Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

I just wanted to wish you all a Merry, videogame-filled Christmas from us at the Gaming Fix.

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Preview: The calm before the storm

As most of you should know, we are mere hours away from what will be a pair of weeks with three major videogame releases: First off is the Wii U exclusive The Wonderful 101 (Wii U/2013/Platinum Games). Ever since it was shown at this year’s E3 much uncertainty has followed this game: Will it be able to end with Nintendo’s Wii U related drought? Will it live up to the high standards which were put up by its spiritual predecessor Viewtiful Joe? Will it finally usher in a new generation of exclusives which make full use of the Wii U’s capabilities? All of this will be answered starting off from tomorrow, when this game will be released and will mark the beginning of what is an upcoming couple of weeks with two major releases in completely opposing ends of the spectrum: On one side will be the much awaited GTA V and the expected sequel to the football series’ FIFA 14.

Not many new information can be said about GTA V (PS3 & XBOX 360/2013/Rockstar Games) other than what is already known, such as the sheer grandeur of its map size, the amount of missions and side-events which will be available, the famous musical variety within the in-game radio stations and the borderline-socially acceptable aspects of the game series. Both new prospects to the series and old-timers will be eager to get their hands on it in order to have a good time through morally outrageous means: Be it literally ignoring everything else and committing a grand theft auto or following the campaign and trying to be one of the first people to finish it, GTA V guarantees a large amount of fun and time wastage in the coming week.

Lastly, just as there are Videogame series which are popular for innovating there are also series which have gained the fame of being recycled year in and year out (and no, I am not talking about COD). FIFA 14 (PS3, PS2, PC, XBOX 360 & Handhelds) which used to be a revolutionary series and synonymous with innovation in the world of sports videogames has now had a large amount of negativity following it for the wrong reasons. See, as a lifelong football fan it pains me to admit that while the FIFA series is not completely obsolete, it has certainly decreased its value for money over the past few years since it started to become primarily centered on graphics increases and renaming of players. However, after watching the new features of the game and the (potentially) brilliant features which the Ignite engine will bring to the PS4 and XBOX One versions of the game, there is still a small but present probability that the series might actually retake its title of the king of sports videogames this year and return to the golden age when it was a certain day-1 purchase.

The Last of Us

 

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As soon as you surround yourself within the world made by The Last of Us (PS3/2013/Naughty Dog Studios) you realize that this is not a “normal” game (per se) like any other. Right off the bat, any gamer can easily fall in love with the murky tone which is set by The Last of Us even in the extremely simplistic yet effective options menu which gives access to two completely new and enthralling experiences: The highly acclaimed campaign which follows the tracks of Joel as he survives in a post-apocalyptic zombie land and the equally highly acclaimed multiplayer experience, a highly competitive game mode which one can describe as expanding upon the basics explored on Uncharted 2 by introducing a savage interactive world where only one of two factions will prevail in a war fueled through a general lack of resources.

When you start the campaign mode, you realize that Naughty Dog has clearly been busy at work with The Last of Us in order to present the most perfected gameplay and visuals possible even under the hardware and software limitations brought forth by the PS3. But the enthralling part of this game is not the graphics themselves but the uniqueness of the game which they present to the player.

As twelve-year-old Sarah, the campaign starts off introducing you to a pretty regular scenario: the standard Texas suburban scenario with a divorced, hard working father (Joel) who does anything possible to support himself and his daughter in the best manner possible. However, in the very early hours of what would’ve been another one of Joel’s birthdays, Sarah is awoken in the middle of the night due to the unusual dream-like trance in which the house is in: Sirens wailing out in the distance, no access at all to the outside world through technology and, most frightening of all, Joel is nowhere to be found even though he just tucked Sarah into bed.

After the events which follow in the purest “I am Legend/28 Days Later” style, Joel finds himself stumbling through what was once our very own world, now almost indiscernible from what it once was due to the decay brought forth by the lack of human interaction. The intact tabloids which announce the infection the day it propagated itself and the deteriorating rubble of what once were some of humanity’s flagship architectural achievements are now used not only as the perfect landscape to the somber theme which the game has but also reminding the player that even a 7-year-old console is by no means obsolete or even decreasing it’s “cruising altitude” (so to speak) when a well-made game comes along to keep it alive. And this is something which can be recurrently seen down to the most minuscule details within the game: Even the seemingly simplistic addition of having to shake your Dualshock controller in order to turn on the flashlight when it starts to fail is an interactive part of the storytelling which not many games make use of.

The enemies themselves are also one of the brilliant points of this game. The Half-Life-esque clickers which tend to appear in the most inappropriate situations possible help to boost the experience of a kill or be killed world with their bat-like senses and the walkers tend to be specialists in hunting you down with their unnervingly accurate depiction of what a real-life zombie would probably be like. Even the human enemies themselves have surprising reactions: They will approach you much more freely when they hear that you run out of ammo and try to negotiate accordingly when you take one of their own as hostage, an AI which should be implemented in all videogames but sadly isn’t.

The Multiplayer is the perfect cherry on top of a cake which is already bursting with content. The game mode involves to different Factions hunting each other down and, even though it might sound pretty generic, it is actually all but that. The gripping struggle for resources, ammo and higher, advantageous terrain (such as a large home or a cooling tower) is what helps to keep the gripping experience of this awesome multiplayer fresh. The most accurate way to describe it would be as the Assassin’s Creed 3 multiplayer, only with guns and a world which is affected 3 multiplayer, only with guns and a world which is affected by your decisions: lose and your population will slowly diminish or on the contrary, win and it will prosper for a small amount of time.

It is for these reasons and much more that any gamer with a PS3 and even the slightest interest in what a post-apocalyptic world would be like, must buy this game.