Overview of the Nintendo Switch: An Underwhelming Console

The Nintendo Switch has been out on the market for a while now, so it’s high-time for an analysis of its current benefit-detriment cross-section. Let’s see how it stacks up to its market competitors and predecessor console.

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To get everyone up to speed, here are all the Switch components that lag behind the competition, i.e. Sony’s PS4 Pro and Microsoft’s Xbox One (soon to be Scorpio):

1.) 32GB of internal storage. For frame of reference, the baseline PS4 had 500GB and from the start people were ardently whinging about how that wasn’t nearly enough. 32GB won’t cover a modern game. Watch_Dogs can’t fit on this system in its default form. You can upgrade storage via SD cards, but that’s an additional purchase and therefore not a factor in assessing the baseline model.

2.) Minimal third-party support. A console relatively devoid of heavy-hitting publishers. Ubisoft is working on a peculiar Mario-Rabbids crossover and SEGA is bringing Sonic to the Switch, but beyond that there’s little fanfare from third-parties.

3.) $300 price tag. Currently, the PS4 and Xbox One are in the same exact price range and offer infinitely more value in terms of both game selection and hardware, which doesn’t bode well for a new console struggling to make a splash in the market pool.

4.) Charging for online. Nintendo’s market niche-cornering has never been focused on the online multiplayer demographic, and it shows. Without Battlefield, Titanfall, Rainbow Six, Call of Duty, Forza, Gears of War, or any other relevant multiplayer game slated to be on the Switch (besides Splatoon 2), the service doesn’t seem to be justifying its price all that well.

5.) 3 hour Switch battery life. Playing a graphically demanding game results in 3 hours of battery life. That’s less than half an average plane flight’s duration, and that’s exactly the situation Nintendo was advertising this feature for. Worse, some airlines are experimenting with restrictions that prevent you from bringing your Switch in carry-on, negating the purpose entirely.

6.) Accessory pricing. Scraping $90 for a pair of controller handles, known as joy-cons, is the current tag. Not even the main controller, mind you, as that’s the Switch’s removable screen itself. It’s a steep price point that sets a rough precedent for the accessories department, to say the least.

7.) Under-powered. Nintendo had five years to stare into their competitors’ eyes and work toward surpassing the PS4 and Xbox One in every way, and instead of rising to the challenge they’ve chosen to opt out of the race altogether. Objectively speaking, the hardware in this system isn’t competitive with boxes that have been out for nearly half a decade.

In conclusion, things are looking somewhat grim for the Switch. While Nintendo diehards have caused the console’s launch to be a massive success, sales are already starting to stagnate and repeat the pattern of the Switch’s failed predecessor, the Wii U. With only ports of Wii U games on the system at the moment (Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild), there’s virtually no incentive to invest in a Switch right now and there won’t be until Super Mario Odyssey secures a release date.

Rainbow Six Siege: The 10 Best and 7 Worst Operators

Rainbow Six: Siege is a competitive first-person shooter grounded heavily in tactical gameplay, and as such demands that you choose the best operator for a given job on your respective five-man team. These roles range from monitoring the enemy’s movement around objectives to jamming incoming drones before they can reveal your squad’s location, as well as a host of other vital positions in-between. But not all operators are created equal, and some can provide a much larger advantage to your squad than others. If you can have an advantage right from the character select screen, why not take it?

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With the game currently undergoing an intensive slew of technical maintenance in anticipation of Fall 2017’s new operator releases, now’s a good time to brush up on who’s currently the best (and worst) in Siege’s still-expanding roster so you can best assist your team in competitive play.
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17.) BEST: Valkyrie

In a game that’s all about having eyes in as many places as possible, Valkyrie’s assortment of relocatable cameras can give the defending team a massive edge on any map in Siege. To balance this out, drawbacks include that they’re destroyed easily and she only gets three total, not to mention they don’t actually impede the enemy team in any real way unlike most of her cohorts’ abilities. Still, if used wisely, Valkyrie’s cameras serve to provide intel that can end a match before it begins.

16.) WORST: MiraR6Siege-Mira

The reason Mira’s on this side of the fence isn’t through any fault of her own; her ability can be fantastic. The issue stems solely from its high liability potential. Here’s the scoop: Mira can place two one-way mirrors on walls, effectively allowing you to see the enemy but not the other way around. Additionally, you can shatter the mirrors from your side in order to fire on unsuspecting enemies. However, if the enemy has a Twitch, her drones can pop the mirrors remotely and create gaping holes in your defenses. Similarly, if your teammates aren’t very bright, they might choose to pop a mirror prematurely on your behalf, which is just as bad as dealing with a smart enemy Twitch.

15.) BEST: JagerR6_GSG9_Jager_4k_001

Jager has special devices that shoot grenades out of the air, something that really wasn’t that useful until the dawn of Glaz’s smoke-proof sniper scope. Seeing as smoke is currently Glaz’s biggest advantage, Jager serves as the only hope of destroying the sniper-friendly vapor grenades before they can detonate and render the most dangerous attacking operator invisible.

14.) WORST: TachankaTachanka_Spetsnaz

While Tachanka is a lord in the Siege meme community, he’s little more than a glass cannon in the game itself. He’s got a deployable turret that can mow down enemies with ease, but the vulnerable stance taken while using it leaves Tachanka immobile and defenseless while operating his biggest asset. He’s great for certain hallways on a select few maps, but moreso a waste of an operator on most of Siege’s battlegrounds.

13.) BEST: CavieraCaviera_model

Having a good Caviera on your team can be the biggest defensive asset in all of Siege, as her ability allows her to interrogate singled-out opponents and reveal all enemy locations on the map. The trade-off here is that she’s the least-armored operator in the game and can be easily picked off if caught alone–but in a game where knowledge is absolute power, even a chance at revealing the entire enemy team’s whereabouts is invaluable.

12.) WORST: BlackbeardBlackbeard

While he was once one of the best, he’s now one of the worst. After the most vicious nerfing to ever hit Siege, Blackbeard went from being the (arguably) strongest operator in the game to a mere afterthought during any smart player’s character selection phase, meaning the quantity of Blackbeards in ranked these days is dismal–and not without good reason. His sole perk, a rifle shield that protects his head and allows him to make all kinds of plays that are too risky for the normal operator, went from being nigh invincible to its current state of transparent eggshell, shattering after eating the daintiest of pistol bullets. The fallen king of Siege, Blackbeard is to be avoided at all costs.

11.) BEST: MuteMute_SAS

Mute’s jammers immunize reinforcements from both Thermite and Hibana’s arsenals, stop drones and prevent standard breaching charges from detonating, effectively serving as a blockade to any electronic offensive tool in the game. While he might not pack the useful sting of Bandit, Mute serves a broader range of preventative measures in ensuring your team’s security.

10.) WORST: PulseR6_SWAT_Pulse

Pulse can scan enemies through walls, which should be a huge asset. But given how slowly he deploys his heartbeat scanner and how long it takes to put away, there’s an outstanding chance the enemy on the other side will have already rounded the corner and killed you in the seconds it took to identify them in the first place.

9.) BEST: HibanaR6Siege-Hibana

While she’s essentially a weaker version of Thermite, she’s still one of only two operators that can destroy reinforced walls in any capacity. Couple that with her ability to detonate her unique breaching rounds remotely as well as lay claymore traps and she’s a decent ranged alternative to Thermite, and utterly essential on any team lacking the former. If you have both on your team however, she can serve her primary function as a hatch-maker, burning little holes in reinforcements for characters such as Glaz to snipe through.

8.) WORST: BuckTom_Clancy's_Rainbow_Six_Siege_Buck

Buck is not only one of the worst operators in the game, but also one of the least imaginative: he has a shotgun attached to the barrel of his rifle and nothing more. Mira and Jackal both have pocket shotguns and that’s just the third best thing about both of them, whereas said shotty is Buck’s primary selling point. The kicker? The gun his entire profile hinges on isn’t even good, being one of the most spastic and short-ranged weapons in the game balanced only by its high damage output. Continue reading

Ubisoft and the Bastardization of Ghost Recon

This company is a heroin addict who needs its IP children to be adopted by a caring foster parent before it’s too late.

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Ubisoft, a company whose mission statement is mediocrity first and players second, has decided Wildlands will be the next installment in the Ghost Recon franchise. From high atop his ivory tower of corporate villainy, Yves Guillemot cackles deviously as he knowingly squanders 4 years of developers’ precious time on this planet, forcing them through wage slavery to produce yet another copy-and-paste open world borefest, squandering his underling artists’ valuable talents on a project he knows a disabled infant could produce comparable results for.

Where’s the issue? Is it the bland, uninspired open world? The wonky, B-grade shooting? The physics-less vehicles? The complete and utter lack of anything inspiring or original under the hood of a bland third-person shooter masquerading as a beloved tactical stealth franchise?

Could it be all of these things, perhaps?

Yes, it could. Now we’ve got another The DivisionFar Cry Primal, Watch_Dogs 2 to add to our collection of generic Ubisoft garbage.

Capture outpost A, slink around to outpost B. Use a helicopter to fly to outpost C and liberate the resistance. Protect a VIP as you escort him back to outpost A. Rinse and repeat for fifty hours. Jesus Christ, what a downgrade from Future Soldier, a game that came out over half a decade ago. Trading a tight, engaging and tactical linear narrative for a blase open-world snoozer is the dumbest yet most frequent misstep Ubisoft seems to love to make these days. Hope they love making it without my $60.

The Nintendo Switch: If You Don’t Learn From the Past…

The Nintendo Switch is looking to be an even bigger flop than the Wii U. Scratch that, flop implies they missed the bar by a smidgen. FAILURE. The Nintendo Switch is looking to be a gargantuan, dramatic FAILURE. Much better. This thing is so off-target that I don’t think Nintendo even realizes which industry’s shooting range it’s at.

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To get everyone up to speed, here are all the Switch elements currently acting as one-ton weights at the bottom of the sinking dinghy Nintendo calls its home console business:

1.) 32GB of internal storage. For frame of reference, the baseline PS4 had 500GB and from the start people were ardently whinging about how that wasn’t nearly enough. 32GB won’t cover a single modern game. Watch_Dogs couldn’t fit on this system. Pathetic.

2.) Minimal third-party support. A console entirely devoid of heavy-hitting publishers. That should go well.

3.) $300 price tag. Where’s that money going? To under-powered hardware? Another gimmicky Nintendo controller? A system with no games and no third party support? The PS4 and Xbox One are in the same exact price range and offer infinitely more value, to a point where it’s not even a competition. Nintendo is in its own league of ineptitude.

4.) Charging for online. Nintendo’s always had the weakest online infrastructure, not to mention the fact that no one goes to their system to play online. Without Battlefield, Titanfall, Rainbow Six, Call of Duty, Forza, Gears of War, or any other relevant multiplayer game slated to be on the Switch (besides Splatoon 2, pffft), what idiot would pay for this utterly unnecessary service?

5.) 3 hour Switch battery life. Playing a graphically demanding game? 3 hours of battery life. That’s less than half an average plane flight’s duration, and that’s exactly the situation Nintendo was advertising this feature for. What a joke.

6.) Accessory pricing. Scraping $90 for a pair of controller HANDLES. Not even the main controller, as that’s the Switch’s little removable screen itself. No, the HANDLES cost $90 on their own.

7.) Under-powered. Nintendo has had five years to stare into their competitors’ eyes and work toward surpassing the PS4 and Xbox One in every way. They’ve failed on all fronts. The hardware in this system isn’t competitive with boxes that have been out for nearly half a decade.

In conclusion, this was a shit-show of epic proportions. I’ve never seen a company so out of touch with reality before—even Microsoft’s initial Xbox One announcement can’t hold a candlestick to this trainwreck. Nintendo is planning to repeat the exact same mistakes that were made with the Wii U, the difference being this time all of the world’s expectations were on them NOT to.

The Game of the Year Award for 2016

The first few months of this year didn’t seem to exist, as far as video games were concerned. No relevant triple A releases, no worthwhile indie games, nothing. Between January and August, one of the only two new releases I purchased was The Culling, an early-access mess of a game that revamped every piece of in-game weaponry with new nerfs and buffs bi-weekly, to the point where you never knew what weapon would have what impact. Hence why I dropped it. What started out as a very tense Hunger Games-style multiplayer madhouse dissolved into overly long, drawn-out matches of poke the bad guy with a spear forty times until one of you gets bored and dies. Such a shame.

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The other new release was Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst, a fine if unremarkable game. Terribly short but notably sweet, it’s nothing more than a faint whisper in my memory at this point.

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From there I snagged Deus Ex: Mankind Divided in early September, the best half-complete product I ever bought. If acts 2 and 3 of the story had been included and the overall narrative delivery hadn’t been so utterly pedestrian, this would’ve been my game of the year easily. Ah well, maybe the trilogy’s finale will feel like a complete product when it comes out in three to four years.

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Two disappointments and one neutral release in and finally the holiday heavy-hitters started to make their arrivals, kicking off with Titanfall 2. I still haven’t touched a second of the campaign, instead soaking up every last multiplayer match the dying community will afford me in the time it has left. Given the positive word of mouth circulating around the story component however, I’ll give this one the benefit of the doubt and say it’s a great purchase overall. We’re one for four now, those of you keeping tally at home.

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Next up came Hitman, the surprise show-stealer of 2016. Featuring insanely creative and aesthetically inventive levels, a refined and revamped mechanics set for Agent 47 and an overall sense of bold direction no other game this year had, the DRM-laden episodic caper from Square Enix comes out on top. Two for five.

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And lastly, at the twilight of 2016, after the horrendous PC launch had subsided and my unwavering love for Dishonored grew to a fever pitch, I picked up Dishonored 2. Having just gotten past the infamous clockwork mansion, I can attest to the game’s merits. It’s wonderfully inventive in its level design and gameplay structure. But its story is weak and contrived, its launch was terrible and because of these things I can’t grant it nearly the amount of praise I heaped upon the original.

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So where does that leave us? Nowhere, frankly. This year was a bust for games as I don’t see myself actively pitching any of the aforementioned titles to anyone simply because they’re “that good,” though Hitman comes close. Hell, I didn’t even mention Unravel, a cute little platformer I bought solely because the lead developer put on a good show at last year’s E3. I’ve played one level and it’s nothing to write home about, though it’s serviceable and deserves a mention on here for being heartfelt—something these soulless sequels and corporate cash-grabs could learn from. Notice how all of the major releases above have a literal or proverbial “2” at the end of their titles?

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My God.

I almost forgot the worst game of 2016. The absolute worst port in the history of PC gaming, as far as my firsthand experiences are concerned. It stuttered more than a nervous high-schooler with a lisp, screen-tore like an iPhone made of wet paper and shit the bed so frequently that its myriad of disabilities almost distracted me from the piss-poor narrative and lacking runtime lurking beneath the surface. The studio’s fallen since the heydays of Max Payne and Alan Wake.

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My Thoughts on Titanfall 2’s Multiplayer

Before we go any further, here’s the situation: I’ve played the first five minutes of the campaign and that’s it. Why skip out on the best new addition to Titanfall? Because the single player will still be there for me to explore long after the online community has dried up and died, meaning I need to hop on the already-decomposing corpse that this game touts as a multiplayer component before it’s gone.share-image.jpg

On PC, the community is small. Very small. Less than a month after launch only one game mode is ever reliably playable (guess which one), and even then, only barely at odd hours on weekdays and weekends alike. At most I’ll see 1,000-something players online in my region on a Saturday afternoon. It’s rough. And it’s sad because, just as was the case with Titanfall 1, it’s some of the most fun I’ve had in a multiplayer game this year.

Initially, Titanfall 2’s multiplayer feels like a step in the wrong direction from its predecessor. For a start, maps are bigger, introducing brief moments of nothingness that NEVER existed in the original. This couples poorly with the fact that wall-running is now less emphasized, which inadvertently jacks up the barrier to entry when versing the droves of players who’ve already figured out how to circumvent a map’s superficially slow design. Then there’s the increased danger of AI specters and grunts, resulting in actual deaths from what were previously useless computer-controlled minions. Throw these things together and you’ve got a recipe for a lot of frustration and shaken faith in the game’s quality—early on, that is.

Sink enough time into the game and overcome the steep learning curve that Titanfall 1 veterans such as myself had to suffer through and eventually you’ll discover Respawn knew exactly what they were doing. They’ve essentially shifted the focus of Titanfall multiplayer to be more centered around situational awareness rather than blazing fast reactionary processing, something I can’t say I’m a fan of but do understand the appeal toward. It’s a far more tactical affair, to say plainly.

While only one of TF2’s maps holds a candlestick to any of Titanfall 1’s extremely memorable multiplayer landscapes, be it the orange sands of Demeter or massive skeletons of Boneyard, the sequel focuses less on making memorable moments and shooting dioramas and more on increasing the game’s skill ceiling. Again, not my preference but it’s a welcome challenge. What IS my preference is the insane amount of customization they’ve added, not only cosmetically but also in terms of weaponry and equipment. Gravity stars are the best FPS addition in recent memory, sucking in opponents so you can whip out a pocket shotty and blast them while they’re trapped in a temporary wormhole. Shit’s lit.

In conclusion, while I fundamentally disagree with certain changes Respawn has made, I respect all of them and understand the vision behind the product. It’s a fun game, no doubt, which is why I’m sad to see such a small community. If you can get it for sub-forty U.S. dollars, snag it and hop in, the water’s fine—just a bit different than last time.

Review of “Superhot” for PC

It’s super not.superhot5.jpg

For those of you who know the background info regarding this game, let’s get right to it: the “time only moves when you move” thing is a gimmick. It’s not a revolutionary mechanic. It’s an—admittedly, very entertaining—gimmick. It’s a single power-up that could easily be incorporated into any other FPS. Fun enough while it lasts, but hardly earth-shattering.

The campaign is meme-baiting, wannabe-meta nonsense and it lasts a short, sweet three hours at most. And while the inclusion of challenge modes is a nice gesture, it really doesn’t amount to much. The core of the game is hollow. The gimmick of Superhot isn’t enough to keep the game magnanimously heated or superlatively toasty; much as it wants to be.

And if you’re wondering why the short review, I’m just trying to simulate game length. In text.