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Te onslaught of hot holiday video game releases is upon us


Fallout 4 Screenshot. Image courtesy of Bethesda Game Studios. Drew Nordman


this month pales in comparison to the hype surrounding Fallout 4. It's been four years since the last instalment of the critically acclaimed post-apocalyptic RPG and fans are rav- enous for more. Fallout's milieux has always been incredibly unique. Te only term I can think of to describe its aesthetic is "neo-50s". Fallout is set in a universe where our popular culture never advanced beyond the likes of Buddy Holly and Westside Story. Technologically speaking, we advanced to the point of laser guns and flying cars - oh and a population decimating nuclear war. You play as a survivor of a nuclear holocaust who emerges from a vault (bomb shelter) after generations of hiding. As you can imagine it's not all hap- piness and sunshine on the surface. You arise to a radiation ravaged wasteland, populated by mutants, marauding ban- dits, a pseudo-religious military organization, a group of evil scientists bent on world domination, and much much more. All that heavy stuff aside, Fallout's appeal really comes from its retro sensibility. Everything in the series from its music to its art is insanely charming. In a future so incredibly bleak, you would think it impossible to run around questing with a huge grin on your face, but Fallout always pulls it off. Add to the mix majorly upgraded graphics, a new town building


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eing the penultimate month of the holiday season, November bears almost too many games to be excited for. It speaks volumes that pretty much every game


mechanic, a fully voiced protagonist in a Bethesda RPG for the first time ever, and you've got yourself a modern classic. Look for Fallout 4 to hit PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on November 10th. Last month I talked at great length about the Uncharted


Collection and its unrivalled amazingness. Tat being said there's no way Uncharted would've ever been as exceptional without its progenitor - Tomb Raider. Being a series that helped define a generation in gaming, Tomb Raider set the bar for action adventure titles in the mid to late 90s. Unfor- tunately, it eventually became more and more cartoonish. Twelve games later, with its protagonist Lara Croft quickly becoming a caricature of herself, many gamers grew tired of the formula. Tis fatigue lead to the acclaimed reboot of the franchise in 2013, simply again titled Tomb Raider. Taking place far before the nigh invulnerable sex symbol that she had grown into, this origin story brought a much needed sympathetic vulnerability to Lara's character. Marooned on a mysterious and dangerous island, you actually felt the peril of the situation that she and her shipmates had gotten themselves into. With the success of this reboot now comes its sequel, Rise of the Tomb Raider. Without spoiling the plot of the last game, Lara now finds herself questioning her san- ity while trying to uncover a supernatural mystery, all the while being hunted by a secret organization. What's interest- ing to me is the fact that Microsoft has secured the rights for the game for its first year, guaranteeing its exclusivity to the Xbox and Windows platform until late 2016. An interesting gambit on the part of publisher Square-Enix, given PlaySta-


tion's lead in popularity in today's gaming ecosystem. Xbox One owners can look forward to playing Rise of the Tomb Raider on November 10th, whereas PlayStation 4 owners will have to wait until fall 2016. In all of science fiction history, Star Wars has unequivocal-


ly been the one series that stands head and shoulders above the rest in terms of popularity. With the first true sequel to the original trilogy coming out this December, it makes sense for a video game tie-in to lead the charge. Star Wars: Battlefront is half sequel half reboot to the 2004 series of the same name, and it is a marvel to behold. Developer DICE, known for Te military first person shooter Battlefield, has truly outdone themselves on the graphical front. Visually, gameplay is easily mistakable for actual footage from the movies. Te gameplay mechanics however have not deviated from the original, and that's a good thing. Te game takes place exclusively as a multiplayer experience, pitting players against each other on teams ie. Te Empire vs. Te Rebels. You get to re-create and reimagine famous battles from the films. Defend the Rebel base on the beautifully snow covered Hoth or the conversely decimate the Ewok infested jungles of Endor for the glory of the Empire. If you do well enough on your team and you can be rewarded with the chance to inhabit the hero or villain characters such as Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader, truly incentivizing high levels of play. Tere's really little else to say aside from the fact that if you love Star Wars you'll love this game - and come on who doesn't love Star Wars? Look for Star Wars: Battlefront to hit shelves on November 15th for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.


Instant Replay: Coaches challenge rule debuts in NHL


Marc Lagace


everyone seems to be really excited about three-on-three overtime. I’m old enough to remember going to NHL


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games as a kid in the 90s, and I swear every game I went to ended in a tie. Now, I’m aware I’m going to sound like a crotchety old man in saying this, but kids these days should appreciate just how good they have it. Not only will they never know the frustration of watching an NHL game end in a tie, they now get to enjoy three-on-three overtime — basically a real-life version of the cartoony arcade hockey games we all cherish. But while three-on-three was a popular


16 Smart Biz


could not be more excited for the start of a new NHL season. After seeing it in action throughout the preseason,


topic during the preseason, there were a few other rule changes coming this year that will only come into effect once the regular season has started. For the first time this year, coaches will


have the ability to challenge for missed offside and goalie interference calls on goals. Now, I don’t think this will become as frequently used as it is in football —I find the linesmen generally do a pretty good job on offside calls, same goes for issues of goalie interference. But what I absolutely love about this is the debate and discus- sion coach’s challenge systems create in the stands. Let’s take a CFL game, for instance. Any-


time there’s a questionable call made by the on-field officials, you can feel the ripple of energy as thousands of people cry out for the coach to challenge the call. Ten there’s the eruption of cheers and applause when


the coach throws his flag, and the ensuing debate and discussion as everyone patiently waits to see a replay on the jumbotron and hear the decision on the call. Besides the excitement of the game itself — and those times when they used to throw free hot- dogs into the crowd — its one of the small moments I enjoy most when attending a football game. And now it’s coming to hockey, which I


think will be a great thing — assuming, of course, that coaches don’t end up abusing the system by teaching goalies to exaggerate every close call with an opposition player. I think it’s a step in the right direction, yet


I believe we’re still just dragging our feet on the issue of getting calls right, and it’s only a matter of time before we see professional sports implementing a hybrid form of of- ficiating, which uses both on-ice and video replay officials concurrently.


www.smartbizwpg.com In my futuristic sports dream scenario,


video officials would be in constant com- munication with the on-ice officials and, in real time, would let them know when they should blow a play dead because they missed a call. Te emphasis is and always has been on getting the call right the first time. No challenges, no delaying the game. Simply use the technology available to make the right call every time. Now I can already hear the hockey purists


out there crying the element of human error in officiating is somehow crucial to sports, but with all the cameras and technology at our disposal, it’s inevitable and should ultimately make for a better fan experience. That’s ultimately what it’s all about.


Te NHL has thus far done a great job of allowing the sport to evolve without fun- damentally changing the dynamic of the sport itself.


November 2015


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