Sunday, 31 March 2013

Thank You!

I just wanted to say thank you in a more direct way to everyone who has helped make my Bioshock Infinite ending explanation article so popular! It has become my most viewed article on my blog, has over 70,000 (at time of writing) hits on my Gamesbeat account and a shit ton of comments. In fact there are so many comments that I can't actually respond to hardly any of them like I said I would (sorry). I never thought it would get so big. 

Thank you for all the tweets too. Thank you to all the people tweeting me their thanks and giving me this awesome, positive feedback and also following me on twitter.

I also, quickly, want to take note of the fact that my Gamesbeat version of my article is actually the wrong version. While it still says exactly what it should about the ending and all of that stuff, I stupidly posted the SECOND draft, instead of my blog version which is the third, final, draft. This means that there are a fair amount of grammatical and spelling mistakes in my Gamesbeat version. This cannot be edited out because, as far as I am aware, once published to Gamesbeat, articles can't be altered.

I also want to thank all the people who liked, retweeted and shared (if 'shared' is what it is called on Google+ - don't use it myself) on Google+. 

Thanks, also, to all the new visitors on my blog I am getting. My views have gone up massively. 

Yep, so there is my little, corny, speech. It needed to be done though, because this has turned massive.

Before I leave I just want to advise you to follow these peeps: @About47Pandas @Mike__Crichton @AlwayzGaming @tylerwhite3719 @Justinsmith1993 @Pandasinthenude

EDIT: Ah, I actually want to quickly add something in I missed. I also want to apologise for the inconsistent grammar and spelling efficiency in my recent articles. I have been extremely tired and a bit ill as of recent and at the same time I have been desperately trying to get out these articles. Unfortunately, my proof reading skills when I feel like shit are, well, shit too, so please don't judge any of the mistakes you may have found too harshly. Thanks and as always:


Saturday, 30 March 2013

Road To Game(s) Of The Year #1

In this series I will be taking a look back over the last 3 or so months at the games I have been playing, and reviewing which ones are potential Games Of The Year and which ones are not. 

Not GOTY Worthy...

Aliens Colonial Marines 

I think it is pretty obvious to everyone that the only game(s) of the year list this game is getting into is "Worst Game(s) Of The Year". 

Put shortly, Aliens Colonial Marines sucks balls.

If you read my rant you'll know why I hated it so much, but to be honest; everyone hates this damn game. Little more can or needs to be said. 

God Of War: Ascension 

Well GoW:A was a bit meh. It wasn't terrible but it certainly isn't GOTY material. 

It's main issues stem from the fact it just doesn't even remotely TRY to do anything new and actually kind of fails in what it actually does do.

The story was a shallow flop, the gameplay was too platforming and puzzle focused and the game was way to short. Admittedly God Of War: Ascension isn't exactly worthy of any Game(s) Of The Year lists. Sorry.

Gears Of War: Judgment

Earning only a 6/10 score from me and a mixture of good and bad reviews from everyone else, Judgment is without doubt the worst Gears game yet. 

Judgment lacked any real focus or improvements. In fact, it did not even improve anything, really. Instead it added in some new features that didn't work that well and removed key things that made Gears what it was. 

The development of the game is mind boggling, however while how it turned out so mediocre is a confusing mess, what isn't is where it stands in terms of potential GOTY awards. This isn't a game that I would even remotely consider for game or games of the year. It's odd thinking that when the last game in the series was released, GoW3, it actually had potential to be GOTY. Not anymore though.

For more on Gears Judgment check out my review for it and my Gears of War VS Gears of War feature.

Dead Space 3

Well DS3 isn't exactly bad. It is far from the best Dead Space game, however it isn't actually a bad title. 

If I had reviewed it I would have classed it somewhere in the 7/10 range, and this does more than enough to show it isn't exactly in the best games of the year list. 

In a way Dead Space 3 felt quite like Gears of War 3 in that it had to make changes for the sake of the story rather than the sake of the fans or gameplay. Admittedly it worked better when done with GoW3.

Like I said, DS3 isn't bad, it just isn't GOTY material.

Hmm GOTY Worthy...

Tomb Raider

While I am skeptical about whether or not TR could, or will be, my GOTY, it is definitely worthy of getting into the Games Of The Year list itself. So while it might not win the ultimate award, it might get second place (or as good as).

Tomb Raider is an outstanding game, albeit flawed and not perfect. That said, these are not the biggest deal and I am certain it will remain a diamond of 2013. 

While it will receive tough competition, Tomb Raider is unique and an excellently driven game that can easily hold its own. If you want to know more about it or more on my opinion of it, check out my Tomb Raider Review.

Bioshock Infinite

I know many people think I totally kiss this game's ass, but I just can't help it; Infinite is phenomenal. Rarely does a game create a game world so rich and deep that you spend over an hour simply admiring it. Rarely is a story and its characters so deep you actually can't stop thinking about them/it all day.

Infinite is in line for my GOTY, however The Last Of Us may prove very, very, very, very (cue a good few more 'verys') tough competition. It doesn't matter what happens or who wins the ultimate GOTY prize though, what is for certain is that Infinite will at least be in the Games Of The Year list. After all, it earned my first ever 10/10, and that is a hard achievement to beat.

For more information on Infinite check out my review for it, and (this is only for people who have FINISHED the game as it contains massive spoilers) my ending explanation. If you want to read more on my opinion of the upcoming The Last Of Us game, then check out my Top Games Of 2013 feature where I wrote a piece on it.

Until next time, PEACE!

Friday, 29 March 2013

Brain Dysfunction (The Magic Of Games)

Contains language and adult content. Also contains possibly distressing scenes where a guy describes looking and feeling like crap having gamed for too long. 

Oh God. Oh God. Oh God.

So I have been gaming, well, a lot. March has been like, crazy. 11 hours every other day, practically. I have been living off of pure crap. I have not slept well either. I have posted little aside from video game content on here as well. That said, if you want to hear a quick update on ANOTHER new show coming to my blog, skip to the end or just read till the end. 

But I'm not here for sympathy. Oh no. I simply want to ask and answer and discuss exactly what has happened to me: total brain disfunction from so much gaming. 

When you game for long hours, that is fine. When you game for even more long hours, that is fine. But if you game for hours and hours and even more hours practically each day, what does that do to your mind?

I'll tell you what it does. It fucks it. Oh yeah. It screws your hygiene too.

So as the month started out, I was gaming as usual. Then Tomb Raider was released. Let me tell you something: I knew, I KNEW, that March was going to be a total game fest. That is, after all, why I did my Mega March Preview feature. That said, I didn't prepare. Not for the horrors that waited me.

So I started playing Tomb Raider. It didn't take me too long to complete it and by the end of it I felt quite buzzed. I hadn't had a proepr gaming session like that for a while. 

However after I replayed it a couple of times and didn't put my controller down for way too long each day and then wrote a shit load of articles on here, my blog, my brain started hurting. I hadn't been outside for, what? Way over a week. Well, I'd been outside for provisions and supplies, like Monster Energy and Maltesers and shit, but not socially. I was shrivelling up, wasting away.

Then Judgment was released. 

Now admittedly Gears of War: Judgment sucked. I gave it 6/10 in my review which it fully deserved. However I sat down and finished it in a day. Then I replayed it, getting the achievements I'd missed. OK, that's normal, right.

Then I played online for ages. And ages. And ages. 

Then I sat down with a friend and played all of the maps on Survival Mode to get the Survivor achievement, which, by the the way, didn't even un-fucking-lock after we'd completed it. 
Then I did it again, for 'fun'. Well, ladies and gentlemen, it wasn't fucking fun. Oh no, not anymore anyway.

I was unshaven and unwashed. I was dirty and looked like a tramp. I gulped down a Chinese takeaway  as my brian buzzed and my heart pumped from too many energy drinks. 

Then Bioshock Infinite was released.

Oh Jesus! Oh Lord have mercy! PLEASE.

I haven't been that excited for a game since Far Cry 3. 

I made sure to get at least some sleep the night before. Still unshaven and dirty; still in my trackies and fleece, I huddled in my bed, shivering from both the cold and my massive over stimulation from those God-Awful caffeine and crap filled drinks.

Then morning came. 

I waited. 

And waited.

Waited a bit more.

And then he came. 

He walked up to my door like some Holy, Heaven sent messenger come to deliver me the news of my life. Like, there is a Heaven and I had qualified and could enter it or some shit.

This, ladies and gentlemen, was the postman.

He paused for a worryingly long time outside my front door as I hovered only a few feet away from the letterbox. 

What was he doing? HURRY UP MAN. HURRY THE FU-

Oh, OK. Sorry. My bad. Too quick to judge there. 

The post came cascading through, hitting the floor hard. I dived down, searching through the post like a hobo would go through trash after having even a slight whiff of booze or weed.

Then I saw it. It was there, in its Holy light, calling to me, beckoning. Saying 'Don't you worry, don't you worry child, see Bioshock Infnite's got a plan for you. You may be dirty, unshaven and lacking in any social activity for the past weeks, but I am here, to make all of that worse, but also take your mind off it.'. 

There isn't anything quite like seeing the Amazon logo on a parcel and knowing IT has arrived. The thing you wanted. Because, let's face it, we don't use any other website...

I tore it open, got my drinks out the fridge, and then it was time. Time for me to be accepted into Bioshock Infinite's world.

You know the awesome thing about video games? It doesn't matter if you are unclean, unshaven, lonely, sad, freckly, dumb or just weird (like me); video games don't care. I was Lara Croft, climbing around saving people; then I was Kilo Squad, killing locust hordes and being hailed as a hero; and then I was Booker Dewitt, trying to save a girl from a distant city in the sky that was so beautiful my jaw dropped.

I was no longer unclean or unshaven and tired and sleepless: I was Booker-fucking-Dewitt. Badass and awesome guy with a life of guilt.

In reality though, I was pretty shit. I played it for ages. Ages. And then I wrote that ending explanation article, which took even more playing and thinking. Then I wrote the review. 

My sister saw me and said "Are you OK?" To which I said "Yeah, why?" She said "Oh, it's just you look really ill. Really pale." 


I looked at myself in the mirror. Who was I? I was some tramp looking guy. My brain was a dysfunctional mess. I couldn't think. My world was closing. My head. Oh God my fucking head. It hadn't stopped hurting for like, weeks.

Don't worry. I'm washed, shaven (well, not shaven. I just can't be assed...) and clean ol' me again. Yaaaaay.

The point here is that spending ages - and I mean ages - gaming, and generally in front of screens.... it... it... it does things... it does things to you...

The effects of gaming for so long are odd. As I knew March would be a gaming filled month I decided to monitor myself. As the month went on and as I enjoyed these games more and more and gamed more and more, my caring for how I looked and was fluttered away.

It was as if, because I was able to escape into these worlds, that I no longer cared for life outside it. Sad? Dangerous? Normal? Or just what happens when you game?

I usually put what is most important to me first. So friends and family etc. always come first, right? Yes. But during this month of gaming madness, just like during all the other hardcore gaming sessions I have had, that seemed to, worryingly, disappear. 

Gaming is a lot of things. Gaming is magical. Books let you follow scripted stories on their journey and create incredible places in your mind. But gaming allows you to truly visit these places, to explore them, to forget your worries and escape. maybe even create and tune the story yourself. Step into other peoples shoes and explore their lives. Everyone knows that it is one of the best forms of escapism. This is what makes, for me at least, gaming as important and special as books and why it will never die. Or at least should never die.

When you are reading a book you are always in touch with reality. You rely on your mind and quiet surroundings to truly immerse yourself in what you are reading.

Games aren't like that. When you play a video game, you sit down, you prepare yourself, you may put your headset on and then, then you lose yourself.

The variety is massive. Where do you want to lose yourself today sir?
Columbia? Rapture? 1947 L.A.? Or how about the Wild West? Limbo, maybe? Or how about you become an assassin? And old assassin or a new, modern, assassin? A ninja then? 

You can be ANYTHING and ANYWHERE you want to be.

Even playing online games is an absorbing, unique, magical expeirence. In fact, it is so magical it can't be recreated in anything else. Nothing does what games do here.

You can play with both real life friends and friends you have never met in person who live across the world or maybe just people you are not at all acquainted with.

When you play Battlefield online, with friends or strangers, you aren't you. You are a marine, fighting for survival, battling the enemy. 

Games are magical. Their immersion is deeper than that of anything else I have ever experienced. When I gamed for all that time this month, I didn't really learn much, but it made me think. Made me realise just how awesome video games are and can be. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

I wanted to take a second to thank absolutely EVERYONE who has helped make my Bioshock Infinite ending explanation article get so big. I have had comments, tweets, support, likes and so much I can't even begin to explain how thankful I am. Thank you.

I also wanted to say a new show on the blog called Diaries Of A F*cking Mental Head will be published on here weekly. I love doing blogs but at the same time I am only good at doing large, expansive articles like this one or like my rants or my other gaming articles. This new series will be weekly and list in short paragraphs what my life over the week has been like. Hopefully it will be funny and easy to read. No emotional BS or anything so don't worry about that crap.


Thursday, 28 March 2013

Understanding Bioshock Infinite's Ending - Ending Explanation


OK so I noticed a lot of people are confused about the ending of Bioshock Infinite. Admittedly a lot is thrown at you at once in the last 25 minutes and you don't really have enough time to process or make much sense of it all.

I also want to point out that this explanation is also an actual ENDING explanation. I have seen a lot of people explaining the entire plot in detail, which I will also be doing, however they all seem to brush over exactly what the ending meant and how it was left. If you watched past the credits you should know what the true ending is, however if you didn't you will no doubt still be a bit confused. Basically what I'm trying to say is: don't worry; everything is explained here - not just the plot but the actual end too so if you want closure, then I guess just read this. There are a couple of things that I am a little unsure about myself, however these aren't massive plot points that really matter and either I just missed something or they are actual minor plot holes that weren't explained in the game properly. So, let us begin.

Let's start at the beginning. The basics.

Booker Dewitt, the players character, has been entrusted with the job of going to Columbia to rescue a girl called Elizabeth and bring her back to New York. Apparently, this deed will rid Booker of all his (gambling?) debts.

After blasting off into Columbia, Booker goes about trying to get to Elizabeth who is locked away in a tower. Before he can reach her though, he receives a telegram telling him NOT to pick number 77. He ignores it, not understanding what it means. He then sees a sign showing off a somewhat devilish hand with the letters AD printed on the back of it. These letters (AD) match the letters imprinted on the back of his, Booker's, hand.
The Prophecy Comstock, the ruler of Columbia, predicted that a 'false Shepard' would come to Columbia to try and steal their lamb (Elizabeth) from them. This false Shepard can be identified by the AD mark on the back of his hand. This false Shepard is Booker.

After going to watch the Columbia raffle on his way to the tower, Booker is told to choose a raffle ball, which he does. It is number 77 and he wins the raffle. His prize is getting to throw his ball at a couple of tied up villagers. After going to throw the ball, Booker's hand is stopped by a Police Officer who reveals him as the false Shepard. Now Booker must fight through hundreds of people just to get to Elizabeth and hundreds more to try and escape Columbia.

After he finds her things become pretty straight forward; escape this city in the sky.

It isn't until near the end that the plot heats up again. Before we go into this though, we need to take a look at Elizabeth's 'tearing' power.

Oh, off topic but it is also important to remember she has one of her little fingers missing.

Anyway, this tearing power was given to her as a child after the Lutece's twins experimented on her (she did not naturally have this power). The twins had previously made machinery that could open tears, however Elizabeth, after these experiments, could do it without any help.

Tears are basically otherworldly things. Other dimensions. A tear can be opened bringing in an object or thing from another world, or an entire world itself can be opened and entered into. However, and I stress this, new universes or items can't be created from scratch. They HAVE to already exist for them to be brought into either the current world or accessed in their entirety.

With Elizabeth's power out the way, let's move on.

Songbird, a massive mechanical bird that protects Elizabeth and can be summoned and controlled by a whistle flute thing, always seems to intervene at the last moment and take Elizabeth from Booker. When Songbird does this near the end, Booker goes on to try and rescue her. He hears, through mini tears in the air, Elizabeth being tortured and brainwashed into becoming the heir to the throne that Comstock wanted her to be.

After going through a tear into another dimension, Booker discovers an old, frail, Elizabeth looking out over a burning city. The chaos is her doing. She explains to Booker that this can never happen and gives him a piece of paper to give to the young Elizabeth. He then goes through another tear into a universe where Elizabeth is still being tortured and brainwashed. After rescuing her he gives her the note and all seems well.

They go on to find Comstock however after he (Comstock) tries to get Booker to explain why Elizabeth is missing her pinky finger, Booker kills him, denying any knowledge of it. Elizabeth, however, knows Booker knows something, even if he doesn't remember.

They attempt to escape, again, however they are attacked. This time by loads of Vox. Elizabeth then realises she can control Songbird by using his whistle. They use him to help kill the remaining Vox. Afterwards Elizabeth gets Songbird to destroy the Siphon; the original source of her power and a device that forces her to remain within Columbia and stops her opening up another dimension to escape into.

After it is destroyed, Booker drops Songbirds whistle because it becomes electrified and panics as Songbird rushes towards them, no doubt about to flatten them both. However Elizabeth opens up a tear into another world, allowing them to escape. This world is Rapture.

As they wander through Rapture they then leave through a lighthouse door and come into a huge, massive, open, infinite space full of never-ending lighthouses.

This is where the explanations start.

So each lighthouse represents a world, a dimension. What are these dimensions? Well they could be anything, worlds never even heard of, but they are also the outcome of every possible situation and choice.

So, for instance, if you decided to stay at home (and play Infinite lol) rather than go to work, another dimension would be created for where you didn't stay home and you did go to work. A new world is created for everything that could have ever been.

We then learn, by going through one of these lighthouses, that after killing thousands of African-Americans, Booker went to get Baptised to rid him of his sins, however he refused the Baptism at the last moment and went on to live his life. Booker and Elizabeth move onto another lighthouse - another thing that happened in Booker's life.

We are now in Booker's apartment, and there is Robert Lutece standing in the doorway. You hear a baby called Anna in one of the rooms and after entering it, you see a very young child (Anna) in a cot. Booker denies frantically there ever being a child, completely confused as to why this is happening. But to continue he must go through with the scene how it happened before. He hands his child over to Robert who then leaves, saying something along the lines of 'Mr. Comstock forgives your sins' or something like that. We then go to a scene where we see Comstock holding Booker's daughter as he is about to go through a tear into another dimension (the dimension of Columbia), however Booker tries to stop him leaving, begging for his daughter back. Unfortunately Comstock gets away, however he isn't quick enough and as the tear closes Anna's little finger gets caught in the closing tear and gets cut clean off.

It is now obvious that Elizabeth, previously called Anna, is Booker's daughter.

Now this is where it gets a little confusing. Booker realises that the Lutece's twins, who, I would like to point out now aren't actually twins, are just versions of the same person from different dimensions who met each other, came to help him after they were betrayed by Comstock. They came to help him get his daughter back from Columbia.

They opened a tear and brought him into the Columbia dimension. After bringing him through, Booker's mind created new memories in place of the old ones. He created a new purpose for himself in this other world, and this purpose was what he wanted to do all along: find Anna/Elizabeth and get her back.

Unfortunately it wasn't as simple as that.

Before entering the final lighthouse we hear Booker saying about how they will just go back and kill Comstock in his crib to prevent all this, however that actually means killing himself as you see in the next section.

When, in the original dimension, he rejected the Baptism, another world was created for if he had accepted it. This is the place they are in now. This is the world where he accepted the Baptism.

After being Baptised, what did this new, free of sin Booker do? He called himself Zachery Comstock and created a city in the sky called Columbia. He was born again but this time an evil man.

To kill Comstock when he was born, Booker has to kill himself when he turned into Comstock. And that is at the place in another dimension where he accepted the Baptism instead of rejecting it.

Lots of Elizabeths appear and they proceed to drown Booker, presumably in the Baptising basin. After he dies we see all of the Elizabeths disappear.

Now that is the end. The credits roll from there. HOWEVER, there is more. I will go into this after explaining all of the above, though.

So you might be wondering, generally, what all that meant.

When Booker was first faced with the choice of a Baptism, he declined. He then went on to have a baby. Obviously another dimension was made for if he had accepted the Baptism, in which case he then became Comstock who created Columbia. Both Comstock and the original Booker existed within their own dimensions, doing their own thing. However after Comstock needed an heir but couldn't have a child because he was infertile, he used the Lutece's twins tearing machine to take Booker's own child, Anna from him. Technically, because Comstock is Booker but just in another world, Anna is still biologically related to him. Booker actually sold Anna to him to pay off his depts to him, and I know what you are thinking: isn't there just another reality for if he HADN'T sold her? Well, yes but also no. Because Comstock wanted - needed in fact - Anna so badly (and it could be only Anna because she was the only child related to him) even if Booker hadn't sold her, Comstock would have entered Booker's world and taken her by force. There is no world, while Comstock existed anyway, where Booker and Anna stayed together.

Booker was caught in a never-ending cycle of trying to save his daughter. He had already been to Columbia over a hundred times before. This is proved when he is in Columbia and asked by the Lutece twins to flip a coin. He does and it is heads. They mark it on a chalk board under 'heads' and you see that there are tons (over 100) of other heads markings on it. No tails have been marked down. This means that Booker has been there over 100 times before, flipped the same coin and, as always, had the SAME OUTCOME. While you can choose, during the story, to kill someone or let them live, that is a choice (no doubt another world is created to accommodate the other choice you had) and not chance. Flipping a coin is chance. He already flipped the same coin every time he had been to Columbia before and, as always, just like all the events there, it was scripted to heads.

Back to where we were before, though. It didn't matter what happened, he would always end up where he was. It was IMPOSSIBLE to avoid. Because Booker had a daughter and Comstock needed her and he made their dimensions cross and he took her, there was NO OTHER dimensions with a different outcome. Every world Booker existed in ended up with him losing Anna and going to save her. A never ending-loop.

HOWEVER, it does end, here. After Booker accepted he needed to die to kill Comstock, he allowed Elizabeth to kill him. By killing himself at the point in time where he accepted the Baptism, he killed off ANY POSSIBILITY of a Comstock. Comstock never existed. Comstock never came and took Booker's baby and Columbia was never built. Anything Comstock had an effect on or had anything to do with was destroyed and never happened.

This is where a lot of people lose it. They think Booker, Comstock, Elizabeth and Columbia ALL died, but they didn't. Booker didn't kill himself when he was first born; he killed himself when he turned into Comstock. All that did was kill off any Comstock version of him that there ever was.

After the credits, there is a little, tiny section, where Booker wakes up in his apartment and hears Anna crying. He goes into her room and calls out "Anna?!". That is where the game really ends.

This little part backs up what I am saying.

Because only Comstock was killed and stopped from ever existing, the Booker that declined the Baptism STILL existed. However because Booker and Comstock's worlds crossed, all parts of Booker's life that included Comstock or anything from the Comstock dimension itself was removed from his life. There were no Lutece twins who came to collect his daughter, no Columbia, no Comstock and no adult Elizabeth in his, or any other dimension ever. He then went back to the last time in his life that was free from Comstock related madness: him in his apartment with Anna as a baby before he met Comstock.

Now people may come back with "But Elizabeth disappeared from the scene after drowning Booker", and while this is true, it makes sense, and is also one of the most depressing parts of the game, despite its happy ending. Elizabeth in that form never existed. The girl you went through the entire story with? She never existed. Anna IS Elizabeth, but because every outcome of baby Anna's life was to end up in Columbia with Comstock in that tower and grow up there, when Comstock died and everything he had done and he had effected died with him, the adult Elizabeth also went. There was no adult Elizabeth in any other dimension that Comstock wasn't in. Because he was in every world she was in, when he died, the adult her died to, leaving only baby Anna. This means that while Anna will be free to live with Booker, she will never turn into the same person. She will never be able to open tears as that was an ability given to her by the Lutece twins in Columbia, she will probably never be able to pick locks (why would she need to learn to do that?) and a lot of her personality that was influenced by being in Columbia will be different. She will never be Elizabeth. She will always be Anna, a completely different human than the one we got to know. So, in a way Elizabeth DID die. That, to me, is a very, very, very depressing thing indeed, as Elizabeth was an incredibly crafted character and the best female character in any game I've ever seen.

Another quick thing to note, that some people may mention, is: why did they bother to stop Comstock at all? Why not just change what had happened by going back to old memories and parts in time through those lighthouses? The thing is that they can't. When you go back to previously, already, made memories, you can only relive them, you can NOT remake them. Booker couldn't go back and choose to run off with Anna, because his decision to sell her was made and he HAD to go through with it even if he went back knowing it was wrong. Even in an alternate reality where he DIDN'T sell her, Comstock still came to steal her away.

Now, the only slight odd thing about this is: if you can't change already made memories and situations, how did he allow Elizabeth to drown him and kill off Comstock if that ISN'T what happened? Well, while Elizabeth was not in his memory, and could not effect proceedings to do with other people, you'll notice she can still touch and interact with Booker. So while her control over the entire, overall scene is limited, she can kill Booker in that scene herself, and end it there.

So there you have it! Ask any questions you want in the comments and I will try my best to answer them!

Quickly; if you want a summary of what happened minus the confusing shit: Comstock was Booker in an alternate reality where he didn't decline the Baptism. Comstock took, either by force or through buying, Booker's daughter Anna (also Elizabeth). Booker went on a cycle of trying to get her back that never ended and always ended up the same. In the end, he let himself be killed at the point where he turned into Comstock and thus everything 'Comstock related' died. He became himself in his last pure, Comstock-less memory, which was him with baby Anna. The end.

P.S: A quick note I forgot to mention: The AD on Booker's hand stands for: Anna Dewitt. Comstock foresaw Booker coming now doubt because he knew he would try and get his daughter back because he never wanted her to leave.

Review - Bioshock Infinite (Xbox 350/PS3)

I honestly don't know where to start. Few times have I had to review a game that is so incredible I don't actually know how to convey how awesome it is and where to start it. However I must try. 
Best place to begin, I suppose, is the beginning. 

You play as Booker Dewitt, a guy who owes some serious debt to some very, very unsavoury people. To pay back this debt he must enter the floating city in the sky called Columbia. The introduction is typical Bioshock, throwing you right in deep with the mysteries and giving you few explanations. If you watched all the trailers and kept up to date on it until its release, then you'll generally know what the story is here.

When first entering Columbia, it is without doubt one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had in a video game. You don't enter the actual city straight away; instead you enter through a church like place full of statues and art, flowers and candles and ankle deep water that covers the floor. It is stunningly beautiful, yet eerie and somewhat wrong. The music that plays is gorgeous and sets the scene almost too well as I spent ages just wandering around this one section.

Once you enter the city itself, well, it is breathtaking. It. Is. Phenomenal. I could, but I won't and don't want to, spend half the review expressing how incredible Columbia is, so let me sum it up here:
The art design, the people, the setting, the world itself and every way it has been developed is so perfectly realised, so brilliantly vibrant, lively and just outright alive, that your jaw may very well hit he ground. It is just amazing. Truly, truly, wonderful.

Every part of Columbia is built to fit the scene, to fit what you are doing and it just works incredibly well. It is without doubt one of the most intriguing, beautiful and spectacular game worlds ever created. 

As you, Booker, go through the world, wandering around exploring, admiring the scenery, even partaking in funfair events, all on the way to find Elizabeth, the girl who Booker was sent here to rescue, you realise that the world you have entered into practically exists in real life. Few game settings are as realised as this one.

However things soon turn sour. After an event that occurs out of the blue, Booker suddenly becomes the bad guy to all of Columbia, having to fight his way to Elizabeth and then trying to escape Columbia. 

The entire story remains fairly basic for a lot of the game. You simply must find Elizabeth, survive and escape. 

Towards the end, however, things really spice up. There isn't really one massive twist here; there are a lot of twists and turns that make you question absolutely everything. You won't expect or know what they are, but they're coming. Nothing more can be said. There is no way I am even going to remotely risk spoiling anything about the story for anyone. The plot is just phenomenal. It is the best story I have ever experienced in a video game.

What really makes all these twists and all these events really matter and really affect you is your attachment to the characters. Unlike with the original Bioshock, the setting is simply the setting. It is incredible, but everything else in Infinite is too and it is in no way the focus. The characters and story itself is really what make the game work.

Booker Dewitt is the deepest; most richly, well crafted and emotionally furnished first-person character I've ever played as. He speaks, a lot. He speaks his mind, he comments on events, he gives advice to you discreetly in his own thoughts and speech, and he has conversations. He is a deep, likeable but also far from perfect character. He is an outstanding person to play as and the feelings you develop for him are natural and never forced. 

Elizabeth, however, is the best of them all. She is the first AI 'sidekick' character that isn't A) Annoying or B) Useless. Not only is she extremely likeable, deep and very absorbing, but she actually does things. You don't have to spend your time in combat trying to protect her as she doesn't take damage and she will grab your attention during both combat and exploration by simply calling out 'Booker' and then throwing you some ammo, salts, weapons or money by the player pressing X/Square to accept them. She can also use her 'tearing' ability to bring in health packs, weapons, ammo, cover and more.

She also proves to be awesome conversation. There are no proper cutscenes here and even when things do become scripted, it's not done by changing scenes or anything or becoming heavily animated. If Booker and Elizabeth have a conversation while walking along, it is just done while walking along, casually, like you would in real life. 

She always comments on this and that and also points out interesting items for you to pick up. She can also pick locks, which is an extremely vital part of the game.

During the game she may become distracted, she may need comforting, she may need help, she may want to dance; what I'm saying is she is a real person that has her own, very accessible, personality and thoughts. She is herself. Not generic or cliche, just herself. She adds humour, conversation, help and emotion to the story. 

Other side characters often feel fairly shallow however, due to how deep and incredible the two leads are. There is a character called Slate who I didn't really feel anything for when I felt like I should be feeling something for him. But I just didn't. They are still good characters, however when you have two characters like Booker and Elizabeth who are as involving and deep as they are, it is hard to feel much for seemingly shallow side characters.

I could spend forever discussing the people in the game just like I could Columbia itself, however that would be stupid. 

Combat on the other hand was a part of the first Bioshock that lacked. When I reviewed it for my old website, the weak gunplay held it back to a score of 9.6. Infinite doesn't have this problem, thankfully. 

The gameplay involves three things: gunplay, vigors and the skyline. I will also be covering level design as well, but in a little bit.

The thing that is so awesome about the gunplay is the fact that is retains the Bioshock feel, but tightens it up and makes it feel far more focused and less, well, sloppy feeling. 

It still feels a bit heavy and weapons can be a little hard to handle, but that isn't bad, that is just the style of Bioshock's gameplay. There are a lot of weapons to choose from to use, however you can only carry two at once. It is fantastic how Infinite kept the typical Bioshock-styled gunplay while improving it. It still has its own identity and doesn't feel anything like other FPS games.

Vigors, on the other hand, are Infinite's version of Bioshock's plasmids and offer a different way to deal with enemies than guns. There are a total of eight vigors to use, which you discover and use throughout the game. These all do different things and they can all be carried at once. I changed my button layout to Marksman to allow for easier gun aiming and vigor use. In this layout you have to hold LB/L1 to access all the vigors and choose which to equip. Unfortunately, and this isn't an issue on the PC, this way of using vigors is a bit cumbersome. Despite the fact that while the vigor menu is up the game pauses, it takes you out of the experience. What's more; because the combat is so fast paced you often forget about them and don't have time to switch vigors or even use them.

In truth the vigors aren't anywhere near as useful as the plasmids from Bisohock, mainly because the guns in Infinite do more than enough to take out enemies, whereas in Bioshock weapons were not as reliable.
If vigors had done a bit more, maybe been more powerful, they would have been more useful.

The skyline part of the game allows you to swing and ride along and around the environment. Sometimes this is to get from A to B, however you can also use the skylines in combat. Jumping onto a skyline and riding along for a bit is a good way to move around the area and get to high up enemies quickly, as well as regenerate health faster while avoiding damage. Unfortunately, for some reason getting onto the skylines is actually inconsistent. You can't simply jump towards one and automatically hook onto it; you must first make sure you have highlighted the skyline and then press A/X. This makes getting onto them quickly difficult and distracting and I didn't use them much because of it. 

Combat itself is good fun. It gets very hard later on (especially on the higher difficulties) and you never feel like you have excessive, over the top, power. At the end, you still feel vulnerable and human, unlike in the first game when you felt like a total beast.

Other parts of the gameplay are made up of titbits, like purchasing more ammo from vending machines as well as vigor and weapon upgrades. These work well, although the Bioshock 1 upgrade system is far deeper and more interesting. I actually upgraded few weapons and vigors, especially because I often ran out of ammo and had to change guns during combat, so I never had a set loadout I carried with me and could not appropriately upgrade the weapons I wanted.

Looting dead bodies, trashcans and loads of other things like tills and crates, allow you to find more ammo and supplies that way. You can also simply find these lying around the environment. You may also find codes and some special, locked, crates that, when cracked/opened (often requiring the use of Elizabeth), present you with a lot of special supplies. These are referred to as 'Optional side quests', which is a bit of an exaggeration as they aren't exactly 'side quests'. That said, it does require a lot of time and patience to find the key or code cracker. 

Navigating your way to objectives is extremely well implemented. Instead of a big arrow at the top of the screen like in the old Bioshock's, you have a Dead Space styled arrow line thing that points you in the right direction when activated. Press the up key on the D-pad and an arrow zips along the ground, showing you where to go. It isn't big and brash and it works well in both helping you get to where you want as well as keeping you immersed. 

The level design in Infinite is about as good as the art design, so it is basically perfect. Environments are big and expansive, they look amazing and there are often well placed skylines to help battles be even more fast paced. You never feel bored in a fight scene and it all flows together brilliantly. What's more, pacing is near perfect. Sure, sometimes a quiet time would have been better than aonther battle, but it isn't a big deal all the time.

Bioshock Infinite is without doubt the best game I have played this year, and it will take one hell of a title to change that. In fact, I think it is possibly even the best game of the generation. It does what Bioshock 1 did, but better and more efficiently with more content of a higher quality. And if I gave that game a 9.6/10, there is only one score I can give Infinite. Yep, for the first time ever as a reviewer of games, I am giving out a 10/10 score. Infinite isn't perfect. No game is. But it is as close to perfection I've ever seen a game be. The niggles are so tiny I've forgotten them already. This game is phenomenal, with the best ending and story and characters to a game I have ever seen. Ever. Out of all games I have played. 

When you finish it all you want to do is go back and do it all again. And you will. And it will still be amazing.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

What Is 'Road To Game(s) Of The Year'?

There is a brand new series I will be doing on my blog called: Road To Game(s) Of The Year.

What is it? Well every few months one of these features will be published. In it I will be looking back at the games I have played over the last 3 or so months and commenting, from my point of view, on which of these will are potential Game Of The Years or at least get in the 4 other Best Games Of The Year List.
It is a search for the Games Of The Year.

At the end of the year a Game(s) Of The Year feature will be published. Unlike last years scrappy GOTY article, this one will list The Top 5 Games Of The Year, with number 1 being the actual game of the year. I will also be listing the worst/most disappointing games of the year.

These upcoming Road To Game(s) Of The Year features will give an insight into not only my opinion on a whole of the games I've been playing over the past months, but also a look at which games are high up on my list of potential GOTY's.

The first one of these will be published within the next week. 

Aside from that, my Bioshock Infinite Review should be up Thursday (tomorrow at the time of writing). 


Monday, 25 March 2013

Gears Of War Vs Gears Of War (Best Of Gears Of War)

This feature contains potential spoilers for the Gears of War games and series.

Being one of my favourite series and recently having its fourth installment, Gears of War: Judgment, released, I thought I would do a Versus of all the Gears of War games. Going from my least favourite (placed in at number 4) to my all time favourite (number 1). So, let's get to it!

Gears of War: Judgment

I recently reviewed Gears Judgment and came to the conclusion that it was the worst game in the series. And I don't mean that it is just my 'least favourite'; it is actually just an average game generally.

Receiving a rating of simply 6/10 from me, Judgment is far from the continuance of the franchise that the much-loved series deserved. While it offered some good add-ons, like the more accessible and enjoyable multiplayer, there were also some very hard to understand changes that were made. Its biggest flaw was its totally lacklustre campaign that tried to combine different elements of the game (like horde) into one as well as make it faster paced and less tactical. This didn't work well in the least, as you might have guessed (or already known if you read the review). 

The story was also very mediocre, offering little emotional motivation and a fairly shallow cast of characters too.

Judgment is without doubt the worst Gears of War game and is an easy choice for fourth place.

Gears of War 3

Gears of War 3 wasn't perfect, but the changes made to the campaign were more necessary for the sake of the story than what people thought about it. To really make you feel the emotion and game world, to really appreciate how much things had changed over the years, to progress the actual plot, Epic Games had to switch things up and make it fairly different to the older campaigns. It worked, as well. I actually enjoyed it more on my second playthrough and there are some truly incredible, epic moments that stick with me today. In fact, despite not being my favourite GoW, it certainly has the most amount of these moments than the other games.

Some of my favourite parts are when you are defending Anvil's Gate - that entire section is a blast. 
The Old Town was eerie and had that awesome inclusion of zombie things as well as the infamous finale. 
Earlier on when you are going through the desert; that section of the story is also incredibly awesome. 

Sure, it took some getting used to, but Gears 3's varying environments and far more emotionally driven story were all necessary changes that did the game a lot of good.

It might not be the best GoW game, but it sure as hell is a brilliant one. When I reviewed it on an old website I used to own and run (which is no defunct) I gave the game a 9.1/10 score. 

Gears of War

Ah, the game that changed it all. Gears of War didn't create cover based shooters, as many touchy, hardcore, retro gamers will let you know within seconds of you suggesting that the series had something to do with that genre of video games success; however it did set the path straight and the ball rolling in the right direction. Cover based shooters had never been as easy to use or accessible until Gears came along with its near perfect cover system. 

Admittedly games like Tomb Raider are now proving we don't even need to use buttons to use cover anymore and it can be fantastically implemented in a more open and flexible way.

Anyway, I digress. Back to Gears of War.

Obviously you know which game is going to be first, and it wasn't an easy choice. Gears of War 1 has a certain magic about it. Something that the most recent game, Judgment, lost. As with GoW2 and 3; Gears 1 has an absorbing, brilliantly laid out, campaign. It is dark, brutal and unforgiving and totally immersive. Wandering through streets while Krill zoom around in great hordes above your head is something that I will never forget. Just like when you first encounter the Lambent Wretches at the Imulsion Facility. that too was an awesome, suspenseful part of the game. 

Gears offered a shit ton of things that you couldn't get anywhere else. The cover system, the shooting, the story and the setting; everything about it was immaculately brought forward and organised. It remains a modern classic; one of the greats of this generation. It is 'technically' not the best game, but the memories I have of playing it rocket it into second place with ease.

When I reviewed this game on my old website, it was given a score of 9.5/10. A truly incredible game.

Gears of War 2

Gears of War 2 takes the crown as the best Gears game of all time (so far). It really is one of the best games I have played this gen.

The thing that makes GoW2 better than the first game, is that the level design is improved, the environments are better, the game has even more epic moments and, most of all, the gameplay itself was tightened up. All those things I got annoyed about in the first title, like getting stuck into cover here and there, or getting rushed constantly by enemies and dying instantly; they were gone. 
This really felt like the ultimate Gears experience and still does to this day.

The game was awesome from the start. When riding along on one of the Derrick trucks there is an awesome moment of awe when you look out at the view as you are bumbling along. And then the locust start coming. And it just gets better and better.

A great thing about the game is actually Ben Carmine, who is my favourite character not only in this title but also the entire series. He is funny, interesting and a great person to have in the story. That said, he was killed off way to quickly and wasn't elaborated on enough. 

There is an awesome mix of cinematic moments, like cutting yourself out of a worm from the inside with chainsaws and even riding on a Brumak, and brilliantly worked combat situations and battles. It is a perfect combo that really works well. On the one hand you have the far from serious, over the top, extreme violence and craziness, and then you have the serious gunfights and emotional story moments.

The entire game is a blast from start to finish and is a true representation of not only how a sequel CAN better the original, but also shows that full-scale change isn't necessary (*cough*Judgment*cough*) to continue a series.

Gears of War 2 is the best Gears game so far, and is one of the most awesome games of this gen. When I reviewed it on my old website, it was given a score of 9.7/10.

The Markza Is Badass

Having played Overrun and Survival mode as well as plenty of multiplayer on Gears Of War: Judgment, I have come to the realisation that the Markza is an incredibly powerful weapon. 

The Markza is a semi automatic rifle equipped with a scope that can old up to 120 rounds of ammo. The thing that makes it so powerful is the fact that it can be used in anyway to achieve quick kills. Up close the gun is powerful and will kill in a few shots, and the scope also allows you to use it over long distances. 

Unlike with weapons like the Longshot, the Markza has a magazine of more than 1 bullet and can be fired fairly quickly, especially if you have a fast trigger finger. 

Up close the weapons can blow peoples heads off with only a few shots. In fact, you don't even have to aim down the sights. Firing from the hip is a fantastic, accurate way of killing enemies,

From a distance the Markza doesn't lose damage either. It may take 3 bullets to half a mag to kill someone, however, as I said, it has a good fire rate so it isn't hard to do this.

The fantastic thing about this weapon, aside from its high damage, is the fact it has 3 ways to aim with it. You can hip-fire, aim down the scope or simple aim over the shoulder. All are great, efficient ways to kill enemies.

Overall the Markza is an awesome weapon. I highly recommend you try it out and use it. It is an extremely powerful gun.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

I Have Nothing Interesting To Say (At The Moment)....

You may have noticed there have not been as many blogs or random articles published within the last week and that is mainly because I have been busy playing Tomb Raider and (now) Gears of War: Judgment. Soon I will be playing Bioshock Infinite too. My life has been limited to my thoughts, my gaming and a little bit of social interaction so I have had, really, nothing interesting to say except about what I am playing.

I know this won't have bothered many people because my gaming articles are the most popular things on my blog, however it has bothered me so I wanted to just let people know I haven't gone dead in this area, I am still here, but my focus is primarily gaming at the moment. Throughout April, when less games are released, my variety of articles will go up again. 

A quick note on these podcasts too:
I know it has been a while and I said I would be doing them in February, however due to equipment costs and irritating budget issues I have had to delay it. I apologise. BUT, I do know it should be within the next month. I emphasise should because I can't make any promises, but it should be.

Oh, also, I forgot FUT Player Of The Week on Friday. I am sorry. In truth, due to me not really playing FIFA 13 I am not feeling the vibe with those articles. I am going to postpone the series until I feel I want to start writing it again. Sorry, but I really don't want to keep at something I'm not feeling so...

As for App Of The Week, it seemed to kick off well (or at least that is what my view figures told me) so that is gonna be carrying on as normal every Wednesday. 

I want to write another A Question Of... this week so stay tuned for that!

Anyways; keep gaming, keep watching TV, keep going out, keep getting drunk, keep doing that shit and, most of all, keep chilled. Peace.

Review - Gears of War: Judgment (Xbox 360)

Reviews now receive scores. I will be going back and scoring all previously reviewed games (except the Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 review) so check back with those game reviews on here over the next week to see what scores I gave them!

Having not been massively excited for Gears of War: Judgment my expectations were as simple as this: so long as it is a good game that lives up to the Gears name, I'm happy.

Unfortunately Judgment doesn't live up to the franchises standards and is certainly the weakest game so far.

Judgment goes back in time to a full 15 years before the original Gears game. It is also set only 14 days after emergence day. I was excited about this as I thought it would be a chance to see the war how it was when it first started and compare it to the games set in the future. This, however, isn't the case. Let me get this out the way before I properly get into reviewing the rest of the game: Judgment doesn't do anything to make you feel like you are playing 15 years before GoW1 or 14 days after emergence day. There is really nothing here that made me feel like I was playing the beginning of an epic war. It just felt like any old Gears game to be honest. This sucks massively as it reduced immersion and didn't make me feel anywhere near as involved in the game as I should, or could, have been.

The story itself is mostly done in flashback and based around Kilo squad; lead by Lieutenant Baird from the previous games and also including three other squad members who go by the names of: Pudak, who is a stereotypical 'I'm a not a good guy but I have a good heart so I basically am a good guy' Russian character, Augustus Cole who is also from the original games and Sofia Hendrik, who feels like a fairly pointless and irrelevant character who wasn't really built on.

The story starts with Kilo squad being lead into a somewhat makeshift courtroom as they are charged with war crimes (no not abusing their power to kill innocent people or anything; just disobeying orders) and left to tell the one-man Judge and Jury Col. Loomis their side of the story. This didn't quite make sense to me as Col. Loomis seemed adamant they were guilty and given whatever he said went, he could have just ended it without listening to them. It seemed pretty weird that he was actually willing to take their opinions on board even though he looked like he had made his mind up on what the verdict would be beforehand.

As each member of Kilo squad takes turns to explain what happened, the game goes into flashback and you play as whoever is giving their report at that time. So you get to have a go at playing as each member of the squad.

This would be OK, if the characters weren't so average. While the story did make me feel more for Baird and  Cole, it was only because I had played with those two in the three previous games that I actually cared about them. However Pudak was basically a stereotypical Russian who, although likeable, felt way too, well, stereotypical.
As for Sofia Hendrik, she was actually irritating. The women in GoW3 were pretty cool, however she is just annoying more than anything. What's more, none of these characters have anything even remotely unique about them in terms of gameplay, so there is no difference between playing as Baird then switching to Sofia Hendrik which is a little dull.

The actual story is also lacklustre. All previous games in the series had done a fantastic job of making you feel and understand the situation the characters and world was in. As I said before; Judgment doesn't do this. You never feel very involved with the events that happen and the game barely acknowledges that shit didn't get real until 14 days ago. It's baffling.

The entire plot revolves around killing this one bad guy and isn't very interesting at all. It's a bit sleep worthy actually. The bad guy himself, Karn, is completely rubbish too. He is barely in it and felt very half-hearted.

Unfortunately, and this is where the killer blow comes in; the rest of the campaign is a bit sucky too - especially where the level design and structure is concerned.

The level design is awful. Instead of going in a straight line and simply encountering some enemies on the way to the objective, maybe once in a while having a big battle, the campaign is like horde, the arcade mode from Gears 3 and the normal single player all combined into one. It is a horrible, clashing, mess.

There are very few, simple, 'enemy encounters'. Instead, every time you come into contact with the bad guys it is like a big battle arena. There is practically never just a few locust to kill and then you move on. Instead there is a big, expansive area and loads of locust. Pretty much EVERY time there is a fight scene. The fighting segments are not clean and smooth; they are long, drawn out, way overused, full-scale battles.

When you are not participating in one of the 'gladiator battle arena' styled shootouts, the game seems to turn into a kind of horde mode thing.  You'll reach a certain point and then you will need to protect something or hold a place from the enemy. You will be given tons of ammo, sentries and maybe even barriers (just like you get in Horde 2.0) and then told when the wave of locust is incoming. After the first wave there might be 1 or maybe even 2 more. This doesn't happen once of twice either; it happens a lot. And I mean a lot.

Each of these stages feels like they've integrated horde mode into the campaign. They feel very deliberate and not at all situational. For instance: in previous games, if you had to protect Jack while he opened a door, you would do that for a few minutes and then continue. It wouldn't be a big deal or anything. Here, every battle and horde-like-section feels deliberately laid out and made into an overblown deal that lasts for ages. Like, ages. Sometimes even 10 minutes.

The level design is just appalling. It really feels like they tried to make everything fit into one and it doesn't even remotely work. If horde had a campaign, this would be it. Not the other way around. It isn't a smooth ride; it is big battle after big battle, then a big defensive 'protect this thing or that thing for so many waves' part. There is even a timer on screen telling you when the next wave is coming. And this is supposed to be a serious campaign?

There are also some things called 'Declassified' missions included throughout the game. These missions are optional and add a twist to that part of the chapter. You may activate one of these and then get reduced visibility or no regenerating health; shotguns or enemy weapons only etc. These then help to increase you star rating at the end of the level. By not going down and by performing executions and killing more enemies and completing the Declassified mission, your star rating will be higher. The highest you can get is 3 stars out of 3.

These add-ons mostly work well, however I didn't quite understand why a lot of them weren't just added in as standard. Why am I having to choose whether or not to challenge myself more with reduced visibility? Shouldn't this just be included in this chapter, or whatever, by default? Some of them wouldn't work well being inbuilt, like using only particular weapons, however I didn't even feel these added anything into the game. They are optional so you do not have to complete the game with all of them activated, however if you want to get certain achievements then it is best if you just complete them when you get the chance. I did them all on my first play-through and they were easy enough, rarely offering much of a challenge. That was on Hardcore by the way, so you get what I mean. If anything they just break up the action.

Many reviews have noted that the gameplay is faster paced and this is definitely true. I felt like it was far less tactical than before, which also disappointed me. Why were enemies constantly rushing me? Why was I not having to use cover anymore and just simply jump around and doge bullets instead? The gameplay felt more like a step backwards than forwards and while the AI wasn't great (they go down quite a lot and don't kill much. This too is a step backwards over GoW3) they did a good job of almost always reviving me, so going down during gameplay is not a big deal at all. I remember when, even in Gears 3, going down would often lead to instant death. I don't quite get why these changes were made as they add little to the overall enjoyment and just mess up what was a perfect style into something that feels more arcady.

The controls are more fluid now, though; so no more feeling bogged down or getting caught up. It is very easy to move around which is nice.

Another change I didn't quite get was the actual button layout. You can now only carry two weapons as opposed to before when you could carry two main guns and a pistol. You no longer navigate the weapons selection with the D-pad, either. Now you use Y to switch weapons and the D-pad to highlight objectives and teammates and view points of interest.
Using Y to switch guns is certainly smoother, quicker and easier, however it is only so useful because the gameplay is so fast and furious now. If it hadn't been changed so much, keeping the loadout selection with the D-pad would still work.

The campaign will likely take you around 6-10 hours to complete, depending on the difficulty. I played on hardcore first time around and it took me about 8 hours.

In terms of actual difficulty, Judgment is not as hard as people are making out. I'm baffled as to why critics are claiming it is the hardest Gears game yet. Did they not play GoW1? Either way, Judgment is probably only a little bit more challenging than GoW3 and never felt very punishing. In fact, the boss fight is incredibly easy, especially compared to Gears 3's incredibly harsh and unfair final battle.

There is also a separate campaign segment called 'Aftermath'. This revisits Gears of War 3 and tells a short story about a mission that Baird and his squad embarked on. I have little to add here as it was pretty fun, although it felt a little dry.

This review is far from over (I still have the multiplayer to comment on) however the campaign has basically been wrapped up here. In truth it is pretty enjoyable however the changes made are far from for the better. Judgment feels like a massive step backwards in a lot of ways. The level design is a weird, clashing, mess that doesn't play out that well, the story is mediocre as are the characters, the gameplay is still good but not tactical enough, the Declassified missions are OK add-ons but somewhat bland and often feel a bit pointless too.

Multiplayer is definitely Judgment's strongest area. That said, it is more 60% good, 40% bad. Unfortunately this game just can't get anything completely right.

The multiplayer's best new addition is definitely the brand new mode 'Overrun'. It is like a mixture of Horde and Beast mode (both of which are not in this game) and pits 5 Cog players against 5 other players playing as locust. It is up to the locust to destroy the objective and the Cog to protect it. If the locust fail to complete the objective in the set time they lose the game. If they do, then it goes onto the next round. After a maximum of 3 rounds the players swap sides. It is an absolute blast to play and admittedly I am totally addicted to it right now.

The new Survival mode is basically a replacement for Horde 2.0. However this is bad; very, very bad. Survival is basically like Overrun but with Bots as the Locust. That is pretty much it. It lacks the depth and strategy of the original horde mode and I honestly don't know why they ruined this, one of the most popular parts of the game.

The other multiplayer modes are minimal in variety. Team Death Match, Domination and Free-For-All. While the selection is shallow I enjoyed all of them a lot. That said, I honestly don't know why the other modes are gone.

One of the biggest cons in this area of the game is the lack of customisation. There are a lot of weapons skins, sure, but where are all the characters? You can't even unlock classic people like Marcus Fenix or any of the Carmine brothers or anyone from GoW3 really. It is incredibly shallow. I worked my ass off in Gears 3 just to reach level 34(?) so I could unlock my favourite guy: Benjamin Carmine. None of that here.

Overall the multiplayer is mostly hit, but also fairly miss too. A lack of a horde mode and minimal characters and game modes make it feel fairly shallow. However Overrun is awesome and the more fluid gameplay worked well online, making it generally more enjoyable to actually play.

Gears of War: Judgment isn't a terrible game. If it was a standalone title and was not part of the Gears series it would actually be good, but for a GoW game it is very average. Some things have been removed that make no sense and changes have been made that seem pointless. Even some new things are pretty stupid too.

Unfortunately, my Judgment on Judgment is a harsh one. Play it with a pinch of salt.