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Sniper Elite 3 Xbox One Review

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Rebellion and 505 Games deliver the third instalment in the Sniper Elite series that puts a greater emphasis now on the gore-fest slow motion bullet kills than anything else you’ll see in-game. As a prequel to Sniper Elite V2 from 2012 which in itself was a remake, the mind-set of maybe being third-time-lucky in an attempt to produce a decent solid and satisfying shooter has failed. Sniper Elite 3 is the all dancing, brighter, shinier version of the other Sniper Elite’s with continued distinguishing shit AI and visual pop-ins the franchise could be famous for. You may not be able to polish a turd, but Rebellion has proved you can at least roll it in glitter!

For next-gen consoles the bar was raised in terms of expectations, but unfortunately the game falls flat in its face in being anything remotely exciting as far as WWII shooters are concerned. Starting out with the positives that are most noticeable from the graphical improvements – Sniper Elite III on Xbox One now appears to look exactly how you would have expected it on Xbox 360. With Sniper Elite V2 being completely basic in its visual capacity it is nice to see a more developed and fancier version of Sniper Elite on Xbox One, but still not “all-that” in the way of what you might be expecting. If anything, the best visual display is in the slow motion bullet kills with a much more refined impression of internal body parts that come crashing and smashing out as you perform perfectly timed and aligned shots to head, lungs, heart and other organs. If you are not familiar with Sniper Elite, in slow motion the bullet tears through the air before forcefully impounding itself into the body, and you get to see organs tear and burst, bones shatter and your enemy dies on the ground in pool of his own blood. The downside in this title is that it comes across completely over-done, way too much and with almost every shot. By the time you’ve completed one mission you’ve practically had a biology lesson on every vital organ in the human body.

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Other visual enhancements are the environments themselves; although a dated WWII period you are stealthily wondering around North Africa with rocky deserts and landscapes around three times larger than previous Sniper Elite games, and additionally the greener levels with heavy foliage and trees appear bright and inviting to explore. There are more objects and enemies placed within the levels than in any other Sniper Elite title also making the game seem more difficult in some areas which require tactfully though out processes. On the whole with the visuals it has given the title a cartoon-like appearance due to the brightness and enhanced lighting. Nothing in the way of visual realism, but definite improvements over any other Sniper Elite, albeit still basic for next-gen!

Another positive (yes there is another despite my introduction to the game) comes in the way that gameplay has changed. Likely due to the increased scale of environments, but there now feels like more player choices can be made in your exploration of the levels. It is not entirely open-world feel due to the missions which lead you in the directions set, but you can take far more different routes and paths to your objectives set on screen and interact more with the levels through your decision making. By having more choices that allow you decide how to set up and kill an enemy from a distance or even a whole squad of soldiers marching in your direction enables you to feel as though you’re really setting your own direction. Cook grenades, blow up fuel tanks, and go prone with a selection of weapons at your own leisure. So long as you kill who needs to be killed, travel to where you need to be placed, all the other movements in the middle to clear the way are there for you to have as much fun with as you need. In-between the important tasks – it’s your battleground!

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It’s a no brainer that with a game titled Sniper Elite your obvious choice of primary weapon is a Sniper Rifle, but you do have the option for more close range guns at your disposal that I found were more useful taking out enemies who were on the hunt for you when up close. A range of SMG’s, Silenced Pistols and even a Panzerschrek Rocket Launcher offer the quick get-the-fuck-out-of-here scenarios when targeted at close range.  The further you progress in the game, the more you are able to unlock and customise your weapon load-out.  From the Inventory screen you can additionally set up grenades, Med-Kits, Dynamite and Trip Mines to further aid you in your missions.  Depending on your difficulty level is how realistic the Sniping become as it takes in to account realistic bullet physics, this is somewhat counter-balanced when you have a game that tells you where to aim though, but at the easier settings it is pretty much a clear shot regardless of marksmanship, weather and distance. For a real challenge and exceptional difficulty to get the most out of Sniper Elite III you need to play it on Authentic difficulty (if you can handle it).

The AI in the game just ruin the experience completely with dawdling around on foot, looking in the opposite direction and some just casually walking right past you when on the hunt for your trail following a loud successful kill-shot. It is very easy to be clear of enemies and completely ridiculous how bone-idle they are considering they are elite soldiers.  You can kill one soldier and the guy standing right next to him will give an all clear within seconds – it’s like no one gives a shit that you just killed someone, he’ll just sit right down on the seat and wait to get shot in the kidneys or lungs just like everyone else!

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The campaign itself is a predictable average experience; it is mostly fun but as a next step game into a new console era it is another been and done, tried and tested step in the same old territory.  Expanding the game further, however is a full set of Multiplayer Modes that take advantage of the Xbox One Smart Match where you can just sit back, relax and do other things in-between the game trying to find you a Lobby to join. Five different modes of online gameplay are available from familiar ground with Team Deathmatch, a Free for All Deathmatch, Team Distance King mode where it’s all about Team kill distance, Distance King where it’s all about Solo kill distance – and finally, No Cross which is Team Deathmatch with a twist. The twist is that both teams are separated with no chance of a close quarters fight, so this is the ultimate hide & seek!

Multiplayer with a decent team is extremely fun, but finding matches seems to take quite some time at the time of writing. Sniper Elite over all is desperately crying out for modernisation and innovation.  It really is about time that World War II was put to rest – and despite a rather decent multiplayer across some very large maps, the whole package is rather dull and not quite as exciting as I had initially hoped.

You’ll be trading this in, in next to no time!

Thank you to Xbox for providing the review code.

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Xbox E3 2014 Brief – Key Announcements

The Xbox E3 Media briefing kicked off at 5.30pm (after a pre-show) today with some of the most top titles and new announcements. If you watched the LIVE streams as it happened across many different devices and website’s – you too might have almost wet yourself with excitement!

The show opened with Phil Spencer on a smaller stage this year, with the purpose of showcasing the passion and creativity of gaming across the world to millions of viewers live from LA. Creators, publishers and gamers were thanked, “humbled and amazed” said Spencer when talking about how Xbox One gamers are shaping the future of Xbox, “we are better for it” – The entire briefing was dedicated to games to make Xbox One the best place to play games this generation.

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The first look at Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare was displayed, showing a war torn futuristic environment and truly spectacular visuals. The game is under development from Sledgehammer Games and will be released November 4th 2014. All DLC will reach Xbox gamers first (confirmed). First impressions seemed very positive and this could be the Call of Duty we’ve been waiting for, for a long time – something on the scale of the original Modern Warfare. Imaginative, action-packed and intense. Noticeably drones appear like Kryl in the Gears of War franchise, swarming in large dangerous bursts of evil.

Turn 10 came on stage to state that almost a million gamers a week are gaming on Forza games. Confirmation that Nürburgring track was to be made available today for FREE on Forza 5. It is a motorsports complex around the village of Nürburg, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany (google it for more info). The most important Top 10 Studio’s premiere was Horizon 2 with a full day & night cycle and dynamic weather in stunning 1080p. Drivatar has been evolved for the open world and dedicated servers will allow you to play instantly from September 30th 2014. Over 200 cars and open world freedom – Forza Horizon 2 looks every bit as amazing as you can imagine!

Trapper, Medic or Support… EVOLVE announced a Beta and DLC exclusive to Xbox On. Quite dramatically too that made the game look almost like Aliens, from the creators of left 4 Dead.

Assassin’s Creed: Unity was the first time you can join your own brotherhood with up to three friends on Xbox LIVE to define the Assassin’s Creed experience for next-gen gaming. Marquis De Bullion was the major character in stealth mode as he crept around various exquisite architecture. The game looks to be the most brutal and dramatic in the history of the franchise; better lighting, improved AI seemed prominent and 4 player split screen sword fights!

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Dragon Age Inquisition, with premiere content first on Xbox from October 7th 2014. The brief trailer showed the lighting effects and dramatic sequences of terror that prevails through-out the RPG. Looked quite something, but with just a minute or just over of scenes – it was a little hard to take in all the epicness at once. Looks to be one of the greatest RPG’s on Xbox One I reckon.

Ted Price from Insomniac Games came on stage to present the insane actions of Sunset Overdrive; to take control of an open world with the intention of saving Sunset City. It’s eccentric take on action and fighting through theme parks didn’t make this look the greatest game of the show tonight, due to appearing a little like the odd one out. It is definitely something different, something completely off the wall, but I wasn’t over impressed on the first impressions I had of the gameplay on show. Quirky and colourful, but maybe it’s campaign or 8 player multiplayer experience for looting will win me over on October 28th this year.

All new DLC for Dead Rising 3 is live as of now… it’s name is so long, you’re better off just looking on the marketplace for it. Turns the game into a Street Fighting experience on Xbox LIVE.

Disney Fantasia Music Evolved will be released this October from Harmonix. Dance Central Spotlight, with all new digital tracks smart technology to get new tracks into the game every week – the game will be released digitally on the marketplace this Fall.

Lionhead confirmed that Fable Legends is a place of magic, fairytale and myth to discover the stories and characters of Albion. Soon to be your home in the game; we was introduced to Stirling, a main character who along with Winter, Rook, and Inga (various heroes) you embark upon a whole new quest in a growing, evolving world. The natural world is ready to strike back which must be defeated, all things in Fable Legends appeared to have a serious attitude problem. Lionhead’s vision is to extend beyond multiplayer with an innovative, dramatic mode – in Fable Legends you can be the villain player to control the world from above like a malevolent God. Every challenge is orchestrated by the villain – it’s your job to do the worst with your evil powers. The outcome of adventures depends on the cunning villain or the teamwork of the heroes!

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343i came on stage to discuss Halo – Whilst Halo 5 is about Master Chief’s journey; his history and past – the game was confirmed for a 2015 released. In the build up, 343i are retelling the launch of Halo history with November 11th confirmed as the start as Master chief returns in Halo Master Chief collection having all 4 main games included on one disc with a single unified user interface. Halo 2 Anniversary HD will ship with the games original multiplayer and will run at 1080p 60fps on dedicated servers with 4000 Gamerscore across the whole disc. Included in the collection is Halo Nightfall, a live action series from Ridley Scott that will lead right up to Halo 5: Guardians. Last but not least, this december will launch a Halo 5: Guardians Beta to celebrate the Arena legacy with new game modes and features that can only be obtained in the collection disc. The entire Master chief story will be available on Xbox One this holiday and have been re-touched for Xbox One.

Phil Spencer also briefly showed for the 2015 line-up: INSIDE ( a new title from Playdead ) it looked very much like Limbo, but next-gen! Dark and chilling with various ways to escape danger. ID@Xbox came on stage to talk more about the indie scene on Xbox One with a look a fraction of hundreds of new games on the way. Showing just brief clips, it was hard to pick out a favourite…

Rise of the Tomb Raider – Lara Croft is all set to return to Xbox One in a whole new and great outing that looks every bit as deep psychologically as it is going underground to find lost treasure. Not a great deal was shown, but the brief teaser was enough to wet my pants and appetite. One of the best games of the xbox 360 of all time (in the eyes of thisisxbox) my excitement for the next game in the franchise is nothing short of off the scale!

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The Witcher 3 was played on stage from Projekt Red and looked like a brighter, more graphically enhanced and vivid Witcher 2. It wasn’t all that exciting or thrilling and appeared like something we already played before. As I hold the Witcher 2 as my all time favourite RPG to date, I still have very high hopes for this release next year.

Phantom Dust has been brought back from the dead and will be released only on Xbox One. For those who remember the original, the latest adventure appeared to be a battle of power on screen. The original was a 3rd person card based fantasy title that brought the action to life vividly in on-screen battles.

Game Director, Ryan Barnard presented more information on Tom Clancy’s The Division – showing further gameplay and areas overrun by hostile factions. New content will be released first on Xbox One. The Division is an upcoming third-person tactical shooter action role-playing video game developed by a handful of Ubisoft studio’s and will be released during 2015. A definite appeal for Ghost Recon fans as The Division appeared like a modernised futuristic version.

Platinum Games announced their Xbox One exclusive creation ScaleBound – filled with dragons and action, it all seemed very exciting.

David Jones and Phil Spencer came on stage towards the end of the show to announce the return of one of the Xbox 360’s finest games – Crackdown! The new Xbox One exclusive Crackdown wasn’t dated, but its over-long illustrious trailer showed it to be coming back as one hell of a title just as great as the original.

…and then it ended!

The Evil Within – New Release Date with New Trailer

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Bethesda has revealed that The Evil Within will now be available in North America on October 21st, 2014, in Australia on October 23rd, 2014, and throughout Europe on October 24th, 2014. Shinji Mikami and his team at Tango Gameworks have asked for additional time to further balance and refine the game in order to deliver the polished, terrifying pure survival horror experience they set out to create. Additionally today a new pre-order incentive – The Fighting Chance Pack has been unveiled.

The Fighting Chance Pack provides players with a handful of additional items that may help them stave off death for a moment longer and includes:

  • Medical Kit – A vital health enhancement to enable Sebastian to fight on.
  • Green Gel – Used to upgrade Sebastian’s attributes.
  • Double Barrel Shotgun and Three Shells – A larger and more formidable shotgun than the regular shotgun, it’s useful for tight situations with multiple encroaching enemies.
  • An Incendiary Agony Bolt – Capable of showering nearby enemies with damaging fire sparks.
  • A Poison Agony Bolt – Will draw enemies towards it and poison them, allowing Sebastian time for a quick escape.

Both the new release date and pre-order incentive are highlighted in the latest video below.

LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham This Autumn on Xbox

Warner Bros’ has today announced yet another LEGO game for consoles – LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham will be available beginning of Autumn 2014 for the Xbox One and Xbox 360 as well as other platforms.

In LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, the Caped Crusader joins forces with the super heroes of the DC Comics Universe and blasts off to outer space to stop the evil Brainiac from destroying Earth. Using the power of the Lantern Rings, Brainiac shrinks worlds to add to his twisted collection of miniature cities from across the universe. Now the greatest super heroes and the most cunning villains must unite and journey to different Lantern Worlds to collect the Lantern Rings and stop Brainiac before it’s too late.

Players will unlock more than 150 unique characters from the DC Comics universe, including members of the Justice League and LEGO big figures such as Killer Croc, Solomon Grundy and many more. Fans of all ages will be able to control their favourite heroes and villains with new gadgets and abilities. Brainiac’s mind controlling abilities and the power of the Lantern rings bring unexpected twists to the classic characters’ personalities.

Check out the trailer above for a little tease of what to expect this Autumn!

3D Printer Rifle Weapon for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

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What do you get when you combine a state of the art 3D printer with an Assault Rifle? The next weapon to feature in the latest Call of Duty title set for release on November 4th 2014 – Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.

As part of GameInformer’s exceptional coverage of the Advanced Warfare from Sledgehammer Games, it has been revealed that one of the futuristic weapons in the year 2054 timeframe (I’d be 74 by then) is a rifle that can print its own ammunition within the weapons chamber!

Other technology revealed includes a plasma rifle, a hoverbike, vertical takeoff aircraft, and an exo suit that will increase player speed, strength and jump height on the battlefield.

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Thanks: GameSpot via GameInformer

Super Time Force Review

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Capybara Games have released an old-school inspired shoot-em-up on the Xbox Marketplace that looks every bit like an enhanced 8-bit retro platformer, but there is a twist – the most important aspect of this game unlike conventional shooters is that you simply must die, die and die again! It does initially look like a throw-back to the past if you are old enough to have owned a Nintendo NES or SEGA Master System, however the mechanics and rules of simply running through and shooting the bad guys has been re-written where time itself  has to be manipulated to help you complete every stage of the game.

The year is 198X and the Super Time Force team are tasked with visiting the past to save the Dinosaurs from extinction. It’s an insane travel trip that will likely have Doctor Who shaking with fear in his Tardis, as you simultaneously save the past, present and future from all the evil around you. With each level of the game set up as a platforming-puzzle you have a mere sixty seconds to reach the end, but doing an ‘obvious’ run through by running and shooting the enemies in front of you will not see you through. What at first looks like a piece of piss, will have you shaking your fist in frustration as certain doors will not unlock without clearing enemies, jumping between large blocks will slow you down and the far end of the level seems like it is miles away from you! When the timer runs out it’s a fail, you die and have to repeat the process all over again, but with your best thinking cap on.

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The only way to play this game is to learn and get used to manipulating the aspects of time, as you play through the level you can rewind and fast forward, and re-play from any point so that you can go back and approach parts differently.  This is the TIME-OUT feature and a requirement of completion; it is just like a video player only you can go back and kill an enemy before they kill you again, and additionally call in a new character to play alongside your past. Bit of a mind-fuck, but when you call in a new character you control the new character in the current-time as your other character in past-time is still shooting – it’s past and future doubling up to make the present time and how you use it can quickly get you through some tricky spots. This feature is especially useful for shooting at large enemies or blocks that need clearing with double shooting power, it also (more importantly in this game) saves you time!

So, now that you know dying is part of strategizing your gameplay where you die, rewind, die, die and rewind and try again – this allows you to think about the level and everything within it to make sure you get out of there in the quickest time possible. Only in TIME-OUT will you see floating crystals that when shot will add time or slow down time to your advantage. It is very hard not to play this like a traditional platformer by running, jumping and shooting, but believe me you will not get far past the first level with this frame of mind. Due to the nature of dying and rewinding the game can feel at some points repetitive and something I absolutely despise is the slow on-screen typing of dialogue – you just want to skip that shit!

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The on-screen antics of everyone shooting at you with dinosaurs, robots and other futuristic foes after your balls can get a bit manic, but rewinding time is not the only answer to getting the best strategy as each character within the game has their own unique ability that makes them useful in heavy battle scenarios as you can have a shield, bazooka, sniper rifle, machine gun and Dinosaur at your disposal. A shield will deflect enemy bullets and can save you from almost anything whereas the weapons are separated by strength and range to suit what difficulty you are facing in the level. It can be a mix and match of characters and time control to aid you through the chapters. Super Time Force at times was hard-hitting-mayhem as the more on screen enemies appear, the more characters you need to drop on the level and then use time to your advantage. It can get messy and frustrating, but it will depend how much of a challenge you like because if you are only used to traditional methods of gameplay you will grow tired of this very quickly. I looked at the chapters as puzzles and the thinking process of completion because the objective of survival is about how you re-write your death.

Visually Super Time Force looks crap, but in the nicest possibly way as it is a crystal clear retro inspired look that fills your screen. It’s all in bright old-fashioned 2D graphics, but it works and comes across as an entertaining piss-take on the games of yester-year without hurting the eyes. Super Time Force is a quirky title that is fun to begin with before it grates on your patience. As much as you’ll love it, you’ll hate it for many other reasons. It’s an irritating, yet entertaining mix of bedlam and bullets with a zany eccentric cast of characters.

Refreshingly different and totally not to be taken seriously! Thank you to Xbox for providing the review code.

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External HDD’s Improve Xbox One Loading Times?

NeoGaf users confirm improved loading times with external HDD's
NeoGaf users confirm improved loading times with external HDD’s

It was recently reported that the next dashboard update for Xbox One adds the much-needed external HDD support since the console’s in-built 500GB HDD would fast run out of space if you were to own nearly every Xbox One game on the market right now!

Microsoft Xbox Team Stated:

It couldn’t be easier to increase your storage capacity of games and apps with the external storage support features we’re bringing in June. Your Xbox One system will soon support up to two external hard drives at once. Simply plug in your 256 GB or larger USB 3.0 external hard drive and once formatted, copy and move games, apps and game add-ons to increase your storage capacity at home.

Beta tester’s have been reporting that the use of external HDD’s on the Xbox One improves loading times for games:

I am one of the Beta testers for the June Xbox One update that add’s the ability to use up to 2 External Hard Drives. I am using a Seagate 4tb Self Powered Hard Drive…

Our set up is as follows: In our Living room Xbox One, Digital version of Ryse: Son of Rome installed on the internal HDD. In our gaming room we have another Xbox One, Digital version of Ryse: Son of Rome installed on the new external HDD.

For the game, I am using the beginning of Chapter 4 titled “Trial by Fire”.

Trial by Fire Load time using Internal HDD : 1.01.55 (one minute, 1.55 seconds)
Trial by Fire Load time using External HDD: 44.49 seconds…

Microsoft hasn’t officially confirmed the improvements to loading times, but it seems that times vary per game and per external drive.

Source: NeoGaf