IDL NEWS – No New Games, New News, and How Time Flies

Where does the time go? All of a sudden it’s What i’M Playing Wednesday, then it’s the weekend, then I play Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag for 24 hours over the weekend, then it’s Tuesday? Where is my mind?

So it’s Tuesday and there’s not really any new games to report on, so that’s lame. But there’s lots of news to discuss. Starting off with sad news. 😥

Rainbow Six Siege Delayed
Sometimes it’s sad sometimes it’s for the best. Ubisoft has announced that Rainbow Six Siege has been delayed from October 13th until Dec 1st for all regions to improve the co-op experience across all game modes and other improvements and adjustments.

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Xbox One and Xbox 360 Deals With Gold
Xbox One

  • Grand Theft Auto V – 25%
  • Batman: Arkham Knight – 25%
  • LEGO Jurassic World – 25%

Xbox 360

  • Ghost Recon: Future Soldier – 75%
  • Splinter Cell Conviction – 75%
  • LEGO Jurassic World – 25%
  • Modern Warfare 3 – 50%
  • Transformers: Fall of Cybertron – 50%
  • Bully Scholarship Edition – 75%
  • L.A. Noire – 75%
  • Midnight Club: LA – 75%
  • Max Payne 3 – 75%
  • Red Dead Redemption – 75%
  • Grand Theft Auto 5 – 75%
  • Grand Theft Auto 4 – 75%
  • Plus others…

Windows 10 Xbox App Update
High quality streaming has been added. Which is good

to see. 1080P 60 fps very high quality streaming. And comparing achievements with a friend is supported and recently played list has been added to show which or your friends are playing what.

Destiny The Taken King Teaser

Note Ghost’s new voice talent, Nathan Drake– I mean Nolan North.

Halo 5’s lack of split-screen

Halo_GuardiansHalo 5: Guardians developer 343 Industries has responded to the outcry from fans in response to the news that its upcoming Xbox One-exclusive shooter won’t feature split-screen support.

343i franchise development director Frank O’Connor explained that adding in the feature simply isn’t possible. “If we could do it, we would do it. But it is what they call ‘nontrivial,'” he said.

So tomorrow I have another What I’m Playing Wednesday, as I’ll go into further details about my 24 hour Assassin’s Creed IV bleeding-eyes marathon, and what I’ll be playing next.

I’ll be writing more of a proper review for the title as well, about its good’s and bad’s and why it takes me 6 months to beat a Ubisoft open-world game, where I usually resort to a complete shut-in weekend to get it out of the way. Actually tomorrow’s column might just be a What I’m Playing/iReview.

I also really didn’t get up to doing anything last week in the way of a review or achievements. I hope to change that this week. They’re my favourite parts after all.

Makes sense to me.


IDL FEATURE – Day 10: Portal 2

Honourable mention goes to Red Dead Redemption, Dues Ex Human Revolution, and Bioshock Infinite (I know, a FPS, but the story was its best feature).

Day 10 – Portal 2

Developer: Valve Corporation
Publisher: Valve Corporation

Portal 2. ‘nuff said. :p




Just kidding.


Valve is both a team and a developer that has done little wrong, continuing to release amazing properties in Half-Life, Left For Dead, and Team Fortress, year after year.

Well . . . The problem is they do not do this nearly often enough. That’s why Half Life 3 is a constant joke, and why it was an excruciating pain to wait for the sequel to Portal.

This much anticipated sequel to that little puzzle game included in The Orange Box that I speak of, Portal 2, improved on every facet of its predecessor while including a brilliant, hilarious story, leaving zero unsatisfied customers.


Built on the concept of using a portal gun to traverse a huge underground forgotten facility, Portal 2 increased the overall scope of the game, the traps, and added new mechanics including paint, and new faces in the personality cores. Blue paint allows the player to bounce, orange paint to speed up the ground speed, and while paint, allowing you to place portals at will, on any surface. Now, obviously these painted areas are strategic in purpose, but not sparse. They do, however, add so much more experimentation to the game’s levels.

This time around, we’re not in a controlled facility, testing rooms. This iteration has Chell wake up from a suspended animated captivity for decades. The facility and test chambers are in disrepair, and we’re escaping with help. GlaDOS is still around and is asking for help, and we get introduced to a new faces: Cave Johnson, the founder of Aperature Science (voiced by J.K Simmons), and Wheatley, a personality core (voiced by Stephen Merchant).

The new mechanics add a lot to the game, and its story is brilliantly hilarious. J.K Simmons and Stephen Merchant’s character’s lines are incredibly written and expertly performed. The platforming is as solid as ever and the new painting mechanics makes the game that much more fun and challenging.

The game is approximately 2-3 times longer than the original. But knowing that wouldn’t be enough to satiate our appetites, Valve included a complete co-op campaign featuring two robots.


The story is one of the funniest in recent memory, and the game is both challenging and fun. This is why I left it as the last game on my Top 10 Xbox 360 games.

Thanks for taking the time, and following me through this blast from the past, as we recall some of the greats from the last generation. Hopefully you enjoyed my choices, and that some would have matched your own.

I have some exciting stuff still to come, just around the corner. Tomorrow I’ll have the rundown from the Xbox Gamescom 2015 Media Briefing, and on Sunday, a new short story.

Next week everything goes back to normal, as I do a little catch up on the past 2 weeks.


IDL FEATURE – Day 9: Narrative – Grand Theft Auto V

The fifth and final category of this Top 10 series is dedicated to stories drive games – games I felt had the best story or concept, or games that just didn’t really fit in the previous categories. Now, there have been many, many great games over the years with incredible stories. The Gears of War series told a harrowing, gloomy tale of desperation and loss, while the heroes fight against insurmountable odds. Bioshock 1 and Infinite also told incredible stories in unique locations. Bioware with EA are well known for their rich and deep Role-Playing stories in the Mass Effect series, and Dragon Age. Rockstar is another team that continually produces incredible, lengthy campaigns. Any of the games on my list thus far could have made this category, and there’s hundreds that I’m not evening thinking about, including numerous indie gems, or games from smaller teams like Telltale Games.

With two games remaining in my countdown, I obviously had many to choose from, but I wouldn’t be doing this list justice if I failed to mention the Grand Theft Auto series, and the brilliant minds that gave us Portal 2. Now, neither of these games are specifically story games, one being a crime filled, explosion fueled murder simulator, and the other being a platforming puzzle game pitting a lone hero against a psychopathic robot. But these games broke the mold and redefined genres. And they each delivered an incredible experience. That’s why I chose them to round off my Top 10.

Honourable mention goes to Red Dead Redemption, Dues Ex Human Revolution, and Bioshock Infinite (I know, a FPS, but the story was its best feature).

Day 8 – Grand Theft Auto V

Developer: Rockstar North
Publisher: Rockstar Games

CoverArt-GTAVRockstar as a developer, with its many teams, can seemingly do no wrong, except release a stable multiplayer environment (heyoooo), but at least they apologized and made up for it.

But back on track – Rockstar refuses to make bad games. Sure Grand Theft Auto 4 was kind of murky looking, and Max Payne 3 came out 30 years too late, but I digress. With each new game, Rockstar takes what they did previously and builds on it, and then takes what failed, re-evaluates it and fixes it.

Rockstar Games started initially gaining traction with their early Grand Theft Auto games: a top down, uber violent game about killing people and stealing cars. They built on these concepts further with a deeper story and a 3rd dimension with Grand Theft Auto 3 and Grand Theft Auto Vice City. With these huge successes under their belt, they stirred it up a bit and released a racing game, Midnight Club, and a dreary, dark story game revolving around a tragic hero in Max Payne, and gave us slow-motion gunplay. Then they refocused and gave us Grand Theft Auto San Andreas: a huge world with a boat load of new mechanics, like body types and athletic levels, and hunger.

Since then, they’ve been releasing hit after hit, with Grand Theft Auto 4 in the most recent generation, and Red Dead Redemption, another Midnight Club Game, Max Payne, and now finally Grand Theft Auto V, arguably the biggest game release, and most anticipated of all time. And the sales back the arguments.

Grand Theft Auto V was huge, and not just in scale and scope, but game mechanics, story, characters, heists, and a persistent online world.

The game focuses on three separate characters:  Michael De Santa, retired ex-criminal trying to make a new life, Trevor Philips, redneck, con-man, and Michael’s old partner in crime, and Franklin Clinton, upstart criminal working for an illegal repossession ring.

Grand Theft Auto V

Each character is interconnected through the story as they complete missions and heists, sometimes with only one, sometimes with all three. And each player is separately played to complete their own individual stories on the side. The player can switch at any time to whichever character they want, assuming that they’re available at that time. The characters, when not being played, will continue to live their lives as ‘normal’.

This was a big leap in gameplay and storytelling for games, and I’m assuming a lot of developers will try to mimic this mechanic in the future. Sounds like the Assassin’s Creed iteration this year will use this feature.

The game brings us back to country San Andreas and the city of Los Santos, both country and city realized in amazing attention to detail. The game pushed boundaries on art and design, and hardware when it was released last generation and called for a complete overhaul on the Xbox One and PS4 a year later, with a 4K remastering on the PC.

The online world was a new game unto itself, allowing you to play with friends, race, and do PvP missions. And recently, play cooperatively in Online Heists.

Grand Theft Auto V is hard to describe. Its story has heart, its gameplay is perfect, and it looks gorgeous. Rockstar has taken all their experience from years of crafting amazing games, and come up on top again, with their best creation to date. It’s hard to imagine how they could ever top this.

<– Yesterday – Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
Tomorrow – Portal 2 –>


IDL FEATURE – Day 8: Platfromers – Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

The fourth category on my list of five is dedicated to platformer titles. Now this definition can be somewhat vague, but to clarify, I’m meaning games where the traversal of the game world takes precedent sometimes involving puzzles or obstacles. All the Mario iterations, Prince of Persia, even Assassin’s Creed utilize this gameplay mechanic. Mirror’s Edge did this from a first-person perspective, as well as Portal, thanks to the mechanic that gave the game its name. I’d even argue that Rocksteady’s Batman/Arkham series belongs here. Combat is heavily focused, yes, but the traversal of the city and arenas is of equal importance. Putting all these worthy contenders aside, I chose Enslaved.

Honourable mention goes to Batman: Arkham City and Assassin’s Creed 1. Arkham Origins nearly beat out its predecessor, but notable bugs and glitchy sequences nearly broke the game for me, as mentioned in my review.

Day 8 – Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

Developer: Ninja Theory
Publisher: Namco Bandai Games

Enslaved is a little known game from Ninja Theory and published by Namco Bandai Games. The story is a re-imagining of the novel Journey to the West and follows our heroes Monkey and Tripitaka, or simply “Trip”. Monkey, a beastly ape-like man with burned tattoos designs covering the majority of his body, and Trip, a lithe, lovely red head.

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The game takes place in a futuristic post-apocalyptic world, and as Monkey, we are charged with the task of protecting Trip. We’re connected through a digitally linked headband, and if she falls under harm or perishes, or even if our distance apart becomes too great, we’ll share a similar, deadly fate.

Released to critical acclaim, Enslaved showcased beautiful, colourful environments. The reviewers out there, myself included, also applauded the realistic and expertly performed motion capture and dialogue of Monkey and Trip. But no one bought it. Selling less than a million copies, Namco dismissed any notions of a sequel.

This is a big shame. The game may have suffered because of the title, or as an unfamiliar franchise in the Western world, but it deserved to be played. The combat was fluid, and while the story might not have been its strongest feature – it didn’t break any new grounds – the re-imagining and the emotionally engaged characters made up for any shortcomings. The platforming however, is the most deserving aspect worth mentioning.

As monkey we spend a lot of time climbing walls and poles alike, a lot of times with Trip on our back tagging along. With Andy Serkis as the artist behind the motion capture, every movement and interaction between Trip and her slave are masterfully realized and authentic.

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The game may seem forgettable at a glance (probably why it didn’t sell), but for many reasons its remained at the forefront on my verbal list of great 360 games, and I encourage all others to play it.  This game alone is the reason behind this Top 10 list, and I’ll likely play through it again when its backwards compatible.

<- Yesterday – Gears of War
Tomorrow – Story Category: Grand Theft Auto V ->


IDL FEATURE – Day 7: Gears of War

For this category I had the hardest choices and sacrifices to make, but I chose: Spec Ops: The Line, Dead Space, and Gears of War.

Honourable Mention: Mass Effect 2 (An RPG, I know, but I don’t really like RPGs. And the only reason I played this trilogy was because it was a shooter, so deal with it.)

Day 7 – Gears of War

Developer: EPIC Games
Publisher: Microsoft Games Studio

From the creators of the Unreal Engine, and the Unreal and Unreal Tournament universe, Epic Games, or formerly Epic MegaGames, has been in the industry for a long. With their engine they’ve been constantly pushing the industry forward technologically, but aside from their Unreal Engine, hasn’t made many truly noteworthy games. That changed in 2006 with the release of Gears of War, the game that moved Xbox 360’s off the shelves and many felt from the opening sequence that a new franchise was born.


Partnering with Microsoft to publish an exclusive game, Epic Games and game director Cliff Bleszinski, Gears of War was born into the world – the first in a series of sequels. A military science fiction third-person shooter, Gears of War follows a team of troops called Delta Squad on a fictional planet called Sera, as they take on an unrelenting subterranean enemy known as the Locust Horde. The player plays as the main protagonist, Marcus Fenix, and can be played cooperatively with the second player assuming the role of Dominic “Dom” Santiago.

The game’s environments are dark and dreary, and very gloomy. The war against the Horde is not going well, and the heroes have been losing family and friends alike. The levels are very dark and ominous, and the game utilizes the shadowed areas as danger zones where the Kryll, a bat-like enemy, rips the player apart if caught in the darkness for an extended period of time. There are many enemy types, large and small, and a lot of the burrow out of the ground as the player progresses from one section to the next.

Gears of War stood out because of its haunting and violent subject matter, but the gameplay and visuals set it apart from all predecessors and copy-cats.

Visually, the game set the bar for the 360, begging any competition to match it. As mentioned, Epic Games are the developers of one of the premiere game engines in the Unreal Engine, always pushing the tech forward, and Gears utilized it in a way only the creators of the tech would know how.


The gameplay gave us a fresh take on the third-person shooter genre, granting us a new, unique cover mechanic. As the player we can crouch up against any wall in the game with a tap of a button, and we can strategically aim around the walls, blind fire, as well as vault over, or around any cover. All seamless and smooth.

The game also introduced Cliff Bleszinski’s much lauded Chainsaw Gun: an assault rifle with a chainsaw attached to the front, allowing for ranged gunplay, but deadly close encounter attacks.

Gears of War is one of the best all-around packages on the 360: gameplay, visual, story and multiplayer, and wraps up my top three third-person shooters on the platform. It has spawned 2 sequels, and a prequel, along with other stories and works crossing multiple mediums.

And lastly, announced earlier this year at E3, Microsoft, who now owns the Gears IP, along side a new development team in The Coalition, will be bringing a new story to us in Gears of War 4 later next year. You can check out my E3 impressions here.

<- Yesterday – Dead Space
Tomorrow – Platformer Category: Enslaved – Odyssey to the West ->