All posts by GI-William Harrison

Thief — 3Q2014

Photos courtesy of Shacknews.com
Photos courtesy of Shacknews.com

It takes a thief

by William Harrison
by William Harrison

You know, once in a while, a game comes along that is just full of fun stuff and guilty pleasures that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Ladies and gentlemen, this is that game. Thief is a game that when I first heard about the original — way back when it was only available for PC — I thought it was one of those games I would have liked to play but didn’t think it would be fun. Man, was I ever wrong.

Thief places you in the role of master thief Garrett as he works his way through a city run by a greedy and bloodthirsty Baron and his guard known as the WATCH. Use the shadows to your advantage and truly make what is theirs … yours.

Eidos/Montreal and Square ENIX put forth a great effort in Thief-05making this game a reality and bringing it to home systems. Thief is actually the fourth incarnation of the series, set during the time period around the same time as the Black Plague, I think; they don’t really tell you when it’s set or where it is relevant to any time period. I only say during the time of the Black Plague because of the disease that runs rampant called the gloom, which is a lot like it.

The stealth gameplay is the main reason why I’m a huge fan of this game. I like the fact that it’s a major part of the game and there is an achievement for making it through the game unseen. There is the rating system where I seem to always straddle the line between ghost and opportunist in my quest to see if I’m still as sneaky in stealth games as I claim to be.

As of press time, I haven’t finished Thief but the story and the free roaming aspect are awesome. At times, I wander from the story to explore, roam aimlessly and rob people blind just like in real life.

Score-4The city and the characters are beautifully designed and rendered but it seems to be missing something. The music — as far as atmosphere goes — is OK but it seems that you can’t really hear it. And, a lot of times the interactions between characters is almost a joke because you can sometimes barely hear what a NPC or yourself are saying. Apparently, subtitles are a bit of a must to catch everything being said.

I’m not quite sure how the old Garrett matches up to the new Garrett since I haven’t played the PC titles but hopefully it’s not too far off. I really do enjoy this game, but it seems that it isn’t really all that long, at least not when you get into the story-specific missions. There is still a free roam element there but there are also points where you can’t go back and that seems like it’s punishing the player and slapping you saying, “You want to explore?! NOW!? The fate of the world is at stake!!”

Thief is a really good stealth, make-you-feel-guilty-in-a-good-way sort of game and should definitely be played by all. The fact that it’s the fourth game but also a reboot of the series is fine, but the fans of the older games may have a problem with the differences. Sound issues aside, this is a hell of a steal.

Titanfall — 3Q2014

Photos courtesy of Shacknews.com
Photos courtesy of Shacknews.com

Keep calm and prepare for Titanfall

by William Harrison
by William Harrison

Hello, pilots and welcome to the Frontier. The long-anticipated Titanfall is up for review and let me tell you, I had a lot of fun with this one and so will you. It posts a few unique innovations as well as an online only style all of its own. And, of course, giant robots … everything is better with giant robots. The campaign mode is weird at first but it’s nothing that can’t be handled.

Titanfall takes place in the distant future and in another colonized area of space. Two warring factions, the IMC and the Frontier Militia, are fighting for control of their little pieces of space and the place they call home. Unfortunately, the IMC seem to be looking to control the area under the flag of Hammond Industries, a galactic widespread company that has its hands in … well, pretty much everything. Then in comes the Frontier Militia, who believe the people are better off without the watchful eye of the IMC and Hammond Industries telling you what to do.

Titanfall is a very impressive and beautifully rendered game. It’s Titanfall-01currently out for the Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC. I have it for Xbox One and it’s about the only first-person shooter that I currently play. The gameplay is pretty much like Call of Duty, but that’s to be expected when Infinity Ward closed its doors and reopened to a split in the company not called Respawn Entertainment and Sledghammer Games. Respawn Entertainment is pretty much made up of the developers that made the COD series stories and games what they were.

The addition of the Titans (25- to 30-foot-tall robots) and the ability to either pilot or have the AI control it makes for a new number of things that can be done.

Score-4-5There is a campaign mode but it is multiplayer-based, meaning that the story is controlled by the outcome of the winning team in some missions. It only allows for 6v6 (12v12, if you include having the AI-controlled Titans on the map as well) so that the games can remain as lag free as possible. Don’t want to ride inside your own Titan, well hop out and switch your Titan to either guard or follow to help hold a position or for a little backup. I must admit that I am rarely riding inside my Titan when I play. They have a nice selection of weapons for the pilots but only about six for the Titans themselves, which is fine by me.

The multiplayer is done really well, but right now there are only seven play modes, with the seventh as a mash-up variety pack that consists of all play modes on all maps randomly selecting both. I believe the Xbox 360 version is missing a mode or two.

Here is how I see it: Titanfall is one of those games you hear about and think it would be awesome if they can pull it off right. Respawn did their homework and came up with a game that is fun and immersive. Unfortunately, it kind of hindered itself by being online only, and although the download needed to play it on Xbox 360 isn’t as massive as the GTAV download (1.3 GB versus 7.9 GB), it’s still a bit annoying. However, you don’t have to delete data to play. A matchmaking option that puts you with people in the same skill level would be a nice idea, too. If you haven’t played it, then you should definitely “Prepare for Titanfall.”

Macross M3 — 2Q2014

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Photos courtesy of IGN.com

Piloting your dreams in Macross

 

by William Harrison
by William Harrison

As you may not know, I used to want to be a fighter pilot because of an old cartoon I saw called Robotech. Then, I was introduced to the real series called Macross, and my love for all things that flew was renewed even more. I also wanted to take up engineering to make the Varitech fighters I love so much a reality; hell, I may still get that chance one day or somewhere my designs may help someone do what I couldn’t in my lifetime. Anyway, we’re here to talk about a game that never made it to the U.S. because of the man who made Robotech famous and is an out-and-out bad person. Macross M3 is up and its Varitechs, Zintredies and missiles, oh my!

The game takes place during the time Max was starting out up till macross-m3-04he meets Meria. From then on, you can choose either Max or Meria until the point in the story where their daughter is born. Then, you can only choose her as a playable character. Unfortunately, I don’t know if you get to play as anyone else because there is a mission shortly after their daughter joins U.N. Spacy and has a crisis of conscience, which is where my venture ends. I’m not sure if there’s a glitch at this point or a choice that is made that can change that. So, I don’t know how the game ends but that doesn’t mean the game isn’t worth playing.

The controls have improved compared to its previous counterparts of the VF-X series. The graphics for this Dreamcast title are a lot smoother than the PS1 games, as well, but you would expect that.

Score-3-5-retrogradeThe gameplay, however, seems to present not much of a challenge as its VFX counterpart. The learning curve may not seem to be there, but it is in the form of a mission where the difficulty goes from “Oh that’s nice” to “Oh god, why won’t you die?!” I did find it funny that I ran out of missiles only to discover later that they refill over time. Nothing really stands out too much but the graphics and the story JP flag w stick iconthat I can figure out is good. Unfortunately, I was unable to finish this game because at the time my grasp of the Japanese language was very nonexistent.

The last word on this is that it’s a really fun game and presents a good time to be had by all. Well, except for the fact that at least that one stage is a pain. My score for the game would be higher if I was able to finish the game and I may still one day. Until then, if it somehow finds its way to your door, invite it in, have a good time and share a bit of sake with the essence of an old friend.

Macross VF-X2 — 2Q2014

macross-vf-x2-05

Find your way in the stars

by William Harrison
by William Harrison

ありがと ございました おなしと の おとこのしと!

And for the non-Nihongo speaking, thank you ladies and gentlemen! It’s great to be back and for the Far Eastern (Nihon, Nihongo = Japanese language) issue. I understand that a lot of people may be wondering why it’s not called Robotech. Well, let’s just stick with the version that was released in Japan. The funny thing is, this game was actually scheduled for an American release but was later canceled because of the “creator” of the Robotech series. His demands were a bit on the ridiculous side and rather than bow to him, Big West/Bandai Visual (before it merged with Namco) made sure that the American release never saw the light of day.

But if you knew the right places to go and were willing to pay the price, you could macross-vf-x2-04have your very own copy like I do. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to play it, but this is still one of the best games I have played in a long time and the fan boy in me was all over this when I saw it in an import store in Greenville, S.C. I fell in love with Macross VF-X2.

VF-X2 is a flight-style combat shooter with a bit of an arcade feel to it, loads of fun and not too bad of a story to add to the Macross universe. You are Arges Focker, rookie pilot who joins Score-4-retrogradethe U.N. Spacy and is shortly recruited to the Raven Fighting Squadron. You battle through several missions, piloting several of the variable fighters from the original Valkyre to the VF-22 (Macross plus YF-21: The 21 was designated the 22 to honor Guld Goa Bowman after his death).

The game plays very well and the sounds and effects will put you in the right frame of mind of the Macross series, but, unfortunately, it does have a few bugs.

JP flag w stick iconOne of the main bugs occurs when you beat the game: The closing cinematic glitches and plays for two frames then either freezes or boots you to the credits screen. That’s heartbreaking because it kind of ruins that whole satisfaction of beating the game. The game is solid as a whole, but the glitches kind of cut into the fun. If you love Robotech/Macross, don’t let the glitches keep you from a solid representative in the series.