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GAMES ARCHIVE

 
 
 

Mad Dog Games®

World War Z

Standard Edition

Xbox One / PlayStation 4 / PC

 

Humanity is on the brink of extinction. From New York to Moscow and Jerusalem, the undead apocalypse continues to spread. As the end looms; a hardened few band together to defeat the horde and outlive the dead. World War Z is a heart-pounding coop third-person shooter for up to 4 players featuring swarms of hundreds of zombies. Based on the Paramount Pictures film, World War Z focuses on fast-paced game play while exploring new storylines from around the world.

 

Battle swarms of hundreds of zombies - the Swarm Engine seamlessly renders hordes of zombies in incredible firefights. Advanced gore systems offer gruesomely satisfying action.

 

Coop story-driven campaigns - survive around the world, as unique groups tell their stories of perseverance.

 

Fight other players for survival - several intense Player vs Player vs Zombies game modes complement the coop campaigns.

 

Grow stronger - unlock powerful weapon upgrades and level 6 character classes to take on greater challenges.

 
 
 
 

2K®

Borderlands 2:

The Handsome Collection

Xbox One / PlayStation 4 / PC

 

Gearbox launched it’s highly anticipated sequel to its worldwide hit Borderlands in 2012 and the game was instantly garnished with critical acclaim for improving on the systems started by the original. I do disagree with some media outlets out there who praised the game for its role-playing elements, some even giving the game 9 out of 10 stars. While RPG elements were improved on from the first, the game remained more looter-shooter and less RPG to the chagrin of some who worried that Borderlands would become another stone-washed franchise. Further it literally has the same synopsis as the first game except for a few alterations to accommodate the story which takes place five years after the events of the first game.

 

Borderlands was never intended to be traditional or an RPG entirely, yet I can’t help but smolder a little too because it was certainly praised for being one. I wish the same treatment to story that exists in the Telltale series made its way to the AAA title. Alas it wasn’t and the result was a good, even great, shooter but with nothing to latch on to emotionally the game in general felt superfluous. The protagonists in the story are well acted but interactions are few and far between and your character doesn’t even have dialogue except for the occasional blurb during combat. Borderlands 2 I think could have benefited from companionship and squad-based mechanics to give more life to the game and make it less monotonous in single-player mode. Borderlands 2 is described as open-world however “open-world” in the Borderlands series actually means open-zones and there is nothing more frustrating about Borderlands than having to drive up to a button to get from one zone to another. Oh, and if repeating areas is what you like then this game is for you. Borderlands 2 suffers from the same lack of variety with its maps so much to the point that you are playing the same area multiple times over.

 

Like the first game, Borderlands 2 is still at its heart a looter-shooter and that’s okay. It’s a game that does it very well and it’s always best a game franchise stick with what it’s good at and just like the first, the second installment features a whack ton of guns and all kinds of ways to create carnage. If you are lucky enough to have someone to co-op, the game becomes even more enjoyable because the combat is fast-paced and fluid.

 

Borderlands 2 had two seasons of DLC releases adding a lot of independent story campaigns to the game. On June 9th 2019 Gearbox released a final DLC for the game titled “Commander Lilith and the Fight for Sanctuary” which acts as the transition between the events of games 2 and 3 and by all accounts Borderlands 3 will be epic. The fact that Gearbox would take the time to revisit this aged game and provide context to players and set them up for the next installment might be a positive sign to role-playing gamers everywhere that Gearbox values your investment in the story.

 
 

2K®

Borderlands

Game of the Year Edition

Xbox 360 / PlayStation 3

Bethesda®

Rage 2:

Deluxe Edition

Xbox One / PlayStation 4 / PC

The original Borderlands drop in 2009 was felt from Earth to Pandora and in a lot of ways we are still feeling its impact today in 2019. The 10-year anniversary of the franchise and the pending launch of Borderlands 3 later this year is a striking example of the lasting impact of one of the last remaining “legacy” titles. Things were a lot different back then. A time when the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 were king and queen of the console kingdom and the sandbox looter-shooters that are so prevalent today didn’t exist – at least not as the dominant genre in the market and here is where studio interests start to diverge away from complex storylines and character deep-dives of the RPG model to a more rapid-fire plot style where the action is the narrative. The only function of the story is more-or-less navigation around the map. The idea of character progression through the story rather than just the virtual space has been sanitized into a much lesser form of role playing in which you the protagonist are sent to specific locations in order to dispatch the resident boss or to complete a task.

 

In a nutshell, this may not seem all that different from any other action-adventure shooter you’ve played until you actually play it. The truth is this “lighter” version of an RPG actually works for Borderlands due to its comic-book appeal, nippy humor, and downright ludicrous scenarios. This is the kind of game that’s been refined for cooperative game-play and features a swift jump-in/jump-out party queue system. As such you don’t want players spending time reading tedious dialogue bubbles, figuring out encrypted puzzles, and contemplating their life choices. Instead Borderlands is all about the high-intensity combat and gun-play and its guns galore in this game. This game has so many different models and variants some even with elemental properties attached. So equipment modifications other than visual is completely removed instead if you want something different just equip something new. This allows for much faster game-play and makes looting exciting. Take 2’s decision to use Epic’s Unreal engine certainly helped too which if you’re not familiar with is the same technology that powers Fortnite so you can see certain similarities in architecture. It’s meant to be responsive and fast, rather than support a lot of A.I.

 

Although I would have liked to have seen more emphasis on story and personal engagements, Borderlands rides that edge just enough to keep the RPG fans content. I think players really saw potential in the story and the game makers would agree. Borderlands would quickly spawn a cult following, become a comic, and even get made into a Telltale series which you guys should defiantly check out if you haven’t already. In March 2019 Gearbox announced a Game of the Year Enhanced Edition which means you can play the defining game of a generation in 4K resolution with HDR support.

Dive headfirst into a dystopian world devoid of society, law, and order. RAGE 2 brings together two studio powerhouses - Avalanche Studios, masters of open world insanity, and id Software, the creators of the first-person shooter - to deliver a carnival of carnage where you can go anywhere, shoot anything, and explode everything.

 

An asteroid has annihilated 80% of the earth's population, and humanity's numbers are dwindling. Ruthless and bloodthirsty gangs roam the open roads and the tyrannical Authority seek to rule with an iron fist. As Walker, the last Ranger of the wasteland and a threat to their power, you have been robbed of your home and left for dead. Now you'll have to rage for justice and freedom. With ludicrous vehicle combat, super-powered first-person mayhem, and an open world full of emergent madness, you will tear across an unforgiving wasteland battling sadistic gangs to find the tools and tech needed to crush the oppressive rule of The Authority once and for all.

 

Deluxe Edition Description:

Looking to add a little extra luxury to your action-packed tour through the wasteland? Pre-Order the RAGE 2 Deluxe Edition for a copy of the game alongside some badass bonuses: Rise of the Ghosts Expansion: An exciting campaign expansion to RAGE 2! Stay tuned for full expansion details at a later date.

 

BFG – Get your hands on DOOM’s big, friendly superweapon and eviscerate everything in your way in a flash of energy – Marine-tested, Ranger-approved!

 

Cult of the Death God Mission – A wild ride sends Walker after a cult of crazed mutants who seemingly worship the image of Nicholas Raine - the hero of the original RAGE. Survive the sewers and fight through hordes of mutants, including the massive and monstrous Abadon Warlock.

 

Mutant Monster Truck Skin – Run over enemies in style with this exclusive vehicle skin. The truck is self-cleaning, so don’t worry about those pesky blood stains messing up the pearl coating.

 

Wasteland Wizard Cheat Codes – You’ve been granted mighty new powers by the reclusive wasteland wizard! Utilize this collection of exclusive “cheat codes” to rule the wasteland.

 

Progress Booster – Kick into Overdrive! Get more bang for your bang with this wasteland Progress Booster.

 

Nicholas Raine Armor and Settler Pistol – Slip into Raine’s legendary Arkist armor and relive the classics with his powerful Settler Pistol.

 

Battle Standard – Strike fear into the hearts of your enemies as you race into combat with this imposing banner streaming from your vehicle.

 
 
 

Electronic Arts®

Anthem

Legion of Dawn Edition

Xbox One / PlayStation 4 / PC

 

If you’re already a gamer then you’re probably already familiar with Bioware’s most recent attempt at getting back to the top of the sci-fi action-shooter RPG ladder that the Mass Effect Trilogy so broadly captured successfully a decade earlier. Suffice to say it has been a struggle for both Bioware and fans who really wanted to jump into a Javelin and experience a world full of life, vigor, and dangerous beauty. Well unfortunately Bioware only managed to get half of the equation right and Anthem fell short of expectations. By launch Anthem was not well received by critics and fans. By most accounts the game, while good in concept, was bad in principal execution and coupled with changes within the gaming industry itself meant that the previous push model which was developers releasing a fully fleshed out video game to the masses was too expensive and instead a pull system was implemented that relied heavily on consumer participation through co-operative game-play and support through micro-transactions to properly fill in the void that the virtual space created. By the time of Anthem, the looter-shooter sandbox revolution had been well underway yet boiling underneath, RPG fans were still hopeful that Anthem would not fall victim to the same blight that had befallen other AAA legacies.

 

When initially asked about Anthem’s intentions as a video game representatives responded by saying they wanted to do something different and separate from the Mass Effect Trilogy and the Dragon Age franchises which they seem to have forgotten were both highly successful franchises and still highly regarded despite being almost a decade old. “Doing something different” should not be the mission objective of any video game project and I think Anthem is a prime example of what happens when a game studio stops doing what they’re good at. I think most would agree that on the surface, Anthem is a good game but still needs more direction and a more layers if it wants to stay relevant moving forward. Thankfully for fans, Bioware has announced that Anthem will continue to receive developer support for the foreseeable future despite participants leaving in droves for other titles. Bioware knows they are a good DLC away from bringing everyone back but it depends on their execution. Many have tried the looter-shooter-with-intermittent-RPG-elements model before and they never turned out very well, so it will be up to Bioware to figure out a working formula which they are physically capable of doing but may not be rationally capable. Here’s hoping.

 

Regardless of whatever shortcomings Anthem has, there is a reason why it is an important video game and still worth picking up. At its core is a solid game-play template built on the idea of mechanized flight. Despite the overall game being a Destiny clone but with flight, it has a lot more potential for expansion then Destiny but is going to take real commitment from Bioware. Sometimes you have to give a little to get a little and I think this game is a good representation of that and is an indicator of where the video game industry is at currently. Don’t let that be discouragement though because as was mentioned earlier – all it takes is one.

 

Anthem does not require a Season Pass for players to access DLCs however there are reports that DLC releases for the game have been stunted due to concerns that the game will not rebound. That being said, there is currently one DLC out for Anthem which you can download for free if you have the game already. The Legion of the Dawn edition will have additional bonuses.

 
 

Ubisoft®

Tom Clancy's The Division 2

Gold Steelbook Edition

Xbox One / PlayStation 4 / PC

Ubisoft®

Tom Clancy's The Division

Gold Edition

Xbox One / PlayStation 4 / PC

Massive Entertainment’s The Division 2 is the follow-up to the events that happened seven months prior in New York City, ground-zero. The setting for this game however is in Washington D.C. where the smallpox pandemic A.K.A Green Poison, has spread across the Eastern Seaboard. As an agent of the Strategic Homeland Division you’ve been tasked to restore order and rebuild parts of the city. Death and destruction notwithstanding, Washington D.C. has been exquisitely re-modeled to include all the attractions like parks, monuments, historical sites, museums, and obviously is the home of Congress and the President so perhaps you’ll wind up at the White House. All these sites make the map really worth exploring, an element that was missing from the first game where whole city blocks were essentially copied.

 

Coming upon these areas as you traverse the city is a real delight and look terrifically drawn against the panorama of desolation that is the remains of the nation’s capital. Thanks to research and attention to detail these sites are interpreted brilliantly but moreover the open spaces are not as monotonous as they were in the first game. The open-world map is divided into three areas each controlled by a different organization. Each of the organizations has their own leaders with differing backgrounds and agendas which really adds a whole new level of role-playing and contextual content to the main-story campaign that the first game lacked desperately.

 

Massive Entertainment did a great job of slowing down the tempo of the solo play by having more campaign side-quests and various types of support missions which gave players greater access to perks and gear. Progressing through the campaign with increasing difficulty made you really pay attention to your load-outs and your customizations where Massive, thanks to help of the U.S. Military, really improved on from the first game. Gun physics and mechanics were greatly improved for realism, down to the individual sounds they make. More impressive is the gun variety and the amount of modifications that can be done to them. The game even features a test range with a damage read-out to help maximize your build.

 

Overall, The Division 2 is a much improved game from the first but I still would have liked to have seen more story elements like cinematic cut-scenes and screen time with all of the characters you come across in-game, both good and bad. Most of the dialogue is delivered through radio while you’re on the move so the game is designed to keep the action going however I recommend that for your first play-through that you take things slow and don’t rush from objective to objective. Instead take some time to explore the city and get familiarized with the enhanced combat system and its features. These were greatly improved after player feedback and Massive Games responded with a terrific action-adventure shooter. You’ll probably have a more enjoyable experience if you have friends to co-op the story mode with or don’t mind a little Player-Vs.-Player. The endgame involves Dark Zones, which you are already familiar with if you played the first game, however due to no notifications going out when a player turns rouge means be very careful if you are alone in the Zone for the first time. If PvP just doesn’t sound like your thing and you don’t have buddies, the solo-campaign is compelling enough and worth checking out the game. You can pick up the Gold Edition Steelbook which comes with the game and Year One Season Pass.

Tom Clancy’s The Division is an intriguing online action role-playing video game that was released in spring of 2016 and was met with generally positive reviews by both fans and critics. The game itself is more looter-shooter and less role-playing however which does let the game down because the story of The Division is both enthralling and inspiring. Playing a Division agent lends itself to being more about duty, honor, and sacrifice than black-ops or secret agent so it would have been nice to get more camera time with some of the soldiers and civilian agents you come across. Some missions and quests do involve the fortifying of a home base but with little context, it feels contrived and inconsequential.

 

Set against a post-apocalyptic Manhattan, you, a sleeper agent with the Strategic Homeland Division whose role it is to respond to emergency situations is called in to bring order back to a city that has been ravaged by plague and living under martial law. If that theme isn’t enough to have you running to the shower for decontamination then just continue playing. The plot thickens and things are not what they seem.

 

When it was released The Division simply didn’t have enough character depth or story range to keep players engaged and interested. Instances were fun with lots of action but there were not enough dungeon or raid maps and quickly became repetitive. Story engagements were short, and quests were mind-numbingly boring in a city that was well modeled but desolate and dull with duplicated sites. The best thing about the game is literally walking through the city where you would occasionally encounter some randomness. Something as small as a civilian NPC spooked by your presence provides some relief from the monotonous tone.

 

Tom Clancy’s games traditionally have been RTS squad-based shooters where the premise is more on the technical like combat tactics, strategy, and first-person shooting. The Division would see Massive Entertainment’s debut into the role-playing game arena. Partnering with Red Storm Entertainment who is synonymous with Tom Clancy’s line of video games, Massive Entertainment would attempt to develop an open-world RPG complete with online cooperative matchmaking and PVP features. The actual game-play in The Division was solid. Combat was very tactile and skills like taking cover and throwing grenades felt smooth and responsive. When I think of this game I think of the sound of combat so be careful and don’t blow your eardrums out. I didn’t think you could actually feel the explosions through speakers but you can indeed and nothing will get the adrenaline flowing faster than the rat-a-tat-tat of your assault rifle. Shooting in this game has redefined for me the concept of “going loud” in a video game.

 

The Division is a good game if you are into action shooters however as eluded to earlier, don’t expect too much role-playing. Let’s also remember that The Division actually released with a companion full-length movie that seemed to match the games emphasis on technological enhancements and procedural game-play rather than story. The Division Gold Edition is available now and comes with the season pass and a bonus gear set.

 

Bungie®

Destiny 2: Forsaken

Legendary Collection

Xbox One / PlayStation 4 / PC

Bungie®

Destiny

The Collection

Xbox One / PlayStation 4 / PC

If you’re already thinking what we’re thinking - why is there a 2nd game instead of just adding on to the first, then you would be thinking the same thing as everyone else. Even more dumbfounding, only character appearance was allowed to be carried over if certain criteria were met. That’s it, character appearance. As you can imagine players who spent many hours grinding up their characters were not too happy and while Destiny 2 did at least manage to progress the main story that can aptly be described as short at best, it did little to fill in the gaps between the end of the first game and the second.

 

Destiny was never a role-playing game, instead opting for RPG-like features to keep players engaged. Unfortunately for players there’s just not enough of it. Like the first game, Destiny 2 feels empty. Of course the original intent of Destiny’s world was to have players fill the space within the game but even completely filled, there is still no engagement with anything or anybody. Unlike traditional MMOs (Massive Multiplayer Online Game) Destiny has no in-game group, chat, or messaging system which can be confusing for new players entering the game or potential customers looking for an MMO to buy but do not want to be left roaming around in-game with nothing to do. There is player matchmaking for dungeons and raids but it is not a replacement for real role-playing interactions. Without the main story to keep you tethered to the game, your instinct turns to exploration. Sorry to say, the open world you were expecting to traverse is not so open. Zones are separated by loading screens rather than being contiguous transitions. Destiny’s persistent world is actually persistent instances with clearly defined boundaries that players cannot cross.

 

By this time you are probably wondering if I am going to say anything good about Destiny 2. Yes I am – it’s a good multi-player shooter. Whether you are in PVE or PVP mode Destiny’s proprietary game engine is fast and responsive meaning you are going to get instant feedback with all of your presses. That might not seem important to note but consider Destiny features a wide variety of gun and skill types. When you are in the heat of combat you really feel like you’re behind the trigger pulls.

 

Destiny 2 has received three major expansions thus far and is slated to receive a fourth later in 2019 so if you were wondering if people are still playing this game, the answer is yes. However, if you are thinking about purchasing Destiny or Destiny 2 for the first time, make sure you consider some of the opinions made here as you may not get the full experience unless you have friends to play with.

In the Summer of 2014 Bungie Inc. finally gets its day in the sun after almost 30 years in the business as a video game developer. Of course many are familiar with Bungie because of the Halo franchise that was a collaboration with Microsoft which owned Bungie at the time. Bungie would later leave and become an independent studio again with big aspirations of creating a game that would be so big it would be a game changer for the shooter genre.

 

Work on Destiny began as early as 2010 after partnering with video game publishing giant Activision Blizzard which in turn would invest a staggering 500-million dollars to the project. Destiny was born and by 2014 had a well produced story complete with lore and game-play that was blazing fast and responsive thanks to a proprietary game engine that was built from the ground up and apparently is sometimes referred to as “The Hopper”. It’s not uncommon for game engines to be built from the ground up in order to ensure full compatibility with everything the developer is trying to do or might want to do but it can come at the cost of production if that engine is overly complex. In Bungie’s case it was also bad timing since consoles were already transitioning off of RISC architecture and back onto 8086, common to modern personal computers. Their engine would have to be revamped to match modern architecture. They adapted well and a year after launch had reported 25-million users and was mostly responsible for generating 1-billion dollars in sales worldwide.

 

Due to a lackluster implementation of a story with a narrative that players engage in, the game was ultimately one dimensional and was characterized as an online casino by some because their micro transaction store was integrated directly into the game and is actually triggered as a quest for new players. Despite mixed reviews, Destiny did go on to develop expansions and increase the lore but ultimately it was not enough to keep gamers engaged in an endless cycle of instance grinding with nowhere else to go and no-one to talk to.

 

Four years later and Destiny seems hardly like a game worth picking up. Certainly this game that relies on online cooperative play and matchmaking is dead. Well there are still a handful of dedicated players but don’t expect raid groups to form in any reasonable amount of time. The only reason we are adding this to our list of recommendations is because it’s a little piece of history that you can play with friends and Destiny is always there to oblige when you need to really get your virtual gun off.

 

Electronic Arts®

Madden NFL 19

Hall of Fame Edition

Xbox One / PlayStation 4

2K Games®

NBA 2K19

20th Anniversary Edition

Xbox One / PlayStation 4

Authentic NFL Experience - Whether you’re trying to build the perfect franchise or beat your biggest rival it’s all about your decisions and claiming bragging rights.

 

The Ultimate Challenge - Madden Ultimate team is back with more content and challenges to push your fantasy roster to Hall-of-Fame status.

 

Real Player Motion - designed to deliver hyper-realistic animations with a higher level of game-play.

 

Control Your Dynasty - Make a mark on your Connected Franchise with unparalleled control over your team.

 

Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) Content Description: Comic mischief, mild language, mild violence.

 

TAKE CONTROL WITH TAKEOVER - Harness your MyPLAYER’s full basketball potential with the new Takeover feature. Unlock special moves and abilities never before seen on the court, or activate Team Takeover and unleash the power of your full squad.

 

RUN THE NEIGHBORHOOD - Make a name for yourself on the court, at the Under Armour Cages, and during live events on the block. Ball until dawn with new day to night transitions, walk on at the Jordan Rec Center, or get the old Crew back together for exciting 3 on 3 action.

 

MyTEAM - Create your very first MyPLAYER card, and ball with LeBron, Kobe, and the rest of your collection in a variety of competitive modes. Introducing the new Unlimited mode, allowing you to pick any five cards from your deck and battle against other players online.

 

MyCAREER - The original career story mode returns with an all-new, immersive narrative charting your journey from China to the G League and eventually the NBA. Featuring an all-star cast, endorsements tied to your popularity, and new team chemistry elements that allow you to dominate the hardwood.

 

Square Enix®

Tomb Raider

Definitive Edition

Xbox One / PlayStation 4 / PC

Square Enix®

Rise of the Tomb Raider

Standard Edition

Xbox One / PlayStation 4 / PC

Crystal Dynamics’ Tomb Raider is to put it bluntly, intense, and so gritty you’ll be picking the dirt off your controller. Square Enix completely re-molded the Tomb Raider franchise into one of the most prolific action-adventures of the modern era. It’s an absolute gem of a game which is out of the ordinary to say because a gem usually implies something that is hard to find. Hiding in plain sight was Tomb Raider and the legend of Lara Croft reborn. If Lara Croft was only a sexy protagonist in video games before she is certainly a household name now and this game helped shape Lara Croft from the comic-book-centric action figure to a mainstream badass and cultural icon. It is reported that Lara Croft currently holds six Guinness Book of World Records including: most recognizable female in a video game, most detailed game character, most real-life stand-ins, highest grossing game spin-off and most successful live-action transfer.

 

Crystal Dynamics’ Tomb Raider doesn’t need any accolades to prove that it’s a great game. It also doesn’t need the legacy of the last twenty-three years because this game can stand on its own merits. The synopsis on Tomb Raider is that it is a story of identity and survival set against a mystical tale in an inhospitable land which Crystal Dynamics beautifully renders. Everything from the mysticism to just capturing the aura of the settings through sound is really astonishing and makes for really immersive game-play when employing stealth tactics to dispatch your foes. If stealth isn’t your thing you can always light em’up with fire arrows or a hail of bullets from your twin Desert Eagles.

 

Tomb Raider is actually one of those games that just lasts and lasts and that is a true testament to how good this game is. Consider this game came in 2013 and yet when you look down a list of every major AAA release in the last seven years there is still nothing equivalent to the three-dimensional artistry and storytelling that is Crystal Dynamics’ Tomb Raider. The main heroin, Lara Croft, is expertly portrayed by video game superstar Camilla Luddington who lent her considerable talents to voice and facial motion capture with a separate London studio providing the full body mo-cap and stunt work.

 

Tomb Raider currently has several DLCs in the form of single-player and multi-player map packs as well as outfits. All the DLCs will be bundled in the Definitive Edition which has been re-mastered in ultra high definition.

Crystal Dynamics outdid themselves once again with the release of The Rise of the Tomb Raider, the second installment in modern remake of the legendary title. Camilla Lunddington reprises her role as Lara Croft in this action-packed saga of re-birth and identity as archaeologist Lara Croft explores the depth and mysteries of Eastern European lore and the treasures of a long forgotten Constantinople where she must not only survive but prevent the evil corporation Trinity from getting to it first. What’s most interesting about this second installment with Camilla Lunddington at the helm is that she has almost become indistinguishable with the virtual Lara Croft which Crystal Dynamics has been able to blend so well with cutting-edge motion capture technology. The likeness was so real that the team sometimes had to dial back the realism in order not to make it so obvious. All the physical details from Lara’s face to her body movements were mapped so that her three-dimensional self could be re-shaped to match her movements using program deformers.

 

Once again the surrounding world, despite not be a true open-world, is deep with detail and the backgrounds look stunning with emphasis on Greek architecture. The development team traveled to Istanbul, Turkey and surrounding areas for research into Byzantine culture. Research they would then use for the game’s plot and settings. The team would spend six months working on the technology to re-create the exact snow conditions that they encountered in their travels there. This and other natural weather effects along with global lighting and the world that Crystal Dynamics has built using their in-house Foundation game engine means that you are going to experience the physics of realistic movements and impacts but still be able to see every detail from every angle that makes things like mountain climbing and shooting essential, yet it feels innate.

 

This is another riveting tale in the Tomb Raider saga experienced both visually and aurally thanks to Rhianna Pratchett returning as the game’s writer and Bobby Tahouri of Game of Thrones fame composing the soundtrack. Lara Croft has much more screen time compared to the last game which made getting right Lara’s mental state and how that state changes as the story progresses. Job well done and I think it really sets the tone for what we will evenetually come to see in the next installment.

 

Rise if the Tomb Raider has three story add-ons and several smaller DLCs giving players new outfits and modes to explore. In December of 2017, The 20th Year Celebration edition was launched with a New York City extravaganza that apparently involved hanging a Jeep from the side of a skyscraper in Times Square. This edition made The Rise of the Tomb Raider playable in virtual reality for both consoles and PCs.

 

Square Enix®

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Croft Steelbook Edition

Xbox One / PlayStation 4 / PC

Ubisoft®

Assassin's Creed Odyssey

Gold Steelbook Edition

Xbox One / PlayStation 4 / PC

Experience Lara Croft’s defining moment as she becomes the Tomb Raider. In Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Lara must master a deadly jungle, overcome terrifying tombs, and persevere through her darkest hour. As she races to save the world from a Maya apocalypse, Lara will ultimately be forged into the Tomb Raider she is destined to be.

 

The Shadow of the Tomb Raider Croft Steelbook Edition includes a limited edition Steelbook, three art cards and the Season Pass, featuring 7 Challenge Tombs, each with new narrative side missions, as well as 7 Weapons, 7 Outfits, and 7 Skills.

 

The Croft Steelbook Edition also delivers 3 additional weapons, 3 additional outfits, and the Original Game Soundtrack.

Assasins Creed Odyssey is the 11th and most current video game installment of the very popular and long running franchise yet despite its longevity it wasn’t until this installment that Assassins Creed fully embraced the role-playing ethos. Officially developed as a role-playing game with all the features that you would expect from one and the result would be an overwhelmingly positive reception by fans and critics who praised the game for its role-playing elements like character leveling and world building. Assasssins Creed Odyssey is a perfect example of how one of the largest entertainment franchises in history can still benefit from traditional RPG schemas twenty years later. While so many seem to be running away from the open-world, character driven template, Assassins Creed ran towards their fate to become an epic game and one that will be remembered for a long time to come.

 

If you’ve ever felt reluctant to try the game before it’s understandable because the story of Assassins Creed is layered with multiple story arcs. Over-arching stories, time travel, and all the exotic locations may lead to confusion for new players or may prevent potential players from trying the game because they don’t want to be lost in the story having not played the previous games. Fear not because we’re here to give the 411. If you’ve ever watched the movie Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time then you pretty much already know what to expect from Assassins Creed, except with blood. Then again you could always watch the 2012 Assassins Creed movie with Michael Fassbender but that would be too easy. Assassin’s Creed, at least so far, has been comprised of three main protagonists. The first is Desmond Miles who Fassbender plays in the movie, and is the player’s character in the first seven games in the series. The next two games feature a band of assassins in which the player moves back in forth between characters. The last two Assassin’s Creed: Origins and Odyssey follows a female protagonist, Layla Hassan voiced brilliantly by video game newcomer Chantel Riley.

 

Assassins Creed is the story of a fight for freedom that has raged since the 1100s A.D. between the Knight’s Templar who seek to oppress and the Assassins Guild as the freedom fighters. This conflict has raged for nearly a thousand years and both entities have survived into modern times and now exist in the shadows in possession of beyond state-of-the-art technology, historical knowledge, each with their own agenda, equally calculating and ruthless. In this latest title, Layla Hassan continues her support for the Assassins Guild and their struggle against the Templars. Hassan working in collaboration with other assassins uncovers another pivotal point in history that contains information to a long lost secret.

 

In previous Assassins Creed including Origins, the player is locked in to whoever the main protagonist is set to but with Odyssey you can choose either a male or a female protagonist, enjoy an open-world that is stunningly beautiful and a refined game-play that has never been experienced before in an Assassins Creed title. The game has received two major DLCs so far that progresses the main story even more. You can currently get the game with all the DLCs by picking up the Gold or Ultimate editions. If you’re feeling ultra glorious then pick up the Gold Steel-book edition exclusive to consoles.

 
 

Ubisoft®

Far Cry 5 Steelbook

Gold Edition

Xbox One / PlayStation 4 / PC

 

Ubisoft’s Farcry 5 is a suspiciously addictive. Perhaps we’ve gotten too close to Faith’s flowers. If you don’t know what I’m talking about either I’m still under the influence or I just haven’t explained it yet. I’m going to go with the latter so here we go. Farcry 5 is set in a fictional region of the United States affectionately called Hope County, Montana where a militarized doomsday cult led by a charismatic yet creepy guy, has invaded the county and is currently terrorizing the surrounding population. The leader’s influence is widespread thanks to his three children whom he shares control with. To get to him, you will first have to get through his children. The cult has garnished enough attention from federal authorities and that’s where you enter the picture. You, a rookie deputy are asked to assist the sheriff alongside federal marshals to bring in the cult leader however a simple extraction turns quickly violent and you must now fight to survive. As the story moves along, it turns out that survival is only the beginning and that’s what I love most about Farcry 5. Though it’s not a RPG in the truest sense it is a game with context beyond just being a looter-shooter. All of your encounters with NPCs, while short, are meaningful because your role to serve-and-protect is never lost in the synopsis. Even combat is elevated because you feel the sense of urgency to survive but to also defend your allies and your squad from brutal attacks by the cult.

 

This is the kind of game that I like to describe as ballistic because there’s just so many ways to get shot, explode, drown, fall, and/or crash in a vehicular accident or airborne disaster. Well adrenaline junkies beware because once the action starts it doesn’t stop in this game and the game’s grittiness coupled with fierce squad-based, and cooperative combat will defiantly have you feeling nauseous after the fight.

 

Farcry 5 has received three major DLCs which are standalone episodes focusing on a secondary character from the main story. You can get all the DLCs plus the game and other goodies by purchasing the Deluxe or Gold editions.

 
 
 

Rockstar®

Red Dead Redemption:

Game of the Year Edition

Xbox One / PlayStation 4 / PC

Rockstar Games®

Red Dead Redemption 2

Special Edition

Xbox One / PlayStation 4 / PC

Many don’t know this but Red Dead Redemption is actually not the first game in the series. The first was named Red Dead Revolver and was developed for the original Xbox and Playstation 2 by Angel Studios based in San Diego California. With funding from Japanese game publishing giant Capcom, Angel Studios was able to make the first of a trilogy that at the time seemed impossible due to development delays and production issues. When the game was finally released it was met with average reviews in Japan where Capcom had ported the game over but in U.S. reviews were mostly favorable due to Angel Studios original take on the Western action-adventure shooter by adding in role-playing elements like character progression and an original story that was well written with characters that were believable thanks to actors like Robert Jimenez, Robert Bogue, Gene Jones, and Heather Simms who all brought their considerable dramatic acting chops to bear for this game. Last but not least you have the venerable Jason Fuchs playing a younger version of the main character. Jason would later go on to co-write Wonder Woman with Zack Snyder and Allan Heinberg.

 

Fast forward to 2005 and Angel Studios, now known as Rockstar San Diego, has acquired the rights to Red Dead and are hot on the heels of a sequel but only one problem: it hasn’t been developed or even written yet. Fortunately for all of us gamers, Rockstar is too busy shining than to worry about the details. 800 people and 100-million dollars later, Red Dead Redemption was finally released to the public and the responses were phenomenal. Rockstar finally delivers the Wild West experience we have all been waiting for by re-adapting the game engine that worked so well for the Grand Theft Auto series.

 

If you can imagine what the Wild West was like, multiply it by ten and you’ll have the roller-coaster ride that is Red Dead Redemption. As the name implies, there a lot of shooting, killing, looting, and of course redemption but beyond the obvious, you will not find a better game in terms of plot, acting, audio and visuals, and an open world that looks and feels authentic.

 

Red Dead redemption received many DLCs including new maps, outfits, weapons, and two new single-player campaigns. The Game of the Year Edition is still available for purchase and includes the game and all the DLCs. Additionally, the game was made backwards compatible for the Xbox One making it easy for you to catch up on the Red Dead Saga.

If Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption is Skoal LC then Red Dead Redemption 2 would be the Grizzly Wintergreen. If you don’t know what that means don’t worry because neither do we really. Taking up the nicotine level to buzzing heights is Read Dead Redemption 2 which follows the story of a different protagonist but runs in parallel to John Marston’s story from Red Dead Redemption so expect to cross paths with him at some point in the game. To say Rockstar’s release of Red Dead Redemption 2 was big would be an understatement. To put it into full view RDR 2 had the second-biggest launch in the history of entertainment – as in ALL entertainment. What! Generating 725-million dollars in sales its opening weekend Red Dead Redemption 2 absolutely crushed expectations and those expectations were high. Just the teaser images alone released prior to the game’s announcement sent Rockstar’s parent company Take Two Interactive’s stocks soaring by 6-percent. Popular gaming news site GAMERANT would report that Red Dead Redemption 2 required eight years and the combined efforts of all of Rockstar’s studios to fully develop.

 

Red Ded Redemption 2 utilizes the same RAGE (Rockstar Advanced Game Engine) found in other Rockstar titles like Grand Theft Auto V which allows for vast and sprawling worlds to be drawn and supports all of the complex A.I. needed for interactions and interfacing. By the time of RDR 2’s release, RAGE was able to render at 1080p for the Sony Playstation 4 and Xbox One but it never received the proper 4K HDR support that have become very popular as re-masters and something game developers like Bethesda have been able to monetize on. What’s more PC users had to experience some content delays due to an exclusivity agreement with partner Sony Interactive Entertainment. So consider your experience could vary if you are planning to play this game on PC.

 

On the whole, Red Dead Redemption 2 is a well conceived, well produced, and executed on par with other role-playing game greats and deserves all of the acclaim it has received. Though the game can feel “grindy” at times realize it is actually a role-playing game and there’s nothing pseudo about it which is why I love it and you will too if you are looking for an action RPG that will engulf you on every level. I recommend you tackle this game slowly and enjoy every aspect of the beautiful surrounds of the West that Rockstar has meticulously created.

 

Red Dead Redemption 2 doesn’t currently have ant DLCs but your copy of the Special, Ultimate, or Collector’s Editions will include pre-order bonus content including a story mode campaign, mount, and in-game boosts and discounts. It’s quite possible that the single-player campaign will receive more content by way of DLC since Rockstar will be supporting the online version called Red Dead Online.

 

Rockstar®

Grand Theft Auto V

Standard Edition

Xbox One / PlayStation 4 / PC

THQ®

Saints Row: The Third

The Full Package

Xbox 360 / PlayStation 3

There is much more that can be said about Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto V that hasn’t already been said. If you’re jumping in or been jumped in – just kidding, to the series for the first time there really is no better place to start than with not only the best Grand Theft Auto game in the series to date but one of the best games to exist ever in the history of video games. What makes the game so unique is that while so many action-adventure games limited themselves by declaring what they are not; Rockstar gave themselves no such limitations and went all out with Grand Theft Auto V. The scope of the game is just amazing and is set within a fictional state called San Andreas and is based on Southern California. Within San Andreas lies the city of Los Santos which is based on Los Angeles. The game is played from either the first or third-person perspective of the multiple protagonists that make up the main storyline. Outside of missions, players can freely select which character to play as they free-roam the sprawling map that is San Andreas.

 

Missions will involve any one of the three main protagonists and involves carjacking, hacking, heists, and the occasional manslaughter. All in good virtual fun of course. If you’re new to Grand Theft Auto you might think that it’s full of mayhem and rampant lunacy but the story itself is unexpectedly subdued and grounded in the sense that the characters are depicted as real people with real problems and pasts that they can’t escape. This dramatic realism is skillfully brought to life thanks to the voices of Steven Ogg, Shawn Fonteno, and Ned Luke who all have graced film and television. In the story, the three characters find their paths intertwined after a series of events brings them together as partners in crime. What starts as a job eventually turns into friendship as the three men battle it out on the streets, for the streets, and for themselves.

 

It’s possible to be fooled into thinking that GTA V is a game that was meant for the latest generation consoles and PC technology but in fact is was developed with the 7th generation consoles in mind. Rockstar would later re-release the game for the Xbox One and Playstation 4 as well as up the fidelity for PC players to experience the game at high frame rates and ultra-high definition resolution where they can truly witness the full extent of Rockstar’s artistry.

 

There’s so much to say about GTA V, so it’s difficult to address everything that makes this game so compelling. It has become more than just a game; it’s become a “cultural behemoth” described by some, dominating the video game landscape since it was released seven years ago. Grand Theft Online, which was bundled with the game, helped the GTA V reach further and wider audiences and to this day is still one of the most widely played MMOs. This online platform allows Rockstar to perpetually change San Andreas and allows players to explore the map in a co-operative fashion. Be warned though, there are no safe areas in San Andreas while in online mode because it’s open PvP (player-vs.-player) so make sure to stay strapped and don’t get caught slip’n. The single-player version has never received a DLC but Rockstar still hasn’t ruled out the possibility.

THQ' Saints Row: The Third is a hard one for me to talk about because as nonsensical as it sounds I have a deep emotional attachment to this game and no it’s not because of the “hoes with guns.” While chicks and guns are an unsurpassed combo for video games, the real reason is the dildo bat. Just kidding, the real reason is because I just had so much fun playing this game. For me, there hasn’t been a more all-around enjoyable and satisfying gaming experience. This game will have you smiling and laughing the entire way through and if you’re not doing either of those things, you might be a zombie.

 

First off, to like Saints Row: The Third you have to have a sense of humor and like satire because this game is that in material form. The first two installments were praised for their linear story, game-play, and open-world but because of technical limitations back then the story could not be captured visually in a way that emphasized the subtleties and delicacies of the street vernacular being dropped by venerable actors Keith David, Michael Rapaport, Daniel Kim, and Tia Carrere. The actor lineup grows longer and more distinguished in the second installment where Jaime Pressly, Jay Mohr, Michael Dorn, Brian Tee, and playing everybody’s favorite girl Shaundi, is Eliza Dushku. Last but not least…Neal Patrick Harris guys…Doogie Howser was in a Saint’s Row game.

 

In the third installment, technology has finally caught up to developer’s conception of what a modern Saints Row game looks like, and what we got was a vibrant open-city with life, activity, and plenty of trouble to get into. There have been many speculations as to what city Steelport was modeled after but if I had to guess it would be Pittsburgh. At any rate, the map is sprawling like what you would expect from a major metropolitan area and to properly traverse it, you’ll need a G ride. Fortunately, there are plenty of cars to jack in Steelport and you’re happy to oblige. As you would expect, driving is an integral part of the game-play and core mechanics of Saints Row and dare I say possibly a more enjoyable experience than even GTA V with all of its ports. Beyond the option of paint, there are no car customization features in GTA V whereas THQ intended to provide players a mechanism to not only customize beyond paint but actually enhance the performance of a vehicle. This lack of vehicle customization in GTA V might be the only soft spot in an otherwise perfect game.

 

Saints Row: The Third is game more about bravado whereas GTA is more about lifestyle which I think is a good way of distinguishing between the two. Another distinguishing feature is that THQ released several major DLCs expanding the story-line and providing players with bonus items like weapons, apparel, and vehicles. You can get all of it by picking up the Full Package edition. The franchise would see one more Saints Row game added to its collection before THQ would file for bankruptcy in December of 2012 and see some of its intellectual property auctioned to Nordic Games who currently owns the THQ trademark.

 

Electronic Arts®

Mass Effect

Trilogy

Xbox 360 / PlayStation 3

Electronic Arts®

Mass Effect Andromeda

Deluxe Edition

Xbox One / PlayStation 4 / PC

Bioware’s Mass Effect Trilogy is arguably the best storied franchise in all of video games. What Bioware started in 2007 was an epic journey that would see as many ups and downs to the studio and the gaming industry at large as Commander’s Shepherd would see in the video game. Sadly when I played through the Trilogy I couldn’t help feel a sense of sadness and not because of anything in the games, rather it was the kind of gut reaction experienced when you suspect there is something else going on beyond the obvious like an omen. A poignant omen if you will that the end of the series might also mark the “end” of an entire game studio, perhaps an entire genre. A star studio that had shined brightest within the video game universe for more than a decade until the third game in the trilogy was permanently concluded could now be on its way to a supernova. Before we peer into the crystal ball at the future, let’s reflect on the past and talk about the great Trilogy.

 

The Mass Effect saga is beyond epic, it’s cosmic. The franchise itself is a massive universe filled with diverse life, lore, and technological mysticism that’s been captured through many spin-offs like novels, comics, movies, and still has a cult following today where every year fans collect and celebrate N7 day, an unofficial holiday dedicated to the video game franchise. I’m sure Miranda Lawson was cos-played in the bedroom more than a few times…speaking of which, let’s talk about what made these games so good and to do that we are going to focus on the second game which by all accounts is the stand-out game in the series. Even before the first game was released, they were already developing the second game and they made the hardest and most agonizing decision a game developer has to make and that’s to do nothing, relatively speaking of course. You see, by the time development started for the second installment Bioware had already acquired the knowledge and expertise with Unreal Engine 3 from the first game. They knew they didn’t have to re-invent the design wheel or fix something that wasn’t broken. They only needed to improve on what was already there and that focus is what drove Mass Effect 2 into the history books. Of course a hundred voice actors playing 546 characters with 25,000 lines of dialogue certainly help.

 

The Mass Effect trilogy is the most well acted video game ever. We’re talking Alec Baldwin, Martin Sheen, Yvonne Strahovski , Steve Blum, Claudia Black, Keith David, Seth Green, Tricia Helfer, Courtenay Taylor, with Mark Meer and Jennifer Hale playing the male and female versions of Commander Shepherd. This isn’t a video game, it’s an Oscar movie. A technologically sophisticated art production with all the trimmings and an audience already in place salivating, like a Varren that just caught sent of a pyjak, for your masterpiece. No masterpiece is complete without a soundtrack to match and the Mass Effect trilogy has got one of the sickest you’ll ever here. Composed mostly by the legendary Jack Wall and complemented with some nicely placed feature tracks. The total musical library was so dense that it was reported there were over 700 music assets available for Mass Effect 2 alone. You’ll especially appreciate the music it if you are an EDM head like me because it’s got the best ever heard in a video game series. The Mass Effect Trilogy is still available to buy from select retailers and comes with the many DLCs that have been released for the series. If you haven’t played any of the games in the series, it’s never too late to start and you should play at least the second installment. It’s important because it’s literally a piece of history and now resides in the Art of Video Games exhibit at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington D.C.

And once upon a time there was Mass Effect Andromeda. Treated as almost an inside joke by many in the gaming community who mocked Andromeda for being a well conceived game that had poor production execution and the end results showed. Of course when you have the kind of internal turmoil that afflicted Bioware right in the middle of production, things like that will tend to happen. Mass Effect Andromeda was tagged as the next evolution of the Mass Effect Saga. A way of remembering the Mass Effect Trilogy and at the same time saying goodbye but opening a new chapter that would see Mass Effect back at the top of the RPG food chain.

 

As fates would have it, it would not be so and Mass Effect Andromeda was set to die a slow and agonizing video game death, not by destruction but by mediocrity. Scrutinized in detail, scoffed and meme’d by some in the community who saw Andromeda as a disaster stemming from marketing greed and even blaming the publisher for poor art direction. The truth is what plagued Andromeda is the same infection that plagued many other studios and their legacy RPG holdings at the time. The fundamental failure to understand what you are designing is an RPG first and foremost and “because it’s a cool idea” is and should never be a project thesis. The community reactions were not wrong because Mass Affect Andromeda was a processed mess; instead it was wrong because it was the concept and not the process that ruined Mass Effect Andromeda. As the spiritual successor to the Mass Effect series many expected an RPG that was refined and sophisticated particularly regarding the A.I. within the game’s core mechanics – remember this is a squad-based RPG. Instead what they got was coded chaos that led to all kinds of game faults like buggy textures, quests and missions that couldn’t be finished, actions that couldn’t be completed, and a cover system with very, very, narrow parameters in an open world environment.

 

Originally it was believed early on that Mass Effect Andromeda would be more oriented at exploration rather than direct action-adventure or at least they wanted to integrate the exploration game-play aspects of the original Mass Effect into this version but as the old saying goes – sometimes you can’t have it both ways. Developers insisted after the close of the Trilogy that they wanted to say goodbye as-it-were to the Commander Shepherd series and as you can see, they didn’t make it very far. Making matters worse, their solution to make the game more about exploration was to attempt to procedurally generate worlds No-Man Sky style. Not a bad idea on its face but the wrong project for which to implement since you can’t art direct a randomly generating algorithm. Some media outlets reported that Bioware had squandered nine out of the ten years of total development time attempting to implement this sad solution to no avail. With only one year to devote to finishing the game it’s no wonder the problems experienced at launch.

 

Mass Effect Andromeda would make a slight comeback however when the game’s bugs were fixed and graphics improved but the damage had been done and along with other mitigating circumstances, Bioware decided to cancel all DLCs for the game but would still provide basic compatibility support. As a lifelong fan of the Mass Effect series, I fear we have seen the last of the franchise yet all hope is not lost if RPG fans can be patient long enough for Bioware to find their mojo again.

 

Electronic Arts®

Dragon Age Origins

Game of the Year Edition

Xbox 360 / PlayStation 3

Electronic Arts®

Dragon Age II

Bioware Signature Edition

Xbox 360 / PlayStation 3

The original Dragon Age or rather Dragon Age: Origins was released winter of 2009 to critical acclaim and much fan-fair. More than that, Dragon Age: Origins marked a new golden age of role-playing games, a segment mostly dominated at that point by port-overs from Japan and other Eastern AAA titles. The only exceptions being Bethesda’s Fallout series and Bioware’s Mass Effect which was an early template that would eventually be refined for Dragon Age. While the early Fallout and Mass Effect games were excellent Western titles, they unfortunately were designed at a time when technology had not quite caught up to the expectations of what game developers really wanted to deliver. With Dragon Age: Origins all of that would become history and thanks to critical improvements in hardware to both consoles and PC’s, developers could finally deliver a relevant western AAA action-adventure, role-playing game, and the game was…is marvelous.

 

Bioware went a step further by completely revolutionizing the way combat systems are developed. Dragon Age Origins featured both 1st person and 3rd person squad-based combat perspectives while allowing players to enter a command perspective that utilizes RTS (Real Time Strategy) features so the player can maneuver around the entire battle space and employ tactics. This can be done at anytime during combat and is a brilliant way of implementing precision in combat scenarios where there a multiple A.I. executing at once.

 

Some felt the game was light in content when it released however Bioware had already committed to supporting the game for a further two years in order to expand the original story and provide players additional endgame content through DLCs. Like many of the games that have made it to “Classic” status, you can pick up Dragon Age: Origins with all the DLCs if you get the Ultimate Edition.

Bioware’s Dragon Age II was released to the masses in spring of 2011 and well I don’t think anyone quite knew what to make of it. Obviously the worldwide success of the first made this game highly anticipated but I don’t think people were prepared for what they were about to receive. I clearly remember being shocked by the re-used environments particularly in “dungeons” where the 3D geometry is literally cloned over and over again. This recycling makes sense when you consider that DA 2 was reported to have only been developed in one year. Not sure if that actually includes production time or not but that length of development was a questionable decision on the part of Bioware executives who felt it was okay to release an under-developed game while taking advantage of the Dragon Age brand. At least that may have been the word on the street so to speak but the numbers seem to indicate otherwise as Dragon Age II was beta tested with favorable results and the game would go on to sell more than one million copies in the first two weeks. In the UK it was the best selling game in 2011.

 

Obviously, consumers were willing to take the good with the bad and overlook Bioware’s evil transgression because generally speaking, it was a good game. The best part about Dragon Age II is the combat. Wicked would be the word I would use to describe it because this game featured some of the goriest, brutally pleasurable combat ever to make its way into a video game. Revising the RTS combat features from the original game and improvements with Bioware’s Eclipse Engine which provided faster rendering and better support of DirectX all made for a visceral combat system. Base attacks were smooth and contiguous with targets and landing critical attacks felt oh so gratifying.

 

If we didn’t mention the story in Dragon Age 2 then we would be remised to do so because it’s really good. Although the diminutive nature of the areas in the game does not do the story justice, the cut-scenes are still well executed by fine acting and excellent character models. Newcomer Nicholas Boultan and Jo Wyatt would play the voice of the male or female protagonist Hawke while Brian Bloom and Miranda Raison would play the voices of Varric and Cassandra respectively and what a job they would do really giving life and expression to both characters that is downright hilarious at times due to their mutual dissatisfaction for each other’s clichés.

 

The overall story of Dragon Age 2 is dramatic, compelling, and full of classic lore that combined with a lot of extended franchise material like comics, novels, and film that spawned from the first game, really helped propel the Dragon Age series from cult-classic to popular culture status. Dragon Age 2 has received four major DLCs for endgame players. You can pick up the game with all the DLCs in one bundle by purchasing the Signature Edition for Playstation 3, Xbox 360, or PC.

 
 

Electronic Arts®

Dragon Age Inquisition

Game of the Year Edition

Xbox One / PlayStation 4 / PC

 

Dark times have come to Thedas - monstrous dragons cast ominous shadows from above while chaos erupts all around you. What was once a land of peace and happiness is now ripped apart by conflict as the Mages wage bloody battle against their oppressors, the Templars. Someone must restore order to Thedas and put an end to those who seek to destroy the land. It's time to lead the Inquisition - a band of legendary heroes and the only hope of Thedas - and wage a war to end this reign of terror.

 

The definitive version of Dragon Age Inquisition, including all story and gameplay content ever released. Explore the epic adventure that has veen awarded over 130 Game of the Year awards. Take your place as the inquisitor and lead a team of heroes to save Thedas from the brink of chaos.

 

Become the Inquisitor: Wield the power of the Inquisition over the course of an epic character-driven story, and lead a perilous journey of discovery through the Dragon Age.

 

Bond with Legends: A cast of unique, memorable characters will develop dynamic relationships both with you and with each other.

 

Discover the Dragon Age: Freely explore a diverse, visually stunning, and immersive living world. Change the World: Your actions and choices will shape a multitude of story outcomes along with the tangible, physical aspects of the world itself.

 

Play Your Way: Completely control the appearance and abilities of your Inquisitor, party of followers, outposts, and strongholds. Decide the makeup of your Inquisition forces and your own style of combat.

 
 
 

Bethesda®

Fallout 4

Game of the Year Edition

Xbox One / PlayStation 4 / PC

Bethesda®

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

SteelBook Edition

Xbox One / PlayStation 4 / PC

Fallout 4 by Bethesda is arguably the best Fallout in the series thus far and could even be described as one of the best role playing games of all time. It was released to worldwide praise for its realistic portrayal of a post-apocalyptic Boston Commonwealth and a deeply immersed character with excellent vocals provided by industry pros Brian T. Delaney and Courtney Taylor.

 

If you’re not familiar with the Fallout franchise up this point have no fear because you won’t be missing any of the back-story since the story of Fallout is experienced independently through the eyes of different protagonists (the player) who are spread across the country. So each story is unique and in Fallout 4 you are quickly awoken, both figuratively and literally, to the harsh reality of the surface and the devastating aftermath of nuclear war. But there is a story within the story and basic survival surreptitiously turns into heroism, love, betrayal, and revenge.

 

So the story is set and all it needs is you and that’s the most brilliant trait of the Fallout Series. As soon as you take control of the protagonist you become invested and ready to get to work. That kind of anticipation and emotional investment in a video game story is still unique today and that’s what allows Fallout 4 to be played and enjoyed for years to come. Fallout 4 has received three major DLCs along with several smaller feature add-ons. Another reason for the game’s longevity is that it is completely open to modders. You can already find hundreds of modifications like cheats, apparel, weapons, and even independent story content created by fans, that you can install to customize your game right down to the core mechanics.

 

Recently, Bethesda launched the virtual reality version of Fallout 4 for both PC and consoles so now you can be truly be immersed in the fight and feel the passion of the drama as you engage the wasteland on a scope that can’t be experienced through traditional means.

Bethesda Game Studio again delivers a game ahead of its time. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is the fifth installment to the hugely popular The Elder Scrolls series. Reports estimate that the series which spans two decades has sold more than 50 million copies worldwide even spawning a massive online adaptation launched in 2017 and by all accounts is one of the strongest and highest grossing MMORPGs today. Skyrim is defiantly considered one of the greatest RPG ever and the numbers would certainly back that up leading Bethesda to re-release a mastered version that takes advantage of better graphics performance on next generation consoles.

 

What makes this game so special and how did it come into being at a time when the Xbox One or Playstation 4 did not exist? After the success of Fallout 3 in 2008, Bethesda began to design the next saga in The Elder Scrolls series using what they had learned prior and vastly improving the Creation Engine which is the software development environment used by Bethesda since Fallout 3. The vastly improved engine allows for a more robust environment with better textures, better lighting, greater distances, and in combination with the HAVOC behavioral toolset meant that character interactions with the surrounding environment would be dynamic and seamless.

 

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a complete role playing game on every level. It might not seem remarkable that a RPG receive credit for being a RPG in 2019 but in a gaming world now dominated by e-sports and AAA titles turned virtual casinos it can be hard to stand out by simply playing your position. Skyrim does exactly that and the gaming community should be mighty grateful for it.

 

Skyrim has received three major DLCs and even included a mod service allowing fans to modify or to create all new content using Creation Kit which is an application created by Bethesda that installs on a PC typically through the Steam gaming platform. With this newfound modding ability fans, turned creators, created some of the most awesome tweaks, cheats, and beautiful apparel ever seen in video games. All of this would be carried over to Bethesda’s Fallout 4 where it would reach epic heights of refinement.

 

Whether you’re old or new to video games, if you haven’t played this game yet then do yourself a favor and get it now because it’s better than ever having been re-mastered to ultra high definition and there is even a virtual reality edition of the game if you really want to get your swordplay on.

 

PLAYSTATION EXCLUSIVES

Sony Interactive Entertainment®

Marvel’s Spider-Man

Standard Edition

PlayStation 4 Exclusive

Atlus®

Persona 5

SteelBook Edition

PlayStation 4 Exclusive

Sony Interactive Entertainment, Insomniac Games, and Marvel have teamed up to create a brand-new and authentic Spider-Man adventure. This isn’t the Spider-Man you’ve met or ever seen before. This is an experienced Peter Parker who’s more masterful at fighting big crime in New York City. At the same time, he’s struggling to balance his chaotic personal life and career while the fate of millions of New Yorkers rest upon his shoulders.

 

After eight years behind the mask, Peter Parker is a crime-fighting master. Feel the full power of a more experienced Spider-Man with improvisational combat, dynamic acrobatics, fluid urban traversal, and environmental interactions.

 

The worlds of Peter Parker and Spider-Man collide in an original action-packed story. In this new Spider-Man universe, iconic characters from Peter and Spider-Man’s lives have been re-imagined, placing familiar characters in unique roles.

 

The Big Apple comes to life as Insomniac’s most expansive and interactive world yet. Swing through vibrant neighborhoods and catch breathtaking views of iconic Marvel and Manhattan landmarks. Use the environment to defeat villains with epic takedowns in true blockbuster action.

Persona 5 is a game about the internal and external conflicts of a group of troubled high school students - the protagonist and a collection of compatriots he meets in the game's story - who live dual lives as Phantom Thieves. They have the typically ordinary day-to-day of a Tokyo high schooler - attending class, after school activities and part-time jobs. But they also undertake fantastical adventures by using otherworldly powers to enter the hearts of people. Their power comes from the Persona, the Jungian concept of the “self”. The game's heroes realize that society forces people to wear masks to protect their inner vulnerabilities, and by literally ripping off their protective masks and confronting their inner selves do the heroes awaken their inner power, and use it to strive to help those in need. Ultimately, the group of Phantom Thieves seeks to change their day-to-day world to match their perception and see through the masks modern-day society wears.

 

Sony Interactive Entertainment®

Horizon Zero Dawn

Complete Edition

PlayStation 4 Exclusive

Sony Interactive Entertainment®

MLB The Show 19

Standard Edition

PlayStation 4 Exclusive

Horizon Zero Dawn is a stunningly beautiful game and a true classic of the Playstation 4 console. Funny that the word classic is used to describe a video game that only came out a couple of years ago but the designation is well deserved because it’s that good. The kicker is that this action-adventure role-playing game didn’t try to be anything special. It didn’t try to be different for the sake of being different and it didn’t try to re-invent the production wheel. It was exactly what it needed to be by sticking to the fundamentals of role-playing video games and focusing on quality production rather than features. Some of this might be attributed to the fact that this was Guerilla Games first intellectual property since 2004’s Killzone and it was the first RPG in their studio’s history so perhaps they got it right because they didn’t know any better in a manner of speaking. Lucky for us they got it right first time because the gaming world would be a less bright.

 

The story of Horizon Zero Dawn is beyond compelling, it’s relevant, thanks to the brilliant writing of Ben McCaw with John Gonzalez at the helm as Narrative Director. To top it off, there is the extremely talented Ashly Burch whose resume in cartoon, anima, and video games extends all the way back to 2007 but is only 29 years old. She has graced just about every major AAA title in the last decade like Fallout 4, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Final Fantasy XV, Life is Strange, the Borderlands Trilogy, and one of my personal favorites Saint’s Row 4 where she plays herself as an add-on homie DLC. Together with full motion capturing support from London and Ashly providing the close-ups turned Aloy (you as the main protagonist) into one of the most tangible and substantive characters ever to date. A real Lara Croft meets Jane of the Jungle but that’s only on the surface because at the heart of the character lies a secret that offers salvation and redemption for the human race…but no spoilers. Oh and I should also mention Lance Reddick is in this game who is just awesome and isn’t a slouch himself when it comes to starring in video games.

 

Once in a while there is a game that gets released for all the right reasons and it’s so evident within the first few minutes that Horizon Zero Dawn is something special. It gets two big thumbs up from me. If you are looking for the quintessential Playstation 4 game that aims to showcase everything that makes the console so unique and powerful, then you’ve found it. Horizon Zero Dawn has received one major expansion and is currently available exclusively for the Playstation 4 console.

Create your own player and rise up from the minor leagues to The Show using an all-new skill progression system to balance short-term focuses, emergent team opportunities, and career defining long-term goals From Babe Ruth to Ken Griffey, Jr. to Aaron Judge, build and field your ultimate roster from 2,000+ current players, all-stars and baseball legends in Diamond Dynasty Streamlined features let you create quick and satisfying game-play experiences that give you more of your favorite parts of baseball and less of what you don't want 3-inning games, Quick Counts, Retro Mode, Critical Situations and Manager Mode give you quicker ways to get your baseball excitement fix Don't lose any progress from your copy of The Show 17. Saves in Road to The Show and Franchise will carry over to The Show 18, so play without worry of losing your hard-won progress and the stories you've created along the way For one to four players offline, and one to two players online* *Active PlayStation Plus membership is required.

 

XBOX EXCLUSIVES

 
 
 

LEGACY GAMES

 

Netmarble Games®

Marvel’s Future Fight

2015

Square Enix®

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

2013

Marvel’s Future Fight is a 2015 superhero-themed video game created by the mobile gaming giant Netmarble Games for the Android platform. Since its release it has earned more than fifty million installs and despite being out for three years is still one of the best mobile games around.

 

Marvel‘s Future Fight has been described as a dungeon crawler but it really is so much more. Boasting more than twenty unique gaming modes, this game has enough content to keep you playing all day. But, it was the exceptional story written by best-selling Marvel comics’ writer Peter David, and the close collaboration between Marvel and Netmarble to develop the characters that really sets this game apart from all the rest. Players can collect their favorite characters from across the Marvel universe and build them up to new heights of power and customization. Apply character modifications and even interchangeable costumes based on various events and movies from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. New characters and game content is gradually added to expand the game as events roll out. A community forum has even been set up to handle requests and suggestions from game subscribers to list their character preferences for the next update and new content.

 

One of the coolest things about this game is that if you are a fan of Marvel movies or the television series but never read the comics, playing this game is a great way to introduce yourself to all the characters from the big screen and television.

In 2010, game developer and publisher Square Enix launches its highly anticipated, massive multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) title - Final Fantasy XIV. Unfortunately for Square Enix the backlash to the game was both immediate and fierce. Players were treated to unfinished zones, missing features, and a game engine that could barely handle the game’s graphics or mechanics. Feeling the heat from the player community and to avoid a stain on the much beloved franchise that spans over two decades, Square Enix announced it would attempt to fix the beleaguered game. Three years later, Final Fantasy XIV players rejoiced as Square Enix, under the direction of President Naoki Yoshida, launches its 2.0 version of the game and FFXIV: A Realm Reborn was rolled out as a total replacement to the original. Following an extremely poor fiscal year 2013, Square Enix executives commended the game's sales and subscriptions for their role in returning the company to profitability in 2014. As of August 2018, the game had over 14 million registered accounts worldwide and is still going strong. By all accounts FFXIV: A Realm Reborn was a huge success and because of its popularity and extremely loyal community base, it appears that this game will continue to receive support for the foreseeable future and will likely remain as one of the best MMORPGs active today.

 

As a player of both version 1.0 and 2.0 I can tell you that Final Fantasy is just simply a beautiful game. The visuals are amazing and immense with true-to-life depth and scaling, blinding effects, and a fluid environment. The level of detail put into every aspect of this game is noticeable right from the start. There really just one word to describe FFXIV – tight.

 

Realtime Worlds®

APB: All Points Bulletin

2010

Funcom®

Secret World Legends

2012

APB: All Points Bulletin is an open world multiplayer online video game for Microsoft Windows and originally developed by the now defunct Realtime Worlds which was responsible for the critically acclaimed 2007 action-adventure third-person sandbox game - Crackdown.

 

Not to be confused with the 1987 Atari game of the same name, it does seem to be a modern retake on the title. Development of APB began as early as 2005 and was intended to be the online version of GTA before there was a GTA Online. Five years later APB was released to a mixed reception and was quickly followed by Realtime Worlds filing for bankruptcy forcing all servers to be shutdown indefinitely. Fortunately, K2 Network Inc., a producer and publisher of video games based in Irvine California saved the game from certain demise by purchasing it from Realtime Worlds and re-launching the game in 2011 under the subsidiary - Reloaded Productions.

 

Despite all the developer drama and the game not growing beyond its three original maps, APB remains a solid and very enjoyable multiplayer shooter. One unique feature that sets this shooter apart from all the rest is the character customization feature and all the options you get to give your character the perfect custom look. Players can customize their physical appearance and clothing at any time by visiting the corresponding kiosk located in the common area. The level of detail in the customizations is impressive to say the least. Players can add color, textures, and can create custom decals and tattoos that can be applied directly or on clothing and even vehicles.

 

After you get your style on, it’s time to get your strap on and head out into the City of San Paro for some hardcore player vs. player action. Oh and did I mention this game has dozens of guns, gun modifications, explosives, and grenades to choose from. Make sure you stock up on ammo because the action in this game is intense with fast response times, realistic ballistics and explosions, and even different mechanics specific to the car you are driving. All thanks to the updated Unreal Engine 3 this game utilizes. Despite being almost ten years old, this game truly ranks as one of the best multi-player shooters of all time.

The Secret World is a massive multiplayer online role-playing video game set in a modern-day real world under attack from occult forces. Ragnar Tørnquist led development of the initial game for Funcom, a Norwegian based video game developer specializing in MMORPG’s like Anarchy Online and Age of Conan. The Secret World uses a subscription-optional, buy-to-play business model, requiring players only to buy the game with no additional subscription fees. However players who do pay for a subscription will enjoy additional benefits.

 

Unlike many other MMORPGs, there is no need to stop to use most of a character's attacks and abilities; as a result, combat is faster and movement-based. Players are free to redevelop their abilities on the go, to better prepare themselves for specific threats or better integrate into a group. Unlike traditional MMORPGs, advancement is primarily through equipment, using experience points to buy additional abilities and more powerful weapons.

 

What really makes this game so special is the contemporary setting, and a linear story borrowing heavily from the horror fiction genre and folklore. Your character, a silent protagonist, is thrust into a world familiar yet different and frightening as you battle against supernatural dark forces to uncover secrets and conspiracies in an attempt to stop the blight of monsters that now plagues the world. This game is cinematic, gritty, edgy and modern with the game being set in the "modern day real world" but still incorporates pieces of ancient mythologies, real and alternative history, urban legends, and pop culture, and ties them into an original back-story.

 

In March 2017 the producers of the game announced that it would rebuild and re-launch the game as Secret World Legends, but that the older game and accounts would remain functional and playable. Secret World Legends was launched 4 months later.

 

2019