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  1. Jason Clement

    Game of the Year 2018 - Jason's Picks

    2018 always had an uphill battle going for it. After all, how do you compete with an amazing year in video games like 2017 had? And yet, even though it predictably did not reach those lofty heights, 2018 still had its share of good video games. Especially indie games, which really seemed to get more of the spotlight thanks to a lesser amount of super high profile AAA games out on average. A few of the titles that didn’t quite make my list but deserve shoutouts include No Man’s Sky, which had a great update that added a lot of content and made the story way more meaningful. Surviving Mars is an excellent simulation game where you attempt to build and sustain your own colony on Mars. Swords of Ditto is a neat little game with a creative twist in that you play as a new hero in a changed world (100 years in the future) each time you die. Runner 3 is great fun and much improved from its predecessor. Miles & Kilo is a neat, 8-bit-esque runner that could almost be summed up as “Uncharted action setpieces if they were attempted on the NES.” And The Gardens Between is one of the most creative games I played this year that I didn’t get to spend quite as much time with as I wanted. But I digress. Here are my top 10 games of 2018. 10) Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido If I’m being completely honest, Sushi Striker almost didn’t make my list. I didn’t fully understand the nuances behind the gameplay until maybe about halfway through, meaning I was coasting on my knowledge of the basics until that point. That said, developer Indieszero did an admirable job creating something entirely new and fresh. Amidst the fast-paced (and admittedly stressful at times) puzzle gameplay there is a full-blown anime that has a completely ridiculous yet fun and self-aware story about sushi and a resistance that is fighting against an empire trying to control it. Sadly, Sushi Striker is likely a one-and-done deal since it didn’t sell well, but I’ll cherish my time with it as one of the more interesting chances taken in gaming lately. 9) Kirby Star Allies Star Allies is the first game since Kirby’s Return to Dreamland to really make me feel like a kid again. Having three allies fight alongside you seems like an unnecessary gimmick at first since Kirby titles aren’t usually known for their difficulty (at least not upfront). But HAL really found a way to make having four characters on-screen at once compelling, and it’s just plain cool to see Meta Knight or other series stalwarts fighting alongside Kirby (especially in boss battles). This might also be the most beautiful game in the series to date (Epic Yarn and Rainbow Curse aside), thanks to the increased capabilities of the Switch. Also, this particular entry has the most Dragon Ball Z-like ending ever and it’s something you need to see to believe. 8) Mini Metro Mini Metro is a great example of a game that’s simple to play, yet difficult to master. I love how simple it is; you literally drag your finger across the screen to create lines for trains. And... that's pretty much it. At first, you’ll have only a few trains to work with, but as both the city and your infrastructure grow, you’ll need to allocate your resources in such a way that you can meet the needs of all the people needing to get to their respective stops. I do wish the game had more achievements and was more goal-oriented, but the basic score attack mode is so addictive that I lose hours at a time just trying over and over to create the best train system I can. If you love strategy games, you can’t pass up Mini Metro. 7) Overcooked! 2 Somehow I didn’t play the first Overcooked! until shortly before 2 came out. I think it’s because I always viewed it as a multiplayer-only title and since I don’t have many other people to play with locally, well, you get the picture. However, the critical acclaim of the first original spoke to me and I was determined to play the sequel when it launched. And I couldn’t have been more wrong about it. Even as a single-player experience, Overcooked! 2 is a blast to play. You’ll need patience to master controlling two characters by yourself; just imagine it as a sort of relay race that goes on for a few minutes each time. Preparing each meal and keeping up with each order is fast and frantic fun, especially when combined with the way each level throws different curveballs at you and tries to impede your progress in different ways. Overcooked! 2 is easily a strong contender for the best co-op multiplayer game of the year; it’s that good. 6) Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom I grew up in a Nintendo household so I really had no experience with the Wonder Boy/Monster Boy series until last year’s excellent Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap. Playing through it made me feel like I had pretty much experienced all I needed to from that series, but boy was I wrong. Although Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom still feels like a SEGA Master System/Genesis game at its heart, it’s also a much more in-depth experience. It’s a happy marriage between Metroidvania and Zelda 2 with so much exploration, new skills and abilities, and puzzles to solve that it’s impossible for me not to love every moment of it. Cursed Kingdom is also gorgeous; I can now see why it took some 5+ years for this game to finally come out. All of the callbacks to previous games in the series, whether through new musical arrangements of older themes, visual nods, and cues also help make this one of the most memorable and charming games of 2018, if not a bit difficult in spots. 5) Octopath Traveler Going into 2018, I thought Octopath Traveler had real potential to be my favorite game of the year. Upon playing it, there are a few things that unfortunately prevent this, but I really can’t complain too much since most of the characters have compelling stories to tell and the game features one of the best battle systems and possibly the best soundtrack of the year. Octopath Traveler is that rare game I couldn’t put down because I just had to see what was next; hopefully its success means it won’t be too long before we see another entry. 4) Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Super Smash Bros. Ultimate absolutely lives up to its name as the best Smash game to date. An insane 74-character roster (at least starting out) with great new additions (shoutout to King K. Rool in particular) gives this game tremendous replay value. It also offers some of the most entertaining, challenging, and creative fights I’ve played thanks to the new Spirits mode and World of Light, which acts as the game’s single-player campaign. We might not get another Smash for a long while now, but that’s okay because Smash Ultimate will be played for a long time to come. 3) Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion + Season 2 content With over 750 hours of game time and counting, Splatoon 2 is still my most played Switch title by far, and it’s gotten even better in its second year. The free updates that have been provided for the main game have added everything from new levels to new weapons and gear, great Splatfests, and even new Salmon Run stages. But let’s talk about Octo Expansion for a sec. To date, it’s the single best piece of DLC I’ve ever played. It’s what Super Mario Galaxy 2 was to its predecessor. Forget the main campaign -- the creative scope of Octo Expansion’s 80 levels is nothing short of incredible. Not every level is a winner, mind you, but most are thoroughly enjoyable. Octo Expansion also adds a great new piece of lore to the Splatoon universe with the Deep Sea Metro and all its weird inhabitants. If you thought Splatoon had a weirdly cool, urban vibe to it before, the DLC dials it up to 11. And the story and final boss make up one of the most memorable and unique moments in the series so far. If you’ve ever been a fan of Splatoon 2, Octo Expansion is a must-play. 2) Yoku’s Island Express Every year there is at least one game that resonates with me in a deep way, usually because it has a great atmosphere that I connect with. Yoku’s Island Express is that game in 2018. I can’t fully express to you why, but it hits all the right notes for me. The art style is superb, the characters are charming as heck, the gameplay is a wonderful marriage between Metroidvania adventure and pinball, and the plot is like something out of a Pixar film (even if it’s a bit anticlimactic in the finale). Even the soundtrack is possibly my favorite from the whole year, borrowing from more lighthearted Polynesian/Hawaiian fare to trip-hop and more; it’s wonderful. Heck, I even platinumed the game, which is only my second time ever. Yoku’s Island Express is an incredible debut for developer Villa Gorilla and I can’t wait to see what they do next. 1) Marvel’s Spider-Man I knew Marvel's Spider-Man was going to be a good game. Heck, I even imagined it’d be great. How could it not be after those incredible E3 demos, two years in the running? What I didn’t expect, however, was for it to completely shatter my expectations and give us the best cinematic Spider-Man story to date (save for Into the Spider-Verse, which just recently released at the time of this writing and is amazing, no pun intended). Spider-Man really is the complete package. It offers a fully-explorable New York, tons of sidequests and enemies to fight (too many, some would even say), lots of collectibles, and a combat system that is extremely fluid and well done. But at the end of the day, it’s the story that really makes the game special for me. To explain why would delve into spoilers, but there’s an emotional narrative that’s pulled off extremely well, and the climax and final battle are a huge payoff for the story arc that slowly builds throughout the game. This is the single best representation of Peter Parker as Spider-Man and, without a doubt, the best superhero game to date. Bravo, Insomniac Games.
  2. Today was a big day for PlayStation as Sony held what they branded as their "second part of E3" today with their Paris Games Week conference. We gathered together the biggest bits of news and announcements at the event and detailed them along with their trailers below. Quick note: We're skipping over any trailers for games that are just about to come out (like in November) and that don't reveal any new details, which essentially just serve as last-minute ads. Following tradition, the show opened with a bang by offering us a first glimpse at one of their next big AAA titles, as we learned that... Sucker Punch's new game was revealed as Ghost of Tsushima Wow. It's safe to say that no one quite saw this coming, especially since most suspected a new Infamous or something similar to it. The PlayStation Blog post announcing it describes it as a "sprawling samurai open-world game." You'll play as a battered Samurai who fights back against the invading Mongol army in feudal Japan. No release date was shown, not even a release year, indicating Ghost of Tsushima may be a 2019 or beyond title. Concrete Genie brings art to life in an urban jungle Gamers might not be as familiar with Pixel Opus (who last created Entwined), but they probably will be after seeing their newest game, Concrete Genie. The trailer shows a boy who discovers a magical brush that brings his art to life on the sides of buildings in an urban environment. He's also being pursued by some bullies, which seems to indicate a thematic story that ties the two topics (art and bullying) together somehow. Live-action 'Erica' is revealed for Playlink A shorter trailer was shown for a new, live-action Playlink title (which combines PS4 with mobile/tablet experience) called Erica. During the game, you'll guide Erica's actions by choosing what to do at certain points in the story, making it more like an interactive movie. Montage of VR games reveals PSVR still very much alive and kicking Here's a list of the games that were shown off in bite-size chunks during the montage: Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown Resident Evil 7: Gold Edition Rec Room Moss Apex Construct Bow to Blood League of War: VR Arena Stifled Sprint Vector Smash Hit Plunder Star Child Transference Ultra Wings Dead Hungry Eden Tomorrow Monster of the Deep: Final Fantasy XV And the segment capped off with a more extended look at a new PSVR game called Blood & Truth, a sort of Bond-like spy thriller. Far Cry 5 is getting expanded co-op A brief tongue-in-cheek trailer was shown of the game teasing the ability to co-op missions with a friend. The update will be coming on February 27, 2018. Activision shares a first look at Destiny 2's first expansion, Curse of Osiris Destiny 2's first expansion is coming, and the trailer reveals that an army of machines from the past and future are coming from Mercury to reshape the world. The only one who can help stop them is a guardian named Osiris, who was exiled to Mercury because of his dangerous ideas. Your overall mission is to find him to help bring an end to the coming invasion, but the trailer teases that his allegiance is ambiguous, leaving you to wonder if he's friend or foe. New Monster Hunter World trailer, play as Aloy from Horizon Zero Dawn via DLC, beta coming soon Capcom showed off a new trailer for Monster Hunter World while also revealing that Horizon Zero Dawn DLC will be coming to the game and you'll be able to play as Aloy. A beta is also on the way; PlayStation Plus members will have access to it on December 9. Codemasters' next game is OnRush, coming next Summer Not only is a new Codemasters racing game slated for release next Summer, it's also from ex-Evolution developers (Motorstorm, Drive Club), which is great to see. The trailer doesn't say much, but it looks to be an extreme racing game as opposed to more grounded experiences like Forza or Gran Turismo. New trailer for Insomniac's Spider-Man shown, coming in 2018 Hoo-wee, the latest trailer for the exclusive PS4 Spider-Man game is hot stuff indeed. Styled like a movie trailer, Insomniac's Spider-Man tackles both Peter Parker and Spider-Man's life, weaving a narrative between the two and showing perhaps the most impressive cinematic take on the webbed hero in video games to date. The trailer reveals that the story revolves heavily around the villain Mr. Negative, and also appears to have The Shocker in it as well. Also confirmed is a 2018 release window, so get hyped. Latest trailer for Detroit: Become Human shows Kara in a difficult predicament, coming Spring 2018 It's been a long time coming but Detroit: Become Human finally has a release window: Spring 2018. The latest trailer for the game brings us back to Kara, the android who we were originally introduced to, as it shows her life in servitude to an abusive father and his daughter. It's... pretty heavy stuff, emotionally- and thematically-speaking. God of War is coming in early 2018 This one was fairly surprising to hear. After showing a brief clip of Kratos guiding his son through a dungeon, it was revealed the game would be coming in 2018. Early 2018. Sony appears to be in for one heck of a year. Shadow of the Colossus remake gets another stunning teaser Another teaser was shown for the Shadow of the Colossus remake from Bluepoint Games, culminating in a showdown with the flying serpent colossus in the desert. While not revealed in the new trailer, the game will be releasing on Feb. 6, 2018. Ellie is nowhere to be found in a new, brutal clip from The Last of Us Part II It's difficult to say exactly what the latest teaser from The Last of Us Part II is showing, other than the fact that you're obviously looking at the antagonist, or at least people who will be causing trouble for Ellie during the story. Forwarned, it's a fairly brutal sequence, and the lack of Ellie in it altogether is fairly surprising. Apart from that, no word on release either, which is obviously not that surprising. In any case, this one is still a ways out (2019 at the very earliest). What are your thoughts on what Sony showed? And how crazy is 2018 going to be, right?
  3. After their stellar showing at E3 last year, there was no reason to believe today that Sony could have met or exceeded the excitement that The Last Guardian, Final Fantasy VII Remake, and Shenmue 3 generated. What else could make as strong of an impact? No one knew, but in the end, Sony pulled off a show to remember. In fact, with the exception of those three surprises last year, Sony's E3 2016 press conference could be considered their best-executed press conference ever. The beginning was a little strange and ominous with an orchestra that brought to life a rather dark and sinister theme (and what was up with the lady making the coughing noises?), but it was an effective way of starting the show with a bit of foreshadowing. Then, the theater went dark. Cut to the first bit of game footage shown, which begins with a young boy playing with hand-carved figures and using his imagination as children do. However, the boy's clothing seems to suggest a more primitive civilization, perhaps something ancient. His playing is cut short by the harsh call of a man from a nearby wooden shack, presumably his father. The man calls out from the dark within the shack, directing the boy to take his mother's knife and hunt... for he is hungry. While saying this, the man steps into the light, revealing a familiar, hardened, pale warrior who bears a red stripe across his face and his chest, and a fully grown beard as well. and echo throughout the auditorium as it becomes apparent that the game everyone is watching is none other than the newest entry of God of War. Despite not having any attachment to the series (I've never played a GoW title in my life), I have to admit that this was one of the best and most effective introductions, not only to a new game, but to any video game conference overall. The slow buildup and reveal of Kratos was extremely well executed, and for the first time, the audience actually saw a quality in the character that was virtually non-existent in the last few GoW games: humanity. It is never explicitly said in the gameplay shown that Kratos is the father of the boy, although it is heavily implied; even if he isn't, it wouldn't matter. Having a child, or even just being the boy's guardian reveals a different side to him and makes him a more interesting character than he ever was when he was only driven by anger, revenge, and bloodlust in the first four games. Sony Santa Monica appears to be taking longstanding criticism of the character to heart this time around -- namely, that he doesn't have any depth beyond revenge. Beyond that, it's apparent that Santa Monica Studio is taking God of War in a brand new direction overall, and one that has a much heavier narrative, not just with the overall plot, but likely with the characters and their personal growth as well. Where will it lead? We'll have to wait to find out, but it's a fascinating turn of events given how different it is compared to the previous games. After the trailer rolled, and a brief introduction from Shawn Layden, we were treated to a slew of other game trailers, one after another. The Last Guardian finally got a release date. A brand new IP called Days Gone (and yet once more set in a post-apocalyptic era) was announced. Horizon: Zero Dawn was once again given another gameplay demo that showed off how impressive and complex the in-game world is. The trailer for Detroit: Become Human showed more of the game's premise and a strong reliance on the player choosing how the narrative unfolds. Resident Evil VII (Resident EVII) was revealed and looked nothing like the increasingly action-focused previous installments in the series, but showed a return to the horror elements that the series was founded on. A series of VR game segments were shown, but didn't weigh the show down. Crash Bandicoot was announced to be getting a PS4 remaster. Hideo Kojima was brought out on stage and revealed the trailer for his upcoming game with Sony, Death Stranding, and also revealed that Norman Reedus would be starring in it as well. And last but not least, Insomniac was revealed to be making a new Spider-Man game that looked fantastic. You might not necessarily find all of these games to be interesting, but there's no mistaking that they're big games that people in general are interested in and are excited for, and all of their reveals were paced extremely well throughout the conference. Did you notice anything else different about this year's conference versus previous years? Sony cut out the self-promotion, marketing talk, kept the talking from executives to a minimum, and they virtually kept all third-party developers off the stage as well. Instead, they let the games do most of the talking, and it was the smartest thing they've done in years. Sony's conference wasn't just good because they happened to show a few new cool games. It was good because they respected the audience's time by making the best of the conference and showing them what everyone wanted to see: release dates from past announced games, brand new IP, exciting new games from existing IP, and even a bit of extra production values to top it off (an accompanying orchestra, Kojima's appearance etc.). Basically, they gave us reasons to continue being excited for the PlayStation 4's future, and if the reception from fans, critics, and journalists alike on social media and various gaming websites is any indication, Sony has succeeded far and above what everyone thought was possible.
  4. Yeah, it's official - the next Spider-Man film is called Spider-Man: Homecoming. Obviously I'm not crazy about the title; it sounds too teen/soap-opera-ish to me, but I'm sure the actual movie will be fairly good. Apparently it's going to be about Peter Parker/Spider-Man searching for his identity? Although I thought it wasn't supposed to be an origin story either, I dunno. Guess we'll find out when a trailer comes out in a year or two? What do you think of the name? Any good, or is it a misfire? Source: IGN
  5. Dominic Dimanche

    Review: The Amazing Spider-Man

    Developer: Beenox Publisher: Activision Platform: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo 3DS, Wii Release Date: Out Now ESRB: T for Teen This review is based on the PS3 version of the game The most challenging gaming genre to develop for has to be adaptations that are based off of movies. For some reason, the result almost always ends in disaster. However, with the release of Beenox“s third adventure of our favorite webhead, The Amazing Spider-Man has the makings of being not only a good movie-based game, but more importantly a return to Spidey“s web-swinging glory days. For those who have not seen the latest Spider-Man movie, be warned that the game does include some major plot spoilers of the movie. So if you are the type who does not like having things spoiled for you, make sure to watch the movie ahead of time. The videogame version of The Amazing Spider-Man takes place after the events of the movie. Connors a.k.a “The Lizard” is in prison and all seems well with the world, until a city-wide outbreak rooted in the cross-species gene splicing of Connors is unleashed on New York. With the city slowly succumbing to the virus, Oscorp“s new head of research, Alistair Smythe, unleashes his army of robots to destroy the threat of the cross-species menace – Spider-Man included. With little surprise, the onus falls on our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man to save not only the day, but also all of New York. The story itself is very well done with a few twists and turns added for good measure. Each character carries out their role with some solid delivery, but nothing Oscar-worthy (save for some scene-stealing performances by Bruce Campbell). The facial animations are a bit stilted but still convey a good sense of feeling. Among the cast, Spider-Man does a great job relaying the perfect blend of emotion and the signature playfulness of Spider-Man (though this may be helped along by the fact he wears a mask throughout the game). While the story is a main facet, the most important development for Amazing Spider-Man is the glorious return of an open-world to swing through, and Beenox delivers on making the experience as visceral and fun as one would imagine being Spider-Man would be. The swinging mechanics are top-notch and provide a nice sensation of speed and momentum as you speed through the New York skyline: the surrounding blur as you gain speed mid-swing, the controller rumbles as you hit the apex, Spider-Man lets various yelps as he soars through the air – adding a serene sense of power and freedom as you go through the city. No other Spider-Man game in my opinion has nailed the swinging skills of Spider-Man better than this game. One of the reasons for this is a particular feature introduced in Amazing Spider-Man called “web rush.” During web-rush, the camera goes into a POV through Spider-Man“s visors highlighting various spots on his surroundings that he can get to. Once you highlight a spot, Spidey will immediately make a B-line for that spot, doing various wall-runs, flips, vaults, jumps, and web zips to get there. The cool thing is that this can be seamlessly combed one after the other and even can linked into normal swings making swinging through New York a joy. Along with the swinging mechanic, the game“s combat and upgrade system takes several cues from a certain pointy-eared caped crusader. Spider-Man“s fighting style in the game is a lot akin to how he fights in the comics, quick, acrobatic, and physically impressive. As he fights, building up his combo meter, he is able to counter moves and blend them into some impressive throws and finishing moves like Batman in Arkham City. There“s also a stronger emphasis on stealth with Spider-Man constantly tasked with taking down stronger foes by striking from the shadows of walls and ceilings. However, like a younger brother trying to emulate his older sibling, Amazing Spider-Man does not seem to get things as technically on point as Batman does, leading to moments where the counter move does not respond and I get pegged with a cheap shot or the stealth sessions of the game not targeting my foes well enough. In addition to fighting and stealth, Spider-Man is also able to upgrade his skills via leveling up to gain access to stronger moves and combos. He can also upgrade his tech, such as increased resistance to bullet damage or a faster web-firing rate by hacking into optional side quests to steal the data from secret compounds. However, nit-picks aside, the true draw of the game is definitely the open world. All across New York are countless side-missions and hidden items to grab. And for the intrepid Spider-Man fan, you can find hidden comic book pages which unlock full hi-res copies of iconic issues of Spider-Man to read. There are also several hints and Easter-eggs featuring other members of Spidey“s rogue gallery like Sandman, Vulture, and even Mr. Negative, which are all optional quests for those with a completionist itch. The side-quests and missions go everywhere from stopping car-chases, to thwarting police deadlocks, to taking out petty thugs, and facing optional side-bosses like Rhino, Scorpion, and femme fatale Black Cat. Each plays smartly and each to the respective villains“ style of fighting. In the Black Cat boss fight for example, she employs a cloaking device which forces you to sneak about the walls and ceilings to hunt her down in a game of cat and mouse. These personal bosses also give way to battles against Smythe“s robotic foes which are always giant beasts that force you to fight though New York itself. They are the highlight of the game“s combat especially since they employ all the web-swinging tools of the game and force you to use them in fast paced quick-thinking ways. All in all, Amazing Spider-Man manages to combine many of the strengths of Beenox“s past Spider-Man games like the stealth aspects from Spider-Man Noir, the air battles of Spider-Man 20XX, and the quick battles of Spider-Man, but it also takes some of their weaknesses as well. While there are many missions to do – things can get a bit repetitive, and eventually it becomes a bit of a drag after thwarting your umpteenth car chase. While you are able to climb just about anywhere, the camera can get confused as what side is up and takes some seconds to readjust itself which led to me getting shot many times. Despite its hiccups, Amazing Spider-Man manages to provide not only a good Spider-Man game, but also answers (most of) the calls fans had for a true Spider-Man game with an open world. Pros: + Spider-Man does everything a Spider-Man should + Combat is impressive + Story is solid + Finally, an open world again! Cons: - Missions devolve into repetition - Camera can get wonky - Plays like Arkham City-lite Overall Score: 7.5 (out of 10) Good While Amazing Spider-Man isn“t without its hiccups, it still delivers an awesome experience that can only become better with more tweaking and refinement. An excellent return to form.