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5 Things I liked about the Halo 5 Guardians Beta

Having just played a good dose of Halo 5 Guardians Beta I thought I should throw together a Top 5 list of things I like about  Halo 5: Guardians in its current BETA state. Here we go…

1:  Graphics. Running at 60 FPS and 720P resolution Halo has never looked better. Guns and environments all look amazing and even in its BETA state are polished. The attention  to detail in the environment will surely get better with the years worth of polish that 343 is sure to apply.

2: Speed. HALO has never felt this fast paced. as a Spartan you are no longer a lumbering super Soldier who has to sluggishly run through the map with the occasional spring ( in the past 2 games anyway). Guardians showcases a new and improved Spartan soldier that can sprint indefinitely ( Once you build momentum you can actually see speed lines in your POV) and activate short bursts of speed. This has the effect of speeding up gameplay yet remaining level headed and not divulging into chaos like other FPS titles have succumbbed to.

3: Mobility. Navigating the maps now takes on a whole new dimension with the addition of a ” clamber” move. By tapping ” A” when you are close to a ledge your Spartan will climb the ledge in a very quick and smooth manner. Combine this with the new ” Spartan Dash”  move and you have a HALO game that truly fits in with its peers such as Titanfall and Advanced Warfare. It almost feels like you are utilizing the game space in ways the Devs didnt plan by navigating the ledges and geometry in ways you couldn’t before…it feels like your using a cheat mod  but in a good way.

4: Immersion: Little details like the sounds of your boots running on the metal floor and your Spartan Team mates calling out kills and weapon Spawns as well as congratulating you on good kills ( Sad that they needed to programme a vocabulary into the game to pat you on the back or support you in lieu of a human partner doing the same) are examples of the little things that embed you in the HALO universe.

5: Intensity.  Plain and Simple; Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer is INTENSE!  Combine all of the elements listed above and you have a shooter that is both satisfying and adrenaline packed. Engagements come and go and strategy is developed on the fly as the dynamics of the match change. Power weapons change hands and the moment to moment thrill of a true E-Sport experience  pervades all aspects of this game.

Halo has always been a intense experience  when played with a group of friends  but Halo 5 : Guardians takes it up several notches without destroying what made Halo a fun and balanced game.

I am excited to see more of what the Beta throws at us and be sure to keep checking back for more impressions when the full BETA launches on December 29th.

Dwayne”EVO Knight” Morash

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

Ghost Recon Future Soldier BETA review: “7 hours of AWESOME!”

The wait was finally over! Unbearable as the years of waiting where it made powering up my XBOX360 and launching the BETA that much sweeter. Ghost Recon Future Soldier had arrived…well partially. The stage was set for a marathon of gaming albeit on 2 maps and a single game mode but this was Ghost Recon we where talking about here; a game that I had waited years for. If nothing else came of this night I would at least have a table full of chips and energy drink to eat…well share with my buddy who was sitting next to me going through a similar set of emotions at the prospect of sinking his teeth into the game.

Continue reading Ghost Recon Future Soldier BETA review: “7 hours of AWESOME!”

DZ-DARREN~ Review: Operation Raccoon City

Editors Note:

I figured that a controversial game such as Resident Evil Operation Raccoon City needed an equally controversial review to go along with it.This game has such a split opinion of it within the gaming community I wanted to illustrate that opinion first hand by publishing two reviews of the game. You have all read my review that was published earlier in the week so now you can digest our UK contributor DZ-DARREN~’s take on the game and get a taste of how another gamers feels about the game.
This is a PS3 build  of the game as well. Let us know how you feel in the comments.RE:ORC is truly a game that has many people scratching their heads over conflicting opinions. 

In modern day gaming it’s become common sense to excitedly hype a game up before its release only to find that it never quite lives up to your expectations, or in some rare and demeanor cases, it does. In this analogical example Resident Evil Operation Raccoon City is like having your child finish their education able to spell FUDGE with their results. Of course this plummet in expectation compared to reality should always have been conceived shall we consider in hindsight that just like dead island, all we’ve seen is video footage with no mass hands-on approach, similarly to most of those women i dated online, who turned out to be middle-aged asian men…. I hate you ‘No longer Lonely’. So anyway just to get started, for a kick-off, *SLAP. Thats to any of your resident evil fanboys that were about to open your damn mouth and try to argue anything I’ve already said or yet to say.

Resident Evil Operation Raccoon City, if you remove a couple of letters, add a bunch more, and then swap them around is in fact an anagram of ; SOCOM: Confrontation 2. Yes that’s right ladies and gentleman this game was created by the unpromising and possibly most issue ridiculed game developer in the whole of Canada; Slant Six Games. SOCOM: Confrontation was a game ridiculed with bugs and undeniable game breaking issues, and while some people would argue that it turned out to be a reasonable good game now I’d like to take a moment to just slap them around the face too *SLAP, and remind them that making a game function reasonably 8 months after release is not a good moment of merit to highlight on any future CV Slant Six.

 

Resident Evil Operation Raccoon City is based around the events between Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3…. I don’t care what order the events occurred in, I’m putting them in damn numerical order, and as I’m sure you no doubt guessed, the game is based in Raccoon City (Give yourself a cookie :)), and while the game does act on a canon cycle of the story, the game does allow for some alterations to resident evil history, by some I mean one, and by alter history, I mean it happens at the end so nothing really changes. So essentially it has about as much bearing as finding Madeline Mccann after she’s been killed.. I for one chose to make that big decision to alter the history of resident evil and i can already hear the groaning and painful tears of Resident Evil fans as if I had just shot bambi. You play your part as a member of Umbrella’s Security Services – because presumably The Powerpuff Girls was already taken.

‘But the stories alright isn’t it Darren, I mean it’s a Resident Evil game! The story is going to be brilliant, I know it is, I just know….’*SLAP. If you want me to review it then stop stopping to ask make excuses to feed your inconsolable denial! ORC delivers what is quite possibly the driest and least constructed story in the Resident Evil universe’s history; your mission is to obtain the G-virus (presumably this created 50 cent) then remove all knowledge of Umbrella’s involvement in the outbreak (but then leave the one piece of evidence we wanted destroyed; Resident Evil Operation Raccoon City). A compelling story one of which you’d expect to have a reasonable amount of depth and interesting angles to play. But yet no; Missions objectives feel very linear, predictable and typically mundane. You never seem to be learning or seeing much new. In terms of enemies there were probably about 6 different common enemies across the story and nothing really changed; I think the very first DOOM had about as much story and variety to it, and in fact I don’t recall it even possessing a story. In terms of the characters stories; there’s little of interest about them, I tried looking into them a bit but found myself getting quite bored, and VECTOR was obviously meant to be their mystery card, but to be totally honest I couldn’t give a flying monkeys ball sack about his past, and he seems so emotionless, that I wouldn’t be surprised if his years of ‘training’ were simply spent in the Catholic church being passed around between a group of priests like a game of pass the parcel, and considering how iffy he is about being touched or communicated with… chances are he was. In terms of story length; its a close ensuing battle between ORC and premature ejaculators but I think the P.E’s grabbed it (so to speak) by a few seconds. I mean honestly this game doesn’t drag on (thank god!) but it definitely doesn’t hang around. It’s like buying a dodgy motor, taking it back the next day, only to discover the guys gone and when you arrive home so has your wife, and for any RE fans that now want to argue that in fact it’s a bit longer, *SLAP. The only reason that this game will possibly last you any longer, is due to the loading times taking about as long to load as the US government took to find Osama Bin Laden.

Gameplay wise, the games as flawed as the concept of Forrest Gump graduating college. Guns are weak, and by weak I am talking seriously weak, the amount of headshots a spec ops takes for example is ridiculous. I’m not sure if by spec they meant special, and by special they meant brain-dead, in which case that explains why headshots are so ineffective, then consider that this game contains Nemesis’s; big juggernaut like beings that absorb damage like a fat person does cake…. it’s fair to say you should cancel that date with your hand, you’re going to be here a while

, not that I’m hitting on masturbation, there’s nothing wrong with it; it’s sex with someone I love. Couple this with increased difficulty; lets just say by the time you’re playing on the professional difficulty; you might as well throw your gun at them, because grenades and bullets prove to be as effective as your attempts at dating.’But the cover system works fine doesn’t it Darren I mean its a cover system, pretty simple and straightforward how cover works right? Right?… ‘*SLAP *SLAP *SLAP *DROPKICK. I’m assuming that has answered your question, but let me go into more detail; you see most games consolidate use of a cover system into a button format of some kind, for example in rainbow six vegas; you held a button to stay up against cover, and could peek out. ORC looks at this format and decides its can do better by being worse. The cover system operates on a walk into it format, there is no button press, and it is incredibly flawed; the getting into cover part is so flawed that by the time you’ve actually pushed into the cover you’ve probably got enough holes in you to officially resemble cheddar cheese (especially if your four-eyes (I wonder how many people will get that)). Even once you’ve actually managed to enter cover half the time you find yourself poked halfway out of the side without even engaging the lean out function. Its like I’m permanently holding a taunt button, because spec ops soldiers seem to be more likely to hit me when I’m in cover. The abilities for the most are reasonable but not quite noticeable in the overall concept. Semtex’s with massively long detonation times, increased capacity for items and entity detection abilities to point out a few. All a bunch of recycled and moderate ideas until, hold on what’s this? VECTOR has a cloak ability, interesting…. I have just found a way to ruin the majority of the game for myself. Yes that’s right this game shares the same fundamentally flawed issue that Crysis 2 presented. In fact….. If you take Slant Six Games, remove a bunch of letters, replace them with some others, then oh my god…. you get Crytek!…. I’m joking, I’m joking. No of course not, there’s no exclamation mark in Slant Six Games.

Visual wise there is absolutely nothing special here, I think I’ve seen late PS2 and first out next-gen games compete with these graphics and come out of it winning as if it was Mike Tyson in a fight with an ear. Thats right this game by no means has minecraft graphics, but it definitely doesn’t seem to have any interest in competing with any graphically matured games out there, and if it’s not competing in this department, then I wonder where the hell they were trying too. Then there’s character appearance,which by the way there’s already alternative costumes for purchase from the stores, as if they couldn’t have made it an unlock in-game. But anyway as I was saying the costumes for the characters overall looks as if Capcom had an ongoing advertisement deal with S&M, I mean seriously some of these guys not only look, but also act like their straight from creepy Dave’s after dark ‘yoga’ group. It is as if these guys played GTA: San Andreas and have been obsessed with the gimp suit missions ever since… i’m surprised I didn’t find a dildo in one of the repetitively encountered bathrooms through the game, As for VECTOR, he’s got a hood, and made to look badass…. well done Slant Six, nothing like encouraging more hoody wearing thugs…. you heroes. Also is it just me or does Beltway’s head look abnormally small in comparison to his body. It reminds me of this creepy math teacher I had in secondary school. She was like a cross between Rubeus Hagrid and J. Wellington Wimpy. Yet then in contrast there’s HUNK; never have I seen a game in which a guy wearing a combat helmets head looked so huge. I mean i don’t know, did the dude ask for a few extra layers of protection on it? It’s no surprise that me and my teammates accidentally kept shooting him. In terms of audio, the detail is about average for a game of this generation, no real noticeable sound glitches, possibly one or two minor gun glitches that initiate in cinematics dependant on what is occurring when the cinematic starts. Although I would like to inquire to this; if VECTOR is meant to be of Asian origin, how come he sounds totally friggin American? I mean it says he’s of Asian origin and ethnicity… yet>?? Then of course as it typical there’s that usual deep-toned pronunciation of ‘Resident Evil’ at the start menu which actually really just sounds like a guy that needs to clear his throat and drink some cough medicine…. all that deep throat can wreak havoc on your voice.

For the love of god, shoot me!

‘But surely the Multiplayer Darren, the Multiplayer must be good, it makes up for all these issues, doesn’t it? I know it does. …’… I was going to slap you but now I just pity you. No the multiplayer doesn’t earn the game a reprimand, at least not from me. Whilst the multiplayer has some nice ideas floating about, it’s essentially dragged down already solely by all the issues with gameplay that make it an inconsolable wreck. The multiplayer in terms of what it adds in contrast to what I’ve already mentioned isn’t much; there are four game modes, and then in desperate measures the game also has an any game mode option and one which includes and rotates through all four game modes. The four game modes are Team Attack; which is essentially Team Deathmatch, but Slant Six wanted to be different… I guess that explains the gimp suits for the U.S.S…. Biohazard; which is basically retrieving samples and returning them to your base, a bit like CTF. When in possession of the sample the zombies seem more aggressive towards you, I like to imagine that I’m a drug courier collecting cocaine for my drug lord, and that all the zombies are merely junkies trying to steal the goods. Heroes; is essentially a team leader game mode, the objective is to kill all the heroes of the opposing team to win, already dead players will spawn back as one of the 6 playable characters from the over game modes. Then there’s survivor, probably the most interesting concept but poorly executed, essentially 8 players fight it out for a place on a helicopter with only 4 places. I sort of expected some of race to the finish while tripping up and distracting your teammates and enemies on the way. But essentially the helicopter lands in the middle and you all sprawl to the center trying to hold the cross button first. Then there’s the Unlock system. ‘But why did you take so long to mention it Darren, it’s in the single player t….’*SLAP. Yes indeed the unlock system is in existence in all parts of the game, but essentially the area it is most noticeable as a balancing factor is in the Multiplayer. Some of the weapon put players at a phenomenal advantage, for example the samurai edge pistol is generally a quick killer, coupled with the aim assist quick draw function assigned usually to L2, well you’ve got a serious balancing issue. On other balancing issues it would be fair to point at shotguns; due to how weak most guns are in this game it’s usually beneficial just to use a shotgun simply due to there’s little risk of a measly assault rifle dropping you before you reach the guy.

Then there is co-op, practically nothing really changes from the single-player experience except you have someone else to blame when everything goes tits up. Although there are two major points I’ve saved for here that I could have mentioned earlier. Due to the flawed, weakly constructed story that would struggle to stand up and fight its corner against a 2 year old’s bedtime story, it’s fair to say you want to do the campaign in co-op, simply because with such little gripping the player in a compelling way that would pull them through the linear story you find yourself getting incredibly bored on your own. Second reason; the AI is so damn retarded I think they stole it from a release on the sega megadrive, I mean seriously usually squad based friendly AI’s have their issues, but these guys are ridiculously stupid. I remember this one time when I was passing through an archive room and all Beltway kept doing was setting off and running into trip mines. Well holy fuck, look who thinks they’re the messiah. It was as if somewhere in the AI’s programming someone had simply written some lines that specified for Beltway to act like a jihad. Obviously a miscommunication between departments meant Beltway never got his Jihad warcry :’(.

‘Darren don’t you think you’ve been a bit harsh I mea….’ *SLAP. So there you have it folks Operation Raccoon City; a dried up attempt at exploiting the richly popular raccoon city. An attempt that going by the developers history will actually probably prove successful and fully functional in another 6-8 months, I hope you all appreciate the significant torture I had to go through in S&M hell to obtain this insight of the game. I was going to shoot myself in the head…. but then I realised; This is an ORC gun, it would probably take longer to shoot myself to death than it would take to complete the story, so maybe on that note ORC shouldn’t change, because if it had then I wouldn’t have gotten past the first chapter.

~DZ_DARREN

EVO Knight’s Review: Operation Raccoon City

 

The latest Resident Evil game has arrived and its a BEAST! Now you noticed how I used that name to describe it? Simply put this is a description that is either good or bad as far as slang goes and such is the state of the game within the gaming public.

Operation Raccoon City has been out for approx 3 weeks now and I think its safe to say some of the controversy has died down and players have had a chance to settle into the game and start dissecting it for themselves rather than letting reviewers make that decision for them. Our review of the game comes so far after launch because I wanted to make sure I was not swept up in the emotional rollercoaster of defending the game or hating on it.

Welcome to the Jungle…err..Raccoon City

For those of you who are scratching their heads at mention of all this controversy and hatred stuff, let me bring you up to speed.

Resident Evil: Operation raccoon city ( hereafter known as ORC) is the newest entry in a long line of Resident Evil games; but unlike past games it is not being developed by the same team as past entries in the numbered franchise ( RE5 being the last game we played). This game was made by a Vancouver based studio called  Slant Six; a company responsible for several So Com games on the Playstation platforms. This was red flag number one for many gamers. ORC was designed from the beginning to be a different type of game than other RE titles, a broadening of its core audience in a crazy new experiment by Capcom.
” What if we turned Resident Evil into a 3rd person shooter instead of a survival horror game ?”. Well not wanting to totally alienate their entire franchises loyal following the opted to create a new game with that mantra in the perfectly appropriate setting of Resident Evil 2 and 3’s Raccoon City. A perfect setting for a squad based shooter in the Resident Evil universe…or so you would think.

nope your not looking a Splinter Cell conviction castaway

Taking familiar elements from the aforementioned games and of course a liberal dose of traditional Resident Evil staples such as zombies, Bio Weapons, Green Herbs, moody music, bad dialogue, frustrating controls, limited ammunition supplies and wrapping it up in a wrapper that has the words ” gears of war rejects” and presto you have Operation Raccoon City!

The truth is far from that and what we truly received was a unique game that borrows from similar shooters ( Gears of War, Call of Duty, Army of Two, Ghost Recon) but because this game follows on the footsteps of those games it can never dodge the ” copy cat” designation. That is very sad because ORC is good….not just good…its VERY GOOD!

This review comes on the heals of some epic level bashing at the hands of other media outlets and gaming communities and while I do respect everyone’s opinions I also feel the need to set the record straight on several topics that these other media outlets decided  to focus on as negative elements of the game.

Lets talk about the campaign. Its short, sweet and doesn’t win any academy awards for plot or character development. You can play the main story with up to 4 friends co-op or by yourself with AI driven buddies. I chose to play it by myself the first go around and set the difficulty to ” professional” and didn’t look back.

Some familiar faces make an apearence in the campaign

The plot revolves around a group of 4 USS members ( Umbrella Secret service) who have been sent into Raccoon city on the eve of a massive zombie outbreak to retrieve materials from an embedded scientist on site in a lab underneath the city. Everything goes to the shitter and very soon you are playing through the games chapters shooting zombies, destroying incriminating documents and eliminating key characters pulled from past games. All of this plays out in a very fast paced form and story elements are supplied via brief cut scenes and in-game dialogue from you and your squad mates on the fly as you are moving to the next way point.
One thing that did stand out to me during my play time was that the characters do in deed have a personality to them that starts to grow on you as you play.

Welcome to your team of USS soldiers; the Wolf Pack

Slant Six had a genius idea in developing this game. They created a cast of characters in which to live the story through. YOu are not playing as generic grunts and you are not even playing as customized characters that you contributed to. YOu are playing with pre set characters much in the way that Gears of war forces you into the shoes of Marcus and Dom and company. The characters each have different abilities and looks and even have moderate back stories that you can read before you select them. As someone who puts immersion over anything else in a game I can say they nailed this. The witty dialogue in-game only served to cement the feeling that I could relate to these characters. Its worth noting here that even though the game wrapped shortly with the USS characters; Capcom has announced a DLC pack that will flesh out the other cast of characters that opposes our heroes/villains in the games multi player component and the epic cinematic trailer that as released prior to the game ;launching. In essence this doubles the game’s story content but we will have to wait in april to see what this story DLC adds to the overall package of the game.

After spending approx 5 hours blasting through hordes of zombies and terrifying B.O.W’s ( Bio Organic Weapons) you will conclude the game on a little bit of a cliff hanger note but what you will really want to do is jump into the games Multi player component; and this is where this game truly shines and I would even say kicks the shit out of many AAA titles.

I’m going to break this down carefully so that you have a VERY clear idea of what to expect if you decide to buy this game.

Premise: RE:ORC has created a ” Three corner conflict” concept that carries over into all game modes in its multi player suite. Essentially this is that all games you play against another team will have the random element of Zombies or B.O.Ws injected into the proceedings. You may be playing a game of ” Team Attack” and are chasing another player down an alley and all of a sudden the door next to you busts open and a swarm of zombies mob you allowing your target  to escape, or better yet he turns around and shoots you and all the zombies around you getting even more points! This element of gameplay is the single most important aspect of RE:ORC and one that raises this game above any of its peers in this genre.

Its bad enough you have other players to contend with but A FREAKING NEMESIS!?!

By having this feature the matches begin to take on a very chaotic and tense feeling. There is never a moment where you are not shooting something and combine that with the fact that ammunition is scarce you have a built-in feeling of tension and fear.

Set up :The default game mode in this game is Team Attack. Imagine Team Deathmatch where you are judged on your score counter instead of your kill counter. The objective is to reach a score limit of 4000 points at the end of the match. Either you hit the score limit or time runs out but either way the team with the most points wins. Zombies are worth 10 points with an extra points doled out for headshots and brutal kills ( this games versions of execution moves) , Opposing players are worth 75 points with similar bonuses and the B.O.Ws are worth a varying amount ranging from 25pts to 250 pts ( that is what a Tyrant is worth and if you see one on the map either RUN or make sure you have a grenade launcher with lots of ammo!)

Your strategy is now made up of killing the right mix of enemies to make sure you are contributing to your teams overall score. kill some players and a lot of zombies or farm some zombie kills and let your team mates hunt the other team for the bigger points. This is an amazing experience each and every time you play it.

The maps are crawling with guys like this!

Remember in the movies when someone gets bit by a zombie and his friends end up killing him to save themselves? Well RE:ORC has not forgotten that element to its horror portion and it has made its way into multi player!

If you get bit by a zombie during a game in multi player there is a chance that you will become infected. Your screen turns hazy and you start to hear your labored breathing; you are turning into a zombie! Your screen will slowly/quickly blur simulating your vision and its health dependant so if ou have hardly any health the transformation will happen sooner than later. your only hope is to find a blue colored antidote on the map somewhere and use it on yourself or have a team-mate spray you with one. If not you will turn and lose control of your character but still be able to see him/her chase after your friends and enemies on the kill cam. It’s a feeling of hopelessness that really makes this game shine in how it draws you into its gameplay.

Blurred vision and a panic rush to the nearest antidote make being infected by a zombie a scary distraction in multi player

of the funniest moments in multi player come from hearing your friends screaming at you to” put them down” because they are about to turn into a zombie and don’t have an antidote. It’s a creepy thing to hear in a multi player game but it’s so fitting for this game that it draws you in to its atmosphere.

Other game modes are just as fun and the game even has variations of Capture the Flag and a Horde inspired mode that has you holding out against waves of zombies waiting for a rescue chopper to arrive. Throw in a mode where you can play as iconic characters from the franchises past installments and its safe to say that RE:ORC delivers on variety of modes.

Presentation:The graphics and sound in this game are good! For all of you who have been bred on next generation games and expect bleeding edge graphics in every game you play then I am sorry for you. Gamers who came from a much simpler era of gaming ; namely the 8 bit and 16 bit era, understand that gameplay trumps graphics anyway but that said there is an acceptable level of polish for a game these days. RE:ORC meets and exceeds those minimums. The character models look and animate very well.

Looks like Vancouver after a riot! Dark and gloomy just how I like it in a Resident Evil game

Enviroments are well rendered and create a very atmospheric setting for the pending firefight. Dont expect any well-lit maps though as this game is all about the  doom and gloom and honestly, have you ever seen a zombie movie that has its best scenes take place in a well-lit alley in  the middle of a day?
There is a good variety of zombies on display and some of them are downright creepy. Shooting scantily clad female zombies gives me the goosebumps every time I do it.

Controls/Gameplay: There has been a large amount of controversy on how RE:ORC controls from everyone except the players who learn the layout. ORC doesn’t have ” Tank” Controls like past RE games. YOu can run and shoot, strafe and shoot and even dive out the way from a hail of bullets or a swarming zombie. There is now a cover system and although you wont find yourself using it much ( zombies don’t have guns!!!) the mechanics are not as bad as other reviews make it out to be. Taking cover is a ” sticky” situation, in that you don’t press a button but simply move up against an object and voila! Yes there are the odd times that you will take cover when you don’t want but as you master the system this occurs less often than other people would have you belive. It works well  and is functional when you need it.

Overall the controls are tight and respond well when you are in the middle of a hectic firefight. If you take the time to master them and understand that they aren’t supposed to be the same as a game like Gears of War then you are doing yourself a service. I will give you  hint however. Learn to ” cover dive” and you will find your life expectancy will grow. If your taking shots from a opposing player learn to dive behind cover just like the guy in the trailer did and you’ll throw off their aim and buy you some time to apply a first aid spray. Dont just keep running and hope you’ll make it behind cover!

select your character and choose your weapons and skills

Appeal: As is standard these days in shooters you will have an unlock system that rewards players who log massive play time. This takes its shape in the form of a XP system and you then purchase your weapons, skills, and perks via this economy system. There are lots of guns and each character you choose at the beginning of a match has a specific class associated with him/her. Medic, assault, recon,Scientists are all different ways to experience the RE:ORC multi player and the right mix of character/classes is the way to victory for your team. Spend some time learning and playing all the characters because they do all play differently from one another. You will not only bond with a specific character due to their coolness factor but the unique load out as well.

Resident Evil; Operation Raccoon city is a tale of a game that was doomed to be ripped apart before it even hit shelves. It would be like taking Gears of War and turning it into an RPG and expecting there not to be any backlash. Resident Evil games have built a foundation of having a certain type of gameplay and creating a certain type of emotion when you play; neither of which ORC has or has very little of, But that was the point!
This was always going to be a different type of gameplay experience and they modeled the  game after specific elements of RE but wanted to craft a unique experience for the player that resided in the RE universe. In that respect they have succeeded in spades but in doing so they have turned an entire industry against them and quite possibly have doomed this game to failure before it even has a chance to succeed

A whole new campaign is coming via DLC to flesh out this cast of characters that we didn’t play as in the campaign!

If you have the chance to play the game and experience it for yourself I do not belive you will be disappointed. As long as you are open to new experiences and controls and don’t try to shoe horn it into what you belive should be the standard as far as 3rd person shooter then I belive you will find enjoyment in this title and appreciate its uniqueness in a sea of shooters that play it safe and go with status Quo.

Dwayne” EVO Knight” Morash

Editors note: The EVO Gaming league has recently hosted a 16 player tournament successfully with ORC and the fan feedback was superb. In addition there is a PS3 tournament scheduled for this weekend and a follow-up Xbox ” Survival” Tournament for the end of April. While there are some bugs and balancing issues present the game is entirely playable and super FUN!

Gameplay footage from our XBOX360 Tournament

Back from the Brink: Part 1

This will be the first ever 2 part article that I have written and the decision comes after realizing how much content that I need to cover to give you my readers an accurate scope of the game I am going to be talking about in it.

Brink launched in May 2011 with a significant amount of hype surrounding it although at street level it was still a largely unknown game. This is a nasty trait associated with new franchises and is sad that many new games get swept under the carpet because gamers dont broaden their horizons once in a while

The game was released and faced heavy criticism for various things ranging from server lag to unpolished graphical assets in some areas of the game. It was praised for its ambition and ideas but in the end review scores and early impressions cast it into the discount bin pre maturely. I have always held onto my copy knowing that it was a fabulous game that just needed some time and patience to learn its systems and unique style of gameplay. In an industry where FPS games need to be pick up and play within the first 10 seconds and the same player needs to well on his way to a positive K/D ration in order to keep them entertained…well Brink wasnt most people’s game.

The biggest hurdle that needed overcoming was a shift from simple Team Deathmatch style gameplay to true blue team oriented and a class based über objective oriented FPS. Thats a mouthful but the short and sweet of it is that you needed  to embrace a game that relied on teamwork ( more than any game I have ever encountered including BF3) and had a learning curve that was off the charts! Now you can see why it got discarded by the time summer 2011 rolled around.

Play as Ark Security or the Resistance and get ready for a hardcore team experience

In part 1 of my Brink coverage I will be taking you on an introduction to the world of Brink and how to play the game at a basic level. My hope is that it will help you ( and me by writing it) understand some unique elements to this wonderful shooter and possibly send you running to the nearest game store discount bin to scoop up a copy ( I’m so glad I kept mine)

Lets start with the basics…

Story: Brink takes place in a post apocalyptic earth where the worlds oceans have risen up and engulfed humanity without prejudice. During the course of all this humanity began to flock to a once Utopian city called the “Ark”. The Ark was never meant to house the bulk of an entire civilization and as a result the city soon began to bust at the seams. By adding and adding to the once beautiful city as new refugees came to live it soon fell to squalor  and eventually the gargantuan city was divided into two distinct zones housing the Ark Security,the Arks government/police force and the Resistance,those who felt that the Ark was no longer a suitable home and wanted to seize control of it to explore the possibility of life outside the Ark.

It is during these troubles times that your story in the world of Brink begins.

It’s all about your Character: The first thing you will be asked to do once you start Brink is to create a unique looking persona in the world of Brink. This is where the game begins to incorporate its RPG elements in the form of a leveling system and character customizations. You will be able to choose from a variety of pre set options for faces, body types, clothing and even to the point of choosing what colors your clothing are. As the game progresses you will unlock more and more options for character customization that will serve to keep you bonded to your growth. Further toi the above you will be able to choose whether you are siding with the resistance or the Ark Security . This is a nice touch that gives you a stake in the story to come.

Gear up: After you have finished creating the look of your character its time to head over to the weapon customization screens. Here you will select from a list of unlocked guns and attachments. You are able to further customize your weapons by completing challenges in the game menu. These challenges will give you access to such things as silencers, scopes, extended magazines and barrels for your prefered gun. As well as customizing your weapon loadouts you will be able to choose various skills and ” perks’ for your character based on his level and how many points you have to spend on your abilities. You get more points as you go up in levels but you still want to give som thought as to what you are going to do with them instead of randomly buying anything you see. You are PURCHASING these skills not unlocking them like other games. You could be a tremendously high level but fail to have a skill that a lower level player has because you didn’t purchase it during your progression.

All of this customization serves to make you more attached to you’re in game character while you play and for the most part it does just that. Once you get into the game you will not be looking at your character  at all because it is a first person shooter but rest assured if you look bad ass then your allies and enemies will see just how much so when you’re in a match. Not only that but the game will insert you into the beginning and ending cut scenes of each mission, usually as a background character much like an extra in a movie so there is those times that you can feel special. It never gets old for me to see my customized character pop up in a story cust-scene. It’s a nice touch because otherwise your character really doesn’t get seen by you once you finish customizing him.

Spending time in these stages of Brink is well spent. The game menus even has a series of videos that you can watch on how to effectively play the game in the various classes you can choose from.

Class based multi player: Brink doesn’t stray to far from the mark on having a tuned class based gameplay system. The 4 classes you can choose from are Engineer, Soldier, Operative, and Medic. These classes are all equipped the same as far as your weapons that you chose in the beginning part of the game but your special abilities is what sets each class apart from each other. Each class will take on a different physical look based around your chosen colors and equipment but for the most part it is your special abilities that set each one a part from each other.

Choosing a class at the beginning of each ,match is not a final verdict and you can constantly flip out your class for another one at the various command posts you and your team will occupy once the game gets underway. In fact the game will HEAVILY recommend you play as a certain class in order to achieve victory conditions on each map but that is something that I will be covering in the next part of our article.

Like I said this game has tremendous depth and now that we have covered off the background and the ” getting started” section of the game we can dive right into the gameplay and the game modes in our next article.

Stay tuned for part 2 of “Back from the Brink”

Dwayne”EVO Knight” Morash