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Found 510 results

  1. Pre-orders have gone live for PlayStation 4 owners. Those who pre-order Rock Band 4 will get access to ten select bonus songs for free. Rock Band 4 will be fully compatible with most wireless first or third-party controllers and microphones. Players will also have access to all of their previous Rock Band DLC song purchases in Rock Band 4. Project manager, Daniel Sussman stated, “We’re excited to be able to give fans who have already invested in Rock Band and other band games a chance to get new value from their hardware. We can’t wait to let fans start their own band and rock the world in Rock Band 4 this fall.” You can find the full list of songs below. Bonus songs include: All That Remains – “Divide”Blitz Kids – “Run For Cover”Bring Me The Horizon – “Throne”Dead Sara – “Mona Lisa”Duran Duran – “The Reflex”Janis Joplin – “Move Over”Of Mice & Men – “Would You Still Be There”Oh Honey – “Sugar, You”Pantera – “Cowboys From Hell (Live from Monsters In Moscow Festival)”Seasick Steve – “Summertime Boy”Rock Band 4 releases later this year on October 6 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. View full article
  2. The fifth RPG from developer Spiders, The Technomancer is slowly shaping up to be an promising sci-fi adventure to Mars. The trailer shows Zachariah, our protagonist and young technomancer, as he frantically attempts to contact Earth as the secret police charged with reining in rogue technomancers hunt him down. We see a nice variety of locations, from the barren desert-scape of the Mars surface, to the technological underbellies of massive cities. Spiders shows us strange, alien creatures and twisted mutants among these sights. It feels refreshing and new. Throughout the last few years, Spiders has been getting closer and closer to the RPG they wanted to make when the studio was founded. For a long time they lacked the employees, the time, and the money to fully realize their dream game, taking slow, baby steps to achieve their long term goal. Two years ago Spiders released Mars: War Logs for PC, Xbox 360, and PS3. War Logs was the first game set in the universe of that dream game. Though technically flawed and suffering from a painful lack of budget, War Logs had a lot of heart and a thoroughly interesting setting. The Technomancer returns to the world established in Mars: War Logs, expanding it and bringing it into a new generation of technology and two more years of development experience. It is worth noting that The Technomancer is not a prequel or a sequel, though it takes place in the same universe and will have limited nods and crossovers with War Logs. The Mars of The Technomancer is one far in the distant future, long after humanity has successfully colonized the new planet. While the initial colonoization and terraforming efforts proved to be wildly successful, a mysterious cataclysm eventually rocked the planet, turning the land into a near-barren desert-scape. Humanity survived, though many acquired genetic mutations from the new solar radiation that washed the surface of Mars. these mutants are frequently enslaved and treated as sub-human by the remaining citizens of Mars. However, most importantly, the cataclysm resulted in the loss of contact with Earth. Isolated on Mars, the two largest water drilling corporations formed separate nations and began a desperate war for control of limited water supplies. The two nations, Abundance and Aurora, gradually formed vastly different attitudes toward life on Mars. Structured more like a military, Abundance rules its citizens with an iron fist through propaganda and secret police. Aurora formed into a theocracy that venerates a small group of individuals known as technomancers. Technomancers are individuals born with the ability to channel and generate electricity, basically electrical Jedi. Technomancers are rare and must go through training to be formally inducted into their secretive order. The Technomancer begins at the end of Zachariah's training as he formally becomes one of the order and learns the secret that they are all sworn to keep. This secret is part of what makes Zachariah a target for the secret police that hunt him relentlessly as they search for a way to control the dangerous technomancers. On his adventures, Zachariah will make his way through numerous hub cities and locations filled with NPCs with whom players can interact. Over 80 quests are scattered throughout the game, some of which are locked unless players have a certain companion character in their party. There are five total companions, only two of which can accompany Zachariah at any given time. These companions, like the hulking mutant Phobos, will open up new areas to explore and conversation options. They will also react to the alliances the player chooses to forge. There are six factions in the game like the army, mob, or the rebellion. Companions might join or leave the party depending on what factions the player chooses to aid. I was given the opportunity to see the first mission in action. It picks up as Zachariah heads out to finish the final trial to become a technomancer in an old settler's dome that the first colonists lived in when they originally came to Mars. These sites are prized by bandits for the valuables they still contain and this one in particular houses the technomancers' most closely guarded secret. The trial involves protecting the dome from a group of bandits who have come to lay claim to the site. As Zachariah makes his way through the enemy camp, he can switch between three different fighting styles on the fly: the medium-speed staff, the quick and tricky blade and gun, or the lumbering shield and mace style. Each style has a core attack and alternate ability that can each be used in either a quick attack or a longer, more powerful strike. In addition to these, Zachariah has access to a number of technomancer abilities, the most basic of which empowers his weapons with electricity, significantly increasing their power or striking the ground to create an electrical shockwave. Players can also choose to be tricky, relying on stealth to backstab enemies and lay traps to use in battle. As players progress through The Technomancer, they'll find different diagrams and upgrades that can be used for crafting. Every piece of equipment in the game can be improved and modified and those modifications will be reflected not just in the stats, but also in visual changes to the in-game models. Companion equipment can be upgraded as well. As Zachariah finishes off the last of the bandits and enters the dome, it becomes clear that something... alien has made the dome its home. A number of spider-like enemies rush the player and it becomes clear that this was not part of the intended training. Bound By Flame fueled Spider's desire to include large, intimidating monster encounters and they've carried that over to The Technomancer. The first boss encounter, and the conclusion of my time seeing the game in action, revolved around a fight against what they called the Diggernaut, a gigantic, burrowing spider. An intense fight, full of crackling electricity and speedy spiderlings was a good way to give an idea of what else might be in store for players when The Technomancer releases. I've been following Spiders' work since Mars: War Logs and while their games have all had some glaring flaws, I think they also have a lot of heart, originality, and effort behind them. I'm rooting for this to be the game that really takes their studio to the next level and shows what they can do with more resources and a clear vision. Right now, The Technomancer is slated for release in 2016 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
  3. The fifth RPG from developer Spiders, The Technomancer is slowly shaping up to be an promising sci-fi adventure to Mars. The trailer shows Zachariah, our protagonist and young technomancer, as he frantically attempts to contact Earth as the secret police charged with reining in rogue technomancers hunt him down. We see a nice variety of locations, from the barren desert-scape of the Mars surface, to the technological underbellies of massive cities. Spiders shows us strange, alien creatures and twisted mutants among these sights. It feels refreshing and new. Throughout the last few years, Spiders has been getting closer and closer to the RPG they wanted to make when the studio was founded. For a long time they lacked the employees, the time, and the money to fully realize their dream game, taking slow, baby steps to achieve their long term goal. Two years ago Spiders released Mars: War Logs for PC, Xbox 360, and PS3. War Logs was the first game set in the universe of that dream game. Though technically flawed and suffering from a painful lack of budget, War Logs had a lot of heart and a thoroughly interesting setting. The Technomancer returns to the world established in Mars: War Logs, expanding it and bringing it into a new generation of technology and two more years of development experience. It is worth noting that The Technomancer is not a prequel or a sequel, though it takes place in the same universe and will have limited nods and crossovers with War Logs. The Mars of The Technomancer is one far in the distant future, long after humanity has successfully colonized the new planet. While the initial colonoization and terraforming efforts proved to be wildly successful, a mysterious cataclysm eventually rocked the planet, turning the land into a near-barren desert-scape. Humanity survived, though many acquired genetic mutations from the new solar radiation that washed the surface of Mars. these mutants are frequently enslaved and treated as sub-human by the remaining citizens of Mars. However, most importantly, the cataclysm resulted in the loss of contact with Earth. Isolated on Mars, the two largest water drilling corporations formed separate nations and began a desperate war for control of limited water supplies. The two nations, Abundance and Aurora, gradually formed vastly different attitudes toward life on Mars. Structured more like a military, Abundance rules its citizens with an iron fist through propaganda and secret police. Aurora formed into a theocracy that venerates a small group of individuals known as technomancers. Technomancers are individuals born with the ability to channel and generate electricity, basically electrical Jedi. Technomancers are rare and must go through training to be formally inducted into their secretive order. The Technomancer begins at the end of Zachariah's training as he formally becomes one of the order and learns the secret that they are all sworn to keep. This secret is part of what makes Zachariah a target for the secret police that hunt him relentlessly as they search for a way to control the dangerous technomancers. On his adventures, Zachariah will make his way through numerous hub cities and locations filled with NPCs with whom players can interact. Over 80 quests are scattered throughout the game, some of which are locked unless players have a certain companion character in their party. There are five total companions, only two of which can accompany Zachariah at any given time. These companions, like the hulking mutant Phobos, will open up new areas to explore and conversation options. They will also react to the alliances the player chooses to forge. There are six factions in the game like the army, mob, or the rebellion. Companions might join or leave the party depending on what factions the player chooses to aid. I was given the opportunity to see the first mission in action. It picks up as Zachariah heads out to finish the final trial to become a technomancer in an old settler's dome that the first colonists lived in when they originally came to Mars. These sites are prized by bandits for the valuables they still contain and this one in particular houses the technomancers' most closely guarded secret. The trial involves protecting the dome from a group of bandits who have come to lay claim to the site. As Zachariah makes his way through the enemy camp, he can switch between three different fighting styles on the fly: the medium-speed staff, the quick and tricky blade and gun, or the lumbering shield and mace style. Each style has a core attack and alternate ability that can each be used in either a quick attack or a longer, more powerful strike. In addition to these, Zachariah has access to a number of technomancer abilities, the most basic of which empowers his weapons with electricity, significantly increasing their power or striking the ground to create an electrical shockwave. Players can also choose to be tricky, relying on stealth to backstab enemies and lay traps to use in battle. As players progress through The Technomancer, they'll find different diagrams and upgrades that can be used for crafting. Every piece of equipment in the game can be improved and modified and those modifications will be reflected not just in the stats, but also in visual changes to the in-game models. Companion equipment can be upgraded as well. As Zachariah finishes off the last of the bandits and enters the dome, it becomes clear that something... alien has made the dome its home. A number of spider-like enemies rush the player and it becomes clear that this was not part of the intended training. Bound By Flame fueled Spider's desire to include large, intimidating monster encounters and they've carried that over to The Technomancer. The first boss encounter, and the conclusion of my time seeing the game in action, revolved around a fight against what they called the Diggernaut, a gigantic, burrowing spider. An intense fight, full of crackling electricity and speedy spiderlings was a good way to give an idea of what else might be in store for players when The Technomancer releases. I've been following Spiders' work since Mars: War Logs and while their games have all had some glaring flaws, I think they also have a lot of heart, originality, and effort behind them. I'm rooting for this to be the game that really takes their studio to the next level and shows what they can do with more resources and a clear vision. Right now, The Technomancer is slated for release in 2016 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. View full article
  4. A new arena brawler from Kiz Studios has made its way exclusively onto the PlayStation 4. Trans-Galactic Tournament, a 4v4 multiplayer arena title, brings free-to-play MOBA action to the PS4. Players can download the title over PSN and get into the game's current roster of ten champions. In-game, champions can take advantage of over one hundred power-ups across six different arenas and three game modes. These game modes are described like so: "Plunderball is Capture-the-Flag meets Thunderdome. Conquest is a many-headed hydra mutation of King-of-the-Hill, where the challenge isn’t capturing control points, it’s keeping them - and Annihilation (our version of Deathmatch), well, champions have fists for a reason." Unlike most of the popular MOBAs currently available, players don't level their characters while in-game. Instead, players customize their preferred champions outside the action and tailor them to their play style. Another feature that separates Trans-Galactic Tournament from the MOBA pack is the ability to jump over or through obstacles. You can even jump on top of enemies and use them as platforms to reach shortcuts. If you're worried about investing time in the beta only to have your progress in-game wiped away when the full game launches, Kiz Studios has your back. All progress made during the beta will carry over when Trans-Galactic Tournament launches later this summer.
  5. A new arena brawler from Kiz Studios has made its way exclusively onto the PlayStation 4. Trans-Galactic Tournament, a 4v4 multiplayer arena title, brings free-to-play MOBA action to the PS4. Players can download the title over PSN and get into the game's current roster of ten champions. In-game, champions can take advantage of over one hundred power-ups across six different arenas and three game modes. These game modes are described like so: "Plunderball is Capture-the-Flag meets Thunderdome. Conquest is a many-headed hydra mutation of King-of-the-Hill, where the challenge isn’t capturing control points, it’s keeping them - and Annihilation (our version of Deathmatch), well, champions have fists for a reason." Unlike most of the popular MOBAs currently available, players don't level their characters while in-game. Instead, players customize their preferred champions outside the action and tailor them to their play style. Another feature that separates Trans-Galactic Tournament from the MOBA pack is the ability to jump over or through obstacles. You can even jump on top of enemies and use them as platforms to reach shortcuts. If you're worried about investing time in the beta only to have your progress in-game wiped away when the full game launches, Kiz Studios has your back. All progress made during the beta will carry over when Trans-Galactic Tournament launches later this summer. View full article
  6. Hi-Rez Studios, the minds behind the third-person MOBA Smite, today unveiled Paladins, their newest free-to-play game coming to PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Paladins combines a rich fantasy setting with the fast action of a team-based, first-person shooter. In addition to the core shooter experience, players will be able to strategize through character progression and collectible cards which improve and alter a character's abilities. “We’ve managed to keep Paladins under wraps for over a year now, so the dev team is really looking forward to receiving feedback from the hands-on demo at gamescom,” said Todd Harris, COO at Hi-Rez Studios. “We’ve focused on making something we find fun and competitive, and soon players will help us craft how Paladins grows from here.” Paladins seems to take many cues from the MOBA genre. Teams are pitted against one another to capture control points and demolish the enemy's base while defending their own. Each combatant enters the battle with a primary weapon, a set of combat and movement abilities, and a personal mount to carry them quickly from one fight to the next. Customizable decks of skill cards can be activated and evolved upon leveling up during the match for enhanced strength, defense or utility throughout the session. “Paladins has been a passion project of ours from the beginning,” commented Mick Larkins, senior producer on the title. “We’ve dedicated a separate team from Smite to work on it, and while we are still early in development, we know we’re crafting something very special. Paladins is extremely quick, with a great deal of depth in how it blends action, tactics, and teamwork, and we’re excited for gamers to start discovering all it has to offer.” Paladins will be playable for Gamescom attendees at Hi-Rez Studios’ Booth. For those not going to the show in Germany, a closed beta for Paladins is planned and can be signed up for on the official website.
  7. Hi-Rez Studios, the minds behind the third-person MOBA Smite, today unveiled Paladins, their newest free-to-play game coming to PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Paladins combines a rich fantasy setting with the fast action of a team-based, first-person shooter. In addition to the core shooter experience, players will be able to strategize through character progression and collectible cards which improve and alter a character's abilities. “We’ve managed to keep Paladins under wraps for over a year now, so the dev team is really looking forward to receiving feedback from the hands-on demo at gamescom,” said Todd Harris, COO at Hi-Rez Studios. “We’ve focused on making something we find fun and competitive, and soon players will help us craft how Paladins grows from here.” Paladins seems to take many cues from the MOBA genre. Teams are pitted against one another to capture control points and demolish the enemy's base while defending their own. Each combatant enters the battle with a primary weapon, a set of combat and movement abilities, and a personal mount to carry them quickly from one fight to the next. Customizable decks of skill cards can be activated and evolved upon leveling up during the match for enhanced strength, defense or utility throughout the session. “Paladins has been a passion project of ours from the beginning,” commented Mick Larkins, senior producer on the title. “We’ve dedicated a separate team from Smite to work on it, and while we are still early in development, we know we’re crafting something very special. Paladins is extremely quick, with a great deal of depth in how it blends action, tactics, and teamwork, and we’re excited for gamers to start discovering all it has to offer.” Paladins will be playable for Gamescom attendees at Hi-Rez Studios’ Booth. For those not going to the show in Germany, a closed beta for Paladins is planned and can be signed up for on the official website. View full article
  8. While more information is promised to be forthcoming when Gamescom gets underway next week, for now we know that Techland's Dying Light: The Following will be including driveable vehicles and will be standalone, meaning it can be bought separately from the core game. The Following will be free for all Season Pass holders when it releases. The game will be shown at Gamescom, but people will have to wait until shortly after the behind-closed-doors reveal to see it in action for themselves. The only glimpse of the expansion that players are able to have at the moment is in the two screenshots below and the several seconds teasing the expansion from the video Techland released last week commemorating their half-year of content support for Dying Light. Skip to 2:10 if you'd like to see the teaser. It seems like Techland is treating The Following almost more like a sequel than an expansion. For one thing, Tymon Smektala, the producer of The Following had this to say about the map size and player feedback, “For Dying Light: The Following we’re adding a number of bold game-changers to create one massive expansion. Something big that will give the game a brand-new flavor. The new map alone is the same size as all the previous maps from Dying Light combined, so there is a lot we’re packing in here. We also kept a close eye on player feedback to help tailor what we’ve created here. Hopefully people will see that this new expansion is first and foremost, for the fans.” Not only is the map larger than what was offered in the core Dying Light campaign, but I'm hopeful for a meatier story as well. In my review of the core game, the narrative was one of my primary points of contention. Techland has stated that it sees The Following as a story-driven expansion full of new features. Hopefully it can provide a more interesting narrative direction for the burgeoning franchise while letting its stellar mechanics shine.
  9. While more information is promised to be forthcoming when Gamescom gets underway next week, for now we know that Techland's Dying Light: The Following will be including driveable vehicles and will be standalone, meaning it can be bought separately from the core game. The Following will be free for all Season Pass holders when it releases. The game will be shown at Gamescom, but people will have to wait until shortly after the behind-closed-doors reveal to see it in action for themselves. The only glimpse of the expansion that players are able to have at the moment is in the two screenshots below and the several seconds teasing the expansion from the video Techland released last week commemorating their half-year of content support for Dying Light. Skip to 2:10 if you'd like to see the teaser. It seems like Techland is treating The Following almost more like a sequel than an expansion. For one thing, Tymon Smektala, the producer of The Following had this to say about the map size and player feedback, “For Dying Light: The Following we’re adding a number of bold game-changers to create one massive expansion. Something big that will give the game a brand-new flavor. The new map alone is the same size as all the previous maps from Dying Light combined, so there is a lot we’re packing in here. We also kept a close eye on player feedback to help tailor what we’ve created here. Hopefully people will see that this new expansion is first and foremost, for the fans.” Not only is the map larger than what was offered in the core Dying Light campaign, but I'm hopeful for a meatier story as well. In my review of the core game, the narrative was one of my primary points of contention. Techland has stated that it sees The Following as a story-driven expansion full of new features. Hopefully it can provide a more interesting narrative direction for the burgeoning franchise while letting its stellar mechanics shine. View full article
  10. Ten years after its release for PlayStation 2, Legend of Kay is making its way to modern consoles with a slew of visual upgrades and features. The action-platformer centers around Kay, a talented, young martial artist who sets off on a journey to overthrow the Din, a coalition of gorillas and rats that have taken control of Yenching and now rule the island with draconian efficiency. As Kay, players must master the sword, hammer, and claw fighting styles and techniques in order to triumph over the forces of evil. Many players remember Legend of Kay for its combat and pop-culture references. The updated anniversary edition for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Wii U, Xbox 360, and PC includes improved, hi-res textures, new character models, improved rendering, and surround sound support. Online rankings have also been added for various core game accomplishments and mini-games such as dragon flying, wolf riding, and boar racing. These are added on top of the previous 25 levels, 15 enemy types, and boss battles that made the original popular enough for a remaster. Legend of Kay Anniversary is available now.
  11. Ten years after its release for PlayStation 2, Legend of Kay is making its way to modern consoles with a slew of visual upgrades and features. The action-platformer centers around Kay, a talented, young martial artist who sets off on a journey to overthrow the Din, a coalition of gorillas and rats that have taken control of Yenching and now rule the island with draconian efficiency. As Kay, players must master the sword, hammer, and claw fighting styles and techniques in order to triumph over the forces of evil. Many players remember Legend of Kay for its combat and pop-culture references. The updated anniversary edition for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Wii U, Xbox 360, and PC includes improved, hi-res textures, new character models, improved rendering, and surround sound support. Online rankings have also been added for various core game accomplishments and mini-games such as dragon flying, wolf riding, and boar racing. These are added on top of the previous 25 levels, 15 enemy types, and boss battles that made the original popular enough for a remaster. Legend of Kay Anniversary is available now. View full article
  12. Welcome back to Daventry, a kingdom of knights and dragons, where heroes are forged and stories are woven from their deeds. While the watercolor world initially appears to be ageless, a place where Graham, a would-be knight and future king of Daventry, might go on adventures endlessly, we are slowly introduced to the idea that nothing remains forever. A Knight to Remember challenges the assumption that a game has to be dark and gritty to be able to convey mature themes and messages. Yes, there are many light-hearted moments, but the game carries with it a much wider range of expression than just smiles and sunshine. Developer The Odd Gentlemen knows there are times for danger, suspense, and meaningful moments alongside laughter and goofiness. The episodic version of King’s Quest takes place within a framed narrative where an old King Graham tells his granddaughter Gwendolyn stories about the various adventures he’s embarked on throughout his life. Players take direct control of Graham in the stories, wandering Daventry and completing various puzzles. How players choose to solve the various problems in each of the stories, which are conveniently separated into the individual chapters, teaches Gwendolyn how to deal with problems in her own life. It is an uncommon structure and The Odd Gentlemen use it to great effect. If Graham gets burned to a crisp or falls off a cliff, the story will briefly pull out to old King Graham and Gwendolyn with an accompanying joke or quip before returning to the story shortly before the misstep. At no point does the player control Gwendolyn. Instead, players watch as she learns from how they chose to proceed in Graham’s story and puts those lessons into action in her own life. I’m not going to ruin any of the jokes in A Knight to Remember, but prepare yourself for puns. I have never heard so many puns in one piece of media before. It was simultaneously delightful and groan-inducing. I loved it. Many of the puns stem from interacting with objects in the environment repeatedly. Creative director Matt Korba managed to assemble a dream team of voice actors, including Christopher Lloyd, the voice of old King Graham. He delivers puns and wordplay with a suitably dignified and kindly air, at times sounding like a child being allowed to get away with something naughty. There are an astonishing number of lines for even obscure interactions. Seven or eight unique lines of dialogue can be found in some actions, which many players will never even hear or encounter. Beyond Lloyd’s performance, Wallace Shawn is terrific fun as a character very reminiscent of his role as Vizzini in The Princess Bride. The comparison between Telltale’s adventure games and the latest outing from The Odd Gentlemen is too obvious to ignore. At a glance they might seem similar, but there are a number of subtle differences that make King’s Quest feel unique. Since the success of The Walking Dead Season One, Telltale’s games have all been for adults, featuring harsh violence, intense language, and traumatizing scenarios. King’s Quest is clearly aimed at both adults and children. It is the kind of game that a family can play together with both kids and adults finding enjoyment for different reasons. There are mature themes and messages in A Knight to Remember, but they are mature themes that can be digested by both the young and the old. Like all classic works of fantasy, King’s Quest isn’t afraid to go dark places amidst its levity. Sinister threads run through the adventure, threads that will probably become more apparent in Chapter 2. Even with that darkness present, King’s Quest is a game about bridge trolls and squirrel-princess friends, where problems solved with a knife can also be solved with a pie. Beyond tonal differences and a larger intended audience, focusing on the method players choose to use to solve problems is the stroke of genius that truly separates The Odd Gentlemen from Telltale. Players can give advice to Gwendolyn at the beginning of the chapter, but how they proceed, the manner in which they actually play the game is the true choice that will affect how Gwendolyn approaches her problems. There are three core paths: Courage, cleverness, and kindness. Each can be pursued at any given time and lead to vastly different experiences for players. In the first episode, each approach is personified. Courage takes the form of a blacksmith who believes in the hard, straightforward path. The cleverness route appears as an old man and woman who run a magical curio shop. The baker takes on the mantle of kindness, advising players to try to reach hearts instead of relying on their own mind or brave deeds. I hope it is clear by now that I enjoyed my time adventuring once more in Daventry. However, that is not to say that The Odd Gentlemen didn’t fall short in a few places. There were a number of instances where budget constraints became obvious. Incredibly low resolution textures sometimes made it front and center next to detailed objects and the resulting discrepancy was jarring. This happened a few times and appeared at odds with the rest of the gorgeous, watercolor scenery. Another area that felt lacking was in basic story structure. Scenes and moments were missing that I am almost sure were cut for budgetary or time restraints. In particular this absence is felt in Gwendolyn’s sections. It felt like there were supposed to be more scenes reflecting her life in the castle, but we have only a few scant glimpses into what she’s worried about. In A Knight to Remember, Gwendolyn is nervous about an approaching fencing tournament, but there seems to be very little build up to the climax of her story at the end of the Chapter 1. Her problems are important to the story, and cutting short our window into that world was a letdown. It was functional, but lusterless. Visually, the tournament also felt like the result of budget and/or time concerns with no audience to be seen or heard. Additionally, there should probably have been more of an introduction to who Graham is for both newcomers and veterans of the series. Among other absent components, these are critical elements for the story to work better and they just aren’t there. Now, I understand that it is episodic and they didn’t have time to go in-depth with a lot of the characters. That’s the reality of the business. While everything I just suggested would have made the story work better, its current state is quite functional and provides plenty of laughs and tense moments. However, I hope that future episodes build out these characters, as well as the excellent supporting cast, from the basic introduction they were given in A Knight to Remember. Conclusion: A Knight to remember feels like an imperfect, yet solid, entertaining, and endearing foundation on which the future chapters of King’s Quest can build. It is bright, vibrant, and holds deep respect for its roots while breaking into completely new territory for the series. It takes a lot of courage to take on a series with as much weight as King’s Quest after almost a decade of silence (not counting the fan remakes). For the first steps underneath immense expectations, time constraints, and budget, The Odd Gentlemen manage wonderfully. King’s Quest looks gorgeous, plays well, and really is something that brings a series stretching back 35 years into the present day in fine fashion. I’m looking forward to listening to the next story from King Graham. King's Quest Chapter 1: A Knight to Remember is currently available for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC.
  13. Welcome back to Daventry, a kingdom of knights and dragons, where heroes are forged and stories are woven from their deeds. While the watercolor world initially appears to be ageless, a place where Graham, a would-be knight and future king of Daventry, might go on adventures endlessly, we are slowly introduced to the idea that nothing remains forever. A Knight to Remember challenges the assumption that a game has to be dark and gritty to be able to convey mature themes and messages. Yes, there are many light-hearted moments, but the game carries with it a much wider range of expression than just smiles and sunshine. Developer The Odd Gentlemen knows there are times for danger, suspense, and meaningful moments alongside laughter and goofiness. The episodic version of King’s Quest takes place within a framed narrative where an old King Graham tells his granddaughter Gwendolyn stories about the various adventures he’s embarked on throughout his life. Players take direct control of Graham in the stories, wandering Daventry and completing various puzzles. How players choose to solve the various problems in each of the stories, which are conveniently separated into the individual chapters, teaches Gwendolyn how to deal with problems in her own life. It is an uncommon structure and The Odd Gentlemen use it to great effect. If Graham gets burned to a crisp or falls off a cliff, the story will briefly pull out to old King Graham and Gwendolyn with an accompanying joke or quip before returning to the story shortly before the misstep. At no point does the player control Gwendolyn. Instead, players watch as she learns from how they chose to proceed in Graham’s story and puts those lessons into action in her own life. I’m not going to ruin any of the jokes in A Knight to Remember, but prepare yourself for puns. I have never heard so many puns in one piece of media before. It was simultaneously delightful and groan-inducing. I loved it. Many of the puns stem from interacting with objects in the environment repeatedly. Creative director Matt Korba managed to assemble a dream team of voice actors, including Christopher Lloyd, the voice of old King Graham. He delivers puns and wordplay with a suitably dignified and kindly air, at times sounding like a child being allowed to get away with something naughty. There are an astonishing number of lines for even obscure interactions. Seven or eight unique lines of dialogue can be found in some actions, which many players will never even hear or encounter. Beyond Lloyd’s performance, Wallace Shawn is terrific fun as a character very reminiscent of his role as Vizzini in The Princess Bride. The comparison between Telltale’s adventure games and the latest outing from The Odd Gentlemen is too obvious to ignore. At a glance they might seem similar, but there are a number of subtle differences that make King’s Quest feel unique. Since the success of The Walking Dead Season One, Telltale’s games have all been for adults, featuring harsh violence, intense language, and traumatizing scenarios. King’s Quest is clearly aimed at both adults and children. It is the kind of game that a family can play together with both kids and adults finding enjoyment for different reasons. There are mature themes and messages in A Knight to Remember, but they are mature themes that can be digested by both the young and the old. Like all classic works of fantasy, King’s Quest isn’t afraid to go dark places amidst its levity. Sinister threads run through the adventure, threads that will probably become more apparent in Chapter 2. Even with that darkness present, King’s Quest is a game about bridge trolls and squirrel-princess friends, where problems solved with a knife can also be solved with a pie. Beyond tonal differences and a larger intended audience, focusing on the method players choose to use to solve problems is the stroke of genius that truly separates The Odd Gentlemen from Telltale. Players can give advice to Gwendolyn at the beginning of the chapter, but how they proceed, the manner in which they actually play the game is the true choice that will affect how Gwendolyn approaches her problems. There are three core paths: Courage, cleverness, and kindness. Each can be pursued at any given time and lead to vastly different experiences for players. In the first episode, each approach is personified. Courage takes the form of a blacksmith who believes in the hard, straightforward path. The cleverness route appears as an old man and woman who run a magical curio shop. The baker takes on the mantle of kindness, advising players to try to reach hearts instead of relying on their own mind or brave deeds. I hope it is clear by now that I enjoyed my time adventuring once more in Daventry. However, that is not to say that The Odd Gentlemen didn’t fall short in a few places. There were a number of instances where budget constraints became obvious. Incredibly low resolution textures sometimes made it front and center next to detailed objects and the resulting discrepancy was jarring. This happened a few times and appeared at odds with the rest of the gorgeous, watercolor scenery. Another area that felt lacking was in basic story structure. Scenes and moments were missing that I am almost sure were cut for budgetary or time restraints. In particular this absence is felt in Gwendolyn’s sections. It felt like there were supposed to be more scenes reflecting her life in the castle, but we have only a few scant glimpses into what she’s worried about. In A Knight to Remember, Gwendolyn is nervous about an approaching fencing tournament, but there seems to be very little build up to the climax of her story at the end of the Chapter 1. Her problems are important to the story, and cutting short our window into that world was a letdown. It was functional, but lusterless. Visually, the tournament also felt like the result of budget and/or time concerns with no audience to be seen or heard. Additionally, there should probably have been more of an introduction to who Graham is for both newcomers and veterans of the series. Among other absent components, these are critical elements for the story to work better and they just aren’t there. Now, I understand that it is episodic and they didn’t have time to go in-depth with a lot of the characters. That’s the reality of the business. While everything I just suggested would have made the story work better, its current state is quite functional and provides plenty of laughs and tense moments. However, I hope that future episodes build out these characters, as well as the excellent supporting cast, from the basic introduction they were given in A Knight to Remember. Conclusion: A Knight to remember feels like an imperfect, yet solid, entertaining, and endearing foundation on which the future chapters of King’s Quest can build. It is bright, vibrant, and holds deep respect for its roots while breaking into completely new territory for the series. It takes a lot of courage to take on a series with as much weight as King’s Quest after almost a decade of silence (not counting the fan remakes). For the first steps underneath immense expectations, time constraints, and budget, The Odd Gentlemen manage wonderfully. King’s Quest looks gorgeous, plays well, and really is something that brings a series stretching back 35 years into the present day in fine fashion. I’m looking forward to listening to the next story from King Graham. King's Quest Chapter 1: A Knight to Remember is currently available for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC. View full article
  14. 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! View full article
  15. The teaser site reported last week has finally gone live and a new Star Ocean is on its way to PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3. A trailer exploring the history of the franchise and teasing its future has also appeared and you can view it below: While the trailer doesn't tell us much beyond the title of the next game, a leak in Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu, the prologue translated by Kotaku, offers more insight into what Star Ocean 5 will be about: Do the depths of space forbid peace for mankind— Centuries after leaving Earth, after a multitude of trials, with the creation and spread of the ‘Galactic Federation’, humanity was on the verge of unified order and peace. But the embers of conflict have begun to burn again. Over 6,000 light years from Earth, on the unsettled planet, ‘Faicreed.’ Just as so many times before, the waves of history begin from a remote planet. According to Gematsu, three characters were revealed in the Famitsu leak as well. The protagonist of Integrity and Faithlessness will be Fedel Camus, a defender of his village and specialized fencer. Miki Sorvesta is Fedel's childhood friend and has a sisterly affection for the hero. Finally, there is Lilia, a young girl who has lost her memories and emotions. Like previous entries in the Star Ocean series, combat will take place in real-time. Integrity and Faithlessness will offer seamless transitions into and out of battles. While Star Ocean 5 is coming to PlayStation 4, it has primarily been developed for PlayStation 3 and the PS4 version will be a port that may or may not take advantage of Share play features. No word yet on when we could expect to see Star Ocean 5 release in North America. Longtime fans will be happy to know that series developer tri-Ace is helming this next installment, so we can be reasonably sure that the project is in capable hands.
  16. The teaser site reported last week has finally gone live and a new Star Ocean is on its way to PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3. A trailer exploring the history of the franchise and teasing its future has also appeared and you can view it below: While the trailer doesn't tell us much beyond the title of the next game, a leak in Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu, the prologue translated by Kotaku, offers more insight into what Star Ocean 5 will be about: Do the depths of space forbid peace for mankind— Centuries after leaving Earth, after a multitude of trials, with the creation and spread of the ‘Galactic Federation’, humanity was on the verge of unified order and peace. But the embers of conflict have begun to burn again. Over 6,000 light years from Earth, on the unsettled planet, ‘Faicreed.’ Just as so many times before, the waves of history begin from a remote planet. According to Gematsu, three characters were revealed in the Famitsu leak as well. The protagonist of Integrity and Faithlessness will be Fedel Camus, a defender of his village and specialized fencer. Miki Sorvesta is Fedel's childhood friend and has a sisterly affection for the hero. Finally, there is Lilia, a young girl who has lost her memories and emotions. Like previous entries in the Star Ocean series, combat will take place in real-time. Integrity and Faithlessness will offer seamless transitions into and out of battles. While Star Ocean 5 is coming to PlayStation 4, it has primarily been developed for PlayStation 3 and the PS4 version will be a port that may or may not take advantage of Share play features. No word yet on when we could expect to see Star Ocean 5 release in North America. Longtime fans will be happy to know that series developer tri-Ace is helming this next installment, so we can be reasonably sure that the project is in capable hands. View full article
  17. Following the announcement of an all new Rock Band last month, many people wondered whether or not we could be seeing a new Guitar Hero as well. Activision confirmed today that FreeStyleGames, the developers behind DJ Hero and DJ Hero 2, will be bringing a new Guitar Hero to consoles this fall and it doesn't look like anything we would have expected. Live crowds and performers? This could be awesome in either a genuinely great way or a hilarious FMV way. Either way, I'm interested to see how this plays out. The press release heralds the live-action experience as "a quantum leap forward in immersion and realism," so take that how you will. Guitar Hero Live will launch this fall alongside GHTV, a playable music video network. Guitar Hero players will be able to play along with 24-hour channels of the latest music. It continually updates to keep a fresh rotation of music videos. Multiple channels will be available as well as themed shows. Additionally, players can purchase music videos to play on-demand. In a surprise move, Guitar Hero Live will also be playable on tablets and smart phones. Exactly how that works or what that will mean remains to be seen. Guitar Hero Live features a redesigned controller with two rows of three buttons. This redesign was motivated to mimic how people actually play guitar and FreeStyleGames assures players that this new layout will be easier for newcomers and more satisfying for veterans. It is currently unclear whether this new Guitar Hero will work with older guitar controllers. Some of the artists being touted for Guitar Hero Live include: The Black Keys, Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, Gary Clark, Jr., Green Day, Ed Sheeran, The War on Drugs, The Killers, Skrillex, The Rolling Stones, The Lumineers, Carrie Underwood, Pierce the Veil and Blitz Kids, with many more bands to be announced in the coming months. On top of that, if any of you are in the area of one of these three Best Buy locations, you'll have the chance to play Guitar Hero Live before its release this fall. April 14, 2015: Best Buy Theatre, New York City, 6pm - 9pm April 18, 2015: Best Buy Store, Union Square, New York City, 1pm - 5pm April 18, 2015: Best Buy Store, Torrance, CA, 1pm - 5pm Guitar Hero Live will be launching fall 2015, for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U, and select mobile devices that are TBA.
  18. Following the announcement of an all new Rock Band last month, many people wondered whether or not we could be seeing a new Guitar Hero as well. Activision confirmed today that FreeStyleGames, the developers behind DJ Hero and DJ Hero 2, will be bringing a new Guitar Hero to consoles this fall and it doesn't look like anything we would have expected. Live crowds and performers? This could be awesome in either a genuinely great way or a hilarious FMV way. Either way, I'm interested to see how this plays out. The press release heralds the live-action experience as "a quantum leap forward in immersion and realism," so take that how you will. Guitar Hero Live will launch this fall alongside GHTV, a playable music video network. Guitar Hero players will be able to play along with 24-hour channels of the latest music. It continually updates to keep a fresh rotation of music videos. Multiple channels will be available as well as themed shows. Additionally, players can purchase music videos to play on-demand. In a surprise move, Guitar Hero Live will also be playable on tablets and smart phones. Exactly how that works or what that will mean remains to be seen. Guitar Hero Live features a redesigned controller with two rows of three buttons. This redesign was motivated to mimic how people actually play guitar and FreeStyleGames assures players that this new layout will be easier for newcomers and more satisfying for veterans. It is currently unclear whether this new Guitar Hero will work with older guitar controllers. Some of the artists being touted for Guitar Hero Live include: The Black Keys, Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, Gary Clark, Jr., Green Day, Ed Sheeran, The War on Drugs, The Killers, Skrillex, The Rolling Stones, The Lumineers, Carrie Underwood, Pierce the Veil and Blitz Kids, with many more bands to be announced in the coming months. On top of that, if any of you are in the area of one of these three Best Buy locations, you'll have the chance to play Guitar Hero Live before its release this fall. April 14, 2015: Best Buy Theatre, New York City, 6pm - 9pm April 18, 2015: Best Buy Store, Union Square, New York City, 1pm - 5pm April 18, 2015: Best Buy Store, Torrance, CA, 1pm - 5pm Guitar Hero Live will be launching fall 2015, for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U, and select mobile devices that are TBA. View full article
  19. Focus Home Interactive and Spiders, the developer behind RPGs Mars: War Logs and Bound By Flame, return to form with The Technomancer. Set on a cyberpunk, dystopian Mars in the grips of a war over precious water resources, players are thrust into the role of the Technomancer, a warrior proficient in both mundane combat and the use of cybernetic magic. Uncertain of their past and pursued by the Secret Police, players will need to stay on the move while unraveling the secrets of their past and abilities. The Technomancer will run through a variety of locations: Cities lost in ice, shanty slums, and technology scavenging tribes gone mad. While the human enemies will pose a considerable threat, so will the other lifeforms of Mars. The Technomancer takes after Dragon Age: Inquisition, offering a real-time combat system backed up by skill trees, equipment, and companions. A conversation system accompanies most scenarios, offering more diplomatically inclined players a chance to flex their people skills. Dialogue can also be had with allies who join the Technomancer, giving glimpses into their backgrounds and building relationships. Spider touts that The Technomancer will have up to five different endings based on the quests that players fulfill and the choices they make. Some choices will determine which companions will join the Technomancer's cause. On top of all that, Spider will be implementing a crafting system that changes the visual appearance of weapons and armor along with their stats. The Technomancer is currently expected to release in 2016 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
  20. Focus Home Interactive and Spiders, the developer behind RPGs Mars: War Logs and Bound By Flame, return to form with The Technomancer. Set on a cyberpunk, dystopian Mars in the grips of a war over precious water resources, players are thrust into the role of the Technomancer, a warrior proficient in both mundane combat and the use of cybernetic magic. Uncertain of their past and pursued by the Secret Police, players will need to stay on the move while unraveling the secrets of their past and abilities. The Technomancer will run through a variety of locations: Cities lost in ice, shanty slums, and technology scavenging tribes gone mad. While the human enemies will pose a considerable threat, so will the other lifeforms of Mars. The Technomancer takes after Dragon Age: Inquisition, offering a real-time combat system backed up by skill trees, equipment, and companions. A conversation system accompanies most scenarios, offering more diplomatically inclined players a chance to flex their people skills. Dialogue can also be had with allies who join the Technomancer, giving glimpses into their backgrounds and building relationships. Spider touts that The Technomancer will have up to five different endings based on the quests that players fulfill and the choices they make. Some choices will determine which companions will join the Technomancer's cause. On top of all that, Spider will be implementing a crafting system that changes the visual appearance of weapons and armor along with their stats. The Technomancer is currently expected to release in 2016 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. View full article
  21. If you haven't heard of Titan Souls yet, you are missing out. Conceived of as an entry in the Ludum Dare game jam back in 2013, the idea stuck with creators Mark Foster, David Fenn, and Andrew Gleeson. Together, they decided that they would make Titan Souls a full game. And make it, they did! It releases on April 14. Until then, you can try your hand at mastering the demo they've put together that remasters their original game jam prototype. The core idea of Titan Souls is that you are armed with a bow and only one arrow. You can slay the bosses in one shot, but they can also kill you instantly if one of their attacks connects. Titan Souls revolves around carefully timing and positioning attacks. It is intense and more than a little nerve-racking in the best possible way. You can download the demo on the Steam Store page for if you're curious. Titan Souls releases on April 14 for PC, Mac, PlayStation 4, and PS Vita.
  22. If you haven't heard of Titan Souls yet, you are missing out. Conceived of as an entry in the Ludum Dare game jam back in 2013, the idea stuck with creators Mark Foster, David Fenn, and Andrew Gleeson. Together, they decided that they would make Titan Souls a full game. And make it, they did! It releases on April 14. Until then, you can try your hand at mastering the demo they've put together that remasters their original game jam prototype. The core idea of Titan Souls is that you are armed with a bow and only one arrow. You can slay the bosses in one shot, but they can also kill you instantly if one of their attacks connects. Titan Souls revolves around carefully timing and positioning attacks. It is intense and more than a little nerve-racking in the best possible way. You can download the demo on the Steam Store page for if you're curious. Titan Souls releases on April 14 for PC, Mac, PlayStation 4, and PS Vita. View full article
  23. Tales from the Borderlands Episode One – Zer0 Sum did a lot of heavy lifting when it came to establishing characters. By the time we saw the credits roll, we knew what our protagonists’ goals were, some of their personality quirks, and understood the insanity of the planet Pandora. Episode Two fleshes out the supporting cast and allows them all to bounce off of each other, interacting in fun and unexpected ways. Tales from the Borderlands Episode Two - Atlas Mugged was reviewed on PC. The basic conceit of Tales from the Borderlands Episode Two is that of an extended chase sequence that slowly transitions into a series of madcap scenarios that would feel right at home in a heist film with a sense of humor. The pacing keeps up the breakneck momentum of Zer0 Sum, but interjects a few slower segments for dramatic effect. The first episode ends with the discovery of a device that puts protagonists Fiona and Rhys on a path toward untold riches while also painting a massive target on their backs. Powerful people want what the duo have and would like to see them dead, just for kicks. The two schemers and their companions struggle to stay one step ahead of their pursuers and reach a cache of valuable technology. Chases can be tricky to pull off well. They walk a tightrope between the basic tension that exists within pursuit (will the heroes be caught or will they escape?) and the desire for novelty. The best chases are straightforward, with just enough of a twist to keep the audience on the edge of their seats. Atlas Mugged manages to toe this line well, keeping things fairly simple (if you can call getting shot at by a giant space gun “simple”) while also introducing new elements that keep the chase fresh, like bounty hunters, colossal monsters, and character reveals. I noticed one thing that gives me very slight pause. There seems to be a lot of deus ex machina moments involving a servile Loader Bot. I don’t know if this is an intentional move or if it is just how the writing shook out for the first two episodes, but I count around five times that Loader Bot has shown up at the last second to save everyone. It wouldn’t surprise me if this was leading to an intentional dramatic/joke payoff in future episodes. Given how well the other aspects of the story are coming together and the sheer level of narrative competence on display, it’s likely that a subversion of some sort is in store for this trope. Atlas Mugged deserves praise for how it fleshes out the supporting cast. There wasn’t a whole lot of downtime dedicated to exploring the characters of Vaughn, one of Rhys’ best friends, or Sasha, Fiona’s sister. I didn’t even mention their names in the review of Episode One because the focus was so clearly on Fiona and Rhys, building them up to be protagonists in whom players could invest themselves. We learn that even though Vaughn remains prone to cowardice he tends to rise to the occasion, even finding the experiences on Pandora to be a bit liberating. We also learn more about Sasha through her interactions with Fiona when they revisit their home in the city of Hollowpoint. She and Fiona don’t always agree on important issues and her stubbornness can lead to problems when it comes to forgiveness. These are all little things, but they are important piece of information that serve to humanize the cast in the grand scheme of this episodic series. They have motivations and desires as individuals that are distinct from those of the protagonists. Those differences make the narrative, and by extension the entire game, more thought-provoking. It has been interesting to see Telltale’s take on violence in Tales from the Borderlands differentiate itself from the violence depicted in The Wolf Among Us and The Walking Dead. A scene early on in Episode Two brought to mind the part of The Walking Dead Season One where players can try to stave off a zombie infection by performing an amputation. The scene is, as you might imagine, painful, uncomfortable, and horribly unpleasant. However, Tales from the Borderlands is not The Walking Dead. Without mincing words, Atlas Mugged requires players to remove someone’s eyeball with a spork. Framed as highly comedic (I mean, it DOES involve a spork!) and gross, the scene manages not to be overly graphic while incorporating slapstick, puns, and situational humor. Two similar situations, one played for horror, the other played for laughs, and both work very well in their respective contexts. This represents another tangible example proving the skill of Tellltale’s writing staff. As far as visuals and gameplay go, Tales from the Borderlands Episode Two is identical to Episode One. The Borderlands aesthetic lends itself very well to Telltale’s game engine leading to a great looking game that is carried along on the strength of its narrative. The only difference between Episode One and Episode Two was that I thought Atlas Mugged ran a tiny bit smoother on my PC. There were a few graphical hiccups, a background mountain flew along with the characters when they were in flight to a different location and Sasha seemed to blink out of existence once or twice. None of these interruptions took me far out of the narrative or would be enough for me to hate the three hours or so I spent playing. Conclusion: Tales from the Borderlands Episode One set a really high bar for Episode Two and I believe Atlas Mugged passed in truly magnificent style. For as much as I love the human drama of The Walking Dead seasons and the fantasy-noir of The Wolf Among Us, for as much as I cried and raged in those games, Tales from the Borderlands makes me laugh and smile, while still retaining an emotional core. Atlas Mugged stands as one of the finest episodes Telltale Games has ever released. Tales from the Borderlands Episode Two - Atlas Mugged is now available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC, Mac, iOS, and Android devices.
  24. Tales from the Borderlands Episode One – Zer0 Sum did a lot of heavy lifting when it came to establishing characters. By the time we saw the credits roll, we knew what our protagonists’ goals were, some of their personality quirks, and understood the insanity of the planet Pandora. Episode Two fleshes out the supporting cast and allows them all to bounce off of each other, interacting in fun and unexpected ways. Tales from the Borderlands Episode Two - Atlas Mugged was reviewed on PC. The basic conceit of Tales from the Borderlands Episode Two is that of an extended chase sequence that slowly transitions into a series of madcap scenarios that would feel right at home in a heist film with a sense of humor. The pacing keeps up the breakneck momentum of Zer0 Sum, but interjects a few slower segments for dramatic effect. The first episode ends with the discovery of a device that puts protagonists Fiona and Rhys on a path toward untold riches while also painting a massive target on their backs. Powerful people want what the duo have and would like to see them dead, just for kicks. The two schemers and their companions struggle to stay one step ahead of their pursuers and reach a cache of valuable technology. Chases can be tricky to pull off well. They walk a tightrope between the basic tension that exists within pursuit (will the heroes be caught or will they escape?) and the desire for novelty. The best chases are straightforward, with just enough of a twist to keep the audience on the edge of their seats. Atlas Mugged manages to toe this line well, keeping things fairly simple (if you can call getting shot at by a giant space gun “simple”) while also introducing new elements that keep the chase fresh, like bounty hunters, colossal monsters, and character reveals. I noticed one thing that gives me very slight pause. There seems to be a lot of deus ex machina moments involving a servile Loader Bot. I don’t know if this is an intentional move or if it is just how the writing shook out for the first two episodes, but I count around five times that Loader Bot has shown up at the last second to save everyone. It wouldn’t surprise me if this was leading to an intentional dramatic/joke payoff in future episodes. Given how well the other aspects of the story are coming together and the sheer level of narrative competence on display, it’s likely that a subversion of some sort is in store for this trope. Atlas Mugged deserves praise for how it fleshes out the supporting cast. There wasn’t a whole lot of downtime dedicated to exploring the characters of Vaughn, one of Rhys’ best friends, or Sasha, Fiona’s sister. I didn’t even mention their names in the review of Episode One because the focus was so clearly on Fiona and Rhys, building them up to be protagonists in whom players could invest themselves. We learn that even though Vaughn remains prone to cowardice he tends to rise to the occasion, even finding the experiences on Pandora to be a bit liberating. We also learn more about Sasha through her interactions with Fiona when they revisit their home in the city of Hollowpoint. She and Fiona don’t always agree on important issues and her stubbornness can lead to problems when it comes to forgiveness. These are all little things, but they are important piece of information that serve to humanize the cast in the grand scheme of this episodic series. They have motivations and desires as individuals that are distinct from those of the protagonists. Those differences make the narrative, and by extension the entire game, more thought-provoking. It has been interesting to see Telltale’s take on violence in Tales from the Borderlands differentiate itself from the violence depicted in The Wolf Among Us and The Walking Dead. A scene early on in Episode Two brought to mind the part of The Walking Dead Season One where players can try to stave off a zombie infection by performing an amputation. The scene is, as you might imagine, painful, uncomfortable, and horribly unpleasant. However, Tales from the Borderlands is not The Walking Dead. Without mincing words, Atlas Mugged requires players to remove someone’s eyeball with a spork. Framed as highly comedic (I mean, it DOES involve a spork!) and gross, the scene manages not to be overly graphic while incorporating slapstick, puns, and situational humor. Two similar situations, one played for horror, the other played for laughs, and both work very well in their respective contexts. This represents another tangible example proving the skill of Tellltale’s writing staff. As far as visuals and gameplay go, Tales from the Borderlands Episode Two is identical to Episode One. The Borderlands aesthetic lends itself very well to Telltale’s game engine leading to a great looking game that is carried along on the strength of its narrative. The only difference between Episode One and Episode Two was that I thought Atlas Mugged ran a tiny bit smoother on my PC. There were a few graphical hiccups, a background mountain flew along with the characters when they were in flight to a different location and Sasha seemed to blink out of existence once or twice. None of these interruptions took me far out of the narrative or would be enough for me to hate the three hours or so I spent playing. Conclusion: Tales from the Borderlands Episode One set a really high bar for Episode Two and I believe Atlas Mugged passed in truly magnificent style. For as much as I love the human drama of The Walking Dead seasons and the fantasy-noir of The Wolf Among Us, for as much as I cried and raged in those games, Tales from the Borderlands makes me laugh and smile, while still retaining an emotional core. Atlas Mugged stands as one of the finest episodes Telltale Games has ever released. Tales from the Borderlands Episode Two - Atlas Mugged is now available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC, Mac, iOS, and Android devices. View full article
  25. With Dying Light, Techland really knew what they were doing on a technical level. Environments brim with the detritus of humanity exuding the sense of recent occupation. Character models are lovingly rendered, while zombies are appropriately freaky and grotesque. The gameplay ranges from frantic first-person parkour traversal to stealthy infiltration accompanied by satisfying melee combat and functional gunplay. If that’s all you are looking for, Dying Light will no doubt satisfy you. However, if you are looking for anything else, an intriguing or thought-provoking story, context that validates the gameplay, memorable music, fleshed out characters, anything, you’ll probably want to look elsewhere. Credit where credit is due, Techland designed Dying Light incredibly well. The open world is full of things to climb onto, slide under, jump over, swim through, etc. Players can tackle the problem of going from Point A to Point B in just about whatever manner they choose. The parkour style of movement feels smooth and natural. Dying Light provides the basic mechanics of movement from the start, instead of restricting core abilities behind level progression. Traversal feels complete and powerful from the beginning, but becomes even more empowering and fun after unlocking abilities like ground slides or jumping onto and over enemies. The heart of Dying Light lies in open and unrestricted freerunning through the playground Techland created. It feels like a next-gen experience. On top of the exhilaration of sprinting through zombie hordes, the combat system feels great. Dying Light takes some pains to remind players that they are only human by beginning at feasible levels of strength. Stamina will only allow for four or five swings of standard weapons, though that number increases as players level by simply doing things like fighting or running or completing quests. Leveling will also open up new skills that can be used in combat like a heavy attack or a spin attack. Combat itself is fairly simple, only becoming more complex as more abilities become available. Fighting mostly consists of whacking zombies or people with pipes, table legs, whatever happens to be on hand. Before settling into a comfortable groove, scavenging and creating better weapons will be a top priority for most players. Sure, by the time players see the credits roll they’ll be a zombie hunter with potent abilities and gear, but the road to get to that advanced point is long. There are also guns in Dying Light, though the game generally frowns on their use. Guns tend to be very powerful, but have the significant drawback of being very loud, attracting more zombies. The clunky targeting system also discourages the use of firearms. Only when confronted with other gun wielding humans did I feel compelled to use my frugal ammo supply. Otherwise, Molotov cocktails solved almost every seemingly insurmountable enemy I encountered. Melee and improvised weapons were clearly intended to be the core of Dying Light’s combat, so don’t go into Dying Light expecting a lot of running and gunning. Techland layered a day-night cycle over the traversal and combat to spice up the experience and keep players on their toes. During the night, significantly stronger zombies stalk the streets. These monsters call for either a stealthy approach or a non-stop sprint to the nearest safe house. During the night, players connected to the internet might be invaded by another player as a zombie and matched up with three others as survivors to compete against each other. The mode seems to be designed in the 4v1 mindset popular these days. Unfortunately, I had a pretty terrible experience with this game mode. As I was about to turn in a quest, I was refused access to a safe zone and informed that I had been invaded. Cool! Unfortunately, I was not matched up with any other survivors. Invading zombies are made vulnerable with a UV light and only then can they be killed. Invaders seem to be generally faster than a normal player unless made vulnerable. They can also insta-kill normal players. This session resulted in me dying repeatedly for about ten minutes until I figured out how to quit the match. I then turned off the multiplayer aspect and never went back. All of this takes place within a world into which teams of artists clearly poured thousands of hours. Abandoned apartments feel lived in, only recently abandoned in a panic. Flies buzz wildly over rotting corpses. Fish swim lazily in the water, gaping aquatically as players pass them by. Lighting changes drastically from day to night, dynamically changing the aesthetic of the world. For a game titled Dying LIGHT, I am glad they nailed lighting. As for the character models, Every important character has a distinct look, although it is very easy for anyone not involved in the main plot to just blend together after a while (that isn’t entirely on the artists, but we’ll get more into that later). The zombies deserve a nod as well. The average roving dead looks incredibly creepy up close. The effect becomes especially unnerving in dark, confined spaces. The special zombies are a different matter. When these variant types of zombies come into play, it appears bizarre that they all hold the same weapons or are outfitted with the same armor. Why is every single slightly larger zombie armed with a piece of rebar and concrete? Despite the technical proficiency apparent in much of its design, Dying Light demonstrates why video games can’t just rely on entertaining gameplay and lovingly rendered environments. The story is an unwieldy mess of clichés and action-dude-isms. Most of the characters exist only as bare sketches of what could be considered functional. In fact, almost every single idea in Dying Light that might be interesting is quietly brushed aside to get to the next pretext that sends the player moving throughout the quarantined city of Harran. *Spoilers follow* In fact, let’s start with Harran. Where is it? That might seem like a simple question, but the reality is that we are never given a reference point. As a fictional city, that’s kind of the point, but without knowing where it is supposed to be we’re left with this strange, context-less city. I actually looked it up on the game’s Wikipedia page to make sure Dying Light actually took place on Earth rather than a different planet or reality. It appears that it is a city-state on the coast of the Mediterranean somewhere near Turkey. Why is this important or why might we care about this in the context of the game? Because the political ramifications of a major city like Harran becoming the epicenter of a potentially apocalyptic zombie outbreak would be important and interesting. However, in-game Harran seems to be completely isolated from the outside world, aside from airdrops of supplies and a miracle drug that stops infected survivors from becoming biters. The opening cinematic tells us that no one knows if people are even still alive in the city. This is the setting for the entire game and it begs so many questions: How was Harran so easily quarantined? Did it involve some sort of unethical application of military force? Why does that quarantine appear to be run by an organization unaffiliated with Harran’s political leadership? Who is in charge? Why can no one confirm that there are still survivors? Why aren’t survivors being airlifted out of the quarantine if they have a medicine that indefinitely keeps people from becoming zombies? Why does it seem to have an airforce that is willing to destroy the city-state? Attempting to answer any of these questions could have provided some great insight into the situation in which Kyle Crane finds himself. Enter our protagonist, Kyle Crane, another one of those faceless, blank slates onto which players are supposed to project themselves. Nebulously described as an “operative,” Crane works for the Global Relief Effort (GRE), the organization that airdrops food and medicine into Harran. He apparently enters Dying Light with no past or connections to the outside world. At no point do we hear him talk about a family or friends or why he accepted a mission to go into a zombie infested city alone. He makes no decisions for himself, instead allowing himself and the plot to be propelled by the people giving him orders. Crane’s mission is to infiltrate the groups of survivors in Harran (groups that GRE apparently knows about, despite the opening cinematic’s words to the contrary) and discover who holds a file that contains information which could destroy the world in the wrong hands. None of the survivors who rescue him question why he airdropped into the city, who he is, where he came from, or any other circumstance of his existence. He seems to win everyone over after sharing his name, lying about being a tourist, and doing helpful chores. Crane’s value to everyone around him stems from what he can do physically, not from any virtue he may or may not possess. He offers no insight into events other than enabling other characters to dump exposition to the player. Crane’s sole character trait seems to be making frustrated quips and remarks after people tell him to go do something unpleasant. We get almost no information about the Global Relief Effort. From the name, it presumably operates globally. Dying Light describes GRE as a humanitarian organization at some point. That’s about all we have to go on, but so much is left strangely unexplained. Why does a single humanitarian organization handle the entire operation of supplying food and medicine to a massive city? It seems to me that having an entire city quarantined would at least summon three or four, maybe some human rights groups to oversee that nothing fishy was going on, possibly a UN envoy. Why does a humanitarian organization have or even need secret operatives? I’d be fine with this if it ever satisfyingly tied into the plot at all, but it doesn’t. Why would they expect one operative to be fine in the middle of a city overrun with zombies? No, seriously why would GRE expect this? Kyle Crane might be the most competent person in the universe, but he is one guy in a city with a population in the hundreds of thousands, almost all of which are now walking dead. What reasonable person would think that he’d be able to get the job done? In fact, at one point it seemed like GRE was both willing and able to bomb the entire city into ash. How on earth are they able to keep up the façade of being a humanitarian organization if they are able to call in massive airstrikes to level the city that they alone seem to control? Am I on crazy pills? Jade Aldemir plays a prominent role in Dying Light as a super competent former kickboxing champion-turned-survivor. Contrasting nicely with Crane’s never-addressed past, we learn quite a bit about Jade. She has a strong sense of family, probably resulting from the loss of her parents at the beginning of the outbreak, which causes her to be very protective of her younger brother, Rahim. That bit of information alone makes Jade more compelling than our protagonist, but there’s more! Crane’s arrival results in the death of one of her friends among the survivors, adding additional traumas on top of what it must be like to lose your entire city. She was already a great fighter before the outbreak, hence her great survival skills and respect she receives from the group. As a bonus, she has emotions other than irritation and yelling, which seem to be the only two our protagonist knows (yelling counts as an emotion for Crane). Looking back over the events of Dying Light, It seems clear to me that Jade should have been the protagonist, dealing with life in the quarantine zone as the outbreak occurred and later contacted by the GRE to carry out the world saving mission. Instead, Dying Light gradually disempowers Jade by the slowly killing off everyone she holds dear before Rais, our main antagonist, finally kidnaps and kills her. Her final act heroically saves Crane’s worthless life at the cost of her own. Her character was a fantastic opportunity for a compelling protagonist. Instead, she is ultimately made into an object for the player to retrieve from Rais as part of an ego struggle between protagonist and antagonist. Oh, Rais. This was the character that was supposed to present an ideological counterpoint to Kyle Crane, the man almost with no idea, let alone an ideology. Rais apparently worked with the GRE at one point, but went crazy after his brother was killed and became a weird, violent warlord in Harran. He justifies this life choice by spouting philosophical musings that may or may not pertain to the given scenario and taking up a vicious rivalry with Crane. I think Techland meant for Rais to lend the rest of the game an intellectual core that it otherwise lacks. He has a few good lines about how Crane has no agency and just does what he’s told, but those glimpses of the writers saying something true never amount to anything remotely substantial. They feel like moments of clarity in the midst of a fever dream. By extension, Rais comes off as a violent, verbose buffoon, rather than anything remotely memorable. I can honestly say that if I wasn’t writing a review of Dying Light right now that I would have almost completely forgotten about everything in the story. It left no impression on me other than one of crushing boredom and irritation. Sitting through hours of this game’s plot tainted the fun I had during the gameplay portions, eventually killing all desire to attempt side quests. Minor setbacks that normally wouldn’t have bothered me became agonizing. The map system sometimes doesn’t work properly or is otherwise unhelpful. The lack of fast travel during the campaign proved to be incredibly irritating (I get why, I was just very ready to see the credits roll). Also, accidentally brushing the PS4 touchpad brings up the menu screen for some reason. All of my frustration with Dying Light’s narrative finally culminated and almost broke me during the home stretch when I kept missing a critical jump and repeatedly respawned at a checkpoint where I had to “calm down” a zombie child, an in-game euphemism for the deeply disturbing act of killing a zombie child. This unscripted gameplay moment affected me more strongly than any portion of the central narrative and as I repeated it over and over, I felt sick. I questioned why the profoundly disquieting nature of dealing with the undead wasn’t dealt with more, why none of the characters encountered in the main campaign seemed to think of the living dead as anything other than an obstacle. There were so many moral quandaries with the act I was forced to repeat, and yet not even quipping, irritated Crane seemed to give it a second thought. It was a moment that could have meant or said something insightful and instead it was ignored like all the other narrative opportunities presented in Dying Light. It was a potent moment of horror at what I was doing to progress, so casually and thoughtlessly invoked for shock value. A game that so insensitively and nonchalantly raised something so powerful for shock value without reaching for a deeper meaning felt almost like a narrative betrayal. As I finally made that tenuous jump and crossed the threshold of a new checkpoint, I realized that I had come to loath almost everything about the context provided for Dying Light’s gameplay and visuals. Conclusion: There is so much to love about Dying Light, so much potential for zombie-infested stories. It presents a world full of danger and provides a wide array of abilities with which to players can fight or flee. Gorgeous visions of human decay permeate Harran, interspersed with pockets of hope within surviving communities. Large scale systems work together to move and motivate vast hordes of biters. These elements all function smoothly and provide a solid core experience. While the gameplay, visuals, and overall game design can more than pull their own weight, the tepid, vapid, torrid narrative drags those positive elements down into the muck. I highly respect Techland as a developer for their work on the criminally underrated Call of Juarez: Gunslinger. However, their writing team managed to almost single-handedly kill my enthusiasm for the experience. If you’re still on the fence about Dying Light, wait until it inevitably goes on sale for $20-$30. The gameplay will entertain you, but you'll suffer through the story. Dying Light is available now for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
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