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Found 826 results

  1. The Sims 3 from Maxis released in 2009 and slowly proliferated across the console and handheld market in the years that followed. It eventually made its way onto PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo DS, Wii, Nintendo 3DS, iOS, and Android. Players of The Sims 3 were able to become defacto gods of their own digital worlds, presiding over the daily routines of their digital underlings, building them houses, and steering the courses of their lives. The expansions that released for it added features that came to be seen by players as integral to the overall experience, allowing players to time travel, experience seasonal changes, become werewolves, and more. Outside of the sheer depth and breadth of control in-game, The Sims 3 would become a testing ground for the rise of the microtransaction economy in games, specifically proving to EA the profitability of this then nontraditional pricing model. Could The Sims 3 be one of the best games of all-time? 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: Chrono Cross 'Hold onto the Dream' by prophetik music, Chris ~ Amaterasu, and DragonAvenger (https://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03881) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is available, as well! 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 Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  2. As part of the 25th anniversary of The Elder Scrolls franchise, Bethesda is giving away The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind for free. The offer is only available for a limited amount of time, so you will have to take the opportunity to download it between now and March 31. Much like the more modern versions of The Elder Scrolls, Morrowind allows players to embark on an adventure through an open world and stop the immortal Dagoth Ur, a rogue member of a group of god-like beings that rule over the land of Morrowind. Of course, players are free to puruse the main quest or go off for 100 hours to do their own thing, pursuing sidequests and claiming artifacts to their hearts' content. It has been held up as one of the finest, if not the finest, games in The Elder Scrolls series. Free seems like a low cost way to get in on one of the most influential RPGs of all-time. In order to access the free game, players will have to create a Bethesda.net account. Once that's created, simply input the code: TES25TH-MORROWIND to access the game and get it added to that particular Bethesda.net account. On top of The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind being made available for free, gamers can also play The Elder Scrolls Online for free from March 28 - April 3. Bethesda touts that this will open up the entire base game, allowing players to get the full Elder Scrolls Online experience. This will include the ESO: Elsweyr Prologue in which players can begin venturing into the nation home to the cat people, the Khajiiti. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  3. As part of the 25th anniversary of The Elder Scrolls franchise, Bethesda is giving away The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind for free. The offer is only available for a limited amount of time, so you will have to take the opportunity to download it between now and March 31. Much like the more modern versions of The Elder Scrolls, Morrowind allows players to embark on an adventure through an open world and stop the immortal Dagoth Ur, a rogue member of a group of god-like beings that rule over the land of Morrowind. Of course, players are free to puruse the main quest or go off for 100 hours to do their own thing, pursuing sidequests and claiming artifacts to their hearts' content. It has been held up as one of the finest, if not the finest, games in The Elder Scrolls series. Free seems like a low cost way to get in on one of the most influential RPGs of all-time. In order to access the free game, players will have to create a Bethesda.net account. Once that's created, simply input the code: TES25TH-MORROWIND to access the game and get it added to that particular Bethesda.net account. On top of The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind being made available for free, gamers can also play The Elder Scrolls Online for free from March 28 - April 3. Bethesda touts that this will open up the entire base game, allowing players to get the full Elder Scrolls Online experience. This will include the ESO: Elsweyr Prologue in which players can begin venturing into the nation home to the cat people, the Khajiiti. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  4. Slime Rancher is a farming sim/adventure game from indie developer Monomi Park. It released back in 2017 after spending over a year in Steam Early Access. With a colorful and friendly open-world and some subtly intriguing narrative hooks, Slime Rancher thoroughly charmed players. It offers a unique first-person perspective on the farming sim genre with the twist on the genre by making the central commodity the excretions of adorable and voracious slimes. Could Slime Rancher be one of the best games of all-time? 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: Chrono Cross 'If I Could... (Synthwave Mix)' by Jorito and JoyDreamer (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03888) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is available, as well! 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 Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  5. Slime Rancher is a farming sim/adventure game from indie developer Monomi Park. It released back in 2017 after spending over a year in Steam Early Access. With a colorful and friendly open-world and some subtly intriguing narrative hooks, Slime Rancher thoroughly charmed players. It offers a unique first-person perspective on the farming sim genre with the twist on the genre by making the central commodity the excretions of adorable and voracious slimes. Could Slime Rancher be one of the best games of all-time? 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: Chrono Cross 'If I Could... (Synthwave Mix)' by Jorito and JoyDreamer (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03888) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is available, as well! 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 Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  6. Today, Apple announced Apple Arcade, the company's new multiplatform gaming subscription service. Apple Arcade will enable people who subscribe to play a large selection of games unique to the service across mobile devices, desktop computers, and televisions. The service will launch on a date yet to be determined sometime this fall. Apple's reveal comes close on the heels of Google's Stadia announcement, which proposed a future where video games are streamed rather than played locally. Apple Arcade, on the other hand, will allow players to download games and play them on their various devices. That's not the only difference, either. While both services are expected to roll out later this year, Apple seemed willing to provide a great deal more information. Google touted their in-house studio and a nebulous number of partnerships that will draw players to Stadia. Apple, however, revealed a long list of developers working on exclusive games for Apple Arcade. You can see the full list below: Annapurna Aquiris Blowfish Bossa Cartoon Network Cornfox & Bros. Devolver Disney Finji Gallium Artists Gameloft Hipster Whale Klei Konami KO-OP Kunabi Brother Lego Mistwalker Mountains Night School Noodlecake Studios Platinum Games Rac7 Raw Fury Sega Skybound State of Play Sumo Digital The Chinese Room ustwo Versus Evil WayForward As you read this many of these developers are revealing the first look at the projects they have been working on that will be exclusive to Apple Arcade. in the teaser Apple put together for the main announcement, they revealed a selection of truly unique and interesting games.The first, is Beyond a Steel Sky, a game that melds the aesthetics of Borderlands with the designs of Dave Gibbons, co-creator of Watchmen, and is actually a sequel to the 90s adventure game Beneath a Steel Sky. It offers players a chance to explore the beautiful dystopia of Union City, a sprawling techno city of the future that offers opportunities and scale that players might not expect from a mobile game. Where Cards Fall is a coming of age story about a young boy dealing with the challenges of growing up and fitting in, complete with the entire spectrum of wonderful, awkward, and painful experiences that come with growing up in the modern world. It's a game driven by choice and drama rather than explosions and guns. One of the co-creators claims that it's the kind of game that couldn't find an audience without the support of Apple Arcade. The most exciting game, at least to me, comes courtesy of Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of Final Fantasy. His latest project, Fantasian, uses literal, hand-made dioramas that the team photographs and then uses as the backgrounds for their game. It adds a fantastic, solid and surreal look to a game made by one of the master game designers of our time. I'm a sucker for cool, outside-the-box thinking like this, and that's not just one scene or for cutscenes; the entire game uses practical effects for its background shots. Inspired by the zen-like motion of schools of fish or murmurations of starlings, Lifelike aims to be a contemplative, relaxing experience. "We simply don't want to be responsible for adding another layer of cares to the world," says creator Denis Mikan. It relies on the coordinated movement of its swarming characters as a way to enthrall and delight players. Finally, Overland is described as a post-apocalyptic real-time strategy game. It contains roguelike elements to shake up the action and scenarios every time players begin a new game. Each adventure will bring players to new places, put them in contact with new characters, and pit them against a large array of different combat situations. 2019 has become the year we see gaming more cleanly split between all of the gaming and tech giants. If all of these services prove to be long-term contenders for their various shares of the market, players will have to start making hard choices between which platforms and services can provide them with the most bang for their buck. A service like Apple Arcade full of games that can't be played any other way and can work even if a user's internet speed isn't the best would have a huge advantage over a service like Stadia that's so heavily reliant on internet infrastructure to function. The only real sticking point for Apple will be the price point of its subscription model, which has yet to be revealed. This is the future we were always going to get once digital storefronts became a more widespread phenomenon and subscription services like Netflix took off. The console wars are slowly fading and are being replaced by the service wars. What do you think? Is this good? Bad? Neutral? Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  7. Today, Apple announced Apple Arcade, the company's new multiplatform gaming subscription service. Apple Arcade will enable people who subscribe to play a large selection of games unique to the service across mobile devices, desktop computers, and televisions. The service will launch on a date yet to be determined sometime this fall. Apple's reveal comes close on the heels of Google's Stadia announcement, which proposed a future where video games are streamed rather than played locally. Apple Arcade, on the other hand, will allow players to download games and play them on their various devices. That's not the only difference, either. While both services are expected to roll out later this year, Apple seemed willing to provide a great deal more information. Google touted their in-house studio and a nebulous number of partnerships that will draw players to Stadia. Apple, however, revealed a long list of developers working on exclusive games for Apple Arcade. You can see the full list below: Annapurna Aquiris Blowfish Bossa Cartoon Network Cornfox & Bros. Devolver Disney Finji Gallium Artists Gameloft Hipster Whale Klei Konami KO-OP Kunabi Brother Lego Mistwalker Mountains Night School Noodlecake Studios Platinum Games Rac7 Raw Fury Sega Skybound State of Play Sumo Digital The Chinese Room ustwo Versus Evil WayForward As you read this many of these developers are revealing the first look at the projects they have been working on that will be exclusive to Apple Arcade. in the teaser Apple put together for the main announcement, they revealed a selection of truly unique and interesting games.The first, is Beyond a Steel Sky, a game that melds the aesthetics of Borderlands with the designs of Dave Gibbons, co-creator of Watchmen, and is actually a sequel to the 90s adventure game Beneath a Steel Sky. It offers players a chance to explore the beautiful dystopia of Union City, a sprawling techno city of the future that offers opportunities and scale that players might not expect from a mobile game. Where Cards Fall is a coming of age story about a young boy dealing with the challenges of growing up and fitting in, complete with the entire spectrum of wonderful, awkward, and painful experiences that come with growing up in the modern world. It's a game driven by choice and drama rather than explosions and guns. One of the co-creators claims that it's the kind of game that couldn't find an audience without the support of Apple Arcade. The most exciting game, at least to me, comes courtesy of Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of Final Fantasy. His latest project, Fantasian, uses literal, hand-made dioramas that the team photographs and then uses as the backgrounds for their game. It adds a fantastic, solid and surreal look to a game made by one of the master game designers of our time. I'm a sucker for cool, outside-the-box thinking like this, and that's not just one scene or for cutscenes; the entire game uses practical effects for its background shots. Inspired by the zen-like motion of schools of fish or murmurations of starlings, Lifelike aims to be a contemplative, relaxing experience. "We simply don't want to be responsible for adding another layer of cares to the world," says creator Denis Mikan. It relies on the coordinated movement of its swarming characters as a way to enthrall and delight players. Finally, Overland is described as a post-apocalyptic real-time strategy game. It contains roguelike elements to shake up the action and scenarios every time players begin a new game. Each adventure will bring players to new places, put them in contact with new characters, and pit them against a large array of different combat situations. 2019 has become the year we see gaming more cleanly split between all of the gaming and tech giants. If all of these services prove to be long-term contenders for their various shares of the market, players will have to start making hard choices between which platforms and services can provide them with the most bang for their buck. A service like Apple Arcade full of games that can't be played any other way and can work even if a user's internet speed isn't the best would have a huge advantage over a service like Stadia that's so heavily reliant on internet infrastructure to function. The only real sticking point for Apple will be the price point of its subscription model, which has yet to be revealed. This is the future we were always going to get once digital storefronts became a more widespread phenomenon and subscription services like Netflix took off. The console wars are slowly fading and are being replaced by the service wars. What do you think? Is this good? Bad? Neutral? Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  8. Life Is Strange 2 has been in a bit of a limbo following the release of its first episode. Dontnod Entertainment, the developers of the Life Is Strange series as well as Vampyr, held the projected release dates of its subsequent episodes close to the chest. Episode 2 - Rules released on January 24 before the company returned to being quiet about the episodic game. However, now we know when to expect the remaining episodes of Life Is Strange 2 as well as a tiny glimpse at what Episode 3 has in store for players. Life Is Strange 2 diverges from what players might expect after finishing the first Life Is Strange, following the Diaz brothers as they begin a long and arduous journey from their once safe American hometown to a magical place they have only ever heard of from their father down in Mexico. Their pilgrimage puts them in a great deal of danger and becomes more complicated when its revealed that one of them possesses supernatural abilities. Life Is Strange 2: Episode 3 will be titled Wastelands. It is currently on track to release on May 9 on all platforms. It sees brothers Sean and Daniel Diaz continuing their journey across America. The two find themselves wrapped up in the life of a drifter community and exposed to a variety of new experiences and challenges. They have some things to figure out among the redwood forests of California before they press on toward the safety of Mexico. Episode 4 will follow at the tail end of summer on August 22. Finally, the series will conclude on December 3 with Episode 5. The first episode of the series is available through Xbox Game Pass, making it likely that the rest of the episode will be releasing via the service, too. Life Is Strange 2's episodes release for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  9. Life Is Strange 2 has been in a bit of a limbo following the release of its first episode. Dontnod Entertainment, the developers of the Life Is Strange series as well as Vampyr, held the projected release dates of its subsequent episodes close to the chest. Episode 2 - Rules released on January 24 before the company returned to being quiet about the episodic game. However, now we know when to expect the remaining episodes of Life Is Strange 2 as well as a tiny glimpse at what Episode 3 has in store for players. Life Is Strange 2 diverges from what players might expect after finishing the first Life Is Strange, following the Diaz brothers as they begin a long and arduous journey from their once safe American hometown to a magical place they have only ever heard of from their father down in Mexico. Their pilgrimage puts them in a great deal of danger and becomes more complicated when its revealed that one of them possesses supernatural abilities. Life Is Strange 2: Episode 3 will be titled Wastelands. It is currently on track to release on May 9 on all platforms. It sees brothers Sean and Daniel Diaz continuing their journey across America. The two find themselves wrapped up in the life of a drifter community and exposed to a variety of new experiences and challenges. They have some things to figure out among the redwood forests of California before they press on toward the safety of Mexico. Episode 4 will follow at the tail end of summer on August 22. Finally, the series will conclude on December 3 with Episode 5. The first episode of the series is available through Xbox Game Pass, making it likely that the rest of the episode will be releasing via the service, too. Life Is Strange 2's episodes release for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  10. Despite the divisive release of No Man's Sky that saw user numbers plummet rapidly, accuse Hello Games of false advertising, and scathing critiques, Sean Murray and his team have been hard at work over the past three years improving the game with free updates for a hopeful base of remaining fans. Recently, Murray revealed the next free expansion to No Man's Sky. Titled Beyond, the new, free expansion will expand the multiplayer options for players among other additions and refinements. Here is a compiled list of some of the biggest changes made to No Man's Sky since its launch: The Foundation Update allowed players to begin building bases, new game modes, mobile saving, and tweaks to vital aspects like inventory, and limited communication abilities with other players. Path Finder brought ground vehicles to No Man's Sky, more robust base-building options, and a graphical overhaul. Atlas Rises brought a new story line to the game, doubling the game's background content, a Stargate-like network of portals for fast travel, overhauled missions, and more. Then No Man's Sky NEXT released, allowing players to band together in-game for the first time, freed base-building in any location, third-person perspective, and character customization. The Abyss update allowed players to explore planets with oceans, build bases underwater, interact with a more vibrant ecosystem of marine life, and discover a new oceanic narrative. Finally, the most recent update, Visions, added archaeology, the ability to salvage ancient technology, and community missions. The past year has seen Hello Games observing how players are interacting in-game and listening to players. While The Abyss and Visions released with a variety of additions and improvements, more are in store for No Man's Sky Beyond. Beyond will be a compilation of three major, interconnected updates to No Man's Sky. Due to concerns about overhyping their game, Hello Games has opted to keep much of the information about Beyond under wraps until it becomes finalized. However, the biggest major component of Beyond will be No Man's Sky Online, an overhaul to the online features offered by No Man's Sky. This will, in some ways, turn the game into a true MMO, though Hello Games shies away from the label. It will not have a subscription or microtransactions, but it will support a vast number of players. both the social and multiplayer components of it's online world will get new features and tweaks. "Beyond will be our most ambitious chapter so far, and something we’ve been working ridiculously hard on. We’ll continue to support No Man’s Sky in this way for the foreseeable future," Sean Murray said in his official announcement. "To some NEXT may have felt like a natural end-point for our journey, but for us it was another step on a longer voyage." No Man's Sky Beyond will release sometime this summer. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  11. Despite the divisive release of No Man's Sky that saw user numbers plummet rapidly, accuse Hello Games of false advertising, and scathing critiques, Sean Murray and his team have been hard at work over the past three years improving the game with free updates for a hopeful base of remaining fans. Recently, Murray revealed the next free expansion to No Man's Sky. Titled Beyond, the new, free expansion will expand the multiplayer options for players among other additions and refinements. Here is a compiled list of some of the biggest changes made to No Man's Sky since its launch: The Foundation Update allowed players to begin building bases, new game modes, mobile saving, and tweaks to vital aspects like inventory, and limited communication abilities with other players. Path Finder brought ground vehicles to No Man's Sky, more robust base-building options, and a graphical overhaul. Atlas Rises brought a new story line to the game, doubling the game's background content, a Stargate-like network of portals for fast travel, overhauled missions, and more. Then No Man's Sky NEXT released, allowing players to band together in-game for the first time, freed base-building in any location, third-person perspective, and character customization. The Abyss update allowed players to explore planets with oceans, build bases underwater, interact with a more vibrant ecosystem of marine life, and discover a new oceanic narrative. Finally, the most recent update, Visions, added archaeology, the ability to salvage ancient technology, and community missions. The past year has seen Hello Games observing how players are interacting in-game and listening to players. While The Abyss and Visions released with a variety of additions and improvements, more are in store for No Man's Sky Beyond. Beyond will be a compilation of three major, interconnected updates to No Man's Sky. Due to concerns about overhyping their game, Hello Games has opted to keep much of the information about Beyond under wraps until it becomes finalized. However, the biggest major component of Beyond will be No Man's Sky Online, an overhaul to the online features offered by No Man's Sky. This will, in some ways, turn the game into a true MMO, though Hello Games shies away from the label. It will not have a subscription or microtransactions, but it will support a vast number of players. both the social and multiplayer components of it's online world will get new features and tweaks. "Beyond will be our most ambitious chapter so far, and something we’ve been working ridiculously hard on. We’ll continue to support No Man’s Sky in this way for the foreseeable future," Sean Murray said in his official announcement. "To some NEXT may have felt like a natural end-point for our journey, but for us it was another step on a longer voyage." No Man's Sky Beyond will release sometime this summer. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  12. Today, Microsoft announced that they would be bringing Xbox Live to Android and iOS devices, officially lending its support to the wider world of mobile game development. This move isn't entirely unprecedented. Xbox Live support has been available on mobile before, however it was only included in apps and games developed by Microsoft itself, like Minecraft. This new move will put Xbox Live within reach of any developer who wants to integrate their app or game into the wider Xbox Live ecosystem. Microsoft initially teased back in February that they might be making an announcement related to mobile soon. The move, revealed today, will allow apps and games across the mobile world to access the suite of services associated with Xbox Live. Developers will be able to use the tools released by Microsoft to connect as many or as few Xbox Life services with their project as needed. Now we know, thanks to The Verge, the full extent of the program and tools. Microsoft's new mobile development kit (SDK) will enable devs to add Gamerscore, open up clubs, friend lists, and include account family settings. On top of that, developers will be able to implement a single sign-in for Xbox Live and grant devs online protection for their apps and games. The new SDK will come together with Microsoft Game Stack, a collection of tool sets designed to get developers up and running with Microsoft's cloud technology, something the tech giant has been pushing across a wide variety of its services outside of gaming. A rumor has been going around the industry that Xbox Live integration will also be coming to the Nintendo Switch, though a rep from Microsoft didn't deny that it's in the works. However, even if Xbox Live comes to Nintendo Switch, it's unlikely to make its way onto Sony's flagship platform, the PlayStation 4. Microsoft, for its part, appears to be very willing to partner with companies many might consider to be rivals, but Sony's reticence makes the possible team up all but impossible. While it might seem like a similar roll out on a rival platform would be impossible, Minecraft on Switch does implement an Xbox Live sign-in. That puts the Switch in a similar position as the mobile market was prior to this announcement. The ability to put Xbox Live on Switch is already out in the wild with Minecraft; all it would take is the okay from Nintendo and some additional fine-tuning of the software for it to work well on Switch. We could very easily see the next battle for gaming supremacy take place not in hardware, but in the realm of software support and service features. If that's the case, Xbox Live just created a huge lead for itself. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  13. Today, Microsoft announced that they would be bringing Xbox Live to Android and iOS devices, officially lending its support to the wider world of mobile game development. This move isn't entirely unprecedented. Xbox Live support has been available on mobile before, however it was only included in apps and games developed by Microsoft itself, like Minecraft. This new move will put Xbox Live within reach of any developer who wants to integrate their app or game into the wider Xbox Live ecosystem. Microsoft initially teased back in February that they might be making an announcement related to mobile soon. The move, revealed today, will allow apps and games across the mobile world to access the suite of services associated with Xbox Live. Developers will be able to use the tools released by Microsoft to connect as many or as few Xbox Life services with their project as needed. Now we know, thanks to The Verge, the full extent of the program and tools. Microsoft's new mobile development kit (SDK) will enable devs to add Gamerscore, open up clubs, friend lists, and include account family settings. On top of that, developers will be able to implement a single sign-in for Xbox Live and grant devs online protection for their apps and games. The new SDK will come together with Microsoft Game Stack, a collection of tool sets designed to get developers up and running with Microsoft's cloud technology, something the tech giant has been pushing across a wide variety of its services outside of gaming. A rumor has been going around the industry that Xbox Live integration will also be coming to the Nintendo Switch, though a rep from Microsoft didn't deny that it's in the works. However, even if Xbox Live comes to Nintendo Switch, it's unlikely to make its way onto Sony's flagship platform, the PlayStation 4. Microsoft, for its part, appears to be very willing to partner with companies many might consider to be rivals, but Sony's reticence makes the possible team up all but impossible. While it might seem like a similar roll out on a rival platform would be impossible, Minecraft on Switch does implement an Xbox Live sign-in. That puts the Switch in a similar position as the mobile market was prior to this announcement. The ability to put Xbox Live on Switch is already out in the wild with Minecraft; all it would take is the okay from Nintendo and some additional fine-tuning of the software for it to work well on Switch. We could very easily see the next battle for gaming supremacy take place not in hardware, but in the realm of software support and service features. If that's the case, Xbox Live just created a huge lead for itself. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  14. Who is Sam? That's the question at the heart of A Normal Lost Phone a game for PC and mobile devices. Developed by Accidental Queens, A Normal Lost Phone puts players in possession of a phone that they have found on the ground. The game tasks players with using their cyber sleuthing skills to discover who the owner of the phone is and how to get them back their property. The entire thing becomes a literal character study, for better and worse. Could this mobile indie adventure game about snooping be one of the best games of all-time? 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:Final Fantasy VIII 'Wanderlust' by ZiSotto (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03864) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is available, as well! 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 Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  15. Who is Sam? That's the question at the heart of A Normal Lost Phone a game for PC and mobile devices. Developed by Accidental Queens, A Normal Lost Phone puts players in possession of a phone that they have found on the ground. The game tasks players with using their cyber sleuthing skills to discover who the owner of the phone is and how to get them back their property. The entire thing becomes a literal character study, for better and worse. Could this mobile indie adventure game about snooping be one of the best games of all-time? 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:Final Fantasy VIII 'Wanderlust' by ZiSotto (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03864) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is available, as well! 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 Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  16. The upcoming indie platformer Hoa looks incredible. The hand-painted aesthetic and adorable character design bring a vast amount of charm to the adventure of the titular Hoa, a small spritely creature trying to make her way home. Hoa is being made by a group of university graduates based in Singapore. The team currently includes four members working in their spare time to bring their vision to life. The devs wish to follow in the footsteps of classic, visually interesting platformers like Limbo and Rayman. To that end, the team experimented with a variety of different designs and discovered that their work meshed nicely with the distinctive look of Japanese animation. Much like Limbo, the entire game has been designed to only encompass a few hours, bringing players on a memorable and moving journey as they struggle with being a little being in a big world. Deciding to emulate the style of a masterful animation outfit like Studio Ghibli proved to be difficult to follow through on. In a recent interview with 80 Level, the game's director Ryo Cao Son Tung said: At that moment I was not really sure if we can do it. Ghibli’s artist like Kazuo Oga have decades of painting experience, and we have to match that quality. If we cannot pull it off, then the project is over right at the beginning. We spent a lot of time watching all Ghibli movies, researching their background art, breaking down the techniques, then finding a way to recreate that in Photoshop. It was a really tough task, but as we paint more we start to get the hang of it. After a few months of continuous researching and practicing and playing with different brush settings in Photoshop, our works reach an acceptable level. [...] In production, take the forest scene we posted for example, it took us about two weeks to finish painting all the background elements for the scene. Though Hoa remains a long way off from being completed, a playable demo should be finished within the next several months. Based on community feedback the team plans to refine the demo into a proof of concept to entice their investors to stick around. If they succeed in wrangling the financial backing, they expect Hoa to ship sometime next year for PC and Nintendo Switch. If it proves to be popular, they're even open to considering a mobile port. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  17. The upcoming indie platformer Hoa looks incredible. The hand-painted aesthetic and adorable character design bring a vast amount of charm to the adventure of the titular Hoa, a small spritely creature trying to make her way home. Hoa is being made by a group of university graduates based in Singapore. The team currently includes four members working in their spare time to bring their vision to life. The devs wish to follow in the footsteps of classic, visually interesting platformers like Limbo and Rayman. To that end, the team experimented with a variety of different designs and discovered that their work meshed nicely with the distinctive look of Japanese animation. Much like Limbo, the entire game has been designed to only encompass a few hours, bringing players on a memorable and moving journey as they struggle with being a little being in a big world. Deciding to emulate the style of a masterful animation outfit like Studio Ghibli proved to be difficult to follow through on. In a recent interview with 80 Level, the game's director Ryo Cao Son Tung said: At that moment I was not really sure if we can do it. Ghibli’s artist like Kazuo Oga have decades of painting experience, and we have to match that quality. If we cannot pull it off, then the project is over right at the beginning. We spent a lot of time watching all Ghibli movies, researching their background art, breaking down the techniques, then finding a way to recreate that in Photoshop. It was a really tough task, but as we paint more we start to get the hang of it. After a few months of continuous researching and practicing and playing with different brush settings in Photoshop, our works reach an acceptable level. [...] In production, take the forest scene we posted for example, it took us about two weeks to finish painting all the background elements for the scene. Though Hoa remains a long way off from being completed, a playable demo should be finished within the next several months. Based on community feedback the team plans to refine the demo into a proof of concept to entice their investors to stick around. If they succeed in wrangling the financial backing, they expect Hoa to ship sometime next year for PC and Nintendo Switch. If it proves to be popular, they're even open to considering a mobile port. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  18. You may have noticed a few images floating around the internet that appear to be advertising a game that looks suspiciously like Metal Gear Solid. That game is most likely Left Alive, a new game from Square Enix set in the Front Mission universe. For those unfamiliar with Front Mission, the series deals with a future where the Earth has descended into constant warfare between supranational states, collectives of countries working together to fend off aggression. All of them rely on "wanzers," large, humanoid tanks capable of sustaining massive amounts of damage while dishing it right back out. Though wanzers inevitably play a large role in each of the games, many of the series' main entries are more interested in the human drama unfolding that makes the use of these weapons necessary. Front Mission began in 1995 and many believed it ended with Front Mission Evolved in 2010. Until Left Alive came out, that is. Left Alive tells the story of people trapped in the contested city of Novo Slava and features both on-foot missions that mix stealth and action and explosive mech piloting segments. All of this exists in the grounded reality of a city under siege with defense forces struggling to survive and civilians just doing their best to stay alive. If you're wondering why Left Alive looks like Metal Gear Solid, that would be due to the character design and artistic contributions of Yoji Shinkawa, a prominent artist on the Metal Gear Solid series. On top of that, Armored Core V director Toshifumi Nabeshima has directed the reboot of Front Mission (which might also be a possible spiritual successor of Metal Gear Solid). Metal Gear Solid certainly inspired the game, but in interviews, director Toshifumi Nabeshima has stated that he considers it neither a stealth or an action game, that both are merely ways of reaching the end. However, don't go in expecting Deus Ex levels of solutions. Front Mission initially began as a turn-based strategy RPG. Players would move units around a hex grid in an attempt to outmaneuver the enemy in a war game. Left Alive is not that. Instead, Left Alive focuses on emphasizing how devastating wanzers can be by placing players in a position of weakness, where wanzers can annihilate them without a second thought. It's a tale of survival rather than the large-scale picture of commanding a war or a skirmish. As such, players have limited ammo and a broad range of freedom when it comes to achieving objectives that might require them to think on the fly and improvise. Overall, Left Alive looks really cool. With Hideo Kojima's departure from Konami effectively ending the Metal Gear Solid series, this might just be the thing Metal Gear fans need to fill the void left behind by the series' passing. Left Alive is available now for PlayStation 4 and PC. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  19. You may have noticed a few images floating around the internet that appear to be advertising a game that looks suspiciously like Metal Gear Solid. That game is most likely Left Alive, a new game from Square Enix set in the Front Mission universe. For those unfamiliar with Front Mission, the series deals with a future where the Earth has descended into constant warfare between supranational states, collectives of countries working together to fend off aggression. All of them rely on "wanzers," large, humanoid tanks capable of sustaining massive amounts of damage while dishing it right back out. Though wanzers inevitably play a large role in each of the games, many of the series' main entries are more interested in the human drama unfolding that makes the use of these weapons necessary. Front Mission began in 1995 and many believed it ended with Front Mission Evolved in 2010. Until Left Alive came out, that is. Left Alive tells the story of people trapped in the contested city of Novo Slava and features both on-foot missions that mix stealth and action and explosive mech piloting segments. All of this exists in the grounded reality of a city under siege with defense forces struggling to survive and civilians just doing their best to stay alive. If you're wondering why Left Alive looks like Metal Gear Solid, that would be due to the character design and artistic contributions of Yoji Shinkawa, a prominent artist on the Metal Gear Solid series. On top of that, Armored Core V director Toshifumi Nabeshima has directed the reboot of Front Mission (which might also be a possible spiritual successor of Metal Gear Solid). Metal Gear Solid certainly inspired the game, but in interviews, director Toshifumi Nabeshima has stated that he considers it neither a stealth or an action game, that both are merely ways of reaching the end. However, don't go in expecting Deus Ex levels of solutions. Front Mission initially began as a turn-based strategy RPG. Players would move units around a hex grid in an attempt to outmaneuver the enemy in a war game. Left Alive is not that. Instead, Left Alive focuses on emphasizing how devastating wanzers can be by placing players in a position of weakness, where wanzers can annihilate them without a second thought. It's a tale of survival rather than the large-scale picture of commanding a war or a skirmish. As such, players have limited ammo and a broad range of freedom when it comes to achieving objectives that might require them to think on the fly and improvise. Overall, Left Alive looks really cool. With Hideo Kojima's departure from Konami effectively ending the Metal Gear Solid series, this might just be the thing Metal Gear fans need to fill the void left behind by the series' passing. Left Alive is available now for PlayStation 4 and PC. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  20. It has been 25 years since Chip's Challenge debuted on Atari Lynx and Windows 3.1 to resounding success. Players can finally pick it up on Steam as well as the never released sequel, Chip's Challenge 2, this May. "Wait, Chip's Challenge 2?" I hear some of you cry. That's right. Chuck Sommerville, the creator of Chip's Challenge 1, spent two years developing a sequel, that was subsequently shelved due to funding issues with publishing. “When I couldn’t release Chip’s Challenge 2, it hit me really hard. Not only had I spent two years perfecting it, I also felt I’d let down the fans too,” Sommerville said. “I generally thought the only way Chip’s Challenge 2 was ever going to see the light of day was by having my wife leak it on the internet on my death.” However, after five years of negotiations, Chuck Sommerville will be releasing both Chip's Challenges on Steam with all the unseen levels, Steam trading cards, and the original game code. They will be modernized a bit to allow players to save their progress instead of using the older code system. Chip's Challenge 1 and 2 will release on Steam May 29. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  21. A new 2.5D side-scrolling stealth action platformer from Ubisoft lands tomorrow. Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China stars Shao Jun, which fans might already be familiar with from the 2011 animated short "Assassin's Creed: Embers." Shao Jun stands as the last remaining member of the Chinese Brootherhood. Now she returns to her homeland to restore the Assassins and exact her revenge against the people who stole her life. Two more titles are planned for the Chronicles series, India and Russia. More details coming on those in the near future. This has been a bit of a stealthy lead up to release, following the low-key announcement two weeks ago. Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China will be available tomorrow, April 21, on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  22. The spooky and talented folks at Red Hook Studios have teased a sequel to their dark and macabre roguelike RPG Darkest Dungeon. Here's everything we know so far about Darkest Dungeon 2. The reveal included a roughly 30-second trailer with an intriguing key visual and a haunting voice-over. It depicts a mountain, frozen with ice and snow half covering twisted rock formations set in what appear to be screaming faces. As the camera zooms out, one can pick out the six core classes that released in the original game (though none of the additional classes that released as DLC) standing astride a nearby mountain staring at the even more foreboding peak in the distance. The voice-over comes courtesy of Wayne June, who lent his vocal performance to the original Darkest Dungeon. PC Gamer conducted an interview with the developers that's very much worth reading in full. Beyond the trailer, we know that Darkest Dungeon 2 will be a departure from the manor-delving that made up the majority of the original's metagame. Instead, players will be on a journey that exposes more of what's going on in the outside world. The scope of the game seems to have expanded dramatically, too, with Red Hook almost tripling in size from its original team. Much like the first game, Darkest Dungeon 2 will enjoy a period in Steam's Early Access category while the developers add content, fix bugs, and listen to community feedback. Darkest Dungeon was one of the best indie roguelikes of 2016, and earned quite a bit of acclaim even during its Early Access period. It put players in the position of an inheritor of an estate that had belonged to a deranged family member. Of course, arriving on the estate grounds, all of its various sections are overrun by madmen and monsters. Using various adventurers willing to risk both mind and matter, each section must be cleared to fully claim the inheritance hidden beneath the manor. It's very much worth the current $6.24 asking price on Steam. No word yet on when fans should expect to see Darkest Dungeon 2 hitting Early Access, so we'll have to be patient and not succumb to madness... for now. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  23. The spooky and talented folks at Red Hook Studios have teased a sequel to their dark and macabre roguelike RPG Darkest Dungeon. Here's everything we know so far about Darkest Dungeon 2. The reveal included a roughly 30-second trailer with an intriguing key visual and a haunting voice-over. It depicts a mountain, frozen with ice and snow half covering twisted rock formations set in what appear to be screaming faces. As the camera zooms out, one can pick out the six core classes that released in the original game (though none of the additional classes that released as DLC) standing astride a nearby mountain staring at the even more foreboding peak in the distance. The voice-over comes courtesy of Wayne June, who lent his vocal performance to the original Darkest Dungeon. PC Gamer conducted an interview with the developers that's very much worth reading in full. Beyond the trailer, we know that Darkest Dungeon 2 will be a departure from the manor-delving that made up the majority of the original's metagame. Instead, players will be on a journey that exposes more of what's going on in the outside world. The scope of the game seems to have expanded dramatically, too, with Red Hook almost tripling in size from its original team. Much like the first game, Darkest Dungeon 2 will enjoy a period in Steam's Early Access category while the developers add content, fix bugs, and listen to community feedback. Darkest Dungeon was one of the best indie roguelikes of 2016, and earned quite a bit of acclaim even during its Early Access period. It put players in the position of an inheritor of an estate that had belonged to a deranged family member. Of course, arriving on the estate grounds, all of its various sections are overrun by madmen and monsters. Using various adventurers willing to risk both mind and matter, each section must be cleared to fully claim the inheritance hidden beneath the manor. It's very much worth the current $6.24 asking price on Steam. No word yet on when fans should expect to see Darkest Dungeon 2 hitting Early Access, so we'll have to be patient and not succumb to madness... for now. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  24. The latest arcade flight sim with narrative aspirations from Project Aces, Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown exists as a bit of an odd duck. The last couple attempts to bring the series into the modern day after its PlayStation 2 heyday fell flat and failed to gain much traction. This left Ace Combat in something of a limbo, only receiving support for the PSN exclusive and microtransaction-heavy Ace Combat Infinity. Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown seeks to bring the series back to its roots by setting itself up as a canonical sequel to Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War, one of the most successful Ace Combat games to date. Despite that positioning, Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown doesn’t require players to be familiar with its predecessor or the history of the fictional world of Strangereal. There are certainly nods to events and characters that veteran fans will recognize, but for the most part, these moments aren’t necessary to enjoy the larger story. That story details a war between the countries of Osea and Erusea stemming from economic and political contention regarding a space elevator constructed using Osean funds on Erusean soil after Osea devastated Erusea in a previous war. Into this situation are thrown all manner of crazy twists and plot threads including: Prisoners forced to pilot aircraft in the war, the assassination of a former head of state, the future of unmanned drone warfare in the skies, and a survival behind enemy lines narrative. If all of that sounds interesting, it should! Unfortunately, it never comes together into one cohesive entity and then just ends. One of the biggest problems is the complete lack of a protagonist. This was somewhat solved in Ace Combat 5 by allowing the player to participate in radio conversations with pilots in their squadron. Allowing for a little bit of character development that wasn’t just, “Golly gee, [player] is really the best pilot!” And that’s a huge problem in Ace Combat 7 because the player is framed for the assassination of the former president of Osea and sent to an island to fly junk planes as a distraction for the enemy. He just happens to be such a good pilot that eventually everyone seems to forget that they all think he assassinated a former president for no apparent reason. Ace Combat 7 squanders the unique opportunity it has with the concept of prisoner pilots by very quickly hand waving away that aspect. A bunch of criminals flying airplanes sounds like it should be a great mix for the series, but it never has a tangible effect on the gameplay outside of one mission where players are denied the ability to repair and reload weapons mid-mission. Limiting the choice of planes, putting players against hopeless odds, heck, maybe having the planes the prisoners are flying literally start falling apart mid-mission – there are so many interesting ways that Ace Combat 7 could have handled the disposable prisoner-soldier aspect. Eventually, the war progresses and leaves Osea overly dependent on the squadron of prisoners – until a late-game twist cuts the squadron off from those higher up in the chain of command. This could have been a great opportunity to put the game into the player’s hands: Will the prisoner-pilots stay loyal to Osea of maybe they join the losing Erusean forces. Ace Combat 5 had several missions that diverged based on player choice and gameplay decisions. Instead, it becomes a story about survival behind enemy lines; admittedly still cool, but it doesn’t do much to revitalize the story. Many of these interesting narrative beats ultimately fail because of the disconnect between them and the main focus of the story: Unmanned drones. Ace Combat 7 really wants to be a story about the dangers of drone warfare. All of its cutscenes and several of its missions deal directly with that theme and threat. It’s the only one that actually feels tangible in the gameplay itself. The threat of coming up against an AI-controlled aircraft that can outmaneuver a human pilot feels more real than anything else the flight sim presents players. It’s unfortunate that the game that the game doesn’t then focus itself entirely on that danger, flooding the player’s airspace with mass produced drones or recurring encounters against a squadron of AI aircraft that learn from the player’s maneuvers. If prisoner-pilots and being lost behind enemy lines weren’t going to help build the story around the threat of drone warfare, they should have been cut or reworked to include them. Instead, we have a bunch of half-baked ideas that lack full function or resonance. Something odd must have been going on behind the scenes of Ace Combat 7’s development to have led to the narrative being a hot mess. The game just ends with everyone realizing that the disagreement over the space elevator was based on a misunderstanding. The campaign stands at 20 missions long, shorter than Ace Combat 5 by 7-12 missions depending on how one counts them. It’s possible that many of these lingering questions or half-formed ideas will be expanded upon in future DLC that will be supporting the title, but not enough is known about the eventual DLC to say for sure. We do know that it will touch on story content, but we can only judge based on what’s there now and it’s not a terribly satisfying narrative package. On top of that, there’s no arcade mode like previous entries in the series possessed, which featured a series of flight scenarios designed to challenge players. The only thing that makes sense is that due to budget or time constraints much of the single-player content had to be axed out of the core game. Or, to be a bit cynical, it’s possible that it was cut out to serve as DLC later down the road. Ace Combat 7’s story might be a mess, but the visual design for the aircraft, skies, and even the detailed models of structures and vehicles on the ground absolutely nail what the series has always been about. For all of the craziness of its Metal Gear-like flying drone carriers, the realism and attention to detail instantly convey that this is Ace Combat. It’s so beautiful, I often wanted to simply fly and look to at the swirling clouds, missile trails, explosions, and gorgeous chaos going on in missions. Each mission has a recap camera that follows the entire mission from a variety of angles centered on the player’s airplane and I’d often watch that for several minutes after concluding a sortie. The replay feature could be improved by the ability to fast forward through the mission at more than just 2X speed. The soundtrack created by longtime game composer Keiki Kobayashi does its best to replicate the music of Ace Combat, succeeding in some respects while falling short in others. Kobayashi has been composing since 2001 and worked in the music departments of all the Ace Combat games since Ace Combat 4: Shattered Skies. It makes sense that he would be able to nail the ambient background soundscapes of the Ace Combat series for Ace Combat 7. However, Skies Unknown desperately lacks a central theme to rally around. Even at its best, it manages to convey frantic or dramatic energy, but possesses little memorable thrust of its own. It’s good experiential music to fly to but not so much to remember after the fact. The gameplay remains largely true to the Ace Combat formula of loading up a plane with an impossible number of missiles and sending it out to do battle against a variety of air and ground targets. The mission design feels tight with every mission offering a number of exciting and unique challenges. Whether it’s altitude restrictions, flying through canyons, a time limit to do as much damage as possible, getting close enough to identify a wide field of unknown potential targets, or finding smuggling trucks in a dust storm, players should expect the unexpected when gearing up for the next mission. Dealing with a number of flying quirks on missions adds another unique wrinkle to the gameplay. High winds can make flying close to the ground or staying on target difficult. Flying through clouds can help block missiles while also threatening to ice over the engines. Rain can obscure vision in the cockpit view. The most dangerous weather condition of all stands out as lightning which can fry electronics and send a plane into a deadly tailspin. Instead of a lengthy campaign or an arcade mode, Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown boasts an online multiplayer mode with a couple different rule sets, pitting players against one another for intense aerial combat. The mode is… fine. It’s fine. It’s not fantastic due to the lack of gameplay modes and rule sets for players to choose from. This might be some player’s jam and it’s certainly necessary to include in a modern Ace Combat game. However, most people aren’t playing Ace Combat for the multiplayer and there’s not much beyond replaying the campaign for people who value that single-player experience. Conclusion: Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown feels like a game that’s not sure about what it wants to be. It wants to be a gritty war story, but lacks the punch necessary to follow-through on that desire. The gameplay frequently feels disconnected from the story itself. It’s incredibly short, clocking in at only 2/3 the size of its PS2 predecessor. However, despite these narrative shortcomings, its ultimately nails the feel of classic Ace Combat. It’s a blast to play and part of the disappointment in the shortness of the game stems from the desire to play more of it. As a starting point for relaunching consistent Ace Combat releases, Skies Unknown feels like solid bedrock on which to build. For those who love multiplayer or want a unique VR experience (yes, the VR is cool, but you probably shouldn’t buy PSVR just to experience Ace Combat 7), Skies Unknown caters directly to those cravings. It certainly isn’t the perfect Ace Combat game that sets a new standard for the franchise, but Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown stands as an enjoyable entry that fans will appreciate. Maybe just wait for it to go on sale and see how the DLC roll out goes before you buy. Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  25. The latest arcade flight sim with narrative aspirations from Project Aces, Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown exists as a bit of an odd duck. The last couple attempts to bring the series into the modern day after its PlayStation 2 heyday fell flat and failed to gain much traction. This left Ace Combat in something of a limbo, only receiving support for the PSN exclusive and microtransaction-heavy Ace Combat Infinity. Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown seeks to bring the series back to its roots by setting itself up as a canonical sequel to Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War, one of the most successful Ace Combat games to date. Despite that positioning, Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown doesn’t require players to be familiar with its predecessor or the history of the fictional world of Strangereal. There are certainly nods to events and characters that veteran fans will recognize, but for the most part, these moments aren’t necessary to enjoy the larger story. That story details a war between the countries of Osea and Erusea stemming from economic and political contention regarding a space elevator constructed using Osean funds on Erusean soil after Osea devastated Erusea in a previous war. Into this situation are thrown all manner of crazy twists and plot threads including: Prisoners forced to pilot aircraft in the war, the assassination of a former head of state, the future of unmanned drone warfare in the skies, and a survival behind enemy lines narrative. If all of that sounds interesting, it should! Unfortunately, it never comes together into one cohesive entity and then just ends. One of the biggest problems is the complete lack of a protagonist. This was somewhat solved in Ace Combat 5 by allowing the player to participate in radio conversations with pilots in their squadron. Allowing for a little bit of character development that wasn’t just, “Golly gee, [player] is really the best pilot!” And that’s a huge problem in Ace Combat 7 because the player is framed for the assassination of the former president of Osea and sent to an island to fly junk planes as a distraction for the enemy. He just happens to be such a good pilot that eventually everyone seems to forget that they all think he assassinated a former president for no apparent reason. Ace Combat 7 squanders the unique opportunity it has with the concept of prisoner pilots by very quickly hand waving away that aspect. A bunch of criminals flying airplanes sounds like it should be a great mix for the series, but it never has a tangible effect on the gameplay outside of one mission where players are denied the ability to repair and reload weapons mid-mission. Limiting the choice of planes, putting players against hopeless odds, heck, maybe having the planes the prisoners are flying literally start falling apart mid-mission – there are so many interesting ways that Ace Combat 7 could have handled the disposable prisoner-soldier aspect. Eventually, the war progresses and leaves Osea overly dependent on the squadron of prisoners – until a late-game twist cuts the squadron off from those higher up in the chain of command. This could have been a great opportunity to put the game into the player’s hands: Will the prisoner-pilots stay loyal to Osea of maybe they join the losing Erusean forces. Ace Combat 5 had several missions that diverged based on player choice and gameplay decisions. Instead, it becomes a story about survival behind enemy lines; admittedly still cool, but it doesn’t do much to revitalize the story. Many of these interesting narrative beats ultimately fail because of the disconnect between them and the main focus of the story: Unmanned drones. Ace Combat 7 really wants to be a story about the dangers of drone warfare. All of its cutscenes and several of its missions deal directly with that theme and threat. It’s the only one that actually feels tangible in the gameplay itself. The threat of coming up against an AI-controlled aircraft that can outmaneuver a human pilot feels more real than anything else the flight sim presents players. It’s unfortunate that the game that the game doesn’t then focus itself entirely on that danger, flooding the player’s airspace with mass produced drones or recurring encounters against a squadron of AI aircraft that learn from the player’s maneuvers. If prisoner-pilots and being lost behind enemy lines weren’t going to help build the story around the threat of drone warfare, they should have been cut or reworked to include them. Instead, we have a bunch of half-baked ideas that lack full function or resonance. Something odd must have been going on behind the scenes of Ace Combat 7’s development to have led to the narrative being a hot mess. The game just ends with everyone realizing that the disagreement over the space elevator was based on a misunderstanding. The campaign stands at 20 missions long, shorter than Ace Combat 5 by 7-12 missions depending on how one counts them. It’s possible that many of these lingering questions or half-formed ideas will be expanded upon in future DLC that will be supporting the title, but not enough is known about the eventual DLC to say for sure. We do know that it will touch on story content, but we can only judge based on what’s there now and it’s not a terribly satisfying narrative package. On top of that, there’s no arcade mode like previous entries in the series possessed, which featured a series of flight scenarios designed to challenge players. The only thing that makes sense is that due to budget or time constraints much of the single-player content had to be axed out of the core game. Or, to be a bit cynical, it’s possible that it was cut out to serve as DLC later down the road. Ace Combat 7’s story might be a mess, but the visual design for the aircraft, skies, and even the detailed models of structures and vehicles on the ground absolutely nail what the series has always been about. For all of the craziness of its Metal Gear-like flying drone carriers, the realism and attention to detail instantly convey that this is Ace Combat. It’s so beautiful, I often wanted to simply fly and look to at the swirling clouds, missile trails, explosions, and gorgeous chaos going on in missions. Each mission has a recap camera that follows the entire mission from a variety of angles centered on the player’s airplane and I’d often watch that for several minutes after concluding a sortie. The replay feature could be improved by the ability to fast forward through the mission at more than just 2X speed. The soundtrack created by longtime game composer Keiki Kobayashi does its best to replicate the music of Ace Combat, succeeding in some respects while falling short in others. Kobayashi has been composing since 2001 and worked in the music departments of all the Ace Combat games since Ace Combat 4: Shattered Skies. It makes sense that he would be able to nail the ambient background soundscapes of the Ace Combat series for Ace Combat 7. However, Skies Unknown desperately lacks a central theme to rally around. Even at its best, it manages to convey frantic or dramatic energy, but possesses little memorable thrust of its own. It’s good experiential music to fly to but not so much to remember after the fact. The gameplay remains largely true to the Ace Combat formula of loading up a plane with an impossible number of missiles and sending it out to do battle against a variety of air and ground targets. The mission design feels tight with every mission offering a number of exciting and unique challenges. Whether it’s altitude restrictions, flying through canyons, a time limit to do as much damage as possible, getting close enough to identify a wide field of unknown potential targets, or finding smuggling trucks in a dust storm, players should expect the unexpected when gearing up for the next mission. Dealing with a number of flying quirks on missions adds another unique wrinkle to the gameplay. High winds can make flying close to the ground or staying on target difficult. Flying through clouds can help block missiles while also threatening to ice over the engines. Rain can obscure vision in the cockpit view. The most dangerous weather condition of all stands out as lightning which can fry electronics and send a plane into a deadly tailspin. Instead of a lengthy campaign or an arcade mode, Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown boasts an online multiplayer mode with a couple different rule sets, pitting players against one another for intense aerial combat. The mode is… fine. It’s fine. It’s not fantastic due to the lack of gameplay modes and rule sets for players to choose from. This might be some player’s jam and it’s certainly necessary to include in a modern Ace Combat game. However, most people aren’t playing Ace Combat for the multiplayer and there’s not much beyond replaying the campaign for people who value that single-player experience. Conclusion: Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown feels like a game that’s not sure about what it wants to be. It wants to be a gritty war story, but lacks the punch necessary to follow-through on that desire. The gameplay frequently feels disconnected from the story itself. It’s incredibly short, clocking in at only 2/3 the size of its PS2 predecessor. However, despite these narrative shortcomings, its ultimately nails the feel of classic Ace Combat. It’s a blast to play and part of the disappointment in the shortness of the game stems from the desire to play more of it. As a starting point for relaunching consistent Ace Combat releases, Skies Unknown feels like solid bedrock on which to build. For those who love multiplayer or want a unique VR experience (yes, the VR is cool, but you probably shouldn’t buy PSVR just to experience Ace Combat 7), Skies Unknown caters directly to those cravings. It certainly isn’t the perfect Ace Combat game that sets a new standard for the franchise, but Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown stands as an enjoyable entry that fans will appreciate. Maybe just wait for it to go on sale and see how the DLC roll out goes before you buy. Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
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