First Impression: Evolve Big Alpha

This entry is part [part not set] of 2 in the series Evolve

First off the first thing you are going to encounter in Evolve is the insane load times, and insane to the long side, not the quick side. This seems to only be a major issue on first loading into the system. Once in, even with re-shuffles of players, as long as the host is set subsequent loads seem to be cut in half.

There are major party issues. The game constantly says that the party is full or just spins for day. This is definitely an Alpha and I would wager that they are starting small and seeing what the system can handle instead of starting with too much and wasting resources. This is exactly why there is a Alpha so I can fault them for it, but I really want to because I want to play!

My initial impression is how is this going to keep me playing long term? It’s a great idea, but I don’t see the longevity of it. There are 3 maps in the Alpha, all of which are very very very similar. All night time, all outdoors, all jungle themed. I don’t know how long I’m going to be interested in chasing down 3 different monsters.

Modes. They say they’ll be more. I wish I could see at least one other mode right now.

Here’s one I came up with. Everyone is a monster and it’s a race to Stage 3 while they fight it out.
Here’s another one. 5 v 5. Team vs team. Each team is 4 and a monster. Team A is trying to keep their monster alive, while killing Team B’s monster. and vice versa.

They’ve really pigeon holed their game into this setup where you need 4 people on a team and it seems like it would limit Evolve’s options pretty severely.

This is a team game. So far most randoms don’t seem to get that. If you are a Trapper, for the love of all that is holy, use the damn harpoons and the mobile arena. If you get picked for Medic, you are the healer. HEAL.

The leveling is interesting. Getting the stars seems way off on what they count versus what I did in the level. It also seems the middle Mastery of each class is a million times harder than then the 2 sides. For Medic I had healed the required points in just a few games, and did the Sniper hits in just 2 games, but the Tranqs took FOREVER. Same with Support. The Orbital Barrage is absurd. Even with direct hits it is very slow to reload and most of the time you are just going to full on miss. It would be a lot easier if it tracked Wild but it’s on the Monster only.

So far I’ve gotten to level 12 and unlocked Lazarus the second Medic. I’d like to get 1 Ultra Skin unlock over the week-end to see how those shape up.

We have a Info page for the Alpha RIGHT HERE. Covers the levels perks and each character’s unlock tree.

Will update this as I play more.

Review: Chariot

Chariot Pcitre
2.69 GB
Available On
Xbox ONE [Reviewed], PS4, and PC
Release Date
Frima Studios
Frima Studios
Single Player and Couch Co-Op

Chariot is a puzzle based platformer with couch co-op features and a humorous tone. Developed by Frima Studios, the game tasks you with pulling and pushing the king’s funeral wagon through caverns and caves to a place to bury the remains. Along the way the witty king’s ghost complains and barks out orders as he wants you to collect as much loot as possible and find the perfect place to rest. The game focuses on secrets, unlocks, and branching paths in level by level progression.

Chariot’s gameplay is extremely simple. Each level however is not. The player is tasked with basically moving the chariot through, over, under, around obstacles to the finish of the level while collecting gold. There’s a rope that can be attached to the chariot to pull it over tough objects and to the goal. There are branching paths and hidden items everywhere. Some trails lead to more gold and other may lead to blueprints that can unlock equipable items to help along the journey. Items like a light to travel in the dark or a pin to place the rope in one spot to let the chariot hang to help traverse to new spots. The gameplay is straightforward to a fault. Although this could be categorized as a puzzle game, it will almost never challenge the mind. Each “puzzle” moment was just another time-consuming obnoxious barrier in the way. Moving around is slow and monotonous, as it takes an extensive time to just move the casket on wheels anywhere. The gameplay isn’t demanding enough on the brain to make it feel like a puzzle and the movement isn’t fun enough to make the game feel like a platformer. The levels are massive. The first few are basic, but the deeper you get into the game the larger the maps become. The branching paths at first are nice, but quickly it becomes tedious to collect everything. In a game like Mario, as an example of a standard platformer, when you see a pipe to climb down or a secret path you can quickly run down at full speed, hop on some goombas on the way, get the secret Yoshi coin and be on your way. It’s fun to go find hidden things because just running and jumping is fun in it of itself. In Chariot it feels like such a chore to just get to the finish, why would I feel obligated to go off and explore in different areas?

The good thing about the hidden items in Chariot is that they do improve the overall experience. In many games the collectables are just for fun—in Chariot they actually allow for the unlocking of some helpful items. However with so many branching paths it became annoying to take the time to go down all of these paths and get gold nine times out of ten and only get that nice blueprint after every nook and cranny has been checked. Gold in it of itself is used to buy things after turning in blueprints at the store, but running out of gold is hard to do as it’s everywhere.

Chariot does a very nice job teaching the player about gameplay mechanics. In some games all you get is a picture of a controller with words mapped to each button (one of my personal biggest video game pet peeves). In other games there can be lengthy confusing tiresome tutorials. I think the bet games educate how to play the game by creating intuitive level design that naturally teaches what to do. This could be as simple as just having a sign that says, “Don’t fall down that pit man, there’s totally snakes and stuff down there and that’s just scary! Press A to jump over it kay?” Or it can be as helpful as seeing that first bullet bill in Mario sail way over your head, so you can clearly see how that enemy moves and attacks, so that the next time it actually does fly straight at Mario you can jump over it with ease. Chariot does this smart instruction of its game for the most part, except when it comes to attacking the bad guys…

One of the most annoying parts about Chariot is the enemies, or as the king calls them, looters. Rat like creatures and bat like creatures hide inside of holes in the wall and attack the king’s treasury to attempt to run off with the gold. The first few times this happened to me I had no idea that I could slice these little cretins by pressing ‘X’. Once that’s learned they become just obnoxious foes that get in the way. The way to avoid them completely is to move quietly and slowly passed the dark holes they live in. Simple enough right? WRONG! You have to move like a slug on sedatives to evade these snatching scalawags. Seriously just the slightest movement will make them all attack you, which again isn’t a big problem it just makes the game THAT much more boring. Even worse is that the majority of the spots where the looters are hidden are places that are impossible to avoid. For example I fell down a mandatory pit and at the bottom were three holes filled with bats that came swarming out as the king screamed out, “I THOUGHT I TOLD YOU TO BE QUIET!” I had literally no choice but to awake all of these loathsome thieves. Or on similar moments there are barriers to climb over and drop down on the other side and even though I see the looters waiting in their little hole and I know I can’t make a big noise, the only way to get down off the ledge is to drop down right on top of them. It’s like every single decision made in the game’s design was to force the player to move unnecessarily slow. To reiterate, the game’s movement and pace is already very slow. There are seemingly endless branching paths that give me things that only slightly push the game forward. The “puzzles” are more like exhausting time-consuming hills to climb up and over as opposed to creative brain-teasers. And now they throw in enemies that provide no physical challenge other than being MORE dreary obstacles in my way and if I want to try to avoid them completely I have to move even slower and quieter than ever? I’m not sure if I’ve ever played a game this anti-ADHD! I’m not at all opposed to slow paced methodicital games, in fact I love a lot of them. But because the puzzles aren’t really puzzles, the platforming really isn’t platforming, and the enemies aren’t really enemies there doesn’t seem to be a logical reason at all to make this game so deliberately sluggish.

There is couch co-op in Chariot but no online play at all. Each level can be completed a bit easier and faster with two players pushing and pulling the dead king to the goal. And there are also hidden areas in every level that can only be reached when two players combine forces and take on the task together. This actually helps the game, as the quicker pace negates some of the slow-paced flaws. But it’s not enough to save the game completely. And the decision to be couch co-op only is a bad one. I do love that couch co-op has made a small resurgence as of late, there’s nothing quite like competitively or cooperatively playing with a buddy right by your side. But many of us don’t have this opportunity. Why not be able to jump online with a friend and tackle the king’s demands as a team? It’s ashamed that this isn’t an option as it could have been one of the games saving graces.

There is a charm about Chariot that is nice. The art style is simple yet colorful and vibrant. In some levels plants and colors grow and shine as soon as you walk near them. The whole game takes place underground, so it can’t stretch its wings in very unique ways but the overall graphical design is still fine. The animations are cute and the characters are fun. However just the game itself, it’s probably too simple for its own good. How many indie style games look pretty much exactly like this? It’s wonderful to see games like Fez, Limbo, SuperTimeForce or Minecraft be limited in their overall graphical power but still manage to create their own unique artful style. Chariot is just another cartoonish sidescroller. The voice acting is one part perfect and one part appalling. The king does the majority of the speaking and his lines are often clever and amusing. He’s both demanding and needy, which is always a hilarious mix. His lines are quickly repeated however and this get’s old fast. Meanwhile there’s a skeleton that runs the shop above the caverns and the writing and execution of his character is awful. His voice completely doesn’t fit. The moment he started talking it pulled my out of the game’s experience and I for an instant didn’t even know who was talking. I thought the skeleton CLEARLY can’t sound like that, can he? His jokes fall flat every time. He’s like the poor stand-up comic who should probably just call it quits because tomatoes are about to start flying but he just keeps going.

Overall Chariot is a big disappointment. It has some things going for it. An interesting game mechanic, a silly slapstick story, charming visuals, and it’s October 2014’s free game of the month for Xbox Live Gold members! But the puzzles are to brainless, the platforming is to slow and uninteresting, and the visuals never go beyond the average indie art style stigma. Even the crazy king’s undead jokes and his journey for riches and the perfect resting place can’t save Chariot from itself. Honestly some games are broken, some games are flawed, some games are unfinished, some games are designed poorly, and some are executed poorly. But no matter what—games need to be fun. If a game is perfect in every way, but it’s not fun, then it has little to no purpose. Sometimes a game can be imperfect but still be a lot of fun. And In the end Chariot is just boring—to go along with its many other flaws—in the end Chariot is just not fun.

1) The King

1) Slow repetitive boring gameplay
2) Looters
3) The skeleton



Evolve: Big Alpha Information

This entry is part [part not set] of 2 in the series Evolve
General Info

Aplha started today for Xbox ONE (10/30/14) and only runs through the 2nd of November. So get cracking!

The Big Alpha contains 2 Monsters (Goliath and Kraken), 3 Maps (Fusion Plant, The Dam, and Distillery) and 2 characters for each of the 4 classes.

If you are in a party, no one in the party is allowed to be the monster. This is to keep from boosting.

Characters are Trapper (Maggie, then Griffin), Assault (Markov, then Hyde), Support (Hank, then Bucket) and Medic (Val, then Lazarus)
All of these characters has levels, perks, and abilities to unlock. Each item you use can be leveled up to 3 stars earning you bonuses.

Overall Level Progression

Level 1 (0) – Jump Height – Increase jump height by 200% (Hunter)
Level 1 (0) – Climb Speed – Increase climb speed by 30% (Monster)
Level 2 (1,150) – Quick Switch – Cycle between items 10% faster (Hunter)
Level 3 (2,378) – Feeding Speed – Increase feeding rate by 15% (Monster)
Level 4 (3,802) – Jetpack Recharge – Jetpack recharges 25% quicker (Hunter)
Level 5 (5,454) – Damage Bonus – Increase damage output by 5% (Hunter / Monster)
Level 6 (7,371) – Smell Range – Smell range increased by 15% (Monster)
Level 7 (9,594) – Reload Speed – Items recharge or reload 10% more quickly (Hunter)
Level 8 (12,173) – Damage Resistance – Reduce incoming damage by 5% (Hunter / Monster)
Level 9 (15,165) – Cooldown Reduction – Ability recharge 15% faster (Monster)
Level 10 (18,635) – Capacity Increase – Increased battery or clip size by 10% (Hunter)
Level 11 (22,661) – Movement Speed – Increase top speed by 10% (Hunter)
Level 12 (27,331) – Stamina Increase – Traversal stamina recharges 15% faster (Monster)
Level 13 (32,748) – Health Regeneration – Self-healing over time (Hunter)
Level 14 () – Armor Regeneration – Armor regenerates 15% faster (Monster)
Level 15 (+7289) –

Character Progression
Freesytle Champion – Swim 25 Meters
Freesytle Champion II – Swim 100 Meters
Go, Go, Go! – Use a Dropship 10 times
Go, Go, Go! II – Use a Dropship 25 times
Map Maven – Win 11 Matches on Any Map
Trophy Hunter – Win 10 Matches
Stay Classy – Use a Class Ability 50 Times

Laser Show (Support) – Inflict tons of damage to the Monster with the Laser Cutter
Now You See Me (Support) – Cloak several Hunters at once with the Cloaking Field
Protector (Support) – Protect the Hunters from lots of damage with the Shield Projector
Duck And Cover (Support) – Decimate the Monster with the Orbital Barrage
The Support – Get 25 Support Awards

Quick Fix (Medic) – Heal lots of health with the MedGun
Sure Shot (Medic) – Shoot the Monster several times with the Armor-Piercing Sniper Rifle
Medic! (Medic) – Heal several Hunters at once with the Healing Burst
Sleepy Time (Medic) – Shoot the Monster several times with the Tranquilizer Gun
Silent And Deadly (Lazarus) – Mark the Monster multiple times with the Silenced Sniper Rifle
Revivified (Lazarus) – Revivify Multiple hunters with the Lazarus Device

The Medic – Get 25 Medic Awards
The Medic II – Get 100 Medic Awards

Tripped Up (Trapper) – Harpoon the Monster multiple times with Harpoon Traps
Thunderdome (Trapper) – Trap the Monster several times with the Mobile Arena
Hand Cannon (Trapper) – Deal a ton of damage to the Monster with the Machine Pistol
Good Girl (Trapper) – Follow Daisy for a great distance
The Trapper – Get 25 Trapper Awards

Hank [Support] Stats

Laser Cutter, Shield Protection, Orbital Barrage, Cloaking Field

Shield Projector – Level 1 – Shield teammates from damage 16 times (+2% Capacity)
Orbital Barrage – Level 1 – Do 19000 damage
Laser Cutter – Level 1 – Do 8500 damage (+2% Damage)
Earn 1 star in all items – Unlocked Bucket

Val [Medic] Stats

Armor-Piercing Sniper Rifle, Medgun, Tranquilizer Gun, Healing Burst

Medgun – Level 1 – Heal 19000 damage (+2% Capacity)
Tranquilizer Gun – Level 1 – Tranquilize Monsters 60 times (+2% Duration)
Armor-Piercing Sniper Rifle – Level 1 – Place 15 targets on Monsters (+2% Damage)
Earn 1 star in all items – Unlocked Lazarus
Medgun – Level 2 – Revive 8 teammates with MedGun
Traquilizer Gun – Level 2 – Tranquilize Monsters for 860 seconds
Armor-Piercing Sniper Rifle – Level 2 – Team Bonus Damage (Easy Got In One Game So Don’t Know #)
Medgun – Level 3 –
Traquilizer Gun – Level 3 –
Armor-Piercing Sniper Rifle – Level 3 –

Lazarus [Medic] Stats

Silenced Sniper Rifle, Lazarus Device, Personal Cloak, Healing Burst

Lazarus is unlocked by getting the 1st star on all of Val’s 3 Masteries.

Lazarus Device – Level 1 – Bring 6 creatures back from the dead
Personal Cloak – Level 1 – Cloak revive 12 teammates
Silenced Sniper Rifle – Level 1 – Place 100 targets on Monsters

Marcov [Assault] Stats

Lightning Gun, Assault Rifle, Arc Mines, Personal Shield

Lightning Gun – Level 1 – Do 16000 damage
Arc Mines – Level 1 – Do 29000 damage
Assault Rifle – Level 1 – Do 6000 damage

Maggie [Trapper] Stats

Machine Pistol, Harpoon Traps, Pet Trapjaw, Mobile Arena

Pet Trapjaw – Level 1 – Follow Daisy for 6600 meters
Harpoon Traps – Level 1 – Harpoon Monster 70 times
Machine Pistol – Level 1 – Do 5100 damage (+2% Damage)
Earn 1 star in all items – Unlocked Griffin

Goliath [Monster] Stats

Rock Throw
Leap Smash
Fire Breath

You earn an additional 3 points after evolving to Stage 2 and 3 more points to spend on Stage 3.

Increase climb speed by 30%

Fire Breath – Level 1 – Do 22000 damage
Leap Smash – Level 1 – Do 20400 damage
Rock Throw – Level 1 – Do 6400 damage
Charge – Level 1 – Do 15800 damage

Press Release: Destiny Expansion I: The Dark Below on December 9

This entry is part [part not set] of 15 in the series Destiny

Activision and Bungie today announced that Destiny Expansion I: The Dark Below will be available for download on December 9th. The Dark Below marks the first expansion to the universe since Destiny’s launch in September and features all-new weapons and gear to earn through new story, cooperative and multiplayer activities.

“Destiny was created as a living universe, which has allowed us to improve the experience post launch in real-time,” says Harold Ryan, President of Bungie. “It also gives us insight into the things players are looking for in new content. We’ve seen from feedback that people want new activities, gear and weapons, and of course the immensely popular Raid. The community helps shape our development decisions and that’s really important to us.”

Destiny Expansion I: The Dark Below will feature the following:

o New weapons, armor, and gear to earn, including Legendary and Exotic items
o Light Level cap raised to 32 and five additional Bounty slots added

-Swaggers’ Thoughts

So to get the 5 more slots I need the expansion? Wow. Also does anyone else believe that with adding 2 more levels the only way to get those is through the new Raid and the only way to do the new raid is going to be already being level 30? I think they are going to just keep ramping up each raid to the next.

o New story quests and missions – after years hiding amongst the Hive shadows, a new character, Eris, has come forth bearing an ominous warning: The Hive seek to summon a god, Crota, to destroy the Earth. Find Eris in the Tower to take on special quests that include three new missions where you will increase your Light and earn new rewards
o New cooperative Strike, The Will of Crota, pits you and your Fireteam against Omnigul as she works to expand the Hive army at the command of her master, Crota
o Three new competitive multiplayer arenas
Pantheon – set deep within the Black Garden in an ancient Vex temple that features Vex-designed landscapes and tight corridors
Skyshock – an old interplanetary defense array that offers both vehicle and infantry engagements
The Cauldron – an abandoned Hive ritual site that offers close-quarter combat
o New six-player Raid, Crota’s End, set deep within the depths of the Hellmouth
o PlayStation platforms will also get access to an exclusive cooperative Strike, The Undying Mind, and more (timed exclusive until at least Fall 2015)

Players can purchase The Dark Below individually ($19.99), or as part of the Destiny Expansion Pass ($34.99), which includes both Expansion I and Expansion II, on PlayStation®4, PlayStation®3, Xbox One, and Xbox 360.

Achievement Guide: How to Survive: Storm Warning Edition

This entry is part [part not set] of 2 in the series How To Survive: Storm Warning Edition
Dead… Again. – 15gs – Achieve your first instant kill on a zombie.
Close killer – 30gs – Perform 100 instant kills.

This will be your first achievement. When you are attacking a zombie after a few hits a “A to Kill” will be displayed. When you press “A” your character will do a finishing move and kill the zombie. Then do it 100 more times. This gets harder with better weapons as you’ll start to just instant kill zombies without the opportunity to get a kill option.

Mass murderer – 10gs – Kill 1000 zombies
No more room in hell – 15gs – Kill 2000 zombies

These are cumulative. Just keep killing.

Level Up – 15gs – Unlock your first skill

You unlock the ability to earn skills right after meeting Ramon for the first time on the first island. Use B to bring up menu and RT over to skills and unlock Caveman, which gives you the abilities to fire camps and torches. You’ll unlock the achievement and complete your objective.

Discoverer I – 15gs – Enter La Vendida Island

Kovac will take you there after you get the Gas for Ramon.

Discoverer II – 15gs – Enter La Sonada Island

After getting the Engine Starter from Andrew use it on the boat to repair it allowing you to go to La Sonada.

Discoverer III – 15gs – Enter Santa Barbara Island
Discoverer IV – 15gs – Enter Horno Island
Discoverer V – 15gs – Enter Cenizas Island
Discoverer VI – 15gs – Enter Ascuas Island
Wait your turn – 30gs – Perform 5 instant kills in less than 15 seconds.

Head for a group of obviously 5 zombies and hit them and perform instant kills quickly. Best bets are safe zones since you need to clear out all the zombies and you will get flooded with zombies.

Four-handed massacre – 15gs – Complete a local or online challenge with another player.
Herbalist – 15gs – Find the 20 special plants of the Herbarium.

#1 – Los Riscos Island – Roman, there is a small higher area with a plant on a wood plank
#2 – La Vendida Island – Leaving the base to the right while learning Resting head straight up and Machete some bushes to find the plant.

Easy survival – 45gs – Complete the story mode in “Normal” difficulty.
Unbreakable – 60gs – Complete the story mode in “Iron man” difficulty.
Perfect run – 30gs – Complete a challenge with a “S” ranking.
Picky monkeys – 30gs – Complete the 12 secondary quests of Kovac’s monkeys.
Survival veteran – 30gs – Reach “Survival hobbyist” ranking tag (Challenge mode)
Pharmacofobia – 15gs – Complete a challenge in “Normal” difficulty without using medicinal plants nor medikits.
Winners don’t use drugs – 30gs – Complete a challenge in “Iron man” difficulty without using medicinal plants nor medikits.
The weasel – 30gs – Complete a challenge in “Normal” difficulty without losing health.
Untouchable – 45gs – Complete a challenge in “Iron man” difficulty without losing health.
One per sec – 15gs – Kill 5 zombies in less than 5 seconds
Speed killing – 30gs – Kill 10 zombies in less than 5 seconds.
Express cleaner – 45gs – Kill 20 zombies in less than 5 seconds.
Collateral damage – 45gs – Get zombies deer to kill 20 Zombies.
Cheap kill – 15gs – Kill 5 monsters in a row with a bullet or an arrow.
Hot flush – 30gs – Complete “El Diablo” chapter in “Easy” difficulty
Burn out – 45gs – Complete “El Diablo” chapter in “Normal” difficulty
Back fire – 60gs – Complete “El Diablo” chapter in “Iron Man” difficulty
Glass breaker – 30gs – Kill a volcanologist zombie without electricity
Electric skewer – 30gs – Kill 8 monsters in a row using electricity
High voltage – 15gs – Kill 500 monsters with electricity.
Bolts’ master – 15gs – Recharge your electric weapon without using an electric pylon.
God of Rain – 45gs – Complete the special remote
Monkeys on your back – 30gs – Complete all the monkeys’ quests of El Diablo islands.

Press Release: How To Survive: Storm Warning Edition

This entry is part [part not set] of 2 in the series How To Survive: Storm Warning Edition

Good thing Halloween is on Friday so gamers will have plenty of time to face the undead chaos unleashed in 505 games and Eko Software’s How to Survive: Storm Warning Edition. The revival of fan favorite crafting survival zombie game includes new maps, characters, modes, weapons and tips as you survive a swarm of relentless zombies. All of this gaming goodness will keep gamers’ hearts racing as they craft their escape from a legion of the living dead and fortify to protect the living for as long as they can. How to Survive: Storm Warning Edition is a complete pack that features the original game and a set of action packed DLC’s. It includes:

How to Survive (original game content)

Heat Wave DLC: Equips the three original playable characters with fireproof suits and teaches them the ability to craft incendiary ammo.

Kovac’s way DLC: Introduces an additional difficulty level to the game with new and demanding gameplay conditions.

Hello, My name is Nina DLC: Presents an additional character with the ability to craft flamethrowers and advanced chainsaws.

“El Diablo” Islands DLC: Players will discover new islands, meet new characters and face unpredictable threats.

One Shot Escape DLC: Allows players to roam the islands on a highly randomized scenario trying to find and repair an escape vehicle.

Barricade! DLC: Introduces a new game mode where players will try to protect survivors as long as they can, setting traps and barricades.

How to Survive: Storm Warning Edition is available to download now for STEAM and Xbox Live® online entertainment network from Microsoft as a game for Xbox One® for $19.99. PS4 via PlayStation®Network will be available on November 4, 2014.

Review: How To Survive: Storm Warning Edition

How To Survive: Storm Warning Edition
3.00 GB
Available On
Xbox ONE [Reviewed], PS4
Release Date
eko Software
505 Games
Single and Co-op

How to Survive: Storm Warning Edition is a next gen update to the XBLA game How to Survive. This updated edition includes all the DLC for the original game. I’ve never got a chance to play How to Survive on 360 so I don’t know if this is a graphical or engine update also. How to Survive is a top down 3D twin stick zombie adventure game. The game can be played in either Single or Co-op play and has you exploring islands trying to get enough parts to fix your seaplane and escape.

The Tutorial is told through a series of survival guides written by a NPC in the game named Kovac. They play out in funny little pictogram skits within each book you find teaching you about your inventory, eating and everything else you need to know to survive. Genius tidbits like don’t sleep in the wide open as a zombie is going to come and eat your face. Stuff you need to know. These guides come into play in a nice loading screen mini quiz where correct answers gain you XP. It’s a nice bonus and the game only loads between islands so you can stay immersed the entire game.

This game is pretty brutally hard. Besides trying to keep your body safe from rampaging zombies, you need to manage your thirst, hunger and tiredness also. Of all of these thirst seem to be the hardest to maintain. There are some fruits that help with thirst but for the most part you are relaying on wells that are on the islands. The biggest issue is once you use a well, it’s done. Everything else in the game seems to regenerate on a timer but as so far I’ve yet to see a single well re-fill. It is also extremely important to keep up on the weapon damage curve. Not finding the one part to get the next bow really puts you behind and makes the game a drag as you tackle not only health but the thirst, hunger and tired levels wasting time trying to find that part.

The game is played out over a series of islands where for whatever reason each boat can only go to one other island. So you get the engine starter for the boat on Los Riscos Island and that gets you to La Vendida Island and it’s not a one use boat. You can now use it to go back and forth as often as you like. But on La Vendida Island there is a new boat to get you to the next island but it needs a fan belt or something. Why am I not just using the boat I already fixed up? It would of been more realistic to make me continue to upgrade the same boat and just have islands be further out. One of the biggest issues with the travel system is that any zombies in the area you are heading to will already be hitting you before you gain control. I’ve died quite a few times just by leaving an area and coming back to a horde or zombies waiting for me. There is no way around this, you need to dodge and roll and pray you get out all the while taking hits you don’t deserve due to no safe zones around loading area. There are quite a few punishing areas that seemed to be there just to hurt the player for no reason. During the games storms you’ll be hit my lightning a TON of times taking massive damage. There are near invincible crocodiles that sap your ammo with how much of a bullet sponge they are. Don’t even get me started on the bear that appeared out of no where and wrecked havoc on my inventory, destroying precious and rare items every time he hit me.

How to Survive has a very complex and interesting inventory system. There are just so MANY items to keep track off and so little space to keep them. I have tires and bones and special plants and all kinds of stuff that I don’t know when I am going to need it or even if I am going to need it. Things can be combined in multiple ways but early in the game their effectiveness is not known. It does add to the difficulty in a very thematic sense as it adds to the unknown factor of your character’s journey. Do I need this plant or is this tire more important? As a player though I hate having to throw something away without knowing it’s purpose or value. When you find a blueprint it will be added to your guide and you’ll know 100% for sure what you are going to get when you combine two items, but the game doesn’t hold you back from experimenting. It doesn’t give you bad options, meaning you will always make something usable, but without finding the page it’s a complete guess as to what is going to be the final product. The game also has multiple stage creations. Your first gun is going to be 5 parts added one as a time until you end up with a makeshift gun so there is some good depth here. If you have the inventory space you are allowed to dismantle items back to their original parts so that you can incorporate new and better things. My biggest piece of advice is to drop your extra items near a boat or safe house. This way you can find them later if you figure out later they are needed. The biggest problem for me is just finding the items. The game doesn’t highlight or give you an indication that something can be used until you are right up on it. There are tons of things just sitting in the tall grass you’ll walk on by 20 or more times until you finally walk over it and get the press A to pick up.

The story is your typical horror survival. Wake up on island, don’t know why you are there, just that you want to get away from the zombies. The voice acting is decent and each mission will have a little intro from the character and what they want. One of the major downfalls is that the gameplay started to get quite repetitive quickly. Every single mission you will undertake is a fetch quest. This boat needs this part, I need this thing to give you this other thing to give to someone else to get the thing you actually want. Again and again and again. The only thing that changes is the island you are on and although they’ll add some new enemies all the islands really look the same. The layout will change but from a glance you are not going to know one from another.

There are a few other modes that have been added to this version that were DLC for the original. There is a challenge series you can do single or co-op. Get to the plane fast, kill all the zombies, that sort of thing. Then there is also a randomly generated island where the layout is the same but what resources and where they are scattered. You also get additional characters to play through with and some alternate costumes that have added bonuses.

Overall How to Survive is an interesting take on Zombie Survival with its Thirst, Hunger and Tired system and it has an amazing crafting system but overall the game started to drag with its near endless fetch quests. If you like the survival genre then there are a lot of new concepts and ideas that push the genre forward in good directions and these additions overshadow the game’s shortcomings.

1) New concepts for Survival Genre
2) Complex and interesting crafting system

1) Fetch gameplay gets repetitive
2) Game seems to enjoy punishing you for no reason



Review: Madden NFL 15

Digital and Retail
14.96 GB
Available On
Xbox ONE [Reviewed], PS4, Xbox 360, PS3
Release Date
EA Tiburon
Singleplayer and Couch/Online Multiplayer

Each year Madden faces a challenge tougher than facing off against Cam Chancellor, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, and that stout Seattle Defense; tougher even than the 12th man screaming on the legion of boom on 3rd and 12. What’s that challenge? Meeting and exceeding the expectations of Madden gamers—who want an experience that looks, feels, and plays better every single year. Often times the biggest hurdle for franchises with yearly adaptations are themselves. It’s incredibly daunting to successfully iterate on games every 12 months. This is even more the case with sports games. In a game like Call of Duty, each year the developer can change the setting, the story, the multiplayer format, the progression, the guns, the maps, and more. For a baseball or hockey or football game what can you do? Maybe a new game-mode, but 90% of the time, game-modes come and go and are forgotten. Madden successfully created an innovative game-mode with Ultimate Team, and that game-mode itself has pretty much become the biggest attraction. The expectations for sports games almost can’t be met. Many gamers want something that feels fresh and new and exciting and unlike what they played nonstop for 6 months straight only 6 months ago. The best way to review or enjoy Madden, and other games like this, is to ask this question; what was done right and what was done wrong in last year’s version? And has THIS year’s edition kept the good and fixed the bad?
Madden’s gameplay has been tried and true for a long time. Each year the developer attempts to update the gameplay to be both more realistic as well as more in tune with the NFL, which is ever-changing with new fads and trends. Madden NFL 15’s biggest gameplay focus is the defense. Since the Seattle Seahwaks decimated the NFL’s best ever passing attack in the Super Bowl they wanted to strengthen that side of the ball. In the past it definitely seemed like on the offensive side of the ball you had control while the defensive side was a guessing game. That and the offense has been just more fun. The defensive changes are across multiple levels. On the defensive line is where the game is completely altered for the better. If you take control of a defensive end getting ready to rush the quarterback you’ve got more options than ever. For starters you can get a boost off of the snap by hitting the sprint button the moment the ball is hiked. This is huge and gives players with quick fingers an advantage. However the offense can fake snap it and draw the lineman offside. Once snapped, you can use power or rush moves by hitting the button at the precise timing to obliterate the blocker and hit the QB. There’s also a tackle cone for when you are approaching the ball carrier. There’s a small cone that stretches out from the front of the player you are controlling that you can use to face the ballcarier, line up the defender, and make the tackle. There’s also a new camera angle that flips around and has you facing the offense. Personally I’m not a big fan and I like the classic camera look. All of these changes not only help you attack the offense better, they actually help in confidence as well, you feel like you’ve got a real shot at slowing down these crazy fast paced offenses. On the offensive side there are few changes when it comes to post-snap gameplay. It’s still for the most part smooth and responsive.


One of the best parts about Madden over the past few years is the gameplaning and play-calling. And with Madden 15 the advancements are better than ever. Before I go over this let’s talk about the brilliant additions in the Skills Trainer mode. As Madden vets would know, the Skills Trainer is a feature that trains the player on all aspects of the game—anything from second-to-second gameplay, how to pass, how to tackle, etc. The training sessions that teach the player how to do the absolute basics may be a laugh and may seem mostly pointless to long-time Madden masters, and to be honest it sort of is. In the past, these extremely basic tutoring features were all that Skills Trainer had to offer. But with Madden 15 they added an incredibly helpful and fun array of teachings sessions. There’s a very helpful training course for how to read defenses based on their pre-snap look. Looking for cover 2, man to man, cover 3, and more is one of the best ways to understand where to go with the ball once the ball is snapped. There’s also a training session that teaches how to slide the line to block the oncoming pass-rush. It’s very rewarding to see the defense overloading on the right side, audibleing to a run to the left, sliding the line to the right, and running down the field 15 yards before even being touched. And then there’s the new and brilliant concept training. Concept training teaches the player what different routes mean and how they are properly executed. Instead of just seeing a bunch of routes spread out across the field you are taught to understand how to read the defense and manipulate them. You are taught with each concept which player should be the first, second, and third read. This not only teaches the game of Madden, this teaches the game of football in an impressive way. You can suck up all this knowledge and instantly apply it to your very next game. I personally played some of it just screwing around when I first played the game and didn’t think anything of it. However when I came back to the Skills Trainer and focused on the concept training my game jumped up unbelievably. It’s one thing to understand routes and defensive coverages. It’s another thing to know concepts, your reads, how to watch for which routes the safety covers, and how to bounce through your progression to pass the ball to the wide open receiver flying across the middle of the field.


The other amazing addition to Madden 15 is the features that Smartglass had last year developed straight into the game. For Madden 25 there was a Smartglass app for the game that would show you what play the opponent just used, what plays they often go to in different scenarios, what plays the community suggests on diverse downs and distances, and how effective various plays are that you’ve used so far. This was all nice but daunting and distracting to have to look down at your phone or tablet and jump back up to the game to find what plays you’re looking for and what to do. All of this is now directly in the game easy to see whenever you are ready to pick a play. You can instantly see what play was just used by your competitor and how effective it was. You can also see what selections of plays have worked well and not so well for yourself, and every other feature that Smartglass had last year. This is pivotal for progressing through the match and picking the right plays for each down. From the beginning I used these features and they helped me tremendously. As time went on it also helped me to rely on it less and allowed me to create my own ideas of how to stop different offensive and defensive attacks that I face.

After some time in skills trainer along with just time on the game itself to get a good feel of how things work, it’s entirely possible to develop deep gameplans and impose your will on the opponent. With truly understanding how offenses and defenses work you can create an identity for yourself. One of the great parts about this is that sometimes that gameplan will work from start to finish and you’ll win the match 28-7. Other times the opponent’s style might be a perfect fit to slow you down and you can choose to abandon the gameplan, change things up, or keep grinding until it works. Personally I’ve become in love with a running attack on offense and a bend but don’t break approach for defense. Even if the opponent is slowing down my rushing attack I keep pushing it. If I get stuck on a 3rd and long I have a few go to plays to pick up that yardage. Maybe it’s a halfback screen or a flood concept play that allows for a wide receiver to come screaming through the cover two wide open. The fun part about this is to keep evolving throughout the match while still imposing your will. On defense I like to focus on stopping any big plays first, I don’t like getting beat deep. Try to go deep and it will be intercepted or incomplete. I let some small dink and dunk passes over the middle and I don’t care if the opponent picks up small yards here and there. My plan is to wait for the perfect timing to call blitzes and force errant throws, I like to let the opposing QB think he can finally take a shot deep down the middle and instead I’ve got a safety ready to pick it off. As long as the opponent is the one making big mistakes and not me, I’ve got a great chance of winning. In one match during the fourth quarter of a very tight online game I stopped my foe on fourth and goal on the two yard line as he tried to take the lead in the middle of the fourth quarter. The score at this point was 21-17. When I took over the ball I hit four runs right down the middle for fifteen yards and suddenly the opponent was crowding the line of scrimmage with a linebacker blitz. I still wanted to keep running, to both control the clock and let him know his blitz didn’t affect me. So I called a counter running play and slid the lineman to block the oncoming run stuffers. I’d been running nicely all day but hadn’t yet busted a deep one, until now. The blitz was picked up and I ran 35 yards down the field and was suddenly almost at midfield. On first down I ran again right down the middle for just a few yards, but it was enough to get my rival cursing me out for playing so conservatively. The next play I called a run again, but before the snap I could see he was about to send everyone on a biltz to finally put an end to my running attack that was controlling his entire clock. I audibled to a play-action, changed my line to max protection, and noticed my speedy receiver was going to be in single coverage. So I hot-routed him to do a go route down the field and snapped the ball with a few seconds on my play-clock. Most of the blitz was picked up and the rest took the bait thinking I handed it off to my running back for the 25th time; I took a step forward, heaved the ball to a wide open receiver in the end zone and took an eleven point lead with only three minutes left in the match. Two plays later I intercepted the ball while he was in desperation mode calling the same crossing pattern play he called four times already and I won the match 35-17. Never have I been able to play with such control in Madden before; using more knowledge then skill. Skill is very much needed, but playing smart and learning when to take those chances and how to control the game is exceptionally satisfying.


So much already and I still haven’t gone over MUT! Madden Ultimate Team has become Madden’s go to gamemode. While franchise mode allows you to play through the career of a player or own a football team and make business decisions, MUT uses collectable cards to build your team just the way you like. Basically it takes the idea of collecting football cards when you were growing up and slaps that into Madden, where you collect your QB, HB, WR, CB, and more. Each player has their own stats, with each card being categorized as a Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Elite card. There are also special cards like the Legends series which has great players from the past like Sterling Sharpe or Dave Casper. Or the Rising Stars series that focuses on young up and coming talent that is proving itself in the league. There’s even a series of cards from Football Outsiders, a website and program that digs deep into the stats and performances of NFL talent and evaluates them. These special cards can have even better stats and be worth more. All of these cards can be collected and used in your line-up. They can also be sold in the auction for anyone who needs the card and will trade them for coins, the games currency. Cards can also be added to sets, which have a pre-determined selection of cards that must be added to the set to give you a special reward. There are two main modes of gameplay here, single player and online multiplaer. The single player has various challenges that can give you rewards like packs with players in them or coins to buy more cards in the auction. The multiplayer is like going through a season and with more success you can get more rewards. There were a few big complaints in previous versions of MUT that were fixed perfectly. In previous years you could only have a select amount of cards in your “line-up”, like the roster of the real NFL. All the rest of you cards went to your binder. This is fine; however it used to be extremely annoying to find a card, select it for the roster, or add it to a set. Now it’s much more fluid. You can add players to the set right from the set itself for example. The binder is your roster now, you can do with them how you please and the limit for how many players you could have in your actual playing roster doesn’t exist anymore.


The overall set-up for MUT is brilliant. The execution however falls short in one major way. It’s just so extremely difficult and tedious to get good cards. You can slave away at many of the single player challenges and only end up with very weak cards. For example you can play a whole season in one of the challenges and get a gold player card, which sounds great until you realize that gold cards can be anything from 70 all the way to 90. And getting anything above an 82 is extremely rare. Usually you are rewarded with some 74 overall card that is pretty much an instant throw away. Meanwhile finishing a set can give you often amazing rewards, like a 90 overall captain card for each team. But the cards required to sacrifice into the set to get your reward are worth so much more. For example if you want the captain for the Bears, Matt Forte, you must first give up twenty cards that are from the Chicago Bears team. Some of these cards are pretty cheap in the auction, around just 3,000 coins. And maybe you already have a few of them from opening packs. But many of the cards go for 5,000 to 25,000 coins. One of the things you need to add to the set is an Elite Badge, which you can get from getting very very very lucky in a pack you open. But if you don’t have one, it costs around 55,000 in an auction. And the stupidest part is that one of the cards you need to place into this set is the 87 overall elite Matt Forte, who goes for about 35-40 thousand in the auction house. So I looked at the auction house for all of these cards and found out that they are worth over 170,000 coins! So if you have those cards, just sell them in the auction instead because guess what, the 90 overall captain card of Matt Forte that you will be rewarded from this set is worth only 74,000 coins. So it’s much smarter to just buy one from the auction. For some of the sets this is even worse. For example I got super lucky and received the Elite 88 overall LeSean Mccoy from a pack. He’s worth over 100,000 coins. If I wanted the captain card for the Eagles I would have to give him up, along with another 19 cards worth around 100,000 coins. OR I COULD BUY THE TRENT COLE EAGLES CAPTAIN CARD FOR JUST 90,000 COINS!!! The Mccoy card they want me to give up is worth more than the reward! There are a few of these sets that are actually worth it. For example if you slave away at the “Style Challenges” on solo mode for twenty hours you will be able to complete the set to get a 95 overall Peyton Manning and 95 overall Luke Kuechly. But even that you need to buy a bunch of cards from the auction too. No matter how you slice it, it’s both time consuming and often times not worth it at all to do many of the sets and challenges. Here’s the kicker, you can also spend REAL MONEY to buy packs that have cards in them. Pro tip, DON’T DO IT! The PRO cards have very weak cards in them, and it’s rare to get anything good. You can easily spend hundreds of dollars and just get a few good cards here and there. If you do want to put some money down every so often get the special addition packs. For example right now there is a Breast Cancer Awareness pack for about 5 dollars; these packs have a much better chance of getting some good players. So if you are tempted to spend a few bucks, wait for these special packs to go on sale. Overall the best way is just to grind through single player and multiplayer to get as many coins as you can so you can buy cards from the auction.


Although many of the changes and additions to Madden 15 are some of the best the series has seen in years, there are still a few things that need to be addressed. The play-by-play commentary is absolutely awful. Phil Simms and Jim Nantz just don’t work well for Madden. Now this could be partly my own personal opinion, but I’ve never liked the commentary of Phil Simms anyway. His insight is often pointless and even arrogant. In any sports game you quickly start hearing the same phrases over and over and it can get annoying. But along with the repetition, much of the commentary is either completely worthless is just plain wrong. One of my favorite examples is a phrase that I hear once every few games. On third and long if you fail to pick up the first down you often here this: “This situation is tough, on third and long it’s tough to make a first down in these types of situations” Wow…. What brilliant commentary. A massive chunk of what you hear is just uninteresting mumbo jumbo. The best and most interesting information is usually just at the start of the match, when the QB comes running out onto the field and they have a few thoughts, or when a star like Le’Veon Bell makes a play so they talk about some of his special characteristics. But that type of commentary is few and far between. Sims also loves to talk about his own repeated thoughts, often saying, “It’s like I always say” or “Like I always say”. He even contradicts himself. One minute he’ll tell you that the QB needs to trust his arm and throw the ball down the field on 3rd down to pick up the first down. And then a few moments later he will say how it’s a good idea to throw the ball short on 3rd down and he hates when people say otherwise. The most obnoxious comments are the ones that are just false. He talks about a wide receiver just giving his everything to catch that ball but he just missed it. But in reality the ball was knocked down at the line and the receiver never even attempted to catch the ball because it wasn’t even close. Or if it’s cover 2 he will badger the QB for not throwing it deep down the middle, EVEN IF THAT’S EXACTLY WHERE THE BALL WAS JUST THROWN! Or he will talk about cover 2 when the play was just actually cover 3! On top of that Sims is just always right in his mind. In one game I was down by twelve points with two minutes left in the game. Before the snap he said that the decision to go for it on fourth down was the wrong one. And after I failed he said; I would have never gone for it, just kick a field goal and live to play another down. What are you talking about? Then I’d be down by nine points with less than two minutes to go! Why would that help me? There were plenty of times that Sims was on a tirade about something and the game is continuing with a big play down the field that they completely miss and act like didn’t exist. Also within the first match I played I already heard a dozen things I heard from last year’s Madden. Oh the list is endless; I can’t even begin to explain how repetitive, unbearable, and just plain erroneous the play by play calling is. Here’s the quick fix, get rid of Sims. Here’s the best choice, bring back Cris Collinsworth. I recently saw someone playing Madden 11 with Gus Johnson and Cris Collisworth. The duo is perfect for Madden. Collinsworth especially is a thousand times more insightful, polite, and non-arrogant. On top of that, although it would be time consuming, spend more time creating more phrases and dialog. And lastly develop the game to be more accurate with those comments. There’s nothing more annoying than to hear one guy say, “The quarterback is hoping to avoid being sacked for a THIRD TIME!” followed the very next statement being, “The quarterback has had all day to throw the football”.


Sadly even though true game planning and realistic execution has been nearly perfected in Madden 15, there are still changes that need to be made. In one game I played, my online opponent on MUT had a stacked team, much better than mine, but I knew I still had a chance with solid gameplay and just being smart. On offense I was golden; I scored on every drive, all touchdowns and one field goal. However EVERY time he went back to pass he sprinted Peyton Manning directly in the wrong direction and while facing the wrong way he would launch the ball down the field 40 yards into triple coverage and make the catch. Literally no matter what I did it would work because he would just run towards my endzone and launch the ball while not even looking to a receiver and the ball would be perfect. It makes no sense. On top of that 5 or 6 balls were miss thrown and my defenders just dropped it. Yes it happens, defenders drop the ball, but some of these were such ducks that my 8 year old nephew could catch it. And on top of that he would scramble with Manning and I’d come screaming in with a safety or linebacker and hit Peyton Manning so hard that Archie and Eli should be able to feel it. I know Peyton is tough, but if on one single drive down the field I hit him four times so hard it looks like an eighteen wheeler hit a Prius and life goes on like nothing’s happened there’s a big problem. Madden prides itself on making sure the game is as realistic as possible, yet super strange ways to play the game like this sometimes work. My biggest complaint is the same it’s been for many years, and that’s controlling the player. There are different occasions while playing madden where you have absolutely no control over the runner with the football. For example you can throw a pass to a receiver who’s running an out-route, if you throw it just a yard or 2 before the out of bounds marker he will toe-tap his feet inbounds very realistically. If you throw the ball let’s say 10 yards from the line you can take control and cut up field as soon as the ball is caught. However almost every single time if you throw the ball with the receiver having about 5 yards to go before running out of bounds you have no control over the player and he will run out of bounds. Plenty of times on 3rd and short I’ll hit the wide open receiver on the flat who should just cut up field 3 yards for the 1st down but instead darts directly out of bounds as if the Gatorade table magically transformed into an all you can eat steak buffet. This is incredible frustrating. A similar problem occurs when running the ball. Each run play has a designed hole that is supposed to open so the running back can go bursting through. Sometimes that spot is not open and you’d like to cut back to a different lane. Sometimes it works just fine, other times for some odd reason you can feel the game not letting you move your player. The more you play the game the more you can feel this type of thing. In the open field you cannot really control a player as much as you’d like. Maybe I’ll throw a screen pass to Antonio Brown and I’ll see exactly what I want to do, I can see the players about to be blocked and the hole I need to squeeze through. But in game it just doesn’t let me fluidly move the way I know Brown can do with ease in the real world. These athletes can stop on a dime, react to a blocker, cut back inside, and explode down the field. In Madden they sacrificed total control for realistic movements. They want the game to look so real, but this has resulted in less control. My last gameplay related complaint is inconsistent blocking. As a player who loves to run the ball I see problems much more often than I’d like to. Sometimes I read the blockers and I’ll see my lead blocker about to demolish the linebacker trying to seal the cutback lane and I know I’m set for a huge gainer. But instead my full back just runs right through him like he’s Casper the friendly ghost wanting a loving hug and I get crushed for a three yard loss.

So let’s go back to my initial question. Did they keep the good from last year and fix the bad? For the most part, they absolutely did. The changes to MUT in handling the cards and fixing the overall presentation were much needed, sadly it’s still difficult to just get good cards without feeling pressured to waste real cash or grinding for hours and hours. The changes to skills trainer are amazing, if you want to advance your game exponentially then I definitely recommend. Not only does to educate on many aspects of the game, it also highlights how advanced and detailed the game has become. The best part about Madden has become the cerebral side of it, which is something I truly love. It’s one thing to be excited when you beast-mode over some poor cornerback with Marshawn Lynch for a long touchdown. It’s something entirely more gratifying to have a gameplan, execute the gameplan, adjust the play at the line of scrimmage fro when the defense adjusts, and consistently outwit the opponent. Madden 15 is as beautiful as any sports game ever. The lighting, effect, presentation are all top notch. And the facial animation is truly impressive. Although some players look hideous, most of the coaches and players look eerily similar to their real life gridiron selves. There are still issues with commentary, MUT can be overwhelming, and some gameplay changes still need to be improved on. But Madden 15 successfully revitalized the defensive side of the football, made proper adjustments to the presnap analytical aspect of the sport, and has created the best all around football game in the last decade.

1) Graphically stunning
2) Skills Trainer
3) Defensive adjustments
4) Cerebral football at it’s best
1) Good MUT cards WAY too hard to achieve
2) Sacrificed total control for realistic look


Review: Project Spark

Project Spark
Digital & Disc
2.52 GB
Available On
Xbox ONE [Reviewed], Windows 8
Release Date
Team Dakota
Microsoft Games Studio
Single & Multiplayer

Project Spark is a “game” where the main purpose is to get you to use it to create your own games. Where as games like Little Big Planet are games first, and give you the ability to create your own levels, Project Spark is where you create games and there happen to be a few official games to play. The majority of the content is geared towards you making a game. And you can make just about anything. 2-D sidescrollers, top down dual stick shooters, RPGs with leveling systems and unlocks. You think it up and you can make it, to a degree. This is a Free to Play after all. As with all these types of games there are a select few creators making amazing things that are definitely worth your time to play, but there are also thousands of unplayable boring garbage to wade through to be able to find the good.

Team Dakota has included a short 3-D adventure game called Crossroads that is playable right out of the box. It’s really a story you are telling. Everything from what you are seeking to what buildings are in the starting town to what boss you will fight is all up to you and is generated in real time and is quite a bit of fun. My issue with Crossroads is that it’s really just a thinly veiled attempt to get you to buy DLC. Almost every options comes with 1 or 2 DLC options that when chosen send you straight to the store to buy them.

As a Free-to-Play game I understand that things are going to cost real world money. They need to make money to keep making content. Unlike 90% of the world, I understand that. Content Packs cost between 500 and 1,000 tokens each, which translate to $5 to $10. Some of these, like the Massive World Builder, are almost a requirement to build a game of substance. At launch there are already over 15 content packs to buy with various combos and bundles making buying decisions even harder. Here is a graph that Mescad made just to try to track what comes in what. Please look at this and tell me as a new player what the heck is going on here:

Most of the content packs can be bought with in-game money. Money is most easily earned through a series of daily challenges. The kick to the gut is that almost a quarter of them require DLC to even do. There are challenges for beating bosses that only come in DLC and there is always challenges for all 4 Champions, 2 of which are paid DLC. This money trickles in at crazy low rates. Like all F2P games you’ll earn a ton of money your first few days as challenges and milestone are easy to complete, by week two you are getting next to nothing. The other money grab is you can buy Spark Premium, for real money, which gives you a 200% bonus to XP and in game money and also allows you to buy DLC that costs real money for non-Premium players with in game money. So you have to pay real money to earn in game money to buy DLC without real money. WOW.

Project Spark also has a episodic game that is based on a cardinal sin of mine for creation games. The stuff that the devs put out, in Project Spark’s case: Void Storm, utilize things that we as players do not have access to in creating our own games. I expect the devs games to be better because of their vast knowledge and time with the engine, but I also expect to be able to look at that code and have it help me make my game better. Void Storm utilizes voiceovers and graphics and Kode that I don’t get to use. It would be one thing if these were presented as a showcase of things to come, but it feels more like they wanted to be able to do something that Project Spark couldn’t do, so they added it anyway.

Creating games is where its at through. Project Sparks has basic frameworks available to get you started and there is a active community to help with any issues you encounter. You are not going to create something amazing in the first 20 minutes though, there is a lot of code required to make things work. Coding in Project Spark is called Koding with a K, I guess just to be cool. It’s all based on When, Do statements and everything you can do is represented with Tiles so there is no guessing as to the structure or wording. Like When: My Player interacts with door, Do: Open the Door is a simple example. They give you the tools to make things a lot more complicated though like When: My Player has the Key and has killed 50 Goblins and I have 20 coins, Do: Open the Door. After you watch a few YouTube videos and really scour the forums you are well on your way to making a passable game. But who has the time or inkling to do that? If they had made the designer like they made Crossroads, where you are presented with choices. What kind of game do you want to make? What kind of enemies? Etc, etc and then you do in and do some tweaking it would have a much broader audience and a much lower bar to getting that first game created.

For you achievement hunters I feel like I’d be remiss if I didn’t spell out the insane amount of time it will take to complete Project Spark. First off there are a fair number of achievements that are tied to DLC. It is possible to earn enough in-game money to buy the DLC without real money but it’s going to be a fairly substantial time investment. There are also a LOT of achievements for getting an insane number of downloads (multiple levels on up to 50,000 downloads. Yes 50k) and votes on your levels. The game is currently flooded with garbage and instant win levels for people who are mad scrambling for achievements.

As it stands Project Spark is a great start. There is a lot there, but there is also a lot missing. The most positive thing I can say is the future looks bright as Team Dakota is actively working with the community to enact improvements and new content is constantly being added. For the cost of a big fat nothing it’s a fun quick enjoyable game even if all you do is play the Crossroads adventure game, which also is constantly going to be updated.

1) Completely new game concept for the ONE
2) Official games are enjoyable and diverse

1) Hard to find good games to play
2) Only 1 Tutorial included, needs more instruction
3) Money sink for more content
4) Hard to figure out what content to get and what it does



Review: Forza Horizons 2

Forza Horizon 2
Digital & Disc
36.57 GB
Available On
Xbox ONE [Reviewed], Xbox 360
Release Date
Playground Games
Microsoft Studios
Single & Multiplayer

Forza Horizon 2 is a open world car racing game where you are a racer in the fictional Horizon Festival. This year we are racing around 4 cities in Europe competing in a 168 4-race championships utilizing over 200 different cars. Yes, there are over 168 championships this year and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The best part of this game is the real variety in tracks and events. Forza 5 to me was stymied by each series being the same tracks just with a different class of car. I’m glad people like to race on “Sebring International” since it’s a real track. I did too… the first 15 times I raced it. Then it’s just tedious repetition with a car that goes slightly faster or slower than the last one. Horizon’s open world allows them so much more variety in both length and scope, but also the type of race. Not just limited to laps around a track, Horizon adds a ton of more options like point to point street racing, rally races over the countryside, along with both open street (I.E. with traffic) and close off circuits. Plus with each circuit being just 4 events you are moving on and changing cars and classes frequently enough that it keeps it fresh.

They even make getting to the races more enjoyable. You are not simply thrown into the next Championship, you drive there. You explore, you earn xp, you earn perks. It’s the journey, not the destination. How fast can you blaze through that Speed Trap? A friend’s Drivatar is nearby, why not challenge them to a quick point to point race? There are 30 Bucket List challenges (with more to come) where you use some of the most iconic cars in existence trying to complete timed races and skill score earned in a set time, among many others. Hidden XP boards to locate. It’s really crazy the amount of stuff you can do just trying to get to the actual event. “But swaggers, I just want to race!” Well that is an option also as you can fast travel to the events and just get your race on (But it does costs you credits to fast travel and you do also need a skill (more on skills a little later!)).


Horizon has an XP system like Motorsports 5 but with a more random reward system. Each level you earn you get a spin on the Horizon Wheelspin. Instead of a set amount of CR you earn either a random amount of CR or a car direct to your garage. One thing that is missing is the leveling of car manufacturers. I don’t miss the obnoxious achievements that went with it, but it was nice to get little bonuses for sticking to a manufacturer. Along with XP and levels to earn in Horizon there is also a perk system. There are 25 Perks to earn. You start at the middle and work your way out, with each layer costing more SP than the last. These are things like Hot Lapper; you earn 10% more credits in Rivals event or Paparazzi; An icon appears above cars you need for Horizon Promo. Promo being one of the many side activities where you are charged with photographing 100 unique cars for credit bonuses and an achievement. You earn SP to buy Perks by doing well and chaining abilities in both the open world and races. Things like near misses, burnouts, and speed all contribute to your SP. But hit a wall or another car before banking the points and it’s all lost. This is the major flaw in the system. Getting smashed from behind by a less than stellar player is counted against you when there is nothing you can do about it. In the Open World it seems like the AI Drivatars are out to get you. Wandering into your lane as you drive 150 mph down a open highway with a suicidal determination to destroy you both.

Online in Horizons 2 is handled in two different modes. The main mode is Road Trip. This puts you in a standard 4 race championship with some more multiplayer types games like King and Infected thrown into the mix along with some Team Based Races. The kicker here is that between each of the 4 races you have a full on rally race to the next event that also scores XP. After each series everyone in the game gets to vote on the next series from 3 options choosing car class and the types of races. Unfortunately if the group votes on a class you don’t currently own you don’t get a chance to buy a car, you’ll be thrown into a stock car of almost always sub-par stats. With the amount of loading and free roaming going on it seems there is plenty of time to allow someone to buy whatever they want before the first event starts. The other type is to just go into Freeroam with some friends and pick and choose events or bucket list challenges to do. Even though this is Freeroam there are still limitations between playing Solo or in a Party. Some freeroam activities like Barn Finds just cease to work in Multiplayer so make sure you know what you want to do before joining up.

The Forza series are a little less forgiving than other racers. Ability matters and car ranks definitely matter. In Solo this is offset by difficulties and assists, but in Online put two people with the same skill together and the one with the better car will always come out on top. Due to the random nature of the online you need to have a series of cars pre-tuned for all levels of play as you are given zero time in multiplayer to tweak. As I mentioned before if you come into a S1 series with no tuned S1 car you’ll be 30 points behind before the race even begins.

The game is just straight up gorgeous. The cars are amazing, the scenery is amazing, even the people are a lot more lifelike than even Motorsports 5. The rain and the weather, beside looking amazing, also effect your cars handling which adds a nice touch. If you had to nitpick anything there are minor issues, but completely minor. Things like tree branches overhanging highways. The whole world just looks alive and vibrant.


The biggest strength of Horizon 2 is the depth of activities. You get bored with racing, you go search for some XP boards, you get bored of that you go do a couple Bucket List challenges, get bored of those and you’re back to racing, all in a stunningly beautiful world. If you’re a race fan you’re going to love it, if you aren’t, well Horizon 2 is the game that will make you a race fan.

1) Huge world
2) Varied races and events

1) Multiplayer integration weird
2) Drivatars in Open World do little except get in the way