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Review: Wolfenstein Youngblood

Developer: MachineGames

Publisher: Bethesda

Genre: FPS, Action, Adventure

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Rating: M for Mature

Price : $29.99

 

 

The Wolfenstein series has been running since the 80s. This fact surprised me during my research of the game series. I’ve been playing Wolfenstein games since the 90s when I got a shareware copy of Wolfenstein 3D which I played through hundreds of times. It excited me hear about Wolfenstein Youngblood because it seeks to open up a new chapter in the series. Youngblood picks up from the events of Wolfenstein New Order and New Colossus focusing on Jess and Soph Blazkowicz the daughters of BJ Blazkowicz.

Content Guide

The Wolfenstein series has been known for its action-packed and bloody gameplay. Youngblood picks up that tradition, but I didn’t feel like the game went beyond what other Wolfenstein games have done before. That said, I would recommend this game only to gamers 18 and older. 

Violence:

Wolfenstein Youngblood contains a similar level of violence as Wolfenstein New Order and Wolfenstein New Colossus. When the player shoots an enemy, there is going to be a lot of blood. Sometimes the blood spurts out of the enemy or sometimes their limbs get blown off leaving a bloody stump. The worst violence in the game comes from the take downs because they are up close and violent. The player can use a hatchet or a knife to kill an enemy, and the player can turn an enemy’s weapon on themselves, inflicting a gunshot wound at close range.

Killing Nazis

Alcohol and Drug Use

Jess and Soph do engage in smoking cigarettes and drinking wine, but this occurs during a brief scene at the beginning of the game.

Language

Numerous characters curse throughout the game. Jess and Soph have blue-collar personalities which is part of the reason that they curse so much, and they also share some crude jokes with each other.

Positive Themes

The storyline of Youngblood explores growing up and training to be a warrior. Opening cutscenes show Soph and Jess being trained by their parents, BJ and Anna, to push themselves beyond their limits. Throughout the game between firefights, Soph and Jess talk to each other about life events like caring for an injured animal or Jess’ desire to write. I would consider Youngblood a coming of age story as the girls have to enter into their parents’ worlds of fighting against the Nazis in an effort to free the world. 

Fighting Nazi robots

Review

Wolfenstein Youngblood takes a lot of gameplay from New Order and New Colossus then adds in some newer elements to create a good FPS (first-person shooter). Players will find that most encounters boil down to kill everyone in the room before the player can move on. Some customization has been thrown into the game allowing players to customize Soph or Jess and their weapons. Players can join up with their friends through online co-op, but unfortunately, there’s no local co-op in the PS4 version.

Some of great scenery.

Jess and Soph battle as a team. The player plays as either Jess or Soph, while the other half is controlled by AI or by an online player in co-op. The allied AI is pretty good and will at least attack enemies with some success. Movement in the game feels fluid and free. My complaint about New Order and New Colossus was that BJ felt really heavy and moved with little agility throughout the game. Jess and Soph move quicker and can slide easier in this game. I enjoy the fast movement, but I found that Youngblood lacks any stealth gameplay. A few times I could get a couple of stealth kills in, but that wouldn’t last long. The levels just don’t encourage stealth boiling down to run and gun most of the time.

The gunplay for Youngblood matches the gunplay in New Colossus, while adding a whole level of customization to the new weapons introduced here. Both the guns and characters can be modified by purchasing items with coins found around the levels. The cost of some of the skins and helmets seems unbelievably expensive, which seems like the game is encouraging the player to buy in-game currency in order to get the skin they want. Though the variance in weapons and characters helps gamers customize the game to their play style, the girls stay fundamentally the same.

Once a player chooses either Soph or Jess they get an initial power. After the player starts collecting enough coins, they can upgrade the initial power and buy more health, armor, or other abilities. The player can purchase the ability to carry heavy weapons then upgrade it to be able to move faster with heavy weapons. They can purchase pep signs which are hand signals that Jess and Soph can use during battles to bolster each other. A pep sign can boost health or armor, make the characters invulnerable for a short time, or give them higher damage output. 

Fighting a Panzarhund

Weapons in the game have many different configurations that can be purchased. Players start the game with a standard loadout of weapons seen in previous games then acquires new weapons as the story progresses. Each weapon has several parts that can be upgraded with different categories of mods. One mod group gives the weapon more headshot damage, the second group lets the weapons shoot faster, and the third is a straight damage boost. I liked being able to mix the mods to customize the weapons to my liking. Once the player has purchased mods, they can be put on the weapon or taken off without having to buy them again, so it’s easy to change a weapon to fit the fight.

Jess and Soph

The first two games were very cinematic with long cutscenes building up the characters and the story. Youngblood doesn’t have as many cutscenes and very little interaction from the side characters. In New Order and New Colossus, the side characters had a larger role to play in the story. Youngblood takes a different approach to tell its story. Throughout the game, when Jess and Soph are not fighting, they will talk to each other sharing memories and talking about their future. These moments of dialogue make the game feel more intimate, helping me see that Jess and Soph are caught between being kids and becoming adults.

The enemy AI in the game is keenly aware of any disturbance the player makes. Miss a shot or move in the open at the wrong time will likely alert the entire area to her presence. An enemy AI on alert makes me wary of playing co-op with gamers who may just run around looking for a fight. This also makes stealth gameplay impossible; Youngblood would be a great co-op game with a teammate who knows your gameplay style.

Wolfenstein Youngblood contains a lot of improvements since New Order and New Colossus. I enjoyed weapons and the new characters and the ability to customize them. Any gamer who’s played the first two games will be very happy with this installment. I hope that we will get to follow Jess and Soph Blazkowicz on more adventures in the future.

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Review: Rage 2

Developer:  Avalanche Studios, id Software

Publisher: Bethesda Softworks

Genre​: FPS

Platforms​: PC, PS4, Xbox One

Rating​: M for Mature

Price​: $59.99

 

There are times when I want to play a game that doesn’t require a lot of brain power. I just want to sit down turn on my gaming music mix, and slay some bad guys. Rage 2 is a great game for a gaming session where you just want to turn your brain off and shoot some post-apocalyptic bad guys. Rage 2 excels with great gunplay and neat powers, but the game suffers from a lack of motivational plot. I don’t always need for a game to have a deep meaningful story; but I do need the game to motivate me toward the next objective. The characters and story of the Rage 2 really don’t give me a reason to care about them, but even so, the game is fun.

Content Guide

Rage 2 is rated M for Mature for violence mainly, but also for foul language and some suggestive, adult themes. The game takes place on post-apocalyptic future earth very reminiscent of Mad Max: Fury Road. The populace of this future earth is brutal and savage. I would not recommend this game to anyone under the age of 17 for the following reasons:

Violence—The violence of Rage 2 could be seen as over the top because most of it is gory and bloody. When you shoot enemies from a distance, there’s not much blood, but shoot them close up and they will sometimes explode into a bloody mess. It’s possible to chop off limbs with bullets, grenades, or boomerang weapons. When a player is in the Overdrive mode, all bullets will explode enemies as do the melee attacks with the butt of the gun.

Melee kill

Adult Themes—The post-apocalyptic land of Rage 2 is filled with people with disturbing sexual ideas. There is a location that hosts a game show called Mutant Bash TV where the player signs up for a deathmatch to kill a bunch of mutants. This show is run by an aging showgirl host who makes several inappropriate comments throughout. Several scantily clad, oiled men and women wearing large masks follow the showgirl host around every time they interact with the player. In between the matches, I got to see some of the NPCs hanging around the studio. I saw one man dressed in a BDSM costume pretending to chase another man who was on all fours pretending to be an animal.

Desdemonya Cold

Drug Use—I never saw any drug use by characters in the game, but there was an NPC who appeared to be shaking and talking to another NPC about drugs. In the swamp area of the map, marijuana plants grow everywhere. The plants seem to have been planted by the crash of an eco-pod in the area which can be found near fields of marijuana plants. Bars can be found in each of the towns where NPCs can be seen slumped over tables or the bar apparently drunk.

Marijuana plants

Review

In Rage 2, the player takes the role of a young man or woman named Walker, the last Ranger in the Wasteland. A meteor strike wrecked earth several years before Walker was born, creating the Wasteland, but humanity found a way to renew the planet by calling down Eco-pods that began to re-seed the planet. At the start of the game, Walker lives in one of the few strongholds in the Wasteland called Vineland. The game starts with an attack on Vineland by the Authority, a cybernetic army controlled by General Cross from the first Rage game. The player gets a standard tutorial level during the attack on Vineland where the game teaches the player the basic controls.

It frustrated me that the game spent a lot of time going over how to move, jump, and shoot and no time diving into the menus and the crafting. Rage 2 doesn’t break any new ground with the controls so if a player has played any FPS in the last five years they know all the controls. I didn’t fully understand that I could craft health items until about an hour into gameplay by mistakenly buying an upgrade at a store. I would have preferred that the game spent more time teaching me this instead of how to move.

Fighting bandits

Once I played through the tutorial level, I got access to the Ranger suit which Walker gets from a dead Ranger. There’s a gory scene when Walker pulls pieces of the dead Ranger out of the suit that he uses throughout the game. The Ranger suit gives the player access to powers like dash, double jump, slam, and overdrive. Most of the powers are not given to the player at the beginning of the game, but they can be obtained by finding Arks in the open world of the Wasteland. Arks contain the lost technology and weapons of the old world.

The variety of weapons in the game is limited. Unlike some other FPS games where the enemies drop weapons, the player obtains weapons only by finding them in Arks, and there are only eight guns to find in the entire game. Despite the limited inventory of the guns, they weapons handle really well, and the guns are fun to shoot. I enjoyed the shotgun which has a fun knockback feature so that when I hit an enemy with a shotgun blast, they would sometimes fly backward. I loved the revolver the most because it was like a flare gun. When a player shoots an enemy with the revolver, the rounds can be ignited inside the enemy causing them to the burst into flame.

John Marshall

Once the Wasteland opens up to the player, they get a truck and the nebulous goal of defeating General Cross and the Authority. The player meets three important people in the Wasteland: John Marshall, Loosum Hagar, and Dr. Antonin Kvasir, who help Walker towards defeating General Cross. Most of the missions that these three will send the player on are simple missions such as go to location X, shoot all the bandits there, then flip a switch to complete the mission. Along the way, the player will see question marks on the map or they may run into gas stations and roadblocks. Once the player finds these locations, it’s pretty much the same thing: kill all the bandits, maybe flip a switch or turn a wheel and you’re done. There are other things to find in the world such as Arks and the last known resting place of fallen Rangers, but again most of those locations have bandits that need to be killed before you can flip the switch to open the Ark or find the fallen Ranger.

There’s no loot to be collected, and as I stated before there are a limited number of guns to collect. The locations on the map are where players find resources for crafting items and for upgrading the Ranger powers. Players can learn to craft health shots, grenades, power boosts, and boomerangs called Wingsticks through purchasing perks from vendors.

The lackluster story and flat characters disappoint me most about Rage 2. I recognize that most FPS games follow the formula of go to location X kill everybody then push the button which will do Y so you can progress to Z— rinse and repeat. The reason that I state that missions seem simple has to do with the lackluster story; I didn’t care about the NPCs or their motivation which made the missions feel repetitive. What makes this problem worse is the disconcerting light-hearted tone of the pre-launch trailers.

Or this trailer which has some foul language:

After playing the game for several hours, I didn’t feel like the time of the game is very light-hearted. I killed hundreds of people and mutants by that point, and the game was not really giving me a reason to feel like this was some kind of fun romp. I felt like Rage 2 wanted me to take the plot seriously because NPCs maintain a very serious tone when they speak about the missions, but the pre-launch trailers made me expect a goofy game. It may be that Bethesda was trying to compete with the Borderlands franchise, but the incongruent tone of the game doesn’t match the hype.

Driving a tank

I will continue to play Rage 2 because the action and gunplay are awesome. I can overlook the lackluster story and confusing tone because I’m hooked on the action. It’s a game that I can turn on crank up the heavy metal music and play for a couple of hours. It’s also enjoyable because of the single player content which doesn’t require other players and an internet connection in order to enjoy. Rage 2 is a game that I have recommend to friends who aren’t interested in story or plot but who want pure action.

 

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Review: Fallout 76 (PS4)

Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Genre: Action, RPG
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Rating: M for Mature

Price: $49.99

 

Bethesda Game Studios needs little introduction. Based in Rockville, Maryland, the mainstream game developer is the author of major popular franchises such as The Elder Scrolls and the Fallout series. Before Fallout 76 was released, Bethesda announced that there would be no single-player campaign or non-playable characters in the game. This sparked outcry from the fan base, causing them to gather thousands of signatures for a main story add-on. Despite the opposition, Fallout 76 remained unchanged and released to mediocre sales.

Now, the game has a ten dollar markdown and continues to meet with high criticism. With so many transitions and differences between Fallout 4 and this game, it is plain to see why many fans are disappointed. But when taken at face value, is Fallout 76 really that big of a wreck or has the fan base itself become toxic?

Content Guide

Violence: Fallout games have always been violent and this one does not disappoint, if you like the violence that is. Expect gore, enemy heads flying off of their bodies, and lots of blood. Often times, you will be able to find dismembered limbs from the various super mutants, animals, or scorched, infected humans you face. Due to the radiation, enemies now are grotesquely mutated. In other words, you’ll be grossed out.

Unfortunately, Fallout does tend to dive into dark territory and will show just how insane humanity can get when it survives thermonuclear war. Raiders and other enemies seem to have lost all concept of value to human life and the player will find various graphic things that many would deem exceedingly inappropriate for children.

Drug/Alcohol Use: One of the main mechanics of Fallout is survival, and Fallout 76 utilizes drug and alcohol consumption as a method of survival. Vodka, whiskey, rum and various other heavy alcohols litter the wasteland. Drinking these beverages will give you a boost of some sort, but also serve as a good way to parch your thirst, which you will need to keep an eye on. Drugs are imperative to one’s survival, as it becomes necessary to take RadAway to reduce your character’s radiation poisoning. Other drugs can also be taken to boost one’s attack, defense, radiation resistance, action points, perception, and so on. Packs of cigarettes can be found throughout the wasteland as well.

Language: F*ck, sh*t, d*mn, and various other obscenities can be read on notes and heard on recordings of journals found during scavenging. Profanity is not heard much from enemies you face.

Sexual Content: There are no graphic scenes or nudity in the game. Small talk and quick references to sexual activity can be found on some recorded journals and writings.

Review

While the Fallout franchise has a long and storied history going back to the late 1990s, its current form owes much to 2008’s Fallout 3, which established the 3D open world action that fans have come to expect. When Fallout 4 was released in 2015, it introduced new gameplay mechanics like crafting, encampment improvement, and a brand new character creator that allowed the player to shape virtually any face imaginable. Now, enter Fallout 76: a game that takes all of those mechanics, subtracts a few big ones, and adds online play.

Fallout 76 is a prequel and takes place in the year 2102, twenty-five years after the bombs have fallen and 175 years before the events of Fallout 3. The player begins as a fellow resident of Vault 76 and emerges on Reclamation Day, the day designated for reclaiming the devastated land. Before leaving, it’s required to search the Overseer’s office as part of the first main story mission, and you discover that the Overseer is attempting to secure missile silos.

Unfortunately, curiosity is the only driving factor to uncover the Overseer’s story; it’s not as compelling a premise as Fallout 3’s quest of finding your father. When exiting the vault, the story still feels very…trackless. I ended up asking myself, “well, what now?” The first few objectives in the search for the Overseer are mostly tutorial-based and show how to setup the C.A.M.P, how to store items, craft weapons and armor, and cook food. They’re helpful, but fail to alleviate that empty world feeling.

After the short respite, the mission takes you to—you guessed it—another area that feels empty. Most every place explored will feel the same: a desolate, abandoned area whose population recently either evacuated or died. It will always feel like you’re arriving too late or like you’re the only living being for miles. Occasionally, another player will pop in and run by, but not much happens when alone.

But this game wasn’t meant to be played alone. When playing with friends, the entertainment rises exponentially. Our group had some fun moments accidentally blowing up cars, running to save each other, and trying to figure out how to heal random diseases like swamp itch. When running around, workshops and bases can be claimed by players, kind of like establishing settlements and defending them. Enemies will launch attacks on your base and it must be defended or else lost. But, again, there is not much motivation to even have a base, especially since every time one logs off, all bases claimed are reset. That’s one of the biggest downsides of having similar mechanics to Fallout 4: if bases don’t stay claimed, what’s the point of building them up? It ends up being a waste of resources and junk that can be used for more useful things like weapons and armor.

On top of the pointlessness of claiming bases, plenty of bugs take away from the general experience. The main bug that prevented a lot of quality time with friends makes it impossible to accept invites to be on a team. All players are forced to log out, restart the game, and log back in, hoping that perhaps this time the invite will work. Most of the time it did not. To add to the frustration, the game would periodically kick players out of the world, resetting spawn points and settlements claimed. Fortunately, it still keeps teams together, but having to regain bearings is annoying.

In this new round of post-apocalyptic survival, the player is now required to watch their hunger and thirst levels. Over time, these meters decrease and food and drink must be consumed, otherwise the vault dweller’s actions points will gradually dwindle down over time. While Fallout 76 boasts a large map—four times as big as Fallout 4‘s map—it feels like a beautiful empty expanse of trees and buildings with occasional patches of enemies here and there. Random groups of protectrons, rabid animals, weird mole miners, and other unique enemies populate the expanse of Appalachia, providing some form of distraction from the bleak surroundings. But what I’ve always enjoyed in games is lore and things to read or listen to. One of the things Fallout 76 does best is the implementation of story told through notes or recordings left behind by deceased individuals. It is fun to find these and listen to them, but they’re best listened to when alone, rather than with a group of friends.

Combat has not changed much from Fallout 4, with only a few new weapon groups, like pipe weapons, including the pipe pistol and rifle. VATS is now real-time, making it a pointless mechanic. VATS was incredibly useful before because it would pause battle and help the player devise a strategy. Now, when running into enemies, using VATS will only lower action points faster, so it is best just to use a melee weapon for swift enemies and a gun for slower ones.

Speaking of enemies, there are new groups to report. The main group that has much to do with the main mission is called the Scorched. These character models look and sound exactly like ghouls, but instead, they play a much bigger role in the story. Along for the ride are new mutated animals, such as the freaky three-headed possum. Super mutants, protectrons, and deathclaws are basically the flagships poster boys of the franchise and are back as their usual selves this adventure. The only other new enemy group I could find was the mole miners: mysterious enemies that looks like giant moles dressed in heavy trenchcoats. They look like they’re a sort of evolved or mutated mole.

Leveling is different as well. Now, when leveling up, the player chooses an attribute point to add to the seven usual categories: strength, perception, endurance, charisma, intelligence, agility, and luck. Through that, you then choose a perk card and these cards will have a number at the top right. That means it needs that many attribute points in that particular attribute to be equipped. I actually find this new system to be very simple and I enjoyed it. I like that it is all laid out in a way that anyone can understand how it works and what to equip. I also appreciate the fact that you can equip and unequip perks at will. If you have a perk that allows for hacking and a perk that allows for lockpicking, you can always swap them out to be able to pick a lock on a door or safe or hack into a computer at will.

As I mentioned earlier, the story consists of tracking down the Overseer of Vault 76. She has been charged with the task of securing missile silos, but has no idea why. As the player follows her path, they can find journals she has left behind. The only way the game tells a story is through these, since there are no NPCs around. There are also side missions that can be activated by simply reading a note lying around an abandoned house—it’s that easy. The game also hosts events, which will usually activate once the player arrives in the vicinity of the event. A few events my friends and I participated in included having to destroy some farm bots—since they had reverted to using humans as fertilizer—and having to defend a city from a scorched invasion. These events repeat themselves and are usually nigh impossible to complete by themselves; they’re meant for a group of players. Completing missions and events is rewarding as the loot received will usually end up being quality weapons, armor, crafting materials, and blueprints for structures.

Speaking of blueprints, crafting makes a comeback from Fallout 4. Crafting houses is possible again, since floors, walls, stairs, and various other structural items are available to make. These things can only be made once the C.A.M.P is set down, allowing for whatever you built to go wherever you decide to move your C.A.M.P. It’s a convenient mechanic and allows for scouting safely, as it only costs five to eight caps or so to move it. To craft, you will need to gather junk and useful materials from things lying around like lamps, metal scraps, paper, pencils, tins, and various other otherwise useless items. Structures can only be made once the blueprints are found, so be sure to search every nook and cranny you come across. At times, crafting can feel tedious and redundant, since the same items will be found over and over. The only useful redeeming factor in the mechanic is the ability to turn a search on for a specific item you want to craft. Flipping this option on will place a magnifying glass next to any junk you need for crafting a specific item, making it easier to locate what you need while scavenging.

The environments are absolutely beautiful and stunning, if you’re into West Virginian forests, autumn landscapes, and rivers running through lumber mills. It feels like the great outdoors when walking around this nuclear wasteland. While Fallout 3 was more of a somber, devastated land and Fallout 4 was a more established area, Fallout 76 feels like life was happening only moments before you exited the vault. Trees are orange and yellow, rivers are blue, and grass is green, but it’s still a dangerous place.

The soundtrack complements the countryside, sounding folk-like while keeping its Fallout roots. The games have always had an adventurous tone while also sounding ominous and somber. I’ll never forget wandering around the windy terrain of Fallout 3 and listening to the grim tones of a forgotten land. Fallout 76 has more hope in its music and more adventure. The main theme is catchy enough, but my personal favorite is You Must Rebuild.

In this Fallout adventure, player versus player is introduced. The player is immune to any opposing player fire, but once they reach level 5, all bets are called off. If one is wandering around and is above level 5, any other player of equal or higher level can shoot-to-kill and steal all of their dropped junk. The player who was killed retains their weapons, armor, and chems, but loses their junk and a small percentage of caps. Once a player dies, a small paper bag is left at the place of death, of which they can return to retrieve their valuables, if there are any left. If a player is shot dead by someone and never returned fire, the player who attacked is labeled a murderer, a bounty is placed on his head and he is revealed to all on the world map.

In my personal experience, I suited up any armor I had, grabbed the strongest weapons I had stored, and headed to war. The first person I found was a level 9, of which all of my shots seemed to go straight through him. The player I was shooting even sent me a question mark emoji. I looked up support forums, searching for this particular issue, but found none. I tried again, this time with a level 111. This was obviously a mistake going in, but even the wisest person jumps into the most foolish of circumstances. Not surprisingly, I died, being killed by one melee hit of his rocket-powered bat. Once you die, you can choose to call for help or bleed out to respawn more quickly.

Fallout 76 is a troubling game. While it has solid mechanics found in its level up system, crafting, and even survival, it primarily suffered greatly from consistent bugs at first launch and continues to lack a decent player base. Even though it has a mediocre story and the VATS system is all but gone, the game should be able to stay afloat by its missions and events alone. What really broke Fallout 76 was its extremely buggy launch. At the moment, it seems like Bethesda has fixed many of the major aforementioned bugs, although their negative effect on the player base remains. As it currently stands, the bug that prevents players from accepting each other’s team invites seems to be fixed; also, after the major recent update, I noticed that I spent an hour in the game world and was not arbitrarily kicked out as had happened in past sessions. Overall, it’s not a terrible game. It will definitely scratch that Fallout itch and provide some good times, but it’s not exactly worth what you’ll pay for it. Perhaps you should wait for this one to go down in price a little more before buying.

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Game of the Year Awards – 2017

Another year has drawn to a close. Through it all, we’ve seen some major highs and lows. Nintendo launched the Switch in 2017 and as of this writing has already sold over 10 million units, Microsoft brought console gaming into the 4K space with the Xbox One X, EA came under fire for their use of loot crates in Battlefront II, and PUBG sparked a fire that toppled DotA 2 from its long-held slot for most concurrent Steam players.

At the end of the day, this is the best time to be a gamer, and the team at Geeks Under Grace have deliberated on our favorites for 2017. We hope you enjoy.


This category is reserved for the greatest console-exclusive games to grace the Xbox One in 2017. They comprise what we feel are the best the platform has to offer that you can’t get on competing consoles

With a massive suite of true-to-life vehicles are real-world courses, Forza Motorsport 7 has everything racing simulation fans could hope for, and a heaping spoonful for casual fans to enjoy as well. Combine that with some of the most gorgeous visuals of any game in 2017, and Turn 10 Studios Forza Motorsport 7 earns its distinction as our Runner-Up for Best Xbox One Game of 2017.

 

While StudioMDHR’s Cuphead is notorious for its difficulty, there’s no denying its tight controls and strong art design. Gorgeous hand-drawn animations and superb enemy design help earn it our Winner for 2017 Xbox One Game of the Year.


The games in this category represent the best software on the PlayStation 4 in 2017 that could be found on no competing consoles.  Our staff feels they are the best the platform has to offer that can only be played here (or on PC).

With great characters, an excellent story, and a fantastic sense of style, Persona 5 has become one of the most talked-about games of 2017. The franchise from Atlus and P-Studios has continued to deliver a great roleplaying game with social elements year after year and the Phantom Thieves of Heart are no exception. Thus, Persona 5 has earned our Runner-Up for Best PlayStation 4 Game of 2017.

 

 

Guerilla Games has traditionally been known for creating linear first-person shooters with a brown color palette. Imagine our surprise, then, when Horizon Zero Dawn hit store shelves. This is third-person action adventure game full of bright, evocative visuals in a post-apocalyptic future version of Colorado. Most importantly, the imaginative enemy design and top-tier voice acting took our breath away, earning it our title as Winner of PlayStation 4’s Best Game of 2017.


2017 saw the release of Nintendo’s newest console, the Switch. A hybrid of classic console and mobile gaming, the platform promised to satisfy fans both at home and on-the-go. Beyond the console release, the platform saw a deluge of fantastic exclusive titles in its inaugural year. From re-releases like Pokken Tournament DX and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe to new originals like Splatoon 2, Fire Emblem WarriorsMario+Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, and ARMS, fans were not lacking for something to play. This category represents the best the platform had to offer in 2017.

 

In its first year, the Switch was graced with a new Super Mario game with Super Mario Odyssey. Not only had Princess Peach been captured by Bowser, but he’d taken the partner of Cappy, Mario’s new helper, as well. As you chase Bowser across the world, collecting moons and trying to stop nuptials you know should never happen, you’ll encounter a fantastic world full of bright, vibrant locations and exciting new creatures. Super Mario Odyssey has earned the Runner-Up for our Best Switch Game of 2017!

 

If Super Mario Odyssey took runner-up, you know there’s only one other game that could take the gold. As a launch game, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was a must-have, and it caught like wildfire, even outselling the console itself at one point (people were buying the game while waiting for Nintendo to restock shelves with Switch consoles). With a massive, gorgeous world, fun cast of characters, tons of dungeons, all of those Korok seeds to collect, and the ability to climb and go anywhere, it quickly won the hearts and minds of gamers everywhere, and has remained substantial enough to warrant its place as our Winner for Best Switch Game of 2017!

 


While there were many great PC-exclusive games this year, we broadened this category out to allow some console-spillover. This category represents our staff’s favorite games on the PC in 2017.

With several new releases across multiple platforms, 2017 was a strong year for game publisher Bethesda, but few stood out to us like Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. With a great story, memorable characters, and tight gameplay, its earned our spot as the Runner-Up for Best PC Game of 2017.

In 2017, Bungie and Activision were able to bring the Destiny franchise onto the PC with the release of Destiny 2. Players everywhere, including our Stream Team, found their ghost and the light of the Traveler, donned their Guardian gear, and set out to put the hurt on baddies from across the galaxy. With great 4v4 competitive multiplayer and a truly memorable 6-person raid, it earns our spot as Winner for 2017’s PC Game of the Year.

Page 2: Best Indie, Best Shooter, Best RPG, Best Action
Page 3: Best Fighting, Best Narrative Game, Best Platformer, Best Soundtrack/Theme Song
Page 4: Best Multiplayer, Best Remaster, Most Anticipated, Game of the Year

 

Categories
Gaming PC PS4 Reviews Xbox One

Review: Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (PC)

Developer: MachineGames

Publisher: Bethesda Softworks

Genre: First Person Shooter

Rating: Mature

Platforms: PlayStation 4, XBox One, PC

Price: $59.99 

 

From the moment I finished The New Order, I knew MachineGames’ new direction for the first-person shooter franchise was going to be something to anticipate every few years. Now, following a politically charged marketing campaign, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus has landed on American shores. I’m happy to say that, despite some unnecessarily over-the-top scenes, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus may not only be my favorite shooter campaign of 2017, but it may be my favorite shooter campaign of all time.

Content Guide

Spiritual Content

From Billy’s mom to Set Roth, there are several Jews with expressed faith in the game. Billy himself expresses belief in God at some points throughout the story. Set, one of the members of your crew, is a Jewish scientist who refers to the ancient technology of a Jewish sect known as the Da’at Yichud. He basically implies they’re an ancient society hundreds of years ahead of the rest of the world in terms of technology.

Violence

The violence and gore in Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus may be more extreme than any game I’ve otherwise experienced. On top of the expected gore and violence from shooting and blowing up your way through the Nazi forces, there are several scenes particularly worth noting.

Early on in the game, there is a scene that depicts some pretty rough domestic violence in the form of spousal abuse, child abuse, and animal abuse from an angry, belligerent figure. Your character is forced into a situation where he has to shoot his own dog. If you fail to do so, the dog is still shot with a shotgun and you can see blood fly all over the place.

In another scene, a character is violently decapitated with an axe, and as their body writhes and twitches on the ground, a second character loses an arm to the same axe. The villain then makes sick light of the situation, dancing around with the head and mocking other people in the room with it. In yet another scene later in the game, there is an additional decapitation. 

One scene depicts a shotgun blast to a foe’s head up close and personal. Other characters in the scene sickeningly rejoice at the gory spectacle. Yet another scene shows a hatchet sunk into a character’s face up close and personal. 

Language/Crude Humor

There’s a lot of crude humor and language in the game. Characters constantly use insults and slurs. No curse word, including racial epithets, are off the table with The New Colossus

Sexual Themes

There are multiple scenes in the game that depict sexual behavior and content in various forms. One character makes strong implication of cunnilingus while parading around a room with a decapitated head.  A different scene depicts two characters having sexual intercourse on a submarine, though no body parts are explicitly shown here. One particularly jaw-dropping, borderline fetishist scene depicts a pregnant lady topless, covered in blood, firing weapons into oncoming enemies.

*Note* though not sexual in nature, one scene depicts a nursing mother’s exposed breast as she’s feeding her child. 

Drug/Alcohol Use

Alcohol is a major affectation for several of the characters in The New Colossus. If you chose to save Fergus, he almost constantly has a bottle of liquor in his hands outside of missions. One character has his own home-brewed whiskey with which he and Billy have a drinking contest. One scene later depicts everyone on your ship getting drunk and reveling in various forms of alcohol then having to work through what happened during the blackouts and hangovers.  Choosing to save Wyatt over Fergus can eventually lead to a scene that depicts an acid drug trip.

Other Negative Themes

Between Billy’s father, the Nazi regime, and the Nazis handing power to the KKK, racism is disgustingly alive and well in the world of The New Colossus. Some characters, Billy’s father especially, openly use racial slurs to degrade people of color. Billy’s father, in a later scene, made the grotesque statement, “This is a white man’s world now. White man’s gotta keep it Christian.”

Positive Themes

Billy and his team are eclectic, welcoming members of all races and creeds in their efforts to topple the Nazi regime and incite a revolution. This is a stark contrast to the racism depicted in the world. Beyond that, you’re fighting to take down the Nazis, just as we’ve been doing in World War II era games for years. 

Review

The literal face of a genre since Wolfenstein 3D dropped in 1992, American soldier and FPS posterboy William Joseph “B.J.” Blazkowicz is back. Instead of roaming around occupied Europe, however, this time he’s bringing the fight to U.S. shores. With an appetite for destruction, an armory to match, and an eclectic, well rounded crew of anti-Nazi rebels at his side, he’s aiming to spark a revolution and kill a lot of people along the way.

From the face of a genre to one of gaming’s best realized heroes

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus picks up literally where its predecessor dropped off. B.J.’s lying on the ground, torn apart and waiting for it all to end with the nuke he called onto his position. Just moments before the bomb is to hit, his friends show up and whisk him aboard their stolen U-boat. After saving his life with emergency surgery, he passes out. When he awakes, another 5 months have passed. Anya, the woman he loves, is very pregnant, and the U-boat is under attack from high-ranking German forces. That sets up everything New Colossus needs to turn the next 10-15 hours into one of the wildest, most memorable rides you’ll take this year.

The storytelling in New Colossus is phenomenal. It’s been incredible to watch MachineGames turn the bloody, grunting face from a quarter century ago into one of the most well-realized game heroes of all time. Wolfenstein II successfully humanizes B.J. with a heartbreaking backstory, accompanied by compelling inner monologue full of self-doubt and trepidation. Though he had a difficult life, he’s redeemed as the face of those who stand against oppression.

On top of great narrative dialogue and witty banter, the cast is brought to life through excellent realtime cutscenes (running at 30 fps; actual gameplay is 60 fps). Some of them are full of jaw-dropping moments (frequently full of lewd or grotesque content) but they all flesh out the story marvelously in the effort to help players identify with our Texan protagonist and his comrades. At the end of the day, New Colossus has some of the most insane moments in video game history, but it also manages to tell its tale as deftly as any shooter ever has.

The gameplay mechanics in New Colossus will feel familiar to fans who’ve played New Order. You have three skill trees, each of which earn you perks as you complete tasks for playing a certain way (like delayed alarms for killing enemies stealthily, or increased magazine size for using heavy weapons). Whether you choose to tackle situations with stealth, utilizing silenced pistols and hatchets, or loud and proud with dual shotguns, you’re constantly working toward upgrades just by playing the way you want. Later in the game, your options broaden even more, allowing for some fun environment traversal with a unique twist.

Gunplay and movement feels great. Every death I experienced, I earned. On the higher difficulties, the game makes you work for every inch of ground, too, often forcing you to stay on the move. Playing on the PC, I often resorted to save-scumming particularly difficult sections. Still, I knew finding myself in a sticky situation meant I probably did it to myself, drawing attention with open fire or catching the eye of a guard on patrol.

On top of the base game, there are several side missions to hold your attention. When you kill enemy officers, they drop Enigma codes. Late game, back at your base, you can play a minigame to decode the cards, discovering the locations of high ranking Nazi officers. Taking on those missions and eliminating the targets can net you skills, gear, and more. They’re even available after the credits roll if you didn’t finish them before the end of the narrative.

BJ’s supporting cast is a fantastic, eclectic team

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is, without a doubt, one of the most polished games this year. The visual design feels familiar while portraying a broken alternate reality we can all get wrapped up in. From Nazi war machines to irradiated wastelands to KKK-led cities celebrating Nazi rule with parades, the world of New Colossus will drive a wide range of emotions from grotesque to engrossing and beyond. Cutscenes and character models are beautifully animated as well. 

In terms of the game’s aural delivery, voice lines are a grand slam. Every major character feels like a real person in a real situation, with motives and personality. The game’s soundtrack excels setting up both pulse-pounding action-oriented moments as well as quiet, emotionally driven sequences. It’s clear the team behind the game cared deeply about delivering quality in every aspect of their product.

Here’s something you do Nazi every day.

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is, in this critic’s opinion, the best shooter campaign of 2017. The game feels tight, accentuated by excellent movement and gunplay, while the characters and their story are brought to life and shared wonderfully. There is some explicit adult content I felt was unnecessary, and I would not, under any circumstances, allow a child near this game. At the end of the day, however, New Colossus has shown the world that not only can an old dog learn new tricks, he can still show the pack he deserves to be the leader.

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