WHAT iM PLAYING – The Crew, BADLAND, Destiny, and Splinter Cell Blacklist

In The Crew, I recently reached the West Coast, and I’m starting to get the impression I’m nearing the end of the story mode. Certainly feels like it’s leading up to a climactic showdown. Not that the game is anywhere small, quite the opposite actually, but the story mode itself seems somewhat minimalistic.

Luckily, across the map, all the race types and missions can replayed to earn more money or a better score. And there’s the multiplayer and faction missions as well. Faction missions alone can be anywhere between 10 minutes long, to 4 hours. A couple weeks ago I posted a Twitch timelapse of a 1hr race.


So, obviously there’s a lot of replayability to the game, and I’ll continue to plug through the challenges to acquire the achievements. It’ll be my dedicated racer, I think, for a while. Maybe until Need for Speed comes out.

Badland GoTY has been a lot of fun to play solo and Co-op. I’ve noticed though, that the missions are very similar across the two modes, with a few minor differences for some of the puzzles. So not any variety. But more than enough content.

The game is, by far, the most fun when in co-op, watching the hundreds of flappy monsters explode against the blades and spikes. Especially when the map’s modifiers all come into effect: when you have dozens of clones, smashing through physics objects in slow motion. It even has the slow motion sound effect for added value.

I’m also nearing the end of the campaign in Splinter Cell Blacklist. The game is really showcasing its action sequences near the end, stealth be damned. There’s still the stealth options, but the game gives us 3 options to take on each mission, whichever play style suits us best.

The campaign aside, the side missions also show lots of variations to the gameplay, whether they be straight up stealth & eliminate, or wave based survival missions, the game has a lot of replay options. Also an option is to reply past missions for better score, or completing different gameplay challenges.

Lastly up is Destiny, and The House of Wolves expansion. The story is still very much the same as the campaign, relegated to voice-over, and not even worth listening to. There are some new enemy variants, and some of the missions introduce some new areas and platforming elements.

The game also introduced a new social hub, and two new multiplayer modes and a modification to the free roam social events, as they introduce new boss encounters.

The multiplayer modes are the Temple of Osiris, and Prison of Elders. Prison of Elders is the new 3 player Player vs Everything, wave based game mode. 3 waves, 5 rounds, each round mixing up the arena and round specific challenge.

Reviews for all 4 are around the corner as they’re getting wrapped up.

I’m still slowly plugging through Assassin’s Creed IV, and Far Cry 4. I do need to wrap up one of these games, or move on, before I open up Shadow of Mordor. That being said though, Batman Arkham Knight will be in my hands next week, and I might just lose myself completely in that.

I wouldn’t mind playing through Metal gear Solid: Ground Zeroes a few more times before V is released in September – so I might have to dust that off.

Also simmering on the back-burners are Battlefield Hardline, Assassin’s Creed Chronicles, Contrast, and State of Decay, which I COMPLETELY forgot about – I wonder if all my companions are dead? I heard the game runs in a slower real-time mode when it’s not being actively played. As it’s been 2 months.

Last up, almost forgot, Tomb Raider and the Temple of Osiris, I’m currently playing in co-op, on the odd occasion. More impressions of that next week.

Tomorrow I’ll be back with some news about July’s Free Games with Gold and their new model, and hopefully a review for this weekend, plus Achievement of the Week, eee!


IDL NEWS – E3 Recovery

So with E3 2015 over and done, it’s time to sit back, relax, and dissect all the news. What happened? What’s coming out? Aside from all the notable news, what about the notable omissions from the show? Keep an eye on the E3 page, as I’ll still be posting opinions and thoughts there. At least until PAX Prime 2015 and Gamescon in September.

So, onward and upwards unto the news, as it never slows down.

Red Dead Redemption Leads Xbox Backwards Compatibility
Hot off the news that come holiday season, Xbox One will support Xbox 360 backwards compatibility, Xbox.com currently has a vote for the most requested games to be ported first:


Currently Red Dead Redemption tops the list, followed by Call of Dutys, Skyrim, Halo Reach and Gears of War 3.

Evolve’s Second Season Pass
Evolve is getting a second season pass, titled Hunting Pass 2, will be available June 23. The latest pass will introduce four new hunters and new monster, and some exclusive skins.

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Batman Arkham Knight Day One Patch
The release game will be a whopping 45GB install and the day one patch size has been revealed to be an additional 3.5GB. By the time the 1TB PS4 and Xbox One consoles hit the market it’ll already be too late. 2TB will be needed.


Tales From The Borderlands: Ep 3 – Catch a Ride
TellTale Games
has announced that episode 3 of Tales from the Borderlands, titled Catch a Ride will be released this week on its respected platforms. Means I should get on that Ep 2.

GameStop Retro
GameStop will be increasing its product lineup to include more used copies of retro games and refurbished game consoles. This will include more NES, N64, SNES, Sega Dreamcast, PS1, and Sega Genesis games.

Batman Arkham Knight

‘Nuff Said.

Looking ahead, I’ll be posting some more E3 stuff regarding Rise of the Tomb Raider and Dues Ex (among others) as these are two of the games I am looking forward to the most.

I recently started playing the indie hit BADLAND, and I’ll be posting some impressions of that soon.

What doesn't kill us, definitely reduces our numbers.

What doesn’t kill us, definitely reduces our numbers.

I’m still playing through The Crew and Splinter Cell The Blacklist. So, new games tomorrow, and then more news and further impressions on Crew, SplinterCell, and Badland to round off the week.

It’s summer . . . go outside!


WHAT I’M PLAYING – Splinter Cell: Blacklist

Splinter Cell: Blacklist is the direct sequel to Conviction. It’s the seventh installment in the series, if you include the PSP Essentials, and best yet.


Gets Older. Moves Faster. Looks Younger

With 2010’s Conviction, the Splinter Cell series re-discovered its stride. It introduced quicker gameplay with fast take-downs, both lethal and non-lethal, and a spontaneous execute feature, where you can tag 3-4 enemies and shoot them all in a slow-motion, uninterrupted sequence. It did, however, sacrifice a lot of the Splinter Cell staples, such as the ability to move bodies.

Blacklist brings these series staples back, and then some. It is the full product. Back is the Echelon suit with goggles and light sensor, lethal and non-lethal take-downs, mark-and-execute, and Spy vs Mercs. You will notice one change: Sam Fisher’s voice.

The story is set around the events of a blacklist being revealed, where key targets will be killed off every few days if the terrorists don’t get their way. The Fourth Echelon team is tasked with preventing these assassinations, so each mission stands alone in a larger arc.

After each mission, we get graded on our performance into three categories: Ghost (silent non-lethal), Panther (silent lethal), and Assault (full combat, loud and violent). Each mission can be replayed in whatever style the player chooses, and each character in the team will have their own story missions available to Sam. These can be played solo and co-op.

The co-op missions vary in design, some are infiltration and extraction – strictly silent, another is elimination of the enemies, and a 3rd is a wave based survival.

Each mission nets you an income, and you use the money to buy upgrades for your suit, weapons, and even the Fourth Echelon plane. One of the newest additions to the load-out is the tri-copter, introduced in Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. You can fly it around silently and scope out the area ahead and tag enemies. It even has a knock-out gas feature, and sticky shocker for security surveillance.

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The game is the best of the series, and is a blast to play. Visually, it’s a minor step-up on Conviction, but it does showcase some smooth animation for the take-downs, utilizing motion capture, larger level design, and some epic escape moments with level destruction.

Splinter Cell Blacklist marks the last 360 title on my shelf left to be played, and I’m not sure why I waited so long to play it. I’m hoping Illestrader will pick up a copy so we can play it in co-op.

Expect a full review upon completion, but due to the age of the game, I don’t expect I’ll be able to test out the Spy vs. Mercs multiplayer mode.

I’m going to try to get an iReview out before the end of the week, and Achievement of the Week is on Sunday.

I’m also thinking about ideas for an opinion column.