UPDATES. More Games! OPEN WORLD-A-PALOOZA. Mad Max is a criminally underrated open world game. The graphics may be the best graphics for an under-the-radar game of this type of any that I have ever played. The world is desolate, like a Mad Max game should be. The character animation graphics, landscape, vehicle, special effects (explosions, fire, etc.) are some of the best I've ever seen. The overall appearance of the game is gritty, brutal, and aggressive. The combat plays a lot like Shadow of Mordor: lots of chain combat fighting, reversals, etc.. Max has an upgradable shotgun that is a ton of fun to use. The combat 'finishers' never get old. The special effects of the slowdown camera when you kill the last enemy within a group is lots of fun, and a good indicator of when area combat is concluded. The game is light on story, but what dialogue there is feels fresh because of the Mad Max world that its in; every speaks in a kind of broken English due to the degradation of the language in a post-apocalyptic world. Most of the open world quests are kill/destroy types. In other games, this gets boring pretty quickly, but for some reason, Mad Max's versions of these quest types have kept my interest, which I attribute to the overall success of the presentation of the game, and how progressing in the game equates to vehicle and character upgrades. To me, Mad Max is the open world game for the person who likes combat, exploration, a unique environment, and not a lot of chatter. Recommended. 3.5 (maybe 4) yaks out of 5.
Mafia 3 is another open world game where you play as Lincoln Clay, a black Vietnam veteran returning to a faux New Orleans-based environment. Lincoln was adopted by a local gangster when he was young, went to Vietnam, 'saw some things over there,' and is returning to a historic late 1960s American South. Without ruining the story, Lincoln is given all the reason he needs to turn the tables of the local mafia situation around town and go on a epic revenge tour of "New Bordeaux." The character graphics are great-to-average across the board. The environmental graphics are pretty bad: most everything looks washed out and under-developed, reminding me more of a last gen console experience than current gen. Mafia 3's combat is whatever you choose it to be. You can play stealthy (which is very fulfilling) or you can go in guns blazing (also fulfilling). The game does a good job catering to either player type. I LOVE how the game handles getting the police involved during a violent spree. Basically, a cop either has to see you commit the crime, or a pedestrian has to see you, and then you're notified that the pedestrian is going to call the police by using a local phone booth or wall phone somewhere, and you have to stop them before they make the call. Especially when I compare this kind of thoughtful mechanic to the nonsense that is the GTA series, Mafia 3 gets high marks for actually making the police response system fun. Also, when the waves of police start to come for you, escaping them is also more interesting than GTA.
My biggest issue with the game is the nature of collecting 'transistor' items in the world that you use to wiretap communication boxes to get intel on target areas. 1. Collecting an endless supply of transistors laying around the map is boring as f*ck. 2. The actual application of these transistors requires you to 'break open' the communication box, which enacts the game's 'lock breaking' mini-game, which is the worst, most boring unlocking mini-game I have ever played in a videogame. That the player has to collect so many transistors, and unlock so many communications boxes, means that you're going to be participating in this boring-as-f*ck unlocking mini-game over and over again. I have already stopped, and decided to forgo the benefits. If there is a single person on the Mafia 3 development team that thought this was a fun game mechanic, I would be shocked. The BEST parts of Mafia 3 is the story and the soundtrack. The soundtrack is rife with radio hits from the era, and is, without a doubt, my favorite radio soundtrack of all-time in any game I have ever played. When the game's intro screen pops up, and All Along the Watchtower kicks in, you know you're in for an epic ride. Now the story: the story is great. It's the most cohesive story in an open world game that I've played yet. My favorite part is how it tackles racial issues in the South as a black veteran protagonist: without apology. There is so much racist shit being thrown at Lincoln throughout much of game, to the point where when an NPC calls you a name, you're like, "WTF did you just call me?" prior to taking a combat knife to that NPC's head. It's brutal and poetic, and I give the developers high grades for telling a brutal story in a brutal fashion. Recommended. 3.5 yaks out of 5. Soundtrack gets a 5 out of 5. Far Cry Primal is your typical Ubisoft open world experience. If you've ever played a Far Cry, then this is that, but without the guns. That is plays without guns and a lot of explosions is unique enough, but Ubisoft has fallen asleep at the wheel when it comes to ingenuity. Their games just lack a certain fun spirit. Far Cry Primal employs a 'tracking system' that basically changes how you view the area around you, for the purposes of hunting people or animals. Other games handle this 'tracking vision' concept so much better than how Far Cry Primal handles it. Hell, even older Far Cry Games handle this kind of tracking vision better than Far Cry Primal's bizarre and not very effective combination of overlay colors. I might get back into this game at some point, but I'm in no hurry. 2 (2.5 if you've never played a Far Cry game) yaks out of 5. Sniper Elite 3 is pretty much like every other Sniper Elite game you've played, if you've played one. It's not a bad game, but it's not a great game either. If you're looking to get your stealth on and snipe a bunch of guys and bask in the joy of the slow motion head or nut shot, then this is your game. 2.5 yaks out of 5. Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition is an open world game that takes place in Hong Kong. Graphics are fine, music is fine, environmental graphics are pretty nice. You play as an undercover cop who infiltrates the local mob and kicks everyone's asses. The story is solid. The variety of mission types is fun. The hand-to-hand combat is similar to Shadows or Mordor and Mad Max: lots of reversals and etc., and tons of extra fun because the game is focused on martial arts. There are plenty of weapons which feel really good. Weapon combat reminds of the old PS1 Syphon Filter games for anyone who remembers those. It's the kung fu videogame you always wanted to play. I went through this whole game without looking back. Worst part of the game is the navigation minimap while driving, and the propensity to have to do a lot of back-tracking in a car, which can get annoying, especially when the Hong Kong streets are so f*cking twisty and laborous to drive. That being said, definitely recommended. 3.5 yaks out of 5.