Tag Archives: gaming

Far Cry goes Primal; Tom Clancy goes RPG

by Drew Nordman

As we move towards the second quarter of 2016, triple-A game releases are fewer and farther between. That being said, Montreal based developer/publisher Ubisoft has two big titles scheduled for March; one of which is poised to make a lasting impression on the industry. Here’s what March has in store!

2012’s Far Cry 3 was ubiquitously touted as a phenomenal game. Its moment to moment gameplay of traversing a pirate ridden tropical island, taking down outposts and hunting deadly creatures was so truly outstanding that it more than made up for its lacklustre narrative. Though what really cemented the Far Cry series as a special intellectual property in my eyes was its spiritual sequel and spin off, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. It took every low-fi 80s action movie stereotype that you can think of and jacked it up to 11. Everything from The Terminator to RoboCop was simultaneously lampooned and payed homage to in this masterful 80s send up. Now the same team who created Blood Dragon has gone back to the drawing board for its next iteration, Far Cry: Primal.

Instead of traveling to the dystopian future of its predecessor, Primal takes us back to the pre-historic year 10,000 B.C.E. It’s a genius move really. For a franchise whose core mechanics are hunting and scavenging to make yourself stronger, where better to take place than the beginning of the Mesolithic era? As if the elephants and mountain lions of Far Cry 4 weren’t daunting enough, now you have to contend with mammoths and sabre-tooth tigers! Taking cues from tremendously successful series such as Dark Souls and Minecraft, you’ll need to create your own campfire, craft your own tools and weapons in order to protect your companions and survive untamed wilderness. Will Far Cry: Primal bring out the beast in you? Find out on March 1st when it hits PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows PC.

First announced a whole three years ago at E3 2013, gamers and critics alike have been wondering for quite some time whether or not Tom Clancy’s: The Division would ever see the light of day. When unveiled, the game was met with nigh universal hype and praise as it showed tremendous potential, both graphically and mechanically. Taking place in the near future in Manhattan several weeks after a smallpox pandemic cripples the U.S. Government, it’s your task to as a Homeland operative to team up with your friends and return some modicum or semblance of order to the now chaotic no man’s land that the streets of New Yorks City have devolved into.

At first glance, The Division seems to be no more than your average third person shooter, however at its centre, it’s a role playing game first and foremost. Your stats and gear drive the core of the experience, just as they would in The World of Warcraft or any of the myriad Final Fantasies. During the last few years, Ubisoft has taken their time to learn from the missteps of similarly functioning games such as Destiny. Since September 2014, Destiny has proven though not without its drawbacks, shared world shooters with MMO influences are more than viable in today’s market. Where Destiny is a shooter first and an RPG second, The Division is the other way around. This mentality allows for more depth and customization to your character which results in a more compelling and fulfilling experience overall. With additional content planned to be released over the course of the next couple years, The Division is set to keep you busy for quite some time. Look forward to taking back New York when The Division hits stores for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows PC on March 8th.

Use your gaming habits to build better ones

By Stephan Bazzocchi

New year, new me. Well, not quite. More like the same old me, just with a little more drive to accomplish things than me from December 2014.
This year, unlike other years, I have actually made some resolutions. For far too many years now, I have been acquiring games during Steam or Humble Bundle sales, and then they sit, unplayed, or played for only a couple of hours.
Example 1: during the Steam winter sale, I picked up Fallout 3. Sure, it’s an older game, but I never really played it much when it first came out. So I played a few hours. A couple of days later, New Vegas went up with all DLC for 12 bucks. Guess what I bought?
Shortly thereafter, I stopped playing Fallout 3 and devoted all my time to New Vegas. That lasted for a week. Now I am back to Roller Coaster Tycoon 3. No idea why – no rhyme or reason – just that’s what I’ve been feeling like playing lately.
So now for Resolution Number 1: finish a few of these games I bought. (We’ll see how that pans out.)
Over the holidays, with the few days of sitting somewhere other than my work desk, I realized that there are some things in my culinary repertoire that are seriously lacking. Most people make a resolution to eat more healthily or cut back on their calorie intake. Not me.
Using some online tools, I am going to learn how to make an omelette (yes, yours truly, does not know how to make an omelette – or crepes for that matter). Doesn’t sound like much of a video game, does it? Well rest assured I will be using the plethora of achievement generators online once I accomplish these tasks, gaining real life XP and crying real tears over expanding waistline rage.
What better way to accomplish these tasks than with HabitRPG (www.habitrpg.com)? What it does is allows you to enter your daily tasks and habits into the webpage. Completing them gives you RPG style rewards; missing them causes your little guy damage. Miss too many, and he dies.
What better way for a chronic gamer to affect useful change than by turning it into a game! Now I will just hope that he keeps me interested long enough to encourage some new habits and get rid of some of the bad ones.
Lastly, Resolution Number 3 and 4. Finish my goodreads.com 2015 challenge of reading 45 books this year. I completely underestimated myself last year by thinking I would read only 15 books. I was rather surprised at the end of the year when I realized I had read 40.
Everything from Kafka to Burroughs, while revisiting old favourites by Douglas Adams. This year, I hope to destroy that 45-book goal.
And finally, Number 4. Write more music with hardware synthesizers, and move away from the PC for anything other than providing a midi time clock. Besides, blinking lights and tweaking knobs is always more fun when it’s fully tactile instead of using a mouse anyway.

2014: A year in review from the couch

By Stephan Bazzocchi

Wow. The end of 2014 is upon us already.
First, the formalities. Happy whatever it is you celebrate in the way you celebrate or don’t – I think I have covered all possibilities with that blanket statement.
Growing up I never much thought about 2014 or 2015 for that matter. The year 2000 was the magical number that always stirred my imagination. But here we are.
This time of year is filled with hopes of new consoles or games wrapped in glittering paper or fast downloads, and the never-ending year-in-review posts all over the Internet.
Yes, this is one of those articles; no, it’s not about all the controversial/disheartening/bloody stuff that’s happened in the past year. You can get that fix somewhere else. Instead, I offer a view of some positive introspection, hoping that you too, dear reader, take some time to see how you’ve grown and developed over the past year.
Of course, being a pretty consistent gamer (I’ve logged 23 hours in EVE this past weekend, what did you accomplish!), I have my own sources of self-analysis.
Turn-based games
Let’s start with some turn-based games. This year, I purchased both Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land and XCom: Enemy Unknown. Growing up, I played quite a few – everything from the original Dungeons and Dragons games to the Age of Empires series.
As I’ve grown, so has the complexity of this style of gaming. They’ve taught me logic and cause and effect to a pretty serious degree. Granted, I was pretty rusty at the beginning of the year, but just like riding a bike, those thinking processes reawaken pretty quickly, and continue to grow sharper with every play.
Don’t bother with all those other brain games. Set these ones up in the retirement home and the effects would be astounding.
Once you delve headfirst into some pretty serious themes, you need to counter that. What would life be without any amount of silliness in it? It would be pretty boring and monotonous, especially for someone who has loved the likes of Monty Python since I was a wee lad growing up in a shoebox (you know the rest).
Goat Simulator
What better way to get silly and have some laughs than with Goat Simulator (now with more goats and a Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) update), and Gary’s Mod. Both these games reminded me of my love of things like the Ministry of Silly Walks, goats, and just pure lunacy the likes of what most people have never seen.
I haven’t had a chance to check out the MMO update for Goats yet; maybe that might be put on a list of New Year’s resolutions.
Kerbal Space Program
And lastly, I remembered to keep on dreaming, thanks to some little green guys and their little space program. If you haven’t heard, development is hitting final beta. Like Kerbals, I look at the stars every night and hope that maybe one day in my lifetime I might make it up there.
This little game has reignited that passion for the cosmos. It refueled my passion for playing EVE. It also taught me once again, that things don’t always work out the first time; you need to just add more struts and more boosters, and try again. Most people call that perseverance – I call it being like Jeb Kerman.
So among all the feasts, beverages, family, and presents, take some time and look at your gaming habits. See how they made you grow this year, because I am pretty sure that they did.

EVE is Real

By Stephan Bazzochi

With fall upon us, it’s time to look forward to chillier weather, snow – more snow – and cold. (At least the mosquitoes are beginning to migrate south.)
It’s time to put away the summer toys and hunker down for a good season of gaming to keep ourselves nice and snug indoors.
We’ve covered some casual and fun games in the past months – now it’s time to get serious. And there is no game more serious than the addiction I have spent the last eight years trying to shake.
I have spent months trying not to write about it. Alas, I ended up hitting that subscribe button, transferring the funds from my bank account and diving back into the world of wonder, beauty, and unbelievable levels of treachery.
With the new update of Hyperion just being released, there really was no better time. Being a lifelong fan of science fiction, artful trolling, scamming, espionage, and many things that almost all other games frown upon, it’s no surprise that my love of EVE never dies.
You’ve seen the ads – read countless articles about the massive battles, the unbelievable thefts of player assets, the scams, the spreadsheets, and the beauty of the graphics.
EVE delivers on all these things and then some.
There is no other game I have played for this length of time. I leave for months on end, then every time, get sucked back in. There is no escape. Continue reading EVE is Real

When the real heat is too much, surrender to the Steam Summer Sale online

By Stephan Bazzocchi

With summer in full swing, it’s hard to imagine sitting in front of the computer during this wonderful, albeit too-hot weather. Then you step outside into the soup that is a 100 per cent humidex, and get mauled by the lovely mosquitoes.
Quickly, you hear the voice of reason and bolt back to the miracles of modern technology, namely air conditioning and the loving warm glow of your TV/PC screen. You sigh as you happily sit there with no worries of putting on another layer of sunscreen over the layer of bug spray.
You can keep your melanoma and your malaria. I will take a sedentary lifestyle indoors over Mother Nature on most days. Besides, the best holiday of the year is upon us. The mythical Steam Summer Sale. Continue reading When the real heat is too much, surrender to the Steam Summer Sale online