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Found 116 results

  1. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Super Time Force

    Developer: Capybara Games Publisher: Capybara Games Platform: Xbox 360, Xbox One ESRB: T for Teen Release Date: May 14, 2014 This review is based on the Xbox One version of the game Every so often we see games that mess with the concept of time. Sometimes, the results are quite impressive and other times its just a total headache. Super Time Force“s mechanic is not entirely unique but Capybara Games have managed to do something quite cool with it. Players rewind time, place new characters into battle, and engage in increasingly ridiculous firefights. But is it all fun? Does it measure up to the standards fans have come to expect from Capybara? Yes, a million times yes. Super Time Force is an astoundingly good new game that is, for now, exclusive to Xbox One and Xbox 360. In the story's beginning, a scientist creates a working time machine. Seconds later, the world is in chaos. Future scientist appears, briefly explains the situation, and forces himself to command a small band of heroes known as the Super Time Force. These folks are tasked with destroying everything that screwed up the space time continuum. Players take the team and journey through a variety of timeframes, ridding the world of evil. Levels range from a post-apocalyptic wasteland to the age of the dinosaurs, knights and castles, and a handful more. Selecting stages is done similar to a Mega Man game, meaning there“s no required progression path to completion. However, each stage has multiple sections to play through, including boss battles. The gameplay is where Super Time Force is both familiar and incredibly unique. Played in a 2D side-scrolling fashion, players are tasked with defeating everything that stands in their path. There are a handful of team members to choose from and each offers unique weapons and skills. After selecting who you want to wade through enemies you head out and attempt to kick butt. Thanks to the bullet-ridden landscape, you“ll likely die fast. And that“s where the main hook comes into play. Dying is not the end. When a character dies, you can simply rewind time. There“s no restriction on how far you can go back, meaning you can even return to the start of the stage if needed. Once you“ve backed up to a suitably safe location, you choose another Super Time Force member (or the same as before) and resume play. A ghost of your previous combatant will appear, doing just as was commanded prior to their death. No matter what, the ghosts will always persist until they reach where they were killed. If you can manage to save them they will actually provide an additional hit point. Although skilled players might be able to make it through stages with only losing a few out of the 31 given lives, this isn“t enough to save the world. Each level is also timed, meaning you not only have to perform carefully enough to not use your stock of lives but also play fast. This is practically impossible when you“ve got 10 seconds on the clock and a giant boss to beat. Or is it? Just use your powers to set up a ton of Time Force characters and each will whittle away at a boss health meter. Stacking up teammates to increase attack power is a common theme in the game. It takes a little bit of practice to get right but proves a very powerful part of the player“s arsenal. The game might seem like it“s pure action goodness, but there“s actually a lot of thinking that goes into successful playthroughs. This is because the ghost partners play as you instructed them initially and will not do other things. For example, when coming across a boss with moving hit points, simply telling your team to shoot forward will not work. Figuring out how to place each teammate and which of their skills works best to the given situation might take a few tries. Usually these moments prove far more fun than frustrating. No review of Super Time Force would be complete without appraisal of the graphics and music. Many games make use of the pixel art style but few can make it look as good as Capybara Games. The colors are blocky, bright, and each character is humorously distinctive. Screenshots fail to capture how attractive it looks in motion. Listening to the soundtrack also makes it feel like you“ve just inserted a cart into a retro console rather than playing a supposedly ”next gen“ game. In this case, that“s a good thing. The purposefully hammy writing only strengthens the comparison. Because of the puzzling aspects of character placement and choice, there are no multiplayer modes included. However, there are leaderboards which are probably going to become very competitive soon. If you don“t care about that, then you may not get long to adore the game, as its six stages take around four hours to complete. The experience is great, but it“s a shame there wasn“t just a tad more to Super Time Force. While you“re playing, Super Time Force provides an exhilarating (possibly even exhausting) experience beyond any 2D action games that have come before it. The unique time mechanics add a layer of strategy which isn“t keen on punishing players. No matter what your playstyle, it“s easy to have fun screwing around. Sometimes, that“s all you need from a game and Super Time Force certainly delivers. Pros: + Time mechanic is incredibly well-executed and neat to toy with + A team of up to 16 unique characters ready to handle any situation + Great presentation with lovely pixel art, music, and goofy writing Cons: - Having only six time periods to explore means the experience is over rather quickly Overall Score: 9.0 (out of 10) Fantastic Super Time Force is an incredible 2D action game with creative puzzle elements that non-Xbox owners should be jealous of (at least until they can play it themselves via ports!). Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable code provided by the publisher
  2. On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me... a Steam Holiday Sale! And from then on, gamers everywhere have found themselves buying games that are simply too cheap to ignore. What about console gamers? Oh, there are deals across the PSN and XBLA marketplaces too! Case in point, Telltale Games is offering up The Wolf Among Us: Episode 1 for free. Yep, they did this before with The Walking Dead too! Right now there is only one episode of this series out which makes this a perfect time to get started. Doubly so if you're lucky enough to have a break from school, work, or other predicaments right now. Give it a look and see if playing the first episode makes you end up buying the entire series! Also, be sure to check out our review of the first episode right here.
  3. Marcus Estrada

    Review: A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda EX

    Developer: Extend Studio Publisher: Aksys Games Platform: Xbox 360 (XBLA) Release Date: September 4, 2013 ESRB: E 10+ A download code was provided by the publisher for this review In 2010, developer Extend Studio created a loving homage to the Mega Man series via their own game. Titled A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda, it featured a robot who platformed in a 2D-sidescrolling world and fought against renegade robots. It“s been a few years but the PC game has been revamped and brought to consoles via a new Xbox 360 release. So, how does the game stand up, and are the additions enough to warrant old fans to purchase another copy? First, let“s focus on the game from the standpoint of new players. A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda EX is a game with very little pretense. After starting it up for the first time you“re informed to the simple story that“s meant to keep you going. Basically, a space station has found itself the victim of a catastrophe. Strange space gasses have entered the station and caused all the robots within to rebel against humans. Thankfully, the lead character, Ares, is a robot who is immune to the gas and sets forth to save the humans from otherwise certain robot-inflicted demise. From there, players are tasked with navigating levels and shooting copious amounts of robots to see their mission through to the end. Shooting here is handled in either a twin-stick fashion or via pressing the X button. Most players will probably stick with using both analog sticks because this is easiest. You control the robot“s movements with the left stick and can aim his weapon via positioning of the right stick. When using the button instead, you can only fire in the direction you are facing, which is hardly ideal. Each level basically unfolds in the same way, although the platforming can be quite distinct between them. There is usually a miniboss in the middle and then a big boss at the end. Depending on which difficulty you choose from, these encounters can be monotonously easy or enough to make you want to toss the controller aside in frustration. Bosses routinely look cool and offer a host of special attacks ready to be unleashed upon the player. Thanks to the addition of skills such as an instant heal though, it usually never feels like an encounter is totally impossible. With a game like A.R.E.S. that relies heavily on platforming alongside shooting, you would hope that the controls handle perfectly. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Primarily the issue lies with jumping controls, which feel finicky. For example, if you are too close to the edge of a platform and jump, it will act as if you already performed a jump. This cuts off possible height from performing double jumps and doesn“t really make sense. Other times, you may need to quickly jump from platform to platform and find that your character simply won“t jump at all. It seems that jumping too quickly can confuse things, which is horrible since there are moments in the game where precise and fast jumping is required. It“s issues like these which really pull down A.R.E.S. since it manages to have attractive visuals and a great soundtrack to go along with it. Artistically, the game always looked great, but has definitely been enhanced for a large TV display. The original“s soundtrack is still included, which is as excellent as ever, as well as a whole new soundtrack for the second character. But even the best aesthetic and musical choices can“t fix problematic play. Then there is the matter of new Xbox 360 content which is, for the most part, also lacking. The control scheme has been tweaked some for its XBLA release, but players could already use the Xbox 360 controller via PC release if desired. Higher resolution textures and a leaderboard have also been implemented but neither is a particularly noteworthy selling point. Mainly, the allure for old fans to try this version is because of a new character and some new skills. The new character is stronger, but otherwise not too different from Ares. Perhaps the biggest question surrounding the release of A.R.E.S. is why it exists in the first place. The PC version did garner a crowd, but not a massive one thanks to its mostly average gameplay. Mega Man madness is certainly alive and well today but this has been the case for a while now. What took this upgraded version three years to come out? Rather, why have Extend Studios seemingly given up their plan of A.R.E.S. being an episodic series? If A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda EX sees great success then maybe they“ll return to those plans. For now though, Xbox 360 owners can finally get a taste of a decidedly average experience. Pros: + Two campaigns to play through + Great visual design + Excellent soundtrack to keep players hyped Cons: - Jumping needs to be precise and simply isn“t - Game is fairly short (presumably to have led into currently non-existent episodic sequels) Overall Score: 5.5 (out of 10) Average A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda EX is the kind of game that plays to a niche user base but otherwise does little to excite the rest of the gaming audience.
  4. Developer: SEGA Studios Australia Publisher: SEGA Platform: PS3 (PSN), XBLA Release Date: Out Now ESRB: E for Everyone This game was reviewed using a PSN digital code provided by the publisher It's a strange time for Mickey Mouse. The last decade has seen Disney's mascot step back from the limelight somewhat, with his role in games mostly limited to a supporting one in the ever popular Kingdom Hearts series. Epic Mickey, itself a critical mixed bag, its even more controversial sequel (its poor reception led to the closure of developer Junction Point), and a somewhat less-than-stellar 3DS sequel in the Illusion series were pretty much the only games where he appeared in a starring role. This is a stark contrast to the '90s, which saw some of Mickey's best games, and one above all was considered the very best by many - Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse. SEGA was apparently aware of this as well and put SEGA Australia Studios to work on a remake of the game, complete with new bells and whistles. Not only has the game been recreated with entirely new HD visuals, but the in-game engine is all-new and certain aspects of the game have been expanded, altered, and modernized. What results from this is possibly one of the best remakes of a classic game in some time. Castle of Illusion begins with a cutscene in which Micky and Minnie are having a picnic, only for it to be interrupted when an evil witch named Mizrabel kidnaps Minnie in order to steal her beauty. Of course, Mickey won't stand for this and tracks Mizrabel to her Castle of Illusion, but it's soon made known that he'll have to explore the castle's illusions and areas in order to find 7 rainbow gems that will create a bridge to the tower where Minnie is being held captive. While the original game was strictly a 2D platformer, this remake is mostly 2.5D with some areas that feature full 3D gameplay. In fact, when you first start out in the castle, the main hub area is similar to Peach's Castle in Super Mario 64, where different rooms house different levels. In Castle of Illusion, each room houses a different illusion world consisting of three stages, with the third being a boss stage. The worlds you traverse range from a forest to a toy land to a library and more. Despite the move to a more dynamic camera that will shift around the level (much like Klonoa) and sometimes turn the playing field from 2D to 3D, this new remake retains the same spirit of gameplay as the original. You'll run, jump, bounce off of most enemies to defeat them, and also throw different items you come across such as marbles and other projectiles. For the most part, the game plays pretty spectacularly. It genuinely feels like an old-school '90s era platformer that was given modern visuals and gameplay conventions without sacrificing what made the original so special in the first place. Each of the different worlds and levels feel different enough in their layout and mechanics to where you don't feel as if you're just going from left to right with different backgrounds. Some levels are designed like a giant U, some have you traversing up or down, some have 3D elements to them, and yet others are designed like mazes. There are some great action sequences built in as well, including chase sequences where Mickey is running toward the screen away from a giant rolling apple, a jaunt through ruins with collapsing platforms and swinging ropes, and more. As far as visuals go, Castle of Illusion looks stunning for a remake. SEGA Studios Australia really gave the game a nice sheen to it, with attractive 3D character models and layered backgrounds as well as dynamic camera shifts that twist and pan as Mickey traverses each level. And of course, it's chock full of color and really stands out in certain levels such as the Candy Land-themed area in one of the worlds. As a remake, it really sets the standard for similar games in the future that look to recreate older, classic titles. Taking over the reins for the music in this remake is none other than the legendary Grant Kirkhope, who is famous for his work with Rare during the late '90s and early 2000's. Kirkhope's influence is immediately felt as soon as you enter the Castle of Illusion, with its whimsical overworld lobby music sounding like something straight out of Banjo Kazooie. It's classic Kirkhope through and through. Also of note is the fact that Richard McGonagle (voice of Sully in the Uncharted games) lends his soothing voice as narrator throughout the story, creating sort of a bedtime fairytale vibe. In all, Castle of Illusion is a great throwback to an era when Disney games were among the best out there. It's got enough action and platforming to it to satisfy kids as well as adults, and while it's not the most difficult game, it never comes across as too easy. However, the game's biggest fault is that it's way too short; you'll likely finish it in 2-3 hours in your first playthrough. And though it has a little bit of replayability in the way of some collectable items, it's a shame that such a great remake has to be cut short like that. Still, if you're pining for the old days when Mickey's games were great or you're looking for a good platformer to play, definitely check out Castle of Illusion; it's a short but sweet experience. Pros + Attractive visuals + Simple yet fun platforming + The switch from 2.5D to 3D areas adds more flavor to the gameplay Cons - Extremely short Overall Score: 7.5 (out of 10) Good Castle of Illusion is a great remake that unfortunately is a bit hampered by its short completion time.
  5. Sega and Disney Interactive recently revived, remade, and released an HD version of the beloved Genesis classic Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse for Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and PC. Does it hold up to the fan-favorite game everyone knows and loves, or is greatness just an illusion for this high definition Mousecapade? Keep reading to find out! Developer: Sega Studios Australia Publisher: Sega/Disney Interactive Studios Platform(s): Playstation Network, Xbox Live Arcade, PC (via Steam) Released: September 4, 2013 ESRB: E for Everyone This review is based on the PSN version Before I start this review, I need to be honest - I've never played the original Genesis version of Castle of Illusion. Or, more specifically, I have played it, but only the first few levels. There's certainly nothing wrong with the game, but something about it just never captivated me. Still, due to an unhealthy obsession with all things platformer, I knew I had to give the HD remake a shot. Surely, with the graphical prowess of current-gen consoles, they could capture the whimsy and wonder that the original version always should have had but couldn't process? The good news is, yes, they did, very much - this is, through and through, a vibrant, wonderful journey through Disney-inspired lands starring everyone's favorite mouse in red shorts. The journey starts with Mickey and Minnie, having a serene picnic, as one often does in the bright and happy Disney universe. Their picnic, however, is ruined when a witch named Mizrabel snags Minnie away with plans to drain Minnie of her beauty, which will then be transferred to Mizrabel to make her attractive, because apparently there are a lot of warlocks out there that need courting. Anyway, Mickey naturally responds by following Mizrabel to her Castle of Illusion, where he must traverse several distinct areas in and around the castle in search of the Rainbow Gems, which will form a bridge to Mizrabel's tower where his dear Minnie is being held. Mickey's quest takes him to a number of strange locales, aptly demonstrating the "Illusion" part of the castle name. Mickey runs, jumps, and bounces his way through forest trees, crumbling temples, and lands made of candy and sweets in his search for the Rainbow Gems. The mechanics work much like the original game, where enemies are dispatched by bouncing off of them - which has been tweaked to only require a regular jump rather than two button presses - or by throwing items collected through the levels at them. Thrown items are tied to the theme of the level, such as apples in the forest, which is a nice touch. Still, the bounce is the main method of dispatching enemies, mostly because bouncing off enemies is the only way to reach higher ground, resulting in simple level progression or even finding secret areas of the level. One place where the remake really deviates from the original are sections where the camera shifts to allow MIckey full 3D movement throughout a certain area. This is used to great effect in some boss fights, as well as the Castle itself and small sections of other levels. If you have any experience with platformers, none of this will be new or even particularly challenging, at least at first. Some of the secret areas do throw some curveballs at you, but failing to navigate these areas usually just results in getting booted back to the main area of the level. It's not really until the later levels that the challenge ramps up pretty considerably, which is a bit jarring, but admittedly a welcome change for those who found the early stages lacking. Of course, the reason that the change in difficulty is so jarring is because the game is so short - it can be beaten in as little as 2-3 hours, with only the challenging final levels and possibly the quest for secret collectibles (which unlock new costumes and statues depicting enemy characters) adding a little extra playtime. There is also the option of running each level in Time Attack mode with leaderboards, though this will really only appeal to a certain subset of players. But, while the adventure may not last long, it certainly provides a host of great visuals along the way. While the game is rendered in full 3D, it's done in such a way that most everything looks like it's out of a particularly detailed cartoon. Mickey himself appears like he was plucked straight out of a drawing, looking quite like the mouse we all know and love rather than the serviceable but slightly off-putting rendition from the Epic Mickey games. The soundtrack is also wonderfully whimsical as well, with newly re-arranged music by Grant Kirkhope (composer of numerous soundtracks for Rareware games) complementing the visual stimuli with some great tunes. Or, if that doesn't take your fancy, you can always revert back to the original Castle of Illusion soundtrack at any time, to give your adventure a more retro feel. All in all, the game comes together to form a package that is sure to appeal to not only fans of older Mickey Mouse games, but to anyone who has an itch for a light-hearted platformer that needs scratching. While the game is short and offers limited reasons for replayability, this is one of those games that players will want to come back to again and again, whether to challenge themselves to complete the game 100% or just to have another fun romp through the Castle. Where most developers are content to simply port an older game to new systems and call it a day, the developers at Sega Australia have done an amazing job crafting the game with love and reverence to the source material while updating it for a modern audience, and the end result is no mere illusion - it's bona-fide magic. Score: 8/10 TL;DR comments: If you're looking for a fun, whimsical platformer, look no further. The $15 price tag may be a little hard to stomach for such a short game, but it's highly unlikely you'll want to just play the game once and forget about it - you just might find yourself returning to the Castle of Illusion to deliver another bouncing beatdown on Mizrabel, just for the fun of it. The game looks great and plays great, and offers tribute to its past not only in the original Genesis game, but classic platformers in general.
  6. Developer: Telltale Games Publisher: Telltale Games Platform: XBLA, PSN (PS3, Vita), iOS, Android, PC ( Steam) Release Date: July 5, 2013 ESRB: M for Mature This review is based on the Xbox Live Arcade version of the game. In 2012, Telltale wowed gamers with The Walking Dead, an emotionally gripping episodic adventure game. Since the fifth and final episode was released, gamers were eagerly awaiting 'Season 2' of the series, and more well written zombie apocalyptic goodness. However, while we wait for Season 2 later this year, Telltale offers us The Walking Dead: 400 Days to hold us over. This special linking episode introduces us to five new characters, their stories taking place over various points in the first 400 days of the Walker outbreak. Because Telltale is trying to introduce five new characters in the span of a typical episode from Season 1, their stories end up being quite short. None of the stories really last more than twenty minutes. However, despite that short time, you get a feel for each of the characters and their personalities. As with Season 1, the writing in 400 Days is superb, and certainly helps in giving each of the characters their own personalities in short a short time frame. Each of the character's short stories accumulates into one major decision, the gravity of which depending on the character. It's unfortunately a bit unbalanced, with some decisions seeming far harder and more important than others, but they all make sense within the context of the characters' plots. Of course, these decisions don't quite pack the same punch as the decisions in Season 1, since there's little way you can be as emotionally invested in the characters in 400 Days due to short length of the stories, but it's nice to even see some difficult decisions to make in the first place. These short stories all accumulate in a final scene, where you see the affects of your decisions in the characters' subsequent decisions with the situation posed to them. It's interesting to see how the big decision you made in each character's path affects how they react to the new situation, and who ends up deciding what. It's a satisfactory conclusion to the episode, and despite its short length it doesn't feel forced or rushed. It's also interesting how Telltale has each character's story take place over different times within the 400 day time frame. For example, Vince's tale takes place only 2 days in, when few knew what was going on and were still figuring out exactly the Walkers were. Alternatively, Shei's tale takes place almost an entire year in, when survivors are practically used to this new, brutal way of life and are finding ways to even use the cataclysmic event to their advantage. It's a nice framing device to see how the world has changed, and how those that still live struggle and eventually become accustomed to their new way of life. Unfortunately, I don't really see how your decisions in Season 1 affect your time with 400 Days. There's only a very small reference to anyone or anything in Season 1 in one of the character's story, but it seems unlikely that the reference had any impact on that plotline, or of any of the other stories. It's a tad disappointing, but it's also expected, seeing as 400 Days is supposed to introduce new survivors in a new area. In short, if you liked the first season of The Walking Dead, definitely pick up 400 Days. It may be short, but it still carries the same quality and care that was put into the original games. If this episode is anything to go by, Season 2 is looking to be another great gaming experience! Pros: + Engaging story and great storytelling keep you engaged + Ending sequence allows you to see the effect of your decisions immediately Cons: - Short length doesn't allow for an emotional connection with the characters - Hard to see your decisions from Season 1, and this title may not affect anything in Season 2 Overall Score: 7.5 (out of 10) Good For only $5, 400 Days is a nice teaser for what Telltale has to come. However, it really is nothing more than a teaser, whose lasting impressions may quickly fade.
  7. Did you know that Deep Silver had a twin stick shooter waiting to be published? They sure didn't seemed to advertise it much. This game goes by the name of Narco Terror and has made its surprise debut on PSN today. Although we don't know how good the game actually is, shooter fans should at least be able to appreciate some of the inspiration for it. The developers named the likes of Commando, Geometry Wars, Ikari Warriors, and Renegade Ops as titles that helped shape Narco Terror. In the title you proceed through a scrolling 2.5D landscape while spewing bullets and destruction at everything in your path. Of course, this is pretty much expected of the genre. There will also be sections in which players use planes and boats although these are not the standard. Narco Terror is $9.99 on PSN today. However, if you can wait one more day the game will also make its way to XBLA and PC for the same price. Well, XBLA's version costs 800 MS Points but that equates to $10 anyway.
  8. If you've been looking for a fiendishly hard game to play then perhaps you're in for a treat with Cloudberry Kingdom. Okay, so the name sounds incredibly sweet, but that is just an attempt to throw you off guard. This platformer is made to be difficult, just like some other infamous platformers out there. Strangely, the game also has randomly generated levels. This sounds incredibly dangerous for a platformer but developer Pwnee Studios assures players that the AI is far more intelligent then we all expect. It is apparently able to judge distance between platforms, what would be considered a good layout for various difficulty settings, and the like. You can download Cloudberry Kingdom right now on PSN (for PS3) for $9.99. A Vita version is likely to launch next month. If you absolutely hate PSN though you can wait until August 2nd to grab the game on Steam. Or you can even wait for the eventual launches on XBLA and Wii U. Cloudberry Kingdom is ready to spread the pain to all types of gamers.
  9. Marcus Estrada

    Flashback Remake Includes Original Flashback

    In 1992, Paul Cuisset and Delphine Software produced a fantastic game (for the time or otherwise) called Flashback. It was highly cinematic in nature, with flowing motion and action. Players who have experienced the original Prince of Persia should be familiar with this style of game. Despite being difficult, there was still much to like about Flashback. The game was left alone until recently VectorCell decided to take a crack at a remake. This is Cuisset's modern game studio which is best (or worst?) known for creating Amy on XBLA. The modernized version of Flashback appears to have changed a lot, although it still retains a fluid 2D atmosphere. On August 21st, Flashback launches on XBLA at a discounted price due to being part of the Summer of Arcade promotion. Regardless of how the game turns out, at least players will be able to experience the original classic too. VectorCell announced that the 1992 version will come alongside their new game. Two games for the price of 800 Microsoft Points doesn't sound that bad. It just remains to be seen if there are a large amount of Flashback fans out there, or gamers who will look past VectorCell's previous work.
  10. Undead Labs hosted a livestream today, as reported by VG247. What was revealed during the stream? Well, a few things, but the most notable was the talk the team had about State of Decay's previously announced PC port. They filled in a few details, although no release date is known yet. We do at least have a release window now. We should expect to see previously XBLA exclusive State of Decay join Steam before the end of 2013. It will also be lumped in with the Steam Early Access crew. Why would they do this when they already have a finished game available? For the Steam release they are keeping it in Early Access to start due to the fact that they still need to implement keyboard and mouse controls. The game will utilize Xbox 360 gamepads to start with. Similarly, they're going to need to add higher resolution textures and work out a better framerate before the real PC launch.
  11. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Sanctum 2

    Developer: Coffee Stain Studios Publisher: Coffee Stain Studios, D3 Publisher, Reverb Platform: PC (Steam), PSN, XBLA Release Date: May 15, 2013 ESRB: T for Teen This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game. A download code was provided by the publisher for this review. Tower defense game Sanctum initially came to PC in 2011 to surprise success. It was right around the time that the genre was getting a fresh start and PC gamers had a blast. Unfortunately, console owners were left out of the fun. With Sanctum 2, upgrades have been made, as well as bringing the game to Xbox 360 and PS3 alongside PC. Is this the definitive experience or can players skip it? Sanctum 2 brings us back into the fight with even greater flair than before. Of course, it also retains the features that made the original so refreshing. This isn“t a traditional tower defense game as it includes FPS elements as well. Setting up towers is done from a first-person perspective and, once that“s done, so is each wave. When enemies swarm it feels much more like a sci-fi shooter although you have the aid of your towers along the way. At the start of each level, players must select one of four character classes. Each has their own skills which aid various play styles. Characters also have their loadouts which allow you to swap weapons, usable towers, and perks. At the start, you can“t really do anything with these, but completing levels rewards players with new weapons, towers, perks, and more slots to place them all. Once in a battle, the game is divided into two sections. First is the mode of placing towers and the other is when enemies charge into battle. Towers can only go in specific areas and only if you have enough currency to place them. There are a multitude of tower types to choose from which all have their benefits and weak points. For example, some are best at slowing enemies, while others are great for land-based creatures only. All towers have their own fee requirements and once built will remain there unless you choose to dismantle them for parts. They are also able to be upgraded a number of times, which is useful as each level has a max amount of towers that can be built. Placing towers is of such importance because there will usually be enemies coming from multiple directions at once. You could place all your goods around one entrance, but what will you do when a new entrance emerges? Keeping a plan in mind is absolutely necessary as waves become more hectic. With everything placed, the attack starts. Enemies will emerge from their specified entrances and you“re tasked with keeping them away from the core. The core is critical to mission success. If enough monsters manage to destroy it then you lose the match. There are perks to allow the core to regenerate health in between waves, but mostly, you should be able to keep enemies at bay for as long as possible. Using shotguns, sniper rifles, and a variety of other weapons you can curtail enemy progression, as long as attention is kept on the best way to dispatch them. Many enemies have red weak spots which are by far the best way to destroy their armored bodies. Playing can be done in either single player or co-op. Up to four players can join in on the action via online play. This works well, and seems to be the intended mode of play. This is because, even on easy, maps can become pretty tough for a single player. There are some issues with multiplayer, but only if you“re not playing on PC. In fact, it seems that most of the problems with the game are only still present for console players. When Sanctum 2 launched, it still required some tuning up. For one, the game would always throw you a new stash of resources near the core. This may sound good until you have to trek back from wherever you are in the level to collect them before building more towers. It was a completely silly design decision considering the game could just as easily automatically deposit them among players. In regards to multiplayer, it was also not possible to share resources among players. Instead, they could only be used exclusively per player which seemed unfortunate. These issues have been addressed in a patch for PC. Players on Xbox 360 will see no such changes however. Perhaps the patch will come to all systems later, but as of right now it definitely isn“t there. It“s a real shame considering there are so many small annoyances that were fixed but players like me won“t be able to experience the streamlined game - at least not yet. Sanctum 2 is still a game full of mostly good concepts that upgrade the original. Players, either alone or in multiplayer, can have fun decimating wave after wave of enemies and there are enough levels to keep you entertained for a handful of hours. If you have to choose which version to get, though, it would be best to go with PC. Those in need of a new tower defense game may have just found a good new game to add to their list. Pros: + Great deal of weapons and towers to use + Strategy is integral to success in later waves + Co-op provides a more accessible game Cons: - Post-release patch has not been applied to 360 game - Becomes somewhat unfair difficulty-wise on single player - Some levels are cramped Overall Score: 7.5 (out of 10) Good Sanctum 2 stumbles in only few ways making it a worthy choice for tower defense aficionados.
  12. If you're an Xbox owner you're likely aware of the Games with Gold promotion currently underway. Announced at E3, it was meant to be a way to hype 360 players with free games each month until the Xbox One launches. Unfortunately, it is not a new addition to Gold, at least not yet. In either case, the next game on the menu to go free is Assassin's Creed 2. Yes, this is a non-exclusive game that came out in 2009 but that doesn't mean it isn't good. Those who have yet to play it really should, as it stands as one of the best in the main series of numbered Assassin's Creed games. You can download the game at no cost as long as you have a current Xbox Live gold subscription. Be aware that each game is only up for download for a limited amount of time. If you're interested, try and download it this weekend just to be safe. What is your favorite Assassin's Creed game?
  13. Good news for those anticipating WayForward and Capcom's upcoming remake of retro classic Ducktales in HD; the game finally has a release date, and it's coming soon! Ducktales: Remastered is scheduled for release on August 13 as a digital download on PSN, Wii U eShop, and PC, with the XBLA version launching on September 11. Also, Capcom has announced plans to release a boxed PS3 version on August 20 (complete with a download code and an exclusive Disney collector's pin), which will retail for $19.99. And to help celebrate the news of Ducktales: Remastered, Capcom also released the first part of the game's "Duckumentary" that details the creative process of developing the game (with new episodes to come every other week until the game's launch). You can check out the video below. Are you excited for Ducktales: Remastered's release? If so, which version will you buy?
  14. Marcus Estrada

    Summer of Arcade 2013 Dated for August

    Those with access to an internet-connected Xbox 360 have likely seen Microsoft's yearly Summer of Arcade sales. During the summer months they offer up four different XBLA titles to go on sale. It benefits the developers, Microsoft, and gamers who get a deal on the new games. So what four games are going to be on sale and in what order? How much will they cost? All this information has been shared today on the Major Nelson blog. Let's take a look at the info: August 7: Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons - 1,200 MS Points August 14: Charlie Murder - 800 MS Points August 21: Flashback - 800 MS Points August 28: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows - 1,200 MS Points Although the majority of these games are not exclusives, they may offered at the best price during their launch. As you can see, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is the first game up! This title in particular has seen a lot of buzz. If all works out, then stay tuned to GamePodunk as we review these titles in the future. Do you want to pick up any of the four titles?
  15. Marcus Estrada

    Fez to Finally Receive New Patch on XBLA

    Those who played Fez when it launched on XBLA in 2012 probably remember the interesting chain of events that occurred. First the game came out and had a variety of bugs. Developer Polytron issued a patch to the game but found that it was now causing some people's game saves to be deleted. However, to release a second patch would cost a great deal of money due to Microsoft's rules. Because of this, Polytron made the decision to leave the one patch as is and leave the game alone from here on out. Recently Microsoft shared that they have finally let go of patching fees. So now that this is the case Polytron have decided to come back to the XBLA version and fix it. This information was shared via Phil Fish on his Twitter account where he said the following: "GOOD NEWS EVERYONE: we're going to patch FEZ on XBLA!" Unfortunately, we shouldn't expect to see this patch until a few months down the road. Of course, if you don't want to deal with the XBLA version you can buy Fez on PC instead.
  16. Marcus Estrada

    NPD to Start Tracking Digital Game Sales

    If you ever look at NPD statistics released month after month, you'll see trends that seem to bode ill for gaming as a whole. Sometimes it seems, and is interpreted, that gaming is in a decline. However, the real point to make is that physical game sales are in decline while digital sales pick up the excess and continue to grow. Because of this, NPD is finally set to address what they have been missing by tracking digital sales. They have previously followed total consumer spending (including mobile, social, subscription, etc) but they can only do so much without the industry offering better standards of data presentation. David McQuillan, president of the games group of NPD, said the following to Games Industry International. By the way, POS stands for Point of Sale: "The plan is to have digital POS sales integrated into our US new physical POS retail sales data to enable more efficient analysis for our clients. The timing of when that will happen has not been finalized. Since hardware and accessories can't be sold digitally, we don't think digital will ever become bigger than physical retail sales at the total industry level. That said, if you're isolating content sales, we're already at the point where we estimate that digital sales of content are at par with new physical retail sales. Digital sales will continue to grow, but we also believe that we'll see a return to growth in new physical retail sales of content in 2014." Their findings will track stats globally, as opposed to region-centric reports that NPD has been doing thus far. They are likely right by assuming physical hardware sales will increase in 2014 due to the influx of two new consoles, but who knows what years beyond 2014 hold.
  17. Marcus Estrada

    The Walking Dead: 400 Days Out This Week

    If you voraciously devour anything and everything The Walking Dead related then no doubt you've played Telltale's rendition of the material. Although season one has concluded, there is a new season upcoming. Before that comes out though we have new DLC by the name of 400 Days to tide us over. The Walking Dead: 400 Days will help bridge the gap between the two seasons by focusing on different characters who were also dealing with the zombie apocalypse alongside season one. If you want to get your hands on the DLC then you won't have to wait long, regardless of platform. 400 Days is out this week for the following systems: Tuesday - PlayStation Network Wednesday - Windows/Mac (via Steam or Telltale) Friday - Xbox Live Next week, it will also come to iOS, in case that's more your style. Sony owners are luckiest to the game today for either their PS3 or Vita.
  18. Chances are this may be one title that has slipped past your radar. Ride to Hell: Retribution is a game that was developed by Eutechnyx which focuses on the 1960s bikers in North America. As the title suggests, you play as a character who is seeking revenge over the murder of their brother at the hands of a biker gang. it sets the stage for a heaping lot of fighting as well as motorcycles, which may be appealing to you. Ride to Hell: Retribution launched today on XBLA, PSN, and PC via Steam for $30. Here is the trailer:
  19. Skulls of the Shogun was a cutesy take on the story of a Japanese samurai who is disgraced in the afterlife. The cartoon-styled strategy game also happened to see exclusive launch on Microsoft devices such as the 360, Windows Phone, and even Windows 8 operating system. Developer 17-BIT announced today that the game is finally coming to Steam. It won't even require Windows 8 to run! What is best about this addition is that, like many later releases, it is going to be the definitive version to buy. This time around the game has the title Skulls of the Shogun: Bone-A-Fide Edition and features various enhancements. The full list of new features can be viewed here and basically entails a new character, new mini-campaign (includes four new levels), six new multiplayer maps, developer commentary, and more. As the game is coming to Steam it also features achievements, Steam Trading Cards, and Steam-supported multiplayer. Pre-ordering Skulls of the Shogun on Steam gets it 20% off for $11.99 and also grants the player immediate access to the title. Or you can choose to wait for the launch sometime in July and pay $14.99.
  20. Marcus Estrada

    State of Decay Coming to PC

    State of Decay arrived on XBLA just a few weeks ago on June 5th. Since then, the zombie-filled survival game has done very well. Yes, there are bugs and glitches which were not even fixed by the latest patch, but people seem willing to deal with it for the overall experience. This game has gone on to be the fastest-selling original game on XBLA ever. There's just something about zombies that is still a huge draw for gamers, it seems. So what's next for developer Undead Labs? They're bringing their game to PC! Undead Labs said the following about a PC release: "We're currently working on a PC version for release on Steam. Fortunately it's been in development alongside the Xbox 360 version since Day 1, so we just need to integrate with the Steam platform and add native support for keyboard and mouse control." 360 fans don't need to worry about the developer ignoring them in favor of the PC port though as they also assured players that they will continue to update the XBLA version as well. One such update will be a much-requested sandbox mode to live out all your horror movie fantasies within. So far, a PC release has no date but it is coming to Steam.
  21. Marcus Estrada

    The Dishwasher: Vampire Smiles is Coming to PC

    It seems this week has been a big one for announcements of games previously exclusive to consoles coming to PC. Well, here's another title in that ever-growing list of games - The Dishwasher: Vampire Smiles. You may recall this game as an exceptionally gory XBLA title with distinctive pen-like art style. Just yesterday, a version of the game was released to PC but not by any official means. Ska Studios nor Microsoft had anything to do with it - instead a fan had ported it because they figured no official release was ever going to be made. Funnily enough, according to Ska Studios they had just finally approached Microsoft about a port of the title recently themselves. In an official blog post the developer shared that they are indeed going to port The Dishwasher: Vampire Smiles to PC. There's not a date for it just yet but hopefully more details will come out soon. The main reason this announcement was made now was simply to quell the hubbub over the unofficial release. Those hungry for something new from Ska Studios should also be pleased to know that a brand new game is coming to XBLA by the name of Charlie Murder. A trailer was provided for that as well as the release window of "this Summer!"
  22. Marcus Estrada

    State of Decay Shambles to XBLA on June 5th

    State of Decay is one zombie game that has been a long time coming. Undead Labs have been polishing it for some time and Xbox 360 owners will finally be able to sink their teeth into it. The developer announced the game's impending launch via their blog earlier today. Major Nelson also made mention of the upcoming title on Twitter and pegged it at 1600 Microsoft Points. That means State of Decay costs $20. The game features an open world environment and attempts to infuse the zombie game genre with more reliance on survival rather than simply shooting undead beings in the head. Hopefully the game lives up to expectations since they have been building for years. After all, it was way back in 2009 when Undead Labs started first working on a zombie game. Only later in 2011 did they give some concrete information on a game called "Class3" which has now become State of Decay. http://youtu.be/AAa5KOJMQjs