Neural Link Established

If you are familiar with Titanfall, it quite possible you dint pay much attention to Titanfall 2 and initial sales figures did indicate the same. The lack of a single player campaign, ridiculous unlock system, Xbox exclusivity and the unbalanced Titan mechanics in multiplayer left a bitter taste if unmatched expectations especially considering the hype it generated post E3 2013.

Instead of teasing you till the end of the page, lets jump right into it, Titanfall 2 is absolutely stunning. It is better than the original in every way and could be our favorite game of 2016. It’s fast paced, visually stunning and incredibly entertaining. The game has a proper 6hr long story driven single player campaign, that’ll challenge fps player and platformer lover alike. COD may have created the whole wall run, double jump atmosphere but nothing comes close to the sheer momentum of Titanfall. The parkour style gameplay isn’t optional either, the levels are designed such that you either master traversal or quit. Luckily you have the Ghost mechanic to aid you if required, basically a hologram directing you on how to get from point A to B. Although you start as Rifleman Cooper, who aspires to be a pilot someday, A mortally-wounded mentor to transfer ownership of his Titan, BT, over to you in the first 10 minutes of the campaign. Although unusable until restored, BT’s voice and humor is a welcomed addition while you leap around looking for fuel cells. The unlikely friendship that grows between Jack and BT elevates the story mode into something that’s truly rewarding. You quickly believe that these characters really care for each other, which is repeatedly demonstrated by their actions throughout the campaign. BT is a devastating vanguard class Titan during firefights and a friendly giant at other times. Although game play is at its core fps, the game periodically separates both pilot and Titan which makes their relation almost symbiotic. You need BT to get through toxic sludge among other perils and often BT won’t be able progress without your aid. Titanfall’s boss battles have you facing other Titans which are interesting but not too challenging. Unlike previous titan fall games the Titan load out can be switched on the fly and picking the right mix of offensive and defensive abilities makes the boss battles much more satisfying.

TF

Multi player has been essential to the franchise and they have improved upon where the original left off. Attrition mode is back, player and Titan mobility has been increased, and Titan drops now happen quicker, thanks to a change which sees players receiving a small passive amount of Titan meter every few seconds. Meanwhile, the HUD has been improved, and bots are available in certain modes such as the new addition Bounty Hunt. Along the aforementioned modes, players can also compete in Mixtape, which constantly changes modes with each game; Amped Hardpoint, which has you stealing and protecting bases, Pilots vs. Pilots, 8v8 Mixtape, Last Titan Standing, Capture the Flag and Free for All. Coliseum allows users to have quake style 1v1 Titan battles but we won’t pay a lot of attention to something that requires you to but Doritos and Mountain Dew. Though some issues from the tech beta still remain, Titanfall 2’s multiplayer remains fun and addictive. There’s no season pass either, meaning every player is given access to any new map, weapon or mode for the life of the game.

A brilliant single player campaign married to inventive, skill-intensive multiplayer that takes fps to a whole new level. If you haven’t played it yet, try it and we are sure you’ll grab a copy immediately. Best played on the PC, Titanfall 2 is also available now on the PS4 along with the XBOX.

Be The Very Best

Pokken

How does one become a Pokémon master? By battling of course. Trainers have been battling Pokémon since 1996, as console technology advanced three dimensional character animations became available in Pokémon Stadium and Xd but gameplay has always been turn based. Pokken combines Pokémon and Tekken. My first impressions were rather mixed, you’d think it’s just a Pokémon skin on Tekken, not completely wrong but the game play is much more complex than Tekken or possibly any fighting game to date. Technique is key and picking the right support character can sway the outcome of a battle greatly. As you progress in the game the AI gets smarter and stronger, keeping the game accessible to new comers and challenging for veterans. The only downside is that the leveling system isn’t just specific to you as a trainer. You have to individually level up each Pokémon just like the RPG. I was disappointed at first to see a lot of my favorite Pokémon being left out from the current roster of 20 playable characters, but leveling up a larger set would get rapidly tedious. It’s like picking you first starter Pokémon and its move set based on your play style, do you want a hard hitting Charizard or a lightning quick Pikachu.

Gameplay is split into two phases which you switch in and out of constantly. The field phase which requires you to use ranged attacks from a distance and dodge or block unfriendly projectiles, favoring more agile technical characters and the dual phase which is similar to the close ranged combat style inherent to the genre. Landing a heavy hit in field phase switches you into duel phase, where continual damage is key as Pokken’s pace can turn linked combos into one stroke KO’s. Similarly a heavy attack in duel phase mode can throw you back into field phase, learning the move set for each phase is key. Not only are light attacks quicker than heavy attacks, certain heavy attacks leave you defenseless and vulnerable to attack in case you fail to land a hit. Keeping on blocking and the opponent punishes you with a grab throw combo. Counters need to be planned as breaking an ongoing combo isn’t easy, but get it right and charged counters deal devastating damage. Meter or Synergy can be collected from random drops on the field or during gameplay, collect enough and you can Mega Evolve, Ultimate, Synergy Burst, basically do a crazy amount of damage while being treated to breathtaking animations, if timed properly. Support mechanic is similar to picking a perk you get an additional 30 characters out of which you can whose 2 for each battle and 1 per round, it brings even more variety to an unpredictable game. It’s up to the player to pick a stronger attack that takes longer to regenerate, dish out consistent milder attacks or use support to regain health or a temporary stat boost.

The controls system lets new players execute combos using a single button and experienced users can control timing and complex key combinations to create unique combos. Pokken isn’t just a good Pokémon game, it’s a must have for any fighting game enthusiast and best of all you can play the entire game using just the Wii U Gamepad

Hell on Mars

IDDQD if you are as old as I, you probably remember what that does. Doom has been around for over two decades and yet gameplay feels identical to the 1993 original, at least single player does. You charge into a room, shotgun demons in the face and repeat. There is little to no story, but looking for a plot in Doom feels dishonest. Doom excels are at what its supposed to be, great shooting and a variety of goring elite kills, which not lets you rip a demons arm off and beat it to death with it, but lets you regain health and ammo in the process. If you do get tired of the mindless violence, you have the opportunity to explore the rather large game environment and seek out hidden goodies all over including 26 Doom Guys. Doom is also one of the best looking games of 2016, the lighting and character models, explosions all look brilliant, especially on PC (Ultra Settings). The game is well optimized and transitions effortlessly between cut scenes, animations and gameplay. Fast, Frantic and absolutely Fantastic.

Doom Guy

Unfortunately, that’s just the single player campaign. Doom’s multi player is for the lack of a better word confused. It’s a bit of call of duty, some quake and melee cut scenes that teleport you with very little control.

Load outs give you two weapons each time you spawn and you pick up perk modules within the map. More experienced players will know where items are located and the shortcut system makes it exponentially challenging for the newer player. My biggest gripe about the multi player is the demon ruins, which let you transform into one of four demons. The system is critically imbalanced and lets you one shot enemies, it negates all player skill as you either run and hide from a demon or die. The snap map system works well and lets users create their own maps and share them online, users have already recreated classic levels among others which provides variety and adds to the overall experience. Doom isn’t a must buy, but for old fans this is a welcomed addition.

The Familiar Stranger

Gears of War has been a staple in every XBOX owners inventory and a one the biggest console sellers along with HALO. Besides the original game released in 2006, remastered as Gears of War Ultimate Edition in 2016, PC Gamers have not had the opportunity to enjoy the franchise until now, unless they were messing around with some shady emulator. Microsoft obtained the Gears IP in 2014 and Gears of War 4 is the first game to be developed by The Coalition under Rod Fergusson, who is no stranger to the franchise. I dint know what to expect and having to download a 60GB file only to have it download another 60GB of data before I could even play the game was infuriating at the least. The game brilliantly updates the game by download a complete package (original + update patch) installing it and then deleting the old file. So make sure you have at least 150 GB of free storage on the drive.

Still an XBOX title but Gears of War 4 is not a port and runs exceptionally well. If you have a PC that can push it, the game is absolutely gorgeous and is much superior to its console counterpart. Character models and environment lighting are where it shines the most. You do have the occasional gravity defying rain drop but we can let it slip in a game with glowing wind flares that effect weapon physics, colossal explosions, unlocked frame rates, buttery smooth animation and seamless cut scene integrations.  The experience isn’t just visual, Gears of War 4 has some of the best combat and weapon sounds and voice acting in any game. You can feel the difference between a Lancer and Markza, even if you don’t see it. The game lets you use positional audio to locate targets with ease. You are treated to music by Ramin Djawadi, the guy behind the Game of Thrones title, enough said.

Gears of War 4 is set 25 years after the original trilogy, and gears still plays like the day Dom rescues Marcus from prison. It’s still a cover based shooter at its core, but instead of being a part of COG. We play as James Dominic Fenix or JD “Where have I heard that name before?” We play as part of the outsiders, a group of rebels who refuse to live by the rules of the new all mech COG, which brings us to the new, we no longer face the locust but automated DeeBee’s and the Swarm. Ones automated robot the other locust zombie on steroids. Both act differently and need to be dealt with differently which manages to keep scratching off grubs interesting. Along with Kait Diaz, Delmont Walker you get Marcus with you for most of the campaign, hence never fight alone. At times JD feels like the weakest link in the story, whiney and suffers from crazy mood swings. I actually felt like I skipped over cut scenes as he’d go from enraged to euphoric in under a minute. Ignoring him, the story is very strong and there is a strong sense of purpose to every act and you end up caring about the characters. Does it move you like Dom’s last line in Gears 3? No, not even close, But even the A team needs to retire eventually. The game tickles nostalgia while being open to new comers. The game preps you with small skirmishes, brief and strategic horde events, amazing chase sequences and great pacing. You get moments to breathe and explore the environment between insane gun fights. The AI also steadily gets smarter as you progress making it challenging as you get better at the game. If you couldn’t tell by now we loved Gears of War 4 and think you will too.