NHL 15 Revealed!

Earlier today EA Sports announced NHL 15. They’ve also announced that Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick and Eddie Olczyk have joined the broadcast booth. TSN analyst Ray Ferraro will provide game insights at ice level. They also modeled over 9,000 individual crowd models.

Like previous years fans can vote for who they want on the cover of this years NHL. Head over here to vote.

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Kinect Sports Rivals Review

If you’re like me and acquired an Xbox One on launch day, you’ve probably spent the last 4 months yelling at our Xbox using the Kinect since that’s all we could use it for. Sure games like Ryse: Son of Rome have voice commands but they seemed tacked on as an after thought. However, we finally have our first Kinect game for Xbox One Kinect Sports Rivals, this is the next generation sequel to the Xbox 360 Kinect Sports games.

Navigating around the menus wasn’t designed for a controller, but you can use it if you desire too, it’s designed for hand gestures and voice. The issue I have with the voice controls is I have to say “listen” and than a keyword that’s on screen. After I do something like Listen, quick play, it will make me say listen again to perform another action. I disagree with this sequence, since the Kinect knows I just used my voice to do an action, so why make me do that again?

If you’re like me and live in a apartment or condo, you may have a hard time finding enough space to play this game. I have just about 4 feet from my TV to my sofa and don’t have the space to move my sofa in order to play and Kinect Sports Rivals is constantly telling me to move back because it can’t see my feet.

Like the previous Kinect Sports game the soundtrack features artists like Avicii, Daft Punk and Franz Ferdinand. The good music adds to the atmosphere. I really enjoyed hearing some good tunes while playing various sports.

Kinect Sports Rivals Hub is a companion app that I had to download separately (why it wasn’t included in the main game or just on smart glass I don’t know) but it’s the source for news, updates and global competition. The more you play the various sports and challenges, the more fans you’ll earn, allowing you to move from the bronze league (beginner league) to the silver, gold, platinum, diamond or master league (rivals league consists of six different leagues each containing six star divisions).

Rivals offers six different sports for you to play which include; wake racing, climbing, target shooting, soccer, tennis and bowling. The latter 3 on this list are returning from Kinect Sports and have been updated for Rivals.

Let’s start with wake racing which has the player reach out with their right hand, close it in which engages the throttle. Players than move either their right or left hand in and out depending if you need to turn right or left. If it’s a sharp turn you’ll be required to use your body to lean. Want to perform a trick? You’ll need to bend forward. This will allow you to unlock power-ups in the game like force field, speed boost or mine drop.

Rock Climbing has a player use an open hand to peg, close your fist and than repeat with the other hand which will allow you to move up the wall. You maybe required to perform the same actions to go sideways before you can go up. Can’t reach a peg? you’ll need to jump and than grab a peg to continue your climb.

Target shooting is basically move your hand and point at the target as fast as you can to hit it. If your quick enough and you can see your opponents targets shoot ’em and steal their points. Your competitor can activate a power-up that will have you dodging incoming fire but if you get hit you’ll lose points.

Soccer (it’s really called football but that’s ok), my favourite sport is back, and as you expect it’s quite simple to play. Side kick to pass, kick it with your toes to get some air under it or even try heading it into the net. It’s sounds simple but you’ve only got 20 seconds to score before the shot clock runs out. They’ve removed defending completely and I’m not sure why exactly. It kind of feels a little half ass in my opinion. Now it’s time to defend and by that I mean play goal and simply move your body to where the ball appears on screen trying to stop it.

Bowling feels the same like it did in previous Kinect Sports games. Put your hand over your head to start the game, grab a ball from either the left or right side and throw the ball like you would if you really bowling. You’ll need to move your body slightly to align with the arrows on the lane and if your feeling brave after releasing the ball move your wrist to the left or right to add spin to the ball.

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Last up is Tennis. Reach out to either side and grab a racquet, throw the ball in the  air and swing, it’s really that simple. You could also put in some back spin or top spin if you can pull it off successfully (it’s quite easy).

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Besides the issues I experienced in getting the voice commands working properly in order to navigate around the island and the issues with my feet not being seen while playing soccer, I really enjoyed Kinect Sports Rivals. Yes, my Kinect is barely 4 feet away from where I was playing but when you live in a apartment or condo you really can’t change that. Microsoft and Rare need to do a better job of that aspect. The gameplay was fun and I was constantly checking out the Rivals Hub to see how my friends were performing.

Besides the issues I experienced in getting the voice commands working properly in order to navigate around the island and the issues with my feet not being seen while playing soccer, I really enjoyed Kinect Sports Rivals. Microsoft and Rare need to do a better job of that aspect. The gameplay was fun and I was constantly checking out the Rivals Hub to see how my friends were performing.

Feed Your Console Gives Kinect Sports Rivals a 7 out of 10.

Titanfall A Month Later

TF-Panoramic-Overwatchofficially released on March 11th 2014 for Xbox One and PC with the Xbox 360 version coming in April. Here we are, 19 days later and the words “prepare for Titanfall” still put a smile on my face. To me, Titanfall is Call of Duty plus Rock-em Sock-em Robots or some could say it’s Pacific Rim the movie, that came out in 2013. Whatever way you slice it and dice it, it’s a new game on the Xbox One, we all wanted and needed it and it’s been a hell of a lot of fun.

Let me start of by saying I just hit level 50 and did the regeneration thing and I’ve had a ton of fun, some great moments but now I feel like now that I’ve done all that, what’s the point of going back to doing it all again? I’ve played over 50+ campaign missions and I’ve won 24 attrition matches and lost a quiet a few, but I don’t have an interest to go check out the other modes like HardPoint Domination, Capture the Flag and Pilot Hunter. I’ve played a few rounds of Last Titan Standing which is exactly as it says Titan Vs Titan and let me tell you trying to play this mode with random 12 years olds on Xbox Live wasn’t fun.

Introducing the wall running and jetpacks add’s a whole new element and strategy to the game. As a player navigating it’s way through the battlefield you need to be cautious of the high ground when getting killed. I often found my self navigating between running and jumping over the buildings as I found it allowed me to survey the battlefield to get a sense of what I was about to get myself into. I never found myself using the same route to game back into battle. Being able to use a jet pack, wall run, double jump and using the environments opens up so many different routes to get back into battle it was one of my favorite elements.

Don’t worry if you die. You will die lots, spawn very quickly and be back into the action running into pilots, grunts and spectres within seconds. Since most of this game relies on the Xbox Cloud service I was underwhelmed with how unintelligent and easy to kill the sepctres and grunts where in this game. Often, they didn’t pose much of a challenge and more often than not, found myself wondering why they were even in the level as they didn’t seem to help but where more of a hindrance to each team.

As you start playing you will unlock X, gain levels and unlock different weapons and customization options to build out your load. This encourages variety and keeps things interesting as each weapon has it’s own set of challenge levels (5 in general) that allow each player to earn additional XP to level faster. This ability also extends to the Titans themselves where you pick a base chassis of either an Atlas, Ogre or Stryder and build on your load outs from there. Do you want a canon, a railgun or a rocket launcher? These are all decisions you need to pick and experiment with in order to figure out what works best for you. Do you want an agile titan? if the answer is yes your going to go with a Stryder as it places an emphasis on speed and movement to win battles. Are you like me and like to walk into a Titan fight and just start shooting and expect to take a lot of damage in the process of downing another Titan? if that sounds like you, your most likely going to take an Orge into battle.

Once you press to initiate Tianfall and watch your Titan drop in from the sky it does nothing but put a smile on your face as it now it’s time to hop in and kill enemies. Alternatively you can set it to guard mode and have it follow you around and protect you, assist in battle and kill enemies even on it’s own in a reliable fashion. The Titans are not invincible and will die they do poses a shield that recharges like Halo but the overall armor won’t. Once your Titan dies you will have to wait upwards of two minutes unless you start killing pilots or Titans or play a burn card that accelerates the countdown timer for you. Pilot’s are equipped with anti Titan weapons and it makes for a truly interesting player vs Titan battle. Yes, pilots can beat the Titan but you will have to rely on cloaking, hiding in buildings or performing a rodeo on the Titan. What’s a Rodeo you ask? It’s when a pilot jumps on an enemy Titan, rips off a hatch and starts killing it. There are anti rodeo options available for Titan’s as well.

I wanted to share this clip which I titled ‘Run Forest Run’.

Just a reminder that Titanfall is an online only game on the Xbox One so if Xbox Live or your internet go down, so does Titanfall. I understand for some that paying $60 dollars for an online only game maybe a tough pill to swallow, but given the current lack of games to play, I would suggest doing it even if you only play 20 hours or so like I did. It was worth it. Another item to note is that when I’ve had a lot of action going on my screen the frame rate drops badly, leaving me wondering how this managed to happen.

“Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare” is now available on Xbox One and Xbox 360

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The highly anticipated sequel to Plants vs. Zombies ..aptly names “Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare” is officially out for Xbox One and Xbox 360 Consoles.

Personally, I never played the original, but this game looks and sounds like a helluva good time and I have every intention of getting my hands on this title in time for the weekend…Now I just have to decide if I go Xbox One or Xbox 360 on this.

My Weekend With the TitanFall Open Beta

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Last weekend I was provided a code to be on the TitanFall Open Beta. Being one of those rare titles that has an insane amount of buzz surrounding it, I raced home that night after work to get it started on the download. After an agonizing long time( my crappy ISPs fault) finally, the notification that I can power the game up and finally jump in…DENIED! Server issues. Awww well. That’s the kind of thing these tests are designed to look for right?

The next morning I jumped out of bed bright and early to get a little time in before my wife and daughter woke up. The anticipation was high…logging into server…connecting to server… JOY! It’s go time. Before getting into the online action, I was prompted to run through a tutorial which was helpful.

My first few rounds were bad…I mean, really really bad because I was admiring the graphics, playing around with the different weapons and the jumping and just looking to get a basic idea of the map layouts. Immediately it became apparent to me just just how accessible the game was to new players and veterans alike. I’ve played a lot of FPS games but in all honesty, if I was to rate myself, I’m pretty average at best for the most part but this game had me feeling pretty damn good about myself. Previously, I wondered whether the ability to call in a Titan might be associated with kill streaks but thankfully, that’s not the case. In fact, once in the game, you will be notified that there is currently a countdown (2 minutes)to when you may call in your Titan – Play better and you can cut that time down. Titan control is just as tight as controlling your combatant yet the size and weight of the Titan is easily felt without it coming off as clunky or cumbersome.

Admittedly, when I first heard about the running, super powered jumps I had concerns that the game would be full of people jumping up and down spastically in the same way they do in CoD or Halo but I was wrong. It actually works. Running through the levels and performing parkour style wall runs and jumps is seamless and feels natural. Another little thing that I noticed – NO CAMPING! Ok let me rephrase that – There’s camping going on but they ALWAYS pay for it in the end and there’s no quick scoping. It was such a refreshing breath of fresh-air to not be killed from 3/4 of the way across the map to some schmuck with a sniper rifle.

What really got me is just how engrossed I became as quickly as I did. I maxed out my level to 14 (which is what the Beta Max was), I actually tinkered a lot with my different loadouts, I learned the 2 available levels quickly,

All in all, I have to say that was some of the most fun I’ve had in a long time playing a competitive online shooter. If you’re sitting on the fence with respect to whether you should get this game, hop off. This game has the potential to being one of the best games 2014 has to offer. I absolutely loved it and can’t wait for the game’s final release.

The Evil Within Gets an Official Release Date

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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.

Max: The Curse of Brotherhood Out Now

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Well, apparently I was either completely asleep at the switch or I forgot but anyway, Max: The Curse of Brotherhood has hit Xbox One today. This is actually one of those titles that I instantly knew I needed to play when I saw the first trailer for it and luckily for me, I will be playing it tonight. I can’t wait it looks absolutely beautiful.

Thanks Microsoft

Anyway, check out some new screenshots of Max: The Curse of Brotherhood and check back with us for a full review in the coming days (I hope).



Review – Ryse: Son of Rome

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As one of the premiere exclusives announced for the Xbox One earlier this year, Ryse was met with some considerable push back and scathing comments from gamers and journalists alike for it’s gameplay demo. Crytek took those criticisms and ran with them looking to fix as much as they could in a relatively short amount of time.

Ryse puts players in the control of Marius Titus, who witnesses his family get brutally murdered by a band of Barbarians. In an act of rage and vengeance, he seeks out a role in the Roman Army. Marius’ story unfolds as he quickly rises through the ranks during the bloody conflict with the Barbarian masses. I liked the story. It was a little cliche…OK a lot cliche at times but who cares? If it’s entertaining and makes you want to keep moving on to see what happens next, then it’s effective.

As a premiere launch title for Xbox One, it was important to show off why we need to spend $500 on a new console and Crytek handily proved the Xbox One’s graphical prowess. It’s absolutely GORGEOUS. The environments, lighting and character models are top notch. Every little detail from the water, to the fire to the cracks in the marble columns and floors. Every little detail was painstakingly addressed and it did not go unnoticed by me. I must admit that it didn’t take long for me to notice that there are really just 5 or 6 enemy models which was a little disappointing but forgivable.

The game itself is very much on the rails in that there really is no way you can go from point a to b in one direction. At times, the player is also given command of his army, using voice commands, Marius can call in the archers for support or take a stance with other troops and in a phalanx formation. When fighting the masses, Marius can initiate a bloody and visceral execution to dispatch his enemy once and for all (children need not apply here). This is really where much of the early criticism stemmed from. In early demos, a big colored button popped up on screen in the form of a QTE. These can be rather distracting and really take away from the game – Crytek has righted that wrong by subtly outlining the enemy in a color that directly corresponds to the colors of the controllers face buttons. So really, the QTEs are still there they’re just a little less in your face and it works well.

The saying “K-I-S-S” or “Keep It Simple Stupid” is the mantra of the day when referring to the 2 player cooperative battles in Ryse. It is nothing more than putting the 2 players into an arena or Colosseum to fight out a scenario in front of thousands of blood thirsty Romans. Play through the scenarios, with the love of the crowd and you earn money which can be used to buy “Booster Packs” to outfit your gladiator with. It’s simple, fast and fun. Exactly what the doctor ordered.

I quite enjoyed Ryse: Son of Rome. I liked the single player story enough to play through it twice in short order and have had copious amounts of fun with the multiplayer. Looking forward to going home tonight to sink my teeth into the free DLC that was just released earlier today. This is another must buy title for your Xbox One.

Feed Your Console gives Ryse: Son of Rome an 8.5  out of 10

Review – Dead Rising 3

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The Next Generation of gaming is finally upon us and shambling in at the front of the line is the 3rd installment of Capcom’s highly successful and popular franchise, Dead Rising 3.

As a lover of all things Zombies, DR3 is a natural fit for me and was a day one pickup for my Xbox One. I was sold the very second I laid eyes on in-game footage – The sheer number of zombies on screen easily eclipses previous installments and I knew Capcom was on to something special here.

Dead Rising 3 gives us a new protagonist in Nick Ramos, a mechanic with a penchant for creating vehicles and weapons of mayhem at a moments notice as he runs around the fictional city of Los Perdidos in an effort to rescue survivors and perform tasks all with the final goal of escaping the city alive.

The gameplay is pretty well cookie cutter to the series with very little refinements done to to overall control scheme or the typical errand boy type missions. That’s not particularly a bad thing though – Dead Rising has never been about being serious or innovative new gameplay mechanics. It’s also not about incredible story telling (though they have been fun stories)..Dead Rising 3 is about the adventure of getting to your destination. Ducking, dodging and smashing your way from point A to point B as endless hordes of zombies threaten to stop you. And that is where the game’s true brilliance is. A new addition that should be note is the ability to make some truly visceral vehicles to help add to the carnage and flying body parts. We’re talking steamrollers + motorcycles destruction. It’s fantastic. You can also ask a buddy to join the frackus cooperatively as “Dick”. I found the cooperative game made DR3 considerably easier especially when fighting the deranged bosses where one can attract their attention while the other attacks from the side.

My favorite addition to the game comes in the form of Kinect interaction. When a zombie grabs you for a snack, you can push towards the screen and Nick will shove the zombie off him. It’s a natural motion that just works really well. Also with Kinect, when you say “over here” your voice can be heard by zombies in the immediate area will hear you and begin shambling their way to your direction. This can be helpful when facing the masses – Just climb up on a truck call out to them and then jump over them…orrrr…..toss down some form or explosive and BLOW THOSE EFFERS UP! (My personal favorite).

Similar to DR1 and 2, throughout the overall story are some interesting “boss” missions. The bosses are just as over the top and insane as you’d come to expect from Dead Rising. From the roided out female body builder Cherii to the Dom with a flame thrower that resembles an over-sized erection(hilarious all the way).

Graphically DR3 is a massive step up on it’s predecessor. The zombies are more varied in their appearance and their movements. Did I mention just how many of these bloody things can be on screen at any given time? My god it feels as though there are times where there has to be 1000 zombies on screen at any given time. It’s especially impressive when you come up over a hill on the highway and there’s just a sea of zombies shambling around as far as the eye can see.

If there’s any one title you bring home for your Newly minted Xbox One, this is it.

Feed Your Console Gives Dead Rising a solid 8.5 out of 10

 

Xbox One – My First 48 Hours With Microsoft’s Shiny New Console

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I’ve just finished a long gaming session with my brand new XBox One. At my fingertips, I have Dead Rising 3, Ryse: Son of Rome, Lococycle, Assassins Creed 4, Zoo Tycoon and Powerstar Golf. I’ve spent time in only 3 of those titles but it’s logged in roughly 20 hours of my life in the past 36.

I have to say…It’s a great system but it’s not without it’s faults. I found some glaring holes but am confident that these issues will be addressed in due time. Hopefully sooner than later. Here are my impressions.

Kinect  – I’m going to really love voice command. I actually caught myself starting to issue a command to the TV in my bedroom. I’m also digging the voice commands that I’ve had the opportunity to express in Ryse and Dead Rising 3. As long as developers don’t just shoehorn these functions into their games for the sake of having them, I think that with the newly advanced Kinect, we’re going to see some awesome implementations. The camera has incredible picture and the microphone is outstanding. I haven’t yet had the chance to play anything that’s 100% reliant on Kinect, but I’m looking forward to it.

The New Dashboard – It’s different…That’s not to say it’s terrible but, it’s not incredible. It could be though. I find that I’m stumbling around looking for things in this OS. They’ve streamlined so much that the pieces of the OS that I like to access or use religiously on Xbox 360, feel cumbersome on the Xbox One.

Mandatory Installs – I’m no fan…In fact, mandatory installs suck…there…I said it. It’s one of those things I rarely if ever did on the 360 especially if it’s a new game that I’m chomping at the bit to play. I want to put the disc in the drive and play the goddamn game. I don’t want to wait for 10+ minutes for it to install enough of a game before I can play it. I Know 10 minutes sounds like a short time but as any gamer will tell you, when it comes to a highly anticipated title, 10 minutes seems like a lifetime. When I put Ryse into my system yesterday, I was immediately greeted with a need for a 1.2GB update (someone told me that Forza was 6GB – HOLY CRAP!). How wonderful. My crappy rural wireless internet is so consistently inconsistent, that the update took the better part of 2 hours.

The New Controller -while it’s not as radical a change this time around as it was from the original Xbox to the 360, the differences are noteworthy. The D-Pad received a much requested change, the size is a shade smaller, the triggers have vibration, the shoulder buttons have been slightly modified and the battery pack is smaller. At first I was concerned about the size change but all in all, I love the new controller.

Game/Party Chat – Party chats have undergone some changes and not necessarily for the better. One glaring omission is the inability to engage in voice chat with people who are still playing on the 360. I recall them stating this would be the case some time ago but somewhere deep down I was hoping they wold have made it work somehow. The system does give you the option to invite them to a party(but the invitation doesn’t actually make it to them) so that leads me to think that perhaps they’re working on a solution. I can’t be the only person out there who would like to stay in contact with their 360 friends who aren’t jumping in right away.

The New Audio codec used  by Xbox One chat is noticeably leaps and bounds better than the 360. Another note about chat/party chat, to invite people to party chat, you open your friends list and click on either one person or multiple if you like then you hit the send invite button. I like that but what I don’t like is having to physically turn chat on. I invited these people to a chat..obviously I want to chat with them so why make me activate the chat? Pretty silly if you ask me.

The Hardware – I love the look and feel of my new Xbox. It’s actually not as large or heavy as I had expected.  The system as a whole is whisper quiet. If I had one major complaint to make about the hardware as a whole, it’s the power brick. It’s big, bulky and extremely difficult to hide.

Xbox Live – I’m not sure if this is an issue with my ISP, Xbox Live or by design of how gaming is handled but I’ve noticed some quirky behavior. For example, when playing Dead Rising, sometimes the game will allow me to invite a friend into the game, and other times it doesn’t. After one particular case, my friend invited me to join his game but I never received the invitation and then 10 minutes later while in the middle of a boss battle, I was magically whisked away and thrust into his game without so much as a notification or an acceptance on the invitation by me.

Another time while playing Ryse, the same friend and I were chatting in a party and I set up a game for some multiplayer – the game immediately told me it found my friend to play with but, he doesn’t even have the game so I was stuck at a menu with my friends name in the other slot. It wasn’t until I left the party and then set up a new matchmaking session that it worked. Another noticeable omission is the notifications that friends have come online.

I love the snap feature but I have to say that it feels a little cumbersome. WHen I say “Xbox Snap TV” it loads the TV app but then the active window becomes the Snapped window. To get back to my game, i have to hit the xbox guide button then move my cursor over to the left to the game window. The screen also felt a little constrained and small. I’m not sure if there’s a limitation with making the screen larger or adjusting he size but it felt needlessly small on my 92″ projector screen when watching hockey yesterday. I can only imagine how it looks on a smaller normal sized screen.

All in all I’m very much enjoying my time with the new system and I look forward to seeing what the future has in store but there is definitely room for improvement.