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Found 87 results

  1. Whether you loved it or hated it, World War Z, based on the novel by Max Brooks, was one of the biggest box office hits of 2013. A sequel, to be directed by David Fincher, has been languishing in development limbo for a stint but is expected to finally begin shooting in 2019. In the meantime, Saber Interactive is deep in development on a video game adaptation of the franchise. I got a chance to sit down and take an extended look at the E3 demo, and I came away feeling incredibly optimistic. Saber Interactive cut their teeth on some cult favorite shooters, including Inversion and – one of my personal all-time favorites – TimeShift. Their pedigree shows with World War Z, a high-octane co-op shooter with gravitas, atmosphere, and some truly incredible visuals. Game designer Oliver Hollis supervised the demo and would serve as my guide through the bombed-out streets of New York City. For the purposes of the demo, all four characters felt similar, but Hollis promises that the final game will include multiple classes, each with their own unique skill trees on which to spend hard-earned XP. Surprisingly, he also stresses the importance of storytelling to the Saber team, suggesting that the game will have moments for players to learn about their characters' backstories and motivations. Still, the story of WWZ remains a big question mark at this point. All we know is that the game unfolds over three episodes, each consisting of three chapters. Each episode is set in a distinct metropolitan setting – New York, Jerusalem, and Moscow – and features a unique cast, though upgrades will be tied to the player, not their avatar. While Hollis intimates that story context would be key in making this version of the zombie apocalypse believable for players, he also clearly takes pride in selling World War Z as a straightforward arcade-style shooter. Based on my impressions of the game thus far, Hollis and the Saber crew are well on their way towards succeeding. Fast, frantic gunplay permeates my demo, and weapons deliver a satisfying impact; a stream of automatic rifle fire or a close-range shotgun blast would send zombies flying across the room, often in multiple pieces. Unlike the film, which had a surprisingly tame PG-13 rating, the game is definitely shooting for a hard M for Mature. The demo begins in an office building. My group fights our way through the corridors, mowing down the undead with ruthless efficiency. The zombies behave like their motion picture counterparts, running and jumping like rabid animals, a far cry from the slow shamblers of most zombie media. This creative decision pays off when the party goes to an elevator which takes us to the lobby of the massive building. As fun as the corridor shooting has been, it's far from the main draw of WWZ. As we emerge into the second floor of a wide open foyer, we can see the ground level, covered with what looks to be hundreds of zombies. According to Oliver Hollis, WWZ can feature up to five hundred enemies on screen at once. Our objective made clear, I can't help but flash a wicked grin as I read the words, "Kill all the zombies in the atrium." My team and I happily oblige. One of the biggest "wow" moments of the demo came when the zombie horde reacted to our peppering of their numbers with large caliber potshots. Just like in the movie, they scramble across each other, building insect-like walls out of their own bodies. A giant mass of flesh rapidly makes its way up the wall, creating a visual sight unlike anything I'd ever seen, especially as gunfire knocks individual zombies from the pile and tumbling to the ground below. I toss my entire cache of grenades at the base of the 'zombie pyramid,' and the whole horde collapses, though some stragglers make it up to the second floor. Instead of shooting them, I dispatch them with quick melee swings, triggered with the right bumper on the Xbox controller. Fast, powerful, and satisfying, the melee combat nonetheless remains simple and easy to implement. It takes but a single hit to defeat a zombie, and follow-up swings are nigh-instantaneous. The sheer number of enemies keeps it from being a viable tactic, but it's certainly a useful tool at players' disposal. After killing off every single zombie in the area, we tasked with shoring up defenses for a looming undead counterattack, so we start placing turret guns and barbed wire fences. According to Hollis, these defensive tools are generated based on our performance in the level; if players steamroll the opposition, they get fewer defenses, but if they're barely holding on, survivors receive more destructive tools to wreak havoc and scrape back a measure of control. We also have access to ammo caches which provide a free refill on supplies, as well as the opportunity to switch guns and even pick up some limited-use power weapons. These all-powerful harbingers of bloody death include rocket launchers, automatic shotguns with massive destructive potential, and sniper rifles which fire explosive bullets. The demo continues on for a bit, bringing the action out onto the street and then into a New York City subway station, which looks decently authentic, if more spacious than the real thing. The next segment tasks us with a bit of exploration, recovering items for a survivor who has taken over a subway car. After some more corridor shooting and teamwork, we must defend the subway car from a zombie attack. Huddling together in the middle of the train, shooting through the windows at the horde has a distinctly claustrophobic feel, different from corridor shooting or the comparatively wide open atrium. After surviving a set amount of time, the train departs and the demo ends. Hopefully, the other levels will maintain the demo's full-tilt momentum and constant variety. Comparisons to Left 4 Dead are inevitable, but such a reductive comparison downplays the sense of power, satisfying action, and unmatched animation work present in the zombie hordes created by Saber Interactive. While WWZ should scratch the itch of anyone who has been waiting for a third chapter in Valve's zombie shooter series, it definitely feels like a whole other beast from L4D. The build we played ran on PC hardware at a smooth 60 FPS. Console players will only receive a 30 FPS experience, but hopefully that's the only compromise in bringing this game to Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Overall, World War Z is shaping up be the next truly great co-op shooting experience, and it was easily one of the best games I played at E3. It may lack the survival mechanics which are all the rage these days, but WWZ more than makes up for it with non-stop kinetic action, atmospheric locales, and finely-tuned pacing thanks to its linear level design. World War Z is a passion project for Saber. According to Oliver Hollis, Paramount Pictures did not approach Saber with the World War Z brand; the developer wanted to make a WWZ game, so they asked for the rights, and got permission to use the license. WWZ is self-published, and therefore a product of Saber's vision, unadulterated by external publisher demands and the type of executive meddling which so often sinks licensed games. We'll know for sure if World War Z becomes the next smash hit movie tie-in video game when it releases sometime in 2019 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  2. Whether you loved it or hated it, World War Z, based on the novel by Max Brooks, was one of the biggest box office hits of 2013. A sequel, to be directed by David Fincher, has been languishing in development limbo for a stint but is expected to finally begin shooting in 2019. In the meantime, Saber Interactive is deep in development on a video game adaptation of the franchise. I got a chance to sit down and take an extended look at the E3 demo, and I came away feeling incredibly optimistic. Saber Interactive cut their teeth on some cult favorite shooters, including Inversion and – one of my personal all-time favorites – TimeShift. Their pedigree shows with World War Z, a high-octane co-op shooter with gravitas, atmosphere, and some truly incredible visuals. Game designer Oliver Hollis supervised the demo and would serve as my guide through the bombed-out streets of New York City. For the purposes of the demo, all four characters felt similar, but Hollis promises that the final game will include multiple classes, each with their own unique skill trees on which to spend hard-earned XP. Surprisingly, he also stresses the importance of storytelling to the Saber team, suggesting that the game will have moments for players to learn about their characters' backstories and motivations. Still, the story of WWZ remains a big question mark at this point. All we know is that the game unfolds over three episodes, each consisting of three chapters. Each episode is set in a distinct metropolitan setting – New York, Jerusalem, and Moscow – and features a unique cast, though upgrades will be tied to the player, not their avatar. While Hollis intimates that story context would be key in making this version of the zombie apocalypse believable for players, he also clearly takes pride in selling World War Z as a straightforward arcade-style shooter. Based on my impressions of the game thus far, Hollis and the Saber crew are well on their way towards succeeding. Fast, frantic gunplay permeates my demo, and weapons deliver a satisfying impact; a stream of automatic rifle fire or a close-range shotgun blast would send zombies flying across the room, often in multiple pieces. Unlike the film, which had a surprisingly tame PG-13 rating, the game is definitely shooting for a hard M for Mature. The demo begins in an office building. My group fights our way through the corridors, mowing down the undead with ruthless efficiency. The zombies behave like their motion picture counterparts, running and jumping like rabid animals, a far cry from the slow shamblers of most zombie media. This creative decision pays off when the party goes to an elevator which takes us to the lobby of the massive building. As fun as the corridor shooting has been, it's far from the main draw of WWZ. As we emerge into the second floor of a wide open foyer, we can see the ground level, covered with what looks to be hundreds of zombies. According to Oliver Hollis, WWZ can feature up to five hundred enemies on screen at once. Our objective made clear, I can't help but flash a wicked grin as I read the words, "Kill all the zombies in the atrium." My team and I happily oblige. One of the biggest "wow" moments of the demo came when the zombie horde reacted to our peppering of their numbers with large caliber potshots. Just like in the movie, they scramble across each other, building insect-like walls out of their own bodies. A giant mass of flesh rapidly makes its way up the wall, creating a visual sight unlike anything I'd ever seen, especially as gunfire knocks individual zombies from the pile and tumbling to the ground below. I toss my entire cache of grenades at the base of the 'zombie pyramid,' and the whole horde collapses, though some stragglers make it up to the second floor. Instead of shooting them, I dispatch them with quick melee swings, triggered with the right bumper on the Xbox controller. Fast, powerful, and satisfying, the melee combat nonetheless remains simple and easy to implement. It takes but a single hit to defeat a zombie, and follow-up swings are nigh-instantaneous. The sheer number of enemies keeps it from being a viable tactic, but it's certainly a useful tool at players' disposal. After killing off every single zombie in the area, we tasked with shoring up defenses for a looming undead counterattack, so we start placing turret guns and barbed wire fences. According to Hollis, these defensive tools are generated based on our performance in the level; if players steamroll the opposition, they get fewer defenses, but if they're barely holding on, survivors receive more destructive tools to wreak havoc and scrape back a measure of control. We also have access to ammo caches which provide a free refill on supplies, as well as the opportunity to switch guns and even pick up some limited-use power weapons. These all-powerful harbingers of bloody death include rocket launchers, automatic shotguns with massive destructive potential, and sniper rifles which fire explosive bullets. The demo continues on for a bit, bringing the action out onto the street and then into a New York City subway station, which looks decently authentic, if more spacious than the real thing. The next segment tasks us with a bit of exploration, recovering items for a survivor who has taken over a subway car. After some more corridor shooting and teamwork, we must defend the subway car from a zombie attack. Huddling together in the middle of the train, shooting through the windows at the horde has a distinctly claustrophobic feel, different from corridor shooting or the comparatively wide open atrium. After surviving a set amount of time, the train departs and the demo ends. Hopefully, the other levels will maintain the demo's full-tilt momentum and constant variety. Comparisons to Left 4 Dead are inevitable, but such a reductive comparison downplays the sense of power, satisfying action, and unmatched animation work present in the zombie hordes created by Saber Interactive. While WWZ should scratch the itch of anyone who has been waiting for a third chapter in Valve's zombie shooter series, it definitely feels like a whole other beast from L4D. The build we played ran on PC hardware at a smooth 60 FPS. Console players will only receive a 30 FPS experience, but hopefully that's the only compromise in bringing this game to Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Overall, World War Z is shaping up be the next truly great co-op shooting experience, and it was easily one of the best games I played at E3. It may lack the survival mechanics which are all the rage these days, but WWZ more than makes up for it with non-stop kinetic action, atmospheric locales, and finely-tuned pacing thanks to its linear level design. World War Z is a passion project for Saber. According to Oliver Hollis, Paramount Pictures did not approach Saber with the World War Z brand; the developer wanted to make a WWZ game, so they asked for the rights, and got permission to use the license. WWZ is self-published, and therefore a product of Saber's vision, unadulterated by external publisher demands and the type of executive meddling which so often sinks licensed games. We'll know for sure if World War Z becomes the next smash hit movie tie-in video game when it releases sometime in 2019 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  3. One of the biggest surprises of E3 2018 was the long-awaited formal reveal of the remake of Resident Evil 2. Twenty years after the launch of the original game back in 1998, and the time has come to rebuild one of the most legendary games of all time, from the ground up. In addition to a cinematic in-engine trailer, the game was also playable on the show floor. There are still a lot of questions about the game, how it feels, how it plays, and from which entries in the series' past it takes the most inspiration. After spending significant hands-on time with the game, I have some answers. Obviously, the first and most immediately apparent inspiration for this remake is the original Resident Evil 2. The E3 demo begins with Leon Kennedy in the lobby of the Raccoon City Police Station, early in the game, but after the original's explosive opening sequence on the streets of Raccoon City. Presumably, that chaotic scene will be represented in the remake, but it was not present at E3. Visually, I was surprised at how easily I recognized the iconic locations from the original game. Everything, from the lobby's maiden statue, to the white and green walls of the station's hallways, and individual rooms within the station, were all distinctly recognizable. However, rather than resting on nostalgia and being a copy-paste HD remaster of the original, the remake shifts the perspective to behind Leon's camera, as seen in Resident Evil 4, 5, 6, and the Revelations games. Don't be fooled, though: the feeling is nothing like those titles. To casual observers, RE2 looks like a slower version of Resident Evil 6, or even akin to Revelations 2, but it feels totally different, more akin to a much more recent entry in the long-running saga. In terms of tone and gameplay, this remake borrows the most from the latest entry in the series, Resident Evil VII: Biohazard. From the looks of things, RE2 is going for a full-on horror experience; even the HUD is taken straight out of RE7. While the environments are recognizable from the original game, the remake runs on the RE Engine created for RE7, and thus supports its filmic, photorealistic style. The police station is no longer well-lit; it's almost pitch black at times, meaning Leon has to make use of his flashlight to see anything more than two feet away from his face. This creates a palpable tension and an overwhelming – but welcome – sense of dread. After a section of deliberately-paced exploration, I finally came face-to-face with a zombie, and was not disappointed. My immediate, visceral reaction was one of fear, and I was surprised and how I welcomed the terror. Much has been made of Resident Evil's infamous straying from its survival horror roots. After RE7 brought things back to basics with a straightforward horror title, many fans were skeptical that RE2 would be a step backwards due to its over-the-shoulder camera lending it a superficial resemblance to Resident Evil 5 and 6. Fortunately, this is not the case. The controversial over-the-shoulder, third-person camera from the series' most divisive era returns, but it's not here to facilitate high-octane shooting action and breakneck pacing; instead, it's here to offer a cinematic perspective with kinetic movements and dynamic zooms. At first, I chose to stand my ground and fight the zombie, and was surprised by just how intense the encounter truly was. Leon's Matilda sidearm has a slow rate of fire, the undead take a ton of bullets to bring down, and Leon lacks the martial arts prowess he exhibits in later titles. Lining up headshots isn't easy, but it's certainly rewarding, even if they're not an instant kill as they often are in zombie-focused media. Zombies are an irrepressible bunch, and I ultimately wind up opting to flee, rather than fight, which brings us to another significant change from the original game: since the environments are all interconnected, rather than separated by loading screens, zombies can follow Leon throughout the police station, although it seems the main lobby area is a safe space... During the demo, at least. The slow, deliberate pacing is akin to RE7, and the combat truly feels like every bullet has value. The final game will have an ammo crafting component, though I didn't get the chance to fiddle with it during my time with the game. I did, however, get to use the combat knife. While it's unclear whether the weapon has limited durability or if there are multiple knives to collect throughout the game, this new feature combines the defensive weapons from the 2002 Resident Evil remake with the classic combat knife fans have known and loved since the beginning. The knife can be used to open objects locked with heavy duty tape, from doors to cabinets. It can also be used in combat, either RE4-style or as a defensive item. Upon being grabbed by a zombie, Leon can counter their bite by plunging the knife into his attacker's head, which looks fantastic, but leaves Leon without a knife. Fortunately, it can be recovered by killing off the zombie and retrieving the blade from their corpse. One change which some fans have not enjoyed is the new faces and voice actors for the entire cast. While Leon sports his trademark "beautiful boy bangs" hairstyle, his face is noticeably different from what we've seen in the past, although it's certainly not as drastic a change as Chris Redfield's unexpectedly svelte appearance in RE7 and its "Not a Hero" DLC. Likewise, Marvin Branagh, who had only a minor role in the original game, seems to behave more like an ill-fated mentor here, giving Leon his combat knife, dispensing advice, and acting as something of a guide during the early stages of a game... Still, he's already bitten by the time Leon finds him, and he knows he's not long for this world. A few other changes include the reworking of famous "moments" from the original game, at least for the demo. In my time with RE2, I didn't encounter a single Licker enemy, though I did see its giant claw marks, and I also crossed paths with at least two of its unlucky victims, who had been violently torn apart. There's no doubt this game will earn the decidedly family-unfriendly M for Mature rating. There's also a new item, "Wooden Boards," which Leon can use to block enemies from breaking in through the police station's windows. Likewise, the game seems to be riddled with all new puzzles, as well as new twists on familiar tasks, offering new challenges to RE2 fans who think they'll be able to breeze through the new game just because they've spent 20 years mastering the original. This new take on Resident Evil 2 is not the game you knew. To call it a remaster would be extremely reductive, but it's not a straightforward remake, either. The 2002 Gamecube version of Resident Evil added new scenarios, characters, enemies, and twists to the classic Mansion incident of the original 1996 game, but it still retained the fixed camera angles, tank controls, 2D backgrounds, and most of the basic gameplay of the original. By comparison, RE2 is aiming to be an even more radical departure from its source material than the previous Resident Evil remake. Resident Evil 2 isn't a stop-gap release meant to hold over fans until the next game. It isn't an extended piece of obligatory fan service to act as counterprogramming to RE7. No, Resident Evil 2, despite being a remake which returns to an established place on the timeline, is the next Resident Evil game. RE2 is the next evolution for the series, combining the jaw-dropping terror of RE7 with the established story of RE2, creating a whole new beast. There's certainly an element of nostalgia at play here, but RE2 is clearly aiming to an unrelenting horror masterpiece without peer. It's not "Resident Evil for a new generation," but the latest evolution for a series which is constantly growing, changing, looking back, and moving forward. We'll find out for sure when Resident Evil 2 launches, on January 29, 2019, for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  4. One of the biggest surprises of E3 2018 was the long-awaited formal reveal of the remake of Resident Evil 2. Twenty years after the launch of the original game back in 1998, and the time has come to rebuild one of the most legendary games of all time, from the ground up. In addition to a cinematic in-engine trailer, the game was also playable on the show floor. There are still a lot of questions about the game, how it feels, how it plays, and from which entries in the series' past it takes the most inspiration. After spending significant hands-on time with the game, I have some answers. Obviously, the first and most immediately apparent inspiration for this remake is the original Resident Evil 2. The E3 demo begins with Leon Kennedy in the lobby of the Raccoon City Police Station, early in the game, but after the original's explosive opening sequence on the streets of Raccoon City. Presumably, that chaotic scene will be represented in the remake, but it was not present at E3. Visually, I was surprised at how easily I recognized the iconic locations from the original game. Everything, from the lobby's maiden statue, to the white and green walls of the station's hallways, and individual rooms within the station, were all distinctly recognizable. However, rather than resting on nostalgia and being a copy-paste HD remaster of the original, the remake shifts the perspective to behind Leon's camera, as seen in Resident Evil 4, 5, 6, and the Revelations games. Don't be fooled, though: the feeling is nothing like those titles. To casual observers, RE2 looks like a slower version of Resident Evil 6, or even akin to Revelations 2, but it feels totally different, more akin to a much more recent entry in the long-running saga. In terms of tone and gameplay, this remake borrows the most from the latest entry in the series, Resident Evil VII: Biohazard. From the looks of things, RE2 is going for a full-on horror experience; even the HUD is taken straight out of RE7. While the environments are recognizable from the original game, the remake runs on the RE Engine created for RE7, and thus supports its filmic, photorealistic style. The police station is no longer well-lit; it's almost pitch black at times, meaning Leon has to make use of his flashlight to see anything more than two feet away from his face. This creates a palpable tension and an overwhelming – but welcome – sense of dread. After a section of deliberately-paced exploration, I finally came face-to-face with a zombie, and was not disappointed. My immediate, visceral reaction was one of fear, and I was surprised and how I welcomed the terror. Much has been made of Resident Evil's infamous straying from its survival horror roots. After RE7 brought things back to basics with a straightforward horror title, many fans were skeptical that RE2 would be a step backwards due to its over-the-shoulder camera lending it a superficial resemblance to Resident Evil 5 and 6. Fortunately, this is not the case. The controversial over-the-shoulder, third-person camera from the series' most divisive era returns, but it's not here to facilitate high-octane shooting action and breakneck pacing; instead, it's here to offer a cinematic perspective with kinetic movements and dynamic zooms. At first, I chose to stand my ground and fight the zombie, and was surprised by just how intense the encounter truly was. Leon's Matilda sidearm has a slow rate of fire, the undead take a ton of bullets to bring down, and Leon lacks the martial arts prowess he exhibits in later titles. Lining up headshots isn't easy, but it's certainly rewarding, even if they're not an instant kill as they often are in zombie-focused media. Zombies are an irrepressible bunch, and I ultimately wind up opting to flee, rather than fight, which brings us to another significant change from the original game: since the environments are all interconnected, rather than separated by loading screens, zombies can follow Leon throughout the police station, although it seems the main lobby area is a safe space... During the demo, at least. The slow, deliberate pacing is akin to RE7, and the combat truly feels like every bullet has value. The final game will have an ammo crafting component, though I didn't get the chance to fiddle with it during my time with the game. I did, however, get to use the combat knife. While it's unclear whether the weapon has limited durability or if there are multiple knives to collect throughout the game, this new feature combines the defensive weapons from the 2002 Resident Evil remake with the classic combat knife fans have known and loved since the beginning. The knife can be used to open objects locked with heavy duty tape, from doors to cabinets. It can also be used in combat, either RE4-style or as a defensive item. Upon being grabbed by a zombie, Leon can counter their bite by plunging the knife into his attacker's head, which looks fantastic, but leaves Leon without a knife. Fortunately, it can be recovered by killing off the zombie and retrieving the blade from their corpse. One change which some fans have not enjoyed is the new faces and voice actors for the entire cast. While Leon sports his trademark "beautiful boy bangs" hairstyle, his face is noticeably different from what we've seen in the past, although it's certainly not as drastic a change as Chris Redfield's unexpectedly svelte appearance in RE7 and its "Not a Hero" DLC. Likewise, Marvin Branagh, who had only a minor role in the original game, seems to behave more like an ill-fated mentor here, giving Leon his combat knife, dispensing advice, and acting as something of a guide during the early stages of a game... Still, he's already bitten by the time Leon finds him, and he knows he's not long for this world. A few other changes include the reworking of famous "moments" from the original game, at least for the demo. In my time with RE2, I didn't encounter a single Licker enemy, though I did see its giant claw marks, and I also crossed paths with at least two of its unlucky victims, who had been violently torn apart. There's no doubt this game will earn the decidedly family-unfriendly M for Mature rating. There's also a new item, "Wooden Boards," which Leon can use to block enemies from breaking in through the police station's windows. Likewise, the game seems to be riddled with all new puzzles, as well as new twists on familiar tasks, offering new challenges to RE2 fans who think they'll be able to breeze through the new game just because they've spent 20 years mastering the original. This new take on Resident Evil 2 is not the game you knew. To call it a remaster would be extremely reductive, but it's not a straightforward remake, either. The 2002 Gamecube version of Resident Evil added new scenarios, characters, enemies, and twists to the classic Mansion incident of the original 1996 game, but it still retained the fixed camera angles, tank controls, 2D backgrounds, and most of the basic gameplay of the original. By comparison, RE2 is aiming to be an even more radical departure from its source material than the previous Resident Evil remake. Resident Evil 2 isn't a stop-gap release meant to hold over fans until the next game. It isn't an extended piece of obligatory fan service to act as counterprogramming to RE7. No, Resident Evil 2, despite being a remake which returns to an established place on the timeline, is the next Resident Evil game. RE2 is the next evolution for the series, combining the jaw-dropping terror of RE7 with the established story of RE2, creating a whole new beast. There's certainly an element of nostalgia at play here, but RE2 is clearly aiming to an unrelenting horror masterpiece without peer. It's not "Resident Evil for a new generation," but the latest evolution for a series which is constantly growing, changing, looking back, and moving forward. We'll find out for sure when Resident Evil 2 launches, on January 29, 2019, for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  5. One year ago, publisher Activision released the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, a remake of the original three PlayStation classics with next-gen graphics. Gameplay-wise, the Crash Trilogy attempted to perfectly replicate the original games, and it came extremely close, but ultimately fell short of making the PlayStation 1 originals completely obsolete. A few seemingly minor changes – such as adjustments to enemy hitboxes and the ill-advised choice to use the jump physics from Crash 3 in all three games – kept the remake from fully living up to its potential. Still, developer Vicarious Visions put in a ton of work to make the game feel authentic to the hardcore fans, and for the most part, they succeeded. Sony's other big 1990s franchise was Spyro the Dragon. Like Crash, Spyro starred in a trilogy of universally acclaimed PlayStation games (Spyro, Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage, and Spyro: Year of the Dragon) before fading into obscurity during the PS2 era. In the long run, the little purple dragon is arguably more successful than Crash; while the plucky marsupial had been largely absent from the gaming scene following the failure of 2008's Crash: Mind over Mutant, Spyro managed to eke out a measure of success in the cult favorite Legend of Spyro trilogy and as a key player in the best-selling Skylanders series. Now, Activision is wisely bringing the character back to his roots with a remake of Insomniac's original titles, Spyro Reignited Trilogy, developed by Skylanders developer Toys for Bob. Like with Crash, old-school fans have significant questions about the gameplay of this new take on Spyro's classic adventures. Will it feel absolutely perfect to the PS1 originals? At E3 2018, I got extensive hands-on time with two levels from the original 1998 title, remade for PS4, and came away with some distinct impressions which may be surprising to longtime fans of the franchise. As a lifelong fan of Spyro's original adventures by Insomniac (I can proudly say I never played anything after 2000's Year of the Dragon, the third and final game on this collection), I knew that I would notice if everything wasn't absolutely perfect, just like how I noticed when the Crash Bandicoot trilogy was good, or even great, but not quite perfect compared to its progenitor. Upon getting my hands on the controller and booting up Toasty, the first boss level from Spyro's original adventure, the first thing I noticed was how gorgeous it all looked. Spyro's character model, in particular, is a sight to behold. Stylishly angular and youthfully emotive, the pint-sized dragon, simply put, has never looked better. Similarly, the environments, while apparently geometrically identical to their PS1 counterparts, are full of tiny visual details which add up to a fully believable environment. With a tap of the circle button, Spyro shoots a short geyser of fire from his mouth. The flames, while still as cartoonishly stylized as the rest of the revamped visuals, have a deviously visceral impact; they light the environment in a way which was simply impossible back in 1998, and they even scorch the grass in front of Spyro, to say nothing of what a plume of flame can do to his numerous and dangerous enemies. Of course, Spyro's newfound visual flair doesn't mean much if the gameplay doesn't stack up to the original. In that respect, unlike Crash Bandicoot, Spyro Reignited Trilogy doesn't attempt to play exactly like the original. Back in the PS1 days, Spyro felt very heavy, a bit slow, and had a noticeably wide arc when it came to turning, making sudden changes in direction a bit difficult. It wasn't insurmountable, and shouldn't even be described as a fault; it was just the way Spyro moved. He was different from Crash, from Mario, from Banjo, and all the other 1990s platforming heroes, who each had their own respective and distinct "feel." Immediately upon nudging the analog stick forward, I noticed how different Spyro feels from his heyday. At first, it was a bit distracting, being able to turn on a dime and run circles around enemies, but I quickly realized a shocking truth: Spyro Reignited doesn't play like the original game; it plays better. Back in the day, camera control was mapped to the shoulder buttons, which was the standard, but would be downright archaic today. Now, the camera is controlled with the right analog stick, which lets the player see more of the environment, and see it more quickly than ever before. The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and I could sense my enhanced control as I tackled the enemies in the Toasty stage. As I looked around me, I saw other E3 attendees getting mauled by the big grey dogs who populate the levels. I don't blame them, since those enemies are notoriously pesky, especially to untrained players who haven't yet realized that it takes two bursts of flame to bring them down, and they always counterattack after the first hit. On the PS1, it took a while to figure out the rhythm of the movement, and it was always tough to get out of range of their counter. Here, it was as easy as pulling back on the left analog stick. Spyro's movement is stunningly smooth and I was weaving through the level with a newfound fluidity and speed which is entirely different from the much heavier motion of the original. It's a bold change, but having played it myself, I must admit, it was the right move. After making short work of Toasty, I moved on to Tree Tops, one of the more infamous levels in the first game, due to its supercharge ramps and tough-to-reach secret areas. In this level, the visual acuity of this next-gen remastering is even more apparent than in Toasty. The dark, earthy palette of the level, which left much to the imagination in the original, really comes alive in this remake. In particular, the enemies, originally rendered as somewhat nondescript blobs of polygons, look like actual creatures this time around. Testing out the supercharge ramps, it only took me a couple of tries to make it to the secret area on top of the final island, and I was pleased by how smooth the controls felt... Although I had a bit of trouble knowing when to transition from the jump to a glide, leading to a couple of deaths before I found the precise moment to get the most distance out of the supercharge jump. The main collectable in the game is trapped Elder Dragons. Trapped in cages of green crystal, Spyro breaks them out of their prison, at which point they give him a brief word of advice before disappearing. While the original game had a degree of variety in dragon designs, assigning different body types to each of the first five worlds (the sixth, Gnasty's World, features a mixture from the previous settings), Reignited appears to be taking things a step further, making every single dragon unique and full of character. In the original, some of the dragons lacked fun dialogue, instead offering a simple "Thank you for releasing me!" It's unclear if that will be retained in this remake, or if any new interactions will be written for those dragons. At this point, I'm happy to report that Spyro Reignited Trilogy feels good, and I can't wait to get my hands on the complete game. I'm eager to embark on an odyssey through the worlds of Spyro, Ripto's Rage, and Year of the Dragon, combining my nostalgic memories of classic settings and enemies with the remake's significantly revamped gameplay mechanics. Of course, there are still questions remaining to be answered. Will Year of the Dragon's additional playable characters be as smooth to play as Spyro? Agent 9's first person shooter levels, notably, haven't aged very well. What about the numerous minigames from parts two and three, like Ice Hockey, boxing with Bentley the Yeti, and the numerous attractions in Dragon Shores, the bonus level from Ripto's Rage? Will these all be preserved/remastered for this new release? Spyro 2 opened and closed each level with a brief cutscene. Will they be remastered here? Year of the Dragon suffered from lacking these fun vignettes. Will developer Toys for Bob be bold enough to unify the sequels by creating brand new cutscenes for Year of the Dragon? One can only hope. One final question involves Year of the Dragon's main collectable, Dragon Eggs, which would hatch upon being rescued. While they each possessed unique names, many designs and animations were frequently repeated, robbing the baby dragons of their individuality. Will this HD remake go the extra mile and make sure every baby dragon feels like a unique character with their own custom animations? So far, all of Spyro Reignited Trilogy's marketing has focused on the original game, with only brief, fleeting glimpses of the sequels. Hopefully, they'll peel back the curtain soon. They have to; after all, the game is slated for release on September 21 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  6. One year ago, publisher Activision released the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, a remake of the original three PlayStation classics with next-gen graphics. Gameplay-wise, the Crash Trilogy attempted to perfectly replicate the original games, and it came extremely close, but ultimately fell short of making the PlayStation 1 originals completely obsolete. A few seemingly minor changes – such as adjustments to enemy hitboxes and the ill-advised choice to use the jump physics from Crash 3 in all three games – kept the remake from fully living up to its potential. Still, developer Vicarious Visions put in a ton of work to make the game feel authentic to the hardcore fans, and for the most part, they succeeded. Sony's other big 1990s franchise was Spyro the Dragon. Like Crash, Spyro starred in a trilogy of universally acclaimed PlayStation games (Spyro, Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage, and Spyro: Year of the Dragon) before fading into obscurity during the PS2 era. In the long run, the little purple dragon is arguably more successful than Crash; while the plucky marsupial had been largely absent from the gaming scene following the failure of 2008's Crash: Mind over Mutant, Spyro managed to eke out a measure of success in the cult favorite Legend of Spyro trilogy and as a key player in the best-selling Skylanders series. Now, Activision is wisely bringing the character back to his roots with a remake of Insomniac's original titles, Spyro Reignited Trilogy, developed by Skylanders developer Toys for Bob. Like with Crash, old-school fans have significant questions about the gameplay of this new take on Spyro's classic adventures. Will it feel absolutely perfect to the PS1 originals? At E3 2018, I got extensive hands-on time with two levels from the original 1998 title, remade for PS4, and came away with some distinct impressions which may be surprising to longtime fans of the franchise. As a lifelong fan of Spyro's original adventures by Insomniac (I can proudly say I never played anything after 2000's Year of the Dragon, the third and final game on this collection), I knew that I would notice if everything wasn't absolutely perfect, just like how I noticed when the Crash Bandicoot trilogy was good, or even great, but not quite perfect compared to its progenitor. Upon getting my hands on the controller and booting up Toasty, the first boss level from Spyro's original adventure, the first thing I noticed was how gorgeous it all looked. Spyro's character model, in particular, is a sight to behold. Stylishly angular and youthfully emotive, the pint-sized dragon, simply put, has never looked better. Similarly, the environments, while apparently geometrically identical to their PS1 counterparts, are full of tiny visual details which add up to a fully believable environment. With a tap of the circle button, Spyro shoots a short geyser of fire from his mouth. The flames, while still as cartoonishly stylized as the rest of the revamped visuals, have a deviously visceral impact; they light the environment in a way which was simply impossible back in 1998, and they even scorch the grass in front of Spyro, to say nothing of what a plume of flame can do to his numerous and dangerous enemies. Of course, Spyro's newfound visual flair doesn't mean much if the gameplay doesn't stack up to the original. In that respect, unlike Crash Bandicoot, Spyro Reignited Trilogy doesn't attempt to play exactly like the original. Back in the PS1 days, Spyro felt very heavy, a bit slow, and had a noticeably wide arc when it came to turning, making sudden changes in direction a bit difficult. It wasn't insurmountable, and shouldn't even be described as a fault; it was just the way Spyro moved. He was different from Crash, from Mario, from Banjo, and all the other 1990s platforming heroes, who each had their own respective and distinct "feel." Immediately upon nudging the analog stick forward, I noticed how different Spyro feels from his heyday. At first, it was a bit distracting, being able to turn on a dime and run circles around enemies, but I quickly realized a shocking truth: Spyro Reignited doesn't play like the original game; it plays better. Back in the day, camera control was mapped to the shoulder buttons, which was the standard, but would be downright archaic today. Now, the camera is controlled with the right analog stick, which lets the player see more of the environment, and see it more quickly than ever before. The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and I could sense my enhanced control as I tackled the enemies in the Toasty stage. As I looked around me, I saw other E3 attendees getting mauled by the big grey dogs who populate the levels. I don't blame them, since those enemies are notoriously pesky, especially to untrained players who haven't yet realized that it takes two bursts of flame to bring them down, and they always counterattack after the first hit. On the PS1, it took a while to figure out the rhythm of the movement, and it was always tough to get out of range of their counter. Here, it was as easy as pulling back on the left analog stick. Spyro's movement is stunningly smooth and I was weaving through the level with a newfound fluidity and speed which is entirely different from the much heavier motion of the original. It's a bold change, but having played it myself, I must admit, it was the right move. After making short work of Toasty, I moved on to Tree Tops, one of the more infamous levels in the first game, due to its supercharge ramps and tough-to-reach secret areas. In this level, the visual acuity of this next-gen remastering is even more apparent than in Toasty. The dark, earthy palette of the level, which left much to the imagination in the original, really comes alive in this remake. In particular, the enemies, originally rendered as somewhat nondescript blobs of polygons, look like actual creatures this time around. Testing out the supercharge ramps, it only took me a couple of tries to make it to the secret area on top of the final island, and I was pleased by how smooth the controls felt... Although I had a bit of trouble knowing when to transition from the jump to a glide, leading to a couple of deaths before I found the precise moment to get the most distance out of the supercharge jump. The main collectable in the game is trapped Elder Dragons. Trapped in cages of green crystal, Spyro breaks them out of their prison, at which point they give him a brief word of advice before disappearing. While the original game had a degree of variety in dragon designs, assigning different body types to each of the first five worlds (the sixth, Gnasty's World, features a mixture from the previous settings), Reignited appears to be taking things a step further, making every single dragon unique and full of character. In the original, some of the dragons lacked fun dialogue, instead offering a simple "Thank you for releasing me!" It's unclear if that will be retained in this remake, or if any new interactions will be written for those dragons. At this point, I'm happy to report that Spyro Reignited Trilogy feels good, and I can't wait to get my hands on the complete game. I'm eager to embark on an odyssey through the worlds of Spyro, Ripto's Rage, and Year of the Dragon, combining my nostalgic memories of classic settings and enemies with the remake's significantly revamped gameplay mechanics. Of course, there are still questions remaining to be answered. Will Year of the Dragon's additional playable characters be as smooth to play as Spyro? Agent 9's first person shooter levels, notably, haven't aged very well. What about the numerous minigames from parts two and three, like Ice Hockey, boxing with Bentley the Yeti, and the numerous attractions in Dragon Shores, the bonus level from Ripto's Rage? Will these all be preserved/remastered for this new release? Spyro 2 opened and closed each level with a brief cutscene. Will they be remastered here? Year of the Dragon suffered from lacking these fun vignettes. Will developer Toys for Bob be bold enough to unify the sequels by creating brand new cutscenes for Year of the Dragon? One can only hope. One final question involves Year of the Dragon's main collectable, Dragon Eggs, which would hatch upon being rescued. While they each possessed unique names, many designs and animations were frequently repeated, robbing the baby dragons of their individuality. Will this HD remake go the extra mile and make sure every baby dragon feels like a unique character with their own custom animations? So far, all of Spyro Reignited Trilogy's marketing has focused on the original game, with only brief, fleeting glimpses of the sequels. Hopefully, they'll peel back the curtain soon. They have to; after all, the game is slated for release on September 21 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. 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!
  7. One of the biggest surprises at Microsoft's E3 conference was Dying Light 2. The big surprise wasn't just that it appeared and was showcased in a lengthy gameplay demo, but that it was presented by legendary game designer Chris Avellone, who is serving as Narrative Designer for Techland's zombie apocalypse sequel. Avellone is a veteran of choice-driven RPG epics like Fallout 2 and New Vegas, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II, and the underrated cult classic, Alpha Protocol. Having him be the face of Dying Light 2 is a statement that the story is taking a greater importance this time around. Not that the story was bad or anything in the original Dying Light, but it's clear that Techland is focusing on integrating narrative importance into every aspect of this follow-up. By the looks of things, the gameplay looks like its iterating on the parkour and melee action of the original, making everything smoother, faster, and more responsive, and adding cool with new moves like swinging on a pipe to kick an unlucky enemy off a ledge to his doom. If all goes according to plan, Dying Light 2 will play just like the original, but even better. The real innovation here comes with the core theme of "choice." According to Chris Avellone, everything you do as a player will have an effect on the world. The example on display in the stage demo gives the player the choice of securing a cache of water from a pair of gangsters who are planning to sell it on the black market. The player can secure the water for the Peace Keepers, who distribute it to the local population, but their militaristic and fascistic rule over the area is strengthened. On the other hand, the player can betray the Peace Keepers and side with the gangsters, opening up trade opportunities with them but attracting the real dregs of society. As in most of Avellone's games, these decisions won't have plain, black & white consequences, but may have unforeseen ripple effects which can drastically change the game world. Avellone promises that there are "hundreds" of these types of decisions which will go a long way towards individualizing each person's odyssey through the world of Dying Light. Dying Light 2 is currently in development. View full article
  8. Zak Wojnar

    Dying Light 2 Is All About Choice

    One of the biggest surprises at Microsoft's E3 conference was Dying Light 2. The big surprise wasn't just that it appeared and was showcased in a lengthy gameplay demo, but that it was presented by legendary game designer Chris Avellone, who is serving as Narrative Designer for Techland's zombie apocalypse sequel. Avellone is a veteran of choice-driven RPG epics like Fallout 2 and New Vegas, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II, and the underrated cult classic, Alpha Protocol. Having him be the face of Dying Light 2 is a statement that the story is taking a greater importance this time around. Not that the story was bad or anything in the original Dying Light, but it's clear that Techland is focusing on integrating narrative importance into every aspect of this follow-up. By the looks of things, the gameplay looks like its iterating on the parkour and melee action of the original, making everything smoother, faster, and more responsive, and adding cool with new moves like swinging on a pipe to kick an unlucky enemy off a ledge to his doom. If all goes according to plan, Dying Light 2 will play just like the original, but even better. The real innovation here comes with the core theme of "choice." According to Chris Avellone, everything you do as a player will have an effect on the world. The example on display in the stage demo gives the player the choice of securing a cache of water from a pair of gangsters who are planning to sell it on the black market. The player can secure the water for the Peace Keepers, who distribute it to the local population, but their militaristic and fascistic rule over the area is strengthened. On the other hand, the player can betray the Peace Keepers and side with the gangsters, opening up trade opportunities with them but attracting the real dregs of society. As in most of Avellone's games, these decisions won't have plain, black & white consequences, but may have unforeseen ripple effects which can drastically change the game world. Avellone promises that there are "hundreds" of these types of decisions which will go a long way towards individualizing each person's odyssey through the world of Dying Light. Dying Light 2 is currently in development.
  9. Rico Rodriguez is one of gaming's most bombastic heroes. Each game in the series puts Rico in a new territory taken over by some bad guys. his job is to take it back, by any means necessary. Usually, that involves making everything explode using his iconic grappling hook and parachute, his crack driving skills, and a whole lot of explosive ordinance. As revealed in Microsoft's E3 press conference, Rico is back to cause more explosions in Just Cause 4. This time around, Rico has been dispatched to Solis, a region with a wide variety of geographic diversity, from arctic tundra to sandy desert and everything in between. Here, he will do battle with the Black Hand, a mercenary organization which appeared way back in the original 2006 game, as well as 2015's Just Cause 3. For the most part, Just Cause 4 looks like it's aiming to be more of the same, but bigger and better in every way. The game's E3 trailer showed off an insane level of destruction and over-the-top stunts that would make James Bond blush, like flying a jet fighter into a glass dome, crashing a motorbike into a flying helicopter, and, craziest of all, driving a muscle car into a whirling tornado. Indeed, Just Cause 4 features dynamic weather events such as tornadoes, thunderstorms, and more. A brief snippet of gameplay shows Rico driving a snowmobile across a snowy winter wonderland. Could avalanches pop up as an extreme environmental disruption? Considering the game is developed by Avalanche Games, it should be a no-brainer, right? The Just Cause series is an unmatched playground of blockbuster action. In terms of environmental destructibility, nothing else comes close to matching the grand scale of Just Cause's explosive gameplay. If all goes well, Just Cause 4 will be the biggest and best entry yet. We'll know for sure when the game launches on December 4. View full article
  10. Rico Rodriguez is one of gaming's most bombastic heroes. Each game in the series puts Rico in a new territory taken over by some bad guys. his job is to take it back, by any means necessary. Usually, that involves making everything explode using his iconic grappling hook and parachute, his crack driving skills, and a whole lot of explosive ordinance. As revealed in Microsoft's E3 press conference, Rico is back to cause more explosions in Just Cause 4. This time around, Rico has been dispatched to Solis, a region with a wide variety of geographic diversity, from arctic tundra to sandy desert and everything in between. Here, he will do battle with the Black Hand, a mercenary organization which appeared way back in the original 2006 game, as well as 2015's Just Cause 3. For the most part, Just Cause 4 looks like it's aiming to be more of the same, but bigger and better in every way. The game's E3 trailer showed off an insane level of destruction and over-the-top stunts that would make James Bond blush, like flying a jet fighter into a glass dome, crashing a motorbike into a flying helicopter, and, craziest of all, driving a muscle car into a whirling tornado. Indeed, Just Cause 4 features dynamic weather events such as tornadoes, thunderstorms, and more. A brief snippet of gameplay shows Rico driving a snowmobile across a snowy winter wonderland. Could avalanches pop up as an extreme environmental disruption? Considering the game is developed by Avalanche Games, it should be a no-brainer, right? The Just Cause series is an unmatched playground of blockbuster action. In terms of environmental destructibility, nothing else comes close to matching the grand scale of Just Cause's explosive gameplay. If all goes well, Just Cause 4 will be the biggest and best entry yet. We'll know for sure when the game launches on December 4.
  11. Microsoft is tripling down on their blockbuster Gears of War franchise with three new games with widely disparate takes on the universe of chainsaw bayonets and tough-as-nails heroes. Gears Pop!, Gears Tactics, and Gears 5. There's no escaping the immense popularity of Funko Pop! figurines, and the first new Gears project is a mobile spin-off which replaces the tough-as-nails characters of the Gears of War universe with the adorable, big-headed trinkets. No gameplay details were offered on Gears Pop!, but it will surely be refreshing to see a bizarrely more family-friendly take on the ultra-violent world of Gears. Gears Tactics didn't receive a proper trailer, but a brief snippet of footage was shown on stage. A turn-based strategy title, Gears Tactics can be immediately described as Gears of War meets XCOM, and it's hard to imagine anyone complaining about that. Gears Tactics will be a Windows exclusive. Finally, the main event of the Gears segment, and arguably the entire Microsoft conference, was Gears 5. For the first time in the series, the main character is a woman, Kait Diaz, who was first introduced in Gears of War 4. As usual, the game will support two-player split-screen co-op, as well as single-player and online multiplayer. The trailer featured a welcome focus on character relationships and the mutual distrust between the Kait and her partner, suggesting this will be a more personal Gears story than ever before. If all goes according to plan, Gears 5 will feature explosive action and palpable drama in equal measure. All three of these Gears titles are slated for 2019. View full article
  12. Microsoft is tripling down on their blockbuster Gears of War franchise with three new games with widely disparate takes on the universe of chainsaw bayonets and tough-as-nails heroes. Gears Pop!, Gears Tactics, and Gears 5. There's no escaping the immense popularity of Funko Pop! figurines, and the first new Gears project is a mobile spin-off which replaces the tough-as-nails characters of the Gears of War universe with the adorable, big-headed trinkets. No gameplay details were offered on Gears Pop!, but it will surely be refreshing to see a bizarrely more family-friendly take on the ultra-violent world of Gears. Gears Tactics didn't receive a proper trailer, but a brief snippet of footage was shown on stage. A turn-based strategy title, Gears Tactics can be immediately described as Gears of War meets XCOM, and it's hard to imagine anyone complaining about that. Gears Tactics will be a Windows exclusive. Finally, the main event of the Gears segment, and arguably the entire Microsoft conference, was Gears 5. For the first time in the series, the main character is a woman, Kait Diaz, who was first introduced in Gears of War 4. As usual, the game will support two-player split-screen co-op, as well as single-player and online multiplayer. The trailer featured a welcome focus on character relationships and the mutual distrust between the Kait and her partner, suggesting this will be a more personal Gears story than ever before. If all goes according to plan, Gears 5 will feature explosive action and palpable drama in equal measure. All three of these Gears titles are slated for 2019.
  13. GameStop is teaming up with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals to help save kids’ lives at local children’s hospitals throughout the United States. This week, GameStop announced the new partnership that will begin taking shape this June. “GameStop has a long-standing commitment to use the Power of Gaming for Good to benefit the families in our local communities. Together with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, it is our hope to give children’ of all ages the miracle of living a better life,” said Jason Allen, head of marketing for GameStop. Beginning June 1, GameStop customers will be able to donate up to 100% of the credit value to CMN Hospitals when they trade their unused video game hardware, software, accessories, or consumer electronics in-store through the Trade for Charity program. PowerUp Rewards™ members will also be able to turn their PowerUp Rewards points into a donation to CMN Hospitals. From June 12-14, GameStop and CMN Hospitals’ gaming fundraising program, Extra Life, will be on site at the E3 Expo in Los Angeles, California with a pop-up truck outside the LA Convention Center to accept video game donations. The value of the games will then be donated by GameStop to help sick and injured kids treated at CMN Hospitals. Extra Life unites thousands of players around the world in a 24-hour fundraising and gaming marathon benefitting CMN Hospitals. This September, GameStop’s 3,800 stores throughout the U.S. will be hosting a fundraising campaign where customers will be able to donate $1 or more when they checkout in-store or on GameStop.com. Funds raised by each store will benefit the respective local CMN Hospital, allowing stores the opportunity to serve the children and families treated in their own communities. GameStop’s new partnership with CMN Hospitals aligns with their commitment to corporate social responsibility and their vision to use the Power of Gaming for Good. Since 2007, GameStop and its more than 40,000 associates around the world have raised and/or donated more than $17 million to various external charities focused on youth-wellbeing and empowerment. “We are thrilled to be partnering with GameStop to help further our mission to save and improve the lives of local kids. The funds raised by GameStop’s initiatives will impact over 10 million children treated each year at local CMN Hospitals throughout the country and we are very grateful for their support,” said John Lauck, president and CEO of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
  14. GameStop is teaming up with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals to help save kids’ lives at local children’s hospitals throughout the United States. This week, GameStop announced the new partnership that will begin taking shape this June. “GameStop has a long-standing commitment to use the Power of Gaming for Good to benefit the families in our local communities. Together with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, it is our hope to give children’ of all ages the miracle of living a better life,” said Jason Allen, head of marketing for GameStop. Beginning June 1, GameStop customers will be able to donate up to 100% of the credit value to CMN Hospitals when they trade their unused video game hardware, software, accessories, or consumer electronics in-store through the Trade for Charity program. PowerUp Rewards™ members will also be able to turn their PowerUp Rewards points into a donation to CMN Hospitals. From June 12-14, GameStop and CMN Hospitals’ gaming fundraising program, Extra Life, will be on site at the E3 Expo in Los Angeles, California with a pop-up truck outside the LA Convention Center to accept video game donations. The value of the games will then be donated by GameStop to help sick and injured kids treated at CMN Hospitals. Extra Life unites thousands of players around the world in a 24-hour fundraising and gaming marathon benefitting CMN Hospitals. This September, GameStop’s 3,800 stores throughout the U.S. will be hosting a fundraising campaign where customers will be able to donate $1 or more when they checkout in-store or on GameStop.com. Funds raised by each store will benefit the respective local CMN Hospital, allowing stores the opportunity to serve the children and families treated in their own communities. GameStop’s new partnership with CMN Hospitals aligns with their commitment to corporate social responsibility and their vision to use the Power of Gaming for Good. Since 2007, GameStop and its more than 40,000 associates around the world have raised and/or donated more than $17 million to various external charities focused on youth-wellbeing and empowerment. “We are thrilled to be partnering with GameStop to help further our mission to save and improve the lives of local kids. The funds raised by GameStop’s initiatives will impact over 10 million children treated each year at local CMN Hospitals throughout the country and we are very grateful for their support,” said John Lauck, president and CEO of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. View full article
  15. Microsoft announced the new Dragon Ball fighting game Sunday at E3, Dragon Ball Fighter Z. The game, from the studio behind 2D fighter Guilty Gear, features a similar style of 2D fighting, as well as 3v3 brawls. The gameplay trailer showed off the chaotic nature of these brawls, complete with a dizzying array of kamehameha blasts. The game will feature cast favorites including Goku, Vegeta, Cell, Frieza, Majin Buu, and more. Dragon Ball Fighter Z is scheduled for an early 2018 release, so keep charging that spirit bomb for now. View full article
  16. Joseph Knoop

    Dragon Ball Fighter Z Officially Revealed

    Microsoft announced the new Dragon Ball fighting game Sunday at E3, Dragon Ball Fighter Z. The game, from the studio behind 2D fighter Guilty Gear, features a similar style of 2D fighting, as well as 3v3 brawls. The gameplay trailer showed off the chaotic nature of these brawls, complete with a dizzying array of kamehameha blasts. The game will feature cast favorites including Goku, Vegeta, Cell, Frieza, Majin Buu, and more. Dragon Ball Fighter Z is scheduled for an early 2018 release, so keep charging that spirit bomb for now.
  17. For as long as combat games have been around, there have been plenty that put players in the driver’s seat of all kinds of vehicles, from apocalyptic race cars, military fighter jets, and space ships galore. For players wanting a more nautical experience, pickings have traditionally been slim, especially if they wanted to go beneath the ocean’s surface and face the depths below. The team behind Aquanox: Deep Descent are on the case with an expansive prequel to the original Aquanox games of 2001 and 2003. Quick refresher for those of you, like myself, who might have missed the original deep sea shooters. Aquanox takes place in a world besieged by nuclear war and resource scarcity. After humans leech everything possible from the surface, the few remaining survivors fled to the depths of the sea, scavenging and fighting for as many supplies as each faction can grab. Their strength comes in the form of submersible combat ships, complete with a small army’s worth of firepower and technology to aid in the fight against the hazards of the deep. Extra Life got the chance to preview a hands-off demo for Aquanox: Deep Descent from developer Digital Arrow and publisher THQ Nordic. In Aquanox: Deep Descent’s single-player mode (10-12 hours long, according to the developer), players will build up a home base full of upgrades for their ships and the community. Ships are fully customizable, with players spending credits earned completing missions and scavenging resources on upgrades for engines, armor, weapon loadouts, electrical systems, and more. Ships are already divided into classes, though, like the light scouting class, the fighter, or the siege ship. For example, siege ships are primarily the tanks of Aquanox, built to take and deal massive damage while sacrificing ease of movement. Aquanox: Deep Descent’s single-player mode also acts as a drop-in-drop-out co-op mode. When a friend joins, they can choose one of the four available main characters to play as, along with their ship’s traits. Combat in Deep Descent moves much like a space flight simulator (think Eve: Valkyrie or Elite: Dangerous), but with the added twist of water impacting movement. Natural momentum carries a ship further and in a less direct way than an airplane might, meaning every dodging maneuver against enemy ships must be calculated for maximum advantage and minimal damage. The last thing you want is to crack open the hull of your ship on a rock or a poorly dodged torpedo. You’ll also be able to maneuver in any direction, opening up possibilities for offensive or defensive strategies. To hear it from the developer, Aquanox: Deep Descent may, to some players, feel like a more tactical round of Unreal Tournament, flitting around the environment to land a carefully aimed shot at a distant target. From a hands-off perspective, the comparison certainly carries some weight, as victory often goes to the player who can not only maneuver more strategically around their opponent, but also who can react faster and with more precision, balancing combat in a way that, while perhaps not perfect, fits within its own world just fine. Like those quirky combat games, Aquanox will also feature a variety of weapons that will have players adopting unique strategies. There’s the Shrapnel cannon, which launches a close-range burst of debris at opponents for devastating damage. There’s the the Hazard, or “Gooey,” which launches canisters of explosive bio-chemical liquids that stick to enemies and can later be detonated. Then there’s the high-powered Shard rail guns that let players snipe from afar, making the vast expanses of empty water a threat to all. Secondary weapons include mines, as well as mortar fire that can strike from above. Other secondary weapons perform specific actions like automatically firing at enemies within range or from any side, giving you the chance to slip away. All these abilities will be available in Aquanox: Deep Descent’s multiplayer mode as well, which includes solo deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture-the-flag, and a domination mode. To Digital Arrow’s credit, what we’ve seen thus far of Aquanox’s updated world looks impressive. For fans of “aerial” style combat games, the amount of customization and the frenetic pacing of these seadog fights are impressive. For those wanting a more exploratory adventure, the game’s visuals certainly hold up, and obviously look more impressive than its predecessors. While a game like Subnautica is incredibly expansive, Aquanox’s style seems decidedly more pronounced, with the darkness of the ocean depths shimmering against plant life and wreckage. Aquanox: Deep Descent is scheduled for a 2017 release date on PC. View full article
  18. For as long as combat games have been around, there have been plenty that put players in the driver’s seat of all kinds of vehicles, from apocalyptic race cars, military fighter jets, and space ships galore. For players wanting a more nautical experience, pickings have traditionally been slim, especially if they wanted to go beneath the ocean’s surface and face the depths below. The team behind Aquanox: Deep Descent are on the case with an expansive prequel to the original Aquanox games of 2001 and 2003. Quick refresher for those of you, like myself, who might have missed the original deep sea shooters. Aquanox takes place in a world besieged by nuclear war and resource scarcity. After humans leech everything possible from the surface, the few remaining survivors fled to the depths of the sea, scavenging and fighting for as many supplies as each faction can grab. Their strength comes in the form of submersible combat ships, complete with a small army’s worth of firepower and technology to aid in the fight against the hazards of the deep. Extra Life got the chance to preview a hands-off demo for Aquanox: Deep Descent from developer Digital Arrow and publisher THQ Nordic. In Aquanox: Deep Descent’s single-player mode (10-12 hours long, according to the developer), players will build up a home base full of upgrades for their ships and the community. Ships are fully customizable, with players spending credits earned completing missions and scavenging resources on upgrades for engines, armor, weapon loadouts, electrical systems, and more. Ships are already divided into classes, though, like the light scouting class, the fighter, or the siege ship. For example, siege ships are primarily the tanks of Aquanox, built to take and deal massive damage while sacrificing ease of movement. Aquanox: Deep Descent’s single-player mode also acts as a drop-in-drop-out co-op mode. When a friend joins, they can choose one of the four available main characters to play as, along with their ship’s traits. Combat in Deep Descent moves much like a space flight simulator (think Eve: Valkyrie or Elite: Dangerous), but with the added twist of water impacting movement. Natural momentum carries a ship further and in a less direct way than an airplane might, meaning every dodging maneuver against enemy ships must be calculated for maximum advantage and minimal damage. The last thing you want is to crack open the hull of your ship on a rock or a poorly dodged torpedo. You’ll also be able to maneuver in any direction, opening up possibilities for offensive or defensive strategies. To hear it from the developer, Aquanox: Deep Descent may, to some players, feel like a more tactical round of Unreal Tournament, flitting around the environment to land a carefully aimed shot at a distant target. From a hands-off perspective, the comparison certainly carries some weight, as victory often goes to the player who can not only maneuver more strategically around their opponent, but also who can react faster and with more precision, balancing combat in a way that, while perhaps not perfect, fits within its own world just fine. Like those quirky combat games, Aquanox will also feature a variety of weapons that will have players adopting unique strategies. There’s the Shrapnel cannon, which launches a close-range burst of debris at opponents for devastating damage. There’s the the Hazard, or “Gooey,” which launches canisters of explosive bio-chemical liquids that stick to enemies and can later be detonated. Then there’s the high-powered Shard rail guns that let players snipe from afar, making the vast expanses of empty water a threat to all. Secondary weapons include mines, as well as mortar fire that can strike from above. Other secondary weapons perform specific actions like automatically firing at enemies within range or from any side, giving you the chance to slip away. All these abilities will be available in Aquanox: Deep Descent’s multiplayer mode as well, which includes solo deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture-the-flag, and a domination mode. To Digital Arrow’s credit, what we’ve seen thus far of Aquanox’s updated world looks impressive. For fans of “aerial” style combat games, the amount of customization and the frenetic pacing of these seadog fights are impressive. For those wanting a more exploratory adventure, the game’s visuals certainly hold up, and obviously look more impressive than its predecessors. While a game like Subnautica is incredibly expansive, Aquanox’s style seems decidedly more pronounced, with the darkness of the ocean depths shimmering against plant life and wreckage. Aquanox: Deep Descent is scheduled for a 2017 release date on PC.
  19. The studio behind Killer Instinct is primed to bring another hard-hitting action experience to fans of properties like Attack On Titan and Shadow of the Colossus. Extinction drops players into the role of one of the world’s last Sentinels, warriors tasked with protecting the realm from towering, bloodthirsty ogres. Through a mix of high-speed movement and careful precision, players will have to find each ogre’s weak spots before they level the world. Extra Life got the chance to preview an early build of Extinction at E3, with Iron Galaxy and publisher Maximum Games showing off the basics of combat and just how we’ll be tearing down these monolithic monstrosities and their smaller minions. Iron Galaxy started our demo off in a modest village with a smattering of stone towers and houses. As Avil the Sentinel, we’re gifted with the ability to leap great distances and slice through ogre flesh and armor with a swing of a sword. Several ogres are bearing down the center of town, smashing entire buildings with their feet and fists. Iron Galaxy says each level will be completely destructible, and it certainly shows in the path of carnage each ogre leaves behind them. The only shortcoming is that each building leaves a perfectly squared pile of ashes, though it’s unclear if Iron Galaxy will add in some sort of destructibility physics so it looks more natural. As for the buildings that aren’t crushed, however, Avil can make great use of them by bouncing from canopies, gliding alongside walls, and dashing up them as well, similar to games like Prototype and Metal Gear Rising. When Avil makes it to his first giant ogre of the day, order of business dictates that he needs to dismember as many of its limbs as possible. He has to act fast, though, considering each limb can regenerate as long as the ogre still possesses its head. Avil strikes each limb’s armor, shattering it in one powerful swing, then ripping flesh apart moments later. All the while, the ogre is taking great swipes with its fists and stomping its feet in an attempt to smash him. Once the ogre is damaged enough, it slumps over, letting its wounds heal, allowing Avil to leap up its backside and slice it across the neck, cutting its head off and evaporating the body into valuable energy that Avil can absorb for his own benefit. You’d be forgiven for noticing the similarities ripped right from Attack On Titan, including the need to cut each giant’s nape, but in fairness the ogres do possess enough individuality among them to make them a little more entertaining than the awkward-looking Titans. And it won’t just be one ogre at a time. Iron Galaxy has shown off groups of ogres attacking from different directions or in packs, adding to the difficulty. There will also be a number of smaller minions (including human-size ogres and winged beasts) scattered about the map to distract you from bigger threats. Through it all, though, the visual aspect of combat does look entertaining, to say the least. Leering up at a giant from underneath its toes feels daunting, especially when those toes are closing in at high speed. That these creatures can be scaled relatively easily, in an environment with hundreds of variables to consider, means players will hopefully be more focused on the fun of the experience than battling the control scheme. The only possible downside to Extinction’s gameplay thus far is whether or not performing the same executions will get stale, and whether or not Iron Galaxy can instill a bit more life into these levels so we can feel like we’re saving the world, not just building after building. It’s fine that the world of a game called “Extinction” feels a little barren, but hopefully players will feel like they’re fighting for something instead of being the sole human left on the planet. Beyond the world-building, hopefully we’ll get a few more moves at our disposal for dispatching ogres, as the same combination of leaping, slicing, and wall-riding might feel played out by the time Extinction hits its third or fourth level. There’s still plenty more to see before Extinction releases sometime early 2018. View full article
  20. The studio behind Killer Instinct is primed to bring another hard-hitting action experience to fans of properties like Attack On Titan and Shadow of the Colossus. Extinction drops players into the role of one of the world’s last Sentinels, warriors tasked with protecting the realm from towering, bloodthirsty ogres. Through a mix of high-speed movement and careful precision, players will have to find each ogre’s weak spots before they level the world. Extra Life got the chance to preview an early build of Extinction at E3, with Iron Galaxy and publisher Maximum Games showing off the basics of combat and just how we’ll be tearing down these monolithic monstrosities and their smaller minions. Iron Galaxy started our demo off in a modest village with a smattering of stone towers and houses. As Avil the Sentinel, we’re gifted with the ability to leap great distances and slice through ogre flesh and armor with a swing of a sword. Several ogres are bearing down the center of town, smashing entire buildings with their feet and fists. Iron Galaxy says each level will be completely destructible, and it certainly shows in the path of carnage each ogre leaves behind them. The only shortcoming is that each building leaves a perfectly squared pile of ashes, though it’s unclear if Iron Galaxy will add in some sort of destructibility physics so it looks more natural. As for the buildings that aren’t crushed, however, Avil can make great use of them by bouncing from canopies, gliding alongside walls, and dashing up them as well, similar to games like Prototype and Metal Gear Rising. When Avil makes it to his first giant ogre of the day, order of business dictates that he needs to dismember as many of its limbs as possible. He has to act fast, though, considering each limb can regenerate as long as the ogre still possesses its head. Avil strikes each limb’s armor, shattering it in one powerful swing, then ripping flesh apart moments later. All the while, the ogre is taking great swipes with its fists and stomping its feet in an attempt to smash him. Once the ogre is damaged enough, it slumps over, letting its wounds heal, allowing Avil to leap up its backside and slice it across the neck, cutting its head off and evaporating the body into valuable energy that Avil can absorb for his own benefit. You’d be forgiven for noticing the similarities ripped right from Attack On Titan, including the need to cut each giant’s nape, but in fairness the ogres do possess enough individuality among them to make them a little more entertaining than the awkward-looking Titans. And it won’t just be one ogre at a time. Iron Galaxy has shown off groups of ogres attacking from different directions or in packs, adding to the difficulty. There will also be a number of smaller minions (including human-size ogres and winged beasts) scattered about the map to distract you from bigger threats. Through it all, though, the visual aspect of combat does look entertaining, to say the least. Leering up at a giant from underneath its toes feels daunting, especially when those toes are closing in at high speed. That these creatures can be scaled relatively easily, in an environment with hundreds of variables to consider, means players will hopefully be more focused on the fun of the experience than battling the control scheme. The only possible downside to Extinction’s gameplay thus far is whether or not performing the same executions will get stale, and whether or not Iron Galaxy can instill a bit more life into these levels so we can feel like we’re saving the world, not just building after building. It’s fine that the world of a game called “Extinction” feels a little barren, but hopefully players will feel like they’re fighting for something instead of being the sole human left on the planet. Beyond the world-building, hopefully we’ll get a few more moves at our disposal for dispatching ogres, as the same combination of leaping, slicing, and wall-riding might feel played out by the time Extinction hits its third or fourth level. There’s still plenty more to see before Extinction releases sometime early 2018.
  21. At E3 2017, independent UK studio Rebellion highlighted their upcoming Rogue Trooper Redux which releases Oct. 17. Rogue Trooper initially released in 2006 to PlayStation 2 and Xbox. Gameplay is in third-person shooter format and follows the titular hero Rogue as he navigates the world Nu-Earth, the last survivor of his unit of genetic infantrymen. Though his fellow GI’s lose their form as blue troopers, their engineering allows them to live on in Rogue’s gear through implanted biochips. The redux is a remaster and upgrades the 2006 graphics to HD, remodels assets, updates lighting, enhancing geometry along with other visual aspects. New features have been added as well that include additional difficulty settings, a revamped cover system, and modernized controls. I got the chance to experience the reboot first hand during a demo at E3. The demo took place during the first part of the game as each of Rogue’s squad members are getting attacked and “die.” After failing to save them, Rogue implants each into various pieces of his equipment. Each implant not only gave Rogue's arsenal multiple personalities but also new abilities. This was an interesting mechanic and it presented a dimension to gameplay. From the Rogue Trooper Redux website, “Gunnar turns your rifle into a sentry gun and boosts your accuracy under fire. Helm offers tactical advice and distracts enemies. Bagman can manufacture custom ammo, salvage parts, upgrade weapons and even lay minefields.” Gameplay is straightforward third-person fare with an extraterrestrial backdrop. There are plenty of explosions and over the top events with gameplay mechanics switching up to keep things interesting. What was most compelling to play around with was the aforementioned abilities implanted in the gear. Staying true to the source material was a priority for the team in 2006 and that remains true today. "We tried our best to take the inspiration of the comic and do it justice, and I think we really did achieve that," said Rich May, one of the original game's programmers. The reboot will be a chance for players who missed the game the first time around to jump into the Rogue Trooper universe. "It's really cool to see it out there again," said May, who went on to comment about how social media has allowed them to connect to a wide array of fans of the game as well as the comics. May also hopes for the game to reach a new audience. "It's one of my favorite things I've ever worked on," he said. Rogue Trooper Redux will release to Nintendo Switch (date TBD), PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC for $24.99. View full article
  22. At E3 2017, independent UK studio Rebellion highlighted their upcoming Rogue Trooper Redux which releases Oct. 17. Rogue Trooper initially released in 2006 to PlayStation 2 and Xbox. Gameplay is in third-person shooter format and follows the titular hero Rogue as he navigates the world Nu-Earth, the last survivor of his unit of genetic infantrymen. Though his fellow GI’s lose their form as blue troopers, their engineering allows them to live on in Rogue’s gear through implanted biochips. The redux is a remaster and upgrades the 2006 graphics to HD, remodels assets, updates lighting, enhancing geometry along with other visual aspects. New features have been added as well that include additional difficulty settings, a revamped cover system, and modernized controls. I got the chance to experience the reboot first hand during a demo at E3. The demo took place during the first part of the game as each of Rogue’s squad members are getting attacked and “die.” After failing to save them, Rogue implants each into various pieces of his equipment. Each implant not only gave Rogue's arsenal multiple personalities but also new abilities. This was an interesting mechanic and it presented a dimension to gameplay. From the Rogue Trooper Redux website, “Gunnar turns your rifle into a sentry gun and boosts your accuracy under fire. Helm offers tactical advice and distracts enemies. Bagman can manufacture custom ammo, salvage parts, upgrade weapons and even lay minefields.” Gameplay is straightforward third-person fare with an extraterrestrial backdrop. There are plenty of explosions and over the top events with gameplay mechanics switching up to keep things interesting. What was most compelling to play around with was the aforementioned abilities implanted in the gear. Staying true to the source material was a priority for the team in 2006 and that remains true today. "We tried our best to take the inspiration of the comic and do it justice, and I think we really did achieve that," said Rich May, one of the original game's programmers. The reboot will be a chance for players who missed the game the first time around to jump into the Rogue Trooper universe. "It's really cool to see it out there again," said May, who went on to comment about how social media has allowed them to connect to a wide array of fans of the game as well as the comics. May also hopes for the game to reach a new audience. "It's one of my favorite things I've ever worked on," he said. Rogue Trooper Redux will release to Nintendo Switch (date TBD), PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC for $24.99.
  23. There’s something to be said for a well-built role-playing game -- even better if it’s one with a visually pleasing aesthetic that communicates everything it needs to. Too many RPGs these days find themselves buried under menus and woefully implemented combat mechanics, or repetitive dungeon-diving. Battle Chasers: Nightwar feels like the rare RPG to sidestep all the bluster and bulk for something entertaining and at least mildly fresh. Based on the original Battle Chasers comic by Joe Madureira (also known for his work on Uncanny X-Men) and developed by Airship Syndicate (comprised of former Darksiders developers), RPG fans of any stripe should get a kick out of this action-packed world. I got a hands-off demo of Battle Chasers at E3 2017, where the developer took time to show off the world and combat systems. Taking place an undetermined amount of time after the original Battle Chasers comic left off on a cliffhanger, players can create a team of three (from a total of six optional characters) to do battle with vicious creatures and loot randomly generated dungeons. There’s Garrison, a swordsman with a tragic past, Gully, a nine-year-old girl who inherited a pair of massive, magical boxing gloves after her father disappeared, Calibretto, the iron giant war golem with a heart of gold, and more. The first thing players might notice is that despite Battle Chasers decidedly JRPG-esque nature, it’s characters play off of old tropes for inventive combat and character building. Instead of the lumbering, mechanical Calibretto acting as the team’s tank, it’s Gully’s magic gloves that provide the massive damage, and Calibretto’s intrinsic ties to nature that provide healing spells. Though each dungeon will be randomly generated, players will have to strategize before ever stepping foot into one. Each dungeon has different difficulties to choose from, modifying the number of enemies, traps, and the layout you’ll find, but also affecting the size of its reward. Once inside, players navigate an isometric layout filled with beastmen, animated skeleton warriors, and worse. Players can give themselves an advantage by luring enemies into the dungeon’s ancient traps before battle, shaving off a few key health points. Once in battle, characters take turns dealing damage or casting spells, with a queue on the left hand side telling you who will go during the next several turns, all based on stats like speed and initiative. Characters share a single “overcharge” gauge that essentially acts as magic fuel for special attacks. This gauge can be accrued over time, and each character has three separate levels of overcharge attacks so you might want to save it for a boss or particularly rough group of enemies. Garrison can unleash a devastating series of sword strikes on a single enemy, for example, while Calibretto is focused on damaging multiple enemies with his massive chaingun arm. Each character will have unique abilities they can use only a set number of times to solve puzzles or advance deeper into a dungeon, such as Garrison’s dash move or Gully’s punch, which allows her to knock down walls hiding secret areas. Every step taken begins to feel like a measured one, weighed against risk versus reward dilemmas. Players can locate treasure chests with rare loot inside, or opt to teleport it deeper into the dungeon. You’ll have to find it again, and the loot will be twice as beneficial, but you’ll lose it if you die before reaching it. Rare gear can also only be crafted within certain dungeons, giving players another incentive to take a deep dive. Amidst all of this, Battle Chasers possesses a striking art style, and not just thanks to Madureira’s illustrations. Even as they’re awaiting their turn in battle, characters bob and weave with an animated feel that helps bring them to life in a way few RPGs of either hemisphere achieve. This is especially apparent during attacks, when the weight of each character can be felt in their motion. Calibretto, the hulking mass that he is, barrels down on enemies with a decimating right hook, smoke billowing behind his trail, and enemies bouncing back with appropriate force. Even enemies get in on the action, with monsters similar to Dark Souls’ mimics (beasts that impersonate treasure chests for a sneaky bite attack) lashing out their engorged tongues with wicked style. It’s unclear how closely Battle Chasers will stick to the original comic series’ lore. Developers at Airship Syndicate say the plot will follow the party’s adventures in a world being sucked dry of its mana. After being shot down from the sky by pirates, the group will have to adventure across a massive island, finding themselves roped into a war against an evil vampire lord bent on conquering the world. Battle Chasers certainly isn’t shying away from the cheese of its inspirations. Battle Chasers: Nightwar is due out October 3 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Mac, and the Nintendo Switch for $29.99. A Steam sale currently has the game listed at $26.99, though it’s unclear how long that will last. View full article
  24. There’s something to be said for a well-built role-playing game -- even better if it’s one with a visually pleasing aesthetic that communicates everything it needs to. Too many RPGs these days find themselves buried under menus and woefully implemented combat mechanics, or repetitive dungeon-diving. Battle Chasers: Nightwar feels like the rare RPG to sidestep all the bluster and bulk for something entertaining and at least mildly fresh. Based on the original Battle Chasers comic by Joe Madureira (also known for his work on Uncanny X-Men) and developed by Airship Syndicate (comprised of former Darksiders developers), RPG fans of any stripe should get a kick out of this action-packed world. I got a hands-off demo of Battle Chasers at E3 2017, where the developer took time to show off the world and combat systems. Taking place an undetermined amount of time after the original Battle Chasers comic left off on a cliffhanger, players can create a team of three (from a total of six optional characters) to do battle with vicious creatures and loot randomly generated dungeons. There’s Garrison, a swordsman with a tragic past, Gully, a nine-year-old girl who inherited a pair of massive, magical boxing gloves after her father disappeared, Calibretto, the iron giant war golem with a heart of gold, and more. The first thing players might notice is that despite Battle Chasers decidedly JRPG-esque nature, it’s characters play off of old tropes for inventive combat and character building. Instead of the lumbering, mechanical Calibretto acting as the team’s tank, it’s Gully’s magic gloves that provide the massive damage, and Calibretto’s intrinsic ties to nature that provide healing spells. Though each dungeon will be randomly generated, players will have to strategize before ever stepping foot into one. Each dungeon has different difficulties to choose from, modifying the number of enemies, traps, and the layout you’ll find, but also affecting the size of its reward. Once inside, players navigate an isometric layout filled with beastmen, animated skeleton warriors, and worse. Players can give themselves an advantage by luring enemies into the dungeon’s ancient traps before battle, shaving off a few key health points. Once in battle, characters take turns dealing damage or casting spells, with a queue on the left hand side telling you who will go during the next several turns, all based on stats like speed and initiative. Characters share a single “overcharge” gauge that essentially acts as magic fuel for special attacks. This gauge can be accrued over time, and each character has three separate levels of overcharge attacks so you might want to save it for a boss or particularly rough group of enemies. Garrison can unleash a devastating series of sword strikes on a single enemy, for example, while Calibretto is focused on damaging multiple enemies with his massive chaingun arm. Each character will have unique abilities they can use only a set number of times to solve puzzles or advance deeper into a dungeon, such as Garrison’s dash move or Gully’s punch, which allows her to knock down walls hiding secret areas. Every step taken begins to feel like a measured one, weighed against risk versus reward dilemmas. Players can locate treasure chests with rare loot inside, or opt to teleport it deeper into the dungeon. You’ll have to find it again, and the loot will be twice as beneficial, but you’ll lose it if you die before reaching it. Rare gear can also only be crafted within certain dungeons, giving players another incentive to take a deep dive. Amidst all of this, Battle Chasers possesses a striking art style, and not just thanks to Madureira’s illustrations. Even as they’re awaiting their turn in battle, characters bob and weave with an animated feel that helps bring them to life in a way few RPGs of either hemisphere achieve. This is especially apparent during attacks, when the weight of each character can be felt in their motion. Calibretto, the hulking mass that he is, barrels down on enemies with a decimating right hook, smoke billowing behind his trail, and enemies bouncing back with appropriate force. Even enemies get in on the action, with monsters similar to Dark Souls’ mimics (beasts that impersonate treasure chests for a sneaky bite attack) lashing out their engorged tongues with wicked style. It’s unclear how closely Battle Chasers will stick to the original comic series’ lore. Developers at Airship Syndicate say the plot will follow the party’s adventures in a world being sucked dry of its mana. After being shot down from the sky by pirates, the group will have to adventure across a massive island, finding themselves roped into a war against an evil vampire lord bent on conquering the world. Battle Chasers certainly isn’t shying away from the cheese of its inspirations. Battle Chasers: Nightwar is due out October 3 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Mac, and the Nintendo Switch for $29.99. A Steam sale currently has the game listed at $26.99, though it’s unclear how long that will last.
  25. E3 is the land of the giants. Every year the titans of the industry gather in the same space to showcase their upcoming big budget releases. While the spotlight might be on the giants, indie games have also built their own community around the event. Areas like IndieCade or the Devolver Indie Picnic give the press and the public a chance to look at the latest games. Minneapolis developers Space Mace seized their opportunity to showcase their upcoming game Joggernauts as a part of MIX LA. We spoke with Zach Johnson, Tommy Sunders and Robert Frost about what it was like being an indie game at E3, the indie presence, the crowds and what’s next for Joggernauts. Can you describe Joggernauts? Zach Johnson: We say Joggernauts is a cooperative switching game about trying not to kill your friends. It kind of plays like a platformer, but you have to change places with each other as you're a team running through these alien worlds. There are color-coded puzzles, and you and your friends need to work out who needs to be in front for each color as you're running through these levels together. So it's a multiplayer auto runner and it's completely cooperative. We've taken out all of the competitive elements so you're always on the same team fighting against the game together. What are all of your roles in developing the game? Rob Frost: I do music, sound design and manage the community building. Tommy Sunders: I do all the art and graphic stuff and then Zach and I work on the design of the game together. Johnson: I do programming, and like Tommy said, we do game design together. Is this your first game as a team? Johnson: For the three of us together, this is our first (game). Our studio is called Space Mace and it’s the first for our studio, but we've all worked on games before this separately. In what stage of development is Joggernauts? ` Johnson: We're doing limited private early access through Itch.io and our target date for release is Spring 2018. We're in a phase where we need to do more content production like the gameplay, aesthetics, music and other stuff. All the direction for that is really high polish, but we need a bigger game. What was the process like getting to E3? Johnson: We applied to MIX LA and got invited to show our game. That was an awesome opportunity. It's a really neat thing that they have going there because they invite a wide range of games, like stuff that's very high profile and stuff that's up and coming and then there are tons of journalists there so you feel like you really get to meet people. Then we got some badges to come out on the expo floor and check out some stuff, so it's been fun. What was the event like? Sunders: It wasn't the craziest demo we've ever done. It's like a big party game and sort of draws its own crowd. It's four people playing, they start yelling, and then more people come around because there are people yelling and everyone starts to gather because people are gathering and trying to figure out what's going on. Johnson: I think we got lucky because the indie dev to the right of us didn't show up and we had a double wide booth - which we really needed because we had a huge crowd. What type of feedback did you get at MIX LA? Johnson: We got a lot of people who loved it and wanted to buy it and wanted to know what systems it was going to come out on so they would know if they could have it or not. Some of the other devs had some really cool ideas for small tweaks that we hadn't heard before. I mean we've been showing publicly for like three years and we actually got some new feedback that we've never heard that was really original thinking. It’s always fun to be amongst game developers who are thinking at that high level and can give you good feedback. Did you get to explore at all and see the other games? Johnson: I got to play Runner 3 and Joggernauts was actually inspired by me and my best friend drunkenly playing Bit.Trip Runner 1. We were like, "Okay, this is fun, but we have to keep passing the controller back and forth because it's a single player game." So how could you do a game like this, but multiplayer? And that's where the taking turns switching to the front of the group mechanic came from. Runner 3 was there, and I think it was their first public showing. So I got to play that which was awesome and meet one of the devs on that. I got to play Nidhogg 2 with one the creators. We tried to take turns roaming and making sure to eat and drink water and playing games with people and trying to grab journalists and pull them in to talk to us. What is it like coming from Minneapolis to E3? Johnson: We've been to IndieCade and GDC. We've been traveling a lot with the game. Sunders: We've actually even been to Berlin. Johnson: When everyone comes together from around the world to one place, the networking opportunities and access to resources and press is tremendous and we feel a little bit isolated from the press in particular in the Midwest. Sunders: The majority of the games industry's on the West Coast, and we're in flyover country. What do you think of the indie presence at E3? Frost: [IndieCade,] that's where we felt most at home. Sunders: We've been hanging out there because we know a number of the devs on those teams. There's the massive lines, or we could go stand and hang out with our friends. It's awesome that they have something like IndieCade in there, but at the end of the day, E3's not about indie games. Do you think that presence is building? Sunders: I've heard nothing but great things about indie games at PAX. People are there to see everything else that's not Sony and Xbox and Nintendo. We have yet to go to a PAX, but everybody's like, "No, no, [E3] is for the giant corporations, PAX is everybody else." Johnson: I like that there's an IndieCade booth and I like that some of the bigger booths have indie games. Devolver's got a presence here, the MIX was here. So there are these kinds of places to go and see indie games and play them and meet people doing indie stuff. I'd love to see more of that obviously as and Indie, those games are my jam. Why is an indie presence so important at a huge event like E3? Frost: A lot of the time indies have ideas that the big guys don't really take a chance on. I think a lot of times indies test the bar. More of that would be really nice to see an event like this. What do you think about E3 being open to the public? Frost: We've never seen it before to really judge it, but it is packed. Johnson: So many people. Frost: It's just uncomfortable really. Sunders: It seems like the industry people know better and they're just avoiding the floor as much as possible. Johnson: It’s nice to bump into fans and see people excited. I think the most interesting thing about it being open is that you see a lot of streamers and non-credentialed journalists who are actually doing really cool work and have like pro equipment. Like you see their regular badge like they're just here for fun but then they've got pro video stuff and they're doing like live streaming off of the show floor. That's kind of neat. You're getting voices that maybe hadn't gotten out there before. Would you come back to E3? Johnson: I would show a game here just because it's packed so you're going to get a lot of exposure. but it would be exhausting. I would like to set our schedules so we all would have some good breaks. Seeing a crowd this size, I really feel for the people at the IndieCade booth who are a small team of one or two who have three days of standing on the E3 show floor just seems so exhausting. I mean it's clearly a powerful opportunity. Everybody's here. It's like a central meeting time for the industry. What is next for Joggernauts? Johnson: We're actively doing a lot of business stuff right now and trying to sort out stuff on the publishing side. We really want to get out Spring 2018 and we could go faster if we could all be full time. We've been a part time like the indie story for like two and a half years. If we could go full time we could focus on the content production stuff and wrap the game up. We're talking to all the major consoles and did make a deal on one of them that we're not ready to announce yet. Things have been going well so we just kind of like want to go faster and get the game out. We're looking to PAX West as the next big opportunity to show the game. We're hoping that by PAX, ideally, we're going to be showing a much more visually polished build with a lot more going on and some new levels. I really want to introduce a new special PAX character, a new Joggernaut. Joggernauts is set to release in Spring of 2018. Keep track of it and Space Mace on Twitter or Itch.io. View full article
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