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  1. Apparently you not only make the player the president of the United States, but also give them superpowers. Saint's Row IV is a bit of a departure, even from how wacky the last game got. The Earth is threatened by evil alien overlord Zinyak, and the player and the gang are abducted right out of the oval office. Being trapped in a simulation a la The Matrix leads to some interesting gameplay possibilities, as well as tons of awesome references. It's not long before you start getting super powers to play around with, and once you do, things change. A lot. I was pleasantly reminded of other power fantasy freeroamers like Crackdown and Prototype as I super sprinted, jumped over buildings, ran up walls, and glided through the air. I don't believe I even used a car more than was necessary for the few missions that required them. Superpowers Kick Ass (sorry about that one). All of the great humor is still intact, and maybe even taken a bit further. Saint's Row IV is chock full of references to movies and other games. At some points it almost feels like a grand video game parody similar to the recent Deadpool (even including a few metaphysical references), but Saint's Row IV still manages to rein it in with it's own crazy plotline beyond just hilariously exploiting other games. When choosing your character's voice during character creation, you are given the usual Male and Female 1, 2, and 3 voices, with the humorous addition of Nolan North listed by name as a seventh option. I really enjoyed Troy Baker's (Male 1) voice for the main character in Saint's Row: The Third, but the choice was obvious when presented with these options. There are even some funny moments where he breaks the fourth wall as a voice actor. When asked to continue causing mayhem, the player is asked to "Just be yourself!", to which a character with the Nolan voice will respond, "Be... Nolan? Ok." This breaking of the fourth wall again reminds me of his recent performance in Deadpool. This is not a glitch, disturbingly enough. Throughout the course of the game you are given plenty of new toys to play with. I will state outright that I loathe dubstep, but I couldn't help but find myself using the Dubstep Gun as my mainstay weapon early in the game, for how simply overpowered it was. It's a weapon that shoots out energy blasts in sync with the dubstep music it plays, and the track it plays can be changed by choosing a different skin for the weapon (all weapons now have skins that can change the entire look, skin, and sometimes firing effect and sound of the weapon). (Opinion) Hey dubstep's so bad you can kill people with it. Go figure. Later in the game you can get a weapon which launches out black holes to absorb and destroy all enemies in a certain radius, which when coupled with infinite ammo unlocked in the upgrades menu (as with the previous game), is a force to be reckoned with. Death by wub wub. What a way to go. The graphics are just as good as they were in Saint's Row: The Third. You play through a digital version of Steelport, complete with signs and billboards proclaiming things like "Obey authority", as if you are in the movie They Live!, while statues of your alien overlord oppressor watch on. I was a little let down that a large part of the clothing options seem to have been simply carried over from Saint's Row: The Third. The soundtrack includes many popular songs from various genres to hear on the radio as with the previous game and now an option to hear the radio while on foot, which is handy when you can run faster than any vehicle in the game. The soundtrack is once again often used to humorous effect to add drama and cheesiness to certain scenes. The sidequests in the game consist almost entirely of the activities you find on the map, from racing through markers with your superpowers, to insurance fraud, tank mayhem, and everything in between. The structuring is such that you are rewarded for doing particular sets of these activities with things like new weapons and upgrades for your superpowers, so you are incentivized to seek out these activities. Later on you can even perform special side missions for some of your Homies to unlock superpowers for them, which they can use when you call them for back up. Some activities are more entertaining than others. Speed Rift was one of my least favorites. The controls for both keyboard/mouse and controller worked perfectly fine and were well mapped out (and reconfigurable), but I had a bit of an issue with the weapon selection radial wheel. When using a controller you hold the B or O button (I used a PS3 controller on my PC) to bring up the radial menu and select your weapon with the left analog stick. This menu disappears the moment you release the button. On the keyboard you can scroll through your weapons with the scroll wheel or select them with a hotkey, 1-8 (or in my case 1-4 and Z X C V since they all cluster around the left hand on the keyboard). The problem is that using a scroll wheel on a radial menu isn't very intuitive. It rotates around in the direction you scroll, and for some reason you can't seem to just hold a button and move the mouse in a certain direction to select your weapon. Worse, even if you memorize which hotkey is for which weapon, tapping the button will always bring up the menu on the screen where it will hang for a full second, obscuring what you are doing without freezing time. It doesn't disappear nearly as quickly as when using a controller. One other thing that I wish was included, which hasn't been since Saint's Row 2, was the ability to replay specific missions. There are some fun ones that would be enjoyable to play again without having to manually keep a save before them or replay the whole game with a new character. A lot of the clothing options are reused from The Third, but you can still be creative (or make a blatant cosplay) Saint's Row IV was a blast to play. Some may say that it's hardly Saint's Row at all anymore (after all, I barely even used cars in the game), but it's gone in an interesting direction regardless. I'd almost say it's like a big parody of Saint's Row, in a good way, and somewhat a parody of games in general. The superpowers add a great amount of fun factor to the experience. Why spend 10 minutes driving across the city when you can hop over buildings and dash or glide over there in 2? The humor, the fun gameplay, and all of the awesome references make this truly an enjoyable gaming experience, and a great example of what can make a game fun without trying to be too serious (but don't worry, it still has its moments).
  2. This game has some amazing vistas! Metro’s story isn’t an entirely a new concept. Nuclear destruction wipes out society; society crumbles on itself and retreats underground to survive. Throw in a dash of mutants, terrifying and telepathic monsters known as the “Dark Ones”, set the stage in Russia with an economy based on trading military grade bullets and you pretty much get the point. Once again you’ll be filling the shoes of the previous protagonist, Artyom, although the storyline seems more focused on the inner turmoil and conflicts between various factions surviving underground as they look to control the weapons discovered within the military vaults of D6 rather than the perceived menace of the Dark Ones showcased in the prior game (Last Light assumes players experienced the “bad ending” of launching missiles to destroy them in Metro 2033). Last Light is incredibly beautiful. I’m not kidding you on this. Despite the slightly linear experience of the game I spent a great deal of time slowly roaming through the corridors and tunnels marveling at the attention to detail. In my eyes not many games create such an eye-catching atmosphere which sucks me in and really makes the surrounding environment feel alive. In a completely aesthetic point of view Last Light is breathtaking. Despite the linear storyline, the "towns" of people feel alive The PC master race used to joke about their rigs, often querying one another “Yes, but can it run Crysis?” The benchmarks previously set have been absolutely shattered by 4A games with their self-titled 4A Engine, and that’s not an understatement considering the optimum system requirements calling for GeForce Titan (which also currently has an equally titanic price!). Even ported over to console it’s amazing to consider how much can be squeezed onto an Xbox 360 or PS3 disc while still looking this incredible. Gamercide was provided a review copy for the PC and I can tell you that my now aging MSI GeForce 460GTX wept silently in a corner while running the game, although I most likely shouldn’t use the term silently considering the card’s cooling fan usually was running full tilt under the stress placed upon it. That’s not to say I had to turn the resolution extremely low with all the fancy effects like tessellation and PhysX off, but this is definitely not a title you can expect to crank everything to max and expect a reasonable frame rate. Last Light is also optimized really for Nvidia cards (AMD cards lack PhysX support). Although I played through the game on an easier setting (don’t judge me, I’m a horrible shot and needed all the ammo I could lay my hands on!) the AI from what I experience left a little to be desired. I understand stealth mechanics and remaining “hidden” when obscured from sources of light, but human enemies can almost be completely walked right up to and around. One would imagine that in low light situations you’d be able to detect someone who is literally a few feet away from you, but for some reason just about every single human enemy is in some serious need of corrective eyewear. I encountered some other minor gripes within the game as well. I’m not sure if it’s a product of PhysX, but while watching an entertaining performance within the theatre I couldn’t help but notice the “assets” of the female dancing line which seemed to behave in a gravity defying display of awkwardness. Additionally, just as I noted in Metro 2033, it seems that copies of Glukhovsky’s novels are scattered everywhere. In the first chapter of the game alone I found three of them and I found myself checking around in every living area to see how many more existed (there are a lot of them). It’s prominently noted during the opening splash screen that the game is based upon a novel, so why do these survivors of an apocalypse have the actual books everywhere? Would that make everyone in the game a prophet of things to come since they’ve already read what is going to happen to them? Why does everyone have a copy of the book? The game only hard crashed on me once forcing a restart from a previous checkpoint, but for a PC game in 2013 to have only one save game file is slightly unacceptable and I’ll tell you why. Partway through the game when I reached the aforementioned theatre the game saved a checkpoint. It’s a small area where the checkpoint saves for you in a hallway right outside of a tavern area. I walked into the tavern and discovered a non-responsive NPC that was standing with his back turned to me, frozen in time and halting my progress. A wandering ticket seller following his programmed path even kept walking back and forth straight through this mystery man barring my way forth. There was absolutely nothing I could do at this point as reloading the checkpoint threw me back into the hall only to discover the person still blocking further progress. I even reloaded and completed the previous whole chapter twice and encountered the same problem. On a third try I did find a small area I missed that had an “event” where I picked up a shotgun and was suddenly attacked by an enemy. When I reached the tavern that third time our friendly human barricade had completely disappeared as if he didn’t even exist in the first place. This was after over five hours of experimentation trying to discover a solution. I’m unsure if the scripted event had any effect on this or not, but having to replay whole chapters due to issues like this is frustrating. You can see the billboard guy clipping through the unknown NPC blocking the way Despite any issues, Last Light is engrossing and a joy to play. If you have a powerful PC and want to experience truly cutting edge graphics I recommend checking it out. Even if you’re unsure your PC can handle the crushing system requirements you’d be perfectly fine with a console port on the Xbox 360 or PS3 and could probably still say it’s the best looking game out at the moment for either system. Nuclear disaster has never looked better!
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