Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 (aka CoD: BlOps 4) was announced yesterday, and for the first time in a long time Call of Duty is changing things up. Instead of the usual frantic multiplayer we have been playing for a really (really) long time, it is now 5×5 and adopting roles and unlockable soldiers, so if you were thinking Rainbow 6: Siege by way of Black Ops, you would be right. Meanwhile instead of a five hour over the top campaign to give the game a focus and a theme, they have instead added a mode called Blackout. You and dozens of players are dropped in to one map, and the last person/crew surviving wins, AKA PUBG/Fortnite. The only thing that looks the same is the Zombies mode.
It is clear the well ran dry with the creative team over at Treyarch, so they just looked around and copied what was popular, and what is insane is that it might be working. I mean this is the first CoD: BlOps I have been interested in, in years. Battle Royal with helicopters and verticality? That sounds amazing. A faster more streamlined Siege? Yes please! And co-op zombie killing has always been fun. I mean it is pretty much just their horde mode anyway.
While it is a shame Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is ditching a lot of what long time fans have come to expect, at least they are copying all the right games. If they can deliver everything in one well balanced and polished title, it will be hard to say no to. Being able to switch from Siege to PUBG, and then take on a zombie horde all on the fly with the same group of friends sounds like a lot of fun. So I will be following CoD: BlOps 4 with great interest. It may be the one that finally brings me back in to the fold, but only because it stole from all the right people.
While Rage 2 lacks Borderlands signature cell-shaded look, the over the top zany post apocalyptic action seems a lot like Gearbox’s main money maker. Much like with Prey, it seems that Bethesda is doing something a bit different with id’s old IP. Which is fine, Rage was never considered a classis, I just hope it can find a way to differentiate itself from Borderlands. The real question is now that they have resurrected almost all of id’s FPS titles, when are we getting that Commander Keen game?
I have been playing some Ghost Recon: Wildlands on and off with my friends and family, and it is great fun to play that way, but it is boring to play by myself. It is the usual Ubisoft sandbox and icon vomit of a game. It feels completely uninspired, but add in some friends and all of the sudden I am having a good time. Mostly because my friends are causing all kinds of chaos, interrupting my well thought out plans, or just generally chatting while we play.
Here is the thing though, almost all things are better with your friends. Coffee shops are okay by yourself, you can read a book or get some work done, but add in a few friends and it is a much more enjoyable experience. Hanging out and watching Netflix is better with other people, so it should be no surprise that Icon Hunt: The Game is better with someone crashing a helicopter in to an SUV while you are trying to snipe a couple of narcos.
All I am saying is that for a game to be truly good I should want to play it on my own, and I don’t really get that pull from Ghost Recon: Wildlands. Other games have this problem as well, but you will always see the comment, “It is really good with a couple of friends.” You would hope so, since friends make everything better. It was smart of Ubisoft to include the mode to cover over the issues that Wildlands has, and most games should include co-op if they can, but the game should be the selling point, not your friends.
When the Original Xbox needed games, specifically RPGs, Microsoft made the savvy decision to have the then independent BioWare create two original games for their systems. The most famous being Mass Effect, but the first game to come out of this partnership was Jade Empire. While Jade Empire was well regarded when it was released, it came out only a few months before the Xbox 360, so a lot of people skipped it, and then it was quickly overshadowed by BioWare’s most famous title the aforementioned Mass Effect only two years later.
While it is true 2K released a Special Edition of Jade Empire for PC in 2007, it just didn’t get the marketing hype that it deserved, and since it was published by Microsoft and then 2K, BioWare’s new owners, EA, never seemed to care much about the Chinese Folklore based RPG, which is a shame. But now if you have an Xbox One, the original has come to backwards compatibility with either a 2x or 4x bump in resolution depending on which Xbox One you play it on, and there are no more frame rate drops. Something that just wasn’t possible on the Original Xbox, and it never came to the 360’s backwards compatibility program for some reason. It is amazing how good this game looks with just a simple res increase.
The game isn’t perfect. It features narrow paths to move between locations and small open areas for fights, so it feels a little restrictive compared to the wide open spaces of modern titles (it makes fellow Xbox title Morrowind feel massive), and the combat is slow until you level up your skills, but the story is fantastic. Sure there are always clear good and bad options, but the neutral choice is usually equally as effective. A rare things for RPGs with morality systems. Not to mention there are so few games that feature Chinese Folklore as their setting, and almost zero of those games are fully featured RPGs.
While I am sure the PC Special Edition of Jade Empire is technically the best version, the original on the Xbox One is a great way to revisit a lost classic, and to make the lust for a sequel that will probably never happen, just that much greater. I rarely like to replay RPGs, but Jade Empire has roped me in again, and I am enjoying every minute of it. If you can find a cheap Jade Empire disk around somewhere, throw it in your Xbox One, you will be glad you did.
I have been kind of distracted, so it took me a while to finish off Batman: The Enemy Within, but the series really ends well. All those choices you made finally pay off with a Joker of your making. He either ends up trying to be a vigilantly or a villain, and you will have to deal with him either way.
Batman and the Joker have always had a very codependent relationship. Without Batman there would be no Joker, so to see your choices bring a different Joker to life is kind of an amazing experience. Sadly for Bruce, things still cannot end up the way he wants them. He has to make a lot of tough choices in this episode, and almost all of them end poorly. Which is the most Batman thing of all time.
Telltale has hit a bit of a rough patch, so I am not sure about the future of their Batman franchise, but I hope they find a way to keep making this story because it is excellent. If only the Warner Brothers movie studio had this much writing talent, maybe we would finally get a good new Batman movie. Regardless, now that the story is complete, there is no reason not to jump in to Telltale’s Batman: The Enemy Within, or go back and start at the beginning with Batman: The Telltales Series. You will be glad you did.