Red Dead Redemption 2 and my love of the wild west

[et_pb_section bb_built="1"][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.71" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" border_style="solid"] I’ve always been drawn to the wild (wild) west, though it took a while for me to recognize it. Before I wrote this, I thought my love of westerns began in high school; turns out, it’s been a lifelong passion.

We’ll start this tale in 1991, the year Fievel Goes West and Sunset Riders were both released. I don’t remember much about Fievel — other than the giant stuffed animal I had as a kid — but I still love Sunset Riders to this day.

There weren’t a lot of other western games or movies I fell in love with during my formative years. Oregon Trail, and the Wild ARMS games were about the extent of my western love until I was in college, when I discovered two things: The Good, the Bad and The Ugly and The Gunslinger.

The Man with No Name, Clint Eastwood’s character in the classic spaghetti western film, embodied the lone wolf hero character. I love how the film just pauses and takes its time to show off the setting.

And, with The Gunslinger, I was introduced to Roland Deschain, who remains one of my favorite characters in fiction. The Dark Tower series fits into so many genres, but it’s the 4th book that really speaks to me. In Wizard and Glass, a younger Roland and his closest friends head east to the Barony of Mejis on an adventure filled with guns, horses, a canyon, a saloon and many other western staples (plus a little bit of magic).

Then came the western horror game Darkwatch and the open world GUN. On TV, Firefly combined a western feel with space exploration, which remains one of my favorite series. 2007 film, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, captures the loneliness of the frontier. More recent TV series’ Justified and Longmire both evoke the western gunslinger spirit, though they’re set in modern times.

 

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Video games, however, are my preferred source of entertainment. Plainly, there is a dearth of games in the western genre. The games that are available tend to be smaller, contained games that evoke the western. Gunman Clive and its sequel  are gorgeous games on the 3DS, filled with sidescrolling action, gunfights and memorable bosses. The SteamWorld games have a western feel, especially with the settings of the two Dig games. 2015’s Hard West is another must-play for genre fans, as it combines lite-XCOM gameplay in a weird west setting, and is absolutely wonderful.

But for this gamer, the modern western video game really begins and ends with 2010’s Red Dead Redemption. The player-character in that game is John Marston, a reformed outlaw who is forced by the government to track down and kill the members of his former gang. Rockstar absolutely nailed the setting and exploration aspects of being a gunslinger, from dueling to poker, horseriding and hunting. The ride into Mexico was jawdropping, with the perfect soundtrack.

Ultimately, what turned Red Dead Redemption from a great game to one of my favorite games of all time were the story and characters. John Marston remains one of my favorite video game protagonists, thanks in-part to the quiet moments you find along the way. After finally dispatching of his gang’s former leader, Dutch, John returns home to his ranch with his wife and son. This glimpse into his home life gives players an idea of just what John was fighting for.

Red Dead Redemption is also the first game I could remember playing that didn’t end with the hero on top. After the climactic “final” battles and quiet home life, Marston is attacked by the very government that forced him to do its bidding. He gets his family to safety before finally being gunned down. I’d never been so shocked by a character’s death as I was by Marston’s.

 

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Today, Rockstar revealed its second trailer for Red Dead Redemption 2. This time we’ll be playing as a man named Arthur Morgan as his gang robs, fights and steals their way across the heart of America. Rockstar hasn’t officially revealed when the game takes place, but signs point to it being set far prior to the 1911 setting of the first Redemption. (I mean, Morgan is part of the Van der Linde gang...and Dutch Van der Linde was the head of John Marston's former gang from the first game...)

Initial impressions? The game looks stunning. Arthur Morgan is in a far different state of life than John Marston was, and it remains to be seen how Morgan will find his redemption.

The last time I was this excited for a game was earlier this year: Mass Effect Andromeda. That game ultimately left me disappointed, and I didn’t finish it. But Rockstar has an even higher reputation than Bioware, and has yet to truly disappoint with one of its tentpole games.

“Do you have my back?”

“Always, Dutch.”

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Xbox Game Pass is a System Seller

See the source image Being a gamer is not a cheap hobby, especially if you are trying to stay relatively current with modern trends and games.

The price of entry to the current generation of home consoles is already $250, and up to $400 for the “premium” PS4 Pro. We will find out (hopefully) at e3 just how much the Xbox Scorpio will set gamers back. And a powerful PC can push even closer to quadruple figures.

As someone with limited means and time, finding ways to stretch my dollar while still playing the latest games is always a challenge. Xbox, with the brand new Game Pass, may have a satisfactory alternative to the constant buying, selling and trading cycle I am perpetually entwined in presently.

The Game Pass, which is available for a free 14-day trial for Xbox Live Gold members, will cost $10 per month moving forward. It provides access to 110-plus games, with a list that promises to grow. According to Eurogamer, games could be added and taken away similar to how Netflix handles movies and shows. Games are also downloaded rather than streamed, and you can play a game for up to 30 days offline.

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As a PS4 owner who has been with the PlayStation ecosystem for 17 of the past 20 years — I did initially go with Xbox 360 last generation — one of the barriers to me considering switching to Xbox has been the sizable library of games I’ve amassed digitally that I would be forfeiting. The Game Pass would provide a similar sized library out of the gate, including both games I own and console exclusives I’ve never played.

I could spend $30 on EA Access for a year and $10 per month on Game Pass, and essentially not need to buy another game. For the price of one indie game per month, I can play Halo 5, Sunset Overdrive, Massive Chalice, Gears of War, Fable 3 and much more. This is a major selling point for me, and one that has me paying closer attention to the Scorpio and potential Xbox One S price cuts.

Now, these services aren’t the only thing that matter. I love playing on PlayStation. I prefer the controller and the ecosystem. I love the exclusive games I’ve played and I’m looking forward to many Sony-exclusive games expected over the next few years. But Xbox has my attention with these forward-thinking services. If they can deliver on exclusive games in the future, then Xbox may have more than just my attention.

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What Would It Take To Get Me To Buy An Xbox One

See the source image I hear at least once a week if not more, "Kevin, you should buy an Xbox One....". So I thought it was fitting to contribute to "Xbox Week" here with an explanation why I do not have one, and what it would actually take to get me to purchase one. So let's start with why I don't already have one, no it's not because I'm "Anti-Xbox" or anything as people might initially think. Long ago I did in fact own an Xbox 360 and I have played almost every entry of Gears of War, well at least 1,2, and 3.

For myself the main reason I don't already have one is, I have a Playstation 4 already. It was purchased shortly after launch, once I could get my hands on it. Flash forward to 2017 I just don't see a reason (at least for me) to have both consoles. For someone who already has current gen consoles (PS4, Switch, and a decent PC) there just isn't enough meat on the bone for me. Do the games look better on the X1? No. Does it offer a unique experience? No. Are there tons of great blockbuster exclusives out there to make it worth it for me to spend at least $300 for the console and then the money on top of it to play the games? For me? Not at all.

Now that's not an attack, games many loyal Xboxers love are definitely there. But Halo and Forza doesn't do anything for me, especially not enough to spend over $400 total to experience them. Now there are a few games I am interested in like Gears of War 4, Dead Rising 4, Crackdown 3, and if it still exists Cuphead. So there are certainly games on there or coming soon on there that I would 1005 play, BUT for me at least they don't even come close to stacking up to what PS4 has/had to offer.

Games like The Last of Us, Uncharted, Infamous, Until Dawn, Ratchet and Clank, Horizon Zero Dawn, God of War, Bloodborne, the list goes on and on with much more coming down the pipeline. I already have more than enough to play on my PS4, I don't need another box in my home.

Now, many claim (and I believe) that Xbox has the better online experience. While Sony I think has done alot to catch up on here, I think Xbox still has the throne. But, oh yea, I rarely play anything online.....so once again, not a factor for me!

Kevin, what about backwards compat? While this is a GREAT service for many fans, once again it is something I wouldn't take advantage on, I don't have a 360 library to go back to and play on my X1 and I don't think most of the games offered now warrant me hunting down a 360 copy to play on my X1 .

Ok, my negativity....we've heard so much about why you don't want it.....so what would it take?

Let's start with the easy one that doesn't need a whole lot of explanation. Price drop, while the price overall of the X1 has come down significantly since launch. For someone who doesn't need another box, I still need it lower. Honestly I think it's coming....with the announcement of Scorpio (most likely at E3) I would imagine another price drop is in order for the Xbox One S. My sweet spot? $199.99 and toss in a game for me. For something I do not need, I can justify splurging a little and making the additional purchase for sure.

Secondly it's the games....I need more to play if I were to make the jump. As it stands right now there is very little that appeals to me. Now who knows maybe we will see some of these things happen at E3, but this is a list of games that would get me thinking about an Xbox.

Alan Wake, this was one of my favorite games on the 360, I would love to see this brought back with a new installment, OR a remaster collection of all the older titles wrapped into one.

Fable, Xbox needs their "Zelda"....Nintendo clearly has it, Playstation has it in Horizon Zero Dawn, Microsoft needs it plain and simple. Whether it's given to Rare to work on or whatever, I want to see this classic come back.

Speaking of Rare, if they are in fact not working on Fable, then I want to see them be Rare again. Microsoft has not utilized this team to it's potential at all. Since purchase they have ruined Perfect Dark and worked on a very subpar Conker game as well as some Viva Pinata for the kiddies. Give them the freedom they need to do something great again, and most likely something retro related. At least something to give me the same feelings I had playing their games in the SNES and N64 days.

Another one I thought of was Left 4 Dead...I could easily see Microsoft bringing this to the X1 as a console exclusive (it would still be on PC) but I would be very excited if they were to announce this one at E3 as a possibility.

Sure, they will undoubtedly have alot to announce this year. I would even take some new stuff, some original IPs. The main issue is there are far less exclusives on either PS4 or X1 so each has to make a play to get people on their console. Most games are brought cross platform, they need to try harder. For the sake of the industry I would like to see that happen this year.

That's it, simple as that. Not as long of a list as one might imagine. Lower the price and give me some more exclusives to get excited about. I think this E3 is a big turning point for Microsoft, either in a good way or a bad way. They need to deliver the goods, show the scorpio (but don't spend 30 min talking about it, like you did with your cable service years ago) and show us some fantastic content. I for sure will be watching.

Be sure to tell me in the comments why you agree with me, or why I am a huge idiot and give me more reasons why I should own one today!

 

Nathan's Take on Xbox Play Anywhere

See the source image Xbox Play Anywhere was announced at E3 2016, and was met with some criticism as well as some praise. The program entitles gamers that purchase specific digital games to access the game on both Windows 10 PCs and Xbox One, allowing your achievements, progress and saves to travel back and forth between your Windows 10 PC and Xbox One.

Critics of this program say that this proves that Microsoft is distancing themselves from the console market, or that now there is no need to own an Xbox One since more titles (some exclusives) can be played it on PC.

To me, however, I don’t see this as Microsoft exiting the console space, but trying to widen their net so more people can experience great content and use the Xbox ecosystem on their PC. In this article, I wanted to share my experience with Xbox Play Anywhere.

Before I go too far down this path, I should probably share some of my PC specs: 4GB GTX 980, 32GB RAM, SSD for Windows 10 OS & 7200RPM for game install, playing with an Xbox One S controller on a Samsung 4K 28” monitor.

Most of my experience with Xbox Play Anywhere comes from Forza Horizon 3. That was one of the first titles released with this feature (ReCore was the first). As you may have seen from yesterday’s Top 25 Xbox One Games article, Forza Horizon 3 is among the best offerings on Xbox One. The fact that it is also available to PC players on Windows 10 just makes it so many more people can enjoy this fantastic game.

I began playing Forza Horizon 3 on my Xbox One console, racking up all those miles and skills on my TV from the comfort of my recliner. A few days later, my wife was watching a show on the TV via my Xbox One, but I felt the need for speed! Since I bought Forza Horizon 3 digitally, I had access to it on my Windows 10 PC. I went to my office and began the install, wondering how well this whole thing would work out. After installation, I clicked play on the Windows 10 Xbox app, and Forza Horizon 3 booted up. The first thing I saw was a box pop up, saying it was syncing my save data from the server. Indeed, a few seconds later I was loaded in to Forza Horizon 3 exactly where I left off.

Forza Horizon 3 looked great on my Xbox One, but it looked even better on my PC! I was able to kick up the graphics and play in 4K at about 30 FPS, or I could knock down the resolution and get to the 60FPS mark for an amazingly smooth presentation. It felt good to finally use my PC for some gaming, as I had upgraded it earlier, but never really put it to task. I saw a buddy pop online, and wondered what the experience playing together would be like. To my amazement, it worked without issue! I was playing on my Windows 10 PC, and he was on his Xbox One, we were in a party chat and racing around, as if we were both playing on the console! After played an hour or so on the PC, and called it a day.

Returning to play on my Xbox One console, when loading the game a familiar box came up, telling me that it was syncing data from the server. Again, seconds later, I was able to pick up where I left off on Windows 10! For me, this was a seamless experience, and made me wonder about the possibilities this feature could unlock in the future.

After this positive experience, I began looking to see if a game was Xbox Play Anywhere. If it was, I bought it digitally, because of the freedom of playing back and forth between Windows 10 and Xbox One. The only thing lacking right now, in my opinion, is the number of games available for Xbox Play Anywhere. As of this writing, there are nineteen currently available, and seventeen announced. Most of these titles are exclusives, but there are a few notable third party games such as Resident Evil 7: Biohazard and Middle Earth: Shadow of War in the program. I would love to see Star Wars: Battlefront 2, Madden, or Injustice 2 as part of this initiative in the future, as I believe expansion into third parties would be a shrewd move by Microsoft. This would serve to unify the player base, and make a case for PC gamers to eventually get an Xbox One if they want to game on a TV as opposed to a monitor.

In all, the Xbox Play Anywhere feature is a great benefit if it is included with a game purchased digitally. If you have a Windows 10 PC and an Xbox One, this may be something you want to consider when purchasing games in the future. The freedom offered, as well as the cross-play between Windows 10 and Xbox One is well worth it!

Have you tried Xbox Play Anywhere? What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below or send me a tweet: @VoicedByNathan!

PSVG's Top 25 Games for Xbox One

[et_pb_section bb_built="1" admin_label="section"][et_pb_row admin_label="row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] This list does not necessarily represent the best, highest reviewed or critically acclaimed games on the Xbox One, but the games that Donnie, Josh, Mo and Nathan have had the most fun with on the console. Compiled in May of 2017, this list may be revisited later, but for now here is the official PSVG Top 25 Games on Xbox One!

25. Quantum Break

24. Ori and the Blind Forest

23. Halo 5: Guardians

22. Injustice 2

21. Gears of War 4

20. Firewatch

19. Forza Horizon 2

18. Rare Replay

17. Grand Theft Auto V

16. Final Fantasy XV

15. Madden 17 Mo's Overall Top Pick. "Madden 17 is the greatest? What's wrong with you? Here are my 3 reasons for Madden 17 being my best game on Xbox One: 1. Amazing game-play. Yes it's a sports game but just like many gamers love to crawl through dungeons, I love to go after stats, awards, and of course build up a franchise to be proud of. 2. Heroes I know and love. Yea that's all I have to say. 3. Countless hours of game play with friends, solo, etc. That's not even the tip of the iceberg but the user interface is fantastic, servers are great, and have just loved playing. This is why Madden 17 is my favorite game on Xbox one." - Mo

14. Overwatch

13. Star Wars: Battlefront

12. Shovel Knight

11. Tom Clancy's The Division

10. Titanfall

9. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare

8. Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition

7. Dragon Age: Inquisition

6. The Witcher 3

5. Destiny

4. INSIDE

3. Halo: The Master Chief Collection

2. Rise of the Tomb Raider

1. Forza Horizon 3 Donnie, Josh and Nathan's Overall Top Pick "There's no doubt in my mind that Forza Horizon 3 is my favorite Xbox One game. It took a lot of encouragement from our Xbox team for me to give it a chance, but I'm so glad I hopped in to experience one of the best video games this generation has to offer. Forza Horizon 3 is everything every gamer could want from a racing game. It has incredible visuals to offer with an amazing setting that's varied and diverse, as well as a massive selection of rides to please any kind of motor-head. The driving game-play is as close to perfect as can be in a video game, but doesn't venture too far into the simulation that is not very fun for newcomers. Add in the constant loops around the island with your friends, the solo adventures of challenges, time trials, and finding hidden boosts and cars and you'll quickly understand why this is my favorite Xbox One game." - Donnie

"Forza Horizon 3 is my number one game for a few reasons. First of all, it's a groundbreaking game. Everything it does is new (for the Xbox one). It seamlessly blends racing and open world gaming without that crushing anxiety that some people complain about while playing said open world games. The sheer amount of different cars and different race types leaves you with almost unlimited replay-ability. Lets not forget that they somehow managed to make every car feel different. You will very rarely experience a similar controller feel on another car. It's so unique. I could go on and on, but this is a game you just need to go out and buy!" - Josh

"Forza Horizon 3 is everything I want in a car game. It looks great, the controls are tight, the soundtrack is superb, and the racing is epic! Whether it's racing against boats, helicopters or trains, oh yea, and cars, this game has it all! Adding in the Blizzard Mountain and Hot Wheels expansion packs, Forza Horizon 3 offers a ton of fun and variety to keep you playing! It's always cool to see someone from your friend's list pop in as a Driveatar, which makes you really want to beat them, and let your friend know how their Driveatar represented them! If you say "it's a racing game, it can't be that good," then, madame or sir, you should broaden your horizons and give this amazing game a spin!" - Nathan

 

So, there you have it! These are 25 of our most favorite games available on the Xbox One! What are your favorite games on the console? Hit us up @PSVG on Twitter or leave a comment below!

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This Week's Xbox Gem (Week of May 17th, 2017)

[et_pb_section bb_built="1" admin_label="section"][et_pb_row admin_label="row"][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] This week's Xbox Gem is the crazy sale happening over on Xbox Live, their Backward Compatibility Super Sale!

There are 285 Back Compat titles that make up this sale, so in this article I will highlight a few great ones that you may have missed! Oh, and to take advantage of these sale prices, you don't have to have Xbox Live Gold!

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Assassin's Creed Rogue is on sale for $9.89. This made the list because it never got released on the current generation of consoles, so it could have easily been missed!

Braid is on sale for $2.49! This was one of my first "indie games," and has a great story, visuals, and game mechanics!

Civilization Revolution is on sale for $7.49! This is a great console translation of the Civilization games! Be warned, time will slip away as you get sucked into this!

Deus Ex: Human Revolution is on sale for $3.74! The sequel is available on current consoles, but many would say that this entry is the best of the series. I enjoyed my time with it, and it's a steal under $4!

Dragon Age: Origins is on sale for only $4.94! This game is AMAZING! If you've not played this, you really owe it to yourself to do so. This is easily the best of the Dragon Age series, and features an epic story with the classic BioWare decisions and conversations.

Earthworm Jim HD is on sale for $2.49! Come on! It's Earthworm Jim! Groovy...

Jurassic Park: The Game is on sale for $4.99. This is an early TellTale game, and could be viewed as a history lesson from the developer. The game's not the best of the studio, but of you enjoy their brand of games, you may like this. It was an easy one to miss when it came out.

Lost Odyssey is on sale for $6.24. The original release had FOUR DVDs! This is a big game, and one of the few JRPGs on Xbox. With a memorable story and characters, it's worth the asking price!

Mass Effect is on sale for $4.99! A legendary game, it's likely you didn't miss it, but if you did...

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is on sale for $4.94 Before Skyrim came Oblivion. This is on the list because it was released in 2009, and a new generation of gamers may have missed it.

The Orange Box is on sale for $4.99. This collection has five games from Valve: Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episode 1, Half-Life 2: Episode 2, Team Fortress 2 & Portal. Nothing more needs to be said, those games speak for themselves. If you've not played these, GET IT!

Peggle is on sale for $2.49! Get it, you'll either thank me or curse me later.

Portal 2 is on sale for $4.99, so after you beat the original in The Orange Box, play this one! The cake may be a lie, but this amazing game is not!

Red Dead Redemption is on sale for $11.99. While this price isn't the lowest I've seen, I included it on this list in case you wanted to catch up before the sequel releases this fall! (The Undead Nightmare DLC is also on sale for $4.99!)

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is on sale for $4.99. If you saw my list of top 5 Star Wars games, you know why this is here, too...

 

There are some of the Backwards Compatible games on sale that I'd pick. What about you? Did you pick up anything from the sale, or think anything else should be added to this list? Hit me up on Twitter @VoicedByNathan or in the comments below!

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Diamond In The Rough: Skylar & Plux: Adventure on Clover Island

Long-time and new platformer fans rejoice! The moment you’ve all been waiting for have arrived! As of Wednesday 29th March, Skylar & Plux: Adventure On Clover Island finally has an official release date! Mark your calendars and save the date!

If you want to know more about the aforementioned game and its premise, I suggest you read my previous article.

In light of the release date trailer, the aforesaid game is slated for 19th May 2017. Along with the official release date, the prices are €14.99 and $14.99 (unfortunately, the UK price of the game isn’t presented in said trailer) and it will launch on Steam, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Strangely enough, it won’t come out on the Nintendo Switch. Sadly, at the moment only a digital version of the game is available to buy and download. Therefore, there isn’t a physical version.

https://youtu.be/jFEfgutwl2I

You can tell right off the bat this game draws heavy inspiration from the nostalgic, open-world 3D platforming titans of yesteryear that defined the platforming genre such as Ratchet & Clank, Jak And Daxter, Sly Cooper, Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, Banjo-Kazooie, Crash Bandicoot and Spyro The Dragon. With that being said, it’s like Ratchet & Clank and Jak And Daxter had a baby (with a tinge of Sly Cooper thrown into the mix if the cartoonish 2D art style and the 2D animated scenes are anything to come by).

Skylar and Plux marks the first dynamic duo in video game history to star a female lead protagonist (Banjo and Kazooie and Yooka and Laylee doesn’t count, seeing as Banjo and Yooka are male leads and Kazooie and Laylee are normally considered to be snarky, sassy sidekicks in their respective franchises. Not to mention, Banjo and Yooka’s names are featured first before Kazooie and Laylee’s names in both franchises’ titles of their games).

Within the release date trailer, it revealed a lot of things such as the female narrator projecting her voice into the open air as the massive double doors open to reveal Clover Mountain, a bird’s eye overview of Clover Island, Plux’s recent younger-sounding voice instead of his previous Irish/Scottish-accented voice, Clover Mountain, Forlorn Desert coming into view, the recently-revealed voice of the mechanical arm and so forth in no particular order.

As stated by one of the tweets from the official Skylar & Plux Twitter account which I’ve forgotten to mention in my previous article, Skylar is a silent protagonist just like Jak from Jak And Daxter: The Precursor Legacy. Similar to Daxter, Plux is the goggles-wearing, talkative sidekick and he serves as the comic relief.

According to one of the tweets the official Twitter account of the game posted, a first playthrough lasts for 2.5 hours to 7 hours depending on if the player rushes through the aforementioned game or takes their time to traverse through Clover Island and collect all of the collectibles as well as the numerous challenges and tasks the aforesaid game have to offer.

Unfortunately there is sad news for the die-hard completionists, there is no platinum trophy, which is usually acquired when all of the bronze and silver trophies are earned and unlocked when the tasks and missions are successfully completed and if certain requirements are met as stated in a recent article. Therefore, this game might be the first PlayStation 4 game to not include a platinum trophy.

To make matters worse, there isn’t a physical version of the game being in the works or it isn’t getting released as mentioned in one of the recent tweets the official Skylar & Plux Twitter account uploaded. As said by the tweet below, since Right Nice Games is an indie video game developing team, their resources merely go into the quality of the game instead of mass-producing physical copies of it.

At the moment, information about whether the game will contain a map or a mini-map haven’t been confirmed yet. Naturally, most 3D platformers either include a map that can be accessed via a pause menu or a mini-map is shown at the bottom left or right side of the screen.

As to be expected, this game is faced with a hefty amount of backlash. To the Xbox One gamers, this game is the Ratchet & Clank of the Xbox One or it’s the Ratchet & Clank game they never played and received. To the PlayStation players and the minority of the Ratchet & Clank fanbase, it’s a poor man’s Ratchet & Clank. I don’t want to sound like a broken record but people really need to stop making unnecessary and unfair comparisons. Just because this game shares the same similarities with Ratchet & Clank and earlier 3D platformers from the 90’s and early 2000’s doesn’t make it a rip-off or a bootleg. In this day and age where 3D platformers are scarce, we can’t afford to hate a game before it’s released or judge it by its gameplay, characters, character designs, level designs, character animations and so forth. There’s a fine line between loathing a video game before its release date and judging it unfairly without giving it a second chance. Furthermore, there is also a fine line between a video game made out of pure passion (in other words, a love letter or a tribute) and a cash cow cashing in on nostalgia. Yes, I’m looking at you, Fur Fun (formerly known as Kewpie-Jazzy)! Claiming Skylar & Plux is a rip-off of Ratchet & Clank is like accusing Banjo-Kazooie to be a knock off of Super Mario 64. If you’re curious to check out the true rip-off of Ratchet & Clank, Ruff Trigger: The Vanocore Conspiracy (storyline wise, it’s literally Ratchet & Clank 2: Locked and Loaded, copied word for word) is your answer.

Don’t let the negative nancys (such as this pessimist pictured above) prevent you from trying out Skylar & Plux; it might surprise you just like the Shantae series have surprised me. If you’re a platformer or a Ratchet & Clank fan, then it’s a no brainer this game will make you feel right at home.

Nathan Checks Out Forza Horizon 3's Hot Wheels DLC

The latest DLC for Xbox One's Forza Horizon 3 is out and Nathan streamed his first half-hour to give you an idea on what you can expect. Just in case you were unaware, here's the PR details about this Hot Wheels Expansion:

  • Forza fans, your Hot Wheels fantasies are about to come true! The second Forza Horizon 3 expansion – Forza Horizon 3 Hot Wheels – arrives on May 9 exclusively on both Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs (Xbox Play Anywhere), and is included in the Forza Horizon 3 Expansion Pass. This expansion lets players travel to a brand-new location in Australia, a place where lazy Sunday drives are replaced by insane high-speed stunts on miles of looping, banking, giant iconic orange Hot Wheels tracks. Starring famous Hot Wheels vehicles like the Twin Mill, the Rip Rod, and the Boneshaker, Forza Horizon 3 Hot Wheels promises an automotive adventure unlike anything in Forza history.

This Week's Xbox Gem

[et_pb_section bb_built="1" admin_label="section"][et_pb_row admin_label="row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] The gem that rises above all others this week isn't a stand alone game, but an expansion to one of the best games on the Xbox One and Windows 10!

 

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For me, this release came out of left field, but I instantly fell in love with the idea of racing on Hot Wheels tracks, with crazy loops, fire jumps, and amazing new Hot Wheels cars! This is the latest expansion for Forza Horizon 3, and is included in the Expansion Pass. If you prefer to buy this DLC by itself, outside of the Expansion Pass, it costs $19.99.

The Forza Horizon 3 Hot Wheels expansion races on to Xbox One and Windows 10 (remember, it's a Play Anywhere title!) Tuesday, May 9th!

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Riftstar Raiders coming to Nintendo Switch

Riftstar Raiders, a co-op shoot-em up already announced for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, is officially coming to the Nintendo Switch as well. Climax Studios, the developer, confirmed the news on their official Twitter account. We have already seen Graceful Explosion Machine catch some momentum with a Switch release so maybe there's a growing market for shmup's on the Nintendo portable. I personally have always enjoyed games in the genre, especially when they're available on portables like 3DS and Vita due to the easy pick up and play opportunities game's in the genre provide. What do you think? Will you be keeping your eyes out for Riftstar Raiders when it releases on Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox, or PC this year?

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First Specifications Revealed for Project Scorpio

[et_pb_section admin_label="section"][et_pb_row admin_label="row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] This morning, Digital Foundry and Eurogamer teamed up to bring us information on Microsoft's upcoming "Project Scorpio."

Here are some quick specs from today's announcement from Eurogamer:

Project Scorpio Xbox One PS4 Pro
CPU Eight custom x86 cores clocked at 2.3GHz Eight custom Jaguar cores clocked at 1.75GHz Eight Jaguar cores clocked at 2.1GHz
GPU 40 customised compute units at 1172MHz 12 GCN compute units at 853MHz (Xbox One S: 914MHz) 36 improved GCN compute units at 911MHz
Memory 12GB GDDR5 8GB DDR3/32MB ESRAM 8GB GDDR5
Memory Bandwidth 326GB/s DDR3: 68GB/s, ESRAM at max 204GB/s (Xbox One S: 219GB/s) 218GB/s
Hard Drive 1TB 2.5-inch 500GB/1TB/2TB 2.5-inch 1TB 2.5-inch
Optical Drive 4K UHD Blu-ray Blu-ray (Xbox One S: 4K UHD) Blu-ray

Digital Foundry, the internet's leader in all things frame rates & teraflops, got the incredible honor of traveling to Redmond to get the worlds first deep dive in the next big Xbox One update, code-name Scorpio. The trip resulted in several techy-specy videos from Eurogamer's tech guru's that break down everything going on inside the Scropio.

The CPU is roughly 30% faster than the Xbox One's CPU and the GPU is 4.6 times more powerful. The Eurogamer article also breaks down the large amount of 8GB of fast memory available to the system (non-reserved) which will lead to fast streaming of high quality art assets or in lamens terms, a nice addition for 4K resolution. The Scorpio is described by Eurogamer as a "higher spec machine in every sense" when comparing it to PlayStation's PS4 Pro upgrade which will give Microsoft some bragging rights in the inevitable massive marketing campaign but also a higher cost.

They demoed Forza Motorsport 6, which looked fantastic in 4K (full 4K resolution), running at 60FPS according to Digital Foundry. To accomplish this, Scorpio was only using 60-70% of the resources available meaning that there should be power to spare in a lot of cases.

Emporer Nathan's Quick Take

My quick take is that this looks like the beast they promised last year! With 12GB of GDDR5 (8GB available for games, the other 4GB for the system itself), it provides 3GB more to game developers than Xbox One and PS4 Pro. The GPU is 4.6x more powerful than Xbox One, and the new CPU is 30% faster! This is all going to make games look very pretty, and be able to hold solid frame-rates, even running in 4K! If you don't have a 4K TV, it would stand to reason that there would be significant performance increases to games, so you'll be able to see the benefit of the Scorpio as well!

I'm hoping for more updates today, and I will update this post as more information becomes available!

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_video admin_label="Video" src="https://youtu.be/RE2hNrq1Zxs"] [/et_pb_video][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_video admin_label="Video" src="https://youtu.be/4DTmWDhSHC4"] [/et_pb_video][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]

Destiny 2: Electric Boogaloo

[et_pb_section admin_label="section"][et_pb_row admin_label="row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] So yesterday at 10am PST we got the full reveal trailer, and man what a hell of a reveal it was. The last city has been stomped by the Cabal and their leader Ghaul (Gary), and we have had to retreat from the city losing pretty much everything in the process. If that isn't a brilliant way to reset everything without resetting everything I don't know what is. Bungie found a way to keep all of the lore and story beats intact, but still manage to do away with all of the systems and things that were just way to convoluted. This soft reset manages to keep the essence of what Destiny is. It's not unlike say any sequel where you are stripped of your powers after becoming all-powerful in the previous entry. So with that being said...

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So here's what we know so far: The Cabal came saw and kicked us out of our home. The remaining Guardians and survivors have fled the city into the wilderness to regroup and prepare to take back our home, and presumably the Traveler. It seems as though we will have to acquire new powers, which will require travel to new places in our solar system (can we please go to Europa already). From the absence of any Ghosts in the reveal we can only assume that we are without them for a period of time. However it has been confirmed that Nolan North will be reprising his role as the Ghost (I miss Dinklebot). The Vanguard has survived the attack, but it looks like they are split up into two camps. Lord Shaxx has survived as well and you can see him in the trailer. There will be new foes from the Cabal. A dual sword wielding monstrosity that we assume is part of the red legion. Some new Cabal Phalanx shield toting guys and what looks to be some kind of dog like creature. Last but not least the Cabal leader Ghaul (I will be calling him Gary till the end of time) who looks to be more metal than space turtle. What is of interesting note is that there is no sign of Eris Morn, The Speaker, The Cyrptarch, Tess Everess or any of the faction leaders so we are unsure of their fates. We also know based on the image of the expansion pass (yes they are doing that again) it looks like one with deal with Osiris and the other with Rasputin.

Story wise that's what we know so far. Other than that Deej gave us a nice neat little timeline. May 18th will be the gameplay reveal, the beta will be in the summer, there will also be more info during the summer and it launches Friday September 8th which means my family will be missing me that weekend lol. Lastly for you Master Racers out there it will be on PC, PS4 will still have timed exclusives and there is a $250 Collectors Edition that I will probably make Coach Mo do an unboxing video on. So let us know what you think. Will you be jumping back into Destiny, starting fresh, playing the wait and see game or just not interested? Keep it locked here and on our twitter accounts (@PSVG, @PSVG_PSIsland)  for more news and updates on Destiny 2 as it drops.

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Talent Not Included Sets The Stage For Its Xbox One Debut

[et_pb_section admin_label="section"][et_pb_row admin_label="row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] HEAR YE, HEAR YE! TALENT NOT INCLUDED SETS THE STAGE FOR ITS XBOX ONE DEBUT

Frima brings their cylinder-based action platformer to Xbox One fans on April 5th

Quebec – March 22, 2017 – Places, please! Frima, independent Canadian game developer, has announced today that Talent Not Included, their theatrical drama-filled action/combat platformer, will be released on Xbox One on April 5th. After launching to critical acclaim on PC via Steam last August, Frima's creative team is delighted to invite Xbox One fans to the Talent Not Included stage for the performance of a lifetime, this April... Ready? Action!

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WHAT’S THIS GAME ABOUT Talent Not Included is an action/combat platformer where mechanical soldiers, animals, hard-headed monsters, and rotating cylinders will challenge you in one of the most demanding plays to ever hit the stage! Set in the fantasy land of Notthatmuchfurther, the game tells the story of three monsters: Zordok, Derp, and Kevin, all three huge fans of slaughter, bloodbaths, and Shakespeare.

One night, as they were bored out of their minds, they decided to put on their own play. Unfortunately, nothing went as planned…That’s mostly because Zot, a demonic critic hired for the occasion, chose three mediocre actors with strong personalities, hoping to sow hell on stage for the public and his own amusement.

Break a leg! As you will be playing these actors in hopes of making a nice profit out of your marvelous performance! Come on! Show's this way!

Talent Not Included brings a whole new platformer gameplay experience, with its cylinder-based action machinery! This exciting mechanic is suited for casual and hardcore gamers alike, as it introduces a completely innovative and never-seen-before kind of game.

If you're the kind of player that likes to go co-op, this game has it all! Go head-to-head with your girl/boy/undetermined/other friend(s) and show them the lovely paper craft-inspired art style that will have everyone talking. Seriously though, everyone!

When life just gets dull, let Talent Not Included be the change you need, a change that will have you pinned to your couch in hopes of beating a game that keeps on delivering!

BE WARNED: This is a fun game for fun people only. If you feel like you meet these qualifications, gear up and bring on the talent, for Talent Not Included is about to give you the time of your life, or your money not back (nice try, though).

Brace yourselves, for the play won’t exactly be a walk in the park.

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Jason reviewed this title on PC back in August, you can read his full thoughts here.

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Riptide GP: Renegade - Xbox One

[et_pb_section admin_label="section"][et_pb_row admin_label="row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] Wave Race, Wipeout and Hydro Thunder walk into a bar. That Bar is this game.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Riptide-GP-Renegade-2.png" show_in_lightbox="on" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="fade_in" sticky="off" align="center" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

If you are like me, the first thing you thought of when you heard the title of this game was the mobile game. You will be happy to hear that this is the developers first in the series of games to be built from consoles. They ran the gauntlet that is Microsoft's XPA certification standards to make sure to delivery a high quality game.

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You jump right into what can best be described as the plot from a Fast and Furious movie. You are a racer who has been challenged by a rival racer to an “illegal” race. Once you reach the finish line, it becomes obvious you were set up and go to jail!! I'm presuming some type of racer jail with a bunch of cool guys like in the Longest yard. Meanwhile your rival rises to the top of the racing circuit. once you are released from Water jail, you best friend/racer is waiting for you…… who immediately challenges you to another illegal race! Would your character be so stupid to go along with this?   

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Don't worry, she assures you that there are no police here. So of course, you go with her. You soon learn that you are not welcome back in the circuit, but if you start from the bottom in underground races (in very public areas by the way) that you might be able to get some reputation back and be allowed back in. With your ultimate goal of getting revenge and beating the man who set you up!

 

I'm going to be honest with you, the story is pretty bland. There are a few entertaining moments, like a robot named DeadBeef, and a comical brother and sister rave duo. But you are not going to play this game or remember it for its story. Let's get into the game.

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You have a selection of “levels” which unfold into a bunch of events inside each one. Naturally they are all locked at first and as you progress you unlock the next race. Typically the requirement to get to the next race is that you have to earn at least 1 star (bronze/3rd place) in each previous event. You can't stack up stars to unlock future levels. Meaning even if I get 3 stars on the first race, I need to at least get one on the next stage to progress. I will say this did both me a little bit. There are some races that are purely just stunt points, and you compete against computer scores in a race of unique stunts. For me, is not a huge stunt guy (at least not until this game), so it really bummed me out that I could not progress until I got at least 1 star. That being said, it's really a tiny gripe.

 

Where the game really shines is its level design. Not too dissimilar from MARIO Kart, each lap (3 total usually) changes the level in some way. There are a lot of things going on in the background, whether it's a space shuttle launching or different parts of the level unlocking. It's really quite impressive. It really keeps the replay ability high, which is important, because you will find yourself racing on the same maps quite frequently.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/riptide-3.jpg" show_in_lightbox="on" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="fade_in" sticky="off" align="center" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

There is also the leveling mechanic. You have your watercraft and as you win races you win credits. Each craft does have a max level it can be upstaged to, your starting craft obviously low leveled. As you progress through the game you will ultimately have Boss Fights and win that character and their watercraft. You can switch out your racer, but that has no effect of your stats. So if you want to race as Deadbeef, have a blast! Not me. You also unlock the racers vehicle, which can and should be upgraded. Along with that you also earn experience points in which you can buy passive upgrades and new stunts. Like I said earlier, stunts are not for me. However there are some very cool stunts, like something out of SSX Tricky.

 

RipTide also offers one of my favorite features that seem to be long lost in this current gaming culture. Local competitive play.  You can play Riptide GP in 6 player split screen! Now I just need 6 friends!!

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Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with this game. It's an exciting adventure into full console gaming  for the developer and i cant wait to see what they do next.. You can tell they put in a lot of work to make this an exciting and challenging racer. Go out and pick this up and have a blast!

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Riptide GP: Renegade offers a fun and challenging racer akin to the good ole days of arcade games crashing into your living rooms. If you have the need for speed, cruise your "wave" over to this Thunderous racer!

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Xbox going Netflix?

So in an announcement earlier this morning Xbox has announced a new subscription, aptly named Xbox Game Pass - (Full Release).

Today, we’re continuing our commitment to give you more options to diversify and expand your library of games with Xbox Game Pass, a new gaming subscription service coming later this spring. Xbox Game Pass gives you unlimited access to over 100 Xbox One and backward compatible Xbox 360 games – all for $9.99 per month.

With great games from top industry publishers such as 2K, 505 Games, BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment, Capcom, Codemasters, Deep Silver, Focus Home Interactive, SEGA, SNK CORPORATION, THQ Nordic GmbH, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and Microsoft Studios, there’s something for everyone to enjoy and you will always find something exciting to play across a variety of genres. Some of the fan-favorite titles coming to Xbox Game Pass when it launches to the broader Xbox community later this spring include Halo 5: Guardians, Payday 2, NBA 2K16 and SoulCalibur II. Read more at http://news.xbox.com/2017/02/28/introducing-xbox-game-pass/#gDfwbwL8BSu41vbX.99

So for $10 a month, $120 a year unless there's a different annual sign up price, those gamers on Xbox will be able to play over 100 Xbox One and Xbox 360 games. This is very exciting news from Microsoft and definitely an instant game collection if I've ever heard of one. But before I get too excited we still do not know the full list of titles available, when exactly this will launch this 'spring'. The biggest unknown that I have is whether or not Xbox Live Gold will be required, meaning do we need the $60 subscription plus the Game Pass costs or can players choose? A small sliver in the announcement makes me think that it will be stand-alone until we get further clarification.

The titles that are available in Preview are just a small glimpse at the expansive catalog of games that will be available when Xbox Game Pass launches this spring. Xbox Live Gold members will also be receiving exclusive access to Xbox Game Pass prior to the program launching to the broader community. We’ll have more details on timing closer to launch.

This "Broader" community should mean those without Gold which brings up the question - What effect will Game Pass have on Gold subscriptions, if any? I for one might be more apt to subscribe to more games on Xbox One for the higher price than the $60 gold subscription and the games lineup they have to offer as I don't do a bunch of online multiplayer. Also, is there any chance that they offer a bundle of both services at a discount?

What do you think of this Xbox subscription service?

 

Update - Well that didn't take long - Turns out we will definitely not have to subscribe to Gold to enjoy Xbox Game Pass.

Wells Review (PC)

[et_pb_section admin_label="section"][et_pb_row admin_label="row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] There was a time, mainly during the 80’s and 90’s, when all you had to worry about was running to the right of the screen and shooting anything that crossed your path. It worked for Contra. It worked for Gunstar Heroes. Heck, it worked so well for Mega Man that we needed about forty seven games and spin offs. Now, about thirty some years later, Wells, a game available on Steam and Xbox One, hopes to revive the formula of the “run and gun” one more time.

This game comes to us from Tower Up Studios, a Brazilian studio formed in 2014, and is indeed their first release on Steam. In Wells, you play as, well, Wells, the titular steampunk… um… automoton man? It’s not particularly clear what he is, but he is steampunk and he wears a hat and wields a gun and that’s all you need to know! Anyway, Wells is “a notorious smuggler from Percepolis, the city of the new century” and he wants to “get even with the clients that tried to murder.” Right, so that was taken verbatim from the game’s website.

Murder who? Why? While there are cutscenes in the game that try to explain what is happening, there is a very large disconnect between the storytelling and the player. These cutscenes do not convey any actual story besides showing that Wells is chasing after someone. Part of this issue is also due in some ways by a language barrier. The game is in English, however, you’ll notice there’s just something off about what little dialogue and exposition Wells contains. With the small amount of story elements to be translated, it’s hard to give them a pass on how poor a job has been done here.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/vlcsnap-2017-02-02-20h55m11s236.png" show_in_lightbox="off" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="fade_in" sticky="off" align="center" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" alt="Did someone order the brown level?"] [/et_pb_image][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="center" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

Does this look better in all brown?

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/vlcsnap-2017-02-02-20h59m03s100.png" alt="Or the grey level?" show_in_lightbox="off" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="fade_in" sticky="off" align="center" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" /][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="center" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

Or all grey?

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As a game that has taken inspiration like the aforementioned Gunstar Heroes, Contra and Mega Man, controls and design are everything. Wells controls well enough, if a little stiff. This is worsened by the choppy animation. Shooting with the mouse is accurate enough and moving around with the keyboard works fine. Oddly, I never tried using a controller and I don’t think I would want to. The enemy placement and level design make it difficult to imagine playing with a controller, since flicking back and forth from left, right, and above requires the type of reflex control afforded by a mouse. You also pick up four other guns besides your starting weapon, and each seems interesting, but there isn’t really any indication or reason for these weapons. They are just there. Here’s some guns! Don’t question it!

Enemy AI is fairly straightforward, and boss fights almost seem ripped from other games. There’s the airship ala Mario Bros 3, a large mechanical spider you might see in Gunstar Heroes, a giant robot you might have experienced in Contra: Hard Corps. It’s nice to go back to a formula where there are these monstrous bosses waiting for you at the end of the level, but it all seems so uninspired given the possibilities of the steampunk genre.  There are some moments that are challenging due to enemy placement, and it’s during these times you get a hint of that retro gaming difficulty that borders on unfairness. These moments require positional awareness, deft weapon switching, and accuracy, as well as an eye on your regenerating health bar. Level design is quirky, the game starts with the classic “run right” mechanic, but then starts to move into more of a “run right, now run back to the left, now zipline into the background and continue left, drop down and run right” type of design that seems nonsensical. The levels feel arbitrary set up, with no real reason for these winding paths. Feeding into this dizzying navigation are the graphics, which sometimes make it difficult to differentiate what you need to focus on from everything else.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/vlcsnap-2017-02-02-20h57m07s764.png" show_in_lightbox="off" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="left" sticky="off" align="left" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" alt="It's Bowser's floating airship!"] [/et_pb_image][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="center" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

Contrary to popular belief, this was not Bowser's famous airship.

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Looking at Wells is a bit of an eyesore. It’s not so much what has been created that’s a problem; the design of Wells, and indeed the rest of the enemies and environments, translate well enough. However, the overall palette of the game, all browns and greys, combined with the extremely flat lighting, make for a look that seems very plain. This does a huge disservice to the game, where the success of this genre lies in it’s visual creativity and acuity to tell story through setting, ambience, and design. That might be one of my biggest issues with Wells, nothing here is memorable. Wells is just a steampunk man, the enemies are non-descript, and don’t seem to fit together, the city has no life or story to it. It all seems so empty and uninspired.

Speaking of uninspired, let’s spend a quick minute on audio. There’s not much to say, this was probably the most overlooked aspect of the game aside from story. The sound effects are weak, particularly with the guns. What few utterances Wells delivers are of extremely low quality and tell us nothing of the character. The music is largely forgettable, suffering from a lack of varied instrumentation. The exception being the Oil Platform stage, where mechanical ticks and clunks break up the monotony of cheap music production. Once again, completely uninspired.

Putting all of this together, Wells is a game that seems to have taken inspiration from games in the 90’s, but may have been shackled by those inspirations. The game lasts but two hours, which, for this type of game isn’t unheard of, but the price and quality for those two hours is severe. The threadbare story and overall design of Wells makes for a game that lacks any sort of character or lasting impression. For me, that is the real tragedy here. When playing Wells, I could sense the backbone of a decent game, there was some genuinely decent work put into it. Wells functions as the bare minimum of a “run and gun” shooter. Unfortunately, Wells suffers from an overall design issue that keeps the game from being memorable. I would be interested in the next release from Tower Up Studios, as there is a solid foundation to the game, but maybe next time the studio will release something a bit more polished. But for now, sitting at an overpriced $9.99 on the Steam store, it’s hard for me to recommend Wells.

Wells is available now on Steam. Wells was reviewed using a Steam code provided by the publisher. You can read additional information about PSVG’s review policy on our disclaimer page here.

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Earth's Dawn - Xbox One

[et_pb_section admin_label="section"][et_pb_row admin_label="row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] As described by the developer:

Earth’s Dawn is looming and the fate of the planet hangs in the balance! Sign up as a member of A.N.T.I. – a squad of super-human soldiers powered by alien technology – and fight to reclaim Earth from the alien invasion known as E.B.E before it’s too late… Packed with super-fast sci-fi action, Earth’s Dawn offers 2D side-scrolling gameplay in a beautiful hand-drawn style. Combat is intuitive, but deceptively deep with combos, finishers and rankings after enemy encounters all adding depth to the game, while RPG-style skill trees, equipment crafting and character evolution open up things even further. Choose your own path through 100 missions, earn rewards by clearing them with style and discover new plot threads behind Earth’s counteroffensive, then fight huge bosses to crush the E.B.E. threat once and for all!

Now, as described by me, a simple man with a controller in his hands:

Earth's dawn is a very unique game. It's for sure a direct port from Japan, that is obvious right from the beginning. Aliens (E.B.E.’s) have taken over the United States and the only way to defeat them is to use the alien material (body parts) to create a bio engineered suit that helps you destroy them.

It's funny, because right from the start every character speaks Japanese. Talking about New York and Wisconsin, referencing to characters as typical American names (Kevin, Steve, Tony, Jim, etc…) sounds very humorous. Knowing they could have just used generic voice actors to do the English translation makes me happy that they chose to stick with good voice acting, even if I don't understand it.

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Earth's dawn starts off simple, hack and slash your way through the level using your sword and/or your gun. The enemies are unique, interesting and challenging. Each level offers 3 different difficulties and scores you on that weird scoring grid you see in a lot of games. S, A , C, D, E. whatever those mean. I just like to complete the level without dying too much. You will also get combat scores in the middle of the levels as well.

I do want to mention one thing that I find confusing. While you are running through the levels, you have a team of I want to say 3 other soldiers following you around(see image above). As soon as an enemy appears on the screen your team disappears and leave last you to fight on your own. It's very odd, not really sure why they have them with you at all really.

After completing your first level, that's where the real fun begins. You are thrown into a lot of reading, a weapon crafting system that's pretty cool and a character leveling system that at first is very confusing. So much so they I almost gave up on it.

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Let's talk about the weapon crafting for a bit. As you progress through the levels you will earn “currency” from floating “gems”, and you earn material (alien body parts) from defeating enemies and opening the occasional box or two. After the level is complete you can level up your current gear or craft new weapons that slowly unlock as you progress through the game. It's pretty straight forward and I like the ability to decide what weapons I bring into each level.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/EARTHS-DAWN-4.png" show_in_lightbox="on" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="left" sticky="off" align="center" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/EARTHS-DAWN-3.png" show_in_lightbox="on" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="right" sticky="off" align="center" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

Now, let's cover the character leveling system. If you plays Final Fantasy 10, you might pick up on this quickly. It's basically a “mode” system worked into your character's spine. You unlock upgrades like “HP+5” and “ATKx2”, etc…. as you unlock mode you can string skills together to make them more powerful. As I remember, I don't think there was a sufficient tutorial for this at the beginning, but I could be wrong. I was totally confused at first, but eventually I picked it up.

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As far as gameplay goes, the first 30 minutes played out very much the same. It felt like every level was essentially the same level, and those interesting enemies quickly because a chore and a grind. I wasn't really sure why I was doing what I was doing.

When you start the second mission they give you a countdown close to a big battle that you have to take part in, so you have a certain amount of time to complete the small side missions they give you before the “big” encounter. Nothing too monumental, and I was worrying a bit about where this game was going.

Eventually you get to a Boss fight, and it was a nice surprise. Challenging and punishing. If you die at the boss you have to start all the way back at the beginning of the level, and as far as I could tell you lose all of the items you picked up during the level as well. So you would be wise to not rush into the boss fight and instead figure out the best way to defeat him/it.

As much of a welcome change this was, you are immediately thrown back into the same old grind. It was starting to wear on me. Attack, dodge, attack, dodge…… “yawn”.

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="http://www.playsomevideogames.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/EARTHS-DAWN.png" show_in_lightbox="on" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="top" sticky="off" align="center" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

Speaking of Dodge, that's all you get. There is no block button! I can't begin to tell you how annoying this is. You are constantly being attacked and you cannot block. Ugh! You have a “Dash” button which is the only way you can avoid enemy attacks and get through certain obstacle.

Ok, rant complete, back to the game. As I found myself getting lost in the tedious attacking and dodging, I finally reached Wisconsin, the next phase of this game. There was a big battle at the beginning and it was pretty fun to be honest. They just throw a ton of enemies at you and you get to go to town on them with our sword and gun. Pretty fun.

After the big battle comes a big surprise, a whole new aspect to the game…… and just in time. If you look at the picture above, you can hopefully tell the obvious difference. Like the other boss level, this one has the same downside to losing the fight. You have to start all the way back at the level and work your way to the boss. Again and again I would do this. I found the new level change so refreshing that it didn't really bother me as much.

I am still grinding through these levels, eagerly awaiting what crazy new things await me in future levels. Earth's Dawn started off as a chore for me, but as I gave it time and explored a bit more of the game, it has quickly become a favorite of mine.

Think of when a friend recommends a new show to you, and they say “Give it 3 episodes before you give up on it.”, that's what this game is like. Give it 30 to 60 minutes of your time and I think you will love it. It's not for everyone though. If you like side scrollers (ghosts and goblins, mega man, etc..) and if you like hack and slash (dynasty warriors, etc.) with the RPG leveling system similar to Final Fantasy, this game is for you.

Earth's Dawn was reviewed on Xbox One using a code provided by the publisher. You can read additional information about PSVG’s review policy on our disclaimer page here.

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Earth's Dawn is a surprisingly refreshing game that I fully expected to be chore. It gets a very high recommendation from me. I look forward to hearing what you thought, let me know on the comments below.

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