Assassin’s Creed Syndicate: Dale’s Review

assassins creed review victorian london

Good Game. Bad Ending

Guys and girls, I have always enjoyed the Assassin’s Creed franchise, and have played every single one of them, simply for the sake of the story.  It gave me an opportunity to explore different periods of time, such as Renaissance Italy, or the Caribbean in the golden age of piracy, and those two benefits have been the best part of the AC franchise; with the exception of Black Flag which was simply an overall wonderful game and still the best of the franchise.

The two most recent installments, Unity and Rogue left much to be desired. Unity was a disaster of story telling and mechanics and might as well been called Assassin’s Creed: Glitch Fest 2014. I learned this the hard way when I went to air assassinate some poor son of a bitch and instead wound up missing the target and stuck standing inside of a wagon unable to escape, or be killed, my own personal Sisyphus legend. Obviously, the newest installment Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate had a lot of making up to do, and for the most part it does that, so lets get into this thing.

The Review

Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate takes us into the shoes of Jacob and Evie Frye, sibling assassins in Victorian London.  An AC setting has never looked so beautiful. The game manages to capture the bleakness of London’s squalor in the 1800’s. Crouching atop Big Ben, and looking around offers a beautiful look at your surroundings. The thick black smoke rising from the smoke stacks of a distant factory, an almost endless stream of cargo boats cluttering up the Thames far below… this game does more than mimic Victorian London. This game IS Victorian London in all it’s beauty and squalor, which it magnificently melds here. The beauty of Buckingham Palace and Big Ben meshes perfectly with the dirt and squalor of the rest of London, where the few rich live large and the poor live in shit. The world is so exquisite I half expected to run into the characters from Penny Dreadful at some point.

view of victorian london in assassins creed syndicate

Seeing this for the first time is a truly special experience and what the AC franchise is all about

It’s Not A Game. It’s An Interactive Movie

Another aspect that adds to the entire experience is the soundtrack, the music in this game is absolutely exquisite, Syndicate single handedly has the best music since the incredible Black Flag soundtrack, an amazing mix of orchestral pieces and operatic pieces, this game is an interactive movie.

Gameplay

The gameplay mechanics aren’t much different from the previous AC installments. However,  the use of separate protagonists, each with different personalities and skills, is a true triumph.  This allows each player to gravitate towards whomever suits their play style and personality.

Evie is slick, stealthy, and quiet and she prefers to kill that way, some people play this style of game so they will gravitate towards Evie, I am not one of them.

Jacob is more confrontational and, in my opinion is the stronger fighter. This is my personal style of play. I often find it faster, more fun,  and easier to engage in a straight up brawl. It’s much easier to complete your mission when all opposition is dead.

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more my style

A wonderful aspect that has been added into the AC world are the gangs. Jacob decides to conquer London via the streets, and his gang, The Rooks. Once you’ve conquered all the neighborhoods in a certain territory (such as Whitechapel) you’ll be challenged to a gang war. These are a lot of fun. I just wish they were bigger.

When I heard Victorian London gang war I expected the opening fight from Gangs of New York, not the fight from the end of The Outsiders (if that). Unfortunately there’s really only two gangs The Rooks and The Blighters. Including more gangs with some sort of politics system would have made this aspect of the game a lot more fun.

Power, politics and strategic alliances have always been a part of gang land.The gang aspect of the game should have been treated like the mafia, with multiple factions, and a hierarchy in place. This would have allowed for the player to conquer territory using a bit more strategy and savvy.  Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor’s nemesis system springs to mind. Imagine the possibilities if you could simply kill the leader of a rival faction in order to place an ambitious underling in charge, as a puppet leader.  Or offering the gang money and power in order to turn on their own leader. A system like that would have taken a fun aspect and turned it into a selling point, allowing a player to take over the streets using their own particular, unique brand of skill, savvy and savagery.

Weak Ending

The only real problem I can think of is the ending, which i won’t spoil for anybody here.  It does involve fighting a man in a magic shawl thing, and doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the game. Also, the problem with having such a beautifully built environment is that it makes you long to see what they can do with an Ancient Rome, Greece or Egypt.

The biggest problem in my mind with the AC franchise is the same problem I see with the Call of Duty franchise. It keeps going forward when there is still plenty of interesting ground to cover in the past.

Assassin’s Creed is now at the point where the Western world begins taking its modern shape. Guns, cannons, steam ships and railroads are beginning to rule the landscape, and considering they even lightly covered WWI in Syndicate, I don’t see how they can continue to go forwards in time.  Ubisoft basically has the beginning of man all the way up to the Crusades, and the eras in between installments to show us and let us play around in. Should they decide to go Elsewhere  I am definitely excited to see what the future has in store.

Welcome to the Brotherhood, boys and girls.

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NHL 16 – Go Puck Yourself

hockey nhl16 ea sports game review xbox

Hockey is man’s highest calling

NHL 16 Xbox One

Game Review

Today guys and girls we’re here to discuss NHL 16, the newest installment of EA sports’s annual NHL series. I’m happy to report that, overall,  the game is a return to form, after the disastrous NHL 15 . No more classic game modes like EASHL stripped,and replaced with Hockey Ultimate Team.  NHL 16 is fun, and the controls work well, so let’s get into the meat of the game.

There Is Much Hockey

The game looks absolutely incredible, from the reflections on fresh ice to the jerseys flowing as you skate, its a beautiful constructed game, much like NHL 15, only this time the great look of the game has functionality to go along with it, it truly does create the perfect atmosphere, with the great look, the roaring fans and even mascots for hype purposes the game truly creates a potent desire to be competitive and to create spectacular plays. One are the game could improve is the fans, any of us who have been to a hockey game knows that fans react in certain ways to certain situations, elevating their cheers when a solid play creates a big chance, and sounds of disappointment when on that chance the puck sails wide or the opposing goaltender makes an incredible save, fan reactions need to be shown and heard to give weight to the proceedings on the ice. I was sad to hear that this game had very few changes from NHL 15 in the commentating department, just Eddie Olczyk and Doc Emrick saying the same shit they said in NHL 15.

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Dangle, Drag, and Deke

Now on to the gameplay itself, the game works extremely well in my opinion, passing is crisp and often works, unlike NHL 15 where it seems pucks would often miss the mark for no reason, or just sail past the player you were trying to feed, in 16 you can actually defend the dreaded cross crease pass, where as in NHL 15 it was very difficult because often if you parked a player in-between the two offensive players on either side of the goaltender the pass would go right through and boom, goal horn, unfortunately the cross crease pass, if completed is still a trump card that goes in almost every time and is way, way overused, and immensely frustrating.  Unfortunately, EA Sports is a still a company that loves highlight reel hockey and caters the game to those who love to deke and dangle their way across the ice and through defensemen and sadly EA creates NHL games that reward the flashy players over those that play responsible hockey, hey EA, there’s a reason that when players dangle, toe drag and deke their way to a goal in the real NHL its so special and needs to be replayed over and over again, because it doesn’t work anywhere even half as often as it happens in your games.

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Y’All Are Babies

Sadly, there is one fatal flaw in NHL 16, and in all NHL games, that really hold them back from being great. It’s something EA will NEVER be able to fix and that is, the people who play them.

The people who play NHL games online are some of the biggest fuck faces i’ve encountered in my entire life. I know, I know. You meet douchebags in every game.  True. NHL games are full of them, people who seem to believe that they can’t lose and always deserve a win, to the extent that the majority will just rage quit when losing, I have a personal policy that I NEVER rage quit, ever, I’ve played sports, I still play sports, I come from a family of people who play sports, and I understand that in real sports you can never walk off the field just because you’re losing, it’s pathetic, I wouldn’t be able to have self respect if I walked off because I’m losing, this behavior is the product of spoiled American kids who get a trophy just for showing up and who’s parents spew bullshit like “everyone’s a winner”, no, not everyone’s a winner, people lose frequently, this creates a generation of people who now believe that they are entitled to the win and can’t accept even the possibility of losing. Seriously though, I’ve never been called so many shitty names before in my life, every time I log in and sit down for a game I prepare to basically get abused, in one week of online play I was referred to as a pussy, f***ot, n***er and a slew of other words simply for beating somebody, one guy even called me a pussy for not turning my mic on, “turn your mic on pussy, you’re a f***ot man, you’re a fucking f***ot”, I’m not the one who’s trying to talk to anonymous men on the internet buddy. Seriously though, I can’t stress enough how moronic most of the people who play this game are, unsportsmanlike conduct for all of them.

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Mighty Dale Rules

in conclusion, if you’re a hockey fan this is definitely a game you need in your collection, everything works better than NHL 15, it looks really good and plays excellently, a few hiccups aside, its a good game and you’ll have a lot of fun playing it, just plug in, sit down, make plays and lighten the fuck up, Kirk out.

Red Dead Rumors: What’s Going On?

red dead redemption 2 rockstar games rumors

It’s Not Red Dead 2.

Red Dead Ridiculous

We’ve all heard them, the rumors of a sequel to the critically lauded Red Dead Redemption. Don’t say Red Dead 2!  Red Dead Revolver was number 1, Red Dead Redemption was number 2, so the next one will be number 3.  Details matter.

ZOMG! Like, Did You Hear?

With so many rumors being flailed around like so much monkey shit, I thought it was only appropriate to talk about a few of them. The RDR sequel has not officially been announced yet, but it was supposed to have been at E3, and then at Gamescom. Now,  E3 and Gamescom have come and gone, and I’m beginning to feel a little antsy and frustrated. Even worried. No one misses deadlines because things are going great.

Rockstar has been mind numbingly cagey about the game, so lets go over some of the (mostly idiotic) internet and fan theories surrounding the plot of this highly anticipated game.  Beware. It is quite possible that Rockstar screwed the pooch on this, and it’s gonna suck.

From Western to Western Front?

The first of these rumors says that RD3 will continue the story of the Marston family, picking up where RDR left off. It will feature the annoying, puberty-voiced, Jack Marston.  Now I’ve read tons of rumors about how awesome it would be to pick up as Jack Marston, entering WWI and fighting. NO.  This is a horrible idea!, RDR made it’s bones as a WESTERN game, and the best western game on the market. Why change that for a WWI themed story? You don’t dilute your brand like that!

Do people seriously want to replace the beautiful Western setting with war torn Europe?!?!?! if that’s what you want, kiddo’s, I suggest you send letters to Sledgehammer and request more Call of Duty games.

Some have defended the idea by saying that only the beginning of the game would take place during the war and Jack would then return to the Marston ranch, and then the Western would begin. Bullshit, WWI ends in 1918. By the time Jack returns home the West will be tamed. Let’s not allow Red Dead to slip into COD territory; going further into the future each installmen,t until we barely recognize the brand we once loved.

No to the above asshole

The second rumor is even more idiotic. Not long ago an anonymous Rockstar developer, aptly named AnonDN1978, decided his boss was a prick, and decided to leak information on the RDR sequel. This anonymous developer stated that the sequel would be named “Red Dead Redemption 2: Legends of The West”, and would feature younger versions of the moronic Irish and insane Seth.

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It’s Stereotypeman!

Seth would be a banker in Kansas City and Irish is well, an Irish immigrant. I may have a better name for this game “Red Dead Ridiculous.” What do you think?

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Gamers, your hero.

Who thought it was a good idea to build a game around the guy who accidentally shoots himself in the face on the toilet after the events of RDR? That’s like making Pulp Fiction 2: Marvin’s Tale.

If It Ain’t Broke

What makes even less sense is the idea that Rockstar would use the same location (New Austen).  The West was a big place with a lot of stories, Rockstar doesn’t need to rehash old locations, and characters.especially They’ve built a reputation on doing the exact opposite.

One of the many things that made RDR spectacular was the feeling that you were actually in the West, discovering the land, watching the sunsets, riding your horse from location to location, encountering strangers who could be either friend or foe, Rockstar, give us this thrill again. Discovery was what the frontier was about, gamers. Don’t accept a rehash of places and names we already know. It’s only a rumor, but it’s still bullshit.

Shogunslinger

Lastly, the rumor that the next Red Dead would take place in………….Japan. What the actual fuck? JAPAN?!?!?!?!?

Sergio Leone’s classic spaghetti westerns starring were based on Yojimbo, Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece, but that’s no reason to tie Japan to the Red Dead franchise. There’s a reason there’s not a GTA:Coruscant.

The Western has been criminally underused in the gaming world. It’s a great setting full of adventure, and brutality, where any man or woman can be as good, or bad, as they want to be.  The Japan trope? Samurais? Overused.

What Say You, Mighty Dale?

Alright now that I’m done criticizing everybody else I’ll give you what I personally think would work in a sequel. The setting needs to change, just like the GTA games. We can return to New Austen in the future but not right away. The sequel could utilize places like Wyoming, Montana, Texas and the Dakotas. They’re all beautiful places with a lot of character and history.

There also needs to be a system to make money and things to spend that money on. A great way to do this would be ranches. The player can make money either by legal means, or robbing trains and banks. He can then buy a small parcel of land, build a ranch and as that ranch begins generating revenue, the player can expand their land, buy more stock, and make improvements to generate more revenue. Hell, you can even go on cattle and horse drives if you want. You can also spend your hard earned coin on guns, saddles, holsters, and whatever else your cowboy requires. This would create an in depth experience where what you do actually matters.

Another huge selling point for a sequel would be in depth customization. I’m not talking RPG levels of customization, but the player should definitely be able to change things like the characters hair and clothes, and most importantly things like their  hat and boots. These are the most important things for every cowboy. Different styles and colors of hats and boots would go a long way in making your character feel yours.

The players guns and holsters also need to be customizable. When you watch as many westerns as I do you learn that people carried their guns in different ways. Some carry their pistol straight draw, some cross draw, some carry two guns, others just one. These things are important in giving a character a personality, and style all their own.

For the RDR sequel to work, the story needs to be just as beautiful, and in depth, as the first one. It is my favorite game of all time for this very reason. Any game that leaves the player wide eyed, jaw on the floor, feeling all the feels is a A+ perfect game.

A sequel, in my humble opinion, needs to go back in time, to the heyday of the old West. The 1870’s or 80’s would be an amazing setting. The map needs to be ENORMOUS  (GTA V or bigger), and for the love of all things holy please include more Native Americans, both aggressive and friendly. While riding the map on his trusty steed the player should run the risk of meeting bandits, gangs and Native American raiders. Indigenous people were very very underused in RDR.

So Rockstar, please please give us  some kind of official announcement soon. It’s time. GTA is great, but lots of people still prefer RDR. Just look at the fact that despite coming out in 2010, a player will still find an active community playing multiplayer,  even though your multiplayer is absolutely broken and you guys don’t seem to give a shit to fix it.

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what I want to do to whoever is in charge of RDR multiplayer

The loyal fans need a sequel, Rockstar. Let us have it. You haven’t let us down before. Please do justice to this great game.

Paint My Name In Blood – Mad Max Review Redux

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Alright fellow Wastelanders, now that I have finished Mad Max in all its glory, it’s time to conclude my earlier review and give a more informed opinion. My Xbox needs a rest.

My original Mad Max post was very positive, but also very early so let’s take a more balanced look at a game which seems to be getting mixed reviews across the board.

I had fun with this game. Was it the Mad Max game I wanted? Not necessarily. The story was surprisingly repetitive.  Every single warlord whether it be Jeet, Gutgash or PinkEye all want  the exact same thing. Your quest is always the same; lower the threat in their territory.

One can do this by taking down scarecrows (towers erected by Scrotus, the evil leader, as symbols of his power), yanking down sniper towers, taking on enemy camps, or wrecking convoys. The convoys are fun as shit to destroy. Nothing makes you feel more badass than driving away from fiery carnage you just brought down. However, all these things get boring because you have to do them over and over.

He’s A Nice Boy

Max has always been a reluctant hero. Here’s somebody who starts off a loner whose only desire is to keep moving, and surviving, but always ends up helping others.

Whether it be the refinery tribe from The Road Warrior, the Lost Tribe from Beyond Thunderdome, or Fury Road’s Furiosa and the Five Wives, Max always ends up helping.

This is a key point at which game failed. At one point you meet Hope, the concubine of the sadistic StankGum (Scrotus’ right hand man).  You strike a deal with her to get a V8 engine in return for finding her daughter Glory, but you’re not given enough time to develop any kind of empathy with either of them.

Opportunity Missed

I didn’t give a shit about Hope, and I certainly didn’t give a shit about her missing daughter. Hope herself has no personality, no purpose.  She’s just another hot game girl to serving as a love interest for Max, which is incredibly stupid.

Max does not have love interests. He lost his family. He is broken. You can’t just throw another potential family at him, and expect it to gel. This is an especially poor choice because it draws the comparison to the brilliant Furiosa from Fury Road, and fails miserably.

Hope just becomes another stereotypical female character who’s body is more important than her toughness, grit or brains, and the game failed to give her ANY of those.

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This Is A Driving Game After All

Let’s talk cars, the crux of any Mad Max game or movie, The car combat is great. Using the harpoon to dismantle a baddie’s car, and rip his ass out of the drivers seat is amazing/hilarious, and the amount of carnage one can cause simply with their vehicle is immense.

You truly feel like Max when deep in a vehicular battle. The rush one gets from cars blowing up around you is incredible, and once you upgrade your car the roar of your engine might as well the voice of the Reaper himself. The vehicular combat is easily the highlight of this game, and obviously what the developers spent the most time perfecting. Your vehicle has huge upgradability.

You can customize your vehicle with everything from engines, to spikes, to paint. Everyone is different therefore each person’s vehicle will also be different. Some people will create a War Machine whilst others will focus on speed and handling, and all these choices have consequences. More speed means worse handling, more armor means less speed, etc. You must be judicious.

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Mad Max – Infuriating Road

The downside of the vehicles in Mad Max is that no matter what upgrades you put on it, the handling will always be garbage.  This fact makes the racing aspects of this game horribly frustrating. Luckily, there is only one race that you have to do, and it is ridiculously infuriating. Not only does the handling suck, but if you’re one of those gamers like me who does only a handful of story missions early on, and then run around for hours and hours collecting resources to get upgrades, and make a beast of a machine early you will be disappointed.

In order to win this race you will actually have to de-power your vehicle! You need a specific set of upgrades in order to participate in it (even if your current upgrades have surpassed the ones required) and yes, it’s part of the story so it’s required. THAT’S NOT EVEN THE WORST PART. The worst aspect is the handling, you’ll die far more often from running into shit than you will in combat with other vehicles. So I hope you enjoy Russian dash cam footage, because you’ll be living it.

 Mad Max Infuriating Road

      Mad Max
   Infuriating Road

Ground Mechanics

Now that we have the car shit out of the way lets get to the ground mechanics, I’m sad to report it is a bit clunky and the parry sometimes just doesn’t work. Sometimes after you get hit once it’s difficult to recover, and Max ends up just getting continually slammed until he dies.

Another thing about the general mechanics of the game that absolutely infuriated me, was the fact that I couldn’t move with my shotgun drawn. The player cannot move and fire, which as we all know is bullshit! Who the hell stands still and shoots in combat?!?!?!?!

This game desperately needs the ability to climb. Traversing the wasteland without being able to climb sometimes made exploration a pain in the ass.  I was taking down a camp and needed to get to another location. I could see where I needed to go but couldn’t get there. Why you ask? Because there was a fucking guard rail in the way.  Mad Max. Great driver, great fighter, apocalypse survivor… stopped by a fucking guard rail.

Max’s ability to jump is comically pathetic, it’s more like a hop than a jump, he can’t jump forward, or jump hurdles or jump over  obstacles.

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Infuriating And Boring?

Now, some people have complained about this game being boring, and to an extent it is, but what do you think the post apocalyptic world would be like? Action around every corner? No.

A large percentage of the Earth’s population is dead. I think it’s safe to say theres a whole lot of down time so I enjoyed that.

Overall I don’t think this is the definitive Mad Max game, but the world is beautiful and the car combat is wonderful, so Avalanche Studios got the basics right. With a little polishing, a better, more engaging story, and a little mission diversity and they might have a slam dunk. This game is alright, and I hope it sells enough copies for Avalanche to do another and work out the kinks.