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Category: Featured Articles

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Full disclosure: I’m writing this post partially blind. I spent the weekend playing Mortal Kombat 9 in preparation for Mortal Kombat X, and during a particularly rambunctious celebration dance (because defeating Shao Kahn ain’t easy, yo), I may or may not have jammed an excited finger directly into my eyeball. Ouchie. I’m now 5% cyborg, because I’m forced to wear a metal eye patch. MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE.

Okay, so most of that was a blatant lie. Not the being blind bit, but the finger-to-the-eyeball bit. And the bit where I played Mortal Kombat all weekend, because sadly I did not do that. But I truly am partly blind right now, so if this post is all over the place, I apologise in advance. Don’t blame me. Blame my optometrist.

Anyway, sweet mother of wrapped gifties it’s December! And December means Christmas! And nothing screams Christmas quite like being slow-roasted in the hellfire of an angry yellow skele-ninja who’s probably only angry because all the presents he got from Sub-Zero last year sucked, big time. Ice ice, baby.

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It’s here! Warlords of Draenor is here!

I’ve been playing World of Warcraft on and off since Cataclysm (earlier if you count the characters I managed to level all the way to 60 on my friend’s account), but not so much over the last year and a half. This is partly due to a lack of time – a new job and a boyfriend who doesn’t play WoW (previously I was working from home and either single or dating a dedicated raider) left me with much less WoW time than I had become accustomed to – and partly because most of the friends I had been playing the game with stopped. It’s also partly because I just lost interest.

Of course, with a new expansion it’s almost impossible to not be interested, and in October I became one of WoW‘s 600,000 new subscribers flooding the servers in anticipation for new content that promises to deliver some of the most fun we’ve had in years.

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Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is newcomer Sledgehammer Game’s first stab at arguably the industry’s biggest IP. While the development team did help Infinity Ward develop 2011’s Modern Warfare 3, Advanced Warfare is the first Call of Duty that Sledgehammer can call their own.

They’ve done a stellar job in injecting new life into the annualised series. What’s even more admirable is that they’ve made it their own, adding fundamental changes to tried and tested CoD formulae resulting in one of the more memorable Call of Duty titles since 2007’s original Modern Warfare.

While Sledgehammer has indeed set the bar high for 2015’s version, Advanced Warfare is not without some oddities and irritations, especially on the PC version we used for this review.

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This year’s BIG BLIZZCON SURPRISE™ was none other than Overwatch: Blizzard’s first new IP in over 16 years. Technically speaking, StarCraft was the last new IP that Blizzard released all the way back in 1998. Overwatch isn’t another game based in some other established Blizzard franchise – it’s an entirely new game in an entirely new genre for the company. This is a Blizzard first-person shooter. Blizzard… An FPS… Be still my beating heart.

Overwatch is an online, team-based multiplayer FPS. In other words: it’s kind of like Team Fortress 2. What makes it more like TF2 (and not, say, arena shooters like Unreal Tournament) is the fact that there are specific characters within the game that fulfil specific roles. Each character, of which Blizzard has so far revealed 12, is fully-fleshed with backstory, personality, allegiances, weapons… you name it.

In fact, from the reveal at BlizzCon it looks like the characters are the biggest appeal with Overwatch. And we all know how well Blizzard creates memorable characters; honestly, when was the last time you played a giant, cyborg gorilla in an online shooter? Exactly.

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The first thing that struck me about the Overwatch trailer, before anything else, was the fact that this game was trying to appeal to me. This is not something I’m used to experiencing.

Like many female gamers, I grew up with the understanding that most gamers are dudes and that games reflect that. I learned that hyper-sexualised female characters and male-only leads were the norm.

That said, I have always tended to like games that are in general more diverse. Games like the Elder Scrolls series or World of Warcraft, where not only can you play a female character but where there are some damn incredible female lead characters as well. Games that just feel more accepting of me in general, even if they were still very male-focused in many ways.

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Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor one was probably an easy sell for some people. An open-ended action game set in Tolkien’s Middle-earth in which you play a revenge-driven ranger imbued with dark powers – my debit card practically swiped itself and the game jumped unbidden into my pants… pocket. My pants pocket.

But many things sound good on paper, or on the Internet, and I’m re-learning quite quickly not to get dangerously excited about upcoming games anymore. So now that it’s finally here, let’s take a look at it. The paragraph above roughly sums up my total knowledge of the game before I popped it into my PS4. I think I also knew it had something to do with assassinating Uruk-hai generals, but that’s it.

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Wits must he have who wanders wide,
For all is easy at home.
At the witless man the wise shall wink,
When among such men he sits.

So ends Munin after thirteen hours of tricks and tenacity, and I’m all the better for it. Munin is a puzzle game in which you play the titular character Munin — one of Odin’s crows — who, according to Nordic myth, travels the globe each day with his brother Hugin to report all that they have seen and heard.

In a cruel trick by Loki, you’ve been cast into the body of a rather dour-looking human and your memory scattered throughout Yggdrasil in feather fragments. Munin sees you bedeviled throughout nine realms, each with a number of stages inspired by locations within Nordic legend, in search of your memory.

Munin is quite minimal in its presentation. Opening with a short poem (based on the poetic Edda, a collection of heroic ballads that serve as the primary source of Scandinavian mythology), each area is presented in a semi-animated watercolour style that provides a certain ambiance to the stage without being too distracting. Whether traversing the spiritscape of Hel or the frozen wastes of Niflheim, each area captures an austere mood very much in tone of the epics on which they’re based.

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rAge.

Issue.

rAge issue.

Issue of rAge.

October, also.

That’s it. You can all go home now.

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Reviewed in a vacuum, Destiny would be the most competent of shooter experiences. If the merit of a game was based solely on its fundamental mechanics and whether or not one has fun engaging with those mechanics, then this would be the shortest review you’d read this year; Destiny would get 100% and I’d tell you that you couldn’t possibly go wrong.

Unfortunately, publishers and marketers ensure that games can never be reviewed in a vacuum, and contemporary big budget titles are always more than a primary game mechanic. Still, it would be nice to review Destiny without the rubbish preamble that overhyped the game’s eventual release. It would be nice to play through the game without that cloying mantra from marketers and PR representatives saying, “Judge Destiny by what it will become, and not what it is now.” I don’t buy that. We’ve all bought Destiny now, and we’re reviewing what is in front of us – that’s how video game reviews work.

Yes, in the future there will be more content for Destiny, and features will be added as the game continues to evolve. If that model sounds familiar, then you’ve played MMO games before. This game should have been marketed as an MMO, and not some new industry buzz-genre known as a “shared world shooter”. But Activision didn’t want to do that (probably rightly so) because they wanted to get the console shooter fans firmly on board. MMOs are a hard sell these days, but for all intents and purposes, Destiny is an MMO. Here’s the thing though: I HATE MMOs, but I had (and I still am having) terrific amounts of fun with Bungie’s new baby.

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Why are you reading this? Why aren’t you playing Activision’s Destiny – the biggest baddest bestest shooter that ever big-bad-best-shot – right now? Have you been watching the live streams of the game that are floating around the ‘Net? I bet you have, since clearly you don’t already own it. Clearly you’re not engaged with the gaming zeitgeist and are culturally barren. We can’t review it yet, because… well, because it’s a game that requires a bit of time to critically assess, and because we’re in the same boat as you.

Also, there’s one review copy and it’s totally not going to me and I’m totally not miff about it. Activision’s Destiny isn’t an MMO but a shared-world shooter, which means that if you shoot something, someone else will cry about it. But who cares about that? We need to write something about Activistion’s Destiny. It’s launched today, didn’t you know? Unless you’re a True Gamer and got your copy early and changed the servers to Australia so you could stream about your experience and tell everyone that they should totally wait for your review, the one you’re working on in between having so much fun playing right now HOLY SHIT DID YOU SEE THAT WOWZERS.

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