Deus-Ex: Mankind Divided – Ayoub’s Review

Sequels are tricky beasts to balance. Everyone wants change and improvement, but nobody wants to lose the feel, so Deux Ex: Mankind Divided, the sequel to one of my favourite games, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, had a lot to live up to.

Mankind Divided begins two years after the events of Human Revolution; it immediately feels comfortable to play and looks beautiful. There is no visible difference to the very high and ultra settings on a 1080p display, and the game runs very smoothly. The tutorial system is one of the best I’ve seen because it lets you learn by playing trough a scenario without risk, and then rewinds to let you play your way. People playing on PC have a few more options than consoles, with the ability to give inventory items shortcut keys. There are also a number of user interface and HUD tweaks in the settings that are PC exclusive.

The cover system is vastly improved, because it needed to be, and the combat (should you choose to play that way) is fantastic. The biggest surprise in the game is in the vast detail that has been put into the main city hub of Prague. There is beautiful architecture, wonderfully animated advertising and store signs, and a much better map system to show you where everything is. It’s very easy to just stroll around the place and discover details about the Deus Ex world that are very easily missed if you just stick to the main story.

Speaking of which, the story of the game is somewhat lacking in scope in comparison to Human Revolution. It feels more like the the first part of a larger story than something complete. That’s not to say that the story is short, however. It has a similar chapter structure to Human Revolution, and when all the side missions are added, Mankind Divided has more playable hours. The game stays away from heavy social commentary, which is a good thing in my book. There are many moments where injustice is highlighted (provided you don’t storm through the story without doing any exploration or side missions), and the player is invited to draw their own conclusions. There are choices to be made, and some of the side missions can lead to assistance in the main mission.

The wonderful thing about Mankind Divided, and the Deus Ex franchise, is that there is a lot of choice in terms of how to approach the missions. Every mission, every accessible building and location, has multiple paths. You have real choice as to whether to be a ghost, or go in all guns blazing, becoming a storm of force and armour. There are many options to talk it out as well, without resorting to stealth or violence. This is what made Human Revolution great and very much replayable, and this is why I can see myself replaying Mankind Divided at least as often (Played it twice already, and getting ready for a third go).

At the end of the game, there are many unanswered questions, and even a little mid-credits scene that has a fun mini reveal. These questions are likely part of a set up for the next chapter in the Deus Ex expanded universe. Eidos have taken the success of Human Revolution and run with it in an epic way, and it has paid off as far as this finished product is concerned. The interesting thing will be in what comes next.

This game gets a solid 5/5 from me. It’s my kind of game.

No Man’s Sky – Ayoub’s Review

The much anticipated No Man’s Sky was released last week, and reviewers out there have not been happy. This is what happens when expectations are very high, and based on little information.

No Man’s Sky is beautiful in a highly saturated sixties science fiction sort of way. There are many worlds to discover, and alien races to learn about while trying to survive harsh environments, and the occasional space pirate. Aaaaand that’s it. That’s the full depth of the game. Yes, there’s a couple of stories, but they give no satisfaction. One leads to a new ability, and the other leads to a New Game+ scenario.

The best thing I can say about No Man’s Sky is that it’s a good survival and exploration simulation. It’s not, however, a good game. While it’s possible to spend an infinite amount of time mining, trading, learning alien words, and building up your standing with the various alien races you meet, there is nothing else driving you forward, no story to get immersed in other than the one you create in your own mind.

For such a small game (Just over 3GB fully installed), this is not surprising, but for a much hyped game, this is unacceptable. What we wanted was Skyrim in space, but what we got was Minecraft‘s survival mode in space, minus the ability to build stuff.

While that can be fun, it’s just not what people hoped for, and that is not the developer’s fault. Expectations can kill games that would be considered amazing had there been no expectations, and that is what has happened to No Man’s Sky.

Playing the game can be frustrating. The ships can’t be crashed. They take control from you when you get too close to the ground, or to a space station. The landing function on planets is annoyingly haphazard which makes it difficult to hit the flat piece of land you were aiming for. The combat is nothing to get overly excited about. It’s functional, but nowhere near as good as other space combat games. The map is largely useless, and the interstellar navigation is dire.

But.

The exploration and survival aspects are very good. The game can be tense at times, especially when you’re forced to choose between being able to take off again, and the possibility of death while hunting for resources to fuel your take off jets. That’s what makes the game exciting, and that makes the game worth some of the frustrations.

I rate this game as a 3/5, in terms of what it is. If I was to rate it for what I wanted it to be, it would have got a zero.

Todd Plays Fallout 4: Far Harbor – Pt. 1 {Minor Spoilers}

This is not your typical “Let’s Play” type of article as I won’t be going over every minute detail of the new Fallout 4 expansion Far Harbor. This is more so a veiled review disguised as a “Let’s Play” type of article because, well, everything I do is really just a way of not doing something else. Whatever this thing is, it is. So let’s get on with it.

I’ll start by saying #1 there will be minor spoilers in this article and #2 GO GET THIS GAME EXPANSION!! I’m maybe halfway through playing at this point and already I can safely say, you will not regret the price tag. Even if you didn’t think ahead and get the season pass before they raised the price, this game is worth whatever you paid for it.

There’s at least one new follower that I found and many new settlements from what I hear. New monsters and baddies, new weapons, new consumables (like the useless(?) rabbit leg. Am I supposed to eat this raw??) and a map that’s way too big to get in one single screenshot. Far Harbor is literally a WHOLE NEW GAME worth of content. Unless you’re some kind of asshole who wants it all for nothing, this expansion will NOT disappoint.

I’m giving this a 10/10. Perfect score. I have yet to finish the main Fallout 4 story (life, the universe & everything has kept me occupied otherwise) and Far Harbor is what it took to suck me back in. I can’t wait to finish this article and get back to playing.

~

It all started with a radio transmission from Ellie at Valentine’s Detective Agency informing me of a new case. I knew right away I had to leave my suped-up, badass companion, Codsworth, behind for this one.

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After a brief swing by the Red Rocket trading outpost for some supplies I was on my way to Diamond City to see what in the actual fuck was going on .

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I left Codsworth behind on a hunch that I’d be best off choosing Nick Valentine as my companion for whatever may come and let me say now, I was right. You don’t have to bring Nick and, in fact, the game doesn’t prompt you to at all from my experience but I can’t imagine how this expansion would have gone without him.

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I arrived and was given my case specifics from Ellie. The details were sketchy. Summed up, I had to meet a man who may or may not know Nick from the past.

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After about 10 hours of travel we reached the Nakano house at the ass-crack of dawn and our investigation began.

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We meet with this vague Nakano character and learn he was involved in some ordeal with Nick where only the two of them survived and he knew that Nick was the only one he could rely on to help him find his daughter, Kasumi, who he believes to have been kidnapped.

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Her mother has a slightly different take on why their daughter is missing.

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Since I promised to keep the spoilers minor, I’ll just say it involves this radio…

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By investigating her room and the house on a trail of holotapes Kasumi has recorded, we learn a few things about her; she likes to fix things, she has “these dreams” and she’s always felt there was something off about her. Basically she’s your typical teenager.

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With that done we had all we needed. Dressed like right dicks, Nick Valentine and I set sail for Far Harbor. Did I mention… WE GET A BOAT!?!?!

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After an undetermined amount of time, during which Nick must have been “napping” below deck, we arrived.

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Fresh off the boat we are greeted by Captain Avery and her angry sidekick, so-and-so.

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I chose to be honest with her about my intents on the island and she seemed very willing to help me locate Kasumi.

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That is, until the fit hit the shan and the alarm bells rang out.

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There’s a fog that consumes the entire island and nasties lurk within it, some of these nasties were coming for the gates. I had to help the people of Far Harbor in order to get their cooperation in my investigation.

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The battle was explosive, as you can see below. Many died defending the gates of Far Harbor.

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Sure, less would have died if I hadn’t been so focused on taking these pictures.

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But in the end, the battle was won and I had gained the trust of the people of Far Harbor as well as the information I came here to seek. First, I would need to meet with a man named Longfellow at the local watering hole…

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My thoughts exactly, Longfellow, my thoughts exactly.

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After some drinks and provisions, I was off and my adventure really began. And that’s also where I have to end this article since I promised only minor spoilers in the title and from here on out, there’s no way to keep that promise.

I will say there’s so much more game and this is all just the tip of the iceberg. Get yourselves to the store of your choice and get this expansion in your life. If you’re a fan of the series this will 100% not disappoint. There is one thing that’s not so great about this game, there’s a simple and tedious series of puzzles you’ll have to play later on in order to progress the main story but I’ll get into that and literally EVERYTHING else in my next article, Todd Plays Fallout 4: Far Harbor – Pt. 2: SECRETS OF THE FOG!!! {MAJOR SPOILERS} 

Fair Warning: That 10/10 score could change by the time I write part 2 of this but I doubt it will. Hats off to the developers for delivering an excellent addition to one of my all-time favorite franchises.

Until next time, I’m Tad Gurgle and this was my first impression of Fallout 4: Far Harbor. Please and thank you?

 

Paragon Beta Review

Epic Games’ new MOBA, Paragon, is now available for those who buy a founder’s pack. I’ve been playing it for a week now, and, as a new player to this type of game, I’m having fun! There are many things in the game that are incomplete. It should be remembered that the game is barely out of alpha, so that is to be expected, but despite that, the experience is thrilling.

The game has three modes of play:

  1. Players vs Player
  2. Coop vs AI
  3. Solo Play

Solo play is the only option you can choose when starting. It’s a useful mode of play to get used to the characters. I spend 90% of my time in solo play.

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The game launched with thirteen playable characters, and each of them has a series of stats that appear when you hover over them on the character selection screen. One of the stats is difficulty. Some characters are easier to play than others. Some characters can’t even be unlocked until you reach a certain level.

Once you’ve selected the character you’re going to play, and the mode of play, then you can get started. The first thing to do is select your cards. The cards are the game’s upgrade mechanic.

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The game map itself has three lanes of attack, with jungles between them. Your team has five members, so when you’re playing with other players, there are tactical considerations that can be made as to which lane(s) to attack with multiple players. In the jungle, there’s also the orb guardian. Defeating that creature (which still isn’t finished) gives you the Prime Orb. Getting that to its destination enables your team’s Prime Helix cards. This aspect of the game is largely ignored when playing solo, but the Prime Helix cards give some excellent advantages, and will give a team the edge they need to win.

Gameplay is quick, and often brutal. If you put your character up against the wrong type of opponent, you will die. Those who stay alive in the first stage, and have defeated a few others, will have an edge going forward.

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The more you play, the more reputation you build, the more card decks you can buy. You can spend money on the game but only for cosmetic items and some boosts, none of which affect actual gameplay.

Overall, the experience has been a fun one for me. I get to play the game, and dip my toe into the world online play without the necessity to do so, and considering the game is out of alpha (barely), it’s a fun experience to have.

I’d give it a score of 4/5 based on what’s there, and Epic’s promise to listen to the gamers, but when the game goes into full release, that might change.

XCOM 2 – Ayoub’s Review

XCOM 2 launched last week, and I’ve spent most of this week playing it, loving it, and being frustrated by it.

XCOM 2’s predecessor was the first Turn Based Strategy game that I really enjoyed. It is a more visceral experience than other TBS games purely because you know the names of your soldiers – They have personality, and I love the kind of game where the characters have, well, character! With other TBS’s it’s arguably easier to send a battalion to certain death in a gambit; they’re usually a group of identical and nameless soldiers, but when you’ve crafted a character, gave them a name, a history, trained them, and guided them through several hair raising missions to build up their skills, to see them get killed is painful.

XCOM 2 builds on that element in its predecessor by offering more character creation options, and a staggering amount of customisation options. There are more personalities for your soldiers, and your creations are also featured on the game’s main menu page to personalise it for you. Check out my chain smoking sniper, “Flatline” with her gun, “Codecaller” (Yes, you can personalise and name weapons, too) below

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Any characters you’ve created, or had created for you and like, can be saved to your character pool and used in other playthroughs. There is no post-campaign option, which makes your character pool very important in terms of ensuring you have your favourite team every time you play.

The story of the game ignores the events of the first game, and takes you to a world where the aliens won, and you, the Commander, were captured. The tutorial mission shows how you are recovered. The story then continues with you as the commander of a rag-tag band of guerilla soldiers. In XCOM Enemy Unknown, for a well funded operation, the limits on squad size seemed odd and not fitting with how any other military organisation works. In this game, the small squad and guerilla tactics fits well, as do the limited resources, making those soldiers you created even more valuable, and makes the loss of one a bigger event. The addition of turn limits for missions has met with some controversy, but I’m going to go against the flow of complaints and say that it’s a good thing. It adds more to the guerilla style feel of the gameplay, and also makes the game a bit more unforgiving to overly cautious players.

The biggest thing with this game, however, is the unprecedented mod support. The mod creation tools’ download is nearly twice the size of the game itself, partly because of the tools, but also because it includes 32 and 64 bit versions of the game itself so that your mods can be tested. There is nothing held back. Modders can change everything, and create anything. This is a lot more than even Bethesda provided for the most modded game on Nexusmods: Skyrim. This means that budding game developers can use it to learn how to develop a game, and that it will soon be possible to find a great number of mods to tailor the game to your tastes.

On the downside, the game is horribly optimised and crash prone. These are things that can be fixed, however, but they’re frustrating on launch day. No AAA game should ever be released in this state. When it can take over a minute to load a level, there is something very wrong. The only other real flaw with the game is that some actions become overly repetitive after a while. Not the missions, because many are generated on the fly, but many of the base actions can become tedious.

I give the game an 8 out of 10, but once the patches come through for the bugs, that will go up to a 9 out of ten. There’s not a lot wrong with the game at all, and while I feel a little sorry for the console gamers out there who can’t play this game (yet), I’m not bothered enough by that limitation to mark the game down further.

 

Nothing S.P.E.C.I.A.L. Just My Big Boy – Fallout 4 Impressions

Games like Fallout 4 only come around every 5 years or so. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim came out in 2011, and for the last 4 years, it was the game to which all open world RPGs have been compared to. Fallout 4 is going to be that game now for the next several years until Bethesda outdoes themselves again, and make no mistake, they’ve outdone themselves, big time. I won’t be reviewing this game, heck, I probably won’t even finish it this year, and we all know it’s a great game, so here’s my impression of it so far.

Choices matter. In any open world RPG, if your choices don’t affect the story, it’s a bad game. The amount of choices I’ve been given in the last few days of playing Fallout 4 have been staggering. First off, you have to choose between being a male or female protagonist. No big deal for Bethesda, right? Wrong. Unlike previous entries, this game is fully voice acted, much like The Witcher 3, and so far, it’s done just as well. Gone are the days of your silent protagonist, character interactions are mostly small cutscenes now, and sometimes, being blunt gives you blunt results like in the video above. I expected maybe a little pushback when I said “Kill the Synth,” but nope, he was dead 2 seconds later. I have no idea what a Synth, or The Institute for that matter is, but that happens in open world games. Sometimes you’re thrust between factions without even knowing it. There’s also a million weapons to choose from, my personal favorite so far is a Chinese Officer’s Sword. As you’ve also seen, I also have a Big Boy, but I’ve yet to find any ammo for it, so who knows, shooting mini nukes may become my favorite weapon. There’s a bunch of different guns, melee weapons, and other stuff, including a freeze gun. Personally, I suck at using guns in Fallout 4, and I’ve done just fine with a melee build so far, occasionally pulling out a gun for unreachable enemies, so there’s plenty of choice in weaponry. The biggest new addition to Fallout 4 are settlements, where you tear down and rebuild places so that you have safe territories to send workers, store items, mod weapons, or just take a break from killing raiders, and there’s more than one. Settlements take a lot of time to work on, so it’s up to you to choose how robust your settlements become. Aside from story, battle, and settlement choices, you also have to decide at the beginning of the game where to dump a lot your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. points.

Stats in Fallout 4 are kind of complicated, but here’s the dumbed down version. Each category has 10 levels with a perk for each level. Some perks have multiple levels. Unlike previous Bethesda entries, there is no level cap, which means you can eventually get every perk and every level. Unless you’re playing on PC, getting all those perks will take a very long time. So choosing what to pick first will set your tone for the rest of the game, because you can’t respec later on. Are you going to focus on crafting, or survival, or maybe hacking and lock picking? There’s a lot to choose from. You start off with 20 something points which can only be used for category increases, but no perks. As you see above, I put most into Intelligence because more intelligence gives you more experience, but depending on how you play, you might focus elsewhere.


So, I’m going to get back to playing Fallout 4. I’m only level 7. I am not prepared for what lies ahead. Let us know in the comments below how you’re enjoying the game. This is my first time playing a Fallout game, and I’m sorry I wasn’t sooner. I’ve played my share of Elder Scroll games, so I’m familiar with a lot of the basic mechanics, but I’m enjoying the hell out of this new setting.


Game Information
Name: Fallout 4
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC

Game purchased by reviewer and reviewed on the PS4.