Monthly Editorial: Part One – November 2013

November 23, 2013 Leave a comment

Truth be told, we had no intention whatsoever of reviewing the PlayStation 4 because – let’s face it – reviewing a console at launch is not giving it a fair chance because there is always bound to be something wrong with the first batch of consoles whether it’s a number of problems due to manufacturer or shipping defects. We can’t always expect a console to ship glitch-free or without its share of problems, right?

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So we won’t bring you an official review but we will say a few words about the PS4 because not everyone can easily part with $400 and if our opinion will help our readers make a decision to purchase Sony’s next-generation console or decide to save their money then we did our jobs.

By now, you have all probably heard of all the issues that have made the PlayStation 4 launch something of a celebration and a disappointment. The issues we speak of is, of course, is the faulty HDMI ports, the overheating problem and – in some cases – the console turning into a $400 brick in a “blue light of death” defect reminiscent of the Xbox 360’s “red ring of death.”

As of this writing, Sony has issued a firmware update in the firm of Update 1.51 that will help improve the stability of the system hardware after complaints that PS4 owners have been experiencing hiccups during downloads and – in our fellow reviewer Nick Valentino’s case – navigating the console’s interface.

Our major gripe is with the fact that it makes as much noise as our “fat” PS3, although it – so far – it just makes an audible hum. At one point, it did make a sound like a fat kid breathing heavily after failing to hold his breath for two seconds. It also overheated once after 4 hours of playing Call of Duty: Ghosts but it didn’t cause any real problems.

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Still, there’s a bright light at the end of these dark corridors. While Sony continues to deal with its launch problems, there is no overlooking the fact that the PlayStation 4 is a powerful console capable of bringing gamers an experience that is a step above the PS3. The console even sports some amazing graphics capabilities that, in time when developers and publishers really push the console’s graphics, will not fail to amaze.

When the PlayStation 4 was fully unveiled to us during this year’s E3 and Sony’s press conference, the specs that were announced make up the console’s greatest assets whether it is the 500GB hard drive storage that – hallelujah! – can be easily upgraded on your own … but then again you can do the same for the Xbox One although you will be voiding the warranty. Then there’s the 8GB of GDDR5 that is a step bigger than what the Xbox One brings to the table.

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Is it worth the purchase price, you may be asking? We definitely recommend it as we also look forward to what Microsoft will bring us as well.

Categories: Monthly Editorial

Fist Full Of Micro Reviews – November 2013

November 19, 2013 Leave a comment

The next generation of gaming is finally here and as of the time of this writing, the PlayStation 4 has arrived in all its glitch-yet-awesome glory while the Xbox One will find itself in store shelves this very week. That said, there have been a number of current-generation games that we didn’t get a chance to get full-length reviews due to us preparing for something really big on our part.

So, here are a few Micro Reviews of games that we had a chance to play when we weren’t testing out games like Killzone: Shadow Fall and Dead Rising 3 to name a few PS4 and Xbox One games. Let’s just say that this is a very spectacular year for gaming.

DIABLO III (PlayStation 3)

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The Diablo series has always been one of those franchises that does not cease to impress to the point that fans of the genre – be it veterans and newbies – will happily spend hours leveling up. There aren’t many dungeon-crawlers out there that can boast all the action-packed goodness that this excellent port provides and adding a solid co-op option and you get a new instant classic that needs to be in your growing library.

OVERALL GRADE: A+

SPLINTER CELL: BLACKLIST (Xbox 360)

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Sam Fisher is back, although his original voice has changed, but that doesn’t stop our favorite stealthy specialist from completing a campaign that has him facing a new threat that will lead him through a number of scenarios with multiple paths to take and plenty of the ultra cool gadgets Fisher has at his disposal. On top of a great single-player mode, there’s a fun multiplayer portion that harkens back to the days of Chaos Theory. Splinter Cell fans, you will kick yourself for missing this one.

OVERALL GRADE: A

Batman: Arkham Origins (PlayStation 3)

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The Dark Knight is back on the streets of Gotham City to dish out more hurt on a list of the city’s most dangerous villains and, yes, the battles against these colorful foes is one of the highlights of the Caped Crusader’s latest outing. However, the fact that you’ll encounter a recycled map that makes for a lifeless Gotham and some battles don’t offer much of a challenge you will discover that Arkham Origins is far from perfect. Still, there are plenty of highlights that make it worth playing.

OVERALL GRADE: C+

THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: THE WIND WAKER HD (WiiU)

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The Wind Waker stands as one of those Zelda games that hold a special place in the hearts of fans of our favorite adventurer, Link. It doesn’t come as a surprise that Nintendo has decided to give us an HD remake of The Wind Waker and it does not disappoint in the very least and even more so since it takes advantage of the WiiU’s controls and graphics capabilities. This is the perfect opportunity to experience a true classic and more so if this is the first time you’re playing this game.

OVERALL GRADE: A+


BEYOND: TWO SOULS (PlayStation 3)

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David Cage and Quantic Dream offers up another serving of its interactive storytelling gameplay goodness that made Heavy Rain such an original and impressive title. With the help of actors Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe (just to name a few), the story of Jodie Holmes and her supernatural companion, Aiden, comes to life in a remarkable manner worth experiencing from start to finish. If Heavy Rain or Indigo Prophecy isn’t your cup of tea, Beyond: Two Souls will not change your mind but if you found those two games to be engaging then, by all means, Beyond is the perfect way to dive into this interactive tale.

OVERALL GRADE: B+

Categories: Monthly Editorial

Grand Theft Auto V – PlayStation 3 Review

September 21, 2013 Leave a comment

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Publisher: Rockstar Games
Developer: Rockstar North
Platform: PS3 (also available on Xbox 360)
Genre: Action
MSRP: $59.99
ESRB: M (Mature)
Release Date: September 17, 2013

GR Choice Award

Review By: Eduardo Zacarias

Ah, the choices that life presents us.

Two armed thieves are holding a store manager at gunpoint but the idiots forgot to bring along a getaway driver … until you just so happen to stumble upon their dilemma. One thief tells you that you’ll get a cut from their score if you find a car and drive them the hell out of the scene and thus participate in a Drive-like cop-evasion car chase. Then again, you can be the hero your community needs by responding to the thieves’ request by shooting them dead instead and stopping the robbery.

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These are but just a few of the spontaneous activities that pop up during the course of Grand Theft Auto V as we make a return to the city of Los Santos in an epic story that brings together three very different characters.

Just as it was back in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, the city of Los Santos is basically a tongue-in-cheek version of sunny Southern California from its tourist trap streets of Hollywood (called Vinewood here), down the gorgeous Pacific Coast Highway and straight into the great outdoors of what the game calls Blaine County. So, as you can imagine, the map is huge to the point that it makes the Liberty City of Grand Theft Auto IV seem tiny in comparison.

After a rather lengthy installation, you are quickly introduced to the game’s story mode where we take part in a bank heist gone wrong in another city. Years later, we find ourselves taking control of Franklin who not only happens to find and deliver repo cars to the auto dealership where he works but also deal with his neighborhood and his friends that feel that Franklin isn’t gangsta enough.

On the other end of the spectrum is Michael, a seasoned criminal who has made his money and wisely invested enough of it to buy a lavish home in the hills. Unfortunately, he’s not happy with his life and, most especially, his family that consists of an unfaithful wife, a selfish slob of a son and a superficial daughter. On top of his family situation, Michael feels that he was only truly happy when he was pulling elaborate heists.

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Finally, there’s Trevor, the unstable lunatic who will not hesitate to put a bullet in your eye if you even look at him funny. Michael and Trevor have a history together so Trevor considers him the only real friend he has in a world filled with idiots. In a way, Trevor is your excuse to go on killing sprees without a thought about your consequences … a personality trait that he does not share with Michael or Franklin who commit acts of violence but know that they have a choice to solve problems without causing a hefty body count.

Together, the three characters come together to become partners in crime as they plan and execute heists. You can, after meeting each character, switch between either three, which leads to a satellite view of the city as you jump into the body of the character you pick. Interestingly enough, each time you switch characters you interrupt activities they happen to participating in while not in use. For example, I switched between Franklin to Michael only to find Michael playing a round of golf (which is one of many playable mini-games). Then I switched to Trevor, only to find him – inexplicably – gunning down police officers at a roadblock with burning vehicles to his left and right.

The main story missions themselves are varied, thankfully; now include checkpoints so you don’t have to start the mission from the very beginning. As you might have already guessed, many of the missions involve impressive heists that make use of the individual talents of each character. You will participate in everything from a jewelry store heist to assassination missions like the one where you kill a target who regularly rides the bus. You even rob a cargo plane in mid-flight using a biplane you use to crash right into the cargo hold of the plane.

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Of course, there are loads of side missions, mini-games and even spontaneous moments that are triggered on the map such as the situation I mentioned in the beginning of this review. The side missions come in the from of the Strangers and Freaks missions that have you doing jobs for people that include a crack addict from Franklin’s neighborhood to a paparazzo who wants you to help him film a celebrity sex tape by sneaking into a celebrity’s home and record her doing the nasty.

Still, it’s the unscripted moments that become the one of many highlights of your GTA experience. You can spend hours just exploring every side street of Los Santos, the great outdoors that makes up Blaine County or even the depths of the ocean near Paleto Bay. The map is big enough to house thousands of secrets, collectibles and extras. I literally spend two hours taking a dirt bike through the woods, avoiding hikers who are either setting up tents or backpacking their way up the mountain. You can easily spend the time playing tennis in a country club as well as play a full round of golf.

Other activities help increase each characters skills or abilities by sometimes doing something as simple as driving around the city or even running. You can walk into an Ammu-Nation and take on a few marksmen challenges that can lead to unlocking discounts for weapons you can buy and upgrade. Speaking of upgrades, you can upgrade your vehicles (as well as take your car to a car wash because people in Los Santos judge your ride). You can even purchase clothing for your characters as well as give them better hairstyles.

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As far as the controls are concerned, Grand Theft Auto V improves on just about every aspect of the driving, shooting and even melee attack controls. Driving is a huge improvement, making the vehicles control more smoothly than in the fourth game in the franchise. Rockstar has taken a page from its own games like Red Dead Redemption as well as L.A. Noir for the shooting mechanics, making targeting so much easier. In fact, it can be a bit too easy for most, but you can always switch to free targeting. You can also take cover behind objects as well.

The character AI is both a hit-and-miss, however, leading to moments when your opponents seem to want to run into your line of fire instead of ducking for cover. Still, this is a minor gripe compared to a few other hiccups that pop up in the game. Still, whatever flaw you might encounter in the game feels minor compared to all the things the game does right. No glitch really detracts from the fun and there was never a moment where I felt truly frustrated. Sure, cops are alerted quickly for the littlest thing but once you know how to elude them you will find yourself moving on to your next crime.

How does the PlayStation 3 version stack up the Xbox 360 version, you might ask? Well, aside from the fact that the Xbox 360 contains two discs (one is the install disc while the other is to play the game); the two look nearly identical to each another graphics-wise. This is good news considering that Rockstar caught some flack from Sony fans for getting the short end of the stick for Grand Theft Auto IV and Red Dead Redemption. Sure, the Xbox 360 version has a slight advantage when it comes to shadows and foliage but the PS3 version does not disappoint in the very least.

On the visual side, Los Santos is absolutely breathtaking in just about every way and incredibly detailed to the point that you will often find yourself stopping long enough to admire the scenery around you. People go about their business impressively whether they stop to snap pictures of a car crash or go to a spot in the park to join others in a group yoga class. Even explosions look remarkable in this game.

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The game’s sound and soundtrack, once again, is a highlight of any GTA game. This is certainly the type of game you play with the volume cranked up just for the hilarious bits of conversation you’ll hear just standing around in the streets. The dialogue is handled wonderfully as well and the atmospheric sound effects drive home the feeling you’re in the great outdoors or standing outside somewhat familiar Vinewood locales. The radio stations are an eclectic mix that works whether you like hip-hop, classic rock or country just to name a few musical genres represented in the game.

The few minor glitches and gripes I have with the game pale in comparison to all the things the game has to offer including the massive map that comes to life more beautifully than in other Grand Theft Auto titles. This, along with the improvements in control, make for a rich and enticing experience that will give gamers literally thousands of hours of much to see and do.

One minor regret, however, is that the online multiplayer portion – billed as Grant Theft Auto Online – is not up and running yet. In fact, it will be available free to all GTAV owners in October so we will bring you a review for it when it is finally up and running.

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Meanwhile, you can take our word for it when I say that Grand Theft Auto V for the PS3 is one of the best the franchise has produced and, simply put, a truly epic game that has a lot to offer even for those who have become tired of the open-world sandbox games. With three intriguing characters, loads of missions and extras, you will find this huge world a sandbox you will not want to leave anytime soon.

GAME FRONTLINE RATING

Gameplay: 9.5
Graphics: 9.0
Sound: 10
Appeal: 10
Overall: 10

Review copy provided by Rockstar Games

Categories: PS3 Review

XBOX ONE GETS AN OFFICIAL LAUNCH DATE … AND SOMETHING EXTRA

September 5, 2013 Leave a comment

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Microsoft has managed to keep gamers in the dark about an official release date for the successor to the Xbox 360 even after Sony announced that the PlayStation 4 will find its way on store shelves on November 15. So when could we expect to get our hands on the Xbox One?

The Xbox One is getting a release date of November 22 in North America and in the United Kingdom. That’s an entire week after the PS4 hits stores but there’s more to this news than just an official release date. As we have suspected not too long ago when we got to see the Xbox One up close and personal that there was going to be a change to the console.

That change comes in the form of a boost to the Xbox One’s CPU from 1.6 Ghz to 1.75 Ghz, which is no surprise considering the fact that Microsoft – post-E3 – has made changes to the console to appease the enraged Xbox fans that have threatened to abandon Microsoft for Sony’s powerful PS4.

Microsoft is still confident that it’s next-gen console has what it takes to take on the PlayStation 4 enough that it will allow Sony to take a one week lead. When all is said and done, it will come down to which console gamers will crown a winner this November.

OUR TAKE

The console war is on and it’s anyone’s game. I know we have, like the cowards that we are, have decided to take a neutral stance. I mean, we love games and both consoles will gives us just that with the exclusives being the main attraction whether you support Sony or Microsoft.

That said, we love a good fight and both companies will come out swinging this upcoming holiday season. Sure, it will be bloody and sure it’s the fans that have the final say on who wins the battle but you have to admit that this will be a worthwhile slug fest that doesn’t require the presence of Don King.

While we’re on the subject of boxing, why aren’t there any more Fight Night games? We miss those and always thought that both Sony and Microsoft’s hands-free peripheral has the means of providing us with a real physical workout. We want an unlockable mode where we can use Don King as a punching bag for taking all your money.

Categories: Xbox One News

GameStop Expo 2013 – Greetings from Las Vegas

August 29, 2013 Leave a comment

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August 28, 2013 – Over the years, GameStop has managed to survive in a difficult economy that saw the end of other stores and why not since GameStop has always made it a policy to give “power to the players.” So it’s no surprise that the retail chain holds an expo for store managers as well as the general public that has made GameStop their destination for buying, selling and pre-ordering games.

Held at the Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas, the expo opened its doors to exhibitors such as Capcom, Ubisoft, SquareEnix, Konami, NamcoBandai and well as Warner Bros. Games just to name a few game developers at hand to showcase current generation titles as well as next-gen games like Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Call of Duty: Ghosts.

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While our band of reviewers had the honor of trying out PlayStation 4 and Xbox One games at this year’s E3, this was a wonderful opportunity for the general public to not only see both consoles up close but also get their hands on a PS4 of Xbox One controller to try their hand at Batman Arkham Origins and Wolfenstein: The New Order just to name a few titles displayed.

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With both Sony and Microsoft making their presence known, both booths provided opportunities to see both consoles in action. This event was actually the perfect opportunity for consumers to see the difference between the two very different consoles for themselves.

While we here at Game Revolver do not pick sides because, hey, we’re gamers who love games regardless of the platform, it was hard to ignore the tremendous support for Sony’s next-generation console.

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“Everything from the amazing graphics to the fact that the load times appear to be seamless just makes me very satisfied that I pre-ordered the PlayStation 4 over the Xbox One.” Said Andrew Fischer, 24, who was at the Sony booth.

Another gamer, Gregory Jeffries, 29, thought that the Xbox One looked good enough to give Sony a run for their money.

“I love how crisp the graphics look and the controller feels better than the 360’s controllers and that’s saying a lot right there.”

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Like E3, attendees were treated to plenty of giveaways and swag to take home but also small theaters to see demonstrations of games like Watch Dogs and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, with the latter being a demo of an assassination mission that shows off how massive the playing map is and how seamless it is to go from land to sea and explore massive islands.

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GameStop has given their customers and gamers a chance to see new games and try them out as well in an event that managed to be informative as well as fun. Here’s to next year where we hope to see what surprises 2014 will bring.

– Clarke Kent

Categories: Monthly Editorial

Saints Row IV – PlayStation 3 Review

August 25, 2013 Leave a comment

SR4 Box

Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: Volition
Platform: PlayStation 3 (also available on Xbox360)
Genre: Action
MSRP: $59.99
ESRB: M (Mature
Release Date: August 20, 2013

Review By: Jerry Zacarias

The Saints Row series has always marched to the beat of its own over-the-top crazy drumbeat to the point that it managed to crave out its own niche among the mass of Grand Theft Auto-inspired sandbox games. With Saints Row: The Third, the series took a turn to an even more zanier territory that continued to provide plenty of laughs but just didn’t quite hit the spot the way the Saint’s second outing did. Now, with Saints Row IV, the franchise ditches crime sprees for world-saving superhero antics.

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Ok, that last sentence isn’t entirely true since your created character is still the leader of a notorious and beloved-by-all gang that had – in the last game – became so popular that you and your crew were the stars of a sci-fi blockbuster movie. You still participate in hilariously illegal shenanigans that have become familiar to the franchise and, yes, your homies are still a menace to law enforcement.

However, because of the fame generated by you and key members of the Saints such as Shaundi and Kinzie, the gang has become heroes. Think of it as a statement about society’s insistence on celebrating debauchery and thug culture. Saints Row IV opens with your character being America’s last hope in stopping a nuclear missile in a first mission that eventually ends with you becoming an actual hero. It is this feat that leads you to the White House itself as President of the United States.

Hilariously, your Presidency consists of a number of changes to the White Crib that includes a staff made up of members of the Saints as well as a Vice President that just so happens to be actor Keith David (who, interestingly enough, voiced a key character in the first two Saints Row games). All seems to be going well despite the fact that you’re still the leader of a gang until an alien invasion changes everything. We meet Zinyak, an alien warlord that is determined to take the planet by force and enslave the human race and Zinyak actually succeeds.

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It doesn’t take you long to discover that you are living a lie in a Matrix-like version of Steelport as a glitch in the system wakes you up to this reality. As a result, you manage to take control of yourself and exploit this recreated world by becoming something of a superhero complete with super powers. You don’t just move around the open-world … you can leap up buildings, zip through the backstreets of Steelport like The Flash and even glide from rooftop to rooftop. You’re practically Superman in this world.

Consequently because of these powers, Saints Row IV feels less and less like the first two games and more like the bastard love child between Crackdown and Prototype. As you complete missions, you will find yourself developing new abilities that will make you even more powerful to the point that upgrading weapons such as sub-machine guns and pistols will seem pointless. I mean, who needs an AK-47 when you can pick up a car over your head and slam it into an alien enemy?

Still, despite the powers, those who do prefer to run-and-gun there are a number of interesting alien weaponry to complete your arsenal collection. Aside from the decent alien pistols, there’s a cool energy sword for those real close encounters as well as even more interesting weapons that cause interesting damage. For example, there’s the Abductor, which creates a vortex that sucks targets into it. Then there’s the Dubstep guns that really aren’t as impressive as they should have been.

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As I said earlier, you’ll find it a lot more effective using your powers rather than using your guns to take down enemies. Why blast alien forces when you can toss them around with your telekinetic powers or freeze an opponent then bash them to pieces with your first, right? On top of that, you can upgrade said powers as well as your health to the point of being nearly invincible.

Sadly, it’s this near invincibility and super powers that the action tends to get monotonous. Really, the only real challenge comes from the mini bosses that show up throughout the game. Really, what’s the point in calling homies when you are just as powerful as the Man of Steel?

However, despite all of this, Saints Row IV does not stray too far from it zany antics that makes this series such a delight to play. It’s sense of humor is still one of the series’ highlights and there are plenty of laughs that not only the game’s script throws at you but also funny moments you yourself create be it how you created your character (don’t mess with my fat Chuck Norris creation) or gliding across Steelport stark naked.

The game also takes comical stabs at other games whether it’s a romance option that will bring the Mass Effect games to mind (only with hilarious results) as well as Splinter Cell and/or Metal Gear with a stealth segment. There are also plenty of collectibles scattered throughout the game that will have you exploring a Steelport that is basically pretty much the same as it was in the third outing. You’ll find returning favorites in the game as well, such as the Insurance Fraud, street races and the destructive demolition missions.

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Thankfully, the main campaign missions are fun and many of them are just hilariously insane such as the mission where you are transported to the 1950s to destroy trucks spreading propaganda after realizing that you are living out some ‘50 sitcom role. On top of the story missions there are plenty of side missions, including a few Loyalty Missions as well.

Once again, two-player co-op makes its return and it allows you to tackle the map with a friend and it works well without too much lag. The fun comes in both characters being able to unleash their superpowers against the alien horde as well as on each another in fun deathmatch skirmishes.

As far as the character creation tool is concerned, it is still just as deep and addictively entertaining as it was in the third game. You’ll even find an even bigger selection of clothing options with numerous accessories to make your character as close to you as possible … or create a total freak show.

Then there’s the game’s soundtrack that is an eclectic mix of various musical genres whether they come from the various radio stations or the tunes that play during key moments in the game. The music definitely adds to the hilarity on the screen just as it did in the first three games. On top of that, of course, there’s the voice acting that continues to be top-notch whether its most of the returning cast or the inclusion of the always awesome Nolan North (who voices Nathan Drake in the Uncharted games) as one of three male voices for your created character.

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The game’s visuals still feels like it has been ripped straight out of Saints Row The Third and – as I mentioned – so it the map of Steelport. While I did like the character design and the visual gags of the third game, I just wish there were more interesting places to see in the city. Still, the alien simulation adds some interesting twists at some point in the game that brings players back to familiar stomping grounds from the first game and there are funny animations aplenty. Unfortunately, there are also a number of graphical glitches in this game that has characters speaking without flapping their lips.

With all its destructive fun, over-the-top comedic moments and amazing super abilities, Saints Row IV loses a little of what made the franchise that worthwhile alterative to the GTA series. Still, that’s not to say that you won’t have fun playing this game because its nearly 20-hour campaign is loaded with enough crazy fun to keep you occupied. It’s just too bad that the super hero antic gets old fast and Steelport is still the same city you played through in the first game. Other than that, Saints Row IV is a game fans should definitely check out either way.

GAME FRONTLINE RATING

Gameplay: 7.5
Graphics: 8.0
Sound: 8.5
Appeal: 7.0
Overall: 7.5

Categories: PS3 Review

PlayStation 4 Gets Official Release Date … Finally!

August 20, 2013 Leave a comment

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It was revealed today during Sony’s Gamescon 2013 press conference that the PlayStation 4 will be available on store shelves on November 15 of this year in North America and on November 29 in Europe. The console will be sold at the $400 price tag that was initially reported for us North American gamers.

This is big news and, frankly, not surprising since early reports seemed to point to a November release date to coincide with a few much-anticipated titles such as Watchdogs, Call of Duty: Ghosts and Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag just to name a few titles that will be available this upcoming holiday season.

There’s still no word on the official release date of the Xbox One but we are predicting a late November release date giving Sony’s next-generation console at least a two week lead.

This is it, fellow gamers, the next-generation of PlayStation gaming now has an official date and we are just as excited as you are to the point that we are already salivating at the thought of all the next-gen games we will be playing and reviewing on this site.

Categories: PS4 News