Binary Domain Full written Review

Entertainment in this day and age comes with a certain amount of expectations from the consumer. Whether you are going to a  movie theatre or purchasing a DVD to watch at home we all expect to get a fair return on the price we pay for that entertainment. Of course as the prices of entertainment increases ( Have you gone to an IMAX 3-D movie lately?!?!?) so do those expectations and thus that brings us to the most heavily scrutinized for of media today. The Video Game.

Current store pricing on your average game is approx $59.99 and your average gamer may as well be a ” Video Game accountant”  because he/she is counting every penny when it comes to making sure his value is accounted for after purchasing it!
Binary Domain is one of those games that put all the marbles it could into one basket and the left over marbles got put into the same basket and rolled off the top; leaving us with….well a full basket of marbles! I am of course referring to the two aspects of the game ; Single player campaign and multi player versus ( there is a co-op mode but hardly worth mentioning since its nothing we havent seen before)

The ability to weave a finely written narrative into a Hi Tech shooter has only been accomplished by a few lucky franchises that I can think of. The HALO franchise stands as a shining example of this feat and few others have mastered the art ( Gears of War deserves a mention as well). Shooters by their very nature aren’t meant to deliver that type of experience but that doesn’t stop developers from pushing the limits and dosing the massive amounts of action and shooting with some emotional moments meant to draw us in further to world they have crafted.
My expectations going in to Binary Domain where minimal. I was fully expecting the short list of offenses ; Bad story, Bad voice acting, stereotypical characters, and predictable plot. To my surprise I only got one of those right and I’m not going to tell you which one it is so you’ll have to play it to find out which one.

The setting of the game is 20 years into the future and mankind is now co existing with robots that have taken up a multitude roles in our day-to-day routine. Imagine the movie ” I Robot” and you have a good starting point for the game.

The robot designs are very similar in fact and the world we live in has survived tragedy in the form of massive flooding and destruction of major cities. Mankind has rebuilt with the help of our robot “Brethren” and life moved on.Robots are a integral part of all life on Earth

You play the role of Dan Marshall; an Ex Military Bad Ass who has acquired the nickname ” The survivor” due to his ability ( or luck) to get out of some pretty nasty situations. His nickname is well deserved as you find out through the course of the game.

Dan and his partner ” Bo” are inserted into a Neo Tokyo setting on the hunt for a CEO of a Mega corporation who is suspected of violating the Geneva convention against creating Robots that look and act  like humans.These laws were put into place to ensure that technology did not out pace human evolution and it was agreed that as science evolved there needed to be some parameters governing it.

Dan Marshall the “Survivor”

Dan and his friend work for the IRTA ; a task force appointed to eliminate robot threats against the Geneva convention. The game begins with Dan and Bo meeting up with the rest of a UN appointed team and together you all form what is known as a ” Rust Crew”.

The ” Rust Crew”

The story in Binary Domain is dripping with all sorts of awesomeness! My temptation is to narrate the entire story in this review because it is in fact that good. It will have you shaking your head at the crazy action set pieces and even listening closely to cut scenes so you can hope to uncover some piece of info about whats coming next ( trust me, you don’t want to skip these cut scenes as they are filled with witty dialogue and very well done acting moments). This is one of the few games that you actually smile at some of the situations you end up in and some of the events that transpire. The developers have done an amazing  job in making you feel attached to Dan as an extension of you in the game and combined with the games mechanics; you too feel like a bad ass ” survivor”

There are plenty of twists and turns and I was on the edge of my seat right to the very end. The story never drags on too much and your ongoing journey from the lower levels of Tokyo’s post destruction state all the way to the upper shiny levels of the Corporations main offices gives you a sense of real progression. Your not re-treading the same old locations and even though you face endless swarms of robots ; there is enough variance in design and capabilities that you aren’t bored.
The  game also tackles some pretty heady material that will give you pause and think about. Racial analogies and questions about evolution and the future of our own society are all thrown on the table for us to experience through the eyes of our virtual character. This is Heavy stuff for a shooter!

Another cool feature that is built into the game is the voice recognition system. Forgoing the current trend to integrate Kinect voice commands into the game the developers chose simply to use existing technology and give us a system that allows us to issue pre scripted voice commands to our squad mates during combat. This is done by holding down LB ( on the 360 controller) and speaking any of the four commands available. This feature actually works well assuming you are in a quiet room and have a decent microphone in use. The fact remains thought that you are by yourself playing a single player game talking to your screen. No amount of polish can make someone not feel a tiny bit foolish and I caught myself looking over my shoulder several times. Good thing the game give you the ability to issue those commands via button press instead. Still it was cool to see them use technology in a manner that drew you into the game more than just clicking buttons.

From a technical point of view the game also shines. While it doesn’t have the graphic fidelity of Gears of War ( a game in the same vein as this game) it does not have poor graphics by any stretch of the matter. Being that your primary opponent in this game will be robots ( or scrap heads as everyone affectionately calls them) there is an amazing opportunity to showcase the level of detail the developers put into the shooting mechanics. Dan and company will cover slide, roll, and vault behind barricades and walls and other forms of cover all the while blasting away at robots.

The robots in question don’t simply scream and flop over like an alien menace in other games…no no; the robots will crumble and fall a part limb by limb as you target various parts of its body. Yes even the heads can be shot off separately without killing the robot and you can watch as its targeting system goes haywire and he proceeds to start shooting at everything around him including fellow robots!I even had a situation where I had destroyed the robot’s entire lower torso and it still didn’t die but rather proceeded to crawl after me just like something out of the movie Terminator. Very cool !

Character animations are top-notch both during cust-scenesand in-game. Of particular note I should mention that the facial details and expressions of the characters during the cut scenes are fabulous. A real sense of emotion has been conveyed through the character models and the way the camera is moved around the “scene” much like a hollywood movie.

Not just a pretty face…he can act as well!

If there is one area that this game overthrows any other game in the genre its this one. I felt drawn into the situations these characters where in almost as much as someone watching a movie would. The camera was constantly shifting throughout these scenes and at several points you actually are given the reigns to control Dan when it looked like it was simply a scripted event ( always pay attention as several times I was tasked with a QTE in the middle of a cut scene un expectantly )

To address the multi player component I have posted a separate  review that you can find by clicking here  as I felt it deserved its own review and not wanting to detract from the praise I was heaping on this game with the campaign review. As a quick summary I can tell you that the Multi player is fun albeit generic looking. Server stability as of this writing is in an awful state with lag issues wrecking Havoc and hit detection reduced to hoping you hit teleporting enemies. The biggest disappointment is that the games population is so miniscule that you can barely get into a match. There are no formal message boards on the games official site either so the community is unable to reach out to one another.

So after purchasing this title and completing the campaign I can safely say that I have gotten my moneys worth from this product. Multi player is simply icing on the cake at this point and wether the issues they are having ever get fixed ; in my books that’s okay. I hope that everyone takes a step back at looks at this product in the way I have.

I know that many of this generations gamers will look past the most fantastic elements of this game and focus on its faults ( ie.Multi player) but ironically this is the one shooter that I would recommend not worrying about the multi player component and simply immerse yourself in the world that is Binary Domain.

ED.Note: Make sure you sit in your seat past the ending credits to get an idea as to where the Developers are going with this new Franchise.

Technical Presentation

Audio: A pleasant mix of pop and electronica mixed with swelling orchestral music when the moment is right. The game has excellent ambient noises like footsteps and other effects and the splintering of robotic parts never gets old.

Video: While not the best looking game in the past year it has an anime feel without going to over the top. It boasts some of the best facial animations I have seen in a game in a long time and the ability to shred a robot of all its armor before finishing it off showcases its graphical punch.

Final Thoughts: Binary Domain is a great kick off to 2012 as far as shooters goes. All areas have impressed me and I almost want to dive in for a second play through. Very few games in this genre has made me say that and most single player campaigns in this genre are usually an obligation to get out-of-the-way before jumping online. In Binary’s case its the other way around and one of the best stories I have experienced in this genre.

Final Grade: 90%

 

Dwayne” EVO Knight” Morash

or better yet a pair of these bad boys...

Review:Tritton Detonator Gaming Headset

Before I start this review I want to give you some background on myself as far as my audio experience goes. I started my professional career at an early age back in 1991 working at a local stereo shop. I then spent the next 9 years of my life selling stereos and Tv’s at a variety of different companies; increasing my knowledge base as I went. I was exposed to many different products and technology and even continued to follow the industry for several years afterwards. My ability to assess quality levels in audio and video product stays with me to this day.

Having said that I also am cursed with being a picky consumer when it comes to things like video displays and audio equipment and now extending into my purchase of gaming gear ; so when my trusty Turtle Beach X12’s malfunctioned on me I was forced to march into the local vendor of all things gaming and replace them.

Enter the Tritton Detonators.

I’ll start by sating that this headset is very sexy. The entire design is a smooth and clean design with a minimal but effective use of color. A matt black band is used to secure two Glossy finished ear cups. The interior fabric of the enclosures are ” Tritton Orange” and the exterior of the cups are embossed with the Tritton logo in silver. The entire package is very eye-catching. This headset is also officially endorsed by Microsoft themselves even to the point of them slapping an official branding label on the box and engraving it into the Tritton’s headband for all to see . While doing nothing for the quality of the headset overall , knowing that MS approves it gives you a little feeling of comfort that you havent wasted your hard-earned dollar on a second-rate product.

Setting up the Tritton Detonator’s are a snap as well and if your like me you wont even look at the manual ( who in the heck reads a book on how to plug-in a set of headphones!?!??!). After diving in and selecting the appropriate cables to use I had them installed and ready to use.
They come with a few two different ways to install depending on your configuration of TV/Monitor and audio system. The standard way of hooking them up is to plug the two audio cables directly into the back of your television set’s audio outputs ( the red and white plugs on the back of your TV).

included cables cover all the bases for installation

Depending on your configuration you may need the included adaptor that allows you to plug the Tritton’s into your Xbox directly for sound. This is especially welcome if like me you use HDMI out of your XBOX into a display that does not have the aforementioned audio outputs. In my case I use a HD monitor with only a 3.5mm audio output so the included adaptor was a welcome addition.Brownie points for Tritton!
The connection cable itself is 14 feet long so no one should have any problem hooking them up regardless of your distance from your equipment.

Next was the comfort test. The biggest concern I had was the change in cup fabric from the Turtle beach series. I had grown used to the cloth mesh used in most of the newer designs from Turtle Beach and was curious to see how my ears would react to the vinyl material Tritton used for the Detonators.

As it turns out the material serves to keep your ears enclosed which enables the 50mm drivers inside the cup to deliver crisp clean bass frequencies; something that the X12’s struggled with. It also creates a barrier for outside noises when you are gaming ( both good and bad if you have people trying to talk to you while  you are in the middle of a game)
The headset was comfortable over the course of a 2 hour gaming session and became transparent as they thundered away on my head.

Now  here comes the real reason you are reading this review. How do these babies sound? I did not tread lightly here I can tell you that. I will say this…You will not be disappointed in any way!
The Detonators produce a clear sound through all frequency ranges all the way from the thunderous booms of an A-1 Abrams tank pounding shells into your cover in Battlefield 3 right up to the all to familiar sounds of transforming robots and whirring servo parts in Transformers: War for Cybertron; these babies handle it all!

At the core of this technology are some very well designed speakers that are capable of handling anything a game throws at it. I was very pleased with the fact that I didn’t need to fiddle with a bass adjuster to have a tuned sound quality. The Trittons settings have been internally tested and fine tuned to a happy level. High volume levels result in an overwhelming experience without cracking under pressure and giving off minor speaker clipping that other low-level models are prone to do ( I do not recommend listening to games at maximum volume for long periods as it will probably result in brain damage )

Voice quality is solid and no one in my party complained that they couldn’t hear me or that my voice wasnt coming through in a crisp manner. Rather than a standard permanently attached mic boom the Trittons have a detachable boom that allows for better placement and less distraction in front of your face.

I did have to take some time fine tuning the chat volume in comparison to the game volume because at times the in-game effects and soundtrack overpowered my team mates talking . With a little experimenting you will find the sweet spot and this no longer becomes a problem. Just remember that the sound quality on these headsets are very robust and the game effect will come alive so well that your friends bickering will take a back seat to it.

The coolest feature of the Detonators is that it is equipped with a ” control dongle” that allows for some minor customization of your experience. This dongle has buttons for ” Audio Mute” , ” Chat Mute” and ” Selectable Voice Monitoring”
I found the ” complete audio mute”  button came in handy when you needed to quickly turn the volume down of off because someone was trying to talk to you out of game rather than fumbling with your wires trying to turn one of 2 sliders down to acceptable levels.Likewise handy is the “Chat Mute” button.

Of particular note is the ” SVM” button. This is something that I thought was genius! Essentially it allows you to hear your own voice with a touch of a button so that you can monitor how loud you are speaking once the bullets and sound effects start flying inside your head. This saves you some embarrassment from onlookers while your screaming your head off because you can’t tell how loud your voice is. The fact that this is accomplished through an on device button is outstanding. The turtle beach headsets tackle this issue by using a fabric that allows the wearer to hear outside the enclosure but this design also compromises the headsets ability to deliver a solid bass frequency( hence the inclusion of a Bass Boost slider on the X12’s).

The Tritton Detonator headset retails for $89.99 at most retailers and while not delivering the EPIC level of sound that a $200 gaming headset pumps out it is far from an entry-level product . In a world where opinions of gaming gear reigns supreme you are bound to get some naysayers out there all of which are telling you to endorse their chosen headset because “it’s the best” ; stand firm in your choice and know that you will not go wrong with the Tritton Detonators strapped to your head.

Dwayne “EVO Knight” Morash

 

Before you could run you had to walk

Even as I sit here and type I am trying to remember playing a game FPS game that didn’t have the ability to ” Sprint”. To take a step back for all of you new generation of FPS gamers out there you should be made aware that the ability to run or sprint in a FPS game wasnt always a standard feature.

Most of the games that we are now playing sequels of started out their series simply trudging a,long at whatever movement speed the developers deemed satisfactory for the pacing of the game. Multi player also was dialed into a set speed and love it or hate it , that is what defined the games overall feel once the bullets started flying.

Halo, Rainbow Six , Call of Duty, and Battlefield now all have a “sprint” function that lets the player have a quick burst of speed  to engage his opponents or to get behind cover but the bigger question is why this feature was added to the games later iterations.

Pacing: probably the most important reason the feature was added in all of the above examples. This however covers a broad sub category of reasons but as an overall definition, I think pacing explains it best. By implementing a feature that enables you to move quicker the developers could then dial-up the intensity of the combat around you. With the ability to run you could then face  opponents who could move quicker and chase you more vigorously. Everything became faster and more intense and you didn’t have an excuse about trying to survive it…because you could run.

Gamers have no attention spans: Dialing up the pacing of a game would allow for individuals who thrived on intensity and constant stimulation to get from point A to point B quicker and therefore less downtime when they weren’t shooting guns. It allowed the player to control the pacing of the action rather than having to move at a pre determined rate set out by the developers.

Seriously! That’s all playable geography and ain’t no way I’m walking to Objective < C >!!

Many game developers realized this and worked at ways to give players constant stimulation while playing there games. Ever wonder why shooter games fail to more substantial stories other than ” go to point A and shoot everyone then go to point B”. This is of course a general rule and there are examples of wonderful stories in the archives of FPS games.I have since seen many gamers pick up a new game and as soon as they have player control ie after a cut scene , immediately start jamming on buttons asking which one the “run” button is. Really?!

Realism: Of course there is the fact that we can all run in real life so why not give our virtual warriors the same option. This was a no brainer but still took a long time to become a reality in games.

” Run and Gun” : self-explanatory…

New multiplayer games are now forced to conform to this standard at the risk of alienating potential players; but is this feature required in order to have a satisfying experience in the FPS genre.

Look to games like Counterstrike: Global Offensive as an example of a development team who refuse to budge on design elements that they used almost 10 years ago. Counterstrike: GO will be launching this year and it will be entering a pool of shooter sharks so to speak.

There isnt a “Sprint” function in Counterstrike:Global Offensive but you do run faster with a knife in your hand…FPS Doug would be proud!

It will now have to compete against games like Battlefield 3, Call of Duty and Medal of Honor not to mention HALO 4! One would think that any studio making a FPS game would at least hit the status quo mark on the short list of standard features but rest assured; Counterstrike :GO will not have a “sprint” feature.

Halo is another example of a game that blatantly emulated features from a successful competing title ( Reach was Halo’s version of Modern Warfare ) and was almost shunned because of it. Classic HALO multiplayer did not have the ability to sprint or run and Reaches changes were met with mixed feelings. It wasnt a requirement for the type of competitive multi player that HALO delivered. To that point MLG now uses a ” No sprint” variant in there competitive events.

Rainbow six Vegas 2 is a game that also implemented a sprint function into its game after the debut title chose not to have that feature. This was also met with hesitation from die-hard fans and while in the end the community accepted the changes the primary concern was that it would remove the tactical pacing from the game and give it a more ” run and gun” feel .

Running is quite the feat for a guy wearing a 1000 lb suit of battle armor.

My opinion is that the game needs to come first and while every developer will always try to mold their game to anticipated consumers desires and wants, they could drive themselves crazy trying to appease everyone. In the case of Counterstrike they have a rabid fan base who is watching there every move and any deviation from what is ‘ acceptable” in their minds will cause them to boycott the product. It’s a slippery slope and I certainly don’t envy them.

So the next time you fire up your favourite FPS and buckle down for a session of intense shooting and …running; maybe give some thought to how the game would feel without the ability to lace up those running shoes.

 

Dwayne “EVO Knight” Morash

 

 

To HUD or…To MUCH HUD

There has been a secret debate raging in the world of competitive multi player gaming for quite some time. One that doesn’t get talked about to often until a game comes along that takes a design choice that goes to far and forces this age-old argument to the surface of message boards around the world once again. I am talking about that feature that all of us take for granted but none of us could live without. I’m talking about….your HUD.

For those of you who have no clue what a HUD is; It is your ” Heads Up Display” or in other words the screen you look into the virtual world through that gives you all of your icons and your beloved mini map.

Poor Tony has information overload

Whether you are playing a single player game or competing in a tournament you rely on your HUD to display important information about the game your playing. Heck even Mario Bros has a HUD ! You can see how many lives you have and also how much time you have to complete the level and that is important information  to you the player, ergo HUD.

In more recent games especially in the shooting genre the HUD has taken on a much more important role of delivering strategic information in the form of maps, enemy positions on the map, weapons loadouts, ammunition reserves and all manner of tid bits that the game deems important to your survival or ability to experience the game in a digestible manner.

Bullets…check….Map…check….health bar…check…objectives..check….check…check…

Consider how complex a normal game is in today’s market and translate that into the amount of buttons and button combos and you’ll see why the HUD is such an important aspect of the games you play.

The argument comes in the question of how much is too much in regards to a visual HUD on your game screen?

Players all have their opinions on what information needs to be displayed on your screen at any one time but the balance that needs t o be had is between information and over crowding of the real estate you have to see the action in the game.

The short list of important information that your HUD should contain is usually ; Mini Map, Ammo Counter, Team Mate locations ( name over head) , objective way points and Health/ability meters.
Now we all know that there are plenty more items that can be displayed on a HUD  but how much is to much.

Game developers have been coming  up with creative ways to deliver us information through a HUD without cluttering the screen and thereby pulling us out of the immersion of being in the shoes of a virtual character. Gears of war for example uses a system of ” fading HUD” wherein the elements fade from view when not engaged ie. Your ammo counter and selected weapon indicator completely disappear from the screen when you are not using it in combat.Gears of War also does not use any map elements in its gameplay ie. Mini maps or team-mate icons instead using a genius idea called a ” tac com” where you hold RB to pull up crucial squad location info.

No Map, No team mates names floating above their heads…just a man and his gun…and an ammo counter

The result is a game that has 100% of its screen real estate devoted to character models and environments making the players feel more immersed in the world they are playing in.

Perhaps the most incredibly creative way to display a HUD is in the game Dead Space. This si a single player survival Horror game that is very similar  to Resident Evil…but in space. The genius idea of how to display a HUD still makes me smile to this day. The games protagonist employs a modular weapon in the game that can be upgraded as you play but more importantly it is also a tool on accessing the various games menus and options, including your start menu with all the game configs and saves etc. Your health meter is displayed via a glowing column running down the spine of your space suit. Everything this game does is all about making you feel like your watching a movie rather than playing game and the fact that you are actually controlling it makes it so much cooler. Dead Space is the pinnacle of HUD design in a game.

Floating holographic menus FTW

On the opposite spectrum is the game Ghost Recon Future Soldier and even its earlier incarnation Advanced Warfighter. The games barrage the senses of a player with all manner of tactical information ranging from objectives to enemy positions and everything in between. The newest entry in the series ; Future soldier endeavors to alleviate that onslaught by integrating all of those elements into a system called ” augmented reality”. This is a technique that places all this crucial information into the game world itself.

seriously!?!?

For an example your ammo counter now hovers over top of your gun like a holographic display and mission waypoints are now ” written” in the sky or ‘ projected” into walls as though by a movie theatre projector. Map waypoints are illustrated by placing a faint glowing ” breadcrumb” trail along the ground in front of you . This is a growing trend we will see more of as developers get more creative in delivering us all of the information that helps us play the game better.

Then there is the question of immersion. The ability to feel like you are inside the helmet of your genetically engineered super soldier. The feeling of awesomeness when you start a match in a multi player game and see your rifle being held in the hands of your virtual avatar.

First person games are built around the concept of making you feel like you are in fact the hero yourself. Your eyes are looking out through the eyes of the character you embody and the gun you see in those hands is in fact your. Taken to an extreme level the developers want you to feel connected to the character and by not showing you his/her face and gives us that portal into his shoes ( note: If you want to see if a developer has taken the effort to create a believable experience the next time you play a FPS look at your feet and see if they are rendered)

One game in particular has done an exceptional job of portraying this in the FPS genre  is HALO
The first thing that happens on spawn and subsequent re spawns in any HALO game is the powering up of your HUD.

Halo 4 will apparently make you feel like your inside the cockpit of a fighter jet…AKA Master Chief

a brief second of gameplay  where your screen flickers and a trademark sound of your personal shields powering up is all it takes to make you feel like YOU are the person in that armor . Minor graphical elements also solidify that feeling by having faint holographic trimming around the perimeter of the screen. These are things like your shield strength and visor  details ala Iron Man’s armor. Metroid of Nintendo fame also does this exceptionally well all be it not a multi player centric game.

And so the debate rages on and really for most of us its barely an issue  but for the game developers it’s an ongoing struggle to put us in the shoes of a virtual warrior but at the same time ensure we can understand the complexity of controls and options they have programmed into the game.

Dwayne” EVO Knight” Morash

 

 

“The Killer Instinct” and Interview with Eugene “Kpb” Lugo

 

Pro had the chance to interview Eugene” Kpb” Lugo on his recent win of the PRO 2014 Killer Instinct” UGR Tournament” and his experience with Fighting games and just how long he has been playing them. Enjoy!

PRO Gaming:Congratulations on winning our 2014 Killer Instinct Tournament Eugene. On behalf on PRO and UGR I want to say thank you for taking the time to chat with us and give us some insight into the world of competitive Fighting games.How  long have you been playing Killer Instinct either in this iteration or past versions?

Eugene: I’ve been a long term fan playing the game since the original on the SNES home console. I was pretty young when getting the game but was attracted to it because it came as a black cartridge with a soundtrack. The music definitely makes the game, lol. I played Killer Instinct Gold when it was in the arcades and always stuck with my main character, Fulgore. I recently brought an Xbox One specifically to compete in this game. Safe to say I love the series

PRO Gaming:Compared to other fighting games on the market how do you feel that Killer Instinct stands up with its game play and graphics?

Eugene:I think the game is a great fit along side other fighters that are out right now. Casually it’s easy to pick up and play. The basic mechanics of the game are easy to get use to within the first few minutes of playing and the game just looks amazing. On the technical side of the game I believe it has it’s elements of Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. Overall it’s good for anyone to pick up and play.

PRO Gaming: At what point did you decide to start playing games competitively versus just on a casual basis with friends.

Eugene: I started playing competitively back in the tail end of 2009. That’s when Street Fighter was the dominant fighting game out (Mortal Kombat and Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 released in 2011). I use to be a big time “Online Warrior” and decided to take my skills further. I started by going to local tournaments and slowly found my way to attending Majors. It wasn’t an easy start but getting out there is the only way to get battle hardened.

PRO Gaming: The competitive E sport “ Fighting game” community is a very Clicky crowd. Have you had any challenges in becoming a part of that community and if so how have you adjusted to it in your dealings?

Eugene:The Fighting Game Community (FGC) is very intimidating at first. There’s groups withing groups of people. Looking at it from the outside can be very scary. First starting out I didn’t know many people besides my friends that started with me. I knew a lot of people by face from watching streams but that was about it. As time went on and competitions became more frequent for me that’s when I started to become comfortable with the people I consistently saw. Everyone in the FGC is very welcoming, shockingly enough all you have to do is say hi. I’m proud to say that within the FGC I represent a group called Kick-Punch-Block (KPB). I joined up with them in late 2012 and they’re like my extended family.  Little groups like these make being a part of the FGC worth wild.

PRO Gaming: With this event in particular I know that your level of competition was varied. You displayed some very good sportsmanship that is not very common in competitive gaming these days. Do you find that your experiences with tournament play have been rewarding and positive overall?

Eugene: You always have to look at tournaments as a learning experience. I’ve played against many great players in the past (Justin Wong, Chris G, Yipes, Sanford Kelly) and it’s always been a lesson more than a match. My reward is knowing that with every tournament I go to I grow as a player. Placing high at tournaments gets me recognition by other players and I can help set an example for others.

PRO Gaming: Can you tell us what about Killer Instinct resonates with players currently and also what do you think about the design choice of Double Helix to go with a FREE TO PLAY model for its game.

Eugene:There’s a lot of HYPE when playing this game. Combo breakers and Ultras along side the original voice actor for these actions make the game very nostalgic for some of us. Double Helix hit the nail on the head when introducing the FREE TO PLAY aspect of the game. Letting the casual player tryout a different character monthly gives a person something new to look forward to as time goes on.

PRO Gaming: Can you give us a quick run-down of some of the other competitive events and tournaments you have participated in?

Eugene:Mostly all East Coast Majors… East Coast Throwdown 2-5, NEC 13 and 14, Summerjam 7, Apex 2012 and 2014, Defend The North. I’ve also attended Next Level a lot for their Battle Circuit series and various other locals in New York. My Group Host Casuals every Friday as well in Westchester, New York.

PRO Gaming:Who is your favorite Killer Instinct character at this moment and are there any characters you are waiting for?

Eugene: Man I guess my favorite would have to be Sabrewulf. He’s gotten me twice to top 4 at the last 2 tournaments I’ve been to. As soon as Fulgore gets released I will make the switch to him. There’s no way I would let my main character from the previous versions slip right by me, lol

PRO Gaming:Thanks Eugene, once again I want to say thank you for taking the time to answer our questions  as well as being an ambassador for this game. We hope that we see you at future events we host and keep kicking ass out there!

Eugene:Thanks again for having me guys and I look forward to participating in future events!

Dwayne “ EVO Knight” Morash

 

The Team that wins together…Practices together!

Have you gotten into an XBOX Live match and seen a group of players all with the same CLAN tag and gone ” Oh man , we are in for a butt kicking now”? Its a funny thing to say ; I mean after all the only thing separating them from  you and your buddies is a 3 letter Clan tag in front of their name right?

Wrong. Those players probably ARE going to kick your ass but its not because of their tag; its because the have most likely taken the time to form a team and practice together. Yeah yeah I know it sounds silly; practicing to play a video game. Who takes the games that seriously that they would allocate time in their lives to have a practice session and try and get better at a particular game? Well you are reading this article so you are half way there my friend.

Lets start out with the “why’s” before we tackle the how.

E sports are just like any other sports in the world; If you want to get good at them you have to practice. Playing a lone wolf game can actually be pretty easy in comparison to team play. In order to gel as a team you need to play enough with your team to know the strengths and weaknesses of each player. To give you an example whenever I play in a team environment I make everyone aware that I am not a good sniper and also tell them what my strengths are < I prefer  to play as an assault role combing the level ground looking for prey>. This heads up lets my team play a role to support my tactics. On the flip side if you now that your team is sniper heavy you need to be able to tackle a different role yourself and ensure that you are balanced and diversified when it comes to game time.

Calling out “strats” as a team is also a fine art. Having played with a large amount of pick up teams I can tell you it is a nightmare when my team mates don’t understand my call outs or have no map knowledge. You may as well just hit the “forfeit” button in most cases.
In any competitive  Team environment you need to be able  to work together and not only understand your fellow players but also be able to inspire them  to do better. Friendly rivalries between team mates is a healthy thing and in most cases inspires everyone to do their best to improve.

No one can deny ” WHY” you need to practice but “HOW” do you set up a successful practice session with your fellow clan mates without it turning into a all out waste of time.

SCHEDULE IT. Make a point of setting aside an hour or two of dedicated private match play time. Get your team together in a party chat and talk about what you need work on as a tea. Specific maps and or game modes or maybe your trigger finger is rusty and you need some warm up free for alls. Whatever the plan is make sure you are on time and ready to practice. Hold everyone accountable and make sure they are equally ready to improve.

HAVE A GAME PLAN. If your practice session is going to have a time limit make sure you decide what you want to accomplish with it. Are you needing some practice with certain weapons? Maybe you need someone to help you with a certain game mode and how to play it effectively. Whichever it is focus on it and make sure your time is well spent.

THE POST GAME WRAP UP. At the conclusion of your practice session make sure you take some time to talk to your team mates and give them valuable feedback. A good sharing session may actually bring to light some info that you and your buddies didn’t know individually. I know that I’m always picking up tips from team mates after a round while we are waiting in a lobby for the next match; specifically about what worked and what didn’t in the last round.

Pretty soon you to will be rolling with a group of squad mates all flying your own clan tag in front of your name as a symbol of your dedication to Team play.

Dwayne” EVO Knight” Morash

“Call outs” : Time to use that Mic for something other than Smack Talking…

If you have ever had the pleasure of watching a competitive event in person the first thing your bound to notice is that everyone is talking to each other. When I say that I dont mean the spectators ; I mean the players on each team.

Now wait! You are probally thinking why are they talking to each other with a headset…they are right beside each other?!

Imagine you are on a battlefield of the future with lasers and state of the art rocket launchers whizzing by your head and you are fighting with your squad who happen to be spread out all over the place fighting for their lives. Do you really think you are going to stand up and start screaming at your buddy to come help you or to tell him he is about to get shot by that guy with the aforementioned Rocket launcher? Nope; your going to tell him via that equally state of the art communication gear that strapped to your helmet and your also going to tell him exactly where that rocket launcher toting enemy is standing… in short; your gonna use a ” Call Out”.

Call Outs are a PRO gamers way of getting that edge over the other team who thinks shouting to a team mate is embarrasing. The act of talking is second nature to us gamers as evidence by the thousands of little boys and girls who feel the need to swear and insult each other everyday on XBOX live. In fact there are so many people talking on XBOX Live that Microsoft has included a MUTE feature to make our lives a lot more peaceful when playing our favourite multi player games.

There is more to Call Outs than simply shouting at your team mate to take cover or that you are reloading your gun….again. Call Outs require that you convey a short burst of tactical information in a concise but effective manner.In the heat of battle and with all the other noise being thrown at you and your team mates it is very important that you dont spam the airwaves with useless chatter and worse yet screaming and in some cases singing ( Dont get me started on how annoying singing team mates are!)

An effective Call Out should contain information that will assist your team in some manner either globally ( ” the other team has snipers) or specific to an individual ( ” Bob your about to get knifed! Turn Around!). In order to convey this information accurately you will need to take the time to learn map locations and identify easy way to commmunicat that information to someone QUICKLY.

Here is an example of a BAD call out.

” Delta I just got shot by a guy with some sort of a long ranged weapon..err maybe it was a rocket launcher but it could have been a sniper rifle not sure…he was hiding up on that tall building thing beside all those rocks but he was not on the building he was sorta in between the rocks and the building im not really sure bu I know he killed me because ..welll… because Im in a screen showing me where he is ..err or was at the moment…got that?”

Here is an example of that same call out by a PRO player

” Delta sniper on Rock Building ground level he’s on the move!”

The same amount of information was conveyed in a MUCH more concise manner. As the game progresses these short sound bites will eventually click and someone on your team will be in a position to take advantage of that Call Out. This information is more about creating an overall tactical awareness of whats happening in the match versus expecting someone to do something about it. All it takes is one good call out to tip off a fellow team mate who happens to be nearby and take action on it.

Take Battlefield 3 for example. When a team mate tells me that the enemy has a tank rolling in and I happen to be in the load out selection screen, do you think Im switching to my recon class? Hellz NO! Im taking a Engineer class and smacking that tank down with some RPG goodness!

Overall the team that talks is the team that is on their way  to win. Here are some key things to include in all your call outs.

  • Location of enemy ie. Color of terrain or terrain features. Some game developers place characteristics in thier game maps to facilitate easy call outs ( HALO is famous for this)
  • Quantity of enemy
  • General state of enemy ie. Camping, mobile, hidden etc.
  • Health of enemy . If you have shot the enemy telling your team mate that he is only ” one shot” away from death will help your partner engage the enemy with more info
  • Alone or with friends. Its always important to tell your team if a particular enemy is travelling solo or as a group. This saves a lone wold player from biting off more than he can chew.
So with that said its time to start using your MIC for more than cursing out your fellow team mates and trying to impress them with your best American Idle audition. Strap on the state of the art communication gear and show the other team that TALKING is winning!
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