Virginia vs. Firewatch – A Tale of Two Frame Rates

With 2016 over, it’s time to discuss the year’s best games. Alongside a top 10, I’ll be posting a few “Versus” articles pitting two games against each other. Really though, it’s just a silly way for me to talk about some of the titles I may not get to in my final top 10 list. Enjoy!

Firewatch and Virginia are two excellent pieces of interactive fiction that I found impossible to fully enjoy thanks to rough performance on PS4. If you own a decent gaming PC or you aren’t sensitive to frame rate issues, you may take this as some pointless whining — but for me it’s a big deal. This lack of polish on tightly scripted, film-length experiences is inexcusable, distracting, and if I were writing for Giant Bomb, it would probably show up as my “Please Stop” nominee for 2016.

As a general rule, I think games need to pick a frame rate and stick to it. They should also strive to match or exceed the resolution of the device they’re being displayed on, with as few visual distractions (like screen-tearing) as possible. This isn’t because I’m some kind of graphics snob, and I don’t think it’s a lot to ask when many games of all sizes can meet these requirements. The reason is that for the keen eye, all these hitches and glitches are distracting. Continue reading Virginia vs. Firewatch – A Tale of Two Frame Rates

Infinite Warfare vs. Gears of War 4 – The Year of the Shooter Campaign

With 2016 over, it’s time to discuss the year’s best games. Alongside a top 10, I’ll be posting a few “Versus” articles pitting two games against each other. Really though, it’s just a silly way for me to talk about some of the titles I may not get to in my final top 10 list. Enjoy!

2016 was a great year for games, but one of the weirder phenomenons was the prevalence of excellent shooter campaigns. In a time when more developers are experimenting with multiplayer-only (Titanfall 1), succeeding brilliantly with multiplayer-only (Overwatch), or blending the whole thing together into an always-online experience (Destiny, The Division), the dedicated 5-10 hour single-player shooter campaign seems out of place.

Yet here we are with Doom, an instant classic that seems to have a tacked-on multiplayer if anything; Battlefield 1, which didn’t advertise a campaign at all, but came packed with an emotional collection of short war stories; and Titanfall 2, a complete package straight out of 2007 featuring fantastic multiplayer and a campaign that’s been compared to Half-Life 2. Continue reading Infinite Warfare vs. Gears of War 4 – The Year of the Shooter Campaign

When will Sony patch the PSVR & PS4 PRO?

The Playstation VR has been available since October 13, 2016. The PS4 PRO has been available since November 10, 2016. Neither platform has received a meaningful firmware update since launch, and both seem to have an astronomical number of issues.

I don’t own a Vive or Oculus Rift, so when the PSVR works correctly it is, for me, one of the most breathtaking gaming experiences I’ve had. But those instances where it works flawlessly are ephemeral. The PSVR view drifts over time as you play. Some games, like Thumper, are much worse about it than others. Motion controllers often lose calibration through the course of a single play session and begin jittering around the screen.

Players have been troubleshooting the hardware themselves on forums like /r/PSVR, coming up with massive lists of potential fixes. This results in a multi-step process just to start using the PSVR each time you play. First, it’s recommended that users fully reboot their consoles. Then, they should lay the PSVR headset on a flat surface and turn it on, waiting for 10 seconds before touching it. At this point they may as well run the calibration while they’re going to all this effort. Finally, they can put on the headset, grab a controller, and hope for the best. Continue reading When will Sony patch the PSVR & PS4 PRO?

Finishing up 2016’s GOTY Contenders

Staying on top of my game backlog is a strange, thankless hobby I can’t get enough of. I like to play everything big and important, small and noteworthy, and even some of the oddities in between. That task has always been impossible. As someone who doesn’t do *this* for a living, my time to get through games clashes directly with paying bills, maintaining an apartment and two cats, staying in touch with family, and any other hobbies I enjoy. I’m lucky enough to have a girlfriend who is just as committed to the game backlog as I am, otherwise I may have given up a long time ago.

Every year is the same. As the holiday release storm comes to a close, what was once a manageable endeavor becomes a herculean task. Up until now I thought I had a fair handle on this year’s game releases. Sure, I have to come back to a game or two from earlier in the year, but for the most part I played everything I wanted to.

Now that it’s nearly December that’s no long the case. So, in the spirit of hopes, dreams, and intentions, I’ve decided to make a list of everything I should really play before the year is through. What’s your list? Please share in the comments!

Watch_Dogs 2 – Because I’m already playing it, I already love it, but it’s a big game and I need to finish it!
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare – Because I also already started this one, and it’s a blast so far. I love a good shooter campaign, and this year has offered a ton of them.
Titanfall 2 – Because there’s a moment in it that everyone is talking about in hushed tones. If you follow enough podcasts it can be a death by a thousand tiny spoiler cuts, but I’m still not 100% sure what the big deal is and I’m excited to find out for myself.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided – Because the Deus Ex series has eternally haunted my backlog, and I’d like to finish at least one of the “good” ones (ironically I managed to finish Invisible War).
Dishonored 2 – Because I finished Dishonored and all the DLC this year. The story is fresh in my mind and I want to see where they take it.
Hitman – Because it sounded like a great game all year long, and I finally got the entire collection for $30.
The Last Guardian – Because I loved Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, and even if I didn’t, I need to know what was worth all those years of work.
Final Fantasy XV – Because it’s a non-MMO Final Fantasy game getting positive reviews in a post Final Fantasy XIII world.
Gears of War 4 – Because I liked this series a lot in the past, and I’ve heard this one is a lot of fun. I just don’t turn on my Xbox much anymore.

RRC Digest 11/1/16 – Battlefield 1, The Fall, The Magic Circle

This week I’ll be sharing two games and one show, all of which I enjoyed quite a lot. I’ve played through the Battlefield 1 campaign and a handful of multiplayer matches, and I think this one might be in the rotation for quite a while. In addition I finished watching season 3 of The Fall this week — no spoilers, don’t worry — but if you’ve never watched it I have some reasons why you should. Lastly, I finally got around to playing an indie game that’s been on my backlog for a while — it’s a weird one. Enjoy!

Battlefield 1 – DICE’s latest is a lot better than I expected it to be. Not to say I thought it would be bad — I’ve loved the Battlefield games ever since Bad Company 2 hooked me on the 360 (I dabbled with BF 1942 on a friend’s PC, but that hardly counts). I just didn’t think it would have both a respectable campaign, and a mode as good as Bad Company 2’s Rush gametype. That last part is key — BFBC2’s Rush mode was different from the one they’ve shoehorned into the maps in Battlefield 3 and 4. Bad Company 2 was built around the Rush gametype, and the map design fit with that, creating matches where players would fight on a single front that shifted from one location to the next over the course of the match. It was limited to 32 players on PC and 24 on consoles, but all of those players were engaged in a singular fight that made for some very chaotic gameplay.

Battlefield 1’s Operations mode takes the concept around Rush and blows it out onto larger maps with 40-64 players. The result is total madness in the best possible way. When you see a wave of enemies come running over the hills towards the objective you’re meant to defend, it can be genuinely scary and overwhelming.

The Fall – This show’s third and final season just landed on Netflix and now that I’ve seen it all I can safely say this is a show worth watching — if you have the stomach for it. The Fall follows two main characters in equal measure. On one side you have Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson), a detective working in Belfast to track down a serial killer. On the other, you have Paul Spector, the killer in question.

The Fall portrays Stella Gibson in much the same way the male lead is treated in shows like House, Mad Men, and Rescue Me. She’s a powerful woman who has her way with the people around her and never second-guesses her actions. After all, she’s acting the same way any man in her position would…and she isn’t afraid to point that out. It examines double-standards while wading into an ugly world of sexual abuse and murder, rarely backing off from the terrible things Paul Spector does to his female victims

The Fall also follows Paul as a main character without ever glorifying his actions. Imagine if Dexter wasn’t colored as a hero, didn’t have a code or badguys as victims, but still got the same amount of screen time. We see Paul do terrible things, all the while covering it up with a family and normal life. The cat and mouse game between Paul and Stella is gripping throughout.

The Magic Circle – This indie game by ex-Bioshock devs is an exploration of the give-and-take that comes with long overdue games and the fans that anticipate them. Do the fans have any ownership over the games…do the creators? These questions are explored and torn apart in a hilarious manner, all in a broken, half-finished game world with surprising depth and fun mechanics for a 3-4 hour experience. The gameplay consists of pausing and hacking the various enemies, editing them to follow and fight for you. Eventually you use their abilities to advance past obstacles and sabotage the developer’s plans.

This game goes to some crazy places and surprised me from beginning to end. If you’ve ever followed the tortured development of a game, only to see it cancelled or changed drastically — or you just want a fun way to celebrate the launch of The Last Guardian — The Magic Circle is an eccentric must-play experience.

RRC Digest 10/25/16 – Playstation VR, Rez Infinite, Thumper

This week I’m dedicating RRC Digest to the Playstation VR. I’ve had the device for a week and a half now and I have some thoughts! First up, I’d like to talk about the hardware from a perspective I think a lot of people can relate to — going from a Gear VR to a PSVR — rather than comparing it against a Vive or Oculus.

The Hardware – Before getting a PSVR, the majority of my VR gaming was done on a Samsung Gear VR. In the world of VR headsets, the Gear VR is a great way to show people what VR looks like, but it doesn’t leave a lasting impression. The controller situation on Samsung’s device is a mess — I own a million controllers and none of them work, and last I checked, the decent Android controllers were marked up to $80-100. That influenced my game purchasing decisions quite a bit, leaving me with a handful of forgettable experiences that were fun to show off to friends and family members. Beyond that the device sat and collected dust, supporting the notion that VR could be a passing fad like the Wii or Kinect. Continue reading RRC Digest 10/25/16 – Playstation VR, Rez Infinite, Thumper

RRC Digest 10/18/16 – Dishonored 2, SWTOR, Westworld, Mafia 3!

This week I’ll be offering up some quick takes on a bunch of different items. I owe you all the rest of my New York Comic Con coverage — which isn’t much to be honest, but it’s worth discussing. Beyond that I have impressions of the first episode of Westworld and my time with Mafia 3 so far. Continue reading RRC Digest 10/18/16 – Dishonored 2, SWTOR, Westworld, Mafia 3!

Game & Film Opinion by Joe Donato