3GEM STAFF

Over the past few weeks, it seems as if there has been no shortage of news when it comes to the gaming world. Once again today, fans of gaming would not be disappointed as we were treated to the Playstation Meeting. Andrew House, the President and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment took to the stage at the PlayStation theater in New York to share what’s to come in the near future from Sony.

The New PS4 (Slim) 

The Revamped PlayStation console promises to be slimmer, lighter and more energy efficient. 

PS4 Slim will be available September 15th

PS4 PRO

This will be the first console to support both 4K and HDR outputs, allowing gamers to see games as they were meant to. The console is boasting double the processing power available in current PS4 Models, allowing a smoother experience for all high-resolution games. The PS4 Pro will also offer a standard 1TB hard drive, assuring users more than enough space to transfer games and files from their previous PS4 console. Sony has also confirmed that PS4 discs will, in fact, be compatible with the PS4 Pro console, as expected.

Showing off both the 4K and HDR video demos were less than satisfying for those of us stuck at home watching it online or on Twitch. With that being said, you could still see some noticeable improvements throughout the demo.

Games shown included Spiderman, Tomb Raider, For Honor and Days Gone.

PS4 PRO will be available  November 10th.

 

Horizon: Zero Dawn

We get to see some new footage of Guerrilla Games’ Horizon: Zero Dawn. Honestly, this game looks pretty cool. Who wouldn’t want to be hunting giant robotic dinosaurs?

Call of Duty

Call of Duty: Infinite WarfareCall of Duty: Modern Warfare and Call of Duty: Black Ops III will be remastered to support 4K output.

We also see new 4K footage of Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare and it looks out of this world… sorry for the bad pun.

Mass Effect Andromeda

Finally a first look at the fourth installment of the Mass Effect Franchise. 

Netflix

Yes, you are reading that right. The online streaming giant will be 4K and HDR ready by the time the PS4 PRO launches. With over 600 hours and climbing, this is another excellent addition the PS4 Pro

So there you have it, a quick rundown of what happened today with Sony. Stay tuned as we will have a more extensive breakdown of some of these games and consoles soon.

 

 

 

 

Sir_Christopher_Lee

Christopher Lee

Sir Christopher Lee passed away last night after being admitted to the hospital for heart failure. In addition to being a marvelous actor, Christopher was also an accomplish musician having released several metal albums.

Lee is best known in recent years for his role as Saruman the White in Lord of the Rings and Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus in Star Wars.

Christopher Lee began acting in 1946 and continued on through the next 69 years. Lee was set to star in The 11th along side Uma Thurman next year.

Sir Christopher Lee: May 27, 1922 – June 11, 2015

 

 

I won’t lie to you, when Bayonetta came out, I was not interested in the slightest. It looked shallow and flashy, and seemed to rely too heavily on sex appeal. HOWEVER! When I got my hands on Bayonetta 2, I immediately rebuked myself for my blatant bigotry. Bayonetta is definitely flashy, and definitely sexy. It is absolutely ridiculous. And I love it.

 

Bayonetta 2

 

The game plays like a dream. The combos are flashy, deadly, sexy, and hilarious, all at the same time. Bayonetta 2 seems to capture the spirit of the first game (at least so far as I can tell), and if you enjoyed Bayonetta, it looks like you’re going to enjoy Bayonetta 2. And luckily for me, Bayonetta and Bayonetta 2 come packaged together. This is definitely something I’ll be picking up this fall.

 

Bayonetta 2

The preview began with a beautiful anime-style cutscene, featuring both a car and a chase! It played out wonderfully, with full voice acting. During gameplay, the characters are all rendered in stunning 3D, while still retaining the charming anime look. As for what gameplay entails, unsurprisingly, it is simply a mix of Phoenix Wright’s courtroom drama, and Professor Layton’s plethora of puzzles that make you question your intelligence. And, of course, lots of reading.

 

Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright

 

The game is still story-driven, just like earlier Professor Layton and Phoenix Wright games. If either one of the series doesn’t appeal to you, this game won’t either. On the other hand, if you’re a fan of either Phoenix Wright or Professor Layton, I think this is going to be right up your alley.

 

Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright

Kirby. In Claymation. Yes, please.

 

Kirby and the rainbow curse

 

The game looks wonderful. The visual style is ridiculously charming and unique. There isn’t a lot to say that wasn’t already discernable from the E3 trailer, but I can say that it handles very well. I was a bit skeptical as to whether or not I’d like the shift in gameplay, but the levels are designed brilliantly around the new movement mechanics, and the whole experience is very fluid. For me, seeing the game in person moved me from the “probably not” camp to the “definitely, maybe” camp. (I am in no way, shape, or form, referring to the romantic comedy of the same name that I watched one time and liked a surprising amount. No sir.)

 

Kirby and the rainbow curse

Project Giant Robot is an aptly named pet project of the one and only Mr. Miyamoto. The game has you take the helm of a giant robot, and, naturally, pits you against other giant robots. The game is played entirely through the game pad, as it acts as the cockpit of your steel champion. Displayed on your television is the battle from a third person perspective. It seemed promising at first glance, but after playing for a moment I was not overly impressed.

 

Project Giant Robot

 

The fight itself felt very, very clunky and slow, and utterly underwhelming. Before the fight you get to choose how to proportion your robot in an attempt to make it as stable as possible. Gyro sensors in the game pad are used to look around, shoulder buttons to advance or retreat, and left and right analog sticks to control the left and right arms of your metal beast. The proportioning is a cool idea, and the controls were responsive enough, but again, the gameplay was very lackluster, and, dare I say, boring.

 

Project Giant Robot

It is very important to note that the game is still in VERY early development,

and it was only at the media event as a teaser. I’m sure by the time it is

done it will look and feel very different than it did when I played it. And if

I know anything about Miyamoto’s magic (and I don’t know a thing), I’m

sure he has many tricks up his sleeve, and plans that will allow this game

to live up to its potential. Here’s hoping.

The hands-on preview I played for Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker didn’t show me anything I hadn’t already seen at E3 this year. There were two very short levels to play through. The first was in the style of the Captain Toad levels in Super Mario 3D World, which are more than likely going to comprise the majority of the gameplay for Captain Toad. The second level had me play “on-rails”, where I used the gyro capabilities of the game pad to aim the camera and throw turnips at various cubes and enemies. That’s right… turnips are back, baby!

 

WiiU_CaptainToad_scrn10_E3

 

The standard level was almost exactly like the levels in Super Mario 3D World. Instead of collecting five green stars, this time around there is only one yellow star. There are also three diamonds to find in each level, which are typically more difficult to get to. The level was enjoyable, if not a little easy, and had that Nintendo charm we all love in spades. My only concern is how well these levels will translate into a full game. If they are lacking in creativity and innovation, I can see the gameplay growing stale very quickly. That said, I still have the highest of hopes, and trust these developers like I trust my cat. That is to say, a lot.

 

The gyro-sensor level, on the other hand, could use some work. I very much like the idea, and they do indeed add variety. However, the gyro-based controls really took me out of the game, and soured the experience for me. Simply put, it isn’t very accurate. I found myself unable to turn far enough to the left or right, and missing hidden diamonds because of this (which made me irrationally upset). I should obviously mention that this is a very early demo, and prone to some issues. I just hope these issues are long gone by this holiday season.

 

WiiU_CaptainToad_scrn02_E3

 

My final verdict thus far is that this game looks extremely promising, and I think it will continue to look better as the release date looms nearer. Here’s hoping they can wrestle that “gyro” under “control”… heh.

I’m pretty certain that no one ever thought of saving the world with a team of super squid heroes. Here we have a particular piece of originality mixed with some nice turn-based action. Freeing the sea from corrupted crabs and shrimps, will Steev (our hero) and bunch of friends who we get to discover through the game be up to the challenge? Your nemesis, an infectious black ooze, is attacking and trying to take over their sea, corrupting and changing everything. This action-packed, turn-based RPG/action game will certainly catch your attention for its creativity and subtle challenge.

One of the best things about Squids Odyssey is that it can be played very easily and efficiently on just the GamePad. Of course, it looks awesome on a TV with all the colour and the screen being much bigger and clearer, but it doesn’t necessarily require all your attention, so being able to watch something at the same time is really cool. It feels as if the game was created for the GamePad.

The controls are quite easy and reliable, and it is possible for you to use the stylus. It doesn’t matter if you play on the TV or not, the controls don’t change, so it’s really up to you on how you want to experience your squid battling.

A fun and surprisingly deep RPG.

A fun and surprisingly deep RPG.

The characters are colourful creations and are all good-looking heroes. There’s a surprising amount of quality for such a little game. The music and sounds are funny at the beginning but rapidly get repetitive; it’s a good thing you don’t really require them to play. If they get on your nerves, just shut ‘em off!

There is always more than one way to get through the level even though there is most likely only one objective. This means you get to make use of the many different characters and items to find your own way to the end goal. You unlock these in the game store, which then lets you choose your build for the following levels. Get some pearls (currency) by completing the level and use them to buy what you want. Some levels unlock specific things, so it’s usually a good idea to swoop in there on a regular basis to pick up the shiniest, newly available toys.

The visuals are sharp and charming.

The visuals are sharp and charming.

The overall game duration is acceptable; on the other hand, its repetitiveness is less forgiving. These types of games all have the same problem, but if you’re a fan of this game and its uniqueness, you’ll assuredly enjoy the multiple levels and the variety of objectives. The level-by-level system is really convenient when you want to play only a few minutes or a few levels. If you have five minutes to kill waiting for something or just have them free to spend, well, just start up your system and play a level.

In the end this game won’t change the world, but it is a good asset for only $14.99. It will give you a good little challenge and a lot of hours of gameplay – even more if you’re the type of player that always tries to get the best score possible and unlock everything. I can’t say that it’s a hard game, but it’s certainly a funny one. So fire up your console, reunite a bunch of unlikely squid heroes, and go save that sea!

This review is based on Squids Odyssey for the Wii U eShop. The game was provided to 3GEM by the publisher.

The Verdict

Gameplay: 7.5

A tad repetitive but the game is a blast on the gameplay.

Presentation: 6.5

The visuals are nice but the sound design is a bit bland.

Value: 7.0

Good length at a good price.

Overall Score

7.2Good
*Overall score is not an average.

Developer From Software continues its Souls series with Dark Souls II, a direct sequel to 2011’s Dark Souls.  Most of the themes and mechanics from Dark Souls return, along with a few from 2009’s Demon’s Souls. Left intact are the dark fantasy setting, asynchronous multiplayer, and controller-twisting, teeth-grinding, cuss-inducing difficulty.

The central gameplay remains the same from the previous iterations of the series; players wield medieval weaponry like swords, spears, and axes, or magic. Magic comes from three different schools: miracles (focused mostly on buffing the player and their allies), hexes (dark magic, introduced to the series in the Artorias of the Abyss DLC in Dark Souls), sorcery (a more varied, multi-use school), and pyromancy (a central theme in the series is fire, and pyromancy makes a strong return in Dark Souls II). An addition to Dark Souls II is dual wielding, which allows you to enter power stances and develop a more agility-based play-style. The new options make for a much better multiplayer experience, with the PvP no longer plagued by min/max builds.

The gameplay feels stiffer at first, with the player character not being as responsive as in other games. While initially this felt like a failing in the game, From has introduced a few new stats which affect the player’s agility for you to level up, such as adaptability. This new approach to character building allows for more variety in character builds – even the beefiest swordsmen can pour points into adaptability and other tertiary stats, encouraging a more mobile, faster-paced game.

Prepare to die... again.

Prepare to die… again.

Multiplayer stays much the same as it was in Demon’s Souls and the original Dark Souls. Players can summon other players to assist them in defeating enemies or invade the world of other players for fun and profit. The netcode has vastly improved since the first game, with connections being made faster and less failed connections. Despite some initial bugs with the game’s online modes (particularly one failed connection barring players from playing online until they restarted the game), the online aspects of Dark Souls II are definitely where the game shines. Players can join in game factions called Covenants, with some encouraging co-operative play like the Heirs of the Sun, or PvP like the Bell Keepers. PvE covenants also allow the player to add an additional challenge to their game, or access special dungeons.

The game does definitely have some roadblocks to new players, especially given the fact that one can die before having even entered their name. Veteran players will have a much shorter learning curve, but new players can be turned off by the difficulty.

The game features the same cruel gameplay has its predecessors.

The game features the same cruel gameplay has its predecessors.

The story, mostly exposed through the intro sequence, can be summed up as “You’re cursed with undeath; find souls, seek the King”. Most of the game’s background story is unveiled through item descriptions, adding depth to the dark, dead world. The main hub town, Majula, becomes home for most of the NPCs you meet along the way, each adding their own bits of lore to the game’s story. Like Dark Souls, reaching the end of the game unveils the larger story of the game, although the “twist” is rather similar and unsurprising.

Graphically, the game is a massive improvement over its predecessor. The blur and bloom of areas like Blighttown are replaced with a much richer colour palette, early areas look lush and full of life, and the later, much darker areas still manage to create the sinister, foreboding atmosphere fans expect.

Death has never looked so pretty.

Death has never looked so pretty.

The minimalist soundtrack trend lends more tension to the game. Player and enemy footsteps echo in the castles and dungeons and the wind whistles through tree tops in the outdoor areas. The still silence is broken once a boss is challenged; the epic operatic soundtrack comes in with a rising crescendo, allow you to appreciate the artistry of the musicians for a few seconds before the boss grinds you into a fine paste for the umpteenth time.  The voice acting has also improved over Dark Souls, with characters feeling more varied and three-dimensional – although after 10 or 20 hours in the game, some of the repeated lines can become cringe-worthy.

There are some definite slowdown issues, however, especially with the PS3 version. There are also issues with maintaining connections online, leading to disconnections during tense moments of boss fights or PvP duels.

The boss battles aren't too shabby either.

The boss battles aren’t too shabby either.

Dark Souls II retails for around $60 CDN, about par for most current generation games. After sinking around 50 hours into the game, and just barely reaching the halfway point, I can tell you that it is definitely worth the money. The varied play style options and new content added on New Game+ brings a lot of replay value. The PvP and co-op multiplayer options also let players sharpen their skills and gain souls (the in-game currency) outside of the main storyline. There’s also the added bonus of PvP trash talk, with “hate mail” dominating most discussions online.

Dark Souls II improves on the original in a lot of ways. The game looks better, plays better, and fixes a lot of the frustrations from the original. However, the learning curve is steeper, and some of the initial technical issues at release soured some fans. The matchmaking for online play isn’t quite intuitive, with players being matched on either their level or “soul memory”, the amount of souls acquired by the player overall. This means that once a player has made a certain amount of progress, it becomes harder to find other players to play with/against if they are in an area intended for newer players. Despite these issues, the game is still a blast to play. The sense of progression and the rewarding feeling you get when you finally beat an area bring a lot of value to the game. If you’re looking for a good-looking, adrenaline-pumping, on- and offline experience, Dark Souls II is a sure bet.

This review is based on Dark Souls II for the PlayStation 3. The game is also available on the Xbox 360 and PC.

The Verdict

Gameplay: 8.0

Same brutal gameplay.

Presentation: 7.0

Pretty sharp but there are bugs throughout.

Value: 9.0

Worth every penny.

Overall Score

8.5Great
*Overall score is not an average.

3GEM Studios is growing!

Are you an aspiring writer with a passion for tech, gaming, movies, television, or all things geeky? Well, do we have an offer for you! 3GEM Studios (based out of Guelph, Ontario, Canada) is looking for writers to contribute articles for our online publication.

As a writer, you will be responsible for providing us with high-quality articles within established timeframes. All our content is professionally edited to ensure that correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, and sentence structures are used throughout your articles.

The position of writer for 3GEM Studios is currently a volunteer-type position, but we’re hard at work at expanding our site and making it profitable in the long run – in the meantime, we always have staff incentives. If you want to be part of an organization that’s eager to succeed and already employs a lot of talent with over 10 years of experience in the industry, please contact us at info@3gem.ca. We can’t wait to welcome you to the team!