New COG, old tricks.
Fun and familiar. Upon completing Gears of War 4’s 8-10 hour campaign, those two decisive words constantly reverberated in the back of my mind, evoking a rather ineffable sensation. Gears of War 4, in a lot of ways, is the best entry in the series, as it productively enhances existing elements of the established franchise and polishes them off to a crisp, pristine shine; however, its devotion to refine, instead of reinventing the formula can, at times, result in a rather stagnant experience that strikes serious chords of déjà vu. Its parallelism to the original trilogy is a double-edged sword. Gears of War 4 is an excellent, by the numbers, sequel that may have questionable relevance, but is a fun, engaging experience from start to finish. While it does very little to differentiate itself from its predecessors, and archaic design elements which were fostered in the original back in 2006 are still present a decade later, Gears of War 4 still manages to be a great experience that acts as a simple reminder that it can still hold its own in the modern realm of gaming. Its campaign may be brief and lack the nuanced punch that made the original an excellent class of innovation, but it’s an enjoyable piece of modern entertainment that is paired nicely with an excellent assortment of multiplayer components – Horde 3.0 is an excellent highpoint that lives up to the addictive nature of the series’ legacy. Certain balancing issues that have continuously plagued the Gears of War multiplayer scene are, for some reason, still present in this fourth instalment. Although it’s arguably the safest sequel in the history of gaming, Gears of War 4 is a worthy addition to an excellent series.
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Making a mess has never been this much fun…
Splatoon has always been an interesting project ever since its inception in 2013, not in the sense that its obtuse or abstract, but more by the defining manner of how Nintendo rarely ever set their foot in the shooter space of the gaming ecosystem. I’ve never once thought that they were incapable of crafting a competent shooter, it’s just that the idea had honestly never crossed my mine. For better or for worse, Nintendo has constructed a family-friendly persona, ripe with imagination and innovation like no other; shooters are an oversaturated genre that implore the excessive use of violence and are stubborn for their inability to change. These two statements adherently contradict one another, so I never thought the two would ever merge. Splatoon is Nintendo’s take on the traditional genre, adhering to the common standards of the online shooter while simultaneously adding their own flare to spice up the formula, resulting in one of the most original gems to have ever graced the online gaming community. Splatoon’s pleasantly surprising emphasis on team-oriented, objective based gameplay is a shining feat that is not commonly attempted nor explored in the over-arching realm of the online shooter. The game is just oozing with unparalleled charm, a fantastic colour pallet like no other, and its moment to moment gameplay is fast, frantic, and houses an addictive nature that very few shooters have the potential to reach. Just like any new IP or first entry in a series, there are clearly a few kinks that need to be ironed out, and even though Nintendo constantly updates the game with free weapons, maps, and new modes, the game unfortunately feels a bit sparse which is evidently apparent after playing a few online matches. There’s obvious room for improvement with Splatoon, but there’s no denying the fact that it’s one of the most original shooters in recent memory, an addictive joy to just splatter your enemies, and to be accommodated for, what honestly seems to be, vandalism. Splatoon is a reminder that Nintendo are the rightful kings at what they do, creating the most fun and entertaining games that the medium has to offer; Splatoon wholeheartedly continues this legacy of theirs and in doing so, brought life to an aging genre. Simply put, Splatoon is a breath of fresh air and the best online shooter I’ve played in a long, long while.
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