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amiibo PSA photo
amiibo PSA

[Update] Amazon-exclusive Chibi-Robo amiibo on sale in 15 minutes

Pray for Mojo
Nov 19
// Steven Hansen
[Update: Just 15 minutes until little Chibi Robo's up for sale.] Two hours is enough time to steal and recycle enough copper to buy the latest Nintendo doll going up for purchase, right? The stand-alone version of the Ch...
Japan Warriors poll photo
Japan Warriors poll

Persona or SMT Warriors? Atlus says 'get in touch with us anytime'

Or Final Fantasy Warriors?
Nov 19
// Steven Hansen
A recent Famitsu poll asked fans what Koei Tecmo Warriors (or Musou) crossover they'd most want to see and Gematsu has the Sokuho@Hokanko translation of the results, as well as responses by those series' respective creators o...
Panty lines photo
Panty lines

Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 gets rope tug and buoy hopping

And tan line tech
Nov 19
// Steven Hansen
It's not just volleyball, clapping titties, and virtual reality you're getting with Dead or Alive Xtreme 3. No, no, no. As shown off in this new video, there's also tug-of-war and pool crossing minigames. The latter would be...
Blops Easter egg photo
Blops Easter egg

Call of Duty: Black Ops III Easter egg channels...Silent Hill?

Spooky scary mannequins
Nov 19
// Steven Hansen
People are saying Doctor Whom and that's fine, that's fine -- "Angels," innit, governor? -- but it still reads Silent Hill to me because they're like mannequins (by way of I, Robot), even if Super Mario Boos might be closer....
Watch this wild business photo
Watch this wild business

I watched a Korean musical about an MMO and so can you

Including: the devil, modern day rap
Nov 19
// Steven Hansen
As a prelude to the Blade & Soul World Championship, NC Soft put together a Blade & Soul musical. I suppose it wasn't technically about an MMO since it was the Blade & Soul story, but I'm really not sure about an...
MMO PvP photo

Blade & Soul opens $35,000 world championship to the West

Open to an Evo appearance, too
Nov 19
// Steven Hansen
As announced earlier, Blade & Soul has a firm January 19, 2016 release date for North America and Europe, several years after being promised for release in those territories. Well, NC Soft wants to make it up to you. To s...
Imperial SaGa photo
Imperial SaGa

Sad new PC SaGa videos let you relive the old art

Imperial SaGa nods to series' past
Nov 19
// Steven Hansen
For the 25th anniversary of SaGa, Square announced a new entry for Vita, SaGa 2015. With it, there's Imperial SaGa, a free-to-play PC RPG executive produced by SaGa creator Akitoshi Kawazu and featuring a few other key SaGa ...
Whatever photo

...Whatever: Squall fights in Dissidia Final Fantasy, I guess

Nov 19
// Steven Hansen
Dengeki has straight gameplay, too. The Koei Tecmo-made Dissidia Final Fantasy is chilling arcades in Japan for a while, but could come to PS4 at some point.
Valkyria PS4 details photo
Valkyria PS4 details

Valkyria: Azure Revolution, Valkyria Chronicles Remaster get websites

Plus box art
Nov 19
// Steven Hansen
Two days ago an announcement, yesterday the first screens, and today...web pages. Well, yes, things do get less exciting after their initial release. Gotta slow the pace down to be able to blow you out of the water with the n...

Korean action MMO Blade & Soul a right step for the genre, coming West on January 19

Nov 19 // Steven Hansen
The newest class, Qi Master, was recently announced. It's a Kung Fu Master and Force Master hybrid. [embed]321525:61178:0[/embed] I got time to mess with Blade & Soul recently at NC Soft's autumnal headquarters (possibly my first actual fall, being from San Francisco) and spent a not insignificant amount of time in the not-quite-Black-Desert character creator to create a buxom Kung Fu Master with beautiful hair. The boobs even jiggle in the character creator screen. I named her bushdidnineeleven because the numbers prohibited 420noscope69 and I am nothing if not an embarrassment. I went with Kung Fu Master, though, because of the challenge that was announcing it as the toughest class to use, most reliant on timing and player input. And indeed, once I got to that point, figuring out enemy attack wind-ups and using the counter skill felt pretty damn good rather than letting early chump MMO fodder even get off their potshots. Plus, the Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon influence is obvious in the running and fly/gliding animations (development head Moonyoung Choi cited it specifically when asked about influences, along with a long list of games including Street Fighter and Soul Calibur). And while Blade & Soul does encourage more activity than your typical click click click, it falls into feeling like just another MMO, at least in the early game. While I moving fleet of foot with WASD and beginning encounters with a floating jump kick, it was mostly for my own amusement, as I spent hours (somewhat quickly, but always very casually) leveling up near 20. I can see the twitch reflexes being more useful in hard raids or, obviously, PvP, but this isn't a huge genre shakeup when all's said and done. Just a pretty, high-budget version of the last decade with one twist in the right direction, which will undoubtedly be enough for some, especially with it being free to play anyways.
Blade & Soul launch photo
After three years
It's been a long time coming. Hugely popular Korean MMO Blade & Soul was confirmed for Western release over three years ago and it's finally happening. It went into beta last month and some beta weekends remain: November...

Black Friday comes early photo
Black Friday comes early

Cheap Black Friday games start this Friday on Amazon

Nov 18
// Steven Hansen
Not content with one blackened day in the week, Amazon has an entire "Black Friday deals week." In fact, right now, there are deals leading up to the "Black Friday deals week." They got deals on deals on deals on deals. And y...
Just Cause 4K photo
Just Cause 4K

See Just Cause 3 running on max settings in 4K

You know who else had the initials JC?
Nov 18
// Steven Hansen
After the whole usual pre-release kerfuffle and grumbling about Just Cause 3 running at 1080p on PS4 and 900p on Xbox One, here is some dedicated space for PC players to boast about how much extra P they're getting. PC playe...
Valkyria shots photo
Valkyria shots

First shots of Valkyria: Azure Revolution and the PS4 remaster

New Valkyria series game coming to PS4
Nov 18
// Steven Hansen
I don't know if it was the Valkyria Chronicles Steam release success or Sega just doing its regular couple years of apologizing with good releases before falling into a funk again, but there is a new, anime-as-hell Valkyria C...
Rayman Adventures photo
Rayman Adventures

Next month's Rayman looks great, I'll probably never play it

Coming December 3 to little fanfare
Nov 18
// Steven Hansen
People have said nothing but good things about Rayman Jungle Run and the third mobile Rayman game using the same assets (after Fiesta Run), Rayman Adventures, looks great. And while Jungle Run was limited as an endless runne...
SMT IV: Final photo
SMT IV: Final

Shin Megami Tensei IV: Final gets original SMT IV cast

Including one party member
Nov 17
// Steven Hansen
Atlus is embracing confusing naming conventions with the upcoming Shin Megami Tensei IV: Final, which Atlus has billed as not a direct sequel to SMTIV (you don't have to have played it to play Final) when we last wrote about...
Baby bombs photo
Baby bombs

Turn your baby into a bomb in Fallout 4

Well, all of your babies
Nov 17
// Steven Hansen
As someone who just wants his kids back, I associate with the plight of Fallout 4's player character. As someone who doesn't want to work too hard at it, I admire the ingenuity of Fallout 4 modder Trainwiz and their Atom Bom...
Puzzle & Dragons X photo
Puzzle & Dragons X

X comes after Z as far as new Puzzle & Dragons is concerned

Puzzle & Dragons X coming to 3DS
Nov 17
// Steven Hansen
Puzzle & Dragons X is confirmed for a 2016 3DS release in Japan. The money-printing series' (50 million downloads as of a couple months ago) next dedicated console entry is a follow up to Puzzle & Dragons Z, which was...
Giger? I hardly even know photo
Giger? I hardly even know

Fallout 4 has the smallest Alien Easter egg

And it's not an Alien
Nov 17
// Steven Hansen
First, let me clear something up that also confused the shit out of me. Prometheus 2 is no longer called Alien: Paradise Lost, but instead Alien: Covenant and is coming in 2017 (as the second chapter in a prequel trilogy). Me...
Raiden costume photo
Raiden costume

Raiden joins Metal Gear Solid V as the Skulls come home to roost

Raiden suit costume
Nov 17
// Steven Hansen
The Gray Fox outfit in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is pretty dope, though it's a challenge to get me out of my sexy Black Ocelot. But maybe for FOB missions, wherein I will sacrifice style for results. A recent Fami...

Is Rise of the Tomb Raider the best Uncharted?

Nov 11 // Steven Hansen
Now, though, Lara's come out ahead. It was a mild challenge during the Rise of the Tomb Raider review to not compare it to Nathan Drake's adventures. The things that excited me about Uncharted 4, that differentiated it from its stale third entry, a lot of those have -- at least superficially -- been done by Rise of the Tomb Raider. The contextual stealth bushes (as seen in the upcoming Horizon Zero Dawn, too), the grappling hook. Uncharted has always had stealth and its grappling hook might prove more meaningful than Rise's I-can-jump-further-now tool, but those things might not feel like meaningful additions with two games from a direct competitor now released since the last Uncharted five years ago. Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception was less than well-received for bringing little new to the table, instead offering a disjointed series of set-pieces that could have been strung together by throwing darts at a board. Rise of the Tomb Raider threads its hub worlds and set-piece sections -- a derelict Soviet gulag built vertically into the side of a mountain -- together much more organically. It also basically mushes Uncharted 2 and Uncharted 3's antagonists into one game (spoilers in this paragraph). Konstantin is a Burberry-clad Lazarević, just as driven and merciless -- a common trope of a character -- and even serves as Rise's final boss fight in full tactical gear, not unlike in Uncharted 2. Here, though, it's a stealth affair with Konstantin disarming Lara, who must sneak around the ruined arena and stab him a few times. Meanwhile, equally posh Ana, the character really running things, has shades of Katherine Marlowe. Superficial, maybe. Maybe it stands out because of the general rarity of older-aged British women as villains. Rise of the Tomb Raider also handles the requisite third act turn to the supernatural better than any Uncharted since the first, which became a creepy, horror-tinged affair to smartly contrast all the lush jungle violence. In Rise, it means expansion to the visual palette with all the blue flames and orange embers (shortly after introducing the new class of regular enemy with the lens flare-ish flashlights and dot sights -- a good look). The enemies' melee focus makes sense and moves the third act away from strict cover shooting, which is welcomed for its variety but also because the cover shooting is probably Tomb Raider's weakest part. Then there's Rise's position as one of the prettiest games of the year, an Uncharted staple. It isn't just the technology or graphical fidelity, but a new focus on using color, lighting, and other visual cues to set the mood. It is colorful without Uncharted's more cartoonishness. Had Uncharted 4 made its holiday 2015 release, it mainly would've been up against itself, or its past self. Being better than Uncharted 3 would've been enough for a lot of people. Rise of the Tomb Raider raises the standards though, by iterating in a lot of areas where Uncharted excels. The former is still bogged down by bloat (crafting and skill trees and static menu audio logs and so on) and a go-nowhere story that was more than tired by the time Uncharted got to it (protagonists want thing, antagonists also want thing), but it nails movie-like visual direction (down to the color grading) and exhilarating platforming.
Rise of expectations photo
Standards up five years post Uncharted 3
Both Crystal Dynamics and Microsoft lucked out that the tumult behind Uncharted 4: A Thief's End's development shift and scrapped work pushed Naughty Dog's adventure into 2016. It gives Microsoft the best exclusive holiday...

Itagaki photo

Buy tickets to see Dead or Alive's Itagaki in court

Devil's Third trademark infringement
Nov 11
// Steven Hansen
I say "Dead or Alive's Itagaki" because perhaps you forgot about the brash Team Ninja head. You wouldn't be at fault. Since leaving Team Ninja in 2008 all he's managed to put out is Devil's Third, an incredibly poorly receive...
Blops makes bank photo
Blops makes bank

Call of Duty: Black Ops III biggest launch of 2015 at $550 million

Until Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Nov 11
// Steven Hansen
Call of Duty: Black Ops III made a lot of money in three days. And while that's not surprising, it is notable, given that the series sales had been in a bit of a decline with Ghosts and Advance Wars: Days of Ruin. I guess the...
Rodea photo

Sonic creator asks you play Wii version of his new Wii U, 3DS game

Listen to it on vinyl
Nov 11
// Steven Hansen
Rodea: The Sky Soldier went through a heck of a development cycle and somehow came out the other side but not unscathed. Chris gave it a good score, though he noted, "the game's tumultuous development process bleeds through t...

Review: Rise of the Tomb Raider

Nov 09 // Steven Hansen
Rise of the Tomb Raider (Xbox One [reviewed], Xbox 360, PC, PS4)Developer: Crystal Dynamics (Xbox One), Nixxes Software (Xbox 360)Publisher: Microsoft (Xbox One, 360); Square Enix (PC, PS4)MSRP: $59.99Released: November 10, 2015 (Xbox One, Xbox 360); Q1 2016 (PC); Q4 2016 (PS4) Having previously glimpsed the supernatural, Rise of the Tomb Raider's Lara is open to the wild theories of ancient immortality that consumed her father. A brief trip into Syria introduces the new enemy, a highly-funded, obviously evil group called Trinity led by Konstantin, a religious zealot and less comic book version of Uncharted 2's Lazarević. Lara then tries to beat the stonejaw-led shadowy entity to the Siberian wilderness, where most of the game takes place. The first thing I noticed in Syria was its rich orange sands, a strong contrast to the last Tomb Raider's much more muted palette. Then it was Lara's powerful blue glow stick as she began navigating tombs, providing the same orange/cyan look you find in most Hollywood movie color grading. Naturally, when Lara goes to off to Russia and the blue-white snow and ice, she's suddenly packing orange glow sticks. It's not a bad thing, though. Rise of the Tomb Raider is not shy about using unrealistic lighting to set a mood and it works, like when the blizzarding night sky is illuminated with an eerie deep red light thanks to Trinity flares. It's one of the best-looking games this year, but it also goes beyond stylish at times and helps set the mood. Coupled with a camera that occasionally, but never annoyingly, takes control from you to frame the next impressive mountain establishment or some such thing you have to climb. [embed]319740:61038:0[/embed] The combination of framing, use of color, and lighting are welcomed Hollywood cribbing. Most of the additions since the last entry are welcomed, too. The stealth options make more sense in a supposedly serious game hellbent on showing the brutality Lara deals with (gruesome death close-ups are still plentiful), rather than the more discordant Lara-as-Terminator that doesn't jive with the story being told. That said, you can still mostly do that. Even when the game hinted I could stealth through an environment, unless I saw an obvious path, it was easy to loose bows from afar into enemies' heads. Rise also touted the tombs pre-release, which are peppered throughout the world. They're probably the highlight. I think Tomb Raider is a better platformer than shooter and working out these beautiful, often complex environmental puzzles had me yearning for a more ICO-like distribution of puzzle/platforming versus murder. The stealth, too, kind of hints at a game that could've made death and killing meaningful in line with the narrative, but instead we're left with a refinement of the Uncharted series sans one-liners.  Except for the bloat, which kind of flies in the face of the snappy movie cues and Uncharted's beats. Rise borrows slightly from the Legend of Zelda formula in that there are distinct areas ("hubs") organically woven together, but requiring back-tracking with new gear and items. It's a very game-y conceit. In the cinematics I asked why Lara hadn't a camera (or even a cell phone) to prove (evidence!) the things her father died over, but she didn't even slip an iPhone out of her pocket. At the same, coming across a rope and being told I can't cut it until I find a knife, well, why the hell does Lara not have a knife? People who like busywork will probably appreciate the hub areas replete with open-world style challenges (burn all 10 communist propaganda posters, cut down all the snared rabbits, etc.), but it kind of grated on me. I didn't open the map until a few hours in and I immediately wanted to slam it shut after seeing the Assassin's Creed-style unreadable mess of icons. And while these tasks often yield rewards, including XP, it just feels to unnecessary. Which is kind of true, given that I got through the game fine without doing anything but the most convenient extras, and didn't find a +2 damage Polished Barrel to affect my capacity to kill folks all that much. So why's any of it there at all? Rise has a very pressing, dire narrative, and is a joy when you're moving around and exploring the gorgeous environments. Constant IU flashes (10XP!!!) only serve as an intrusion and gum up the works. Having to pause the game and look at a static menu screen to hear picked-up audio logs (already a bit of a lazy, all too convenient way to shove more story into your game) kills momentum, tension, excitement. You just have to stare at a render of a tape recorder if you want to know why the big bad bleeds from his hands. The story handles the necessary, telegraphed third act turn to the supernatural well, but generally suffers from a glossing over. The Burberry-clade arm of Trinity trying to beat Lara to the punch are well-acted, but pretty one-dimensional (even with everything wrapped up in explanatory audio logs). An entire society isolated in the Siberian wilderness speaks perfect English. It's perfunctory Hollywood boilerplate, down to the set up for the sequel, but competently done. Worth noting: I ran into an odd problem late in the game where enemies would disappear. First right before me when I was swinging an ice axe at them as if Lara did so with enough force to banish them from this plane of existence, but then sometimes they'd vanish completely on their own. Once this locked me in a room because whatever needed to trigger to open the door couldn't and I had to restart (not losing much progress), while it also happened during the game's final boss fight, which was anticlimactic. The loss of XP from these tactical Houdinis might impact games on harder difficulty settings where the leveling and crafting system could prove more necessary, though on normal I got to a point where I didn't even care to spend my skill points. That excess is a problem shared with the last Tomb Raider, which bills itself (and thematically tries to be) a survivalist game, but simply isn't. It's a bit goofy ruining the beautiful colors of the world by constantly jamming down the "survival instincts" button to light up objects of interest and clambering around to strip trees of their boughs. Eventually I stopped going out of my way to pick up trash, yet I still always had ammo and arrows. Crafting, skill trees, open-world-style quests: it just feels like bloat. Busy work. And it isn't consistent with the story. Moving around, on the other hand, is sublime. It is odd, though. There's an animation for when Lara is pushed up against a short, maybe knee-high lip; pressing the jump button has her labor up it a bit. Yet if you push the jump button otherwise, she will leap clean four feet into the air like a cat. That amusing inconsistency aside, Lara's movement animations are all so fluid and impressive. If she barely makes a jump, she can slip and fall if you don't press a button. But rather than her needing to get a grip be a recurring quick-time event, it organically happens every time you barely snag a ledge. This means you can tell if that prompt is about to come up and can preemptively push it, and Lara will secure her grip and you can continue about fluidly climbing around. It's a good bit of adding interaction to the platforming without having to pre-plan bits of structure that will start to crumble when you grab them. Rise of the Tomb Raider is better than its predecessor, but only because of its additions; it doesn't fix any of the things that were wrong with Tomb Raider (2013). The story is smoothed down, much of it hidden away in dull audio logs. It's not about "survival" as billed, given the ease of mowing down dozens of folks and plenty of resources. But finding tombs wherein to clamber about ancient Rube Goldberg machines, coupled with the gorgeous visual flair and diverse environments, make Rise's wilderness one worth exploring and elevate Tomb Raider's otherwise perfunctory take on the third-person action platformer. I still get a strong sinking feeling in my stomach when I've misjudged a jump and watch Lara careening towards a splat. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Tomb Raider review photo
Get to know 'er
I sometimes forget that Raiders of the Lost Ark came out in 1981. Its breezy pulp adventure quality carries only obvious signifiers of its era (like, Nazis), and the repetition of these tropes act as enough hand waving to the...

Contingency Plan photo
Contingency Plan

Invisible, Inc. gets new agents and more in next week's expansion

One of the best games of the year
Nov 05
// Steven Hansen
Six months after its release, one of my favorite games of 2015 (and also 2014) is getting its first expansion. Contingency Plan is heading to Invisible, Inc. (PC, Mac, Linux) next week on November 12. Contingency Plan offers,...
HAWP photo

Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin' gets a lil weird this week...and a lil furry

Nov 05
// Steven Hansen
Pretty fun new Hey Ash, Watcha Playin' this week with a Banjoe-Kazooie twist. And way more nudity and animalistic sexuality and bloody eggholes. Plus funny voices! I want a gritty, AAA release, like a Witcher 3 or whatever, ...
Star Wars: First Assault photo
Star Wars: First Assault

See the Star Wars game that was cancelled before EA got the rights

Star Wars: First Assault
Nov 05
// Steven Hansen
There's Star Wars: Battlefront III. There's Star Wars 1313. There's even that Darth Maul game. But no one mourns Star Wars: First Assault. According to the YouTube description, "This was a tech beta ran on Xbox Live a while ...
Hyrule Warriors Legends photo
Hyrule Warriors Legends

Watch Tetra kick ass in Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Warriors 3DS

Hyrule Warriors Legends
Nov 05
// Steven Hansen
Pulling a reverse Smash Bros., Hyrule Warriors launched on the Wii U last year and is getting an updated version on 3DS, Hyrule Warrios Legends, sometime next year. It's January 21 in Japan, first quarter 2016 for America an...
Target sale photo
Target sale

Target 'Buy 2, Get 1' free sale returns in time for Fallout 4

Biggest holiday games for cheap (er)
Nov 05
// Steven Hansen
Starting Sunday November 8 and going through November 14, most video games sold by Target (online, too) are buy two, get one free. Of course you will get the cheapest of the three for free, but you can cheat the system* by bu...
One free Syndicate DLC photo
One free Syndicate DLC

Why the hell are Assassin's Creed Syndicate's goofy steampunk costumes 1GB?

Large, bad DLC (but free!)
Nov 05
// Steven Hansen
God, of course it was coming. Fucking steampunk. It will never be cool or good, you're exactly like that shitty we-live-a-Victorian-lifestyle couple that everyone made fun of for their shitty thinkpiece about how great life i...

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