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Found 322 results

  1. After setting the record straight on the future of the company earlier this month, developer Io-Interactive announced June 20 that the beginning of Hitman would be free to play on all platforms. The move appears to be a celebration on securing the rights to the company's signature series. "I'm proud to announce that our first hello as an independent studio is to invite all gamers to play the beginning of Hitman for free," Hakan Abrak, CEO of Io-Interactive, said in a press release. Io-Interactive had been dropped by former owner Square Enix citing "extraordinary loss" as their reasoning for letting go of the team. With that news, it was uncertain where Io-interactive would head and whether or not they would be able to retain control over the Hitman IP. The Danish studio seems to be recovering, securing a buyout from Square Enix and retaining Hitman. The ICA facility, including all the content released for the area, is free to download now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. What do you think the future holds for Agent 47? Will you be playing the beginning of Hitman for the first time now that it is free? View full article
  2. After setting the record straight on the future of the company earlier this month, developer Io-Interactive announced June 20 that the beginning of Hitman would be free to play on all platforms. The move appears to be a celebration on securing the rights to the company's signature series. "I'm proud to announce that our first hello as an independent studio is to invite all gamers to play the beginning of Hitman for free," Hakan Abrak, CEO of Io-Interactive, said in a press release. Io-Interactive had been dropped by former owner Square Enix citing "extraordinary loss" as their reasoning for letting go of the team. With that news, it was uncertain where Io-interactive would head and whether or not they would be able to retain control over the Hitman IP. The Danish studio seems to be recovering, securing a buyout from Square Enix and retaining Hitman. The ICA facility, including all the content released for the area, is free to download now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. What do you think the future holds for Agent 47? Will you be playing the beginning of Hitman for the first time now that it is free?
  3. When I woke up this morning, I didn't expect to be writing about a new Bubsy game. I mean, for crying out loud, the last Bubsy game released in 1996 - that's over two decades ago! Through some kind of alchemy that doubtlessly included human sacrifices, Bubsy has a new game slated for release this year. With the aid of Billionsoft, an investment company that revives old gaming IPs with an eye to make a profit, Accolade has risen from the grave to create an all new Bubsy game. Titled Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back, the reinvention of the classic platformer has our furred hero traveling to various locales in search of the golden fleece. Bubsy returns this September on the PlayStation 4 and PC.
  4. When I woke up this morning, I didn't expect to be writing about a new Bubsy game. I mean, for crying out loud, the last Bubsy game released in 1996 - that's over two decades ago! Through some kind of alchemy that doubtlessly included human sacrifices, Bubsy has a new game slated for release this year. With the aid of Billionsoft, an investment company that revives old gaming IPs with an eye to make a profit, Accolade has risen from the grave to create an all new Bubsy game. Titled Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back, the reinvention of the classic platformer has our furred hero traveling to various locales in search of the golden fleece. Bubsy returns this September on the PlayStation 4 and PC. View full article
  5. Rebellion, the developers behind the successful Sniper Elite franchise, are trying their hand at something a little, dare I say... strange? They have pulled back the curtain on their newest game titled Strange Brigade, a third-person shooter for 1-4 players to tackle solo or co-op. We don't know much beyond those few facts and what's provided in the reveal trailer. The shooter takes on the decidedly campy tone of a 1930s adventure serial. Players will be exploring a far flung corner of the British empire and come face to face with an otherworldly threat amidst the sprawling ruins of a once magnificent city. Zombies, colossal humanoid monstrosities, and even ancient gods all converge on the Strange Brigade to tear them limb from limb. The one thing that strikes a dissonant cord for me in this trailer is the character design of the black woman. Her design is weirdly exotic and "othering" compared to her companion characters in the ensemble. Maybe the full game provides more context or perhaps I'm being overly critical of a game meant to be taken as a camp throwback, but it struck a sour note in a trailer that otherwise appeals to me. Overall, Strange Brigade appears to possess a great deal of promise as a co-op shooter in a similar vein as the Left 4 Dead franchise. More details will be released next week at E3. At the moment, Strange Brigade is slated for release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
  6. Rebellion, the developers behind the successful Sniper Elite franchise, are trying their hand at something a little, dare I say... strange? They have pulled back the curtain on their newest game titled Strange Brigade, a third-person shooter for 1-4 players to tackle solo or co-op. We don't know much beyond those few facts and what's provided in the reveal trailer. The shooter takes on the decidedly campy tone of a 1930s adventure serial. Players will be exploring a far flung corner of the British empire and come face to face with an otherworldly threat amidst the sprawling ruins of a once magnificent city. Zombies, colossal humanoid monstrosities, and even ancient gods all converge on the Strange Brigade to tear them limb from limb. The one thing that strikes a dissonant cord for me in this trailer is the character design of the black woman. Her design is weirdly exotic and "othering" compared to her companion characters in the ensemble. Maybe the full game provides more context or perhaps I'm being overly critical of a game meant to be taken as a camp throwback, but it struck a sour note in a trailer that otherwise appeals to me. Overall, Strange Brigade appears to possess a great deal of promise as a co-op shooter in a similar vein as the Left 4 Dead franchise. More details will be released next week at E3. At the moment, Strange Brigade is slated for release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. View full article
  7. The first Mega Man Legacy Collection released back in 2015 and covered the first six titles of the Mega Man series. Those first six games represent the entire NES era of Mega Man. Capcom has announced that a second Legacy Collection will release containing the further adventures of side-scrolling Mega Man that released following Mega Man 6. Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 will contain Mega Man 7-10, covering the period of time when the series broke out of 8-bit graphics and into 16/32-bit action before returning to its 8-bit roots. Since 9 and 10 are modern installments, both will contain all DLC released for them to date. There will be minor tweaks and improvements throughout the four games of the collection. One of the major additions that could help new players appreciate Mega Man without the frustration is the new "Extra Armor" option that halves all damage taken and a checkpoint system to help pick up the action from a convenient distance instead of starting the level over from scratch. If that seems too easy, stages have been remixed for difficulty in the new Challenge Mode where players can compete and compare completion time with others around the world. For those who value gaming history, Capcom has also included an in-game museum that includes production art, sketches, development material, concepts, and a music player to listen to all the catchy bloops and bleeps of the Mega Man soundtracks. Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 releases on August 8th for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Oddly, the title doesn't appear to be coming to the Nintendo Switch at this time.
  8. The first Mega Man Legacy Collection released back in 2015 and covered the first six titles of the Mega Man series. Those first six games represent the entire NES era of Mega Man. Capcom has announced that a second Legacy Collection will release containing the further adventures of side-scrolling Mega Man that released following Mega Man 6. Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 will contain Mega Man 7-10, covering the period of time when the series broke out of 8-bit graphics and into 16/32-bit action before returning to its 8-bit roots. Since 9 and 10 are modern installments, both will contain all DLC released for them to date. There will be minor tweaks and improvements throughout the four games of the collection. One of the major additions that could help new players appreciate Mega Man without the frustration is the new "Extra Armor" option that halves all damage taken and a checkpoint system to help pick up the action from a convenient distance instead of starting the level over from scratch. If that seems too easy, stages have been remixed for difficulty in the new Challenge Mode where players can compete and compare completion time with others around the world. For those who value gaming history, Capcom has also included an in-game museum that includes production art, sketches, development material, concepts, and a music player to listen to all the catchy bloops and bleeps of the Mega Man soundtracks. Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 releases on August 8th for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Oddly, the title doesn't appear to be coming to the Nintendo Switch at this time. View full article
  9. Today, Bungie held their explosive worldwide reveal of Destiny 2's gameplay. The event showed the opening mission of the game, titled Homecoming, in action as well as a new trailer and plenty of details on what Destiny 2 will do differently from the original Destiny. The event opened with a neat backstory trailer, which you can see here at 14:10 of the livestream. This new bit of story follows Zevala, one of the Guardian Vanguard, as he is resurrected to be a defender of humanity. He fights and dies and then fights again. We see him helping to build the Tower and securing the city... but all of that is just set up before the fall that begins Destiny 2. With just that cinematic, it's clear that Destiny 2 will be more focused on story and building up characters. Luke Smith, Destiny 2's director, took the stage to confirm that Destiny 2 would be tackling many things differently than its predecessor, really hammering home that this was a fresh start for both the franchise and its fans. Smith laid out the the number one priority of Destiny 2's vision by saying, "this is about having a story you can relate to. It's about having characters you want to hang out with, characters you want to work with. This is about having enemies, of course enemies, that you want to face. it's about the way we build our environments at Bungie. We want to create experiences that make you want to seek what's around every corner." The second focus of Destiny 2 will be to provide players with a robust assortment of activities. Exploration has been reworked to include side-missions, treasure maps, global objective events, and more. Those side-missions will have a storytelling focus involving vocal NPCs and send players into Lost Sectors, dungeons that are filled with enemies, loot, and bosses. They have also reworked how PvP will work in Destiny 2. In the upcoming incarnation of the Crucible, all PvP will take place in 4v4 matches. The HUD has been changed to include information on opponents, such as their loadouts and whether their super ability is ready to fire. There will be new game modes, such as the now revealed Countdown mode - the first attack-defend game type. There will be new strikes, a new raid, and more. Players will be able to launch all of these new things while exploring the alien worlds of Destiny 2 without going into orbit. Speaking of the planets, Destiny 2's campaign, titled The Red War Campaign, consist of Earth, Titan, Io, and Nessus. The Earth area is known as the EDZ (European Dead Zone) and it represents the largest in-game space Bungie has designed to date by a factor of two. This is where humanity has retreated to after the fall of Tower. Titan is an oceanic moon on which humanity built massive stations during its golden age. Now the Titan stations are slowly falling into its waters. The Vex have infested Nessus and transformed it into a new machine world covered in their technology and weaponry. Finally, Io stands as a holy world for Destiny 2's warlocks. It was once touched by the Traveler and now presents a number of mysteries that could aid Guardians in their fight to reclaim Earth. The final part of Destiny 2's vision is always having someone with whom to play. Luke Smith estimates that about 50% of Destiny players weren't able to access the multiplayer endgame content like raids or high level strikes. This was largely due to Destiny lacking a matchmaking system. Bungie made the choice to drop matchmaking for Destiny because they believed the toxic nature of gaming communities could lead to too many terrible experiences for players if they were matched with strangers. In Destiny 2, they feel as if they have a solution. Clans will be directly integrated into Destiny 2. Players will be able to fill their own rosters, create clan banners, and fashion descriptions of their respective clans. Bungie plans to implement a reward system that will benefit everyone in the clan when players collectively achieve goals. Not everyone will have to be a part of a clan to care about the clan system. In order to solve the matchmaking conundrum, Bungie has created what they call Guided Games. Solo players looking to raid will be able to pick clans with which they want to play. Clan descriptions can be perused to find good groups of players. This will, in effect, work as a sort of matchmaking curation directed by each player. In Bungie's view, this acts as a win-win. Clans will be able to fill empty spots and solo players will be able to access that endgame content. Bungie showed a portion of the Homecoming mission. Players experience the attack on Tower first hand as fleets of ships deploy troops and artillery bombardments. This slice of gameplay displayed the new class super abilities in action. Hunters can summon the Dawnblade, a fiery sword that grants players the ability to fly, slice enemies, and shoot plasma slices into the distance. Titans can make use of the Sentinel, a shield that both protects its bearer and can be thrown to serve as a powerful attack that ricochets between enemies. Lastly, Warlocks have the ability to summon the Arcstrider, a mystical monk staff empowered by electrical energy that sends its wielder with acrobatic combat energy. The story of Destiny 2 follows the aftermath of a major invasion of an alien called Dominus Gall, the leader of the Red Legion. Gall is an extremist who believes the Traveler chose poorly when it selected humanity to receive its power. He aims to take that power away and use it for its own ends. In taking that power, he destroys the Tower, the last safe human city on Earth. Destiny 2 is a game about loss and then recovery. Players will be starting fresh, having lost everything. The main objectives will be to reunite the leaders of the Guardians, the Vanguard, who have scattered across the solar system. In finding the Vanguard, players will hone and recover their abilities, perhaps building up enough power to challenge Gall. The game will include more cinematics than Bungie has ever created before and more story missions, all in service to the more narrative focused approach the studio is taking for the follow up to Destiny. To cap it all off - Destiny 2 will be available on PC for the first time. That's not news, but now we know how Destiny 2 will be available: Blizzard. Bungie is working with Activision to create Destiny 2 and Activision is calling in Blizzard to support the title via Battle.net. People interested in buying Destiny 2 on PC will only be able to buy it through Blizzard's platform to exist alongside games like StarCraft 2, World of Warcraft, and Overwatch. The Destiny 2 Beta will launch sometime this summer, so be sure to free up the 68Gb of space needed to store the game on your hard drives! You can watch the entire livestream of Bungie's event below. Destiny 2 officially launches for PS4 and Xbox One on September 8. The PC version doesn't have an official release set. Bungie says that they want to do the PC version right, so it is possible the PC version of Destiny 2 will be released sometime after September 8. View full article
  10. Today, Bungie held their explosive worldwide reveal of Destiny 2's gameplay. The event showed the opening mission of the game, titled Homecoming, in action as well as a new trailer and plenty of details on what Destiny 2 will do differently from the original Destiny. The event opened with a neat backstory trailer, which you can see here at 14:10 of the livestream. This new bit of story follows Zevala, one of the Guardian Vanguard, as he is resurrected to be a defender of humanity. He fights and dies and then fights again. We see him helping to build the Tower and securing the city... but all of that is just set up before the fall that begins Destiny 2. With just that cinematic, it's clear that Destiny 2 will be more focused on story and building up characters. Luke Smith, Destiny 2's director, took the stage to confirm that Destiny 2 would be tackling many things differently than its predecessor, really hammering home that this was a fresh start for both the franchise and its fans. Smith laid out the the number one priority of Destiny 2's vision by saying, "this is about having a story you can relate to. It's about having characters you want to hang out with, characters you want to work with. This is about having enemies, of course enemies, that you want to face. it's about the way we build our environments at Bungie. We want to create experiences that make you want to seek what's around every corner." The second focus of Destiny 2 will be to provide players with a robust assortment of activities. Exploration has been reworked to include side-missions, treasure maps, global objective events, and more. Those side-missions will have a storytelling focus involving vocal NPCs and send players into Lost Sectors, dungeons that are filled with enemies, loot, and bosses. They have also reworked how PvP will work in Destiny 2. In the upcoming incarnation of the Crucible, all PvP will take place in 4v4 matches. The HUD has been changed to include information on opponents, such as their loadouts and whether their super ability is ready to fire. There will be new game modes, such as the now revealed Countdown mode - the first attack-defend game type. There will be new strikes, a new raid, and more. Players will be able to launch all of these new things while exploring the alien worlds of Destiny 2 without going into orbit. Speaking of the planets, Destiny 2's campaign, titled The Red War Campaign, consist of Earth, Titan, Io, and Nessus. The Earth area is known as the EDZ (European Dead Zone) and it represents the largest in-game space Bungie has designed to date by a factor of two. This is where humanity has retreated to after the fall of Tower. Titan is an oceanic moon on which humanity built massive stations during its golden age. Now the Titan stations are slowly falling into its waters. The Vex have infested Nessus and transformed it into a new machine world covered in their technology and weaponry. Finally, Io stands as a holy world for Destiny 2's warlocks. It was once touched by the Traveler and now presents a number of mysteries that could aid Guardians in their fight to reclaim Earth. The final part of Destiny 2's vision is always having someone with whom to play. Luke Smith estimates that about 50% of Destiny players weren't able to access the multiplayer endgame content like raids or high level strikes. This was largely due to Destiny lacking a matchmaking system. Bungie made the choice to drop matchmaking for Destiny because they believed the toxic nature of gaming communities could lead to too many terrible experiences for players if they were matched with strangers. In Destiny 2, they feel as if they have a solution. Clans will be directly integrated into Destiny 2. Players will be able to fill their own rosters, create clan banners, and fashion descriptions of their respective clans. Bungie plans to implement a reward system that will benefit everyone in the clan when players collectively achieve goals. Not everyone will have to be a part of a clan to care about the clan system. In order to solve the matchmaking conundrum, Bungie has created what they call Guided Games. Solo players looking to raid will be able to pick clans with which they want to play. Clan descriptions can be perused to find good groups of players. This will, in effect, work as a sort of matchmaking curation directed by each player. In Bungie's view, this acts as a win-win. Clans will be able to fill empty spots and solo players will be able to access that endgame content. Bungie showed a portion of the Homecoming mission. Players experience the attack on Tower first hand as fleets of ships deploy troops and artillery bombardments. This slice of gameplay displayed the new class super abilities in action. Hunters can summon the Dawnblade, a fiery sword that grants players the ability to fly, slice enemies, and shoot plasma slices into the distance. Titans can make use of the Sentinel, a shield that both protects its bearer and can be thrown to serve as a powerful attack that ricochets between enemies. Lastly, Warlocks have the ability to summon the Arcstrider, a mystical monk staff empowered by electrical energy that sends its wielder with acrobatic combat energy. The story of Destiny 2 follows the aftermath of a major invasion of an alien called Dominus Gall, the leader of the Red Legion. Gall is an extremist who believes the Traveler chose poorly when it selected humanity to receive its power. He aims to take that power away and use it for its own ends. In taking that power, he destroys the Tower, the last safe human city on Earth. Destiny 2 is a game about loss and then recovery. Players will be starting fresh, having lost everything. The main objectives will be to reunite the leaders of the Guardians, the Vanguard, who have scattered across the solar system. In finding the Vanguard, players will hone and recover their abilities, perhaps building up enough power to challenge Gall. The game will include more cinematics than Bungie has ever created before and more story missions, all in service to the more narrative focused approach the studio is taking for the follow up to Destiny. To cap it all off - Destiny 2 will be available on PC for the first time. That's not news, but now we know how Destiny 2 will be available: Blizzard. Bungie is working with Activision to create Destiny 2 and Activision is calling in Blizzard to support the title via Battle.net. People interested in buying Destiny 2 on PC will only be able to buy it through Blizzard's platform to exist alongside games like StarCraft 2, World of Warcraft, and Overwatch. The Destiny 2 Beta will launch sometime this summer, so be sure to free up the 68Gb of space needed to store the game on your hard drives! You can watch the entire livestream of Bungie's event below. Destiny 2 officially launches for PS4 and Xbox One on September 8. The PC version doesn't have an official release set. Bungie says that they want to do the PC version right, so it is possible the PC version of Destiny 2 will be released sometime after September 8.
  11. Swedish game developer Villa Gorilla announced today that they will be partnering with publisher Team17 to bring their combination pinball-platformer to life. Yoku's Island Express offers a strangely enticing mix of pinball gameplay and platforming with pinball elements. Players take on the role of Yoku, a heroic dung beetle wh- wait, hear me out! I know video games are sometimes weird just for the sake of being weird, but this one seems weird AND cool. Yoku has arrived on Mokumana Island, a land of anthropomorphic animals, in order to take over for the old pterodactyl's mailman job. Though he thought this island gig would be relaxing, he soon discovers that Mokumana's guardian deity has fallen into a deep sleep plagued by nightmares. The slumbering god's troubled dreams create earthquakes and misery for the colorful characters of the island, even bringing down Yoku's post office. So, in order to get the relaxation he always wanted, Yoku sets off on a mission to awaken the troubled god and restore peace to Mokumana. Using Yoku's travelling ball, you know, as dung beetles do, players can help him navigate the pinball-like stages to explore the world, collect fruit, and rebuild the ruined post office. The hand-painted world of Yoku's Island Express was created by industry veterans and ex-members of Starbreeze Studios (Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons), Jens Andersson and Mattias Snygg. Andersson explained the new relationship with Team17 by saying, "with Team17 we’ve found a publishing partner that cherishes innovation and style – something we recognized way back when we played Alien Breed on our Amigas. We feel that their commitment to quality and fun gameplay is a perfect match for us." Yoku's Island Adventure will be coming to Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC in 2018.
  12. Swedish game developer Villa Gorilla announced today that they will be partnering with publisher Team17 to bring their combination pinball-platformer to life. Yoku's Island Express offers a strangely enticing mix of pinball gameplay and platforming with pinball elements. Players take on the role of Yoku, a heroic dung beetle wh- wait, hear me out! I know video games are sometimes weird just for the sake of being weird, but this one seems weird AND cool. Yoku has arrived on Mokumana Island, a land of anthropomorphic animals, in order to take over for the old pterodactyl's mailman job. Though he thought this island gig would be relaxing, he soon discovers that Mokumana's guardian deity has fallen into a deep sleep plagued by nightmares. The slumbering god's troubled dreams create earthquakes and misery for the colorful characters of the island, even bringing down Yoku's post office. So, in order to get the relaxation he always wanted, Yoku sets off on a mission to awaken the troubled god and restore peace to Mokumana. Using Yoku's travelling ball, you know, as dung beetles do, players can help him navigate the pinball-like stages to explore the world, collect fruit, and rebuild the ruined post office. The hand-painted world of Yoku's Island Express was created by industry veterans and ex-members of Starbreeze Studios (Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons), Jens Andersson and Mattias Snygg. Andersson explained the new relationship with Team17 by saying, "with Team17 we’ve found a publishing partner that cherishes innovation and style – something we recognized way back when we played Alien Breed on our Amigas. We feel that their commitment to quality and fun gameplay is a perfect match for us." Yoku's Island Adventure will be coming to Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC in 2018. View full article
  13. The Dark Souls series has defined itself as a fight around the idea of entropy. Should we embrace that all things must come to an end or rage against the dying of the light? Or perhaps find another way entirely? This conflict forms the central theme that permeates every nook and cranny of the game world, clarifying itself with each new enemy and boss. That struggle makes up the Dark Soul itself. The kingdoms of men in the Age of Fire, for all their strength, are doomed to fade and succumb to a curse brought on by time and the gods themselves. When the curse awakens, it makes men immortal, living on in a state of undeath, but once undead, humans begin to lose bits of themselves as time passes. Time eventually wears them away into hollows, mindless monsters who hunger for purpose. There is only one way to lift the curse: A hero must arise and brave the dangers of a world deteriorating into chaos to rekindle the First Flame, a bastion of power that preserves the world. After braving horrors and madness, players are given the option of rekindling the First Flame with their life or snuffing it out to usher in the Age of Dark, a new world order that embraces a fireless world - but there may be other choices hidden to all but a few. Players entered the world of the first Dark Souls shortly after the curse had begun afflicting humans for the first time. No matter how that great cataclysm is resolved, the events of Dark Souls II take place far into the future, in the middle of the Age of Fire. The second game has players fighting to ascend to the Throne of Want, a throne that looks strikingly like a kiln. Again, no matter how players decide to end the story, Dark Souls III happens. This time, the Age of Fire has begun to literally choke on its own ash. The First Flame is dying. It has been linked so many times that one powerful soul can no longer relight it. Now several are needed. In an effort to avert almost certain death, powerful beings from history have revived as Lords of Cinder to become sacrifices, however all but one refuse their duty to continue the world. One more bit of unkindled ash arises from the graves of heroes and receives the task of uniting those Lords and relighting the flame – the player. From the beginning, the world of Dark Souls III feels tired and broken. Ash litters the ground. Violent religious cults abound, each with their own ways of coping with their hopeless plight. The player isn’t even a lowly undead as in previous titles, but the dregs of ashen souls randomly reforged. Even immortal dragons have begun to succumb to decay of mind and body. This is the Dark Souls that players have known and loved since the beginning of the series, but all around the edges of that Dark Souls identity threads come unraveled. Of course, when I say “this is the same Dark Souls,” I mean thematically and visually. The mechanics of Dark Souls III have undergone a revision that incorporates lessons learned from the development of Bloodborne. When Bloodborne released, people compared its fast, aggressive combat favorably against the more deliberate, measured pace of the Dark Souls series. You can see that quickened sensibility translated into Dark Souls III in a number of little ways. For example, the player gets locked into fewer animations, something that in previous Souls games could mean death by accidental button press. More weapons feature transformations between distinct move sets, something that Bloodborne certainly popularized. Combat occurs with a desperate finality. The enemies players encounter act as if they know they are living in a world with a mortal wound, a fatal injury that affects them as well. And as the saying goes, “nothing is more dangerous than a wounded animal.” Enemies throw themselves into combat ferociously, adopting frenzied patterns of attack. Sometimes these patterns can seem unfair, but the core fun of Dark Souls has always been in learning those patterns and overcoming obstacles either alone or in jolly cooperation with other players. Dark Souls III feels rigorously balanced to avoid luring players into cheap deaths. Often it feels like if you’re just vigilant enough, you could deal with anything the game might throw at you. Though that confidence is often immediately undercut by a blistering encounter - if nothing else, Dark Souls III keeps players humble. Developer From Software describes their artistic approach to Dark Souls III as “withered beauty.” I wasn’t sure at first if the style of a dying world in all its dilapidated grandeur stemmed from a conscious choice or if the aesthetic was an extension of series creator Hidetaka Miyazaki’s reluctance to return to the series. He had made some statements in the past that indicated he wanted to be done with Dark Souls and that too many sequels would muddy his original intent. After spending almost 100 hours in its intricate, crumbling world, I feel comfortable saying that, yes, Dark Souls III is an entirely intentional work of art that brings the series full circle. While the core game does conclude on a definitive note regardless of player choice, the DLC ultimately brings things to a climactic final coda at the end of all things: A clash between the old world and the possibilities of the future. Ashes of Ariandel invites players into a world of rot and ice, a refuge from the apocalypse in the outside world. However, the shelter from ending possesses its own dangers and stands out as providing one of the most unique encounters in Dark Souls III. It also introduces a largely disposable multiplayer Vs. Mode, though I am sure many will derive some joy from fighting friends and strangers. Ashes of Ariandel ultimately exists to set the stage for The Ringed City DLC. This lore-heavy expansion has players delving into the legendary home of the Pygmies, an obscure, but important race of beings in the Souls universe. However, some characters and creatures have persisted within the city’s walls for countless years, standing firm to ward off intruders who come hoping to lay claim to the titular Dark Soul. Strangely, the final encounter in this DLC doesn’t end with an explosive cutscene or much exposition, just an intimate battle to the death and a subtle revelation hidden within the Ashes of Ariandel. It’s quiet, and that muted finale subverts expectations in a game that goes big so often. But that ending gets at the heart of what Dark Souls III and, indeed, what the larger Dark Souls series was about from the beginning. Conclusion: Dark Souls has been about the continuation of a toxic cycle, a cycle that offers diminishing returns with each renewal. Miyazaki purposefully left that cycle open to interpretation as an artistic statement. Does it represent addiction? Depression? Existentialism? One can interpret the cycle of spiraling rebirth and death to mean quite a number of things on a personal level – that, along with the near perfect "firm but fair" mechanics, is part of what allowed so many people to identify so strongly with the series. Dark Souls III sees that cycle finally spiral down toward its ultimate conclusion. The world can continue to struggle on, locked in an endless twilight, take the plunge into darkness where hope might one day be born anew, or the cycle can be broken into something else entirely. Even in this ending, Miyazaki leaves what the series could mean up to each player’s interpretation. There are some who see nothing in it, a pointless exercise in rehashing the Dark Souls adventure for a third time. There are some who see some truth in that portrayal of the world. Personally, Dark Souls III seems to be a meta commentary on the creative process – it is an adventure that seems limitless until limits are imposed upon it by solidifying an idea and making it real, and then creativity dies or stagnates or, very rarely, soldiers on toward something new and unknown. Indeed, while Miyazaki might not have initially desired a Dark Souls III, he and his team made the most of it while operating within the constraints of the franchise. Now From Software is working on something new, a new world on a new canvas. Dark Souls III is now available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC
  14. The Dark Souls series has defined itself as a fight around the idea of entropy. Should we embrace that all things must come to an end or rage against the dying of the light? Or perhaps find another way entirely? This conflict forms the central theme that permeates every nook and cranny of the game world, clarifying itself with each new enemy and boss. That struggle makes up the Dark Soul itself. The kingdoms of men in the Age of Fire, for all their strength, are doomed to fade and succumb to a curse brought on by time and the gods themselves. When the curse awakens, it makes men immortal, living on in a state of undeath, but once undead, humans begin to lose bits of themselves as time passes. Time eventually wears them away into hollows, mindless monsters who hunger for purpose. There is only one way to lift the curse: A hero must arise and brave the dangers of a world deteriorating into chaos to rekindle the First Flame, a bastion of power that preserves the world. After braving horrors and madness, players are given the option of rekindling the First Flame with their life or snuffing it out to usher in the Age of Dark, a new world order that embraces a fireless world - but there may be other choices hidden to all but a few. Players entered the world of the first Dark Souls shortly after the curse had begun afflicting humans for the first time. No matter how that great cataclysm is resolved, the events of Dark Souls II take place far into the future, in the middle of the Age of Fire. The second game has players fighting to ascend to the Throne of Want, a throne that looks strikingly like a kiln. Again, no matter how players decide to end the story, Dark Souls III happens. This time, the Age of Fire has begun to literally choke on its own ash. The First Flame is dying. It has been linked so many times that one powerful soul can no longer relight it. Now several are needed. In an effort to avert almost certain death, powerful beings from history have revived as Lords of Cinder to become sacrifices, however all but one refuse their duty to continue the world. One more bit of unkindled ash arises from the graves of heroes and receives the task of uniting those Lords and relighting the flame – the player. From the beginning, the world of Dark Souls III feels tired and broken. Ash litters the ground. Violent religious cults abound, each with their own ways of coping with their hopeless plight. The player isn’t even a lowly undead as in previous titles, but the dregs of ashen souls randomly reforged. Even immortal dragons have begun to succumb to decay of mind and body. This is the Dark Souls that players have known and loved since the beginning of the series, but all around the edges of that Dark Souls identity threads come unraveled. Of course, when I say “this is the same Dark Souls,” I mean thematically and visually. The mechanics of Dark Souls III have undergone a revision that incorporates lessons learned from the development of Bloodborne. When Bloodborne released, people compared its fast, aggressive combat favorably against the more deliberate, measured pace of the Dark Souls series. You can see that quickened sensibility translated into Dark Souls III in a number of little ways. For example, the player gets locked into fewer animations, something that in previous Souls games could mean death by accidental button press. More weapons feature transformations between distinct move sets, something that Bloodborne certainly popularized. Combat occurs with a desperate finality. The enemies players encounter act as if they know they are living in a world with a mortal wound, a fatal injury that affects them as well. And as the saying goes, “nothing is more dangerous than a wounded animal.” Enemies throw themselves into combat ferociously, adopting frenzied patterns of attack. Sometimes these patterns can seem unfair, but the core fun of Dark Souls has always been in learning those patterns and overcoming obstacles either alone or in jolly cooperation with other players. Dark Souls III feels rigorously balanced to avoid luring players into cheap deaths. Often it feels like if you’re just vigilant enough, you could deal with anything the game might throw at you. Though that confidence is often immediately undercut by a blistering encounter - if nothing else, Dark Souls III keeps players humble. Developer From Software describes their artistic approach to Dark Souls III as “withered beauty.” I wasn’t sure at first if the style of a dying world in all its dilapidated grandeur stemmed from a conscious choice or if the aesthetic was an extension of series creator Hidetaka Miyazaki’s reluctance to return to the series. He had made some statements in the past that indicated he wanted to be done with Dark Souls and that too many sequels would muddy his original intent. After spending almost 100 hours in its intricate, crumbling world, I feel comfortable saying that, yes, Dark Souls III is an entirely intentional work of art that brings the series full circle. While the core game does conclude on a definitive note regardless of player choice, the DLC ultimately brings things to a climactic final coda at the end of all things: A clash between the old world and the possibilities of the future. Ashes of Ariandel invites players into a world of rot and ice, a refuge from the apocalypse in the outside world. However, the shelter from ending possesses its own dangers and stands out as providing one of the most unique encounters in Dark Souls III. It also introduces a largely disposable multiplayer Vs. Mode, though I am sure many will derive some joy from fighting friends and strangers. Ashes of Ariandel ultimately exists to set the stage for The Ringed City DLC. This lore-heavy expansion has players delving into the legendary home of the Pygmies, an obscure, but important race of beings in the Souls universe. However, some characters and creatures have persisted within the city’s walls for countless years, standing firm to ward off intruders who come hoping to lay claim to the titular Dark Soul. Strangely, the final encounter in this DLC doesn’t end with an explosive cutscene or much exposition, just an intimate battle to the death and a subtle revelation hidden within the Ashes of Ariandel. It’s quiet, and that muted finale subverts expectations in a game that goes big so often. But that ending gets at the heart of what Dark Souls III and, indeed, what the larger Dark Souls series was about from the beginning. Conclusion: Dark Souls has been about the continuation of a toxic cycle, a cycle that offers diminishing returns with each renewal. Miyazaki purposefully left that cycle open to interpretation as an artistic statement. Does it represent addiction? Depression? Existentialism? One can interpret the cycle of spiraling rebirth and death to mean quite a number of things on a personal level – that, along with the near perfect "firm but fair" mechanics, is part of what allowed so many people to identify so strongly with the series. Dark Souls III sees that cycle finally spiral down toward its ultimate conclusion. The world can continue to struggle on, locked in an endless twilight, take the plunge into darkness where hope might one day be born anew, or the cycle can be broken into something else entirely. Even in this ending, Miyazaki leaves what the series could mean up to each player’s interpretation. There are some who see nothing in it, a pointless exercise in rehashing the Dark Souls adventure for a third time. There are some who see some truth in that portrayal of the world. Personally, Dark Souls III seems to be a meta commentary on the creative process – it is an adventure that seems limitless until limits are imposed upon it by solidifying an idea and making it real, and then creativity dies or stagnates or, very rarely, soldiers on toward something new and unknown. Indeed, while Miyazaki might not have initially desired a Dark Souls III, he and his team made the most of it while operating within the constraints of the franchise. Now From Software is working on something new, a new world on a new canvas. Dark Souls III is now available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC View full article
  15. There was once a game called Advent Rising. It was hyped up as the next great science-fiction adventure that would transcend games and become something more. Unfortunately, it released in 2005 with a multitude of bugs in an era where patching post-release was a rarity at best. Advent Rising caused the implosion of its development studio, GlyphX Games. A group of individual developers escaped the studio's downfall, banding together to form Chair Entertainment. The newly minted indie studio went on to develop and release Shadow Complex in 2009. The 2.5D metroidvania sidescroller adopted a more realistic aesthetic and spawned a series of novels authored by Orson Scott Card. The game released and seemed to fill a niche in the indie gaming world that hadn't been filled in quite that same way before. With a recent remaster, it seems like a perfect time to ask the question: Is Shadow Complex 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: Tales of Phantasia 'The Koan of Drums' by djpretzel (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR01500) 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! If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday View full article
  16. The curtain has been pulled aside and a new adventure into the apocalypse has been revealed! The fine folks at Gematsu spotted a listing on Amazon for the upcoming THQNordic action title and managed to grab some details from the listing before it went dark. The new Darksiders title will focus on Fury, one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, who has been tasked with cleaning up the cosmological mess created by War in the first Darksiders game. To that end, Fury must use her whip and magic to hunt down the Seven Deadly Sins who have been dubbed "the enemies of existence" before they can wreck irreparable harm. Her journey will take players from the ruins of Earth to heaven, hell, and beyond as she struggles to balance the forces that threaten to rip apart the fabric of reality. Players will have to traverse an open world that holds many secrets to be uncovered by adventurous and canny players. In the tradition of games like Metroid and The Legend of Zelda, those who explore old areas with new items and abilities will be able to reap many rewards. As Fury progresses on her journey, her magic will allow her to take on many new forms for combat, exploration, and style. Shortly after Darksiders 3 appeared on Amazon, IGN revealed the first trailer for the title. Darksiders 3 will release in 2018 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC View full article
  17. The curtain has been pulled aside and a new adventure into the apocalypse has been revealed! The fine folks at Gematsu spotted a listing on Amazon for the upcoming THQNordic action title and managed to grab some details from the listing before it went dark. The new Darksiders title will focus on Fury, one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, who has been tasked with cleaning up the cosmological mess created by War in the first Darksiders game. To that end, Fury must use her whip and magic to hunt down the Seven Deadly Sins who have been dubbed "the enemies of existence" before they can wreck irreparable harm. Her journey will take players from the ruins of Earth to heaven, hell, and beyond as she struggles to balance the forces that threaten to rip apart the fabric of reality. Players will have to traverse an open world that holds many secrets to be uncovered by adventurous and canny players. In the tradition of games like Metroid and The Legend of Zelda, those who explore old areas with new items and abilities will be able to reap many rewards. As Fury progresses on her journey, her magic will allow her to take on many new forms for combat, exploration, and style. Shortly after Darksiders 3 appeared on Amazon, IGN revealed the first trailer for the title. Darksiders 3 will release in 2018 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC
  18. There was once a game called Advent Rising. It was hyped up as the next great science-fiction adventure that would transcend games and become something more. Unfortunately, it released in 2005 with a multitude of bugs in an era where patching post-release was a rarity at best. Advent Rising caused the implosion of its development studio, GlyphX Games. A group of individual developers escaped the studio's downfall, banding together to form Chair Entertainment. The newly minted indie studio went on to develop and release Shadow Complex in 2009. The 2.5D metroidvania sidescroller adopted a more realistic aesthetic and spawned a series of novels authored by Orson Scott Card. The game released and seemed to fill a niche in the indie gaming world that hadn't been filled in quite that same way before. With a recent remaster, it seems like a perfect time to ask the question: Is Shadow Complex 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: Tales of Phantasia 'The Koan of Drums' by djpretzel (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR01500) 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! If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday
  19. Mass Effect has been a series dear to my heart since I played the first entry almost a decade ago. That original trilogy captivated a generation of players with a science-fiction universe into which BioWare wove a spellbinding tale of heroism that sought to answer some of the very fundamental questions of human existence. The trilogy ended on a note that left an entire Milky Way galaxy irrevocably changed – the kind of ending upon with it is difficult, if not impossible, to continue. To that circumvent that finality, Mass Effect: Andromeda sends players on a mission to colonize a completely different galaxy. Having left years before the conclusion of Mass Effect 3, several arks house the primary sentient species that inhabited the Milky Way. Those familiar races, the humans, asari, turians, salarians, and krogan, spent six hundred years in stasis pods to reach the Andromeda galaxy. This journey promised a fresh start for those who embarked upon it. The Initiative, the organization behind the resettlement, launched the Nexus, a gigantic space station that would serve as a new galactic hub, around the same time as the ark ships. Several “golden worlds” had been identified, prime targets for habitation for the various settling species. Everything was planned to the letter. Except very few things ever go according to plan. Really, that above sentence could apply broadly to Mass Effect: Andromeda, not just the story. No doubt most people reading this review will be familiar with the facial animation issues in Andromeda. While those animation woes are by no means small, the extreme focus on them has eclipsed a lot of the discussion regarding the more interesting problems that plague Mass Effect: Andromeda. When I think back on my time with BioWare’s latest attempt as a space epic, I remember all the time I spent on sprawling planets that initially held a certain thrill of discovery. I was an explorer! These were planets in a new and unknown galaxy! Who knows what kinds of crazy lifeforms or interesting encounters might be around any given turn of the terrain? Heck, BioWare even resurrected a planet roving vehicle and improved its handling to hark back to the original Mass Effect and its Mako tank. As I delved deeper and deeper into Andromeda, the game begin to feel routine. Why? Part of what contributed to the mundane atmosphere that pervades Mass Effect: Andromeda can be traced to the waste of its own fundamental premise. Players were on an adventure to an entirely unknown galaxy, a situation prime for introducing truly alien encounters. Instead of expanding the Mass Effect universe in interesting ways, players simply find more of the same stuff. BioWare took a creative approach to write themselves out of the corner they had created with Mass Effect 3, but chose to ignore many of the interesting elements that their solution would entail in order to bring everything back to some arbitrary status quo. Instead of encountering novel beings that would arise from a galaxy free from the cycle of destruction within the Milky Way, the two new sentient races encountered in Andromeda are humanoid with immediately relatable wants and desires. The main quirk of the angaran? They are more communal and open with their emotions. The main quirk of the kett? They have a rigid theocratic hierarchy based around genetics. We’re in a new galaxy in a rich sci-fi universe where the creatures we encounter could be anything: sentient energy crystals, renegade swarms of nanites that have achieved a hivemind, mouse-sized silicon creatures whose ways are completely incomprehensible. Literally anything could exist in a galaxy so far removed from any kind of interaction with the galaxy BioWare crafted in the first three games. Those interesting possibilities are shoved aside in favor of more familiar and “relatable” allies and villains. In fact, this desire to return to the pre-Mass Effect 3 status quo in a new galaxy even extends to some of the most thought provoking questions of encountering alien species. The most important part of first contact involves figuring out how to communicate. Entire films have been based around that premise *cough* Arrival *cough*. Even Star Trek: The Next Generation took an hour for Picard to figure out how a new alien species communicated. You could take it for granted in the trilogy that humans had figured out communications with the aliens of Citadel space decades previously, so it wasn’t an issue. Mass Effect: Andromeda spends not even five minutes on that subject with either of its new additions to their galactic cast of character species. Not only that, but the entire sense of scale, the stakes, and the urgency at play is skewed. If things go wrong with the ark ships, the entire initiative could fail. Even ground-level, no-name NPCs don’t seem too concerned, despite their desperate circumstances that present a threat to their survival. In one side mission, Ryder encounters two human pot heads living in the middle of nowhere on a planet where the water is so toxic it is literally on fire. The duo should be in the perfect position to know how monumentally screwed the Initiative’s future is, but they simply don’t care – an attitude reflected in how most NPCs react to deadly danger in Andromeda. Here’s an example: One of the primary locations in Mass Effect: Andromeda is an ice planet called Voeld. It’s one of the worlds controlled by the angara, but the player is told that it has become the front line in the war against the kett. When players land and begin exploring Voeld, the planet presents absolutely no evidence of any kind of protracted war. There are some scattered bases, some ships overhead on occasion, but nothing resembling an ongoing war. Heck, there aren’t even any craters to be seen. We know from Mass Effect 3 what a war in Mass Effect’s universe looks like. Palavin was a colossal battleground between the Reapers and the turians. Soldiers were breathless, tired from combat and wiped out emotionally. They did everything and anything they could to hold the line against an overwhelming adversary. Voeld has none of that. They even have entire towns – one of which has a hotel. They have scientists traipsing around researching animals beneath the ice or old ruins. The kett, supposedly an existential threat to the angaran people, seem at worst a nuisance. Very few characters act appropriately to the situations in which they find themselves. Most almost always go for a glib one-liner on par with Batman Forever’s Mr. Freeze, “Ice to meet you.” Arrived at what should be the sparkling hub of your new civilization only to find that it seems partially derelict? Time for a quip! Wandering in the belly of a completely unknown alien civilization’s living ruin? Time to just randomly activate things because you think you know what they do! Side note: Just once I want to see Ryder or their allies activate one of these alien devices only to find out it starts a giant alien weapon made to warp the planet into a star or some nonsense. They literally have no idea what these devices do, just their best guess and a human created AI that also is just making educated guesses. Then we get to the actual exploration, supposedly the core of Mass Effect: Andromeda. Very little exploration goes on. There are several huge maps covered with constantly respawning camps of enemies that stand between players and objective markers. The missions encountered in the wild rarely become anything more complicated than a fetch quest to get a thing from some bad guys. Sometimes pleasant surprises lurk at the end of seemingly boring quests, like gigantic robot boss battles, but often these grunt work tasks reward the player with habitability points. These points act as a kind of gating mechanism for upgrades, similar to the points used on the world map in Dragon Age: Inquisition. Outside of that, they don’t feel that impactful or important. Even raising planet habitability to 100% feels pointless. The settlements remain the same, some marginal rewards increase, but other than that there never felt like a compelling reason for anyone to bother unless they are a completionist. I’d like to contrast this approach with the original Mass Effect. While the first Mass Effect game certainly had problems, there was genuinely a sense of adventure. Every planet scanned might lead to something unique, like an ancient alien ruin or a collective of terrorists or rogue scientists whose experiment has gone awry. These sequences also had large, open maps that were filled with a lot of nothing and filler enemies, but enough was done to the planets to make them feel distinct and many of the encounters, though reusing assets, were written well enough to be interesting and involved player choice. None of that random exploration is present in Andromeda. I scanned every planet and found not a single unique situation or hidden adventure, only resources for crafting. That crafting system that BioWare touted in the lead up to Andromeda’s release? Unfortunately, it rarely feels impactful. I used weapons I picked up and they worked fine. I crafted weapons a handful of times and they also worked fine in slightly different ways. Most of the time the only things I was excited to craft for Ryder were improvements to the roving tank to improve its speed or boosters. For the most part, Andromeda’s supporting cast manage to provide endearing personalities. Drack as a krogan grandpa and Vetra’s lady-turian smuggler were fun additions to the crew, but on there aren’t any Garrus Vakarians or Tali’Zorah vas Normandys to really latch onto as standout characters. That’s something BioWare could build toward over time with sequels, but I didn’t feel any particularly strong connections with most of the characters in this first outing. The disconnect between the player and various characters in Andromeda largely boils down to the amount of inconsequential fluff that pads out Andromeda. There’s so much busywork with so little pay-off that players lose track of what makes the cast fun or special. There was a 15+ hour long period in my playtime where I was just bored with what I was doing. Oh no, a scientist put her thesis on a hard drive that was stolen by bandits. Time to drive to the middle of nowhere to kill them and get it back (and the solution is almost always kill some ambiguous “them”). Missions like this exist in abundance throughout Andromeda – little to no interesting character interactions, just straightforward affairs that have players going around the same big environments. When the worlds open up, players naturally invest themselves in the various activities thinking that there might be an interesting moment or pay off to any of it… but there isn’t. Instead, players start to forget what they’re even supposed to be doing or care about. The narrative loses its propulsion. Trudging through the motions of establishing colonies and checking off the soon routine alien ruins spread across planets while dealing with disgruntled colonists- it all becomes work. All of this should be fun – we’re using cutting-edge technology to forge a new home on planets full of alien technology and life forms we have never seen before. The first beat of life after the exciting introductory sequence occurred over a dozen hours later when I was able to take on companion missions. It felt like things were happening! I got to see characters interacting with each other! Some well-written scenarios that made me laugh or excited! Liam’s side mission in particular felt like such a welcome breath of fresh air it almost seemed like it was from a different game. When Andromeda leans into those more linear segments and allows its characters to be themselves with Ryder or other companions, it really shines. Remember the action button prompts that would frequently pop up in Mass Effect 2 and 3? The ones that allowed extreme actions to be taken during dialogue sequences? Those are so rare that I could count with one hand the number I saw in a full playthrough. It got to the point that I just pressed it excitedly when it popped up without really knowing what was going to happen and at least on one occasion that resulted in a character’s death. While ditching the Paragon and Renegade system of years past seemed like a necessary update, it also eliminated the short hand players could use to predict what kind of an outcome pressing the action prompt might have in Andromeda. Combat stands out as the most solid aspect of Mass Effect: Andromeda. This is the smoothest and most action-filled BioWare game to date and it just feels good to take down enemies. On top of that, the new jump and boost mechanics give combat a whole new degree of mobility that it never had before. It feels free and fluid, providing players with more options in a fight than ever before. The responsive gunplay and interesting abilities really come to the forefront, making it easy to sink a lot of time into the less interesting parts of the game just to discover the perfect combination of abilities. The smooth combat translates into an enjoyable multiplayer experience who enjoy the gameplay on its own. Players accomplish a variety of objectives around various maps before escaping in shuttle craft. Succeeding in these missions allows players to level their multiplayer character and unlock new weapons and abilities for that character. Some rewards also carry over into the single-player campaign. It's a solid experience, but I'm not entirely sure how much longevity it has for players who have had their fill of fighting from the core game. Unfortunately, the combat stumbles when it comes to progression in Mass Effect: Andromeda's campaign. Players begin by choosing specialties, but can decide to respec their ability points at any time from their ship or simply use points from new levels to unlock abilities outside of their beginning specialties. Only a handful of those abilities are gated to certain levels, meaning that most abilities are available from the start. This all sounds great, but the problem comes in when players discover their preferred play style and abilities. When that happens, the motivation to experiment comes to an end. Upgrading those abilities simply makes them more effective, but doesn’t change the player’s approach to gameplay. This leads to gameplay becoming stale toward the end of a prolonged playthrough, which is hardly ideal. All of this doesn’t even touch on the various glitches that can plague Mass Effect: Andromeda. These manifest in a number of ways. Sometimes the game randomly crashes. Other times NPCs duplicate themselves. This can happen during conversations and can be really jarring. Sometimes NPCs get stuck in world objects. Notably, a random NPC on the Nexus space station would stand still on a stage staring straight ahead. She unnervingly persisted throughout my entire playthrough. Enemies in the respawning zones around the various worlds sometimes just float in the air. Sometimes characters simply disappear from cutscenes or fuse with other characters to create horrifying chimeras. Note: A recent patch weeks after release managed to fix the bizarrely dead and distracting eyes that often appeared to be locked into a look of fear or surprise. That patch doesn’t fix some of the other issues most of the faces in Andromeda seem to have with emoting, though. Some characters have certain resting faces that make them look like they are perpetually smiling, regardless of the situation. This issue is particularly noticeable with certain versions of female Ryder or her ally Cora. Also, and this is really not important, but female angaran character models look like they weren’t finished. Compare them to male angaran faces and they seem to lack a lot of detail or defining features. Conclusion: Mass Effect: Andromeda has the potential to be built into something great, but that potential is buried under a pile of issues that range from structural to technical. These problems range in scale from insignificant to huge. That this game launched without a fix for something as basic as the patch that fixed how eyes looked is incredible. Combat manages to top that of its predecessors, but becomes mired when it comes to progression. The visual presentation of the various planets at times reaches awe-inspiring heights, but gets brought low by the facial animations and persistent glitches. The potential of a new galaxy stretches out for players to explore and define, but that promise gets squandered in a number of disappointing ways. All of that being said, Mass Effect: Andromeda succeeds in laying a foundation on which sequels could successfully build. This outing might not live up to the series’ roots, but the possibility remains open for the entries that are sure to come. Mass Effect: Andromeda is now available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC View full article
  20. Mass Effect has been a series dear to my heart since I played the first entry almost a decade ago. That original trilogy captivated a generation of players with a science-fiction universe into which BioWare wove a spellbinding tale of heroism that sought to answer some of the very fundamental questions of human existence. The trilogy ended on a note that left an entire Milky Way galaxy irrevocably changed – the kind of ending upon with it is difficult, if not impossible, to continue. To that circumvent that finality, Mass Effect: Andromeda sends players on a mission to colonize a completely different galaxy. Having left years before the conclusion of Mass Effect 3, several arks house the primary sentient species that inhabited the Milky Way. Those familiar races, the humans, asari, turians, salarians, and krogan, spent six hundred years in stasis pods to reach the Andromeda galaxy. This journey promised a fresh start for those who embarked upon it. The Initiative, the organization behind the resettlement, launched the Nexus, a gigantic space station that would serve as a new galactic hub, around the same time as the ark ships. Several “golden worlds” had been identified, prime targets for habitation for the various settling species. Everything was planned to the letter. Except very few things ever go according to plan. Really, that above sentence could apply broadly to Mass Effect: Andromeda, not just the story. No doubt most people reading this review will be familiar with the facial animation issues in Andromeda. While those animation woes are by no means small, the extreme focus on them has eclipsed a lot of the discussion regarding the more interesting problems that plague Mass Effect: Andromeda. When I think back on my time with BioWare’s latest attempt as a space epic, I remember all the time I spent on sprawling planets that initially held a certain thrill of discovery. I was an explorer! These were planets in a new and unknown galaxy! Who knows what kinds of crazy lifeforms or interesting encounters might be around any given turn of the terrain? Heck, BioWare even resurrected a planet roving vehicle and improved its handling to hark back to the original Mass Effect and its Mako tank. As I delved deeper and deeper into Andromeda, the game begin to feel routine. Why? Part of what contributed to the mundane atmosphere that pervades Mass Effect: Andromeda can be traced to the waste of its own fundamental premise. Players were on an adventure to an entirely unknown galaxy, a situation prime for introducing truly alien encounters. Instead of expanding the Mass Effect universe in interesting ways, players simply find more of the same stuff. BioWare took a creative approach to write themselves out of the corner they had created with Mass Effect 3, but chose to ignore many of the interesting elements that their solution would entail in order to bring everything back to some arbitrary status quo. Instead of encountering novel beings that would arise from a galaxy free from the cycle of destruction within the Milky Way, the two new sentient races encountered in Andromeda are humanoid with immediately relatable wants and desires. The main quirk of the angaran? They are more communal and open with their emotions. The main quirk of the kett? They have a rigid theocratic hierarchy based around genetics. We’re in a new galaxy in a rich sci-fi universe where the creatures we encounter could be anything: sentient energy crystals, renegade swarms of nanites that have achieved a hivemind, mouse-sized silicon creatures whose ways are completely incomprehensible. Literally anything could exist in a galaxy so far removed from any kind of interaction with the galaxy BioWare crafted in the first three games. Those interesting possibilities are shoved aside in favor of more familiar and “relatable” allies and villains. In fact, this desire to return to the pre-Mass Effect 3 status quo in a new galaxy even extends to some of the most thought provoking questions of encountering alien species. The most important part of first contact involves figuring out how to communicate. Entire films have been based around that premise *cough* Arrival *cough*. Even Star Trek: The Next Generation took an hour for Picard to figure out how a new alien species communicated. You could take it for granted in the trilogy that humans had figured out communications with the aliens of Citadel space decades previously, so it wasn’t an issue. Mass Effect: Andromeda spends not even five minutes on that subject with either of its new additions to their galactic cast of character species. Not only that, but the entire sense of scale, the stakes, and the urgency at play is skewed. If things go wrong with the ark ships, the entire initiative could fail. Even ground-level, no-name NPCs don’t seem too concerned, despite their desperate circumstances that present a threat to their survival. In one side mission, Ryder encounters two human pot heads living in the middle of nowhere on a planet where the water is so toxic it is literally on fire. The duo should be in the perfect position to know how monumentally screwed the Initiative’s future is, but they simply don’t care – an attitude reflected in how most NPCs react to deadly danger in Andromeda. Here’s an example: One of the primary locations in Mass Effect: Andromeda is an ice planet called Voeld. It’s one of the worlds controlled by the angara, but the player is told that it has become the front line in the war against the kett. When players land and begin exploring Voeld, the planet presents absolutely no evidence of any kind of protracted war. There are some scattered bases, some ships overhead on occasion, but nothing resembling an ongoing war. Heck, there aren’t even any craters to be seen. We know from Mass Effect 3 what a war in Mass Effect’s universe looks like. Palavin was a colossal battleground between the Reapers and the turians. Soldiers were breathless, tired from combat and wiped out emotionally. They did everything and anything they could to hold the line against an overwhelming adversary. Voeld has none of that. They even have entire towns – one of which has a hotel. They have scientists traipsing around researching animals beneath the ice or old ruins. The kett, supposedly an existential threat to the angaran people, seem at worst a nuisance. Very few characters act appropriately to the situations in which they find themselves. Most almost always go for a glib one-liner on par with Batman Forever’s Mr. Freeze, “Ice to meet you.” Arrived at what should be the sparkling hub of your new civilization only to find that it seems partially derelict? Time for a quip! Wandering in the belly of a completely unknown alien civilization’s living ruin? Time to just randomly activate things because you think you know what they do! Side note: Just once I want to see Ryder or their allies activate one of these alien devices only to find out it starts a giant alien weapon made to warp the planet into a star or some nonsense. They literally have no idea what these devices do, just their best guess and a human created AI that also is just making educated guesses. Then we get to the actual exploration, supposedly the core of Mass Effect: Andromeda. Very little exploration goes on. There are several huge maps covered with constantly respawning camps of enemies that stand between players and objective markers. The missions encountered in the wild rarely become anything more complicated than a fetch quest to get a thing from some bad guys. Sometimes pleasant surprises lurk at the end of seemingly boring quests, like gigantic robot boss battles, but often these grunt work tasks reward the player with habitability points. These points act as a kind of gating mechanism for upgrades, similar to the points used on the world map in Dragon Age: Inquisition. Outside of that, they don’t feel that impactful or important. Even raising planet habitability to 100% feels pointless. The settlements remain the same, some marginal rewards increase, but other than that there never felt like a compelling reason for anyone to bother unless they are a completionist. I’d like to contrast this approach with the original Mass Effect. While the first Mass Effect game certainly had problems, there was genuinely a sense of adventure. Every planet scanned might lead to something unique, like an ancient alien ruin or a collective of terrorists or rogue scientists whose experiment has gone awry. These sequences also had large, open maps that were filled with a lot of nothing and filler enemies, but enough was done to the planets to make them feel distinct and many of the encounters, though reusing assets, were written well enough to be interesting and involved player choice. None of that random exploration is present in Andromeda. I scanned every planet and found not a single unique situation or hidden adventure, only resources for crafting. That crafting system that BioWare touted in the lead up to Andromeda’s release? Unfortunately, it rarely feels impactful. I used weapons I picked up and they worked fine. I crafted weapons a handful of times and they also worked fine in slightly different ways. Most of the time the only things I was excited to craft for Ryder were improvements to the roving tank to improve its speed or boosters. For the most part, Andromeda’s supporting cast manage to provide endearing personalities. Drack as a krogan grandpa and Vetra’s lady-turian smuggler were fun additions to the crew, but on there aren’t any Garrus Vakarians or Tali’Zorah vas Normandys to really latch onto as standout characters. That’s something BioWare could build toward over time with sequels, but I didn’t feel any particularly strong connections with most of the characters in this first outing. The disconnect between the player and various characters in Andromeda largely boils down to the amount of inconsequential fluff that pads out Andromeda. There’s so much busywork with so little pay-off that players lose track of what makes the cast fun or special. There was a 15+ hour long period in my playtime where I was just bored with what I was doing. Oh no, a scientist put her thesis on a hard drive that was stolen by bandits. Time to drive to the middle of nowhere to kill them and get it back (and the solution is almost always kill some ambiguous “them”). Missions like this exist in abundance throughout Andromeda – little to no interesting character interactions, just straightforward affairs that have players going around the same big environments. When the worlds open up, players naturally invest themselves in the various activities thinking that there might be an interesting moment or pay off to any of it… but there isn’t. Instead, players start to forget what they’re even supposed to be doing or care about. The narrative loses its propulsion. Trudging through the motions of establishing colonies and checking off the soon routine alien ruins spread across planets while dealing with disgruntled colonists- it all becomes work. All of this should be fun – we’re using cutting-edge technology to forge a new home on planets full of alien technology and life forms we have never seen before. The first beat of life after the exciting introductory sequence occurred over a dozen hours later when I was able to take on companion missions. It felt like things were happening! I got to see characters interacting with each other! Some well-written scenarios that made me laugh or excited! Liam’s side mission in particular felt like such a welcome breath of fresh air it almost seemed like it was from a different game. When Andromeda leans into those more linear segments and allows its characters to be themselves with Ryder or other companions, it really shines. Remember the action button prompts that would frequently pop up in Mass Effect 2 and 3? The ones that allowed extreme actions to be taken during dialogue sequences? Those are so rare that I could count with one hand the number I saw in a full playthrough. It got to the point that I just pressed it excitedly when it popped up without really knowing what was going to happen and at least on one occasion that resulted in a character’s death. While ditching the Paragon and Renegade system of years past seemed like a necessary update, it also eliminated the short hand players could use to predict what kind of an outcome pressing the action prompt might have in Andromeda. Combat stands out as the most solid aspect of Mass Effect: Andromeda. This is the smoothest and most action-filled BioWare game to date and it just feels good to take down enemies. On top of that, the new jump and boost mechanics give combat a whole new degree of mobility that it never had before. It feels free and fluid, providing players with more options in a fight than ever before. The responsive gunplay and interesting abilities really come to the forefront, making it easy to sink a lot of time into the less interesting parts of the game just to discover the perfect combination of abilities. The smooth combat translates into an enjoyable multiplayer experience who enjoy the gameplay on its own. Players accomplish a variety of objectives around various maps before escaping in shuttle craft. Succeeding in these missions allows players to level their multiplayer character and unlock new weapons and abilities for that character. Some rewards also carry over into the single-player campaign. It's a solid experience, but I'm not entirely sure how much longevity it has for players who have had their fill of fighting from the core game. Unfortunately, the combat stumbles when it comes to progression in Mass Effect: Andromeda's campaign. Players begin by choosing specialties, but can decide to respec their ability points at any time from their ship or simply use points from new levels to unlock abilities outside of their beginning specialties. Only a handful of those abilities are gated to certain levels, meaning that most abilities are available from the start. This all sounds great, but the problem comes in when players discover their preferred play style and abilities. When that happens, the motivation to experiment comes to an end. Upgrading those abilities simply makes them more effective, but doesn’t change the player’s approach to gameplay. This leads to gameplay becoming stale toward the end of a prolonged playthrough, which is hardly ideal. All of this doesn’t even touch on the various glitches that can plague Mass Effect: Andromeda. These manifest in a number of ways. Sometimes the game randomly crashes. Other times NPCs duplicate themselves. This can happen during conversations and can be really jarring. Sometimes NPCs get stuck in world objects. Notably, a random NPC on the Nexus space station would stand still on a stage staring straight ahead. She unnervingly persisted throughout my entire playthrough. Enemies in the respawning zones around the various worlds sometimes just float in the air. Sometimes characters simply disappear from cutscenes or fuse with other characters to create horrifying chimeras. Note: A recent patch weeks after release managed to fix the bizarrely dead and distracting eyes that often appeared to be locked into a look of fear or surprise. That patch doesn’t fix some of the other issues most of the faces in Andromeda seem to have with emoting, though. Some characters have certain resting faces that make them look like they are perpetually smiling, regardless of the situation. This issue is particularly noticeable with certain versions of female Ryder or her ally Cora. Also, and this is really not important, but female angaran character models look like they weren’t finished. Compare them to male angaran faces and they seem to lack a lot of detail or defining features. Conclusion: Mass Effect: Andromeda has the potential to be built into something great, but that potential is buried under a pile of issues that range from structural to technical. These problems range in scale from insignificant to huge. That this game launched without a fix for something as basic as the patch that fixed how eyes looked is incredible. Combat manages to top that of its predecessors, but becomes mired when it comes to progression. The visual presentation of the various planets at times reaches awe-inspiring heights, but gets brought low by the facial animations and persistent glitches. The potential of a new galaxy stretches out for players to explore and define, but that promise gets squandered in a number of disappointing ways. All of that being said, Mass Effect: Andromeda succeeds in laying a foundation on which sequels could successfully build. This outing might not live up to the series’ roots, but the possibility remains open for the entries that are sure to come. Mass Effect: Andromeda is now available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC
  21. Hawk announced the new PlayStation 4 skateboarding title during Sony's CES keynote speech. As exciting as that announcement might be, there are no additional details about the game, not even a title. We know it will release this year and that it will come to PlayStation 4. There was no word on whether it will be exclusive to PS4, leaving open the possibility that Tony Hawk might make its way to other systems. Heck, we don't even know if it will be a downloadable or physical release. Some speculate that Activision and Sony have cut a marketing deal reminiscent of Destiny's Sony exclusive advertising. Of course, it is a bit too soon to jump to any conclusions with the limited information available. It's enough for now to know that Tony Hawk 2015 exists.
  22. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons was born from the vision of filmmaker Josef Fares. Fares, a Lebanese refugee, managed to escape the country's civil war in 1987 and relocate to Sweden with his family. He became a prolific director in the Swedish film world and made Jalla! Jalla!, one of the most popular films in the country. Released by Starbreeze Studios in 2013, Brothers adopted a highly unconventional dual joystick control scheme for its isometric adventure game. It became an instant critical darling, but what did it do right to earn that praise? Perhaps things are different when revisiting the game from a 2017 perspective. Is Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons worthy of the praise it received for its cinematic vision and unique control scheme? Is it 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: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt 'Love and Loss' by Sebastien Skaf (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03484) 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! If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday
  23. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons was born from the vision of filmmaker Josef Fares. Fares, a Lebanese refugee, managed to escape the country's civil war in 1987 and relocate to Sweden with his family. He became a prolific director in the Swedish film world and made Jalla! Jalla!, one of the most popular films in the country. Released by Starbreeze Studios in 2013, Brothers adopted a highly unconventional dual joystick control scheme for its isometric adventure game. It became an instant critical darling, but what did it do right to earn that praise? Perhaps things are different when revisiting the game from a 2017 perspective. Is Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons worthy of the praise it received for its cinematic vision and unique control scheme? Is it 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: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt 'Love and Loss' by Sebastien Skaf (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03484) 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! If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday View full article
  24. The folks at Lizardcube release their side-scrolling action-platformer Wonder Boy today. The vibrant, dream-like game follows the either Hu-Man or Hu-Girl as he/she ventures into Monster Land in search of the dragon's room. Unfortunately for our hero, the room isn't without its traps. The dragon curses Wonder Boy, dooming him to live in various animal-human forms. The trailer shows these forms in action: Lizard-Man, Mouse-Man, Lion-Man, Piranha-Man, and Hawk-Man. Each one has different advantages, like a fire breath attack as Lizard-Man or the ability to fly as Hawk-Man. Players will need to master each form in order to recover the Salamander Cross and remove the curse for good. As a nice added bonus, players can switch back and forth from the modern, hand-animated style or a retro 8-bit aesthetic. These changes can be made on the fly and even extend to the audio and sound effects. Wonder Boy is an old Sega franchise that had some of the strangest numbering and naming conventions, even by gaming standards. The series goes Wonder Boy, Wonder Boy: Monster Land, Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair, Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap, Wonder Boy V: Monster World III, and Monster World IV. Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap is a modern reimagining of the 1989 Sega Master System title Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap for modern consoles and possibly an attempt to revive the dormant Wonder Boy IP for a new era. Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap is available now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch
  25. The folks at Lizardcube release their side-scrolling action-platformer Wonder Boy today. The vibrant, dream-like game follows the either Hu-Man or Hu-Girl as he/she ventures into Monster Land in search of the dragon's room. Unfortunately for our hero, the room isn't without its traps. The dragon curses Wonder Boy, dooming him to live in various animal-human forms. The trailer shows these forms in action: Lizard-Man, Mouse-Man, Lion-Man, Piranha-Man, and Hawk-Man. Each one has different advantages, like a fire breath attack as Lizard-Man or the ability to fly as Hawk-Man. Players will need to master each form in order to recover the Salamander Cross and remove the curse for good. As a nice added bonus, players can switch back and forth from the modern, hand-animated style or a retro 8-bit aesthetic. These changes can be made on the fly and even extend to the audio and sound effects. Wonder Boy is an old Sega franchise that had some of the strangest numbering and naming conventions, even by gaming standards. The series goes Wonder Boy, Wonder Boy: Monster Land, Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair, Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap, Wonder Boy V: Monster World III, and Monster World IV. Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap is a modern reimagining of the 1989 Sega Master System title Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap for modern consoles and possibly an attempt to revive the dormant Wonder Boy IP for a new era. Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap is available now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch View full article