Far Cry 4 has had an interesting journey since its unveil earlier this year. Far Cry 4 features lush environments and gameplay ingenuity, but initially struggled to communicate why it takes the franchise into new themes and settings.

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Some of the Himalayan air has cleared between Ubisoft and the community, allowing folks like us to judge Far Cry for what it is as a game.

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The annually renewed Assassin’s Creed franchise has a signature approach to the open-world action genre, best known for its free-flowing parkour and death-from-above assassinations. Assassin’s Creed has evolved over the past seven years to support its core gameplay by introducing multiplayer, naval combat, deep sea exploration, and other gameplay enhancements.

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The next installment -- Assassin’s Creed Unity -- perhaps marks the most significant progression to the franchise by introducing a four-player cooperative experience. Ubisoft is taking its formula of an agile, adept assassin and multiplying it by up to four so that players can team up with their friends. As we experienced first-hand at PAX Prime 2014 in Ubisoft’s super-secret suite, this amplifies the flair and carnage to a much higher level.

We enjoyed a hands-on, co-op gameplay preview of Ubisoft's Assassin’s Creed Unity at PAX Prime. A video with impressions is forthcoming, though we were barred from direct screen capture.

Published in Gaming Features
Monday, 25 August 2014 09:39

Minecraft Remade in Trials Fusion Map

When asked what we most enjoy in gaming, it’s always easiest to point to the mods made by the community. Mods extend a game’s life far past what its creators could have accomplished, as evidenced by our Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas mod overhaul guides.

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Trials Fusion mapper “PneumaticBog484” just recently recreated Minecraft inside of Trials Fusion. For the unfamiliar, Trials is a popular cross-platform title that features a trials rider (in motocross form) progressing through increasingly deadly levels; the goal is to overcome obstacles in the fastest fashion possible. Fusion shipped with a powerful map editor -- so powerful that even the mechanics of Minecraft could be recreated within it.

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Ubisoft announced the release of their new Far Cry 4: Accolades trailer -- one that has media commenting with “ooh!” and “ahh!” The CryEngine-based graphics are gorgeous, the violence is frantic, and the animals are terrifying. This video highlights some of the reasons why this game won more than 25 awards at E3 2014.

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Ubisoft has developed a number of franchises throughout its history that share dynamic, action-heavy, and social qualities. The design changes Ubisoft has made have taken steps toward giving gamers more control over how gaming experiences are defined within each universe. This is showcased from its first major free-roaming game, Assassin’s Creed, to the heavily-criticized Watch Dogs, and to next year’s The Division. With enough games in the Assassin’s Creed series and a games library sharing several similarities, it’s time Ubisoft completely follows through with the level of immersion  and social integration in its universes.

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All this GPU benchmarking, crash fixing, and performance optimizing later, I think it's about time we officially comment on Watch Dogs as more than a benchmarking tool. It is, after all, a vexingly-hyped game leaving a $68 million footprint in Ubisoft's budget. Putting things in perspective, Battlefield 4's budget hit nearly $100 million (and look how that turned out), Destiny's budget is $140 million, but even that is still pennies to GTA V's $265 million budget.

All the millions in the world, though, and I'm not sure Watch Dogs would ever be classifiable as "good" or "playable" for PC gamers.

watch-dogs-rev1A screenshot of one of Watch Dogs' bugs, credit to EuanMcCann.

This critical review will cover inexcusable hardware optimization concerns, PC control inadequacies, and major gameplay elements that prevent enjoyment of Watch Dogs.

Published in Games

We've put together a quick FPS performance optimization & screenshot settings guide for Watch Dogs, using configuration file tweaking to improve framerate. Our previous article/video guide for Watch Dogs covers removal of mouse acceleration and smoothing, and before that, we benchmarked Watch Dogs' performance on PCs, calling it 'horribly optimized.'

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Here's the video tutorial for tweaking the Watch Dogs GamerProfile.xml file:

Update: Our very critical review of Watch Dogs is now online here.

Published in Gaming Features

It wouldn't be a launch party without an accompanying round of 'crash fixes.' After the Titanfall crash fix guide, Skyrim launch, and Mass Effect 3 launch, it's become apparent that no AAA title ships without numerous, game-breaking defects. The same is true for Watch Dogs.

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We've already published a benchmark of the game's performance on numerous video cards -- highlighting its sub-par optimization issues -- and a mouse acceleration fix. Still, even with this behind us, tearing, stuttering, crashing / CTDs, freezing, and black screen / flickering issues run rampant in Watch Dogs.

Let's start with graphics issues that are easily resolved.

Update: We have an FPS optimization guide online now! Once you've got your crashes resolved, check out our FPS performance optimization guide + video.

Update: Our very critical review of Watch Dogs is now online here.

Published in Gaming Features

Game developers seem to have gotten it into their heads that gamers want mouse acceleration in all of their games. Skyrim is an example of this. In fact, my guide for removing Skyrim's mouse acceleration is one of our most popular articles on the site, showing just how much gamers want the feature. Apparently Ubisoft's decided to take a crack at forcing unpredictable, oft-sluggish / laggy-feeling mouse controls into Watch_Dogs.

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Luckily, a quick configuration file tweak can remove mouse acceleration, reveal ports for forwarding, field of view, and other graphics settings. Before getting started, check out our recent Watch Dogs video card & CPU benchmark.

Update: We've posted an additional crash fix guide! If you're experiencing crashing to desktop, blue screens, and inability to connect to Uplay servers, check out our newest guide.

Update: Our very critical review of Watch Dogs is now online here.

Published in Gaming Features

Child of Light has excited me since its announcement not only because it’s developed by Ubisoft Motreal (Assassin’s Creed, Watch Dogs, Far Cry), but also because it’s a departure from the action-oriented gameplay that most AAA publishers deliver. Creative Director Patrick Plourde and writer Jeffrey Yohalem, with whom I spoke at this year’s PAX East, have spearheaded an artistically-inspired Japanese Role-Playing Game (JRPG) with Western elements, like platforming and item-crafting. For the most part, their JPRG rendition feels like a handcrafted, intimately-composed product that visually immerses its audience in an interactive storybook. The story sometimes comes across as fragmented from the gameplay, and customization depth feels limited, but overall, Child of Light offers a beautiful and well-composed adventure worthy of an entire playthrough.

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In this Child of Light review, we'll talk impressions, story, artistic presentation, and the unique utilization of poetry as a central game design element.

Published in Games
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