Tag Archives: xbox one

Review: Mass Effect Legendary Edition

Edmonton’s BioWare has created some great series and characters, but none became so close to my heart as the Mass Effect line of games with its roster of heroes and villains. The newly released Mass Effect Legendary Edition brings the original trilogy to a new generation of gamers in a remastered package that lets the games shine far brighter than they ever have before.

Though this is a remaster, not a full-on remake, of the three games, there are are number of quality of life changes – most sizable in the series’ first game. Mass Effect sees an overhaul of the leveling system that makes the game much more enjoyable thanks to the revamped power curve.

Prior to this remaster’s release I was playing through the original game – available on the Xbox consoles via backwards compatibility – on Insanity difficulty and the game-stopping difficulty spikes have been leveled out. The games also run better, even while outputting at 4K, which helps with the action-oriented combat. The result is a game that feels both easier and yet also far more rewarding.

This release also includes almost all the downloadable content (DLC) available for the games, over 40 bits of content in all, except for the Pinnacle Station DLC, due to the source code having been lost over the years. The game also takes a pass on the multiplayer from Mass Effect 3, though if there’s enough demand for it that may yet be added back in.

Wrex. Shepard.

The trilogy lets gamers, who can take the ‘stock’ Shepard in male or female variants or create their own, through an epic space-faring tale of betrayal with some revenge and a dash of ‘saving the universe’ thrown in for good measure. As the Shepard of their choice, players will make decisions with long-lasting consequences – to an extent not often found in games, including character deaths that leave you wish you’d done things differently.

The ability to go Paragon or Renegade – which often don’t really translate to good vs evil, but more doing the right thing vs doing the righteous thing – extends the replay value here. With three games in the package, clocking in at around 55 hours combined for just the main storylines, plus all that DLC, you’ve got a whole lot of gaming ahead of you.

The console experience offers two settings: Performance and Quality. The PS4 is 1080p/60fps in Performance, 1080p/30fps in Quality. PS4 Pro and PS5 both offer up to 1440p/60fps in Performance and up to 4K/30fps (PS4 Pro) and 60fps (PS5) on Quality.

Xbox One consoles offer up to 1080p/60fps in Performance or Quality, while Xbox One X and Series S both offer up to 1440p/60fps in Performance and 4K/30fps in Quality. The Series X is up to 4K/120fps in Performance and 4K/60fps on Quality.

The game also includes an all-new photo mode that allows you to rotate the camera, hide player/non-player characters, and other goodies. It’s a great addition to a franchise that has some gorgeous environments and character models.

What I Loved:

  • Great work on bringing the visuals up to modern standards
  • Top-notch performance transforms the feel of the earlier games
  • Quality of life changes to the first game
  • The “Wrex.” “Shepard.” exchanges are still great
  • Voice acting is still top-tier after all these years
  • The new photo mode!

What I Liked:

  • Character creator changes allow you to carry ‘your’ Shepard over all three games
  • Load time improvements allow for skipping elevator sequences
  • Forgot how much I loved the music
  • Three games + almost all DLC means at least a hundred hours of gaming
  • Better Mako controls

What I Disliked:

  • Mako still a bit frustrating to handle
  • DLC integration feels haphazard

What I Hated:

  • Reminds me there’s no Mass Effect movie…

The Final Word: Mass Effect Legendary Edition is a must-buy for sci-fi lovers who missed out on the original games, but also offers a lot for fans who were around the first time through as well. Incredible value for your dollar.

Available now on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Playable via backwards compatibility on PS5 and Xbox Series S|X. Series X version reviewed using code provided by the publisher.

‘Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Storm Ground’ Releasing May 27th

Turn-based strategy game Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Storm Ground will be releasing May 27th on Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, and Xbox One, according to publisher Focus Home Interactive and developer Gasket Games.

I’ll be honest, they had my attention at ‘Warhammer’ and it being a turn-based strategy game doesn’t hurt either. Adding in CCG (collectible card game) mechanics ratchets things up another notch… Customizable troops? Ok just take my money!

It doesn’t hurt that the game looks pretty sweet to boot. Check out the trailer about the Maggotkin of Nurgle, one of the game’s three factions, and watch for more on this one after it hits retail.

Review – Black Legend

Black Legend is a turn-based strategy roleplaying game (SRPG) from Belgian developer Warcave, where the systems are the highlight and offer enough to overcome a lot of design shortcomings.

There’s not much to the story but, in a nutshell, you’re looking to overcome an alchemist named Mephisto who has taken over the city of Grant along with his army of henchmen and enough dogs to give ‘101 Dalmations’ a run for its money, all made evil by the alchemist’s poisonous fog. You’re not doing this by choice, as you’ve transgressed against the Crown and have been pressed into service – an interesting enough start to the story, but that’s about as far as it goes.

You’ll run the somewhat bland-looking streets of Grant, slaying groups of enemies and unlocking doors to open shortcuts for the next time you’re coming through the area, as you undertake quests for the people in the Merchant section of town while working towards your goal of clearing the town of evil. There’s no in-game map, so expect to be lost more than a few times even with the multitude of signposts on the streets. My early annoyance at the vagueness of the city layout faded as I explored more and opened more shortcuts, and there’s a late-game transportation change that eliminates almost all the ‘I have to go WHERE?’ concerns.

For as much time as you’ll spend trying to find your way from the Harbour District to the Slums, you’ll spend far more time engrossed in the character class system. Starting with access to only the Mercenary class, players gain access to more of the game’s 15 classes – and the unlockable skills they can bring to the battlefield – by finding or purchasing new equipment. Each weapon offers different attacks, and using them fills an experience bar to unlock the attack permanently, provided you have a weapon in the relevant category equipped.

In most games a player will find the class they like and stick with it, but in Black Legend you’re far better off to swap through all the classes and gather up as many skills as you can because, in addition to a class’ normal array of skills, you can also bring in a handful from other classes. This allows you to create amalgamations that ramp up your power, essential if you want to beat the game’s harder difficulty levels.

Having that array of attacks available is key because of the game’s other combat mechanic, which applies a debuff in one of four colours: red, yellow, black, and white, to the enemy based on the attack. Enemies can have up to three of each debuff on them at a time, which can be ‘catalyzed’ by a melee or ranged attack to do extra damage – particularly useful in boss fights or higher difficulty playthroughs.

With a group of four characters in your party, there’s really no end to the combination of skills you can bring to the battlefield – plus the benefits offered by equippable trinkets and usable items. I leaned towards having a duo of heavily armoured warriors able to dish out multi-hit attacks while also able to counter enemy attacks, supported by a ranged user who was my go-to for catalyzing attacks, and a mixed healing/assassin class who jumped in as needed.

What I Loved:

  • Great character class depth
  • Unlocking skills to create a merged super class
  • Strategic combat

What I Liked:

  • Interesting city design, after the initial ‘where do I go’ frustration
  • Tons of weapons and armour to find

What I Disliked:

  • Some bugs, though mostly squashed by pre-release patches
  • Bland graphics
  • Story doesn’t really go anywhere

What I Hated

  • Nothing

The Final Word: Black Legend isn’t an SRPG that I’ll be talking about the graphics, the story, or the enemies in years to come, but the class and combat systems are something I’ll remember forever.

Black Legend is available March 25th on PC, Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One. Xbox version reviewed on Xbox Series X using code provided by the publisher.

Review – Monster Jam: Steel Titans 2

Monster Jam: Steel Titans 2 builds on the bones of the 2019 original, putting gamers behind the wheel of even more of the utterly ridiculous big-tired behemoths of the track and letting them loose in all-new open world environments.

In-arena racing, destruction, and trick events won’t wow you, but they’re fun enough in short bursts even with controls that never feel quite right. The twin-stick controls, where the left analog stick turns the front wheels and the right stick turns the rear wheels, allows for true all-wheel steering so you can do those ‘on a dime’ spins the big trucks are known for, but it makes them incredibly prone to rolling over and leaves you at the mercy of a computer-controlled camera.

The game does include an RPG-like leveling up system, where trucks will earn experience used to level up the chassis, engine, suspension, tires, etc… to help improve all aspects of their handling. Even with that, I found it hard to get to a point where I’d say I was comfortable throwing one of these 1,400+ hp monsters into a drift around a corner or that I could hit the ground after a big jump without anticipating the near-inevitable rollover.

The career mode is lengthy, but events get repetitive quickly enough that all but true monster truck fanatics are going to want to space it out a bit by playing a few and then doing something else. There are a lot of races and a whole lot of trucks to take them on with – the full roster is just shy of 40 of the big metal monsters – so expect this to take some time to wrap up no matter how you choose to tackle it.

Where the game really comes into its own is in the five open world environments, which you can explore either alone or with friends in same-screen or online play. Jumping into these Monster Jam Worlds and bombing around with a friend is a lot of fun, and home to some of the more unusual physics bugs when vehicle collision physics don’t quite work out the way you’d expect.

What I Loved:

  • Open world environments are a great add
  • Multiplayer is a blast

What I Liked:

  • Lengthy career mode offers replay value
  • RPG system offers progression even in small play doses

What I Disliked:

  • So-so visuals
  • Events get repetitive quickly
  • Fighting the camera

What I Hated:

  • Nothing

The Final Word: Monster Jam: Steel Titans 2 is fun in short bursts and monster truck fans will love it, but it’s not the big step forward I’d hoped for.

Monster Jam: Steel Titans 2 is available now on PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X, and PS4. Reviewed on Xbox Series X using code provided by the publisher.

Review: On the Road – Truck Simulator

Truck simulators are common – and almost disturbingly popular – on PC, with Euro Truck Simulator probably the best known of the bunch, but it’s not a genre that’s really caught on with console gamers. A distressing lack of polish means On The Road – Truck Simulator is unlikely to be that breakout title, but it’s not all bad…

For starters, this truck sim really nails most of the audio. Jamming through the gears is great and the engine noise is certainly serviceable, but there are a lot of smaller sounds that add to the experience. The way the brakes squeal that little bit as you ease off them is perfect, for example, as is the pfft of the air brake and the little rumble of the cab shake as you roll the power on.

I also really liked how you could customize your seat position, pushing forward or backwards to get the field of view you wanted, and raising/lowering the seat to see more of the road or the instrument panel. Getting the seat ‘right’ is a tough thing in a real vehicle, and it’s just as difficult here.

You’ll want to get the seat right, because you can spend hours on these roads just cruising from location to location. This is a reasonable replica of Germany, though it only includes just over a dozen locations that you’ll visit to pick up and deliver cargo, with thousands of kilometers worth of virtual highway to drive.

Unfortunately, that’s the end of the things I really liked here. There’s a lot of ‘well, this is ok’ stuff here – from the thousands of kilometers of German roadways that you can drive to the feel of the big rigs you’ll be powering down them, expanding your company with new trucks, drivers, and routes  – but also a lot of ‘this could be a whole lot better’ disappointment.

Mirrors, for example, are an essential part of your driving experience…but they don’t work in On The Road. I thought it was a bug at first and restarted the game, but they never changed off a flat gray texture. It’s possible this is still just a bug, as the game has quite a few right now, the funniest of which is the way vehicles spawning in the distance drop down to the road like they just jumped off a ramp you can’t quite see.

The lack of mirrors makes cornering far harder than it needs to be, and though you can ameliorate this a bit using the third-person camera perspective that does entail fighting with camera controls that should be a whole lot smoother than they are. Getting the camera angle right can take longer than parking the trailer should have.

Adding to the frustration are obstacles like shrubbery or light poles that a big rig with a fully loaded trailer should – and have, in real life – be able to just knock over. In On The Road, however, those lightweight obstacles will stop you dead in your tracks leaving you prey to every other driver on the road, who apparently think nothing of smashing headlong into the rear end of a trailer loaded with hogs heading to market.

All this, and the game freezes up or crashes far too often for my liking…

What I Loved

  • Some great – and subtle – truck audio

What I Liked

  • A version of Germany that’s reasonable condensed
  • Truck feels ‘ok’ to drive
  • Expanding your trucking empire, hiring drivers, and managing routes

What I Disliked

  • Low-end graphics for environments – especially buildings and trees
  • Tons of pop-in couples with low draw distance to hurt visuals even more
  • Simplistic menus, with no explanations
  • Collision physics
  • Routine game freezes or crashes

What I Hated

  • Non-working mirrors

The Final Word

I think transport sims can be as popular on consoles as they are on PC, but On The Road The Truck Simulator isn’t the breakout game the genre needs to make that happen.

On The Road The Truck Simulator is available now for Xbox One, PS4, and PC, and is playable on PS5 and Xbox Series consoles via backwards compatibility. Reviewed on Xbox Series X using code provided by the publisher.

Review – Disjunction

Disjunction is set in 2048, but it feels like a throwback to the 90’s with a pixel art style, enemy ‘vision cones’, and old-school difficulty that’s straight out of the SEGA Genesis days.

Jumping into three characters over the course of the game, starting with Frank, then the hulking Joe, then finally the SMG-wielding Spider, players will explore a cyberpunk version of New York to unravel their individual stories that – as fate would have it – happen to intertwine. Each character has unique abilities that they bring to the streets of the Big Apple, along with an RPG-lite skill tree that can augment those abilities.

Frank, for example, can fire shock projectiles, provide cover for himself with a smoke grenade, and – if it’s all gone wrong – can even heal himself. The downside to that last ability is that he must stand still to do it, but a quick skill upgrade later and players can heal Frank’s wounds while on the move. It might not seem like much, but in a game that’s so dependent on keeping out of camera and enemy vision cones, movement is critical.

Levels have a checkpoint somewhere within them, but they can save your progress only once. I occasionally found it better to kill myself off to restart the run through the level or from the last checkpoint instead of saving hard-fought progress that would have left me in a bad spot moving forward because I had, for example, burned through all my ammo. In true Metal Gear Solid fashion, moving the corpses (or, theoretically, the unconscious bodies) of enemies out of the line of sight of other enemies, sentry drones, or constantly scanning cameras is essential – but easily forgotten.

Mission difficulty starts low but ramps up quickly. As a result, it can be tempting to say to hell with stealth and shoot your way through the last few guards in the way of your objective – but this is reflected in your post-mission conversations. Kill a few guards and you’ll hear complaints about the bloodbath you left behind and it does change some aspects of the game, but it’s up to you whether that criticism bothers you, much less changes your behaviour.

I swear those guys were dead when I got here…

I had fun sneaking and blasting my way through the story despite it being a bit cliched, and a lot of that is down to the excellent conversations. Frank dealing with Sybil at the game’s outset, for example, has a great back-and-forth, especially if you leave a few bodies behind, that feels very authentic. Jumping over to Joe for the next set of levels brings a totally different conversation style – including the option to be the strong silent type if you’d like.

All too often different characters in a game with multiple protagonists are written with all of them using the same sense of humour, the same slang, and responding with the same emotional tone – but there’s none of that here and I really appreciated that.

What I Loved:

  • Great art style
  • Unforgiving stealth mechanics yield incredibly tense moments
  • Loved the writing, especially the dialogue

What I Liked:

  • Each character brings new playstyle potential
  • Single-use checkpoints add some strategy to your saves
  • Solid soundtrack

What I Disliked:

  • Some cheap ‘oh you’re spotted’ moments
  • Minor technical issues – day one patch should sort them out

What I Hated:

  • Nothing

The Final Word: Disjunction is surprisingly deep, with enough gameplay evolution to keep things interesting and great writing to drive the desire to see more of the story. Well worth a look.

Disjunction is available now on Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Reviewed on Xbox Series X using code provided by the publisher.

Trailer Reveals HITMAN 3 VR Gameplay

I have to admit I didn’t foresee HITMAN supporting VR, but the new gameplay trailer from IO Interactive reveals exactly that. 

The trailer – check it out here – makes it look great, which has me curious as to how it’ll play on PS VR. Situational awareness has always been key for Hitman, so restricting your view would up the challenge significantly.

HITMAN 3 arrives January 20th on PS4 and PS5, Xbox One and the Xbox Series consoles, Google Stadia, and PC. The game will also arrive on Nintendo Switch, playable using cloud streaming tech.

If you’re interested, HITMAN and HITMAN 2 are both on sale on assorted platforms and the games will import into HITMAN 3 so it’s a great time to jump into the whole franchise.

Here’s the press release:


HITMAN 3 VR Gameplay Trailer Revealed

New Trailer Reveals Key Details about IO Interactive introducing VR to the World of Assassination trilogy

HITMAN 3 takes immersion to the next level with PS VR. HITMAN has always been about immersing yourself in a living, breathing world. A world filled to the brim with interesting characters, secrets, and opportunities. But you’ve never experienced it like this.

HITMAN 3 will be available on 20 January 2021 for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, Google Stadia and PC. HITMAN 3 will also be coming to Nintendo Switch, playable via cloud streaming technology. Pre-order today for access to the Trinity Pack, a celebration of the World of Assassination.

Pre-Order HITMAN 3 now: hitman.com/buy

About IO Interactive
IO Interactive is an independent videogame development and publishing studio with offices in Copenhagen, Denmark and Malmö, Sweden. As the creative force behind some of the most talked-about multiplatform videogames in the last decade, IOI is dedicated to creating unforgettable characters and experiences using their award-winning proprietary Glacier technology. IO Interactive are developing and publishing the very first James Bond origin story with the working title Project 007. For more information, visit: https://ioi.dk.

‘The Kraken’ Update Hits The Falconeer Today

A free content update for The Falconeer drops this morning. The update, called ‘The Kraken’ adds new diving and exploration missions, as well as new locations. New tutorials will help onboard new players, and quality of life changes will help keep them playing.

I really liked The Falconeer when it launched – read my review here – and I’m looking forward to jumping back in to see the new content later today.

Star Renegades ‘The Imperium Strikes Back’ Update Offers Early Christmas Present For PC Players

Star Renegades, a tactical roguelike from Massive Damage Inc, gets a massive update on PC just before Christmas, bringing PC players a whole lot of new toys.

In addition to a new planet, the update offers a handful of new enemies including three adversaries, two behemoths, and a new drone type.

Console players will have to wait for the update until early 2021. The game is currently available on PC, Switch, and Xbox One – it’s available via Game Pass for both Xbox and PC, is also expected to arrive on PS4 in early 2021.

Xbox Drops ‘Coming Soon to Game Pass’ Trailer At ‘The Game Awards’

I have long considered Xbox Game Pass to be the best value in gaming and in my mind it’s not particularly close – and that was BEFORE Xbox dropped this Game Pass trailer at The Game Awards showcasing what’s coming soon to the service.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pj5JBytPij4

Morkredd, Cyber Shadow, Neoverse, Killer Queen Black, Medium, Among Us (PC only), Yakuza 3, 4, 5, and 6.

Oh, and a little game called Skyrim.

Game Pass is currently available on promo with three months for $1 for new subscribers. No better time to jump in than now.