Red Dead Redemption 2 New Trailer

See the source image https://youtu.be/eaW0tYpxyp0

America, 1899. The end of the wild west era has begun as lawmen hunt down the last remaining outlaw gangs. Those who will not surrender or succumb are killed. From the creators of Grand Theft Auto V and Red Dead Redemption, Red Dead Redemption 2 is an epic tale of life in America at the dawn of the modern age. Coming October 26, 2018 to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One systems.

Destiny 2: A Return to Form?

So here we are, on the cusp of the final DLC of year one of Destiny 2. I know its been a while since you have heard from me about Destiny, (heck heard from me in general) and well, this latest dev update warrants me speaking on it. Bungie has finally dated and named the upcoming DLC, we have a road-map for the summer, and a tease for the large Taken King style update slated for this September (man September is gonna be busy). So let's break this all down, shall we? See the source image

WARMIND

That's it. That's the name of the DLC. While there were a ton of rumors about what the DLC would be called, with The Fallen Warmind, and Ghosts of Mars being the most prominent it has settled on just Warmind. While this was definitely unexpected, it creates a very ominous tone in my mind as well as leaves it open to possibly being a story of all of the Warminds instead of just Rasputin, which most people were expecting. Just to add to the speculation of what this may be, if you look closely at the image, you have what looks to be snow or ice on the left and then red dunes on the right, as well as what looks to be Phobos in the sky-box on the right-hand side. If I had to guess, I would say this image is of Charlemagne who is the Warmind of Mars. Looks like Mars is back on the menu boys! This particular take hearkens all the way back to the Pre-Destiny 1 release era info and a little thing called Charlemagne's Vault. In some of the pre-release content, it was hinted at that Charlemagne's Vault was located deep in the Dust Palace on Mars and contained vast riches as well as a little gun called Thorn. For my lore nerds, this could have some huge implications on the story, as well as the possibility of one of the most deadly and fun Hand Cannons from Destiny 1 returning to the game. We will have to wait for the reveal stream on April 24th on twitch and then the actual release on May 8th for more info. Until then this is my story and I'm sticking to it.

 

SUMMER LULL

OK, so unless they flesh out the summer a bit more or the content drop in May has just an overwhelming load of things to do, it could be a bit of a drag to play through the summer while waiting for the update in September. We will have a new seasonal event, changes to the faction rallies (please add PVP faction wars), as well as the addition of bounties (thank God!) and some much-needed changes to exotic armor. While this seems like just a tiny bit of stuff, it could be potentially game-changing, especially if the seasonal event lasts all summer and the faction rallies are meaningful. Exotic armor needs a definite overhaul as there are really only a few pieces of exotic armor that are really even worth the effort to put on IMO. So while the summer seems to be lacking, it could have a really great lasting effect on the game in terms of things to chase in the summer.

 

SEPTEMBER

This is what we have been waiting for. This will either be the coup-de-gras, or it will be what brings back the masses and puts Destiny back on the map. While we know almost nothing about what this is, the 4 items that they have labeled: Gear Collections, Records, Weapon Slot Changes, and Weapon Randomization, are the things the overall community has been asking for the most. The most frustrating part of all of this is that adding these 4 things basically takes us back to where Destiny 1 was in its greatest form. While I love that we are going to get some of the things that made D1 great, it's a shame that we had to wait a year to get a return to form instead of just being able to pick up where we left off.

 

So there you have it. Will you be getting back into Destiny come May 8th? Hold out till September, or is Destiny 2 dead to you like it is for our fearless leader? Let us know here in the comments, holler at us on twitter or come jump in our discord and chat with us.

Sea of Thieves: Rough Seas turn into Pirate Legend

sea-of-thieves-kraken-screenThis won't be a long story but I felt it important enough to share. This morning, my wife and I were sipping our coffees and just talking about what all we have to do today in preparations for the upcoming sale of our home. Normally when we have these couch confession sessions, I or her will turn on a system and one of us or both of us will navigate the menu to give our hands something to do. This morning it ended up with her trying Sea of Thieves out on her newly reactivated Xbox Live account. As she loaded the game, I could see the frustration in that she couldn't create a character that looked like her. She eventually settled on a haggard looking lady with a cloth mummy wrap top that made my wife chuckle, and scars all over. She named her Scared Aces and I chuckled. As the game loaded up I saw my first server issues in the game. Now the downstairs Xbox one is on the best 4K TV we have, a Curved 70 inch Samsung that checks all of the 4K boxes when you set up the X. However, it has wireless internet because the router is upstairs in our game room.

As I watched the character jump all over, glitching and freezing, I could tell this was about to be rough. But my wife pushed on. She eventually got in the boat, sailed to the first island with some help and got her first chest. Then chaos and the reason I love this game all came in one fell swoop.

As I helped her set course for the next Island, she glitched out and had get back on the boat, luckily the wind turned it so she was able to swim back on board, catch her bearings and continue on. Then as she was sailing to the island, a crazy set of events took place. She saw a boat already there, freaked out and was trying to decide what to do. In doing so she rammed her ship into the island. With one boat leaking and a chest on board, she tried to frantically bail water. Then she heard a voice.

"You Ok?" Vapes2 said. "I'm friendly I promise... I'm coming to help you with the boat ok, don't shoot don't shoot."

We didn't have a mic hooked up so we couldn't respond. I feared that this glitch-filled experience was going to sour everything as she had only then dropped the anchor, fixed one of the three holes and was bailing water as fast as she could only to have the lag/glitch have the water that was being thrown off the boat end up being thrown back in.

Vapes2 (or that's the name we think he had) began to fix the boat, help bail water, and once it was finished jumped to the top of the ship.

Grateful, we showed him our map. He led us to the spot and helped dig. A skeleton popped up as Lacey was digging and he killed it before it got her. As she picked up the chest, he watched as she boarded the boat and took off to turn in her treasure.

Vapes2: You are the legend we need.

Thank you for helping make this first experience a better one that we have been talking about ever since we stopped and began working on our house. These moments are what can make Sea of Thieves one of the best games this year and I hope to someday repay the kindness we got from Vapes2.

Thank you again to our Pirate Legend.

The Long Reach dated for Switch, Xbox One, PS4 & PC

See the source image You know how every now and again a trailer or a screenshot comes across the screen and catches your eye? I just had one such moment when I watched the trailer for The Long Reach for the first time and rushed over here to make sure I shared the experience. The game immediately reminds me of other video games like Lone Survivor and The Coma. And as our listeners already know, you don't have to try too hard to get me interested in a horror video game.

The game is arriving on Nintendo Switch! (and yes Xbox, PS4, and PC lol) on March 14th for around $20. Here's the quick breakdown from the game's website:

The Long Reach is an intricate adventure, where you solve puzzles, run, and hide. The story takes place in Baervox, fictional American town. The scientific institute designs a revolutionary system of accelerated knowledge transferring. As it usually happens, everything went wrong. Technology went out of control. As an aftermath, Institute, and the whole town turned into a real nightmare, and the experiment participants grew into... well, we cannot tell you that for now, because we hate spoilers! :)

 

Furthermore, the developers (Painted Black Games) goes on to provide some motivation and extra features.

History

We wanted to make a meaningful story for the gamers, after completing it, to breathe out: "Wow, I should think it over!", instead of getting into the fridge to take some snacks. Listing all sources of our inspiration is hard. We've taken a little from Matrix, from Resident Evil and Lone Survivor . We've been inspired by The Last Door, True Detective, Fargo, etc. As an aftermath, our narrative designer Evgeni made one hell of a story. In a nutshell, the idea of The Long Reach game is that any progress indirectly leads to unexpected consequences. The consequences that can be terrible. Indeed terrible.

Features

  • Magical realism. We’re going for a usual and mundane exposition parts that are trashed and twisted and as the story unfolds.
  • Your enemies aren’t faceless zombies or possessed puppets. They are humans whose lives and stories matter and we make sure the player knows that.
  • Solo mode for adventure lovers. Control Steward, the junior researcher at the scientific institute. He is an ordinary person who will have to untangle the story, save the world and survive.
  • Unforgettable narrative. It is a thrill story, flavored with sci-fi idea, psychological context, and skeptical view on the progress and human actions.
  • The Long Reach is the almost 100% classic adventure game but dressed up with a little haunting element.
  • More than fifty locations.
  • For about twenty main and background characters.
  • More than sixty items, which you will have to collect and apply.
  • More than 12 000 words in dialogs and script.
  • Mad folks will haunt you. There are few of them, but they won't let you relax.
  • Handmade pixel art, created pixel by pixel from scratch.
  • Original atmospheric music. Our composer's indeed music maniac. He brings strange things into the studio and turns them into the pieces of music. We don't understand what he's doing, but his work can't be overestimated.
  • Lots of game platforms: PC, macOS, Linux, Xbox, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

 

Why Are Current-Gen Games Still $60?

See the source imageWith all of the controversy going on with Star Wars Battlefront 2 and micro-transactions, this question crossed my mind. We all know that development costs of Triple-A games can be in the millions. Yet with the rise in cost to produce these titles, the cost of a game in the United States rarely eclipses the $59.99 USD price. That is unless it's a special edition or a collector's edition. To recoup these high development costs, developers have begun to implement micro-transactions more often within games. These micro-transactions allow a person playing a game to spend real-world money for in-game credits for use to purchase in-game items such as weapons, costumes, or other cosmetic enhancements. In some cases, micro-transactions can provide a boost in a player skill level or provide an upgrade to give a player a foot up on their opponent.

One could say that this trend started with developers offering season passes. Season passes allowed players to pre-purchase any future downloadable content released post-launch of a given game. There were times when season passes cost almost as much as the game itself. I can remember specifically of the cost of the season pass for Fallout 4 costing $50 USD, whereas the game itself cost $59.99 USD at launch. My apprehension on buying the DLC came when the developer stated that they were not sure what would be included in the season pass, but only that it would be well worth the $50 price tag. For me, that isn't a satiable enough reason to entice me to spend an additional $50 after I already paid $59.99. In my opinion, the developer spent a lot of money promoting and creating this game and they knew that only charging $59.99 would not provide the return on investment that they were seeking. So, therefore, they felt the need to create the season pass and to price it as such. Initially, when first revealed, the season pass for Fallout 4 was $30. However, over the course of development of the extra content, the developer realized that price point was too low. They did offer consumers a chance to purchase the pass at the original $30 price point; however, this would be only for a limited time as the season pass would eventually go up to $50. I honestly considered getting the pass for $30 but I didn't like that I felt forced to buy it immediately or pay the higher price down the line, so I decided against purchasing the extra content even though I really enjoyed Fallout 4. Now looking back I do not regret my decision to not purchase the content. In this case, I voted with my wallet. Something I feel if done correctly will allow consumers get what they want from developers. This way they know when we like or do not like something by not purchasing it.

This brings me to my point. If game development costs more and more, why haven't companies raised the price for games? In the 90's, NES games costed around $50 USD. With inflation, that figure is $90 or more today. So if we were paying that much for games that are far less technologically advanced than the games of today, why are they so cheap? I feel that if developers raised the price of games this may negate the need for micro-transactions or season passes. Maybe this is naive but hey, it's a thought. At least for the time being, it will detract from the controversy of micro-transactions being considered gambling. In fact in Belgium they have deemed loot boxes/micro-transactions as gambling and they want them removed from games. In my opinion, this is a huge blow to companies such as EA and Activision. These companies make so much money on micro-transactions that decided to incorporate them in all future titles moving forward. As a consumer, I have no interest in supporting the micro-transaction model. I would rather pay a higher amount for the game than be nickel and dimed for content. The only way paying to play or to win makes sense to me is if the game were free to play. But when there is an entry price to play the game it just doesn't seem fair to consumers to have to keep pumping money in a game to advance or to explore content locked behind a paywall.

Unfortunately or fortunately, however you want to look at it, Star Wars Battlefront 2 is being made a martyr for the sins of micro-transactions. With the bad press this game is receiving, developers may need to re-think their approach to making games more profitable. I for one do not intend to purchase Battlefront 2 because I do not like micro-transactions. I can only wonder how many others feel the same way. Only time will tell once sales figures are released. Let's just hope that for the sake of all gamer's that a resolution to this growing issue is made sooner rather than later. Even if means raising the standard prices for games, all options should be explored.

 

 

Griff The Winged Lion: Back To Basics

Kickstarter is a hit and miss and a mixed bag, especially in recent years, which sees the birth of phenomenal successes such as Rad Rodgers, Shovel Knight, Undertale and Shantae: Half-Genie Hero (despite it’s inferior to its predecessor, Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse) and dumpster fires like Bangarang: A Short Film Before Rufio (starring Dante Basco and directed by Jonah Feingold, a butt of a shameful, unprofessional, disrespectful and downright rude director who I have the displeasure of speaking to on social media), Mighty No. 9 and Yooka-Laylee (well according to numerous naysayers and critics) deemed to fail to deliver on (and literally not deliver the backer rewards to the backers, in Bangarang’s case) the promises the developing teams set out to do in the first place. The aforementioned worst Kickstarter (possibly of all time) projects will be forever go down in history and be named, shamed and frowned upon. Enter the beacon of hope, Griff The Winged Lion, a retro-inspired, open-world 3D platformer in the vein of Spyro The Dragon and Crash Bandicoot. It’s developed by Breakerbox Studios and published by Spiral Summit Games. If it all goes well in the future, it will show the failed trash heaps how a Kickstarter campaign is REALLY done (with finesse and pizzazz).

Does “Griff The Winged Lion” ring a bell to you? Of course it does! Thanks to Cliqist, I knew of the game’s existence last year. It debuted last year on Kickstarter on 8th September 2016. Unfortunately, it failed to reach its goal as 48 backers raised $1,021 of the $15,000 goal. Since then, the alternative way to support the game is through Patreon at the time. Little did I know it would return to Kickstarter in the (near) future when I least expect it for the second time to take a second crack at crowdfunding?

At the time of writing, it raised $2,935 of the $25,000 goal. Whether it will reach its Kickstarter goal or not is still up in the air but only time will tell.

If you’ve played the Spyro and Crash Bandicoot games during the 90’s, you’ll feel right at home and you’ll be no stranger to what Griff the Winged Lion lays in store for you. In fact, this game contains everything you come to expect from Spyro and Crash Bandicoot back in the good old days ranging from going through a gate that grants you the ability to fly for a short period of time to charging through your enemies with ease as if they were nothing.

Within the medieval magical kingdom of Autumn Terrace (clearly inspired by the Summer Forest and Autumn Plains homeworlds of Avalar from Spyro 2: Gateway To Glimmer/Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage!), a young Griffin prince, simply named as Griff, is summoned to take part in a mythical tradition. Once every generation, an elderly mage predicts the future leaders’ destinies and present them with their roles. When it’s Griff’s turn, unfortunately his role is hidden from the mage. To rectify this, he sets out on a quest of epic proportions all in the name of self-discovery while he’s accompanied with his sidekick, Gargle the Gargoyle, and his friends (Gavin the Griffin, Terra the Unicorn and Mia the Phantom Cat) and uncover the answers of why he is denied of his role.

Long, long ago in the olden days, a horrible curse struck King Midas. As a result, everything he touched upon contact turns to gold much to his dismay. In desperation, he seeks help from a sorcerer to help him control the terrible spell he is under. The mage used his magic on a seemingly ordinary pair of gloves and bestowed them upon the monarch. When he puts them to good use, they were no longer a pair of old gloves but powerful, special artefacts. From that moment forward, these all-powerful gloves had the ability to control the ghastly enchantment and prevented the user from turning everything to solid gold. Best of all, he can control the curse and utilised it whenever he needs to. Objects and living beings can be transformed into gold with a single or a few punches. Once struck, they are shattered and can be collected. However, not every everything in the scenery can be converted into gold.

After the sovereign died, the golden-coloured gloves are taken to a shrine and are concealed away for centuries. Since then, the greedy individuals who are bent hunt them constantly on wealth and domination at the cost of crushing the weak creatures for their own selfish gains.

 

The Breakerbox Studios developing team consists of the following members: Jake Pawloski (Director/Designer/Lead Artist), Tera Townsend (Co-Designer/Level Designer), Kelly Corcoran (Programmer/Tools Designer) and Branden Townsend (Quality Assurance/Controls). Along with the team members are the talented voice actors who lend their voices to the characters such as Steven Kelly as Gavin, The King and various characters, Griffin Puatu as Griff and the various characters, Aimee Smith as Mia, The Queen and the various characters and Brittany Lauda as the various characters.

 

Ratchet & Clank may be the unofficial spiritual successor to the Spyro series in some gamers’ eyes but Griff the Winged Lion is already shaping up to fit the bill. However, it also contains a few familiar and nostalgia-fuelling Crash Bandicoot elements and references such as Griff running from a ginormous tiki log towards the camera judging by the trailer.

And dare I say it? It looks more promising than Yooka-Laylee and that’s saying something. And this is coming from a long-time, die-hard fanatic of platformers. In my opinion, Yooka-Laylee is inferior to past and recent platformers I’ve played throughout the years. It can’t hold a candle to its predecessors, Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie (despite I’m not a Banjo fan but I did grew up with the former, minus its sequel), let alone Ratchet & Clank or Crash Bandicoot for that matter.

Let’s hope it will deliver on its promise (or promises in terms of the backer rewards) and hopefully, the developing team will treat their backers with the utmost respect, unlike a certain lacklustre, dull, boring, drab and dreary Kickstarter film, Bangarang: A Short Film Before Rufio.

According to the Kickstarter campaign, Griff the Winged Lion is slated for Steam, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One but their official release dates are yet to be confirmed. Regarding the Nintendo Switch, the developing team is also planning on bringing it to the console. Though, it depends on whether the stretch goals are met and how much money said campaign gathered. Regardless, Breakerbox Studios and Spiral Summit Games are doing their best to achieve this and meet everyone’s demands.

If you want Griff The Winged Lion to become a reality, you must back it on Kickstarter before it’s too late! For more information, visit its Kickstarter page and follow Breakerbox Studios and Spiral Summit Games on various social media (Discord, Facebook and Twitter) known to man! If you’re still unconvinced, the demo is already available to download from the game’s Kickstarter page so you know how the game and controls feels.

NBA 2K18 MyGM/MyLeague Detailed

[et_pb_section bb_built="1"][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.62" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" border_style="solid"] The NBA 2K series is, quite possibly, my favorite annualized franchise. I love watching basketball, and think the series continually does a great job of representing the game you see on TV.

Today, Erick Boenisch from 2K Sports outlined a lot of enhancements to NBA 2K18's MyGM Mode — which is my preferred way to play the game. What isn't mentioned is whether these additions apply also to the Nintendo Switch version of the game. (If not, I won't be getting the game on Switch. If it's included, I will be grabbing the game on Switch).

Check out the full post over on Operation Sports at this link, but here are my top highlights from the new features:

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Story

The MyGM mode will now include a base story for your created general manager, who was a top-tier NBA Player before injuring his leg 6 years prior. In the post, Boenisch mentions that customization and player choice is still the most important thing, but it will be wrapped in a slightly different package. This is great news, and I hope the cutscenes and player interactions will be more varied and interesting this year. (I also hope that player motivations and expectations can be fixed. If If I have LeBron James on my team, sorry Kyle Korver, but you aren't my starting SF.)

Collective Bargaining Agreement

Basketball nerd stuff that a lot of people playing the game won't care about, and yet it's exciting to see the actual NBA rules making it into the game, from mid-level exception increases, to the Stretch Provision, the Free Agent Moratorium Period and the inclusion of the Ted Stepien Rule (look it up). Also kind of related, you can now "stash" international players you've drafted overseas until you're ready to bring them over.

G-League Integration

The newly renamed former D-League will be a little bit more important now. As the GM, you can now send young players to the G-League for playing time — not unlike how the Cavs sent Kay Felder back and forth to Canton a few times last season. Two-way contracts will allow your young players to gain actual playing experience, while you have the ability to bring them up to the NBA team for occasional progress checks or injury relief.

Custom branding

One of the coolest features in NBA 2K17 was the ability to add expansion teams, on top of being able to relocate an existing team or rebrand the team in the same city. In 2K18, they're adding the ability to create an alternate uniform, which will give an extra available look. You can also now rebrand in an existing arena — meaning if you want a new-look Timberwolves arena to go with your new additions, you can stay in the Target Center with a new floor instead of building a whole new arena. Finally, they've added 10 new cities for relocation, including Virginia Beach, Colorado Springs and more.

There are a lot more exciting additions in the post as well. Head on over to Operation Sports to learn more! NBA 2K18 is just about six weeks away!

 

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Xbox Live & PlayStation Plus - Free Games Update for August

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PlayStation Plus


 

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First up, Just Cause 3. Take Rico Rodriguez on a truly wild ride to liberate Medici from military dictatorship. Your greatest weapon is your ingenuity. And explosions.

Also included in August is Assassin’s Creed Freedom Cry, the standalone adventure, set after the events of Black Flag. Guide Adewale on an emotional story, using his skills as an assassin and his deep convictions to free oppressed people.

Full lineup:

  • Just Cause 3, PS4
  • Assassin’s Creed: Freedom Cry, PS4
  • Super Motherload, PS3
  • Snakeball, PS3
  • Downwell, PS Vita (crossbuy with PS4)
  • Level 22, PS Vita

PS Plus Summer Movies are here! Enjoy six weeks of 99¢ rentals – selected for you from this summer’s hottest blockbusters. Starting us off with a bang, The Lego Batman Movie – handpicked for the whole family to enjoy. Check out the full schedule of movies below, then head over to PS Store each week to enjoy 99¢ rentals.

 

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Games With Gold


 

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It’s time to harvest some great titles this August thanks to another stellar Games with Gold lineup. On August 1, the open-world farming simulator Slime Rancher will make its console debut on Xbox One, where you can care for your own galactic farm full of cute (slimy) creatures. Then starting on August 16, take on the wide variety of platform-racing stunt challenges in Trials Fusion.

The Summer fun isn’t over yet! Coming to Xbox 360, and Xbox One through Backward Compatibility, we’ll have the modern-classic Bayonetta available from August 1 to August 15. Then get your butt to Mars and fight for the future in Red Faction: Armageddon from August 16 – August 30.

All games will be available for a limited time only as part of Games with Gold, so get Xbox Live Gold today to get in on the action!

  • Slime Rancher ($19.99 ERP): Available Aug 1-31 on Xbox One
  • Trials Fusion ($19.99 ERP): Available Aug 16-Sep 15 on Xbox One
  • Bayonetta ($19.99 ERP): Available Aug 1-15 on Xbox 360 & Xbox One
  • Red Faction: Armageddon ($29.99 ERP): Available Aug 16-31 on Xbox 360 & Xbox One

 

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So there we have it folks, both the PlayStation Plus and Games with Gold announcements for this upcoming month. Personally, for the first time in many months I'm excited for the PlayStation Plus offerings. Just Cause 3 alone has me excited and makes me feel like I'm getting value from my PlayStation subscription. That said, Xbox's less stellar lineup has the quantity as all four games I'm considering downloading, especially the Bayonetta and Trials games.

Which lineup do you think is best? Let us know in the comments below.

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Madden 17: A Review, Reflection, and look to the future.

[et_pb_section bb_built="1"][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.62" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" border_style="solid"] 13 days. What could you do in 13 days, friends? As a teacher who is wrapping up a summer of yard work, house projects, movies, and more I feel that in 13 days I could accomplish almost anything. But the 13 is not just an obscure number thrown out to get you thinking; instead, it is the amount of time I have put into Madden 17 on the Xbox One alone. I tend not to play online, except for the multiplayer achievements in the game, as I prefer the franchise mode. Here I get to build up a dynasty in the image I would want--a tough defense, a good running back, a team that limits turnovers, plays fast in all their phases (offense, defense, and special teams), and has the best defensive and offensive lines in the league. In my opinion, teams like this can't lose.

This year was unlike any other year in Madden for me. My friend Dan and I have played ten seasons so far in this league. The Bears have won 9 Super Bowls, and the Jets have won 1. Our league started with four people--Dan, Brian, our very own Nathan Thomas, and myself. After a season, it expanded to 5 with the great Alex D. replacing Brian (who left under mysterious circumstances) and another friend, Cory. Cory and Alex stayed two seasons, and Alex through some great drafting handed my Bears one of the two losses I have had in 10 seasons in the NFC championship where he fell to Dan's Jets in the Superbowl.

Below you will see a quick video of some of my favorite moments.

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For those of you who watched the video above, man that last second touchdown was one of my favorite games ever. For those of you who didn't, you missed out and its only 2 minutes long.

I will go more into this franchise after the review portion, so if the franchise stuff is interesting to you, go ahead and skip to the heading labeled reflection.

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Review:

What makes a football game great? To this gamer, gameplay, customization, control, and modes all mix to create a great experience. Madden has grown from the early days of box-like players to looking completely real. (My father-in-law saw the TV screen when I was playing and asked what game I was watching.)  Players look different--thinner, taller, smaller, bigger. Speed is a premium, and the guys who have it can change the outcome of a game quickly. The game play has changed from my early days and here is what I LOVE and don't love about Madden 17.

The Good:

  1. A mix of game modes for all players: want to have a 10-year franchise with some great friends? Check. Want to play by yourself in a franchise you control? Check. Want to play with a fantasy draft format? Want to play solo, online, or with friends with that fantasy team? Check! Every mode from online franchise to Draft champions and Madden Ultimate Team (MUT) are all improved on and offer new features to keep them fresh and fun.
  2. Gameplay is King. This is the best playing Madden game so far. The hit stick button, or stick, works well and is determined based on your player's skills. For example, if you have a great tackler, he will bring the heat. If he's not so good, you may miss... bad. Passing is the best I have seen, and the control you have as a quarterback is exceptional. Being able to read the coverage, adjust the route, and throw to the proper shoulder have made passing vastly improved from years past.
  3. O-line does their job! The most important part of an offense is the line. If they can get off their blocks, working together, to chip and climb to the backers, you should never get tackled for a loss if you are reading the defense properly.
  4. Defense swarms to the ball! I am so thankful for this. I love building a defense that plays fast and everyone pursues (my favorite skill to add XP too). This game is the best defensive improvement in Madden history (again so far) because I will see 5 Bears jerseys swarm to the ball. Ask Dan, it's annoying to be on the receiving end.

The Bad:

  1. The fullback still chooses wrong on run plays. The TE's and O-line being so improved I thought for sure that the fullback would be better. However, often on outside runs, he will not go to the nearest threat and instead climb to the second level leaving you one on with a defensive end or linebacker. This drives me nuts as the mechanic still seems like he should easily be able to take on that threat instead of leaving me out to dry.
  2. Madden Ultimate Team needs to have some form of carry over. I would be much more interested in this game mode if my two favorite players carried over from year to year. I don't know how hard that mechanic would be, but I would be so down to keep my 99 Jay Cutler from 2015 and carry him with me till the end of time.

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The Reflection:

Ten seasons. I can honestly say this has been my favorite thing I have done in gaming and I got to compete in it with some great folks whom I hold in the utmost esteem. We have played countless games, set records, and had some fun trash talking each other here and there. My Bears became revered, and an almost Yankee-like hatred came towards them from the rest of the league.

Below are some screen shots of the awesome things we have done. Go ahead and look through them. I will have more at the end and will be diving into more of what made this so much fun for me overall a little later.

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Those are just a few of the records we have broken since we started this league. Now on year 10, as we wrap up week 17 with the Bears and Jets 16-0 respectively, I felt the need to write about how much fun this has been for me. Finding a group of gamers that love games the way I do is rare. Finding a group of gamers that enjoy playing Madden as much as I do is even rarer. Before I met Nathan, Dan, Ray, Brian, and Josh thanks to MTTG two years ago, I played games solo. I could have never imagined the added bonus this game has when played with friends. Being able to trade players between teams (thanks Dan for Leonard!), working on draft day deals, scouting out the best players, and occasionally swiping players off of each other' practice squads has led to an experience I won't soon forget.

There are three moments that are my favorites, and I wanted to share them with all of you great folks at PSVG.

  1. The turnover bowl. Around year six or seven of our league, Dan and I were playing in the Super Bowl, and for some reason, our offenses refused to score points. By halftime, it was a 7-0 Bears lead, but we had both thrown at least 6 INT's combined. The game did not get better as we were close to 10+ TO for the game, and it was a narrow margin of victory for the Bears.
  2. Dan and my team met in the regular season, and I played awfully. I was making bad decisions, couldn't get a read on his play calling, and I was losing by 10 with 3 minutes to go in the game. I was forced to kick a FG and then hope my defense could get me the ball back. It did, but with less than a minute on the clock. I got down the field and scored with seconds left on the clock. I then went for the win, 5 WR,s and I hit Zeke on a slant to score the two-point conversion going up 1. I kicked off and made a tackle for the win as time expired.
  3. Battling Gronk. As you can see in the pictures, Gronk and Nathan are doing work together. He might be the only player who touches the ball; in fact, on the Patriots as Lord Vader (Nate's created coach), he gave the ball to the big man so much that he was setting record after record. Not to be out done, I decided one season to change my philosophy and went after the record myself. I was able to get the single game marks but fell short some of the season ones set by Gronk and Nash (a drafted QB for the Pats). The rivalry was fun and one that added an extra element to the game for me. Not just to win, but to win and chase these records I had never thought of chasing before.

These were great memories for me as a gamer, and I am so excited to see what Madden 18 brings. I am hoping for some cool features that they haven't announced to pop up when I pick it up early and dive in (thanks, GOAT edition). With a story mode, draft champions, MUT, and of course Online Franchises to look forward to, I can't wait to spend 13 more days of the year playing this game with friends. Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you on the field this fall.

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Le Tour de France 2017 Review

[et_pb_section bb_built="1"][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.62" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" border_style="solid"] As you look around, men and women are cheering, the buildings are climbing the horizon in front of you, and you can spot the pace car ahead. Your breath is fading, your chest is pounding, and that jerk behind you who has been using you to draft behind for the last stage is making his move. As you rapidly pedal as fast as you can you feel your muscles screaming in unison with the ever growing crowds of fans. You arrive at a cross road. Go for the win and risk a blow out? Or play it safe for the points? The decision is up to you.

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Over the past few years the Le Tour De France franchise has become a staple in my household. As a lover for all sports games, I just always felt it necessary to purchase and play. This edition continues down the same path as the others in that it tries to recreate a series of races that are almost 3000 Kilometers in length and have over a few weeks--not an easy task for any game designer. This years installment offers some very user friendly additions in the mandatory first tutorial which was done well and easy to grasp for new gamers to the franchise, the ability to save progress mid race allowing for easy pick up and play, and adjustable difficulty at the start of the race.

 

The Good:

  1. Easy gauge for race stamina is set in two circles Blue (overall) and Red (burst or attack). Your blue gauge slowly decreases during the course of the race and acts as an all encompassing stamina gauge. As your rider goes through the various stages, it will decrease. To boost it up takes the proper use of an aerodynamic pose on the bike or slower pedaling pace. The Red or attack gauge is smaller and is used to push for a lead, going up a tough hill, etc and is replenished for simply pedaling below max speed.
  2. The level design is beautiful. Great open landscapes, beautiful horizons, fun little cities with fans cheering. These combine to help make a great overall look for the game.
  3. Physics. Hills are tough, declines are easy, taking a corner too fast leads to slowing down or falling down. I never once ran into a bug that hindered me racing the roads of Europe, and I am appreciative of that.
  4. User friendly bike controls allow for players who have never played, to dive in and be able to navigate fairly well.

 

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The Bad:

  1. Lack of customization. Every racer looked the same to me at the start of races. This lack of detail may not be the biggest deal as the bikes and outfits are very unique, but it really brought down the ownership for me as a racer. I wasn't able to go, yeah that's my guy! Lets do this. Instead I asked, "Is that me?" I would love to see a create a player option so you could play as yourself added to your favorite team or country.
  2. Team mechanics still a miss. The ability to interact with your team is something I have wanted improved in the Tour de France games. Its still a convoluted process that leads to more aggravation than anything. It's not easily explained even in the tutorials and the overall lack of explanation of these details on why its important is something that must be addressed.
  3. Lack of modes. Though you have several races to choose from, not adding to the race styles is a huge miss for this game. Yes, it is a Tour de France game, but you can add some fun games that allow for the player to learn and practice skills outside of the tutorial.
  4. Broadcast hurts more than helps. The broadcaster makes a lot of comments during the race. Some are helpful, some are jibber jabber that you don't understand because you aren't a bike racing aficionado. This drove me nuts and actually made me turn off the volume more than once so I didn't have to listen. It wasn't that it was mixed poorly, its that I didn't know what he was trying to tell me and it wasn't presented in a way that helped me change the way I raced.

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Final Thoughts:

The team over at Cyanide Interactive has tried to undertake a huge passion project. Creating one of the biggest races (might be the biggest but my brain hurt even trying to consider doing the math between this and Nascar) is huge and they deserve a shout out for that. But with a race this big and their almost too-realistic interpretation of it, the races are long and very difficult to be competitive in even at the lower levels. The meters and refills come so sporadic that even drinking your boost (blue and red mini game in the game where you hold Y to drink/use it and it slowly replenishes) are too few and far between to help the gamer find footing in the uphill climb of a game.

What I would love to see in the future for this franchise is customization of the racers allowing the gamer to feel a part of the action and make a stronger connection to the team, adding more boosts (drinks) to help with stamina management, a user friendly team communication set up, and two game modes for each race; realistic and a sped up version to condense overall race time for gamers with less time to devote to the game.

Though, I did have some fun moments playing the game overall, there is a lot that needs to be fixed in this very niche game to make it more user friendly. This led to a lot of frustration on not being able to understand what the game was asking me as someone who isn't a huge racing fan but instead wanted to jump into a sports game.

Thank you for your time and reading my review and let me know if you play Le Tour de France 2017 and your thoughts below.

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Perception - Xbox One

See the source image Perception is an adventure/horror game in which you play as a blind woman... If that doesn't grab your attention, I don't know what the heck will!

Let's go through a quick checklist before we begin the review:

Large creepy vacant house? - Check Doors opening and closing by themselves? - Check Creepy Ghost children? - Check Wait, what's this, an engaging and well written story? - Check

Before I continue, I want to let you know I'm going to leave out a lot of details regarding the story. I truly think that covering gameplay will get you interested enough to give this game a shot, so I don't want to spoil anything for you.

Right off the bat, this game gets me with two things. 1: It says it's based on a true story (whether that's true or not I will let you decide) and 2: you start in Logan Airport, which is in my home state, so extra brownie points for them!

The setup of the story is that you play Cassie, a blind girl, who has been having dreams of this strange house that she has set out to find. You make your way through Logan airport, very briefly, you then find yourself on the walkway leading up to “the house” which is located in Gloucester.

So, you are probably reading this and saying to yourself, “Ok, you play as a blind girl and this guy hasn't mentioned how that is possible!” or maybe you are not thinking that and I'm just projecting.

Cassie uses her walking cane to assist in echolocation. By tapping your cane, Cassie is able to “see” her surroundings based on said echolocation. Be warned though, using your cane too much in the house can attract unwanted attention…  THE HOUSE IS ALIVE!!!! Or is it?

I'm a big fan of this mechanic. Playing a horror game in which your experience is mostly a dark or a pitch black screen is incredibly tense. Knowing that every time you need to “see” your environment could also attract something terrifying is an element I don't think I have experienced in game in quite some time.

Perception does a great job in sound design as well. Your environment will often provide you with vision, whether it be a heater running, a scary record player that suddenly turns on, or even the wind will give you a cool pathway while outside of the house. You will also see how much, or how little, attention you can attract by interacting with many household objects by means of your cane. Be sure to locate rugs so you can “see” without creating too much noise. Your cane can also echolocate off of hardwood floors, steel objects (like heaters, fireplaces, doors, etc.), and even just the air itself. Each one of those creates a unique sound and vision.

At one point I was playing the game and thought, “This isn't too scary,” just to have a jump scare right around the corner. It's very subtle and would often catch me off guard, which is great! Once I came across my first object I could “hide” in, I knew I was in for more scares in the future.

The game is pretty linear, but I never felt that I was “on rails” while playing the game. You can pretty much explore to your heart’s content, but there is always an option to hold on a button to see where you should be headed. One of the cool things the game has to offer is right at the very beginning when you start your game, it gives you two options (pictured). You can have your main character, Cassie, be more or less “chatty”. Basically talking to herself to give you clues or to just hear her inner dialogue. I obviously chose the chattier version so I could enjoy the story, but I imagine the less chatty version is basically “hard mode” (I could be wrong).

The game plays out in acts, with each one ending at the conclusion of a story, so to speak. Like I said earlier, I don't want to spoil anything. The character development is fantastic, and you really start to get into the character as you play. I felt very connected to Cassie, and often felt empathy toward how she must have to live her life. She is supported by a small cast of friends via her cell phone. I should mention this as well because her phone has a program called “Delphi." This is what you use to “read” notes and documents you find while exploring the house. I will say this game really reminded me of Resident Evil (the good ones) in its exploration and puzzle solving.

Overall, Perception is a must play! Fantastic gameplay, a unique story and play style, engaging character and story development, and not to mention it's pretty gosh darn terrifying!

Let me know in the comments what you thought of this game.

 

Opinion: Premium Consoles, Premium Service - The Thing of the Future

With a price of $500, the Xbox One X sits atop of the console market as the fastest and most expensive console in 2017. These announcements have not been without controversy; some are questioning who will pay that much for a new console with the One S now a measly $200 (with current sales). Is the 'Premium Console' a needed or wanted device?

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Xbox e3 conference didn't sell me a console - yet

I went into this year’s e3 event looking for a few different things, but possibly at the top of that list is that I wanted to be sold on buying an Xbox One — whether the S console or the Scorpio. Microsoft is doing a lot of great things over on Xbox. I wrote a couple weeks ago on the new Game Pass, and how that service makes the prospect of switching from Sony to Microsoft more palatable. Xbox does have a good gaming library available, and the Game Pass makes it wide open. Combined with EA Access, which I still believe was a huge blunder for Sony to turn down, the Xbox could be the most budget-friendly way to game as long as you don’t feel compelled to play the very newest releases.

The backwards compatibility offerings also continue to be a huge feather in the cap for Xbox. Microsoft is being creative and aggressive in its efforts to capture back some of its 360 audience, and much of what it is doing is working.

In the days since that column, I’ve been keeping an eye on the price for the Xbox One S, which is now available for $250 with a game and the 500GB hard drive size. I even bid on a couple of used systems in the lead-up to the conference, but didn’t want to go over $200. A stellar conference with multiple upcoming exclusive games would have absolutely gotten me there; combined with a more affordable price on the Xbox One X might have also made me jump over.

Now, by all accounts here at PSVG, Microsoft put on a great show. Our hardcore Xboxers are super excited for the One X (or OX, per Q), and I’m excited for them! Check out Q’s favorite parts of the conference here, and of course listen to our Xbox e3 reactions podcast.

But for someone on the other side of the fence, Xbox did little to show me why I would swap my PS4 Pro in for either version of the Xbox One, given that pure, raw power is not supremely important to me. I’m going to do a quick dive into two things that don’t work for me, before closing out with a brief look at a couple games that looked absolutely awesome, and that I’m sad to miss out on:

The Opening 15 minutes, name and price

The beginning of the show was an absolute slog for someone in my position. The sizzle reel was fine, and then we had something like 10 minutes of talking about a black box before they revealed the newest Porsche. The rest of the conference was better as they mostly let game trailers and gameplay show off the system — though I could do without the shoutcaster.

After revealing the name and date, Microsoft held back on revealing the price, for some reason that I can’t imagine. The price point of $499 is actually a fine price. It seems like you’re getting good value for your dollar on a powerful system. But it’s higher than I want to pay for a new system.

In the end, pizzazz only counts for so much. Heck, the PS4 Pro event last fall completely lacked pizzazz and I eventually bought in when I found a good deal. A console purchase simply comes down to...

Exclusives…?

The most confusing part of the conference, for me, was the constant barrage of “exclusive” and “console launch exclusive.” I understand what it means, but in the moment I think it caused more confusion than anything else.

It’s a big deal that PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is coming to Xbox, and I went for a couple minutes thinking of it as a full exclusive. But it’s only Xbox First? (Right?) There are other games I’m not entirely clear on, either, and I would have liked more specificity. Instead, I’m coming out the other end of the event wondering what is a full exclusive, and most of the games I’m interested are also coming to PS4. Deep Rock Galactic, The Last Night and Ashen in-particular look awesome, but all will eventually come to a system I already own.

I’m sure the gameplay experience will be great on the OX, but I’m also sure the experience will be pretty darned good on my PS4 Pro.

What I’ll Miss

If I don’t hop on the Xbox bandwagon right now, there are definitely some titles that I’m missing out on. Cuphead continues to astound me with its visual aesthetic, and I hope the game is awesome. I love games like Tacoma, and I’m disappointed that it’s a console exclusive — it’s absolutely a great get for Microsoft.

The big exclusives they showed yesterday each interested me more than I thought they would, but they ultimately aren’t quite enough to win my dollar. Crackdown 3 looks action-packed and I love Terry Crews; Forza looks predictably amazing; and Sea of Thieves looks like an awesome pirate fantasy, and could truly be a killer app.

Xbox put on a great show, and there are a lot of reasons for current owners to be excited about the ecosystem’s immediate future. I’m not sure exactly what I was looking for to convince me to join the empire, but I didn’t find it in this show. I remain open in the future, and hope to be drawn in again.

 

Coach is Jacked for Madden: Responds from the Sideline

See the source image Today was an amazing day. I love EA. For years they have made games that I derive so much pleasure and enjoyment from. There have been some bad days following them for sure, but a lot of good ones too thanks to the games they make. Most of you know, my favorite of their franchise is the Madden series.

So as I watched the EA conference with with my wife, I literally jumped out of the seat when I saw the drumline all decked out in their Patriots gear. My Madden hype meter had already blown past 10! As I tweeted out my excitement and hype for this new installation of the series,  I saw a lot of comments that I will sum up below that seem to come every year. My goal being to respond to them and hopefully clear up some of the misinformation.

 

I cant wait for them to swap the 8 in for the 7 on Madden 18.

Comments like this are a norm for non sports gamers. You would think that in an industry trying to be taken seriously as a medium, that's trying to breed love and inclusiveness, that is wants respect for all... would try harder to stop these comments. Every year on IGN, Kotaku, and the rest I am forced to see a group of on air personalities whom could care less about the these million dollar franchises that compete for large portions of sales in the gaming market every year. Their lack of education and continued indifference just breeds this wall of hate that surrounds these storied franchises.

The second thing I would like to point out is best said this way. To say that Madden 18 is similar to Madden 17 or any combination of these games over the past 27 years is the same as saying Mario Bros is the exact same as Mario 3D world. That is the level of incompetence that is being spewed and agreed upon.

"Oh its just an updated roster."

Oh Mario can just jump on different things.

The Madden games are refined, intricacies of the game dove deeper into, every single year. They have new layers that allow the player to engulf them self in the sport that they love. I have seen playbooks and block schemes go form being basic, to following modern day trends in the passing and screen game. The ability for a defense to really run the Cover 4 is one of the greatest achievements in gaming for AI in my opinion of the last 10 years. This huge feet in Madden 17 changed the ways professional Madden players played from a year ago.

So when I see this phrase uttered and agreed upon by the voices I respect in so many other areas it just breaks my heart. Not because it contradicts my own believes, but because the ignorance that is shown creates hypocrites of those people I looked up to and makes it hard for me to trust them. Please don't comment on things you don't know about. I try so hard to make sure I play every game possible, so that when I have an opinion, my play through is the proof behind the words I write.

 

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_testimonial admin_label="Testimonial" author="Kyle Haiman" job_title="Lord of the Isle" company_name="PSVG" url="www.playsomevideogames.com" background_layout="light"]

Coach, I hope to someday love a game as much as you love Madden.

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The game job simulator is one of my favorite games on PSVR. Its fun to just goof off in. My work life revolves around the game of football. Its why I live in Texas. Football is king here. I study the game, go to clinics, talk to coached, draw it on my white boards, teach it to my players, watch the games on TV with my wife. I love my Chicago Bears, my Oregon State Beavers, and Notre Dame Fighting Irish. I spent most of my life, dedicated to the game of football. Madden allows me to connect with that game even more. It lets me build a dynasty, compete against friends and strangers, and have a common connections with my student athletes as we play together almost every week.

Madden is the one game that I know every year, will get a tone of my time. The last 2 games of Madden I have been blessed to play with great friends, build dynasties together, and enjoy a time of fellowship that I can only compare to when I played football in college and semi pro. If you have never played at that level, I am sorry but I lack the skill to properly paint the picture with my written words of what that feeling is like.

 

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_testimonial admin_label="Testimonial" author="Loborican" job_title="Awesome Dude" company_name="PSVG" background_layout="light"]

I don't understand your undying love for Madden. Sports games and I have a hard time seeing eye to eye.

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Now I am not saying that I 100% understand the context from my dear friend Lobo. But here is what I felt when I heard it.

  1. The games aren't fun for me
  2. I don't understand how to do what I want to do inside them

Sports are not for everyone. That's ok. I am not asking everyone to love the game that I love. There are plenty of games out there that I don't like and that's ok too. But if you haven't played my game, then don't comment on it. Don't throw shade at it and call it just a roster update. If you love sports in real life and don't understand how to play the game, the key is going to be finding what part you like which leads me to point two.

For point two, the interworking's of the Madden game have come so far that you have to have the ability to process information, learn from mistakes and dive deeper into the content (grinding) to get good on it. When a new Raid comes out on Destiny or you fail a mission on another game, you don't just keep trying the same thing over and over again. If a new Madden player is playing on Rookie level and only runs two plays, you are not going to get better. You will not learn how to use the pre snap reads to find passing and running lanes. You wont learn how to stagger a blitz for an easy sack, you wont learn how to trick a QB into throwing into coverage. This game takes time, effort, and most of all a willingness to discover new avenues to be good at. If you don't you are doomed to repeat the mistakes and be frustrated by it.

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I know that was fairly long winded so I will wrap it up by saying that Madden 18 is looking to give me another great year of football fun, with a franchise I love, playing with amazing friends. I am so excited for this game and if you want to play, talk about the game, learn some ins and outs I would love to help. And if its not for you, I hope we can find something else to play together. That's why this website is here, so we can all play some games.

 

Madden!!!

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ICYMI - New Trailer for Kingdom Hearts 3

This is the first footage we've seen from Kingdom Hearts 3 since its original unveiling over 3 years ago so that's exciting. Unfortunately this trailer didn't include a release date. Continue to expect KH3 in 2018 until otherwise noted as that was the window published during Square Enix's last investors call. http://www.hd.square-enix.com/eng/ir/library/docs/170511/page02.html Maybe we'll see more about KH3 before the E3 show concludes this week.