Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Destiny First Look Alpha

Last year Destiny was announced by Bungie and I cant say I was the most excited guy for it. I saw it at E3 and I saw gameplay of it throughout the year. It still didnt win me over. I wasnt very impressed with what I saw. Fast forward to June 9, the first day of E3, I was discussing most anticipated games with a friend. Not much to my surprise, he mentioned Destiny was in his top ten. As a Halo fan he was looking forward to another game from them since he wasnt happy with Halo 4 nor excited for Halo 5. Bungie was who made the series fun. Bungie knew how to make a great game. Hmm...maybe there was a good reason for it being in his top ten. 
Sony's E3 press conference began with a pretty cool trailer and then announced PS4 would get an exclusive alpha for the game. So I thought to myself, why not? And swiftly signed up for Alpha after it was announced. After turning on my PS4, I went to Live on Playstation and saw people were already broadcasting it. The players looked like they were having a good time but I was still a little skeptical. 
The next night around 7 PM I got an e-mail from Bungie, with my code included. I have to admit I was pretty excited. All 40 minutes of the download and install were torturous. Despite Destiny not being on my top 5 list, I hadn't had a game to play since InFAMOUS: Second Son, and how could I complain about free stuff? 

DESTINY's First Challenge

After it finished installing, I was welcomed to a beautiful welcome screen and a special thank you message from Bungie. This was followed by me choosing a class for my character. In Destiny you get to choose between three classes: 

The Titan is the strong, armored-soldier type of the game. He/she also has a special move that will make him smash the ground and disintegrate the enemies around you. He/She will be the character that you use in the front lines. This is my personal favorite of the three. 

Pros: As I said before, the titan has the best armor/shield and can take the most damage before going down for the count(respawn count that is). When going one on one against someone, with a worthy gun, chances are you're going to win the match up. Heck you might even last against two.

Cons: Out of all the classes the glide that Titan does is the worst. Once you press X a second time, you're pretty much stuck for the ride and that can be frustrating when trying to get to a certain situation. Which leaves you in danger of being killed. 

The Warlock is more like a mage type of soldier. Not armored well but quick recovery helps get back into the fight quick. For the Warlock's special, he jumps high into the air and shoots a ball of energy taking out his/her foes in the blast's radius. 

Pros: The grenade is the best of the three...especially when you get a chance to upgrade it. Its good for keeping enemies out of a certain area due to staying alive for quite a few moments and damaging anyone who goes near the explosion. 

Cons: Not many it doesnt have the armor or speed that the others do though.

The Hunter is the long range, rogue type of player. Best for snipers and can be hard to detect by its enemies. Its special is the Golden Gun. For a certain time, the Hunter has a golden aura and a hand cannon that is a one shot kill at any distance.

Pros: The Golden Gun, its the best of the special powers. Also, the double jump is much easier for getting places in the game.

Cons: The Golden Gun...its easy to waste because if youre not near anyone and activate it, you could go the whole time not finding anyone. However, if you are too close to someone you could get killed easily while activating it, wasting it that way as well. Sort of have to pick the perfect time to do so. You are the weakest in a one on one battle as well.

You can also choose between three races; human, awaken and exo. So there's a certain RPG aspect to the game. So far so good. 

I made my character and was ready to go. Thrown into the world with my main companion 'Ghost', a monotone mini A.I. kind of like Cortana but nowhere near as emotional. My first thoughts were that the game felt very smooth. It wasnt heavy at all like Killzone 2. Much more like a Call of Duty feels.
While firing at the darkness(one of the main enemies of the game)I noticed that the amount of damage I dealt was popping out in numbers, in a very action-RPG or Borderlands-esque style of game. Making my way to the main objective, with Ghost giving you brief information I moved along. I got more and more comfortable with the game. I actually began to like it a lot. I came to what seemed like a big abandoned building. After taking out a big group of the hive(the other baddies in the game), I continued through. Then Ghost yelled, "THERES A WIZARD HERE! If you see something floating you have to kill it!" 
And around the corner, with a group of more hive, there it was. The Rite Wizard and man was he tough, at level 4. It seemed like it took my whole arsenal to beat him and then some. While playing, I noticed another game that it compared to. The whole atmosphere screamed Mass Effect. I felt like I was playing a first person version of it. Plus one, Destiny.


After running around the building, dipping in and out of cover, the Rite Wizard was finally vaporized and I was sent into orbit. This is where you get to choose where you wanted to go in the game. In the alpha, we had a choice between Earth(where you go for missions like the introduction I just beat), the Crucible(which is the PVP/multiplayer component of the game) and the Tower(a hub for buying armor, weapons, etc. with all the money and points I got during gameplay), which is where I chose to go first. While there I got an introduction to everywhere I had to go to get what I needed. Looking at some of the items available, it almost felt like Bungie was teasing me with them being a level 20 requirement and the Alpha cap only being 8. After pimping out my character, I was ready to get back in action. By pressing the touch pad i held the triangle button and went back into orbit. I wanted to give the multiplayer. 
At the time, only a game mode called 'Control' was available, equal to Domination in Call of Duty. Annnnnnd....I got my ass kicked. As I said before, I haven't played a game since InFAMOUS and an FPS, in even longer. So I got crapped on. That's okay...I got better. After adjusting my sensitivity and powering up my player as he leveled up, I evened the field a bit and began to keep up with everyone else, to say the least. It's only 6v6 but it stays intense almost all the times. The two maps were of a great variety due to the size and usable objects. On Old Russia you pretty much got the bare minimum experience. There was almost always someone around the corner and it was meant for the fast-paced guns a blazing players. The other one was very different. 

Appearing to be a large base on the moon, you needed to utilize vehicles like the bike and interceptor to get everywhere quickly. Nothing is worse than running all the way to the capture point and getting killed by a camper guarding it. If you're worried about the vehicles, dont. There are a few turret guns, placed strategically near capture points, to help combat against them. Of course, if your super is charged, you can use your special to blow it away as well. This is where the Hunter can truly shine as well, in its long range skills. Might I add, the sniper in the game is absolutely straight out of Halo, literally NO recoil and absolute domination. 

Absolutely beautiful.

This brings me to the point of the minimap. This will notify you which direction enemies are coming, without totally giving away their exact location. In the circle, depending on how far away the enemy is, there will be a red outline for far away, a red cone if moderate distance, or the inner circle will be fully red where your arrow is, if they are too close(the circle will be transparent if they are higher/lower than your level.
The next day, I decided to enjoy some of the new Earth missions. Still in the same place from the beginning of the Alpha, this time I could go anywhere. In this open world there were other players enjoying themselves, taking on missions, giving the game an MMO feel as well. So that's an MMOFPSRPG, has that ever been done before? I dont think so.
Anyway pressing the touch pad showed me where I could accept a mission. The first one was simple, kill a certain amount of enemies, voiced in by a female commander, so that we can begin taking back earth(a typical MMO mission, I'm sure just to give us an idea). Another had me go into another building to take out a specific enemy from the darkness or hive. The feelings of being teasing continued. I wanted more, needed more...I was becoming addicted.

After some of the missions, I decided to look around a bit, and really got to see how big this open world truly was. And it was truly filled with various levels of enemies as well(some that not even my level 8 titan could take on). So my exploring also showed that I didnt just need to kill enemies to get loot. Some of the caves had treasure chests. One of them had a piece of armor that I couldn't wear yet. 
I played this, the Tower and Crucible for many hours. So, once I was confident enough, I decided to give the Devil's Lair a try, the hardest part of the alpha. This was a co-op mission, meant for three players. The enemies were level 8 or higher and you had to make sure my team made a strategy on how to handle every move. Making progress, I came to notice something else in the game. It is one huge 3-way battle between the guardians(the human players), hive and darkness. 

Walking in on a battle between the darkness and hive.

This made me want to get the game even more so I could see more of the story and discover what happened to Earth, but I still needed to finish the current objective. We made it to to the first boss. A giant, bug like, walking tank known as a Devil Walker. It took my whole arsenal, along with my teammates, to beat this thing and towards the end of it I was running around searching for ammo while taking tons of damage from its blasts. 
Due to the high amount of health and difficulty of beating the bosses, you have to really place your shots in the right spot to maximize damage. When hitting a vulnerable spot on enemies, in the bug tank's case, its legs, instead of the gray numbers that usually popped up, higher yellow ones popped out instead. Once we got it s health down to about 50%, the yellow numbers didnt show anymore. In fact, no damage was being given. We started shooting it near its gun up top and finally found a spot to do the higher damage again. After running empty on ammunition and using my special power, the bug-tank went down. A good amount of loot was given including some armor I could wear and a new gun. It wasnt over though. After traveling further, we were introduced to the main boss of the level.

A big ball of pain in the ass.

Sepiks Prime, not to be confused with its cousin Optimus, had lots of health and its blasts were deadly. To add the icing on the cake, the big metal eyeball wasn't alone. Darkness and Hive were coming for us from every direction. Luckily the middle, where its blasts were coming from, was its weak point and we finished it quickly once we made the discovery and defeated its help. Another good amount of XP(that I couldnt gain because my character hit his cap already), loot, etc. was awarded and I went to the tower to cash in.
I ran around for a while to take a break from the difficult Devil's Lair mission. Suddenly, I found myself all alone, sitting on my ass. 

See, I told you.

Could this alpha get any better? I pretty much experienced everything. What now?

Destiny is even better with friends!

Have someone else join you, of course! Once we discussed the game a bit, we decided to explore a bit. So, I brought him to Earth and we did some easy stuff while he leveled up. The darkness were being good target practice for us. Everything was going swell....UNTIL A DAMN DEVIL WALKER SHOWED UP OUT OF NOWHERE! It was hard enough to beat it with 3 capped players. Now we had to do it in 10 minutes with 2? We weren't able to defeat the walker and his army of darkness(GROOVY), but we did last without both of us dying. That's something to be proud of right?
Yeah that's right. At random times some mini bosses will come out and attack you with a huge army. The few times it happened to my friends and I, there was always a time limit. A great way to keep you on your heels and make sure you have a strategy wherever you go. The next one that popped up was no match for all the people playing. 
Following a great session with friends who were lucky to the alpha code as well, I realized that I wasn't the only skeptic around. It turns out many people weren't expecting this to be too good. Yet, we all agreed it was now a first day buy. At first, the alpha felt like nothing more than just a way to give them an idea of what worked and what didnt. It turned out to become something that will rise the sales substantially. Then after a few more hours, we were disconnected on Monday. When trying to get back on we were greeted with this.


It was all over. All the fun and excitement...the great multiplayer, the challenging bosses. Gone. Nothing left but a thank you note. A craving for more of it began to grow! It is even stronger now as I'm writing this. This alpha really made for a great weekend. November 9th cant come fast enough!

At first I was like...
But now I'm like....
If you have any questions be sure to ask and I'll be happy to answer! Thank you!

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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Witnessing Jimmy Rollins' 2235th hit

The first player I liked on the Phillies was Jimmy Rollins. The year was 2000 and he got his first hit in the majors. He was fast, he played my favorite position and he had a certain attitude or swagger about him I just couldn't help but respect. Needless to mention(but I'll do it anyway)when he did something, he did it big. I was nine years old at the time, which was around when I got into sports in the first place. Jimmy Rollins sped around the bases and got a triple. I had no idea what J Roll would become after that date, but I knew there was something special about him.

On June 14th 2014, at the age of 35, he officially unseated the hits leader incumbent, Mike Schmidt. It happened at the right time, as this season has been pretty rough for the Phillies, as a whole. As of the same date, they're only 28-37 and last place in their division.

But enough of the bad stuff...we witnessed history today. The Cubs didn't make it easy for him. It took until the 5th inning. At 0 for 2, Jimmy stepped up to bat, remaining patient for 4 pitches. The count was 3-1, Jackson, the Cubs pitcher, threw the ball and Rollins sent it quickly to right field, placing himself in the record books forever. Afterwards, Schmidt marched to first base with the same bat Jimmy used to achieve the moment we will hold dear in our memories. The dugout was emptied, the fans were on their feet and everyone was there to congratulate him. It was one special moment. Even as the game continued, you could see the players, of the other team, giving their congrats. To top it all off, after Marlon Byrd got on base as well, Domonic Brown pulverized the ball for a home run into right field as well. Sending him back to the dugout where the celebrations continued.

Its now in the 8th inning, the Phillies are up 7 to 3 and they're still replaying one of the greatest player moments that I can remember watching the Phillies. Here's hoping for this to be the start of something great for the rest of the season and more memories to get out of our chairs for. Thank you Jimmy!

Here's a look at some of his greatest moments.