I get it now. Steep is fun. I didn’t think it would be and I argued that it needed a campaign or something to keep me interested. But a game entirely made of challenges is quite addictive.

I got the season pass and snowboarding around in an inflated dinosaur suit is quite hilarious. But I prefer the banana.

I’ll probably end up getting the Olympics expansion when it goes on sale next.

Steep is not an $80 title. But for half that it’s a fun time.


Gamenight, Twitch, and Today’s Updates

Game nights are fun, and sometimes necessary. They help get friends together, to settle differences, and to remind us what gaming once was, and how it continues to keep us together, even if we’re miles, or countries away.

Game night is usually quite the event at my place. Usually involving 4 large flat screen TV’s, 4 Xbox’s (360 and now the One), and two handfuls of people. Quite the epic Friday night filled with Pepsi and drinks.

We typically dabble in Halo, as it’s the easiest game to organize a large group of people, over multiple boxes and TVs, into one online lobby. Alternatively we’ll play some arcade style games. This past Friday saw us playing in The Master Chief Collection, Riptide GP2, #IDARB, and Rayman Legends.

Lately I’ve also been playing around with my streaming capabilities, and Twitch.Tv. This started when I first got the Xbox One when it was released. Streaming through the Xbox is great, especially since it has the Kinect functionality with the camera and microphone. Less great is when you want to switch games, or stream from another console entirely. This problem was apparent to me around the time of the Extra Life charity marathon last October. I was going to be playing a full play-through of Half-Life 2 through the Xbox 360 Orange Box. I had my Xbox 360 plugged into the One, but Twitch only supports XBone games.

My fix was to pick up a capture card. The Elgato Game Capture HD, and a couple webcams. This allowed me to record and broadcast through my TV, game, audio, and the surrounding room, through the webcams.

Ready to Broadcast

Ready to Broadcast

I use Open Broadcast Software to record and stream. It supports multiple inputs, and allows for text overlays. So with my 24 Hour stream, I had the game, the name of the game, 2 webcams, a tinyURL to my charity page, my webpage, and a 24 hr countdown clock.

Lately I’ve been streaming my game nights, or just the random nightly session. I’m not pro yet, mind you. But one day I might start doing game-play videos. We’ll see.

Moving on to some newsworthy stuff….

GTA V – Online Heists

New info started coming out today about the GTA V Online Heists content patch, for those lucky few that started seeing it already, patch is reportedly sitting around 4.8GB in size, on the Xbox One. I have the re-mastered XOne version. However, as I’m writing this, none of my friends do, so I don’t have anyone local to test out these heists with. We’ll have to wait and see, or maybe try on the 360.

Halo Master Chief Xbox One Bundle

Microsoft is launching a Master Chief Collection XBox One bundle to help boost their numbers. The no-frills bundle is available without a Kinect, and a digital copy of the Master Chief Collection. No custom box, no custom controller, standard 500Gb HDD. Kind of a letdown.

Borderlands Aplenty

At Pax East this weekend, Gearbox announced both, the next installment to the Tales From The Borderlands, and the next DLC for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel.

Tales From the Borderlands, Telltale’s game, will have episode 2 released March 17th, 2015. I’ve been sitting on the TellTale Collection for the XOne for some time now, and I haven’t gotten the chance to start these games. But will soon.

Also announced was the next DLC to Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel – Claptastic Voyage. The DLC takes place inside Claptrap’s head, and is supposed to help bridge the gap between the Pre-Sequel and Borderlands 2. Release March 24th, 2015.

Also released that week is the Handsome Jack Collection, which I’ll be picking up. I was uneasy about the idea of the Pre-Sequel being released on the Xbox 360 and figured that it might be re-released on the One, and lo, here we are. Combo of the Pre-Sequel and Borderlands 2 re-mastered. The Pre-Sequel also includes the Season pass for DLC.

“”I wonder if i plant you in the ground, if you will grow taller?” -Psycho”

Destiny News

A new interesting tidbit from Destiny this week is the Inferno game-play mode in the Crucible:

From the Grimoire:

“A modified variant of multiple Crucible match types, Inferno tests your Light against the darkest of conditions.

Darkness prevails, leaving Guardians to rely on their weaponry and combat skills alone. The enemy can only be found by sight and sound alone. Rely on your teammates and keen tracking to stalk your enemies and shut them down without the trust in your most powerful abilities.

True skill put to the ultimate test. No trackers. No Supers. No bonuses. Only kills earn points.

I’ve been meaning to do a follow-up to December’s review, as I did continue to play, and made it through the DLC, completed the Raid, and made it to level 30. I also quit cold turkey one day, and haven’t really looked back.

Maybe I’ll do a quick play through of the first DLC and write up a follow up/2nd opinion piece. Title it “Change of Heart”, as its both applicable, and the name of an achievement from the game.

Change of Heart (Reverse a decision you made in the upgrade grid) – 20G.

So witty.


Day 2 – iReview – FORZA HORIZONS 2

Welcome to Horizon Europe!

Returning to the land of open-world driving with Forza Horizons 2, the sequel to Playground Games’ and Turn 10’s 2012 hit, was something I was very much looking forward to, especially since this was the first REAL next-gen racing title on the Xbox One, intentionally omitting Forza Motorsport 5, for those automobile obsessed out there. I’m talking about a “fun” racer.

Where we're going, we don't need roads.

Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.

Taking place again during the fictitious “Horizon Festival”, Horizon 2’s game world is located in southern Europe, focusing primarily on France and Italy. The game world itself is about the same size of Forza Horizon 1, but this time the drivable area has been increased three fold. Gone are the invincible fences protecting forests and farm land. Everywhere is accessible, and it’s a blast to drive off the side of the road, plowing through open fields filled with crops, while narrowly escaping huge bales of hay or random tree groupings. The telephone poles are still impenetrable though.

The game sports over 200 licensed vehicles from many different manufacturers, shapes and sizes. Forza 5’s Drivatars are back, as well as the custom tuning and liveries. Horizon’s in-game radio stations return, showcasing a very cool collection of tracks, and have the radio’s DJ come on everyone once in a while and tell us what’s going on in the world, or if it’s raining or not. Thanks, so the sky isn’t falling?

The game fits the same mold laid out in Horizons 1. We start out in the Horizon’s Festival as Mr. Nobody, and have to race to progress, earn money, buy new cars, and race more, until the festival hosts a championship race to name this year’s Horizon Champion. The road trip starts you in one city, and you get to choose the class of car, compete in 4 championship races, and then convoy on to the next locale. 8 destination cities in total, 21 championship events per city, 168 championship events in total. Sounds daunting and it is! That’s almost 700 races. Gracefully after 14 events they host the Horizon Championship, so it’s not actually too bad. You get a lot of added gameplay for the completionists out there, once you’re crowned as the champ.

Scattered about, and unlocked during the game’s progress are specialty events where you get to race against a locomotive, or some jets, or even 100’s of hot air balloons. These events are a nice distraction between driving from city to city, race after race.

Car vs. Cargo Plane

Car vs. Cargo Plane

Notably missing from Horizon 2 is the “Street Race”, the start to finish line – no checkpoint races. Due to the sizable drivable area I’m guessing. But that whole group meeting – lets race! feeling has been replaced with the Car Meets. This brings us to the online portion.

When you start up the game, you’re dropped right away into one of these car meets. This is Horizon’s online lobby. At this point you can either choose to play offline, in your own free-roam campaign, or you can join an online free-roam session or online road-trip session. Private free-roam or road-trip sessions are also supported.

Online free-roam hosts 16 people, where you can drive around, search for collectibles, participate in challenges, or initiate races. Race types include circuits, sprints, drag races, and cross country. Once a race has been started, anyone in the group can join it, and then once the race is done, everyone just gets dropped back into the free-roam world. Multiple events can be taking place at any given time.

Online road-trip is a little bit more structured, and follows the same path as the offline campaign. Again, supporting 16 people, everyone drives to a destination city, participates in 4 solo or team races or multiplayer events including King and Infected. The group then votes on the next city. Drive there, repeat.

Built on the already pretty Forza Motorsport 5 engine, the game is tuned down to a competent simulation/arcade racer, while keeping the gorgeous visuals, keeping the licensed vehicles, but throwing away the licensed tracks. Forza Horizon 2 is a racing paradise. Extra praise has to be given to the game’s dynamic weather system and day/night lighting. Playing in rain, at night, in the driver seat camera view is a thrill.

All commendations aside, I did have a few, very minor issues with the game. Firstly, and most prominent issues involve the car physics. Now, given the fact that this game is open-world, and potentially extremely off-road, the vehicle physics are brilliant when on the road or off-road depending on your car. But if you happen to hit a ditch or bump, and find your car rolling, it becomes very floaty, as if the car didn’t weigh more that its lovely paint job. This can be very frustrating at times while racing online, without the rewind feature or vehicle reset option.

Second gripe, barely worth mentioning, is that you have to go back to the Horizons hub to change your car at the garage. Minor, but annoying at times.

For gamers who like the perfect blend of Simulation/Arcade racing.

Notable Achievements:

All Your Race Are Belong To Us 2.0 (Complete all 168 Championships) 50G
Super Meet Boy (Grab a livery, tuning setup, buy a car, and enter a Showdown at any Car Meet) 10G

Procrastinate Reviews: Max, The Curse of Brotherhood (and of Loading Screens)

Have you ever had a brother? Ever wished for him to disappear? If this indeed happened, would you rejoice? Or chase after him?

This is how Max: The Curse of Brotherhood starts. What follows is a 2.5D platforming, physics based adventure across a strange land where we see our protagonist, Max, climb, run, jump, and swing (in that order) his way to saving his brother, Felix. I still haven’t decided yet if this is for the better.

Conveniently Spaced Pillars to jump on you seeÉ

Conveniently Spaced Pillars to jump on you see?

The Story:

Max returns home to find his younger brother messing with his s***. Understandably PO’d, Max Google’s a curse to make his brother disappear. Seems reasonable. The curse, however, comes true and Felix gets warped away to another land. Max, immediately regretting his decision, jumps in the portal and chases after his brother.

In short order, we learn that a cranky old man is stealing kids, and it’s up to us, with the assistance of a cranky old lady, to defeat him. We’re gifted a magical marker that allows us to lift earth pillars, draw branches, vines, and water streams to help us navigate this 2.5D side-scroller.

The GamePlay:

The gameplay is more than a typical side-scroller too, as we are empowered with the ability to shape the land around us through the handy marker. As we progress through the levels, we unlock new abilities, starting out with the ability raise little pillars of land. Next we get the ability to draw and cut branches and vines, with vines granting us the ability to swing ourselves or physics objects from branches to the next landing, and lastly we get the ability to draw powerful water streams.

The best parts of the game are when all the powers come together for the physics based puzzles. You may find yourself sliding down a hill or jumping from a crumbling stone stair case and suddenly propelled into the air with water streams and having to draw some handy vines to swing yourself to safety. The highlight of the mechanic would definitely be the intense final puzzle.

The Technical:

“The game is good looking” is somewhat understated. The lighting is especially mention-worthy on a couple of levels that involve deadly fireflies, and a very dark cave sequence where all you have is the magic marker to light your path.

The Issues:

Max the Curse of Brotherhood is a quaint little game that has a lot of heart. It’s very pretty, and has a lot of cool, epic moments and some neat puzzles. For all intents and purposes, it is short, but there are plenty of collectibles to search for.

Stairway to Heaven

Stairway to Heaven

There’s nothing actually wrong with the game that’s offered, but with the things that are missing. The capacity to draw the branches and vines is great, but becomes very restrained in scope as to how much you can draw and where. Secondly, considering this is an Xbox title, Kinect functionality for the drawing mechanic would be fun to use. Don’t get me wrong, don’t force it, that would be brutal, but an option to play with would have been nice.

In conclusion, the game is a unique little platformer with some fun ideas. It doesn’t have the same level of polished mechanics that its brethren may share, but given its artistic style, it is a nice addition to the library.

It’s also a good thing that Max is a better brother than I. If left up to me, at that age, this story would have ended prematurely.

Notable Achievements:

He is The One (Huh, time really DOES slow down when you’re in danger.) – 10G
Ludicrous Speed (Reached the old lady in under 5 minutes.) – 50G