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  • SOMA

      I have been playing video games for about 30 years now, and every once in a while a game makes me say “What the hell is going on?”  SOMA from Frictional Games is one of those titles.  And this is not a bad thing.

      You play as Simon Jarrett, a young man who was recently in a car accident.  As a result of the accident, your girlfriend passed away and you sustained a bad head injury.  You have been trying to figure out the extent of your injuries when you are contacted by a doctor that believes he might be able to help.  You agree to be a part of his study, and have a complete brain scan.  This is when things go sideways.

      After your scan you wake up and realize that something is very wrong.  The bright lights of the doctors are gone.  The room is dark, the door is locked and you are surrounded by equipment that wasn’t there before.  You must now explore your new surroundings and figure out how you got there, as well as where THERE is.

      I don’t want to give away any more of the story, but I can safely say that it is a sci-fi, horror, survival which will require stealth over brute force.  You will have to unravel the mysteries of your past and try to solve the puzzles of your present so you can move forward.  Of course, you have to do this all while not drawing the attention of those that are out to get you.

      The XB1 version of the game differs slightly from the original PC and Playstation 4 game that was released a few years ago.  The XB1 version features SAFE mode, which allows all the horror of the original title, but with no chance of getting injured by any monsters.  This makes for a slightly less stressful playthrough, while still being able to experience the entire story.

      The graphics are dark and gritty.  You are pulled into this world almost immediately and held there with a death grip.  The environments are varied and extremely well done.  Game sound is used to envelop you into this creepy world.  Strange mechanical sounds, water dripping in the background, metallic creaks and strange echoes abound.  Using headphones really immerses you into the experience, but the sound design is such that you will still get lost in the environments using your TV speakers.  Music is sparse throughout the game, and mostly used to emphasize mood.
      SOMA is out now for XB1 and can be slipped into your collection for $29.99.  While the game has you questioning what is going on, the answers are well worth the play time.

    Your Toy

      What if toys had souls?  It’s a deep question, that can have some troubling consequences if it is true.  Think back to all those army men you melted, Barbie’s you beheaded, and those other toys you abused.  The new game Your Toy by Viva Games explores what can happen when your once loved toy becomes abused and tossed away.

      You wake up in a locked bathroom stall with nothing but your cellphone.  You receive a mysterious message that makes you realize that someone is after you.  Your first priority is to get your bearings, collect what you can, and figure out how to escape from the stall.  Your powers of observation and problem solving will be put to the test – time and again.

      The game is comprised of several areas, each with multiple puzzles to solve, and dangers to avoid.  All of the answers can be found around you, but with something stalking you – will you be able to concentrate?  The puzzles are randomly generated – which means each playthrough will be a bit different.  The main puzzles remain the same, but the solutions change – so you will still have to search out the answers every time.  This will make speed runs a bit difficult.

       This game is a psychological thriller to the core.  From the thunder and lightning outside to the creepy interiors.  Even though you have a cellphone, it only receives incoming calls and messages.  And the incoming calls are far from reassuring.  The visual style of the graphics plays right into the horror genre.  Lights flicker, there is a grainy texture to some of the scenes, and random artifacts fly across the screen – making you wonder what you just saw.

      Sound design is important in any game, but it seems to stand out more in the horror genre.  Bad effects can snap you out of the moment quicker than anything.  The music and sound in Your Toy is the exact opposite.  You are drawn into the nightmare and held hostage until you beat the game or decide to stop playing.

      Your Toy is available as a limited time exclusive on Xbox One.  You can add it to your collection for $14.99.  It will be available on other platforms, but no firm date has been set.

    ** I must say that I hand write all of my reviews first, then type them up the next day or when the embargo is lifted.  I wrote this review then got sick, so it has sat for a few days.  In the interim, I replayed the game to collect the last few achievements that I needed.  In 3 of my 4 runs (that many are not normally needed) I encountered a glitch in one of the final areas.  One of the items required to complete a puzzle failed to spawn.  After a quick look on the internet – this was not an isolated issue.  A glitch like this really effects game play and the overall rating. **

    Spintires : Mudrunner

    Reviewing video games can be hard work.  I’m not just talking about long hours playing games from every genre.  Some titles are closer to on the job training than actual games. Spintires : Mudrunners from Focus Home Interactive is a perfect example of this.

      This is a simulation game like none out there.  The main object of the game is to load your truck up with logs and carry them to the lumber mill.  The main difference is that you have to travel on logging roads that are sometimes nothing more than mud covered ditches, ford rivers, and you can occasionally even drive on a real road to get the job done.  You have a garage full of trucks to get the job done – once they are unlocked – but this game is far from play.

      This game is divided into two main sections – the campaign and challenges.  Challenges are single levels that require you to complete a task with the vehicle the game chooses.  The campaign will have you transporting logs from the lumber mill to the saw mill.  You will get to pick your truck and route – provided the truck is in that level – but beware.  Most levels will require you to make multiple trips, and each truck carries a different amount of cargo.  You will also have to factor in fuel stops and of course, the mud.  Picking the wrong truck can add extra miles to your job.

      The controls for the game are very good for a driving simulator.  You can pick between an automatic or manual transmission depending on your preference.  I will admit the manual takes a bit of getting used to (and I can drive a stick) but it is helpful when trying to get through the mud.  Controlling your truck in the mud is where things get hairy, especially when you must try and park something with some precision.  As good as the controls are, the view tends to be a bit lacking.

      You have an over the cab view and you can move the camera, but it tends to be a bit of an odd angle most of the time.  The camera doesn’t swivel smoothly, so you can miss the angle you need.  And face it, if you are playing a sim game you want a behind the wheel perspective.  The game offers one, but you have limited side views and no views of your mirrors.  This means that you are forced to switch to the other view when backing up, attaching trailers or attaching your winch.

      There is a lot to do in Spintires : Mudrunners, but you have to have the patience for long levels, iffy camera views, and lots of mud, this is a title for you.  The simulation side is spot on, and even offers multiplayer if you have a few good buddies that want to form a convoy.

    Assassin's Creed: Origins

    I’ll start this review by saying that I’ve completed nearly all of the Assassin’s Creed games, and thoroughly enjoyed them all.  Assassin’s Creed: Origin breaks the mold from the traditional Assassin’s Creed game, while still holding true to the game series.  This game has a great story, stunning graphics, and gameplay that makes me think of games like The Witcher 3.

    With the setting in ancient Egypt, you play as Bayek of Siwa, with all the parkour moves you’d expect in an Assassin’s Creed.  One of the biggest changes right out of the gate is the use of quests instead of sequences for story progression; as well as a change to traditional Assassin's Creed combat to make a free following feel.  In past games, enemies would form a circle and attack one or two at a time.  Not anymore, don’t expect the Romans or wildlife to play nice.  
    Equipment choices include a variety of melee weapons, shields, and bows, each with different attacking speeds and styles, giving you the freedom to control how you approach a fight.  A new crafting system has been added to Origin, letting you collect and use ores and pelts, found in the world, to upgrade your damage, health, quiver size, and tool pouch.

    Graphically, the game is beyond beautiful.  The environments are stunning to look at, and when you synchronize, there is a sweeping camera shot of the area.  I will say, I’ve played this both on the Xbox One and Xbox One X, and it looks even better on the Xbox One X.  Interior environments are detailed and don’t feel like cookie-cutter buildings.  And that’s saying something for how many different areas there are to explore in this game.

    My only major criticism is Senu, Bayek’s eagle used for scouting locations and tagging enemies and objectives.  In the early part of the game, tagging enemies and finding treasures is a little annoying because of how precise you need to be with targeting things.  Thankfully, as you synchronize with more points, Senu’s scouting gets better and makes it easier to tag everything.

    If you enjoy the Assassin’s Creed series, this game will not disappoint you.  The story is wonderfully told, gameplay is fun and engaing, and there is a ton to explore.  And it looks like they plan on adding events for free (along with DLCs).  As of writing this review (11/12/2017) there is an Animus Glitch event happening for the next day or so.  I will not spoil anything about this, but it’s a lot of fun and something completely new to Assassin’s Creed.  More of these event are expected in the coming weeks.

    The Inner World - The Last Wind Monk

    Earlier this year Headup Games brought the Studio Fizbin game – The Inner World to consoles from PC.  This was done to prepare everyone for the release of the sequel – The Inner World : The Last Wind Monk.  The wait is over, the game is now out and it returns to Asposia and follows the adventures of the original characters.

      The Last Wind Monk picks up about 3 years after the events in the 1st game.  The world of Asposia is not as rosy as we might have wished.  Robert, the rightful King, is missing and Laura has been captured by Emil.  Emil is a Conroyalist that believes the flute noses summoned the Basylians, turned Conroy to stone, and are to blame for all the worlds woes.  He has made it his mission to round them all up and throw them into the wind fountain.

      This dark tone emanates through most of the game.  Citizens live in fear they will be discovered as flute noses while others blindly hunt them.  Robert almost wallows in self-doubt, due to his upbringing by Conroy, and this taints his normally cheerful demeanor.  Much of the fun and light heartedness of the 1st game is lost in the shadows of this new Dystopian World, but there are a few pillars of light to be found.

      As with the 1st title, this is a point and click adventure.  You will have to talk to everyone you meet to get the clues needed to solve the puzzles for each chapter.  It’s then up to you to collect the items needed, in some cases combine them, and complete the task at hand.  Just like the previous game, the puzzles range from fairly simple to running in circles frustrating.  There are a few puzzles that even when you get all the clues, you will be left guessing at the correct answers.  There is one, which I would almost classify as a mini game, called Knock Knock, that seems to rely more on luck than anything.

      The music in the game works very well to capture the mood of the scenes.  It easily transitions from the heavier story moments to some of the light-hearted moments.  The voice acting is good, but occasionally you will notice that Laura has an accent that comes and goes.  The graphics are just as crisp as inn the original.  It is nice to see that they have brought back many of the supporting characters from the original, and that the quality is just as good.

      The Inner World : The Last Wind Monk is out now on XB1, PS4, and Steam.  The puzzles are harder than the 1st installment, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  The game is worth checking out – but I would recommend playing the 1st game so you can play through the entire story arc.
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  • Posts

    • Hello everyone, my name is Derrick Aquino and I have been enlisted in the Navy for 11 years. I recently started streaming and hope to join the milspec streaming team. I am 29 years old and married to my wife Maria. We have one daughter named Danielle who is 3 years old and hope to have fun and support you guys from here on out. Thanks for the add! V/R Derrick
    • Hello everyone. my name is Duoneo. Been in the military for about 10 years now and been streaming for about 4. Treasure Hunter Tom introduced me to you all and I was amazed. I work @ BAMC currently and will be retiring soon due to Medical issues. I would love to be apart of this group and continue to help out the service cause it has done nothing but help me through these past 10 years
    • Hey guys,  UK streamer here, Love what you're doing here; looked for an equivalent in the UK, but there's none so I figured OSD hell yeah.  Great to meet you all. Wake
    • Thanks for Joinin' us man! Hope to game with you some time!
    • Welcome! Come hang out with us in Discord dude! 
    • Hello ladies and gent,  My name is Ryan aka Doc I served 7 years as a hospital corpsman.  I spent the majority of those years with various units across 1st mar div.  After a few deployments I decided that it was time to separate and take advantage of the gi bill.  Now that I have a little extra time and a love for gaming I've started streaming, I play a little bit of everything but focus on arma 3, pubg, and fortnite.  I'm very active in the local vet community as well as team RWB, I'm looking forward to getting involved here and gaming with you all.  Let the shenanigans begin!
    • I live life with my head held high and as positive as possible. I love to stream games and push being friendly and interactive as possible all wile providing a positive environment for all friends to join. I served in the army for 7 years and 4 tours and now stream full time on twitch. Mad love to you all and happy grinding
    • Hello everyone, Names is keith, 33 year old veteran. I go by mizfitwolf on most consoles and my streaming channel. I served little over 11 years before I was medical discharged and retired after receiving injuries on my last tour of duty.  Have to say I struggled to find somewhere I could fit in and work or even do things to keep my sanity.  After long struggles both mental and physical finally came back to gaming as a way to cope.  Due to my disabilities gaming been my way of reconnecting with people, and so I found streaming, which became a great outlet and alot of fun which started a long and fun as a streamer and part of larger communities.  I came across this group after doing some work with another community and seeing the OSD group.  Im hoping to meet some of you around the community and getting to know you all, maybe even playing with some of you.
    • I've only seen videos from scrubs playing the new Beta for Destiny 2.  Need to get some feedback from fellow vets and see what the consensus is.  So anyone have any thoughts or opinions on the new game? Worth buying? Avoiding? Buying on sale a year from now?
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