Dan Reintjes

This past weekend, nxtgem was given the opportunity to participate in the first closed alpha for Ubisoft’s upcoming new IP, For Honor. Since being announced back at E3 2015, For Honor has been met with mixed enthusiasm, some praise it for looking to be something new, while others dismiss it as not interesting enough to warrant the hype. Up until now, it’s been all game trailers and demo’s, but now after being given the chance to spend some time with the game, even in it’s early stages I can safely say For Honor is now heavily planted on my radar

The game plays like an interesting mix of different games, helping to create something fresh and exciting. I saw bits of games like Dynasty Warriors, with battlefields littered with cannon fodder AI warriors to slay and warrior officers who are powerful and stand out from the crowd, while also showing glimpses of more popular multiplayer games such as Call Of Duty with its “capture and hold areas” game modes, being able to play both vs AI and other human players. The gameplay is fast-paced and strategic, offering a fantastic sense of accomplishment when you manage to fell an enemy combatant.
By far the most exciting game mode is the simple 1v1 “Duel”, which again you can play vs AI or another player. These duels are intense and fun, a best-of 5 series with the winner being the first warrior to land 3 killing blows. Combat is brilliant, using an interesting mix of different stances and strikes to out think the opponent, in a very rock/paper-scissor’s kind of set up that requires not only fast reflexes, but also the planning out of each attack and where you are on the battlefield.
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The Alpha offered up 6 different characters to play as, 2 from each of the 3 different era’s. You have medieval Knights, Ancient Samurai and Viking Warriors, and each subclass plays vastly different, with some of them being slow, heavy hitting brutes, and others being swift and agile strikers. The combination and how you fight each of these warriors adds a really interesting strategic dynamic to the game, even in these early stages.
Another really impressive feature is the customization. You are able to change the color and patterns on your warrior, upgrade different pieces of armor and the sections of your weapons such as blades and hilts. This led to seeing a lot of cool looking combinations on the battlefield, and really gave you a sense of intimidation when you see really powerful and cool looking enemies walking your way, ready to land the killing blow.
Server’s held up well throughout the course of the closed Alpha, and we expect them to have a few more stress tests performed in the coming months leading up to it’s February 2017 launch, and I have to say for a game that I had zero interest in beforehand, consider For Honor to be sitting high on my list of most anticipated games of next year!.
Keep it locked here for more on For Honor!



It feels like it’s been an eternity since we were able to sit down and watch meaningful hockey. In reality, it’s only been a few short months since the Pittsburgh Penguins were able to conquer the San Jose Sharks and win the most coveted trophy in sports; the Stanley Cup. The offseason is finally coming to a close, with training camps starting up, and the brand new World Cup Of Hockey ramping up. The best players in the world will come together and battle it out for their countries; with Team North America, made up entirely of the top young players under the age of 25, and Team Europe, comprised of players from all over Europe. With this comes a change of seasons, a crispness to the air, and the release of the annual hockey offering from EA Sports.



NHL ‘17 is, once again, the only hockey game on the block and it does well to building off of the successes of its predecessor, NHL ‘16. It does this by adding to the fan-favorite game modes while introducing a few brand new ones in the process; creating what might be the best NHL game we have seen in the last few years. If you’re reading this review, you probably have some familiarity with the NHL franchise, and know what the games bring to the table in terms of gameplay and features. While there’s nothing that has been added that is revolutionary, under the hood you will find enough changes to hopefully justify purchasing this year’s game.

Chief among the new additions to the game, you will find the Draft Champions game mode. Draft Champions, originally introduced in the Madden franchise, allows you to draft a team in 12 rounds, having to choose from 4-5 players per round to fill out your team. Before you begin you have to pick a theme, such as the best young players, legends of the game, and so on.The players generated for the draft are picked completely at random, ensuring that each team drafted will differ from the last. After the team is created, you can play online or solo to earn rewards in which you can cash in for HUT (Hockey Ultimate Team) cash or players. The biggest downside to this mode seems to be the sheer amount of games you need to play in order to unlock players; requiring upwards of 100+ wins just to unlock a single player. While the game mode is a fun addition to the series, the rewards don’t seem to match the effort you have to put in.
Hockey Ultimate Team makes it’s obvious return, as it’s the NHL series’ biggest money maker from year to year. This game mode remains largely unchanged, except with the addition of player synergies inside your lineups. It is broken down into both individual player and team synergies, allowing for you to get stats bonuses if the synergies match; a small feature that, if done correctly, can give you quite the advantage on the ice. Also new to HUT is the introduction of “Dynamic Sets”, which in terms of collecting means you are given greater rewards for sets of HUT cards, such as elite players, coins, and packs. As any player of HUT knows, this is the bread and butter of the game mode. The player auction house remains and, with the improved menu systems, traversing the lay of the land has never been quicker and easier. Both online and offline play for HUT returns, allowing you to battle against the best in the world using the best players in the world, but again after spending a lot of time playing HUT in NHL ‘16, aside from Draft Champions, not a whole lot has changed in my opinion.

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The biggest changes this year can be found in the much-beloved EASHL game mode. This year, customization is the name of the game. Everything from how your player looks, your goal celebration, equipment, right down to the look of your created club and the arena itself that you and up to 5 other friends will play in from game to game is customizable. The overhaul is massive and can’t be understated, given that in editions from previous years we were given almost zero team customization options. Creating a team is now as authentic and fun as it should be, giving you control over everything from your team’s jersey style, colors, logo, and the gear your team will wear; with everything behind a progressive experience system for both your team AND player. The unfortunate thing is that some of the player customization options, that were readily available from the start in previous years, are now locked behind this experience wall. To be honest, this left me feeling a bit annoyed. If EA would have given us something new then fine, but having to now unlock items that were just there in past versions feels a little cheap.

Arena customization is another massive feature that really adds a ton of depth to the overall EASHL experience. This new feature has you starting in a small barn, with no bells and whistles, much like if you were playing in a beer league. Through team wins, gaining titles, and experience, you can eventually have your own NHL caliber stadium; complete with pyrotechnics, goal horns, unique color schemes and logos around the ice, and all the flashing lights you could want. It sounds like a cool but minuscule thing to add, but when you are playing with your friends, having that legacy for your team really adds another level of depth and game immersion to the overall experience.

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The other new game mode added this year is the World Cup Of Hockey mode, which as it’s name suggests, allows you to play out the WCOH tournament using the official rosters and jerseys. It’s a neat little feature, but in terms of longevity, I can’t see this one being something people come back to play again and again. Other classic modes you all know and love are still present, such as online versus mode, online shootout, etc. Not much changes with these from year to year, but as we have seen with EA games in the past, it’s not uncommon to see aspects removed without warning, only to be added back in later.

Franchise mode, formerly called ‘Be a GM’ mode, expands to allow the player total control over the team, both on the ice and off. This mode gives you the power to do everything from setting ticket prices, hiring and firing team personnel, and even relocating to an entirely new city; all while giving you full control over playing the games, making trades, editing lines, and winning the cup. It’s a pretty cool mode to dump time into if you’re one of those players who loves to micromanage everything and leave your stamp on the team.

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The final big game mode is Be a Pro, which plays similarly to the editions in years past. You’re still given the choice to play in the CHL, play the Memorial Cup, or simply choose a team to be drafted to. This year expect to see a lot more nods to big milestones, both with the commentary team and in game presentation. It’s awesome to see your teammate pick up the puck you’ve just scored your first career goal with and toss it to the trainer, while the commentary team of Doc and Eddie marvel at how you are on the path to greatness; it’s really these little things that make NHL ‘17 stand out to me, especially being a longtime player of the game.

Visually, NHL ‘17 is the best looking game in the series by far. Player likeness is much improved, team arenas’ feel alive, team mascots bang on the glass during games, and the overall atmosphere during gameplay is as close as we can get without watching the real thing. Audio is spot on too, with all the sights and sounds of the fastest game on earth. Big hits make a big noise, the classic “ping” as you rattle a puck off the post, and hearing chatter on the bench. The commentary team is also improved and many new lines of dialogue added to the game. Gameplay is one area that I currently have a bit of an issue with, especially coming from NHL ‘16. This version feels slower and gameplay is not nearly as smooth and crisp at times. It feels frustrating to play at times, pucks bounce around far too much, and it feels almost like I’m constantly fighting, trying to gain true control over my player. There’re a few wonky shot animations I’ve noticed too, especially on breakaways, but I’m sure this kind of stuff will be fixed and tweaked with patches and game updates as the year goes on.


The big addition this year is net-battles, a sort of tie-up feature that allows you to jockey for position, fight for your ice, and trying to find an opening to get a pass or shot through. It sounds good in theory, but I’ve found it only really matters if you’re playing EASHL or Be a Pro, otherwise you aren’t controlling the player in front of the net, you’re controlling the puck carrier instead. Still, it adds a ton of realism to the game and gives a lot more opportunity for wild deflections and  unexpected bounces in front of the net.


Hitting has been improved, giving you much better, harder looking impacts if you manage to line someone up. There is less bouncing off players, a problem which seemed to plague NHL ‘16. Puck pickups are much smoother as well; the skating system, in general, was given a bit of an overhaul. Goalies have been given an upgrade too, allowing more body saves by getting a hip or shoulder in the way of a puck instead of making saves primarily with limbs. The goalies are all given more authentic stances and reactions to shots, and overall are the best I think they have been in years.

The presentation was a big focus for NHL ‘17 and it’s pretty easy to see the payoff. Teams all have their authentic mascots, all which act as much like their real life counterparts. There’re quite a few more team goal horns true to life and lots of awesome fans in the stands wearing cool gear, holding up signs, and just generally having a blast in the stands. All of this is a far cry from the static and dead looking crowds from games past. Presentation flows down to customization, with player and team/arena modification really adding a much-needed layer to the classic gameplay.

Overall, NHL ‘17 should be a great addition to the coming NHL season, and is another well-made edition in the long running series of games.

The Verdict

Gameplay: 7

Some weird animations from time to time, overall doesn’t really feel like much has changed, still pretty fun though

Presentation: 9

Tons of customization options, create an arena and team are awesome, player likeness is top notch

Value: 9

Tons of unlockables, HUT and EASHL can keep you going all year, Draft Champions is a constant source of fun

Overall Score

8.2Great
*Overall score is not an average.

We here at 3GEM know that most of you guys are sitting on Santa’s nice list, and no doubt have some truly awesome gifts waiting for you under the tree this holiday, but we always like to cover all our bases. This little shopping list is for the big spenders out there, the one’s who love to shower their friends and family with only the newest and best tech of the season! We present to you, “The Best Of The Best In Tech” Holiday 2015 edition!
tech ggifts1) LG EG9600 TV- One of the highest reviewed sets to hit the market in 2015, this beast from LG might just be the last TV you ever buy. Boasting an incredible curved design and 4K resolution, the LG EG9600 is the cutting edge in home entertainment, and at its current sale price of around $3,000, we certainly hope it is worth every dollar.

 

2) IPhone 6S Plus OR Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge + – Either of these dynamo cellphones are the real cream of the crop this year, and both are going to cost you around $1,000 to buy out right. Both feature massive displays, perfect for gaming and movies, and crystal clear resolution. The Samsung boasts an interesting curved screen, as the “Edge” in the name implies, while the IPhone 6S Plus makes its mark with a host of improvements to camera quality, display and overall processing speeds. At the end of the day, the choice comes down to personal preference, as both of these devices are absolute powerhouses.

 

3) Origin PC Eon15-X Gaming Laptop – Getting the most out of your portable gaming powerhouse has never been easier, thanks to great advances in hardware and technology that the last few years have brought us, and Origin PC’s Eon15-X is a prime example, pumping desktop level performance and 4K resolution in a fairly compact and portable shell. This bad-boy is going to set you back $2,600 big ones, but that’s the price you pay for the best!

 

4) Hyper X Cloud II – This headset is easily the best one on the market right now, pumping out incredible sound and often recommended by some of gaming’s elite competitive teams. The Hyper X Cloud II is universal, working on everything from PC, Ps4, X1 and Android/IOS, and the best part? They are only around $100!

 

5) Samsung Gear S2 Smartwatch – There is a ton of solid options this year if you are in the market for a new smartwatch, but reviewers say that nothing tops the Samsung Gear S2. It has taken Samsung a few tries, but it seems like they have finally nailed the design and functionality that you expect from wearable tech, and the inclusion of an onboard SIM card slot is ahead of the game, meaning you can use the features of the watch totally separate from your mobile phone if you so choose. The price tag on one of these beauties is around $299.99.

 

6) IPad Air 2 – Apple continues to take the best and make it better, and the IPad Air 2 is certainly no exception, it is much lighter, it is even thinner than ever. The screen pops with beautiful colors all while running at top end speeds during gaming or binge watching Netflix. Battery life is superb, as is the price for this titan of the tablet world, only setting you back around $600, well worth the price of admission.

 

7) Moga Pro Power Bluetooth Controller – If you are anything like me, you HATE having to use touch controls when you enjoy your Android and IOS games, thankfully, the Moga Pro Power is the perfect accessory to have with you. Snapping into place and connecting to your phone via bluetooth, it mirrors the traditional look and feel of the classic Xbox 360 controller, only now you can take it on the go! No word yet on if it helps your Candy Crush Saga score!

 

And that is it! Some of the absolute best tech to come out in 2015! We know some of these are on the expensive side, but come on, IT IS CHRISTMAS!!! Splurge a bit on yourself OR your loved ones this holiday, and give them a gift they will never forget!

 

The Holiday break for many people is a time of stress free rest and relaxation, especially for those who are in college or university. You can catch up with old friends and family, maybe go skating or get that last minute shopping done, or if you are a movie lover, you can always spend an afternoon off catching a flick at the local theatre. Thankfully, movie buffs have quite a few awesome options to choose from this holiday, here are a few of the best to catch this Christmas break.

 

1) Star Wars: The Force Awakens – This is the most obvious choice on the list, as everyone and their grandmother has been eagerly awaiting what is arguably the biggest movie release of the last decade. Episode VII continues the original trilogy and brings back iconic heroes of old, as well as introducing a whole host of amazing new characters into the fold. The movie has already smashed global opening records in its first few days, and we expect Star Wars: The Force Awakens to continue to steamroll the record books as we head into 2016. You can check out our review HERE

 

2) Sisters – This heartwarming comedy comes from SNL alum Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, which should be reason enough for you to want to give this one a shot. The story follows two sisters who have found themselves in very different walks of life, as they throw one last epic party in their childhood home before their parents make the sale final. As you would expect, things don’t go according to plan, and the resulting chaos makes for an awesome time.

 

3) The Revenant – Leonardo Decaprio headlines this grizzly tale of a fur trapper in the 19th century as he is attacked by a massive bear and left for dead by his companions, and robbed of everything he had worked for. Surviving the attack, the trapper is now out for revenge, and we hope this will be the one that finally lands Leo that oscar he has been looking for all these years!

 

4) The Hateful Eight –  Quentin Tarantino is back with his latest offering, The Hateful Eight, after many month of speculation, leaked scripts and on set issues. The movie follows a bounty hunter and his prey, as they are caught in the middle of a massive blizzard and forced to take cover with another group of survivors. Tensions boil over in this old time western, as each person hiding out in the storm has their own agenda and goals in mind.

 

5) Daddy’s Home – Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg join forces once again for this Christmas Day romp that pits mild mannered step dad (Ferrell) against totally badass biological father (Wahlberg) as they try and win over the kids of the house. These two are incredible on screen together as seen in The New Guys a few years back, which still ranks as one of the funniest movies to come out in recent years. This one should be an absolute treat!

 

6) Point Break – This remake of the classic 1991 film, Point Break follows an undercover cop as he infiltrates a gang of bank robbers. These robbers also happen to be heavy into the extreme sports scene after a string of highly sophisticated bank robberies, and the undercover FBI agent gets in a little too deep! The original was an awesome action film, here’s hoping this one is just as fun when it opens on Christmas Day

 

7) Concussion – Also opening on the 25th, Concussion stars Will Smith as Dr. Bennet Omalu, a neurosurgeon whose research helped bring awareness to the massive head trauma problem that has plagued many NFL players, leading to many suicides and other terrible events. Touting an all-star cast including Smith, Alec Baldwin ,and Luke Wilson; Concussion looks to be the sports drama of the year!

 

There you have it folks, we hope this handy guide helps make your movie going experience this holiday a little easier! As always, if you have any other suggestions or comments, feel free to leave us a little something on our facebook page! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

 

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In my house growing up, Christmas always meant games, I was never usually allowed to buy any new games after November, and thus, had to wait until Christmas morning to find out if I was going to be playing the ones i really wanted. The best part of gaming though, is that it isn’t JUST games, there are plenty of awesome tech items that the gamer in your household will love. We at 3GEM are here to help with any last minute shopping ideas you might need! So here is a few ideas that the gamer in your life might love this holiday!

 

1) PS+/XBL time cards – These are the lifeblood of our online gaming experiences, without having these subscriptions on our accounts, we lose access to everything from online play to getting free games every month and much more. The best part about them is you can never have too much time, so it’s a foolproof gift idea for someone you know enjoys either of these two consoles.

 

2) New Controllers – Rage quitting happens to the best of us, and unfortunately that means the odds of a precious controller being broken or smashed is pretty high throughout the year. Thankfully, picking up a new one is fairly affordable AND can be super stylish, coming in a range of different colors and designs.

 

3) Gaming Headsets – This is a big one, If you have never used a proper gaming headset such as Turtle Beach or any of its rivals, stop what you are doing right now and go out and get one. Its honestly like night and day, but more importantly, you can bring the gift of immersive sound to the ears of a lucky gamer in your family this holiday, and it doesn’t even have to be a top of the line model, $50-$70 will net you a really decent pair of headphones, a perfect gift to find under the tree this Christmas.

 

4) Gaming Add-Ons! – So many popular games now have a whole slew of assorted extras and add-ons you can buy to enhance the experience. Everything from Nintendo’s massively popular Amiibo figures, to the new Disney Infinity 3.0 sets, Skylanders and Lego Dimensions, these tack on packs are relatively cheap and easy to find, and look awesome either in game or displayed on a shelf or table!

 

5) Awesome Gaming Clothes – Everyone needs some new shirts and sweaters, so what better way to give someone the gift of fabrics than to make it something awesome and nerdy! All over the internet are wonderful places to buy game focused clothing, a few of our favorites are Filthy Casual, Think Geek, Insert Coin Clothing and Six Dollar Shirts. Any of these places are going to offer up truly awesome gaming apparel at solid prices.

 

6) Gaming Books and Art – If you are looking to help spruce up a room or man cave, there is a ton of great pieces of gaming art, posters, statues etc, along with some amazing novels set in today’s most popular gaming worlds. You can find books from Halo, Mass Effect, Star Wars, and much more. If you are buying for the sophisticated gamer, these items might be the perfect buy!

 

7) MONEY! – Might sound a little easy, and it is, but trust me when I say that the gift of money is a perfect gift for the gamer in your life. No matter the amount, there is always something we can buy that catches our eye, either online or passing by in a store. If you are unsure of what to get someone who lives and breathes gaming, then do them a solid and just give them some cash, let THEM make the tough choices and avoid having to go out and return something later!

 

See, buying things OTHER than games for your loved ones isn’t too hard at all! We hope this handy little guide helps you in these final days before Saint Nick makes his arrival on the 25th!

The Holidays, a wonderful time full of good food and showering our friends and loved ones with lavish gifts; a truly wonderful time of the year. The problem is that this holiday is also by far, the most expensive holiday of the year. We here at 3GEM know that sometimes, money is super tight, so we want to help! There are TONS of awesome games you can buy for under $20, but here are the best of the best!

1) Final Fantasy VII (PS4) – Just released a few weeks ago, this port of the original masterpiece comes to the PS4 with trophy support and built in cheat codes for those who have maybe played through it already 100 times. Sure, graphically it may not hold up as well as you remember, but for under $20, you are getting yourself a massive story and hours of RPG gameplay, perfect for those snowy nights indoors.

2) Telltale Game Series – Telltale games has a number of award winning franchises under it’s belt, such as The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us and Game Of Thrones. These release as episodes, with the whole season running for just over $20, however if you are looking to just give these games a shot, each episode can be bought individually for only a few bucks, well worth the price of admission.

3) Skylanders/Disney Infinity 3.0/Lego Dimension’s Play Sets – Everyone loves cool looking mini action figures, and even MORE people love Lego, so what a better way than being able to use your toys IN your games? You can find these play sets and figures at almost every toy store, and the base figures are usually WELL under $20, while the larger sets are going to run you a bit more.

4) PSN/Microsoft cards – A $20 card for either of these online services can buy you at least a few games, or you can choose to spend it on additional content, movies or music, or just store it in your online wallet for a rainy day or an awesome sale. You can never go wrong with giving someone free virtual money!

5) Steam Gift Card – Steam, the MASSIVE online games library for PC, has some of the most insane game sales on the planet, so it only makes sense to have some extra cash in your wallet. $20 can go a LONG way on Steam as well, with some games being literally only a few dollars, there’s no reason that you can’t pick up 6-8 great titles for that hard earned $20.

6) PC Gaming Mouse – Sticking with the PC theme, if you are hardcore into the RTS or First Person Shooter scene, having a custom gaming mouse is pretty high on your list of priorities. Thankfully, there are a ton of them are quality prices online, some of them even as low as $9.99.

7) Google Play/iTunes Gift Card – If mobile gaming is what you are into, then stocking up on a google play or iTunes gift card is an absolute must! Most games only cost a few bucks, so you can really get the most bang for your buck out of $20, especially if some good holiday sales come around!

Well there you have it, some super affordable and awesome gaming gifts you can buy for under $20! As always we hope that this list helps make your holiday shopping just a tad easier, and we wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Christmas is, for all intents and purposes, THE most wonderful time of the year. It is a time when we can all come together with friends and family and enjoy the warmth and company of loved ones. The holidays have also become the busiest time of the year in gaming, as many of the seasons hardest hitters and most anticipated launches fall between November and December. We here at 3GEM know how important gaming is to our fans, so we are here to help trim the list and give you the top games YOU should be playing this holiday season!

 

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7) Shovel Knight (PS4/X1) – One of the toughest games to come out this year, Shovel Knight is a 2D esque platformer in the vain of Castlevania and Super Metroid. The retro graphics and tight controls make this feel straight out of the SNES era, and the difficulty rivals some of those early releases. Shovel Knight can be picked up for pretty cheap on PSN and Xbox Live, so there’s no excuse to not go out and grab this gem before Santa arrives this Christmas.

 

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6) Batman: Arkham Knight (PS4/X1) One of the definite GOTY contenders here at the 3GEM offices, Batman: Arkham Knight delivers an action packed and emotionally driven story that allows us to see Batman in a vulnerable and helpless state, something not often seen in other media. Developer Rocksteady comes through yet again, closing off their famed Arkham trilogy in powerful and poignant manner, leaving us hungry for more of the Dark Knight in the future.

 

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5) Super Mario Maker (Wii U) – Another one from the house of M, Super Mario Maker is a Mario game that fans never thought they would see, giving you unlimited creativity in engineering your very own levels spanning across the decades of Mario, from Super Mario Brothers all the way to the DS offerings, then uploading them for the whole world to enjoy and play. Being able to find expert level makers across the world gives Super Mario Maker unlimited amounts of content to keep you busy through the cold winter months.

 

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4) Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (X360/X1/PS3/PS4/PC) – A long awaited entry into the crazy story that is Metal Gear Solid V, acts as a prequel to the story we all know and love, and fills in the blanks as to just how Big Boss becomes the villain of the original story. Game play is king here, as traversing the vast open countryside of Afganistan and Africa are a real treat, and you have total control over how you approach each situation, whether it’s with stealth or full guns blazing. MGS V is for sure, one of the year’s best.

 

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3) The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt (PS4/X1/PC)- Another massive game set in an incredibly vast open world. The Witcher 3 took the gaming world by storm when it was released earlier in the year. Developed by CD Projekt Red, the game follows Geralt, a renowned beast hunter, as he searches the kingdom for his adopted daughter Ciri, and attempts to uncover the mystery of her disappearance. The road is long and Geralt finds himself entwined with a cast of awesome supporting characters and quests; all while fighting off brutish monsters in some of the best combat of any action RPG we’ve ever played.

 

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2) Splatoon (Wii U) – Splatoon is a fun and colorful 3rd person shooter, and most who enjoy it will tell you it is one of the best games to come to a Nintendo platform in recent years. The premise is pretty simple, you wage war either solo or online in an attempt to use your paint guns to cover the ground in your team color, this allowing you to dive in and swim around areas that have your paint. You can scale walls and dive under enemies during the frantic action. Splatoon is one of the most enjoyable games of the year, and if you are a Wii U owner, you should be asking Santa for this one!

 

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1) Fallout 4 (X1/PS4/PC)- Fallout 4 is a behemoth of a game, an epic adventure that spans a vast, post-apocalyptic wasteland placed in the areas surrounding what we know today as Boston. After getting your family to safety during a mass nuclear detonation, you find yourself trying to solve the mystery of your families whereabouts, all while surviving in this brave new world. Fallout 4 boasts incredible game play, an immersive and compelling story, and hundreds upon hundreds of hours worth of content to explore.

 

HO HO HO Gamers! We hope this list helps you decide where to put your hard earned money and gift cards you get from Santa this year.

It has been two long but amazing years since Microsoft unleashed its next generation console into the world, and what started out as a bit of a rocky launch, has turned into something pretty incredible for fans of the big green machine. Here are our picks for the top 10 things Xbox One has done over its first 2 years!

10) Forza 5, Horizons 2 and Forza 6 – This might be a cop out, but we can’t just name one game of this seminal racing series that calls Xbox home. Everything about this franchise has been mint so far on the Xbox One, and we expect that trend to continue well into its lifecycle.

 

9) Kinect 2.0 – While still a bit of a sore spot for some gamers, Kinect 2.0 has become a staple in our gaming lives. Being able to shout commands to record to the on board DVR, scroll and search on the new U.I or play a few rounds of Dance Central, Kinect 2.0 is a vast improvement over the original.

 

8) The new Xbox U.I – Borrowing heavily from the Microsoft Windows 10 model, the new user interface launched on the Xbox One has seen steady upgrades and improvements. It is quick and easy to zip around, you can snap two apps open at the same time while you game and watch all sorts of cool stuff like Twitch, Netflix and Youtube, while users in the US can even use their Xbox One’s as entire TV boxes!

 

7) Minecraft: Xbox One Edition – it is no secret that Minecraft is a worldwide phenomenon, and Microsoft purchasing developer Mojang was a big play in the gaming industry. The Xbox One version still stands as one of the highest rated games on the console, and continues to captivate players around the world.

 

6) Rare Replay – One of the coolest bundles to come out in 2015, and certainly the most bang for your buck, Rare Replay offers up to 30 games for $30 from the incredible archives of Rare Studios. Games like Battletoads and Banjo and Kazooie highlight this incredible Xbox One exclusive!

5) The Elite Controller – Coming as a bit of a surprise during E3 2015, the Xbox One Elite Controller is a behemoth. The unit is combining the classic look and feel of the original controller shipped with the Xbox One, but adding in the ability to use more buttons and triggers, map out button layouts, and much more. It is going to run you a hefty $150, but the customization it offers can only be rivaled on PC.

 

4) Halo 5 – The question on everyone’s mind when the Xbox One was launched was this, “when will we see Master Chief make his debut?”, the answer came just a few weeks ago, as Halo 5 continued the tradition of incredible story and gameplay, coupled with some of the best competitive multiplayer since Halo 2.

 

3) Rise of the Tomb Raider – While only a timed exclusive for about a year, this deal between Square Enix and Microsoft has been paying off huge in the early going, as Rise Of The Tomb Raider looks to be a contender for Game Of The Year with it’s incredible visuals and story. Ps4 fans will get a chance to play it eventually, but for now it is one of the crown jewels in the Xbox One’s library.

 

2) Phil Spencer – The new face of Xbox has been a godsend for fans and the industry as a whole. Phil has 25 years worth of experience at Microsoft, and when he took over the Xbox division, he brought with him a renewed focus on games and the people who play them. The trend we have seen since is much like the Xbox of old, less about being the center of your living room, and more about being the most fun you have in there instead.

 

1) The Xbox One Itself – It is a big yet beautiful box of power, a little bulky looking at first, but sleek and powerful all the same. The Xbox One is designed to look like a cable top box of sorts, which is fitting considering Microsoft had hoped it would replace other devices and become center stage in the living room. For what it is worth, the Xbox One has been a success in many ways.

 

Well that is it folks, our picks for the top 10 highlights the Xbox One has given us in its first 2 years! If you agree with our list, awesome! If not, well let us know on our facebook page where we went wrong!

It’s hard to believe, but it has been 2 years since the launch of the beloved Playstation 4, and fans have wasted no time in rushing out and picking this beauty of a console up. It has not been without its problems, from PSN security breaches and hacks, to a few AAA exclusives underwhelming the content hungry Playstation universe. We here at 3GEM, like to revel in the positives like games, peripherals and more! So with that we present to you another 3GEM Top 10: The Ps4 edition!

 

10) The Last Of Us: Remastered – While TLOU was originally a Ps3 game (and also the best Ps3 game), getting another shot at playing through this absolute masterpiece again on Ps4 with upgraded visuals was certainly a treat.

9) Ps4’s built in DVR – The next generation of gaming was ushered in and recorded by millions of gamers all over the world. To this day this remains a massively popular feature for gaming apps such as YouTube and Twitch, helping us to save our most epic moments in the heat of the game and share for all the world to see!

8) Resogun – A Ps4 launch title, Resogun was and remains to be one of the consoles greatest games, combining a simple 2D side scroller with intense gunship action, developer Housemarque has proven they have the recipe for success.

 

7) Ps4 to PS Vita Remote Play – While the concept of remote play has been around in some form within the ecosystem since 2006, the launch of the Ps4 and PS Vita cemented this feature as one of the best. Now, gamers can play their beloved Ps4 games on their portable PS Vita even across the country, isn’t this feature awesome?

 

6) Standby Mode – While this might seem like a no brainer now, standby mode is a recent addition to the Ps4’s lineup of features. What does this allow you ask? It lets you charge controllers and download games and updates while you are not around, all while conserving precious amounts of power! How did we ever live without this?

 

5) The Dualshock 4 – The original Playstation controller is one of the best ever created, and the overall design hasn’t seen a whole lot of change since. Thankfully, the Ds4 adds some awesome features like a front touch pad and built in share button, while still maintaining the classic look and feel they have become famous for.

4) The Order 1886 – While this AAA Ps4 exclusive was met with mixed reviews critically, there is no denying that it is one of the current generations prettiest games, and has shown just a little glimpse of what the console is capable of.

 

3) The Massive Hard Drive – This is a pretty key feature. This is because there has been a real push from fans who want to rid themselves of physical copies of games and go all digital, and thankfully the Ps4’s standard 500GB hard drive should be more than enough space to hold all of our favorite titles.

 

2) Bloodborne – This spiritual successor to the massively popular and incredibly difficult Dark Souls series boasts some of the best visuals we have seen yet on the Ps4. Couple that with a dark and scary world and unforgiving enemies, Bloodborne has been a massive win for the Playstation community.

 

1) The Ps4 itself! – We knew as soon as it was unveiled 2 years ago that the Ps4 was going to be a massive hit. The console itself is beautiful and sleek, and its futuristic curves and edges make it a staple of any home entertainment area. While the original design is almost flawless, we are excited to see what other designs Playstation reveals down the road, a slim version perhaps?

 

Well there it is folks, our favorite things Ps4 over its first 2 years! Agree with this list or have something you want to add? hit us up on our Facebook page and let us know!

The team over at EA’s Vancouver studios have had quite a rough year. Starting before the launch of last year’s entry into the annual hockey franchise, the development team had to face a very unhappy fan base as they revealed just how many things had been left out in the series’ first jump onto the PS4 and Xbox One.

It was a totally unacceptable game in the eyes of long-time fans, and the subsequent backlash and reviews for NHL 15 echoed the frustration 10 fold, as last year’s game received an abysmal 5.5/10 by yours truly here on 3GEM.ca. With other major media outlets giving the game terrible mentions, it was very clear that a lot had to be done for NHL 16 to bring the fans back to the ice. The good news is that the team has done a pretty great job in creating this year’s game.

NHL 16 really feels like the game we should have gotten last year, all of the most important and beloved game modes are there. Including, Be a Pro/GM, Season and Playoffs, Hockey Ultimate Team and the much anticipated return of the EA Sports Hockey League, or EASHL as its lovingly referred to. Game play feels and plays are familiar and tight as we have come to expect from this franchise, while the addition of a cool new visual training during the game helps even the most experienced NHL players become even better all in real time, NHL 16 feels like the first total package on current gen systems.

Missing game modes were the biggest issues fans had with NHL 15, and the team made sure to really focus on fan feedback to make this year’s game is exactly what they wanted. This was made possible by unprecedented transparency from the very start of development, even going so far as to bring in popular members of the community to voice their opinions and help shape the final game. This is a huge deal, as these guys speak for the fans, and spend thousands of hours every year playing and learning the game inside and out.

Be a Pro remains largely unchanged from NHL 15, only now allowing you to once again start your career as a teen playing in the CHL and working your way up to become the #1 pick in the NHL draft, and then going on to have a hall of fame career. Just as it has been for many years, the removal of this last year had fans upset, and rightfully so, as it seems like a really odd thing to take away from such an important game mode.

Be a GM is also going to feel very familiar to long-time fans, but brings with it the return of the popular fantasy draft option to shape your team however you see fit and allows much more control over your minor league team. The biggest new addition to the mode is a player moral and personality system, which essentially means you need to keep the boys happy, and pairing them together with the right line mates is key to having them reach their potential.

Also new is the ability to have player meetings, with the outcome of these giving you the opportunity to further impact how the team plays on the ice, Be a GM mode in NHL 16 should help satisfy the urge to run the entire show from the ground up, and take your favorite team to a win in the Stanley Cup finals.

Hockey Ultimate team, or HUT, is one of NHL’s most popular game modes, and returns hot on the heels of last year with a host of new features added to the card based collection mode. Most noticeably is the option to be able to play a friend, which again, was removed from NHL 15 without any real explanation. To further the options, players can now compete in offline season modes and different challenges in order to earn coins and buy new packs of cards, hopefully pulling a star player or two. Team chemistry once again plays a huge part in team performance, and a much faster and more refined menu system makes the entire experience run much smoother.

By far the biggest uproar to come from last year’s debacle was the removal of EASHL, which has turned into EA Sports most played game mode in the entire NHL franchise. EASHL allows you and up to 5 others to line up against a team of 2-6 others as you battle it out on your own custom teams against the rest of the world.

The fan outcry proves that EASHL is key to having a successful hockey game, and its omission from 15 left a huge portion of fans very upset, and rightfully so, with most even skipping the game entirely. EA Vancouver spent a good chunk of time this year trying to rebuild the game mode back into NHL 16, and has done so with incredible effectiveness.

Fans will be pleased to know that EASHL is just as awesome as they remember, with a slew of changes that make the much more balanced and fun for everyone. Gone are the days of collecting experience and messing with the stats of your created player, in its place is an all new class based system with pre-set stats based on what style you choose to play as.

A play maker, for example, comes equipped with higher passing and vision skills, but has trouble firing off good shots on net, while playing as a sniper means super accurate and powerful wrist shots and top notch vision, while taking a big hit to defensive attributes. There are around 10 different classes in total across offense, defense and goalie, and finding the right balance of player types in your lineup is key to being successful against the top teams you and your team will face as you try and climb the world leader boards.

When you don’t have at least 2 club members online to play, you can hop into a drop in game and play with and against random players, which can be a ton of fun if you find a good group of players, or be a total disaster. The more drop in and EASHL games you play the higher skill level you will become.

Boosting your level will help you unlock badges by performing a certain set of requirements, which are brand new to NHL 16. These give you a special emblem, which acts as sort of a progression system to show others that you are an elite player. If you hit the max level cap of 50, you can choose to “prestige”, which much like Call of Duty, resets your level back to 1, but gives you a whole new set of insignia’s to show off to the world. EASHL is a ton of fun, and should keep players hitting the ice for many months to come.

Gameplay feels very familiar to what was introduced back in NHL 15, with enough tweaks and changes to increase the realism and keep things feeling fun and balanced. Computer A.I is smart and acts according to the play as it unfolds, sometimes stepping up for a big hit or dumping the puck deep into the offensive zone to make a play, which is something not seen enough in previous games in the series.

All of this takes place while a new precision skating engine ensures both players and goalies can move to where they need to go to make a play with as much accuracy as possible. Little adjustments while skating has never been easier and more fluid in all situations.

Player and collision animations have all been fine-tuned and enhanced for NHL 16, meaning the game is as wild and unpredictable as the real thing, and awesome new puck pickup animations allows players to take passes on the fly and scoop up loose pucks in any situation, keeping the flow of the game moving fast and furious.

If there is any gripe about gameplay, is that it doesn’t feel as revolutionary as it has in years past, as I would have loved to see more creativity and dekes added back into the game, the freedom to be skilled and outclass those who maybe aren’t up to par yet feels lost at times.

Goalies have received a huge upgrade, which could not be a more welcome change for those who love to play between the pipes solo or online. Precision skating and movement via the left trigger help to cut down angles and get into position quicker, while mapping desperation saves to the face button helps make that key save when you are down and out of the play. Playing goalie in NHL 16 is an absolute blast once the new control scheme is learned, and the position has never felt more fun and rewarding.

Visually, NHL 16 continues to pick and build upon 15’s stellar NBC presentation and the atmospheric excitement that only the beautiful game of hockey can deliver. Nearly every NHL arena is faithfully recreated from the ground up, all while all 30 mascots jump and roam around the arena pumping up the home crowd. Even team specific things, such as the cannon firing in Columbus after a goal, the infamous low five celebration between Montreal’s Carey Price and P.K Subban after a win, right down to the giant shark head that the San Jose Sharks skate out of during warm up, Authenticity is the name of the game, and NHL 16 has never felt more like the real thing.

Rounding things out, commentary from Mike “Doc” Emrick and Eddie Olczyk from the booth and TSN’s Ray Ferraro from between the benches offer up their expert opinions on what is going on during the game. The team, now in their second year with EA Sports, feels much more natural and realistic in many situations compared to last year, which often felt a bit stiff and more like they were simply reading lines of dialogue instead of calling an intense NHL game.

Overall, while NHL 16 is by no means a perfect game, it’s a massive improvement over what fans were given last year, and a step in the right direction. Fans should not hesitate to pick this one up when it launches, as it is sure to scratch that hockey itch just before the start of the regular season approaches.

The Verdict

Gameplay: 8

Familiar and tight, with a host of tweaks and adjustments, but could still use some more freedom and creativity.

Presentation: 8.5

Awesome NBC broadcasts get as close to the real thing as you can get, game looks and sound beautiful

Value: 8.5

The return of fan favorite game modes offers up hundreds of hours of gameplay, online and off

Overall Score

8.3Great
*Overall score is not an average.