WHAT i’M PLAYING – Sept 13, 2016

Dues Ex: Mankind Divided – Initial Impressions

The first thing I noticed when jumping into Deus Ex Mankind Divided, after just finishing a playthrough of Human Revolution, especially on the Xbox One, is that it’s not as good looking as I hoped. I was hoping for smoother frame-rates and crisper textures. Maybe its the whole concept that you’re looking through augmented eyes, and a lot of things are outlined, that takes away from the real-world views, but it just doesn’t appear to be that much of a step up over its predecessor, from 5 years ago; could be the Xbox One’s fault too.

Some of the larger open areas I did find frame-rate droppage, dipping below 30fps and holding me back from running ahead. The load times, if you die, or load a save, can also be cumbersome. Transitioning between city hubs is not as bad, as the game hides the loading by showing you riding the train.


The rest of the game thus far feels very much like Deus Ex. The city is a boiling pot of Humans who fear the Augs. There are separate entrances for Augs on the train, and police will perform random identification checks on you in the street. And at all times you feel watched and judged for being different. There are a lot of different side-missions to tackle, and these are refreshingly detailed and lengthy in design.


PS4/ Journey / Uncharted: Nathan Drake Collection

I recently purchased a PS4 and renewed my PSN account. The reasons for this are twofold: firstly, so I can own a PS4, so that I can play some the Sony exclusives coming out (The Last Guardian, Uncharted 4, Horizon-Zero Dawn), and secondly, in November for the Extra Life campaign, I’ll be hosting a simulcast of God of War. Both my girlfriend and I will be racing through it to see who can complete it first. Haven’t quite figured out the logistics yet of capturing both streams, but it’ll likely involve the backwards compatible PS3 and the PS Now version on the PS4 or PC. Unless I can gather up a 2nd capture card. Luckily I got two months to worry about it.

With the PS4 I purchased the Nathan Drake Collection (previously I had played all 3 on the PS3, but it will be good to play through them again before I play #4), the new Killzone, and through the PSN monthly free games, finally got the chance to play Journey.

Journey was a lot of fun to play through. Not at all complicated, but very good looking with lovely, lonely scenery and sand physics. It’s also quite the emotional trek put to a fantastic score. Sitting in at just 2hrs to beat, I expect I’ll play through this game a few times.

GTA: V / The Division

In multiplayer/ Co-op, with Illestrader, we’ve been playing a lot more GTA V and The Division recently. In anticipation and preparation of Extra-Life, I’ve been recording my footage and recording all the audio, to perfect all the settings. So I might splice together some gameplay clips. Make a Youtube thing of it. I had fun putting together the Ben-Hur Achievement Hunt, so this will just be more practice.

GTA V can be, at times, a very frustrating game to play Online. A lot of the time trying to figure out the little intricacies of the new mechanics, like VIP, and CEO, and then only realizing that this makes you a target for everyone else, and the rest of the time sitting in lobbies waiting for the host to start the game, while they wait 5 minutes for the 16th out of 16 person to join, when 15 is FINE!. The stunt races have been a blast though.

Free Weekends – Titan-Fall 2 Tech Test, Forza 6, and Battlefield 1 Open Beta

Over the past few weekends I’ve been lucky enough to get to play some games for free (Forza 6), and those that have not been released yet (Titan-Fall 2 and Battlefiled 1).

Forza 6 was a lot of fun over the weekend. The game is, as expected, gorgeous, and the rain effects and puddles are splendid. I like the way the campaign is structured now, where it jumps around from tier to tier, showing off different types of cars and years and game modes, so that it doesn’t get stale. I’m holding out for Forza Horizons 3 though. If I did get it, I’d probably waste all my time in the photo mode.


In-Game Photo Mode :3

Titan-Fall 2 Tech Test was a lot of fun to play. I really like the grappling hook, and the new game mode, Bounty Hunt, really mixes up the gameplay. The titan’s this time around take a while longer to spawn, and don’t seem to last very long at all when you’re piloting them. Left to their own devices on Guard or Follow though, and they seem to last a good while longer. Maybe I’m just too aggressive when I pilot them, thinking I’m invincible.

Battlefield 1 is a gorgeous game to behold, and sadly only one map was made available during the beta. The WW1 theme is an interesting setting. Lots of tracer bullets and the mortars and tank shells take huge gouges out of the earth. More often than not, I’d find myself climbing out of sand craters. The level of destruction is so obvious at the end of the match, but so subtle throughout, you’d think that the map actually started ruined. It’s a nice touch. It feels a lot like Star Wars Battlefront, but then again, it should: same engine, same developer. I’m excited for what the campaign has in store.


Games that have taken a seat on the back burner are Just Cause 3, and Homefront, The Revolution – although, Homefront received a huge update, fixing hundreds of issues, notably graphics and loading, so I should jump back in since those were the issues that plagued my earlier experience.




I’m overdue for an update. What have I been playing?

Shadow Complex
My last update consisted of a Review for Shadow Complex. I revisited this game after it was re-released on the Xbox One, re-mastered. You can check it out here.

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare
I finished the campaign for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. As I’m not an “online competitive gamer” I’m typically a year behind on Call of Duty games. The campaigns are usually solid, but since I’m not mad crazed over the online competition, picking the game up at full price is usually not worth it. And since I’ve been know to write reviews well after the game becomes irrelevant, there’s no incentive in picking up the game at release, when I have so much else to play. Expect a review soon.

Mad Max
Mad Max was a great game, so expect a review for it soon. It also has a photo editor, so I’ll be adding a gallery to the in-game photo section. I can’t speak highly enough about how fun this game was. It did have some drawbacks, mainly about the length of the game and size of the word, and boring busy-body side-missions, but nothing felt better than taking on a convoy, and ripping people out of their vehicles with the toe-cable.
Mad Max (4)

Lords of the Fallen:
As one of  March’s Xbox Free Games With Gold, I gave this a try. It’s sort of a poor-man’s Dark Souls. This should probably be under the “What I’m No Longer Playing” section, but I don’t have one of the those.

I don’t know what it is about golf games, but they are addictive. I’ve completed the main tour, and I’m working on some of the side mini-games. Review soon – it’s not as bad as some have made it out to be, but it is definitely lacking in some areas. But the same complaint can be made towards every single EA “next-gen” launch/transition titles.

A re-branding or re-imagining of sorts, EA has been a fun game to play over the past while. Pundits will complain about Live Action cutscenes, but these don’t deter from the final product. At launch the game was limited, but since then EA has updated the title with some fresh new vehicles and gameplay modes, as well as bolstering the online environment, allowing others to join in on the campaign races, as it is a populated world. So now that the game is considered complete, I’ll write a review for it.
Need for Speed™ (6)

Tom Clancy’s The Division
Holy cow have I been playing this game a lot and I’ve been having a lot of fun. It even inspired me to create a journal/diary to the game. You can check that out here. Only 5 entries as of this post, but I hope to continue it more as I progress through the campaign.

DIRT Rally
I just picked this game up before the weekend, so I haven’t had the chance to fully dive into it yet, but expect some more info throughout the week, and in-game photos. So far its very good looking (not as great as I’d hoped) and its not easy to jump right into, and requires patience to master, which I appreciate.

Deciding to release this game as Episodic was an interesting choice. Not sure if it’s because the game is incomplete or they’re wanting to spread out the title so that it’s not immediately forgotten after the launch window. It might be a smart choice. Either way it looks fantastic, with beautiful environments and lighting. And it actually allows the player to focus on each mission, playing it numerous different ways while we wait for the next episode.

Rocket League
A fun local and online soccer game with cars. I’ve been playing online with ILLESTRADER and I started up the season mode locally to try and knock off some achievements. Fun times had by all.

Well that’s no short list. Hopefully I’ll be able to knock some of this stuff off the list before month end.

In other news, E3 is around the corner in June and I am super stoked. Some of the developers have decided not to have their big conference at E3 and instead have decided to host it the day before – most notable EA. Last year Bethesda hosted theirs the day before and they’ll be doing so again, but this year EA is following suit and hosting their EA Play event. Either way I’ll be watching  and blogging. Its and exhausting 2 days of conferences, but I love it. Expect lots of news on June 12 and 13

Take care,


Day ?? – A Diary Divided: The Division

What follows is a chronological order of events that take place in a series, written by an Agent within The Division who shall remain anonymous. He shares his nickname at the end of each entry, so that his friends and family will recognize, that they may keep up to date with his journey. The entries are date stamped the day they are received, which may not reflect the day they were written, as some entries may cover multiple days. They are posted as they come in, unaltered.


DAY ??

I don’t know what day it is, how long I’ve been here, or if this nightmare will ever end. The gangs are just getting stronger. Day turns into night and night into day in a haze. Most days I don’t even leave my apartment unless I need to stock up on food.

One of the last missions I remember taking part in was scanning medical containers on the rooftops, and now I’m starting to wonder if all these trips into heavily contaminated areas are starting to have an effect on my health, or maybe my memory. I haven’t felt sick, but the doctor said that we wouldn’t see  symptoms immediately. Maybe I’ve contracted a different strain of the virus. Who knows. 

I did want to check in today and explain the delay in my recent letters deliveries. A couple weeks ago we got the call to take out the Cleaners Headquarters. They’ve held themselves up in some sort of Power Plant or Napalm Plant along the river. The place was huge and inside housed numerous propane and gas tanks that were supplying the cleaners. ARCHITECT and PIKEY joined me to clear out the Plant and destroy the tanks. The plan therein would limit the number of Cleaners on the streets as they were burning a lot of the buildings down.


The mission went smooth enough with the help of ARCHITECT and PIKEY but my Chromebook was destroyed when my backpack got torched. I snagged it on some scaffolding in the construction site that flanked the Plant, and that’s where we came across the first wave of enemies. I’ve since gotten a new pack from HQ but lost my means to write letters. Most of the city has been looted, so it took me a week or so to find another Notebook that was halfway decent and compact enough to lug along with me. I also lost my USB drive, but after scouring a few PC shops in the heavily destroyed mall, I was able to locate another. So we’re back up and running at least.

I’ve since parted ways with ARCHITECT, and I haven’t seen PIKEY in ages. Hopefully he didn’t die. The Divisions crew has been hurting for new members, so losing any is a big blow. I did meet up with a new Division member who goes by ILLESTRADER. Hopefully by teaming up we can survive longer.

I split up with ARCHITECT because I felt his mind was starting to go the way of the Cleaners. Everyone we came across was an enemy. Even the dogs in the streets. He would just shoot them, without mercy. And more oft than not he’s been spending time in the Dark Zone which is where we’ve lost a lot of agents. It’s essentially a huge quarantined area with tall walls. This is where the outbreak hit heaviest, and no one is supposed to enter. Think Chernobyl. There’s no power either. But a lot of Agents have taken to it. They no longer help the Division, and have taken the gear and supplies and setup shop. Without allegiance to the remaining Division Agents either, they’re considered another Gang and must be either eliminated or avoided at all cost. But if ARCHITECT wants to stay in there, so be it. 


Day 4 – A Diary Divided: The Division

What follows is a chronological order of events that take place in a series, written by an Agent within The Division who shall remain anonymous. He shares his nickname at the end of each entry, so that his friends and family will recognize, that they may keep up to date with his journey. The entries are date stamped the day they are received, which may not reflect the day they were written, as some entries may cover multiple days. They are posted as they come in, unaltered.


Day 4

I was somewhere around Chelsea, on the edge of the park when I got the call over my Comm. I remember the voice saying something like: “JTF Officer trapped inside computer shop North-East of your position – Pennsylvania Plaza”. And suddenly I was standing, and my feet were me carrying off. 

How is it that we’ve been doing this for only a few short days, and yet it feels like a lifetime? I can’t sleep. That probably has something to do with it. My body moves me from one task to the next, mission after mission, my SCAR-L rifle is dead weight in my hands. If I came across a group of rebels, I don’t think I’d be able to defend myself. I robotically check the magazine anyways.

It was almost noon by the time I reached the corner of Barren Street and Empty Boulevard. There is no going back, I had an obligation to see the mission through, for good or ill. I almost stumbled over PIKEY and ARCHITECT who had arrived moments before. My solo expedition had expanded after I met a few Agents during the Benitez mission yesterday, they were the ones that helped me get back to HQ, and I’m forever grateful. We have our GPS’ linked up so we can track each other in case we need some backup. I had a nervous feeling this would be one of those cases. Not that I thought we’d need three agents to rescue the JTF Officer, but once you become reliant on someone watching your back, you kind of want that to be the permanent case.


The only thing that really worried me was ARCHITECT’s eagerness to “defend” himself. It seemed that he was starting to look for trouble. There had been some reports of some of the Agents going rogue, taking advantage of this situation, and their access to goods and weapons. Even as far as providing intel to assist the enemy groups. I’ll have to watch him.

The computer shop, it turns out, was not heavily defended. Two rebels inside, and one outside that showed up when the first chatter of gunfire echoed around the block. After calling HQ to request a pick-up for our rescued brother, we started off towards Manhattan Mall, the main mission for the day. Equipped with heavy duty filters, our mission was to extract some physical evidence from the teller machines in the shopping mall. The Medical Wing at HQ believes that we’ll be able to find some quality samples for testing. 

Continue the good fight, soldier.

How long can we maintain though? I realize its only been 4 days, but there’s rumours that no more help is coming from outside? That’s hard to believe. The outside world has got to start coming to the same grim realization that I am. There is no coming back from this outbreak. Are those of us in here doomed? We’re helping the medical teams in here so they can relay the information outside the quarantine to come up with a cure. But will that help us in here too? Or just the rest. Maybe that’s why some of the agents are going rogue? Making their stay worth it. While the rest of us remain oblivious.


We arrived at the Mall without hassle, but there was already smoke billowing out. The Cleaners had likely arrived and were torching everything.  PIKEY checked in with Comm and relayed that the power to the sprinkler systems needed to be restarted. He started off on his own, and left ARCHITECT and me to start the attack. 

Let’s get to the heart of this one: this is a very ominous assignment, with obviously an extreme amount of personal danger. Cleaners, Concentrated Contagion, and Fire. Triple checking my mask’s filter, which for all I know is just for show, I braced for the heat and ducked into the smokey Mall entrance. Comm had given us a short list of shops to check – those that deal in smaller transactions, hoping for more physical evidence – so ARCHITECT and I split up to cover more ground.

Three shops each had been cleared out when the Cleaners became aware of our presence, or more specifically – mine, and lets get the record straight: The Cleaners use flamethrowers. These handy filters of ours can block the smoke in the air, but not the heat. I needed to find an escape quickly. I started by calling PIKEY and ARCHITECT to my position to flank the attackers. The sprinklers erupted from the ceiling and started dousing some of the fires, but the Cleaners would not be deterred. Hell stilled spewed from down the hall in my general direction, and I was trapped. When the first Cleaner neared the entrance to my shop, I shot at the fuel tanks straddling his back, ensuring that he was now his own problem. PIKEY and ARCHITECT arrived shortly after to eliminate the others.

I’m sure adding fuel to the fire didn’t help what happened next. 

The vibrations shuddering the first floor announced the inevitable structural damage, and our need to leave. We bagged what bills we could get from the teller machines and escaped through another entrance to the bright, brisk, fire-free sunlight. Hopefully Medical can make use of what we did end up grabbing before the fire took the rest. Our primary responsibility, after all, is the survival of the rest of the human race. I will have to remind myself that when the next bleak news hits.

I’m back at HQ now. If anyone asks, I’ll just say that I’m writing a field report. They haven’t caught on to our little devious plan in dropping off the USB in the secure mail boxes. We change it up each day. I get the USB back in the same box as I dropped it off in, but inside the USB is a new file with a new mailbox number and code. It’s pretty smart. I guess I’m revealing my plan to those that cared to look, but I’ll take my chances.

Getting some extra rations for tonight and tomorrow took some extra negotiating but I got what I asked for. I have a rest day tomorrow thankfully, but I understand why they are trying to limit my take-home. The civilian rations are being controlled now, so it would seem unfair if an Agent walked out with more. I’ll just make sure I’m not followed home. Wouldn’t want any trouble.




Day 2 – A Diary Divided: The Division

What follows is a chronological order of events that take place in a series, written by an Agent within The Division who shall remain anonymous. He shares his nickname at the end of each entry, so that his friends and family will recognize, that they may keep up to date with his journey. The entries are date stamped the day they are received, which may not reflect the day they were written, as some entries may cover multiple days. They are posted as they come in, unaltered.


Day 2

My hands are still shaking, so I don’t know how long this entry will be. I’m currently writing this in the darkness of the underground subway tunnels tucked into a corner, lit only by the dull LCD of my Chromebook on battery power. When I showed up at the post Office HQ at first light, I was sent off on a three mission, three day expedition. There was a doctor working out of Madison Square Garden that was being forced to work for one of the bigger gangs, healing their wounded. Second mission was to get some of the subway tunnels powered up near the Hudson Yard construction site and makeshift dead-body incinerators, and get the ventilation fans turned on, and then finally meet with the Chief of Security, Captain Roy Benitez, at an undisclosed location by day three. I’ll get that information tomorrow, if I make it through tonight.

So, why am I in the darkness, in the subway tunnels? Well, let’s first talk about Madison Square Garden.

 MSG was one of the first buildings used as a quarantine shelter when the pandemic hit and Manhattan went on lockdown. The building typically caters to tens of thousands of fans nightly, so they had enough food and supplies ready for the first waves of people. But one of the bigger gangs, the Rikers, rolled in and took over the place once the looting and riots started. As the JTF was just getting situated, they didn’t have the resources yet to take it back, and they lost control. Dr. Jessica Kandel was captured and held against her will to provide medical attention to the club. My task today, with hopefully some other Agents was to take back MSG and rescue the doctor, and escort her back to the Farley base so she can work with the JTF and figure out what’s happening with this virus.

I was not naive or delusional when I enlisted to be an Agent many years ago, I was qualified, aced their training programs, and passed their counseling sessions and psychological assessment. I was led to believe that I may have to take a life, in self defence, in this type of work, especially when the situation is as extreme as the one we presently face. I’ve been equipped with a classic AK-47 with extended magazine and laser sight, a metallic black Super 90 shotgun, and First Wave PF-45 pistol. Obviously the Homeland Division and Joint Task Force are expecting us to come against some push-back.

All the sessions and assessments did not prepare me for today. I . . . I just get this feeling where it’s like I’m not, I guess, whatever. We don’t have to get into it right now.


All the missing person posters are attached to the walls of the buildings adjacent to the Post Office Headquarters.

Two other Division Agents followed me through the entrance doors of the Madison Square Garden arena, along with a handful of JTF soldiers. We were directed to the security room where the CCTV and broadcast cameras had different views of the building. Dr. Kendel was kept at the East side of the building, in the main restaurant area between the lower and upper bowls. Due to the clogging of refuse and food stores all the hallways were blocked off and the easiest way was down through the seats, across the floor and then up the far side. The mission quickly turned to disaster as we hit the floor and were attacked by a handful of the Riker gang members.

Primarily armed with only handguns and baseball bats, they were no match for the other two Agents or me, as we had them clearly out-classed. There was no hesitation on their part though. I begged them to lay down their guns – walk away. Maybe it was my mask, maybe they didn’t understand me. Maybe they weren’t listening. I’ll put it this way: they didn’t leave the arena floor to follow us up the other side.

The rest of the extraction is still kind of a blur to me, but we made it out. The JTF soldiers extracted Dr. Kendal from the VIP restaurant section, while the other two Agents and I made it to the roof to clear out the remaining members of the entrenched gang. Another battle filled with confusion, smoke, and very little negotiation.

The sun went down a few hours ago and it got cold quick. I didn’t have the strength or the mind to make it back to the Base to properly check in – just used my Comm instead – and I went straight to the Subway Tunnels to prepare and scout my next mission. I’ll have to touch base with one of the city planners who are familiar with the inner workings of the electrical room tomorrow.


I do hope my previous message made it out into the world, or that it at least got to the people that needed to read it. If I make it out of this mess, I’ll have to remember to thank my old crew at the paper. This message will be quite a few days old I suspect by the time it gets out, if it gets out. But now I just need to try and get some rest.