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  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. Developer: Larian Studios Publisher: Maximum Games Platform: PS4, PC, and Xbox One Release Date: October 27, 2015 ESRB: M for Mature This review is based on the PS4 version of the game It is easy to forget that Kickstarter success stories most certainly exist. One clear proof of concept was when Larian Studios originally pitched an old-school computer-RPG that would display "new ideas and a modern execution" back in 2013. After more than doubling their initial Kickstarter goal and officially launching mid-2014, Larian Studios easily exceeded expectations from both critics and would-be fans alike with an incredibly positive reception of Divinity: Original Sin. Still, because Divinity: Original Sin was so strongly rooted in PC origin, it was hard to believe that console versions would ever surface from a basic gameplay standpoint. As if to go out of their way to prove such sentiments otherwise, however, Larian Studios has now given PS4 and Xbox One owners the chance to finally play the cult-classic, and seemingly definite version, with Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition. Are the fruits of the original's success still intact or wastefully consumed with unsuccessful consoles ports? Let's get this out of the way first -- Divinity: Original Sin is a pretty weird game, but it may not seem so (at least at first) with its baseline premise of two player-made "Source Hunters" who are sent to investigate the town of Cyseal for a certain bizarre murder. Source Hunters themselves being individuals who generally deal with matters involving, well, the "Source" (dark magic essentially), and are known ruthlessly try to cleanse it even if means brandishing their weapons on those that practice possibly nefarious magic. But, Divinity: Original Sin quickly proves it is far less straight-laced than its concept is on paper. I tried to play what I assumed to be normal. The main story had me investigating clues about Jake's murder early in. So, straightforward enough, I prodded local townsfolk and tried to gather evidence. But as I was gathering evidence, I learned that one of my characters had a unique talent tree skill where he could talk to animals, leading to eventually inquiring Jake's dog to see if he can help with investigation. Things then quickly escalated in a strange way as I questionably snuck through the houses of possible suspects to steal their underwear to literally catch the scent of the potential murderer through Jake's dog. Funnily enough, the quest really did not have to go that way at all, but Divinity: Original Sin loves to nonchalantly reward finding unorthodox solutions that play upon your party's strengths from quests to even combat.... and in this instance it was apparently stealing underwear and dog whispering. Character-building in Divinity: Original Sin is very complex, making expansive RPGs like the very recent Fallout 4 seem quite straightforward in comparison. I don't think I have felt so overwhelmingly lost with how I should be playing a game in quite a while than I had been in Divinity early in. I probably spent my first 5 hours feeling like a headless chicken when it came learning the most of the gameplay nuances. Tutorials are pretty minimal (even if the Enhanced Edition apparently adds way more) and it is very possible to make a character that is next to useless if you aren't paying attention to where you are allocating points for talents, skills, and actual stats per level up for every character, which add up long term. This alone proves it was firmly made as a classic computer-RPG through and through. However, when it clicks Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition becomes incredibly fun to play because how much free reign you are given with its quite versatile gameplay mechanics. The most enjoyable, and also cruelest, part of it all is undoubtedly its very strategic and highly rewarding turn-based combat system. No one battle is the same and the enemy is just as capable of bringing you down as you are them, if not more so. Pro tip: save often. Learning is more than half the battle in Divinity: Original Sin. There are many variables that you simply won't know until you test them out in actual combat (or see them used against you) and find out what works for you. One seemingly innocuous skill that I grew to adore is the teleport ability for my Aerothurge. Sure, you can use it to slam enemies into the ground for damage or create distance but the real value I found in it is by manipulating the terrain. For example, I'd occasionally toss a nearby barrel on the floor to cause an oil spill and then quickly ignite floor with a fire spell or molotov grenade to incinerate foe. In more devious instances I'd use that same spell to toss objects to trigger a switch from afar and have enemies quickly met with a barrage of arrow traps. The value of understanding character builds becomes especially apparent as one gains mastery over its excellent and deep combat system. Honestly, I could gush all day about the combat and the versatile gameplay systems that only gets more fun over time. That said, the real gameplay issues seem exclusive to console when it comes to more mundane tasks like navigating the interface. For one, managing inventory can be needlessly time-consuming because there are no real sorting options. There are many quest relevant items that may require literally reading specifics items you pick up, and considering how much randomized loot there is, or allies having separate inventories altogether, it's needlessly cumbersome to find specific items at times to say the least . The more serious issue is that fixating on specific targets outside of combat is oddly difficult. I had more difficulty than I should have early in trying to simply talk to NPCs instead of accidentally stealing the item behind them and getting in trouble for it. These feel like situations that would non-issues on PC, or inventory-wise less of one when playing via local or online co-op with a friend (which I hear is incredibly fun), but it is certainly a problem nonetheless on console. The general presentation is less of a problem, minus abnormally long initial load times. There is not much to comment on the visuals themselves. I mean, it looks solid in motion, with the environmental and particle effects standing out the most, but otherwise it is hard for me to not feel spoiled by the much higher production values of recent western-RPGs like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (which is unfair, I know). The voice acting acting is appropriately hammy with the many eccentric characters and writing but the soundtrack easily outclasses any other part of the presentation. Its orchestral soundtrack is frankly phenomenal, from the dynamic town themes or the eclectic score as you traverse from one battlefield to another. It is all the more heartbreaking that the composer passed away earlier this year because of how much I would love to hear such talent return in the upcoming Divinity: Original Sin 2. Even a year after its primary PC showing, Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition more than holds up on console. It may be clearly old-school with its classic computer RPG depth (and unapologetic obtuseness) of yore, but it is also noticeably far less archaic than those games in execution. Divinity: Original Sin brings an incredibly satisfying gameplay depth for those willing to learn its combat system and versatile gameplay design that most western RPGs have seemingly lost in their focus on scale with open-worlds as of late. Some clunky console-specific idiosyncrasies aside, Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition is heartily welcomed as a truly great RPG and I can not wait to see what the talented developers will have in store in eventual Divinity: Original Sin 2. Pros: + Immense depth to character builds and ways to play the game + Challenging and very tactical turn-based combat + Fantastic soundtrack + Generally goofy, but appropriately whimsy writing and storytelling + Rewards finding unconventional solutions through gameplay to many scenarios Cons: - Can be pretty overwhelming to get a feel on how to even play the game early in - Interface and control quirks make basic actions more slow and cumbersome than they should be - Long load times Overall Score: 8.5 (out of 10) Great Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition brings a genuine depth that many RPGs have seemingly forgotten as of late in their focus on scale. Though it may be difficult to learn early in, few RPGs are as rewarding as Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition in the long haul when it comes to the mastering its very strategic combat and versatile character creation. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable PS4 code provided by the publisher.
  5. Among all the announcements in Sony's Paris Games Week press conference was a new trailer for EA and DICE's upcoming Star Wars Battlefront. The new footage highlights several different planets, including Tatooine, Sullust, Endor, and of course, more of Hoth (which was first shown in the E3 2015 trailer). Also introduced for the first time are Leia, Boba Fett, Han Solo, and last but not least, Emperor Palpatine himself. Admiral Ackbar is also heard rallying the troops for battle; perhaps we'll get to hear him say, "It's a trap!"? Regardless, the game looks solid as ever; let's hope everything plays just as good as it looks in the trailer. Star Wars Battlefront is set to release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on November 17. Does the newest trailer make you more excited for Star Wars Battlefront?
  6. If you've been waiting for Mega Man Legacy Collection, you'll be glad to hear that your wait is almost at an end. Capcom has officially dated the digital version of the game for release on August 25 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Steam for $14.99. Physical versions of the game will be coming in 2016, along with a 3DS version as well; more info on each will be coming at a later date. For more on Mega Man Legacy Collection, be sure to check out Jonathan Higgin's hands-on impressions of the game at E3 2015. Will you be buying this collection?
  7. Ori and the Blind Forest has been one of the most critically acclaimed games of 2015 so far, and now the game's director has announced that the game will be receiving an expansion dubbed The Definitive Edition. This expansion is set to include new content, areas, artwork, mechanics, and more. Thomas Mahler, the game's director, also mentioned that they went back and fixed all of the design and content issues that people had a problem with. Right now, it isn't clear whether Ori and the Blind Forest Definitive Edition will only be sold as a standalone product or if it will also be a payable (or free) add-on for current owners, but you can expect to see the expansion release during the holiday season on Windows 10, Steam, and Xbox One. Source: Game Informer Are you interested in playing this Definitive Edition of Ori and the Blind Forest?
  8. Peter Dinklage's voice-over work as the Ghost in Destiny has been the source of much dismay among fans ever since they first heard samples of it, but it looks as if Bungie is now making that a thing of the past. Bungie recently revealed that not only had they had tapped popular voice actor Nolan North to record the Ghost's lines in the upcoming The Taken King expansion for the game, they actually had him re-record all of the original dialogue (Dinklage's lines) as well in order to create a consistent voice over the course of the whole experience. For his part, North doesn't seem to have any qualms about replacing Dinklage, mentioning that he's really excited for the role and hopes to evolve the character over time. You'll get to hear North as the Ghost when Destiny: The Taken King releases on September 15. Source: Game Informer Do you think it was harsh of Bungie to replace Peter Dinklage's lines with that of Nolan North?
  9. Today, Activision released the first gameplay trailer for Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5, the first entry in the mainline Pro Skater series since the release of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 some 13 years ago. Everything you'd expect from a Tony Hawk game appears to be in order here, from playing as skateboarding pros to executing trick combos and more. The biggest thing Activision seems to be touting here is the online multiplayer aspect, where up to 20 players will be able to compete against each other at once in a match. You'll also be able to do almost everything you could do from past single-player modes online in this one, including missions, leveling up, and more. Strangely enough, the online aspects are exclusive to the PS4 and Xbox One versions, however. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5 will be releasing first on PS4 and Xbox One on September 29 for $59.99. PS3 and Xbox 360 versions will follow at a later date (expected before year's end) for $20 less. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvwSKI0mm4M&feature=youtu.be Are you interested in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5?
  10. Back in March, gamers were in for a surprise when it was made known that Game Freak (known mostly for their work on core Pokemon games) was working on an action platformer for SEGA based on a Rambo-style elephant, called Tembo the Badass Elephant. The good news is that you won't have to wait much longer to play it. Even better — each platform will offer 10% off discounts. Here's what you need to do on each platform to qualify: Steam — Preorder anytime from now until launch PS4 — Be a PlayStation Plus Subscriber Xbox One — Be an Xbox Live Gold member Tembo the Badass Elephant will make his big debut on July 21 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Steam for $14.99. Will you be picking up this game?
  11. Developer: CD Projekt Red Publisher: CD Projekt Red Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Release Date: May 19, 2015 ESRB: M for Mature When compared to names like Bioware and Bethesda, CD Projekt Red is not a developer that most role playing game fans will immediately recognize. Whether this is because most people lacked the hardware to even play their titles upon release (thanks, Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings) or the generally esoteric feeling of its first RPG debut in 2007, previous The Witcher RPG incantations have had difficulty reaching those outside of its fervent, but limited, PC ranks. Yet, CD Projekt Red brandishes their steel resolve once more towards the world of the ashen-haired monster slayer — Geralt of Rivia. To close out the would-be trilogy, and to reach a newly found PS4/Xbox One audience, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt saddles up to reach greater expanses in more ways than one. "The world is rich with detail and you can easily get wrapped up in it by when exploring, reading various lore entries, or listening to the immense amount of sharp, well-written dialogue." It can certainly be intimidating to delve into a series like The Witcher. With two lengthy RPGs and multiple novels by the same Polish writer, Andrzej Sapkowski, it can be daunting to know where to even start. Regardless of the dense amount of internal lore within its fiction The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt manages to be surprisingly comprehensible even for those uninitiated. The baseline setting premise is not terribly complicated. Geralt is a Witcher — which is essentially a mercenary that slays monsters — and he travels from one contract to another. In want of more than just coin, however, Geralt's journey brings him in search of someone he cares deeply about after new rumors resurface. Still, simple explanations are anything but what populates Geralt's world, which is outright vast. There is a real strong sense of various cultures, wildly differing philosophies, and a thoroughly immersive sense of world-building throughout that feels grounded despite the presence of the fantastical. You have the corrupt city of Novigrad with witch burnings in the streets and various criminal strata influencing its underpinnings, the Skellige Isles with Viking-esque sensibilities, the expansion of Nilfgaard territory causing a strong divide in social standing within conquered lands, or the seemingly immortal cavalry called the Wild Hunt that kidnaps various people and then disappears without a trace. The world is rich with detail and you can easily get wrapped up in it by when exploring, reading various lore entries, or listening to the immense amount of sharp, well-written dialogue. A compelling setting has almost felt in contention with inconsistent gameplay when it comes to The Witcher series, however, and the third entry is no exception. Each title has felt like it has had an identity crisis in what it wanted to be in regards to gameplay. Wild Hunt smartly sidesteps its combat-heavy predecessors by focusing more on the breadth and depth of its open-world, but even it has its problems. The most basic of which is that — at launch — The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt honestly played quite poorly since Geralt“s basic actions felt rather unwieldy. Combat, horse riding, swimming, navigating boats — just about everything you did to felt like a half-second behind from what you wanted to do. It was somewhat possible to get used to but the unresponsive nature of it all was made worse by an unreliable framerate on PS4 in particular. But, surprisingly, most of that was remedied from a pure control standpoint and Geralt plays like he should now… after a couple of very necessary recent patches. That said, patches don't quite fill in for all of its gameplay gaps but they at least make the road through it smoother. Combat primarily is more interesting in context than actual execution. For example, reading the dense witcher bestiary can contribute to knowing how to easily fell a monster or not. Perhaps using a crossbow knock harpies out of the sky, using a silver sword to fight wraiths, or even facing shield-bearing human foes that can be staggered with the gust-like Aard magic spell add little strategic details to combat. Unfortunately, the actual act of swashbuckling or throwing spells just isn't very satisfying even with the controls being more responsive due to simple, clunky general feel of it all. Yet, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt somehow gets away with its many of its gameplay shortcomings due to how handcrafted every other individual aspect of it feels. Noticeable shortcomings and all, this is likely the best open-world RPG you can find to date. It may not be as huge as Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim in raw scope, or boast the conceit of Dragon Age: Inquisition“s character customization, but it outclasses both, or pretty much any other RPG for that matter, by being populated with so much more purposeful content that you can do from moment to moment with a captivating huge world to complement it. "The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt demands a lot of your time, and frankly, it more than earns it for those who can give it." These strengths come across most prominently due to its quest design and constant points of interest throughout even after the game's somewhat slow intro. The most distinct early instance of this that most will notice in their playthrough is during “The Bloody Baron” series of quests. Now, the "Bloody Baron" himself is not exactly a respectable individual, having done some heinous actions in his past. Yet, you hear what he has to say to get the information you want while also learning more about him. From then on the quest structure sees several rather noticeable permutations, both in how you choose to be or not be empathetic with him (actually made plausible to go either way on due to the incredibly strong writing and voice work), as well as how you react to some truly morally grey choices in-between that yield very unpredictable consequences. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is full of moments like these that are generally self-contained in nature but are wholly fascinating regardless because of the finely-tuned storytelling and characters that propel them. More impressive is how many of these intricate questlines are quite missable despite how deep their stories may be. Not just that but quite a few have genuine consequences in how they can come into play later on or their strong callbacks to previous Witcher titles by closing certain long-lasting narrative threads, making the allure of doing everything and anything that constitutes as a “quest” all too tempting. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt demands a lot of your time, and frankly, it more than earns it for those who can give it. It is honestly quite overwhelming how much there is to do in its world. Focusing primarily on the main story can easily last players upwards of fifty hours and if you are distracted by anything else — which you probably will be — it can more than double that. Hundreds of engaging quests aside, one could also certainly find themselves lost in the simple act trying to uncover the huge world on horse/boat, searching for treasure/materials, or going down the rabbit hole that is fan-favorite card game Gwent, aka Witcher 3's version of Final Fantasy VIII's triple triad and it is all pretty seamless. I wish I could say the same about the overall presentation. Don't get me wrong, Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is generally a visual treat with finesse towards environments specifically, and I'm sure it is also breathtaking with higher PC specs, but its technical foibles are quite noticeable on console. They aren't nearly as severe as problems you'd encounter from Bethesda releases, but I have seen no shortage of framerate hitches, odd bugs, and some long load times that rival even Bloodborne's during my playthrough that were present throughout. The audio is certainly easier to praise unabashed with the great soundtrack that has a distinct Celtic-flair and features vocalized gems like "The Fields of Arg Skellig" that stand out the most. Additionally, the voice work is quite well done, complemented further by the smart script with plenty of well-timed humor, even if they take a few too many liberties with re-using certain voice actors for NPCs. CD Projekt Red sets an incredibly high bar that most open-world RPGs are unlikely to even come close to rivaling for quite some time. For as many flaws as it has (or had prior to certain patches) both technically or gameplay-wise, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a borderline masterpiece with its awe-striking world and storytelling. Newcomers to the series or not, as the best open-world RPG this console generation The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt should absolutely not be missed by RPG fans. Pros + Sharp writing and highly engaging storytelling/characters + Vast open-world populated with lots of fascinating, intricate quests to partake in and areas to explore + Thoroughly engrossing world-building with a very high attention to detail + Good voice acting and strong, moody musical score Cons - Combat does not feel particularly satisfying -Framerate hitches, long load times, clunky interface, and noticeable technical bugs - Slow start Overall Score: 8.5 (out of 10) Great Much like a fine wine, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt's shortcomings are most noticeable in its earliest state. Yet, given time to refine its palate, as CD Projekt Red is seemingly actively doing, and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt more than has the makings of a genuine role-playing game classic almost purely through its bewitching world and storytelling. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable PS4 code provided by the publisher.
  12. If you thought you had seen the last of Shovel Knight, think again! Yacht Club Games had some big news to announce today regarding the fan favorite indie game; not only has the game now sold 700,000 copies of the game, but a retail release is on the way for all consoles and 3DS (no physical Vita version, however). Yacht Club announced that they'll actually be publishing the physical version of the game themselves thanks to a partnership with distributor, U&I Entertainment, who helped distribute physical versions of Telltale's The Walking Dead and Divinity: Original Sin. Also worth getting excited about — Shovel Knight's first new free DLC campaign, Plague of Shadows, will actually be launching even before the physical release of the game. As reported earlier, this DLC will have you play through the game as Plague Knight, and he'll have his own narrative and such along the way. Yacht Club is teasing more news later in the month as well, including a breakdown of the Battle Mode that is coming as well as a release date for Plague of Shadows and more. Source: Yacht Club Games Will you be picking up the physical release of Shovel Knight?
  13. Jason Clement

    Sea of Thieves is Rare's Newest Game

    Aside from a collection of its older games, it was also announced at Microsoft's E3 Press Conference today that Rare working on a brand new game called Sea of Thieves, which is a first-person, multiplayer pirate game for Xbox One. From the short trailer that was shown, it appears the visuals are a bit more stylized than realistic (much like Valve's Team Fortress 2), and will feature exploration of islands, ship battles, treasure looting, walking the plank, and much more. Check out the trailer below and see for yourself: Are you interested in checking out Sea of Thieves?
  14. Today during Microsoft's E3 Press Conference, Rare Replay — a collection of 30 of Rare's games — was announced for the Xbox One. Interestingly enough, Rare is actually handling this collection themselves (without outsourcing to another developer to port), and there will be added challenges and other extras being added to it beyond just the games. Just about every big game in Rare's back catalog is represented here (with the exception of the Donkey Kong Country games and GoldenEye), from Jetpac and Battletoads to Banjo Kazooie, Conker's Bad Fur Day, Jet Force Gemini, and more. The good news is you won't have to wait long for this; it's out on August 4 and will be going for $30. You can heck out the trailer below. Are you interested in Rare Replay?
  15. Well, this is an interesting rumor. If it turns out to be true, I'm sure there are a ton of people who would probably buy an Xbox One just to play this, but we'll see. Honestly, I could see it happening since Microsoft loves to snatch up exclusives and pull trump cards on Sony when they can (tho Sony got them on Street Fighter V, so...). What do you guys make of this? Would this make you want to buy an Xbox One if it does happen?
  16. Jason Clement

    Need for Speed Reboot Coming This Fall

    Need for Speed has largely been a series that has seen annual releases since 2002, but it was mysteriously absent from EA's lineup last year, and now we know why. Under the direction of Ghost Games, Need for Speed is receiving a full reboot and will focus on authentic urban car culture, deep customization, an open world set at night, and a new plot to tie everything together. This new entry, apparently just titled Need for Speed, will be releasing this Fall on Origin (PC), PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. A full reveal trailer will be shown on June 15 at EA's E3 press conference, but a teaser for the game has been released below. Source: EA Press Release Does a Need for Speed reboot interest you?
  17. EA recently released their quarterly financial presentation reveals to the press, and perhaps the most interesting bit of information to come from it are the planned release dates and windows for several games. The biggest and most intriguing of this is that Mirror's Edge 2 would be releasing in the early 2016 (sometime before the end of March, the end of the fiscal year). No specifics were announced regarding the game or the exact platforms it would release for, but the presentation does list it for consoles and PC. Also interesting to note is that a new Need for Speed is set for release later this year, and a new Plants vs Zombies will be coming early next year as well. Source: EA (via Engadget) Are you looking forward to Mirror's Edge 2?
  18. First there was Skylanders. Then came Disney Infinity. And now, gamers are in the midst of Amiibo madness. But you'll soon be able to welcome another series to the genre: LEGO Dimensions. The idea behind this particular game has many different LEGO properties combining into one, such as The LEGO Movie, The Lord of the Rings, DC Comics, The Wizard of Oz, Back to the Future, and the LEGO Ninjago line. And like Skylanders and Disney Infinity before it, players will use a special platform peripheral to bring interactive LEGO minifigs to life on-screen. LEGO Dimensions will roll out with a starter pack costing $99.99 and which includes the game, the LEGO Toy Pad (which brings characters to life), and three minifigs (Gandalf, Batman, and Wyldstyle from the LEGO Movie). There will also be Level Packs costing $29.99, Team Packs costing $24.99, and $14.99 Fun Packs that contain a variety of interactive characters, vehicles, and gadgets. Interestingly enough, the Starter Pack will continue to work with future expansion packs, negating any need for compatibility charts, according to Warner Bros.; something that will no doubt be a huge plus for many people. Compared to Skylanders and Disney Infinity, LEGO Dimensions is definitely sitting at a premium price point, but no doubt Warner Bros. Interactive is looking to capitalize on LEGO's huge franchise appeal to draw people in despite the extra $20 people will be paying for the starter set. You can expect to see the game hit stores this Fall on September 27 on Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3 and 4, and Wii U. Source: WIRED Are you interested in or excited for LEGO Dimensions?