More Games Should Have Grappling Hooks

Grappling hooks are one of the coolest things you can have in a video game. A grappling hook can bump a game up from a 6/10 to a 9/10.

Grappling hooks open up so many possibilities for puzzle design, for combat, for traversal, the list goes on. The original Uncharted trilogy’s main criticism was how static and boring the climbing could get. Uncharted 4 adds a grappling hook and the climbing gets 10 times better. Nathan Drake can also swing during gunfights and perform aerial takedowns post swing, and the hook is used in some of the games puzzles. The grappling hook works because it adds new dynamics to preexisting systems and make them feel fresh again.

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Just Cause is a series that owes much of its popularity to its grappling hook mechanic. The hook in combination with Rico’s parachute and wingsuit create an extremely engaging traversal system not seen in other open world games. Sure, Rico can drive and fly, but why do any of that when you can grapple into the air and glide across the map at high speeds? Just Cause’s combat is also significantly more fun than other third person shooters because the grappling hook can also be used to tether and pull objects together. Sometimes, pulling an explosive barrel toward an enemy vehicle is more effective (and way more fun) than using an RPG.

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Okay this one is sort of cheating, but Spider-Man 2 does involve a lot of swinging. It’s kind of Spidey’s thing, and Spider-Man 2 handles it really well. This game’s traversal ridiculously fun. The physics based web swinging feels just right, and although you may bump into buildings and land on the road every now and then when you’re starting out, soon enough you’ll be swinging through New York like a pro. Grappling and swinging are fun, but Spider-Man 2 takes this to another level by making swinging the primary game mechanic, and it perfects it to such a degree that people still hail it as the best Spider-Man game to this day.

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Grappling hooks improve any game they’re in.  I just wish more games would realize that. Oh well, at least Bethesda seems to be picking up on it.

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It’s 2018 and We’re Still Getting Wii Games

THQ Nordic announced a new title coming to the Nintendo Wii this fall, and it’s exactly the type of game you’d expect it to be. Let’s Sing 2019 will be launching on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and the Wii. No, not the Wii U, the Wii.

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Having sold over 100 million units during its lifetime, the install base is definitely there, and games like this cater to the Wii’s target audience, but is releasing a Wii game this late still worth it? Apparently so, because the Wii is getting two new releases this fall. Ubisoft’s Just Dance 2019 will launch alongside THQ Nordic’s Let’s Sing this holiday season. Unlike Just Dance, Let’s Sing is skipping out on a Wii U version, but the Wii U does play Wii games, so Wii U owners clamoring for this fall’s next big game need not worry. Much like the PlayStation 2, the Wii continues to get releases over a decade after it’s release. I don’t know who’s still buying these games, but someone has to be.

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Just Dance 2019 launches on October 23, and Let’s Sing 2019 is slated for sometime this fall. Get your pre-orders in, folks. Red Dead Redemption 2 has some tough competition.

Rumor: Microsoft to bundle Xbox Live, Game Pass, and Xbox One Consoles in a Monthly Subscription

Microsoft may be planning a service similar to a cell phone plan for their Xbox ecosystem. Windows Central reports that “Xbox All Access” will be a monthly subscription service that will net customers Xbox Live Gold, Xbox Game Pass, and an Xbox One console. The service will also offer a choice between an Xbox One S or the more powerful Xbox One X, with a price tag of $22 per month for the Xbox One S plan or $35 per month for the Xbox One X plan. After a period of two years, you’ll completely own the console. The service seems to be U.S. only, which would explain why it wasn’t announced at Germany’s Gamescom 2018.

Right now, an Xbox One S bundled with a select game costs $229 on Microsoft’s website. An Xbox One X will run you $499. Xbox Live Gold is $60 for a year, and Game Pass is $10 a month. Xbox All Access should make things slightly cheaper overall for both options.

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This service falls in line with Microsoft’s strategy for the later half of this generation: providing attractive services and a connected ecosystem to draw in new players. Xbox Game Pass continues to grow, with huge titles like Halo: The Master Chief Collection coming soon, as well as every first party Xbox exclusive launching day and date on the service. Backwards Compatibility sees new titles added monthly, with most titles seeing enhancements on Xbox One X. The Xbox Play Anywhere program promotes cross buy and cross play between Xbox and Windows PC. All of that in combination with Xbox All Access makes the barrier of entry into the current console generation much lower than it has ever been. Lowering the cost of entry into the Xbox ecosystem should give Microsoft’s console a much needed boost in market share against the leading PlayStation 4.

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Microsoft is planning to officially unveil the service later this month. Microsoft is also reportedly working on a new controller codenamed “Washburn”, so expect more Xbox news soon.

There Won’t Be A New Assassin’s Creed in 2019

In some of the more notable news to come out of Gamescom this year, Ubisoft’s annualized franchise will not see an entry next year. In an interview with GameSpot, CEO Yves Guillemot said the company would support this year’s Assassin’s Creed Odyssey with post launch content rather than release an entirely new game in the series. “On Assassin’s, we had a game [in 2017] and we have one this year, but we are not going to have a full-fledged Assassin’s next year,” said Guillemot. Guillemot also further clarified that there will not be a smaller title or spin-off next year, either.

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The gap year the series took in 2016 following the negatively received Assassin’s Creed Unity and the lukewarm reception to Assassin’s Creed Syndicate proved to be beneficial for the series, resulting in the very highly praised Origins, which breathed new life into the series. According to Guillemot, the time off the series took “gave the team the possibility to really bring what they wanted to. The community has been responding very well to it and when I see what we are bringing with Odyssey I know that the community that got back in with Origins will be amazed”. Assassin’s Creed Origins was liked by fans, and it received numerous content updates like the Discovery Tour, The Hidden Ones, and Curse of the Pharaohs. If Odyssey gets the same post launch treatment as Origins, it’s safe to say fans will be satisfied.

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Assassin’s Creed Odyssey launches on October 5 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

 

 

 

Mega Man X Reignited My Love For Games

I never paid much attention to the Mega Man series. By the late 2000’s when I had fully committed to the whole gaming thing, Mega Man just wasn’t as big of a deal as it was in its heyday. Mega Man 9 and 10 happened, but I rarely, if ever, downloaded games onto my PS3, so I missed those due to their exclusively digital release. I knew about Mega Man, I had just never played any of the games. At least, not until my senior year of high school.

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X faces off against Storm Eagle

Senior year stressed me out. My GPA was much, much lower than I would’ve liked, college rejections kept coming in as fast as I could send out applications, and worst of all, I was falling out of love with my favorite hobby: video games. I still played the new releases like Uncharted 4 and Overwatch, but the medium was growing stale to me. The excitement I felt when I first played Sly Cooper or Metal Gear Solid just wasn’t there anymore. That is, until one night, when I probably should’ve been writing an essay or something, I checked the eShop on my 3DS, and there it was, featured prominently in the new releases section: Mega Man X.

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A boss encounter during the opening level

Having heard great things, I picked it up and was absolutely blown away. The level design, the tight controls, the music, oh man the music (please the soundtrack this a listen, not a single track is bad), everything came together to form this masterpiece of game design that had been hiding from me all these years. I finished it in one sitting. As the credits rolled, a thought came to me. There were years and years of games I had missed out on because they were before my time. Chrono Trigger, Link to the Past, Final Fantasy VII, even newer releases I had missed because they weren’t huge, mainstream releases, like Persona. There was an entire world of good video games that had just been hiding in plain sight from me this entire time.

I’m currently attending college, and I love video games more than ever. I replay Mega Man X every now and then, and it puts a smile on my face every single time. Even though Mega Man X doesn’t have the sweeping orchestral scores or ridiculously high polygon counts of modern games, it’s still a phenomenal experience. All of its parts play off of each other to create an incredibly focused and rewarding experience. I thought I was going to quit video games soon after graduation. I thought I had finally grown out of them, just like my parents said I would. All it took was a trip to a simpler time to remind me why video games are so cool. Mega Man X made me fall in love with the medium all over again, and for that, it will always hold a very special place in my heart.