BFR: Episode 21


Chief of Duty. You just got PWNED and tea-bagged before you even realized it.

The crew is back, and we are in FPS heaven with our impressions of COD Advanced Warfare, Halo Master Chief Collection, Borderlands the PreSequel, and the hot announcement of Blizzards first new IP in 17 years, Overwatch. Plus, Bryan gets his body prepared for the upcoming Game of Thrones Telltale game, Courtney braces herself for a 90 hour campaign in Dragon Age, Inquisition, and Kevin cleanses his system from his recent time with Watchdogs. Plus, we all bag on Assassin’s Creed Unity, even though none of us have actually played it yet.

Listen below:

Download by right clicking the link, then “save as”: BFR: Episode 21

Xbox One Debuts EA Access Hub



Every now and again, usually once a month, I get a message via Xbox Live from Microsoft letting me know what new features or tweaks will be applied to my console in the next update.  So, the other day, I looked and saw that there was a message, and naturally, I was interested to see what the latest update would entail.  Instead, It talked about some kind of new EA beta, followed by a code!  (on a side note, I appreciate the fact that instead of having to write the code down and enter it again, Xbox One has added an option to redeem the code right inside the message screen… it’s the little things.)

On July 29th, Xbox One launched its newest exclusive, and it is not a game, it’s an app!  The EA Access Hub is something I see as revolutionary, and, in time, could be the way we all play games in the future.  Upon redeeming my code and downloading the hub, it explained to me that I need a membership to access the apps features.  It went on to tell me the features that would come with said membership, and once I saw the actual price, I picked my jaw off the floor and signed up. For the RIDICULOUSLY low fee of $5/month or $30/year, you get unlimited access to a “vault” of the FULL VERSION of select EA titles.  Now, I will admit, the starting lineup is somewhat small and basic, but when you consider the list of titles that EA holds, as well as the additional features of the membership, it wont be long until you sign up too.  But, I am getting ahead of myself.  Let’s start with the games available at this time:


Right now, the games available are Battlefield 4, Madden NFL 25, FIFA 14, and Peggle 2.  As I said, the games aren’t super impressive unless you like sports games or havent played Battlefield 4.  Well, I DO like sports games, and I am a COD guy, so I HAVEN’T played BF4, so I am in!  But say you aren’t like me, and are not into sports games all that much, or you have already played Battlefield.  Well, do you like saving money?!  Then maybe the next feature will get you…

Members also receive 10% off of all EA digital content.  That is not only DLC like Ultimate Team Packs or Season Passes, but FULL GAMES.  So if you are a fan of going the digital route and plan on picking up Battlefield: Hardline when it comes out, or maybe Madden NFL 15, you automatically get 10% off.

One more feature:  Members get what is called EA Early Access.  This gives you the option to “pre-order” upcoming titles and try the game out 5 days before it releases.  Not only do you get early access to the game, but all saves and progress carries over to the retail version if you choose to buy it later.  Imagine if this was a possibility with betas like Titanfall or Destiny.  No ranking up again, no finding rare loot or anything else all over again, just right where you left off.  So far, confirmed games for the Early Access are Madden NFL 15, NHL 15, FIFA 15, NBA Live 15, and Dragon Age: Inquisition.


It really is a great value, and all of this is just the beta, with EA promising more to come in the future.  Now, I signed up for just 1 month, just to see how everything worked out, see how I enjoyed the features, and I can tell you, once the full version drops and another game or two get added, I will be upgrading to the annual subscription.  If you like just one of these games, it’s worth the price of admission alone, and when you think of the library EA holds, with new entries in development for franchises like Mass Effect, Medal of Honor, Mirror’s Edge, Need for Speed, and Titanfall, you know the value is there.

I truly think that this may be the way people game in the future, and if this early version is successful for EA, you can expect more developers to jump on board and create their own hub. Looking ahead, we could see and Activision Hub, or a Ubisoft Hub.  This also gives me hope of being able to play 360 games via cloud service on my Xbox One.  Who knows?  The only thing I know, is that, at least for me, the EA Access Hub is a home run.

Currently in a closed beta, the EA Access Hub will be available soon to download.  Memberships will also be sold at local GameStop stores if that is more your style.  What are your thoughts on this new way to play?  Will you be signing up?  Let us know at, or post a comment below! Til next time…



Cut the Chatter!! New Titanfall DLC Released

My Mech brings all the boys to the yard

Just a friendly reminder that the new Titanfall DLC “Frontier’s Edge” is live, along with new features such as the “black market”.  Its nice to get a little bonus in the form of in-game currency as I climb through the 100 win requirement at Gen8.  Its funny how fake video game money can immediately peak my interest.

You can also game with Bit Fix Radio!  Just add ThePaulSelf to your friends list on XBOX Live.  I will be more than happy to give your team an unfair advantage any time you like.

I am still enjoying Titanfall immensely.  Every so often I see people poo-pooing it on forums, or that they are “over it”.  To them I say, give it another shot!  The updates from Respawn have certainly enhanced my experience.  Not since the earlier iterations of Call of Duty have I had this much fun in a FPS.  I am having a blast ranking up to Gen10, and will likely target the achievements/insignias next.   Other games have come and gone, but this fast paced, roller coaster ride keeps me returning for more.

Are you still playing Titanfall?  Tell us in the comments, or just jump right into the action!

The Weekly WhaTiDY – Destiny Beta


What’s the Deal with Destiny, Yo? It’s really not a hard question to answer. Unless you are living under a rock, you know about Bungie’s upcoming ‘living world,’ shoot-and-loot first person shooter. And in case you don’t, a $500 million marketing budget for one of the most anticipated new releases of the year says YOU WILL soon enough. Since the developers of Halo officially announced their new IP back in 2011, there have been many questions and few clarifications as to what Destiny would actually be. Is it a FPS MMO for consoles? Is it open-world? Is it Halo? Will it be the definitive next-gen game that truly have gamers flocking to buy Playstation 4s and Xbox Ones? And here we are, 3 years later with a playable beta, just 6 weeks from the September 9th release date.


I, like most gamers, have spent considerable time with the Beta this week, playing both on Xbox 360 and Xbox One. I’ve maxed out all three playable characters, spent some considerable time in the competitive multiplayer, and played through the missions both with friends and solo. We spent time exploring the available terrain, found the numerous hidden “???, impossible to beat” enemies, and relived some of our favorite scenes from Return of the Jedi on our speeder bikes. So was it fun? Am I sold on the game? Let’s talk about what Destiny really is, and I’ll go over what I liked and didn’t like in the beta, what I want to see them add or improve on, and finally, what you can do to better prepare yourself in the coming weeks for Destiny’s launch on September 9.

Plays Like Halo, Looks Like Borderlands, Smells Like MMO
When I first discovered that Destiny could be this concoction of Halo mixed with Borderlands, I was inevitably hooked. I’ve been playing Halo since the beginning (still log about 2 hours of Halo 4/Reach multiplayer a week), and I have always admired it’s tight controls and shooting mechanics. While the story and lore have never grabbed me like some, the weight of the weapons, precise aiming and integration of vehicles have always trumped all for me. That, and the social experience Halo has always offered in it’s campaigns and multiplayer. With all the countless hours of LAN parties and split-screen couch-co-op with friends, it was no wonder jumping into Destiny’s world with my buddies just felt right. Sure, the first mission is solo only, but having a friend or two by your side from that point on is very rewarding (and almost necessary) in Destiny. More on that later.

Another franchise I’ve played way too much of is Borderlands 1 and 2. Gearbox’s looter-shooter scratches many itches I’ve always had as a gamer, and I’m surprised more games haven’t tried to copy a formula that has garnered so much praise and financial success. While the missions may be uninspired – the go to waypoint, collect something, push a button and move on – it is the humor, characters and story of these games that have me hooked. And the numbers coming out of enemies heads. I do love that, maybe a little too much. Gladly, Destiny appears to have the coveted DPS numbers as well, that never-ending carrot on a stick to improve and get stronger. There are also chests to open in Destiny, even if they are not nearly as satisfying as the ones found in Borderlands. And then there’s the customization. In Borderlands, you have the multiple skill trees/builds for each character. It seems like Destiny will go the same route here, although I don’t feel it will be as robust as Borderland’s customization. I have always said two things would make Borderlands the perfect game… 1) more unique gun customization; the ability to craft, add or upgrade sights, gun barrels, bullet and elemental types, etc. that level up as you use the gun, and 2) better shooting mechanics. Destiny has the second one down. I hope they can truly deliver on the first as well.

Bungie has been careful to never refer to Destiny as an MMO. This is probably just as well. MMO’s are a foreign, daunting thing to many console gamers. They evoke the idea of monthly fees, of games that suck your life and time away, and typically are a dime-a-dozen and often not that good or unique. Calling Destiny an MMO would have been suicide for Bungie. Then again, calling it a ‘living world’ might be a stretch too. In my time playing the beta, the major tenants of MMOs are all there, albeit a bit streamlined and simplified. Nothing that I saw in the beta, from the random community events, to the “follow the waypoint and push X on the objective” missions, to the doors that you go through to start a mission (aka an instance), is really all that revolutionary, though. Heck, you can even dance and wave (just like every other MMO). Some games (Guild Wars, Warcraft) do it better than others, and what Destiny does effectively is make the MMO construct both accessible and fun, while disguising it as a very solid first person shooter. Will it include “random events that even the development team cannot predict?” Hmm…

That Wizard (And the Story) Came From the Moon
The world of Destiny is a mixed bag for me. Judging by the way the missions are accessed and laid out, this is NOT an open world game like Skyrim. The playable area of Old Russia we got to explore seemed pretty big, and there were definitely caves and nooks and crannies to explore. Flying through the gultch on the speeder bike was fun, and the game certainly looks pretty (even on the 360, it looked nice). I’m still not sure how drawn I am to the universe. The story seems very basic so far, with the big-ball traveler thing protecting us from the darkness, yada yada. It could get interesting, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t have terribly high hopes based on the melodramatic, uninspired voice acting from the Beta (I know it’s Peter Dinkladge from Game of Thrones, but come on Peter, even though your voice is synthesized to sound like a robot, doesn’t mean your acting has to be robotic, too.) I’ve never been a big story guy in video games to begin with, so Destiny’s story is not that important to me, but I know it will be for a lot of people.

What I am excited about from the beta
1) The melee in this game is amazing. It might seem like a small thing, but the first time you punch, knife, or force push an alien in the face, it’s a very satisfying experience. And that rewarding feeling remained throughout my time with destiny. The melee attack seems very powerful and useful, especially in conjunction with the shotgun, and the later addition of the throwing knife to replenish your melee energy adds a fun tactical side to the action. Love it!

2) The gunplay is really solid. As mentioned already, I love the gunplay here. It feels like a good balance between Halo and Call of Duty, while still feeling unique in of itself. I enjoy being able to aim down the sights using left trigger instead of pressing in on the left stick in Halo. And as said before, the numbers coming out of enemies heads is just cool.

3) The frenetic pace of the action. Playing through all 6 available missions from the beta with a friend is a very gratifying experience. The aggressiveness of the AI kept me on my toes the entire time, and the challenge always felt there without feeling overwhelming. Working together was key for success. The hunter’s double jump was particularly advantageous in those really tight situations where you need to evade and find cover.

What I would like to see changed or added
1) A ‘private/party’ mode. This may be directly contrary to what Destiny is trying to accomplish, but I am not a huge fan of sharing the game world with a bunch of strangers. Having my strike team of friends with me is one thing, but many times during the Beta, I found the other random players to detract from the experience. For example, my friend and I were starting out a new class and entered our first mission in Russia at Level 2, the same level as the enemies we were fighting. But also in our game world were three level 8s who were running along the same path as us. Because they were a higher level with better weapons, they easily dispatched of all the enemies before we really even got a shot off. Not much fun for my friend and I. If there was a simple toggle on/off for allowing strangers into your game world vs. only allowing your friends, that would solve everything.

2) Greater customization for characters and guns. Maybe I am just spoiled by Borderlands 2 (or many MMOs), but it seems like only having 3 classes is a little on the light side, and I didn’t really feel my character was that unique or special compared to others. The visual changes in the equipment were nominal at best, and none of the character features you could alter (I made each of my characters look like a mix between David Bowie from Labyrinth and a clown) really jived with me. I can imagine some of the armor will look visually unique at higher levels, and there will probably be more customization options in the final version of the game. Just a small concern. I would also like to see more variety in character skills and abilities. If we will only have the one special skill for the entire game, that might get a little old pretty fast. Also, being able to use every weapon in the game dependant of class is handy, but it would have been cool to have unique weapons for each class as well, and I am hoping for a greater variety of weapons overall then the ones we saw in the beta.

3) I want to pilot my ship. I really hope this is an option in some way, shape or form. It’s cool to look at my ship on the loading screen, but I would LOVE to pilot it from the city down to whatever planet I might be going to on a mission. Customization of ships is neat, but what good is it really if you can’t physically fly and enjoy your ship. Oh, and while you’re at it, let’s get a Warthog in there for your strike team to run around in. Come on, Bungie.

4) Increase the size of the strike teams from 3 to 4. This may seem like a little thing, but when you have a group of 4 people that play these types of games together on a regular basis, it’s not cool to have to leave one behind. Four is a good, standard number for co-op teams in games, and it doesn’t make sense to me in a game all about playing with others that you would restrict that experience to only 3 people.


My suggestions for preparing for Destiny’s release on September 9.
1) Buy a new console. Either the Playstation 4 or the XBox One will do, but this is definitely a game to invest in the new console for. For starters, it looks measurably better on the newer consoles. More importantly, you need to look at this game as a 10-year investment. That’s what Bungie is doing, saying they are dedicated to bringing out new content over the next decade. You may be content playing on the 360 or PS3 for now, but what about 3, 5, 7 years from now. This could be our first real reason to invest in the new hardware, plus October is right around the corner when EVERYTHING starts getting released for the new systems.

2) Play Defiance. Wait, what? Did he really just suggest you play a buggy, average game that tanked when it was released last year due to mediocre critical approval and lackluster fanfare? I mean, it’s based on the SciFy Channel show of the same name, and how good are THOSE shows? Yes. I did. Defiance is a game I picked up late last year in the bargain bin for $5. And so can you. Why would you, you ask? Because it is basically a third-person Destiny. No, it is not as polished, and it does have its flaws, but this little title had (and still has) a lot of ambition. In every respect, it is a third-person shooter MMO, the only one of it’s kind for the Xbox360 and PS3. Pretty much everything that is in Destiny is also in Defiance. Just be ready for some bad acting in cutscenes, a few glitches every now and then, and no collision detection for players and vehicles (which Destiny has). But also be prepared for a very competent game with lots of content, above average shooting, a robust upgrade and loot system, and all the massive-scale, competitive multiplayer you can handle. Honestly, it’s a good way to familiarize yourself with the MMO structure that Destiny is based on, and heck, what else is coming out in the next 5 weeks anyways?! Protip: Prepare to sit though lot’s of patching when you load the game each time.

3) Find a good group of people to play with online. Destiny is a game that is truly better with friends, and you will get the most out of the experience with your buddies. If you don’t have real life friends that will play destiny with you, look on forums, find people who are serious about the game, and get your digital posse together pronto. One thing I’ve always found with MMOs is there can be an issue with level imbalance (you’re a level 52 and I’m a level 4), so starting around the same time as your friends is a good thing too.

So there we have it, one dude’s impression of the Destiny Beta and all things Destiny to come. Overall, my impressions are very favorable, I am sold on the game, and I look forward to seeing how it is both received and how it will change and evolve, as all good MMOs do, over the years. Bungie did it once when they popularized and mainstreamed first person shooters on the console with Halo. Will they revolutionize gaming as we know it again? Well, at the very least they are giving us a new IP, and that may at the very least give the Halos, Battlefields, and Call of Duties an inspirational kick in the pants they so desperately need.

What are your thoughts on the Destiny Beta? Share them with us in the comments below, or by writing to us at We will share your thoughts and you could be part of the discussion on a future show of Bit Fix Radio! Happy gaming!

The Weekly WhaTiDY – Battleborn

The Weekly WhaTiDY is where we here at bit fix radio ask "What's the deal, yo?!" about a different topic in video games each week. If you have thoughts on what's below, or have a suggestion for a future WhaTiDY, email us at or respond in the comments below. Your thoughts could make it into the next episode of Bit Fix Radio! Thanks for reading!


What’s the deal with Battleborn, yo? I was all ready to talk about Shovel Knight, the “8-bit, Nintendo-like’ side-scroller that was released on PC this week and is the talk of the video game world. Then it happened… the headline that hit my optical holes like a ton of Bricks (yes, the name of my favorite character from the original Borderlands)… the accompanying trailer that turned me into that dramatic chipmunk that has millions of hits on Youtube.

“Battleborn Is a New Co-Op FPS Announced by Gearbox Software.”

Whhhaaaa!? You mean the company that brought me Borderlands 1 and 2, gave me hundreds of hours of unadulterated loot and shoot joy with my friends, memorable and genuinely funny characters, and the short film “A Meat Bicycle for Two” (seriously, go Google it for a laugh)… they are coming out with a new IP that sounds just like Borderlands?! And suddenly everything else stood still.

So what did we learn in the trailer?
The first 55 seconds of this 2:25 trailer features a gaunt but very capable elf-like girl with a very stylized bow running through Ferngully (or something like it) from magical missiles. The art style immediately makes me think of many animated films I have seen, and, much like Borderlands, it seems like they are going more stylized and cartoony then real-life grit. This is something I have always appreciated about Borderlands, in that it never takes itself too seriously, and the art style definitely helped set that tone.

As our white-haird elfish archer runs from said magic missiles, she jumps mid-stride over a rock, does a nifty slide under a tree branch (I’m thinking this could be similar to the awesome sliding mechanic in Bulletstorm?!), and then free-runs her way up a tree branch more gracefully than Connor or Kenway from Assassins Creed could ever dream. If this could be any indication of the range of free-flowing motion we might look to experience first person, count me in. Games like Titanfall have already shown that we are hankering for increased and varied movement in our shooters, so let’s keep it going, keep it innovating, here! I am also intrigued about the scale of the world in this game. It certainly appears the characters are very small, given the large tree branches, rocks, and bugs they have to contend with. This could lead to some very creative level design if done correctly.

At 56 seconds into the trailer, we see Steampunk Willy with his gun-cane hops down to aid our heroine, who has fallen on hard times and against a hard log, followed by the appearance of lady in dress with magical swords floating around her, a big brute with a mini-gun, and an agile-looking, duel-wielding samurai in gray and red. That’s… wait… one… three.. FIVE characters banning together at once! I have always enjoyed playing 4-player co-op in Borderlands, and the idea that Gearbox will be allowing for a fifth player in Battleborn is very appealing, given I do have four other friends that play.

Near the end of the trailer the camera pans out and we see an overhead shot of the battlefield (is that a symbol of some kind we should know or recognize?), followed by a trip into space where we see a destroyed planet, some solar flares, and the first thought this could be a very large game in it’s overall scope. Oh, and I also learned about yet another band I hadn’t heard of thanks to a Borderlands game. Let’s give it up to M83 for lending some good atmosphere to the action in this trailer.

Do you speak MOBA?
No, I don’t. Ok, so maybe 15-year-old, ultra-competitive, crazy-fast-reflexes Kevin would have been all about the Mulyiplayer Online Battle Arena scene. 31-year-old Kevin just feels he doesn’t have the energy, time, and patience to get into this very popular genre with such a high level of entry. I always here about League of Legends and DOTA tournaments being these world-wide extravaganzas, hear the stories of intense team-based battles that hinge on the most minute of tactical positioning, planning, and teamwork. I certainly respect the MOBA genre, yet do I truly understand it or want to be part of it? Gearbox may be hoping so. Aside from 5-player co-op campaign, which will have the Diablo-style loot and FPS gameplay we have all come to know and love in Borderlands, the multiplayer is being conceived and hyped by the press and fans as very MOBA.

My biggest question here is if console gamers are ready and willing to accept MOBAs. It has always seemed to this point that MOBA is a PC thing, not a console thing. The only game I have ever played that might come close to a MOBA on Xbox360 was Awesomnauts, a side-scrolling, team-based attack and defense game that, while fun, resulted in a bunch of people yelling at me to “learn how to play the game, noob! You are horrible.” Now I am all about communication and light tactics with my teammates in competitive multi-player, but taking it as far as good MOBA players do… not too sure yet. Having Battleborn be a FPS could certainly add a wrinkle into the genre that will bring a new audience in. Gearbox ‘s Randy Pitchford tweeted about the multi-player component of Battleborn. Sounds like he may be staying away from outright calling it a MOBA.

“Battleborn is: FPS; hobby-grade coop campaign; genre-blended, multi-mode competitive e-sports; meta-growth, choice + epic Battleborn Heroes! — Randy Pitchford (@DuvalMagic) July 8, 2014

OK, so I apparently don’t speak MOBA or Randy Pitchford, because trying to decipher what this tweet actually means will take more time and brainpower then actually learning how to play DOTA. Since tweeting this, Pitchford has also been addressing quite a bit of criticism via twitter to fans and detractors alike, insisting that Battleborn is not a MOBA. “MOBAs are fun, but Battleborn isn’t really a MOBA,” Pitchford said, adding the game will have a “deep narrative campaign” featuring heroes, villains, twists, turns, and progression.”All things being equal though, I am more excited for the co-op campaign anyways, and I will always give new IPs the benefit of the doubt.

Important for Gearbox to hit the mark
Let’s put the success and greatness that is the Borderlands franchise aside for a moment and talk a little about Gearbox over the last few years. Let’s see.. other games… Duke Nukem Forever… Aliens, Colonial Marines… hmmm… Ok, so it’s not totally fair to lay all of the blame of these two shining gems on Gearbox. The Texas-based company only partially developed and then published Duke Nukem Forever in 2011. Their hand in Aliens, Colonial Marines is a little more complicated. Published by Sega, the six-year development cycle included controversial lay-offs, out-sourcing, and business practices, as well as misleading screenshots and trailers that Gearbox rolled out during E3 leading up to the release of the game in 2013.

It is the critical and financial success of the Borderlands franchise (as of this may, Borderlands 2 had sold over 9 million copies and LOTS of DLC) that continues to put Gearbox in a favorable public light, and I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Battleborn has many similarities to Gearbox’s bread-and-butter looter shooter. I would have to believe we may not get an announcement for Borderlands 3 until at least the 2015 or 2016 E3, so the reception and success of this new IP is paramount for Gearbox’s immediate well-being. I am excited to hear Battleborn will be coming out on Xbox One, PS4 and PC (something I hope also happens with the upcoming Borderlands, the Pre-Sequel). A little less excited to hear we may have to wait until March of 2016 for its release, but it’s not like we won’t have plenty of games to play between now and then. Heck, I still have expansions for Borderlands 2 to play….

The Weekly WhaTiDY – Phantom Dust

The Weekly WhaTiDY is where we here at bit fix radio ask "What's the deal, yo?!" about a different topic in video games each week. If you have thoughts on what's below, or have a suggestion for a future WhaTiDY, email us at or respond in the comments below. Your thoughts could make it into the next episode of Bit Fix Radio! Thanks for reading!

By Kevin Metz

What’s the deal with Phantom Dust, yo? No seriously, it was one of those “big” announcements at the Microsoft 2014 E3 press conference last week that no one, including this guy, saw coming. And, judging by the luke-warm applause peppered with outbursts of sheer joy that only a special kind of fandom and love for a game can produce, not many knew anything about this “Phantom Dust,” or the enormity of what rebooting this cult classic from the original Xbox, might mean.

Not quite the amazing reception Microsoft was expecting, perhaps? Or maybe, in a year where Microsoft so desperately wants to be all about the games, this is exactly the reaction they wanted. I certainly didn’t know anything about the game. The minute and 34 second trailer of a brooding, deep-in-thought protagonist having a slow motion, glow-battle with a bird-to-cyber woman in a courtyard to classical Chopin didn’t get me excited, peak my interest or curiosity. It came, it went, and it exited my mind.

And then I began to think. What was so special about this original Xbox game from 2004 to reboot it? Why hadn’t I at least heard of it before? And what made those few people whoop and holler with the giddiness of a Halo fan boy getting a lap dance from Master Chief? Suddenly, I needed to know…

What is Phantom Dust?
It’s a fine balance of third-person action and plan-ahead strategy, it’s a single and multiplayer arena battler, and quite frankly, it’s hard to explain because there just isn’t a lot out there to compare it too. My first thought when watching gameplay footage brought me back to high school Kevin (scary thought, I know) going to the arcade to play Virtual On, an arena mech shooter where you fire all sorts of missiles, hover and dash around, etc. Here, you are using your powers, which you apparently get to select before each mission/battle begins in the same way you’d put a deck of cards together for a game of Magic or Hearthstone. The powers that you’ve selected then randomly show up on the battle field – ranging from offensive (freakin’ laser beams, forward dashes) to defensive (freakin’ shields that block and reflect), and onward and upward. You have a limited amount of action points to use these skills, so planning ahead and thinking strategically seems to be a good idea.

The story and the hub-world that you wander around in to pick up missions, skills, and ‘make your deck’ between fights reminds me a lot The Matrix, which makes sense considering the second movie had just come out a year earlier in 2003 when the game was being made. I’m honestly not much of a story guy to begin with, so if you really want to know all about the story and game play mechanics, I highly recommend watching the video below where Nick Robinson from Rev3 Games ( gives the full break down. Pro-tip: he’s actually played the game and LOVES it.

I REALLY want to play it now too!
I have to admit, searching the corners of the internet for fan sites and history of the game really makes me want to play this game I missed too. The first step in my journey was see if I could find a copy. Now, Phantom Dust is a) an original Xbox game, and b) not that easy to come by. Copies are going online for anywhere from $40 to $100 and up, depending on condition (the dev team of the announced reboot actually said in an interview that the price of the game was going up as they actively tried to buy up copies of the 2004 release) . It turns out that only 70,000-80,000 copies of the game actually shipped worldwide, with a majority of those games being bought in Japan. As I am writing this, I have now learned that this game is apparently backwards compatible with the Xbox 360, as long as you download the Microsoft-released patch (Pro-tip: I haven’t confirmed this myself yet, and this is M$ we are talking about, so you may want to investigate to see if you REALLY can play on 360 before taking my word for it!). Given that the Steam Summer Sale is going on right now, I’m not exactly looking to spend too much on an original Xbox game just quite yet, but it IS now on my radar!

So why did the original release fail?
From what I can tell, it was a combination of bad timing and even worse marketing. The game came out in Japan in 2004 and in the states in March of 2005, not long after Microsoft had started to gain traction with it’s new “Xbox Live” service. And what were we all playing on it, myself included? Halo 2. That game certainly did get all my attention for a good year after it was released in November, 2004. According to an article on titled “The Birth of Xbox Live,” I wasn’t alone. “The previous record for concurrent players on Xbox Live,” says the article, “was just over 40,000. In less than 24 hours, Halo 2 had quadrupled it.”

So Halo 2 had our attention turned to competitive multiplayer on Xbox Live. One would think this would bode in favor for Phantom Dust, which had a very strong multiplayer component to go with a beefy single-player campaign. Unfortunately, Majesco, the company that brought the game to the states, forgot to tell… well, anyone. The game came out with very little to know marketing, relying on the critical praise and above-average-to-great reviews it was receiving. And again, EVERYONE WAS PLAYING HALO 2!

A game before it’s time, and it’s time is now!
The most common thread to commentary on Phantom Dust is that it’s ‘a game before it’s time.” Seeing as how, to my knowledge, no game before or since has truly pulled off the mechanics Phantom Dust strived towards, I have to agree. There have been numerous outcries over the years from a small yet rabid fan base to come out with a sequel or at least port the original to Xbox Live Arcade as an HD remake. And in an age where, 10 years later, console gaming online is the norm, this is a game that should (and hopefully will) thrive now.

The development backing is strong. Yukio Fatasugi, the maker of the Panzer Dragon series on the Dreamcast and, most recently, Crimson Dragon on the XBox One, had great passion and vision when he brought the world Phantom Dust. He will be spearheading this game as well, and he has a strong backing.  “The idea of rebooting old games is something I have a lot of passion for,” said Microsoft Creative Director Ken Lobb before introducing the trailer on stage at this year’s E3.  “Great design is what we should be looking for when we decide what games we should build.” Ken, who also helped with the remake of Killer Instinct for the Xbox One Launch, has been instrumental along with others in getting the game off the ground. Rev3Games has posted a great video interviewing Ken and two others about how their inspirations for resurrecting the game.

So what does it all mean?
It mean’s that Phantom Dust is now on my radar, and I am a happier gamer for it. It means that the thought of having a next-gen arena battler that incorporates my new-found love for card-collecting games (thank you, Hearthstone, for that one) is pretty darn cool. It means that hopefully Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo will continue to bring back and reboot more of their cult franchises for another go-around. It struck me during our E3 episode of Bit Fix Radio that none of us had ever heard of the game called Phantom Dust. We passed it over then, gleaming over the sexier, the indier, the more well known. (In fact, there are two Easter Eggs in the Phantom Dust Trailer – a bulletin board of Gears of War and one of Halo Wars, possibly hinting at upcoming announcements?) But this is a game that shouldn’t be looked over twice. It deserves a second chance, as many games do. What are your thoughts on Phantom Dust? What cult-classic games from your past would you like to see get a second go-around? Leave your thoughts in the comments below and/or email us at, and become part of the conversation in our next episode of Bit Fix Radio! 

Review – Max: The Curse of Brotherhood

Max: The Curse of Brotherhood

(72/100 via Metacritic)

Xbox One/Xbox 360

Cost: $14.99/Free via Games with Gold until July 31st, 2014 on Xbox One


Max: The Curse of Brotherhood is a platformer brought to us by Press Play, a studio acquired by Microsoft in 2012.  In Max, you arrive home from school one day and become annoyed by your little brother playing with (or smashing) your toys.  Via a quick internet search, you find a “spell” that, when read aloud, opens a portal and sucks your brother away.  Before the portal closes, you realize your mistake and set off into the mysterious world to save him. In addition to dangers such as beasts and lava, you soon learn the strange realm is ruled by the evil Mustacho. Luckily a strange old woman acts as your Fairy Godmother, guiding you on your adventure.



The game is presented in a beautiful 2.5D environment.  Your only weapon is a magic marker, and, when enchanted by the old woman, allows you to draw vines and branches, raise platforms, guide streams of water, and fire projectiles, to aid you in your quest to save Felix.



The platforming style of Max is a lot of fun, and many areas involve sliding and jumping at the right time, often in conjunction with using the magic marker.  Chase sequences in the form of running from a giant beast are sometimes challenging, and sometimes frustrating, especially when the marker controls dont exactly pan out the way you hoped.  The controls overall are decent, but when you are trying to connect a vine to the tip of a branch, good luck.  Some of the puzzle aspects of the game take a decent amount of trial and error through this 7 hour adventure.

Replay Value:

Scattered throughout Max’s travels, he will encounter evil eyes that act as Mustacho’s living security cameras, as well as pieces of the old woman’s amulet.  Disposing of the eyes, and gaining all the amulet pieces won’t impact the game’s story, but they will net you 150 gamerscore points, so achievement hunters like myself see opportunities for replay higher than your average gamer.  In the pause menu, you will see how many eyes and amulet pieces are in each level; a handy guide you should check often to see if you have missed anything.


The Score:

Max: The Curse of Brotherhood’s story may be somewhat weak, simply because there isn’t much in the way of character development or explanation of the mysterious land you travel to.  That being said, Max delivers a fun platforming romp with great visuals and an interesting gameplay element in the magic marker. Also, despite a predictable ending, I still enjoyed playing through the game’s entirety.  While the marker control may be frustrating at times, the checkpoints are forgivable. When the mechanics finally all comes together you may groan “FINALLY”, but still feel like a rock star nonetheless.

Max: The Curse of Brotherhood


3.5 out of 5

 Have you played Max: The Curse of Brotherhood?  Let us know what you thought at! Til next time…



Games with Gold begins to shine on Xbox One

Last month, Xbox One owners finally got a taste of what 360 owners had and loved for a year: Games with Gold. This program, an answer (albeit a poor man’s answer) to Sony’s Playstation Plus Instant Game Collection program, gives gamers with an Xbox Live Gold account access to download games from the marketplace for free, and keep them as long as they have the account. First announced at E3 2013, gamers were excited for the chance at free games, however, the lineup at first was nowhere near what we had hoped.

Fable III, Defense Grid: The Awakening, and Assassins Creed 2 were the first few games available for download. The problem with the program in its early stages was the fact that the games they offered for free were games most people already owned. Fable III had been out for nearly 3 years at that point, and Assassins Creed 2 was nearly 4 years old. The trend continued with games like Rainbow Six: Vegas, a game that was 6 years old when offered by the program, Halo 3, which was 5 years old, and the ORIGINAL Gears of War, another 6 year old game. I started to wonder what exactly was the point of all this.


Why are the games being offered so old? I mean, granted, they are all good games, but these are titles that people have already played ages ago. Gears of War, for instance, was a Triple A title. A title that people either bought when it first came out, or they didn’t like shooters. Same goes for Halo 3. So was this program for the kids who didn’t have the opportunity to play them before because they were too young? To entice new Xbox 360 owners? What about the loyalists? What about the people who had a 360 at launch? Why give me games I played 6 years ago? Granted Playstation’s program had a 3 year head start, but they were offering up to 6 games at a time. Some for Vita, some for PSP, most for PS3, but they were either top notch indie/arcade titles (The Cave, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, NFL Blitz, NBA Jam, etc.) or Triple A titles (Battlefield 3, Borderlands, Demon’s Souls, etc.) True, these games weren’t brand new when Sony first offered them either, but the wait time was drastically shorter. You will see what I mean at the end of the article. It just seemed like Xbox knew this was a big selling point for PS3 and had to combat it, they just went about it all wrong.

Last year, the next generation of gaming was upon us. Sony’s Playstation Plus was now mandatory for online multiplayer on the PS4 (a feature that was free for the PS3), but you got the added benefit of the instant game collection. The program started right back up, not with much of a bang (the system was brand new for Christ’s sake) but it started nonetheless. Microsoft said “it’s coming, along with all kinds of other stuff like HBO GO,” (which we’re STILL waiting for) but after that, there wasn’t much noise about it. It continued on 360, with games like A World of Keflings, and Shoot Many Robots (weemp womp.) We then received word that Games with Gold was really coming this time.


June 3rd, Xbox One owners got their first taste of free games with Halo: Spartan Assault and Max: The Curse of Brotherhood (you can read my review of Max in my next post.) My initial thought was that it was a decent start. They got casual gamers with the Halo name (although it is NOT Halo) along with a good platformer in Max. I didn’t expect a big title simply because it is too new of a system. They’re not going to give away a launch title, although Forza would have been nice, since the UK got it for free with their system, or FIFA to go along with this World Cup nonsense, but I digress. I downloaded my freebies, and instantly started wondering what was next? What’s coming in July?!


Well, it was announced that July 2nd, Xbox One owners are getting Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition. Max is staying on, but Halo is being removed from the program July 1st. Guac, as it will be known forth, is another platformer which has garnered rave reviews (the first game on last gen scored an 84/100 on Metacritic) and is making its debut on the system with this installment. I like the addition of the game, although I am still anticipating the “WOW” moment when I feel like the program really delivers something that blows me away. 360 owners get 2 new games:


Gotham City Imposters (65/100) on July 1st (a game that Sony offered 2 years ago… See what I meant about shorter wait times?) and


BattleBlock Theater (85/100) on July 15th.

I can only assume larger titles will be coming in the future. With the system still in its infancy, there is still plenty of time for Games with Gold to evolve. I just hope the July 2020 game of the month isn’t Ryse: Son of Rome. What do you think of this month’s offerings? Let us know at! Til next time…



Outlast on Xbox One

Outlast screen

Outlast is a survival horror game from developer Red Barrels.  It was released on PC in September 2013, then subsequently on the PS4.  It is now available for download on the Xbox One.

It is also completely terrifying.

Not terrifying in a Kinect Star Wars sort of way, mind you.  Rather this game will bring even the bravest of horror fans to their knees as they carefully take each step throughout the 5+ hour single player story.

You play as independent journalist Miles Upshur, hoping to find the big story that will catapult your career.  Of course, to do this, you decide it’s a great idea to drive to the remote mountains of Colorado, alone, at night, and break into an abandoned insane asylum, where you have learned from an anonymous tipster that secretive inhumane experiments are being conducted.  You, Miles, are not a smart man.

…And then hilarity ensues!!  No wait, what I meant to say, was that sheer terror hammers down upon you from the moment you enter the asylum.  Outlast is not a kind game.  It does not care that you like having copious amounts of ammo in your video games.  It does not care that you like to explore every inch of a well-lit room.  It certainly does not care that you like knowing where your enemies are or how they plan to flank you.  Part of the “fun” of Outlast is realizing that anything can and will happen to you at any moment.  And all you possess to defend yourself is your camcorder and running shoes (in other words, you cannot defend yourself).

I was very happy to hear that Outlast was making its way to the XBone.  It is no secret that I am a huge horror fan, whether it be film or games.  Having played through the game, I can attest that it does not disappoint the genre.   It often feels that the golden age of survival horror is well behind us.  Gone are the days of games that made you creep around every corner or manage a tight inventory (if any at all) of limited resources.  Instead, we now rush through hordes of enemies, double tap X to dive into cover, and cycle through 16 different weapon types as mountains of empty shells pile around us.  Sure, there have been occasional gems that show us how games can be truly scary, like Amnesia and Dead Space (1…the sequels became very action oriented).  The less said about Resident Evil 6 the better.  Outlast is refreshing in that it knows exactly what it is: a vehicle to frighten you from start to finish.

If you can stomach the gore and enjoy being frightened, I cannot recommend this game enough.  I implore that you play it alone, late at night, with the lights off, and with the volume cranked up.  I also wouldn’t be turned off by the seemingly short campaign.  It honestly took me a while to get through the game simply because its difficult to play when hiding behind my chair.  Or when the game is off and I’m sobbing under my bed sheets.  In addition, DLC was recently released in the form of a prequel – Outlast: Whistleblower.  So even after finishing the game, you can continue to torture yourself, you masochist!

Let us know about your Outlast your experience!  We will no doubt be discussing more on the next show.