Until Dawn Review

Written By: Tyler Oldfield


Seems Safe...

“An uninterrupted story that is all based on the players decisions and quick thinking will have you wiping your forehead in a ‘close call’ way or having your head hang in disappointment”

Developers Supermassive Games first debuted Until Dawn as a PlayStation Move experience. It was set to release at the tail end of the PS3’s lifecycle and to be a game that made motion control gaming fun for the hardcore gamers. However, somewhere during development something happened, causing the team to take a step back in the shadows and reevaluate their product. With the PlayStation 4 set to launch on the horizon, Supermassive—or maybe even Sony—saw an opportunity to take advantage of the systems powerful tech and deliver an homage to the classic teen-slasher horror.  This isn’t your typical horror game that we have all come accustomed to. Your camera isn’t panned behind the characters and you aren’t stocking up on firearms to give the horrors that stalk you a fight. This is more in style of an adventure game–think of the classic Resident Evil games merged with Telltale’s approach to storytelling—that is Until Dawn.

The game starts off with a group of friends tucked away inside a cabin on top of a mountain during a winter storm. This opening prologue plays out as the games tutorial where you learn the basics of the game and how its mechanics work. It also establishes the story going forward and why exactly these compelling teens decide to visit the cabin. The game does an overall good job of keeping its story a mystery. With subtle hints and clues regarding some of the strange happenings around the area only to let your imagination and theories to start processing. I will say that a certain part in the story completely threw me off guard and veered more towards something I wasn’t quite expecting. This mysterious story is just enough to keep you motivated and continue  plowing through the terrors to figure out everything. Throughout the course of the game you will come to like some of these characters or simply despise them. These can entirely play out depending on the choices you make as certain characters that will define who they are as a person. I played the game the way I would as if it was happening to me. I am a nice guy (at least I think so) so when given the option to be more understanding I’d go with that. These choices made me care for characters but it also made some individuals run all over me and belittle me because ya know, nice guys finish last, right? This began to take a toll on the way I viewed the characters who were mistreating me. If they were in need of assistance I was hesitant on whether or not I should or not. Every action you take can determine the outcome of the situation for the best or for the worst. Because there is no “Game Over” I found myself trying my hardest to take care of characters that I cared for the most. Everyone can die and everyone can live, it is the classic case of the butterfly effect. This leaves room for replay value, giving you the chance to go back and make different decisions to get different outcomes.

FullSizeRender

The game visuals are absolutely stunning, almost to the point of being realistic at times. This heightens the believability of the characters as they can express fear, sadness and care through the amazing animation. The moon illuminating through the thickness of the forest providing patches of light to help navigate through the blistering winter storm. The sinister cabin echoing uncertain whispers and creaks as you investigate the beautifully, yet haunting house. All the essentials to create an amazing horror atmosphere is there. The setting may be cliché but the creators really nailed the tone and inspiration from the classic slasher horror movies.

I can’t really find a flaw in the game because its mechanics work for the style it uses. If you strongly dislike QTE’s (quick time events) then you will most likely be miserable during the experience. Quick thinking and good reflexes are key to success. Once or twice during my anxiety spas I accidentally pushed a wrong button causing a decision I didn’t really want to do. Keep your composure and stay calm, scenes will get very intense and will demand you make quick decisions. I loved every second of this because if I failed, that was it, bye-bye. The organic flow of the game was refreshing and very satisfying or heartbreaking, depending on what happens.

FullSizeRender (1)

Final Word: Until Dawn does a remarkable job at delivering the tone, atmosphere and characters of a classic teen slasher horror. An uninterrupted story that is all based on the players decisions and quick thinking will have you wiping your forehead in a ‘close call’ way or having your head hang in disappointment, knowing your favorite character will not continue on. If you can handle the tense pressure then maybe you will survive Until Dawn.

Verdict: 9/10

Gameplay: 7.5
Story: 7.5
Graphics: 10
Sound: 10
Replay Value: 9.5

 

Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture Review

Written By: Tyler Oldfield
Reviewed On: PlayStation 4


FullSizeRender

With subtle details, a very ambiguous narrative and emotional music  I was left crestfallen and hoping the games slow pace might pick up only to be disappointed with bland restricted gameplay. “

I agree games should be labeled as art because in theory art is something one or many have created. The Chinese Room—best known for games like Dear Esther and Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs—has taken a heavily narrative focus set in a bucolic town of England during the 1980’s. The thing is the focus seemed too much on the story and writing than providing us with solid gameplay which in the end had me yawning and begging for the experience to be over already.

The game starts off completely swallowed in mystery. Everybody seems to have randomly disappeared leaving you to be the lone survivor. Survivor of what exactly is the question and is up to you to explore a gorgeous countryside and unravel the mysteries. The way of uncovering the secrets lies in a peculiar glowing ball of light which is your navigational friend. This ball of light will float around leading you to important occurrences that happened before “the event”. These occasions show off past meetings (or alterations) between the town folks. They are displayed through a show of lights and are delivered excellently with superb voice acting. These characters discuss strange things happening around the town while also battling personal burdens. The music helps stimulate some of the more intense encounters you come across. Haunting hymns and a beautiful orchestra pulls on your heart-strings a bit as you feel sympathy for these poor souls.

What Happened? Keep walking to find out.

What Happened? Keep walking to find out.

The strange happenings are very subtle and it is up to you to explore and piece together the phenomena. You are free to wander around freely and go at your own pace but that is one of the biggest problems this game has, the pacing. Your character moves incredibly slow and can totally ruin the pacing of the game because of this. They do have a sprint (more like a jog) button that requires holding down the right trigger but this is a gradual run. Most people have completely overlooked this simple mechanic (me included) because I wasn’t getting an instant run effect. The walking speed decreases even more when you enter a building and even more when walking up or down a set of stairs. Maybe the meaning behind this decision was to let you focus on your surroundings and interact more carefully. The thing is, you barely interact with anything, other than opening up doors and eavesdropping on ghostly glowing humans. There are no puzzles, no platforming in any shape, you are simply tasked of walking and listening repeatedly. After about a 5 hour journey I was left scratching my head but more importantly, relieved. It almost seemed such a waste to have this extraordinary countryside with no ability to interact with and an incredible sedate pacing. Because of this the characters I started to care about became just an obstacle in order to advance the game.

Final Word:The Chinese Room introduces us to an abandoned countryside where a mysterious event has wiped out the residents of this small English town. With subtle details, a very ambiguous narrative and emotional music  I was left crestfallen and hoping the games slow pace might pick up only to be disappointed with bland restricted gameplay. 

Verdict:5/10

Gameplay: 2
Story: 5
Graphics: 8
Sound: 8
Replay: 4

Wolfenstein: The New Order Review

Written By: Tyler Oldfield
Review On: PlayStation 4


“With an unfortunate snooze-fest of an opener, the game quickly picks up the pace and provides a solid first-person action that fans of the serious will adore.”

 

World War 2 games have been a running trend for the first-person shooter; it was until only a few years ago the steam had settled. Developers understand the fatigue in the era, which why if a game takes place in this time period than there is most likely a twist thrown in to keep things fresh. Machine Games–developers behind this latest entry–have succeeded in bringing the beloved series back into the light, with a more “serious” and grounded story.

You’re opened with the series hero, B.J. Blazkowicz, engaged in an all-out dogfight high above the ocean. Things of course begin to go wrong and you are tasked to care of certain objectives in order to keep your plane flying. Your overall mission is to reach a compound that is holding a rather disturbing general; General Deathshead, and to simply eliminate him. This opening scene acts like a tutorial to get an understanding of the games mechanics. However, the opening can leave a bad taste in your mouth and can get you discourage from wanting to continue. Fight through this section, and things will begin to roll.

After being in a vegetable state for 14 years, Blazkowicz comes through just in time to save his own life from the terrorizing Nazis. He quickly learns that the fascist army had won the war and rule nearly the whole world. He takes matters into his own hands and sets out to find the resistance army to help stop the evildoers and take revenge on General Deathsheads. I found the story very interesting and the solid voice acting helped to sell it. Wolfenstein has never been about taking itself too seriously and neither does this one, however; out of all the entries this one has a more serious tone to it. Another reason the story is interesting is because the setup is almost plausible. History has told us that the Nazis did secret experiments on bodies and put a ton of resources into developing world destruction weaponry. In this story you see that, and it makes the story more grounded.

After grinding through a forgettable opener you’ll begin to see that Wolfenstein has a lot more going for it. Its fast pace first-person action leaves you gripping your controller and feeling satisfaction with every bullet penetrating your enemy. The weapons are unique in a way that they don’t stray too far off from familiar but also don’t get carried with the “high-tech” advancements. Most weapons can be dual-wielded, even though there is really no advantage into having two weapons out. In fact, I rarely used duel weapons, it was highly inaccurate and the recoil of two guns [mainly machine rifles] was causing bullets to spray everywhere, hitting targets if lucky. If surrounded by a ton of enemies then maybe bringing out the second gun will help, but I recommend sticking with just the single weapon in hand.

The games presentation was remarkable but with its flaws. The changeover from gameplay to cut scenes can be inadequate, and takes you out of the intense action. Although during the cut scenes you’re addressed to some believable acting, with great body and facial animation, along with the already mentioned, superb voice work. The in-game scenery can leave you in awe with its Hollywood-esque set pieces, and the gratification of seeing a Nazis brain burst onto a wall with a faithful headshot. The game earns its mature rating, with limbs being blasted off and heads popping off like grapefruit from explosions. Hearing the kick of your arsenal mow down your foes pumps the action up. Shotguns blast with a devastating shockwave, assault rifles echo through hallways. Even the silence of a muffled pistol makes the noises realistic.
FINAL SAY: Machine Games did a sensational job bringing the classic Wolfenstein brand back into the light. With an unfortunate snooze-fest of an opener, the game quickly picks up the pace and provides a solid first-person action that fans of the serious will adore. With its more serious tone in storytelling and a diverse set of characters, Wolfenstein is a game everyone should check out. 

Verdict: 8/10
Story: 8.0
Graphics: 7
Gameplay: 8
Sound: 8

Replay: 7

Rocket League Review

Written By: Tyler Oldfield
Reviewed On: PlayStation 4


Rocket League

“Rocket League takes two concepts—soccer and racing—and meshes them together to make one of the most thrilling, competitive games I have played in a while”

3….2….1….Go! I race off immediately towards the ball like a bat out of hell.  Immensely draining my turbo for the sake of reaching the ball first before my opponents do. The two of us reach the stationary globe at the same time causing the impact to send my vehicle skyrocketing through the air. My rival is unruffled, taking off full speed towards the goal with a clean break away. I see this all taking place as I helplessly float through the air preparing for the inevitable goal. Out of nowhere my teammate appears, colliding into our adversary sending him into an exploding mess of twisted metal. I finally get my four wheels planted on the ground and take off towards the ball, desperately attempting to do anything to help my teammate. The other teams buddy shows up for a last-ditch effort to put the ball in the net. We’re parallel with each other, racing full speed to the ball. He jumps with a forward flip to finalize the last move he’ll need to end the round. The ball is in midair with nothing we can do but watch. Out of nowhere my teammate comes flying through the screen and miraculously hits the ball in a last second save. Welcome to Rocket League

The concept of soccer meets racing sounds a bit ludicrous but surprisingly plays out fantastically. The gameplay is high-speed and frantic, you’re always on edge whether you are playing defense or offense. You might have that break away where it is just you, the ball and an open field, where everything comes down to you not screwing up and panicking and overshooting the goal. You might be the one holding back as goalie while you watch the chaotic scuffle down the field when suddenly the ball is heading straight towards you and it all comes down to how you will make the epic save. These moments in Rocket League happen in almost every match you play and it is outstanding.

AHH

The cars you get to select are all equal with no set stat diagram. This is a plus because everyone on the playing field is equal and the game is strictly skill based. They do offer a tutorial in order to hone down your skills so you can compete with the experts. I also suggest to play a few rounds with the AI through the 3 levels of difficulties. Start off with rookie so you can adjust to the games controls and style of play. Once you get the hang of things gradually increase the difficulty. The AI overall does a great job of keeping things interesting, however; it is your AI teammates that seem to get in the way the most. At times it seemed my teammates would randomly run into me for no apparent reason causing me to miss an important block or even a goal. They are hit or miss when it comes to saving the ball as well. They might surprise you with an incredible save here and there but other times they’ll be back inside your own goal clowning around letting the easiest goals slip pass. Online play is where I highly suggest everyone to check out. Modes range from 1 versus 1 all the way up to total chaos with 4 versus 4. The latter is really entertaining and can be extremely chaotic but in a good way. I personally found myself playing 2 versus 2, this mode feels the most competitive and intimate than the others. You really need to use team work in order to succeed if you decide to try to carry your whole team you might find yourself doing more harm than good.

Each car is highly customizable but these customization’s do not alter your car in any way other than appearance. You can adjust what type of wheels you’d like to drive around in, what kind of turbo you want coming out of the exhaust (these range from flamethrower to a silly rainbow trail) to what goofy “hat” you want gently place on top of your cars body. These aesthetics bring out unique personalities while on the field and shows the developers aren’t taking their game too seriously.  The maps don’t really offer anything new other than they’re set in different environments. You could be playing in a normal soccer field arena to an industrial type stadium with trains passing by overhead. It would have been nice if they added the option to have little obstacles inside the arena–think bumpers or dips in the ground—to kind of change it up and add a new type of gameplay element.

Final Word: Rocket League takes two concepts—soccer and racing—and meshes them together to make one of the most thrilling, competitive games I have played in a while, even if the AI seems a bit dull-witted at times and the maps don’t offer anything special. With unique customization to give your car a personality and having a balanced playing field Rocket League is a game that many will stick with for months, if not years.

Verdict: 9/10

Gameplay: 10
Story: N/A
Graphics: 8
Sound: 8
Replay: 10

The Yummy Pig BBQ Review

Written By: Tyler Oldfield


  “This is everything The Yummy Pig is not”

You know you have just experienced a good BBQ restaurant when you smell like the food itself after having been out of the establishment for a couple of hours. You expect some fresh, hot meat ready to be devoured in a bath of sweet (or spicy) barbecue sauce. You want that warm corn bread that doesn’t require any butter to kick up its taste, but only adds to the already deliciousness. Occasionally have your local bands make an appearance to give the already BBQish atmosphere some life. This is everything The Yummy Pig is not

I was immediately turned off the second I walked into the building. No one was there to greet you or explain how the set up works. Instead of being seated you have to walk up to an ordering station, similar to something you’d see in a fast food establishment. After looking over the menu and finally deciding on the pulled pork sandwich, which is epitome of all BBQ, the gentlemen helping us flipped around his computer screen and displayed a variety of ‘tip’ options, ranging from “no tip” all the way to 100%. Now, I am all for tipping and I understand most waiters/waitresses make the majority of their money that way. However, a tip isn’t a guarantee, it isn’t something we need to feel obligated to do. A tip is represented and based on your evaluation on how well you performed at your job. For waiters and waitresses (and bartenders) this is based on your customer service, your attitude, how well you take care of the customer. To ask me for a tip before I have seen how your service is seems like a shady business model, so I did the bare minimum (I was being nice) of 12%.

After seating ourselves my wife and I decided to go look at their condiment station to test out and see what they provided in their sauce department. The bottles of BBQ had no labels to identify what is spicy, what is sweet or what is regular. On top of that the bottle tops were missing and completely covered in dried up sauce that looked very unappealing. After not waiting to long for our food, my name was called, remember they expected tips before any of this, so no service at the door, had to seat ourselves, and now I am being called to come pick up my food without it being served to me.

The food was, to put it bluntly, dreadful. I had more bun than meat on my sandwich requiring me to throw out the bun altogether. The meat itself was room temperature and was very rugged, it felt like a game of tug-of-war with my teeth and fingers trying to rip apart the meat. Their cole-slaw tasted as if someone was adding salt and the cap came off causing a tsunami to enter the meal. Then you have their cornbread which you would probably be better off eating a bar of soap than this excuse for “cornbread”. It wasn’t good until adding upon layers of butter to finally get some satisfaction for your taste buds.

Final Word: My overall first impression of this restaurant isn’t a good one. With a dubious business model and food that was below underwhelming, I can’t recommend this place. On a good note, their water was refreshing. 


Verdict: 3/10

The Yummy Pig is a restaurant located in the Leesburg, Va area.