Looking at Xbox One Game Reviews

Hello folks! If you can't tell by the post name I am Michael from the podcast. Having been a member since episode 7 or so we've chatted about the Xbox One at great length. Now with the box set to be available only 11 hours from time of writing this I can only feel a great weight being lifted. Months of typing explanations, seeing Xbone til my eyes bleed (I want to smack myself for even typing that), and countless "scandals" that got equated to the resignation of a president. We all finally get to wrap our paws around years of research and more R&D than I even want to think about. And yet I must stay my excitement. I'm not getting a launch system, probably won't own one for months/years and probably won't even use one for a long time period than I want to think about. And considering the sleepless nights, the fear of seeing the system that I saw so much cool shit be created just for consumers, fail, really puts it all in perspective. 

So what's with this whole right up them? The title says review in it, but you haven't mentioned a single game or score yet. The goal of this little write up is for me to throw my (damn perfect day add on youtube messing up my train of thought) opinion of all the launch exclusives into the mix. This might strike you as odd, I haven't played the games and even won't for some period of time yes. But I am a gamer, I eat. sleep (sometimes don't), and breath games. 

So just to lay down a few ground rules for the time being. Recently we (the guys at XBUC) decided that when we do reviews, which we will damn it! We won't bother with a score. Scores leave to much up to comparison, this game got .3 higher than this game so this one is better. The version on this console was rated better than that version, blah. blah. blah. I'd rather just give a raw input with a recommendation rather than let a number decided the fate of a game.

So without further ado, let's start with the game reviewed on Monday.  

Lococycle-Well this is certainly unfortunate? All in all the worst reviewed launch game across the board, Twisted Pixel's motorcycle...combat...GLAD.OS thing not only managed to be received poorly, but be called "One of the most miserable games in recent memory", at least as far as Edge was concerned. Which is unfortunate, because the folks at Twisted Pixel have a habit of making funny and entertaining games. Splosion Man (Mr. and Ms.) as well as the Gunstringer were well received. Perfect games, no, but creative, interesting and, enjoyable no matter you age, yes. So how does Lococycle land here? Something that plagued two other games I will chat about.

So where does that leave you as a customer? Do you download this attempt to mix Portal with I dunno, Ridge Racer and God of War? Unless you really want to support the folks down in Austin (Texas that is), I say give is a pass. Perhaps in a years time you be able to net it free?

Powerstar Golf-So an RPG and PGA Pro Tour run into each other , have a few drinks and boom, here sits Powerstar. Insofar as pulling up existing data about the folks behind it, Zoe Mode have worked more with Kinect and PS Move, so where does this one fall? With scores from average (5) to an being well worth it (8) its sort of an odd duck. Definitely not a game for everyone to be sure, golf games don't exactly hold a massive fan base, the exception being Wii Sports. However its price tag a super manageable 20$ US shouldn't stop you assuming the interest is there. 

Crimson Dragon- Suffering from the same plague that Lococycle happens to suffer from Crimson Dragon manages to shake some of callouses but can't shake it all together. Or did it take a commercial hit for a whole other reason?  I want to believe in the latter option to be honest. 

Coming as a reboot of the loved Sega Saturn Panzer Dragoon , the amount of hype and anticipation for this game was notable if somewhat subdued. It wasn't given a big billing with trailers or a presence in any commercials, not to mention a poor reveal due to audio issues. But the core ideas at least to a degree looked to be upheld. with the original creator Yuiko Futatsugi heading the team, all signs pointed to go. And in truth the game hasn't be universally hated, but that's not to say elements of the game seem to fall apart at length. But just like Powerstar Golf, an pretty darn cheap 20$ shouldn't stop you. Considering that this style of game has been lost in the past few years at least they tried damn it!

From here on out we talk about the big boys, that game that for many people make or break a sale.

Dead Rising 3- I had trouble decided which of the remaining Monday games to list, but I've been listing by average so far (also personal desire), if it ain't broken after all. When the public first laid eyes on Dead Rising 3, long time fans felt put off. Gone was the shinny mall or casino, in came a darker cityscape. I could tell however that the success of Day Z has made open world zombie focus considerable more desirable Capcom VC. Its also not hard to see the Walking Dead influence, just look at how colors compare, I'd dare say even the look of people and zombies is a very light touch from Tell Tale's game from last year. But all in all Dead Rising fans don't want gritty, they want that pop, the bright lights and tongue in cheek. Though I have a creeping suspicion having 4 different zones making up Los Perdidos might provide that light folks desire. 

Expanding the combo system that allow players even more nutty ways to carve through the horde seems to have been where a lot of the game's focus has gone. Going so far as to let you keep a ready when need archive of them at the safe houses so that your never to far from carnage. However expanding the system to vehicles screams insane Co-Op action when you and a buddy began turning zombies into balloons all while shooting explosive confetti, hmm that sounds more like it. 

I played World of Warcraft for about 4 years, I witnessed the release of two expansion packs. I will still remember to this day Thrall fighting Garrosh in the Orgrimmar arena surrounded by around a thousand other players, each with gear unique to ever player. Dead Rising seems to want to capitalize on that sort of scale, allowing you to walk around a corner and stare down thousands each with a unique look. This is where, to me at least, the "Next Gen" shows up. In the sort of open to interpretation phrase of Level of Detail, DR3 puts itself in next gen for that item alone. It shows its teeth, thousands of infected ones, and promptly lets you slice them to bits, blow them up or, run them over. 

Out of the three big retail games, I would wholeheartedly recommend you grab Dead Rising 3 for its sheer technical scale alone. Having Co-Op ain't to shabby either.

KILLER INSTINCT-Sorry ahead of time but every time I type KILLER INSTINCT, it will be in all caps. No seriously, All, FUCKING ,CAPS!! 

Following the (re)reveal of Ryse, all that could be seen on screen at E3 were flashing green lights and two letter K and I. This was all backed by a thumping drum beat and suddenly like a shout from hell itself we heard, "COMING TO YOUR HOME IN 2013 ONLY ON XBOX ONE". And like that 17 years of waiting suddenly ended. From the arcade to the SNES and 64, KILLER INSTINCT managed to carve out its own little niche in fighting games. Bolstered by its unique characters, hyper-announcer and amazing sound track, KILLER INSTINCT was beloved by those that played it and clung to all hopes that one day it would come back.

Which is what makes it weird that now I'm here typing about it. I've never played a KI game in my life. It wasn't in the arcade I went to as a kid, I never had a SNES or N64 and I hardly know of the games besides Orchid's fatality, where she flashes you (not kidding). I don't even play or hell even like fighting games. The closest thing to a fighting game I hold to my name is Super Smash Bros. and to some people that barely counts as one. But still here I am wishing I was getting an Xbox One just so I could play a game I could care less about up until about 5 months ago, and yes it has only been that long. 

I suppose going into detail (again, freakn perfect day) about why this game is so hype for me would change this from a review overview into a love letter, but what makes this game so worth every penny is why I'm so excited. 

Easily the most important thing to note about KILLER INSTINCT is that it does something no fighting game in history has ever done, or perhaps ever will. It introduces new players to fighting games as a whole. Instead of obscuring pretty much everything past basic button mashing, the game has a Dojo made specifically to teach not just KILLER INSTINCT, but fighting games in general. From stuff like how to throw a fireball, to reading frame data, and godlike combos. And everything in between. The game also has a hyper-detailed training mode, allowing you to turn on hit boxes, command inputs, and move information. The game even lets you recorded a specific sequence of moves, then play it back to learn how to tackle any challenge. The best part though, this comes to you in the free version of the game.

Another stand out detail of KILLER INSTINCT is its business model, and as a result its development practice. With a 6 character roster at launch, the number of fighters is paltry compared to games with 20, 40 even 60 different fighters. But this trait works in KILLER INSTINCT'S favor. Whereas most a fighting games boil down to a couple of fighters being top tier, with pretty much any left overs being niche or dark horse. KILLER INSTINCT just is those 6 fighters, meaning any balance shifts can quickly be adjusted. But a 6 character roster even for its balance can get old, so Double Helix is adding Spinal and Fulgore to the game. Being two and four months between these new fighters the developers can really hammer out the bugs and tighten up the balance so that when someone new joins the fray, they don't sink the ship.

Another detail that sits highly in KILLER INSTINCT'S favor is its business model. I mentioned the game was free, and that is certainly true. Upon release, Jago will be available for anyone to download and fight with. This isn't just you and a buddy on your couch however. This is over Xbox live, and using the Dojo and practice to see if you really want to spend money on it. And if you do want to spend a little cash, several options are available for you to chose from. If you just want a single character, 5$ and you can do with them as you see fit. But if you want to use all 6, and the other fighters the day they are ready, 20 bucks should do you good. But if you want to both show support for the game, and show a little style 40 dollars nets you the 8 fighters, an accessory set, a classic skin (post launch) and what is icing on the cake for many people, an emulated copy of the original KILLER INSTINCT. But this isn't just cash in to be sold of nostalgia (okay it kinda is), it is a fully featured game. Were talking full achievement list so 1000 points, several different rendering options and, two versions of the game. 1.4 and 1.5, with 1.4 having some fan favorite bugs. But if you just HAVE to have some sort of physical sign that yes KILLER INSTINCT is back, than 60$ will get you all of the above along side a Pin books to hold shinny pins, that apparently you earn by playing the game, even though its physical? Definitely a very modern and very smart business model if I do say so myself. 

Before I end up writing a book about a game I've never played, one last thing that I can speak to and that we all can appreciate no matter our play time. This is something that adds more value to KILLER INSTINCT than any amount of free content, pins, or emulated games ever can. That is the commitment of the developer. Double Helix has gone above and beyond pretty much any studio I know of to get players feed back. Being at every even since E3, putting the game on tour across America, even going so far as to have arcade cabinets running KI in Microsoft stores. They showed the game for an hour every week, letting youtube folk into Double Helix to give hyper critical feed back. If anything should sell you on a game, its unfiltered commitment from everyone from studio head to community manager being 100% behind making sure this is the best damn fighting game in a long time and for a long time to come.

With out a shadow of a doubt, play KILLER INSTINCT, its free. Don't get much better than that.

On Wednesday we saw only a single game have its reviews publicized.

Forza Motorsport 5- Similar to fighting games I've never been to hot on either sim or even arcade racers. Pretty much only Mario Kart has made me fell the proverbial wind in my hair. until some turtle shell knocks my ass off the track. But its impossible to deny that Forza just looks FUCKING GOOD. I rarely get floored by prerendered stuff (except for this). but the more they insist that those cars you see are game models, and the more game play I see, they pretty much have me convinced. I'm usually not one to bring up resolution or frame rate, I prefer detail and sustain. But if all Xbox One games run as well as Forza has been, then we are in for one slick generation.

But like I said before, It's hard for me to really say/give a thumbs up or down on this game. Ask some of the other guys on the site and they could give you a much more absolute answer. If you buy games or even systems on reviews alone than Forza is your game considering the staggering number of high reviews.  Even then, you might as well grab it if your at all interested, it seems like you could dump a LOT of time into this game.

So here we are Thursday

Ryse: Son of Rome-Out of all the games available at launch of either the PS4 or the Xbox One, no game as seen as much negative press, public reaction, controversy. and general disdain.  Can Crytek pull its self past a disease that seems to have laid two of its brothers by the way side. As far as I can gather, no one has any idea!

This disease I have been jabbering about is the jump to next gen. Which seems kind of odd, right? Suddenly you have less memory restrictions, you can do what you see fit and go nuts yeah? Well this all comes back to time, which in the case of Ryse, Crimson, and Lococycle just go the better of them. 

And it doesn't help that it was originally a Kinect game. First debuted back in 2011, Ryse seemed to be a possible "Core" than might sell folks like myself on the unproven tech. While that Kinect didn't fare very well, this new piece of hardware looks to be much, MUCH more capable. So why not just jump it to next gen and rework with new, better Kinect? Who knows? Only the guys and Crytek and Microsoft know those facts, and they will probably never be known. 

Back to the game itself, what seems to be splitting people so much is the combat which is the core of the game. Many feel it to be little more than a big QTE, others not so much. And this highlights an issue with game design in general. Because the desire was to emulate games with this exact combat style, Batman (Rocksteady), Assassins Creed, and God of War, we see the flaws in resting solely on this approach to combat, no matter how meaty it is. And this is coming from a Unreal Tournament/Gears of War guy, where meaty combat is how those games work. Batman had an open world to explore with puzzles to solve, AC had an open world with loads of shit to do and, God of war just added puzzles to the mix. All of these ideas however serve to move you from the simple combat, but because Ryse IS that combat, the flaws come pouring out. 

So where does that leave the game on your launch list? Let me know if you pick it up. I have no doubt that at some point I'm going to play it because damn does it look perdy. Perhaps you could care less about the simplicity and maybe you just want to cut through fools and look a roman and stuff while doing it. If so, GO FOR IT, or to get you in the spirit of things, Pugnandum, occide, Surge! Otherwise, just go play KILLER INSTINCT, its free, really do it...go now...do it...DO IT!!


Wrap Up

Thank you for making it all the way through my post, I hope I managed to change your mind and I you support the folks you want to support. If you buy these games no matter the score, just let them know what they could do to change how they make the next one. I personally think that Ryse could be awesome if Crytek really works out a solid combat system, maybe then they will be more than just the GRAPHICSS!!!11!! studio.

One last thing to get you pumped up

My name is Michael, leave a comment with what your getting if you want to chat about it. Otherwise be sure to listen to XVox, we're gonna have one hell of a show this weekend. If you want to shoot me a quick line, tweet at me @MikeZ125. Otherwise, lets not wait for greatness, lets charge it head on screaming ULTRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!