Mad Max is better than you’ve heard

mad max video gameAfter playing Mad Max for over 18 hours during the launch week of the title, I’m still bewildered by how many negative reviews I have seen. The night before the game released I had the displeasure of reading Polygon’s review which consisted of more of the same typical gripes about the game feeling “bland” and “boring” and all the areas “feeling the same”. The irony of a game review dialing in cliché statements about how another game just didn’t “offer anything new” is humorous, at least until you see their final score of 5/10. To me, it’s almost an insult to the intelligence of the readers to expect acceptance of what amounts to a score of 50% for a game that on the outset of the review is described as having, “a sprawling 30-hour campaign with a giant map littered with hundreds of sidequests and bonus objectives.” This is just one more review written against the backdrop of expectations and willful displeasure rather than measuring the quality of the game as it is. In this review I have a few gripes, but overall I have thought this game is a home run, as well as my twitch viewers who have watched me play the game 4 days in a row. Continue reading

Machinima controversy and why it matters

MachinimaIt recently became public that the FTC was investigating and taking action against Machinima for deceptive practices related to YouTube campaign videos for Microsoft. In the same day the news broke a settlement was reached that requires Machinima to implement a whole host of changes, review processes, and appropriate disclosure standards. To sum it up briefly, a handful of YouTubers were given large sums of money, the largest sum being reported at $30,000, to make videos, usually only one or two, that put the XBOX One in a good light. Obviously this is unsettling given how many videos were created (approx. 300) and how influential some of the larger YouTube channels have become. So what are gamers to do? Continue reading

Xbox One’s sleeping giant: Cloud Processing

XBOX One Cloud ProcessorThe XBOX One has been a confusing and somewhat turbulent console. The initial announcements about “always online”, the price point, and a lack of backwards compatibility were met with a lot of criticism and irritation. To some degree they have been playing catch up since the mishandled announcement. The Kinect has been somewhat invalidated to create a more competitive price point, “always online” is no longer a requirement, and cloud processing has been slightly dormant and unheard of, doing minor things in Titanfall and Forza. However, I think Microsoft’s aims for the console are starting to become more apparent, with “always online” and cloud processing waking like a sleeping beast with what was recently revealed in Crackdown 3. If you haven’t seen the footage, Crackdown 3 multiplayer offers the first 100% destructible environment and it looks very, very impressive. Continue reading

Microsoft shifting from buying exclusives is good news

microsoft xbox oneIn a recent interview about the future plans for the XBOX One, Phil Spencer indicated that Microsoft is going to focus more heavily on first party exclusives instead of exclusive deals for third party content. He said that paying for third party exclusives isn’t part of their long term strategy, and I think that makes sense considering the current business plan to convert all 360 owners this holiday to close the console sales gap with the PS4. I think the reason for the shift is twofold. First, paying for third party exclusives is really expensive and has no measurable ROI, as I already stated in my post and video about how the timed exclusive for Rise of the Tomb Raider is stupid. Second, after the holiday season of 2015 the focus will shift from selling consoles to delivering content and selling games. The arrival of Gears 4, Halo 5, and backwards compatibility will be the capstone to Microsoft’s plan to fill the market with as many XBOX One consoles as possible, and paying for exclusives was probably part of that plan. Continue reading

XBOX One is stronger than PS4?

xbox-one-vs-ps4Every week it seems there is a new graphical comparison between the XBOX One and the Playstation 4. Each time it is noticeably different to varying degrees between each system, with the PS4 typically coming away with the slightly better texture improvements and lighting differences. Most of the developers recently interviewed about the consoles have insisted they are both equally strong platforms that are fairly easy to develop for. So why does the PS4 keep getting the graphically stout games like No Man’s Sky and Horizon, while the XBOX One continues to struggle with increasing resolution and frame rate? The difference between the systems isn’t a matter of which is stronger, but where they are stronger. Continue reading

Rise of the Tomb Raider Timed Exclusive is stupid

rise of the tomb raiderIt was recently announced that Rise of The Tomb Raider will be exclusive to the XBOX One for an entire year. After E3 this year I made the point that console tribalism isn’t good for the industry and that both the XBOX One and PS4 were becoming more distinct platforms with different identities and target audiences. So when a third party title like Tomb Raider continues the timed exclusive nonsense that has made elements of Destiny’s loot infuriating, I’m ready to start calling foul every time this happens. Entrenching loyalty is totally fine if it’s done through perks or free games like Microsoft’s “Games with Gold” program, but keeping a game hostage to your platform for a year? This just isn’t helpful. Continue reading

Console wars are won with content

The_Binding_of_IsaacIn the wake of E3 2015 many are weighing in about what games are the best graphically and which are the most anticipated. Some point to the impressive graphics of a handful of the titles announced for the PS4 while others look to the exclusives and fan favorite releases on the XBOX One.  In an interview with GamingBolt prior to E3, Hussain Sheikh said some things that I think are going to be key to the future success both for game companies as well as consoles. He concluded his thoughts about both the XBOX One and the PS4 having sufficient computing power by saying that the console battle will, “not be won through graphics, but actual gameplay and content.” I have written about this topic before, but it seems more relevant after so many games have been announced that may or may not deliver the goods. Continue reading

E3 2015 Winner – The Gamers

e3 2015After what is being rightfully called one of the best E3’s in years, many are weighing in about who can claim the crown of the winner. I covered the entire week on my stream and had a great time discussing the games and announcements with my viewers. The question I consistently got was: “Who is the winner of this E3?” For a while I talked about how both Sony and Microsoft brought their A-game and that each presentation was distinct, but I finally settled on the answer that gamers are the winner this year. I will have a future post about the obvious loser, Nintendo, and how disappointing it was. For now I want to talk about how Microsoft aims to close the gap in sales with Sony and what continues to distinguish each console from the other. Continue reading

PC Gamers need consoles

the witcher 3The debate about which platform is best for gaming is one that has been going on since the dawn of LAN parties. As someone who started on consoles, moved to PC, and then switched back to consoles, I can say it ultimately depends on what a player values. What tends to happen is a person finds their expectations met in a platform and then they become an avid fan, constantly advocating for PC, PS4, or Xbox. The reality is, we all need each other, and something CD Projekt Red’s co-founder said recently really enforces this. Continue reading

Mortal Kombat took my advice about DLC

Mortal Kombat XIt’s no secret that selling extra content for video games is here to stay, and many of us welcome it as a way to extend the experiences of the games we enjoy. Recently, however, I wrote that the DLC sales for Evolve are proof that companies need to approach selling extra content differently. One of the things I suggested in my post and video was that games should allow you to demo DLC before buying because it’s too risky and expensive to drop money on something you may not enjoy. Obviously the makers of Mortal Kombat had this plan in play before I wrote my post, but hopefully more games take my advice about demoing DLC. Continue reading