Today’s throwback is a calming alternative tune by the name of “Natalie” by Milk & Bone. While going through my music library today and reorganizing it, cleaning my house, generally bustling about, as soon as this song came on, I froze in place, sat down, and just began to feel.
“Natalie” was used as the ending theme in Square Enix’s choice-based adventure game Life is Strange 2. Without spoiling too much, it’s usage in the game comes right after one of its most chaotic scenes, save for the ending. The Life is Strange (LiS) series has always been well known for it’s soundtrack, often using songs that heavily correlate or allude to in game occurrences. Both games are coming of age tales of young teens just trying to survive in today’s modern world, both also featuring strange weird supernatural events that play into the story lines. The series has won several awards for it’s story telling, voice acting and music.
The first entry in the series, set at a hip art school in Oregon showcased a lot of soft alternative indie rock, perfect for the mood it was trying to set. The second game in the series was a little less pronounced with its musical choices but was still solid, mixing songs like this one with “On Melancholy Hill” by the Gorillaz.
If you like video games and are a fan of good stories, I highly suggest checking out the original Life is Strange or Life is Strange 2. Both are available on Playstation 4, Xbox One and PC and both let you play the first tale of their episodic journeys for free.
It’s been almost one month since Activision released it’s entry into the Battle Royale genre, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare “Warzone.” The new game mode joins the many others before it, but most notably the current titans of BRs (battle royales), Fortnite and Apex Legends. I’ve been having a great time with the game, and in the span of a month it’s been updated at least two, if not three times showing the developers want it to flourish and stay popular for a long time.
It’s paid off. Warzone was the most downloaded and most played game after it’s release and currently still is. I’ve found myself switching back occasionally to Apex, as that game has basically consumed my gaming life for the past year, but Warzone is incredibly refreshing and in some ways more satisfying in certain aspects compared to Apex.
Warzone is incredibly refreshing and in many ways more satisfying in several aspects compared to Apex Legends.
For one, the whole concept of Warzone is more realistic. Scenes, settings and graphics in line with the Modern Warfare series already make you feel like you’re in an actual warzone, excuse the pun. Apex feels arcade-y after playing rounds of Warzone. Some of the pitfalls of the genre can’t be avoided, such as players leaving as soon as they are killed, or even knocked down, but for whatever reason (maybe because the game is new) I’ve experienced it less often in Warzone than in Apex.
The gun play feels fresh and snappy. It’s what you’d expect from a Call of Duty game, albeit a bit slower paced than the regular multiplayer experience. Armor plates (Warzone’s version of shields) ensure you won’t often kill a player in 2 seconds flat, unless they run right in front of you and you destroy them with a string of head-shots, but otherwise this forces you to think of the long-haul. Immediately after injuring a player, do you hunker down on the floor of the building you’re in? Do you jump out the window and run through the entrance of said building to catch your would-be attackers? Do you and your squad rush them? Do you flee the scene entirely? The sheer amount of options that are completely up to you are what captivated me about battle royales in the first place. Comparing to my other favorite, Apex, Warzone feels like it gives you a greater variety of options to choose from and more time to think about what to do.
Warzone feels like it gives you a greater variety of options to choose from in a firefight, and more time to think about what to do.
Verdansk is a freakin’ huge map. Sometimes I don’t feel like it really is, but to fit 150-160 players on one world where most of the time, you won’t even encounter half the other players is a feat unto itself. City areas feel realistic with thirteen-story skyscrapers complete with roofs you can snipe from (after tediously running up thirteen flights of stairs). The Stadium area is one of my favorites, offering decent amounts of loot, and while you can’t enter the actual stadium, it offers long hallway like areas by each of its closed off entrances that are great for close combat fire-fights. If the fact you can’t get inside it really kills you, areas like Superstore and TV Station feel like what Stadium’s inside would probably be like.
One month in, I still feel a rush when I come out on top wiping a squad firing on my team. Or cleaning up stragglers running in from the gas (think Apex’s “ring” or Fortnite’s “storm”). Travelling the map in vehicles with my squad is fun and stores littered around the map called buy stations offer a nice new option by having in-game items you can purchase with money. These let you gain an upper hand in any situation by buying helpful aids ranging from UAVs and gas-masks, to airstrikes and loadout drops, which give you and your squad your own custom guns usually better than any gun you could find on the ground.
One month in, I still feel a rush when I come out on top wiping a squad firing on my team.
COD: Warzone doesn’t really do anything completely new for the genre, to be frank. But it’s twists and novel variants it brings does. Being able to equip a gas mask and actually spend time outside the safe zone offers more potential in attacking and defending or simply re-positioning. It feels weird having a radar in a battle royale, but Warzone makes it work. It isn’t something you can completely rely on and UAVs only highlight your immediate area. If you and your squadmates activate 3 UAVs, the advanced UAV activates letting you see the exact position of everyone on the map, however like the UAV itself, the effect probably lasts around 15 seconds. This keeps the radar as something that helps you and not a crutch you can always count on.
Fans of the Call of Duty series, or fans of first-person shooters in general will likely find something they like in Warzone. It certainly helps it’s taken the current market approach by making the game completely free to play, and also supports cross-play enabled matchmaking letting you play with friends or strangers on PC, Xbox One and Playstation 4.
If you haven’t given it a whirl, be sure to check out Warzone, and if you haven’t played it in awhile the game has received substantial updates since launch, and as of today features Squads mode with teams of four players instead of three.
According to The Verge, Call of Duty is set to release it’s newest entry into the Battle Royale genre tomorrow (March 10) for free. The game will join other staples such as Fortnite, Apex Legends, and Player’s Unknown Battlegrounds. The game is technically an extension of the Modern Warfare reboot title released earlier this year, however it will be free-to-play meaning anyone can download it regardless of whether you purchased Modern Warfare. The game will feature cross-platform functionality between Playstation 4, XBOX One & PC meaning you can play with friends and anyone who is on one of the supported platforms.
Similar to Apex Legends, the Warzone will pit players in three man squads vying for victory against a total of 150 players. The game will also feature a respawn mechanic, but with a twist. The Gulag will allow players to respawn, but only if they win a 1-on-1 match. Teammates can assist by throwing rocks at your opponent to stun them.
Set across the giant Verdansk map, players will have access to vehicles, contracts or missions that award rewards including perks, and an in-game cash system, as well as two modes of play. Players can use in-game cash obtained from selling items or pilfered from other players to buy specific items, self-reviving kits, respawn tokens, perks, killstreaks and more.
Call of Duty: Warzone releases tomorrow at 10 AM for Modern Warfare owners, and 12 PM for everyone else.
The start of the fourth season of Apex Legends is almost here. After the longest season to date (Season 3), World’s Edge will finally be shaken up by map changes, new weapons and a brand new legend. Respawn Entertainment debuted the gameplay trailer for the new season today after recently releasing some storyline and lore trailers.
The trailer showcases a bit of new Legend, Revenant’s new abilities. You can also see some of the map changes and a glimpse at the new sniper rifle weapon. Compared to past trailers, this one did however feel a bit short and like not much was shown. It could be because dataminers have spoiled most who follow the Apex community religiously as we’ve known about Revenant and expected map changes. Also, when you’re not debuting a brand new map, it’s kinda hard to out-hype that.
I wouldn’t be surprised at all if another trailer comes out tomorrow, showing off more changes. One thing that’s been steady since the release of Apex Legends, Respawn loves to keep its fans guessing about what will come next.
Major Lazer and Khalid dropped the music video to their collab “Trigger” directed by James Larese. The video accompanies the emotionally laden, sultry vocals of Khalid and its down-tempo buildup and drop, with visuals inspired by Death Stranding.
Recently released to mixed reviews for Playstation 4, the game stars Sam Bridges on a mission to reconnect the world. CGI models boogey to the beat in between footage from the game.
It’s time to once again journey into the world of Pokemon as Pokémon Sword & Pokémon Shield released for the Nintendo Switch. Game Freak’s 7th generation of pocket monster games is charming, engaging and best of all, a fully fleshed out console Pokémon experience, great for newcomers and veterans alike.
Sword & Shield deliver a solid experience, that while not without some flaws and hangups, still make for the best games in the series thus far, and two excellent Switch titles. Picking up where the Let’s Go! series left off, the games are essentially an upgrade to the previous console titles, fully formed and true to the mainline series.
The latest iteration of the famous series has you traversing the world of Galar. This British-inspired landscape is an exotic world filled with green pastures, farms, industrial cities, icy landscapes, deserts and human-sized mushroom forests. The scenery of the game is largely breathtaking. Nearing the end of the game some of the environments start to seem to repeat and the gyms somewhat look alike, but the vast scale of the environments is amazing.
The world of Pokemon is realized in a way that would have been unfathomable to the 11 year old me playing Pokemon Red.
The world of Pokemon is realized in a way that would have been unfathomable to the 11-year-old me playing Pokemon Red. When battling gym leaders, a crowd of animated fans go wild when you knock out your enemy’s Pokemon. Train stations, high rises and hotels all capture the feel of the UK and modern urban locales. It truly feels stunning to go from the tiny small town you begin at to the televised Pokemon League battles in packed stadiums and a final battle atop a skyscraper with some of the story’s antagonists.
The tunes you’ll hear along your journey are thoughtfully composed and of the high quality you’d expect from a Nintendo original game. The “Gym Leader Battle Theme” straight up sounds like a modern rave track (at least in the intro).
The Wild Area itself could’ve been bigger…
Early on, you reach an area called the Wild Area. This, essentially, is an open world part of the map very reminiscent to Xenoblade Chronicles 2’s large open areas, or Monster Hunter’s instances, where not only hundreds of Pokemon roam, but other trainers across the world, too, if you are connected online. To me, this is probably one of the most interesting novel features in the games, but sadly, its potential isn’t fully realized.
The Wild Area itself could’ve been bigger. Players can take part in “Max Pokemon Raids” where you team up with other players online, or AI controlled trainers offline to take down giant “Dynamax” Pokemon. The concept is the closest we’ve ever gotten to a Pokemon MMORPG, but falls short as Raids are not updated quickly in the online list and are hard to join or find other players to complete with. Worse still, once you beat the game you are limited to only doing high level raids which already are hard enough to find players to complete with. In the future, I would love to see a Pokemon game that explores this area even further, maybe even a side game that branches off into a Pokemon MMORPG based off the Wild Area.
Pokemon Sword & Shield are not perfect. There are graphical frame-rate dips, sadly, no voice acting, mediocre antagonists and plot points, and a relatively short journey and online mode. Many aspects of the game feel slightly superficial, as if a small delay in release could’ve resulted in a much greater game experience.
However, the quality of life changes and streamlining of the core Pokemon game are welcome additions and as a whole, Sword & Shield bring the Pokemon world into modern times as a fully fleshed out version of Pokemon Let’s Go! Pikachu & Eevee. Any fans of the Pokemon games are RPGs should check this one out.
Part of a series I’m writing for an EDM website, I’m going to be exploring the relationship between EDM and video games. This is an excerpt from that story, which begins by chronicling some of the earliest instances of EDM in video games, part of a shift that helped raise awareness of electronic in the US in the late 90s and early 2000s.
Video Games and Electronic music enjoy an intertwined relationship
Electronic music and video games, in some respects go hand in hand. Whether it’s promotional trailers often featuring EDM, locations and dance clubs actually a part of the game, or the game soundtrack, the industry seems to have taken notice. The same feelings that make EDM fun to dance to and get hyped to, are also fun to game to.
Not only can a lot of EDM be found in today’s video games, but even in the past, video games helped give electronic artists and video game music producers a platform for their music to shine. Before we talk about today’s EDM in video games, let’s talk about some of the earliest instances of electronic music in video games.
Many studios out of the UK were already experimenting with EDM in games
Some of my first experiences with electronic music were while playing video games. Back in the era of Nintendo 64, the original Playstation and early 2000s PC games, games developed by British and European studios helped expose Americans to dance music. American studios did eventually catch on, but until the arrival of dubstep, electronic music was still very much a niche genre in the US.
If you were lucky enough to have stumbled across some of the more quirky games of the 2000s era, you would have been treated to some early electronic music, some in-house and some licensed. The frantic RC racer game, Re-Volt, was one of these games that helped cement my love for EDM. Several Nintendo 64 games, especially those developed by European studios featured UK house music, such as the action-adventure game Buck Bumble.
Re-Volt (N64, PSX, PC, later re-released on Android)
Published by Acclaim, this unconventional racer had players control RC cars along small miniature tracks scaled to the small RC cars size. Tracks within the game took you to locales such as the aisles of a local supermarket and its parking lot, or through a child’s room, littered with toys and teddy bears serving as obstacles. Just to add to the craziness, the game also threw in Mario-Kart style items like firecrackers, oil slicks, nitro boosts and even a self destructing bomb that could be passed off in “tag you’re it” style fashion.
As soon as you load up the game, you’re greeted by an upbeat house track with filtered vocals. Re-Volt was one of the earlier games to actually use MP3s in the game, and on the PC version, you could pop the game CD in your computer and the soundtrack would play directly from those files.
Each of the music tracks in the game, presumably created in-house, had electronic music flair, indicative of the UK based game developer’s studio. “Little Toy Carz 2” was one of a few insanely epic tunes for it’s time. Drum and bass, a bit of breakbeat, and techno sounds into a blazing fast BPM definitely set the tone for the lightning fast races within the game. The theme for the supermarket track, “Toys for the Boys” incorporates elements of speed dance, rave and Goa with an intro that I will never forget, some fifteen odd years later.