ACHIEVEMENT OF THE WEEK – Valiant Hearts: The Great War

Recently I’ve found that I do not have a lot of time during the week to play games. Due to work and other commitments. Instead, I play a lot over the weekend. On a milestone front, I’m quickly coming up to 150,000 Gamerscore. I won’t be surprised if my next Achievement of the Week is the one that lands me at 150K.

I had a party when I broke the 100K milestone. That one seems a little more impressive than 150K. A rounder number to be sure. I landed exactly on 100K which was what I was aiming for, and I’ll try to do the same here. That DOES mean, however, that I need to play more Mad Max, as that game has some 3G achievements, and that’s ruined my even 5’s and 0’s. As of this writing I’m at 149,337G.

Over the past two weeks I’ve put some more time into Saints Row IV with ILLESTRADER, Shadow of Mordor DLC. Last week I did a Review for SoM which you can check out here. Played some WWE 2K15 as well. This weekend I spent a big chuck of time in Rayman Legends, World of Tanks and Valiant Hearts: The Great War.

Valiant Hearts is an interesting 2D side-scroller which incorporates stealth and puzzles. The game had a very interesting art style, and told a tragic tale taking place in World War 1 following 3 different characters. I’ve been playing it off and on now since October, playing a chapter here and there. I decided to wrap it up this weekend, and I’ll do a review for it for Thursday. That’s also why I’m highlighting it for this Achievement o’ the Week – in this case: Achievement(s). Plural. Because I missed last week’s. 😉

Achievement of the Week – Valiant Hearts: The Great War

valianthearts1Some will survive… – 35G
Save Karl


valianthearts1…Some will not – 90G
Finish the game


Both of these are campaign related and cannot be missed, I just appreciated them for their naming, and they popped up one after another, telling their own story in a way.


Speaking of the War theme, I started up World of Tanks. I played it briefly on the Xbox 360 when it was released, and didn’t really touch it again afterwards. As it’s free to play, I reloaded it on the One. I got a bunch of unlocks and prestige stuff for, I guess, playing it again after 1 year since I first started. Annual bonus or something. What was also a nice surprise was that I re-unlocked all the original achievements. GTA V did the same thing. I’m guessing its a server related thing. You don’t have to do everything over again. I’m going to to include them in the list below regardless.

Monday Feb 22 – Sunday, Feb 28: 220G

WWE 2K15

  • The next big thing (MyCAREER – Reach SmackDown) – 30G
  • Money maker (MyCAREER – Earn an overall total of 1,000,000 VC) – 70G
  • A creator is born (Upload some kind of user created content once) – 20G
  • Over the ropes you go! (Eliminate 12 opponents with the same superstar in a single Royal Rumble match) – 20G
  • The Deadman defeated (WWE Universe – Defeat Undertaker at WrestleMania using a custom superstar) – 30G
  • Warlords (WWE Universe – Play and Win WWE World Heavyweight Championship 3 times) -20G
  • Match maker (Win in 20 match variations) – 30G

Monday, Feb 29 – Sunday, March 6: 920G

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor

  • A Short Introduction (Begin a new hunt with Torvin) – 10G
  • Jaws of Shadow (Complete 25 Stealth Caragath Kills) – 30G
  • Wretched Retch (Use a Wretched Gruag’s Projectile Vomit on a Uruk Captain or Warchief) – 20G
  • Nom Nom Nom! (Eat a Captain with a Wretched Gruag) – 30G

Saints Row IV

  • Betrayed (Completed “All Hands on Deck” as if you needed another to want to perforate Zinyak) – 30G

World of Tanks

  • American Connoisseur (You’ve got the itch! You have successfully started your american tank collection) – 10G
  • Elite Status (You’ve completely researched a tank!) – 5G
  • Light Recruit (You’ve played 10 matches as a light tank) – 5G
  • Victory (You’ve won your first battle and survived!) – 10G
  • New Toy (You’ve acquired your first upgrade) – 5G
  • Driver’s Ed (You’ve completed the training) – 10G
  • Junior (You’ve researched a tier III tank) – 10G
  • I Am Super Man (You’ve blocked more damage than 2x the hitpoints of your tank) – 30G
  • This is World of Tanks (Was the last tank to be destroyed on your team) – 5G
  • MVP (Had the highest XP of your team) – 10G
  • Silent Assassin (You have destroyed an enemy tank while not detected) – 10G
  • Top Operative (Completed 8 new operations) – 15G
  • Boom Goes the Dynamite (You’ve destroyed a tank with full health in one shot) – 20G

Valiant Hearts: The Great War

  • Helpful Laundryman (Push all the laundry bags) – 25G
  • Revenge never meant happiness (Defeat the Baron Von Dorf) – 15G
  • So close yet so far! (Escape the French army with Anna and Karl) – 20G
  • Brothers’ Keeper (Save your entire platoon during the battle of Somme) – 70G
  • King of the Hill 145 (Shoot the German flag with the cannon at Vimy’s ridge) – 55G
  • Knowledge is power (Read 30 historical facts) – 45G
  • Healing Hero (Save Karl for the third time without making any mistakes) – 60G
  • Some will survive… (Save Karl) – 35G
  • …Some will not (Finish the game) – 90G
  • Ypres’ Wake-up call (Ring the bell 3 times in Ypres) – 40G
  • Taxi racer (Complete 1 taxi mission without damaging the car) – 50G

Rayman Legends

  • Challenger! (Unlock all the Challenge paintings) – 20G
  • Everywhere! (Take part at least once in the 4 different Challenges) – 10G
  • Shoot them up! (Get rid of 100 enemies with the Flying Punch) – 10G
  • Axe skater (With Barbara or Elysia, slide on your axe for 30 meters) – 10G
  • Splash! (Complete the “Gloo Gloo” painting) – 10G
  • Teensies’ hero (Rescue 300 Teensies) – 30G
  • Princess savior! (Rescue the 10 princesses) – 20G
  • Strike! (Kill 5 enemies using turnips) – 10G
  • We could be heroes (Unlock 10 Heroes paintings in the Heroes Gallery) – 20G
  • Let him do the job (While the Luchador chases you, let him kill 10 enemies) – 10G


More news for the upcoming week, the big, big release is Tom Clancy’s The Division. I’ll have a review up for Thursday in Valiant Hearts, but otherwise this week will be pretty quite as I’m in the early stages of moving. More on that later.



iReview: MIDDLE-EARTH: SHADOW OF MORDOR – Like Assassin’s Creed But Different

This would be the definition of a late review, but that’s only because I review ‘em as I play ‘em.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor

Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Monolith Productions
Platform: Xbox One, PS4, PC
Reviewed On: Xbox One


When you first start playing Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor and takeoff traversing the world, climbing up towers or cliff faces, you might consider you’re actually playing an Assassin’s Creed title. Or when you discover an enemy group and initiate the gruesome dance of death, you might even think you’re playing a medieval Batman title, by Rocksteady. But you’re actually not, however alike they may look or feel.

Monolith Productions has taken these two great franchises, and lifted the foundation mechanics from both, and used them as the two pillars for their game: Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor. It’s a good thing too, because when you strip those away, what’s left is a dull revenge story.


Shadow of Mordor takes place between the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. We play Tallion, who is a ranger that dies at the outset of the story. A great start for any game. Tallion watches as his whole family gets murdered by the Black Hand of Sauron. We are then introduced to Celebrimbor, an Elf Lord who also died by the hands of Sauron, only he was cursed to remain undead. Celebrimbor’s spirit merges with Tallion’s body allowing him to remain alive but dead or dead but alive? Together they try to avenge the death of their loved ones.

What follows is a fairly lengthy campaign that see’s Tallion meet and help other locals and leaders fight the ever-increasing shadow of the Dark Lord, and his army of Orcs. Some small bands are just trying to save their captured friends and family, some bigger missions involve infiltrating Orc strongholds and eliminating key enemies.


It’s obvious that a lot of research into the world of Middle Earth was done, as the two maps are very believable. The character designs from Tallion to the humans, the Elf Lords, and Orcs are all fully realized, are unique, and fit right in. The garrisons and strong holds, enemy camps, and even the wild animals and goblins all play a part. There are a couple key enemy camps throughout the two large maps, that are usually commanded by a Warchief, and then there are the smaller camps run by Orc Captains. Littered around the world are small bands of orcs who are controlling the human slaves. These three tiers of enemies can make stealth a little bit tricky if it’s a mission requirement, but otherwise, they don’t really care too much about your presence if you’re just running through the area. They feign interest for a bit, and chase you, but give up quite quickly.

Traversal of the world comes very naturally to Tallion, as he is a Ranger after all. He can run and vault over obstructions in his path fairly smoothly, and has the ability to climb sheer walls and cliff sides. He can also jump off any height without injury. His abilities don’t have the same fluidity of an Assassin’s Creed title, but the world is not nearly as detailed.


Equipped with a sword, a dagger and a bow, and a weird ghost who embodies him, Tallion is quite adept in the art of killing Orcs. With the swordplay, attack and deflect is a lot like a Batman title, press attack in the direction of an enemy, and press block, when they start to attack you, and then watch Tallion flow seamlessly through each action. Again, not nearly as complex or smooth as the perfected Batman titles but it’s sufficient. The attacks and execution kills are brutal, with lots of blood and gore, and limbs flying. With the bow, you can slow down time and shoot “light” arrows or do a short transport to the enemy in your sight. These abilities is what Calebrimbor bring to the table when he inherited your body. You can also brainwash Orcs you have caught and hold hostage, taking over their weak mind, and having them fight for you.

Middle Earth Shadow of Mordor First 30 Minutes Gameplay-4

The fights can get quite hairy quite quick when you’re infiltrating a stronghold, and the enemy has raised the alarm. You will become very quickly surrounded, and the Spear or Archer Orcs will not hesitate to attack you from a distance when you’re trying your best to keep your head attached among the melee sort. It will get intense quick, and you’ll likely die quite often.


Dying in Shadow of Mordor can be frustrating, but you don’t really lose much ground, aside from the current mission you were on, if you were in one. Otherwise, you just respawn at the nearest Tower and resume your attack. This is where the Nemesis system comes into play, and it is the best feature of the game. The enemy AI will remember if they’ve killed you.

Coming across an enemy who has ended your turn will call you out, and some may taunt you, saying they’ve killed you once, another time shouldn’t be too hard. Some might be more fearful of you since you’ve returned. Each Captain or Warchief will get a little focused introduction with their name when they hit the battlefield near you, and the Nemesis system makes these encounter memorable. Even dying multiple times to the same Orc will raise them in rank in the Orc Rule. They’ll start as a Low Captain and slowly progress towards Elite ranks and then Warchief.


The Nemesis system also allows you to get more information about each Captain and Warchief – their fears and strengths.

When you brand a Captain, you can start internal wars by calling out other Captains and helping them win their way to the top and challenge a Warchief. This system works really well during a difficult mission, as you can call on your followers in the heat of a battle to help your side.


Throughout, Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor is a solid game. It looks good on the Xbox One, and plays smooth. The story missions are nothing worth writing about and Tallion as a Ranger is not wholly interesting. The two character’s revenge stories are tied into one, and we learn the story of Celebrimbor as we progress. Some of the side missions tell a little bit more story involving Golum and the One Ring, and a Hunter story arc takes us into caves to fight goblins and cave trolls. But the combat and stealth is satisfying, and having brain-washed orcs fight your battles is a fun spectacle.

Achievements in this game are nice and diverse. There are the collection types, and regular campaign missions achievement, which are commonplace, as well as being rewarded for trying out each gameplay mechanic. The interesting ones are where they take the Nemesis system into account, and the interesting ways you can use your branded Orcs to fight your war.

For those who like Middle Earth, Assassin’s Creed, or thought it would be cool to play as a Ranger, like Aragorn, descendant of Isildur and rightful heir to the thrones of Arnor and Gondor, but figured a no name dead guy would suffice.

Notable Achievments

The Spirit of Mordor (Start a Riot by commanding a Warchief to attack another Warchief) – 20G
Stinking Rebels (Brand 5 Bodyguards of a Warchief turning them against him in combat) – 20G



ACHIEVEMENT OF THE WEEK – Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty

This week I didn’t get up to must on the game front. Tried out The Division beta starting on Thursday, wrapped up some DLC in Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, put some time into Assassin’s Creed Unity and The Swapper (on the Xbox One, see my original PC thoughts: The Swapper), and tried out Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty. Basically all over the map.

Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty is a 2.5D platformer with an emphasis on puzzles. Its gameplay is 2D but it has a 2.5D art style. We play as Abe, who finds out that the meat processing plant that he works for – that makes delicious snacks – has just introduced a new snack. The problem is the secret ingredient is made from the inhabitants of the planet. His goal is to rescue all the world’s people.

The game is a remake of the original, from 1999 on the Playstation – Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee, but remade from the ground up.

I chose this game as the highlight of the week because the other games I played haven’t had any interesting achievements yet, and even though I’ve only play a 1 or 2 levels, the first achievement I got was accidental, even in name.


Achievement of the Week – Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty


Opps… – 0G
Fail to observe your surroundings

This achievement (or challenge) happens when you accidentally kill one of the world inhabitant (Mudokons) but pulling a switch that opens a trap door. The door is intended to drop a guard.


As I mentioned above, still playing through Assassin’s Creed Unity, and loving the art and visuals. It’s truly an incredibly detailed game. I’ve been plugging away in Grand Theft Auto V on the XOne. They had a 2x bonus weekend, and I failed to connect to a single multiplayer game without someone getting dropped. So that’s been a blast. And I also wrapped up one of the SoM DLCs.

Sunday, Feb 14 – Sunday Feb 21250G

Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty

  • Opps… (Fail to observe your surroundings) – 0G

Assassin’s Creed Unity

  • A Long Time Ago (Complete the Prologue) – 10G
  • Youth in Versailles (Complete Memory Sequence 1) – 20G
  • Rebirth (Complete Memory Sequence 2) – 20G
  • First Blood (Complete Memory Sequence 3) – 20G


  • Keener (Get an overall grade of A- in Be a Pro mode) – 15G

Grand Theft Auto V

  • Altruist Acolyte (You delivered an unsuspecting victim to the Altruist Cult) – 5G
  • A Friendship Resurrected )With friends like this who needs enemies?) – 10G

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor

  • The Maker’s Bow – Complete all Azkar Legend Missions) – 30G
  • Eregion Reforged (Build all the Forge Towers in Udom) – 40G
  • Battle Forged (Maximize the power of the Ring by completing all of the One Ring missions) – 20G
  • Betrayed (The One Ring has returned to it’s Maker) – 50G
  • A Mighty Doom (Acquire a level 25 Rune) – 10G


Next week is back to news and new games (Far Cry Primal the most notable), another review lined up for Thursday, The Division impressions, and more.


NEWS – New Games: News of the Week Edition

Ahh, that new video game smell . . . mmm.

Today in the news we talk about Xbox’s Deals of the Week, Mortal Kombat X, and Star Wars Battlefront.

And of course, the new video games released this week, notably one that frustrates me. I’ll give you a hint:

One does not simply NOT play Shadow of Mordor

One does not simply play Shadow of Mordor


Mortal Kombat Reinforces “M” Rating
Today, to celebrate the new DLC character, Jason Voorhees, WB Interactive and NetherRealm has posted the DLC trailer, and yep . . . it’s um . . . bloody.

Star Wars Battlefront Multiplayer Maps
and Dice have now confirmed that Star Wars Battlefront will include 12 multiplayer maps at launch, and 2 more have been announced so far as DLC.

This Week’s Xbox Deal With Gold
On the Xbox One:

  • Far Cry 4 & Season Pass
  • Assassin’s Creed Unity

On the Xbox 360

I think I’ll definitely be picking up Assassin’s Creed Unity while it’s on sale, and I think I’ll pick up the Bioshock Infinite Burial at Sea DLC as well, as I missed it during my first play through. I think Infinite alone requires a second play through as it’s a fantastic game. Yep. Add it to the queue.

Onto to the new games this week:

Wolfenstein: The Old Blood (Xbox One, PS4, PC) – The Old Blood is a two-part standalone prequel to the incredible Wolfenstein: The New Order, featuring the hero – B.J Blazkowicz. The game is released digital only. I’m excited.


Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor – GOTY (Xbox One, PS4) – This release kind of bugs me, only because I haven’t had the chance to play it yet, as I’ve been waiting now for over 6 months. And now the Game of the Year edition is released with all the DLC, for the same price I originally paid for it. I do, however, intend to get to this game sooner rather than later. Procrastination has worked against me? WHAT?

Forfeit your money.

Forfeit your money.

Game of the Year edition includes additional story missions, additional challenge series, and skins. I do believe that the photo mode is a free update, so I’m excited about that :).

Lately I’ve been playing some games on Twitch, and you’re welcome to come hang out –

I recently wrapped up Goat Simulator (and by that I mean I unlocked most of the achievements) and Sniper Elite III, and I’m currently playing through Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China (and loving the art style), Far Cry 4 (and getting tired of the repetition), and Battlefield Hardline (and feeling frustrated towards the lack of time I have to dedicate to it).

I’ll discuss these a little more in detail on Thursday, and new games in the queue. And then an iReview will be up for Sniper Elite III on Friday. The “i” stands for irrelevant.


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.