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.

Astro A50’s

astro-a50-wireless-headsetThe few of you that read this blog know that I am an Astro Gaming fan.  I purchased my first pair of A40’s over 4 years ago and you read my thoughts on them here and here.  Simply put the A40’s were amazing but back than hard to justify the shipping and import taxers. Let’s fast forward nearly 4 years and with a new generation of consoles I decided it was time to invest in a new pair of wireless headphones.  I happened to get a good marketing email from Astro showcasing their private store. This private store is for registered Astro owners who can buy products at discounted prices.  I had some issues initially while placing an order and it took nearly a week to get a tracking number. I had emailed customer service countless times and never get a reply and finally got an tweet explaining that they just had switched ecommerce platforms and were experiencing issues. I get that, I work in ecommerce too but that doesn’t explain away the poor service.

In typical Astro fashion the packaging and box were well crafted and that’s what you get (and expect) for a premium product that retails for $299.99 USD. Each box contains; A50 Headset with Li-Ion Battery, ASTRO Wireless 5.8 Ghz Transmitter w/ KleerNet™, Headset Stand, 1.0M USB Power Cable, 0.5M USB Charging Cable, 1.0M Optical Cable, 1.5M XBOX Live® Chat Cable, manual and quick start guide.

The set up is fairly straightforward plug in your optical cable into the mixamp. Then plug in the micro USB into the mixamp and the USB end into the console (I used an Xbox One) this gives the mixamp power. Next up was I had to hold the power button on the mixamp and headphones in order to get them to sync. Once there synced up, your ready to get gaming. Something I really liked that was on my Astro A40’s was the ability to physically remove the microphone cable when I didn’t want to use it.  With the A50’s when the microphone is in a vertical position it’s turned off and if you pull it down, it turn’s it on.

All the controls are on the headphones which will take some time getting used to. I often found myself having to take them off to remember were the buttons where. There’s a power button, master volume button, game/voice balance option and a EQ mode select. The game voice allows you to either decrease game sound and focus on chat, focus on game and decrease chat (if your using it) or keep it balanced. It’s also worth playing with the three different EQ options media, core and pro.  Media focuses on movies and music, core is designed for single player gaming and pro is designed for competitive game play.

The sound these babies feature is amazing; Dolby Digital 7.1 with clarity and performance powered by KleerNet’s strongest 5.8Ghz solution available all weighing in at just 363 grams. They’re not the lightest pair of headphones however after several multi hour gaming sessions I wasn’t bothered or noticing it. When I’ve been sitting on the sofa recently playing games like Titanfall or SouthPark, there have been several times that my girlfriend has tried to talk to me, but with these headphones on I couldn’t hear a word she said.

If your using the Astro A50’s with an Xbox One your going to need to pick up a Xbox One Stereo headset adapter which plugs into your controller and allows you to plug a cable into your A50’s and than into your controller.

One thing to note for players is to keep an eye on the Astro Gaming Firmware page.  The team is releasing updates for the mixamp and headphones and you will want to be sure to keep up to date.

Overall I couldn’t be happier with my purchase, their wireless, the sound is amazing and they work with all four of my consoles. I understand some of you maybe a bit hesitant to spend this kind of money on a pair of gaming headphones but any of you are welcome to come over, pick a game, try them on and listen. If that doesn’t convince you than I don’t know what will.

Batman: Arkham Knight Announced

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The 3rd and final installment of the highly acclaimed game “Arkham” series was announced yesterday and with it, came a very cool trailer.

The trailer, while cinematic in nature, is absolutely stunning. The character models look to be more realistic in proportions, we get a glimpse of Harley Quinn, The Penguin, Two-Face and…THE FREAKING BATMOBILE! Yes, this time around, the Batmobile..or maybe Tumbler(it looks very reminiscent of the Nolan Tumbler) is in fact a drive-able vehicle. Rocksteady didn’t release a concrete release date but it is confirmed to be hitting XBox One, PS4 and PCs sometime in 2014.

“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.

CES 2014 – “Playstation Now” Announced

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I don’t like January. It’s cold (no seriously – We’re experiencing an Arctic Deep freeze up here) dreary, nothing much to look forward to but the small glimmer of awesome comes in the form of CES. A place for all us techno-junkies to drool over the latest, greatest and emerging technologies. Yesterday, a little piece of awesome was announced by Sony. Finally they have lifted some details on their Gaikai streaming service and it’s got a whole heck of a lot more meat to it than I had imagined for the launch.

“Playstation Now” is expected to launch in the summer (in the US) with a “Closed Beta” to take place this winter. The streaming service is going to be available across all current Playstation platforms and Sony TVs with future plans to launch on other platforms. Sony states that a 5Mbps internet connection is required for this service. No news on pricing or how it will all play out for users but I suspect it’s going to be similar to Netflix with an all you can eat monthly subscription model for older titles. I can’t see new games become a part of this service unless they make them available for say $5 per day of rental.

Anyway – that’s some pretty exciting news. What do you think?

Review – Max: The Curse of Brotherhood

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Max: The Curse of Brotherhood hit the Xbox One store on Friday. For some reason I thought I had read somewhere that it wouldn’t be out until early 2014 so I was pleasantly surprised to see the launch announcement Friday morning. After work was done, I was anxious to get home and sink my teeth into this quirky little title.

Max has a little brother named Felix and as far as little brothers go, he’s rather annoying. One this particular day, Max sought out a way to get rid of Felix on the internet by way of a spell. Felix is promptly whisked away to another world and Max jumps to his rescue armed with nothing more than a Magic Marker….No really, it’s just a plain old Magic Marker. When he meets an old woman who says she can help him, she imbues his Magic Marker with actual magical abilities.

The game itself is a 2.5D puzzle platformer with some unique gameplay elements. As Max runs through the various levels, he runs into a variety of obstacles which require the user to engage the Magic Marker to raise platforms, create vines or branches to climb or swing across, fire to blow up walls or water spouts to catapult Max to new areas. The puzzles are fun and rather clever. A few times I found myself pondering and trying solutions with no love. As it turns out, sometimes the most simple of solutions is in fact the right one and other times, it’s all about how precise you draw with that magic marker. A few times, it became apparent to me that my solution was correct, but my ability to draw the path with the thumbstick was the issue. The use of a stylus or maybe even a tablet would have made this exercise much less frustrating. Still, it wasn’t often I had these issues. I also had some extreme moments of frustration towards the end of the game when the drawing required both speed and precision to complete the task resulting in 10 or sometimes more deaths and re-attempts.

Graphically, Max:TCB is gorgeous. It feels like an interactive cartoon as you take Max on his adventure and it immediately drew me into the world. The colors are vibrant and worked perfectly with the feel and art direction. 

All in all, Max: The Curse of Brotherhood is a fantastic title despite the frustrations I had at moments they certainly don’t handicap the game to any real degree. If you’re wondering what to get with some of your XboxOne points that Santa leaves in your stocking, this is a game that’s more than deserving of your time and money.

Feed Your Console gives Max: The Curse of Brotherhood an enthusiastic 8.5 out of 10.

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).



My Christmas Wishlist 2013

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Dear Santa,

I know that I’m cutting it pretty damn close to the big day but as always, here’s my Christmas Wishlist.

I’m writing this a little later than usual because as you know, life can be crazy with a wife, my daughter, work and everything in between. This year has had it’s share of ups and downs for me but it looks like I’m going to make it out of 2013 after all. I’ve been very well behaved and have managed to not break a single controller all year long (HUGE WIN!). My gamerscore continues to climb to levels unlike those of most friends(About 17000GS added this calendar year). I also got myself an Xbox One with a few games which I’ve really enjoyed playing and teaching the family how to use the voice controls. At any rate, here’s my Christmas Wishlist:

1 – An adapter for my Turtlebeach headset to work with my Xbox One and PS4 for chat and audio. This is near the top of my list because I don’t want to go out and spend $300 on a new headset. I just got this one a little over a year ago.

2 – A trip to E3. Every year I say I’m going to make the trip and yet, every year something gets in the way. This year I had my money all set aside, I had a plan to go see some friends in California and go with them and then I was laid off. Please help me make it possible this year.

3 – I love my Xbox One and I know I’ll get myself a PS4 in 2014 but please Santa, I need to see more mind blowing games and I need to see that they’re going to be out in 2014. I’m pretty sure TitanFall is going to knock it out of the park but that’s one title. I need more more more.

4 – New Leadership for Nintendo…I’m sorry but Nintendo is a shadow of it’s former self. Whenever Nintendo has something to announce, I roll my eyes because it’s just sad to see Reggie saunter out and talk about how awesome they’re doing when clearly, we know that to be false. The only thing they have going for them are their first party titles. They should just get out of the console business and make games OR they need to rethink their strategies and make something mind blowing that excites gamers and developers alike.

5 – Better XboxOne interface – I love the system but, as I outlined in my review, it’s not without it’s faults. Can you please ensure a swift turn around on those adjustments to party chat, video playback format support and the glitchy things that keep popping up.

6 – Lastly, I need a little more time in my day to write. Actually all of us here at FYC could use a little more time to spend here at our little slice on the web.

Thanks for taking note Santa. Merry Christmas to you and everyone else.