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Found 492 results

  1. 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!
  2. 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
  3. 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!
  4. 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
  5. 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!
  6. 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
  7. 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!
  8. 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!
  9. 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
  10. Take a nostalgia trip back to the heyday of the 8-bit era with Odallus: The Dark Call, an action-platformer coming to Nintendo Switch. Odallus: The Dark Call tells the story of Haggis, an aged hero who embarks on a quest to save his son and avenge the destruction of his village. Battling demons, cultists, and eldritch beings, Haggis presses onward to spare his son from becoming a dark sacrifice. Brazilian developer JoyMasher masterminded both Odallus: The Dark Call and Oniken, which will also be receiving a Switch port. The company specializes in retro game development, with Odallus covering the Metroidvania action subgenre and Oniken representing JoyMasher's take on the old-school Ninja Gaiden. They also have a game currently in development called Blazing Chrome, a 16-bit run-and-gun action-shooter in the vein of Super Contra or Metal Slug. Odallus: The Dark Call initially released in 2015 for PC, receiving mostly positive reviews for its heartfelt send up of the Castlevania of old. It includes classic 8-bit cutscenes, a large world full of secrets, and clever gameplay twists that might trick even the most veteran of players. Now, the adventures of Haggis are coming to Nintendo Switch in February as well as PlayStation 4 and Xbox One later this spring. Odallus: The Dark Call features eight levels that can be explored for more secrets when players have acquired more abilities. Levels are populated by over fifty different enemy types and offer chances to face off against colossal bosses. Players who stick through to the end will spend, at a minimum, eight hours completing the game, only to find a veteran difficulty awaiting them for added replayability. When it launches, Odallus: The Dark Call will be available digitally. However, Eastasiasoft will be offering a limited run physical edition of the game. These physical copies will work on all systems worldwide, but may have some limitations on their online features. The following will be offered physically: Odallus: The Dark Call (PS4) Oniken + Odallus Collection (PS4/Switch) Oniken + Odallus Collection: Limited Edition (Switch) Odallus: The Dark Call releases for Nintendo Switch on February 8 and will be coming to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One sometime during spring of this year. 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!
  11. Take a nostalgia trip back to the heyday of the 8-bit era with Odallus: The Dark Call, an action-platformer coming to Nintendo Switch. Odallus: The Dark Call tells the story of Haggis, an aged hero who embarks on a quest to save his son and avenge the destruction of his village. Battling demons, cultists, and eldritch beings, Haggis presses onward to spare his son from becoming a dark sacrifice. Brazilian developer JoyMasher masterminded both Odallus: The Dark Call and Oniken, which will also be receiving a Switch port. The company specializes in retro game development, with Odallus covering the Metroidvania action subgenre and Oniken representing JoyMasher's take on the old-school Ninja Gaiden. They also have a game currently in development called Blazing Chrome, a 16-bit run-and-gun action-shooter in the vein of Super Contra or Metal Slug. Odallus: The Dark Call initially released in 2015 for PC, receiving mostly positive reviews for its heartfelt send up of the Castlevania of old. It includes classic 8-bit cutscenes, a large world full of secrets, and clever gameplay twists that might trick even the most veteran of players. Now, the adventures of Haggis are coming to Nintendo Switch in February as well as PlayStation 4 and Xbox One later this spring. Odallus: The Dark Call features eight levels that can be explored for more secrets when players have acquired more abilities. Levels are populated by over fifty different enemy types and offer chances to face off against colossal bosses. Players who stick through to the end will spend, at a minimum, eight hours completing the game, only to find a veteran difficulty awaiting them for added replayability. When it launches, Odallus: The Dark Call will be available digitally. However, Eastasiasoft will be offering a limited run physical edition of the game. These physical copies will work on all systems worldwide, but may have some limitations on their online features. The following will be offered physically: Odallus: The Dark Call (PS4) Oniken + Odallus Collection (PS4/Switch) Oniken + Odallus Collection: Limited Edition (Switch) Odallus: The Dark Call releases for Nintendo Switch on February 8 and will be coming to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One sometime during spring of this year. 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
  12. Following a giveaway on Humble Bundle and a heavy discount during the holiday sales, the Lego versions of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit have been pulled from Steam as well as the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 digital storefronts. These aren't the first games to disappear from digital marketplaces recently. Following the collapse of Telltale Games, many of their high-profile adventure games also vanished from the Steam store. Reddit user SuperMoonkey first spotted the delisting. While it's still possible to access the web pages for both Lego: The Lord of the Rings and Lego: The Hobbit, neither game can be purchased on any platform. The only way to play these games now is to purchase physical copies - or wait until they return in a digital form, if they ever do. While it might seem strange that these two games would be removed, there's been some speculation as to the reasons why. The biggest cause of delistings on digital stores comes down to licensing. Publishers that put out games often have a certain time limit on how long they are able to sell products based on films or that contain certain music tracks. Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has the rights to create games based on the world of Middle-Earth, but those are different from the rights to creating games based on Peter Jackson's film adaptations of Tolkien's work. Though Warner Bros. has yet to clarify the exact situation, it's entirely possible that they have different licensing terms for the world of Middle-Earth and the Jackson films. The film licenses might have expired, leaving the publisher with the rights to the games based on the world but not the films. This would explain the removal of Lego: The Lord of the Rings and Lego: The Hobbit, but not games like Middle-Earth Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of War. We'll let you know if Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment releases an update on the situation. 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!
  13. Following a giveaway on Humble Bundle and a heavy discount during the holiday sales, the Lego versions of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit have been pulled from Steam as well as the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 digital storefronts. These aren't the first games to disappear from digital marketplaces recently. Following the collapse of Telltale Games, many of their high-profile adventure games also vanished from the Steam store. Reddit user SuperMoonkey first spotted the delisting. While it's still possible to access the web pages for both Lego: The Lord of the Rings and Lego: The Hobbit, neither game can be purchased on any platform. The only way to play these games now is to purchase physical copies - or wait until they return in a digital form, if they ever do. While it might seem strange that these two games would be removed, there's been some speculation as to the reasons why. The biggest cause of delistings on digital stores comes down to licensing. Publishers that put out games often have a certain time limit on how long they are able to sell products based on films or that contain certain music tracks. Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has the rights to create games based on the world of Middle-Earth, but those are different from the rights to creating games based on Peter Jackson's film adaptations of Tolkien's work. Though Warner Bros. has yet to clarify the exact situation, it's entirely possible that they have different licensing terms for the world of Middle-Earth and the Jackson films. The film licenses might have expired, leaving the publisher with the rights to the games based on the world but not the films. This would explain the removal of Lego: The Lord of the Rings and Lego: The Hobbit, but not games like Middle-Earth Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of War. We'll let you know if Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment releases an update on the situation. 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
  14. Vane, an upcoming indie game courtesy of developers who previously worked on The Last Guardian, thrusts players into the skin of a bird who can take the form of a young child to explore the ruins of a decrepit civilization. Created by the folks at Friend & Foe Games, players will have to delve deeper and deeper into the mystical ruins of a culture long gone (or is it?). The trailer seems to intentionally remind the viewer of minimalist titles like Ico and Journey. Vane comes to us courtesy of Friend & Foe Games, a studio founded in 2014 by several developers who have worked on titles like the previously mentioned The Last Guardian, but their pedigree also includes action-oriented games like Battlefield 3 and Killzone. Despite the impressive credentials, the studio isn't a large one. Their website only lists a team of eight who have worked on Vane. They also seem to have another project in the works; an arcade brawler titled Dangerous Men, though not much is known about it at this time. As far as the story goes, all we know is that a pile of mysterious, golden dust transforms a curious crow into a young child. Armed with curiosity and the ability to transform back into a bird form, the kid begins to explore a vast world filled with wonder, excitement, danger, and dread. Mysterious technology begins to churn to life at the child's approach, reshaping the world as they continue their journey to who-knows-where. As the journey continues, who knows what shape the barren desert might take as it awakens. If you ever wondered what Ico would be like if you could turn into a bird and were exposed to existential terror, Vane might be right up your alley. in many ways it reminds me of Rime, last year's indie game about a child exploring a strange world from Tequila Works. That's some high praise given that Rime was flippin' great. Also, the synth music buoying the action in the above trailer is just excellent. Vane will release on January 15 for the PlayStation 4. 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
  15. Vane, an upcoming indie game courtesy of developers who previously worked on The Last Guardian, thrusts players into the skin of a bird who can take the form of a young child to explore the ruins of a decrepit civilization. Created by the folks at Friend & Foe Games, players will have to delve deeper and deeper into the mystical ruins of a culture long gone (or is it?). The trailer seems to intentionally remind the viewer of minimalist titles like Ico and Journey. Vane comes to us courtesy of Friend & Foe Games, a studio founded in 2014 by several developers who have worked on titles like the previously mentioned The Last Guardian, but their pedigree also includes action-oriented games like Battlefield 3 and Killzone. Despite the impressive credentials, the studio isn't a large one. Their website only lists a team of eight who have worked on Vane. They also seem to have another project in the works; an arcade brawler titled Dangerous Men, though not much is known about it at this time. As far as the story goes, all we know is that a pile of mysterious, golden dust transforms a curious crow into a young child. Armed with curiosity and the ability to transform back into a bird form, the kid begins to explore a vast world filled with wonder, excitement, danger, and dread. Mysterious technology begins to churn to life at the child's approach, reshaping the world as they continue their journey to who-knows-where. As the journey continues, who knows what shape the barren desert might take as it awakens. If you ever wondered what Ico would be like if you could turn into a bird and were exposed to existential terror, Vane might be right up your alley. in many ways it reminds me of Rime, last year's indie game about a child exploring a strange world from Tequila Works. That's some high praise given that Rime was flippin' great. Also, the synth music buoying the action in the above trailer is just excellent. Vane will release on January 15 for the PlayStation 4. 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!
  16. You know the massive boss ships that float down from the top of the screen in classic bullet hell games? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to play as one of those for a change? Now you can thanks to Spacewave Software's Rival Megagun! Rival Megagun has two players competing against one another as they battle through SHMUP (Shoot 'Em Up) levels while trying to take one another out. When hitting certain power levels, players can cross the vertical divide to attack their opponent as a colossal boss ship - a Mega Gunship, if you will. Players can tackle the game solo against the AI, play against friends in local couch co-op, or take on all comers online. The game features a number of different playable characters each with their own strengths and weaknesses and unique Mega Gunship forms. There's also a solo play arcade mode for those who want to immerse themselves in the classic roots of the genre. As players progress through the Rival Megagun, they'll unlock new components and weapons for their various ships, enabling customizations and opening up devious tactics to spring on unsuspecting rivals. Rival Megagun is available today for PC and PlayStation 4, November 30 for Xbox One, and December 12 for the Nintendo Switch. 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. You know the massive boss ships that float down from the top of the screen in classic bullet hell games? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to play as one of those for a change? Now you can thanks to Spacewave Software's Rival Megagun! Rival Megagun has two players competing against one another as they battle through SHMUP (Shoot 'Em Up) levels while trying to take one another out. When hitting certain power levels, players can cross the vertical divide to attack their opponent as a colossal boss ship - a Mega Gunship, if you will. Players can tackle the game solo against the AI, play against friends in local couch co-op, or take on all comers online. The game features a number of different playable characters each with their own strengths and weaknesses and unique Mega Gunship forms. There's also a solo play arcade mode for those who want to immerse themselves in the classic roots of the genre. As players progress through the Rival Megagun, they'll unlock new components and weapons for their various ships, enabling customizations and opening up devious tactics to spring on unsuspecting rivals. Rival Megagun is available today for PC and PlayStation 4, November 30 for Xbox One, and December 12 for the Nintendo Switch. 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. Dream Daddy, a dating sim about a cul-de-sac inhabited by a bevy of dads who may or may not be looking for romance, released last year for PCs. Computer gamers the world over rejoiced in the quality dating sim adventures of a dorky dad being a nerd with his daughter and finding love in the most unlikely places. It was quite good! Now, the PlayStation 4 is poised to receive a port of the best dad dating experience out there when Dream Daddy: Dadrector's Cut releases next week on October 30. The updated title restores content cut from the initial release of Dream Daddy, along with new sidequests, and a new mini game. Players will even be able to play through the various mini games on their own without trucking through the full dating sim itself. Basically, there will be more doggone derpy dad moments and that's always a good thing. The Dadrector's Cut will also be available as a free expansion to players who already own the game for PC, giving everyone an opportunity to hop into the pastel worlds of dads and daughters one more time. 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. Dream Daddy, a dating sim about a cul-de-sac inhabited by a bevy of dads who may or may not be looking for romance, released last year for PCs. Computer gamers the world over rejoiced in the quality dating sim adventures of a dorky dad being a nerd with his daughter and finding love in the most unlikely places. It was quite good! Now, the PlayStation 4 is poised to receive a port of the best dad dating experience out there when Dream Daddy: Dadrector's Cut releases next week on October 30. The updated title restores content cut from the initial release of Dream Daddy, along with new sidequests, and a new mini game. Players will even be able to play through the various mini games on their own without trucking through the full dating sim itself. Basically, there will be more doggone derpy dad moments and that's always a good thing. The Dadrector's Cut will also be available as a free expansion to players who already own the game for PC, giving everyone an opportunity to hop into the pastel worlds of dads and daughters one more time. 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. We haven't heard much about the remaster of the PlayStation 1 since its announcement at PSX late last year. The title is expected to be a full, top-to-bottom revamp along the same lines as the Crash Bandicoots and Spyros that are all the rage these days, complete with new assets and up to 4K resolution support. In a recent appearance on PlayStation Blogcast, Sid Shuman, Sony's social media director, revealed that the company expects the MediEvil remake to release "in the next week or so." This likely puts the game on track for release near Halloween, if not the day of everyone's favorite spooky holiday. Shuman also said that the head of worldwide studios at Sony, Shawn Layden, would be making an announcement soon on the podcast, so we will likely be hearing more concrete details in the days to come. RIP easily, friends, it appears Sir Dan will be returning from the grave quite soon. 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. We haven't heard much about the remaster of the PlayStation 1 since its announcement at PSX late last year. The title is expected to be a full, top-to-bottom revamp along the same lines as the Crash Bandicoots and Spyros that are all the rage these days, complete with new assets and up to 4K resolution support. In a recent appearance on PlayStation Blogcast, Sid Shuman, Sony's social media director, revealed that the company expects the MediEvil remake to release "in the next week or so." This likely puts the game on track for release near Halloween, if not the day of everyone's favorite spooky holiday. Shuman also said that the head of worldwide studios at Sony, Shawn Layden, would be making an announcement soon on the podcast, so we will likely be hearing more concrete details in the days to come. RIP easily, friends, it appears Sir Dan will be returning from the grave quite soon. 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
  22. Frictional Games, the developers behind Penumbra and Soma, have released a free update for their most famous title to date. Amnesia: The Dark Descent revolutionized horror with its physics-based gameplay and use of tension to make it feel like an ominous presence constantly pursues the player as they progress through a haunted castle. It was so successful that the classic first-person horror game changed the way games handled horror for years. The update adds a hard mode to the game for veterans looking for a new experience while replaying their dark descent. The hard mode disables autosaves, but don't worry! Players can still save - in exchange for four tinderboxes, the items that allow players to light the very important torches that illuminate the environment and restore sanity. In hard mode, dropping to zero sanity will kill the player. There will also be fewer tinderboxes and oil refills. Monsters will be faster, more alert, stronger, and more persistent when it comes time for them to hunt. And those hunts? They'll be more dangerous than ever with the removal of music cues announcing their presence.... If you're planning on conquering that hard mode, good luck. Since its initial announcement last week for traditional PCs and Xbox One, the update has been slowly extended across other platforms like Mac and Linux. Currently, Frictional has partnered with Blit Works to bring the mode to PlayStation 4 in the near future. 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
  23. Frictional Games, the developers behind Penumbra and Soma, have released a free update for their most famous title to date. Amnesia: The Dark Descent revolutionized horror with its physics-based gameplay and use of tension to make it feel like an ominous presence constantly pursues the player as they progress through a haunted castle. It was so successful that the classic first-person horror game changed the way games handled horror for years. The update adds a hard mode to the game for veterans looking for a new experience while replaying their dark descent. The hard mode disables autosaves, but don't worry! Players can still save - in exchange for four tinderboxes, the items that allow players to light the very important torches that illuminate the environment and restore sanity. In hard mode, dropping to zero sanity will kill the player. There will also be fewer tinderboxes and oil refills. Monsters will be faster, more alert, stronger, and more persistent when it comes time for them to hunt. And those hunts? They'll be more dangerous than ever with the removal of music cues announcing their presence.... If you're planning on conquering that hard mode, good luck. Since its initial announcement last week for traditional PCs and Xbox One, the update has been slowly extended across other platforms like Mac and Linux. Currently, Frictional has partnered with Blit Works to bring the mode to PlayStation 4 in the near future. 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!
  24. If you go into Life Is Strange 2 thinking it will be a similar journey to its predecessor you are going to be in for a shock. Life Is Strange 2 retains the same humanizing sensibilities and just slightly surreal world-building that made the town of Arcadia Bay come to life, but what it does with those strengths in the first episode looks very different. This change up will leave some people reeling and others deeply invested in where this story will be going as more episodes hit digital storefronts around the world. Roads plays very much like the previous Life Is Strange episodes before it. Players can walk around gorgeous environments that manage to find the beauty often hidden within the mundane and interact with objects or people, complete with a running internal monologue. When interacting with some items or character, players will have the opportunity to make choices that could affect what happens later on in ways ranging from whether a small token appears on a backpack to whether an entire town exists or not. That framework still functions as well as it ever did, though I particularly enjoyed its incarnation in Roads. Early in the episode, players have the opportunity to gather a collection of supplies, including money. That money is then used later on to buy food and other essentials from a gas station. Based on how much money you were able to scrounge in the beginning, players will face different pressures and choices about what to buy and what decisions seem to make the most sense. The way the team at Dontnod designed the scene leaves a lot of room for players to fill in the blanks for themselves and presents a great moral dilemma, the bread and butter of any narrative-heavy adventure game, in an original way. I will also say off the bat that The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit does not have a ton of overlap with the first episode of Life Is Strange 2, though it did tease some of its inciting incident. From what Dontnod has revealed so far, we can probably expect more Captain Spirit-related events in future episodes. Whereas the original Life Is Strange focused on the struggles of a young white girl in the early 2000s and her life in an aging coastal town on the decline, the sequel takes a look at the life of a young Hispanic boy named Sean Diaz living in the Seattle, Washington of 2016. At first, things seem like they will follow the same sleepy, nostalgic setup seen in Life Is Strange. It's near Halloween and the kids at the local high school are throwing a party, complete with all the pressures and concerns that go with that scene. However, a small disagreement with a neighbor kid escalates when punches are thrown and a police officer arrives, drawing his gun. When Sean's dad comes running out to see what's going on, the officer panics and shoots, killing Sean's father in front of both Sean and his 9-year-old brother Daniel. The trauma of the event causes Daniel to lash out with some unexplained power, sending a massive shockwave through the area that destroys parts of the surrounding homes, flips cars, and kills the officer and possibly the neighbor. Upon regaining consciousness, Sean takes in the situation and realizes that there's no explaining any of this away; running becomes the only thing that makes sense. So it is that Life Is Strange 2 becomes about hitting the road in the modern United States. As they travel, they encounter a small slice of people from across the socio-political spectrum. The first game painted a clear picture of Arcadia Bay, Oregon, but Life Is Strange 2, at least from the first episode, holds the larger ambition of reflecting the entire country. And that reflection doesn't pull punches. Perhaps most unexpectedly, the fluff of nostalgia that permeated the first Life Is Strange (and perhaps made some of its more disturbing moments palatable) has been replaced by a more immediate and applicable sense of time and place that, frankly, we aren't used to seeing in video games. It's surreal to hear characters throw slurs mixed with rhetoric about building a wall between the United States and Mexico or demonstrate a nonchalant attitude toward marijuana that reflects its legalization in Washington state. The veracity of these attitudes hits home as I have seen people act the same way in the real world. Especially when it comes to the uglier topics Roads touches on, the experience does not feel comfortable, but that's precisely the point. In some ways, it feels as though Life Is Strange 2 Episode 1 is having a conversation with the player. The developers must have been aware that some people would fall into the category that firmly believes games should be meaningless fun and wanted to subtly make the case that maybe some games should have more substance than just fun. Roads hits several extremely polarizing issues right off the bat, from police violence to racial prejudice, in such a way that it might shock people who aren't used to games that have pointed things to say about those subjects. Then, near the end of the episode, a character comments that, "Everything is political," both to the characters in their scene and also as if to directly address the player. And what are we supposed to do with that information? One of the closing conversations of the episode asks just that question. And the answer seems to be to continue pushing forward, whether that's for truth or for some kind of safe haven. Because that's all anyone can ever do. Conclusion: Life Is Strange 2's first episode blew me away. It manages to both be a heartfelt examination of the relationship between two brothers while unflinchingly engaging with incredibly weighty and difficult topics. It also doesn't leave the player with any easy answers or ways to address those issues in the real world. I suppose those might be coming in future episodes, but if I had to guess from how Roads played out we won't be presented with feel-good solutions. The story of the Diaz family left me constantly wondering what would happen next. While the episode ends with a somewhat concrete plan, I wouldn't be shocked if it veers off in completely unexpected directions. This episode manages to be equal parts gorgeous, funny, and searing all at the same time; gripping in such a way that you'll finish it in one sitting. It's going to be a long wait for Episode 2. Life Is Strange 2 Episode 1: Roads was reviewed on PC and is currently available 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
  25. If you go into Life Is Strange 2 thinking it will be a similar journey to its predecessor you are going to be in for a shock. Life Is Strange 2 retains the same humanizing sensibilities and just slightly surreal world-building that made the town of Arcadia Bay come to life, but what it does with those strengths in the first episode looks very different. This change up will leave some people reeling and others deeply invested in where this story will be going as more episodes hit digital storefronts around the world. Roads plays very much like the previous Life Is Strange episodes before it. Players can walk around gorgeous environments that manage to find the beauty often hidden within the mundane and interact with objects or people, complete with a running internal monologue. When interacting with some items or character, players will have the opportunity to make choices that could affect what happens later on in ways ranging from whether a small token appears on a backpack to whether an entire town exists or not. That framework still functions as well as it ever did, though I particularly enjoyed its incarnation in Roads. Early in the episode, players have the opportunity to gather a collection of supplies, including money. That money is then used later on to buy food and other essentials from a gas station. Based on how much money you were able to scrounge in the beginning, players will face different pressures and choices about what to buy and what decisions seem to make the most sense. The way the team at Dontnod designed the scene leaves a lot of room for players to fill in the blanks for themselves and presents a great moral dilemma, the bread and butter of any narrative-heavy adventure game, in an original way. I will also say off the bat that The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit does not have a ton of overlap with the first episode of Life Is Strange 2, though it did tease some of its inciting incident. From what Dontnod has revealed so far, we can probably expect more Captain Spirit-related events in future episodes. Whereas the original Life Is Strange focused on the struggles of a young white girl in the early 2000s and her life in an aging coastal town on the decline, the sequel takes a look at the life of a young Hispanic boy named Sean Diaz living in the Seattle, Washington of 2016. At first, things seem like they will follow the same sleepy, nostalgic setup seen in Life Is Strange. It's near Halloween and the kids at the local high school are throwing a party, complete with all the pressures and concerns that go with that scene. However, a small disagreement with a neighbor kid escalates when punches are thrown and a police officer arrives, drawing his gun. When Sean's dad comes running out to see what's going on, the officer panics and shoots, killing Sean's father in front of both Sean and his 9-year-old brother Daniel. The trauma of the event causes Daniel to lash out with some unexplained power, sending a massive shockwave through the area that destroys parts of the surrounding homes, flips cars, and kills the officer and possibly the neighbor. Upon regaining consciousness, Sean takes in the situation and realizes that there's no explaining any of this away; running becomes the only thing that makes sense. So it is that Life Is Strange 2 becomes about hitting the road in the modern United States. As they travel, they encounter a small slice of people from across the socio-political spectrum. The first game painted a clear picture of Arcadia Bay, Oregon, but Life Is Strange 2, at least from the first episode, holds the larger ambition of reflecting the entire country. And that reflection doesn't pull punches. Perhaps most unexpectedly, the fluff of nostalgia that permeated the first Life Is Strange (and perhaps made some of its more disturbing moments palatable) has been replaced by a more immediate and applicable sense of time and place that, frankly, we aren't used to seeing in video games. It's surreal to hear characters throw slurs mixed with rhetoric about building a wall between the United States and Mexico or demonstrate a nonchalant attitude toward marijuana that reflects its legalization in Washington state. The veracity of these attitudes hits home as I have seen people act the same way in the real world. Especially when it comes to the uglier topics Roads touches on, the experience does not feel comfortable, but that's precisely the point. In some ways, it feels as though Life Is Strange 2 Episode 1 is having a conversation with the player. The developers must have been aware that some people would fall into the category that firmly believes games should be meaningless fun and wanted to subtly make the case that maybe some games should have more substance than just fun. Roads hits several extremely polarizing issues right off the bat, from police violence to racial prejudice, in such a way that it might shock people who aren't used to games that have pointed things to say about those subjects. Then, near the end of the episode, a character comments that, "Everything is political," both to the characters in their scene and also as if to directly address the player. And what are we supposed to do with that information? One of the closing conversations of the episode asks just that question. And the answer seems to be to continue pushing forward, whether that's for truth or for some kind of safe haven. Because that's all anyone can ever do. Conclusion: Life Is Strange 2's first episode blew me away. It manages to both be a heartfelt examination of the relationship between two brothers while unflinchingly engaging with incredibly weighty and difficult topics. It also doesn't leave the player with any easy answers or ways to address those issues in the real world. I suppose those might be coming in future episodes, but if I had to guess from how Roads played out we won't be presented with feel-good solutions. The story of the Diaz family left me constantly wondering what would happen next. While the episode ends with a somewhat concrete plan, I wouldn't be shocked if it veers off in completely unexpected directions. This episode manages to be equal parts gorgeous, funny, and searing all at the same time; gripping in such a way that you'll finish it in one sitting. It's going to be a long wait for Episode 2. Life Is Strange 2 Episode 1: Roads was reviewed on PC and is currently available 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!
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