Not The Doom You Know

When I think of Doom, two things come to mind: its colorful, over-the-top violence and its ridiculous speed. If you take either of those things out of the equation, what you have isn’t id Software’s infamous shooter but something lesser. This creates an interesting problem since virtual reality isn’t made for fast speed due to its ability to make people nauseated. Doom VFR tries to circumvent VR’s locomotion issue by giving you a teleporter function, but at the end of the day, this mini-campaign feels like a hobbled stroll through an amusement park instead of the frenzied, fantastic fight-or-die dance that makes Doom so special.

A series of combat arenas spread over four hours, VFR puts you in the shoes of a mostly-dead scientist who talks way too much as he tries to shut down a portal to hell with a combat suit he’s piloting from beyond the grave. Your left controller functions as your movement control, letting you slow down time to hop from place to place, while the right controller handles both your weapon wheel and combat functions. The control scheme is straightforward but takes getting used to, especially when it comes to secondary weapon functions. Even once you understand the controls, technical niggles still disrupt the experience. For example, sometimes you won’t jump to a spot you’ve marked due to the finicky controls, so you have to go through the same process again and hope you actually teleport this time. The delay means instant death during certain encounters. The weapon wheel is also problematic since it likes to spin past the weapon you intend to select, often disrupting the rhythm of combat.

The combat arenas are mostly levels from the 2016 reboot, like the reactor room or Titan’s Realm, and many of these levels don’t feel like they’re made for your teleporting function. Bars, computers, and giant spikes sticking in the ground often block your path. This makes escapes and daring maneuvers, which should feel exciting, like a chore. The game also lack ammo, including the ammo you rarely get from killing enemies, meaning unless you’re sharpshooting, it’s easy to end up just with your pistol to take on enemies that can devastate you in one hit. Despite these shortcomings, combat does have some nice moments. Slowing down time when you use your teleporter to watch the rocket you just fired turn an imp into fine paste is satisfying but the flip side of this is Glory Kills, that were an essential part of Dooms’s finely tuned combat, have been replaced by you simply teleporting inside weakened enemies and making them explode. Gory, sure, but it lacks the bone-crunching variety and thrills of the Glory Kills.

Between arena combat sequences, you have several chores to complete, like fetching keycards and new hacking sequences that failed to draw me into the setting and left me feeling irked more than anything else. Those just looking to be immersed by being inside the UAC facility, Mars, or Hell will also be disappointed. Despite playing the game on a high-end machine, the graphics for Doom VFR are blurry, both from afar and up close, and the textures are muddy – worse even than the Switch version’s visual downgrade. I spent far more time wincing at how bad everything looked than being immersed inside the creepy, demon-infested sci-fi base.

As a huge fan of Doom and someone interested in the possibilities of virtual reality, I came away from VFR immensely disappointed. Outside of some nifty moments involving the slo-mo mechanic, VFR just isn’t compelling. The finicky teleporting mechanic hinders movement, the levels don’t accommodate VR well, the protagonist is annoying, and the combat isn’t fun. The biggest selling point for VFR is that it’s a full campaign in virtual reality, but with stiff competition in the genre like Robo Recall and Superhot VR, it’s hard for me to recommend Doom VFR to anyone.

The PSVR Edge
If you have the option, it’s definitely best to play DOOM VFR on PSVR with the VR Aim Controller. The game’s visuals look equally bad on Vive and PSVR so you’re not really sacrificing anything except for load times and the VR Aim Controller is much more elegant than either the Vive or PlayStation Move controllers.

Crytek, the German video game publisher behind titles like Crysis, is suing Star Citizen developer Cloud Imperium Games over breach of contract and copyright infringement.

The lawsuit, which was filed today in California, alleges that Cloud Imperium Games (CIG) breached its contract with Crytek that was created when the two companies partnered for ambitious space-life sim Star Citizen. This partnership formed alongside CIG’s 2012 Kickstarter for Star Citizen. Crytek took an interest in the then-fledgling title and entered into a contract with CIG to allegedly use Crytek’s proprietary CryEngine for Star Citizen and aid in development of the engine.

In exchange, Crytek provided marketing and engine support to CIG for the game.

Over time, Crytek and CIG’s relationship got bumpier. After a few years of rapid expansion in the late 2000s, Crytek contracted just as quickly and ended up closing most of its studios after reportedly not paying employees for months. CIG ended up distancing themselves from CryEngine and eventually switched to Amazon’s Lumberyard engine, a free game engine that is derived from Crytek’s engine, a sale that infused Crytek with enough cash to survive.

That switch is part of why Crytek is alleging that CIG has breached the contract between the two. The lawsuit alleges that CIG “promised, among other things, (i) to use the CryEngine game development platform exclusively and to promote that platform within the video game, (ii) to collaborate with Crytek on CryEngine development, and (iii) to take a number of steps to ensure that Crytek’s intellectual property was protected. [CIG] utterly failed to follow through on those promises, and their actions and omissions constitute breaches of contract and copyright infringement and have caused substantial harm to Crytek.”

Star Citizen was originally intended for release in 2014, but after years of active development, the game currently has no publicly released date. A single player campaign titled Squadron 42 was announced in 2014 and was announced in January to be released in 2017. As of mid-December, it has not been released. Squadron 42 is also the source of Crytek’s claim that CIG used CryEngine for a standalone title without seeking permission from Crytek first.

Two weeks ago, CIG announced that you can now buy land in Star Citizen, even though the land is not really accessible yet. Since its announcement in 2012, Star Citizen has continued crowdfunding and raised over $200 million for continued development.

Nendoroids, the super deformed and ultra-posable figures based on licensed characters, will be adding Overwatch’s D.Va to its roster soon with preorders going up soon.

D.Va joins the list of Overwatch characters that have gotten the Nendoroid treatment, including Tracer, Hanzo, Mei, Mercy, and Genji. D.Va has been long demanded by fans and it seems she’s finally getting her turn. Her accessories include a tiny version of her mech, a cellphone she uses for selfies, and most importantly, Dew and Doritos.

Check out the shots below and peruse the product listing at the Good Smile Company.

Announced today on Ubisoft’s blog for For Honor, the weapon-based fighting game released earlier this year, dedicated server tests are being held over the next few days. Whether you own the game or not, you can participate in the test.

Ubisoft announced that For Honor would be moving to dedicated servers back in July, responding to criticism that the game had overwhelming host advantage and problems with lag. The dedicated server fix has both players connect to Ubisoft’s servers to play rather than one player being the host and the other player connecting to them.

During the server beta test, players also earn rewards for the main game and be eligible for raffle prizes like t-shirts and For Honor statues.

For Honor was released on February 14 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. You can find our review for the game here.

[Source: Ubisoft Blog]

After the Switch’s reveal, fans on the internet realized that the joycons attached together in their shell looked a lot like an off-center dog face. Now an accessory is coming out to complete the illusion.

Hyperkin, known for Retron consoles and smaller, portable versions of consoles, is releasing something called the “Pupper” controller grip. It grip angles the joycons in slightly, pushing the grips out to better resemble ears, and make the lights look more like pupper eyes. Oh, and of course, puppy mouth stickers.

The Hyperkin Pupper controller also charges the joycons, something the standard grip does not do. It also takes the USB-C connection for faster charging as another method for charging your joycons.

Gamevice announced today that its mobile controllers will now provide full support for iPhone X, iPhone 8, and Sphero’s app-enabled Star Wars droids. Gamevice is also lowering the price of the GV 157 to $79.95 for the holiday season.

The controllers come in two pieces and, much like the Nintendo Switch’s joycons, attach to either side of your mobile device. The GV 157 is compatible with over 1,000 games on the iPhone, including NBA 2K18, Minecraft, and the Talos Principle. Gamevice’s compatibility with Sphero’s droids, including R2-D2, BB-8, and the new BB-9E that debuts in The Last Jedi, should also provide more precision for Star Wars fans passionate enough to purchase  drones.

You can check out a trailer for the controller here.

 

Our Take
With its larger display and surprising amount of console or PC quality games, the iPhone X seems like a pretty good device to invest in mobile gaming. It’s hard not to compare it to the Switch’s joycons, but the symmetrical joystick orientation might work for those who have been complaining about the Switch’s offset design. 

As the first entry in the Metal Gear series following Hideo Kojima’s departure from Konami, fans have been rightfully skeptical about Metal Gear Survive. Those who are willing to give the game a shot will get their chance next month, as it is getting an open multiplayer beta.

Players will be able to try out the game’s online co-op on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One from January 18 through January 21. There, they’ll team up with fellow mercs and fight zombies while building up their defenses.

For more info on the game, take a look at Kim’s hands-on preview from TGS. She went into it with her own doubts, and she emerged with a cautious optimism about the horde-based action she played.

Wasteland co-designer Brian Fargo from InXile Entertainment has tweeted out a teaser menu shot of the company’s new project: Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut on Switch.

Earlier in the fall, Fargo announced InXile was working with the console, and opined that Torment: Tides of Numenera would not be a good fit for the Switch.

Fargo has not announced any other details about Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut, but did say that the team that ported A Bard’s Tale to mobile is working on this latest port.

[Source: @BrianFargo] 

 

Our Take 
I’d imagine that this is a test run to bringing Wasteland 3 to the system. 

Hello Neighbor makes a strong first impression. With its Dr. Seuss-like artistic vision of an idyllic neighborhood hiding a terrible secret, the opening cinematic, featuring our curious protagonist spying on his neighbor, drew me in immediately. Too bad the illusion came crashing down shortly after that.

The game casts you as a child sneaking into his neighbor’s house to find out what kicking, screaming secret this man is hiding in his basement. An experiment gone wrong? A prisoner? Murder victims? My mind constantly poked at all the possibilities during the opening hour, but my interest was quickly murdered by dull and broken sneaking mechanics. Hello Neighbor’s campaign is composed of three acts, with the neighbor’s house serving as a series of puzzles you have to overcome to complete whatever your objective is. These puzzles err on the side of loony, recalling the days of point and click adventures, with gears and levers you often have to find and click to activate some other part of the house so that you can delve deeper. This is fine enough on paper, but the layout of the house means you’ll be constantly backtracking and searching for clues, opening drawers and looking beneath beds for that one key or object you need to get to the next segment. Those annoyances become a fatal flaw once the titular neighbor gets involved.

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The Neighbor functions like monsters in Amnesia or the Alien in Alien Isolation. He’s constantly patrolling the grounds of his estate and will hunt you down the moment he hears or sees you. You can slow him down by hurling objects at him, but he’s unkillable and unpredictable. And I don’t mean unpredictable in the sense that he’s a compelling foe, setting up traps in places you often visit (which he does), but instead because he’s brokenly powerful. The neighbor is capable of clipping through walls, seeing you, and often grabbing you when there’s a surface between you. To Hello Neighbor’s credit, your progress through the level doesn’t reset when you’re caught, and you get to keep whatever items you have on you, but the amount of times I felt like the game had cheated in catching me washed away the appreciation I had for that choice.

Hello Neighbor is annoying and flat-out broken in other areas too. The control scheme is particularly bad, requiring you to hold down a shoulder button for a second to pick up an object, and then having two other buttons for throwing and “using,” instead of just combining them, making everything more complicated and sluggish than it needs to be. Though the house the neighbor builds across every act is impressively zany, the inside of the house often feel like dull test chambers, with a lot of blank wall space and uninspired decoration. A number of puzzles often require you to use objects, like cardboard boxes, to reach other places. This means stacking them or hurling them through windows. Unfortunately, the physics for these objects are wonky at best. I often spent double-digit attempts trying to get boxes in the right formation so I could use them to make a jump, which became a long, drawn-out affair since the neighbor kept catching me anytime I screwed up, forcing me back to another part of the map.

Hello Neighbor is unpolished to the point that it feels unfinished. The overpowered enemy A.I. makes the gameplay miserable; models and animations are stiff, and physics critical to completing puzzles are so woefully uncalibrated that much of the game feels like you’re stacking boxes and hoping for the best. The game falls so short of its genre companions that it’s hard to recommend it to anyone, in spite of its beautiful aesthetic. Hello Neighbor simply isn’t fun or compelling even when it’s working.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and that means it’s time for year two of Overwatch’s Winter Wonderland event.

This year features a number of new and old skins making their way into loot boxes, as well as winter themed versions of the maps Hanamura, King’s Row, and Black Forest. On top of those additions, there will also be two Mei-themed game modes. Mei’s Snowball Offensive was also available last year and changes the way Mei shoots and gains amo while pitting two teams of six Meis against each other. The other mode, Yeti Hunt, is new this year and takes an Evolve approach, pitting five Meis against a single Winston who can get more powerful throughout the map.

Get a glimpse into this year’s Winter Wonderland in this video from Blizzard.

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What part of the Winter Wonderland are you most excited to explore and what new skins are you dying to get? Let me know in the comments below.