Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Some Are Soldiers, We Are Ghosts : Wildlands

Over the years, ghost recon as a franchise has grown as one of the most realistic military tactical shooters, but what made it so alluring has been its customization features & its nature of game-play. So, after a break of five years, we again get chance to live the life of these legendary undercover operatives. Unlike its predecessor Future Soldier, Wildlands has returned from its futuristic cache & returned to its original core play of tactical shooting, a subtle way of homecoming.

Campaign Plot: Ghosts are back, this time its war with Santa Blanca, a Bolivian based Drug trafficking organization whose influence has spread across borders causing mayhem within social spectrum. When one DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) agent gets abducted & tortured to death, United States Government gets concerned & starts rallying its special force assets to put an end to the narco-state’s ever growing activities by aiding local rebel outfits.

How different is it from Future Soldier?

Core mechanics of game-play remains the same, however this time it’s an open world & believe me it’s massive. Player gets to choose his/her way to complete the story, depending upon the style & mode of selected difficulty, fifty to sixty straight campaign hours will be a rough estimate, provided the number of side ops/missions gets completed on way for weapons & skill upgrade. If you are into micro-management, you would love the Gunsmith & battle gear feature. Only change this time has been how skill points gained over time gets its usage for unlocking much needed special abilities & item features. 

Some issues are however noted while dealing with its vehicles, at least in PS4 the flight controls are not that lucid, I do hope Ubisoft finds out some way to fix it. 

Graphics is more or like other widespread titles like Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End or Grand Theft Auto V, however the Bolivian world’s flora & fauna is overwhelming. At times, the game-play gets taxing if played without meticulous planning, still it succeeds in upholding the Ghost Recon legacy, a worthy successor to the ever-growing charter.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Video Games - An Evolving Wonder

Video games have been around us since early ‘70s, however in the last decade we have seen an enormous transition, both in the form of gaming mechanics & visual effects rendering. My first acquaintance to gaming verse had been with Wolfenstein 3D which was released by id Software back in early ‘90s. It gave me the flavor of what a first-person shooter based game would be like, thus becoming the forefather of today’s cohort shooter games. Well, it is not just about shooter games but all other genre which are made accessible for people to experience at home or at public forum.

Gaming has become a cohesive part of the modern mainstream society. Over years gaming industries have evolved to much more solemn platform, giving rise to a new trend of thought process which has made many to commence gaming as an alternate profession or career. Of-course not everybody can be a Pro-gamer. The idea of contesting as pro-gamer itself has been very lucrative, perhaps many gamers’ dream but making into the cut has been one of the grimmest aspect. Not to mention few thousand hours’ investment into serious gaming.

If I go with the online collective statistics, as of 2015, the top 100 highest paid professional gamers have made $250,000 with global competition alone, without even considering the sponsorship deals & streaming live feed on practice gaming on services like YouTube or Twitch.

For those who are new to gaming or simply not aware, today’s game designing life-cycle is like making of Hollywood blockbusters, not just in term of sheer amount of time capitalized for development but in every other aspect. In short, lead designers will make the outline of the game’s concept which might include core character’s initial drawing followed by coders to outline a typical prototype leading to pre-production & production phase where the game’s tools & graphics system will aid software engineers to build the definite game engine to rig models for animation. After testing for quality assurance, the game will be released worldwide post ‘Beta’ period where some selected gamers will be invited to play. Post release if problems are noted related to gaming or performance, developers will ensure to issue patches for fixing.

Games has been classified under diverse genre viz. action-adventure, role-playing, real time strategy, first person shooters, simulation, sports & massively multiplayer online (widely known as MMO); depending on own’s personal liking, various titles are available from which you can handpick. It also depends on which platform you are going to play. There are certain titles which are specific to certain platform, games like Uncharted Series, The Last of US are PS4 & PS4 Pro exclusive, similarly titles like Gears of War, Halo 3 are meant for Xbox 360 & so forth.

Past few years, the evolution within gaming arena has been staggering, with each added year developers have made our experience even more riveting. There has been numerous debate on its influence on younger generation however that would be a different topic for discussion; recent scientific studies have revealed that gaming can enhance human cognitive skills.

Gaming is here to stay whether we agree or not, perhaps its rapid integration in today’s society will give a different vibe on how it gets perceived, to me it has one of the very fabric which defines human ingenuity, whether we survive the next century, the aspect of game designing would always remain as the technology & art wonder of 21st century.

If you are still not convinced, try out some of my all time favorite titles, it might seriously change your perception on how games can impact tomorrow's innovation.

1. Crysis

Monday, March 28, 2016

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a step up which would eventually lead to Justice League. Seeing the iconic trinity of DC sharing the silver screen itself was worth the wait. Keeping the tone of the story grim & dark, Zack Snyder has made it very similar to his earlier take on Alan Moore’s legendary graphic novel Watchmen. Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy has been one of the best onscreen adaptation of superhero eccentric but it was not entirely faithful to comic book genre. Much of the story was reformed for grounding it to realism so that main stream audience could relate under the pretext of modern day extremism.

Plot: The new chapter in this story arc introduces us to the legacy of Bruce Wayne’s origin as Batman in a quick snippet. Fast track eighteen months from the aftermath of Man of Steel, we see a world with divided opinions on the existence of Superman; while some sees him as a savior others question his very presence, leading to countless debates at political & social circuits. As the world tries to cope in understanding what sort of hero it truly needs, LexCorp’s business magnate Lex Luthor manipulates Superman by pitting him against Gotham’s very own vigilante Batman for nefarious reasons.

This movie sets the premise for the upcoming Justice League, though at times it felt that it could have been addressed more coherently. General audience not familiar with the source material may have some issues as too many easter eggs & reference to league has been laid down. Some shortcomings in the story is however rewarded with startling visuals. Snyder’s hallmark is evident in some of the scenes which are simply awe inspiring. The plot has its genesis from two of the iconic graphic novels ever written The Dark Knight Returns & The Death of Superman. Hans Zimmer & Junkie XL soundtrack composition has a different feel, something which we are not used to. It nets well with the movie however, as a standalone track there is crave for more lucid touch.

Castings bring forth some fresh faces to the existing troupe, Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman. With new rules set in this DC Extended Universe, Ben Affleck not only excels as Bruce Wayne but he is righteously the definitive Batman ever to put up on big screen. Even with less screen time, Gal Gadot shines as the Amazon Warrior Wonder Woman during her climactic battle with Doomsday. Jesse Eisenberg’s take on narcissistic Lex Luthor was quite different than what we have read in comic books, though the reason for his psychotic obsession for destroying Superman was kept fuzzy, I hope when the ultimate extended R version gets released for home it would give some more insight behind his motivation.

Final Verdict: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a pure comic book movie; it’s not chef-d'oeuvre but a commendable boost to accelerate the much awaited Justice League. Watch this to institute your own opinion.

My Rating: 8/10