Jack Gardner
Craving some more action from the Arkham series of Batman games? Warner Bros. might be releasing something to give you your Batman fix later this year. Batman: Return to Arkham is a combination of Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City remastered for Xbox One and PlayStation 4. The two games will be recreated in Unreal Engine 4 and include all downloadable content that was released for both titles. Character models will be updated and improved along with lighting and particle effects. No word yet on whether the improved versions of these two games will be making their way to PC (though given the kerfuffle with Arkham Knight, it is doubtful if Warner Bros. will bother with PC for the remaster). 
 
 
Batman: Return to Arkham releases July 26 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Jack Gardner
It turns out the helmet with a skull that has served as Kojima Productions' logo for the past several months is now a fully realized character. Kojima has been saying that fans of Uncharted will love his studio's mysterious first title, but otherwise remained relatively tight-lipped on the specifics of what the game is going to be like. However, we might have some of our first hard data about the upcoming title.  
 
Hideo Kojima tweeted out images of the fully realized version of the helmet-skull character from the Kojima Productions logo. Initially dubbed Ludence on Twitter, Kojima has also called the character Ludens leading to some confusion as to the actual name of the character. In his series of reveal tweets, Kojima stated, "LUDENS, the icon of Kojima Productions. We'll deliver THE NEW PLAY in THE NEW FUTURE with the cutting-edge equipment, technology, & the frontier spirit. The gear he's wearing is the extra-vehicular activity(EVA) creative suit."
 

 
"I won’t say that it’s an open-world title, but those that enjoy playing today’s AAA titles such as The Division and Uncharted will be able to play it smoothly," said Kojima in an interview with Famitsu "Some parts are very new, so I’ll need to experiment with it. When it gets announced some may think that it’s not as way-out as they had expected, but I’m sure they’ll understand once they play it.”
 
Extrapolating from the full image and Kojima's earlier comments, we might be able to glean some information on the upcoming title from the creator of Metal Gear Solid. Keep in mind pretty much all of this is speculation. If Ludence/Ludens is indeed more than a mascot and instead a full character from Kojima Productions' game, the presence of an EVA-skull-man would mean we are going to be getting into some solidly sci-fi territory (which should be no surprise given the plot of the Metal Gear Solid series and Zone of the Enders). The need for an EVA in the first place implies that the setting is either a highly irradiated Earth or on another inhospitable planet. Given that Kojima refers to it as a "creative suit," that could mean we are in for some kind of crafting or base-building. The comparison to The Division might imply some integrated multiplayer aspect to the title, while Uncharted seems to imply third-person action. 
 
Even if all of that conjecture leads nowhere, Ludence/Ludens and crumbs Kojima let fall in interviews have ignited quite a bit of interest in Kojima Productions and their unannounced game.

Jack Gardner
Since Naughty Dog recently released the fourth Uncharted game, we took the opportunity to talk about the 2007 Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. As the title that resurrected the third-person shooter for the modern age and proved to the world what the PlayStation 3 was capable of rendering on-screen, is Nathan Drake's initial adventure one of the best games period?
 
Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative.
 

 
Outro music: Crash Bandicoot 'Hogging Molly' by Brandon Strader and Rexy (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR02413)
 
You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! You can also follow the show on Twitter: @BestGamesPeriod
 
New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday

Jack Gardner
Being a small studio, 11 bit studios doesn't have a robust translation department. However, they want their indie hit about people struggling for survival during wartime to be played by as many people around the world as possible. Their solution to bring This War of Mine to the widest possible audience is kind of brilliant. 
 
We've seen a lot of companies and people tapping into the power of crowdsourcing to get games funded, prove concepts, and support ongoing projects. What we've never seen before is a company turning officially to the internet to crowdsource translations. Usually, games are translated by in-house translators or third party companies that specialize in translation. If a game achieves a large enough following or find its way into the hands of super fans who have the necessary skills, they are sometimes unofficially translated into languages that are outside of the core market languages like English, Japanese, French, German, Spanish, etc. 11 bit studios aims to change that with their new tool, Babel.
 
 
Babel was created with the help of community members from Vietnam and Hungary and, alongside the launch of the Babel tool, This War of Mine can now be played in Vietnamese and Hungarian with Czech following soon. People who are interested in joining and translating the game into new languages can register at babel.thiswarofmine.com and join/create the team translating This War of Mine into the language they'd like to see it in. 
 
Granted, this tool is only for This War of Mine, but imagine if it proved to be immensely popular and was modified to work with other titles. This could be really amazing for populations that might not otherwise see games in their native language. 

Jack Gardner
2K has unveiled the next entry in the Civilization series. The announcement trailer they have released is narrated by Sean Bean, which might hint that the actor might be handling the in-game narration as well, much like Leonard Nimoy in Civilization IV. The trailer hits pivotal moments and achievements from ancient and recent history. It covers architectural feats like the Great Sphinx of Egypt, the Great Wall of China, and the Eiffel Tower; pinnacles of artistic achievement like da Vinci's "Mona Lisa," van Gogh's "Starry Night," and a slightly censored version of Eugene Delacroix's "Liberty Leading the People;" and meaningful moments from history like the dawn of human flight, space exploration, and storming the beaches at Normandy. No gameplay was shown, but if you're a fan of Civilization, this trailer comes with a release date - enough to get any Civ fan excited.
 
 
Civilization VI releases on October 21 for PC.

Jack Gardner
From Croatian developer Pine Studio, Seum: Speedrunners from Hell puts players in the shoes of Marty, a man who has just had a very bad day. Demons invaded during breakfast, ripped off his arm, and stole his precious limited edition Walrus Ale. Naturally, he ripped off a demon's arm and went to Hell to get his beer back.
 
As Marty, players must navigate over a hundred flaming death traps on their quest to retrieve beer from the bowels of Hell itself. The developer describes each levels as a combination of Quake 3, Portal, and Super Meat Boy. Players will need to solve puzzles on the fly and should expect to die... a lot. As players progress, they'll learn how to harness new abilities, like time reversal or gravity manipulation.
 
 
Seum: Speedrunners from Hell will be available this July on PC.    

Jack Gardner
A wanderer collapses in the night, surrounded by a broken world torn by war and littered with the bones of giants. Gorgeous pixel landscapes and animated sequences mesh to create an impression of a coming doom that has happened before and will happen again. However, even in a shattered world heroes can rise, braving the ruins of glories long past to uncover technology and hope, a way to avert the coming end. This is Hyper Light Drifter, a top-down action-adventure title from indie studio Heart Machine. As the nameless drifter, players must venture forth to battle monsters, solve puzzles, and become master of the four regions which surround the one safe haven that still seems habitable for the few remaining peaceful people who inhabit the world.
In many ways, Hyper Light Drifter plays like a unique combination of The Legend of Zelda series with a dash of Dark Souls tossed in for good measure. Much like a Zelda title, players need to explore vast dungeons riddled with bloodthirsty monsters and traps. Thorough exploration is well rewarded and observant players will find tons of secret nooks and crannies that hold hidden gear bits that can be used to upgrade the drifter's gear and techniques. These treasures are hidden in ways that make those who find them feel clever, but few will be able to find all the secrets of Hyper Light Drifter like the golden keys or glowing power sources. Initially, players will need to make do with a simple slashing sword attack and a laser pistol along with a dash, but the opportunities to unlock more moves and tools soon open up. By the end of the game, most players will have a charged slash, the ability to knock back projectiles, and even a slashing light dash. Every tool in the player’s arsenal will need to be used to solve puzzles and proceed through levels infested with enemies. The comparison to Dark Souls comes in the way that each combat encounter plays out very deliberately. Often players will find themselves strategizing on how to best take on a room full of enemies. Reckless play can easily lead to death, while methodical approaches to every fight are rewarded.

There exists a certain economy of time in Hyper Light Drifter that limits the actions of enemies and the player. This makes understanding what enemies are capable of doing, how they move, imperative alongside understanding the drifter’s abilities. Each slash takes up a definite amount of time; each dash puts the player a set distance in a given direction; a certain number of slashes restores a set fraction of projectile ammo, etc. Once a player can instinctively understand these rules, the combat gradually gains speed and what once seemed to be a slow game of tactics becomes a fluid storm of action as the player seeks out the most efficient means of clearing an area of enemies.   
Of course, this approach to combat also has some downsides. A mistimed slash can lock the player into a second of animation that can’t be cancelled in favor of a dodge if an enemy makes an unforeseen attack. There were many times when playing that I wished I could cancel my action to avoid incoming danger. To be honest, I’m unsure if this slight irritation comes directly from the way Heart Machine believed combat should flow or it stems from a desire to have smooth, unbroken animations. The focus on creating an economy of time also leads to an issue with button timing. A perfect example of this can be found in the way Hyper Light Drifter allows players to chain together dashes for faster, longer dashes. With each additional dash, the timing required for the next dash shortens slightly. I found it almost entirely impossible for me to successfully chain more than three or four dashes together, frequently stalling out (which can prove to be a problem when your life depends on chaining together those dashes). The mechanics of Hyper Light Drifter are practically perfect in most other respects, so these complaints are rather small, but can lead to some significant frustration over the course of a full playthrough.

One aspect of Hyper Light Drifter is utterly perfect, though. The aesthetic manages to remain captivating and gorgeous from beginning to end. Any given screenshot of the title would look at home in a frame on someone’s wall. It easily contains some of the most gorgeous pixel art that I have ever seen. Surreal animated dream sequences, fantastic beasts, breathtaking landscapes, the motivation to visually devour more of this world will be more than enough to motivate most players to fully explore it. Hyper Light Drifter depicts its neon, post-apocalyptic cyberpunk world as dirty, grimy, and barely clinging to life amidst piles of death. Corpses and bones are commonplace, but still civilization and light remains to those few who press on with the task of living. Monsters roam the lands and sow chaos as they prey upon the few sentient lifeforms left alive. The bodies of great giants litter the world, limbs frozen mid-battle. Below the earth in mechanical labs, the colossal hearts of long-dead experiments still beat, hinting that perhaps those giants of war aren’t truly gone.
The fortunate strength of Hyper Light Drifter’s aesthetic allows the entire narrative to unfold visually. There are cryptic messages left throughout the world written in a cypher that players who have cracked it claim give some small details about the world, but those messages will remain a mystery for most. Players encounter characters who tell stories of great battles, lost loved ones, and small hopes for a brighter future through still frame images. Through these visual insights, touching moments connect players to the setting of Hyper Light Drifter and motivate players emotionally. Many of the characters who tell their stories don’t provide material aid to the player, but they give faces and stories to the world and make it worth fighting for.
 
<a data-cke-saved-href="http://music.disasterpeace.com/album/hyper-light-drifter" href="http://music.disasterpeace.com/album/hyper-light-drifter">Hyper Light Drifter by Disasterpeace</a>
The mesmerizing soundtrack from Disasterpeace conveys a sense of sinister mystery and dread as players explore. Each new area seems to ratchet up the tension with very few lighthearted breaks in the soundscape. It does some really fascinating things with silence and a minimal style that really adds to the overall character of Hyper Light Drifter. The visual and audible aesthetics build on one another as players delve deeper into the secrets concealed by the old world ruins.
Now, all of that being said, Hyper Light Drifter left me feeling conflicted. It is undoubtedly beautiful, mechanically very sound, and well made, but I’m not sure if that is enough. To be clear, I loved my time with it and I think anyone who looks at it or sees it in action will have a great time. However, I’m not sure if it has the staying power to remain firmly rooted in our collective gaming consciousness. There is something about Hyper Light Drifter that, much like its protagonist, feels fleeting. This might be a deliberate choice from Heart Machine, as that transient impression works in Hyper Light Drifter’s artistic favor, but might also lead to it being forgettable. The subdued nature of the title leads to a solid theme, but there are few highs or lows that will lodge it forever in a player’s mind. No shocking revelation or emotionally charged battle to prod us into remembrance, just the image of an ailing drifter near a fire in the middle of a dark world as the flames sputter into embers.

Conclusion:
For some, Hyper Light Drifter’s competence, aesthetic, and soundscape might be enough. It’s well designed and gorgeous and fun – a very well-rounded and solid experience. However, I think Hyper Light Drifter will also leave people wanting more both in terms of how long the game is, it clocks in at four dungeons and around seven or eight hours, but also in terms of meaning. Most will enjoy their time within the devastated lands of Hyper Light Drifter, but some people will struggle to attach personal meaning to the experience. The artistic cohesion that Hear Machine has put together is incredibly impressive and well worth the time it takes to experience. Those who wish for more beyond the tense melancholy of dangerous exploration and the rough interpretations of a wordless, surreal story might need to seek out other worlds and stories. For those who can accept it as it is, Hyper Light Drifter is beautiful, haunting, tense, and fittingly transient as an artistic work.  
Hyper Light Drifter was reviewed on PC and will soon be available for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

Jack Gardner
From breaking through the Iron Curtain of Soviet Russia to being labelled as a cause of medically confirmed hallucinations, Tetris has a fascinating history both within and without the video game industry. Alexey Pajitnov and Vladamir Pokhilko's classic puzzle game has become one of the most widely available video games on the planet and a common household name. To this day, Tetris appears near the top of best games of all time lists, but is that merely nostalgia or a mark of genuine quality? 
 
Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative.
 

 
Outro music: Tetris 'The Peddler's Legacy' by Vurez (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR02202)
 
You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! You can also follow the show on Twitter: @BestGamesPeriod
 
New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday

Jack Gardner
After only a day or two of raising pledges through Kickstarter, John Romero and Adrian Carmack have officially suspended their Kickstarter campaign for their dream FPS, Blackroom. Most people will remember John Romero for being one of the founders of id Software, being heavily involved in the creation of Doom, Wolfenstein 3D, Commander Keen, as well as the tools that made games like Quake possible. He is also known for the famous debacle surrounding the title Daikatana that led to the closure of the Ion Storm studio. Adrian Carmack was another one of the founders of id Software and worked as an artist there until 2005 when he and the rest of id Software had a financial falling out that led to a lawsuit. 
 
The two game creators have joined forces along with Night Work Games to create Blackroom. Blackroom envisions a future in which virtual reality has become commonplace and one day it goes horribly wrong. Rooms equipped with advanced technology reminiscent of the Holo-Deck from Star Trek: The Next Generation, blackrooms, have gone haywire. Those who enter them run the risk of becoming trapped within a shifting reality that mixes time and space. Medieval castles, the Wild West, sci-fi impossiblities, and surreal landscapes await those who become snared in a blackroom.
 
John Romero plans to handle the level design of Blackroom as well as some of the general game design. Romero hopes to take Blackroom in a classic FPS direction, including circle strafing and rocket jumping. Carmack will be in charge of the art design to give it an authentic retro feel for the modern age.
 


The Kickstarter aimed to raise over $700,000 in funding, but was cut short after a large number of people asked to see a working demo of Blackroom. The time required to create the demo would be longer than the Kickstarter campaign, so Romero and Carmack suspended the campaign to come back at a later date with the playable proof of concept. They released a letter to the community who had backed them so far to explain the situation:

Jack Gardner
There has been an ongoing Redbox game sale that will continue until May 8. Depending on availability at each individual kiosk, there is the potential to snag copies of Until Dawn for $18.99, The Order: 1886 for $5.99, or even Bloodborne for $8.99. The way to get in on the sweet deals pointed out by is a bit out of the ordinary, so bear with me.
 
Not all kiosks that rent games are a part of the sale. In order to find out which ones are selling games, head over to this Redbox page and look up which ones are closest to you. There doesn't seem to be a way to see the inventory of these Redboxes individually, so those interested in finding something specific on sale will have to go to each Redbox in person. Prices are subject to vary by location as well as selection, so be prepared to swing by a few to see what they are offering. 
 
A few of the prices and games on sale have been reported by Cheap Ass Gamer, though other games could also be a part of the sale and prices might be different depending on kiosk location. Keep in mind that these games do not come with their original boxes.
     
Adventure Time: Finn & Jake Investigations - PS4 - $8.99
Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate - PS4/XB1 - $28.99
Assassin’s Creed: Unity - PS4/XB1 - $8.99
Batman Arkham Knight - PS4/XB1 - $18.99
Battlefield Hardline - PS4/PS3/X360 - $5.99
Bloodborne - PS4 - $8.99
Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition - PS4/XB1 - $8.99
The Elder Scrolls Online - PS4/XB1 - $8.99
Fallout 3 - X360/PS3 - $8.99
Final Fantasy X/X-2 - PS4 - $8.99
God of War III Remastered - PS4 - $8.99
Halo: The Master Chief Collection - XB1 - $8.99
Just Cause 3 - PS4/XB1 - $28.99
Kung Fu Panda: The Showdown of Legendary Legends - PS4/XB1 - $8.99
Life is Strange - PS4/XB1 - $28.99
Mad Max - PS4/XB1 - $18.99
MLB The Show 15 - PS4/PS3 - $8.99
Mortal Kombat X - PS4/XB1 - $18.99
PayDay 2: Crime Wave Edition - PS4/XB1 - $5.99
Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell - PS3/X360 - $5.99
Saints Row Re-Elected - PS4/XB1 - $5.99
Sniper Elite III Afrika - PS4/XB1 - $8.99
Spongebob Heropants - X360 - $5.99
State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition - XB1 - $5.99
Tearaway - PS4 - $8.99 
The Order: 1886 - PS4 - $5.99
Ultimate Action Triple Pack - PS3 - $5.99
Ultimate Stealth Triple Pack - PS3 - $5.99
Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection - PS4 - $18.99
Until Dawn - PS4 - $18.99
The Witcher III: Wild Hunt - PS4/XB1 - $8.99

Jack Gardner

 
Though many joked that the next Call of Duty would be in space, Call of Duty is actually going into space with the latest incarnation of the franchise. Touting Infinite Warfare as a return to the franchise roots, Infinity Ward's new entry into the series pits players against the Settlement Defense Front following a surprise attack on Earth. Gameplay shown during the trailer shows players piloting fighters from Earth into space and having orbital dogfights, fighting hand to hand in space, and setting foot on what seem to be alien planets. The cast seems to be surprisingly diverse with men and women of different racial backgrounds under fire as the supporting crew.  
 
 
Not only that, but those who pre-order the Legacy or Digital Deluxe editions of Infinite Warfare will receive Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered, a complete rehaul of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, the game that catapulted Call of Duty to its current heights. The remade Call of Duty 4 from the ground up! That's the good news.
 
Unfortunately, there is also bad news. First, it's worth noting that the remastered version will only have 10 of the original's multiplayer maps. The real kicker seems to be that there are currently no plans to release Modern Warfare Remastered as a standalone title. The only way that Activision seems to be making it available is through pre-ordering the Legacy, Legacy Pro, or Digital Deluxe editions of Infinite Warfare. It seems that Activision is tying Remastered and Infinite Warfare together, so that even if they do make it available outside of pre-orders, Infinite Warfare will still be required to play Modern Warfare Remastered. 
 

 
This is a strange move by Activision and I can't help but think that it is a temporary cash grab. It makes no sense to not sell the remastered version of one of the most influential games of all time by itself. The only way this seems like a good way to make money is to tout it as a pre-order bonus, rake in those sweet, sweet, pre-order numbers, wait for a bit after Infinite Warfare releases, and then release Modern Warfare Remastered as a standalone title. 
 
Whatever the shady business going on behind the scenes, I am actually really impressed with Infinite Warfare's reveal. Initially I rolled my eyes, but the trailer with its swelling version of David Bowie's "Space Oddity," interesting locations, intriguing tech, and glimpses of characters eventually won me over. I'm a big sucker for action set in outer space and since Star Wars Battlefront is surprisingly lacking in that area, maybe Infinite Warfare can scratch that itch. I also wouldn't mind trekking through the incredible Call of Duty 4 all over again, either. 
 
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare releases November 4 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Jack Gardner
Given the success of EA's Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare: 3Z Arena attraction at Carowinds in Charlotte, North Carolina, EA has been moving ahead with plans to create a Mass Effect ride at California's Great America in Santa Clara. Fortune reports that they are calling it the Mass Effect: New Earth 4D and it will be an in-theater experience rather than a roller coaster. Though it is an EA initiative, BioWare has been involved in the entire development process for Mass Effect: New Earth 4D, giving feedback on the art design, story, animation, and more.
 
“It’s very important that we create an attraction that fits seamlessly in the world of Mass Effect, while including the elements we know are critical to making a good amusement park experience,” said Christian Dieckmann, corporate vice president of strategic growth at Cedar Fair Entertainment, “We want to ensure that dedicated fans and park-goers being introduced to the franchise alike walk away thrilled and excited.”
 
New Earth 4D is set within the Mass Effect universe and,. according to 3D Live co-founder Nathan Huber, it takes place during the events of Mass Effect 3. The ride takes participants into space alongside the Normandy, Commander Shepard's famous (or perhaps infamous) vessel from the Mass Effect series. From there, guests are sent through a mass relay to Terra Nova, a planet where something has gone drastically wrong. While Commander Shepard is referenced, he/she does not appear during the experience. 
 
The ride will use 4K technology that was originally intended to be used on Michael Jackson's "This Is It Tour," but was sidelined after Jackson passed away in 2009. Halon Entertainment, a visualization and technology company, joined forces with 3D Live and used Unreal Engine 4 to create the visuals seen in the four and a half minutes that the ride lasts.
 
Mass Effect: New Earth 4D launches at Great America in Santa Clara, CA on May 18.