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  1. Today's headlines bring a mix of good news, bad news, and... interesting news, to say the least. If you're into either Hyrule Warriors or Street Fighter V, there are some new announcements regarding each, and Sony has finally announced the PlayStation Plus free titles for April. Read on to see the rest of the headlines below! Link's Awakening's Marin will be the next DLC character coming to Hyrule Warriors Legends With Hyrule Warriors Legends, it seems Omega Force is really trying to pull characters from just about every Zelda title out there (well, ), and this rings especially true with the next playable DLC character that's on the way: Marin (from Link's Awakening). She'll be part of the second DLC pack coming this Summer, which also will include a new weapon for Linkle, 16 more My Fairy costume pieces, a new adventure mode map, and two new adventure mode scenarios. The final two DLC packs are said to be based on Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks, respectively, but it'll likely be a little longer before we find out which characters will be in each of them. Source: Game Informer Street Fighter V gets its first DLC character today: Alex If you've been waiting for Capcom to roll out the DLC for Street Fighter V, today is your day. Well, for one character at least. Alex (from Street Fighter III) is officially the first DLC character to make his way onto the Street Fighter V roster. You'll be able to use Fight Money (money earned in-game) in order to purchase or him; otherwise you'll need to use real money on a season pass in order to play as the grappler. And if you don't have the money? No problem - Capcom is allowing players to take him for a test run during a limited trial period, so get to it! Source: Destructoid n-Space shuts down More unfortunate news about studios closures today as it was revealed that n-Space, the developer behind games such as Nintendo's Geist and Square Enix's Heroes of Ruin -- has officially shut down. The news was announced by former n-Space artist Ben Leary. Sword Coast Legends was the studio's final game, though it looks like it wasn't enough to keep the studio going, which had been around for some 21 years before its closure. Source: Nintendo World Report David Hayter's got 'no love' for Kojima In some more surprising news, David Hayter -- the original voice of Metal Gear Solid's Snake -- revealed on a recent episode of The Game Informer Show podcast that he isn't crazy about series creator Hideo Kojima, despite having worked with him on all but one of the games. It turns out that Kojima had wanted to replace him early on with Kurt Russell, but the Hollywood star turned down the role when he was offered the part of Naked Snake in Metal Gear Solid 3. In turn, Hayter was forced to re-audition for the role (which he ultimately won back again). However, he was left out in the cold when it came to Metal Gear Solid V, and found out that he had been replaced only when he ran into a producer on the game at a recording studio. Needless to say, this didn't sit well with Hayter, who wasn't even formally contacted about it, prompting him to admit on the podcast that he's got "no particular love for Kojima" and that he probably would never work with him again. Yikes. If you'd like to listen to the whole podcast, you can check it out at the source link below. Source: Game Informer (via PlayStation Universe) PlayStation Plus April 2016 lineup revealed Not a day too soon, Sony has finally revealed what PlayStation Plus free titles we can expect to see in April. Dead Star and Zombi appear to headline the bunch, with the usual indies and one other AAA title from last-gen. Here's the full list: PS4 Dead Star Zombi PS3 I Am Alive Savage Moon PS Vita A Virus Named Tom Shutsumi What are your thoughts on Marin joining Hyrule Warriors and Alex being a DLC character for Street Fighter V? Are you surprised that David Hayter holds no love for Kojima? And what do you think of the PS Plus lineup for April? Let us know in the comments!
  2. Dominic Dimanche

    Review: Skylanders Giants

    Developer: Toys for Bob, n-Space (3DS), Vicarious Visions (Wii U) Publisher: Activision Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, Wii U, 3DS Release Date: October 21, 2012, November 18, 2012 (Wii U) ESRB: E10+ This review and its score are based on a retail copy of the Playstation 3 version of the game provided by Activision for review. Wii and 3DS versions are also discussed below. When the first release of Skylanders came to me in the mail for review last year, my adult mind was frothing at the mouth to write it off as some kids“ game and nothing more. After a couple hours of switching my characters in and out, leveling them up, and laughing at the dialogue, I came to realize how much potential this game had. Now, with Activision“s follow-up Skylanders Giants, I approached the game with a tad more open-mindedness. And for what it is, it definitely does not disappoint. The story this time around introduces an ancient race of tyrannical robots called Arkeyans who once enslaved the lands thousands years ago but were defeated and laid dormant all these centuries. That is, until they are reawakened once more, wreaking havoc. And the only thing that can stop them are two things: the original Skylander guardians from 1000 years ago, and of course, the portal master who brings them into the world (i.e. the player). Much of what made the game enjoyable the first time around is back in this game. The funny dialogue, the secret and alternate routes through the levels, special loot and items, and above all – the Skylander figures themselves all make a return in Giants, but they all come with some welcomed additions. The first major new facet is the inclusion of the aforementioned giants. Each giant is a huge, super powered Skylander that can use their size to turn the tides of an outnumbered battle as well as destroy walls and obstacles that their smaller companions could never overcome. They also have special light-up parts that glow when they are placed on the portal base to transport them into the game. Along with the giants, there are new Skylander figures and special “Series 2” edition of past characters replete with new powers and unique skills to upgrade. Also, some of the series 2 figures have special “light core” editions that light up when placed on the base and have a special power not available in their original counterparts. Speaking of upgrades, Skylanders Giants provides some further perks to tweak and build your miniature warrior. As you go through the levels, opening up chests, beating bosses and foes alike – you acquire loot that you can use on purchasing new skills or boosting the skills you already have. For example, Spyro can unlock the ability to fly and rain fire from above. Along with skills, you will also come across several hats which add stat bonuses like speed boosts, strength augments, or increase in critical hit damage. The main draw with Skylanders Giants is the ability to drop characters in and out via placing them on the base, which the game calls a “portal of power.” Being able to use your character and all their skills and powers on any major system is a huge boon to the game. Also, the game encourages the player to swap characters. For instance, some areas will themed after a certain characters“ elemental affinity, so if you use a fire-type Skylander in a fire-themed area of the level, they will get a boost in stats. In other situations, some areas are completely blocked off unless you use the right elemental creature. When it comes to combat, the system is relatively straightforward with an overhead view and simple two button attack layout: one button to attack, the other for a character specific special skill. The game plays like a very "lite" version of Diablo – lots of exploration, loot to find, swarms of enemies to wipe out, and pooling resources to boost skills and stats. There are also many puzzles in the game used to break up the action and give some moments of respite. However, since this is a game geared towards kids in mind, the puzzles are never too challenging. And even if you are stuck on something, the game lays some pretty heavy-handed hints that all but point to where you are to go and what you are supposed to do at any given moment. The level of hand-holding is a little annoying, but to people half or even a quarter my age, it could be seen as a welcome asset. While the game is fun to play, especially with other people around, it is not without its shortcomings - the main problem being the insane level of advertisement in the game which constantly tries to sell on the idea of buying the whole set. Some other examples are the various unique special moves for other Skylanders you find in the game accompanied by a teaser reel of the character. The game does a good job of setting you up with a solid experience, but it still cannot escape the ever-present sense of marketing. Overall, Skylanders Giants is a fun and great edition to the series adding enough perks and tweaks to make it an excellent choice to dive into with some of your younger buds. Just make sure you have the cash to go the distance. Wii Version by Chris Haygood After reviewing the Wii version of Skylanders last year, I can say that Skylanders Giants is more of the same, which is by no means a bad thing: solid, Gauntlet-style gameplay and a large cast of fun characters make Giants a joy for younger gamers, with enough depth to keep older ones entertained as well - great news for gamer parents. Little has changed in the way of controls, which are simple and easy to master with the Wii controller, and although one can expect a slight graphics discrepancy between the Wii version and the other consoles, the colorful backdrops look great on the system, and seeing the Skylanders and their moves in action is a visual treat. Overall, Skylanders Giants is everything Spyro's Adventure was, only with a larger cast of characters (larger, ha ha, I'm so funny). There isn't really anything that makes the Wii incarnation the definitive version of Giants, but I personally enjoy the feeling of the Wii controller when playing this game, and if you have a younger gamer in your household, chances are you own a Wii anyway. 3DS Version by Jason Clement Much like last year's game, Skylanders Giants on 3DS is actually a different game from its console counterparts (this time developed by n-Space). The core theme of using different Skylanders remains the same, as does the setting of Skylands, but this version has an entirely new story. Instead of Kaos, the enemy here is Frightbeard, an evil giant Skylander who has escaped from an object known as the Book of Exile, and his goal is to restore his army of pirates from the book as well. Of course, the Skylanders are alerted to this and intend to put a stop to Frightbeard's plans before they come to fruition. One new addition to this version is the inclusion of some minor voice-acting during a few cutscenes, which is nice to hear. Otherwise, it remains much of the same type of game as last year's. In some ways, the 3DS version seems closer to how Skylander's ideal gameplay should be, since this version actually includes jumping and platforming elements missing in the console versions. That said, the game is still relatively linear and repetitive at times, though there are definitely some exciting level designs. It also looks fairly solid as far as visuals go, though the framerate does dip well below 30 frames a second at different points throughout each level, but it's only a minor annoyance. If you're looking for a more platformer-oriented experience, definitely check out the 3DS version of the game. Pros: + New Skylanders and Giants are fun to play + Writing is clever and funny + Lots to do and discover Cons: - Having to buy more figures - Lacking an online feature Overall Score: 7 (out of 10) Good Skylanders Giants isn't radically different from last year's entry, but it adds just enough to stay interesting and entertaining, especially for kids.
  3. Jordan Haygood

    Review: Heroes of Ruin

    Developer: n-Space Publisher: Square Enix Platform: Nintendo 3DS Release Date: Out Now ESRB: T for Teen If you“re looking for a solid, portable dungeon-crawler, there aren“t exactly too many choices, which is a bit of a shame. If you“re anything like me, one of the perks in life is being able to slay giant spiders and enormous dragons while sitting on the toilet. So you“ll understand why I decided to pick up Heroes of Ruin for the Nintendo 3DS. Heroes of Ruin is a fun little action RPG that relies heavily on the aspects of scouring dungeons and gathering loot – two things that made games like Diablo and Torchlight so much fun. And as a game within the same genre, Heroes of Ruin satisfies my hunger for a solid dungeon-crawler, but just barely... From the get-go, Heroes of Ruin begins showing its ambitions. As you start a new game, you“ll jump straight into selecting your desired character class, whether it be the spell-casting Alchitect, the barbarous Savage, the heavily-armed Gunslinger, or the all-around Vindicator. Once you make that choice, you“ll be given another to make – what your character looks like. Sadly, there isn“t that much customization, but hey, at least I was still able to give a lion a mohawk. Once you get into the actual game, you“ll be introduced to the story, which…isn“t really all that important to this game. Within the realm of Veil, your main objective is basically to save Ataraxis - sphinx ruler of the hub town of Nexus - from a curse inflicted upon him by an unknown entity. But really, the story of Heroes of Ruin is mainly just a catapulting device meant to launch the game into action. Think of it as sort of an isometric version of Dark Souls (but much, much easier). The dialogue isn“t all that important, either. Half of the time, I found myself skimming what the NPCs said just so I could get back to the action. All you really need to know is that these guys are giving you quests - whether they be part of the storyline or just some random sidequest. Anyone else you come across in the game is just there to take up space and make Nexus feel a little less barren. Of course, the cut scenes are always pretty fun to watch, even if the story is a little so-so. This is mostly due to the crafty art style to which these scenes are presented and the 3D effect making them pop out so nicely. I was also pleasantly surprised when I saw my own character translated right into the cut scenes, customizations and all. Unfortunately, I can“t say that the rest of the game“s graphical capabilities are all that impressive. The 3D effect made the isometric world stick out pretty well, but for the most part, the textures just made the game look like a 3D PSP game. But that“s not to say that the graphics aren“t tolerable. When compared with games like Kid Icarus: Uprising and Resident Evil: Revelations, though, the graphics are pretty disappointing for a 3DS game. But for the simple dungeon-crawler that this game is, the fun factor is by no means stunted by this. The people in this game look pretty dull themselves. The character models are all blocky and the character animations are a bit awkward-looking. These are things that sometimes make the game look better in 2D mode, because with the 3D turned on, the graphical flaws are further enhanced. And that is by no means a good thing. One other thing that makes the cut scenes in Heroes of Ruin enjoyable is the narrative. This is because the voice acting is so well-done here. And this is exactly what makes the rest of the game somewhat disappointing in the voiceover department. Why? Because the narrative in the cut scenes is just about the only area in which the voice actors show any effort. Aside from the occasional voiceovers for certain characters, such as before and after boss fights, anyone else who speaks just sounds like some college kids trying to imitate the British. The sound effects in the game are pretty good, too, panning between right and left speakers depending on the position of the sound“s source. But although the sounds are often pounding with realism, this game can often suffer from little sound farts, such as sounds being out of sync, or nonexistent at all. And that often includes the game“s music. On that topic, the music in Heroes of Ruin is decent, but it“s certainly nothing to rave about (especially not at rave parties). The soundtrack consists of simplistic tunes that are only there to complement the dungeons you“re in, along with the song that plays during the game“s hub town. Other than that, you“ll be hearing a few songs that are just remixes of the game“s menu theme, as well as a few generic boss battle themes. The real meat on the bones of this 3DS title is the hack-n“-slash combat and, of course, the looting. Suffering from a few minor technical bumps, the combat in Heroes of Ruin is pretty fluid and pretty fun, albeit a bit repetitive. Aside from your basic attack, you also get three slots to place skills of your choice, which you learn by leveling up. Unfortunately, your level caps at level 30, so you have to pick and choose which skills you want to perfect. Looting in this game is one of the most addicting parts about it. While scouring the dungeons to complete your quests, you“ll find plenty of treasure, which you“ll often feel too compelled not to pick up, even if your character can“t even use it. You“ll find a lot of useless loot that you“ll want to sell, but finding the good stuff makes me feel all warm inside. It“s a shame that Heroes of Ruin couldn“t be more challenging, though. I found it pretty easy to get through a dungeon by simply mashing the basic attack button over and over again until I met with the boss. I rarely even had to block or dodge at all, and I still managed to keep the max amount of potions most of the way through. And the lack of challenge is made even more lacking once you play online, as the difficulty is only on one setting, no matter what. After playing Heroes of Ruin online for a bit, it soon becomes apparent that the game was made to play online. And boy, does this game pull it off. With seamless drop-in/drop-out co-op that even includes voice chat, this has to be one of the most comprehensive online experiences the 3DS has to offer. It also provides an array of different challenges that offer rewarding loot upon completion in an online quest system that is updated regularly. This keeps the game quite fresh for those willing to give these challenges a shot, which is good, because the campaign will only last you about six hours. The online integration is also very stable, giving me very few lagging problems. There are a few flaws with it, however. These include the already-lengthy loading screens made even longer and the fact that those who host games will be booted as soon as the system is closed. Overall, Heroes of Ruin is a pretty solid attempt at bringing the dungeon-crawler genre to the 3DS. It“s a fun little game that offers a very robust online integration, fun combat, and loot - lots and lots of loot. But with all its draws, the game also has its flaws. It“s a graphically-unimpressive game that lacks in challenge, structure, and length. Fortunately, none of that will really keep you from having fun, at least until the next 3DS dungeon-crawler comes along to follow in its footsteps. Pros: + Robust online integration + Fun hack-'n-slash gameplay + Looting is always welcome Cons: - Graphically-unimpressive - Game lacks challenge - Too short Overall Score: 7 (out of 10) Good While it certainly isn't perfect, Heroes of Ruin isn't broken, either. If you're a fan of scouring dungeons and looting with friends, this is the game for you.