Review – Fallout 4 (Xbox One)

My hands shook and my stomach churned in excitement as I feverishly tore into the package before me. All I could think was “Finally – the day has come”. The day I’d been waiting for, for what seemed like a lifetime. Today was the day that the latest installment of my favorite game franchise Fallout 4 arrived and I could barely stand the wait and I paced back and forth waiting for the install to finish.

Fallout for me has always been a world I can get lost in. That goes back to the days of the original. I’ve played through fallout 3 and New Vegas 3 times a piece each time differently than the last and each time took no less than 80 hours so to say that excitement that filled the air in the days leading up to release was high to say the least.

In typical fashion of the Feed Your Console team, we will endeavor to avoid spoilers despite there being countless sites out there who divulge the game’s story. The basis of the story sets the player on a mission to find who took his/her son and for what purpose did this happen. For the first time in the franchise, we’re treated to protagonist who not only has a voice but can be a woman as well. In the beginning of the game when setting up your character, players are met with an incredibly powerful character creation tool which morphs the main protagonist’s face in unimaginable ways (See link for some amazing examples). From there, we’re placed smack dab in middle of a pre-war suburban area set within the series’ 50s-esque era. It doesn’t take long to throw you into the world of Fallout with the bombs beginning to drop, the player and his family must run through the streets to their local Vault-Tec vault for protection.

One thing to that’s always struck me as funny about the Fallout series is it’s ability to set you on track to a main story yet distract you from the main mission so easily. I was bound and determined that I would focus heavily on the main quest then after, I’d jump back into the game and continue doing the side missions. That last all of 45 minutes as I suddenly found myself spending no less than 3 hours screwing around in my first settlement.

The team at Bethesda has made a plethora of changes to the games some of which I loved and some, I have to say I wasn’t overly thrilled with. The combat system is still as awesome as it ever was with a few changes. Actually playing the game without utilizing the VATS system is a completely viable option now whereas in previous games it felt much to cumbersome and I rarely ever did in 3 or New Vegas. It just gives the game a whole new feel. VATS has changed a little as well in that now instead of freezing time, time slows down AND the player manually triggers a critical hit after their meter has filled up. It’s no longer a random successful critical hit.

More companions! You read that right. There are 13 companions to find throughout the vast expanses of this wasteland. Each with their own unique style, missions and dialogue help to keep the game fresh and exciting over multiple play-throughs. My personal favorites are Strong, the Supermutant, Nick Valentine the old school private investigator and Dogmeat the ..well… German Sheppard.

Settlements – Perhaps the single biggest addition to the game is the ability to find and build settlements. If you’re the Minecraft/creation gamer, this is going to be your thing. Basically, settlements are found and built from the ground up using supplies you find and break down in the wastelands. Seriously – Everything has a purpose now including pre-war money all the way to the cleaning solvents. It can all be broken down into it’s base components and turned into something else which you can use to rebuild civilization within your settlements. When building your settlements, the people will demand things and they look to you to provide for them. They need water, crops, defense, beds all of this falls to your shoulders. At times when out exploring, you’ll be notified that one of your settlements is struggling and needs help. If you wait too long, you will lose settlers. For some reason Bethesda opted to leave us to our own devices when figuring out how to set up supply lines and their importance. I feel the settlement building needed a solid tutorial. Chances are someone like me would probably have spent more time mucking about in the building options.

Another aspect of establishing your settlements, you must build. I’m not a Minecraft fan. I don’t understand the appeal or the success. Maybe that’s dating me and I’m showing my age but building things in games is not something I have any desire to do. Not in Halo’s Forge, not in Minecraft and not in the Sims. For Fallout though, I was game to give it the old college try and try I did. I literally spent an entire day travelling, scavenging, scrapping, selling, sleeping… Rinse repeat for 9 hours bound and determined this was going to be the game that got me on board with building things in my games. After all that time, I spent no more than 30 minutes struggling with how to build a simple home with power and lights and furnishings. The game beat me. I tapped out. I found that building wasn’t as intuitive as it first looked in the videos online. I couldn’t get the lights to power on in my house save for 1 lowly light in the middle room. I have no idea what I did but I stopped frustrated.

The leveling system has been tweaked a fair amount. Instead of earning skill points and perk levels, now the player gets a single perk point for each level they gain and that point is put into one of the various basic skills OR they can apply the point to a more focused perk (“Bloody Mess” for example) some of which have minimum level (ie:lvl 21) AND skill level (Strength lvl 8). Some people will find this to be a more focused and streamlined level system, I for one was mostly impartial but it did feel to me like my character was vastly under powered or unable to do certain things by the time I had reached a character level 20.

Weapon/Armor crafting and modification also makes it’s debut in Fallout 4. Gone are the days of weapon/armor degradation (Except for the Power Armor). Now by using specific work shops, Weapons can also be modified and created using parts found across the wasteland or the parts and pieces from scavenging. You can also find legendary items during gun fights with Raiders, super mutants etc. This is a fun and extremely welcome addition to the franchise and I would really like to see Bethesda expand on this feature going forward. Perhaps some sort of system to combine items to create highly specialized weapons and armor.

A major issue I have with the game comes from the dialogue system and Karma system. Let’s start with dialogue. It’s too basic. In previous games, your relationship with townsfolk and other NPCs could directly be affected by the choices made within the dialogue system. It could also affect your karma as being a good guy or a bad guy. Which brings me to the Karma system. There is none. It’s gone the way of the Do-Do Bird. At least it appears to me that it’s long gone. When I act like a jerk, my NPC might hate that or they might love it. None of that matters though because you can always have a romantic relationship with your followers (not all of them thankfully).Why they would make the decision to scrap one of the most fun little pieces of the franchise. I can only speculate that it was omitted to allow for simpler decision making by the new generation of Fallout players. I feel these 2 changes were huge missteps by the team.

Graphically I think the game looks outstanding. I know the engine is a little old and even a little tired but I’m not understanding the chatter on the internet about how people think the games graphics are terrible. They’re not. Granted they aren’t up to spec with some of the other titles out there on Xbox One/PS4/PC but I’ve never expected that from Bethesda. In over 60 hours of gameplay, I’ve noticed some framerate dips and a few hilarious graphical glitches but I don’t feel that is something that deserves much time on.

When Fallout 4 was announced I was hoping for a big, engaging game that was worthy of $70(the standard going rate for games here in Canada now). I wanted long game play, a massive world to do some serious exploration in, more guns, explosions with an engaging story and side quests. I wanted the new title to be something I fell asleep and had dreams about. What I got was exactly what I had hoped for. If there’s one game you play this year, make it Fallout 4. I’ve yet to get a game that packs so much punch for such a small price compared with other games out there today. Hats off to the team at Bethesda once again. Now… Please sir – May I have another?

Feed Your Console gives Fallout 4 an enthusiastic 9 out of 10

The Evil Within Gets an Official Release Date

the-evil-within
Just received the word from Bethesda earlier this morning that The Evil Within has an official release date of August 26th in North America and the 29th in Europe. Looks to me like the usual onslaught of high quality must have titles is starting early this year.

Read on for more details:

We’re pleased to announce The Evil Within, the new survival horror game from legendary director, Shinji Mikami, will be available in North America on August 26, 2014 and throughout Europe on August 29, 2014. The Evil Within is in development for the Xbox One, Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system, PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system, and PC.

Developed by Shinji Mikami and the talented team at Tango Gameworks, The Evil Within embodies the meaning of pure survival horror. Highly-crafted environments, horrifying anxiety, and an intricate story are combined to create an immersive world that will bring you to the height of tension. With limited resources at your disposal, you’ll fight for survival and experience profound fear in this perfect blend of horror and action.

While investigating the scene of a gruesome mass murder, Detective Sebastian Castellanos and his partners encounter a mysterious and powerful force. After seeing the slaughter of fellow officers, Sebastian is ambushed and knocked unconscious. When he awakens, he finds himself in a deranged world where hideous creatures wander among the dead. Facing unimaginable terror, and fighting for survival, Sebastian embarks on a frightening journey to unravel what’s behind this evil force.

The Evil Within has not yet been rated by the ESRB.

Review – Tomb Raider

Once the queen of gaming, Lara Croft has fallen from the graces of many games but she hasn’t been forgotten. Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix hope to change that the newly rebooted title in Lara Croft’s life aptly named “Tomb Raider”. We will do our best not to divulge any spoilers so come along with me while we take a look to see if they were successful.

The story features a much younger Lara Croft before becoming a world renowned archaeologist as she embarks on an expedition aboard a ship called “Endurance” with friends a TV production crew and an already well known archaeologist. This isn’t the Lara Croft we all know from games of the past. On the way to their location, a violent storm destroys the boat and leaves them stranded on an island and separated from one another.

The game feels very similar to Uncharted but with a much darker tone to the surroundings and overall feeling to the dialogue. No witty banter between characters, no light-hearted moments either. While traversing the island’s various locales, Lara will find animals to hunt which can be used to salvage parts and earn experience points, she also will come across weapon upgrade pieces and will occasionally uncover hidden locations that need to be explored to discover artifacts in usual Tomb Raider style by solving puzzles to get to the payday. I found the puzzles to be far less engaging and much simpler than I remember from the original series. One thing I was truly thankful for was that the timed switch style puzzles were omitted from this title.

When not spelunking or raiding tombs, Lara finds herself in heated gun battles with the islands mysterious inhabitants. The gun battles are fierce and fast paced but can be slowed down a little by using an automatic cover system that while isn’t as good as the one you would find in Uncharted or Gears of War is more than serviceable and helpful. Killing enemies will also earn you Experience points that accumulate to allow Lara to learn a new survival skill. Not only do the enemy kills net you experience, but if you go through their pockets, you’ll find ammo (copious amounts of ammo in the game. you’ll never actually run out) and salvage parts which can be used to build upgrades for

Lara’s various weapons. The sound and the graphics are gorgeous. These days everyone is talking next gen this and next gen that, but, while playing this game, I couldn’t help but wonder if we really need another generation of gaming console yet. This game looks about as next gen as I could imagine and it’s available on our tired old boxes already in my living room.

The team at Crystal Dynamics have done exactly what the series needed – They took the concept, made it their own and gave it a fresh yet familiar feel without straying too much from what made Tomb Raider so good so many years ago. A survivor may have been born but the Queen reclaimed her crown.  Lara Croft is back and she’s better than ever.

Feed Your Console gives Tomb Raider a 9 out of 10

Pros:
Simply stunning graphics
Great atmosphere
A title worthy of carrying the Tomb Raider title – Extremely enjoyable
Great balance between Tomb Raiding and gun battles

Cons:
Simple puzzles – Beef it up next time
Cover System needs work

Rockstar Announces Grand Theft Auto V Gets A Launch Date

Los Santos, CA, you better get ready the streets are about to get bloody as Grand Theft Auto V is heading your way officially in the Spring of 2013.

GTA-V

If you forgot about the announcement here is a refresher on the GTA V Trailer from November 2011:

Get your pre-order on starting next week November 5, 2012, more news as it’s released.

More info: Grand Theft Auto V

Review – Borderlands 2

I was a shade late to the party with the original Borderlands when it hit consoles in 2009. Most of my friends had already moved on and no one wanted to play but still I found myself strangely compelled by the game as I played through it on my own. What I found was a game that was low on a quality story but extremely high on fun factor. At the time I had vowed that Borderlands 2 would be in my console the day it hit shelves.

Borderlands 2

Taking place 5 yrs after the events of the original, Borderlands 2 takes us back to Pandora with a 5 new characters (4 at launch with the Mecromancer coming a month later as DLC).

  • Maya – The Siren uses phaselock and abilities similar to Lilith from the original
  • Salvador – The Gunzerker who takes the role of insane tank over from Brick but can actually dual wield weapons as his special ability
  • Axton – The Commando, resembles Roland and uses Auto-Turrets
  • Zer0 – The Assassin who can create decoys of himself to distract enemies
  • Gaige – The Mecromancer who was not available at the time of release and arrived about a month after the game’s release DLC (free to those of us who pre-ordered). Gaige has a pet Robot who she can deploy to dispatch some serious hurt on enemies.

Much has changed in the short time since the original game. Since the original Vault Hunters defeated the Destroyer, a new valuable mineral called Eridium has begun invading Pandora’s crust resulting in a Hyperion Corporation’s employee known as Handsome Jack seizing control of this new mineral and using it to take over the planet and ruling with it’s citizens with an Iron Fist. Rumors had begun spreading through the galaxy of a larger more valuable Vault on Pandora bringing in Vault Hunters from far and wide in search of these riches only to be killed by Handsome Jack and thus begins the journey through Borderlands 2.

Borderlands 2 takes the gameplay from the original title and build upon it. Just like the original, players start off by picking their character class, and taking on new missions/quests given to them by job boards and by speaking with other NPCs in the world. As the player gains experience and levels up, they can decide which of the 3 specialities they want to assign the points to. 4 Player Co-op makes a triumphant return resulting in loads of laughs, gun play an hours upon hours of social gaming.

The enemies by and large haven’t changed much but there have been some new interesting and challenging additions to the portfolio of endless baddies. Their AI is improved upon to some degree but I mostly found them to be rather mindless. It’s the sheer number of enemies and their attacks that tend to put people on their backs.

All in all Borderlands 2 is just a whole lot more of what the original title brought. Guns, Explosions, treasure hunting, guns and more guns. Hardly a bad thing. The story was still a little to be desired as I found myself just not caring and wishing I could skip past the story moments in favor of just getting on with the looting. I’ve now finished the game 3 times, with 2 different character builds. The Gunzerker and now the Mecromancer. I just can’t seem to get enough of the social aspect of this title because I’m rarely if ever in a game with any less than 3 other people and we all help each other complete missions, Bad Ass challenges or just farming areas for the best loot. I’m now well over 400hrs into this game and while I still have about 5 more games that need to be finished, I keep coming back for more as more and more of my friends get the game and want to play or ask for help. It’s rare that a game can captivate me the way this one has.

This is a must have for any gamer.

Feed Your Console gives Borderlands 2 an enthusiastic gun toting 9.5 out of 10

Pros:

  • 4 player Coop makes for some great social gaming marathons
  • New variants on familiar character classes and the new Mecromancer
  • Keeping the basic recipe for gameplay the same

Cons:

  • Weak story – I just couldn’t bring myself to care about it

Skyrim: Hearthfire DLC Coming Sept 4

Have you ever wanted to have children or build your own home in Skyrim? A place you can hang up your armor and relax in? On Sept 4th you can with the newest DLC chapter titled Hearthfire.

Hearthfire DLC

As demonstrated in this just-released video, Hearthfire allows you to purchase land and build your own home from the ground up – from a simple one-room cottage to a sprawling compound complete with armory, alchemy laboratory, and more. Choose your land, customize your house, guard it from unwanted visitors, and turn your house into a home by adopting children.
Hearthfire will be available for download for 400 Microsoft Points on Xbox LIVE® on September 4. For more information on The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim or Hearthfire please visit www.elderscrolls.com

Review – Transformers: Fall of Cybertron

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is a great title with alot of the same from the original but lacks a little “spark” the previous title “War for Cybertron” had so let’s transform and roll out as we take a look at the latest title in this highly anticipated sequel. As usual, we continue to stride to avoid as many spoilers as possible.

Fall of Cybertron immediately follows the the events of the wildly popular and successful title from 2010 Transformers: War for Cybertron as the Autobots and Decepticons wage war with one another in the final epic battle for supremacy of their home planet. We begin with the final stand of the Autobots vs the Decepticons as they prep for their final jump to our solar system. After some gun play and tutorials, we see the story take a step backwards by 6 earth days and thus begins our journey.

The graphics engine stayed EXACTLY the same as the previous game which disappointed me as it’s age really shows during the cut scenes. That’s not to say the game looks bad, just a little dated.

The game play is by and large still fully intact from War for Cybertron. We still have the 3rd person perspective, and all the base control schemes stay the same as they did very little to tweak or fart around with the original. Hey if it’s not broken don’t fix it right? Excellent. Some minor tweaks to the gameplay include purchasing weapon upgrades and perks through upgrade stations using points earned by dispatching your enemies. Further to the upgrades and perks, you will come across weapon loadout stations which allow you to purchase new weapons.

True to the previous instalment, FoC put the gamer in control of a variety of popular characters from the series across the 13 chapters. Every character feels and plays differently as they lead you through the story to the epic conclusion (my personal faves included Jazz, Megatron and Grimlock). One thing to note was that a few of the characters felt insanely over powered for his levels. An absolute cakewalk for me on Normal. I had no sense if urgency using these characters which can be both a blessing and a curse at the same time.

One of the things that really stood out to me while playing through Fall of Cybertron was that, despite the feel of urgency that many of the levels had, I never once felt that I was under the gun for time or overly stressed out because the gunfire was getting to be too much. See, the problem, was that I honestly felt like I had far too much time to breathe in between battles. It was almost as if the moments of balls to the walls action were far shorter than the moments of story telling…which in turn resulted into a slightly stunted campaign experience of approximately 9hours from start to finish.

***Edit*** In my haste, I somehow missed the Multiplayer portion of the review when I copied it over.

Keep with the theme of “if it aint broke don’t fix it” High Moon has opted to keep much of what everyone liked about the multiplayer with a few tweaks. The classes have been renamed as  Infiltrator, Destroyer, Titan, and Scientist. In FoC, the player can add their own personal touch by picking and choosing the various body parts  Head, Chest (the chest also determines your vehicle) Shoulders, Arms, Legs, Wheels, Tank Barrel, Wings, and Decals to create their own unique machine.

With 10 levels at launch the team Death Match and free for all modes are fast, frantic action chock full of chaos. Cooperative Escalation mode(my personal favorite) is back and just as fun as it was 2years ago. I spent a fair amount of time playing multiplayer when War for Cybertron hit and just abruptly stopped for some odd reason. Fall of Cybertron is everything I liked 2yrs ago. I don’t know why I even stopped playing it. I suspect this title is going to be in my system for a good long while.

High Moon Studios and Activision had a bona fide hit with this series. They told a great story, and keept to the basics without mucking around too much with the recipe that made War for Cybertron so special. Despite the few missteps this time around but that hardly made this a bad game.

Pros:

  • Great Story recounts the final days of Cybertron
  • The base recipe of War for Cybertron remains intact
  • Added RPG element with weapons upgrades and perks
  • 10 well designed multiplayer maps and escalation mode.

Cons:

  • Some characters felt over-powered
  • Campaign felt short

Feed Your Console gives Transformers: Fall of Cybertron 8 out of 10

Assassins Creed III – Naval Warfare Trailer

Just published today, Ubisoft presents the Navel Warfare Trailer for Assassins Creed III. Watch as Connor takes to the sea and battles with all cannons blasting. Board your enemies ships and lead your crew to the decks for some salty-wet hand to hand combat all along the Eastern Seaboard of Colonial America.

Every time I see a new trailer I get more excited for launch October 30, 2012 – which can’t come soon enough.

Darksiders 2 Live Stream 6:30PM EST and FREE in Game Weapons

I’ve decided that I’m going to do a live stream on Justin.TV tonight for Darksiders 2. I won’t be home until 6pm and plan to get on around 6:30 for a solid hour or so. Feel free to come along and check it out. I’ll be playing the game but will try and answer questions and interact with you guys as best as I can.

In the meantime – I have some information that you all might like. FREE IN GAME WEAPONS!!! Check out the details below.

Skip to the 25 minute mark. I kinda screwed up..

Watch live video from feed Your Console on TwitchTV

 

Free In-Game Weapons:

    Mace Maximus and Van Der Schmash Hammer are both free in-game weapons you can snag for your platform of choice by simply account linking your THQ ID in game and picking the game up before August 27th.

Van Der Schmash – Reward for In-Game Account Linking

      Pulverize your enemies with the Van der Schmash. This item is best suited for 5th – 10th level characters. Link your account in-game and claim your reward here:

http://darksiders.com/vanderschmash

Mace Maximus – Purchase Darksiders II before August 28, 2012

      Prove your greatness with the Mace Maximus. This item is best suited for 5th – 10th level characters. Purchase Darksiders II before August 28, 2012, and link your account in-game and claim your reward here:

http://darksiders.com/mace

Rusanov’s Axe – Like Darksiders on Facebook

      Watch your enemies flee in terror with Rusanov’s Axe. This item is best suited for 5th – 10th level characters.  Like the Official Darksiders II Facebook page and receive your Rusanov’s Axe:

https://www.facebook.com/Darksiders/app_412080318827801