DM's review of Borderlands 2

Gearbox Software created a new genre with the release of the first Borderlands. For the first time, Gearbox managed to successfully blend RPG elements with FPS gameplay and the result was a massive cult hit. Borderlands succeeded with over-the-top action with a massive world and a chaotic cast of characters. The game was mostly regarded as widely successful with a few minor gripes and Gearbox now returns with Borderlands 2. Have they managed to improve on the first Borderlands? Let's find out.

Regarding the cast of characters, you're given a new set of vault hunters to choose from instead of being able to jump back into the shoes of the heroes from the first game. You're given the choice between four new classes to choose from this time around; Axton the Soldier, Zero the Assassin, Maya the Siren and Salvador the Gunzerker. For the most part, they all play relatively the same in regards to what weapons you can use, but it's their unique skills that sets them apart. Axton on one hand is able to toss down a turret, which once upgraded can blow apart your enemies with deadly rocket launchers or even spawn a second turret. On the other hand, the Gunzerker can duel wield weapons and every kill he racks up, improves his durability, speed and strength. Having all these unique skills for each class makes it quite the challenge picking between each character.

As for the supporting cast, Borderlands 2 assumes that the gamer has played the majority of the previous games DLC's and includes characters from the respective added content. Luckily, none of it is needed to truly understand what goes on in the game's main plot as Borderlands 2 explains all that is needed to know about their history. An additional surprise that Gearbox threw in is the return of the four Vault hunters from the original Borderlands; Lilith, Roland, Mordecai, and Brick. While they are un-playable, they serve as the leaders of the resistance and essentially guide you in your efforts to take down the maniacal Handsome Jack. You'll find yourself fighting against them from time to time, but for the most part, they remain as quest-givers.

The plot itself barely goes beyond a revenge story. Handsome Jack has taken control of the Hyperion Corporation and as such, has declared himself the leader of Pandora. Wiping out all resistance in his path and utilizing Pandora's resources to his advantage, the people of Pandora group together to form the Crimson Raiders, bent on eliminating Jack's control on their home. One of the weak points of the original was the lack of a proper story and while Borderlands 2 makes a slightly better effort this time around, it's not a notable one. Luckily, the supporting cast is interesting enough to carry the dull plot and keeps you interested enough to keep pressing forward until the end. The game does boast it's own set of collectibles in the form of audio recordings. Some will tell the story of Pandora in between the games and through the words of the heroes of the original game, while others will focus on the leading cast of Vault Hunters.

The mission structure in Borderlands 2 will be familiar for fans of RPG's. You speak with a specific character to receive a quest and are sent off at their request to do them a favour. One of the biggest annoyances while making my way through the side quests is the constantly recurring "fetch" quests you're sent on. The world is enormous, there is no doubting that, but when you're sent running back and forth across portions of the map only to grab the most redundant items, it becomes a chore.

Easily the most redeeming quality of Borderlands 2 this time around is the absolutely comical dialogue. The conversations to be over-heard between the cast of characters is simply priceless and you can't help but chuckle at some of the topics being discussed. The cel-shaded visuals make a return and while they haven't improved much over the original, the style remains unique and a pleasure to look at.

In accordance with the popular tagline, Borderlands 2 returns with 98 Bajillion more guns for your pure enjoyment and it's here that Gearbox truly succeeds. While there is only a certain amount of weapons to choose from; Assault Rifles, Pistols, Shotguns, Snipers, etc, almost each weapon you find while looting has it's own set of statistics that set it apart from one another and it's almost guaranteed that you won't find another gun identical to the other. The gameplay remains the same and quite honestly for the better as the gunplay was arguably the best part of the series and it's enjoyed even further with a group of friends by your side, eliminating everything in your path.

Borderlands 2 and Gearbox deliver again with the award winning gameplay and ridiculous cast of characters that will keep you occupied for hours on end and while the story might fail to grip the gamer, it does a better job that it's predecessor.

Final Score: 8.5


DM's First thoughts on Resident Evil 6

Resident Evil is a series that has seen a variety of changes throughout the years to it's once award-winning formula. Everything changed once Resident Evil 4 hit in 2005, changing the face of the series as we know it. Long gone was the camera controlled action along with slowly creeping around corners and newly introduced was a massive dose of third-person shooting while maintaining it's popular survival horror elements. Resident Evil 4 was critically acclaimed along the board and was believed to have inspired some of the more popular third-person action shooters of today. Capcom attempted to replicate this success with Resident Evil 5 and was treated with slightly mixed results albeit it was still mostly positive even when the game dropped the survival horror element for bigger action sequences and co-op, which was a first for Resident Evil.

Resident Evil 6 is now out and the amount of mixed results are staggering. The reviews range from near perfect scores to absolutely abysmal reviews that just rip the game apart limb from limb. Obviously, a reviewers opinion is his own and should only be taken with a grain of salt as if you're still curious, you should check it out for yourself, but here are my thoughts on a few hours in the game with each campaign.

There are three separate campaigns with two of them following arguably the series' two most popular characters: Leon Kennedy and Chris Redfield. The last follows a brand new character Jake Muller with connections with another major character but I'll leave out the spoilers.

First off is Leon's campaign. It attempts to harken back to Resident Evil games of old with creepy, dark corridors and even tossing in the traditional zombies again. Chris' campaign is basically Resident Evil 5 again. It boasts massive action sequences, with gun-wielding foes and enormous BOW's to face. As for Jake, his campaign is mostly similar to Chris' with a twist. The campaign takes a major focus on chase sequences where you sprint away from a massive BOW on a hunt for Jake and his partner Sherry Birkin.

Each campaign has it's own style in one sense or another but they all play relatively the same to one another. As for the gameplay, it takes a giant leap from the previous installments in the series with the biggest change of all: being able to move while shooting. Overall, the game takes a more action oriented focus when it comes to gun-play, allowing you to roll and dive around and newly introduced is the camera being able to fully rotate around the character instead of being locked to the shoulder. As with Resident Evil 5, this game re-introduces a cover system which is arguably one of most unusual additions to the series as it doesn't work at all. It's glitchy, you often find yourself not even being attached whatever surface you are up against and end up being shot up completely.

Capcom tried to re-integrate survival horror elements into the series by reducing the amount of ammo you receive and with that said, it's a ridiculous mistake due to the games massive action focus and you'll find yourself wasting the majority of your ammo quite quickly and being helpless especially in Chris or Jake's campaigns. Also a new addition is melee attacks. With a tap of a button, the character can initiate separate melee attacks that are limited by a small energy gauge. Sadly, melee attacks are far more effective than actually shooting your enemy in the head.

On top of that, weapon upgrades are now completely removed and the health system has been revamped. You get stuck with a set of weapons for each campaign, and while you can find a new weapon or two along the way, you can't choose what you want to use. Instead, a skill upgrade system has been chosen to replace weapon upgrades and to be quite frank, it's a lazy and boring mechanic. From what I saw, you had three slots to choose from and a massive list of skills to select, but still had to be bought or unlocked. They range from critical hits to improved piercing damage or even stronger melee attacks against certain enemies. As for the health system, you still pick up the different coloured herbs, but instead of using them as spray's, they now become ingested in pill form and each pill only fills a single block of health at a time.

As for the story, there are a large amount of cutscenes to be seen and while they are well produced, they occur far too often and break apart whatever tension there is in the gameplay. While the game remains enjoyable and has a decent control system for the most part, some of the new additions and changes are a little irritating and you'll find yourself dying... a lot. Although, you'll be interested to see how the story plays out and how each character interacts with one another.


GS and DM's Swole your Role- Third Instalment

It's that time of the week again and we're back for our third instalment of the Swole your Role where the lovely folks of ComicVine ask us questions regarding fitness, nutrition, etc and we use our experience and knowledge to answer to the best of our abilities!

Remember, this is just the questions thread where you simply leave questions and a respective answers thread will be made after we build up our responses.


GS and DM's Swole your Role- Second Instalment ANSWERS!

Answers thread to our second edition of SWOLE YOUR ROLE!

: Hey what are your guys opinions on running in the morning versus running at night?

GS: Personally, I find no difference when you do it. The best time to do cardio is when you choose to do it as long as you do it. If you do it in the morning you may burn more calories since you start in a deficit but you can't go as long and you lose out on some of its other benefits because of the lack of time. If you do it at night you can go longer and at the end of the day you are still burning calories.

DM: There are both positives and negatives to doing either. If you run in the morning on an empty stomach, you'll burn more fat although you'll potentially have a poorer physical performance due to not being fuelled. At the same time, it basically comes down to availability and preference.

: Does running help tone your body?

GS: In a sense, yes. You look at a marathon or track runners in the Olympics and you will see all those guys are very defined but some of those guys are actually kind of squishy muscle wise. But that's because they have a very, very low body fat percentage to where they just look tone. I don't think it is the same as actually doing toning exercises, so high reps low weight, as that promotes some muscle growth but tones them out. You can be super skinny and look really tone but if you want that kind of tone where you look somewhat muscular and have solid muscles, you would want to lift some weights or do some body weight exercises. The running in general would just keep excess calories from building up.

DM: Tone your body in what sense? Lot's of exercises can do that. If you're trying to build muscle, then weight lifting can help you can get a toned or muscular look. Running or any type of cardio for that matter helps increase endurance. It obviously can help you burn calories and lose some fat, but it shouldn't take precedence over weight lifting or full body exercises for cutting down some weight as cardio only burns calories while you're performing said exercise. Lifting weights allows your body to burn calories for up to 32 hoursafter your workout!

Your opinion on the no carb diet?

GS: I'm very against this. Carbs are essential, they should honestly make up about 60% of your calorie intake on a regular basis. Carbs are what you use as energy and help stimulate muscle growth. If you're looking to tone up or weight loss I would recommend carb cycling. Which basically means you simply change up the amount of carbs you eat everyday. So say Monday you eat carbs with 4 out of 6 meals but then Tuesday and Wednesday you eat carbs for just 2/6 meals. Then Thursday you eat 3/6 meals etc.

DM: Depends on what you're trying to do. If you're trying to cut down fat really fast, then it's a decent, but dangerous thing to do. In general, you'd be in a constant cutting phase and you wouldn't be able to gain or maintain muscle as your body would be focusing on eating your muscle for energy as you lack carbs which your body uses as it's main source for energy besides fat. If you're trying to build muscle, then ignore it completely. Carbs are your biggest calorie and energy source and the only way to gain muscle is by eating more food. Protein has the least amount of calories out of everything you eat when regarding muscle growth.

How many steroids should I shoot into my neck at night....and how do I cure the backne ??

GS: Use bovine roids. It's like buying something in bulk and you don't have to use as much every time. Proactive

DM: Pills work better bro and just rock the makeup ;)

: I know it's against what is advised, but when lifting weights on smaller reps it is easier for me if I don't breath everysingle rep. Try to change that?

GS: Breathe anyway.

DM: Oh mate, breathing is the most essential thing to do while lifting weights. If you don't breath, you aren't transferring any oxygen to your muscles, which in turn doesn't allow them to grow. If you learn how to control your breathing, it will help you lift better and in turn, allows the muscles to recover better as they need oxygen just as much as any other body part, even more so because your physically exerting your body.

nick_hero22: Do you have a 6 six pack (I had to ask a slutty question)?

GS: Yes if its a must know. But, with bulking season upon me soon it might go away but I bulk in necessity so I just have a surplus of calories without overbulking and it going to fat.

DM: Haha, yes, but as I'm in my bulk season, it's impossible to pack on muscle/weight while maintaining a ripped six-pack.

cattlebattle: On a serious note...what is the cheapest method of gaining weight ......and, how much time do you spend and how often do you do cardio

GS: Creatine powders. Gained 20 pounds in 2 weeks but I looked bloated and gained a lot of water weight. I won't knock creatine since it is a necessity and your body makes obtains it naturally from some foods we eat like meat and fish. I spend maybe 4 days a week doing cardio due to my job but on my own terms maybe once or twice a week. So 5-6 times a week at most.

DM: Cheapest way? Dirty bulking. Eat anything you want. Go to McDonalds, eat at buffets, or basically eat anything you want. The majority of body-builders go down this route because it's the cheapest and easiest way to get your food rather than spending it on several different types of supplements, etc.

When bulking, I do single body workouts everyday of the week, but when I'm cutting I usually stick to 2 body splits and cardio every other day.

Xanni15: Are there certain body types that no matter what you do (outside of injecting stuff. :\), you won't get bulky? Like say some people will always have longer muscles while others have more compact and bigger muscles?

GS: Nope. A lot of bodybuilders that don't shoot up are even said to go against their genetics. As long as you eat the right foods in a good amount and a solid workout program, you can put on size. It comes easier to some but it is possible with the right program.

DM: You're referring to what is called a specific body type. There's most commonly ectomorphs and endomorphs.

Ectomorphs are constantly skinny and thin and have an extremely hard time putting on weight as their body just burns more calories.

Endomorphs tend to have high body fat counts and easily gain weight albeit they have extreme trouble cutting down. (I fall in this category).

Mesomorphs are the lucky few who have best of both worlds. They can easily cut and gain weight and have the best body shape for athletics.

Favorite exercise? Most efficient exercise? Hardest/most difficult exercise? Most painful exercise?

GS: GS: Deadlift

Most efficient exercise?

GS: This is a very general question. Depends on what you're doing and what muscle you are working. For weight loss, my favorite is a dumbbell squat with shoulder press. For muscle building, the powerlift squat as it works a large muscle group and having strong legs generally helps with plenty of other lifts such as bench press, military presses etc.

Hardest/most difficult exercise?

GS: Proper squatting form is difficult to learn when a certain weight threshold is breached. Harder exercises that you should have a spotter or be careful on that I do are half bubkas, guillotine press, and seated behind the head military press with a barbell.

Most painful exercise?

GS: I don't think exercises should hurt. Soreness and a good contraction is one thing but if you're wincing in pain don't do it.

DM: Obviously this will differ completely for every person but here's my personal opinion:

  • Favourite exercise= Pull-ups
  • Most Efficient= Squats
  • Hardest/Most difficult= Deadlifts
  • Most painful= Anything can be painful without proper form.

YNCG: What is the most unhealthy/fatty food you've ever laid your eyes on?

GS: Anything by epicmealtime but a lot of the stuff they make looks delicious.

DM: Definitely poutine, probably one of the most unflattering foods I've ever seen.


GS and DM's Swole your Role- Second instalment

Alright folks, we're finally back for our second go at "Swole your Role". If you missed it the first time around, we basically answered questions that were asked by various users on the Vine and using our personal experience and intellect regarding body-building and nutrition, GS and I answered each question to the best of our abilities from our own perspectives.

So in short, this blog will merely be the Questions thread where you guys ask us for advice if needed and once we go over the questions, we form our conclusions and a respective "Answers" blog will be created in reply to your questions.

Note: As both GS and I are busy with school, work and what-not, the answer thread might not be created for a certain amount of time, but bear with us, we'll try our best!


My delayed Darksiders II Review- Xbox 360 Edition

The original Darksiders was a game that was relatively underrated by both critics and gamers alike, and at the same time, criticized for being a "rip-off" of multiple major franchises such as the Legend of Zelda and God of War. Yet, I liked to see it for what it did correctly. Instead of blatantly ripping off such popular games, Vigil Games instead chose to brilliantly craft certain ideals from those games and blend them together with an extremely engaging story to create a new IP well deserving of your attention. Evidently, Darksiders was popular enough to warrant a sequel but has it surpassed the original? Let's find out.

Without spoiling anything, Darksiders II picks up where the first left off. War, one of the four horseman of the apocalypse, has been convicted for the apparent extinction of the entire human race and his elder brother Death has set out to clear his name. Death's quest will take him to world's unbeknownst to even himself as he struggles to reveal the truth while battling his own inner demons and his facing his mysterious past. Alongside the main quest, which leads you to several different sprawling worlds, each location holding their own cast of characters and side quests to complete. Even though they're all optional, the rewards give a suitable incentive to complete them. Each world you visit is roughly the same size but each has their own gorgeous artistic style and boasts different enemies to face. It's a treat to explore these expertly crafted worlds as they all have their fair share of loot and mysteries to uncover.

The side quests themselves range from simple retrieval missions to fighting in a death arena where each wave becomes drastically harder and harder as you face every enemy encountered throughout the game. In turn, Darksiders II adds in a strong incentive for finding the various collectibles scattered around the world. They are all tied into separate side quests, with some being extremely difficult to finish as it requires nearly complete exploration of the worlds you travel through, while others are merely found along the way.

Death himself is the complete opposite of his younger brother War. Where War is quiet, respectful and honourable, Death on the other hand is sarcastic, cocky, and calculating. His mere presence among the beings he encounters exudes power and strikes fear into those who dare to defy him. Death's unearthly calm and piercing gaze always seem to garner him the respect that he demands and despite his appearance, which is evidently smaller than that of War's, makes him no less imposing. Time and time again, I found myself grinning at how almost every character seemingly undermines Death's reputation and pays for it in the end.

In terms of gameplay, Darksiders II retains the action packed combat from the first game, but being that you play as Death instead of War, the style changes drastically. War was a hulking brute able to take hits and counter the strongest of attacks. Death on the other hand, is far more agile and prefers to evade rather than counter or block. In addition, Darksiders II introduces new ways to traverse the world and it's plentiful dungeons. Taking inspiration from the Prince of Persia games, Death is able to seamlessly climb, run and jump off walls to reach areas that would've been inaccessible to War. While it's integrated brilliantly doesn't mean it's without faults. Occasionally, you'll find yourself running or jumping in a direction in an undesirable direction, sometimes leading to a death during scenes where you must escape an oncoming flow of lava or a rising death trap. It's a minor annoyance but far from game breaking. Alongside this, there is no sprint mechanic in the game so besides the open area's of the world, you won't be able to use your horse and you'll find yourself using the evade mechanic as means to move around faster.

The combat system itself is so deeply fleshed out that it never becomes a tiresome chore to engage in combat. Death has the ability to wield both a main weapon, which is unchangeable, but his secondary can range from heavy axes to hammers, gauntlets, maces, claws and far, far more. The rarer the weapons picked up or purchased, the better they are, although it's almost impossible to compete with possessed weapons. The rarest of all weapons, receiving one of these allows you to upgrade by sacrificing other items in your inventory. In turn, it improves the base stats of the weapon while allowing you to add on stats of your own choice that vary from defence, elemental damage, health, strength, critical damage/chance, etc. Alongside the items and weapons comes an in-depth skill tree. It's split into two halves with one side focusing mainly on Death's physical powers as a warrior and includes skills such as teleport dashing, a spinning scythe attack, etc. The other half focuses on Death's experience as a spellcaster which allows powers such as summoning ghouls to fight for Death.

To help diversify the combat and dungeon crawling, the cleverly crafted puzzles return and help provide a breathe of fresh air between epic boss battles and the hordes of enemies you'll be constantly be facing. Most of the puzzles involve using the environment to your advantage and some require abilities that can only be unlocked by playing through the main quest, which in turn, creates an incentive for back-tracking. None of the puzzles will leave you completely boggled but they do require quick thinking and are extremely satisfying when solved.

The graphics are a stand-out improvement over the first game. The world and it's fantastically intriguing characters are wonderfully rendered and there are times where you'll find yourself just staring off into the distance, completely enamoured with what revolves around you. While the artistic graphics are a wonder to behold, technically, they aren't anything to brag about. Textures still could've needed more tweaking, but the near perfectly consistant frame-rate easily makes up for it. Easily the most admirable portion of the game has to be the voice acting. Each actor plays their part superbly and helps bring life to the character they portray. The dialogue has it's humorous moments but can suddenly become just as grim as the situation around the characters.

Now brings us to the loot. The original Darksiders had no such thing. You unlocked different weapons as you made your way through the story, but besides that, you had no option to alter War's appearance or change the weapons he wielded. Darksiders II changes that, and for the better. Loot is never scarce and you'll find yourself spending hours just trying to build the perfect character as each piece of loot has it's own unique set of stats that help strengthen Death. To be honest, loot has never been done so well outside of games such as Diablo and Borderlands and it's easily the most impressive part of the game. Although, considering how much loot you receive throughout the games various dungeons and quests, it also makes the majority of the items that merchants provide completely obsolete., but a minor gripe in the grand scheme of all things. Death is completely customizable from his shoulder armour, the gauntlets he wears, boots, pants, and even talismans.

To put it simply, Darksiders II is quite easily one of the best action/aventure-role playing games of it's generation and can be easily held up to the likes of the Elder Scrolls, The Legend of Zelda and the Witcher 2. With a story that can last up between 15-20 hours without completing the majority of side-quests, arguably the best combat system to ever grace an action-RPG and a universe with such rich lore, it will leave you researching and begging for more.

Final Score: 8.75


Justice League #12: Is there truly a justified reasoning?

As many, and perhaps very few know, I'm not a huge fan of Geoff Johns. I love his work on Aquaman and Green Lantern, but those are the minor exceptions. Ever since he was listed as the writer for Justice League alongside superstar artist Jim Lee, there was a decent amount of skepticism rising inside me. The first few issues were done fine, it was your basic superhero beat em-up that we expected from an early Justice League team-up. But one particular moment in the series has pissed me off beyond belief. In all of the series thus far though, not once has Superman nor Wonder Woman shown any innate interest in each other. There was the one time comment from Superman concerning Diana's strength in the battle against Darkseid's parademons as well as Diana's apology for the infamous sucker punch she landed on Clark after he attempted to calm her down in Justice League #12. So through that, it's deemed logical to force the two to pucker up?

Past the awkward stage I guess

But truly, besides those two instances, when has there ever been reasoning given for a relationship between Clark and Diana. Up to this point, they've spoken as much as a few sentences to each other in total. Considering they've been teammates for roughly five years, you'd expect Diana to at least know Superman's real identity or even refer to him by his Kryptonian name as she occasionally did in the Pre-52 universe. Honestly, Diana wouldn't have been my first choice for Clark's first love interest in the New 52, but at least they've attempted something new(sort of). My main problem with the entire situation is, as I stated not the kiss itself, but the lack of ANY sort of build-up towards it. Neither Diana nor Clark have shown any interest towards each other besides camaradiere as teammates and respect. From what was shown, Diana has spent the majority of the series focusing on her past relationship with Steve and how she has apparently avoided him all these years to keep him from danger. That's fine and all, but given all that Diana has gone through regarding the past few issues and Steve's "death", it'd be safe to assume that she'd attempt to avoid a relationship of any sort, despite how long it takes to open up again. And yet, after the entire ordeal with Graves and her visions showing her true feeling for Steve manifesting, she jumps directly to Superman with seemingly no regrets.

Yeah, I'll get the responses claiming how "similar they are", or "they're both alone and just want to be human", but truly, that's complete nonsense. Diana wants nothing of the sort. She has no interest in being normal or living among the humans as simple common folk as Clark does. She was raised as a Princess and hasn't been taught the same ideals and virtues that Clark was raised with. He's alone in the Universe for a reason. His entire race has gone extinct, and as such, his solitude was not of his own doing. He's been stated on several accounts to be the most powerful being on the planet and yet, he considers doesn't consider himself above the human race. Instead, he prefers to be one of them, live among them, to simply fit in. In what way does this make him similar to Diana besides the fact that they're both basically "gods" among men?

Some consider it a logical choice to pit the two together. They're both perfectly capable of handling themselves. One is a highly trained warrior with years of experience, while the other is nigh invincible and supposedly the most powerful being on the planet. Given their power-sets, they would have less to worry about compared to if they were in relationships with normal humans such as Steve or Lois for example. But instead of unbearably forcing the kiss so early on, would it really have been hard to creatively build up their relationship or interest in each other over the course of a few issues? Give the readers a reason to care for why they are together instead of just tossing it all together so blatantly.

I barely know you... but let's make out.

Could I possibly be overreacting or pulling the trigger too quickly? Perhaps, and maybe I should let events unfold over the next few issues or so, but thus far, this entire ordeal has seemed to be just like a massive publicity stunt to attraction further attention on top of the New 52.


My Ghost Recon: Future Soldier Review- 360 Edition!

There once beckoned a time where games required the player to utilize strategy, preparation, and resourcefulness over the quick thinking, instant reflexes, and mindless action of today's shooters. Ghost Recon was once the poster child of that style of gameplay and it excelled in providing that incredibly tactical gameplay that so many gamers begged for instead of the casual shooters that overrun the industry of today. The latest entry into Ghost Recon has unfortunately strayed off the beaten path in regards to those tactical options that the player is provided with, but it doesn't take away that it's still a fair dedication to what once was and that gamers have to eventually accept the regretful truth. The industry is changing, evolving as it's always been and we have just have to go along for the ride.

Future Soldier takes place in a not-so distant future and follows a highly trained squad of soldiers know as the "Ghosts". These aren't your average soldiers as it will quickly become apparent. Sent in only for the most dangerous of missions and those requiring of the upmost confidentiality. The Ghosts complete missions with an unearthly reserve, leaving them well deserved of their name. The game starts off with what seems to be a standard mission for the Ghosts but everything quickly goes to hell as the team seems to have been compromised as the high value target or "HVT", is no where to be seen. The team fails to escape an explosion and a new team of Ghosts is left wanting revenge.

At it's core, the story brings nothing exceptionally interesting to the table. It's more or less a cut and dry revenge story with the newer team of Ghosts tracking down leads across the world. The Ghost's themselves seem to be a well-knit team but with the little characterization that they're given, you aren't really inspired to care for them all that much. The campaign missions provided are all equally lengthy with a healthy variety between stealth interceptions and all out fire-fights. Pre-mission load-outs are given prior to each advancement out into the field and you're allowed free choice of which weapons, and for the most part, gear you want to bring along with you. Further weapons and attachments are unlocked through in-game challenges which range from gathering a certain of kills with a set of weapons or sneaking through a portion of the mission untouched by enemy fire. It's an incredibly rewarding feeling as you successfully manage to utilize stealth throughout a mission that can be completed otherwise and as such, you can be rewarded with certain unlocks that, while aren't entirely beneficial, provide a decent incentive to give it a second go.

The squad-mates themselves are probably the smartest ever introduced in games. You'll find yourself commanding them to kill the majority of enemies via a UAV Drone capable of targeting up to four enemies at any given time for a synchronized kill shot. They can all brilliantly maneuver themselves in position around the map and take heap loads of damage more than you can. It's at this point where you'll be stuck deciding whether it's a wiser decision to stick with the A.I. companions or friends of your own.

The graphics are attractive enough and shine best through the game's varied environments. It isn't exceptionally eye-catching and it seems to take the biggest hit during cutscenes, but retains top-form during gameplay at almost all times. It is a slight disappoint when considering how much time the game was given for overall polish due to the extended delay's that the game had over the years, but failed to produce. Nonetheless, it's still relatively up to par with what is consistently dished out.

In regards to gameplay, Future Soldier sacrifices a more tactile approach for the more modern and aggressive play-style that's so present in such a wide array of shooters. While this will mainly displease the hardcore fans of the series, it doesn't necessarily detract from the experience itself. The weapon handling and overall feel to the weapons has a fantastic feel, as each firearm has it's own "kick" to it and they can all be differentiated via the luscious weapon customization. The fast paced and fluidity of character movement is a dream as you find yourself seamlessly moving from cover to cover without a single hitch. It's a system that was clearly brilliantly implemented and highly touched upon as it rivals and even potentially surpasses that of Gears of War's critically acclaimed cover system. It's a substantial departure from the shooters of old, but it's a grand leap into the future. The biggest focus in gameplay this time around is the camouflage that the Ghost utilize. Only operable when crouched or prone, you are nigh-invisible to enemies at a certain distance and at times, it feels far too overpowered as you'll find yourself sneaking around enemies with relative ease but it can also be your saving grace in the thickest of situations.

Alongside the meaty campaign, a survival mode called "Guerilla" is offered. With the ability to play with up to three other friends, it's your standard 50-wave, king of the hill horde mode that's become ever so present in games today. At the start of each mission, you're given the choice to either coordinate tactics and stealthily kill all the enemies on the map, or simply approach the situation guns blazing and without a care in the world. Sadly, this is the only chance you'll be able to implement stealth as the rest of the 50 waves has you situated in a single portion of the map that you are designated to defend. When enemies enter the surrounding area, a timer ticks down indicating an imminent mission compromise. It's a fun entry to enjoy with friends but remains stale and lacking of any exploration or variety.

Now to the cream of the crop: multiplayer. Ghost Recon has always heavily dedicated itself to team centralized gameplay and a general avoidance of the common team-deathmatch modes. Future Soldier retains that privilege as every game-mode in it's possession is objective based with a massive focus on team-orientation to succeed. It's a absolving breath of fresh air due to an overabundance of competitive shooters taking pride in simplistic game modes. Oddly enough, it's here where the tactical approach to combat is most apparent. Leave cover for mere moments and you'll be picked off in seconds. Proper preparation and team communication is key to capturing objectives and fending off advancing opponents. On top of that, you're given the choice of three playable classes to choose from: Rifleman, Engineer, and Recon. Rifleman is your standard solider, carrying assault rifle and LMG's alongside explosive grenades. Engineers are more close quarters as they're best with SMG's and utilizing recon grenades which temporarily reveal the location of enemies of the map, not only through the radar but visually through a red outline. Finally, the recon class. The only class to utilize the adaptive camo in the online portion of the game. It's only accessible when centralized in a crouched or prone position but unlike the campaign, you are unable to retain the camo while moving.

The weapon customization carries over into multiplayer but it's restrictive. Level progression is needed to upgrade further weapons and attachments but each little bit is extremely rewarding and viable to the gameplay. Using a superior stock to balance out control and maneuverability severely increases weapon kickback, improving your chances for pulling off more accurate shots. Character customization is included but it's lacking in comparison to relative Tom Clancy games such as Rainbow Six Vegas which boasts what might be the greatest customization kit for physical appearance ever introduced to a shooter.

While leaving behind the incredibly adored tactical aspect of the previous entries in the series, Future Soldier re-invigorates the series with fantastic competitive multiplayer and weapon customization that is a proper enough reason to solidify a purchase. You'll spend roughly 10-12 hours in the campaign and while it's nothing that will leave you discussing days after completion, it still is a thrill ride to experience.

Final Score: 8.25


My Crackdown 2 Review!

Back in early 2007, the original Crackdown was a game that would've quietly slipped under the radar if it were not for the fact that it was the carrier for the much anticipated Halo 3 Beta. Little attention was focused towards Crackdown as most people were simply anxious to get their hands on the Halo 3 beta, but as it turns out, Crackdown turned out to be superbly proficient in providing one of the best open-world experiences to have ever graced console gaming. It was an open-world adventure with a super-powered twist, as you upgraded your characters physical stats to become a virtually unstoppable one man army.

Crackdown 2 returns hoping to replicate that excitement and while it provides the same basic experience, but little is down in attempts to re-invent the formula or even add to it.

Taking place roughly ten years after the events of the first game, Crackdown 2 decides to ditch the gang-war aspect of the original game in favour of a viral mutant outbreak that has taken over the entire city. As with the first game, there is little-to-no narrative to be told here. You get a brief outlook on how events became to be and that's the extent of any true story-telling you'll get throughout the experience. In Crackdown's favour, story was never it's strong suit nor was it ever the focus. It was always about giving the player unrestricted freedom in a explosive sandbox and the adrenaline rush that the gameplay provided. Regardless, Crackdown 2 does get credit for attempting to switch up the atmosphere in the game with a new directive and showcasing the impact that the mutant outbreak has left on Pacific City.

A new day/night cycle takes precedence as you'll be forced to engage different foes depending on the time of day. When the sun is shining, your average mercenary groups will be your foes, protecting their territory but doing little other to be seen as a credible threat. At night, endless hords of mutants roam the streets and you'll be forced to switch up your strategy to face them. Charge right in and you'll be mauled to death, attempt to flee and you will be pursued. It's here that Crackdown 2's story focuses on the elimination of these abominations as you're forced to locate their hideouts and plant UV Light bombs to rid Pacific city of the mutant plight. Yes, the creativity ends there.

In regards to Pacific City itself, it's simply the same recycled map from the original game with a slightly more apocalyptic vibe added to give the player a feeling of desperation that is oozing from the cities residents that are left to fend for themselves. It's nothing particularly creative nor will it catch your eye. At first glance, it simply screams "been there, done that", and fans expecting more will be left disappointed. There's a slight improvement in graphical quality but it's rather depressing when considering the three year difference between the games.

The invigorating gameplay has thankfully remained the same for the most part with a slight overhaul to a few aspects of the Agent progression. The changes implemented bode well for the game as it makes for more enjoyable combat and travel options but the developers make a wise decision in refusing to alter the formula in a drastic matter. New vehicles are added while the interesting physical upgrades shown as your driving skill rose in the original have become abandoned. Also making a triumphant return in the sequel are the famed agility orbs. As with it's predecessor, Crackdown 2's agility orbs help progress your agility attributes and the harder they are to achieve, the better the results are. Little deviations are made as new versions of the orbs are introduced which you are forced to chase after as they traverse around a set path in the city, but they become pesky annoyances and might prove to belittle the experience.

As with many fans of the original, co-op was one of the most addictive features that the game offered. What was more fun that wreaking havoc by yourself? Experiencing it with a friend. In Crackdown 2, co-op makes a dynamic comeback, allowing not only 2-player co-op, but 4-player as well. Quadruple the action and quadruple the insanity. Co-op has never been more addicting.

One of the odd, and possibly most unnecessary additions, has to be the tacked on multiplayer. You're expected to care about the 16-player multiplayer mode, but are given very little reason to. It implements the unbearably common team-deathmatch modes and is only made worse by the game's highly dependant targeting system. An interesting addition is the rocket-tag mode in which the players are tasked in "tagging" each other with heat seeking rockets while the others attempt to avoid the one who is designated as "it". The simple, chaotic nature might attract and interest players for several hours but after mucking through the shallow campaign, there's not much left you'd want to do with Crackdown 2.

Instead of taking the opportunity to build upon an already brilliant formula, Ruffian Games takes a step-backwards by recycling a map already accustomed to and failing to add a narrative of any kind. It's an enjoyable experience but don't expect to find yourself burning hours into this lifeless re-run of an experience.

Final Score: 6.5


Quick thoughts- Zombies Games: Action vs Interaction

What's the most commonly represented feature in zombie games? The actual killing of the zombies themselves. Be it a third-person shooter, RPG, FPS, or any genre for that matter, the actual action of killing the zombies is the premier focus of the games which showcase the Undead rather than what should be the presiding factor taking place.

Take example two of the most popular zombie games of the past generation: Dead Rising and Dead Island. The main attraction force of both games, when stripping away the promises of a deep engaging story, is the Zombies, infected, etc who have garnered such popularity over the past decade. The majority of gamers tend to ignore the promises of developers who boast about featuring an expansive world with complex characters and a focus on the act of survival itself. The result is a disappointing one, not only when failing to deliver on said promises, but also when the core experience of what the game revolves around, isn't all that enjoyable nor is it well constructed.

In another case, take Left 4 Dead. A game, that instead of pretending to be something it's not, bluntly states that it's mere existence is to provide an experience solely based around the murdering of the flesh eating corpses it casts but with a twist.

It's here that the basics of the zombie genre are best represented. It's a game well aware that while it ignores the basics of story-telling, chooses to display one of the most fundamental attributes required in a Zombie Apocalypse: Survival. In the first-person shooter genre, it is extremely common to have that one person who "Rambo's" through the entire experience, mowing down enemies left and right, and running off on their own, only to boast about their superiority after it's all finished. With Left 4 Dead, that player is the stand-out weak link of the group. They could either be the one that is left behind or the one that breaks apart the group dynamic and causes utter failure. Is it such a successful feature due to the more challenging experience or because human nature is so freakishly predictable?

Then we have the most controversial zombie game of the bunch: The Walking Dead. Based loosely off a mixture of both the critically acclaimed comic series and the television show that followed, The Walking Dead was chosen to be an adventure horror rather than the typical shooter revolving around a combat-focused experience.

At first, considering Telltales previous track-record, I was extremely skeptical. How could a game revolving around the sole purpose of zombie slaughter choose to become a point and click adventure? It's here that readers should note that the entire appeal and purpose behind both the graphic novel and television series that rose the two media giants to popularity was not the zombies, but the interaction and realistic, life-threatening situations that the survivors encountered on a daily basis.

That's where Telltale truly succeeded and caught the undivided attention of countless gamers as well as my own. Yes, zombie killing and action is a part of the games and while it's not as supremely significant, that's not where the appeal exudes from. The sheer relevance of human interaction and the indication that the undead aren't the only threat in a post-apocalyptic world nor are they the most dangerous is a highly engrossing thought. It would be a massive disservice believing that the abandonment of an action oriented environment leaves it undeserving of a play-through.

When brought down to nit-picking of it all, it truly becomes just a matter of preference and the type of adventure that the gamer would choose to undertake. Be it a mindless action-based romp through a life-less world or a massively engaging setting focused on a extreme sense of narrative and life or death situations, there is no shortage of titles to choose from but there should be an informative gesture informing people what they'll be getting into and if they're receiving their money's worth.

Should there be such a wide variety of games within the zombie genre itself or should all aspects mentioned above be thrown into a single pot and created into the single most ambitious undertaking that it could possibly ever be? Only time will tell and the masses should be able to voice their opinion.