Detroit: Become Human Review

Detroit: Become Human is the latest “movie-game” from the mind of Quantic Dream‘s David Cage. His previous works include Fahrenheit, 2010’s Heavy Rain and 2013’s Beyond Two Souls. Heavy Rain was my first Quantic Dream title. I purchased it the first month of release and that game really won me over with its unique gameplay style approach and fantastic storytelling. I may be in the minority here, but I also liked Beyond quite a bit. It had some major flaws, but I plan on playing again. That’s how much I enjoyed it. Detroit takes place in the year 2038 and centers around three androids named Markus, Connor and Kara. Markus serves his owner, who is an elderly painter. Connor is an advanced prototype serving as a special agent. He assists his human partner, Hank and helps solve crimes, search for Android deviants, perform interrogations and handle hostage situations. Kara serves as somewhat of maid to an abusive father and his daughter. Androids are becoming so advanced that they are starting to display human tendencies such as emotion and critical thinking. The United States is a mess, with rising unemployment, a horrible presidential approval rate, bad foreign relationships and a bevy of other things. This premise has been seen countless other times in media, but Detroit really nails it. It helps that it’s in video game form because you become enamored and engrossed in everything happening around you. The game has a way of sucking you in, grabbing you, and never letting go.

Making the right decisions are critical in Detroit. Sometimes, your life and the lives of others hang in the balance.

Detroit has much to say when it comes to thought-provoking topics such as politics, religion, morals and so on. It handles these things well in a general sense, but it really lets the player decide how these things play out. The player has ultimate control. One small move can have a huge effect on the outcome of any given situation. At the end of each chapter, you’ll see a flowchart that shows you your choices and how they led to different outcomes and situations. You will also see other player’s choices throughout the world in the form of a percentage. During my first play through, I was surprised to see some awfully low percentages at the end of certain chapters. That’s a good thing, meaning I was in the minority. It makes you question your decisions, which leads to excellent replay value. This game can be played multiple times. Each of the three protagonists can live or die in the end. It’s all up to the player.

Connor, one of the most advanced Androids, and one of the three main protagonists.

Detroit is just like previous Quantic Dream games, where the gameplay consists of watching a lot of dialogue and performing quicktime events via button prompts. To me, it’s a perfectly fine approach because it fits so well with this type of game. There are enough QTE’s to keep the player focused on the story, so you aren’t tempted to look away or multitask while playing. Player engagement is key and David Cage knows that. I was very surprised to find that throughout my experience with the game, my decisions had massive weight. At times, I had to pause it because I just couldn’t make up my mind. I had to ponder it for a few seconds before pulling the trigger (sometimes literally). The game makes you feel like not only the character, but you, are making each decision. Not many games can say that.

Kara plays the role of protector and even a mother to Alice .

From a performance standpoint, the game is a marvel. I played it on a standard PS4 using a Sony 4K TV. I can only imagine how gorgeous it would be if it was running on a PS4 Pro. The excellent game design contributes to the visual fidelity on display. Facial animations, the little details when exploring each area, it’s all beautiful and exquisite. The attention to detail in the game makes the world come alive, such as digital newspapers scattered throughout, news reports on televisions, billboard advertisements, and so on. It makes you feel like this is what Detroit would look and feel like in 2038 if technology rapidly advanced. In the game, Canada is known as a safe haven for Androids as there are no laws banning them from entering the country. It’s things like this that give Detroit a realistic feel.

Markus is determined to take a stand and fight for the rights of Androids.

Overall, Detroit: Become Human is everything you can ask for in a Quantic Dream game. David Cage and company have made an amazing game and wonderful experience. It’s just so different than anything out there right now. The same went for Heavy Rain and Beyond Two Souls. The game touches on political and social issues that we are dealing with in today’s America, and even things we previously dealt with in history. It is absolutely stunning, and has an excellent cast of characters. You have Jesse Williams (Grey’s Anatomy), Clancy Brown (Shawshank Redemption) and Valorie Curry (Breaking Dawn) just to name a few. The performances are great, but certainly not perfect. It’s what you would expect from a Quantic Dream game. I think Willem Dafoe and Ellen Page did an even better job in Beyond. The decision-making will lead players to multiple playthroughs. The replay value is a big selling point for the game, and that should applauded. I am already looking forward to my second playthrough to see what will be different. I enjoyed every moment with Detroit. There was never a dull moment. The 5-year gap was well worth the wait. I highly recommend Detroit: Become Human. It’s one of the best single player experiences of 2018 and I am sure it will win several awards when it’s all said and done.



Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End Review

uc4 caseUncharted 4: A Thief’s End (PS4) is one of 2016’s biggest games and it is finally upon us. Naughty Dog is back with the fourth installment of this beloved series. It seems as if Nathan Drake can’t get enough globetrotting adventure, even after settling down and getting married. All of the beloved characters are here, including Elena, Victor and Sam. Of course, Nolan North and Troy Baker lend their voices to lead a superb cast of personalities. This fourth iteration is the icing on the cake for the long-running, critically-acclaimed series. The story takes place several years after Drakes’s Deception and follows Drake on yet another grand adventure spanning many continents.

Right when you begin playing, the first thing you’ll notice are the beautiful graphics. It may be the best looking game ever made. The broad color palette spreads from top to bottom. Naughty Dog pulled out all the stops and it truly shows. It helps that you will be adventuring all over the world. You’ll see sweeping tundras, giant snowcapped mountains, tropical locales with crystal clear water, exotic mansions, ancient ruins and more. It’s pretty awesome. The gameplay of A Thief’s End is very similar to its predecessors, but even more fluid than ever before. The controls remain mostly the same from the PS3 era. Nathan Drake may have actually taken some notes from Lara Croft in the form of grappling to walls. The combat is as fun as ever. Gunplay feels tight and responsive, whether you’re toting a rocket launcher, rifle or pistol. The one thing that A Thief’s End does better than any Uncharted title yet are the cinematics. This time around, you’re even more engaged in the story and characters. The downright jaw-dropping visuals have a lot to do with it. The more the story unfolds, the more emotional things get. You get to see Nathan Drake as a young kid and as a somewhat older man. Things come full circle and that is what really pushes the dramatic envelope. It’s a bittersweet end (maybe?) to one of the best game series of all time. The game has a few flaws. The exploration is mostly linear and the gameplay not have enough depth for some players. The entire game revolves around running, shooting, climbing and collecting. There isn’t an upgrade system of any kind, as seen in other games like The Last of Us and Tomb Raider. Ultimately, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is an outstanding game, arguably the best in the series. It sticks to a well worn formula and doesn’t break new ground, but on the flip side, it caps off a series we all love in amazing fashion. It has unforgettable characters, breathtaking visuals, fun locations to explore, a great story, lots of emotion and more. I highly suggest playing the other games if you want the full experience.


Mad Max Review

mm coverMad Max is an open-world action title for Ps4 and Xbox One from Avalanche Studios, very much in the style of the Far Cry series. The game comes hot on the heels of Mad Max Fury Road, the astonishingly good, award-winning film starring Tom Hardy. You play as Max, the bearded wastelander we have all come to know and love. He is on a mission to reclaim both his car and glory from villain Scrotus in the post-apocalyptic wasteland, with the help of his trusty friend and mechanic, Chumbucket. Don’t expect much on the storyline front. It’s simply not all that enthralling. We’ve all seen it before. Even the characters aren’t very memorable or unique. This adventure is all about gameplay. It’s all about checking the boxes, upgrading your weapons, car and equipment, that sort of thing. This approach actually works really well here. That’s the sticking

The combat is very Arkham-esque, but it’s always fun.

point. You never run out of things to do, whether it’s conquering a new boss, clearing out some underground mines, defeating a convoy or doing errands for leaders in various territories. Some of it can get repetitive, but the constant feeling of improvement and accomplishment make it worthwhile. Upgrading various components at each stronghold proves to be very helpful. By doing so, you will gain access to free water, free fuel and improved weapons and accessories. As far as weapons go, Max has only a few toys in his arsenal. These include the shotgun, harpoon, thunderpoon, sniper rifle and a couple others. It is the wasteland after all. It is also noteworthy that ammo is very hard to come by.

The combat system is reminiscent of the Arkham series. It doesn’t copy it though, it has its own unique style. The exceptional fighting animations make it satisfying to kick your foe’s tail. It is always a pleasure to run into some baddies while driving across the desert, because fighting is so fun. It never feels like a chore or drag. I like how you can finish someone off with a shiv too, Tomb Raider style. When Max gains enough momentum, he can enter Fury Mode. That’s when combat gets even more awesome. You essentially tun into a beast who can do wrestling moves on enemies, deal double damage and string together more combos. It’s pretty amazing. I did come across some control issues where I would hit the correct counter button but Max wouldn’t counter. These moments were few and far between though. The real fun in the game is simply scavenging. Looting every camp, nook and cranny is immensely satisfying, primarily because you know upgrades will soon follow. It never got old defeating enemies in each camp, looting everything in the area then darting off to the next location. It’s all about checking those boxes and it’s a ton of fun. One other gameplay element to note is racing. You can compete in races and challenge other players’ best times. It’s a cool diversion, but it doesn’t stand out as anything great. Visually, the game is beautiful. It’s the best-looking desert in any game to date, that’s for sure. The character models, vehicles and locations all shine with color and detail. In the audio department, I wish there was more music. It’s almost nonexistent. You’ll mainly hear the grumbling of your car’s exhaust, which can grow annoying after so many hours.

On this screen, you are able to upgrade Max’s look, abilities and more.

Mad Max is not without its issues. As I previously stated, the story isn’t going to pull you in and the characters aren’t anything special. One thing that does contribute to the story are things you collect called history relics. These are remnants left behind from the world you once knew and loved. The surrealism behind how different the world was and is now is what gets Max (and the player) emotional. It’s quite jarring and adds a lot to the experience as a whole. The combat system is great, but at times it feels like you’ve done it somewhere before (because you have). The wasteland is divisive because many gamers see emptiness, while others see that as simply the style of the game. I noticed a few bugs, most notably, vehicles randomly disappearing and Max’s car is sometimes without sound. These are minor technical issues but they need to be cleaned up. Mad Max seems to be a divisive game overall among gamers. Personally, I had a great time with it. That’s saying something, especially considering the fact that I like plot-driven games. The main story along with occasional side quests will take around 35 hours to complete, which is a hefty amount of gameplay, offering a big bang for your buck. Give Mad Max a shot. It may falter in some areas and become repetitive over time, but it’s fun and offers great replay value.