added benefits to Sam’s abilities. Such as equipping him with a new pair of pants helps him be more stealthy. I don’t really think I need to understand why that makes sense. It’s a great addition.

So that’s basically all I got to say about letting you play how you want to play. Now I’m going to talk about the core gameplay. What you’ll be doing in blacklist a majority of the time is killing people. Not playing dress up, or customizing your guns. So is the killing of the people fun. And I have to say for me it varies a little. When the game becomes a gun fest it gets kind of boring. But when you are sneaking around trying to find the best way to either take out the enemy without being seen or kill the enemy entirely with as little noise as possible. The most effective way to do this is by melee. Luckily melee gives you your execute attack instantly. And execute is a good way to take out a group of enemies and is the coolest looking thing in the game. Unfortunately I thought the coolest looking thing in the game would be melee kills. All the melee kill animations are repetitive for the most part. Non-lethal takedowns consist of Sam taking the enemy down and either choking him out with his knee or arm, or knocking them out. Cool the first few times but it never really changes as you go on. It’s so on and so forth for the other things. Nothing impressive in that animation department. I’m not saying it’s a big deal though. Sure you will melee a lot in a stealth playthrough but whatever. Meleeing gives you those oh so satisfying execute moves.

So if you don’t know what executing is. I think it was a brand new thing brought in to Splinter Cell in conviction. The basic idea being that you mark a set amount of people and then press a button and it becomes a sort of cinematic moment where Sam kills said amount of people in rapid fashion, most of the time without missing. This is what I would like to call the easy button. If you are struggling to find a way out, kill this group of enemies. Well you can just execute them and move on. It’s never really that simple but still. Mark and Execute is an awesome thing to do. It feels so satisfying to do it and is dependable.

Now, the hard part about it is, I played through blacklist on normal as I do with most games. And struggled early on. Having never played a Splinter Cell game. Figuring it would be like most stealth games. You now be stealthy and if I get spotted well I’m strong enough to tank some bullets. Not here. If you are spotted you either run or die. That is if you are stealthy. Keep in mind that I didn’t build a “tanky” Sam Fisher. Every time I was seen and I didn’t get away. I was dead within two bullets and was back looking at the dreaded loading screen. Speaking of the loading screen it’s almost nonexistent unless you die a lot. So that’s good. Anyway, every enemy situation you encounter, it will never be just one-three enemies. Sorry never that easy. It will always be in a pretty open area giving you options and forcing you to think especially if you are stealthy.

All this stuff is extremely appreciated from someone like me. I like the challenge that comes from deciding what’s the best way to take everyone out without alerting everyone. But the enemy AI can be kind of bad…and when I say kind of bad I mean pretty bad. In some situations it was understandable but in a lot of them it was just sheer stupidity. For example there was a moment in a side mission where I was hanging off a dock and threw a guy off it right in front of his buddy. Then his buddy who saw it all happen. Walks over to check what happened. Of course you can guess what happened to that guy. Sure it’s good for a laugh but it’s still kind of disappointing that the enemy AI isn’t a little bit smarter.

And while I’m talking about problems with the game I’m going to bring up the numerous bugs that I encountered in the game. To highlight a few. My favorite being an enemy henchman stuck in place walking on top of a piece of cover and never attacking me. I stood up in front of him and he didn’t attack me. So he basically became broken. Every game has this kind of bug. It’s funny, you know it wasn’t meant to be there but you get a good laugh out of it. Then comes a weird graphical bug. One where you melee kill an enemy through a door. So I first encountered this in the same side mission I killed the two idiots by the dock. I lured a guy to a door and he opened it but because I was standing right where the door would open the door shut again right on his face. But I pressed the square button and I killed him. Problem being that we were both on opposite sides of the door. Sound funny? It was. And it happened numerous times to the point where I was practically abusing it. It’s not gamebreaking but it’s still kind of irritating to see. Couldn’t Ubisoft have tested this? Why is this a possible thing. And to further illustrate the stupid AI at times. In those same situations they would open the door and it would close on their face. And then they would open it again and it would close on their face. The process would be repeated until finally I killed them. Problem here is that there are a lot of doors that are double. So if it’s not opening on this side, for one that should probably be investigated, then you should probably go to the other side and check the problem. And one final bug just to illustrate my point. This happened near the end of the game so if you plan on picking it up don’t click the video. My friend recorded this and it was quite funny when it happened. The quality is a little bad but bear with it.

So yea that was just one of the many bugs that happened in game. Pretty funny but also pretty saddening that they didn’t test that kind of thing out.

But the thing that irks me most about this is that the AI is really inconsistent. To the point of frustration. The AI can be really smart in a lot of places. Again using my own example. In a sort of waves and waves mission I was spotted and ran to an area. The people who spotted me went to that area and then their teammates flanked me and killed me. Problem lying here is that you have a last known location indicator if you do get spotted in blacklist that basically tells the AI to keep shooting there because you may still be there. Yet sometimes the AI is somehow smart enough to know you won’t be there and flank you right in the area you are going to be.

On the sound and detail side of things. There are some subtle things that go along way for a gamer like me. You can open doors, windows, and such in blacklist. I know right, innovative thing there. And when you do open these doors and the AI comes back it questions how it got open or if he left it open or something along those lines. It’s really cool to me and goes a long way. Also if you don’t kill an enemy, just non-lethal take them down and an enemy finds them, that enemy will wake up the guy who’s unconscious and that’ll be another head you have to deal with. And banter will happen when this ensues so it’s all cool and kind of frustrating at the same time.

Small complaint that I have is with the controls. Not something I’m used to. Pushing the right thumbstick in to reload, X to run, climb, and everything. R2 marks people, and Triangle I think serves the purpose of just being used to execute. The shoulders being your ADS and shoot buttons. Square being your melee attack and I’m not exactly sure what O does. The meleeing and Shoulder button inputs are fine but everything else just seems weird. I don’t know, maybe I’m just use to using Square as the universal reload button and now that I think about it O not really being used for anything important. Jokes.

Lasting Appeal

Finally, the game has some nice replay value. It offers a co-op campaign, a competitive multiplayer and multiple singleplayer side missions. Not to mention you can go back and play that single player again on each of the different styles. Those being Ghost, Non-Lethal, Undetected. Panther, Lethal, Undetected and Assault which is basically just F.E.A.S(Fuck Everything And Shoot). Each completed thing has challenges and such that give money to unlock upgrades for Sam or the paladin. This is the stuff for true completionists, sure but it’s still there and it’s still appreciated.

There are also multiple collectibles hidden throughout the single-player and cooperative campaigns. Giving more replay value in going back and finding them. And as I said there are single-player or co-operative optional missions you can do. Never necessary but they are there. They offer a swerve on the normal gameplay though. You have to play the mission a certain way. For example in one you can’t be seen while you are placing a word that escapes me on certain equipment. Again never needed but fun anyway and adds a bit of replayability.

The true replayabilitiy comes in the form of the competitive multiplayer. Spies vs Mercs. Pitting as expected one team against the other with certain match objectives. Sure they say it does stuff for the campaign but I personally don’t know what. Maybe just give you some money to further upgrade the paladin and purchase new weapons and upgrades for Sam. That’s cool it’s welcome and thankfully in at least my time with it Spies vs Mercs was actually quite fun. And it needed to be otherwise the game probably would have lost a population pretty quickly.

Big negative for me and a pretty substantial reason for why the scores not going to be a 9.2 or whatever. The co-op campaign is a massive disappointment. It had a lot of potential to be good but it just wasn’t. For one you can’t play it with an AI which unless you have a friend to play the co-op with is the next best option. We’ve said it on PI. People are assholes over the internet. They don’t care about doing what you want just getting the mission done. So a lot of the time the “randoms” you’ll get paired up with be “rambos” which is to say people who run and gun. That’s fine and all but it doesn’t make the game fun. It might be fun if you have a partner. Emphasis on might. Because in all honesty the co-op bits felt a little like COD to me. You have a partner and he helps you kill and stuff and then you break through an area and move on to the next. Co-op bits felt extremely linear to me and didn’t feel executed on properly. Also at the end of the first mission you and your partner take control of a UAV and provide covering fire for your teammate just like COD has done in the past.

Another negative thing is with the side missions. Not that they are necessarily bad but more so just repetitive. You get side missions from the crew of the paladin. And each crew member has a specific gameplay style side mission. For grim, it was undetected, plant three things in certain areas. And when they say undetected, they really mean undetected. For Charlie you have to fend off waves and waves of enemies till you can extract and let me tell ya. In splinter cell, the waves and waves thing, it don’t work. For Briggs you have exclusive co-op only side missions that work kinda like the single player only with a partner. And then there is one more person that gives you side content but I’m not telling you about that. Point being any side content you could do just boils down to doing the same thing over and over and over to the tune that it gets boring.

So that’s my review of Splinter Cell: Blacklist. Or at least the parts of it you probably don’t care about. The true thing you care about is the score and to be honest I thought the game was great. Game of the year candidate, no, but a fun game nonetheless. Only if though you are into stealth games. I advise if you aren’t into stealth stay away from this one. So the score i’m giving it may not be a great score like other places have given it. I may just have a different opinion. Aren’t that what all reviews are though?

+ Fun but Challenging Stealth Gameplay

+ Tons of Replayability

+ Entertaining Competitive Multiplayer

- Very Poorly Done Co-op Campaign

- Extremely Inconsistent AI

-Repetitive Side Content

-Graphics Aren’t Really That Great

Splinter Cell Blacklist: 7.4/10

*I know I said I wasn’t going to say anything about the graphics and frankly I didn’t I just thought I’d point out at the end that the graphics in the game aren’t stunning. To be honest they don’t really look that good at all. They look like they came out of the early PS3 and Xbox 360. Most games look much better now. Maybe it’s just me but yea. Also I know this may be a little different from how Nooch and Kyle do their reviews but what are you going to do? I also realize it may not be at the quality that Nooch and Kyle do their reviews but hey. I tried. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day!

- Ryan

Saints Row IV Review

Posted: August 25, 2013 in PC, PS3, Reviews, Xbox 360
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The Saints Row series is known for its craziness, and Saints Row IV is no different. Getting much more insane as the time passed, Saints Row 2 was crazy while being partially grounded in reality, Saints Row: The Third was set in a new, much more crazy city with dildo bats and tigers riding around in cars. Saints Row IV takes the insanity of Saints Row: The Third and multiplies it. It adds in a whole new element of gameplay, along with a hilarious well-written story, and, of course, an alien invasion. While not perfect, Saints Row IV takes the insanity and humor of Saints Row: The Third and combines it with many throwbacks to all kinds of movies, games, and TV shows. It is extremely fun to play and goes over-the-top in nearly every way possible.

Presentation

The original idea for Saints Row IV was in the form of Enter the Dominatrix, a downloadable add-on for Saints Row: The Third. It was then combined with the Saints Row IV that had been in development, and the new game was born. This meant, however, that the game looks nearly identical to Saints Row: The Third. The city of Steelport is mostly the same, with a few alien towers added for verticality. The game is mostly set at night, though. It is almost always dark in the city, which can leave it feeling bland.

 

New Towers in the City of Steelport
New Towers in the City of Steelport

 

The game also comes packing another great soundtrack, which, while it feels lacking compared to the Saints Row: The Third soundtrack, has a few memorable songs and great cues throughout the game. The voice acting is also superb. Each of the seven custom voices for the Saints’ boss along with nearly all NPCs in the game have great acting with hilarious lines. The alien leader, Zinyak, will reference many historical pieces of American literature and movies. There are many returning characters from Saints Row: The Third, along with a few new ones, like Keith David, who steals the show. A few characters do seem ignored in the story, and act like a third wheel at points, but there are some great cameos from previous games in the series that will make up for this. Enemy types in the game, however, are repetitive. There are only a few types of aliens, all of which look generic. They don’t have the greatest AI either, doing whatever to try to kill you.

The game does have its share of glitches, though. More than once I fell through the world and had the game glitch on me. There are a few pop-ins and some clipping at random moments. It is also reported to crash during high-action parts of the game.

Story

Saints Row IV’s story starts with the Saints’ leader becoming President of the United States after a series of events leads them there. After a few years, aliens invade Earth, and take the President to a simulated version of Steelport. The Saints then must try to stop the aliens by defeating the leader. The story is well-written and I always wanted to see what happens next. It encompasses both the simulation and the real world, on a ship very reminiscent of Mass Effect’s Normandy, going from place to place letting the hackers try to stop the simulation.

 

Going Back to the Real World
Going Back to the Real World

 

The best parts of the story are the rescue missions for the Saints’ homies. Taking the boss to the worst nightmare of the homie and rescuing them from that place. These missions will reference many different games, going back to places from previous games in the series, as well as some other fantastic places from the gaming spectrum. These missions allow for some of the most insane missions in the game as well as some of the most surprising and fun.

The side missions in the game also add some depth to the story. These give missions that give the player new powers, upgrades, weapons, or even super homies, giving the homie new abilities and new outfits. These are a nice addition to the main story and activites which keep the story going away from the main storyline.

Story

The real star of Saints Row IV, as it is with any other Saints Row game, is the gameplay. The main addition to the gameplay, in the virtual world, is the superpowers. These superpowers make it extremely and fun to traverse the world of Steelport, making collecting the Data Clusters scattered everywhere in unique places fun and addicting. The game does become decidedly easier than previous games because of these superpowers, however. It seemed that, unless there was an extreme amount of enemies, it wasn’t too hard to wipe out a group of aliens, especially due to a single gun that killed enemies nearly instantly.

 

Super Powers!
Super Powers!

 

Along with the side missions, there are many activities scattered through the virtual simulation of Steelport. There are new forms of Mayhem, causing chaos throughout the world; Professor Genki’s return; and, of course, Insurance Fraud, which is enhanced with superpowers. These also award money and experience allowing for new upgrades and weapon customization, both of which are extremely deep and fun to test. There are also platforming puzzles and alien towers to climb up, adding the verticality that makes super jumping and sprinting a lot of fun and rewarding.

Co-op returns in Saints Row IV, and it is also a lot of fun. The story does become much easier, though, and there isn’t much to separate itself from the single player. However, it is hilarious to watch other people run around with super speed and super kick someone into the air.

The character customization is also extremely deep. There are many different pieces to customize, from the layout of the face, to the voice and pitch, to the hair and skin color, and so on. It allows for millions of outcomes and no two characters will look or sound alike. Nolan North is also one of the voice customization options, which, along with Troy Baker and Laura Bailey, is a nice touch.

The guns are also diverse and customizable. Everything from the Dubstep gun to the regular pistol can be upgraded and changed to fire in different ways, most forms referencing different movies and games. Plus, the Penetrator returns from Saints Row: The Third. However, most of the weapons are not necessary. I found myself using a select few guns and killing the rest of the enemies with super powers. They are fun to use, but it seems that it is easier to use super powers in place of those guns to kill enemies.

 

The Inflato-Ray!
The Inflato-Ray!
 

Car customization is also deep and there are so many things to upgrade about the cars. These seem inconsequential, though, as using cars is not recommended when you have super powers to get around the world faster than cars. The only time I ever actually used one was when I was forced to in a few missions; otherwise, there is really no point.

Finally, there are hundreds of collectibles around the world. From Data Clusters to Audio Logs, you will find yourself going out of your way to collect everything in sight; and with the Collectible Finder, there is no reason to not pick up every little thing on the map. Plus, there are text logs for Zinyak that tell his backstory as well, which are always fun to go through.

The Verdict

Saints Row IV is as crazy as crazy gets. Super powers, Matrix-like simulations, alien invasions, and Keith David make the Saints Row series what it is. It combines hilarious writing with great voice acting, a fun story, and fantastic gameplay to make the game some of the most fun I’ve had in a long time. It doesn’t take itself seriously and it embraces its insane roots, taking the game to the next level and making it stand out from the pack. Glitching and repetitive enemy types aside, this game is a great experience that is hilarious and a whole lot of fun.

+Hilarious Writing

+Great Voice Acting

+Fun Story

+Super Powers

-Easy

-Repetitive Enemies

Saints Row IV: 8.5/10

 

So how was it? How did you like Saints Row IV? Let me know in the comments section below! As always, thanks for reading and PI!

-Nooch

What’s up All-Stars? We’re in the midst of a massive flood of information,  spilling out of the Gamescom 2013 dam. Most of the new info is regarding Sony and it’s PS4. As many of you know, inFAMOUS is my favorite franchise in gaming, and a personal favorite of Podcast Infinite team. I’ll break down new details that I gleaned from the Gamescom trailer of inFAMOUS Second Son. Here we go!

A new voice actress - 

lat

Is that…Laura Bailey, I mean Laura Willingham?

Delsin Rowe, the main character of inFAMOUS Second Son, is played by the illustrious, Troy Baker. Delsin meets a new character, who just so happens to be a conduit, in the Gamescom trailer. Her name is Abigail Walker (no, not related to Ryan), aka Fetch. Now, by listening to her voice and simply looking at her face, I can tell you with 99.999% certainty that she is played by Laura Bailey. Who is Laura Bailey, you ask? Well, she’s Lady Comstock in BioShock Infinite. But more importantly, she’s married to Travis Willingham. Troy Baker was Willingham’s best man in his wedding. And, Willingham plays Delsin’s (Baker) older brother in inFAMOUS Second Son, Reggie. So, even though Laura Bailey has not yet been confirmed as Fetch’s actress, you heard it here first. inFAMOUS Second Son is like one big star-studded family affair!

fetch

Go Fetch!

Delsin’s new power -

Delsin is a conduit, just like Cole MacGrath was in the first two inFAMOUS games. But unlike Cole, Delsin’s real ability isn’t locked to just one specific power. Delsin’s true conduit ability is to absorb the powers of any conduit he comes into contact with. As mentioned above, Fetch is a conduit herself. At first glimpse, it looks like her power is electricity just like Cole MacGrath. But, why is her energy pink in color? It’s because she’s a girl, right? Wrong! Delsin touches Fetch and absorbs her powers and it’s still a pink hue for him, as well. Hmmmm. Well, SuckerPunch has since confirmed that Fetch’s power involves neon. Yes, neon. You know, neon signs. However, there is no word as to how you actually use neon as a power. We do know that you can recharge your neon powers by absorbing neon out of those classic vibrant bar signs.

Delsin’s two confirmed powers are smoke and neon. He is able to recharge his smoke power by passing by exploded cars, buildings on fire, etc. He can also disintegrate and dodge enemy attacks, fly, pass through chain-link fences and air ducts, and suffocate enemies with his smoke abilities. I’m sure there will be much, much more things Delsin will be able to do with his smoke powers, and vastly different things with the other powers he gains…like neon.

colefetch

Neon Delsin

inFAMOUS Second Son’s release date - 

It has been confirmed that inFAMOUS Second Son will be released in February 2014. The exact date is still unknown. With the PS4 launching in North America on November 15 of this year, February is a mere 3 months after launch. However, many of us agree that those will be the three longest months of our lives.

A return to comic book cut-scenes -

In the Gamescom trailer, we briefly see the infamous comic-book-style cut scenes that started in the original inFAMOUS. There was hardly any in inFAMOUS 2, and it’s that amazing art style that helps tell the overall story! Good news, it looks like they’re back in full force. Well done SuckerPunch!

comicbook

Cut-scene from inFAMOUS 1

What does Second Son mean -

At this point, we only have two trailers and a brief gameplay demo to gather as much information on inFAMOUS Second Son as possible. But, let me start to decipher what “Second Son” might mean.

1. The main character, Delsin Rowe, has an older brother, Reggie. That makes him the second son in his family…literally.

2. The only other main character in an inFAMOUS game has been Cole MacGrath. This makes the brand-new Delsin, the second playable character in the inFAMOUS series.

3. In the first two inFAMOUS games, there was a group of people called “The First Sons.” These people were responsible for the development of the Ray Sphere (what gave Cole his electric powers). Without spoiling the games, The First Sons were quickly villainized in the story-line. So who are The Second Sons? Who knows at this point. Just know that The First Sons played a major role in the two previous inFAMOUS games.

Infamous_ss_logo

Second Son!

For more on inFAMOUS Second Son in the coming months and all things PS4, PS3 and PS Vita keep it here on Podcast Infinite.

PI!

-Kyle

Sony GamesCom Wrap-Up

Posted: August 21, 2013 in News, PS Vita, PS3, PS4

At its Gamescom press conference today, Sony announced many new things for the PlayStation brand for all 3 consoles. First, Sony revealed that the PlayStation 4 will release on November 15 in North America and on November 29 in Europe. The console will be released in 32 countries at launch. This comes shortly after Microsoft announced that Xbox One will only be released in 13 countries at launch.

At the conference, there was also other big news revealed for all 3 consoles. New footage from Gran Turismo 6 was revealed as well as its release date of December 6. There was also a Gran Turismo movie announced. LittleBigPlanet Hub was also revealed as a free-to-play LittleBigPlanet game coming this winter.

The Vita was also given much support. First, Borderlands 2 was annouced to be coming to Vita. There were also two new IP announced: Murasaki Baby, a sidescroller with a unique art style, and Big Fest, a SimCity-esque game based around music festivals. The Vita was also supported with many ports of indie games, including Fez, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, and Rogue Legacy.

Finally, the PS4 was also given a lot of support from indie titles. First, Minecraft will be a launch title. Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, from the creator of Dear Esther, was announced, as well as a Shadow of the Beast reboot were also announced. Also, Housemarque, creator of Super Stardust, announced its new game Resogun. Many other titles announced being ported to the PS4 included Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, Volume, and Velocity 2X.

New trailers were also shown for InFamous: Second Son and DriveClub, as well as the first multiplayer footage from Killzone: Shadow Fall.

The Remote Play feature between PS4 and Vita was shown through a demo of Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag. Watch_Dogs showed off an exclusive mission for PlayStation and was announced to have a movie in development.

Near the end of the show, Sony revealed that the PS4 will stream through Twitch. Also, Europeans will have Assassin’s Creed III free for PlayStation Plus in September. Finally, they announced that over 1 million PS4s have already been pre-ordered.

What did you think about Sony’s Gamescom conference? Let us know in the comments below! PI!

-Nooch

The whole gang is back for the 8th episode of Podcast Infinite. This might very well be the best beginning and ending conversations on the show to date. Ryan and Nooch weigh in on their favorite types of pizza, while Kyle is chillin’ without internet connectivity to his PS3. Gamescom Predictions, GTA V, Killer Instinct and creepy statements ahoy! Join us in the fun and send an email to podcastinfinite@gmail.com to be on the show! PI!

You can listen to the show here.

-Kyle

In a recent Reddit AMA with Xbox Corporate Vice President Marc Whitten, the Xbox One was revealed to not need the Kinect to function. This comes after Microsoft changed its DRM, indie publishing, and always-online policies. They have done this for a myriad of reasons, including community backlash, pre-order figures, and their main competitor’s policies. This can be viewed as a good thing or a bad thing, and there are reasons for both. I view it as some of both. Here are my reasons:

The Good

The most obvious upside to Microsoft changing many of the policies of the Xbox One is that gamers will now be able to do many more things than they were previously going to be able to do. These include being able to share used games with friends, not having to check in online every 24 hours, and being able to disable the Kinect without the system turning off or not running.

Changing Policies Because of Community Feedback

Changing Policies Because of Community Feedback

Not having to check in with the internet every 24 hours allows people that have bad or no internet connection to be able to use the Xbox One without it turning off. Before, many people were complaining about this everywhere on the internet, and Microsoft responded. This will allow offline play for people with bad connections, save for a one-time update when the console is first turned on. This could bring back some people who were going to switch from the Xbox 360 to the PS4 because the PS4 doesn’t have to connect, but Microsoft did their best to patch up some of those relations.

Another positive to the Xbox One’s changes is the repeal of the used game DRM. After all of the complaining, Microsoft changed this as well. There was going to be a strange restriction for used games that was explained only in a nebulous post by Microsoft and the full details were never completely known. However, this has all changed. There will be no used game restriction for Xbox One games now, satisfying displeased fans. This, as well as the offline play, will bring some people back to the Xbox One that otherwise would have switched to the PS4 because they didn’t agree with Microsoft’s policies.

Indie developers are also affected for the good due to Xbox One’s policy changes. Indie publishing was something also left vaguely explained by Microsoft before announcing the inclusion of self-publishing to the Xbox Live Marketplace. In fact, many indie developers were clamoring for self-publishing on both consoles. The PS4 had announced it at E3, and the Xbox One followed up in a post later. This will spotlight some games that would not have received any attention otherwise, making talented developers more inclined to develop a game for either console for the chance to be spotlighted.

They Unite!

They Unite!

Finally, the Kinect sensor no longer needs to be connected for the Xbox One to work. This will silence people complaining that it will be watching at all times, spying on whoever is in front of it. Once again, this was a major turn off to people comparing the two consoles, although the Kinect is still boxed with every Xbox One. This will also turn the Kinect into a useful object instead of a nuisance for many people. Many games will come to Kinect seeing that it is with every Xbox One and instead of having people look at it angrily as it would be always on, it would become something that good games use properly and people would have fun with.

The Bad

As is common with positives, negatives are always somewhere close by. The Xbox One policy changes isn’t an exception to this. The positive changes for gamers hurt Microsoft as a company with its reputation and possibly even its relations with other companies.

Due to the fact that Microsoft is so fickle with the Xbox One’s policies, my main negative for the policy changes is the respect for Microsoft lost from many people over the course of all of the changes. With the inconsistency of the messaging for Xbox One’s policies, there is no way to tell why Microsoft chose to implement those features in the Xbox One and what the positives were. All Microsoft said was that something was in Xbox One. There was no statement whatsoever on why those things were good for the gamer. Instead, many people’s views on the console were plagued by the small minority of people complaining on the internet and calling Microsoft the worst company in the world because of a business decision that was made.

While the decision was eventually made to overturn these policies, the inconsistency in messaging and in the product as a whole gives off a feeling of unconfidence for their product. It seemed as though Microsoft were playing it by ear to see how the console was received, as they explicitly said that they “may change its policies, terms, products, and services to reflect modifications and improvements to our services.” The fact that they said this so clearly in the article explaining the DRM policies makes it seem like they weren’t sure whether or not they wanted to go ahead with these policies. That is something that, in a console “war” like the one between Microsoft and Sony, is unacceptable. They should be able to announce their product and its services with confidence and sell it by saying why everything on the console is great, even the ones some people don’t like, and why it is necessary for the next generation. Sony has done this, and, even though the consoles are now fairly even, they have won over a seemingly large portion of the Xbox fanbase solely due to bad messaging for the Xbox One’s policies.

A Perceived Lack of Confidence

A Perceived Lack of Confidence

Along with the major negatives, the policy changes have a few smaller downsides that have been either overlooked or not spoken about by Microsoft.

First, as of now, the Xbox One still costs $500, because of the Kinect being packaged in with the console. This is still $100 more expensive than the PS4 and will turn off many people choosing between one or the other. To make the prices equal, the Kinect would have to be taken out of the box, although this would cause fewer Kinect games to be made, rendering it much less useful as it would be. Due to Microsoft wanting to have a Kinect with every Xbox One, they are unlikely to change this price point, although nothing is impossible.

Next, the Xbox One has been recently announced to only be releasing in 13 markets this year, compared to the previously announced 21. While Sony hasn’t confirmed an exact number of markets the PS4 will be releasing in, it looks to be more than the Xbox One. This will hinder the sales because many people are on the fence about which console to buy, and if the Xbox isn’t coming out until a year after the PS4, there is little reason to wait for the Xbox.

Finally, Microsoft have probably hurt some relationships with publishers with the removal of DRM and always-online policies. Companies like EA are known for putting Online Passes in many of their games to fight against DRM, but they stopped those most likely due to the Xbox One’s DRM policies. However, the removal of these may either make EA come back with Online Passes, as the publishers can decide on their own policies for games, or they would take a huge hit with used game sales and piracy that give no money to publishers or developers.

My View

While I have gone over some of the changes and their positives and negatives so far, I haven’t given my opinion on what I think of the changes.

Personally, I think that these changes’ negatives slightly outweigh the positives for Microsoft. After everything that has happened, the two consoles have become basically identical, with the only difference being the $100 advantage for the PS4. Microsoft, instead of giving in to the small yet vocal internet community, should have given a statement on why all of these policies are good for the console. They should have said something about Family Sharing and similar services that would have made the console stand out compared to the PS4. This would have made them stand out- give a policy that would have normally been negative and convince everyone why it’s a good thing. Instead, Microsoft has had more bad publicity than good, losing respect from many people because of the lack of confidence in its product. The console may still turn out to be fantastic, with amazing games and services; but it has left a sour taste in many people’s mouths that might not be able to be fixed.

What do you think about the Xbox One’s policy changes? Good or Bad? Let me know in the comments section below! As always, thanks for reading and PI!

-Nooch

The multiplayer for the upcoming Call of Duty: Ghosts was revealed earlier today along with a slew of new features new to the series. The reveal trailer was accompanied by the debut of Eminem’s new song, “Survival”, which will be featured throughout the game and its marketing.

First and foremost, Activision showed off the customization of soldiers in the game. The player can now customize their own character 10 times to create a squad. This customization includes helmets, armor, and, most importantly, gender.

Of course, class customization is also vital to the game’s multiplayer, and Ghosts has taken the Pick 10 system from Black Ops 2 and combined it with Modern Warfare 3′s class customization system. The class has a limited amount of points for the primary and secondary weapons, although attachments to weapons are now considered free. This is also separate from the perks system, which allows a certain number of points solely allocated to selecting perks.

There are finally female characters in multiplayer

There are finally female characters in multiplayer

The game also comes with 7 new multiplayer modes, although only 2 of them were shown today. Cranked is a modified version of Team Deathmatch, having every kill make a player faster. However, the player must then get a kill within 30 seconds or else explode. Search and Rescue combines Search and Destroy and Kill Confirmed. It gives the player one life, but they drop dog tags when they die. Teammates can pick up these dog tags to give the player another life, or they can be collected by the enemy to eliminate that player for good.

Squad vs. Squad has the player matched up 1v1 with the customized squad as teammates. This also reveals the new AI system for Call of Duty: Ghosts, that has the AI acting as much like humans ever seen in the franchise. Wargame is a solo mode that has the player pick 5 squadmates to go into battle with against an AI-controlled team, playable in any game mode. Safeguard is reminiscent of Survival from Modern Warfare 3, as you are fighting waves of enemies with 3 other players. Finally, Squad Assault has the player with up to 5 friends or 5 squadmates face off against a squad from someone else around the world.

Along with the new Squads mode, there is also a new “Clan Wars” mode. This has clans from around the world face off in a two-week “war” that has the clans battling for areas around a territory. These areas are each controlled by a different game mode, which are fought for in a series of battles. The clan gains points for each win, and the team with the most points at the end of the two weeks wins the war.

Also announced at the reveal event was the inclusion of mobile integration. This lets the player check their stats anywhere, see the results of a clan war, or change a class on the go.

The audio in the game is improved from previous games in the franchise, having characters shout out locations of enemies and changing sounds depending on location.

Ghosts also introduces dynamic maps with changing environments and choke points. Three of Ghosts’ fourteen multiplayer maps were shown at the event. Octane has teams spawn on either side of a road which has crashed cars along the way and buildings lining the road. Strike Zone takes place in a war-torn baseball stadium. It is a small map with frenetic firefights indoors and some larger exterior areas. Finally, Whiteout is set in a snowy harbor town. It has verticality and smaller choke points with frenetic firefights as well.

A screenshot from the map Octane.

A screenshot from the map Octane

Finally, the game introduces some new gameplay mechanics as well. Knee sliding has the player slide into a crouch, avoiding headshots and going into cover. Leaning out of cover has the player peek around a corner without moving, and being able to kill without going into the open. The game also introduces a new weapon class, called Marksman, that bridges the gap between Sniper Rifles and Assault Rifles.

Call of Duty: Ghosts is set to release on November 5 on the PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC, and Wii U.

What did you think of Ghosts’ multiplayer reveal? Let us know in the comments section below! PI!

-Nooch