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Killer Instinct Season 2: Omen Design Impressions

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Omen Killer Instinct Season 2

After being shown to gamers in a pre-alpha state and consequently getting criticized for his uninspired design and moveset, Omen — the fifth character to been released for Killer Instinct Season 2 — has been revealed, and he looks… no different than his pre-alpha build.

I’ll start off by saying that Omen is underwhelming visually, especially for a character intended to have an ominous vibe and a sinister tone. Is this really the scary herald of Gargos that was supposed to blow our minds?

Unlike the Killer Instinct Season 1 characters — Jago, Thunder, Spinal, Fulgore, Glacius, Orchid, Sabrewulf and Sadira — he has no presence and, frankly, looks unfinished. The designers at Iron Galaxy Studios seemingly take pride in his demon mask, swirling shadow energy and visible circulatory system, but he still comes off as an afterthought extracted from some other game of inferior quality.

ALSO SEE: Omen Has Arrived! Watch his Killer Instinct Season 2 Trailer

I have little issue with Omen’s reused animations; however, some of them — the Sabrewulf’s Ragged Edge and Eclipse animations, in particular — look so out of place that it’s mind-boggling that any self-respecting fighting game designer would deem them appropriate.

Even more, his reused Jago moves seem to lack the weight and flair that they exhibit on Jago, as if their vitality had been sucked out. I think his anemic character model has something to do with that…

If you are going to make a character that reuses most of his animations, a practice in the fighting game segment that I by no means support, the least you can do is execute those animations in a manner that doesn’t take away from the character’s overall appeal. Street Fighter has a long history of reusing animations and character models, but never before have I said something looks weird or out of place on any of its characters.

As things stand, Omen is too lackluster for a game of Killer Instinct’s caliber, and it’s disheartening that Microsoft and Iron Galaxy chose to spend precious time and resources on him rather than complete Shadow Jago, a character I think has more substance, style and swagger despite being only being a skin for Jago.

Omen’s theme might be the only redeeming feature of what may very well be one of the most boring and uninspired character designs in fighting game history. What a shame…

What are your thoughts on Omen? Is he a fittingly-designed character for Killer Instinct Xbox One, or does he leave much to be desired? Let us know in the comments.

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PlayStation 4

Top 5 Things Wrong With The PS4 Pro

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PS4 Pro and PS4 Slim

By now, people have long forgotten about just how bad Sony’s reveal of the long-rumored, much-anticipated PS4 Pro was, but what still has many talking is the systems capabilities, or lack thereof.

It took us a while to come to terms with the PS4 Pro’s feature set, and, frankly, we are not impressed. Yes, the system is a lot more powerful than the original PS4 and, yes, it makes all PS4 games look better with its 4K capabilities, but it is wrought with several questionable business decisions on the part of Sony that still has us scratching our heads.

For your convenience, we have put together a list of the top five things wrong with the PS4 Pro, issues that might put you off from buying one:

ps4 pro 4K gaming

1. Doesn’t Do Native 4K Gaming

According to Sony, the PS4 Pro’s “4K quality images” are made possible by “graphic rendering or up-scaled” means, indicating that the console’s 4K visuals are not native.

This is actually the first time that the video game industry has relied on upscaling to provide a means of high definition visuals, seeing as both the Xbox One and PS4 output native 720p and 900p resolutions for some games.

The lack of native 4K gaming for the PS4 Pro is especially noteworthy because the upcoming Xbox One Scorpio — poised to become the PS4 Pro’s closest rival — will do native 4K gaming. Why settle for an imitation if you can have the real thing?

Blue ray discs

2. Doesn’t Play UHD 4K Blu-Rays

That’s right, the PS4 Pro actually doesn’t have UHD 4K Blu-ray drive, which means it doesn’t support 4K Blu Ray movies. This is a confounding omission considering that Sony invented Blu-Ray and that the cheaper, much less powerful Xbox One S comes with one.

Granted that there has been a shift from physical media towards video streaming, physical media still remains a big enough part of gaming to warrant a Blu-ray drive in the PS4 Pro. Microsoft got the memo; why not Sony?

LG 105 inch Curved 4K TV

3. You Need a 4K TV to Fully Benefit

Although one is not mandatory because the PS4 Pro makes games look better on just about any high-definition TV, you need an UHD 4K TV to take full advantage of everything the system has to offer.

If you don’t already own one, get ready to spend anywhere from $500 to $3,000 to get one, in addition to the $400 you’ll need for a Pro. A serious investment, no doubt …

That of course begs the question: Should you pick up a PS4 Pro if you don’t have a 4K TV? Probably not. The boost in visuals on a regular, non-4K HD TV will likely not be worth the $400 you’ll pay for the system.

PS4 Slim and controller

4. Makes PS4 Slim Almost Pointless

At launch, there will only be $100 difference between the PS4 Slim and PS4 Pro, making us wonder why anyone would choose the former over the latter.

The PS4 Slim is nothing more than the original PS4 squeezed into a smaller shell, whereas the PS4 Pro offers double the power, 4K upscaling for games, 4K video streaming, and HDR support. Not only will they look better but all PS4 games, even those that will be released in the future, will run faster and at more stable frame rates on the PS4 Pro.

All of this for only $100 dollars more … I mean, while money can be an issue for most gamers, is it really that hard to save $100 over a few months and wait for an opportunity to buy the PS4 Pro rather than be saddled with a console that offers a fraction of its intrinsic value? It’s a no-brainer, if you ask me.

5. One of the Ugliest Designs Ever

When the PS4 Slim was first revealed, people were quick to poke fun at its resemblance to burnt toast. It has an uninspired, cheap-looking and, to some, even ugly design. No way Sony was going to beat the more important PS4 Neo with the ugly stick, right? Wrong!

Looking at the PS4 Pro, one can’t help but wonder who at Sony thought taking the PS4 Slim, making it bigger and taller, and giving it another layer of burnt bread would be a good idea. Rather than toast, the system looks like a burnt Big Mac with sharp edges. How appetizing …

Needless to say, the PS4 Pro isn’t going to win any styling awards anytime soon, not unless it’s for the dubious honor of ugliest console ever made.

Is the PS4 Pro the complete upgrade over the original PS4 you were hoping for? Head to the comments section and let us know what you think about Sony’s questionable decisions.

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Nintendo

Top 5 Things the Nintendo NX Needs to be a Success

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Nintendo Mascots

With a new Nintendo console confirmed to be under development, there are high hopes that it will deliver in ways that the Wii U didn’t and couldn’t. A lot is riding on the tentatively named Nintendo NX…

The Wii U had its fair share of great games, my favorite being Super Smash Bros., but there were a number of major issues that rendered it a non-contender in a console war that included the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. A new system wars involving the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 is now in full force, and Nintendo can’t afford to repeat the same mistakes with the NX.

That said, here are five things (in no specific order) the Nintendo NX console should have in order to be more of a challenge to the Xbox One and PS4 than the Wii U was to the Xbox 360 and PS3:

Best Nintendo Graphics, Zelda

1. Sufficient Graphical and Computing Power

The Wii U was not a weak console per se, but it was still weaker than the Xbox 360 and PS3 when it launched at the tail end of the last console war… you know, when Microsoft and Sony were just about ready to retire their aging, much-more successful consoles.

The Wii U’s relatively weak system specs discouraged third-party developers from making games for it and gamers from buying it, with both groups believing that the more powerful Xbox One and PS4 delivered a better gaming experience courtesy of the larger, more detailed and more immersive gaming worlds they were able to provide.

To appease finicky gamers, Nintendo can’t afford to make the NX notably less powerful than the Xbox One or PS4. It doesn’t have to be above and beyond those two systems spec-wise, but it shouldn’t be blatantly underpowered either.

Nintendo Wii U

2. Stronger Dedication to a Unique Selling Point

Nintendo has something big in store for gamers with the NX console, something that will probably be as innovative and impactful as the first Wii’s motion controller. While we currently don’t know what that something is, let’s just hope the company does a better job at making it a unique selling point than it did with the Wii U’s touchscreen gamepad.

Rather than make it the console’s key success factor, Nintendo mostly pushed the Wii U’s controller into the background, giving up on it early due to the plethora of criticisms it received for being too “gimmicky” and, thus, rendering the console nothing more than an underpowered gaming machine with great first-party titles but nothing else. Nintendo Land is probably the only game that fully utilized the power of the touchscreen gamepad, and it was a lunch title!

If Nintendo is to introduce another unique controller or some other industry-defining feature with the NX, let’s hope they back it up with an array of games built specifically with that controller. Such dedication will give the new console a competitive edge.

Gaming, chatting on headset

3. Greater Emphasis on Online Features

To this day, the Xbox Live arguably still offers gamers the best online experience, and while Sony has come a long way in making the PlayStation Network a solid competitor, Nintendo still lags behind the competition by a long mile. The Wii U’s games have mediocre online functionality at best and that’s a major issue that must be addressed with the NX.

It’s unacceptable that a game as good as Mario Kart 8 doesn’t grant you the ability to talk with your friends in-game while racing, instead only allowing you to do so in the pre- and post-match lobbies. Xbox Live and PSN have those capabilities and then some…

As a children-oriented company — more so than Microsoft and Sony, at least — stubborn old Nintendo has always been reluctant to introduce voice chat due to the problems it could potentially present for its younger players. While that is completely understandable, allowing voice chat between players who are on each other’s’ friends lists seems fair and, frankly, isn’t too much to ask for.

The Wii U could have greatly benefited from Nintendo loosening its shackles when it came to online play, especially when considering it as a few notable games — Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros. and Splatoon — that could have easily become some of the most iconic and memorable online games of the last console generation had there been unrestricted communication between players. This is a mistake they cannot afford to repeat with the Nintendo NX.

Far Cry 4 Rhino attack

4. More Mature Image, Encourage Third-Party Support

Every Nintendo console since the Nintendo 64 has been stigmatized for being too childish — that is, featuring a lineup predominately aimed at children. That image has cost Nintendo to lose favor with both mature gamers and first-person developers, and is one they probably can’t afford to saddle the NX with.

Frankly, I find nothing overly childish about most of the games the company makes, but their rated E labeling undoubtedly makes them less appealing to average gamers. Rated M games are all the rage these day, even with kids, so it wouldn’t hurt Nintendo to venture more into that territory with the Nintendo NX.

Support from Third-party publishers and developers will be paramount, and the company must do everything in its power to make the platform as inviting to them as possible. Just imagine what impact Nintendo’s first-party games in combination in combination with AAA titles from the likes of Activision, EA, Ubisoft and Take-Two will have on the NX…

I am sure Nintendo fans want to be able to play Call of Duty, Battlefield, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Far Cry, Assassin’s Creed and Grand Theft Auto

Shenmue 3 game

5. Improved, More Comprehensive Virtual Console

As company with a more storied history than any other in the video game industry, Nintendo has a back catalog of games that easily puts to shame those of Sony and Microsoft, and we are surprised they don’t exploit that key advantage.

Ask yourself this: How many Xbox 360 or PS3 games would you still want to play a few years down the line as opposed to Wii U games? Your answer to that question is probably “very few, if any” and that’s because the majority of the best games on those two consoles have either had sequels or are going to have sequels that render them obsolete, can be purchased on the PC, or have had remakes/remastered versions.

With a huge library of first- and third-party games dating all the way back to the ’80s, Nintendo stands unrivaled in terms of games with strong replay value. A game like Smash Bros. Wii U, for instance, has unprecedented replay value and might be the last Smash Bros. game ever made.

It’s shocking then that their Virtual Console has, until recently, been pretty lackluster at aggregating these games for gamers to enjoy. If — along with a plethora of brand-new games — the Nintendo NX launches with an improved Virtual Console complete with 50 to 100 ports of old Nintendo games, a lot of gamers, let alone Nintendo fans, will be very happy campers. This selection of games could even include those never released in North America (e.g. Mother 3) and possibly old Sega Genesis, Saturn and Dreamcast titles if Nintendo and Sega worked together again.

As lifelong Nintendo fans, we want nothing more than to see the Nintendo NX be a success. Now that you have read our top 5 things that need to be done, what are yours?

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Features

Is God of War 3 Remastered Worth Your $40?

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Kratos God of War Remastered

Kratos is one badass God of War, but is he so badass that you would spend $40 on remastered version of God of War 3, an old game you have probably already played?

Sony revealed that God of War III Remastered would be coming to PS4 on July 14, 2015, promising amazing 1080p resolution and a photo mode that allows you to share your favorite gameplay moments with friends. And then it announced the $40 price tag…

There are quite a few God of War collections and bundles released on the PlayStation 3 that contain a much more content, with the most notable — God of War Saga — containing HD versions of God of War and God of War II, God of War III. Guess how much GoW saga cost when it released in 2012? $40! And now major retailers are selling it for less than $20.

MUST SEE: Kratos Fights Hades in ‘God of War III Remastered’ for PS4 – Watch Now!

In other words, Sony wants you to spend $40 on just God of War 3 when that kind of money can get you three God of War games, including God of War 3. Are you OK with that?

In an effort to get more people to pre-order God of War III remastered, Sony offered gamers free 90 day rentals of God of War I and II on PlayStation Now. That’s right, “rentals”, as in borrow games that you could actually own by getting the Saga collection. Does that make sense to you?

The again, you can argue that the remastered version of God of War III is aimed at those gamers who own just a PS4 but have never played a God of War game… that it’s the company’s attempt to get as many people interested in the franchise before God of War 4 releases

But if you own a PS3, it’s probably in your best interest to forego God of War 3 remastered and spend that $20 of that $40 on the Saga collection. The $20 you will save can be put aside for God of War 4, a true next-gen game that we have little doubt will blow your mind.

What would Kratos do?

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Features

MKX Has First Gay Character in Mortal Kombat History. So What?

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Mortal Kombat X, gay Kung Jin

It was only a matter time — Mortal Kombat X has the first gay character in Mortal Kombat history. His name is Kung Jin and he is the younger brother of Kung Lao. So what if he’s the first gay Mortal Kombat character?

A former thief and master archer for the Shaolin monks, Kung Jin was revealed to be gay during one of his flash-back cut-scenes in Mortal Kombat X. While we think being gay should be nothing special, the fact that this is Mortal Kombat — arguably the most brutal and masculine fighting game series ever — makes it somewhat newsworthy.

It’s made quite clear in Kung Jin’s story arch that he is a ‘back door bandit’, especially in the part where Raiden describes him as “Self-loathing” and tells him “They care about only what is in your heart; not whom your heart desires.”

Need more proof? Mortal Kombat X’s cinematic director, Dominic Cianciolo, has confirmed that the character is indeed a homosexual, stating on twitter:

“I see people are picking up on the subtle exposition contained in Kung Jin’s flashback. Glad we have observant fans!”

Kung Jin is just one of a growing number of video games that allow players to play as or interact with gay characters, with critically-acclaimed Dragon Age: Inquisition being one such game. Dorian was the first openly gay team member in Dragon Age history, and his sexual orientation unjustifiably received viral media attention.

But is there really an issue here? Does a gay man have a place in a game like Mortal Kombat X? Short answer — of course!

I don’t know about you, but sexuality in a fighting game matters little to us, regardless of how brutal or masculine that fighting game is. All that matters is whether or not the character is a thematic fit, and fortunately Kung Jin does Mortal Kombat good (i.e. he’s not fruity or ‘fabulous’).

Sadly, we still live in a silly little world where people will see Kung Lao’s little brother as the ‘GAY Mortal Kombat character’, rather than just another video game character/person. It’s only a matter of time before that changes…

So, what do you think about a gay Mortal Kombat character? Does it bother you?

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Features

New Cinder is a Failed Character Design (Killer Instinct Xbox One)

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Cinder Hero Art, Killer Instinct

For a serious fighting game with little comedic pretense, Killer Instinct Xbox One has one of the most visually-confusing characters ever made — Cinder!

In the first Killer Instinct game, Cinder (Ben Ferris) was a criminal permanently on fire due to a chemical accident. His skin was orange matter that resembles plasma, like the surface of the sun, and was able to fluctuate in temperature. Like the rest of the cast, he was proportionally muscular and imposing.

Fast forward to today, and Cinder is almost unrecognizable with regards to both his story and character design. He is supposedly an ex-military man turned master thief who was captured by Ultratech and infused with Glacius’ alien technology. Sadly, Iron Galaxy and Microsoft’s interpretation of the new Cinder is an abomination unbefitting of a game like Killer Instinct. Where to begin…

Firstly, the relatively muscular and imposing look of the original Cinder has been ditched for an ET-headed, overly lean and skinny entity that, despite being fiery, is not as imposing as the other characters. This is especially odd considering that similarly lean and skinny Glacius is one of the most intimidating in the game, a clear testament to Double Helix’s design prowess.

Secondly, as if a lanky body wasn’t enough, he was given clamp-like chicken hands in a seemingly desperate attempt to sell the idea that he’s part alien. And here I thought being on fire was all that was needed…

Why he is wearing pointy shoes is beyond me and there must have been a better alternative to giving him shoulder and knee pads. The unnecessary lip on his mask is minutia compared to every other design deficiency…

Finally, his moves don’t suit his look, and I am not talking about his awkward gliding walk animation, jelly-like Pyrobombs, or sperm-shaped Trailblazer attack. Seeing a lanky, ET-headed half-alien with chicken hands and knee pads do karate moves is as awkward as Glacius doing El Furte-like wrestling moves.

Take Dudley from Street Fighter 4, especially his punching and walking swag, and make the following modifications:

  • Stretch his body vertically and take off all his clothes
  • Give him chicken hands, some kick moves, a mask with a slit for a mouth, and shoulder and knee pads;
  • Give him a slight variation of King’s fighting stance from King of Fighters and add Bruce Lee’s side hopping
  • Pour gasoline over him and light a match

Now give him a million moves for players to use and low-quality special effects and you have yourself the new Cinder — an aesthetic mishmash of characters from three fighting games, one alien movie, and hockey!

Do you like how Cinder turned out? In not, what would you change about him? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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Top 10 Best First-Person Shooting Games Of All Time

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Shooting games FPS Halo

Walk into the domain of any male teenager or young male adult and chances are you will hear the sounds of various guns going ablaze. Shooting games, in particular first-person shooters, have taken over gaming as we know it, and their prominence just keeps growing.

In recognition of the success enjoyed by the genre, we have put together a list of the top 10 best first-person shooters ever made. You know, the innovative, fun and influential title responsible for the ‘explosion’ of shooting games! Click the ‘next’ button to begin the countdown, and let us know if we missed anything:

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