Forza Horizon 3 is a beautiful game

I played Forza Horizon 3 for the first time in awhile last night, and I had forgotten just how beautiful the game can be.

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I played Virginia

Virginia game Xbox One

Last night I bought and played through Virginia ($9.99) on the Xbox One. Virginia is a game unlike anything I’ve ever played, and is the first game put out by developer Variable State (available on Xbox One, PS4 and Steam). The game has no dialogue from beginning to end, however its beautiful soundtrack sets the mood for every scene. The game tells its story by pushing the player through a series of scenes, however most of the scenes end abruptly and spit the player directly into the next relevant scene, sometimes midstep.

I love the music and artwork of Virginia, however by the time the game ended I was left scratching my head and with little insight as to what exactly was going on in the game. I’ve heard that it’s best to play through the game more than once in order to try to piece things together, however part of me wonders if Variable State wants us to know everything that’s going on. Despite being terribly confused throughout, the music and artwork did a great job of creating an emotional state that left me satisfied.┬áI don’t really know how to explain how the game made me feel, but it definitely evoked a wide range of feelings throughout that just felt right, if that makes any sense. I enjoyed the journey, even as I was left wondering exactly what I was supposed to think of it all.

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I highly recommend checking out Virginia. It’s a unique and bold experience among so many cookie cutter games these days. The game only lasts a few hours, but it was worth the $10 price of admission for sure. It was an experience that will still be kicking around in the back of my head for days to come.

XCOM 2 on the Xbox One

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The first time I had ever played an XCOM game was with the Xbox 360 release of XCOM: Enemy Unknown. I was quickly addicted to the game, and ultimately ended up sinking a lot of hours into it on the PC and iPad. Despite having a lot of fun with the first game, I had never gotten around to checking out XCOM 2 when it released on PC. Since its release I had heard a lot of mixed reactions to the game, but I ended up adding the Xbox One version to my GameFly queue and it arrived today.

I’ve spent about an hour or so with the game so far and thought I’d share a few thoughts about the experience.

Xcom 2 screenshot xbox one

One of the first things I noticed was that the gameplay is nearly identical to the first game, with a few minor additions here and there. This isn’t a bad thing, as it made the game easy to pick up and dive into. Like the 360 release of Enemy Unknown, XCOM 2 plays surprisingly well with a controller. It’s incredibly easy to maneuver your troops into position, perform attacks and navigate the menus.┬áRather than hovering over a keyboard and mouse, it’s nice to play XCOM while relaxing in a recliner watching the battle unfold on a big screen.

Xcom 2 xbox one

My one complaint about the game so far is that the percentage to hit system makes absolutely no sense. In the screenshot above I’m literally one tile away from an enemy, and yet I have a 74% chance to hit the target! It’s incredibly frustrating and entirely unrealistic to miss a shot from this close. What’s worse is that I’ve been no more than 3 tiles away from enemies with no obstacles in the way and have still had less than a 50% chance to hit, even with a sniper! In fact, I’ve had my sniper and another character equidistant away from an enemy, and for some reason the sniper has had a lesser chance to hit!

I had heard people complain about the absurd randomness of XCOM 2 around the time of the PC release, however I had expected those issues to be remedied by now. It’s unfortunate that it’s still an issue, yet so far it’s only been a minor annoyance in an otherwise enjoyable game. At most this system has caused missions to last a few turns longer as I’ve missed several sure shots, but it hasn’t yet gotten any of my characters killed.

xcom 2 xbox one

I’m looking forward to relaxing on the couch and playing through a few more missions in XCOM 2 tonight. Hopefully it’ll continue to be an enjoyable experience.

I’ll be writing again soon!

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Hey, I just wanted to check in and explain why I haven’t written very much of anything over the last few weeks. I was taking a class for work that demanded a lot of my time, which meant I had very little time left over to play video games and even less time to write about them. I mostly only played a few hours of Overwatch on the Xbox One over the last few weeks, and while I prefer the PC version, the fact that I have friends who play on the Xbox that I can group up with makes it much more fun to play on the Xbox.

I tried out Deus Ex: Mankind Divided from Redbox, but didn’t really like it at all. I found the opening cinematic very corny / video gamey, and couldn’t take it serious. Besides that I found it to be overly difficult, even on the easiest setting. I had never played a Deus Ex game before and I died over and over again early on until I just decided to give up all together and go back to Overwatch.

I’ll be writing soon! Thank you for your patience!

Pac-Man 256 may be the most addicting game on the Xbox One

Pac-Man 256 Xbox one

Pac-Man 256 recently made its way onto consoles, and is available for $4.99 on the Xbox One. Last night I downloaded it figuring it’d make a great game to fool around with and kill some time every now and then. Before I knew it I had already sunk an hour and a half into the game. I’ve found it much easier to play with a controller compared to the touch screen controls on mobile devices, and the game looks and sounds great on a TV.

It’s so easy to restart every time Pac-Man dies that it’s dangerously addictive. I found myself hitting the play button without even taking a second to think about it, and starting run after run for over an hour without realizing it. It’s such a great feeling to surpass your high score, but there’s also a constant drive to just munch a few more dots to bring the next upgrade closer.

The only possible downside to the game are its achievements, there are only 10, worth 100 points each. Then again, it’s hard to imagine how they could have possibly come up with many more achievements.

Many people might not enjoy being asked to pay $5 for a game that’s free on mobile, but there are no microtransacitons in the console version of the game, and the hours of addictive gameplay are well worth the money. I can easily see myself spending a few hours a week for a long time with this game, constantly edging my score higher while unlocking new abilities and upgrading those I already have.

DOOM is a darn good game. Unfortunately I kept getting lost

demonic invasion in progress

I don’t think anyone expected much from the new DOOM game that released last week. For starters Bethesda didn’t send copies out to reviewers, which is usually a surefire sign that a game is either going to be outright bad or perform below expectations. Yet once DOOM went live almost everyone reacted with pure joy. “DOOM is back!” people were saying.

I’ve never been really into DOOM, but I recognize its importance and its impact on the modern FPS genre. I could never bring myself to play the game back in mid nineties, but I did enjoy watching others play and it was a stressful experience watching them try to survive through each level.

I was able to get a copy of DOOM for the Xbox One on release day from Redbox, and after it installed I jumped in, still not knowing quite what to expect. I was impressed by how quickly the game gets you going, and I’m glad there’s no tutorial or slow start that most games feature these days. The game basically throws you into the thick of it while offering helpful information via tips that pop up on screen in the early moments. Hopefully this is something more developers will replicate as I had more enjoyment during the first few minutes of the game than I have just about any shooter in the last ten years.

The shooting and non-stop action of DOOM are incredibly solid and it was a joy to mow down enemies while keeping in constant motion, grabbing health packs and armor as quickly as possible. You won’t get very far trying to take cover and play it safe in DOOM, you need to run in head first and be moving constantly if you want to succeed. DOOM plays differently from most modern shooters in this way and it’s actually quite refreshing (despite it being a throwback to how FPS’s played 20 years ago).

The music and environments in DOOM are exceptionally well done and help continue the throwback to classic shooters. You won’t find lengthy dialogue or cut scenes while you’re playing and the game is divided into actual levels with entrances and exits (and also plenty of secrets to find in between).

This brings me to the one thing that kept me from truly enjoying DOOM, and that’s the puzzle nature of its maps. Quite a few times during the first three levels that I played I found myself lost and going in circles again and again trying to figure out where I needed to go next. True there’s an objective indicator, but I still couldn’t figure out how to progress in the direction I needed to more often than I should have. Even looking at the map didn’t seem to help, as the 3D overlapping maps made it hard to figure out how I could get to where I needed to be.

I got so lost on Foundry that I ultimately decided to give the game a rest for now. I had killed all the enemies I could find, and yet couldn’t figure out how to get to where I needed to be. I went in circles at least seven or eight times before I decided to end it all by jumping into the lava and taking the game back to Redbox.

DOOM is definitely a great game, I’m not trying to say it isn’t. If I didn’t have the issue of getting lost I probably would have finished it in one sitting and would be telling you that it’s one of the most enjoyable games I’ve played in years. Unfortunately, I can’t sit here and say that just yet. I get frustrated easily with games, and after having so much fun shooting and tearing apart enemies, the lull of trying to figure out the puzzle of the map just took the joy out of the game for me.

I’ll probably end up giving DOOM another shot in the near future (probably on PC this time), but for now I think I’ve had my fill.

My continuing adventure in Fallout 4

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I’m still slowly working my way through Fallout 4, and every venture out into the wasteland continues to surprise me. I’ve come across several things in my travels that made me stop and scratch my head, laugh or simply smile, and it’s crazy to think these are things that people could entirely miss if they’re not keeping their eyes peeled. These little things have no impact on the gameplay, but they certainly make me appreciate the world of Fallout 4 even more.

Fallout 4 dead man and teddy bear

I came across the scene above after accidentally strolling into a subway station. I didn’t intend to enter the station at all, I just got too close to the entrance and the game automatically transitioned me into the station. At first I was a little annoyed, knowing I’d have to face additional loading time to get back into the Commonwealth, however once inside I figured I’d at least see if there was anything worth grabbing. I didn’t find much, and the skeleton and teddy bear above didn’t even catch my eye at first. I just saw another dead body as I looked around for any interesting loot. As I was preparing to leave the area I just happened to glance down at the two and could not help but laugh out loud once I saw them sitting there. I could just imagine the man saying “screw it”, throwing shades and a hat on himself and the bear and lighting a cigar as the world collapsed around him. What a way to go. I couldn’t even bring myself to loot their sunglasses, I had to leave them be.

Fallout 4 forge

It wouldn’t be a day of Fallout if I didn’t die in some stupid way. Today’s silly death came via the forge. I had read the terminal inside that featured a list of names, most of which met their fate by being fed to the forge, but when I saw got outside and saw the forge the fact that I was looking at a stairway to death didn’t even cross my mind. I figured there had to be loot up there, and even though I looked right at it, I failed to notice that the gap in the floor that would lead to my agonizing death. As I fell into the forge I couldn’t even be mad.

Fallout 4 railroad

Just before I finished playing for the day I finally came across the railroad, and the characters that I’ve met so far are some of the most interesting I’ve come across recently. I’m excited to dive into the quest line and see what adventure awaits me next.