New Game Trailers
New Game Trailers
It has been a while since I played North & South, a game that I have
fond memories of on the Amiga home computer. The game released back
then in 1989, and featured RTS battles between the armies of the
Northern States and the Southern States.
Based on the Comics that were published in France in the 1970’s,
the game itself bears minimal accuracy to the Civil War in the US
back in the day, it is more or less only borrowing a familiar
setting for the game. Unlike it’s Comic counterpart that served
as a fun to read Historical lesson.
Fast forward to 2020, and the game has been re-worked to fit into
the era that is today, with quick RTS (Real Time Strategy) battles,
FPS (First Person Shooter) styled attack and defend Forts & Trains,
on a smaller scaled map of the United States.
The gameplay setting is simplistic, you start with your home states
and a few ground troops that can be moved between state lines to
secure new borders, or used to take over Forts and attack enemy
troops. (See above pictures of Map & troop placement) as you progress
and take over forts (minimum 2) you will earn each turn gold from
the trains that run between the forts. Playing as the North you
will get reinforcements through sea transports as well. Getting enough
gold will allow you to purchase extra troops, and or immunity to
the weather, or indian attacks that could possibly happen.
Your objectives are simple, taking over all the states and forts to
win the game, there are various levels of difficulty to choose from
so the game is also a great game for folks who might be new to
RTS/Strategy games and or PC playing in general, the game is also
suitable for the younger one’s since it features no blood in battles.
Each of the battles in the grand scheme are short encounters, the
Real Time Strategy battles (starting with 6 riflemen, 1 cannon and
3 horsemen) is timed for quick exchange of fire. The Train attack
/defend scenario is also a fairly quick exchange, but you do have some
more time to play around the fort that you are attacking or defending.
The FPS encounters are the most fun in the game, enabling you to run
around the fort stopping attackers or defenders, picking up Ammo and
Health as you go. The train scenarios aim is to defeat all the attackers
and try not to fall of the train, or let in anyone into the helm,
and vice versa for the attacker, getting to the front of the train
stops it, and you have completed a heist and gained all the gold
the train is carrying between the forts.
There are four scenarios to play in the game, all equipped with the
same map layout, and encounters, but set in different Years, 1861-1864.
Overall each scenario can take anywhere from an hour to fully win the
game, to slightly more.. this is though depending if you made wise
moves or not.
There is also a free play mode where you can pick and choose from all
the maps in the game for the quick battles (RTS part) and the
Fort & Trains encounters. The game also features co-op if you have
a friend near by, or you can play through steams couch-co-op option.
The game does not require anything insane performance wise from your
PC to run, but there are a few things I need to point out about the
current state of the game, You will want to play the game on a Controller
as it is 100x easier to control the movements and flow of the game this way.
Keyboard buttons are not re-mappable right now, and the mouse sensitivity
is off the charts until you get it set to your own right level.
You are also limited to a max 1080p (1920×1080) resolution, which kind
of surprised me. But then again there is nothing wrong with 1080p
the game looks good with it’s Cartoon-homage-esque graphics.
The game is fun, and if you want a few hours to fly by quickly..
this is just the game for that. Simplistic is some times the king,
and ideas from the 1980’s still work in 2020 as we can see here.
Welcome to Valhalla
We’ve been treated to some wonderful adventures in the past
few years, visiting Egypt in Origins and beautiful Greece
in Odyssey. This year we take on the role of Eivor in Norway
and England, set in the middle ages time period.
Valhalla is taking a bit of a different approach this time
around compared to the other games previously, where stealth
has been in a bigger role, but as you can guess Vikings
prefer to do it the rough way, hand to hand and eye to an
eye style instead. And I can say that the new combat system
is ever so enjoyable, specially for me as I have never been
“let’s say good at stealth”, it always fails for me at some
point and then I go in all guns/fists blazing after all,
so this change is a positive for me from the get go.
I won’t talk about the story per se here as usual, as story
intense games should be enjoyed by yourself, and this story
is one you should listen to and watch, it will keep you engaged
and focused for the +40 hours you will spend on Valhalla,
it’s got more twists, plotting, revenge.. than in an episode
of Emmerdale (English TV Soap show). Plus add countless hours
of exploring for uncovering all the secrets Valhalla has to
offer on top of that, also with future DLC you will add
considerable gaming hours to the total whilst traveling
to other countries such as Ireland and France. It’s not a
short game by any means, but it’s not Odyssey length either.
I’d say it’s just about the right length to keep you engaged.
Starting the game will let you choose which Eivor you want
to play as, Female or Male / Animus option, choosing one
over the other has no impact on the mechanics of the game,
The animus option however has you change character a few
times during your gameplay, and will let you experience
the full story so to say.
Before I continue, here’s the answer to an important question.
Can you pet the dog? Yes, why yes you can pet the dog, you can
also hold a cat, also ride a giant *censored* (no spoilers).
While spending the first few opening hours of the game in
beautiful snow covered Norway, will have you flashback to
important moments that occurred in your life, and serves as
a get to know the game (tutorial) and characters, familiarizing
yourself with close melee combat, ranged weapons, skills and
abilities, getting more or less ready for what lays ahead of
you later on in England.
Political/family problems on the horizon is what ultimately
leads you to leave Norway with your half brother Sigur whom is
a major part of the game. Your journey then takes you to
England in hopes of creating a new settlement on rich and
ripe lands for the taking.
This is where truly all the fun begins at (Ravensthorpe)
an abandoned settlement, that is now your new home.
Besides settling in on new territory, you will need to find
allies, and without spoiling too much.. you will most likely
remember names such as Lothbrook, Rollo.. etc from the TV
series Vikings. This sets things into a fantastic start
meeting the characters.
One of the great things about Ravensthorpe is that your new home
is upgradable, with materials liberated from raids around your
new home in the Mercia region, the only sad thing
is that there is only so much you can raid per region.
Fret not, forging allies with other people in different regions
open up new areas to explore and loot. Nothing more satisfying
than sailing in with your boat, activating a raid and charging
at the enemy with your Dual Sword, Hammers, Shield Sword combo.
Whatever you’ve chosen to wear.
Levelling up and acquiring new skills / abilities / power levels
also increase the enemy difficulty, so your raids also get more
challenging as you progress through the game.
Skills and Abilities can be learnt from hidden books of wisdom
around the map (see above pictures for map), weapons can be
upgraded as you find materials, pouches as well for carrying
ammunition for your bows, and as Vikings believe in Thor and Norse
mythology, Rune stones are present also for upgrading weapons
giving them abilities such as more health, damage etc.
One thing that I found a little bit confusing in the beginning
is that you cannot create ammo or health yourself, so you are
relying on shops/merchants in the region, or just plainly
robbing everything in sight to stock up. A tip here is that
you should upgrade all your pouches for carrying stuff early on.
Once you get used to the system it’s not so bad in the end,
though it can be frustrating as the enemies do evolve and
introduce new types of enemies as you progress. And nothing
worse than running out of ammo for your bow this way.
These guys can take a big chunk out of your health in a jiffy,
and if your upgraded health pouch isn’t filled up with berries
and food, you won’t have a fun time. Luckily the game auto-saves
often and not much progress is lost if you would happen to die.
A tip while using the bow, enemies have hit points you can
attack, shooting them in the arm and leg for example, results in
them going down on their knees, and you can execute a finishing
move this way. Brutal and swift, just the way Vikings like it.
As you have settled by a river, and came sailing in from Norway
you have at your disposal a long boat, that is handy for
traversing the coastal line of your new home. Not limited to
only a boat, as in previous Assassins Creed games, you have had
trusty companions, birds, and Valhalla is no different, your
trusty companion is a raven, that works as a scout for finding
out where to head, very handy indeed as Valhalla has less markers
on the UI cluttering up things than it’s predecessors.
The map overall is huge, and even if England might feel a bit
flat at times compared to the opening act in Norway with
gorgeous snow covered mountains and Fjords. It is quick and
handy to travel with the auto travel function, that let’s you
even shift to a panoramic view of things, while your horse
or boat is taking you to your intended mark.
England is a fun playground, with tons to explore and
sights to go wow at. And if you explore hard enough,
you will find monuments that still stand to this day,
and even Thors *censored* itself.
Valhalla delivers a great Assassins Creed title, that is worth
your time and money, It’s gorgeous, brutal, and you’ll have a
blast playing it, mowing your way through England.
So how does it run?
As you can see from the above chart ^
Valhalla requires some serious horse power under the hood
to run at 4K with all the juicy details and RTX on, and even
lowering the detail levels and such, results in needing to
have a pretty powerful computer / gpu combination.
For example, at 1440p with my i5/16GB 2080S (8GB) combination
I only manage to get about 60-80fps with a mixture of
High and Very High settings.
The combination of High and Very High detailed settings,
already result in jaw dropping visuals, but one would hope
that Ubisoft could work out a patch to squeeze out even more
frames, as the frames do dip at certain parts in the game.
The game also during my playtime had some weirdness in bugs
and a few crashes, but that will definitely be ironed out
as soon as possible, like I mentioned earlier on, the game
saves a lot, so even if you experience a crash.. there is
a high chance you will just restart from the point you where
at when it crashed.
Another great thing that needs to be mentioned here is
the new Ubi connect and it’s cloud save functionality.
Play it on any platform, and you can pick up from where you
left off on another. This is truly cross-play-platform, and
one would hope that everyone implements this as soon as
A customer walks in to a Game Store and tells the clerk I need a new game.
The clerk says what kind of game are you looking for?
The customer says, well I do like racing in small bits,
something I can jump in and out from depending on how I feel.
A game that looks great, is colorful, and runs smoothly.
Is easy to get into and handles well, with a ton of tracks, and cars.
A super soundtrack and different games modes..
Got anything like that?
I see said the clerk, how about Dirt 5?
Dirt 5 has everything mentioned above, but lets slap a few more features
onto the list. A stellar track/course designer, and depending on the
platform you are purchasing the game for; it comes with a free next gen
upgrade for the new consoles Series-S/X and Playstation 5.
And a ton of future DLC planned down the pipeline as well.
Did I grab your interest?
I’ve been playing Dirt 5 now, thanks to Codemasters sending me an early
copy of Dirt 5 almost a week ago. And I can say that I’ve been having
a wonderful time playing the game in bits here and there.
Since the release of all the trailers, and the initial teaser.
I’ve been really looking forward to it, I remember thinking back then;
Well this definitely looks interesting, colorful, fast paced and
covering a wide aspect of different racing styles, cars and locations.
And it’s been in the back of my head ever since.
And it turns out to be a blast, the Career mode has been the most fun
for me. A wide variety of locations/tracks (regular and reversed), from
sunny to snowy, from dry to wet and muddy you have it all covered in
Dirt 5 for sure.
It also features a different kind of selection of cars than usually in
driving games. A high enough Level cap so you don’t finish the game in
a day or two. On top of that it is easy to get into..
I wouldn’t say it is totally an arcade racer, but it’s definitely not
a simulation either..
It just has that kind of steering/ease of play that you need to
experience for yourself, and once you get into it, you will notice
that you are having a blast blasting down the straights and hand breaking
The races are relatively short time wise, around 5 minutes so once
you get hooked it’s easy to forget about time and just keep on going
(which is a good thing).
The Career mode is set up in game so that you advance on stickers
earned by completing different tasks for each race. 1 to 3 stickers
are awarded for finishing and completing the tasks set. The more you
race the higher the sticker total required is for the next race at hands.
But you can race the same tracks as many times as required if you don’t
complete the tasks set for you, so there is no panic if you fail at first.
This is also divided up into chapters, for a total of 5 chapters.
On top of the stickers earned, you will of course earn XP from the races
and in game currency, to purchase cosmetics for your car, profile
and so on (and there is a ton to buy here).
Once you’ve progressed far enough you will have throwdowns with rivals
1v1 on select tracks, and sponsors will unlock as you level up,
meaning more earnings for yourself depending on the sponsor.
Finishing 1st and 2nd you will notice quickly that you are raking in
money, and from the Garage option on the menu, it’s easy to go through
all the car classes, and make a purchase from there. It will take some
time though to unlock everything in game, but you’ll have a good car
selection pretty fast.
It’s a pretty standard layout for a racing game, but you also have the
freedom to pick your races you want to participate in here.
Which is definitely a + in my book.
There is also a pretty banging soundtrack for the game, as you can see
from this list.
One of the things you will notice straight away is that you will have
people talking in a podcast format during your career, voiced by known
fan favorites Nolan North and Troy Baker, throwing some good puns and
discussing driver and rivalries as you progress, though in the long
run I noticed myself starting to skip the dialogue as it does not
really serve any purpose in the beginning of the Career mode,
also the encouragement lines after the racing is done,
tend to be more or less the same.
I generally appreciate the effort that Codemasters have undergone to
add this into the game, but also it makes me think that; was this really
a necessary thing instead of the announcer just talking about You,
and how it is going and what is coming up next in your career instead?
I’ll let you all decide for yourself on this one, but for me.. It’s
pretty much the only negative thing I have to say about the whole game
(ok, maybe one or two other things coming up) but.. nothing really bad!
Oh, and before we move on; yes there is a split screen mode and
traditional online racing as well. Arcade features free play
and is good for practicing tracks, or setting unbeatable times through
the Time Trial mode.
The Playground mode
Now, personally I am utterly utterly terrible at building and designing
tracks and courses, so what I rely on here is that all the creative
people around the world, making a lot of wonderful things for me to just
jump into and play directly. Essentially you have all the tools at the
tip of your fingers to create here, there are 3 different events to
choose from, being; Gate Crasher (checkpoint timed), Gymkhana that everyone
who has ever played a Dirt title prior knows, Style Points is what it
is all about, and lastly Smash Attack, wrecking havoc on the track.
This way you will never ever be bored, and there will always be
something new and fresh to play and challenge yourself with.
During my playtime so far, there has been tons of creations already
added to the mode, so check them out when you get the chance and
try your own creative vision on creating.
Graphics and Performance
Visually Dirt 5 is a good-looking game, but it also is quite resource
hungry as you can see from the above added screenshot.
To give you an indication of how visually pleasing the game is,
above (top) is the library of Images, screen grabs from within the game
for you to check out.
To give you an indication of how the game performs
Running the game on my review system, i5-9400, 16GB and a MSI 2080 Super
at 1440p (144hz monitor) I had an average of 80-100fps depending on
the track in question. There was some screen tearing present,
and I had the occasional crash to the desktop for the game during my
playtime. But these are known issues to Codemasters and a fix is
on the way, bugs will be ironed out as always in due time.
As frustrating as crashes can be, I was happy to see that I never lost
any progress as the game saves a ton in the background.
Dirt 5 gives me what I love about a good racing game, plethora of
Cars, Tracks, a great Soundtrack, a long career mode, and access to
virtually unlimited track creations through the Playground mode.
It’s visually pleasing, runs smoothly if your rig is up to par,
and is a must if you love driving games.
Dirt 5 is up there with all the other great titles
from Codemasters lately, F1 2020, Dirt Rally 2.0.
Grab your copy, and get Racing! You’ll have a blast.