Seriously, What Happened to Co-op?


Does anyone else look back and reminisce about co-op? I have such fond memories, having a friend or two over and turning on the Xbox and working together, exploring worlds together, rather than simply racing or fighting or shooting one another. Why is co-op so rare now a days? Does no one else enjoy playing with someone rather than against them? The only game I can think of that has come out recently is Diablo that offers a co-op experience. The focus of multiplayer has changed to competitive, pitting players against each other. Don’t get me wrong, I have zero problem with this, I thoroughly enjoy games like Call of Duty, Battlefield and Titanfall, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy co-op.

Dorkly’s – The Age of Multiplayer

Why are developers ignoring co-op? A game like Assassins Creed seems like a perfect co-op type game to me, there is a multiplayer aspect to it as is, it seems to me, it wouldn’t be terribly difficult to include a co-operative section to the game. The most recent installment, Black Flag could have been especially interesting, imagine traversing the vast open ocean and coming across a fellow player’s pirate ship only to team up and begin pillaging the high seas together! Sounds f**king awesome no?

UPDATE: AC Unity will have co-op, apparently Ubisoft realized how right I was, and decided to include it in their most recent addition to the massive franchise. Which reinforces this idea of co-op being a good thing, which we need more of.

Some of my favourite co-op games include, Gears of War, Borderlands, Minecraft and Diablo. These games all do co-op well and it never feels shoe-horned in, which is definitely important. There are however many games which co-op could be included and it would add to the experience rather than take away. I used to consider myself a lone-wolf type of gamer, especially with shooters, however last year I began to play in a group, five or six of us would play together fairly regularly and it was so much more fun. I had no idea what I was missing out on. Now I almost always play with at least someone else because it’s just so much better. I love playing with a couple friends, why not make it so that we can work together?

Diablo 3’s main characters

Borderlands 2, 4 main characters

Borderlands both 1 and 2 did a great job of making co-op easy and awesome, similar to Diablo. Playing with people was not only more enjoyable but it helped your character, you gained experience faster and had a better chance of finding upper tier items. Why these types of games are not more common baffles me, hopefully in the coming months and years we will see more games like this or at least including a form of this. Games like Assassins Creed and Battlefield and even Skyrim could become even better with an inclusion of co-op.

Online multiplayer seems to be the main culprit for the decline in couch gaming (playing with friends on the same couch). The rise of online gaming should not mean that splitscreen or local multiplayer is not important. My favourite gaming experiences often involve a group of my friends and I playing together all on the same couch, whether it be against each other or working together. I think that co-op gaming online is good, however I don’t think it is as good as the local alternative. Too often online co-op is offered with no local option, this simply does not cut it. I don’t want to have to have multiple consoles and copies of a game in order to play with my friend, if they don’t have the console then we can’t play together.  Online co-op and the idea of playing together through the internet is basically what ended local multiplayer, I guess the idea being why bother leaving your couch to play on someone else’s. I see the appeal, but at the same time, it’s just not the same. There are singleplayer games and there are multiplayer games, social gaming has transformed from people being in the same room to no one playing in the same room. The social side of gaming is one of the best aspects of the pass time, I really hope games like Diablo 3 and others like it show developers it should not be done away with.

Diablo 3, 4 people one screen

Listening to Lately…


I have been listening to a lot of music lately. As I’m sure you know it can be useful for a great many things, soothing you before sleep, relaxing you, taking your mind off stress, helping you focus… you get the picture.  When I was younger around grade school age (basically before high school) I did not listen to music all that much, I heard what my parents listened to, and I was forced to wake up every morning to my sister blaring her latest and greatest pop sensation. Around grade 8 I decided it was time I figure out what I like listening to.

I started out with the bands I knew, ACDC, Led Zepplin, Rush, these were bands my parents (mainly my father) listened to. Soon though, I got bored, I wanted something for myself that no one else in the house listened to. I wanted rock and metal that was new, not from the 70’s and 80’s.

The first band I found on my own was Linkin Park, I’m sure everyone has heard In The End, probably one of the greatest songs of all time (at least in my opinion). I had heard it many many times but never known the band behind the song, it wasn’t until I started looking for music that I found out who actually sang the song. I was instantly hooked, I couldn’t get enough of their rock/metal/modern style (I’m not entirely sure what genre to put them in…). Linkin Park opened the door to metal and modern rock. Within a month I was listening to Avenge Sevenfold and Disturbed. I thought I was so hardcore, such a badass. I was naive to say the least.

Then in high school, around grade 10 I started hanging out with a new crowd, made some new friends, who introduced me to the world of screamo. At first I hated it, it was awful, I couldn’t understand the words, it sounded like noise. But every time I got in my friend’s car I was submitted to this hellish, ear bursting music. As the weeks went by, I found myself humming some of the tunes, I started understand the lyrics, they weren’t just incoherent screams anymore. Had I found a new genre to listen to?

Soon enough I was in love, this was my genre, this was what was missing from my life. The first bands I chose were The Devil Wears Prada (whom I still love and listen to) and Atreyu (not so much a fan anymore). From there I just delved deeper and deeper into the world of screamo, hardcore and punk.

Now just an FYI screamo is not all devil music, in fact most of it isn’t. There is in fact a hefty portion of Christian bands in the genre, but for the most part the songs may sound angry but in reality the lyrics are not. Most of the bands I listen to sing about relationships, friendships, and their experiences such as being on the road and such, not and I repeat NOT devil worship or satan or evil things or what have you.

Now, lately I have been listening to the new album by Memphis May Fire, and even if you don’t like screamo, have never heard of the band or the genre or have never listened to any music ever in your entire life, you need to listen to this album. In my mind this is the pinnacle of the genre, perfect in so many ways, the perfect mix of screaming and melodic singing, and the lyrics are simply fantastic. Here is one of their songs from the latest album Unconditional. Have a listen and maybe you will find yourself as hooked as I am.

Another song you should have a listen to, especially if you enjoyed the first one: Need To Be

I know there isn’t much screaming in either of the songs (if any) but I really think they deserve a listen. Screamo and hardcore bands get a bad rap I think, and this is some truly great music. Don’t always judge a book by its cover.

Are Games Getting to Easy?


I run, sprinting along a rooftop, jump, just barely make it, look around, a guard is about to fire, I jump down. Suddenly I find myself surrounded, I draw my swords. Within a minute or two, ten bodies lie at my feet and the few that are left turn and flee. I felt like a badass, but then I looked at my health bar, I had only gotten hit once… I the feeling of badassery left me, the game made it too easy.

5 guards? no sweat

Recently I have noticed a lot of games seem to hold your hand while you play, they coddle you, make sure you understand everything and then make sure nothing is to challenging especially not right away. If you ever get stuck or lost, the game makes it all too easy to find your way back. I understand why developers do this, they don’t want the game to alienate a potential player by making the game too challenging. However an argument could be made that they are in fact doing the opposite. Games are becoming too easy, without a challenge you lose a sense of accomplishment, Assassins Creed is one of the most notoriously easy games in my opinion. To make things worse, this series seems to get easier with each installment, guards are incredibly easy, they all take a turn attacking with a very obvious set of movements. The difficulty level is easy to start with, but as you progress through the game your character gets better equipment, making it even easier so by the end enemies offer no challenge. This frustrates me, I remember games being difficult, you had to be good at the game, or at least have some skill.

Fighting your first dragon in Skyrim

Games like Skyrim and of course the famous Dark Souls series are some of the few that do not fall into the easy category. Skyrim is not necessarily difficult, but if you change it to the highest level it can definitely be a challenge, enemies like dragons and trolls and the like do not seem much of bother when you are level 50… until you ramp up the difficulty to master, then a dragon becomes a terrifying sight once again, reminiscent of the first time you encountered one, It flying around above you, raining death. Dark Souls is probably the most famous for being difficult, both games are notorious for causing gamers to fly into a rage. A friend of mine, who I must say is incredibly calm (I have never ever seen him even raise his temper towards a game) was playing Dark Souls, he ended up getting so frustrated he ended braking his PS3 controller in two.

Dark Souls – Off to try and kill this stupid dragon for the 15th time

Dark Souls is a bit extreme I must say, it is incredibly challenging, but rarely have I experienced such a sense of accomplishment within a game. Now don’t get me wrong I am definitely not saying that all games should be like Dark Souls, definitely not. I am simply saying that a challenge once in a while would not be terrible. Games like Assassins Creed should stop holding our hands, let us take a crack at it, don’t make it so easy anyone can play, or at least have different difficulty settings. I am tired of being able to sleep through games without even trying I end up often beating them too quickly or easily.

Shadow of Mordor – I can’t wait to go back to Middle Earth


There is finally a Lord of The Rings game I can get excited about. It’s called Shadow of Mordor and does it ever look good, the game puts you in the shoes of Talion a warrior of Gondor who while defending the Black Gate (before the events of the movies, before Sauron re-inhabits Mordor) is overrun and killed along with the rest of his battalion. He is then brought back to life by a wraith (similar to the nazgul in the movies) he thus gains the power to move between planes, he can see the wraith world and use wraith like powers in battle but he is still mostly human. The game has RPG elements including a large open world, you must travel throughout the land of Mordor killing your way through the ranks of the orcs, trying to avenge your brethren.

Talion using his wraith powers on an orc

The game looks great with gorgeous visuals, dynamic lighting and a very diverse set of enemies. This is not the most exciting part of the game however, the nemesis system has me most excited. This system promises that enemies will remember you if they manage to get away during a fight. During the demo, Talion is trying to kill off a high ranking orc officer which he battled before (leaving him with a half-burnt face). This event happened earlier in the game and when Talion encountered him for the second time the orc remembered the previous encounter even making a remark about it, this is a promising system because it is based on your actions.

Talion looking out over the massive open world of Mordor

There are a lot of games that brag about how your actions influence the game and your choices are meaningful, however most of those are a limited and either influence the game in one set way or another. In Shadows of Mordor you don’t necessarily make a choice, you simply act and depending on your actions the game will change. This is the kind of influence a player should have, just like in the real world you cannot always foresee the consequences of your actions. If the nemesis systems works as well as Monolith promises then we may see future open world games include a similar system. Imagine the next Elder Scrolls including something like this, where in game characters remember you and your actions and this changes the way they interact with you, more than just a statement or two about how you did that one thing that one time. This is an example of the next generation in gaming.

 

Mister Dom Hemingway


The one… the only… Dom Hemingway!

An… interesting movie to say the least. To say more, it is quite an adventure, following Dom (Jude Law) on his quest for payment and redemption after 12 years in prison. The obvious star is Dom, he is a fantastic character and perfectly acted by Jude Law, I loved his portrayal of the dynamite Dom Hemingway. The story is a decent one, but it felt like a way to show the different antics of Dom, this movie was built to show us Dom not necessarily to tell a story, or at least thats how it feels. The movie is ridiculous and wild, the first few minutes are Jude Law from the waste up discussing how amazing his penis is, while getting a blowjob. This sets the tone for the whole movie, which is a romp. It felt almost like a Guy Richie movie, although I think this is because of the character Dom, he would fit right in with Snatch or Lock Stock.

Even with a seeming lack of story the movie is still great, and I really enjoyed it. Dom is just way to much fun to watch, and this is true even when he isn’t doing something outrageous. The film is wonderfully written, the dialogue is awesome, listening to Dom spit slurs and insult is perfect. The way Dom talks is great, his accent mixed with a style of language that simply doesn’t suit him is most likely the reason for this. “I’m a peasant at heart, a petty serf, with nice hair and a strong liver” Dom claims, a perfect summation of the man, his eloquent speeches are beautiful and disgusting at the same time.

This mixture of language and brashness is somewhat representative of the whole movie, there are scenes of violence as well as scenes of hilarity and even some which are heartwarming (those come in the latter half). The story didn’t speak very strongly to me but that is simply my opinion, I think I was too caught up in the main character, he really does steal the show and it is so fun to watch him and applaud him for it.

The Secret Life of Who?


 

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, ever heard of it? I did a while back when it came to theatres, I didn’t give it much thought, I saw the trailer and wasn’t terribly impressed. I noticed it was out, so I watched it, and low and behold it was actually quite a good movie. I’m not the biggest fan of Ben Stiller, but this movie was great and he was great. It was an awesome adventure and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good entertaining movie.

Even though it is a bit of a slow start, trust me it gets better. Some of the scenery and nature shots in this movie really got to me. I wanted to get up and travel, this movie makes you want to have adventures and see the world, to stop living a boring life. I think this was the main point Stiller was trying to get across but at least for me it really resonated.

I also didn’t realize this was directed by Stiller, DAM! He can f”*king direct, I don’t know if it is his first time but he did a great job. If this movie is any indication of his skill he should stop acting altogether and start directing. I honestly never thought he was much of an actor anyways.

The Inadequate State of Gaming


I have played almost every Xbox One game that has been released, Fifa 14, Forza 5, CoD Ghosts, Battlefield 4, AC Black Flag, NFS Rivals, Titanfall and Thief as well as others. Of these games only Forza and Fifa have been games I keep going back to, this is a problem I have noticed with a lot of games recently. I buy a new game and I love it, for about a week, by then I have basically beaten it and am all but completely finished with it. I find this disappointing, especially since my wallet is starting to hate me. I want more games like Skyrim, I put at least 200 hours into that game and rarely was I bored. I want more open-world games or at least more games with more to do or more to unlock. This revelation has become even more clear after playing Titanfall. A shooter such as Titanfall needs lots to in the multiplayer section of the game, especially since there isn’t even a singleplayer. Unlocks are a driving force for multiplayer especially in shooters, Battlefield 4 for example had over a hundred different unlocks, Titanfall has I think 15 weapons in total, not a lot, and even less in terms of attachments, I want more, I want more choice, not one of each type of weapon. I want to enjoy Titanfall so badly and it is really fun but after 10 hours I find myself bored, I want to keep playing but unless I’m with a friend I find it difficult without something to work towards. Even if it’s something like the medals in Battlefield something would be better. Titanfall was and is a great game, but when compared to its competition I am finding that it falls short in some ways especially when considering that it is a next gen title. I see the “next gen-ness” in gameplay but not in scope, or graphics for that matter.

Titanfall is not the only game I am getting bored of, Thief and CoD and NFS Rivals, all of them were a letdown, I finished most in less than a week and moved on. I find myself constantly looking to the months ahead where the big open world titles will be arriving, they show such promise for hours and hours of fun. Games like Destiny, Watchdogs, Dragon Age Inquisition, The Division and Dying Light, these all are terribly promising and as much as I want to be excited I’m also nervous. I want to be excited but I was excited about most of the games that have been released in the last few months and been let down in some way or another. I want to stop having to look ahead for the next big title; I want a few games that I can play for months or at the very least weeks rather than days.

The Console War


The console debates have been raging on for years, this pointless argument is the realm of fanboys/girls trying to prove that their console of choice is the best for one reason or another. When I was just a young lad in high school I was admittedly somewhat of a fanboy, thinking that my Xbox 360 was the only console worth buying. However, this attitude of course was a foolish one. In recent months the talk of the next generation has rekindled this debate into a roaring fire of a dispute bringing it to the for-front of the media’s attention. Sides have since been picked as the consoles survive their second month of release. But why have so many people felt the need to tell everyone which console to buy, which one is better than the other?

Consoles especially now, are extremely similar they do basically the same thing, with the exception of the Wii U (although Xbox Kinect and Playstation Eye are changing that) they all play games and they all use a controller to do so. It is even difficult to argue with the basic features, often Sony fans used to say Playstation was the way to go because it was free to play online. Now however that has changed both the Xbox One and PS 4 require a monthly subscription to play online. What the discussion has come down to is not the technical differences between consoles but which exclusives are available, although the hardcore fans would beg to differ choosing to argue about processing power and other numbers and stats. When picking a console your really picking the games you will be able to play, for Xbox, franchises such as Halo and Gears of War (and Titanfall which looks extremely promising) come to mind, whereas Playstation has the Uncharted series, God of War and Little Big Planet.

 What this means is that instead of looking for a hardware difference to argue about, gamers both hardcore and casual alike should look at what games will be released for each console (I’m not saying however they should argue about them). I doubt the debate will change much, fangirls and boys will forever argue that their console is better for one reason or another. The key to picking a console is to look at the games you want to play and ask your friends what console they are thinking about getting or which one they already have. Gaming isn’t always about playing alone. My friends are split down the middle, some chose the Xbox One like me and some went with the PS4. The reason I chose the Xbone was because it had better (not better, more like better suited to me) exclusives (in my opinion) and my friend who I play with regularly was also getting one. If all my friends had gone with Sony and the PS4 I most likely would have chosen that as well, this is one instance where South Park is right, this is the one time to cave to peer pressure.

 What I’m trying to get at here is that the supposed console war is unnecessary; everyone has their own preference and favourite games. What gamers need to remember is that it’s all about personal preference and in some cases the social preference of your group of friends not what random ranting fans on the internet claim.