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Pac-Man Funko photo
Pac-Man Funko

These Funko Pac-Man figures are distressing


Pinky and Clyde look faded
Jan 26
// Nic Rowen
The hell is up with Ms. Pac-man here? Why is Pac-Man all square? These Funko figures of the classic pill popping arcade icons are up to their knees in the uncanny valley and I don't appreciate it one bit. Personally, I've nev...
Dying Light Nightmare photo
Dying Light Nightmare

Dying Light's Nightmare mode looks like a treat


When the apocalypse isn't bad enough
Jan 26
// Nic Rowen
No Easter egg weapons, longer nights, tougher zombies, and less survivor's sense. Sound like fun? No? Well, I guess that is kind of the point of Dying Light's Nightmare mode, part of the upcoming Enhanced Edition DLC. Don't w...

Do you care about the story in fighting games?

Jan 26 // Nic Rowen
Personally, I'm of two minds on the idea. I enjoyed MKX and Injustice's story modes (cheesy as both of them got on occasion) and I think some of the character representations in those storylines probably influenced my decision of who to main. Those single-player stories made me look at the characters differently, got me legitimately interested in the worlds of the game (I actually bought the first volume of the Injustice comic series), and gave me something to hold on to when the online matchmaking was broken on PC (yes, I'm still salty). On the other hand, I've played hundreds upon hundreds of hours of SF Alpha 3 and MvC without every giving a single solitary thought about the story. If you asked me what the key plot points of Alpha 3 were, all I could tell you is that Zangief pile drives Honda into M. Bison's world domination machine because that is almost all I can remember. When you put it like that, it seems like the cost and effort of putting a story in a fighting game is completely optional if the core fighting is good enough to stand on its own. What do you think? Are stories important in fighting games?
Fighting game stories photo
Talk, talk, punch, punch
As Steven reported yesterday, Yoshinori Ono and the team at Capcom are taking the story mode of Street Fighter V seriously. Sure, they'll have the usual arcade mode intro/wrap-up for every character like Street Fighter has ha...

FNaF World pulled photo
FNaF World pulled

FNaF World pulled from Steam, refunds being made available for all


Full game will be free on GameJolt
Jan 25
// Nic Rowen
Following last Friday's apology that he rushed to publish FnaF World too early, creator Scott Cawthon has pulled the game from Steam. Unhappy with the quality of the title (despite positive fan reception), Cawthon is currentl...
MKX Cyber Sub-Zero photo
MKX Cyber Sub-Zero

Cyber Sub-Zero sneaks into MKX as Triborg's fourth variation


Triborg looking cool
Jan 25
// Nic Rowen
I never understood the popularity of Mortal Kombat's cyber-ninjas. I mean, you'd think if anyone could appreciate a pack of robots in a fighting game it would be me, but Cyrax, Sektor and the rest of the metal gang always see...
Dankest Dungeon photo
Dankest Dungeon

Want to hear the narrator for Darkest Dungeon say 'Dankest Dungeon?'


I do, but I'm a child
Jan 24
// Nic Rowen
I've been playing a lot of Darkest Dungeon, and it's been a tense experience. It's a merciless game about horror, stress, and the frailty of humanity. A great deal of the grim tone is established by the grave intonations of i...
SFV GAME tournament photo
SFV GAME tournament

GAME SFV tournament is making players qualify against CPU opponents


A single-player tournament?
Jan 23
// Nic Rowen
UK retail chain GAME is holding a Street Fighter V tournament beginning on January 26 across more than 300 stores. The elimination series will eventually winnow players down to a final set of matches competing at Insomnia for...
David Gaider photo
David Gaider

Writer David Gaider leaves BioWare


Thanks for HK-47
Jan 22
// Nic Rowen
David Gaider, the brain behind some of BioWare's best characters, has left the company after 17 years. The announcement was made on his own Twitter earlier today. Gaider has worked on several BioWare games since 1999 includ...
Canned Saint's Row game photo
Canned Saint's Row game

Volition shows off canceled Saint's Row game


Please be 'Johnny Gat: Originz Reloaded'
Jan 22
// Nic Rowen
The games industry is a rough one, its expensive, fast, and merciless. There are no shortage of games that are quietly killed in their sleep mid-development never to be seen again. However, Volition has made the somewhat mave...
SFV consoles photo
SFV consoles

Japan is getting some amazing SFV limited edition PS4 consoles


Europe is getting a bland bundle
Jan 22
// Nic Rowen
The Japanese PlayStation blog has revealed four (!) different Limited Edition Street Fighter V consoles, each bearing a different design. These striking black or white consoles feature artwork of Chun-Li and Laura, Ryu and Ne...
FNaF World release photo
FNaF World release

Surprise? FNaF World is out early


Get your Fred on
Jan 21
// Nic Rowen
A week ago Jordan reported that FNaF World would be out on February 19th but it wouldn't be a Five Nights at Freddy's game without a sudden, “surprising” release date now would it? FnaF World in all its weird, cut...

Review: Rebel Galaxy

Jan 20 // Nic Rowen
Rebel Galaxy (PC, PS4 [reviewed])Developer: Double Damage GamesPublisher: Double Damage GamesReleased: October 20, 2015 (PC), January 5, 2016 (PS4)MSRP: $19.99 Rebel Galaxy puts you in the boots of a space-faring renegade just looking to make a buck at the edge of the known universe. I mean, yes, you're estranged aunt mysteriously gifted you her old ship which was weird, and she also left you in possession of an alien artifact which, wouldn't you know it, happens to house an ancient A.I (don't they all) and you should probably look into that at some point -- but you also have to stack that paper! The main plot can be safely tackled at your leisure while you put time into building your personal net worth and outfitting the ship of your dreams. How you do that is up to you. As a kind of spiritual successor to Freelancer, Rebel Galaxy allows you to make your way through life on the rim anyway you like. As long as it involves shooting people. At every space station there is a mission board brimming with contracts from the various factions in the game. You can run drugs for a criminal cartel, bust up a pirate siege for the militia, provide some armed backup for the merchant guild, or pick up shady dead-drops for a cloak-and-dagger agency. Of course, let's not forget the most classic of all fictional space-faring economies: the glamorous world of asteroid mining. While there is plenty of outward variety in contract types, almost all of them will result in an inevitable shootout. Even the mining. Especially the mining. This is my ore and you can't have any of it. *pew pew* Thankfully, the space combat on tap is pretty damn cool. As I mentioned earlier, your ship in Rebel Galaxy performs more like a boat than a spaceship, locked on a single two-dimensional plane that you can steer around on left and right, but not up and down. Other capital ships are locked to the same plane, making standoffs with them feel like large naval battles (your most powerful weapons are actually broadside cannons, hammering home the effect). Meanwhile, smaller ships -- such as enemy fighters and your hired wingman -- zip around in a fully 3D space. They'll be coiling and wrapping around your larger vessel as you try to train your various mounted turrets on them, worry about the exposed shielding on your portside, and prepare to deflect an incoming volley of torpedoes. The battles become frantic, glorious displays. When you aren't manually aiming weapons yourself, the shipboard A.I will take over the unoccupied ones, making your ship a floating little ball of hell that is constantly spewing fire in all directions during a brawl. When you finally get a decent vessel that can mount a variety of laser turrets, homing missiles, and a full rack of broadsides, the spectacle of lights, colors, and exploding ships can be downright jaw-dropping. Active abilities like deflector shields and manually locking weapons (to make sure you don't just let auto-pilot do all the work) and different equipment set-ups can encourage some downright risky strategies if you like to roll the bones.  [embed]335426:61927:0[/embed] A reputation system governs how much each faction loves/loathes you. Taking a job from one faction pretty much always means screwing someone else over, so it is impossible to make friends with everyone. That said, it also never really came to much in my game. Space pirates hated me, the militia were kinda dickish but not overtly aggressive, and pretty much nobody else cared that I existed. It's a lot of numbers and systems that don't seem to really amount to much -- a theme that is repeated in many of the game's mechanics. Rebel Galaxy is built on a mountain of minutiae that seems important and interesting, and I suppose on an intellectual level it is, but amounts to little. For example, a living economy governs commodity trading at different stations. Not only do stations buy and sell different space tchotchkes and doodads, but the type of government that rules the station, current political situation, and other special events have an effect the market. Conditions like an arms race will bump up the price of salvaged munitions and weapons tech, for example. Where it gets really crazy, however, is that condition also spawns a treaty ship that will eventually make its way to the station to put an end to the arms race. If you'd rather keep hocking guns on a seller's market, you can go out and destroy that ship to prolong the conflict. That's all super cool but also, sadly, pointless. Those situations don't affect the plot or change anything else about the world. They just rearrange the stats on one of several dozen identical stations. While playing the market seems like a neat idea, it is also time consuming and inefficient compared to just going out and blowing stuff up. If I had to describe Rebel Galaxy in one word, it would be "broad," not "deep." There is a ton to do and all kinds of interesting interacting systems, but they only exist as curiosities. For a game that borrows so much from the likes of Firefly and the Millennium Falcons of the world, I was somewhat disappointed that there didn't seem to be any great options to play as a scoundrel, a lawbreaker with a heart of gold. You can take on illegal work and choose hardball dialog options of course, but I wanted to smuggle contraband and slick talk my way out of double-dealings. In Rebel Galaxy, walking the outlaw path has you trafficking space slaves and murdering random traders for their shitty cargo of worthless ceramic plating. It's good guy or Reaver, without a lot of gray in between. Speaking of the Firefly tone, Rebel Galaxy has a very distinct soundtrack of Kid Rock-esque tunes in an effort to capture that same space-western mystique. For the first little while I was really digging the vibe. A "dirty south meets final frontier" kind of thing. But as my time with the game stretched on and I was treated to the same three or four songs about being a "bad man" and sharing a train seat with Satan over and over again, I felt a little part of my soul chip away and drift into the void. The game constantly blares butt-rock at full volume, and every single song sounds almost exactly the same. Imagine being stuck at a NASCAR after-party that never ends and you'll get the picture. The soundtrack isn't the only thing that wears out its welcome. For as much as Rebel Galaxy wants to be a sort of deep-space simulation where you can be and do whomever and whatever you want, it all too quickly blurs together into a mushy pile of "bleh." Every mission is essentially the same, the only difference is the number and strength of the ships you'll be fighting. Every distress call is a fight with pirates (imperiled trader or "unexpected" trap, flip a coin). Every dialog interaction with bartenders, traders, and pirates run the same options and same canned responses. Enemies have such a limited arsenal of combat barks and threats I was actually hearing them in my sleep after spending a week with the game. The worse sin is that it somehow expects you to dig all of this repeated content for hours and hours on end. The game is every bit a treadmill as a typical MMO, only there is no one else to talk to and you can't make your ship dance. Every ship and piece of equipment costs exponentially more than the last. Small upgrades take half a dozen missions or more to earn, and you can forget about the high-end gear. You travel around the galaxy in real time, manually going to warp speed toward every destination, and coming to a dead stop every time a random piece of space junk floats in your way.  For a single player game that already has plenty to see and do, it feels needlessly padded. In space, no one can hear you grind. Yet, despite my many complaints, Rebel Galaxy did put a smile on my face. It's an ambitious little game that regrettably tries too hard to grab something out of its reach, but what it does get its hands on is excellent. The combat is spectacular, the atmosphere is charming (prolonged exposure to the soundtrack aside) and while there isn't as much depth to the game's systems as it would like you to believe, they are fun to poke and prod at when you get tired of blasting people with your lasers. Rebel Galaxy is the kind of game I'd want save for a rainy day when all I want to do is set my brain on auto-pilot and lose a few hours watching pretty colors and dreaming about being Han Solo. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Rebel Galaxy review photo
Aim to misbehave
I've heard people say space is an ocean. I've also heard it called the wild west of the future. With a background track of dirty butt-rock, a cast of colorful miscreants, and a movement system that feels more like steering a ...

The sweet annihilation of Nuclear Throne

Jan 17 // Nic Rowen
Nuclear Throne is about mutants and freaks obliterating each other in a fucked up biohazard of a world over a supposed seat on a likely meaningless throne. It's about winning the right to lord over a dead world. It's about twitch reflexes, the honing and sharpening of the most mechanical and merciless of gamer reactions. That dead-eye arcade stare that comes from quickly identifying the most pressing threat and eliminating it as quickly as possible with minimal resource usage. It's about repeating that process about a thousand times, trying to get ever so slightly better at it every time you try. It's about dying, quickly and cheaply. It's about a health bar that is so fragile as to be essentially meaningless. Bullets that gouge three pips of health out of a bar of eight and don't even have the decency to make you flicker for a second. One-hit kills from bosses. One-hit kills from mutant sewer rats. One-hit kills from cars accidentally exploding too close, the clumsy use of a plasma cannon, or getting a little too curious about a mysterious crystal. It hardly matters, most games of Nuclear Throne take anywhere between five and fifteen minutes. Another try is just a click away. Nuclear Throne isn't a game about learning from the mistakes of the past, it's about doubling down on them. Fucked up the planet with nuclear hellfire and warfare? Well, guess we better slaughter each other by the dozen to fight over a fancy chair. Get killed by a random grenade? Mash that "retry" button to jump right back in and eat another one. Die immediately trying to figure out how to play as Melty, the incredibly squishy pile of walking goo? Play as him another 20 times in a row until it's late and your eyes sting, and you know you'll hate yourself in the morning. To me, Nuclear Throne is the game I turn to when I'm not in the mood to learn from my mistakes, when I'd rather wallow in them. When I want to pile them on top of each other again and again until I can make myself a comfortable pile of failure to sit on. I've read that Luftrausers, Vlambeer's previous game, was made while the team was angry. That the fury of having one of their other games ripped-off in the Apple marketplace and the long, bitter process of trying to resolve that issue crept its way into Luftrausers and became the black core of its angry heart. That the unrelenting aggression of both the enemies and the player (motivated by a strict score-attack combo system to keep fighting at all costs) was a result of how they felt at the time. It's not hard to extend the logic and imagine how those feeling influenced the rest of the game. The ultra minimalist design, the obsession with cutting out every superfluous element of the game, reveals a design team wasn't just uninterested in niceties, but hostile to them. One of the iconic ship abilities in Luftrausers is a suicide bomb that triggers a skull-shaped nuclear explosion when the player dies, clearing out every enemy left on the screen. It's pure schadenfreude -- they might as well made the nuclear cloud a middle finger. In many ways, Nuclear Throne seems just as angry. It's hyper-aggressive and utterly merciless. The kind of game where you are expected to die. Failure is the default state and winning is the rare, precious exception (and all it does is toss you back into an even harder NG+). The game is hostile to the player, with disorienting screen shake accompanying every explosion, dick-bag cheap shots from off-screen enemies, monsters disguised as ammo boxes -- the kind of tricks you'd expect to see in something like I Wanna Be the Guy. But it's also a whole lot of fun. Nuclear Throne celebrates nihilism. It finds the joy in self-obliteration. Every aspect of the design speaks to a willful disregard for safety, a rejection of self-preservation. While ammo and health are precious commodities, half the weapons you can pick up are more dangerous to you than they are the enemy, and the rest gleefully waste ammunition. Suicidal choices like the disc gun with it's bouncing buzzsaw blades that are 100% guaranteed to ricochet back at you, radiation grenades that leave dense clouds of toxic smoke for you to walk into, blood sledgehammers that gamble health for a more powerful swing -- madness in a game where you're always a hair's breadth from death. There is dumb shit like the triple and quad machine guns, which flood the screen with firepower while evaporating your ammo reserve in the blink of an eye. Great fun for about seven seconds or so. Or Y.V's “Brrrpt” upgrade that lets him fire a weapon four times per trigger pull combined with something like the “precision” crossbow. Completely wasteful, entirely satisfying. Nuclear Throne seems like the kind of game the War Boys from Mad Max would enjoy. Then you have the little details. The loading screen messages that alternate between poignant and asinine, constantly pointing out how pointless and nihilistic the situation is only to laugh at it. The grotesquely cute design of the characters, little monsters you can't help but love. Chicken, an avian-samurai so committed to carnage that she'll keep fighting for a few seconds even after losing her head. Or my personal favorite character, the Robot, who's special ability is that he can devour spare guns to restore health and ammo. He is a being that literally subsists on violence, but that doesn't stop him from being cute as a button. I play a lot of different games for many different reasons. There are some games that I play for the story, or the world, the Fallouts and Dragon Ages of the world. I like fighting games and multiplayer first-person shooters to test my skills against other players, and MOBAs as an excuse to play with friends. But you know what? Sometimes I'm not in the mood to go scavenge around for copper wire or perform fetch quests for peasants. Sometimes the last thing I would want to do is go online and put up with trash talking morons or try to put on a happy face for my friends. Sometimes at the end of the day I'm tired and sad. I don't have the energy to invest in some 80 hour RPG or the focus to deal with online bullshit. I just want to blow everything up. I want to get killed. I want to do it over and over again until I feel like all the bile and frustration of the day has been expunged. That's a valid reason to play games as well. As the industry moves further into huge triple A multiplayer titles and massive open-world adventures, and many indies become increasingly story driven and emotional charged, I feel like that desire for mindless, cathartic, healing obliteration is getting lost in the shuffle. It makes me thankful for Nuclear Throne and its sweet embrace of annihilation.
Nuclear Throne photo
I DEMAND A CROWN
It may not seem like it, but most post-apocalyptic narratives are fundamentally optimistic. They might be set against a godforsaken backdrop of radioactive fallout with roaming packs of cannibalistic thrill-killers, but beyon...

MKX online beta photo
MKX online beta

Sign-ups for Mortal Kombat X's enhanced online beta begin Jan. 19


I'll still blame the lag
Jan 15
// Nic Rowen
NetherRealm is taking another stab at Mortal Kombat X's online performance. After listening to player feedback, the team is changing the way the game works online, switching from a “dynamic input latency model” to...

Review: Oxenfree

Jan 15 // Nic Rowen
Oxenfree (PC [reviewed], Xbox One)Developer: Night School StudioPublisher: Night School StudioMSRP: $19.99Released: January 15, 2016 I say “horror” in quotes because the actual spook-factor of Oxenfree isn't that high. This isn't an Amnesia-style gorefest or a Freddy's jumpscare marathon. Oxenfree trades in unease and tension more than outright scares. Think of it more like It Follows than Sleep Away Camp. It's an effective technique. Since you're not wading through blood and viscera at all times, the few moments of hard-hitting violence and terror are that much more jarring. Oxenfree starts with a group of teenagers having a party on an island tourist trap (and one-time military base) near their hometown. Testing out an urban myth involving radio signals and a spooky cave, they accidentally unleash a mysterious entity that seems to have a strange relationship to normal space and time and nothing but malicious intentions on them. The island destination is rendered in a gorgeous dreamlike art style of watercolors and soft light. The normally smooth picture-book aesthetic of Oxenfree's world makes it all the more unnerving when the entity breaks its way into reality with Tron-like neon colors and sharp geometric shapes hanging unnaturally in the sky. It soaks it all in a phenomenal synth-heavy soundtrack from SCNTFC (Galax-Z, Sword & Sworcery) that perfectly alternates between wistful and unnerving. Let me say it plainly, Oxenfree is very light on gameplay. There are no real puzzles to solve, no panicky QTEs to click on, no last-minute boss fight to clumsily fumble through. This is a game about talking. The single most mechanically meaningful thing you do in the game is respond to dialogue options in Aaron Sorkin-style “walk-and-talk” conversations that alternate seamlessly between sarcastic teen bonding, stick-a-knife-in-it awkward stand-offs, and genuinely touching moments. Each conversation option is represented by word balloons you pick with a touch of a button. The tone of the response is hinted at by the phrase in the word balloon similar to the system used in Mass Effect (and done noticeably better than in Fallout 4, I might add). Unlike the galaxy-saving Shepard however, Alex's (the playable protagonist) dialogue isn't laced with heroic speeches or badass threats. She's a teenaged girl who had a lot on her shoulders before the whole spooky-possibly-haunted-island thing started happening and she carries herself like one. She jokes with her friends, gets freaked out, and argues over pointless trivia, like a real person who suddenly found themselves in an unreal situation would. There is no outwardly visible karma meter or “so-and-so will remember that” comments in the game, but your words have meaning. You dialogue choices will effect how the other kids see you and your relationship with them. Occasionally you come to linchpin decision moments that can take you down alternate paths in the game, but mostly the choices are subtlety baked into the experience. A nice change from the “pick blue for good, red for bad” dichotomy of many game's dialogue systems. These conversations are not done in cutscenes or discrete “talking moments,” they're the life blood flowing through the entire game. You chat while walking to the beach, cutting through the woods, while exploring an abandoned military base, and the conversation follows naturally. Jump across a chasm between two cliffs while idly chatting and your friends won't just keep talking about the weather, they'll stop to recognize how badass/insane what you did just was. Same goes for conversations interrupted by spooky transmissions, or sudden, jarring hallucinations. Its easy to picture this backfiring. If the characters were tiresome, boring, or two-dimensional, a game all about talking to them would be a painful experience. Thankfully, the teens of Oxenfree are refreshingly likable. With an excellent script behind some amazing voice-over performances, the teens never wear out their welcome. They're smart, funny, and surprisingly sensible (they mostly just want to get the hell away from the island rather than work out its mysterious history). While the setup is as off the shelf as it gets, the characters don't fit into the Breakfast Club-defined roles you might expect. Alex is a bright girl trying to redefine herself after a life-shattering loss. Her brand new half-brother Jonas (yeah, she's meeting him for the first time at a kegger, it's as awkward as it sounds) is from a bad neighborhood and is implied to have spent a little time in jail. But, he's deeper and more vulnerable than the smoldering bad boy you might be picturing. Best friend Ren is a weird little guy who deals with stress with (actually funny) humor, harbors at least one secret crush, and may or may not be seeing a therapist depending on how seriously you want to take a few throwaway lines. Clarissa is the group's mean girl, always ready with a sharp barb or cutting remark in what is a fairly blatant display of a maladjusted defense mechanism. And Nona, a shy and seemingly unassuming girl who nonetheless has spent most of the semester in suspension, is probably the least developed of the characters but reveals some hidden depth if you make an effort to engage her. In what may be the game's greatest accomplishment, these kids are actually fun to hang around (other than the possible exception of Clarissa). In most horror movies, I usually end up rooting for the machete-wielding maniac after being introduced to the typical gaggle of jerks and dummies of a horror movie cast. In Oxenfree, I couldn't help but be charmed by the gang. When the supernatural creeps of the island finally started getting rough with them, it put a crinkle in my brow and an uncomfortable bend in my spine. I was tense, unsettled. Oxenfree never had to spring a jump scare on me or splatter the screen with blood to wrap me around its finger. It just had to make me care about the kids. Once I did that, it owned me. Aside from talking, the other main thing you do in Oxenfree is tune through a radio. At any time, you can pop out your handy pocket radio and scroll through the channels, finding static, 1940s big band tunes, and the occasional Satanic murmuring from some hell dimension. How very Silent Hill. Scattered throughout the game are various opportunities to tune into tourist information stations that reveal background about the island (and hopefully clues as to what you're up against), as well as secret audio anomalies that function as the game's de facto collectable. These are broadcasts that seem to be coming from another time or an alternate reality. Call me a sap, but I thought the anomalies were genuinely disquieting. It brought to mind the same spooky quality as listening to a numbers station broadcast, or the Jonestown tapes. This is a laid-back game. The vast majority of the experience is just wandering around with your friends, dialing through the radio for the occasional audio anomaly while chatting about school, gossip, and how utterly screwed up the situation you're in is. It's short. You can probably play through it in a single evening if you didn't care about seeing alternate story paths or collecting anomalies. If you wanted to be dismissive and sneer at Oxenfree as another “walking simulator” there isn't much that could be said in its defense. But personally, I think it is an excellent walking simulator. Oxenfree is a walking simulator that is confident enough in its characters and dialogue to bet that you won't mind just hanging around with them. It believes in the sinister low-ebb horror of the island to worm its way into your mind without having to crutch on a jumpscare every few minutes. It knows that its atmosphere and style will be enough to make you want to wander through its forests and dilapidated military bases. It's a walking simulator you should play. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Oxenfree Review photo
Dark signals
Stop me if you've heard this one before: A group of teenagers head to a remote, nearly abandoned tourist trap for a night of wild partying. Not long after they get there though, odd things start to happen. Unsettling things. ...

Duke Nukem bump photo
Duke Nukem bump

Republican candidate tried and failed to get the Duke Nukem bump


How do those balls of steel taste?
Jan 13
// Nic Rowen
The voice behind the toughest man in the video game business, Jon St. John shot down the opportunity to do ad work for a “leading GOP candidate for president.” Now I’m not Sherlock Holmes, but I’m pret...
WoT PS4 release photo
WoT PS4 release

World of Tanks gets a PS4 release date


Roll on up
Jan 13
// Nic Rowen
Fans of large cannons on treads and intractable gameplay will be pleased to know the PS4 version of World of Tanks has a firm release date. Would-be tank commanders can get down and dirty on January 19th and wade into a battl...
Weird Mega Man stickers photo
Weird Mega Man stickers

I need these weird Mega Man stickers in my life


Bad Art Mega Man is my spirit animal
Jan 13
// Nic Rowen
Well aren't these just the best reason to break your old Trapper Keeper out of retirement? Straight out of the Japanese Capcom store in collaboration with B-Side Label, this collection of, um, eccentric, stickers of...
Psychonauts on PS4 photo
Psychonauts on PS4

The original Psychonauts is coming to the PS4


They're bloody everywhere now
Jan 12
// Nic Rowen
In case you hadn't already picked up Psychonauts when it was available on the Xbox 360, the PS3, or Steam, you'll be pleased to hear it's soon to make its way to the PS4. Or maybe not, I don't know. If you haven't bought it y...

Nic Rowen picks the best of 2015

Jan 10 // Nic Rowen
Best game of the year: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is one of my favorite games of all time. As I've shared before, I've replayed it at least ten times over the years. I didn't keep coming back to it just because it was fun, I kept coming back to it because it was surprising. Every time I played through it I'd find something new. I feel like I haven't even scratched the surface of The Phantom Pain's surprises. Forget replaying the entire game, every time I replay one of  The Phantom Pain's missions I find something new. Every other week someone posts a YouTube video of some outrageous tactic or bizarre mechanic I never even considered before. The other day, I found a new cassette tape despite having plunged more than 70 hours into the game already. Let that sink in, I've played this game for 70 hours and I haven't even uncovered all the easy to find stuff yet. Of course, it's also an amazing game to play. The Phantom Pain is a total leap for the series, a massively needed redesign of Tactical Espionage Action that finally, FINALLY, makes you feel like the super-spy Snake was always trumped up to be. Instead of the hurky-jerk movement of previous entries that saw Snake frequently kneeling in front of a a two-foot high obstacle and then somehow accidentally dropping a flashbang at his feet while searching for the right button, this Snake moves just like how you'd expect of the world's greatest soldier. He effortlessly hurdles barriers, dives into cover, slides down hills, and climbs sheer walls, and you never find yourself reaching for the manual. Combat is fast, fluid, and accurate, the enemies smart and responsive. A never ending supply of gadgets, gear, partners, and chopper support options provide an answer to almost any situation you could get yourself into. The Phantom Pain is one hell of a game. Despite Konami doing everything it can to ruin the game post-release, it still remains the best time I had playing video games this year, and I wouldn't be surprised if I end up coming back to The Phantom Pain just as much as I did with Snake Eater. Best spoooooky: Bloodborne Dark Souls is still my favorite From Software game to date, but Bloodborne certainly gave it a run for its money. While some elements of Bloodborne's design disappointed me (the PvP never felt as well developed and I would have loved a few more sets of clothing and armor to choose from), I was absolutely enamored with the Victorian Gothic look of the world. Yharnam is a scary place, and the population of werewolves, fallen priests, and creepy eye monsters never let me drop my guard for a second.  Best budget anatomy lesson: Mortal Kombat X I like to learn. I've always considered myself an eternal student, but have you seen the cost of post-secondary education these days? One can't afford to just take up a medical class as a hobby anymore! Which is why I was so delighted to see how detailed and painstakingly rendered the bloody viscera of Mortal Kombat X was. If anyone ever needs an emergency whole body bisection via a razor-bladed hat, I'm the man to call. I feel like MKX didn't make a lot of GOTY lists, and that's a shame. For my money, it's the best Mortal Kombat game ever made. Sure, it has balance issues and the PC launch was an absolute travesty, but the core gameplay is best the series has ever offered -- fast, brutal, and mean, the way Mortal Kombat should be. The variation system that gives each character three distinct fighting styles with different strengths and weaknesses is something I'd love to see more fighting games adopt. Best interior design options: Fallout 4: Happy Home Designer I have no idea why I put so much time into the settlement system of Fallout 4, but I did and I loved it. Fallout 4 is a magnificent game (even if it is lacking the role-playing options of New Vegas and the quests work a little too hard to funnel you down certain paths) with an amazing sense of exploration and surprisingly fun gun-play. But it turns out if you put a half-baked doll-house simulator in a game, I'll focus on it nearly exclusively to the abandonment of all else. Maybe I should just start playing The Sims and get it over with. Best descent into nihilism: Nuclear Throne Something about this game brings out the worst in me. It's my “2:00am, I should go to bed but I've been drinking and feeling sad, so why not do another run (or twenty)” game. A blitzkrieg of furious action and pointless violence that I'm more than happy to wallow in at the end of a long frustrating day. If Fallout 4 was my chipper little game about optimism and rebuilding life after a disaster, Nuclear Throne was its dark shadow, a celebration of defeat and chaos. Best dinosaurs: ARK: Survival Evolved Yeah, this is technically a Steam Early Access game, but who cares? It has dinosaurs! Who would have thought watching a mutant caveman getting devoured by a Carnotaurus could be so much fun (even when you are the mutant caveman in question)? I didn't play tons and tons of ARK, but my time wandering around the jungle jabbing my pointy little stick at anything that moved left an impression. I still think of heading back into the wilds every now and then. Best “I should play more of this”: Galak-Z: The Dimensional I love everything about Galak-Z; the way the ship moves, the rogue-lite structure of the missions and power-ups, the retro '80s anime aesthetic, it's all great. I just haven't played a ton of it. I got into the second season of the game (when you get the big robot), died, and never quite got back to it. It isn't that I haven't wanted to, it just seems to keep getting buried under something more pressing (or convenient) to play. I have a feeling if I played a little more, Galak-Z could end up being my next Binding of Isaac. Best argument to buy a Wii U: Super Mario Maker Why the fuck didn't I buy a Wii U!? I'm such a moron. Can I borrow yours? C'mon, just for a week or two? I've been watching all these videos and I have an idea for a level that uses P-switches in a really fucked up way and I'm just dying to try it and... Best way to find out your friends are total monsters: Jack Box Party Pack 2 Everything is all fun and games until someone makes a punchline out of Boko Haram. Best use of fingers: Fingered The stubby digit of justice.
Nic's best of the year photo
I mean, you've seen the rest
It's like the middle of January and you've read about five thousand GOTY lists at this point, so let's get to brass tacks. There were some great games released last year, but which ones were the best? I have no idea. Sorry,...

Far Cry Primal co-op photo
Far Cry Primal co-op

Far Cry Primal won't have any co-op


Prehistoric Hurk or we riot
Jan 07
// Nic Rowen
You won't be playing with anyone other than tigers, wolves, and whatever beasts are in Far Cry Primal. Community manager Jason Paradise confirmed on the game's Steam forum that Far Cry Primal is going to be a single...
Bloodborne comic photo
Bloodborne comic

This Bloodborne comic is too cool for still images


Do the pics change with high insight?
Jan 07
// Nic Rowen
The hunt is a wonderful, terrible thing. A sentiment perfectly captured in this gorgeous, lightly animated Bloodborne webcomic, The Master of the League. You ever run into something that just leaves you wondering "how the hel...
Psychonauts 2 photo
Psychonauts 2

Psychonauts 2 has reached its funding goal


Cleanly bisected funding
Jan 06
// Nic Rowen
Double Fine's Fig-funded Psychonauts 2 has reached its funding goal of $3.3 million with five days to spare. Fig is of course the new kid on the crowdfunding block with a system that allows for both regular Kickstarter-style ...
Castle Vidcons photo
Castle Vidcons

Castle Vidcons comes out of semi-retirement with a haunting vision


A specter looming over us
Jan 06
// Nic Rowen
It takes a great disturbance to stir Castle Vidcons out of its torpor these days, but the high price point of the Oculus Rift seemed to strike a nerve with creator Tyler Rhodes. I suppose a $599 price tag is enough to give anyone nightmares, even Lord PC.
WoW neighborhood photo
WoW neighborhood

Want to live in the World of Warcraft? Move to Canada


City design by Ben Wyatt
Jan 02
// Nic Rowen
So, this is silly. A suburb in Ottawa was designed with a little inspiration from Azeroth, borrowing a bunch of street names from cities and locations from World of Warcraft. If you've ever had a burning desire to live on Sil...
Live-action SF photo
Live-action SF

Street Fighter V live-action prologue coming in March


Get your green screens ready
Jan 02
// Nic Rowen
If you love to watch talented athletes wave their hands around and pretend to throw fireballs at each other, I have some good news for you. Street Fighter: Resurrection, a live-action mini-series intended to serve as a prolog...
Super Mario ReMaker photo
Super Mario ReMaker

Enjoy this fanmade Mario Maker clone on PC while it lasts


Probably not long for this world
Dec 31
// Nic Rowen
Anyone want to take bets on how quickly the cease and desist orders will come in for this one? Super Mario ReMaker is a fanmade effort to bring the delight of Super Mario Maker to PC fans. While still very much a work in proc...
XCOM Long War photo
XCOM Long War

The XCOM: Long War mod team is making its own game


End of a long road
Dec 29
// Nic Rowen
I always love it when the creators of a great mod strike out and make their own thing. That's exactly what the minds behind the excellent XCOM mod, Long War, are doing. The team, now branded under the cheeky name of Long War ...
Battlefront TFA photo
Battlefront TFA

Battlefront probably isn't getting any content from The Force Awakens


Damn, I wanted one of the new X-Wings
Dec 24
// Nic Rowen
While it would already seem like EA missed the boat if they were planning on adding anything based on The Force Awakens to Battlefront, a recent tweet put the final nail in that space coffin. Responding to a Twitter user aski...
Mario Maker site photo
Mario Maker site

Super Mario Maker course finding website is up


But why isn't this just in the game?
Dec 22
// Nic Rowen
I love me some Super Mario Maker. I think it's one of the coolest things Nintendo has done in years. But its lack of in-game course browsing and searching tools is utterly baffling. The rudimentary tools for finding the level...

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