EA Access and the News!

I have EA Access. I’ve had it since it’s inception. Personally, I think its a good deal. $30/ year gets you access to the EA games vault, which currently has 9 games, 10% off games and DLC, and some new releases you’ll get early access, or free game trials.

The vault currently includes: Battlefield 4, FIFA 14, MADDEN NFL 25, Peggle 2, NFS Rivals, Plants Vs Zombies Garden Warfare, EA UFC, and the 2 recent additions being NBA Live 15 and Madden NFL 15, which surprisingly added, only a few weeks apart. Typically a new game is added every 1-2 months. Sometimes they release little gifts too, like free DLC packs.

I guess it’s suitable for those who like sports games, or the First-Person Shooters by Dice. For me, its provided the ability to play games I wouldn’t typically pick up, unless they were cheap. Games like UFC, or Basketball or Football. I play Shooters, and NFS games generally already, and I pick up NHL annually.

I’ve pre-ordered Battlefield Hardline, which will grant me 1 week early access, so keep an eye out for first impressions of that, starting March 12th, 2015.

The Game Developer Conference is currently underway in San Fransisco, March 2-6, so on that note, lets move on to some news:


Phil Spencer and Halo Master Chief Collection:

Game Informer had the chance to speak to Xbox Head Phil Spencer at the GDC conference about the Halo Master Chief Collection launch, and continuing troubles, and what the teams have learned going forward with the Halo 5 release.

Spencer discussed, at length, the steps they’re taking to ensure that the Collection package is becoming more and more stable, and ensured that the teams are still hard at work to ensure that it happens as quickly as possible.

He also discussed how the Halo 5 team is handling the launch, with earlier, dedicated beta testing, not for promotion, but for stress and bugs.

I’m not a big online gamer, as I typically play games for the single player and co-op aspects. But in the case of Halo, even the co-op functionality was affected. Game crashes, controller latency on the client side. And it continued to plague the game for months.

I have yet to complete Halo 1 or 2 with my friend, and haven’t even started on 3 or 4. Now that the recent “big content patch” is out I will try again and give it a shot.

343 have apologized and gifted 1 month free Xbox Live Gold, and the Halo Reach campaign to those who suffered at launch. It’s a nice thought, and appreciated. I’m just hoping that Halo 5 works, as this collection’s launch was not a stumble, but more like accidentally walking off the cliff backwards.

Phil Harrison Leaving Microsoft?

At GDC, rumours have started to circulate that Corporate VP Phil Harrison is expected to leave Microsoft after only a few years. Microsoft and Xbox Head Phil Spencer have declined to comment at this time.

SimCity Developer, Maxis Emeryville, Closed By EA

Maxis’ headquarters in Emeryville, CA are closing up, as announced by a former employee on Twitter, and since confirmed by EA. Current development is being consolidated to the other Maxis offices.

Maxis was the creator and developer of the SimCity titles and The Sims. The original SimCity being 26 years old now, and 2013’s reboot of the series was poorly received and also suffered from a lot of launch issues.

Personally, I’ve always been a fan of the simulation type games, and had no qualms with the SimCity 2013 reboot. I would agree that some parts of the design were poorly conceived, as it required an online connection to play, for the “online market and resource module” to function. Also the area of creation and lack of land modification tools made it less fun.

I did appreciate the level of detail for the traffic and simulation aspects, but there were a lot of complaints that it wasn’t actually as deep or accurate as we were lead to believe.

Shadow of Mordor Game of the Year

This year at the Game Developer Conference Choice Awards, Monolith’s action title Middle-Earth Shadow of Mordor picked up the Game of the Year award. Earlier in the year, at the DICE awards, Shadow of Mordor picked up eight awards, but not the coveted GOTY. Unfortunately this game is still on my shelf, waiting to be played :'(.

The full winners list is as follows:

Best Debut – Stoic Studio (The Banner Saga)
Innovation Award – Monument Valley (ustwo)
Best Technology – Destiny (Bungie/Activision)
Best Audio – Alien: Isolation (Creative Assembly/Sega)
Ambassador Award – Brenda Romero
Best Visual Art – Monument Valley (ustwo)
Best Narrative – Kentucky Route Zero: Act III (Cardboard Computer)
Pioneer Award – David Braben
Best Design – Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft (Blizzard)
Best Handheld/Mobile Game – Monument Valley (ustwo)
Audience Award – Elite: Dangerous (Frontier Developments)
Lifetime Achievement Award – Hironobu Sakaguchi
Game of the Year – Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (Monolith Productions/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)

Wireless Adapter for Xbox One Controller on the PC

Exciting news for me, as this is really the only way I can play PC titles that require any sort of moving and looking at the same time.

I was trained on the d-pad with the Nintendo and S-NES, and then single thumb-stick on the N64. Since then, the dual thumb-stick has been permanently engrained. I can’t WASD and mouse with the same accuracy I can with the controller.

I currently use the Xbox One Controller on the PC within Steam, but wired, so this announcement, and guaranteed future purchase, will allow me to play PC games in bed. Good, or Bad? … Who knows?

That’ll be the news of today/ last night.

Procrastinate Review: Darksiders II

My Procrastinated, Comparative Review of Darksiders II

Intended to stick with the short-form reviews for a bit, but after stumbling through padded mishmash that is Darksiders II, I had a few things to fuss about, so this review is a little dense, for consistency sake.

Darksiders II’s story is parallel to the events of the first game. If you’ll recall, in Darksiders I, War, one of the Four Horsemen accidently started the apocalypse early, and dooms all of Earth’s population, and is then brought to justice for his crimes. The sequel sees us playing as his brother, Death, who believes War was tricked into committing his crimes seeks to redeem his brother’s wrongdoings and wishes to fix everything and restore humanity. The story from that part continues along its convoluted way, meeting new characters and foes along the way, as Death futilely attempts to reach his end goal. We slowly learn the entire land is actually being consumed by darkness and Corruption, and the plan of saving our Brother starts to fade, and instead we must save everyone else, and maybe Humanity someday. One day? Who cares?



The Darksiders franchise is really just the darkest timeline of Zelda. The story follows our emo protagonist through a steady stream of dungeons, and open lands for exploring; each new area presenting us with a new gameplay mechanic. The dungeons themselves are interactive puzzles, requiring the player to think their way through a series of levers, doors, elevators, and portals, with some wall-running and scaling, all the while fighting a slew of increasingly difficult enemies.

The enemies and dungeons present us with a new RPG and loot mechanic, as the player is bestowed an abundance of weapons, gear, and items along our forays into combat. All the weapons have attributes such as strength, and damage, and resistance, and defense, and stop me if this sounds redundant. You gain experience to level up our character as well, awarding the player new magic attacks.

Traveling the large lands of Darksiders II is made effortless with the addition of our horse, Despair. Additionally, we have the ability to fast travel to the different city hubs we frequent or to return to the dungeons once visited. This is where my first complaints started arising.


We have a horse named Despair (keeping with the #dark theme) to ride around on, in the open vast lands between dungeons, great. But that’s all the horse is good for, just traveling. Once you’ve reached your destination, you can fast travel back as much as you’d like. You can fast travel out of the dungeon half-way through, and return to the exact point you left off from, if you were so inclined. The horse is a nice addition at first, but is really underutilised save for one boss fight. How come there aren’t other speedy enemies that I need the horse to ride alongside? I have 21 inventory slots per style of gear for my character. Including my two weapons, armor and amulets, that’s 147 slots for disposable gear. How come I couldn’t add gear to my horse? I got to the point where I turned on the ‘auto-collect’ for my gear and didn’t even look at comparisons until after I was done the dungeon, and then sold off the rest before starting the next area.

I clocked the main story at 20 hours to completion. 20 hours doesn’t sound like a lot of invested time, and you’d be right, but it certainly felt like a long time. The story and quests are just so thin, but padded for the sake of game time; always collecting items of three to progress. There are some side quests to waste time, and a challenging labyrinth quest that required collectibles to navigate.

I felt the story to be unnecessarily puzzling, and Death’s true goals to be lost along the way as he was sent from one meaningless task to the next before finally defeating the land’s Corruption boss in the end, and making the ultimate decision to save his brother and humanity, and sacrifice his kin. I was disappointed that the game ended in another cliff-hanger, similar to its predecessor, and that I did not get to meet up with War at all. The game’s final moments promise more, but we’ve heard that before.

Executed Well:

The art and design is gorgeous. Some of the landscapes were breathtaking, especially in the Land of the Dead: its tormented lands, and scarred earth. And the character, Death, is a design deserving applaud.

The dungeons themselves were very satisfying, just the right amount of puzzle that required thought. The plat-forming and gameplay elements for traversal, like the Death-Grip (grappling hook), were used well, and frequently, with each new area adding another element for navigation. Constant waves of enemies, increasing in difficulty, were a pleasure too. Death with the dual-scythes always felt like a bad-ass.

The bosses were imaginative, and like its blatant inspiration, Zelda, always required that one clever element to assist with defeating them. My one gripe would be the game’s paramount boss featured heavily in the trailers: the boss that seemed ripped out of Shadow of the Colossus. The boss was the only example of an enemy that was large enough that we had to climb on it and attack certain key weak points. My complaints are a) completely under-utilized large-area boss fight which proved to be the only true use of the horse. Obviously would have appreciated a few more instances of this type of battle. And b) this climactic type of battle was easily the ¼ mark of the game’s story. To have this boss featured heavily in the trailers, and expired so soon is wickedness.


The game is sound. Like its predecessor, it has an interesting tale, with some epic fight scenes, relegated to cut-scenes, but I digress. The art, character design, and scenery are marvelous, and dungeon crawling is very satisfying. The game, however, suffers from some excess filler, cushioning the thin story with unfortunate fetch-style quests, and leaves us in the end wanting what we ultimately wanted going in: meeting up with War, as two brothers of the Apocalypse.

Notable Achievements:
Respec Yourself (Your first respect) – 20G
Diamond Geezertron (Unlock the final skill in either skill tree) – 10G