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Found 508 results

  1. While the first attempt at recording Episode 41 might have failed due to technical difficulties, we've returned this week with a brand new and totally original discussion of Flower, the PlayStation 3's 2009 indie darling. While playing as the wind using motion controls might have been a breath of fresh air, has the game become stale over time? What about the prestigious "Best Independent Game Fueled By Dew" award that the Spike Video Game Awards bestowed upon Flower? Has the honor of that accolade dimmed over the past years? More importantly, is Flower one of the best games period? Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. Outro music: Shenmue 'Reflections' by Reuben Kee (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR01159) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! You can also follow the show on Twitter: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday View full article
  2. The world can be cruel and unfair. If left unchecked, injustices pile up with discontent and anger at systemic failures not far behind. Sometimes these frustrations fester and become redirected at entire groups of people who have nothing to do with the root problem, creating cycles of irrational discrimination. Those perpetuating cycles can be seen in societies struggling with change across the globe today. It’s a relevant, powerful force in our world. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided attempts to tap into that power to fuel a narrative that focuses squarely on discrimination, allowing players to navigate tricky social situations through the eyes of Adam Jensen, a near-future special agent with an impressive array of mechanical augmentations. Set two years after the events of Deus Ex: Human Revolution in the far-flung year of 2029, Jensen finds himself miraculously fine after the catastrophic conclusion of the previous game that saw our protagonist buried in the middle of the ocean amid the ruins of the gigantic superstructure Panchaea as mechanically augmented people around the world were sent into murderous frenzies by a nefarious signal sent from the structure. Non-augmented humans have developed a deep fear and distrust for their augmented friends and family following the “Aug Incident” and governments around the world have begun segregating their people. One powerful corporation has even built towering ghettos to isolate and restrain augmented citizens. Let’s tackle the elephant in the room: Eidos Montreal clearly intended to draw parallels between the unrest and tensions between their fictional "augs vs. naturals” storyline and recent racial tensions in the United States and abroad with the refugee crisis in Europe. There were numerous advertisements prior to release that made use of altered slogans, notably an image with a protester holding a banner that said “Aug Lives Matter.” There’s a part of me that wants to commend Eidos for having the courage to tackle real, controversial, and possibly incendiary topics. I think we need more of that in video games – at the very least because it leads to more meaningful and interesting stories. Unfortunately, the parallels Mankind Divided wants to draw are just very flawed. The fundamental differences between someone limited by their natural abilities and someone who goes beyond those limitations using technology might lead to resentment, sure, or fear after a worldwide incident. However, who would discriminate against someone who needed a pacemaker to live? Who would hold it against someone to have a fully functional leg after a freak accident? Or begrudge a soldier returning from war a brand new hand? The world of Deus Ex isn’t that different from our own, but the people living there seem more than willing to send people to concentration camps for having life-saving technology in their bodies. It strikes me as the equivalent of having worldwide discrimination against people who use antibiotics – it just doesn’t make any sense. The connection Eidos Montreal wants to draw between the injustices of a police state and discrimination against groups of people falls apart once you think about it in terms of brain implants that help with mental disorders or eyes to help the blind see or cochlear implants to help the deaf hear. All of that being said, the breathtaking environments Eidos Montreal created visually tell the story of oppression and discrimination (even if the themes themselves don’t quite work as intended). Walking the streets of Prague yields sights of random police stops, armored checkpoints, roving surveillance drones, and hurried graffiti both criticizing the deplorable conditions and calling for the deportation of augmented citizens. The near-future version of Prague constantly reminds the player that they aren’t one of the “natural” humans. Police frequently stop Jensen to check his papers (several side-missions revolve around panicked augmented citizens being unable to obtain the correct, ever changing papers for their synthetic limbs or organs) or take him aside to yell at him if he used one of the “non-aug” trains to travel around the city. Even though the environments are incredibly designed, the technical aspects of the visuals are a bit harder to pin down. Eidos Montreal created Mankind Divided for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 before ported it over to PC. The results are less than stellar. Despite a wide array of visual options, it ran horribly even on an incredibly beefy PC. I experienced numerous crashes, graphical glitches, and stark differences between how characters looked from moment to moment, even on maximum settings. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by the technical achievements of last year’s Witcher 3, but in particular almost every characters' hair looked jarringly wrong. Not only that, but while the core characters all have well realized faces and animations, some of the background characters look far less refined. Again, Eidos Montreal passionately created the environments on display in Mankind Divided. Numerous scenes pop with style or have an interesting flair that keeps things novel, but I’m not sure if that’s enough to forgive the technical sins present in the PC port. If you are playing on console or can overcome an hour of fiddling to get the settings just right on PC, the core gameplay feels fantastic. Players can tackle the scenarios throughout Mankind Divided with stealth, guns-blazing, or some mix of the two that uses an array of lethal and non-lethal weapons and skills - at least in theory. There exists a definite satisfaction to sneaking through missions undetected, taking out enemies silently while playing cat-and-mouse with unaware guards on patrol. Mankind Divided wants players to adopt the stealthy playstyle – mechanics that are undeniably fun and fleshed out. Unfortunately, very few augmentations support different playstyles, even the straight forward assault that always seems to be the hypothetical alternative is only bolstered with some redundant weapons, an armored plating option, and standard health upgrades. A bull-headed rush into danger only nets a hailstorm of bullets, forcing players into traditional cover-based shooting they've seen countless times. While Mankind Divided pays lip service to “play however you want” gameplay, the reality is that stealth or straightforward assault are the only two real options for the vast majority of the game. Compare that with the original Deus Ex where players were presented with a sweeping variety of solutions for each problem. Early on, players have access to a full complement of Adam Jensen’s abilities, but the game quickly strips those powers and allows the player to reallocate a limited number of praxis points into their augments to suit their playstyle. It becomes apparent at that moment that there are a limited number of useful upgrades. There are some which feel essential that allow for easier infiltration or open up hidden areas, like the ability to lift heavy objects or punch through weak walls. Aside from those necessities, a number of augmentations are highly situational to the point where they can only usefully be deployed once in the entire game. Did you think it would be useful to tag 50 enemies on your HUD? Because only one mission would actually even come close to making that useful. Did you take invisibility? That’s neat, but there are so many hiding places and ventilation ducts that being invisible seems pointless. Have a cool tesla augment? Putting points into shooting electricity seems redundant when stun gun ammo that instantly incapacitates enemies just as effectively litters nearly every level. The presence of an in-game store to sell items and upgrade points to players for real money makes me uneasy. Thankfully, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided was almost certainly balanced without the store in mind. Some players might not even notice that it exists in the menus. On the one hand, I can see how some players might just want the convenience of dropping a wad of cash and playing through the game as an overpowered cyber-god. On the other, including that option takes away from the work that goes into balancing the difficulty and progression. It both devalues what the developers have put into Mankind Divided and cheapens the experience of the player. Not only that, but balancing issues could lead to abuses in game design that subtly compel players to make micro-purchases in future implementations of similar in-game RPG stores. Oh, and guess what? If you make a purchase through the store for in-game items they are only given to that single save file. If you start a new game or go back to a save that was before the purchase, you will not have those items. RPGs live and die on the strength of their stories. Mankind Divided might have a lot of issues, but the narrative can hold its head high. Adam Jensen, despite being a charisma black hole, manages to entangle himself in a number of mysteries that are genuinely interesting. True, a shockingly large number of the side missions don’t go anywhere or end ambiguously, but they’re undeniably thought-provoking. One side-quest puts players on the case of an accused murderer (who may or may not be a serial killer) and how players manage to piece together the evidence determines the outcome of the investigation. The main storyline deals with tensions between the pro-augmented protesters and the anti-augmented government of the Czech Republic. Over the course of Mankind Divided, the player is asked to empathize and understand both sides while trying to uncover the plot that set off an explosion in a Prague train station early in the game. The narrative demands a lot from players in a way that feels important and applicable to current world affairs. The narrative has interesting mechanical aspects, too, leading to missions that have different outcomes depending on how players approach the game. This manifests in some instances like an invisible morality system that watches to determine if the player kills enemies, uses non-lethal takedowns, or even if an enemy raises an alert. I was chewed out after one mission that involved police because I had been spotted while trying to infiltrate a crime scene. The finale of Mankind Divided in particular uses storytelling mechanics very effectively. Depending on what players decide at certain points throughout the game, certain elements of the finale will be different and new opportunities will present themselves. The game presents a choice between saving people and confronting the main villain, but if players can complete their initial choice quickly enough or with the right gear, they can actually accomplish both objectives. Not only that, but it rewards players who are thorough. As an example, while investigating a base earlier in the game, I had actually found a device capable of instantly killing the main villain. Players can pull it out during the final encounter to either use it as leverage during a negotiation or to simply neutralize the bad guy. I’m not even going into all the permutations of the finale, those are just indicative of Eidos Montreal’s commitment to creating a malleable, intriguing scenario. In conclusion: Deus Ex: Mankind Divided has a lot of problems. Putting aside the technical issues if you want to play it on the PC port, the core themes are muddled, though well-intentioned. The in-game store is a naked cash grab that does a disservice to the core game Eidos Montreal has made. The game itself, while surprisingly short and leaving a number of loose ends, presents an enjoyable, satisfying core gameplay experience, provided players aren’t looking for classic Deus Ex levels of freedom to play in more creative ways. If you can set aside Adam Jensen’s Dementor-like ability to suck emotion from a room, the narrative feels original and brave, if more than a little bumbling, in its willingness to tackle volatile topics. Give it a shot when the price comes down a bit, but don’t bother giving the in-game store a single cent after you’ve already paid for the game. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided was reviewed on PC and is now available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC
  3. The world can be cruel and unfair. If left unchecked, injustices pile up with discontent and anger at systemic failures not far behind. Sometimes these frustrations fester and become redirected at entire groups of people who have nothing to do with the root problem, creating cycles of irrational discrimination. Those perpetuating cycles can be seen in societies struggling with change across the globe today. It’s a relevant, powerful force in our world. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided attempts to tap into that power to fuel a narrative that focuses squarely on discrimination, allowing players to navigate tricky social situations through the eyes of Adam Jensen, a near-future special agent with an impressive array of mechanical augmentations. Set two years after the events of Deus Ex: Human Revolution in the far-flung year of 2029, Jensen finds himself miraculously fine after the catastrophic conclusion of the previous game that saw our protagonist buried in the middle of the ocean amid the ruins of the gigantic superstructure Panchaea as mechanically augmented people around the world were sent into murderous frenzies by a nefarious signal sent from the structure. Non-augmented humans have developed a deep fear and distrust for their augmented friends and family following the “Aug Incident” and governments around the world have begun segregating their people. One powerful corporation has even built towering ghettos to isolate and restrain augmented citizens. Let’s tackle the elephant in the room: Eidos Montreal clearly intended to draw parallels between the unrest and tensions between their fictional "augs vs. naturals” storyline and recent racial tensions in the United States and abroad with the refugee crisis in Europe. There were numerous advertisements prior to release that made use of altered slogans, notably an image with a protester holding a banner that said “Aug Lives Matter.” There’s a part of me that wants to commend Eidos for having the courage to tackle real, controversial, and possibly incendiary topics. I think we need more of that in video games – at the very least because it leads to more meaningful and interesting stories. Unfortunately, the parallels Mankind Divided wants to draw are just very flawed. The fundamental differences between someone limited by their natural abilities and someone who goes beyond those limitations using technology might lead to resentment, sure, or fear after a worldwide incident. However, who would discriminate against someone who needed a pacemaker to live? Who would hold it against someone to have a fully functional leg after a freak accident? Or begrudge a soldier returning from war a brand new hand? The world of Deus Ex isn’t that different from our own, but the people living there seem more than willing to send people to concentration camps for having life-saving technology in their bodies. It strikes me as the equivalent of having worldwide discrimination against people who use antibiotics – it just doesn’t make any sense. The connection Eidos Montreal wants to draw between the injustices of a police state and discrimination against groups of people falls apart once you think about it in terms of brain implants that help with mental disorders or eyes to help the blind see or cochlear implants to help the deaf hear. All of that being said, the breathtaking environments Eidos Montreal created visually tell the story of oppression and discrimination (even if the themes themselves don’t quite work as intended). Walking the streets of Prague yields sights of random police stops, armored checkpoints, roving surveillance drones, and hurried graffiti both criticizing the deplorable conditions and calling for the deportation of augmented citizens. The near-future version of Prague constantly reminds the player that they aren’t one of the “natural” humans. Police frequently stop Jensen to check his papers (several side-missions revolve around panicked augmented citizens being unable to obtain the correct, ever changing papers for their synthetic limbs or organs) or take him aside to yell at him if he used one of the “non-aug” trains to travel around the city. Even though the environments are incredibly designed, the technical aspects of the visuals are a bit harder to pin down. Eidos Montreal created Mankind Divided for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 before ported it over to PC. The results are less than stellar. Despite a wide array of visual options, it ran horribly even on an incredibly beefy PC. I experienced numerous crashes, graphical glitches, and stark differences between how characters looked from moment to moment, even on maximum settings. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by the technical achievements of last year’s Witcher 3, but in particular almost every characters' hair looked jarringly wrong. Not only that, but while the core characters all have well realized faces and animations, some of the background characters look far less refined. Again, Eidos Montreal passionately created the environments on display in Mankind Divided. Numerous scenes pop with style or have an interesting flair that keeps things novel, but I’m not sure if that’s enough to forgive the technical sins present in the PC port. If you are playing on console or can overcome an hour of fiddling to get the settings just right on PC, the core gameplay feels fantastic. Players can tackle the scenarios throughout Mankind Divided with stealth, guns-blazing, or some mix of the two that uses an array of lethal and non-lethal weapons and skills - at least in theory. There exists a definite satisfaction to sneaking through missions undetected, taking out enemies silently while playing cat-and-mouse with unaware guards on patrol. Mankind Divided wants players to adopt the stealthy playstyle – mechanics that are undeniably fun and fleshed out. Unfortunately, very few augmentations support different playstyles, even the straight forward assault that always seems to be the hypothetical alternative is only bolstered with some redundant weapons, an armored plating option, and standard health upgrades. A bull-headed rush into danger only nets a hailstorm of bullets, forcing players into traditional cover-based shooting they've seen countless times. While Mankind Divided pays lip service to “play however you want” gameplay, the reality is that stealth or straightforward assault are the only two real options for the vast majority of the game. Compare that with the original Deus Ex where players were presented with a sweeping variety of solutions for each problem. Early on, players have access to a full complement of Adam Jensen’s abilities, but the game quickly strips those powers and allows the player to reallocate a limited number of praxis points into their augments to suit their playstyle. It becomes apparent at that moment that there are a limited number of useful upgrades. There are some which feel essential that allow for easier infiltration or open up hidden areas, like the ability to lift heavy objects or punch through weak walls. Aside from those necessities, a number of augmentations are highly situational to the point where they can only usefully be deployed once in the entire game. Did you think it would be useful to tag 50 enemies on your HUD? Because only one mission would actually even come close to making that useful. Did you take invisibility? That’s neat, but there are so many hiding places and ventilation ducts that being invisible seems pointless. Have a cool tesla augment? Putting points into shooting electricity seems redundant when stun gun ammo that instantly incapacitates enemies just as effectively litters nearly every level. The presence of an in-game store to sell items and upgrade points to players for real money makes me uneasy. Thankfully, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided was almost certainly balanced without the store in mind. Some players might not even notice that it exists in the menus. On the one hand, I can see how some players might just want the convenience of dropping a wad of cash and playing through the game as an overpowered cyber-god. On the other, including that option takes away from the work that goes into balancing the difficulty and progression. It both devalues what the developers have put into Mankind Divided and cheapens the experience of the player. Not only that, but balancing issues could lead to abuses in game design that subtly compel players to make micro-purchases in future implementations of similar in-game RPG stores. Oh, and guess what? If you make a purchase through the store for in-game items they are only given to that single save file. If you start a new game or go back to a save that was before the purchase, you will not have those items. RPGs live and die on the strength of their stories. Mankind Divided might have a lot of issues, but the narrative can hold its head high. Adam Jensen, despite being a charisma black hole, manages to entangle himself in a number of mysteries that are genuinely interesting. True, a shockingly large number of the side missions don’t go anywhere or end ambiguously, but they’re undeniably thought-provoking. One side-quest puts players on the case of an accused murderer (who may or may not be a serial killer) and how players manage to piece together the evidence determines the outcome of the investigation. The main storyline deals with tensions between the pro-augmented protesters and the anti-augmented government of the Czech Republic. Over the course of Mankind Divided, the player is asked to empathize and understand both sides while trying to uncover the plot that set off an explosion in a Prague train station early in the game. The narrative demands a lot from players in a way that feels important and applicable to current world affairs. The narrative has interesting mechanical aspects, too, leading to missions that have different outcomes depending on how players approach the game. This manifests in some instances like an invisible morality system that watches to determine if the player kills enemies, uses non-lethal takedowns, or even if an enemy raises an alert. I was chewed out after one mission that involved police because I had been spotted while trying to infiltrate a crime scene. The finale of Mankind Divided in particular uses storytelling mechanics very effectively. Depending on what players decide at certain points throughout the game, certain elements of the finale will be different and new opportunities will present themselves. The game presents a choice between saving people and confronting the main villain, but if players can complete their initial choice quickly enough or with the right gear, they can actually accomplish both objectives. Not only that, but it rewards players who are thorough. As an example, while investigating a base earlier in the game, I had actually found a device capable of instantly killing the main villain. Players can pull it out during the final encounter to either use it as leverage during a negotiation or to simply neutralize the bad guy. I’m not even going into all the permutations of the finale, those are just indicative of Eidos Montreal’s commitment to creating a malleable, intriguing scenario. In conclusion: Deus Ex: Mankind Divided has a lot of problems. Putting aside the technical issues if you want to play it on the PC port, the core themes are muddled, though well-intentioned. The in-game store is a naked cash grab that does a disservice to the core game Eidos Montreal has made. The game itself, while surprisingly short and leaving a number of loose ends, presents an enjoyable, satisfying core gameplay experience, provided players aren’t looking for classic Deus Ex levels of freedom to play in more creative ways. If you can set aside Adam Jensen’s Dementor-like ability to suck emotion from a room, the narrative feels original and brave, if more than a little bumbling, in its willingness to tackle volatile topics. Give it a shot when the price comes down a bit, but don’t bother giving the in-game store a single cent after you’ve already paid for the game. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided was reviewed on PC and is now available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC View full article
  4. Outlast 2 may have been been delayed until 2017, but players can at least get their hands on a small bit of the game this month. Red Barrels, the developer behind the psychotic horror game Outlast and its upcoming sequel, has released a demo that provides the public with a free slice of gameplay from Outlast 2. The demo is available digitally via Steam (PC), Xbox Live (Xbox One), and PSN (PS4). However, it will only be available for a limited time. Red Barrels will be pulling the demo from digital storefronts on November 1, so download it before then if you want to scare yourself silly. We were pretty impressed with Outlast 2's E3 showing earlier this year, with writer Alissa Gould calling what she saw "terrifyingly fantastic." Though it is a shame the title won't be releasing this year, a horror demo around Halloween might just be the perfect consolation to help us - outlast - the delay.
  5. Outlast 2 may have been been delayed until 2017, but players can at least get their hands on a small bit of the game this month. Red Barrels, the developer behind the psychotic horror game Outlast and its upcoming sequel, has released a demo that provides the public with a free slice of gameplay from Outlast 2. The demo is available digitally via Steam (PC), Xbox Live (Xbox One), and PSN (PS4). However, it will only be available for a limited time. Red Barrels will be pulling the demo from digital storefronts on November 1, so download it before then if you want to scare yourself silly. We were pretty impressed with Outlast 2's E3 showing earlier this year, with writer Alissa Gould calling what she saw "terrifyingly fantastic." Though it is a shame the title won't be releasing this year, a horror demo around Halloween might just be the perfect consolation to help us - outlast - the delay. View full article
  6. These days games take boatloads of money to create. No one knows that fact better than indie studios, especially those who gamble by developing bigger and bigger games in an effort to grow. In 2015, Frictional Games took one such risk with the horror game of the year, Soma. With a budget ten times bigger than its predecessor, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Soma needed to sell quite a few copies in order for Frictional Games to begin seeing a return on their investment. In a recent developer blog, Frictional Games disclosed that Soma had sold over 450,000 units over the past year, a huge number for an indie studio and over 60,000 more than Amnesia: The Dark Descent sold within the same timeframe. The blog goes on to talk about just how big the risks they took were, like recording dialogue three times over, and commissioning models for creatures that ended up being cut in the final game. The studio was nervous, they explain, and now the strong sales mean that Frictional Games has made back the money they spent making Soma a year after release: This is quite good, in fact it is so good that we have now broken even and then some! I think it is worth to stress just how great this is. We spent over five years making our, by far, most ambitious game ever. We also spent quite a lot of money on various outsourcing such as voice acting, 3d models and animations. For instance, to make sure we got it right, we actually recorded a lot of the game's dialog three times. In the past we have just recorded voices at the end of the project and hoped for the best. With SOMA we knew that nailing the voice acting would be crucial, and spent money accordingly. [...] It is important to understand that SOMA was far from a safe bet. While we had the luxury of having already made a successful horror game, SOMA was not an easy sell. The game relies heavily on getting certain themes across to the player, and communicating this proved to be a hard task indeed. When showcasing Amnesia we could just show how you blocked a door with some rubble and hid in a closet and the game's core experience was neatly summarized. But with SOMA things were way harder. First of all, weaponless horror games are no longer anything special and by no means a stand-out feature. In fact, the "chased by monsters"-gameplay was not even a core part of the SOMA-experience. The whole idea with the game was to give the player a first person perspective on a variety of disturbing philosophical musings. To make matters worse any concrete gameplay example of this would be riddled with spoilers, so all discussion had to be made in an obscure "you'll understand when you play it"-fashion. Even though there were all of those risks and a lot of money sunk on unused voices and monsters, Frictional seems happy with the result. "Despite a bloated budget and tough sell, here we are a year later having earned back every single dime spent," the blog proclaims proudly. How exactly did Frictional manage to turn a profit on Soma? First and foremost, it was able to leverage the name recognition from Amnesia: The Dark Descent to appeal to the hardcore horror crowd the studio had enthralled back in 2010. It also helped that Soma saw a release on the PlayStation 4 in addition to PC. Perhaps the biggest reason behind Soma's profitability lies in the way it was able to stick close to its $30 price point. The majority of Amnesia's sales occurred during sales, with some discounts reaching up to 75% off its $20 price, while Soma hasn't seen nearly as big a discount yet. Essentially, even though Soma cost many orders of magnitude more to make than Amnesia, the higher profile, selling price, and wider reach of the game allowed it to turn a much bigger profit. Not only that, but Frictional Games feels incredibly satisfied with the public reaction to Soma. Though initially worried that many would compare Soma directly with Amnesia (widely regarded as one of the greatest horror games of all time, sitting on Steam with a 10/10 rating), they're happy to see even negative reviews and refund notes containing positive feedback. For example, one refund note read, "I love horror. Soma is distressing. There is a scene where I have to hurt an innocent robot to progress and I don't know why. It made me cry." That distressing, discomforting feeling? Exactly the horror the studio was going for in Soma, which means they've succeeded on more than just a financial level. Looking forward, Frictional Games aims to become a large enough studio to be working on two projects at a time. Their next project goes into production at the end of this year and another has been working its way through research and development. No specifics on either game has been revealed, but they did hint that some smaller stuff might be in the works. DLC for Soma, perhaps? One of those smaller things should be revealed later this year and the other at some point early next year. Horror fans, get ready to see a whole lot more from Frictional Games in the coming years.
  7. These days games take boatloads of money to create. No one knows that fact better than indie studios, especially those who gamble by developing bigger and bigger games in an effort to grow. In 2015, Frictional Games took one such risk with the horror game of the year, Soma. With a budget ten times bigger than its predecessor, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Soma needed to sell quite a few copies in order for Frictional Games to begin seeing a return on their investment. In a recent developer blog, Frictional Games disclosed that Soma had sold over 450,000 units over the past year, a huge number for an indie studio and over 60,000 more than Amnesia: The Dark Descent sold within the same timeframe. The blog goes on to talk about just how big the risks they took were, like recording dialogue three times over, and commissioning models for creatures that ended up being cut in the final game. The studio was nervous, they explain, and now the strong sales mean that Frictional Games has made back the money they spent making Soma a year after release: This is quite good, in fact it is so good that we have now broken even and then some! I think it is worth to stress just how great this is. We spent over five years making our, by far, most ambitious game ever. We also spent quite a lot of money on various outsourcing such as voice acting, 3d models and animations. For instance, to make sure we got it right, we actually recorded a lot of the game's dialog three times. In the past we have just recorded voices at the end of the project and hoped for the best. With SOMA we knew that nailing the voice acting would be crucial, and spent money accordingly. [...] It is important to understand that SOMA was far from a safe bet. While we had the luxury of having already made a successful horror game, SOMA was not an easy sell. The game relies heavily on getting certain themes across to the player, and communicating this proved to be a hard task indeed. When showcasing Amnesia we could just show how you blocked a door with some rubble and hid in a closet and the game's core experience was neatly summarized. But with SOMA things were way harder. First of all, weaponless horror games are no longer anything special and by no means a stand-out feature. In fact, the "chased by monsters"-gameplay was not even a core part of the SOMA-experience. The whole idea with the game was to give the player a first person perspective on a variety of disturbing philosophical musings. To make matters worse any concrete gameplay example of this would be riddled with spoilers, so all discussion had to be made in an obscure "you'll understand when you play it"-fashion. Even though there were all of those risks and a lot of money sunk on unused voices and monsters, Frictional seems happy with the result. "Despite a bloated budget and tough sell, here we are a year later having earned back every single dime spent," the blog proclaims proudly. How exactly did Frictional manage to turn a profit on Soma? First and foremost, it was able to leverage the name recognition from Amnesia: The Dark Descent to appeal to the hardcore horror crowd the studio had enthralled back in 2010. It also helped that Soma saw a release on the PlayStation 4 in addition to PC. Perhaps the biggest reason behind Soma's profitability lies in the way it was able to stick close to its $30 price point. The majority of Amnesia's sales occurred during sales, with some discounts reaching up to 75% off its $20 price, while Soma hasn't seen nearly as big a discount yet. Essentially, even though Soma cost many orders of magnitude more to make than Amnesia, the higher profile, selling price, and wider reach of the game allowed it to turn a much bigger profit. Not only that, but Frictional Games feels incredibly satisfied with the public reaction to Soma. Though initially worried that many would compare Soma directly with Amnesia (widely regarded as one of the greatest horror games of all time, sitting on Steam with a 10/10 rating), they're happy to see even negative reviews and refund notes containing positive feedback. For example, one refund note read, "I love horror. Soma is distressing. There is a scene where I have to hurt an innocent robot to progress and I don't know why. It made me cry." That distressing, discomforting feeling? Exactly the horror the studio was going for in Soma, which means they've succeeded on more than just a financial level. Looking forward, Frictional Games aims to become a large enough studio to be working on two projects at a time. Their next project goes into production at the end of this year and another has been working its way through research and development. No specifics on either game has been revealed, but they did hint that some smaller stuff might be in the works. DLC for Soma, perhaps? One of those smaller things should be revealed later this year and the other at some point early next year. Horror fans, get ready to see a whole lot more from Frictional Games in the coming years. View full article
  8. Today, the Dark Knight rises once more. The second episode of Telltale's caped crusader focuses on the corruption of Gotham City; shady dealings that seem to have played a role in the death of Thomas Wayne. Players face a pivotal choice: Will Bruce Wayne wear the mantle of Batman or billionaire in his pursuit of the truth? As part of Telltale's promotion for their Batman series, the developer has put together an interesting behind the scenes video detailing the process their voice actors go through to bring their characters to life. Catching glimpses of voice acting greats like Troy Baker (Bruce Wayne/Batman), Laura Bailey (Selina Kyle/Catwoman), and Travis Willingham (Harvey Dent) playing off of one another feels like a real treat. They all bounce of one another and come up with ways to fine-tune their performances. It's really quite interesting and a must watch for anyone who has a glimmer of interest in the voice acting business. Telltale's Batman Episode 2: Children of Arkham can now be downloaded for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Episode 2's release date for last gen consoles or mobile will be unveiled later this month. Curious about the Batman Telltale series? Check out our review of Episode 1: Realm of Shadows.
  9. Today, the Dark Knight rises once more. The second episode of Telltale's caped crusader focuses on the corruption of Gotham City; shady dealings that seem to have played a role in the death of Thomas Wayne. Players face a pivotal choice: Will Bruce Wayne wear the mantle of Batman or billionaire in his pursuit of the truth? As part of Telltale's promotion for their Batman series, the developer has put together an interesting behind the scenes video detailing the process their voice actors go through to bring their characters to life. Catching glimpses of voice acting greats like Troy Baker (Bruce Wayne/Batman), Laura Bailey (Selina Kyle/Catwoman), and Travis Willingham (Harvey Dent) playing off of one another feels like a real treat. They all bounce of one another and come up with ways to fine-tune their performances. It's really quite interesting and a must watch for anyone who has a glimmer of interest in the voice acting business. Telltale's Batman Episode 2: Children of Arkham can now be downloaded for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Episode 2's release date for last gen consoles or mobile will be unveiled later this month. Curious about the Batman Telltale series? Check out our review of Episode 1: Realm of Shadows. View full article
  10. There is always a man. There is always a city. There is always a lighthouse. There is always a remaster. A new launch trailer for BioShock: The Collection has popped up on the internet to convince those who haven't played the series to finally grit their teeth and take a dive into the briny depths of Rapture and the soaring heights of Columbia. The remastered bundle of three games, BioShock, BioShock 2, and BioShock Infinite, can now be played on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC to experience one of the finest FPS series to date with its complete array of single-player DLC and an overhaul in the graphics department. BioShock: The Collection also includes a commentary for the original BioShock that can be accessed via golden reels scattered throughout the underwater city of Rapture. Players who find all the reels will be able to listen to two hours of commentary from creative director Kevin Levine and animation lead Shawn Robertson. The documentary has been titled "Imagining BioShock." “We’re immensely proud of the BioShock series, and we’ve taken great care in bringing these beloved games to the current generation of consoles,” stated Christoph Hartmann, president of 2K, on the remastered bundle. “Whether you’ve experienced these critically acclaimed classics before or are new to the series, there’s never been a better time to play and immerse yourself in the rich worlds of Rapture and Columbia.” Note that PC players who already own BioShock, BioShock 2, and/or Minerva's Den can upgrade to the remastered versions for free after their release today. If you own any of those on Steam, the remaster should appear in your library as a download next to the original. If you don't own those games on Steam, things get a bit tricky. The first BioShock released almost a decade ago at a time when there were no CD keys, so players who want their free upgrades from a physical copies will need to submit proof of purchase and their Steam account information to 2K Support. You can learn more about this process over on the handy guide 2K has put together.
  11. There is always a man. There is always a city. There is always a lighthouse. There is always a remaster. A new launch trailer for BioShock: The Collection has popped up on the internet to convince those who haven't played the series to finally grit their teeth and take a dive into the briny depths of Rapture and the soaring heights of Columbia. The remastered bundle of three games, BioShock, BioShock 2, and BioShock Infinite, can now be played on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC to experience one of the finest FPS series to date with its complete array of single-player DLC and an overhaul in the graphics department. BioShock: The Collection also includes a commentary for the original BioShock that can be accessed via golden reels scattered throughout the underwater city of Rapture. Players who find all the reels will be able to listen to two hours of commentary from creative director Kevin Levine and animation lead Shawn Robertson. The documentary has been titled "Imagining BioShock." “We’re immensely proud of the BioShock series, and we’ve taken great care in bringing these beloved games to the current generation of consoles,” stated Christoph Hartmann, president of 2K, on the remastered bundle. “Whether you’ve experienced these critically acclaimed classics before or are new to the series, there’s never been a better time to play and immerse yourself in the rich worlds of Rapture and Columbia.” Note that PC players who already own BioShock, BioShock 2, and/or Minerva's Den can upgrade to the remastered versions for free after their release today. If you own any of those on Steam, the remaster should appear in your library as a download next to the original. If you don't own those games on Steam, things get a bit tricky. The first BioShock released almost a decade ago at a time when there were no CD keys, so players who want their free upgrades from a physical copies will need to submit proof of purchase and their Steam account information to 2K Support. You can learn more about this process over on the handy guide 2K has put together. View full article
  12. The Dark Souls-inspired Nioh was expected to release later this year. However, Koei Tecmo never revealed an exact date despite hosting alpha and beta test events and making a solid showing at E3 and Gamescom this year. Now we know when to expect Nioh to be available for PlayStation 4 owners: February 9, 2017. The new date was announced during Sony's Tokyo Game Show briefing. This farther out than expected release date for Nioh comes on the heels of news that The Last Guardian will also be available in early December rather than late October. The original expected release window for Nioh was the summer of 2006. It was based on an uncompleted script for a film by legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa. Koei Tecmo had plans for Kurosawa's son, Hisao Kurosawa, to finish the script and direct a companion film titled Oni to release alongside the game. A trailer was shown for the game at E3 2005, which you can view below. After that, all news about the game went dark. Nioh silently missed its 2006 release window and nothing was heard of it until 2009. Unfortunately, though it seems we are on track to finally see some version of the game that was announced back in 2004, the Kurosawa film seems to be no more, despite reports of the script having been completed. With months to go before release, Nioh's convoluted development story has quietly built the game up to be one of the more interesting releases of 2017.
  13. The Dark Souls-inspired Nioh was expected to release later this year. However, Koei Tecmo never revealed an exact date despite hosting alpha and beta test events and making a solid showing at E3 and Gamescom this year. Now we know when to expect Nioh to be available for PlayStation 4 owners: February 9, 2017. The new date was announced during Sony's Tokyo Game Show briefing. This farther out than expected release date for Nioh comes on the heels of news that The Last Guardian will also be available in early December rather than late October. The original expected release window for Nioh was the summer of 2006. It was based on an uncompleted script for a film by legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa. Koei Tecmo had plans for Kurosawa's son, Hisao Kurosawa, to finish the script and direct a companion film titled Oni to release alongside the game. A trailer was shown for the game at E3 2005, which you can view below. After that, all news about the game went dark. Nioh silently missed its 2006 release window and nothing was heard of it until 2009. Unfortunately, though it seems we are on track to finally see some version of the game that was announced back in 2004, the Kurosawa film seems to be no more, despite reports of the script having been completed. With months to go before release, Nioh's convoluted development story has quietly built the game up to be one of the more interesting releases of 2017. View full article
  14. Sony held a press event yesterday to officially reveal both the PlayStation 4 Slim and the PlayStation 4 Pro consoles alongside trailers and gameplay of upcoming titles. The slim was declared the new base PS4 model and will become available on September 15 for $299.99. The Slim packs all the power of the traditional PS4 into a smaller package that Sony claims is almost 30% more energy efficient than the original model. The PS4 Pro launches a bit later this year, November 10, and will sell for $399.99. That extra $100 supposedly buys gamers a better gaming experience, 4K resolution for some games, expanded HDR capabilities, and a higher frame rate. Obviously, Sony wants the PS4 Pro to seem like an attractive option for those looking to buy a PlayStation 4 or upgrade from an older model. Presenters like Andrew House and Mark Cerny could hardly refrain from touting the PlayStation 4 Pro's... pros. For example, the PS4 Pro includes custom variations on AMD's Polaris architecture and houses a GPU that Sony states "is considerably more powerful than the GPU included in the standard PS4." It also comes with a whole terabyte of storage space, a nice upgrade from the original PlayStation 4. The vast majority of the announcements pushed the 4K capabilities of the system when paired with a 4K television. Sony was quick to clarify that those with conventional televisions will still notice a marked performance in games that support PS4 Pro's expanded capabilities. Every gameplay clip and trailer was accompanied by someone heralding 4K as if it was the biggest thing in gaming since the leap from NES to SNES. 4K... 4K. 4K! After an hour or so, I couldn't shake the feeling that PS4 Pro was created to specifically to sell more 4K televisions, specifically Sony 4K televisions. I had never heard the term "conventional television" tossed around more in my life, as if 1080p was already an obsolete resolution. I'd be interested to know if the decision to make the PS4 Pro came from PlayStation or if it was a decree from the larger Sony company in an effort to push more Sony products. The cynic in me suspects that, as one of Sony's few profitable divisions, Sony has turned to PlayStation in a bid to leverage sales in less successful parts of the wider business. Sure, you could play PS4 Pro on a "conventional television," or you could enjoy it on a new Sony 4K TV. Oh, and while you're at it, why not pick up a Sony 4K Blu-ray player, since the PS4 Pro can't play 4K Blu-rays? Wait, what? That last point is one of the most mind-boggling things to me; especially when the Xbox One S, PS4 Pro's direct competitor this coming holiday season, already touts 4K gaming (albeit upscaled) with HDR capabilities and can also play 4K Blu-rays. Sony owns the rights to UHD Blu-ray technology, but their device lacks that capability while their competitor proudly lists it as a feature. In an interview with The Guardian, Andrew House clarified why PS4 Pro won't have a 4K Blu-ray player. "Our feeling is that while physical media continues to be a big part of the games business, we see a trend on video towards streaming," he said. "Certainly with our user base, it's the second biggest use case for people's time on the system so we place more emphasis on that area." To say that the PlayStation 4 Pro has been received poorly is a bit of an understatement. Many people derided the console on social media following its announcement. Even the official Xbox account tweeted out a sly jab that has been retweeted over 7,000 times and liked by over 15,000 people. The thing is, I can't figure out to whom the PlayStation 4 Pro is supposed to appeal. Perhaps a slim subset of people who own a 4K TV and money to spend on an upgrade? Maybe someone who hasn't bought a PS4 yet, owns a 4K TV and is willing to drop an extra $100 on a Pro over a Slim? Either way, it seems like a very small market for now. That market seems like it will only be shrinking as we approach the holidays especially when you consider that Sony also plans to release PS VR on October 13 for the same price as the PS4 Pro, $399.99. Oh, and to get PS VR to work, you will also need a PS4 Camera, which PlayStation quietly redesigned and will be launching September 15 for $59. If you wanted to get into all of the things Sony is offering in the coming months to the highest degree, PS4 Pro, 4K TV, 4K Blu-ray player, PS VR, and a PS4 Camera, it could easily rack up the bill to well over $1,500, which you will recognize as a rather large number. Any way you shake it, the main takeaway from the 2016 PlayStation Meeting speaks clearly: Please buy 4K TVs and maybe a few other things - preferably from Sony. If you missed the announcements and want to watch the full 3-hour stream, you can view it below.
  15. Sony held a press event yesterday to officially reveal both the PlayStation 4 Slim and the PlayStation 4 Pro consoles alongside trailers and gameplay of upcoming titles. The slim was declared the new base PS4 model and will become available on September 15 for $299.99. The Slim packs all the power of the traditional PS4 into a smaller package that Sony claims is almost 30% more energy efficient than the original model. The PS4 Pro launches a bit later this year, November 10, and will sell for $399.99. That extra $100 supposedly buys gamers a better gaming experience, 4K resolution for some games, expanded HDR capabilities, and a higher frame rate. Obviously, Sony wants the PS4 Pro to seem like an attractive option for those looking to buy a PlayStation 4 or upgrade from an older model. Presenters like Andrew House and Mark Cerny could hardly refrain from touting the PlayStation 4 Pro's... pros. For example, the PS4 Pro includes custom variations on AMD's Polaris architecture and houses a GPU that Sony states "is considerably more powerful than the GPU included in the standard PS4." It also comes with a whole terabyte of storage space, a nice upgrade from the original PlayStation 4. The vast majority of the announcements pushed the 4K capabilities of the system when paired with a 4K television. Sony was quick to clarify that those with conventional televisions will still notice a marked performance in games that support PS4 Pro's expanded capabilities. Every gameplay clip and trailer was accompanied by someone heralding 4K as if it was the biggest thing in gaming since the leap from NES to SNES. 4K... 4K. 4K! After an hour or so, I couldn't shake the feeling that PS4 Pro was created to specifically to sell more 4K televisions, specifically Sony 4K televisions. I had never heard the term "conventional television" tossed around more in my life, as if 1080p was already an obsolete resolution. I'd be interested to know if the decision to make the PS4 Pro came from PlayStation or if it was a decree from the larger Sony company in an effort to push more Sony products. The cynic in me suspects that, as one of Sony's few profitable divisions, Sony has turned to PlayStation in a bid to leverage sales in less successful parts of the wider business. Sure, you could play PS4 Pro on a "conventional television," or you could enjoy it on a new Sony 4K TV. Oh, and while you're at it, why not pick up a Sony 4K Blu-ray player, since the PS4 Pro can't play 4K Blu-rays? Wait, what? That last point is one of the most mind-boggling things to me; especially when the Xbox One S, PS4 Pro's direct competitor this coming holiday season, already touts 4K gaming (albeit upscaled) with HDR capabilities and can also play 4K Blu-rays. Sony owns the rights to UHD Blu-ray technology, but their device lacks that capability while their competitor proudly lists it as a feature. In an interview with The Guardian, Andrew House clarified why PS4 Pro won't have a 4K Blu-ray player. "Our feeling is that while physical media continues to be a big part of the games business, we see a trend on video towards streaming," he said. "Certainly with our user base, it's the second biggest use case for people's time on the system so we place more emphasis on that area." To say that the PlayStation 4 Pro has been received poorly is a bit of an understatement. Many people derided the console on social media following its announcement. Even the official Xbox account tweeted out a sly jab that has been retweeted over 7,000 times and liked by over 15,000 people. The thing is, I can't figure out to whom the PlayStation 4 Pro is supposed to appeal. Perhaps a slim subset of people who own a 4K TV and money to spend on an upgrade? Maybe someone who hasn't bought a PS4 yet, owns a 4K TV and is willing to drop an extra $100 on a Pro over a Slim? Either way, it seems like a very small market for now. That market seems like it will only be shrinking as we approach the holidays especially when you consider that Sony also plans to release PS VR on October 13 for the same price as the PS4 Pro, $399.99. Oh, and to get PS VR to work, you will also need a PS4 Camera, which PlayStation quietly redesigned and will be launching September 15 for $59. If you wanted to get into all of the things Sony is offering in the coming months to the highest degree, PS4 Pro, 4K TV, 4K Blu-ray player, PS VR, and a PS4 Camera, it could easily rack up the bill to well over $1,500, which you will recognize as a rather large number. Any way you shake it, the main takeaway from the 2016 PlayStation Meeting speaks clearly: Please buy 4K TVs and maybe a few other things - preferably from Sony. If you missed the announcements and want to watch the full 3-hour stream, you can view it below. View full article
  16. The three-part addition to Telltale's narrative take on the popular blocky building game comes to a close with the release of Episode 8: A Journey's End? this September 13. Minecraft: Story Mode proved to be fairly successful when it launched in late 2015 and Telltale began extending the series with new episodes as part of the Adventure Pass after the original five episode run came to a close. Three episodes make up the additional content. The first, A Portal to Mystery, offered players a chance to solve a spooky mansion mystery with characters voiced by popular Minecraft YouTubers. Access Denied composes the second episode of the Adventure Pass in which players face off against a haywire redstone AI. The final episode, A Journey's End?, follows the block-based adventurers as they battle their way through a gladiatorial arena in a bid to find their way home. Two voice actors have been revealed for the finale episode: Jim Cummings and Kari Wahlgren. Many might recognize Cummings for his work on Winnie the Pooh and Darkwing Duck. Meanwhile, Kari Wahlgren has made a name for herself on Rick and Morty and The Farily OddParents. The Adventure Pass can be purchased for $14.99 while individual episodes go for $4.99 apiece. It is required that players own Episode 1 of Minecraft: Story Mode or the physical season pass disc in order to purchase Episodes 6-8. Minecraft: Story Mode and the Adventure Pass episodes 6 & 7 are available now for PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Android, and iOS. Episode 8: A Journey's End will be available on September 13 for all consoles and PCs, with the mobile versions coming later that week.
  17. The three-part addition to Telltale's narrative take on the popular blocky building game comes to a close with the release of Episode 8: A Journey's End? this September 13. Minecraft: Story Mode proved to be fairly successful when it launched in late 2015 and Telltale began extending the series with new episodes as part of the Adventure Pass after the original five episode run came to a close. Three episodes make up the additional content. The first, A Portal to Mystery, offered players a chance to solve a spooky mansion mystery with characters voiced by popular Minecraft YouTubers. Access Denied composes the second episode of the Adventure Pass in which players face off against a haywire redstone AI. The final episode, A Journey's End?, follows the block-based adventurers as they battle their way through a gladiatorial arena in a bid to find their way home. Two voice actors have been revealed for the finale episode: Jim Cummings and Kari Wahlgren. Many might recognize Cummings for his work on Winnie the Pooh and Darkwing Duck. Meanwhile, Kari Wahlgren has made a name for herself on Rick and Morty and The Farily OddParents. The Adventure Pass can be purchased for $14.99 while individual episodes go for $4.99 apiece. It is required that players own Episode 1 of Minecraft: Story Mode or the physical season pass disc in order to purchase Episodes 6-8. Minecraft: Story Mode and the Adventure Pass episodes 6 & 7 are available now for PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Android, and iOS. Episode 8: A Journey's End will be available on September 13 for all consoles and PCs, with the mobile versions coming later that week. View full article
  18. During the episode of The Best Games Period on Bastion a few weeks ago, Daniel and Jack got off on a particularly long and detailed tangent on the subject of No Man's Sky. This wasn't a planned part of the episode, just an interesting back and forth on their experiences with the most controversial game of 2016. This isn't fully an episode of The Best Games Period or even an Honorable Mention episode - just an extended conversation in which Daniel and Jack try to suss out how they feel about life, the universe, and everything else encompassed by Hello Games' indie gamble, No Man's Sky. 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: Gradius Gaiden 'The Heavens Are Calling' by Ivan Hakštok and Sixto Sounds (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03371) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! You can also follow the show on Twitter: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday
  19. During the episode of The Best Games Period on Bastion a few weeks ago, Daniel and Jack got off on a particularly long and detailed tangent on the subject of No Man's Sky. This wasn't a planned part of the episode, just an interesting back and forth on their experiences with the most controversial game of 2016. This isn't fully an episode of The Best Games Period or even an Honorable Mention episode - just an extended conversation in which Daniel and Jack try to suss out how they feel about life, the universe, and everything else encompassed by Hello Games' indie gamble, No Man's Sky. 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: Gradius Gaiden 'The Heavens Are Calling' by Ivan Hakštok and Sixto Sounds (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03371) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! You can also follow the show on Twitter: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday View full article
  20. Blizzard definitely took some notes from WALL-E while crafting their first animated short since shortly before the release of Overwatch. Titled 'The Last Bastion,' the new animation spans over seven minutes and conveys its story with no dialogue whatsoever. The short delves into the backstory of everyone's favorite turret-based robot, Bastion. And honestly? This might be Blizzard's best Overwatch short to date. It's gorgeous and might just make you feel some feelings. 'The Last Bastion' tells the story of Bastion waking up over a decade after the great Omnic Crisis that threatened to overwhelm the world with army of robots controlled by rogue AIs. For unknown reasons, Bastion had gone dormant during that time and seemingly would have remained that way. However, Ganymede, Bastion's little bird friend, seems to reactivate the robot while building a nest on its shoulder. Retaining its orders from over a decade ago, Bastion sets out to fulfill its programming. I'm not going to say that Blizzard should just make a division dedicated to cranking out animated movies, but I'd throw my money at them if they did.
  21. Blizzard definitely took some notes from WALL-E while crafting their first animated short since shortly before the release of Overwatch. Titled 'The Last Bastion,' the new animation spans over seven minutes and conveys its story with no dialogue whatsoever. The short delves into the backstory of everyone's favorite turret-based robot, Bastion. And honestly? This might be Blizzard's best Overwatch short to date. It's gorgeous and might just make you feel some feelings. 'The Last Bastion' tells the story of Bastion waking up over a decade after the great Omnic Crisis that threatened to overwhelm the world with army of robots controlled by rogue AIs. For unknown reasons, Bastion had gone dormant during that time and seemingly would have remained that way. However, Ganymede, Bastion's little bird friend, seems to reactivate the robot while building a nest on its shoulder. Retaining its orders from over a decade ago, Bastion sets out to fulfill its programming. I'm not going to say that Blizzard should just make a division dedicated to cranking out animated movies, but I'd throw my money at them if they did. View full article
  22. At this point, I have sunk a few hours into Hello Games' No Man's Sky, a universe-spanning indie title in which players struggle to survive and uncover the secrets of the cosmos. The scale of the game can become equal parts overwhelming and breathtaking. That same scale also renders it difficult to write about in any kind of timely manner. Instead of a comprehensive review, which will be coming later, here have been my experiences with the game to date. No Man's Sky begins by throwing players exosuit-first into its universe. I awoke with a damaged ship, a nearby distress beacon, and scattered supplies on the splotched surface of a world known as Janik. My ship had depleted engines and broken landing equipment, both of which required more materials than were scattered around the crash site to repair. This tutorial section covered how players need to approach mining new materials for repairs, upgrades, and charging equipment, the building blocks of living a successful life as a star traveler. The distress beacon, a strange, geometric orb, rose from the ground when I interacted with it. A barrage of thoughts and understanding blanketed my mind and I understood it was known as Atlas. This Atlas presented me with a choice: Follow where it might lead me or continue on my way. Lacking any sense of purpose in this universe, I made the decision to follow and see where Atlas might take me. Perhaps I was too hasty, though the effect it had on the rest of my initial experience was minimal. While salvaging as much of the surrounding equipment and mineral deposits as possible, I had the chance to observe Janik. The surface of the world I had found myself on was a strange mixture of beautiful, desolate, and unpleasant. Browns, oranges, and splotches of blues made it half eye-sore, half delightful novelty. My initial scans indicated that it was a planet full of various plants, but only sparsely populated with animal life. As far as I could see in any direction, the scan results held true. Towering orange foliage covered a great deal of the terrain with yellowing iron plants representing some kind of metallic undergrowth. Small animals scurried around with bodies like powerful leopards and tiny heads that reminded me of miniature boars. I encountered pockets of animal life during my further explorations of Janik; creatures that defied normal description - swift, hippo-like animals with glowing blue spots, a towering horse-mammoth, and more. None of these creatures attacked me and most, if not all, were herbivorous. As I made my way toward a nearby point of interest, some kind of abandoned shelter, I realized that simply living in my exosuit had almost depleted my energy reserves for life support. After a slight panic, I realized that I could charge life support with isotope elements like carbon, which existed in abundance among the local plant life. This simple approach to No Man's Sky's tutorial really worked for me. With minimal button prompts and no railroaded segments, I was given a series of problems and the tools with which to solve them. I began noticing small scanning probes moving about, concentrating their activity on places where I had mined or destroyed some vegetation for resources. These scanners then turned on me and seemed to follow me for a while, giving me the distinct impression that I might have done something wrong against local law or custom. Eventually, my travels brought me to a small outpost inhabited by a single sentient lifeform. Pat of a species known as the Gek, these stocky, reptilian creatures seemed to be an advanced, dominant species that enjoyed trading and exuding various smells to influence potential customers. I didn't learn details about the Gek until later in my travels, however. Language in No Man's Sky must be learned and my initial encounter with a Gek was an unintelligible mess. Scattered over the surface of Janik were knowledge stones, ruins, and old monoliths that contained data on the Gek and taught me more of their language. However, even after learning an unsteady vocabulary, I could still only guess as to what they were saying most of the time. After over an hour of exploration and accumulating material to repair my vessel, I returned to the crash site triumphant. Booting up the ship's engines, I took off into the sky. I couldn't help but be curious about the rest of Janik as the horizon grew bigger and bigger. I took off, not towards the stars, but to the farthest point of interest that I had uncovered in my travels. Skimming through the atmosphere at high speeds made the journey, previously estimated to take 30 minutes on foot, last only a handful of seconds. I need to take a moment to say that flying within an atmosphere was probably the first time I found something I disliked about No Man's Sky. The ship seems prevented from flying too low and crashing. It's also difficult to land in a spot for which you might be aiming. I experimented with flying a number of times and I found myself landing in ravines or minutes by foot away from my destination. Let us crash into planets, Hello Games. If we fly carelessly, let us pay the price. Additionally, the map for planets is terrible. The only time you can see it is in your ship and it doesn't convey useful information. Over the course of my time on Janik, I discovered many different locations, but I had no idea how to return to my favorites because I don't know where they are on the planet with no practical map to set me on the right path. The far flung location at which I arrived seemed to be an isolated manufacturing facility with a locked door of thick steel. Using my mining laser's alternate pulse gun mode, I attempted to blast through it. This brought the ire of those scanning probes I had noticed earlier. Several of them swarmed to my location, shooting bolts of light at me, pecking through my shields. I turned my attention from the door to my attackers, focusing them down one by one. Seemingly having cleared them all, I broke through the door to discover some valuable upgrade technology among the fungus encrusted machinery within. However, I then noticed that there was one probe left and it existed beneath the ground. I think what must have happened was that the probe spawned under the terrain and could see me without being able to harm or be harmed. While this might not seem like a big deal, the longer those small probes detect a threat, the stronger the enemies sent to deal with you become. Soon a colossal bipedal robot with a powerful laser was on top of me as I huddled in the relative protection of the factory. Killing this seemed to stop the oncoming robots for a while and I made a break for my ship, hoping in vain to lose my underground foe. Even taking off into space didn't help my situation as not one, not two, but three enemy spacecraft warped in to respond to that invincible probe's distress calls. My enjoyment of the increased maneuverability of my ship in space was short lived as I took one bogey out, only to fall to the remaining two. As I awoke aboard a mysterious space station, my initial time with No Man's Sky came to an end. My initial reaction to Hello Games' much hyped indie darling could be classified as hopeful. I saw a lot of ideas that I truly enjoyed and some technical hiccups that sentenced me to disorientation and death. However, the incredible sense of discovery truly feels unmatched in modern gaming. I became an explorer discovering an entirely new world, and I could probably spend many more hours scouring the surface of Janik. But remember that Janik is only one of an untold number of places to discover with secrets to unravel. This has only been the first step of a journey with no end in sight. No Man's Sky is available on PlayStation 4 and releases for PC on August 12.
  23. At this point, I have sunk a few hours into Hello Games' No Man's Sky, a universe-spanning indie title in which players struggle to survive and uncover the secrets of the cosmos. The scale of the game can become equal parts overwhelming and breathtaking. That same scale also renders it difficult to write about in any kind of timely manner. Instead of a comprehensive review, which will be coming later, here have been my experiences with the game to date. No Man's Sky begins by throwing players exosuit-first into its universe. I awoke with a damaged ship, a nearby distress beacon, and scattered supplies on the splotched surface of a world known as Janik. My ship had depleted engines and broken landing equipment, both of which required more materials than were scattered around the crash site to repair. This tutorial section covered how players need to approach mining new materials for repairs, upgrades, and charging equipment, the building blocks of living a successful life as a star traveler. The distress beacon, a strange, geometric orb, rose from the ground when I interacted with it. A barrage of thoughts and understanding blanketed my mind and I understood it was known as Atlas. This Atlas presented me with a choice: Follow where it might lead me or continue on my way. Lacking any sense of purpose in this universe, I made the decision to follow and see where Atlas might take me. Perhaps I was too hasty, though the effect it had on the rest of my initial experience was minimal. While salvaging as much of the surrounding equipment and mineral deposits as possible, I had the chance to observe Janik. The surface of the world I had found myself on was a strange mixture of beautiful, desolate, and unpleasant. Browns, oranges, and splotches of blues made it half eye-sore, half delightful novelty. My initial scans indicated that it was a planet full of various plants, but only sparsely populated with animal life. As far as I could see in any direction, the scan results held true. Towering orange foliage covered a great deal of the terrain with yellowing iron plants representing some kind of metallic undergrowth. Small animals scurried around with bodies like powerful leopards and tiny heads that reminded me of miniature boars. I encountered pockets of animal life during my further explorations of Janik; creatures that defied normal description - swift, hippo-like animals with glowing blue spots, a towering horse-mammoth, and more. None of these creatures attacked me and most, if not all, were herbivorous. As I made my way toward a nearby point of interest, some kind of abandoned shelter, I realized that simply living in my exosuit had almost depleted my energy reserves for life support. After a slight panic, I realized that I could charge life support with isotope elements like carbon, which existed in abundance among the local plant life. This simple approach to No Man's Sky's tutorial really worked for me. With minimal button prompts and no railroaded segments, I was given a series of problems and the tools with which to solve them. I began noticing small scanning probes moving about, concentrating their activity on places where I had mined or destroyed some vegetation for resources. These scanners then turned on me and seemed to follow me for a while, giving me the distinct impression that I might have done something wrong against local law or custom. Eventually, my travels brought me to a small outpost inhabited by a single sentient lifeform. Pat of a species known as the Gek, these stocky, reptilian creatures seemed to be an advanced, dominant species that enjoyed trading and exuding various smells to influence potential customers. I didn't learn details about the Gek until later in my travels, however. Language in No Man's Sky must be learned and my initial encounter with a Gek was an unintelligible mess. Scattered over the surface of Janik were knowledge stones, ruins, and old monoliths that contained data on the Gek and taught me more of their language. However, even after learning an unsteady vocabulary, I could still only guess as to what they were saying most of the time. After over an hour of exploration and accumulating material to repair my vessel, I returned to the crash site triumphant. Booting up the ship's engines, I took off into the sky. I couldn't help but be curious about the rest of Janik as the horizon grew bigger and bigger. I took off, not towards the stars, but to the farthest point of interest that I had uncovered in my travels. Skimming through the atmosphere at high speeds made the journey, previously estimated to take 30 minutes on foot, last only a handful of seconds. I need to take a moment to say that flying within an atmosphere was probably the first time I found something I disliked about No Man's Sky. The ship seems prevented from flying too low and crashing. It's also difficult to land in a spot for which you might be aiming. I experimented with flying a number of times and I found myself landing in ravines or minutes by foot away from my destination. Let us crash into planets, Hello Games. If we fly carelessly, let us pay the price. Additionally, the map for planets is terrible. The only time you can see it is in your ship and it doesn't convey useful information. Over the course of my time on Janik, I discovered many different locations, but I had no idea how to return to my favorites because I don't know where they are on the planet with no practical map to set me on the right path. The far flung location at which I arrived seemed to be an isolated manufacturing facility with a locked door of thick steel. Using my mining laser's alternate pulse gun mode, I attempted to blast through it. This brought the ire of those scanning probes I had noticed earlier. Several of them swarmed to my location, shooting bolts of light at me, pecking through my shields. I turned my attention from the door to my attackers, focusing them down one by one. Seemingly having cleared them all, I broke through the door to discover some valuable upgrade technology among the fungus encrusted machinery within. However, I then noticed that there was one probe left and it existed beneath the ground. I think what must have happened was that the probe spawned under the terrain and could see me without being able to harm or be harmed. While this might not seem like a big deal, the longer those small probes detect a threat, the stronger the enemies sent to deal with you become. Soon a colossal bipedal robot with a powerful laser was on top of me as I huddled in the relative protection of the factory. Killing this seemed to stop the oncoming robots for a while and I made a break for my ship, hoping in vain to lose my underground foe. Even taking off into space didn't help my situation as not one, not two, but three enemy spacecraft warped in to respond to that invincible probe's distress calls. My enjoyment of the increased maneuverability of my ship in space was short lived as I took one bogey out, only to fall to the remaining two. As I awoke aboard a mysterious space station, my initial time with No Man's Sky came to an end. My initial reaction to Hello Games' much hyped indie darling could be classified as hopeful. I saw a lot of ideas that I truly enjoyed and some technical hiccups that sentenced me to disorientation and death. However, the incredible sense of discovery truly feels unmatched in modern gaming. I became an explorer discovering an entirely new world, and I could probably spend many more hours scouring the surface of Janik. But remember that Janik is only one of an untold number of places to discover with secrets to unravel. This has only been the first step of a journey with no end in sight. No Man's Sky is available on PlayStation 4 and releases for PC on August 12. View full article
  24. QuakeCon is underway and new details have emerged regarding Arkane's reboot of Prey. Arkane's Prey takes place on a space station, called Talos One, that has become infected with a mysterious alien presence. These shadowy creatures can take on numerous forms, from humanoid to tiny, spider-like beings. Not only are these creatures so dangerous that the protagonist, Morgan Yu, warns that even one breaching the station's containment could spell doom for humanity, they also possess the ability to disguise themselves as small objects in the environment - an ability that players will also be able to use at some point in their time with Prey. If that doesn't seem like something that will lead to some pretty amazing Let's Plays, I don't know what would. Talos One operated as a hub of human testing and players will be able to obtain new powers and upgrade via eyeball injection "Neuromods." In-depth crafting will play a large part in the game, as well as creative weapons like a gun that shoots hardening resin, which can be used to freeze enemies or create new paths through the environment. There are a lot of things in this trailer and the details coming out of QuakeCon that scream System Shock with a hint of Dead Space to me. The atmosphere feels thick and authentic, while the action and problem-solving looks like it could be some of the most creative the triple A mainstream has seen in a while. Prey releases in 2017 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
  25. QuakeCon is underway and new details have emerged regarding Arkane's reboot of Prey. Arkane's Prey takes place on a space station, called Talos One, that has become infected with a mysterious alien presence. These shadowy creatures can take on numerous forms, from humanoid to tiny, spider-like beings. Not only are these creatures so dangerous that the protagonist, Morgan Yu, warns that even one breaching the station's containment could spell doom for humanity, they also possess the ability to disguise themselves as small objects in the environment - an ability that players will also be able to use at some point in their time with Prey. If that doesn't seem like something that will lead to some pretty amazing Let's Plays, I don't know what would. Talos One operated as a hub of human testing and players will be able to obtain new powers and upgrade via eyeball injection "Neuromods." In-depth crafting will play a large part in the game, as well as creative weapons like a gun that shoots hardening resin, which can be used to freeze enemies or create new paths through the environment. There are a lot of things in this trailer and the details coming out of QuakeCon that scream System Shock with a hint of Dead Space to me. The atmosphere feels thick and authentic, while the action and problem-solving looks like it could be some of the most creative the triple A mainstream has seen in a while. Prey releases in 2017 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. View full article
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