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  1. Remember when Marvel vs Capcom Infinite was announced last month at PSX, and Capcom also announced that Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 was coming back? The good news is the latter game is coming to a digital and physical storefront near you soon. Both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 will be available on their platform's digital storefronts on March 7, with a limited physical release launching in stores the same day. The digital version will be $24.99 while the limited physical version will be $29.99, which also includes an exclusive 10-page comic showcasing a story about the clash between the Capcom and Marvel universes and new cover art from Marvel's Sean Chen and Gerardo Sandoval. It's worth pointing out that the original release for Marvel vs Capcom 3 only lasted on digital storefronts for 3 years or so before disappearing, presumably due to the Marvel license expiring. Since there's no telling how long this current distribution will last, the same thing will likely happen to the PS4 and Xbox One versions eventually, so if you're interested in picking it up, don't wait too long to do so. Source: Siliconera Will you be picking up Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3?
  2. It seems inevitable that Batman will once again throw down with Dictator Superman in the upcoming Injustice sequel, but more interesting than that is a new threat that NetherRealm Studios is cooking up for Batman to tangle with: Brainiac. NetherRealm cinematic director Dominic Ciancolo recently took to the PlayStation Blog to reveal certain details about the plot for Injustice 2, saying that it takes place right after Injustice: Gods Among Us as Batman still finds himself facing threats (even after defeating his world's Superman) such as former members of Superman's regime and a new shadowy group called The Society. Ciancolo also mentioned that the biggest challenge in developing the story was not repeating the narrative from the first game. While the conflict between Batman and Superman is a central plot point, the development team needed something to propel the story forward, which is why they chose Brainiac as the big bad. After all, few others are arguably more dangerous and powerful than the Man of Steel. And speaking of dangerous foes, another Superman villain who will be popping up this time around as a playable character will be Darkseid. The villainous alien dictator appears at the end of the trailer as a pre-order incentive, but it's less clear if he's a part of the actual story or not as well. Injustice 2 is slated for release on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on May 16. You can check out the latest trailer for the game below. What are your thoughts on Brainiac being the big bad in Injustice 2?
  3. Harrison Lee

    Review: Super Dungeon Bros

    Developer: React Games Publisher: Wired Productions Platform: PS4, XB1, PC Release Date: November 1, 2016 ESRB: E 10+ Gauntlet remains one of the all-time greats in the dungeon-crawling sub-genre, creating a template that numerous games have tried, and failed, to successfully replicate. Super Dungeon Bros, a rock music-themed hack-and-slash dungeon delver, is the latest to try and recapture the magic. While it“s decently put-together, there are too many flubbed notes to make this one more than an afternoon couch co-op session. Super Dungeon Bros takes place across three main environments with vaguely Norse-sounding names (Cryptheim, Bogheim, etc.). Taking control of one of four medieval rock frat bros, players must kill a bunch of monsters and skeletons across several dungeons. The environment is littered with traps and baddies to slay with reckless abandon, though it“s best tackled with friends. Trying to solo Super Dungeon Bros is a painful experience. Scattered throughout the levels are various crates filled with coins and health. Gold coins can be used to upgrade your character of choice after each dungeon, or exchanged for weapons. The health drops are especially useful when soloing, as the difficulty ramps up quickly without warning. With only four lives to spare, plundering each of the dungeons is an exercise in dying frequently. There“s quite a bit of variety as far as armaments are concerned, but loot isn“t enough to save Super Dungeon Bros from its most critical flaw; boredom. You“ve played Super Dungeon Bros before, only with more variety, more loot, and deeper gameplay mechanics in titles like Diablo III. Super Dungeon Bros is competent, but doesn“t offer enough to differentiate itself from the crowd. It“s a shame, because rock-themed games are few and far between these days. Like the rest of the experience, Super Dungeon Bros doesn“t commit enough to its inspirations and feels like a retread of better games. Even the combat is rote, with attacks lacking a weighty crunch and enemies looking all too similar. The bosses provide some much needed enemy variety, but trying to take them on without friends is no fun at all. The environmental traps can also be a nuisance, especially if you get swarmed by the hordes of monsters that will randomly appear without warning. One thing that“s absolutely true about Super Dungeon Bros is that you will die… a lot. If, like me, you don“t handle swarms of bad guys very well, an in-game shopkeep offers some extra lives and health at a significant cost. Whether you actually make it far enough to require this shifty fellow“s services is another matter entirely. Whether you“re killed by enemies or boredom, there“s not enough here to keep players coming back for more punishment. It“s disappointing, because Super Dungeon Bros could have been an enjoyable dungeon-crawling experience. Instead, it“s out-of-tune and in need of some serious polish. Pros + Some decent boss fights and loot + Solid visuals and audio + A competent outing for couch co-op Cons - Doesn“t make use of the rock theme effectively - The bros are kind of annoying - Insane difficulty spikes - Not solo-friendly at all Overall Score: 4.5 (out of 10) Below Average Super Dungeon Bros could have been an enjoyable dungeon-crawling experience. Instead, it“s out-of-tune and in need of some serious polish. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable PS4 code provided by the publisher
  4. UPDATE Well that didn't take too long. Soon after Kotaku's rumor of Scalebound being cancelled was published, Microsoft officially confirmed the news. No reason was given as to why the decision was made, though the Microsoft representative mentioned they were working hard to "deliver an amazing lineup of games this year," including Halo Wars 2, State of Decay 2, Crackdown 3, and Sea of Thieves. Original Story Scalebound certainly sounded like an ambitious game when it was announced by Microsoft and Platinum Games' Hideki Kamiya at E3 2014, but the title now seems to be in trouble according to Eurogamer and Kotaku. The first mention of the cancellation came from Kotaku, which mentioned that multiple sources close to the project had confirmed to them that Scalebound was indeed being cancelled. Eurogamer's article is a bit more definitive and conclusive, saying that Microsoft and Platinum have officially gone their separate ways on the project after major troubles with the game's engine and overdue deadlines. There hasn't been any official word from Microsoft (the game's publisher) just yet, but a representative from the company did mention they'll release a statement on the game soon. If this development is true, it'll be an unfortunate blow to Platinum Games' reputation, especially over the last year as at least two of the games they recently worked on have had their share of controversy from fans. One was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants In Manhattan, which many claim is just not a good game, and the other was Star Fox Zero, which many fans claim the controls kill the experience. Platinum Games' next title, Nier Automata, is scheduled for release on February 23 on PlayStation 4. Source: Kotaku, Eurogamer Are you surprised to hear that Scalebound might be cancelled?
  5. Good news for Mass Effect fans -- the long-gestating Mass Effect: Andromeda now officially has a solid release date: March 21. Andromeda is set 600 years after the first Mass Effect trilogy in the Andromeda Galaxy, with the goal of exploring and discovering new planets for the human race to colonize. Despite being the first new Mass Effect entry in nearly five years, EA has said that it will be a standalone entry instead of being the first of a new trilogy. However, this doesn't mean there won't be future games that take advantage of the same setting. General Manager of Bioware Aaron Flynn remarked on the announcement, saying: "Mass Effect: Andromeda is our most ambitious Mass Effect game to date. We“re telling completely new stories, creating new characters, new planets, new species, and introducing new gameplay systems. And for the first time, we“re bringing Mass Effect to the FrostbiteTM game engine, an incredible engine that“s delivering a tremendous graphical jump from the trilogy to Mass Effect: Andromeda. To deliver on this, we“re taking all the time we can to make sure you“re getting the best possible experience." Mass Effect: Andromeda is slated for release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Source: Bioware | Mass Effect Are you looking forward to Mass Effect: Andromeda's release in March?
  6. Last we've heard of Yooka-Laylee was that it was being delayed to 2017, but wipe that frown off your face because Playtonic Games has finally announced a firm release date for the game: April 11, 2017! However, on a somewhat down note, Playtonic Games also revealed that they've run into unexpected technical issues with the Wii U version, so they're cancelling that version and will instead put the game out on Nintendo Switch. No release date for the Switch version has been announced yet, so it's likely it will come later on after the game releases on other platforms. Still, there's a lot to look forward to here. Playtonic Games revealed a trailer for a brand new world called Captial Cashino, a casino-themed level that looks pretty neat. Also, anyone who pre-orders Yooka-Laylee on PS4, Xbox One, or PC will receive an instant unlock of the Toybox mode, which is a self-contained sandbox mode that serves as a preview for what to expect in the main game. In any case, you won't have to wait too much longer for the spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie; after all, five months isn't that long of a time! Source: Playtonic Games Are you excited to hear that Yooka-Laylee finally has a release date? And what are your thoughts on the Wii U version being cancelled?
  7. If you've been clamoring to replay your old Xbox 360 copies of Mass Effect 2 and 3 but don't want to dust off and hook up your Xbox 360 to play them, I have good news for you. Xbox's Larry Hryb confirmed today that in light of N7 Day, Mass Effect 2 and 3 are now officially backward compatible on Xbox One. Of course, the original Mass Effect has been backward compatible for some time now. Of note here is the fact that, unlike the first Mass Effect, the latter two games are backward compatible with the disc only, meaning that you won't be able to buy them on Xbox One digitally (at least not yet). In any case, it's nice to have the whole trilogy available on the current-gen platform, especially ahead of 2017's upcoming Mass Effect Andromeda. Source: Major Nelson (via Twitter) Will you be replaying Mass Effect trilogy on Xbox One because of the backward compatibility now?
  8. Jason Clement

    Cuphead now delayed to 2017

    There have already been a few high profile games delayed into 2017 this Fall, from Mass Effect Andromeda to Horizon Zero Dawn and even Gravity Rush 2 (as of last week), and unfortunately, one more game is getting added to that list now. Cuphead, one of the Xbox One's most anticipated upcoming releases, has now been pushed to a 2017 release. While developer StudioMDHR originally wanted to release the game 80 years after 1936 (which would put it squarely in 2016), they cite wanting to make the best game possible for the reason of the delay. This hasn't been the first delay for Cuphead since its announcement back at E3 2014, but it isn't difficult to see why such a game can't be rushed. Unlike most games today, Cuphead features hand-drawn animation, and the 1930's cartoon style would only seem to make it more complex given that it's not used often these days. At any rate, 2017 is right around the corner so you'll hopefully be playing Cuphead in no time. Source: IGN (via Engadget) Are you surprised and/or disappointed to hear that Cuphead has been delayed again?
  9. Uh, so MajorNelson tweeted out the Games With Gold lineup for October today, and it's... well... take a look for yourself below. The Escapists is supposed to be alright, and I think I Am Alive may be decent, but otherwise this looks to be one of GWG's weakest lineups yet.
  10. Harrison Lee

    Review: Strike Vector EX

    Developer: Ragequit Corporation Publisher: Ragequit Corporation Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC Release Date: August 30, 2016 ESRB: M for Mature This review is based on the PS4 version of the game The selection of combat flight games is relatively limited these days. The once-thriving genre has dwindled to a scant selection, many of which aren“t very good. Strike Vector EX is a new entry, but calling it a flight game would be a bit misleading. It sits somewhere between Ace Combat with VTOLs and a frantic, arena-based FPS. If that combo sounds strange, don“t be alarmed. Strike Vector EX is a lot more familiar than it might sound. The game immediately starts off with a serious-toned intro movie. The cutscenes (including the intro) feature some nice animated art, but the voice-acting is incredibly cheesy. The intro tries to deliver some semblance of a storyline, yet fails to establish any firm characters or factions. Past the beginning, the game mostly does away with plot. As soon as the hard rock soundtrack kicks in and the bullets begin to fly, you know what you“re in for. Strike Vector“s campaign is brief, fun, campy, and self-aware. It never overstays its welcome and serves as a smooth introduction to the online component. Missions consist of dogfights, escort segments, aerial one-on-one duels, and more. It“s never too taxing and offers a good afternoon“s worth of action. During the campaign, you“ll be able to swap loadouts and test out a variety of special abilities for your titular Vector. Finding the right loadout, like a plasma cannon with an area-of-effect healing shield, can mean the difference between victory or defeat. The Vectors are remarkably fun to control, transforming into high-speed aircraft or VTOLs with the press of a button. Dodging missiles and pulling hard braking maneuvers to get the jump on an opponent never gets old. It also helps that the controls give you a great deal of finesse when maneuvering through the arenas. Verticality and building-based cover points become important once you start taking on human opponents. The loadout and customization options also allow you to modify your Vector to whatever role and look you please. Whether you fancy close-range combat or long-distance shooting, the choices are limited to your imagination. The online combat is suitably thrilling, translating the pace of an arena shooter to the sky. The modes on offer are straightforward, but the unpredictable nature of Vector combat and the customization options should keep players coming back. The console scene has lacked a fun flight combat game for years. With the dormancy of the Ace Combat franchise, Strike Vector EX provides a welcome respite from the norm. If you“re hoping for a visually-resplendent experience, Strike Vector probably won“t wow you. I personally loved the sense of speed and particle effects on display, but many of the aerial arenas lack a certain amount of detail. They certainly don“t look bad or anything. That said, I would have appreciated a bit more life in the background. These are, after all, supposed to be floating cities in the sky. Some civilian traffic or signs of other people would have been welcome. Strike Vector has finally found its way onto consoles with this “redux” version, and it“s about bloody time. The PC release was a minor cult hit, and I can imagine a thriving competitive scene emerging for those who take the plunge. Strike Vector EX successfully marries FPS sensibilities with high-flying hijinks. If you“ve been deprived of entertaining aerial action, look no further than this gem of a title. Strap in pilots, because we“re bound for a little turbulence. Pros + Brief, entertaining campaign + Great controls and handling + Diverse multiplayer and customization options Cons - Campaign might be too brief for some - Combat arenas are a bit lifeless Overall Score: 8.5 (out of 10) Great If you“ve been deprived of entertaining aerial action, look no further than this gem of a title. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable code provided by the publisher
  11. A new trailer was revealed for the upcoming 2D platformer Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom this week at Gamescom, showing off the titular hero's animal transformations and abilities. Monster Boy will be able to transform into five different creatures, each with their own unique skills and abilities that will help unlock more of the world as you progress through the game. Also noticeable is the game's incredibly crisp 2.5D visuals; definitely one of the highlights of the game so far. You might remember that this title actually began development as Flying Hamster II: Knight of the Golden Seed, but the project changed into Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom when developer Game Atelier brought on publisher FDG Entertainment. In any case, Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom is set for release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Steam. A release date still has yet to be announced at this point. Are you looking forward to Monster Boy?
  12. So, I'm sure we all expected Konami to keep milking the Metal Gear name even with Kojima out on his own, but...I'm not sure anyone was expecting this: According to Konami, it will be a "stealth/action co-op survival" game set just after the events of MGSV: Ground Zeroes, will take place in an alternate dimension, and will feature something akin to zombies. Yep. So anyway, how do you all feel about this new Metal Gear game? Does it look like something you'd enjoy playing, or are you already writing it off as a desperate cash grab for Konami to make money off the series name without delivering anything remotely resembling what you'd expect from Metal Gear? Or are you just going to wait and see how you feel when there's more information about the game? Obviously Metal Gear was never going to be quite the same without Kojima at the helm, but this...seems like a pretty radical shift. I mean, yeah, Metal Gear has had online multiplayer/co-op components before, but not an entire game that revolves around just that. I can't honestly say this sounds like something I'd enjoy playing, and only a small part of it is due to the fact that I'd be expecting an actual Metal Gear-style experience from something that...probably won't be very Metal Gear-ish at all. I'll still follow along with it and see where it goes, though.
  13. For those who weren't watching the Sonic 25th Anniversary party last night and somehow didn't catch the news elsewhere, we're getting a new 2D Sonic game in the form of Sonic Mania, and...IT LOOKS FANTASTIC!! From what they talked about, it basically has remixed/reimagined levels from the original Genesis trilogy along with brand new levels. More importantly, it actually looks like a Genesis Sonic game, and I don't mean the graphics. The brief looks at the stage design and physics all point to this being the real Sonic the Hedgehog 4, because it looks like it will play and feel like a classic 2D Sonic game and not a cheap imitation. I'm super excited to play the game when it comes out in Spring 2017, but what about the rest of you? Looking forward to what could be the best Sonic game in years? Not interested because you've been burned by Sonic too many times? Or just don't care either way? Speed down to that reply box to let me know what you think.
  14. Hyper Light Drifter, the highly anticipated indie game that was Kickstarted by Heart Machine, is finally getting news on its long-awaited console ports. The good news? Not only is it coming to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, but it is indeed still coming to Wii U and Vita as originally planned. There was initially some trepidation as to whether or not the Wii U port would actually happen. Around February, Heart Machine mentioned that the source of the trouble revolved around internal contractual issues between the platform holder (presumably Nintendo) and the engine developer (Game Maker). However, it appears things have been worked out as Heart Machine has mentioned that they are finalizing details on the Wii U port and would have more details on it next month. In any case, the PS4 and Xbox One versions look to be the first ports to make it out the door; they'll announce more details next month. And finally, the Vita version is still on its way as well, but Heart Machine noted that it has been a challenge to get Hyper Light Drifter optimized on the device due to its limited specs; therefore, it will be a Fall release at the very earliest. Source: Kickstarter Are you looking forward to playing Hyper Light Drifter on consoles (and Vita)?
  15. We've known about Dead Rising 4 for a while now, and it was slated to be one of the biggest exclusives that Microsoft had in its upcoming lineup. However, news has surfaced from E3 2016 regarding that exclusivity, and a representative from Capcom has confirmed that the game is not a lifetime exclusive, but rather a timed one. If this all sounds too familiar to you, it's because the same thing happened with Rise of the Tomb Raider, which was also a one-year timed exclusive for Xbox One starting late last year. The upcoming PlayStation 4 version will be coming out in Holiday 2016. Dead Rising 4 is currently scheduled for release on December 6 on Xbox One, with a PlayStation 4 release targeted for December 2017. Source: Twitter What are your thoughts on Dead Rising 4's timed exclusivity? Are you surprised? Disappointed? Relieved?
  16. Comcept's and Armature Studio's ReCore was definitely one of the more interesting Xbox One exclusives announced last year during Microsoft's E3 press conference, and now the game is primed and ready for release on September 13. Microsoft released a new trailer for the game at their E3 2016 press conference, showcasing the game's blend of third-person shooter gameplay with platforming elements. ReCore's story follows a young woman named Joule Adam journeying through the desert of Far Eden with her animal-like, robotic companions. Also interesting to hear -- ReCore will be $40 instead of the usual $60 MSRP, but there will also be a $180 Collector's Edition which will include a large, hand-painted statue, exclusive steelbook, a lithograph, and a decoder dial. Check out the E3 trailer for the game below. Source: Game Informer Are you looking forward to ReCore?
  17. Today Warner Bros. finally confirmed the existence of an upcoming, remastered collection of Rocksteady's first two Batman games: Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City. The final title for the collection is Batman: Return to Arkham. In addition to the remastered visuals, the collection will contain all of the DLC released for both games. What about Batman: Arkham Origins, though? Warner Bros. hasn't commented on it, making the game's exclusion seem rather strange. Batman: Return to Arkham is set for release on July 26 on PS4 and Xbox One. Will you be picking up Batman: Return to Arkham when it releases?
  18. Jason Clement

    Review: Blast 'Em Bunnies

    Developer: Nnooo Publisher: Nnooo Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, 3DS, PS Vita Release Date: March 8, 2016 ESRB: E 10+ This review is based on the PS4 version of the game It's a warm, sunny day. You're peacefully taking a nap out on the lawn when, suddenly, a band of evil bunnies encroaches on your territory (like they're inclined to). What do you do? Whatever any reasonable bunny would do: blast them into oblivion with various fruits and vegetables at them! Blast 'em Bunnies is an arcade-style shooting gallery game where you play as Bang Bang, a bunny looking out to defend his burrow from other evil bunnies. And while there really isn't a story to the game beyond that, the achievements reveal that all 32 of his babies were stolen by them as well (what a bunch of jerks!). However, you'll have the opportunity to get them back one by one through different playthroughs. The setup for the gameplay as simple -- as Bang Bang, you'll fend off waves of evil bunnies, collect the money they drop, and try to survive as long as you can by blasting them with your vegetable/fruit-based turret as they march toward your fixed location. However, the environment spans 360 degrees all around you, so the evil bunnies can come from any angle. Fortunately, the game alerts you as to the direction they're approaching in, and they usually only come from one direction at a time in the earlier difficulties. While the core game is pretty much just one mode where you're blasting waves of bunnies until you're eventually overwhelmed, there is a system of progression in place that's similar to Jet Pack Joyride's, where you're given a set of four random missions (out of many) to meet in various playthroughs. Complete them and you'll get even more money and then other missions will rotate in. In turn, you'll spend that money on new vegetable-based weapons and upgrades. There's a wide array of upgrades as well, ranging from four different weapon types that have completely different feels to them (i.e. rifles that shoot carrots and the like; mortars that launch heavier produce; machine guns that fire seeds; and lasers that shoot, uh... vegetable-based lasers?) to ammunition that have different added effects (pumpkins do heavier damage but are slow, watermelon seeds fire fast but do light damage and such) to additional hearts and more. Additionally, there are plenty of medals to unlock that have various tasks assigned to them outside of the four random main missions, such as destroying x amount of certain bunnie types, surviving x amount of time, gathering certain amounts of money, and more; definitely enough to keep you entertained and busy for a while. The variation of evil bunny types add a bit of strategy to the gameplay, ranging from various levels of big, slow, bruisers to quick and nimble bunnies that run in a staggered formation (making them harder to hit) to flying bunnies and even mortar bunnies that will launch turnips at you from the background, and more. Visually, the game looks great with its colorful 3D venue and cast of eclectic evil bunnies, and the music is an appropriately Western-themed tempo, and it's rather catchy. If there's one thing I didn't care for, it's that the base game only provides one arena: The Farm. There are more areas and costume packs as well, but you'll have to pay for them. However, that's the tradeoff for having the game's price as only $5. So is the base game worth it then? Even with just one arena to play in, you'll get quite a bit out of the gameplay, especially if you try to complete the game's missions and trophies/achievements. It definitely doesn't reinvent the wheel as far as shooting gallery games go, but nevertheless Blast 'Em Bunnies is pretty fun and can be pretty addictive as long as you're not expecting a huge campaign to dive into. Pros + Fun, addictive shooting gallery gameplay in short bursts + System of progression is well done, lots of weapon upgrades + Nice, cartoony visuals Cons - Core game only contains one level, additional areas need to be purchased - Might only hold your attention in short bursts Overall Score: 7.5 (out of 10) Good Blast 'Em Bunnies is a fun and addictive shooting-gallery game that's best played in shorter bursts. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable code provided by the publisher
  19. We currently live in an age where Video Games have become a transcendent form of multimedia. From the days of Home Pong back in 1975 to the Playstation 4, Video Games have become integrated into the entertainment industry. The reason for this is because of the amount of creativity game designers have exhibited with their vast worlds and wonderful landscapes. But even more so, it is because of the stories being told by video games evolving beyond anything most motion pictures could ever tell. But if this is the case, why does it seem we like we are living in an era of remasters and re-releases? Allow me to digress for a moment by saying that there is nothing wrong with remasters and re-releases. A lot of the games that have recently received the Next Gen treatment look absolutely stunning in comparison to their original versions. Also, reliving the wonders of games like Shadow Complex (which recently received a remastered version) reminds you of just how amazing they were during your first play through. I would never knock the prospect of replaying so many stories and reliving memories from gaming's past via a new piece of hardware. Still, it seems as if these practices are becoming a creative crutch. Shadow Complex Remastered (Screenshot Courtesy of videogamer.com) Let's take a moment to look back to the seventh generation of gaming consoles. Original stories were vast ocean of possibilities despite if they were coming from new IPs or already existing ones. We saw the Master Chief end his campaign against the Covenant. We dove deep into the reaches of insanity by exploring the mind of Alan Wake. We became morally conflicted as we traveled across the galaxy in the universe of Mass Effect. There was so much originality oozing from game studios! Now, we are receiving an influx of remasters and stereotypical military shooters. After E3 2014, Shigeru Miyamoto (the creator of Nintendo's mascot, Mario) spoke out about the mind-numbing amount of bloody shooters which dominated the press conferences that year. "To some, it might have seemed as though there wasn't a wide variety of software at E3, and as though many people followed the same direction to make their video games. I believe this is a revelation of creative immaturity on our part as creators in the video game industry." Mario Creator, Shigeru Miyamoto (Courtesy of wiiudaily.com) Was Miyamoto correct? Is the lack of creativity attributed to creative immaturity? It is true that despite the home console market being eight generations in, video games is still a very young industry as a whole. But given some of the strong showings of 2015, one could argue that this couldn't possibly be the case. The Witcher 3: WIld Hunt, which received several Game of the Year awards, had one of the most compelling stories of this current console generation. Clearly, developers are capable of giving us new and engaging plots to sink our teeth into. So, what's stopping them? In an article from theguardian.com, Holly Nielson said something that rings true to the current state of the industry from my personal opinion. "Creativity begins with how we feel and how we see and present ourselves as people. This industry isn“t just dressing identically, it draws its inspiration from the same music, movies and books. This homogeneity leads to staid ideas." This begs me to ask the question, has the gaming industry stopped feeling as a whole? What happened to games which made you invoke a certain emotion? What happened to worlds and plots which prompted you to become emotionally invested in the characters? Has the industry stopped caring about the creative aspects of the industry? I don't think that's the case. I feel like this might be a horrible case of writer's block. Besides, there are plenty of games coming this year that will test the limits of the imagination. The gaming industry as a whole must, in lamens terms, get their sugar together. We are soon to enter the four year of the current console generation. It's time to give us the glorious worlds and plots that engulfed us during the previous generation. It can be done. They just need,..a little imagination.
  20. Harrison Lee

    Review: The Division

    Developer: Ubisoft Massive Publisher: Ubisoft Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One Release Date: March 8, 2016 ESRB: M for Mature This review is based on the PC version of the game Three years ago, Ubisoft unveiled The Division, one of the most ambitious projects in gaming ever conceived. The Division, an open-world, co-op focused MMO set in a post-apocalyptic New York, was to herald the next generation of console gaming. Ubisoft said it would blur single-player and multiplayer within a seamless, one-to-one replica of the Big Apple infested with criminal gangs, rogue soldiers, and other players. In-between then, we“ve been surprised and disappointed by games that have attempted to implement a similar conceit, a la Destiny. While The Division and Destiny may share a similar base concept, their implementations couldn“t be more different. Whether that“s enough for you to make the decision to purchase is dependent upon what you“re looking to get out of The Division. Ubisoft Massive“s rendition of New York is a lived-in, forgotten place. A weaponized smallpox virus, conveniently unleashed during Black Friday, has left the city in a state of chaotic violence and disrepair. Trash litters the streets, crime runs rampant, and the burned out hulks of once-mighty structures are all that remain of the greatest city on Earth. Players take on the role of an agent from an organization called the Strategic Homeland Division (SHD). The SHD is supposed to provide “continuity of government” in a time of societal collapse. Make of that what you will. The Division isn“t interested in the morality of the SHD so much as it is in giving you loot for shooting lots of “bad people” in the face. Much has been made of The Division“s use of civilian targets as the in-game opposition, but it“s mostly a vehicle for players to earn loot. There“s a main storyline, with some well-written mission segments and audio collectables, but the majority of the game is about player progression and unlocking new gear. Main missions on the solo side will provide player currency and XP, both of which help to grant the agent more powerful gear and abilities. Solo missions, which can be played in co-op, also help you unlock points for upgrading the solo hub. This base of operations visually expands as you upgrade three different wings. What you“re really doing, however, is unlocking three separate talent trees. My personal favorite is the Tech tree, which grants access to the Seeker mine and automated turret. For support players, it“s the perfect tree to invest time into. Side missions that populate each game zone will also provide points to upgrade each talent tree. The skill trees also feature Talents, which are placed into unlockable slots, and dozens of passive Perks. Some are more useful than others, especially in the Dark Zone, so look at each tree carefully to make sure you pick the right build for your use. The good news is that leveling up is a relatively quick process, so you“ll be able to create a balanced, well-rounded agent in a relatively short amount of time. Unfortunately, that“s due to the limited amount of solo side content. Quests outside of the main campaign usually devolve into fetch quests, defense missions, and “press this button” missions. It wouldn“t be undue to get some greater quest variety in subsequent expansions, especially since the main missions are well-crafted and a ton of fun. As you level up, you“ll gain access to better equipment that impacts three different statistical categories; Firearms, Stamina, and Electronics. Each category is given a numerical ranking, affected by your choice of weapons, backpacks, and more. A pair of gloves, for instance, might grant more DPS from your rifle but reduce your health pool. Another might make your skills more powerful but sacrifice primary DPS. It takes a while to get the hang of, but once you figure out the nuances of the system, you“ll be tearing through enemies like there“s no tomorrow… because there may not be a tomorrow. At the higher levels, weapons and gear also start to offer passive stat buffs. The greater the rarity tier of the item, the more passive buffs it has. In order to access these stat boosts, you“ll need to make sure you meet each buff“s ranking requirements from the three stat areas. Again, it sounds more intimidating than it really is. Dropped gear in the solo exploration mode is fairly standard stuff, though you might find a nice backpack or rifle here and there. You can also scavenge for crafting ingredients that allow you to make higher-end gear at the base of operations. Gear blueprints are unlocked as you complete more and more side missions, so make sure to keep up with those in addition to the main campaign. Arguably, The Division“s biggest draw is the previously-mentioned Dark Zone. This area, separate from the solo mission instances, seamlessly blends PvE and PvP in one chaotic region. The Dark Zone has an entirely separate leveling system, new safehouses, gear vendors, and currency. The best loot also drops in the Dark Zone, but in order to get it, you“ll have to extract the gear at designated zones. To do so, you“ll need to wait around two minutes for an extraction chopper to arrive, fending off waves of enemy AI and the occasional rogue agents. If you“re in a squad of friendly players, other agents are less likely to attack you. But if you decide to go lone wolf, be on guard. Neutral agents can turn hostile in the blink of an eye and steal all of your hard-earned loot in a flash. In concept, the Dark Zone is great. The execution is not as promising as I would have liked. There are no missions in this area, which does make some sense in keeping non-instanced servers. That said, some co-op or competitive game modes would be ideal, like pitting squads against each other to accomplish objectives or reach pre-ordained loot chests. As it is, the Dark Zone is a tense, entertaining experience, but Ubisoft Massive could do wonders with a few improvements to the gameplay. As you might have guessed from the opening, The Division is a gorgeous game. The “visual downgrade” that“s so frequently associated with post-E3 launches isn“t noticeable here. Ubisoft has crafted an intricate, detailed, worn presentation of New York and it“s incredible. Combined with the frequently-disturbing audio and video logs, The Division firmly establishes a sense of place. The audio is just as strong, with the cacophony of gunfire and explosions echoing across the empty streets, though I wasn't a fan of the repeating dialogue of enemy soldiers. More variety would have been greatly appreciated. If you“re expecting more Destiny, that“s not what you“re getting with The Division. Ubisoft has crafted a capable, considered cover-based shooter with relatively deep RPG elements. Adding in a seamless transition between solo and multiplayer content is a real treat, and the Dark Zone could become something special over time. I“m not in love with every decision Ubisoft made, but The Division (at launch) is a very solid foundation for future iterations and expansions. Pros: + Great blend of solo and multiplayer content + Deep customization and crafting options + Well-written campaign missions + Rewarding sense of progression and loot Cons: - Enemies begin to feel a bit samey - Some repetitious dialogue - Dark Zone needs some work Overall Score: 7.5 (out of 10) Good If you“re expecting more Destiny, that“s not what you“re getting with The Division. Ubisoft has crafted a capable, considered cover-based shooter with relatively deep RPG elements. As such, it's a solid foundation for future iterations and expansions. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using a retail copy purchased by the reviewer
  21. Harrison Lee

    Review: Dying Light: The Following

    Developer: Techland Publisher: Warner Bros. Entertainment Interactive Platform: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One Release Date: February 9th, 2016 ESRB: M for Mature I originally passed on Techland“s open-world zombie action game/parkour simulator, Dying Light, when it debuted last year. While everything I“d heard about it indicated it was an awesome experience and the exact breath of fresh air the zombie game genre needed, there were too many other titles for me to make the time for Dying Light. After having mowed through The Following, the first major expansion for the game, I“m starting to sincerely regret passing on it the first time. The Following takes place after the events of Dying Light. While I won“t spoil any plot details from the main game, suffice it to say that the central narrative in the expansion is much better-written. Dying Light“s main campaign was sharply criticized for inferior plot development and hamfisted characters. While The Following doesn“t craft the finest of zombie apocalypse survivors, the story itself is what“ll draw you in. Kyle Crane is once again tasked with helping his band of misfit parkour instructors and survivors in Harran, only this time, he“s caught out in the farmlands of the nearby countryside. A dying man tells Crane and company about a secret place, protected by the Mother, where followers of the local religion are immune to the virus. To get to the Mother and her followers, however, Crane needs to earn the trust and respect of the local populace. This means strapping your gloves on and killing everything that tries to eat or shoot you, from gun-toting bandits to half-rotten walkers and everything in between. If you“re feeling especially brave (or foolish), The Following introduces several boss monsters known as Freaks of Nature. They“re much stronger than your garden variety of zombie and usually require co-op assistance to take down. If you decide to solo a Freak, extra patience and crafting materials are in order. Weapons and loot function exactly like the base game, with melee devices requiring constant maintenance using the limited repair system. Unless you“ve unlocked the tree skill that occasionally grants a free repair, you“ll be cycling through weapons at the usual rate. Loot crates are everywhere, mostly found in houses scattered across the countryside. If you hate lock-picking minigames, you might be turned off by how many locked crates there are. A bit of patience and a steady hand, however, will unlock plenty of useful goods and upgrade parts. While most of the gameplay, enemies, and quest types are similar to those in the base game, The Following introduces one drastic change to the formula; upgradable dune buggies. Traversing the countryside on-foot is a daunting task. Gone are the high-rises and rooftops from which Dying Light made parkour the star. The Following breaks out into open spaces and wheat-filled fields, so buggies are the best mode of transportation. These diminutive vehicles, however, are more than just ferries. They can be upgraded with various parts, engines, tires, paint schemes, and weapons (like a flamethrower and electric cage) to make it your own personal rolling fortress. All the internal parts need to be maintained using Dying Light“s infamous limited repair system, but continuously driving will provide you with the necessary experience to craft higher-end replacement parts. The buggy also needs to be refueled, and gas is readily available from the dozens of cars scattered about the environment. The closest comparison for The Following is Mad Max with zombies, so if you“re into grinding the undead into the asphalt, this expansion is probably up your alley. Really, the only odd design choice Techland made was making the entire experience separate from the main game. In order to access the additional content, you need to start The Following from the main menu. All items and skills from the base game are carried over, but the minor disconnect is jarring when you make the transition from Harran to the farmlands. You“ll also want to be around Survivor level 10 or 12 before you start the expansion content, else you may be over-run by the wicked-fast crowds of virals during the day and the lethal volatiles at night. For $20, Dying Light: The Following is jam-packed with content. The game-world is massive, rivalling the vertical playgrounds of Harran. The implementation of upgradeable combat buggies and even more loot means the best time to explore Dying Light is now. The Following adds a decently-written narrative with a surprising ending, along with some unique boss encounters and the ever-satisfying combat. At the bargain price-point, The Following is a worthy addition to your digital collection. Pros: + The new buggies are awesome + A solid story with a great ending + Rewarding combat and loot + It“s Mad Max with zombies! Cons: - Too much lock-picking - Some quests are a bit too familiar Overall Score: 8.5 (out of 10) Great Dying Light: The Following is jam-packed with content and a worthy addition to your digital collection. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable code provided by the publisher
  22. Harrison Lee

    Preview: Tom Clancy's The Division

    March is going to be a busy month for gamers, with no impending release looming as large as Tom Clancy“s The Division, an MMO third-person shooter with RPG elements. The hype train behind the game has been building for months, and Ubisoft has decided to set the speed to over-drive with the closed beta, which opened late last week. Demand for The Division“s beta has been “unprecedented”, leading to a restriction for some pre-order backers who were left out in the cold until the past day or so. After spending considerable time with the beta, I have a few thoughts on the direction of Ubisoft“s potential blockbuster release. The first thing to clarify is that The Division is nothing like Destiny. They have a few traits in common, like a pseudo-MMO shared-world where players can interact and play with one another. Beyond that, however, The Division“s gameplay structure is fundamentally different. The beta highlights two particular zones of the play; a solo PvE area and the Dark Zone, which is where PvP and PvE take place. The starting area is designed to facilitate level progression in the base game, with a story mission and a few side activities made available during the beta. And the content on offer is enough to get a taste for what the full release will have, but I felt like the solo zone was relatively empty. Enemy spawns were few and infrequent, which meant I had to do a lot of walking to find anything interesting. Side activities also didn“t refresh, though this may have been to restrict players from advancing past level 8. I can“t say much more on the solo side of things as there wasn“t much to do, but most of the MMO-like trappings and hub-upgrade missions were present, if currently locked away. One interesting thing to note is that the upgrades made to the hub-base can have direct impacts on gameplay, unlocking useful mods for player abilities and actions. Mods for the sensor sweep were the only ones accessible, but the greyed-out trees showed extensive options for crafting player ability loadouts. Conveniently, you can swap between any of the abilities by pulling up the menu and mapping each one to either the Q or E key. Only having two abilities at a time is less than enthralling, but I guess it“s supposed to be more realistic than the typical MMO character powerhouses. Loot is relatively plentiful, though a lot of it is mostly useless by the time you hit level 7 or 8 in the beta. Each weapon is color-coded based on rarity. The higher tiers of drops offer a few stat buffs in addition to base attributes. To get these buffs, you have to have gear that boosts three different categories of player attributes, including Firearms, Technology, and Health. Gear will also contribute to the armor rating, so it“s important to find the right balance between DPS, armor, health, and tech ratings, which influence the power of your abilities. It all sounds a little complicated, but you“ll quickly learn how it works once you get used to the UI. Weapons can also be customized with attachments that add further stat boosts and visual aids, like long-range scopes and laser-pointers. Attachments are further divided by large and small-caliber weapons (rifles vs. SMGs/pistols). The tiers of rarity offer some of the same perks as tiered weapons, but I found that rarity wasn“t the best indicator of utility. Some more common attachments offered better stat boosts than the rarest items you can purchase or find from drops. Combat is somewhat hit-or-miss, with firearms having a distinctly clunky feel. Destiny felt very much like the perfect shooter, whereas the combat in The Division is mostly serviceable. The area-of-effect for grenades and explosives is also ridiculously narrow, failing to behave as explosives would in real life. I shouldn“t have to make sure the enemy is highlighted in the red hemisphere to know my grenade will do damage. Mercifully, there aren“t many bullet-sponge enemies beyond a few minor armored bosses, so this issue is mostly constrained to fighting against other players. The biggest draw of The Division will likely be the Dark Zone, which features a hybrid of PvE and PvP gameplay. Consequently, this is where the best loot is to be found. In order to extract loot, however, you have to call in a chopper at specified locations and wait for a couple of minutes before you can send your gear off. The PvP element comes into play here as other players are neutral by default. They can, however, open fire on you and go rogue at any time. More often than not, rogues will wait until the chopper is just about to arrive before jumping you for your loot. Thus, it“s imperative to group up with friends you trust via match-making. Squad-members can“t shoot you directly, and any outside rogues will be discouraged by parties of four players. If you choose to solo the Dark Zone, the keys to survival are to keep moving and trust no one. It“s essentially a hybrid of Destiny and Day Z, only a lot more chaotic. The beta fails to disclose a lot of the conditions for going rogue, how to identify certain rogue health-bars from others, and some of the more complex features of the game. In essence, you“re basically thrown into the Dark Zone without much of a roadmap. On top of that, the Dark Zone has a leveling system that“s mostly independent of the solo content. You earn separate credits and experience, allowing you to purchase the rarest gear. Oddly enough, I did notice that the solo ranking would occasionally get small experience boosts while in the Dark Zone, either from player revives or other actions. It is possible that the systems actually aren“t all that independent in the full release, but are restricted here to maintain the level cap. Thus far, The Division is a pretty game, though it won“t live up to the E3 trailers. As expected, the visual downgrade is somewhat noticeable, but I wasn“t bothered by it in the least. What would be nice is to have some environmental destruction and vehicle deformation. More NPCs would also be a welcome sight. As it is, New York feels pretty empty, even if it is set in a post-viral outbreak environment. The beta has offered a limited slice, but I“m interested by what The Division has to offer. There“s a lot of work that needs to be done, including proper documentation for all of the game“s mechanics. The Dark Zone PvP will also need to be rebalanced to avoid griefing and ganking. I“m not sure that it“s worth pre-ordering yet, but I“d certainly recommend keeping an eye on it. If Ubisoft can correct some of these flaws prior to launch, The Division should be a standout title early in the year.