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The month of February is shaping up to be a very impressive month for the video game industry. With solid releases throughout the month, gamers should expect some triple A game releases. Both Xbox and Playstation are having big name exclusives this month. Nintendo has a new console on the way that will shake up the competition as well.

For Honor – February 14

The brand new game from Ubisoft, For Honor, drops you into a war-torn landscape. Set in a medieval fantasy world that a history buff could only hope for. This game pins Samurais, Knights, and Vikings all up against each other. All three factions are playable and each has their own unique story. While the story portion of this game is interesting, the multiplayer is where this game steps into something new. For Honors multiplayer, is much like any other game where you are going up against another player, but with a slight twist. Ubisoft has introduced a new combat system called “Art of Battle”. This system allows you to lock into one on one combat with a real person. To come out victorious in these battles you must time your attacks and blocks correctly. This is a very new way to tackle combat and makes each and every interaction in the game feel new and just as intense as the first. This game has a lot of excitement surrounding it; hopefully, For Honor can live up to the hype.

 

Halo Wars 2 – February 21

Halo is a name synonymous with gaming at this point. It has been over 15 years since the release of the original, Halo: Combat Evolved. The Halo franchise is traditionally a futuristic first person shooter. In 2009 Halo Wars changed the formula. Like the predecessor Halo Wars 2, is a real-time strategy game played from a top-down view. You must lead the UNSC forces against a group known as the Banished. The story portion of the game centers on the entire cast not knowing that the war had ended. In a push and pull game, where you can also play cooperatively, it is heavily reliant on moves and counter-moves. Halo Wars 2 features a multiplayer option as well. In multiplayer, up to 6 players can battle it out in different modes such as Domination and Stronghold. In these game modes the teams must capture and hold a center point from the other players. Halo Wars 2 is a Windows exclusive, so Xbox and PC only. Overall this game looks like it will improve on all of the mechanics from the first one and with more content to offer.

 

Horizon Zero Dawn – February 28

The excitement surrounding this game is unrivaled in the first quarter of the year. Horizon Zero Dawn is set in a post-apocalyptic landscape where robotic creatures rule. Simply known as “Machines”, they resemble dinosaurs but are completely mechanical. Humans are broken up into tribes, similar to the first humans that were on earth. The main character is equipped with an array of ranged, stealth and melee weapons. The premise for the story is the protagonist, Aloy, believes there is more to the world than just inside the tribes’ walled-off town. On her journey outside of the tribe, she realizes that a rogue tribe is trying to conquer all of the surrounding areas. Aloy takes it upon herself to save her tribe from the invaders. Horizon Zero Dawn is an open world RPG adventure game with a loot system and a day and night cycle. The game is a Playstation exclusive but is still highly anticipated. The game has already won awards before its release, which is a good sign of things to come.

 

Nintendo Switch – March 3

The Switch is not available until March, yet has had massive numbers of preorders. The Nintendo Switch is the next console from Nintendo. Combining mobile gaming with the power of a home console built in one. The Switch is unique because you can slide a tablet into a dock and be playing on your home TV. If you have to leave but don’t want the game to end, you can pick the tablet up and put two attachable joysticks on the sides of it. The fact the tablet is able to get up and go, continuing right where you left off is very special. Playstation with the PSP and Vita tried to do this but it was a lot more complex than the Switch. The tablet can have up to 6-10 hours of battery life depending on the game you play. The Switch can charge by placing it in the dock. The device is also playable while it is charging. The Nintendo Switch will launch with 17 games available including Super Mario, Sonic and The Legend of Zelda. It will be getting games like NBA 2K18 and Skyrim later this year. Maybe this console will put Nintendo back in contention with Sony and Microsoft in the console war.

The screen fades to black and out of it, the words, “More than 60 million soldiers fought in ‘The War to End All Wars’. It ended nothing.” This is how Battlefield 1 opens. These few words set the tone for the rest of the game. Right out of the gate you are reminded of the mass loss of life and the toll of war. Once the small introduction is over, you begin the campaign. Multiplayer will be touched on later, but the campaign comes first, as it should in this game.

Campaign Image result for battlefield 1 campaign screenshot

You load up the prologue and are greeted with a man lying in what appears to be a hospital when suddenly he snaps awake and flashes back to when he was in the war. Immediately, you see him looking around at the animosity of World War 1; men in hand to hand combat, in the mud, beating each other with rocks, clubs, guns, and even their fists. It is a very chilling scene, to say the least. After this opening cinematic you drop into a squad of the Harlem Hellfighters, on the frontlines, with one objective; Survive. This is where Battlefield 1 grabbed my attention with one simple thing. In the story, when you die, your character’s name appears on the screen with his birth year and year of death. This not only makes you emotionally invested but shows you just how young most of these men were.

After the prologue, you have the choice of five different war stories, that range from a British tank squad to joining forces with Lawrence of Arabia. Each of these five stories focuses on the main characters, but all of them are given cutscenes between each playable section of their story. These cutscenes are masterfully done and either add backstory, or a deeper emotional connection, or both. In the second War Story you get familiar with flying, and how to master pilot controls. Taking on German planes, artillery, and the occasional Zeppelin is just the first half of this man’s story. At one point he is shot down and he finds himself in “No Man’s Land”, which is the area between the opposing forces. This again brings into light the carnage of war and is one of the best missions in the game.

The game uses real world battles, locations, and the countries that fought each other with amazing accuracy.Each one of these war stories is unique unto them and introduces a new side of the war. Spoiling all of them would be rude, but saying this was one of the best single player experiences in recent gaming is an understatement. Each story is believable to the point where you think this could have happened in real life. It may only take around 6-7 hours to complete while playing on normal difficulty, but each of the characters’ stories alone is well worth your time. This is still a video game where realism takes a backseat to video game logic. Battlefield 1 has some unbelievable moments but they are few and far between. Nonetheless, this game represents World War 1 very well.

Multiplayer

Multiplayer is the bread and butter of most games nowadays and Battlefield 1 is no different. The Battlefield standard of massive maps and 64 player warfare is at its best in Battlefield 1. The setting of World War 1 perfectly meshes with the craziness of a Battlefield title. There are 9 maps spanning from the Western Front to the Italian Alps, and over to the Middle East. Whether you are a ground troop pushing the objectives in the trenches, a tank on the front lines, or a pilot supporting from above, all are possible play styles and they are needed to succeed.

World War 1 was a time of technological advancement but neither side knew exactly what would work, so they experimented. This is reflected in the vehicles, each is unique and plays a completely different way. The weapons from the turn of the century are fairly well balanced in the game as well. No single gun has laser beam accuracy or can take out someone from a ridiculous range. They all have their own drawbacks and advantages for every style of play. SMGs are supreme indoors, but go outside and risk losing to literally any other gun at a distance. Semi-auto rifles, while good at medium range, come up short in close quarters, but have a significant disadvantage to sniper rifles. The light machine guns are well versed in close and medium ranges but can be sporadic due to full auto and their recoil. Even the snipers are balanced as you have to lower your scope to chamber a round. It’s very refreshing to play a game where any gun is viable if played correctly.

The classes also help the balance and flow of the game. The Assault class is the tank buster, with rockets and grenades paired with the SMG. You may be limited to certain engagements but you pack the firepower to offset it. The Medic class gets the semi-auto rifles, and with a revive syringe and medical bags, you are encouraged to stay in the back and be a team player. The Support Class with its mortars can push the enemy back, resupply teammates and repair friendly vehicles. Paired with the light machine gun, you can hold the front line alone. The Scout class is the sniper, who spots enemies for the team, and watching over them from afar. They play a critical role for the team. Onto the best part of the Battlefield 1 multiplayer.

Operations, this new game mode highlights everything great about this game. You begin this game by getting some narrative by a person describing their side of the war, and then the fun begins. It mixes two of the most iconic Battlefield game modes; Conquest and Rush. The attacking team must push up and capture flags while the defending team holds the flags. Keep in mind that the whole time, there are also tanks and planes in the mix. When captured, the defending team must fall back to a more fortified position and this continues until the attacking team runs out of lives. Then something amazing happens. The attacking team regroups and tries again with more lives and what is called a behemoth. All the maps get one of three behemoths, a Zeppelin, a Warship, or an Armored Train. These massive machines of war are outfitted with a large arsenal of weapons and can push the defenders back in the blink of an eye. They are able to be destroyed but it requires a massive amount of damage done to it. Once one side loses and the other has won, the game actually goes into a few real historical facts about that specific battle, which is a very nice touch.

Negatives

Even as great as this game is, there are a few drawbacks. There are a limited number of guns. To compensate for this, they made different variants of the guns with a few differences in stats, but nothing ridiculous to change the gun play completely. There are also very long load times between games and the menu is still a little buggy. Your customized classes sometimes reset in-game. Vehicles do not spawn sometimes, and invisible barriers, on certain objects when flying, can get in your way.  Some minor issues here and there that can probably be chalked up to lag. The story could also be longer, and the war stories could go into a little more depth, but it is already a great storytelling device for a World War 1 game. Hopefully, the War Stories gets more content through DLC, maybe the Eastern Front?

Conclusion

Overall this game has many positives that outweigh its few drawbacks. The graphics weren’t mentioned, however, there are times that you just stop and stare because of how beautiful it looks. From the new “War Stories” to a truly refined multiplayer, Battlefield 1 has become the top first person shooters of this year. This is the year Battlefield will surpass Call of Duty for best FPS. The diversity in this game, the unlimited possibilities, the ability to simply play the game how you want, along with the graphics and you have a superb game!

I give Battlefield 1 a 9/10! A must own!

 

This is the month of sports games, Madden a few short weeks ago, now NHL, NBA, and FIFA, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some other really good games out in September. With most triple-A games coming out in the approaching holiday months here are some games to hold you over until then. Now mind you as a lover of sports in general, I always love this time of year because of the start of the seasons, but the games make it even better, so let’s look at some of the upcoming titles that are very popular.

NHL 17 

The latest installment in EA Sports hockey franchise comes with a number of upgrades from the previous years. With game modes added like Draft Champions and more options for Franchise, Be a Pro and Hockey Ultimate Team, NHL17 is a step up on the current gen consoles. This game has much more fluid movements on the ice for skaters and puck pickup is much easier. Another new part of the game is net battles, to redirect a puck or get a defender out of the goalie’s face. Along with new graphics, this is a definite improvement on last year. Something with yearly games like NHL, Madden and FIFA is that they are never leaps and bounds better than the year before. The game is buggy in spots, but this is the case with any game these days. Where NHL 17 really shines is in EASHL, the online game mode that allows you to make your own team and play in 6 vs. 6 games against other people. This game mode got a lot of detail added to it. Customizable jerseys, arenas, and even your own celebrations. It really makes you feel like you’re in control of your own team and player, not to mention its always more fun with friends. Overall if you’re a fan of hockey, it’s a must buy, other than that if you’re looking for a fun sports game I suggest NHL 17.

BioShock Collection 

Would you kindly share this article? If you’ve played BioShock in the past, then you know how much of a masterpiece they already are. BioShock 1, Bioshock 2 and Bioshock Infinite are now on both PS4 and Xbox One with an all new look. These three games all come in a collection for $60 which is a great deal, if you’ve played them in the past or not. If you haven’t played these games, you’re in for a very nice treat in the worlds of Rapture and Columbia. For returning players, this is not only great nostalgia but also your chance to play all the DLC if you never did with the original games. There isn’t too much to be said about the game since it is a reskin, but not much has to be said. The original Bioshock is almost 10 years old and is a game today that still is a masterpiece but the other two are just as good. If you like video games in general, I highly recommend this remastered collection.

Destiny: Rise of Iron

The game that is slated to be a 10-year epic in the making has revealed its year 3 expansion. Rise of Iron is Destiny’s newest addition of content after a year drought from the Taken King. This has been much anticipated and is a breath of fresh air with new maps, weapons, armor, and story missions. The expansion introduces the new social area as well, Felwinters Peak, where the Iron Lords use to reside but have long since been absent. All but one Iron Lord is left, Lord Saladin, who has been a frequent visitor to the Tower. The new big bad in the expansion is called SIVA, a nanotechnology that the Fallen (alien species) have gotten ahold of and plan to destroy the last city. It is up to you to stop them and restore the Iron Lords to their former glory and discover what happen the Lords of old. When it comes to multiplayer, Rise of Iron is finally introducing private matches to Destiny. Want to just have fun with your friends? Now you can with this, finally becoming an option after three years. Overall this is a great expansion for Destiny and if you own the game or are looking to just get introduced to the world, this is the best time since the sequel is rumored for next year.

NBA 2K17

Basketball is back! With the latest installment in the basketball series, 2K is bringing you the best game they’ve put forward yet. Visually looks better, the gameplay feels more polished, and even the commentary feels fresh. We’ll start with something 2K did that I haven’t seen before. They released a game titled, “NBA 2K17: The Prelude”. This was a free download that included trophies/achievements and it allowed you to play as a player in college getting ready to be drafted. Best of all it was free, it allowed you to get a feel for the game that was coming and added a level of depth to the MyCareer  mode which is one of the biggest selling points of the game. The MyCareer mode also got a big change, as it now has an actor playing alongside you in this mode, Michael B. Jordan, the guy from Creed. Flashy yes, but pretty cool none the less. Overall this is another yearly sports game just like NHL mentioned earlier, but this game feels good to play and look forward to putting some hours into it. Plus is has an amazing soundtrack to boot.