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Found 48 results

  1. After spending years and years fine-tuning League of Legends into one of the most played games in the world, Riot Games has released a brand new game, only this time they're targeting the tabletop. Mechs vs. Minions takes place within the League of Legends universe and focuses on a scenario in which Rumble has assembled four diminutive Yordle heroes to teach them how to pilot their very own mechanized suits. Players can choose to take Corki, Heimerdinger, Tristana, or Ziggs into the battles against the roving army of minions that threaten the security of Runeterra. In Mechs vs. Minions, players must work together to put on the best defense they can manage against the oncoming minion threat. Up to four players can battle their way through a ten mission campaign. Each mission lasts approximately 60-90 minutes and can be accompanied by a radioplay to add more of a running narrative to the experience. Riot has brought back the League of Legends voice actors to reprise their roles for the radioplay versions of their characters. The tabletop game includes the following bits: 5 reversible game boards 4 command lines (one for each player) 4 painted mech miniatures Ability and damage decks A sand timer A bomb-like power source miniature 6 metal trackers 4 acrylic shards 4 dice 100 minion miniatures Some kind of large object, trying to break through that sealed box... The initial release of Mechs vs. Minions consists of 30,000 copies. As of this publishing, Mechs vs. Minions has not sold out. If the first wave of the co-op tabletop game sells out, future releases will be coming. Riot will update the Mech vs. Minions section of their store to indicate when those might be coming. With Game Day coming up, anyone think they might be picking up a copy of Mechs vs. Minions? Let us know what you think in the comments! View full article
  2. Founded in 2013 by former executives from the Machinima network along with YouTube personalities, 3BLACKDOT made waves recently by publishing its first PC title to a large swell of public support. That game, Dead Realm, is a multiplayer horror title currently available on Steam Greenlight. With video contributions by partners and co-founders of 3BLACKDOT like Evan Fong (VanossGaming), Tom Cassell (TheSyndicateProject), and Adam Montoya (SeaNanners), Dead Realm has inspired over 25,000 videos from fans and personalities. What exactly makes this game so engaging? Simply put, Dead Realm is a game of hide and seek set within a spooky mansion. That might not seem like a terribly exciting or novel premise, until you add player-controlled specters and up to eight humans all trying to stay alive and escape the mansion. Dead Realm contains two game modes, three maps, two ghosts, and eight human characters. While the Early Access version of Dead Realm stands a bit bare bones in its alpha state, much more content is being planned for the final release sometime in 2016. One of 3BLACKDOT's co-founders, Evan Fong, echoed this commitment to future support in his statement, "Our intention is to work with the community to constantly develop new content, including ghosts, humans and maps. This early access release is just the beginning of what will be an ever evolving project.” So far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Adam Montoya attributes this to the mission statement for Dead Realm, "The original concept for Dead Realm was to create a new game that was simple in nature, but also addictively fun to play with friends." Judging by the community feedback on their Early Access page, it seems like Dead Realm has achieved that goal, even without the features that have been promised looming on the horizon. “When Dead Realm first hit the STEAM early access store, we really didn’t know what to expect,” said Tom Cassell, partner and creative director at 3BLACKDOT, “Then the community began to react and the response was overwhelming. Our twitter account hit twenty-thousand followers within the first two days and Twitch created a designated channel on day one --- this all happened without any dedicated marketing dollars.” Perhaps it is no surprise that a publisher with so much social media acumen could manage to organize such a groundswell of public support with one of their first projects. Angelo Pullen, one of the ex-Machinima executives who left to become the CEO and a co-founder of 3BLACKDOT, mentions that tapping into influential YouTubers and streamers is one of their priorities as a company, "This is the first time that a game has been developed in partnership with online influencers with a primary goal of creating content that’s not only fun to play, but also fun to watch, share and stream. Our company’s mission is to produce innovative, high-quality experiences for and with Influencers and their communities." View full article
  3. Founded in 2013 by former executives from the Machinima network along with YouTube personalities, 3BLACKDOT made waves recently by publishing its first PC title to a large swell of public support. That game, Dead Realm, is a multiplayer horror title currently available on Steam Greenlight. With video contributions by partners and co-founders of 3BLACKDOT like Evan Fong (VanossGaming), Tom Cassell (TheSyndicateProject), and Adam Montoya (SeaNanners), Dead Realm has inspired over 25,000 videos from fans and personalities. What exactly makes this game so engaging? Simply put, Dead Realm is a game of hide and seek set within a spooky mansion. That might not seem like a terribly exciting or novel premise, until you add player-controlled specters and up to eight humans all trying to stay alive and escape the mansion. Dead Realm contains two game modes, three maps, two ghosts, and eight human characters. While the Early Access version of Dead Realm stands a bit bare bones in its alpha state, much more content is being planned for the final release sometime in 2016. One of 3BLACKDOT's co-founders, Evan Fong, echoed this commitment to future support in his statement, "Our intention is to work with the community to constantly develop new content, including ghosts, humans and maps. This early access release is just the beginning of what will be an ever evolving project.” So far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Adam Montoya attributes this to the mission statement for Dead Realm, "The original concept for Dead Realm was to create a new game that was simple in nature, but also addictively fun to play with friends." Judging by the community feedback on their Early Access page, it seems like Dead Realm has achieved that goal, even without the features that have been promised looming on the horizon. “When Dead Realm first hit the STEAM early access store, we really didn’t know what to expect,” said Tom Cassell, partner and creative director at 3BLACKDOT, “Then the community began to react and the response was overwhelming. Our twitter account hit twenty-thousand followers within the first two days and Twitch created a designated channel on day one --- this all happened without any dedicated marketing dollars.” Perhaps it is no surprise that a publisher with so much social media acumen could manage to organize such a groundswell of public support with one of their first projects. Angelo Pullen, one of the ex-Machinima executives who left to become the CEO and a co-founder of 3BLACKDOT, mentions that tapping into influential YouTubers and streamers is one of their priorities as a company, "This is the first time that a game has been developed in partnership with online influencers with a primary goal of creating content that’s not only fun to play, but also fun to watch, share and stream. Our company’s mission is to produce innovative, high-quality experiences for and with Influencers and their communities."
  4. Taking cues from Super Meat Boy, Shorebound Studios aims to deliver intense, precise platforming in a friendly package with Bob Was Hungry. The PC title focuses on an alien species called bobs that search the universe for food to sate their ravenous appetites. Instead of being the cataclysm most sci-fi authors would imagine, bobs are hard pressed to find food. They've devoured most of the cheese planets, which are a thing in Bob Was Hungry, and now scour the planets that remain for what scraps they can find. Players will have to deal with insidious traps and deadly environments in their quest for nourishment. Each level contains a collectible condiment which records the player's time and unlocks a harder version of the level. While Bob Was Hungry can be enjoyed alone, up to eight players can join in the platforming across a variety of modes. These include: Co-op, shared death co-op, competitive race, and competitive survival race. Co-op modes have players splitting a baked potato, while leaving your partners behind in a race nets you the last ham bone in the universe. With over 150 levels, it looks to be a platformer that can keep even the most skilled players busy for quite some time. Bob Was Hungry releases for PC (Windows only, sorry Mac users) on August 19.
  5. Taking cues from Super Meat Boy, Shorebound Studios aims to deliver intense, precise platforming in a friendly package with Bob Was Hungry. The PC title focuses on an alien species called bobs that search the universe for food to sate their ravenous appetites. Instead of being the cataclysm most sci-fi authors would imagine, bobs are hard pressed to find food. They've devoured most of the cheese planets, which are a thing in Bob Was Hungry, and now scour the planets that remain for what scraps they can find. Players will have to deal with insidious traps and deadly environments in their quest for nourishment. Each level contains a collectible condiment which records the player's time and unlocks a harder version of the level. While Bob Was Hungry can be enjoyed alone, up to eight players can join in the platforming across a variety of modes. These include: Co-op, shared death co-op, competitive race, and competitive survival race. Co-op modes have players splitting a baked potato, while leaving your partners behind in a race nets you the last ham bone in the universe. With over 150 levels, it looks to be a platformer that can keep even the most skilled players busy for quite some time. Bob Was Hungry releases for PC (Windows only, sorry Mac users) on August 19. View full article
  6. Yesterday, Swedish indie developer Fatshark revealed a four player co-op first-person shooter/melee hybrid set in the Warhammer universe. The game focuses on an apocalyptically large invasion of Skaven, rat-men from the Under Empire. “Combining gritty combat with cooperative multiplayer action, Vermintide will provide the player with a completely new perspective of the Warhammer Fantasy universe, through the eyes of the heroes they play,” said Martin Wahlund, Fatshark's CEO. “Staying true to the fantasy lore, with familiar foes and locations, we look forward to winning the hearts of enthusiasts and newcomers with this new take on the Warhammer story.” Players can select one of five unique heroes who find themselves trapped in the city of Ubersreik as the Skaven begin their assault. Each hero has different strengths, weaknesses, gear, as well as their own history and personality. Warhammer: End Times Vermintide will release sometime during the second half of 2015 (presumably later rather than sooner) for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
  7. Yesterday, Swedish indie developer Fatshark revealed a four player co-op first-person shooter/melee hybrid set in the Warhammer universe. The game focuses on an apocalyptically large invasion of Skaven, rat-men from the Under Empire. “Combining gritty combat with cooperative multiplayer action, Vermintide will provide the player with a completely new perspective of the Warhammer Fantasy universe, through the eyes of the heroes they play,” said Martin Wahlund, Fatshark's CEO. “Staying true to the fantasy lore, with familiar foes and locations, we look forward to winning the hearts of enthusiasts and newcomers with this new take on the Warhammer story.” Players can select one of five unique heroes who find themselves trapped in the city of Ubersreik as the Skaven begin their assault. Each hero has different strengths, weaknesses, gear, as well as their own history and personality. Warhammer: End Times Vermintide will release sometime during the second half of 2015 (presumably later rather than sooner) for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. View full article
  8. For those of you that aren’t old enough to remember, there was once a mysterious video game feature called “local co-op” that dominated every gaming system known to man (except PC). For a long while, family and friends could bond by sharing a couch and enjoying the finer aspects of jolly cooperation. Then the internet happened and it seemed like the ways of local co-op would be lost forever to the ravages of time. With the rise of internet co-op, precious few video games even bothered to include the option to play with a physically present friend. In the midst of local co-op’s Dark Age*, a beacon of hope signaled that some developers still revered the old ways. Frima Games’ Chariot champions local co-op, emphasizing teamwork and creative problem solving. In fact, if it has one major drawback it is that such an emphasis is placed on the local co-op that playing through Chariot in single-player can feel a bit hollow. Chariot was reviewed on PlayStation 4. Chariot is a platformer that relies on increasingly complex puzzles built into its levels. Creatively making use of deceptively simple mechanics is required to progress. Players can sling a rope to either side of the chariot with one button and pull it forward or let the line grow slack with two others. Combine the rope mechanics with jumping and that constitutes the core of the player’s puzzle-solving arsenal. To further complicate matters, these mechanics are applied in different ways depending on the various environments players will encounter. The introductory caves give players a great opportunity to grasp the basics, but each new area, like the frictionless ice caverns or the lava-filled magma grottos, present their own unique challenges. Each level is fairly open and allows for a great deal of exploration. Intrepid players will be rewarded with valuable loot as well as precious item blueprints. Blueprints allow a friendly skeleton merchant to create useful items and upgrades for the chariot. Certain blueprints, like the royal lantern upgrade, are required to make progress into other areas of Chariot. To find the most powerful items and rarest treasures, players will need to grab a friend to play by their side. Many will be impossible to obtain for solo players. Co-op is the soul of Chariot and it is only when playing co-op that the full potential of Chariot shines through. There is no online co-op option; players will need to be physically present with each other. While it is possible to complete the game alone, it will be less frustrating to tackle the core story with a friend. During my solo time with Chariot, there were numerous instances when I wished I had a co-op buddy to provide backup on some of the trickier platforming challenges. When I was playing co-op, everything seemed to fall into place and, while there were still a number of falls and slip ups, everyone seemed to have a great time. I have mixed feelings about Chariot’s enemies. Called Looters, the small pool of antagonists don’t constitute a direct threat to the player; they’re only interested in stealing treasure from the chariot. At worst they pose an annoying inconvenience. Each player has an attack that can be used to fend off the attackers, either a sword or a slingshot depending on the choice of character. The problem is that Looters almost feel obligatory, as if Frima felt they had to include enemies because a platformer needs them otherwise it isn’t a real platformer. I can see why they might want to include enemies as a way of amping up the tension in tricky areas and to make the two characters feel distinct. It would have been a bold decision, but I think Chariot would have benefitted from a complete lack of enemies. The combat itself isn’t thrilling or complicated; most situations where enemies appear can be solved by standing on the chariot and mashing the attack button. These instances felt forced and broke the sense of flow that I had derived from the Looter-less sections. It wasn’t a huge problem, but it was a source of irritation. On top of satisfying exploration and mechanics, Chariot tells a simple story about a princess who, along with her fiancée, seeks to inter her father’s remains in a royal sepulcher**. The problem is that her father’s ghost haunts the wheeled coffin, aka the titular chariot, and demands a more suitable resting place as well as a hoard of treasure worthy of his kingly station. Chariot does a number of really refreshing and interesting thing with its simple premise. It is a welcome change of pace to see a leading lady in a platformer. This is clearly important given that I had to spend five or six minutes explaining to my six-year-old nephew/co-op buddy that the main character was, in fact, a woman. That really shouldn’t have to be so alien a concept as to invite a child’s incredulity. Chariot also succeeds in being an amusing, if not laugh out loud, experience. The voice acting for the king is perfectly petulant and demanding and, while it can get grating after repeated platforming failures, generally left me with a smile on my face. I’m somewhat tempted to dig into an analysis of Chariot’s messages regarding death and acceptance, but that can wait for an article all its own. Suffice it to say that there are more complicated and interesting things going on beneath Chariot’s surface than its friendly and cheerful exterior would imply. Chariot’s aesthetic perfectly complements its content. Though the premise, to be perfectly blunt, is to find a place to bury the protagonist’s dead father, Chariot manages to sidestep how potentially disturbing that could be by implementing an aesthetic that feels friendly and inviting. Colors really pop and every environment feels distinct. It has a painted, fairy-tale feel, as if it was adapted from a children’s bedtime story. The layered score lulls players into a state of zen as they make progress and roll the chariot on toward the next sepulcher. For those of you that aren’t old enough to remember, there was once a mysterious video game feature called “local co-op” that dominated every gaming system known to man (except PC). For a long while, family and friends could bond by sharing a couch and enjoying the finer aspects of jolly cooperation. Then the internet happened and it seemed like the ways of local co-op would be lost forever to the ravages of time. With the rise of internet co-op, precious few video games even bothered to include the option to play with a physically present friend. In the midst of local co-op’s Dark Age*, a beacon of hope signaled that some developers still revered the old ways. Frima Games’ Chariot champions local co-op, emphasizing teamwork and creative problem solving. In fact, if it has one major drawback it is that such an emphasis is placed on the local co-op that playing through Chariot in single-player can feel a bit hollow. Conclusion: Chariot is a great indie title that is best enjoyed with a friend or on a date night with a significant other. It emphasizes teamwork and problem solving with a minimum of violence. It is a great game for kids and adults alike as the challenges require some brainpower, but not to a frustrating degree. It also raises some introductory themes that deal with death and could lead to interesting conversations with children old enough to tackle such issues. I’m always a fan of games that take relatively simple mechanics and use them in stimulating ways. Chariot does this exceedingly well. It is a lovingly crafted, beautiful platformer that can be appreciated by all ages. Chariot is currently available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It will be coming to PC at an as yet unannounced time. * Fun fact: I’m guilty of perpetuating a common misconception regarding the time period that people have frequently termed Europe’s Dark Age. In fact, it was not nearly as devoid of activity, learning, or progress as people tend to believe (see beginning of The Importance of the Middle Ages). Or, for those of you with less patience for academic writing, here is a Cracked article. ** Chariot deserves credit for teaching me that I have been mispronouncing ‘sepulcher’ for years. View full article
  9. Jack Gardner

    Review: Chariot

    For those of you that aren’t old enough to remember, there was once a mysterious video game feature called “local co-op” that dominated every gaming system known to man (except PC). For a long while, family and friends could bond by sharing a couch and enjoying the finer aspects of jolly cooperation. Then the internet happened and it seemed like the ways of local co-op would be lost forever to the ravages of time. With the rise of internet co-op, precious few video games even bothered to include the option to play with a physically present friend. In the midst of local co-op’s Dark Age*, a beacon of hope signaled that some developers still revered the old ways. Frima Games’ Chariot champions local co-op, emphasizing teamwork and creative problem solving. In fact, if it has one major drawback it is that such an emphasis is placed on the local co-op that playing through Chariot in single-player can feel a bit hollow. Chariot was reviewed on PlayStation 4. Chariot is a platformer that relies on increasingly complex puzzles built into its levels. Creatively making use of deceptively simple mechanics is required to progress. Players can sling a rope to either side of the chariot with one button and pull it forward or let the line grow slack with two others. Combine the rope mechanics with jumping and that constitutes the core of the player’s puzzle-solving arsenal. To further complicate matters, these mechanics are applied in different ways depending on the various environments players will encounter. The introductory caves give players a great opportunity to grasp the basics, but each new area, like the frictionless ice caverns or the lava-filled magma grottos, present their own unique challenges. Each level is fairly open and allows for a great deal of exploration. Intrepid players will be rewarded with valuable loot as well as precious item blueprints. Blueprints allow a friendly skeleton merchant to create useful items and upgrades for the chariot. Certain blueprints, like the royal lantern upgrade, are required to make progress into other areas of Chariot. To find the most powerful items and rarest treasures, players will need to grab a friend to play by their side. Many will be impossible to obtain for solo players. Co-op is the soul of Chariot and it is only when playing co-op that the full potential of Chariot shines through. There is no online co-op option; players will need to be physically present with each other. While it is possible to complete the game alone, it will be less frustrating to tackle the core story with a friend. During my solo time with Chariot, there were numerous instances when I wished I had a co-op buddy to provide backup on some of the trickier platforming challenges. When I was playing co-op, everything seemed to fall into place and, while there were still a number of falls and slip ups, everyone seemed to have a great time. I have mixed feelings about Chariot’s enemies. Called Looters, the small pool of antagonists don’t constitute a direct threat to the player; they’re only interested in stealing treasure from the chariot. At worst they pose an annoying inconvenience. Each player has an attack that can be used to fend off the attackers, either a sword or a slingshot depending on the choice of character. The problem is that Looters almost feel obligatory, as if Frima felt they had to include enemies because a platformer needs them otherwise it isn’t a real platformer. I can see why they might want to include enemies as a way of amping up the tension in tricky areas and to make the two characters feel distinct. It would have been a bold decision, but I think Chariot would have benefitted from a complete lack of enemies. The combat itself isn’t thrilling or complicated; most situations where enemies appear can be solved by standing on the chariot and mashing the attack button. These instances felt forced and broke the sense of flow that I had derived from the Looter-less sections. It wasn’t a huge problem, but it was a source of irritation. On top of satisfying exploration and mechanics, Chariot tells a simple story about a princess who, along with her fiancée, seeks to inter her father’s remains in a royal sepulcher**. The problem is that her father’s ghost haunts the wheeled coffin, aka the titular chariot, and demands a more suitable resting place as well as a hoard of treasure worthy of his kingly station. Chariot does a number of really refreshing and interesting thing with its simple premise. It is a welcome change of pace to see a leading lady in a platformer. This is clearly important given that I had to spend five or six minutes explaining to my six-year-old nephew/co-op buddy that the main character was, in fact, a woman. That really shouldn’t have to be so alien a concept as to invite a child’s incredulity. Chariot also succeeds in being an amusing, if not laugh out loud, experience. The voice acting for the king is perfectly petulant and demanding and, while it can get grating after repeated platforming failures, generally left me with a smile on my face. I’m somewhat tempted to dig into an analysis of Chariot’s messages regarding death and acceptance, but that can wait for an article all its own. Suffice it to say that there are more complicated and interesting things going on beneath Chariot’s surface than its friendly and cheerful exterior would imply. Chariot’s aesthetic perfectly complements its content. Though the premise, to be perfectly blunt, is to find a place to bury the protagonist’s dead father, Chariot manages to sidestep how potentially disturbing that could be by implementing an aesthetic that feels friendly and inviting. Colors really pop and every environment feels distinct. It has a painted, fairy-tale feel, as if it was adapted from a children’s bedtime story. The layered score lulls players into a state of zen as they make progress and roll the chariot on toward the next sepulcher. For those of you that aren’t old enough to remember, there was once a mysterious video game feature called “local co-op” that dominated every gaming system known to man (except PC). For a long while, family and friends could bond by sharing a couch and enjoying the finer aspects of jolly cooperation. Then the internet happened and it seemed like the ways of local co-op would be lost forever to the ravages of time. With the rise of internet co-op, precious few video games even bothered to include the option to play with a physically present friend. In the midst of local co-op’s Dark Age*, a beacon of hope signaled that some developers still revered the old ways. Frima Games’ Chariot champions local co-op, emphasizing teamwork and creative problem solving. In fact, if it has one major drawback it is that such an emphasis is placed on the local co-op that playing through Chariot in single-player can feel a bit hollow. Conclusion: Chariot is a great indie title that is best enjoyed with a friend or on a date night with a significant other. It emphasizes teamwork and problem solving with a minimum of violence. It is a great game for kids and adults alike as the challenges require some brainpower, but not to a frustrating degree. It also raises some introductory themes that deal with death and could lead to interesting conversations with children old enough to tackle such issues. I’m always a fan of games that take relatively simple mechanics and use them in stimulating ways. Chariot does this exceedingly well. It is a lovingly crafted, beautiful platformer that can be appreciated by all ages. Chariot is currently available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It will be coming to PC at an as yet unannounced time. * Fun fact: I’m guilty of perpetuating a common misconception regarding the time period that people have frequently termed Europe’s Dark Age. In fact, it was not nearly as devoid of activity, learning, or progress as people tend to believe (see beginning of The Importance of the Middle Ages). Or, for those of you with less patience for academic writing, here is a Cracked article. ** Chariot deserves credit for teaching me that I have been mispronouncing ‘sepulcher’ for years.
  10. Zero Point Software had been working on Interstellar Marines for five years before deciding to release the game via Steam Greenlight last year. Since then, demand for the game has exceeded Zero Point's wildest expectations. Since its release, Interstellar Marines has sold an undisclosed number that is greater than 100,000 and generated over $1.5 million in revenue for the studio. Hooray! That means the studio can continue to work on the title's upcoming co-op mode and finally deliver on some of the initial promise of their game pitch. Currently there are only a handful of game modes available compared to what the final game will contain. However, come September 18, that will change. Zero Point will be updating Interstellar Marines with a single-player and co-op mode. The update will bring Marines much closer to Zero Point's original vision. “Co-op is one of the central pillars of the game, and is a big part in providing players with an outstanding tactical experience in as realistic a manner as possible,” said Kim Haar Jørgensen, creative director on Interstellar Marines. The co-op mode will be on display at PAX Prime prior to the September 18 update. More info on the project can be found on the Interstellar Marines website. Those of you who are really intrigued can buy into Early Access via Steam. As always, be careful when it comes to buying games before release. There is no guarantee that Early Access titles will be completed or deliver on their initial promises.
  11. Zero Point Software had been working on Interstellar Marines for five years before deciding to release the game via Steam Greenlight last year. Since then, demand for the game has exceeded Zero Point's wildest expectations. Since its release, Interstellar Marines has sold an undisclosed number that is greater than 100,000 and generated over $1.5 million in revenue for the studio. Hooray! That means the studio can continue to work on the title's upcoming co-op mode and finally deliver on some of the initial promise of their game pitch. Currently there are only a handful of game modes available compared to what the final game will contain. However, come September 18, that will change. Zero Point will be updating Interstellar Marines with a single-player and co-op mode. The update will bring Marines much closer to Zero Point's original vision. “Co-op is one of the central pillars of the game, and is a big part in providing players with an outstanding tactical experience in as realistic a manner as possible,” said Kim Haar Jørgensen, creative director on Interstellar Marines. The co-op mode will be on display at PAX Prime prior to the September 18 update. More info on the project can be found on the Interstellar Marines website. Those of you who are really intrigued can buy into Early Access via Steam. As always, be careful when it comes to buying games before release. There is no guarantee that Early Access titles will be completed or deliver on their initial promises. View full article
  12. During E3 I had the pleasure of meeting with Martin Brouard from Frima Studios to discuss the indie platforming title Chariot. Afterward, I was able to go hands-on for nearly a half-hour. Spoiler: I couldn't stop smiling. --- Martin Brouard: I’m the Executive Producer for Chariot. It’s a platformer, a couch co-op platformer that’s coming out on Xbox One, PS4, Wii U, and PC this fall. Jack Gardner: Awesome! And we can see it right behind you there. From what I understand the general premise is that a king or emperor has died and you're taking him to his final resting place? MB: Right, you play as a princess and you are accompanied by your very trusty fiancé and before going on with your life, you have to, you know, put your dead father to rest in a really nice sepulcher. But the king is actually back as a ghost and the chariot that you are bringing around everywhere; it’s a coffin on wheels. The king is there and he keeps complaining that you are leaving treasure behind or that you cannot possibly think of burying him here because it is not a proper, kingly place. He always wants more treasure and more interesting places, so that’s how you progress through different levels. [There are] five different environments, 25 levels of exploration. And it is couch co-op so you play both characters. You can play solo, but it is really made for having fun with a friend at home. JG: What different mechanics can we expect to see out of Chariot? MB: The big difference between Chariot and other platformers that we know and love is that it’s a physics-based platformer with a chariot is at the center of it. You need the chariot because that’s what picks up all the loot; that’s what is at the center of the game. So, you’ll push it; you’ll pull it; you’ll use this rope mechanic to pull the chariot, to give some rope to your friend to dangle over a precipice. To try to jump into hard to reach areas. There is lots of exploration. You use the chariot to jump on it, to roll down slopes. [You will have] one special item that you choose for every level, one per character, you use these items to do special moves. There is an attractor, a repulsor, a peg so you can attach your rope to a little escalation peg. There’s something that slows down time and speed boots. By combining these items, one on each character, you can pull off some really fantastic moves and that’s where the fun is. JG: And there is no online co-op or just couch co-op? MB: It’s too… it just wouldn’t make sense for us. It’s really a game where you want to have fun with the person sitting next to you. And be arguing over, “We should be going over there,” “No! Let’s go over there. There is probably something hidden there,” “Alright, alright.” It just wouldn’t be the same over the internet. JG: What is your favorite part of Chariot? MB: My favorite part is definitely when you see some hard to reach area and you’re like, “Okay, we’ve got to get over there,” and you need to figure out a way, but there are different ways to achieve that. Sometimes you’ll try to pull out some really crazy move, and you will try and try again. When after fifteen minutes of trying you finally pull off that move, this is just so satisfying. High-fives all over the place and it is a great satisfaction. Also, the humor. Right now this is an alpha-build. It’s not finished. JG: Wow, that looks great for an alpha-build! MB: Thank you! But the voice overs aren’t implemented yet. There is a lot of humor coming from the king who is interacting with you. He is kinda acting as a chaperone, you know, his daughter with this guy. He’s there to keep an eye on you and make sure you don’t leave any loot on the table. JG: And collecting the loot is how you unlock the gadgets and get the different abilities? MB: You actually get the gadgets by finding the blueprints and special collectibles. Between every level you’ll be meeting with a merchant on the surface. He’s a skeleton dude, I don’t think he even realizes that he’s a skeleton, but he’s improving your stuff in exchange for your loot. For example, if you want to go to the lava levels, you’ll need to make sure that your chariot becomes fireproof. For that you’ll need to find blueprints that are hidden somewhere in the game, but then you also need to give the blueprints to the merchant along with some of your loot, which the king doesn’t like too much. When you part with the blueprint and [pay the merchant], he’ll upgrade the chariot and it will be able to float in lava. Same thing with the ice caverns and other levels. You can also improve your gadgets up to three levels. For example, the repulsor which is basically something that throws the chariot super hard with physics, when you are at level three it really shoots the chariot very far. So, if your friend is standing on it and then you’re shooting it, it’s pretty awesome. JG: Are there enemies in the game? So far I haven’t seen any. MB: Well, it’s not a fighting game, but there are enemies. They're called looters. They will not attack you. They will only attack the chariot, try to grab your loot, and run away with it. So your job is basically to dispatch them as quickly as possible or run away before they steal too much of your loot, because that’s also your score. The princess has a sword, so she’s a close-range character and the fiancé has a little slingshot so he is a ranged character. A lot of times, one player will try to get out while the other will defend, so that leads to some fun little combat scenes, but it’s not at the heart of the game. There are four different enemies. Some of them are even trying to steal the chariot! [laughs] JG: Is it an open-world, Metroid-style game? MB: No, no. The way it works is there are 25 different levels scattered over five different environments. These environments are unlocked when you upgrade the chariot, but there are different entrances and exits in certain levels that sometimes unlock speed runs you can complete for special rewards and leaderboards. JG: So how does that work, is there a hub where you access each level? MB: Yes, there is a map that is currently very placeholder, but every time you find an exit it opens up the path to a new level. Sometimes you find different exits in different levels. There is a lot of exploration there. JG: Well it looks incredible. I can’t wait to play it! MB: Thank you very much, you can play it right now! [laughs] --- And play it I did. Even in early alpha Chariot is almost overwhelmingly charming. The art design is great and does a great job conveying humor and lightheartedness even without dialogue. Levels are cleverly constructed to interact with the chariot and the players in interesting ways. For example, there are certain surfaces that will be solid for the player, but not the chariot and vice versa. The rope mechanics and physics feel statisfying and it feels really rewarding to overcome obstacles with a co-op partner. Recently there have been people expressing a desire for non-violent games to play with family or just as an alternative to the omni-present shooter genre. Though Brouard said that there were looters in Chariot, in nearly a half hour, I never saw a single one and still enjoyed myself immensely. I would feel very comfortable sitting down with my young nephews and playing this along with them. Brouard was right, Chariot can be played alone, but it is meant to embody cooperation and going it alone seems miss a bit of the magic that Chariot has to offer. Keep your eye on Chariot. It releases this fall on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U, and PC.
  13. During E3 I had the pleasure of meeting with Martin Brouard from Frima Studios to discuss the indie platforming title Chariot. Afterward, I was able to go hands-on for nearly a half-hour. Spoiler: I couldn't stop smiling. --- Martin Brouard: I’m the Executive Producer for Chariot. It’s a platformer, a couch co-op platformer that’s coming out on Xbox One, PS4, Wii U, and PC this fall. Jack Gardner: Awesome! And we can see it right behind you there. From what I understand the general premise is that a king or emperor has died and you're taking him to his final resting place? MB: Right, you play as a princess and you are accompanied by your very trusty fiancé and before going on with your life, you have to, you know, put your dead father to rest in a really nice sepulcher. But the king is actually back as a ghost and the chariot that you are bringing around everywhere; it’s a coffin on wheels. The king is there and he keeps complaining that you are leaving treasure behind or that you cannot possibly think of burying him here because it is not a proper, kingly place. He always wants more treasure and more interesting places, so that’s how you progress through different levels. [There are] five different environments, 25 levels of exploration. And it is couch co-op so you play both characters. You can play solo, but it is really made for having fun with a friend at home. JG: What different mechanics can we expect to see out of Chariot? MB: The big difference between Chariot and other platformers that we know and love is that it’s a physics-based platformer with a chariot is at the center of it. You need the chariot because that’s what picks up all the loot; that’s what is at the center of the game. So, you’ll push it; you’ll pull it; you’ll use this rope mechanic to pull the chariot, to give some rope to your friend to dangle over a precipice. To try to jump into hard to reach areas. There is lots of exploration. You use the chariot to jump on it, to roll down slopes. [You will have] one special item that you choose for every level, one per character, you use these items to do special moves. There is an attractor, a repulsor, a peg so you can attach your rope to a little escalation peg. There’s something that slows down time and speed boots. By combining these items, one on each character, you can pull off some really fantastic moves and that’s where the fun is. JG: And there is no online co-op or just couch co-op? MB: It’s too… it just wouldn’t make sense for us. It’s really a game where you want to have fun with the person sitting next to you. And be arguing over, “We should be going over there,” “No! Let’s go over there. There is probably something hidden there,” “Alright, alright.” It just wouldn’t be the same over the internet. JG: What is your favorite part of Chariot? MB: My favorite part is definitely when you see some hard to reach area and you’re like, “Okay, we’ve got to get over there,” and you need to figure out a way, but there are different ways to achieve that. Sometimes you’ll try to pull out some really crazy move, and you will try and try again. When after fifteen minutes of trying you finally pull off that move, this is just so satisfying. High-fives all over the place and it is a great satisfaction. Also, the humor. Right now this is an alpha-build. It’s not finished. JG: Wow, that looks great for an alpha-build! MB: Thank you! But the voice overs aren’t implemented yet. There is a lot of humor coming from the king who is interacting with you. He is kinda acting as a chaperone, you know, his daughter with this guy. He’s there to keep an eye on you and make sure you don’t leave any loot on the table. JG: And collecting the loot is how you unlock the gadgets and get the different abilities? MB: You actually get the gadgets by finding the blueprints and special collectibles. Between every level you’ll be meeting with a merchant on the surface. He’s a skeleton dude, I don’t think he even realizes that he’s a skeleton, but he’s improving your stuff in exchange for your loot. For example, if you want to go to the lava levels, you’ll need to make sure that your chariot becomes fireproof. For that you’ll need to find blueprints that are hidden somewhere in the game, but then you also need to give the blueprints to the merchant along with some of your loot, which the king doesn’t like too much. When you part with the blueprint and [pay the merchant], he’ll upgrade the chariot and it will be able to float in lava. Same thing with the ice caverns and other levels. You can also improve your gadgets up to three levels. For example, the repulsor which is basically something that throws the chariot super hard with physics, when you are at level three it really shoots the chariot very far. So, if your friend is standing on it and then you’re shooting it, it’s pretty awesome. JG: Are there enemies in the game? So far I haven’t seen any. MB: Well, it’s not a fighting game, but there are enemies. They're called looters. They will not attack you. They will only attack the chariot, try to grab your loot, and run away with it. So your job is basically to dispatch them as quickly as possible or run away before they steal too much of your loot, because that’s also your score. The princess has a sword, so she’s a close-range character and the fiancé has a little slingshot so he is a ranged character. A lot of times, one player will try to get out while the other will defend, so that leads to some fun little combat scenes, but it’s not at the heart of the game. There are four different enemies. Some of them are even trying to steal the chariot! [laughs] JG: Is it an open-world, Metroid-style game? MB: No, no. The way it works is there are 25 different levels scattered over five different environments. These environments are unlocked when you upgrade the chariot, but there are different entrances and exits in certain levels that sometimes unlock speed runs you can complete for special rewards and leaderboards. JG: So how does that work, is there a hub where you access each level? MB: Yes, there is a map that is currently very placeholder, but every time you find an exit it opens up the path to a new level. Sometimes you find different exits in different levels. There is a lot of exploration there. JG: Well it looks incredible. I can’t wait to play it! MB: Thank you very much, you can play it right now! [laughs] --- And play it I did. Even in early alpha Chariot is almost overwhelmingly charming. The art design is great and does a great job conveying humor and lightheartedness even without dialogue. Levels are cleverly constructed to interact with the chariot and the players in interesting ways. For example, there are certain surfaces that will be solid for the player, but not the chariot and vice versa. The rope mechanics and physics feel statisfying and it feels really rewarding to overcome obstacles with a co-op partner. Recently there have been people expressing a desire for non-violent games to play with family or just as an alternative to the omni-present shooter genre. Though Brouard said that there were looters in Chariot, in nearly a half hour, I never saw a single one and still enjoyed myself immensely. I would feel very comfortable sitting down with my young nephews and playing this along with them. Brouard was right, Chariot can be played alone, but it is meant to embody cooperation and going it alone seems miss a bit of the magic that Chariot has to offer. Keep your eye on Chariot. It releases this fall on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U, and PC. View full article
  14. If you have been paying the barest attention to mobile gaming over the last couple months, chances are you’ve heard of the game Threes!, which was designed by indie developer Asher Vollmer. It turns out that Vollmer has been working on a different game in the wake of Threes! success and it happens to be one of the best games I’ve played at E3 this year. Close Castles is a unique take on the tower defense genre that plays like a minimalist reduction of a real-time strategy game. In its current state, Close Castles has no single-player or online multiplayer and as far as I know there aren’t currently plans to make either of those features. The game pits two, three, or four local players against each other in a battle of wits. The premise of Close Castle is, fittingly, that each player has built a castle too close to the neighboring castles of other nations and this has started a war. The war takes place on a grid with each castle residing in a different corner of the grid. Players move their cursor to different squares within their territory to build one of three different structures which then expand their territory. The most basic structures necessary for securing victory in Close Castles are houses, which spawn knights that can attack enemy buildings. If an enemy is invading your lands, towers are a great investment as they assault attacking knights. However, houses and towers don’t just build themselves; all buildings cost money and the more money a play has over their opponents, the more likely they are to secure a victory. To that end, markets are a must for any long-term conquest. I know that I said there were three structures, but another key element to Close Castles is constructing roads. Roads cost nothing and don’t expand your territory, but they are how you direct your knights from their houses to attack enemy buildings. With these basic rules and mechanics, Close Castles sets players loose against each other. On the surface, Close Castles looks simple enough: The last player with a castle standing wins. But how do you go about besting your friends? Do you go for a building out towers to slowly and safely expand your empire? Or do you build a couple early markets and then blitz your opponents with several houses spewing forth knights? Each strategy has advantages and disadvantages. Allowing a player to turtle for too long can result in an unstoppable wave of knights later on, while neglecting early defense can leave you wide open to an early house rush. There is definitely a learning curve to Close Castles that lends itself to evolving strategies over time. One of the hardest lessons to learn is how to build roads. Roads are what allows your knights to target enemy structures and you can target more than one building at a time. However, targeting multiple structures will result in an even split of your knights between those targets. Therefore, the more targets you have, the more you divide your forces. This can allow you to hit multiple locations at once, but if you aren’t careful you can simply end up losing all of your knights and leave yourself open to a counterattack. It is worth noting that we played Close Castles entirely with Xbox 360 controllers, which might make it the first RTS-like game able to be enjoyed with a gamepad. Each building was mapped to a different face button, while the cursor was moved using the left joystick. It felt smooth and responsive, which is incredibly important when you need to respond to an unexpected enemy attack. Close Castles is still in the early stages of development and there are almost certainly features that will be added or tweaked, but as it stands right now it is one of the most game-like games I’ve played at E3. It completely embraces the spirit of tower defense, while getting at the heart of what makes real-time strategy so engaging. It takes those concepts and strips them down to the bare essentials. That this is played against people who are physically present and frantically strategizing both against and with you adds to a sense of frenetic excitement. Though currently there is no release date for Close Castles, if the build I played went on sale for mobile, PC, or consoles tomorrow, I would pick it up and recommend you all do the same. Not because it is doing something radical or something new, the concepts on display are old as Chess, but because it does those old things so well that it makes them feel new. Like I said, Close Castles seems simple enough on the surface, but that simplicity stems from elegance. And elegance is a beautiful thing.
  15. If you have been paying the barest attention to mobile gaming over the last couple months, chances are you’ve heard of the game Threes!, which was designed by indie developer Asher Vollmer. It turns out that Vollmer has been working on a different game in the wake of Threes! success and it happens to be one of the best games I’ve played at E3 this year. Close Castles is a unique take on the tower defense genre that plays like a minimalist reduction of a real-time strategy game. In its current state, Close Castles has no single-player or online multiplayer and as far as I know there aren’t currently plans to make either of those features. The game pits two, three, or four local players against each other in a battle of wits. The premise of Close Castle is, fittingly, that each player has built a castle too close to the neighboring castles of other nations and this has started a war. The war takes place on a grid with each castle residing in a different corner of the grid. Players move their cursor to different squares within their territory to build one of three different structures which then expand their territory. The most basic structures necessary for securing victory in Close Castles are houses, which spawn knights that can attack enemy buildings. If an enemy is invading your lands, towers are a great investment as they assault attacking knights. However, houses and towers don’t just build themselves; all buildings cost money and the more money a play has over their opponents, the more likely they are to secure a victory. To that end, markets are a must for any long-term conquest. I know that I said there were three structures, but another key element to Close Castles is constructing roads. Roads cost nothing and don’t expand your territory, but they are how you direct your knights from their houses to attack enemy buildings. With these basic rules and mechanics, Close Castles sets players loose against each other. On the surface, Close Castles looks simple enough: The last player with a castle standing wins. But how do you go about besting your friends? Do you go for a building out towers to slowly and safely expand your empire? Or do you build a couple early markets and then blitz your opponents with several houses spewing forth knights? Each strategy has advantages and disadvantages. Allowing a player to turtle for too long can result in an unstoppable wave of knights later on, while neglecting early defense can leave you wide open to an early house rush. There is definitely a learning curve to Close Castles that lends itself to evolving strategies over time. One of the hardest lessons to learn is how to build roads. Roads are what allows your knights to target enemy structures and you can target more than one building at a time. However, targeting multiple structures will result in an even split of your knights between those targets. Therefore, the more targets you have, the more you divide your forces. This can allow you to hit multiple locations at once, but if you aren’t careful you can simply end up losing all of your knights and leave yourself open to a counterattack. It is worth noting that we played Close Castles entirely with Xbox 360 controllers, which might make it the first RTS-like game able to be enjoyed with a gamepad. Each building was mapped to a different face button, while the cursor was moved using the left joystick. It felt smooth and responsive, which is incredibly important when you need to respond to an unexpected enemy attack. Close Castles is still in the early stages of development and there are almost certainly features that will be added or tweaked, but as it stands right now it is one of the most game-like games I’ve played at E3. It completely embraces the spirit of tower defense, while getting at the heart of what makes real-time strategy so engaging. It takes those concepts and strips them down to the bare essentials. That this is played against people who are physically present and frantically strategizing both against and with you adds to a sense of frenetic excitement. Though currently there is no release date for Close Castles, if the build I played went on sale for mobile, PC, or consoles tomorrow, I would pick it up and recommend you all do the same. Not because it is doing something radical or something new, the concepts on display are old as Chess, but because it does those old things so well that it makes them feel new. Like I said, Close Castles seems simple enough on the surface, but that simplicity stems from elegance. And elegance is a beautiful thing. View full article
  16. On the surface, Earth Defense Force 2025 bears many signs that would normally be red flags to seasoned gamers. The premise, aliens using giant insects to invade Earth, sounds like something from a scraped ‘50s B-movie. Graphically, it fails to impress. The writing is some of the most laughable I’ve ever encountered in a game. However, Earth Defense Force 2025 accomplishes the impossible by blending all of these elements into a game that I found to be a thoroughly enjoyable third-person shooter. Developed by Sandlot, Earth Defense Force 2025 is a sequel to 2007’s Earth Defense Force 2017. The story of the series is that an alien race came to Earth in 2017 and were promptly dubbed the Ravagers before they had even ravaged anything. The aliens soon unleashed swarms of giant insects to decimate the world’s population. Luckily, the titular Earth Defense Force had one very competent soldier who almost single-handedly took down the alien threat… Or so the world thought! 2025 picks up a few years later and more giant bugs are coming out of the ground and the aliens are back and it is the player’s job to single-handedly take down the alien thre-wait… if the plot summary of 2025 seems oddly familiar, that is because EDF 2025 is pretty much a retelling of 2017. This isn’t really a problem since story was never the strong suit of the series, but it is still a bit strange for a game so off the rails to be stepping to such a similar beat as its predecessor. Graphically, there have been numerous tweaks and updates between 2017 and 2025. This is most noticeable in the steady frame rate which is much appreciated when the action gets thick and entire cities are busy exploding and collapsing. Lighting effects are also greatly improved and make everything, especially the explosions, look much nicer. Everything related to the enemy models, explosions, and player characters looks fine. However, much less attention was paid to the environments and smaller details. Civilians look like place-holder animations that were never finished. Buildings have very little detail because almost every structure in the game is designed to be blown up and destroyed with one or two rocket attacks. When everything is exploding these imperfections aren’t such a big deal, but they do provide unintended entertainment during cutscenes which are made using in-game assets. Load times for these cutscenes can range anywhere from 20-40 seconds, which is a real drag if you encounter a particularly difficult mission that requires multiple attempts. Thankfully, there is an option to disable cutscenes. The meat and potatoes gameplay of EDF 2025 consists of shooting large amounts of ridiculous enemies that consist of giant ants, giant spiders, giant robots, giant dragons, giant hornets, and giant flying saucers. If you couldn’t tell from the previous sentence, Earth Defense Force rarely does anything on a small scale. The weapons you choose to take with you prior to level select have infinite ammo, meaning players that aren’t shooting everything that moves as fast as they are able are doing it wrong. As players move through levels, enemies will drop health packs, armor (which slightly increases total health), and bright green crates that unlock new weapons. Co-op is built into the experience and players have the option of either playing online four-player co-op or locally in split-screen mode with a friend. Earth Defense Force 2025 feels like a ridiculous arcade game that snuck onto consoles. It gives off the vibe of the kind of arcade game you’d only encounter once in an obscure, back-alley arcade and then never find again, but you’d remember for a long time afterward for its insanity. Since level after level of shooting waves of bizarre enemies with infinite ammo guns might slip into repetitive territory after a while, EDF 2025 infuses some variety into the gameplay through the implementation of four different soldier classes. The basic Ranger class is well rounded, can drive vehicles, and does little dodge rolls to get out of tight spots. Air Raiders were built specifically as a support class for co-op. They are the only class capable of calling in air strikes, tank, helicopter, and mech drops, and the only other class that can operate said vehicles. The Fencer is the heavy duty combatant of the bunch, able to equip up to four weapons and make use of heavy-hitting melee attacks. By far my favorite class was the Wing Diver, which sacrifices HP for a jet pack and plasma weapons. The addition of the jet pack makes it much easier to avoid enemies and use the vertical elements of the various levels to get an advantage. Furthermore, there is an enjoyable element of managing your resources with the Wing Diver. The jet pack and weapons use the same energy source, meaning that going a bit too nuts with your guns or flying too long will overload your systems. In order to avoid a systems failure at an inopportune moment, players have to balance their need for fight and flight. On the first run through the game, any difficulty other than normal or easy will be virtually impossible. Higher difficulties require much more powerful weapons, which are only unlocked by playing later missions on normal or easy. Higher difficulties unlock even better weapons, but right off the bat enemies will overwhelm and crush players attempting anything more difficult than normal. The voice-over work in the Earth Defense Force series has never been that great, but in 2025 it reaches new levels of cheese and silliness. While there is always something amazing about a serious-sounding narrator pleading with the player to save the world from giant robots and insects, what really shines is the ambient dialogue between soldiers controlled by the AI. These nameless members of the EDF follow the player around and will talk with each other as missions progress. They enthusiastically shout out phrases like, “The next battle is going to be violent!” and, “Did you eat lunch?” There are also cases of strange and silly translations from Japanese to English. For example, when a new enemy type appears that makes use of an energy shield, the narrator constantly refers to the force field as a “shield screen.” Conclusion: While I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Earth Defense Force 2025, I also realize that it isn’t for everyone. The game has numerous technical flaws that could distract players from the core experience. Some people will be put off by the lack of visual polish, while others might find the gameplay repetitive. However, EDF 2025 has all the signs of becoming a cult classic. People who can look past Earth Defense Force 2025’s missteps or even embrace them as a cheesy part of the EDF experience will find a game that is fun, unintentionally hilarious, and strangely endearing. View full article
  17. On the surface, Earth Defense Force 2025 bears many signs that would normally be red flags to seasoned gamers. The premise, aliens using giant insects to invade Earth, sounds like something from a scraped ‘50s B-movie. Graphically, it fails to impress. The writing is some of the most laughable I’ve ever encountered in a game. However, Earth Defense Force 2025 accomplishes the impossible by blending all of these elements into a game that I found to be a thoroughly enjoyable third-person shooter. Developed by Sandlot, Earth Defense Force 2025 is a sequel to 2007’s Earth Defense Force 2017. The story of the series is that an alien race came to Earth in 2017 and were promptly dubbed the Ravagers before they had even ravaged anything. The aliens soon unleashed swarms of giant insects to decimate the world’s population. Luckily, the titular Earth Defense Force had one very competent soldier who almost single-handedly took down the alien threat… Or so the world thought! 2025 picks up a few years later and more giant bugs are coming out of the ground and the aliens are back and it is the player’s job to single-handedly take down the alien thre-wait… if the plot summary of 2025 seems oddly familiar, that is because EDF 2025 is pretty much a retelling of 2017. This isn’t really a problem since story was never the strong suit of the series, but it is still a bit strange for a game so off the rails to be stepping to such a similar beat as its predecessor. Graphically, there have been numerous tweaks and updates between 2017 and 2025. This is most noticeable in the steady frame rate which is much appreciated when the action gets thick and entire cities are busy exploding and collapsing. Lighting effects are also greatly improved and make everything, especially the explosions, look much nicer. Everything related to the enemy models, explosions, and player characters looks fine. However, much less attention was paid to the environments and smaller details. Civilians look like place-holder animations that were never finished. Buildings have very little detail because almost every structure in the game is designed to be blown up and destroyed with one or two rocket attacks. When everything is exploding these imperfections aren’t such a big deal, but they do provide unintended entertainment during cutscenes which are made using in-game assets. Load times for these cutscenes can range anywhere from 20-40 seconds, which is a real drag if you encounter a particularly difficult mission that requires multiple attempts. Thankfully, there is an option to disable cutscenes. The meat and potatoes gameplay of EDF 2025 consists of shooting large amounts of ridiculous enemies that consist of giant ants, giant spiders, giant robots, giant dragons, giant hornets, and giant flying saucers. If you couldn’t tell from the previous sentence, Earth Defense Force rarely does anything on a small scale. The weapons you choose to take with you prior to level select have infinite ammo, meaning players that aren’t shooting everything that moves as fast as they are able are doing it wrong. As players move through levels, enemies will drop health packs, armor (which slightly increases total health), and bright green crates that unlock new weapons. Co-op is built into the experience and players have the option of either playing online four-player co-op or locally in split-screen mode with a friend. Earth Defense Force 2025 feels like a ridiculous arcade game that snuck onto consoles. It gives off the vibe of the kind of arcade game you’d only encounter once in an obscure, back-alley arcade and then never find again, but you’d remember for a long time afterward for its insanity. Since level after level of shooting waves of bizarre enemies with infinite ammo guns might slip into repetitive territory after a while, EDF 2025 infuses some variety into the gameplay through the implementation of four different soldier classes. The basic Ranger class is well rounded, can drive vehicles, and does little dodge rolls to get out of tight spots. Air Raiders were built specifically as a support class for co-op. They are the only class capable of calling in air strikes, tank, helicopter, and mech drops, and the only other class that can operate said vehicles. The Fencer is the heavy duty combatant of the bunch, able to equip up to four weapons and make use of heavy-hitting melee attacks. By far my favorite class was the Wing Diver, which sacrifices HP for a jet pack and plasma weapons. The addition of the jet pack makes it much easier to avoid enemies and use the vertical elements of the various levels to get an advantage. Furthermore, there is an enjoyable element of managing your resources with the Wing Diver. The jet pack and weapons use the same energy source, meaning that going a bit too nuts with your guns or flying too long will overload your systems. In order to avoid a systems failure at an inopportune moment, players have to balance their need for fight and flight. On the first run through the game, any difficulty other than normal or easy will be virtually impossible. Higher difficulties require much more powerful weapons, which are only unlocked by playing later missions on normal or easy. Higher difficulties unlock even better weapons, but right off the bat enemies will overwhelm and crush players attempting anything more difficult than normal. The voice-over work in the Earth Defense Force series has never been that great, but in 2025 it reaches new levels of cheese and silliness. While there is always something amazing about a serious-sounding narrator pleading with the player to save the world from giant robots and insects, what really shines is the ambient dialogue between soldiers controlled by the AI. These nameless members of the EDF follow the player around and will talk with each other as missions progress. They enthusiastically shout out phrases like, “The next battle is going to be violent!” and, “Did you eat lunch?” There are also cases of strange and silly translations from Japanese to English. For example, when a new enemy type appears that makes use of an energy shield, the narrator constantly refers to the force field as a “shield screen.” Conclusion: While I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Earth Defense Force 2025, I also realize that it isn’t for everyone. The game has numerous technical flaws that could distract players from the core experience. Some people will be put off by the lack of visual polish, while others might find the gameplay repetitive. However, EDF 2025 has all the signs of becoming a cult classic. People who can look past Earth Defense Force 2025’s missteps or even embrace them as a cheesy part of the EDF experience will find a game that is fun, unintentionally hilarious, and strangely endearing.
  18. Earth Defense Force 2025, the latest installment in a series that has accumulated somewhat of a cult following after the 2007 release of Earth Defense Force 2017, received an amazing trailer today along with an official release date. The teaser shows off footage from 2017, before giving a run down of the features and weapons being added to the roster. In short, it is a lot. 2025 will include 4 player co-op, the class-based gameplay from Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon returns (albeit with more style), more weapons including melee options for the Fencer class, more vehicles, and new enemy types such as the flying dragons featured in the trailer. The trailer even implies that there might be some degree of characterization for the four main protagonists, a first for the series. Earth Defense Force 2025 will be available on February 18 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. If you are wondering what the game is like, why not read our hands-on coverage of the game from E3? View full article
  19. Earth Defense Force 2025, the latest installment in a series that has accumulated somewhat of a cult following after the 2007 release of Earth Defense Force 2017, received an amazing trailer today along with an official release date. The teaser shows off footage from 2017, before giving a run down of the features and weapons being added to the roster. In short, it is a lot. 2025 will include 4 player co-op, the class-based gameplay from Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon returns (albeit with more style), more weapons including melee options for the Fencer class, more vehicles, and new enemy types such as the flying dragons featured in the trailer. The trailer even implies that there might be some degree of characterization for the four main protagonists, a first for the series. Earth Defense Force 2025 will be available on February 18 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. If you are wondering what the game is like, why not read our hands-on coverage of the game from E3?
  20. The new Alpha and Bravo trailer highlights the free-to-play PSN exclusive's online interactions, as well as showing some of the more traditional (read: incredibly over-the-top) aspects of the series making a return. The online co-op missions appear to feature a return to pre-Ace Combat: Assault Horizon gameplay, fantastical flying fortresses, and the co-op battles. Each player will control their own squadron, Alpha or Bravo, and work together to complete objectives. Details on the title are still scarce, but after two years since the last Ace Combat, we'll take any info we can get our hands on. No release date has been announced and no payment model has been detailed for the free-to-play title. View full article
  21. The new Alpha and Bravo trailer highlights the free-to-play PSN exclusive's online interactions, as well as showing some of the more traditional (read: incredibly over-the-top) aspects of the series making a return. The online co-op missions appear to feature a return to pre-Ace Combat: Assault Horizon gameplay, fantastical flying fortresses, and the co-op battles. Each player will control their own squadron, Alpha or Bravo, and work together to complete objectives. Details on the title are still scarce, but after two years since the last Ace Combat, we'll take any info we can get our hands on. No release date has been announced and no payment model has been detailed for the free-to-play title.
  22. Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON’T KNOW! is the follow-up to last year’s Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage?!! (both of which are serious contenders for the longest, silliest video game name award). In Explore the Dungeon, players are tasked with saving the Candy Kingdom by exploring the 100 floors of the mysterious Secret Royal Dungeon. Players can choose between multiple characters including Finn, Jake, Marceline, Cinnamon Bun, and more. If you think that 100 floors might be a bit much by yourself, fear not! You’ll be able to team up with up to three friends for some co-op multiplayer. As you progress through each level, you’ll acquire Tokens, which you can equip to improve your character’s abilities as well as Sub-Weapons to deal out more damage to your enemies. Series creator Pendleton Ward teamed up with developer WayForward to create a specifically video game-oriented story to preserve a distinctly Adventure Time-y feel. Along with Ward, the original voices from the show are all signed on to bring their dulcet tones to the game. Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON’T KNOW! is coming this Fall to Wii U, 3DS, Xbox 360, and PS3.
  23. Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON’T KNOW! is the follow-up to last year’s Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage?!! (both of which are serious contenders for the longest, silliest video game name award). In Explore the Dungeon, players are tasked with saving the Candy Kingdom by exploring the 100 floors of the mysterious Secret Royal Dungeon. Players can choose between multiple characters including Finn, Jake, Marceline, Cinnamon Bun, and more. If you think that 100 floors might be a bit much by yourself, fear not! You’ll be able to team up with up to three friends for some co-op multiplayer. As you progress through each level, you’ll acquire Tokens, which you can equip to improve your character’s abilities as well as Sub-Weapons to deal out more damage to your enemies. Series creator Pendleton Ward teamed up with developer WayForward to create a specifically video game-oriented story to preserve a distinctly Adventure Time-y feel. Along with Ward, the original voices from the show are all signed on to bring their dulcet tones to the game. Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON’T KNOW! is coming this Fall to Wii U, 3DS, Xbox 360, and PS3. View full article
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