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Building (Critical) Consensus: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (PS3 / 360)

I’ll make an admission before we go on. I was so bored with the story in AC: Revelations that I stopped playing part way through. I just couldn’t do it. I don’t think I made it more than a couple of hours in AC3 either. I went about as completionist as I had this side of Mass Effect or the PS1 & PS2 Final Fantasy games in the first three AC games but couldn’t will myself to even finish the two most recent.

A lot of critics hail AC4 as a return to form for the franchise with a focus on an increase in the general fun in the series thanks to piracy and the pirate-themed story. Mind you, there were quite a few reviewers lamenting that little had changed mechanically in this game when compared to the previous games in the franchise. If you’ve played previous AC games and loved them, you’ll probably love this one too. For those who fell, out of love… Do you like pirates?

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Building (Critical) Consensus: Battlefield 4 (PS3 / Xbox 360)

battlefield-4-ps3-box-artJust when you thought that the next-gen console launches would be the gaming event of the year to bankrupt you, yesterday happened. We had the releases of WWE 2K14 and Sonic Lost World (coverage soon) and the current-gen launches of Battlefield 4 and Assassin’s Creed 4. We’ll be covering the next-gen versions of those games when they come out (I haven’t decided if I’ll break-up critics roundups between PS4 and XB1 later) but for now, we have the current generation editions of these games to cover.

One of this year’s most interesting battles will be the sales duel between spunkgargleweewees as Battlefield 4 and CoD: Ghosts are out within a week of each other this year. The first one up is BF4. While nobody expects the current-gen version of the game to be as good as the next-gen or PC builds of the game, the consensus is that the multiplayer portion of the game is great and the single-player is as underwhelming as usual. However, I don’t think you’re buying a modern military shooter for the story. Unless you’re buying Spec Ops: The Line. That game was fantastic.

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Building (Critical) Consensus: Beyond: Two Souls

beyond-two-souls-box-artI’m not a big fan of release day review embargoes. That leaves people without an opportunity to cancel a pre-order if the game ends up being terrible. Not only did Quantic Dream and Sony Computer Entertainment set a review embargo on release date for Beyond: Two Souls but the embargo lifted at 11:00 AM EST. That meant that my local EB Games had been open for 90 minutes before the first review came out. That’s just underhanded by the folks making the game and setting the embargo.

The reviews for the latest David Cage creation, Beyond: Two Souls, are definitely mixed. The reviews on Metacritic run from as high as 100% down to a low score of 40% with scores falling everywhere in between. While generally everyone agrees that the facial visuals and animations are fantastic looking (they better be when you hire Willem Dafoe and Ellen Page), there’s disagreement on just about everything else. If you have a reviewer whose tastes are similar to yours, I’d read their review. There is no consensus from the critics on this one. From the looks of it, you’ll either love it or hate it. There doesn’t seem to be any middle ground.

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Building (Critical) Consensus: Diablo III (PS3/Xbox 360)

diablo-iii-box-artI nearly forgot that Diablo III was released this week. Okay, it’s already been out for PC for almost a year-and-a-half but it’s now out for the current generation of consoles with a PS4 version planned for release next year.

What’s interesting about the console port is that many critics prefer it to the PC original. Noted improvements were the addition of offline play and the removal of the auction house (which was blamed for the necessity of always-online DRM in the PC version Diablo III). Critics also liked the addition of local co-op and the new control scheme which I would have thought would be the thing Blizzard would be most likely to struggle with given their PC development background. It’s good to hear this is a well done port and not a blatant cash grab.

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Building (Critical) Consensus: Dragon’s Crown

dragons-crown-box-artDragon’s Crown might be one of the more controversial releases of 2013 in the ongoing concern over sexism and misogyny video games. The 2D side-scrolling brawler has been making headlines since its art first hit the internet. The “hypersexualized” art of the game which depicts a female sorceress with massive breasts, an amazon in almost no clothing and male characters so impossibly muscled that they shouldn’t be able to move.

Some reviewers didn’t let the art style influence their review while others weighed it heavily in their scores. Polygon was the site that’s taken the most flak from gamers (or, at least, Dragon’s Crown fans) over their review which came in almost 20% under the GameRankings average as a result of the game’s art style and depiction of female NPCs. But, of course, that’s why you read multiple reviews. And, of course, you’ll know ahead of time if the art style is off-putting so you won’t let a bad review heavily criticizing the art style get to you, I hope.

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PSA: PlayStation 3 Firmware Update 4.45 May Lock Up Your System

Reports are spreading like wildfire that PlayStation 3 update 4.45 is causing some consoles to lock-up and become unusable after applying the update. The update was supposed to include trophy notification options and improved system stability options. It looks like they missed the latter by a bit.

According to some unofficial Reddit data analysis, if you have installed a new hard drive into your PS3 that’s larger than 500 GB, you have a 90% chance of your console bricking and becoming unusable. All other PS3 types have a failure rate of less than 10% with the stock 500 GB models suffering an 8% failure rate and 120 GB models locking up in 2% of cases.

As of publishing, it appears that Sony has rolled back the 4.45 update and lists 4.41 as the current firmware version. Just be aware if you do see an update 4.45 listed and check the internet to see if you’re safe to install it.

Building (Critical) Consensus: The Last of Us

the-last-of-us-coverAs the current console generation slowly grinds to a close, the quality of games has gone up a notch this year as developers are able to get every last bit of performance out of the technology. The result is games that are visually stunning while still having a compelling narrative and fun gameplay.

While we’ve had couple of early game of the year contenders in Tomb Raider and BioShock Infinite and a couple more coming up later in Grand Theft Auto V and Beyond: Two Souls, this week’s big release just vaulted to the top of the list. Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us came in with massive hype because of who was developing it, even if it could have ended up being just another zombie game.

Instead, as seems to be the case for Naughty Dog releases during this generation, The Last of Us may not just be the game of the year but the best game released on the PlayStation 3 and one of the greatest games ever made.

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Star Trek: The Video Game (PS3) Review: He’s Dead, Jim

At this point, there is nothing I can say at add to the conversation about Star Trek: The Video Game. The consensus puts this games in with Aliens: Colonial Marines and The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct in a three-way race for the worst game of 2013. It’s a shame because I had high hopes for it considering that it was a Star Trek game developed by a pretty good Canadian developer.

Since nothing I can write will be a revelation when it comes to this game, I thought I’d take an in-depth look at everything good and bad in Star Trek and make it the most detailed review you can find of this game.

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Bungie’s Destiny: Much Ado About Nothing (Yet)

destiny-teaser-posterNot surprisingly, Bungie’s unveiling of their in-development Destiny to an assembled group of gaming press was massive news. After all, Bungie developed the Halo franchise, produced five well-received games in the series and have moved on to a much-anticipated new IP that will be published by Activision.

If you checked any of the major gaming blogs or news sites, Destiny’s unveiling wasn’t a one post piece of news. Writers dedicated multiple posts to news about the game but all those posts had one thing in common. Bungie didn’t unveil anything of substance about Destiny. Read the rest of this entry

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