I played Until Dawn, until dawn.

Until Dawn™_20160618001955

Last weekend was pretty technologically rough for me, and being without the Internet I did what anyone in my position would do, I went down to my local video game store and bought a copy of the 2015 horror video game Until Dawn. Then played it until I was done, which worked out to be dawn the following morning.

Until Dawn™_20160618001941

Until Dawn is brought to us by Supermassive Games. Creators of such memorable content as Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock, Killzone (The HD remaster), and Little Big Planet 2 (the PS Vita port only). So… you know, it’s those guys. If you haven’t heard of any of those games, don’t feel bad no one else has either. And they don’t matter, because we’re here to talk about Until Dawn!

Until Dawn™_20160618002001

The premise of the game is simple, a group of teens go into a cabin in the woods, and things go wrong. They return a year later on the anniversary for the last year’s horrific events, and more horror ensues. This may seem like a story you’ve heard before, even the characters themselves may seem familiar. The jock, the bitch, the geek, the innocent girl and so on. But let me assure you that there is little about them you have seen before. The game uses all of the classic horror tropes to lull you into thinking one thing, and then violently shifts you into another direction. And it does a wonderful job of it.

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The game is based around a choice system, meaning what you do at certain points will directly effect the game later on. Though the story is linear, it could pan out in any number of ways as it has dozens of branching paths. The game equates this to the butterfly effect; a butterfly flaps its wings in one part of the world, and a hurricane hits somewhere else instead of sun shine. At it’s simplest definition that is how the game works. However I get the strong impression that the developers watched a scene from Jurassic Park to get their full definition of how the Butter fly Effect actually works. Wherever the source, the game engine works pretty well. Most game changing events are obvious as they are about to happen, but the trick is you don’t know what they will effect nor do you know when that effect will happen.

This game mechanic is very similar to the 2010 Quantic Dream game Heavy Rain. In fact some gamers think that the same team made Until Dawn because elements of the games seems pretty close to one another. It’s the execution and pacing of Until Dawn that sets it far apart from its predecessor.

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It’s a very cool game, and very well designed. The cast of real actors like Hayden Panettiere and Peter Stormare make the game feel all the more like you’re watching an actual high-end horror movie, and not just playing a linear video game. For a console the graphic rendering is also far above what I would have expected, and the sets, atmosphere and sound really make this someone that should be experienced in a home theatre setting or with a nice pair of headphones.

I had a great time playing through the game, and would recommend it to anyone who would like a solid 10 hours of being entertained, and maybe a little spooked along the way.

 

 

Resident Evil 7 Demo: PT and we love it!

 

Resident Evil 7 Teaser: Beginning Hour_20160617183652I have been a huge fan Capcom’s Resident Evil series from the very first game. I still remember when it came out when I was in high school, borrowing the game from my friend and not giving it back for months. The series has come a long way since defining the genre of survival horror games. Long gone are the days of fixed camera angles, and from what I understand even the zombies are gone from the series now… though they have been missing for some time if you think about it.

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Much like the PT demo for the now defunct Konami game Silent Hills (Silent Hill 5) you find yourself in first person, in a creepy house, trying to both figure out who you are and why you’re there, all while trying to escape with your life. The gameplay and atmosphere seem very similar to PT, but they also hold true to what we’ve seen in Resident Evil 4, 5 and 6. Silent Hill and Resident Evil borrow from each other so much it’s really hard to say who did what first anyway. Though the atmosphere is similar to PT, it’s without the same level or terror and jump scares. You feel much safer playing this game alone in the dark.

The RE7 demo also has it’s own series of secrets, some still without answers. You can finish the demo fairly easily, but move too fast and you’ll miss things like the lock pick, the axe and the headphones. All but one of this games secrets seem to have been solved, but 24 hours after it’s release the one challenge that still has the internet on edge is the mannequin finger. To date no one seems to know what its purpose is, and it’s the only item without one in your inventory. Further there are rumours that Capcom themselves have said they it has a very specific purpose in the demo. Some theories say that the finger will be of use in the final game, but that seems unlikely as everything contained in the demo lives in a world outside of the final game, and none of it’s contents will exist beyond this demo. Much the same way PT was a stand-alone mini game.

Resident Evil 7 Teaser: Beginning Hour_20160617183835Resident Evil 7 Teaser: Beginning Hour_20160617184235The finger aside, the inventory system itself is another thing which makes use feel we are at home in an RE game. You can see the number of slots available and assign items to places on the D-Pad. It can be assumed that as the actual game progressed you will find a fanny pack of sorts to allow you to carry more items as has been the case in all the other RE games to date.

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It’s a great demo, and if the final game is anything like it then it will be an awesome finished product. I can’t wait for this game to be released, and as a bonus it is also going to be one of the first titles on the PS VR. I can’t wait to have the craps scared out of me in virtual reality in Spring of 2017.

Josh... Josh! (like that one time in Blair Witch...).
Josh… Josh! (like that one time in Blair Witch…).

Overwatch: Really good quality plagiarism

Overwatch Beta

Overwatch is a very unique game from Blizzard in that it was popular before it was even released. With the closed beta building such a buzz about it, and the open beta having more people take part in in than any beta before. But the real question is, is Overwatch worth all the hype?

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Let me start off by saying this, I liked the game. It was fun, and very pretty to look at. You can tell Blizzard took its time polishing all of the levels and characters before releasing anything to the public. There are currently 21 playable characters in the game, separated into 4 classes (Offence, Defense, Tank, and Support). The issue I take with this is that not only have we seen this class system before, but that there are certain characters in each class that also seem very familiar. It seems like a lot of this game takes “inspiration” from the Valve game Team Fortress 2. And I use the term inspiration lightly as it borders strongly on straight copy and paste. From the art direction, and level design, to the classes and characters themselves.

The Heavy
The Heavy
The Medic
The Medic

 

The Scout
The Scout

For instance, the main charactes of TF2 are Soldier, Pyro, Heavy, Spy, Scout, Engineer and Medic. Now in TF2 the character and the class are one and the same, whereas in Overwatch you have multiple character types in each class. But the thing is, there is one character in each class that feels like a direct copy of a TF2 character, and the others are all watered down versions of the original. Take the Overwatch character Soldier 76. He is very clearly the Soldier from TF2 in both name and class. Torbjorn from Overwatch is very similar to the Engineer from TF2, maybe not in looks and name, but he is a support character who builds turrets and machines to help the team. Bastion, the “heavy” robot in Overwatch who can turn into a gatling turret is pretty much the Heavy from TF2 who walks around with a gatling gun. And Mercy, the winged healer of Overwatch is literally a copy of the Medic from TF2 in almost every way. It’s hard to deny that they directly copied major parts of Team Fortress 2 and pasted them into their game model. How Valve has let this happen I am not sure, but someone should be called out over it, that’s for sure.

Gameplay screen shot.
Gameplay screen shot.

The gameplay is solid, even though it only has 3 game modes; assault, escort and control. Which also feel exactly like their TF2 counterparts, but enough about that. The game modes are solid, and the game itself is just fun to play. The character animations are smooth, and the voice acting is very well done. My only complaint would be the speed of the characters is slow in comparison to other FPS games of this generation. Even Tracer who is one of the fastest characters in the game feels like she is dragging along as you move through the levels. I found this really annoying since a lot of what you do is run into a battle, shoot for a while and die, only to re-spawn and have to slowly trudge back to where you were. In the escort maps this is most infuriating. However all the characters are slow over all, so it’s not as if you’re being overtaken by someone else. In my opinion the overall game speed just needs a boost. It’s like playing Street Fighter II Turbo, and then going back to normal Street Fighter II… I want my turbo!

End of game loot box.
End of game loot box.
The amazing cosmetic loot inside the box!
The amazing cosmetic loot inside the box!

At the end of every match you rank up and earn Loot Boxes. Aside from the joy of killing all your friends in strange and creative ways, these are your motivation to play the game. They are filled with rewards like voice clips, sprays, and end poses. All of which can be equipped to your characters to customize them and make them a little more personal. In the end it’s cosmetic and doesn’t change the game at all. The nice thing about them, for now anyway, is that the loot boxes are free. In this case it’s unlike TF2 where the loot crates drop for free, but you can only open them with keys you buy at the in game store. But on the other hand TF2 is free to play, so you’re only paying for cosmetic upgrades if you want them.

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Price is a good thing to mention as well. On a console you’re going to spend about $80CAD for this game, but on a PC it only costs $40-50. That seems a little unfair to the console market. For PC, it’s $40 for the base game, and $50 for the Origins Edition, which comes with extra skins and other Blizzard PC only goodies. When you buy the console edition you are buying the “Origins Edition”, but you don’t get any of the extras because they are all for PC games not released on console.

My horrible stats from the first hour of playing...
My horrible stats from the first hour of playing…

That seems like a pretty huge price jump for less content. And considering most games are now digitally downloaded on console, that means there is no extra cost to Blizzard for discs, packaging and distribution. The other issue is the whole game is competitive PvP, which is fine. But Battleborn, the 2K Games mashup of TF2 and Boarderlands, is almost identical to Overwatch in every way including price, but comes with a story (albeit an awful one).

Overwatch: Beta_20160510011410

My final thoughts are this. If you don’t have a Mac or a PC then it’s totally worth getting Overwatch now, otherwise you should wait for a price drop. If you do have those, then just get Team Fortress 2, because that game is amazing, fun and never gets old. If you have a console, then you can’t play TF2, but I would wait on buying this game. As awesome as it is, since Blizzard themselves say it’s really only worth $40, you shouldn’t be paying more than that for the game. Wait it out, in a couple of months the price will drop.