Posts in Nintendo

Totally Heroes Episode 48: We Got Socks This Year

June 17th, 2014 Posted by News Archive, Nintendo, PC, Podcasts, Totally Heroes No Comment yet

The Heroes are back this week and give you their E3 post mortem. They bring handy charts into the mix and dissect Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo’s presentations and tell you exactly what they did right and what they did wrong. Plus, your QOTW satiates your Need for Speed!

We apologize, but there is no podcast version of this episode at this time.
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Totally Heroes Episode 47: E3 2014 Special

June 11th, 2014 Posted by News Archive, Nintendo, PC, Playstation, Podcasts, Totally Heroes No Comment yet

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QGN’s News Director Joseph Bradford is on the show floor in Los Angeles at E3 2014, and this week we kicked Shank and Dave off the show to make room for all the massive content Bradord brought to the table. We break down the media briefings, hands-on demos, and overall impressions from the gaming community’s biggest celebration.

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Totally Heroes Episode 47: E3 2014 Special
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Zelda for WiiU is going Open World

June 10th, 2014 Posted by News Archive, Nintendo No Comment yet

The Legend Of Zelda is getting the open world treatment. Announced today at the Nintendo Digital Event, the long-standing franchise is tearing down their invisible walls and allowing players to fully explore the world of Hyrule.

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And it looks gorgeous. According to a Kotaku report, the footage seen is in-engine. Not from a traditional gameplay angle, but definitely running on the WiiU hardware.

Not much else is known as of yet, other than the game will release sometime in 2015. Here’s the announcement, as well as the rest of Nintendo’s Digital Event in case you missed it earlier:

Image source: Kotaku

Totally Heroes Episode 46: PrE3 Predictions

June 3rd, 2014 Posted by News Archive, Nintendo, PC, Playstation, Podcasts No Comment yet

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This week is all about E3! The Heroes give you their predictions for Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony. They talk about what to expect as well as what provide bold predictions. They also discuss a slew of scheduled unannounced titles from Bethesda, Ubisoft, Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft, Deep Silver, and Crytek. Strap in.

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Totally Heroes Episode 46: PrE3 Predictions
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Watch Dogs First Impressions

May 29th, 2014 Posted by News Archive, Nintendo, PC, Platforms, Playstation, Xbox 1 comment

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Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Platforms: 
PC (played), PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U
Release Date: May 27, 2014 (Wii U TBD Fall 2014)
Engine: Disrupt Engine

Ever since its stunning reveal at E3 2012, Watch Dogs has become the poster child for next gen. Even though that demo was running on the PC, as was confirmed multiple times by Ubisoft, it gave a tantalizing glimpse into what was in store for both console gamers and PC gamers with lower end machines.

The game was even set to launch alongside the current generation as a launch title, Sony going so far as to have a Watch Dogs bundle (which looked sick, by the way). However, it was delayed to allow for further polish and refinement (this seems to be going around lately).

As soon as I saw this game in action, I knew I’d be playing it on PC. I knew that between E3 2012 and launch day, I’d have to upgrade my PC if I wanted the absolute best, premium experience of Watch Dogs. And so, two years later, my PC now contains:

CPU: i7 3770k @ 3.5 GHz
GPU: EVGA SC 780ti with ACX Cooler (I have overclocked this further)
RAM: 16 GB DDR3 @ 1666 MHz

I am currently running the game on full Ultra with 2x TXAA and injected 16x anisotropic filtering via Nvidia Inspector. Additionally, my PC is hooked up to my TV and I’m playing the game from my couch with an Xbox 360 controller. You can use these specs as a benchmark of sorts if you’re trying to figure out what performance you can expect from your own rig. My own performance will be mentioned later on in this piece, so sit tight.

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Now, let’s dive right into my experiences. The best way I can describe Watch Dogs is that it takes the best elements of GTA, Splinter Cell, and Assassin’s Creed and combines them into one amazing experience.

At the time of this writing, I have played roughly eight hours of the game. In that time, I have done a few story missions, drove around downtown and Pawnee, hacked into people’s bank accounts and robbed them of $75,000, hacked into phone conversations, went trenchcoat and iconic cap shopping, hacked into a few ctOS towers, ran around in blind panic as another player hacked into my game, and took a trillion screenshots.

Oh, I also hacked a train, jumped onto its roof, and escaped the police. What makes this more impressive is that I didn’t plan it. I was running away from an event, desperate to find any escape when out of the corner of my eye, I saw a train pull into the station. In a dead sprint, I hacked it to prevent it from leaving the station as I belted towards it. With seconds to spare, I reached the train and landed on its roof. Turning back, I saw the police officers I left behind, smiling to myself.

These types of situations aren’t rare in Watch Dogs. In fact, the amount of density and detail to the world is staggering. Just yesterday, I spent an hour simply listening to people’s conversations. No two conversations were the same, and a lot of these conversations lead you to some pretty interesting stuff.

And that’s perhaps the best way to nicely sum up my experience so far: detail.

The world is absolutely brimming with detail. The NPCs in Watch Dogs are the most believable AI I have ever come across in an open world game . They all act and behave uniquely, yet respond to the player and the environment all the same. You can tell they have their own lives. I encourage you to spend five minutes, pick a random street corner or a park, and just watch the NPCs. You’ll see what I mean.

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On top of the amazing AI, there are simply so many missions in Watch Dogs, ranging from fixer missions, hacking missions, gang busts, crime prevention, and the random missions that crop up by listening to NPCs. Each one feels unique and creates a real sense of excitement upon its undertaking.

I’ve only dipped my toes into the multiplayer component. I was hacked twice by other players. I managed to find the perpetrator on the first occasion. It was pure luck. The second occasion was marked with me running around the streets of Chicago in a blind panic, desperately trying to locate the other player.

I failed spectacularly. However, despite my complete incompetence, I really love this take on multiplayer. You’re not sharing the world with others like in an MMO per se, but you feel a sense of connection to other players enjoying the game. The sense of tension and excitement it creates is very real and a welcome inclusion.

Perhaps my only “criticism” of the game so far is the driving. I understand that Ubisoft is going for a more arcade feel here, as is the case with other open world games, but vehicles simply feel sloppy in the way they handle, plagued by perpetual understeer. Compared with its most obvious rival, GTA V, the driving in Watch Dogs is pretty lackluster. I say this after having driven various different vehicles ranging from hatchbacks, motorcycles, sports cars, and a dump truck. Yes, a dump truck. It was baller.

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Ok, I can’t hold it any longer. Time to talk about graphics. In short, this game is absolutely gorgeous. Playing this game on full Ultra settings at a buttery smooth 60fps is stunning. I have not experienced a single hitch in stuttering, freezing, crashing, or any other issue. On my end of things, the game runs flawlessly.

How does this game compare to its E3 reveal? To put it simply, it looks better today than it did at E3. This idea that somehow the game was downgraded is partially true. Yes, it was downgraded to fit on the new consoles, but the PC version actually looks better than it did at E3. Is it drastically better? No. But every little element has been improved a little bit over the E3 demo. All these little improvements add up in a big way.

If you are the type of person who does not like hearing objective truths, now is the time the stop reading. Almost everything from the E3 build has been incrementally tweaked and given a polished sheen. Shaders are more accurate, behaving realistically to lighting and weather. Lighting is more concise, providing even more accurate ambient occlusion by way of HBAO+ (which did NOT exist at the time of the E3 2012 demo).

Reflections are even more realistic, reflecting not just obvious light sources such as headlights, but also secondary and tertiary light emitted from neon signs and even Aiden’s smartphone. The water is just so damn good, tessellated to perfection. Incidence refraction helps drive the incredible realism of its properties. The water reacts not just to objects such as boats, but also to the ambient weather. It reflects literally everything, including ambient occlusion shading from its surrounding environment. Just take a look at the screenshot at the top of this piece. It’s truly ridiculous.

The sheer amount of detail and polish in the visual and technical elements of Watch Dogs simply cannot be overstated. On full Ultra, it’s far superior to the current gen console versions and indeed, better than the E3 2012 build. To deny this only showcases ignorance and a blatant lack of respect for the developers’ years of work.

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In short, I am having a blast in Watch Dogs. The incredibly immersive gameplay, genuinely believable AI, awesome weather system, myriad of activities, and stunning visuals all come together brilliantly to provide a fundamentally thrilling experience.

By borrowing core elements from GTA, Splinter Cell, and Assassin’s Creed, Ubisoft have created a truly fun, dynamic, and consistently intriguing game. I am constantly amazed every time I pick up my controller and boot up the game. I experience something new every single time. I can’t wait to spend more time in Watch Dogs.

 

Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire Remakes Coming in November

May 7th, 2014 Posted by News Archive, Nintendo No Comment yet

Announced earlier today, The Pokemon Company released a video showcasing the next entry in the long-running Pokemon game franchise. Named Pokemon Omega Ruby and Pokemon Alpha Sapphire, Nintendo is remaking the classic Game Boy Advanced titles for the 3DS.

Dubbed as a new take on the classic games, players will be able to explore a whole new world and experience new adventures with the remake. Nothing more has been revealed at this time, but you can be sure more information will be showcased leading up to it’s release this November.

Source: The Pokemon Company

PAX South Announced

April 12th, 2014 Posted by News Archive, Nintendo, PC, Platforms, Playstation, Xbox No Comment yet

In a press release today, ReedPOP and Penny Arcade announced the introduction of PAX South. The first annual PAX South will take place in San Antonio, TX from January 23-25, 2015. This will now expand their event calendar to include Seattle, Boston, San Antonio, and Melbourne, Australia.

Regarding the addition of a new event, the release reads:

The new show will build on the foundation of the PAX format giving fans a healthy mix of the latest and greatest in video games, tabletop games, game inspired music, competitive gameplay, and insight from leaders in the world of gaming.

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Lance Fensterman, Global Vice President of ReedPOP, was very excited to bring this new event to their calendar:

The love of gaming in all its many forms, whether that be on a TV, a computer, a phone, or even a tabletop, is hitting an all-time high. PAX gives gaming fans one place to get a glimpse of emerging trends and does it in a truly fun and interactive way.

No doubt, this is exciting news, as it provides another event for gamers in the Southern United States to attend without having to travel to either coast. It seems that PAX South was an inevitability, as described by Robert Khoo, Penny Arcade President:

Since its launch in 2004, PAX events have doubled in size almost every year, and our Seattle and Boston events represent the two largest gaming festivals in North America. We’ve been hearing for years that those in the south had a tough time making it to the northern corners of the country; PAX South has always been a matter of ‘when’ rather than ‘if.’

This is most definitely exciting news. The industry can never have too many expos, as they not only provide gamers to get closer to the industry, but more importantly, allow the developers and industry insiders to get closer to the gamers. PAX South is sure to be a popular and successful event.

 

REVIEW – Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

January 30th, 2014 Posted by News Archive, Nintendo, PC, Platforms, Playstation, Xbox 2 comments

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Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), PC, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U
Release Date: Oct 29, 2013 (PS3/Xbox 360/ Wii U) | Nov 15, 2014 (PS4) | Nov 19, 2013 (PC) | Nov 22, 2014 (Xbox One)

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is the latest installment in Ubisoft’s annualized Assassin’s Creed franchise. Set in the 1715 Caribbean, Black Flag takes place during the Golden Age of piracy. You play as Edward Kenway, grandfather to Connor Kenway, the protagonist of Assassin’s Creed III. With history as its sandbox, Black Flag takes you on an epic journey in a vast open world, where your adventure is what you make of it.

You’ll meet real-life pirates such as Blackbeard, Captain Kidd, and Charles Vane as you sail, pillage, and fight your way across the Caribbean. It’s truly an epic tale, finally allowing you to take control of your adventure for the first time in the series. However, legacy tropes of the Assassin’s Creed franchise rear their ugly head from time to time, preventing Black Flag from becoming the masterpiece it could have been.

The Look

To call Black Flag “ugly” is unfair. The art direction is truly fantastic, providing a rich colorful world for the player. Fortunately, art direction has never been the weakness of the series, and that trend continues here. The audio is quite simply spectacular. The crew sings shanties while you sail, birds and other wildlife add life to the world, and the voice acting is top notch. And that soundtrack, oh that soundtrack…

Everything here is displayed for sake of historical accuracy. Assassin’s Creed is known to use history as its playground and nowhere does that ring more true than in Black Flag. All the cities are recreated with painstaking accuracy, convincing you of their authenticity. People bustle around you, going about their daily routines as you parkour around town. It’s all quite good.

This game runs on the Anvil Next engine, Ubisoft’s next-gen engine, designed to run on PCs and next-gen consoles. While the PC features many goodies unavailable on the next-gen machines, the PS4 version still includes HBAO (horizon based ambient occlusion), a dynamic sea engine, a fully dynamic weather system, GI (global illumination), volumetric fog (eg smoke from cannon fire), and fully dynamic 3d foliage.

The sea engine and weather system were among the features that impressed me most, with the sea behaving like actual water. Whenever a storm rolled in, it left quite the impression upon this author. Admittedly, while the antialiasing solution in place fails to completely eliminate jaggies, it is nevertheless impressive. The only times I noticed such artifacts were when observing the sheets on a distant ship. A slight shimmering would occur, but honestly, those were the only instances where such aliasing was noticeable. Commendable.

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I’m afraid things go downhill from here. Even with this improvement in visuals, I came away disappointed overall. Character models still look stiff and strangely lifeless, creating a dissonance between the narrative taking place and reality of the world Ubisoft was trying to convince me existed. Textures still look and feel underwhelming, hovering somewhere between last-gen (360/PS3) and current-gen. The ambient occlusion, while acceptable, looks as though it either uses too few samples or a small sampling radius. Either way, it is almost insignificant, causing the lighting to look all too flat more often than not.

If anything, Anvil Next is too conservative. It does not feel like progress to me, rather, a prime example of the dangers of stagnation. It comes dangerously close to derailing innovation. With the likes of CryEngine and Frostbite 3 showing what is possible right now, Anvil Next plays it safe and fails to improve upon the cream of the crop – something I strongly believe major studios and triple-A titles must do to continue the march of progress and innovation.

Score: 1/3
While the art direction and audio design are great, they still fail to mask the visual and technical shortcomings of Black Flag, something that deeply disappoints me. The game could have and should have done more.

The Feel

Black Flag truly embraces open world like no other game in the franchise. Not only is the entire world open to you following a brief introductory mission, but there are also no limitations on how you approach the game. Do you want to sail all the way to the south? Feel free. Feel like taking over forts? Go for it. No where are you punished for your gameplay choices. There are some instances where the game does restrict a certain area due to story, but in my experience (40+ hours), I only came across these areas twice.

Destroying forts and raising the pirate flag gives you visibility to a section of the map. It’s very similar to the Borgia Towers of games past. Once the fort is under your command, the “fog” is lifted from your map, allowing you to see treasure chests, animus artifacts, as well as other points of interest such as harpooning. Needless to say, there are few things more epic than assaulting a fort during a raging hurricane, forcing you to negotiate rogue waves and mortar fire.

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This brings me neatly to ship combat. In short, it’s excellent. Your ship, the Jackdaw, is equipped with a myriad of weapons, all of which can be upgraded in an extensive upgrade system. You don’t need to select a weapon either. The game selects a weapon based on your point of view. For example, if I’m looking off the side, pulling R2 fires my broadsides or my heavy shot (depending if I depressed L2). Looking behind me, pulling R2 releases my fire barrels. No cycling through weapons. Simple, intuitive combat – a major improvement over AC3. Each ship you face has resources: wood, cloth, metal, rum, or sugar. Rum and sugar can be sold for Reals (money), but cloth, metal, and wood are required for upgrading. In my experience, the game is at its best when locked in combat against enemy vessels.

The missions themselves are pretty fun and vary in structure. You’ll find yourself taking over enemy ships, scaling Myan ruins, and diving for resources. Unfortunately, Black Flag falls back on old tropes of the franchise, such as eavesdropping, tailing, and “you fail if you get caught” missions. Given the open world and the freedom that the rest of the game offers, these legacy missions seem so very out of place. The game would do well to exclude such restraining mission structure altogether. Fortunately, Ubisoft allows you to rate each mission and provide feedback right in the game. An excellent implementation. I wonder why more games don’t do this?

Score: 2/3
While Black Flag does so many things right, legacy mission structure prevents the gameplay from being a masterpiece that it could be. All too often, you’ll find yourself frustrated by such missions, wondering why the game puts you on a leash.

The Design

The user interface, menus, and upgrade systems are superb. Given that this is indeed an Assassin’s Creed game, Black Flag provides a codex for literally everything you find in the game, whether it be an ancient ruin, or a letter from a historical figure. It’s quite extraordinary. You never feel lost nor feel frustrated by complex menus and control options. If you’re a franchise veteran, you’ll feel right at home. If you’re a newcomer, the game does a great job showing you the ropes.

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The game controls magnificently on the Dualshock 4. The touchpad is used to bring up the map, allowing you to pinch and zoom as well as place waypoints. This is a subtle but incredibly intuitive use for the touchpad, one that I applaud. Edward responds to my every move, almost too well. I sometimes found him parkouring up buildings I never intended him to scale. Fortunately, these issues were quite infrequent. My only suggestion for Ubisoft – include a crouch button. For a game that emphasizes stealth far more than the preceding games, it seems rather odd not to include such a feature.

Score: 3/3
Black Flag features the most intuitive and easiest control scheme of the franchise. Simple menus deliver exactly the content you want, exactly the right time.

The Verdict

Should you buy this game? Absolutely. The gameplay is great as well as the way the game handles. The open world nature is something all future Assassin’s Creed titles absolutely must do. I have played over 40 hours of Black Flag. In every other AC game, I was done after 30. This just shows the breadth and depth that Black Flag lauds over its predecessors.

It’s a very tight, well crafted package that’s ultimately let down by its visuals and technical limitations. Had Ubisoft Montreal been more daring with Anvil Next, this author would be more impressed. The visual shortcomings don’t completely destroy the game, but nevertheless influence the experience – and not in a good way.

The Look:                    1
The Feel:                      2
The Design:                 3
Recommendation:      1
The Verdict:            7/10

Totally Heroes Episode 31: Kickstart the Kingdom

January 28th, 2014 Posted by News Archive, Nintendo, PC, Playstation, Podcasts No Comment yet

After a week hiatus, the Heroes are back for another show. After a very dry news cycle, they discuss some misleading information about Nintendo, take a look at the PS4 and Xbox One version of Tomb Raider Definitive Edition, as well as introduce you to a brand new game on Kickstarter – Kingdom Come: Deliverance. Your Question of the Week and more, only on Totally Heroes!

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Episode 31: Kickstart the Kingdom
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The Road of 2014

January 3rd, 2014 Posted by News Archive, Nintendo, Opinion, Platforms, Podcasts, Steam, SWTOR Reforged No Comment yet

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2013 was somewhat of a dull year for gaming; the only real excitement was at the end of it, when a new generation of consoles came front and center. But the next year is looking to be much more promising on the gaming front. Certainly, the consoles are going to see new titles raining down, but PC gamers also have a lot to look forward to. Below are a few of the games I’m looking forward to that should be coming out next year:

  • American Truck Simulator is by the folks who made Euro Truck Simulator 2 and it’s supposed to be coming in 2014. I have to admit, this is a strange little addiction of mine. There’s something soothing about driving your own big rig for hours on end while you listen to Quest Gaming Network podcasts. (Wink, wink.)
  • Assassin’s Creed Liberation HD is a remake of the original Assassin’s Creed Liberation for the PlayStation Vita. The new version is going to feature many tweaks to bring it on par with past Assassin’s Creed titles for PC. It releases in January 2014. I didn’t get to play the Vita version, but I am looking forward to trying this game for the first time. If I think it’s good, I’m sure you’ll be seeing another article about it.
  • Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze is one of the major Nintendo franchises that will be releasing in February 2014 for the Wii U. It’s available now for pre-orders. I’m very much looking forward to getting another Donkey Kong title in my hands. Unfortunately, I haven’t played the series since Donkey Kong 64 many moons ago.
  • Elder Scrolls Online is one of the obvious ‘big name’ games that will be hitting in 2014. I can’t wait to get my hands on this game. I know when the open beta finally hits I’m going to be spending that time doing research so that I have my ‘live game’ characters mapped out on paper before I even login on day 1. I know right about now I wish that I could fast forward time to make it be April.
  • Thief is the next stealth heavy title from Square Enix coming in 2014. I’m not usually very big on stealth games, but the Batman Arkham series has definitely warmed me up to that play style.  Then, when I got my hands on Dishonored, it basically sealed the deal for me that I need more stealth experiences. That’s when I happened to see Steam selling Thief at 10% off for pre-orders; I’m very much intrigued and can’t wait to play this one.

So there’s a little run down of what games I’m looking forward to in 2014. But that’s not all! Quest Gaming Network itself has some pretty neat things going down. The most significant, I think, is SWTOR Reforged making a return from the stars very early this year. Then there’s also another super-secret SWTOR project that’s in the works, but I can’t talk about it yet for fear of being bludgeoned to death by jawa skulls. Stay tuned to Quest Gaming Network and you’ll hear all about it when it’s officially announced!

 

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