xbox 360

Rated M for Mature

This article originally started out as “this is how the first one looked and this is how it looks now!” Basically a bunch of pictures showing how far, graphically, we’ve come. I think gaming is in a weirder place than it has ever been over the last few years. It’s more mature than it use to be, it’s quite a bit smart than it use to be. I believe gaming is at a point where we can say that different genres warrant different speculation just like movies do. I’m not going to play Max Payne for the humor that a game like Shadows of the Damned may have. I’m playing different games for different types of entertainment. With all this said, I think the whole debate about games being art is kind of lost and when it is brought up, ignorant. Movies are art, even if it’s a horrible film it’s still art. Even if it’s a horrible game, it’s still art.

So here it is.

Max Payne 1 grows up to become Max Payne 3
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As close as people hold Max Payne 1 and 2 to their chests, I think it’s sort of obvious that Max Payne 3 is the best of the series. Story alone, Max Payne 3 really puts everything into perspective. Max is an addict. Max is an alcoholic. In a weird way, Max Payne 3 shed some light on how bad a self destructive person can be, even if they start trying to do the right thing we see that it will take time and extreme effort. I believe that Max Payne 3 is the strongest showcase of what video games can pull off in terms of story telling, amongst many other things.

Halo – Halo 4
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In a lesser way, Halo is a great franchise to look at. Ever seen a movie and loved it but then later find out some new director is picking up the series? (Star Trek)
After the huge success of Halo 3, two games and a falling out between companies later, Halo 4 is handed off to 343. Most, including myself, were highly skeptical of the series becoming a heaping pile of garbage. Maybe it’s because more often than not when games are handed off from one company to another they become terrible wastes of resources. (see Duke Nukem Forever)
Then Halo 4 came out and fans of the series rejoiced for the most part. Now, with a new microsoft system out, 343 begins another test of gamers faith by announcing HALO(5?) for XBOX ONE.

Kane and Lynch 2
One of my favorite games of all time. Spoilers ahead.
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In Kane and Lynch 2 I believe gamers saw something beyond the norm when it comes to Mature Content. Most games that receive an M rating have extreme gore, or language or nudity, Kane and Lynch 2 has that and  while this game was not showing off blood like in Gears of War it was showing a Mature rating similar to Max Payne 3’s reasons. Two arms dealers further ruining their lack of normal lives as they continue criminal activity. This breaks out into an all out war between the two and Shanghai mobsters. We at one point see the two being tortured nude while strapped to chairs by a man with a box cutter who has raped and killed Lynch’s wife Xui. Lynch is left to die later in a dumpster but manages to get back into the room where the man continues to torture Kane, but Lynch kills that man. The two immediately begin racing across the streets of Shanghai, still nude, while fighting off mob enemies. This ends with a highly uncomfortable but much needed “hashing out” between the two characters.

This segment of the game really broke me. Prior to this game I hadn’t taken many stories within the video game universe that serious. Seeing this brings along a weird sense of discomfort but also a “need” to continue on. Kane and Lynch 2 was not the first game to bring about this level of mature content in video games and certainly won’t be the last, but it should be brought up occasionally. I long for a Kane and Lynch 3. I even wrote out a wish list that I will type up and post here eventually. I truly believe that if we had more games bring on this incredible and somewhat overwhelming presentation of realistic content, the debate for “but is it art?!?!” would cease to exist.

Wylie Dean Tilson

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Grand Theft Auto 5 – In Comparison/Basicgamers Review

Grand Theft Auto V

The basicgamers Review

Grand Theft Auto 5 is the long awaited sequel to Rockstar’s most beloved franchise. Since the original debut of GTA on the xbox 360 and PS3, Rockstar released 3 full games and multiple dlc packs. With all this in mind, how did the multiplayer of GTA 5 fall so hard?

Looks
GTA 5 is without question the best looking Grand Theft Auto in the series, it’s also the largest map ever created for a Rockstar open world game. When you drive from the inner city up to the woods, it takes a while and there is plenty to see. The only fault in this is severe texture pop in and that’s expected with a game of this size but still a regular issue. The main characters of this title look better than any character featured in GTA 4 and for the most part Red Dead. It’s weird to see these characters on par with the facial features of Max Payne 3 and L.A Noire. The cars all have realistic shine and reflection where applicable. The structures all have small graffiti marks and chips and dirt and much more, everything fits the personality of this living city. NPC’s even have realistic facial reactions to your actions in the world.

Looks: 4.5/5

Gameplay
This is easily the best playing GTA. The cover mechanic from GTA 4 makes a return and it feels better fleshed out here. The shooting is also a step up from previous Rockstar titles including Max Payne 3. The running feels appropriate to each characters size, the driving feels more realistic and controllable but doesn’t feel like video game driving and the characters you control in this game don’t feel as awkward as controlling Niko in GTA 4. One of the new gameplay mechanics introduced in GTA 5 is the ability to swap character at almost any moment during free roam and in missions. It’s kind of hard to explain this feature accurately without showing but trust me, it works. All in all this is the best Rockstar has done in terms of control and the tightening of gameplay mechanics. The simple fact that the character animations don’t take away from the player actions is a huge leap over previous Rockstar titles.

5/5

Audio
The audio in this title is something else entirely. The radio stations all have their own distinct personalities and have hours of listening to provide but eventually wear out their welcome when you hear the same lines repeated over and over again. The guns in this game sound better than ever before. The pistols all have their own personal “pop” and the rifles really sound powerful until you slap a silencer on them. The most notable piece of audio to point out is the world of Los Santos. NPCs talking on their cellphones, cars whizzing by, trucks shaking as they cross the highway. It all adds to sense that this map isn’t just a map but instead a fully functioning city within the GTA universe.

Side Note: The TV, movie theatre and main characters all provide some of the best dialogue I’ve experienced within a game.

5/5

In comparison to other Grand Theft Auto titles, I’d give the game a 5/5. A shorter story than usual but tons of replay value matched with some of the best controls will give the player one of the best experiences gaming has to offer.

In Review though, I’m giving this game a 4/5. The multiplayer really ruined this experience for me. The most fun to gain out of multiplayer is sadly not brought on by Rockstar’s missions but instead by the antics performed amongst friends. My score has nothing to do with the shaky start the multiplayer had either. That’s expected with a game of this size. My only real question is, where are the multiplayer Heists we were promised?

GTA5
4/5

By Wylie Dean

Thoughts on … Max Payne 3 (Minor Spoilers)

I’ll explain the title first. The title of these segments will be called “Thoughts on (game title)”

What are these?

“Thoughts on” articles are a way for us to talk about games, give a score to it (or not) and recommend or give warning. It’s really just a less structured review.

I chose Max Payne 3 for a few reasons. 1. Rockstar is my favorite developer 2. Max Payne 3 is one of my top 5 favorite games this generation 3. It’s only $4.99(US) on XBOX LIVE right now … YOU SHOULD BUY IT.

Max Payne 3 feels great. That’s how I want to start this because I feel that there are little things in games that go unnoticed. What am I talking about? F.E.A.R 3 has amazing dual wielding, but no one really talked about and I get that in reviews there is almost no room to mention these things but that’s what this is for. Little things. Max Payne 3’s little thing for me was it’s maturity. Max Payne 3 has this incredible presentation of brutal honesty while still being realistic and what makes that amazing to me is this game has Bullet Time in it but still feel realistic. There is a point in MP3 where Max is detoxing and shaves his head. That was so important to me. It showed this character who has been abusing pills since the first game and then Rockstar took it away. I got nervous. I got really scared at the same time because I was thinking “OH MAN there are going to be no more pills in the game. THIS GAME IS GOING TO GET INSANELY DIFFICULT!” and while that didn’t happen, I played the rest of game without using pills because I wanted to be honest with the story. I really could not get enough of this game. I perfected it on an old PSN account and still bought it TWICE for 360 because of how fantastic it is. I highly recommend that if you are going to get this game on 360 you buy the games on demand version instead of used. Why? You won’t have to switch discs and you’ll get all the multiplayer content for free.

Max Payne 3

5/5

Wylie

Side Note: My xbox live name is SYNAPAUSE, if you ever want to play multiplayer or just chat while you play through the story, I’m up for it. I don’t care if you’re reading this 5 years late, lets do it!

Borderlands 2 – The Review

Borderlands 2 Review
by Chad

Borderlands 2, the sequel to the 2008 hit genre hybrid Borderlands, improves on just about every
aspect of its predecessor. There are more guns, new kickass classes to play as, and a whole lot
more, so let’s get right into it.

Plot:

Set five years after the original, Handsome Jack, new dictator/president of the Hyperion Corporation, has declared himself ruler of Pandora and even took the credit for discovering the Vault from the last game. He’s positioned his giant Hyperion ship in front of the moon, which is a constant
presence throughout the game, reminding you of your ultimate goal. Which is to kill him and restore
“peace” to Pandora. With new threats come new heroes, including the Assassin Zero, the Commando
Axton, the Gunzerker Salvador, with the only returning class being the Siren, although it’s not
Lilith anymore, it’s some blue haired girl who’s name I don’t remember. There are also dlc characters,
Gaige the Mechromancer, and Krieg the Psycho. The original characters make a comeback as well, but
only as NPCs. After your character is discovered by Claptrap after the opening cutscene, you
and the hilariously sad robot make your way to Sanctuary, the only city free of Hyperion influence, but not before killing a LOT of bandits and bullymongs (imagine a yeti/gorilla with four arms) along the way. The story is… well, my friend boosted my character to level cap and blasting through everything just got boring after a while, to be honest. As a result, I cannot properly review the plot. I will, however, rate what I have played through.

Synopsis? After following Claptrap back to his hideout, he is mauled by a huge bullymong called Knuckledragger, losing his eye in the process. Afterwards, you get your first gun, and get to go out into the world… Almost. Claptrap needs you to help him find his eye and kill Knuckledragger (which of course, you do). Then the AI from the last game helps you hack a door in order to get through a Hyperion gate to the next town, which is being harassed by bandits AND bullymongs. A gentlemen named Sir Hammerlock hails you on your ECHO device and requests you deal with the trouble. Once that’s finished, he’ll repair Claptrap’s eye and from there you can do some sidequests before you move on to taking on the bandits and their leader, Captain Flynt, who’s ship you need in order get to Sanctuary. There is humor in this one, much like the last game and just as good. The sheer amount of references and jokes is astounding!

Gameplay:

The gameplay is essentially the same as the first game, just run and shoot everything hostile
while doing quests. I personally had a bit of trouble hitting certain enemies on my PC version, but
that’s more than likely just me sucking. There are also an abundance of customization options for your character, which you unlock by either finding them, as quest rewards, or completing certain challenges. There is a Diablo-esque stash (which you unlock after doing a quest for Claptrap), in which you can put weapons into for any other characters of yours that could use them. This allows you to beef lower level characters up with super ridiculously powerful weapons (as long as they’re high enough level to use them, that is). You can also do challenges for “badass rank”, which is a stat leveling system. You get a point each time your rank goes up and get to spend it on 5 randomized stats to increase. The selection of stats differs each time, which is to avoid people pouring all their points in one stat, I guess. There’s also a trading system now that wasn’t in the first game, so you don’t have to drop weapons and risk people you don’t want taking them.

As you’re shooting across Pandora, you may come across chests with loot. Some of these chests
can be booby-trapped with a live grenade, or even someone who wants to kill you. You would think they’d be grateful for
getting them out… There’s also new currency in the form of glowy-purple rocks called Eridium.
They can be used to buy inventory and weapon ammo capacity upgrades from a certain shop in Sanctuary. Speaking of weapons,
there are 8 weapon manufacturers in this game, each with their own “gimmick”. Bandit guns (they start making their own this time)
have very large clips at the cost of increased reload times and generally below average stats. They have a DIY look to them,
with exposed bolts, screws and tape and their names are generally misspelled. The returning manufacturers include
Dahl, whose weapons change fire rate depending whether you’re aiming or shooting from the hip, Hyperion, whose accuracy gets better the more you shoot, Jakobs, the good ol’ non-elemental sniper rifles(save a few), Maliwan, whose weapons are all elemental, Tediore, which you throw like a grenade upon reloading, Torgue, which are high damage explosives (and my personal favorite)
and Vladof, which typically have high fire rates that increase the longer you shoot. Eridium weapons from the last game have been replaced with E-Tech, which are incredibly rare and powerful weapons that are typically found as quest rewards or in the Golden Chest in Sanctuary. The key component of an E-tech weapon is the iconic barrel, which is hexagonal in shape with glowy parts on the inside that open when you fire.

Borderlands 2 is fun, but even more so when you play with friends. I cannot tell you how many hours
I’ve spent running and gunning with buddies and never getting bored. The difficulty increases the more friends are
with you, which makes it even more fun (for me anyway). The classes all feel unique, just as they did the last time, all with their
own weapon preferences and abilites. The Commando borrows a lot of abilities from the soldier class, including his special, the Scorpio Turret. The Assassin is a hunter-like class, with a little more emphasis on melee attacks, although he can still use any weapon. His special ability involves making a hologram of himself to distract enemies while picking them off. The Gunzerker is my personal favorite, because he gets TWO guns with his special, effectively living up to the class’ name. Finally, the Siren, which I personally have 0 experience with, is the mage-type class. She can phaselock enemies, which is a stun that locks enemies into place for easy killing. As far as the DLC classes go, I’ve only really put enough time into the Psycho. His special is a Berserker-type rampage but instead of running around punching everything, you get a buzz axe (which is a sawblade on a stick, basically) to rip your enemies to shreds for a limited time with. There is also a skill tree that increases your damage output while you are on FIRE. LITERALLY. The Mechromancer I also have 0 experience with, but gets a cool robot guardian called the D374-TP, or Deathtrap, so once I’m done writing this, I am trying that out.

Graphics:
First off, I highly reccomend getting the PC version if you’re a graphics nut, for it has the most
options for all sorts of aesthetic mumbo jumbo. The world is absolutely breathtaking, with areas that are more varied
and less bland than the first game, where almost everything in the world was some shade of brown, you now have to fight through
ice caverns, across frozen wastelands, and tree-laden tundras. It retains the comic book art style from the first game which has,
of course, been improved and looks much better than it did back then. Textures can take a bit to load sometimes, but it’s forgivable.
Overall, its an incredibly beautiful game.

Conclusion: I love Borderlands 2. It is exactly what I expected from a sequel to this ridiculously awesome franchise, an improvement
of just about every aspect from the first game with a refreshing set of classes and content. If you haven’t played this game yet,
you might want to play the first one if you haven’t already before hitting this one. I guarantee you won’t have a reason to play the first one after playing this, its just that good. I give Borderlands 2 a very shiny gold sticker.

4.5/5

Prototype 2 Review – An Upgrade

Prototype 2 Review
by Wylie Dean

I’ll start this off with a little story. The original Prototype was one of the very few games I had purchased for my PS3. I was so excited for that game, all the little memory based events and the shapeshifting gameplay just seemed so amazing to me. So when the game finally came out I played it non stop for a couple days. It was flawed and lacking because of how much they were trying to do. The city felt hollow and everything was brown. Needless to say, I was let down.

And then PROTOTYPE 2 CAME ALONG!

Prototype 2 is an open world action adventure game that lets you take control soon to be ex military bad ass with a family/soon to be bulldozer with super powers JAMES HELLER!

Gameplay
The game is based around exacting revenge on BlackNet. Who is Black Net? They are a government corporation who feel weirdly similar to the Nazis. They try to kill you early on and that’s a good thing because it allows the game to start at 70% and build from there. The gameplay in Prototype 2 is simple. You get powers, you use powers to kill/consume bad dudes and a bad woman and that’s it. There are some real upgrades from the last game though. Radical Entertainment did away with awkward button combos and a “one of your choosing” weapon wheel. For Prototype 2, you still have that weapon wheel, except now it’s a much tighter mechanic that allows you to map powers to two of the available buttons instead of pre determined placement. Also done away with, is the huge upgrade menu. Prototype 2’s upgrade system is based on one upgrade per level, with another set of 5 mutations and that makes for a far more refined version of what we saw in the original Prototype.

Side Note: Vehicles control exactly how you think they would

The running around feels just as good as the first. The flying and sprint feel more precise but not slowed down and stealth consumes/sneaking become boring. At first the stealth missions provide for a fun and somewhat welcome slow down to the game,  but as they go on the missions devolve and become harder only because there are objects you’ll accidentally grab that are surrounding the person you need to consume. That being said, there are some other stealth missions around halfway through the game that provide a great variety, the best of which is fighting alongside other Black Watch soldiers in the ruined streets of New York against mutants. Which leads us to the gunplay. The gunplay in Prototype 2 is simple. Lock on. Hold trigger. Switch enemies, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. Aside from a small issue with where you are locking onto, the controls overall are a more than welcome upgrade to the first game.
Gameplay: 4.5/5

Sound
The sound of Prototype 2 is good. The city sounds alive, the military communications are great and believable, and the guns sound.. well they sound like guns. My only real issue with the sound design is the main character. James Heller. Often times more than not you’ll hear James cursing in places you’d think he would want to remain quiet, like when he’s trying to access a computer in a military base disguised as scientist. This part actually made me take light of Heller instead of taking the character seriously for the next few missions. However, the dialogue of enemies both military/mutant sound great. These monsters sound like they are actually monsters instead of just animals with an effect placed over.
Sound: 4/5

Looks
Prototype 2 is in no way a showcase of what the 360/PS3 can do. The game looks a little better than it’s predecessor but ultimately looks like nothing special. Cutscenes have a nice heightened black and white effect that I sometimes wished carried over into the gameplay just to give it a little something. The times it looked it’s best were actually during certain scenery. There was a point during the game where I was flying a helicopter through the Red Zone and saw a building leaning over onto another building. The grey ashy smoke was believable and the rain matched with the light on the specific damaged area of the building was truly fantastic and made the world more believable. A lot of the time, that’s what will set the tone of this game. Destroyed buildings, people dying in the streets and black watch patrolling the city.
Looks: 4/5

Ultimately, Prototype 2 is nothing to write home about. The game is fun but only for a short time. I personally went through it twice but that was just for the hardest difficulty achievement. With an at times unlikable character but fast paced gameplay, Prototype 2 makes for a great weekend binge game that’ll leave you wanting more. I highly recommend buying the first Prototype at the same time so you can finish both and feel satisfied.

4/5
A great single player experience