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BATMAN: THE TELLTALE SERIES EPISODE 2:
CHILDREN OF ARKHAM REVIEW
If the first episode of Telltale’s Batman series introduced us to the different sides of Bruce Wayne - the brutal vigilante, the billionaire socialite, and the soon-to-be World’s Greatest Detective - then Episode Two, titled Children of Arkham, explores how these parts come together. In doing so it delivers some wonderfully shocking moments and sets up an intriguing new adventure for the Dark Knight.
Despite being roughly half an hour shorter than the first episode (which is two hours long) Episode Two surpasses its predecessor Realm of Shadows in terms of character development and storytelling. While the new antagonists, the eponymous Children of Arkham,
are an intriguing new foil to the Caped Crusader, they don't appear until late
in the episode and won't be truly captivating until more of their plan is
revealed in future episodes. As with any good Batman story, it's ultimately the
ghosts of Bruce Wayne’s past that make this installment a compelling
continuation of the Telltale series. Keeping things vague to avoid too many
spoilers, this installment focuses on whether Bruce can accept what may or may
not be a disturbing truth about his family, which leads to iconic figures from
the Batman lore being shown in very different, much more interesting light.
The way Children of Arkham’s story confounds my expectations of events as a long-time Bat-fan is its most alluring quality. While I still fully expect certain aspects of the Batman canon to exist in this new version of Gotham – Harvey Dent and Selina Kyle are main characters, after all – the alterations to established lore we’ve already seen inspire confidence in Telltale’s ability to offer new takes on DC’s well-known characters and stories. The writers do a stellar job of taking the Bat-truths I hold to be self-evident, crumpling them up, and tossing them into a flaming dumpster in favor of something potentially just as interesting. It’s much easier to empathize with Bruce’s shock, anger, or sorrow since I, too, was left stunned when a familiar character is cast aside, or revealed to be anything but familiar.
The only downside to this is that I feel that if I had no previous knowledge of the Caped Crusader and his gallery of sidekicks and rogues, these moments might fall somewhat flat. The writing is smart and the entire episode avoids the somewhat sluggish pacing of the series’ previous installment, but if you strip away the Batman mythos from the plot, some of its moments become fairly predictable. Telltale is clearly banking on our pre-existing knowledge of BatLore to let the full impact of its story land, but considering that there have been four number-one box office movies in the past decade and some version of him on TV since the early ‘90s, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to assume that we would have a basic understanding of the source material. And if, by some modern miracle one doesn’t have the slightest clue who Bruce Wayne is, the best moments of this episode revolve around his relationships with his friends and family – things that anyone
can relate to.
It’s these more intimate moments – and how they affect our larger decisions throughout the episode – that reinforce the idea of Wayne and his alter-ego as one cohesive character, as opposed to two sides to the same coin. Instead, the two personas are reconciled as different tools at one man’s disposal, and we’re given a choice of using either Bruce’s political savvy and personal touch or Batman’s heavy-handed intimidation tactics to uncover the next piece of the puzzle. While we’re only offered one such scenario in this particular episode, that option offers two distinctly different experiences, and each one provides different information depending on how each sequence plays out. As the Dark Knight I bashed down the doors and pummeled some basic information out of my target before security showed up, but Bruce Wayne was able to coax extra helpful contextual details out of his quarry with some old-fashioned, non-violent charm.
When you do choose the vigilante route, however, this episode features some of Telltale’s best action yet, even if it does suffer from the same noticeable framerate drops or audio hiccups that seem to plague the their more intricate cinematic sequences. Still, the QTE sequences are an enjoyable break from conversation, and one bar fight in particular reminded me just how satisfying completing a well-directed quick-time sequence can be.
What’s even more impressive is that while most modern Batman stories lean on the idea that the Dark Knight only wears Bruce Wayne’s persona as a mask to carry on his vigilante crusade under cover of daylight, this episode had me thinking of the man inside the cowl only as “Bruce” rather than Batman – a first in recent memory – and this sentiment carries over into some unexpectedly poignant interactions between Bruce and the supporting cast.
Exploring how the allegations against his family affects his relationship with Alfred, or how the ensuing scandal – and Bruce’s budding infatuation with Selina Kyle – could potentially redefine or ruin his friendship with Harvey Dent, puts all of the focus on Bruce instead of the Bat. Given the hallmark Batman moments that may (or may not, depending on how you play) be yet to come, adding these extra levels of emotional investment makes for a more compelling tale. Even though I’m familiar with how certain events could play out, I’m genuinely eager for the next episode to arrive and continue it’s unique blend of old and new.
Any game bearing the Deus Ex name sets a high bar for itself, and yet, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided clears it handily. The followup to Deus Ex: Human Revolution retains the strong gameplay blueprint of choice-driven stealth and RPG elements that defines the series, but its superlative map and mission designs elevate it to new highs.
Mankind Divided’s gorgeously realized version of Prague is deeply infused with meaty, multi-part quests that give you plenty of chances to leverage its toy chest of cool gadgets and abilities. Its story is just slightly limited in scope compared to the far-reaching conspiracies the plot often alludes to, but in terms of raw gameplay, this is the best the series has ever been.
Even more so than its predecessors, this iteration of Deus Ex succeeds in making me feel like a cybernetically enhanced super agent that no security system can withstand. A handful of powerful, sexy new experimental augments that you can wire into grizzled cyborg protagonist Adam Jensen are at least partially to thank for that. The energy-draining Titan Armor ripples angrily as it shrugs off everything from bullets to grenades, the Tesla Arm attachment locks onto and incapacitates multiple targets at range, and when someone absolutely needs to die immediately, the arm-mounted nanoblade launcher pierces flesh and armor alike - knocking its target clean off their feet and pinning the corpse to the nearest wall with tremendous force. They’d almost be too powerful if not for the associated energy and ammo costs that come with them, which are fine-tuned so that I wasn’t too shy to use one, while still feeling a little bit special every time I did.
These deviously fun gadgets would be good on their own, but it’s the thoughtfully crafted environments that tease out their true potential. For instance, the Icarus Dash allows you to cover short distances in the blink of an eye, which makes it a fine escape tool. It’s also a great gap-closer for swiftly knocking out guards from a few paces out. But it wasn’t until I started noticing subtle new routes I could take towards objectives that I was sold on it. I once used it to dash across a series of rafters high above an entire roomful of enemies with none of them the wiser. More often, I used it to dash directly from ground level up to a second-story window.
That particular use synergizes perfectly with the Remote Hacking aug, which is probably the most transformative upgrade. Experimenting with it allows you to manipulate everything from laser grids and mines to ladders and window shutters, opening up whole new possibilities I had no idea were there upon first glance.Remote hacking a second-floor window shutter and then Icarus Dashing up to it became my favorite one-two punch of stealthy infiltration, granting me easy access to more than a few places where the front door wasn’t an option. This harmonious relationship between mechanics and environmental design extends to the returning augments as well, lending a sense of value and purpose to even the most basic-seeming of upgrades.
Being able to leap, sneak, muscle, or hack my way into almost anywhere wouldn’t mean much if there wasn’t anything there worth discovering, but my feats of high-tech infiltration were always rewarded in one way or another. An innocent-looking curio shop might have a secret passage leading to a storage locker full of valuable items, or sneaking through a neighboring apartment might lead to you stumbling into one of the meaty multi-part sidequests.
It’s a little surprising that Eidos Montreal is willing to allow us to overlook these if we don’t search thoroughly enough, because in terms of complexity and design these optional adventures are no less sophisticated than the main quest-line. You won’t find any simple hit jobs or fetch quests here; these are long-form assignments with lots of moving parts, and they require you to find one of several possible solutions at every step.
“You can smell the delicate flowers,” says the duchess to Geralt of
Rivia, and in that moment, you might believe that you can smell them, too. Like
the full game, The Witcher 3’s final expansion, Blood and Wine, has a way of
expressing its sensory delights so fully and richly that you could be convinced
you really do feel the rain pouring on your face or the pesky tickle of a
mosquito buzzing near your ear. That The Witcher 3 continues to look and sound
so lavish is unsurprising, yet Blood and Wine’s visuals are even bolder and more
vivid than the main game’s. At times, the vast new region of Toussaint seems to
have been poured onto the screen from the pages of a fairy tale--and depending
on your choices, you may literally find yourself drawn into one such tale.
Blood and Wine is sometimes as thematically dark as its
predecessors. The vampire-focused main story explores the creatures’ innate lust
for blood, among other quirks and passions, and the related scenes are dramatic
and distressing in fine Witcher tradition. Yet compared to the rest of The
Witcher 3, Blood and Wine is brighter and more ebullient, downplaying the
melancholy and bringing humor to the forefront. That isn’t to say that this
series has never been funny; in fact, it’s always possessed a wicked sense of
wit. The humor has never been this ubiquitous or straightforward, however. You
might hear a local singing “El Condor Pasa” under his breath as you pass by on
your search for a statue’s missing testicles, or you may do a double-take when
you notice not-so-subtle references to GOG.com, publisher CD Projekt’s digital
The self-referential humor reaches a head during a side quest
involving hallucinogenic mushrooms, though it’s best that I don’t reveal the
specifics. Suffice it to say that developer CD Projekt RED has no qualms about
making fun of its own foibles. I can’t say the references always work in Blood
and Wine’s favor, though. All too often, the fantasy I wanted to be living
reminded me of the world I actually inhabit. Perhaps if Blood and Wine’s main
story and characters were more engaging, the references wouldn’t have been so
distracting, but none of Geralt’s new cohorts can match Yennefer’s lusty spark
or The Bloody Baron’s brutal sorrow. Dwarfs in this universe have often been
bankers--but in Blood and Wine, that’s almost the only role they play. It’s
sensible, then, that the game’s most boring quest envelops you in a morass of
financial red tape at the hands of a dwarven-run bank. And it isn’t made less
boring by the quest’s knowing references to its own tedium.
Don’t get me wrong: it’s easy to pick apart these details only
because The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt is such a stunning game that anything less
than phenomenal is bound to stand out for being “merely” great. I missed the
diversity of the old cast--Toussaint is inhabited mainly by normal humans--but I
still got swept up in the populace’s squabbles and stresses. Family drama is
often at the forefront (one of blood’s several meanings in Blood and Wine),
whether that family be a set of violence-minded brothers, estranged sisters, or
a married couple that continues its petty bickering even in death. The finest
quests, however, are those that begin with odd mysteries and tell the bleakest
tales. What should you make of a creature that collects thousands of spoons, and
what is the best way to confront the curse that afflicts it? How is it that a
tree can bleed, and what role does a local witch play in the matter?
episode sounds promising during the briefing: take out a
corrupt banker seeking refuge in the Swedish embassy in
Marrakesh, plus a bent General plotting a coup d'état holed
up in an abandoned school. Between the targets sits a
sprawling Moroccan marketplace and an angry mob baying for
the banker’s blood at the embassy gates. Time is of the
essence, 47 is warned, and the city is reportedly about to
And yet that
pressure fails to translate to the level itself. It feels
underdone compared to the previous missions – especially the
excellent Sapienza hit – and is the least convincing and
least engaging level so far.
There are no drastic revisions to the formula established by
previous episodes here: you have to find your own path to
executing two targets. Episode by episode, this new Hitman
game is still building itself into the Hitman: Blood Money
sequel Agent 47 fans have been craving for almost a decade.
Unlike Paris (Episode 1) and Sapienza (Episode 2), however,
Marrakesh is all sizzle and no sausage.
It gets off to a great start, as 47 emerges from a series of
narrow alleyways into a bustling square packed with spice
stores and rug merchants, but there’s nowhere near as much
meat to Marrakesh as there was to Sapienza. The embassy
isn’t very large, and neither is the school, and both feel
phoned in. I expected the embassy in particular to be a hive
of tension based on the looming riot outside, but inside
it’s a basic and bland office space dotted with a smattering
of indifferent NPCs.
Beyond the key kill locations there are a few rooftop areas
containing useful items, but that’s about it. Compared to
Sapienza, which felt ripped from a Bond movie, Marrakesh
seems slightly more linear and less imaginative, with fewer
forks in the road and fewer nooks and crannies to explore
and exploit. There are some unique new disguises, but
several of the kill opportunities are already rehashes.
We’ve already done the bomb in the TV crew’s camera, team.
Far Harbor may be perpetually gloomy, but it’s big: this expansion
presents a whole island’s worth of some of the strongest quest content we’ve
seen in Fallout 4 yet. It’s packed with interesting characters who present
tough, morally gray decisions, and their outcome had me feeling like I’d left a
real mark on this self-contained region.
Much in the same way that Fallout 4’s main quest begins as a simple search
for a missing child before blooming into a region-shaping battle, Far Harbor
lures you to its island in the course of a missing persons’ investigation taken
on by the Valentine Detective Agency (which means you must have gotten far
enough to meet Nick Valentine, around level 20) and then introduces you to the
far more intriguing and mysterious real reason you’re here. Each of the three
factions competing for survival and control of the island – the Far Harbor
townspeople, the Children of Atom cultists, and the synth refugees – is well
developed, with internal conflicts as well as external, and each has interesting
characters that are strongly voice acted. Most notably, synth leader DiMA’s calm
but intense performance as he raises some big questions about synths who don’t
know they’re synths.
The way the conflicts and intrigue are unraveled allows for justifiably
different reactions. Who’s in the right and who’s in the wrong to your character
will depend on your concept of justice for individuals and how you weigh that
against the bigger picture. Do the ends justify the means when it comes to
keeping the peace? This is the kind of nuanced, impactful decision-making that
was in short supply in Fallout 4’s main story quest, and in some spots there’s
more than one way to accomplish your goals. I didn’t get to see all of the
potential outcomes in one roughly 12-hour playthrough, but there’s a lot of
groundwork laid for different results.
In the middle of all of the main quest, Far Harbor takes a surprising detour
into a virtual environment that makes use of the settlement-building mechanics
to turn Fallout 4 into a puzzle game. The series of puzzle rooms are built
around just one simple idea: redirecting lasers to hit targets, not unlike what
we’ve seen in the Portal games. Mixing that with Minecraft-like block building
created some moderately clever challenges – especially in the last two chambers
(which are optional) the difficulty is ramped up significantly. There’s also a
Lemmings-like component where after you’ve lasered the path clear you must guide
virtual bugs to a goal, but that part is so hard to fail I’m not sure why
Bethesda bothered with it.
We also get a fairly unremarkable companion in the grizzled fisherman Old
Longfellow. He’s introduced as a guide who can lead you through the radioactive
fog that blankets the island, though it’s never that radioactive, so it’s never
more than a minor annoyance. Longfellow isn’t a key player in the story, but
adds some color commentary about the island and its history as you explore, and
serves as a barometer for the Far Harbor community’s reaction to your choices.
5 Reasons Why Overwatch is
This Year’s Must-Have FPS
Overwatch is looking set to
be the most exciting shooter of the year. Here's why.
The Overwatch beta has just been made open for
everyone, meaning that even if you haven't preordered Blizzard's
upcoming shooter, you can hop right in and see what all the fuss is
about. I've piled hours into it, and have come out the other end with
the distinct impression that this is going to be one of the biggest
online multiplayer games in quite some time, along with this year's
With the beta boasting the full game's complete roster
of character, maps and modes, it serves as a great indication of what we
should see in the final product, aside from the obvious tweaks and
additions that'll make their way to the game when it officially retails.
With that being said, here are 5 reasons why Overwatch should
be at the very top of your wish list for 2016:
1. Heroes for every situation
There are 21 playable characters in Overwatch's
beta and each one has their own advantages and disadvantages, both
inherent and contextual. Control mode, for instance, is a great
opportunity to plonk Bastion in the corner of the objective your
team has been tasked with defending/capturing, given that the
robotic defense character can transform himself into a stationary
turret. However, he isn't so helpful when you're playing in a mode
that requires a great deal of movement, such as defending the mobile
payload in the Escort game type.
couple of hours of playtime, I began to consider that the
infrequency in which certain characters are used must have meant
that there was some kind of imbalance and that they must simply not
be as useful as their more commonly encountered peers. However, it
only takes one game against a player well-versed in controlling the
likes of the underutilized Genji or Zenyatta to learn that they can
be the most effective Heroes on the playing field if used correctly.
Considering the wealth of different abilities
across the roster of characters, it's impressive that none feel like
an afterthought on Blizzard's behalf. While there will undoubtedly
be tiers outlining the best/worst characters come the game's full
release, for the average player each Hero has his/her own strengths
to warrant sinking a lot of time into each of them.
There's no escaping this ridiculous
30-hit Street Fighter V combo.
Street Fighter V is faced with another problem this week,
as players using the game's newly added character Guile have
discovered an incredibly long combo that can reduce an opponent's
health bar from full to zero in seconds.
Though the combo takes no
small degree of skill to successfully pull off, especially in the
middle of a match, a couple of competitive players have posted
evidence of them doing so that proves it's far from impossible.
The combo requires Guile to lose half of his health in order to
activate his V Trigger, with him having to force his opponent into a
corner before dealing out a barrage of Sonic Booms and punches. The
player can then initiate a throw, successfully continuing the
counter before concluding with a Critical Art special move. This can
lead to a combination of two lengthy combos, one lasting for 30 hits
and the other for 13. The rival player cannot defend themselves at
any point during this exchange.
Check out an example of the unbeatable combo in action below,
courtesy of competitive fighting game player Christopher "NYChrisG"
Why the Nintendo NX Announcement is
The official confirmation of the
Nintendo NX has raised more than a few eyebrows.
At this point Nintendo could justifiably be considered professional
contrarians. More or less every decision made by the company goes against
the grain of popular opinion, with their revelation that the Nintendo NX
will be released in March 2017 being no exception.
The NX, the company's
next home console, was expected to launch in the final quarter of this year
in time for the holiday season. However, in today's announcement the company
revealed that the console would actually launch at the tail-end of next
year's first quarter, with the first batch of information pertaining to it
scheduled to be announced later this year. The company also revealed that
they wouldn't be bringing the NX to E3 2016, nor would they have any
playable games on the expo's show floor aside from the new The Legend of
Zelda, which has had its release date pushed back to next year in order
to coincide with the launch of the new console, with it now set to appear on
both the Wii U and NX. Each of these decisions is questionable, but when you
put them all together and factor in the poor sales of the company's last
console, Nintendo's logic here is difficult to navigate.
Nintendo's decision to abstain from the marketing methods employed by
its peers during the Wii U's life cycle has failed. The company's
reliance upon its Nintendo Direct broadcasts over the ostentatious
events hosted by the likes of Sony and Microsoft may have been an
admirable move, but it has inevitably ensured that the Wii U has
received less coverage and interest as a result. This hasn't been helped
by the Wii U's lack of releases, which likely played a big part in
Nintendo deciding to remove itself from the annual lineup of E3 press
conferences, but this doesn't help explain the company's decision to
leave the NX at home for this year's event.
No matter how Nintendo presents the NX, it will not receive as much
coverage as an E3 presentation would, yet in a statement to investors
the company has revealed that the upcoming console will be absent from
this year's event. This makes little sense. Even though Sony and
Microsoft hosted their own individual launch events for the PS4 and the
Xbox One, both companies still brought their hardware to E3 as it
presents the best opportunity to promote it to consumers. Regardless of
whether Nintendo hosts its own swanky press conference at the end of
this year, or - gulp - decides to debut the NX in a Nintendo
Direct broadcast, it will not receive as much coverage or attention as
it would if it was unveiled at E3.
From RDR Online to train
heists, here's what the Spaghetti Western sequel needs.
It's looking more likely than ever that we'll see the
release of Red Dead Redemption 2 in the near future, with
map reportedly having been leaked online,
leading many to speculate that developer Rockstar is gearing up for
an announcement this year.
With the original
Red Dead Redemption being one of my favorite games of all
time, there is plenty that I want to see from its successor. While
I'm very confident that Rockstar will manage to surpass my
expectations, here are some of the changes that could ensure it
surpasses the original RDR, potentially making it Rockstar's best
1. Morality system
Red Dead Redemption's
biggest flaw, at least narratively, was that the player's
actions directly contradicted its plot throughout the bulk of
the game. While protagonist John Marston was a hero (at least by
the Wild West's standards) in the game's story, you could
willfully shoot down innocent bystanders without any
ramifications, with there even being an achievement handed to
the player if they hogtied a woman, placed her on train tracks
and witnessed her death. That you could do this and then go back
to Marston's story of desperately trying to forge a new life for
his family and leave his crime-ridden past behind was jarring,
to say the least.
morality systems are becoming less prevalent in games as time
goes by. Some may be happy to see this change, given that they
often presented their own set of issues, but open-world games
have yet to put anything in their place that satisfactorily
replaces them. Fallout 4, for instance, limited player
interaction with NPCs to a set number of dull dialogue choices
that largely consisted of "I'll help you," "I won't help you"
or "sarcastic response." While morality systems may not be
perfect, they're at least more enjoyable than this method, and
more appropriate than linear cutscenes in which the
player-character assumes the role of the hero, before they then
goes on to mercilessly gun down unwitting pedestrians left,
right and center.
Battleborn: What We Like and Dislike
About the MOBA/FPS Crossover
Gearbox's upcoming shooter is much
better than we anticipated.
The Battleborn open beta has now been available for a
little under a week on the PS4, with it also launching on the
Xbox One and PC tomorrow (April 14th). After piling more than a
handful of hours into it, I've now got a good handle on what to
expect when the game launches early next month.
the impending launch of Blizzard's vastly more anticipated
Overwatch, which also combines elements of both the MOBA
and FPS genres, Gearbox's shooter faces an uphill battle when it
comes to removing itself from out of the shadow of its peer.
Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised by just how much I
enjoyed the beta, and the future for this game now looks
brighter than what I had expected.
However, it still wasn't without its issues - some of which
could prove to be very problematic come the game's launch - so
here's a detailed rundown of what I liked and disliked about
The game's developer also reveals
that it'll be a more like the first game than any other entry in
Gears of War 4 finally has an official release
date, with the shooter set to launch worldwide on Xbox One
on October 11th, 2016.
The game's developer The
Coalition, who took over from the series' creator Epic
Games, also debuted the game's brand new box art in an
Entertainment Weekly, which can be viewed in full
Rod Fergusson, the studio head of The Coalition and
executive producer of the first three Gears of War
games at Epic, revealed how the story would different
from the last entry in the mainline series, revealing
that rather than focusing upon the bigger picture of an
all-out genocidal war, it would instead specifically
focus upon three heroes over the course of one night.
Fergusson stated that the game would be more in line
with the first GoW game thematically, saying: "[In]
Gears 1, there was still a lot more discovery and
still being scared and trying to understand this threat
that you http://www.gamespot.com/reviews/the-witcher-3-wild-hunt-blood-and-wine-review/http://www.gamespot.com/reviews/the-witcher-3-wild-hunt-blood-and-wine-review/1900-6416443/-gears-war-4s-release-date-confirmed">
One small step for Call of Duty, one
giant leap for Activision.
Reports have surfaced today suggesting that the next Call of
Duty game will be set in space, highlighting Activision's
continued plan to essentially transform the series into
With its introduction of free-running and sci-fi
elements, Call of Duty has steadily been following in the
vein of Respawn Entertainment's first-person shooter for the past
few years, though the latest report from
Eurogamer that the series will make the transition to the "very
distant future" in its next iteration is the biggest leap in this
direction thus far. While the original Titanfall managed to
only achieve a modicum of CoD's continued success, it's
clear that CoD's rotation of developers have looked towards
their rival for inspiration on multiple occasions, leading to the
latest revelation that the series will allegedly enter "sci-fi
Yesterday rumors surfaced that Nintendo was looking to shut down Wii
U production by the end of 2016, in order to make room for the
company's upcoming console, tentatively titled the Nintendo NX. This
information, reported by trusted Japanese newspaper
Nikkei, claimed that Nintendo had already ceased production of
several Wii U accessories, with the hardware manufacturer looking to
fully conclude the struggling console's life cycle by the year's
Nintendo has uncharacteristically responded to this rumor,
with an official spokesperson for the company saying (via Kotaku):
"This isn’t an announcement from our company, from the next quarter
and thereafter as well, production [of the Wii U] is scheduled to
continue.” However, despite this statement claiming that Wii U
production will continue in the near future, it doesn't directly
contradict Nikkei's claims that it will be halted before the end of
the year, and given Nikkei's previous history of correct claims
regarding Nintendo, many are still inclined to believe that the
publication's initial report is true.
If this is the case, then this inevitably leaves the future of
Nintendo's upcoming The Legend of Zelda Wii U game up in
the air. With Nintendo having shown us very little of the title,
which is still scheduled for release at some point this year, the
company has nonetheless maintained that it will still be released
exclusively on the Wii U. This is at odds with Nikkei's report, with
a new Zelda game not likely to pop up as an exclusive for a
console that would then go on to be retired within a couple of
Star Wars Enters Virtual Reality and
It’s Basically a Dream Come True
It definitely looks better than Kinect
Star Wars is entering the realm of virtual reality in
the form of Star Wars: Trials on Tatooine, a new "VR
experiment" set to be released for the HTC Vive that basically
looks like a dream come true.
A new trailer leaked online
shows the upcoming game in action, with it featuring the
Millennium Falcon landing on the sand-covered planet before the
player begins deflecting Stormtroopers' incoming laser fire with
their lightsaber. Developed by Industrial Light & Magic, little
is known about the game at the time of this writing, other than
it looks to be basically everything our childhood selves dreamed
of upon watching A New Hope.
You Should Play | The Division, Hitman
and Upwards, Lonely Robot
Ubisoft's blockbuster multiplayer
shooter will finally see the light of day this week.
Welcome to You Should Play,
a series where we highlight all of the video games that you should be
playing this week, from big-budget releases through to little-known indie
This week sees the release of one of the most highly
anticipated games of the entire year, as Ubisoft's The Division
finally makes its way to store shelves after previously being touted for
launch alongside the PS4 and Xbox One.
If that's not enough excitement for one week, a certain chrome-domed
silent assassin will make his return, and an interesting new platformer will
also make its way to Steam.
Despite #TorrentialDownpour Online
Campaign, Fire Emblem Fates is the Fastest Selling Release in the
Unnecessary online outrage
couldn't slow down the latest Fire Emblem.
It's always heartening when logic and reasoning prevail over
outrage and hysteria. Today it has been revealed that Fire
Emblem Fates has become the fastest selling game in the
series' history in the US, despite the online campaign #TorrentialDownpour
being set up with the threat of a mass boycott of the game due
to perceived localization problems.
set up by Twitter users who bemoaned what they felt was
censorship of the game after pieces of dialogue and certain
features were removed and changed for its US version. Despite
localization being something that has occurred in the video game
industry since, well, forever, and with the validity of
these localization choices being entirely subjective, the
individuals taking part in the campaign took it upon themselves
to send emails to Nintendo of America and incite what they
believed would be a major boycotting of the game. As we can now
see, this campaign didn't particularly have the desired effect
on the game that these individuals thought it would.
The game, which was launched in two editions - Birthright
and Conquest - has shifted 300,000 copies over the
course of its launch weekend, selling five times the amount of
the series' previous record Fire Emblem: Awakening in
the same time period. That's an impressive figure, and it could
be suggested that the larger spotlight placed upon the game as a
result of the campaign may have actively bolstered this number.
Far Cry Primal is releasing this week and it's a big
departure for the series in terms of its settings, even if many
facets of it will be familiar to fans of the franchise. However,
given that this is the first time the series have traveled way
back in time to the Stone Age, replacing its modern day beasties
with the likes of mammoths and saber-tooth tigers, there's a lot
to see in the prehistoric Oros that wasn't present in the likes
of Kyrat and the Rook Islands.
With their being said, here are
some things that you might not know about Far Cry Primal:
It's more violent than you'd think
Despite its prehistoric setting meaning that you'll be armed
with more primitive weaponry rather than the explosive
firearms featured in previous Far Cry games,
Far Cry Primal looks set to be the goriest game in the
series yet, if its ESRB rating is to be believed.
ESRB rates the game "M" for mature, with players
apparently able to hold enemies over fires in order to burn
their faces off, along with drilling holes into their skills
while they're still alive. There's also a number of other
incredibly graphic ways to dispatch of your foes, including
impaling them with your spear, alongside prehistoric animal
abuse that includes, but is not limited to, stabbing
mammoths in their tiny, beady eyes. If that's something
you're into, then have fun but also stay the Hell away from
Despite its prehistoric setting meaning that you'll be
armed with more primitive weaponry rather than the
explosive firearms featured in previous Far Cry
games, Far Cry Primal looks set to be the
goriest game in the series yet, if its ESRB rating is to
ESRB rates the game "M" for mature, with players
apparently able to hold enemies over fires in order to
burn their faces off, along with drilling holes into
their skills while they're still alive. There's also a
number of other incredibly graphic ways to dispatch of
your foes, including impaling them with your spear,
alongside prehistoric animal abuse that includes, but is
not limited to, stabbing mammoths in their tiny, beady
eyes. If that's something you're into, then have fun but
also stay the Hell away from us.
War Thunder is a Multiplayer online game combat flight game
developed by Gaijin Entertainment for Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X,
and PlayStation 4. It is currently in the open beta testing phase,
meaning that players are able to give feedback to developers on any
bugs before initial release of the full game.
The game is set to
contain aircraft, armored vehicles, and ships from the pre-World War
II era to the early Korean War era. Most maps in-game are either
directly or indirectly based on real-life battles of the era.
Publisher(s) Gaijin Entertainment
Composer(s) Zakhar Antonov Georgy Zheryakov Jeremy Soule
Engine Dagor Engine
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows Mac OS X PlayStation 4
Release date(s) Microsoft Windows November 1, 2012 (Open Beta) PlayStation 4 NA TBA EU November 29, 2013 Mac OS X September 16, 2013 (Open Beta)
Genre(s) Action, Combat flight simulator
Mode(s) Single-player, Multiplayer
Brand New Dark Souls 3 Footage
Highlights Bloodborne Similarities
A more fast-paced
Brand new footage from Dark Souls 3 was revealed during
From Software's live stream yesterday, and it seems that the
developer is taking a number of its cues from its own Bloodborne.
The new footage suggests that Dark Souls 3 will be a
faster-paced Souls game, with combat that shares similarities with From's
PS4 exclusive. The introduction of Bloodborne-esque dodging
should make way for a greater emphasis upon the agility of the
player-character, with this being one of the most widely praised
additions to the 2015 game. This could mean that lightweight
character builds will now be much more valuable than they were in
the first three Souls games.
With the series' creator Hidetaka Miyazaki now back at the helm
of the helm of the series after leaving his post for the development
of Dark Souls 2, it looks like Dark Souls 3 is
shaping up to be an excellent and unique addition to the beloved
series, and could stand to introduce new players to it who only
became acquainted with Miyazaki's work through Bloodborne.
Resident Evil 6 Remaster
Could Be Making its Way to PS4 and Xbox One
Capcom might be looking to
release Resi 6 on current-gen consoles.
A Resident Evil 6 remaster could be making its way
to the PS4, Xbox One and maybe PC as part of the series' 20th anniversary
Though this is purely speculation at
the time of this writing, we have it on good authority that Capcom is asking
outlets for approval for quotes pertaining to Resident Evil 6, to
reportedly be used around the time of the series' 20th anniversary on March
22nd, 2016. Capcom's official page dedicated to this 20th anniversary
references the recently released Resident Evil 0 HD Remaster, the
upcoming Umbrella Corps and the Resident Evil 2 Remake as
being part of these celebrations, though also states that the developer has
"various other projects" in the works, too.
While there has been no official confirmation from the
company that a Resident Evil 6 remaster is in the pipeline,
considering that the game was released on last-gen consoles, with it
therefore not requiring as much effort to bring it to the current generation
as the PlayStation-era Resi games, it isn't out of the realm of
Though Capcom could simply be hoarding quotes for a 20th
anniversary promotional campaign, it's curious that they would specifically
seek quotes for Resident Evil 6. This is all to be taken with a
pinch of salt, of course, but it certainly seems like Capcom is planning to
do something with Resident Evil 6 in the near future, and if we're
being cautiously optimistic, it would make sense for Capcom to release a
Resident Evil 6 remaster as part of a collection, rather than as a
Though common knowledge might place the beginning of video gaming in the
1980s arcade scene, or with the first Pong home editions, the history
of video games actually goes back much farther than that. The technical
definition of the term “video game” would require the game to have a video
signal transmitted through a cathode ray tube – though the current
interpretation is more along the lines of “anything on electronic hardware that
contains an element of interactivity,” or something along those lines. Using
this broad definition, the first video games actually surfaced in the 1950s,
using technology created during World War II.
The earliest known written computer game was a chess simulation, developed by
none other than Alan Turing (the man behind the cracking of the Enigma Machine
and the Turing Test) and David Champernowne (a mathematician and economist at
the University of Oxford and later at Cambridge). The game was called
Turochamp and the pair completed it in 1948, but it never actually made it
to a proper computer.
As far as games that were actually implemented, the earliest one was
Bertie the Brain, a tic-tac-toe machine built by Josef Kates for the 1950
Canadian National Exhibition; and Nimrod, built in 1951 by Ferranti for
that year’s Festival of Britain, which played the game of Nim. Both Bertie
and Nimrod allowed people who attended their respective events to play
their games against an artificial intelligence. They were created not so much
for the purpose of entertainment, but rather for the purpose of showing off the
AI programs that the developers had created.
For those of you who aren’t in the know, Shadow of the Beast
is a PS4 reinvention of the original Amiga game released back in 1989. It was a
game known for its particularly impressive graphics, especially its ability to
show up to twelve levels of parallax scrolling backdrops behind its
The original game spawned two sequels: Shadow of the Beast 2
in 1990 and Shadow of the Beast 3 in 1992. But after that the series
Now, though, it’s making a comeback courtesy of developer
Heavy Spectrum Entertainment Labs, headed up by über-passionate original Shadow
of the Beast fan Matt Birch – who you may remember from his rather emotional
presentation back at GamesCom 2013.
Hitman’s Episodic Release Could
Be the Future of Square Enix Games
First Final Fantasy VII
Remake, and now Hitman gets the episodic treatment.
Square Enix and IO Interactive have made the decision
to turn Hitman into a fully episodic game, indicating that
the publisher could be looking to release more of their AAA games in
a similar fashion in the future.
announcement that Hitman will be released in several
instalments throughout 2016, an alteration of the company's
previous plan to release it in full on March 11th, follows Square's
previous revelation that this release plan would be employed by the
long-awaited Final Fantasy VII Remake, too. As such, these
two events surely mark a sign of things to come from the company
further down the road.
The reaction to Square's decision has been mostly
negative. While some have stated that they like the idea of
essentially being able to purchase an elongated demo in the form of
the game's first chapter, before deciding whether or not they will
take the plunge on its future instalments, the majority have
bemoaned that they'll have to wait for up to 9 months (if Square
sticks to its release plan) to complete the game in its entirety.
However, it's understandable why Square has adopted this tactic, if
not completely agreeable.
Hitman is a series
that waned in credibility following the underwhelming Absolution,
and as such Hitman 2016 was always going to be a gamble. By
releasing the game in chapters throughout the duration of the year,
Square is obviously offsetting some of that risk, even if they have
claimed that the decision was made so that they would "be able to
respond much faster to feedback, analyse player behaviour and
implement changes on a regular basis." While this could well be the
case, releasing games in episodic instalments has other benefits,
too, that more than likely were the biggest driving factors in
Square opting for the divisive format.
Rainbow Six Siege multiplayer match contains a surprisingly small amount of
shooting. Gunplay is, of course, still central to the Siege experience, but
there's so much more to it. You'll spend just as much time strategizing with
your teammates, carefully laying traps, reinforcing destructible walls, and
feeling your heart race as the dull, distant rumble of your enemies' breach
charges suddenly gives way to intense and immediate chaos. And that's just on
Few modern shooters can match the
heart-pounding exhilaration and immense strategic depth Siege achieves with its
asymmetrical PvP. With no respawns, no regenerating health, and only five
players per team, every life suddenly feels meaningful and precious (though you
can still monitor security cameras and communicate with your team in death).
Running-and-gunning will almost certainly land you on the sidelines, so you're
much better off using your drivable drone to scout ahead or coordinating with
your teammates to ensure all sightlines are covered.
Not only does the intense one-life setup
encourage players to approach every encounter thoughtfully and methodically, it
also fills a long neglected gap in the FPS genre. While shooters that emphasize
twitch shooting over tactics can grow tiresome, Siege's seemingly endless array
of viable strategies makes every round memorable and organically begets the kind
of brilliant, unpredictable moments you can't wait to tell your friends about.
In any given round, you could repel from a
rooftop, smash through a window, and flash the room with a stun grenade, or just
lie prone in a dark corner waiting for enemies to wander past. Maybe on defense
you'll fortify four team members in a single room but send the fifth out into
the wild in hopes of catching the other team off guard. You could also play some
mind games by remotely detonating an explosive purely as misdirection before
infiltrating through another point of ingress. All these mechanics breed
creativity and allow the game to evolve as players develop (and react to) new
Unfortunately, there is a campaign-sized hole
where Siege's single-player should be, and while a carefully crafted,
story-driven experience would have further solidified the game's position as one
of the year's best shooters, Siege still manages to compensate in other ways.
Call of Duty have set the bar for the amount of desirable content you can
cram into a game, and Siege clearly falls short of that mark. But consider a
League, which has delivered serious longevity with a single game mode.
Siege, to me, feels like Rocket League or even
Fortress 2 in that its pure, competitive nature makes it eminently
Even outside of its natural competitiveness
and deep well of mechanics, Siege's PvP provides enough variables to keep
players engaged. There are multiple match types, over a dozen maps, randomized
objective locations within those maps, differing times of day for every stage,
mixed mode servers that automatically scramble all these options together, and,
most importantly, 20 distinct Operators, all of whom open new gameplay avenues.
Even characters whose unique gadget seemed useless at first inevitably proved me
wrong. I assumed Doc's remote revive dart would never come in handy given that
allies are far more often killed than wounded; then I saw someone punch a tiny
hole through a wall to revive a fallen teammate pinned by gunfire on the other
And while Siege may not contain a campaign, it
does offer 11 singleplayer "Situations" that are both legitimately helpful and
surprisingly robust, considering they're essentially training missions. Each
situation features three difficulty options and three optional objectives--which
enhances their replayability--and each one focuses on a different aspect of the
game like bomb defusal or destructible cover. They lack the cohesion, polish,
and narrative drive of a campaign, but they're at least diverse enough to prove
You can also choose to tackle Siege's
Terrorist Hunt mode alone, though it's definitely more approachable as a
cooperative experience. As with the competitive multiplayer, each player gets
one life and only a finite amount of health, but here you must hunt down a
preset number of AI-controlled terrorists or disarm bombs while an infinite
number of enemies attempt to interfere. Being so outnumbered while having no way
to heal turns every round into an intense war of attrition; even if the first
guy doesn't kill you outright, he might shave off enough of your health that the
next guy can easily take you out. When you make it to the end of a 20-minute
round with only a tiny sliver of health remaining, finishing off that final
terrorist provides such an incredible high I found it nearly impossible to hold
in my reflexive "Hell yeah!"
Despite all this excess adrenaline, Siege
still suffers a few rough edges. The progression system, for example, feels
slightly empty and metes out experience too slowly. Thankfully, Casual PvP will
be available right out of the gate, but you'll have to accrue enough XP to reach
level 20 before you'll unlock Ranked PvP. It makes sense the game would gate
Ranked matches given that they remove much of the in-game assistance that makes
Casual PvP accessible (a fact the game fails to explain, unfortunately), but
grinding all the way to level 20 takes far too long. Why not set the limit lower
and let players decide when they're ready?
This may sound counter-intuitive, but giving people 10 hours
of unrestricted playtime in Star Wars Battlefront via EA Access is the
worst thing EA could have done to encourage sales of its insanely
anticipated Star Wars title. Absent a
review copy, I fired up my EA Access Hub to start feasting on 10 glorious,
blissfully chaotic hours in DICE’s beautiful Star Wars sandbox. I feared it
would be a massive tease, and I dreaded the thought of that final splash screen
telling me my time was up.
Instead, I walked away disappointed and discontent.
All morning my inner critic has waged an excruciating battle
against my inner Star Wars fanboy, fighting reason and ignoring the truth about
this game. I’m positive that for many of us right now, the Star Wars hype is
very real and very intense. I’ve been devouring novels like
James Luceno’s excellent Tarkin,
re-watching the original trilogy, snatching up those Disney Infinity 3.0
figurines like candy, and essentially being a Disney marketer’s dream
demographic. But just like Luke’s pivotal moment in Cloud City when he searched
his feelings to confront the truth about Vader, I can’t escape the truth about
Star Wars Battlefront.
That sobering truth is that there simply isn’t enough content
or variety here to justify a $60 purchase.
Halo 5: Guardian is a
game about momentum. It's fueled by new ideas and propelled by some of the
boldest changes to this storied franchise yet. Some of these changes fail, but
others succeed, and although Halo 5 falters at times, it whisks us through black
holes and across war torn tropical islands at a rapid pace. We can only
surrender to its velocity.
With Halo 5, developer 343 Industries comes
closer to meeting the many expectations the Halo name carries with it. This is
only the developer's second original title, but some facets of the franchise's
formula are at their best here. Guardians introduces new player movement, open
level design, and an innovative new multiplayer mode, all to great effect. It
also implements a new campaign structure, with eight playable characters across
two separate teams, as one chases the other across the universe.
I think of the Tales series as RPG comfort food. It reliably
delivers cheerful characters, a story anchored in friendship, and a unique
brawler-tinged spin on RPG combat.
Tales of Zestiria is no exception, but the big shift to an open world and
some flashy new combat moves makes it pleasantly different from its
The first and most welcome change is its open world. Zestiria removes the pen
that once confined us to narrow corridors of trees and bushes and lets you
freely journey through a nice variety of locations that include green pastures,
sand-swept deserts, and gloomy swamps. This gives Zestiria’s world a sense of
immersion that some of its more linear predecessors lack. Treasure chests and
stat-boosting herbs found throughout a typical Tales world are still there, but
I like that Zestiria also includes Normin: cute little critters tucked away in
hidden corners that grant special skills to equipment. There are also Lords of
the Land, helpful deities that let you do things like fast-travel and replenish
treasure chests if you establish a good enough rapport with them. These are all
nice rewards for putting on your wide-brimmed fedora and venturing through the
Legend of Grimrock was the triumphant resurrection of a
long-dead genre. Twenty years ago, first-person roleplaying games with real-time
combat were the height of sophistication. I remember: I was there, playing them
and having an amazing time. The question is whether this sequel can bring fresh
creativity to grid-based dungeon crawling.
Instead of a dungeon, your team of four prisoners is
shipwrecked on a mysterious island. You can run the default party, or build your
own from an expanded range of character options. These include the
disease-immune Ratling, and the Farmer, who improbably gains experience from
eating instead of battle. I was frustrated by the original's long skill trees,
which forced me to specialise before I understood the game, but there are now
more skills with fewer levels, so I felt safe experimenting without fear of
spoiling my character builds. It's enough flexibility to satisfy those who enjoy
optimising statistics, but it's not necessary for success.
Sometimes, you need to achieve a little distance in order to get
a little perspective. Beyond Earth blasts the Civilization 5 template into
space, but it's ultimately less of an offshoot to the main series and more of a
measured response. It's a response to the fact that Civ 5, even at its cruellest,
is still so often a game for leaders who like to lean back and ponder their
actions with a certain kind of holiday cheeriness. It's a battle, but it's also
a bubblebath. Annex Te-Moak? Burn Boston to the ground? Go nuclear on Pedro II?
Why not, eh? Why not.
by contrast, Beyond Earth has you hunched forward for every second, fighting
for survival on the fidgety surface of a planet that has unambiguous feelings
about all that vertical farming you're trying to do to it. Beyond Earth
seeks to shake up the predictability of gentlemanly Civ opening gambits, with
their familiar routines and breezy, acquisitive calm. Then, eight hours later,
new victory conditions, introduced far earlier than before, are giving dynamism
to the sometimes amorphous Civ end-game.
Ooh, it’s all go
BIT.TRIP creators Gaijin Games. They’re not Gaijin Games any more,
for one thing. Well, they are a bit, sometimes, in certain circumstances. But
under the new name Choice Provisions they’re getting far away from Japan,
blasting off into space by announcing two cosmic new games.
Laserlife is “a metaphysical journey of
euphoric sights and euphonic sounds” about a spaceman’s memories, which does
sound pretty BIT.TRIPPY.
Tharsis is certainly different, “a turn-based,
perma-death, realistic space strategy game” on the first manned mission to Mars.
Tharsis sounds like a digital single-player board game. You’re
merrily on your way to way to Mars when an asteroid clonks you and everything
goes a bit Pete Tong, leaving your fate in a handful of dice. Choice Provisions
describe it thusly:
GamesCom 2015, there were some major
announcements made and that includes the upcoming Skylanders Superchargers. For
the first time, the series is getting online multiplayer, meaning you’ll soon be
able to join up with your friends for online races.
A fully online kart racing experience will be available for
all versions of Skylanders Superchargers, not just Wii and 3DS — although this
will be the only experience available for these platforms. There will be
two-player local and four-player online co-operative gameplay, which you’ll be
able to unlock by placing a Supercharger pair (vehicle and character) on your
It works well with the premise of Skylanders Superchargers
too. It’s the first in the series to introduce playable vehicles of earth, sea
and sky varieties, bringing with it a whole new set of Skylanders toys.
You’ve crash landed on a strange
planet, and your ship is beyond repair. Worse yet, the accident isn’t covered by
insurance, or at least that’s what your colorblind dog sidekick tells you. What
appears to be an extraordinarily long earthworm with eyes comes into view, but
quickly wraps itself around your body and pulls you ever closer to a giant,
hairy beast. The realization that this strange creature clutching you is the
monster’s tongue is now sinking in, but it may be too late! Luckily, your
talking companion is more than ready to free you from impending doom in return
for a tasty treat. The two of you barely manage to escape into a fortress filled
with outlandish sights, gadgets, and puzzles. Welcome to Armikrog!
Armikrog, by Pencil Test Studios, takes place in the fantastic
Neverhood universe first conceived in 1996 as an adventure title that bears the
same name. This was later followed up by the quirky platformer Skullmonkeys on
the PS1. Both of these games carried on the tradition set by the designers of
Earthworm Jim 1 and 2 of being wacky, humor-based journeys through strange
worlds, but with the stylish addition of being done entirely in clay. Armikrog
is no different, and is probably the defining feature that distinguishes it from
other modern point and click adventures. But is the unorthodox graphic style the
only interesting aspect about this game? The answer: absolutely not.
This Kickstarter-funded follow-up to The Neverhood has many
things going for it. Aside from being gorgeous, the beta offers fun, varied
puzzles that are just challenging enough to be solvable without leading to
frustration. These involve interactions such as pushing a fuzzy creature to
block a door, aligning tablets by walking in a giant stone hamster wheel, and
riding a cable car to reach new areas. The player controls both our brave
protagonist, Tommynaut, and the helpful alien dog, Beak-Beak. These two are
respectively voiced by Michael J. Nelson of Mystery Science Theater fame and Rob
Paulsen, known for voice work of many animated features like Pinky and the
Brain. So far, these two appear to be a brilliant pairing and will undoubtedly
have many funny moments together.
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
is a journey. One that explores mature themes of family and loss while retaining
it's ability to be utterly endearing. If you are one of the many people who
experienced and thoroughly adored the story when it was released on Xbox 360 in
2013, you may well understand how excited we were to be able to play through it
again on Xbox One.
Brothers is - as the title suggests - a tale of two brothers
who set off on a journey to find the Tree of Life and heal their father, who has
fallen gravely ill. As the game begins, we are shown Little Brother by a
graveside. The score is instantly moving and in flashback, we are shown that
this is a family who has already experienced a great personal loss. This
immediate tug upon the heartstrings is hardly surprising, when you learn that
the game was directed by Award winning Swedish film director Josef Fares
- a man who has long been critically applauded for creating fantastical worlds
and intricate stories. The characters, while perhaps not as delicately rendered
as the world that surrounds them, instantly become relatable and cherished
despite them talking in a nonsensical language that might be off-putting under
other circumstances. You will find yourself wanting to set off on the
quest that lies ahead, not simply for the adventure but to keep this family from
being shattered any further than it already has been.
The choices you make in
Until Dawn have more far-reaching consequences than in most other survival
horror games: the butterfly effect feature it so heavily relies on is highly
effective, adding weight to seemingly innocuous choices and creating a game that
feeds deeply into player paranoia of making the wrong choice. Couple this system
with the game's tongue-in-cheek exploitation of slasher film tropes--including
over-the-top gore and flirty teenagers--and you have an enjoyable experience
controlling you own '80s horror film parody. Until Dawn is a thoughtful
experiment in how far you can go with multilayered player-driven narrative
games, and despite some ugly visuals, delivers an engaging experience where
story and controls meld for powerful meaning.
The game's plot follows the classic slasher film recipe:
eight teenagers get together on a snowy mountain far away from their parents and
civilization. The get-together falls on the one-year anniversary of the
disappearance of their two friends--twins Hannah and Beth--and the makeout party
soon turns into a complete disaster. The group's clashing personalities force
them to break off in couples to do their own thing. But we all know what happens
to groups that split up in horror movies; within an hour, everything goes to
hell as a feral creature and a masked madman begin terrorizing the teens.
Between each in-game chapter, you visit a mysterious
psychiatrist in an office. You, controlling an unknown person, answer the
analyst's questions, all of which revolve around what scares you and how you
feel about the characters. You'll be asked to choose between spiders and snakes,
needles and gore, ghosts and zombies. This is the game's way of setting up the
horror story you'll experience, placing needles or knives in the hands of
attackers and throwing out elements the program knows you're frightened by. It
feels a little too out in the open for a game that so subtly weaves your choices
into the narrative, but I didn't mind this forwardness in the grand scheme of
things. Until Dawn's setup is wonderful enough to overlook it.
These psychiatrist visits are the most obvious examples of
Until Dawn's biggest feature: the butterfly effect. Small choices will have
major consequences in future events. They aren't one-offs, either: a choice you
make in chapter one presents a difficulty in chapter two, and depending how you
solve that difficulty, further chapters will offer you different tools or
different interpersonal conflicts. Choices made in chapter one determine events
that branch with the next decision and again with the next, creating a large
number of narrative paths and outcome.
Final Fantasy Type-0’s journey to the West has a timeline so long that it’s
It started as a Japanese mobile spinoff of Square Enix’s famed franchise, but
after some retooling, it found its way to the PlayStation Portable in Japan. It
held as a Japan-only title for several years, with Western fans stuck hearing
about how interesting and different it is. As the PSP’s era came to a close, it
seemed like we would never see a Western release. Finally, some four years after
the original release and as a direct response to fan requests, an HD port comes
to the PlayStation 4 (which I reviewed) and Xbox One.
Final Fantasy Type-0 isn’t shy in showing you that it means to be different
from other titles in the franchise. While other entries in the series might
start out with scenes of soaring airships and birds flying against sunny skies,
this one drops players right into a gritty world in the middle of a bloody war.
Four nations fight for control over four holy crystals, sources of magic power.
One nation in particular broke a peace treaty and mowed its neighbors
over, and it shows no signs of stopping.
Licensed games aren’t supposed
to be good, but I like to keep an open mind.
Yes, there's a lot of crap floating through the lazy river ride of licensed
games, sped through development to meet a deadline. But there's also Middle
Earth: Shadow of Mordor and the Batman Arkham series. The former is more
abundant than the latter, but still. Anything's possible.
And so it was with a bit of side eye and a willingness to be impressed that I
walked into a conference room on the first day of E3 2015 to see Transformers:
Devastation, the just-announced title from Platinum Games.
Here is my report: This game looks awesome. And it might just be the game I
didn't even know I was looking for.
I am, I admit, the target demographic. Transformers: Devastation is
not a modern take on Hasbro's changeling robot franchise. These are not Michael
Bay's Transformers. These are cel shaded recreations of their '80s incarnations,
rendered in 3D to look like cartoons that burst into another dimension. And they
look really good. I can't help but thinking, as two representatives from
Platinum play through a couple of levels and discuss the game, that it looks
just about exactly like what I pictured in my head when I was a kid. Video games
have made playable cartoons possible, and somehow, impossibly, Optimus Prime was
still here in 2015 to prove it.
Will Atlus ever stop pumping out stylish properties? We hope not, but in the
meantime, it's bringing tactical role-playing game
Lost Dimension to the PlayStation 3 and Vita
this summer. Going against the grain for once, it looks like us Europeans won't
have to wait several hundred years for Atlus to localise it either, as NIS
America will be handling the European launch.
You can watch the trailer that we've embedded, but in truth, it shows bugger
all. Spanning two minutes of what can only be described as colourful waffle,
you'd be better off staring at the lone gameplay screenshot at the top of this
Playing, of course, as a daring group of teens, you'll be taking down enemies
via a combat system that somewhat resembles the brilliant Valkyria
Chronicles. The twist here is that as you progress through the story,
you'll need to decide which members of your party are traitors, and then kill
Game of Thrones' earlier seasons on HBO were excellent at dragging out
emotional payoffs. The delicate dance of political intrigue and personal
affections never slowed tempo, creating hour-long experiences that were tense,
warm, and in many ways anxiety inducing. The drama of the series is what draws
that emotional reaction from its audience, the way dozens of characters all
trying to stay alive and protect their own interests clash with one another,
frequently resulting in some being knocked out of the game altogether.
Episode Five is an emotional rollercoaster, similar in crescendo and payoff to
what I described of the HBO show earlier. I went into the episode expecting a
cataclysm--something I've come to expect of the tail end of Telltale's
series--and got what I wanted and sadly much more. It's a whirlwind of hurt. As
the credits rolled the idea of drowning came to mind; The people of House
Forrester are in over their heads, desperately clawing for the surface, as
watery demons born from their own cunning and the unyielding meanness of
others--factors all completely out of their hands--clutch their ankles and
threaten to drown them.
A Nest of Vipers ends on a heart-shattering note and the promise of an explosive
finale. Thing are getting lively, and with quickened pacing to match the action,
it's hard not to end this episode without your brain spinning in anticipation.
With most prominent character arcs at their highest peaks, it's a perfect
The arrival of European sailors on Japanese shores ushered in a
strange and turbulent period in Japanese history. The clash of cultures gave
rise to radical xenophobes, scheming magistrates, and unscrupulous traders, all
of whom you have the chance to ally yourself with in Way of the Samurai 4. You
can also wear a tuxedo jacket and no pants, brandish a giant fish in combat, and
be pursued through the forest by a dozen angry sumo wrestlers. Way of the
Samurai 4 isn't so much a wacky adventure through these tumultuous times as it
is a wacky sandbox that encourages you to live the same few days over and over
again, taking different paths, forging different alliances, and experiencing
different kinds of sex torture. Though the combat is clunky, the mechanics are
dull, and the visuals are dated, there is plenty of goofy fun to be had in Way
of the Samurai 4.
The key lies in the structure. The game spans just over four days, each divided
into day, evening, and night. Each time period contains a few different events
that allow you to further different story paths, like allying yourself with the
shogunate to restore order, becoming an advocate for the foreigners, or joining
a band of rebels. These events are mapped out in the menus, making it easy to
follow the main storylines but also clueing you in to other significant events
waiting to be discovered. Each story has enough goofy characters, overwrought
dramatics, and strange occurrences to be entertaining most of the way through,
and if you start to get bored, well, there are plenty of other things to do.
The new title is
Godzilla by name, Godzilla by nature.
“Godzilla is an action
game and the idea is to smash and smash some more – causing ultimate
destruction,” enthuses Karla Pett, product manager at Bandai Namco.
“There are lots of
different modes, such as Destruction mode, in which the player controls Godzilla
as he busts through certain stages, and King of the Monsters mode, where you
play six different stages as six
That’s right – Godzilla isn’t the only big
beast gamers will be able to control. He’ll be joined by iconic creatures from
throughout Japan’s cinematic history, with players’ destruction attracting rival
monsters for Godzilla to do battle with, such as fellow Japanese cinematic icon
King's Quest: A Night to Remember xbox 360/xbox one/ps3/4
The new King's Quest isn't a sequel, but instead a
reimagining that takes many familiar faces and locations from past games and
uses them to tell a new story. "It's like when somebody comes and re-imagines
Wizard of Oz or Peter Pan," he explains. "I view it as the
same as those classic fairy tales that have been told over and over again. And
this is just our take on it."
In fact, in order to stay true to the franchise, the studio reached out to
original creators Roberta and Ken Williams to get their approval. And after
seeing an early demo of the game, Roberta and Ken not only gave their blessing,
but provided tips on how to give a game that specific feeling that has made the
series so beloved. "Robert and Ken talked to us about this pyramid, and that
pyramid is made of gameplay, story, and art," says Korba. "And they all need to
work together to create the King's Quest magic. So that's the balance
that we tried to keep."
Let's get the concepts out of the way
first. For the most part, Beck controls the same way Mega Man always has -- he
can jump and shoot, and in lieu of the classic slide move, Beck has a dash that
can be used in succession without any real restrictions. This allows him to
boost forward, air dash, and "slide" underneath gaps.
But the dash is much more complicated than that. In Mighty
No. 9, you'll have to use it to "absorb" enemies. By firing at them and
decreasing their health pool past a certain threshold, they become
"destabilized." Beck can then dash through them to absorb their powers (extra
damage, speed, life, and defense boosts), thus killing them in the process --
most enemies cannot be destroyed by your standard shot and must be dashed
Activision’s pioneering Toys to Life franchise has two big
challenges. On the one hand, it needs to retain and keep building its audience
against stiff competition from the rival Disney Infinity and – this year – Lego
Dimensions franchises. On the other hand, it needs some gimmick or innovation to
justify another spending spree on the new game, new expansion packs and figures.
Skylanders: Trap Team had the game’s best
gimmick yet; the ability to trap defeated villains in a glowing power crystal,
then tag them in to fight for you in-game. However, it left us feeling that
there was too little movement on the actual gameplay front, and that the need to
buy more trapping crystals was a triumph for Activision’s bean counters rather
than a triumph for Skylanders fans.
It’s too early to say whether Skylanders Superchargers does
things better, but this year’s key tentpole innovation should shake up the
gameplay. This year, it’s all about the new vehicles, with twenty land, sea and
sky-based vehicles to choose from, plus twenty new SuperChargers toys to pilot
When Payday 2: Crimewave
Edition gels, it’s one of the most exciting co-op shooters around. Crouched
behind a shattered window in what used to be a bank, firing away with an assault
rifle at squads of incoming cops, rushing to revive a downed comrade as the
bullets fly, it feels like you’re on the set of Michael Mann’s Heat, doing your
best to keep your head above water as the carnage kicks off. Working with a
smart team of crims, focused on objectives and covering each other’s’ backs, the
score pounding through the speakers or your headphones, it’s a joy to play.
The new PS4 and Xbox One Crimewave edition delivers plenty of
these moments, too. With a full year’s worth of DLC it crams in a wide range of
missions, covering everything from your straightforward bank heists and
jewellery store robberies to security truck ambushes, election-rigging
campaigns, nightclub raids, train interceptions and thefts from an uptown
gallery. Each brings new objectives, wrinkles to be ironed out and cops to be
gifted with an early retirement, and the action can be spectacularly intense.
Sure, last year's compact prequel Metal Gear Solid
V: Ground Zeroes underwhelmed, due as much to mismanaged expectations on
Konami's part as anything, but the proper game looks like the biggest one to
date – and hopefully, also one of the best. Here's what to expect from Metal
Gear's open-world spin.
In amusingly typical series fashion, Metal Gear Solid V isn't a sequel
to Metal Gear Solid 4, just like 3 wasn't a follow-up to 2.The
series ping-pongs between eras so much that only the die-hards really understand
how all the pieces fit together at this point. Which, strangely enough, hasn't
hurt the franchise too much to this point.
Truth be told, The Phantom Pain is set in 1984,
putting it almost a decade past the events of Ground Zeroes, but
also about a decade before the classic Metal Gear from the 8-bit
Summer is upon us, and brings with it more free games courtesy of
Xbox Live Gold! Xbox One gamers get the epic tactical strategy game Massive
Chalice, from prolific developer Double Fine Productions. They also get Pool
Nation FX extended for another month. Xbox 360 players get the rip-roaringly
wonderful Just Cause 2, an open-world, stunt-action game that gives new meaning
to the term “over the top.” They also get Thief, the recent reboot of the
classic action-stealth series, which challenges you to be both subtle and
clever.As usual, all games are available only for a limited time, as
part of the ongoing
Games with Gold program.
Finding worthwhile ways to build on a horror video game is no
easy task. The nature of this genre is that its stories tend to be
self-contained. It’s not that there isn’t room in their painstakingly crafted
virtual worlds to allow for new stories, it’s just that these tales aren’t
always worth getting told.
Even the most critically lauded games have trouble getting
their DLC right. I’ve
spent enough time on the subject already, so rather than retread that
ground, let’s talk about one a select few games that’s actually getting it
There’s a lot to love about Shinji Mikami’s The
Evil Within because it gets a lot right. It’s the rare sort of video
game that’s consistent enough in what it aspires to be that it makes enduring
the occasional stumble as it works toward that goal easy to forgive.
The third episode of Dontnod
and Square Enix’s episodic, time-bending adventure game, Life is Strange, is
set to drop on May 19. Be warned that there will be light spoilers of the
Chaos Theory is the third of
five installments in the saga of (the somewhat ham-fistedly named) Max
Caulfield, a teenager who discovers that she has the ability to warp back time
and undo her recent actions. By saving the life of a girl named Chloe, Max sets
off a chain of events that pull the two of them into the mysteries of Blackwell
Academy and the town of Arcadia Bay, which seem to have a Twin Peaks
level of shady
business going on.
The creators of
Destiny are ready to unleash the wolves.
When the latest expansion to the hugely ambitious – but
frequently maligned – videogame is released next week, it won’t merely feature a
new social area, multiplayer mode and maps.
House of Wolves
will also aim to right several problems, as developer Bungie, publisher
Activision – and the sci-fi shooter’s Guardian protagonists – look to the
Despite its popularity, many players have become frustrated
with the game’s lack of content and unpredictable nature.
Destiny randomly rewards players with new gear, guns and parts, similar
to a role-playing title. Following feedback after the game’s much-anticipated
release last year, the designers have sought to tweak it as much as possible
without alienating fans.
But just how much have they changed?
“The short answer is everything,” says multiplayer design lead
Lars Bakken. “We put out the game we thought Destiny
would be, and then it took on a life of its own once it was in the wild.
Touted as a “12 bit action/adventure”
Strangeness claims tobe the first game to have been
successfully funded on the popular
Kickstarter platform. Having been successfully
funded on August 18, 2009 for a reasonable $1559, the title represents a simpler
time before exorbitant asking prices and ever-expanding stretch goals.
In High Strangeness, players find themselves faced
with all manner of weirdness from crystal skulls to talking cats as they
traverse the multiverse. This is executed by hopping between 8-bit and 16-bit
universes that not only represent a drastic shift in graphical styles, but also
changes in fundamental gameplay. Imagine jumping from the original TheLegend
of Zelda into the SNES’ Illusion of Gaia and you have High
Strangeness in a nutshell.
The game formerly known as
"Double Fine Adventure" has finally made its debut -- or should I say,
half-debut. Broken Age: Act 1 is the culmination of almost 100,000
backers, over 3.5 million dollars, and nearly two years of waiting. The project,
once asking for a mere $400,000, broke Kickstarter history and subsequently
forged high expectations for Tim Schafer and his team.
Broken Age follows
the lives of Shay and Vella, two young teenagers yearning to escape from their
predestined paths. Although the description sounds coming-of-age generic, the
stories and puzzles are anything but. Broken Age follows its
point-and-click adventure predecessors while forging its own path -- and what a
compelling path it is.
Dragon Age: Inquisition was one of last
year’s best games, and the one complaint you certainly couldn’t aim at it was a
lack of content. In fact some fans actually felt there were too many side
quests, making it extremely difficult to complete every single one. But that
creates an additional problem when it comes to downloadable content: what do you
add to a game that already has too much to do?
The trick to good DLC is providing more of the same while
making sure that it doesn’t just feel like a needless rerun of what already
exists. Which is particularly tricky if the developer can’t be sure whether
you’ve finished the main story yet (although here you’re advised to be at least
level 20). These are issues that BioWare has only got right a few times with
their downloadable expansions, although to be fair that is better than most
others have ever managed.
2015 is going to be the year for Jurassic Park’s revival. We’ve
got the Jurassic World movie starring Chris Pratt on the horizon and now we’ve
got Lego Jurassic World. Whoever thought it was a good idea to blend my two
childhood loves of plastic bricks and Spielberg's 1993 dinosaur romp was an
absolute genius and I owe them a beer.
And before you dismiss this as “just another Lego game”, you’re wrong. Lego
Jurassic World is the definitive entry in the Travellers’ Tales Lego series, and
that’s not just because it’s got dinosaurs in it.
Longtime fans of the game will find that
most of the experience is the same as it was on the PS3, but with a few key
differences that really does bring in more fresh air than we have seen
from other remasters. Instead of simply porting over the exact same experience,
From Software have masterfully reworked a number of the enemy locations which
makes returning to the world of Drangleic a somewhat fresh experience. While the
layout may be the same, what is lurking around the corner might not be.
Having already put in a number of hours into Dark Souls II on
the PS3, I was able to get my bearings quickly and move through the opening
sections of the game. That was until I started preparing for the first major
fight that gave me an issue the last time I played the game. As I grinded out a
few levels and approached the lair of my foe, I learned that this wasn’t going
to be the Dark Souls I remembered; he wasn’t there. Moving forward, the
mixture of known ambush spots being different, and even a boss showing up where
I don’t remember him being, made it hard to trust my existing experience.
There’s a kind of poetic irony in remaking a game designed to
poke fun at the game industry, considering all the remakes and reboots already
flooding shelves. To both its credit and detriment, Re;Birth1 carries that
identity struggle throughout. Sometimes the in-jokes and references are spot on,
while others fail to critique and instead repeat old mistakes. What could have
been a new start for the series instead becomes a merely average role-playing
game that just doesn’t fit together completely. It’s lighthearted, and sports
some fun, giant-anime-weapon battles, but its lack of challenge causes it to
grow stale quickly.
The best part of the Hyperdimension Neptunia games is inarguably the concept:
Four goddesses, each representing a different game system, are waging a “Console
War” against one another in a cutesy, high-octane anime fashion. Following this
idea, Re;Birth1 is filled with meta, fourth wall-breaking humor, and a good bit
of charming self-awareness. Pretty much every character and party member you
encounter along the way fits into some sort of anime or gaming archetype —
Neptune, who represents the fourth (imaginary) console, is the high-energy,
childlike protagonist, while Iffy is a smart tsundere who can get quite
flustered at times — and Re;Birth1 actually does a good job of balancing
character versus caricature. That's about where "good balance" ends, however.
Borderlands The Pre Sequel-the pre-claptastic-voyage
You never know what you’re going to get with one of Borderlands’
many, many DLC expansions. Some of them inherit the wrong things from their big
sibling, but Claptastic Voyage is the other way around. It trims out nearly all
of the excessive backtracking and pacing problems that Borderlands: The
Pre-Sequel struggles with, and introduces a wonderfully whimsical setting that
brings out the best in the Borderlands playstyle, and in its most recognizable
Much like Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep does for Borderlands 2, Claptastic
Voyage moves the Vault Hunters’ exploits into an imaginary realm that enables it
to tell a very personal story. At the same time, it’s a delightful departure
from Pandora’s traditional trappings (to whatever degree you find masked,
homicidal little people and robots who transform into pirate ships
“traditional”). Here, it’s a digital recreation of Claptrap’s notoriously
scattered mind instead of Tina’s D&D fantasy world, but the setup is equally
ripe with potential, and Claptastic Voyage dutifully makes the most of it, both
in terms of gameplay and story content.
This isn’t the first Battlefield Hardline multiplayer beta we’ve
seen since the game was announced back at E3 2014 in June, but it’s definitely
the most promising.
For those who aren’t familiar with Battlefield Hardline, it’s the first in the
franchise to be developed by Visceral Games. Instead of the traditional wartime
setting chosen by the other Battlefield developers, Visceral has opted to go
down the cops-and-robbers line.
The first beta was a closed affair announced and released in June, offering
players a very early look at the multiplayer for Battlefield Hardline. You got
to try out two modes – Heist and Blood Money.
When The Evil Within was first announced, many fans of the
survival-horror genre got super excited as it’s the game directed by the famous
Shinji Makami, creator of the Resident Evil series. With Shinji Mikami directing
The Evil Within, expectations were quite high as many loved the original
Resident Evil games and hoping he will bring back the survival-horror genre back
to its roots. Now that the game is out, I am confident to say that The Evil
Within is a survival-horror game indeed but it fails to bring something new to
The Evil Within follows the story of Sebastian Castellanos, a
detective called in to investigate a gruesome collection of murders at a local
mental hospital. Leading up to his investigation, mortifying twisted events
happen where Sebastian was brought into an alternate creepy universe where fans
of the survival-horror genre will see a story that involves apparitions, big
monsters, and nightmare backdrops. The beginning of the game will guarantee to
get you hooked to the story but it fades down to confusion as you reach the
later chapters of the game. Those who love the story of Resident Evil games will
not fall-in-love in the story of The Evil Within as it’s shallow, confusing, and
lacks background story to the characters that you will get to meet.
Aces of the Luftwaffe is a
retro-flavoured 2D shoot ‘em up that has no business being on a PS4. Don’t get
me wrong, I love retro gaming and even recently went to the trouble of setting
up a Japanese PSN account and buying a 3000Yen card just so that I could play
the 1984 arcade game Bomb Jack on my PS4. I can even accept games like Aqua
Kitty and Rock Boshers coming along and using roughly 0.001% of
the PS4’s hardware capacity. But even I draw the line at made-for-mobile
horseshit like this.
The game itself is a World War II-era affair that sees you
playing as one of three pilots as you single-handedly take on the might of the
German Air Force. The setting is similar to Midway’s classic 194x
series and the previous-gen 1942: Joint Strike proved that there’s
still life left in this setting as long as you make sure you put some depth into
the gameplay and make everything solid.