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Sid Meier's Starships photo
Sid Meier's Starships

Sid Meier runs through Starships' customization and a small battle


Does he make it despite an estimated 40% chance of success?
Feb 05
// Darren Nakamura
Last month 2K and Firaxis announced Sid Meier's Starships, a strategy game set in the Civilization universe, continuing the story that Beyond Earth set up. With an impending spring release, it looks like it is pretty far alo...
Evolve photo
Evolve

Evolve's live-action trailer is just teens playing hide and seek


Olly olly oxen free!
Feb 04
// Brett Makedonski
Let me go ahead and preemptively dash anyone's hopes that an Evolve live-action trailer might be cool in any conceivable way. It's just some teens running around in the woods with flashlights  -- basically a Friday...
Evolve solo mode photo
Evolve solo mode

Misanthropes rejoice: Evolve's solo mode is looking good


Watch both sides of solo Defend
Jan 29
// Darren Nakamura
Sometimes I am in the mood for good competitive multiplayer action, and thus far Evolve has looked like it will be up to that task. Other times, I'd rather not deal with other people, and that's okay with Turtle Rock's multi...
Borderlands bug photo
Borderlands bug

Borderlands players: Don't go grinding purple hauls


Please stick to the commons and the blues that you're used to
Jan 27
// Brett Makedonski
[Update: A patch released in November added the option to grind three purples. Therefore, this is not as useless of a bug as originally thought.] Anyone that plans to hop around the moons of Pandora today might want to t...
Lady Hammerlock video photo
Lady Hammerlock video

Borderlands' Sir Hammerlock thinks his sister is an 'exceedingly bad person'


'She's wealthy, she's merciless, she's not a hero'
Jan 27
// Darren Nakamura
The Lady Hammerlock Pack of downloadable content is out for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel today so 2K and Gearbox have released an introduction video for the Baroness. While she is not really a villain, she is not exactly a he...
Borderlands 3 photo
Borderlands 3

Gearbox 'ready to start' Borderlands 3, begins hiring process


This could be you, apparently!
Jan 25
// Mike Cosimano
During the official Borderlands panel at PAX South, Gearbox chief Randy Pitchford confirmed the company was "ready to start" production on a new game in the franchise, later taking to Twitter with an open call to developers l...
Borderlands Pre-Sequel photo
Borderlands Pre-Sequel

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel's new downloadable character is out this Tuesday


Gearbox hints about the upcoming story DLC too
Jan 25
// Darren Nakamura
The inaugural PAX South is wrapping up today, and Gearbox's panel just ended. We heard about the plans with Homeworld earlier, but the studio's cash cow for the past several years has been the Borderlands series, so of course...

Drawstructoid: Predicting Evolve's unknown DLC monsters

Jan 21 // Darren Nakamura
Darren Nakamura "This monster gets around by doing cartwheels everywhere. When it evolves, it grows extra appendages for more efficient cartwheels. Those are bellybuttons surrounding its luscious mouth. As it evolves, it actually loses bellybuttons, because that's where the new arms grow in." Steven Hansen "My Evolve monster design is actually from the '90s -- '90s kids will remember it. I apparently invented Shadow the Hedgehog, but lacked the means of global production to foist him on the world and Sega beat me to it. All these years later, I'm glad Evolve has paid me $600 and three buy-one-get-one-free Sizzler buffet vouchers to use my original design as part of their DLC scheme. It is similar to the Earthen 'bear,' different from Evolve's slimy, scaly, shiny aliens, but equally proficient as a bipedal. It has a horn for killing things and also a bomb." Brett Makedonski "I don't know anything about my monster. :((((((((((((((((((((" Jordan Devore "Often found in forests, eating leaves. It has a sharp venomous stinger on its head." Ben Davis "His special attack is hugging, and as he evolves he grows more arms for more powerful hugs." Bill Platt Brittany Vincent "Its name is Bahlgai and it's a ballsack monster. Acid rains down from the horn on its head. Tries to camouflage itself by looking like your waifu." Patrick Hancock "I call it Monster 2K. It grabs its victim and wrings them COMPLETELY dry until they just can't give anything anymore. And then it wrings them some more." Jonathan Holmes "Bullets just bounce off wow!!!!!!!" Occams Electric Toothbrush "She is essentially like Akira but is a white girl from Delaware named Tifanee. Her head is too big for her tiny little girl body!" Andy Dixon "It is a dick head with many dick teeth in its mouth."  Kyle MacGregor "Jordan Devore's hair is a fiery shade of red."
Drawstructoid photo
Prognosticating the Destructoid way
Evolve is releasing with a few monsters and a handful of hunters, but more will be on the way through the magic of downloadable content. Some of the monsters are known entities, but others are complete mysteries. At least, to...

Evolve director on DLC: 'I don't like people thinking we're doing underhanded, dirty shit'

Jan 20 // Kyle MacGregor
Robb expected questions about Evolve's DLC-abetting design, and was quick to label Ashton's choice of words as unfortunate. He attempted to assuage any fears Evolve was some sort of DLC delivery system, explaining the game's architecture was designed to be adaptable, something easily expanded upon. The furor, he said, stemmed from a misunderstanding and a lack of clarity. "That was hugely disheartening for me," Robb said candidly. "I don't like people thinking we're doing underhanded, dirty shit." It's easy to take Robb at his word. Unlike other executives, he comes into work wearing a hoodie and trainers rather than a suit and tie. He sports a long, silvery beard, like many others at the studio, refusing to clip until the game ships (for charity, no less). He's genuine, down to earth, the epitome of casual, and the first to admit he isn't really much of a businessman. Robb describes himself as more of a "gamer geek," one who's just "lucky enough to make them." He keeps a bearded dragon in Turtle Rock's open-air office, where the seating is in a constant state of flux and the company's newest intern may be sitting beside one of the founders. He talks like a real person rather than some corporate robot, complete with liberal use of profanity and cartoon character voices. "We have the game set up in such a way that we can expand upon it if that is the desire," Robb told me. "Our plan is one we pushed for as consumers. Never split the community, no pay to win, all that kind of bullshit that are hallmarks of DLC plans specifically made to leech money out of people." Money is definitely a concern, though, as Robb points out the studio has bills to pay and nearly a hundred families to support. Plus, there's a money-hungry publisher involved. Still, it seems like Turtle Rock is at least advocating for a more consumer-friendly post-release business model. "If we're going to make money we want to feel good about the way we've done it," Robb said. "We don't want to feel like we've hoodwinked people." That doesn't mean he views DLC as some sort of taboo, though. "I don't quite understand the knee-jerk negative reaction to DLC. Because I know for me, as a gamer, when I have a game I really love and I play it for a while and I want more, I want more. I'll pay for it. I don't mind." Robb is cognizant the industry is teeming with parasitic DLC programs, and was quick to point out all of Evolve's maps will be free. "Good," I tell him. "People hate shelling out $20 for map packs." So does Robb. At this point in the conversation, I recall glancing back at a 2K Games PR handler sitting in the corner, trying not to squirm as Robb made one unbridled remark after the next. "I think a lot of people probably feel like [DLC] is milking the community," Robb admitted. "That's fair because a lot of companies approach it that way." "All our maps are gonna be free," he told me again, and would do so a few more times before our talk was over. "Everyone gets that. Any of the monsters or hunters we put out are going to be paid DLC, but the nice thing about that, and this is something we pushed for really hard, even if you don't buy it you can play against it. So it's still not splitting the community. And not only is it not splitting the community, but it's enriching your game experience even if you're not interested." Turtle Rock hopes Evolve is something people will continue to play for a long time and views DLC as a way to keep folks invested in the experience. "Just keeping the game fresh in some way is always a good way to bring people back for more. Any of the DLC we make, our plans around DLC are about introducing new experiences. We want to have more content that significantly changes the game and breathes life into all the stuff that came first." "You have all these maps, and maybe you get bored of them after a while, but you throw a new monster in there and that has a ripple effect across the entire game." It sounds reasonable, the way Robb explains it one-on-one in a secluded room, but the way 2K presents it to the world at large comes across as anything but. Evolve projects like an experience that's being carved up part and parcel between its downloadable pre-order bonus monster (which retails for a hefty $15) and a complicated web of premium bundles. It's disheartening, really. 2K is preying on a part of your psyche that fears if you don't get the biggest, most expensive package you'll wind up missing out or paying more later. Meanwhile, you have no idea if you'll even enjoy the $60 base game in the first place. "There are way too many ideas we cannot fit into the box," Robb told me. "Budget-wise, time-wise, there's too much cool shit for us to leave it laying there and never do anything with it. But we wanted to be good about it as consumers." Robb seems like his heart is in the right place, but just as that 2K representative lurked at the back of the room, a massive corporation with stock and investors looms over the whole operation. This isn't some indie passion project. It would likely be handled differently if it were. There are other interests involved, and a lot riding on this project's success. Evolve was salvaged from THQ's wreckage, purchased by Take-Two Interactive for $10.8 million. They want a return on that investment. As always, consumers will be the ones footing the bill.
Evolve DLC interview photo
The push and pull of good intentions and capitalism
Evolve was peddling pre-order bonuses before its publisher had even shown off what the game looked like. A year later, we have a better idea what type of experience Evolve will offer when it releases next month. However, conc...

Borderlands photo
Borderlands

Good lord, this $400 Borderlands edition has a Claptrap that's controlled with a mobile app


That's damn expensive and damn cool
Jan 20
// Brett Makedonski
Most high-end special editions of games come with the same sort of tchotchkes -- maybe a figurine, an art book -- that sort of stuff. 2K is raising the bar when it comes to limited editions, both in terms of content and pric...
Borderlands bundle photo
Borderlands 2 and Pre-Sequel with cross-saves
Rumors have circulated for months that Gearbox Software's Borderlands would be the recipient of some sort of upgraded port to current consoles. In fact, speculation was so strong that it was more a matter of what titles...

Sid Meier's Starships photo
Sid Meier's Starships

Sid Meier's Starships is a 'tactical space combat' continuation of Civilization: Beyond Earth


Releasing early this year for PC, Mac, and iPad
Jan 19
// Jordan Devore
Civilization and XCOM studio Firaxis Games is sticking with space for its next game, Sid Meier's Starships. The studio and publisher 2K describe it as a "new turn-based, adventure-driven interstellar strategy game" (PC, Mac,...
Evolve DLC drama photo
Evolve DLC drama

Turtle Rock defends Evolve's DLC, pre-purchase options


Videogames sure have gotten complicated
Jan 16
// Rob Morrow
Turtle Rock studios co-founder Phil Robb took to the company's forums to address concerns about upcoming four-versus-one asymmetrical multiplayer title Evolve's numerous pre-purchase options and plans for downloadable co...
Evolve's PC specs photo
Evolve's PC specs

Turns out Evolve's PC specs aren't the real monster


That's a nice change of pace
Jan 12
// Brett Makedonski
It's becoming a common trend that it requires an increasingly absurd PC to even think about running the latest triple-A games. Evolve is a slight reprieve from that. Prospective hunters won't necessarily need the latest ...
Evolve photo
Evolve

Evolve's intro cinematic is a clinic in smokin' stogies like a champ


They should've named this game 'Monster Hunter'
Jan 08
// Brett Makedonski
Evolve's opening cinematic is...well, it's pretty much everything you'd expect. It's a gussied-up version of the game as if it were being played like it's supposed to. You know, a team acting as a team instead of one guy run...
Borderlands photo
Borderlands

These are the most popular Borderlands characters


As decided by the fans
Jan 08
// Mike Cosimano
Per the official Borderlands Twitter account, Krieg, Claptrap, and Tiny Tina are the series' most popular characters amongst Borderlands fans. There's no clear indication which character received the most votes, but I wager C...
Evolve Offline Mode photo
Evolve Offline Mode

Turtle Rock Studios confirms offline mode for Evolve


I always suspected there was an 'I' in team
Dec 26
// Rob Morrow
In a recent update on Turtle Rock Studio's Evolve blog, it was confirmed that the asymmetrical four-versus-one shooter will have an offline mode available for those who'd prefer to play the game solo. Thi...
Evolve beta photo
Evolve beta

Evolve launches open beta for Xbox One on January 15


Will be playable till launch
Dec 18
// Alessandro Fillari
The first quarter of 2015 looks to be an exciting period for games. But one such title is looking to keep players satiated all the way till its release. After a successful closed alpha period, Evolve is gearing up for another...

Evolve offers a refreshingly robust and devious co-op experience

Dec 18 // Alessandro Fillari
Evolve (PC [previewed], PlayStation 4, Xbox One)Developer: Turtle Rock StudiosPublisher: 2K GamesRelease: February 10, 2014MSRP: $59.99 "It's given us this extra push, that extra motivation," said Chris Ashton, co-founder of Turtle Rock Studios and design director of Evolve as he recalled the general reception from fans. It's been about a year since its debut, and the fans have certainly taken to the game. After two alpha test periods, and its wildly popular station at PAX Prime -- I tried playing, but the line was ridiculous -- Turtle Rock was keen to show off more of what the game has to offer. "I think all the good and positive reception has added to the pressure, y'know, but I keep telling a lot of the guys that's it's the hardest thing we've ever done in our careers," said Ashton. "But I keep telling everyone 'great pressure makes for great games sometimes.' Though everyone is tired and worn out, seeing the news stories and positive reviews has made it all worthwhile." One of the new bits to share was the reveal of the new monster class, the Wraith. In addition to the Goliath and Kraken, essentially different takes on the warrior and mage archetypes, the Wraith is very much like the assassin class, except it's a twenty-foot-tall monster with massive claws and tendrils. Despite its size, the Wraith is the fastest thing in the game and can easily make quick work of the hunters, though it'll definitely take some time to master. Unlike the other classes, the strength of the Wraith lies in its stealth tactics and speed. The creature can warp in and out of danger with ease, and can use sneak attacks to quickly defeat the hunters and lesser prey. Its decoy ability allows it to summon a Wraith clone to attack nearby enemies, leaving the player in an invisible state, and the Supernova move gives a massive speed and power boost to the creature. Though the other classes were fun, I had a real blast with the Wraith. During the rescue game type, I stalked the group of hunters while they were struggling to find survivors to take back to base. Using my decoy ability, I sent my clone in against the group. As they scattered trying to take it out, I found the medic straggling behind them. At this point I used my Abduction move, which allowed me to warp to the hunter and drag him back to where I came. Alone, the medic was downed rather quickly by the Wraith's attacks. After they found the wounded medic and attempted to revive him, I swooped in like a hawk and used my Supernova ability to wipe the party in a frenzied flurry. It was awesome, and hearing the opposing team shout "He's on us!" felt oh-so satisfying. One of the most impressive things about Evolve is how well it was balanced. Even though the monsters are extremely powerful, the hunters are well equipped to handle the beast. Turtle Rock took a lot time refining and fixing issues with the game in order to maintain the balance and consistency with the asymmetrical multiplayer. "We playtested the crap out of it, iterating and finding what works and what doesn't -- and we forced our way through that idea of four vs. one gameplay to shipping the game now," said the design director. "It always seemed like a straightforward idea to us, like four quarters equals a dollar, right? In our minds, it always made sense. For four hunters who work together, and they use their teamwork right and coordinate, then they could be as powerful as this two-story monster." Though the Hunt mode offered quick and easy fun, the recently unveiled Evacuation mode will no doubt offer the most comprehensive and epic experiences that Evolve can produce. Referred to as a "grudge match across five maps" by its design director, five players are brought into a multiplayer campaign that shifts and alters depending on which side wins. For Turtle Rock Studios, this was an opportunity to up the ante on their previous work with the Left 4 Dead series. "We wanted to have a campaign in Evolve, but we wanted to do it in a different way," said Ashton as he described the genesis of Evacuation mode. "In Hunt, you can have a fifteen minute experience, and that's a good time for a lot of people.  But there's another scenario where me and you want to get online tonight and we want to play roughly an hour, and have an experience that has a beginning, middle, and end. That we all felt like we saw really cool things and that it all wrapped up nicely. We wanted to focus on replayability, to potentially have thousands of different possibilities." With four players taking on the role of the hunters, and one as the monster, you'll have to secure, defend, hunt your enemies to expand your power. On the final round, Evacuation reaches its crescendo as both sides must use all their acquired resources and skills to finish off the opposition. Spanning different game types spread across several maps, each round feels like a real struggle to succeed. If the hunters win a match, then they can acquire teleport machines that allow for easy travel or armor plated turrets for stronger defenses, but if the monster wins a match, then the environment will become corrosive to the hunters, and new beasts will come to assist your side. It's incredibly dynamic, and no campaign will feel the same. I played games on both sides, and the two felt incredibly different. I was impressed with how balanced it felt. Initially, I worried that being pitted against a skilled opposition would make the game unpleasant and result in a string of losses, but the mode also includes an auto-balance feature that will sightly boost the strength of the losing side, just to keep things interesting. The developers at Turtle Rock Studios wanted to ensure that the game is still winnable, despite the odds. Sometimes matches can feel like they can drag out, especially if both sides know what they're doing, I still felt the urge the pick up another game upon completion. Moreover, there's plenty of content that covers almost all the bases. Don't want to play with other players or deal with matchmaking? Then you can stick with bots offline that are just as competent as real opponents. Bots are an often overlooked feature, so it's reassuring that the developers are giving players options. As a huge Left 4 Dead fan, I found Evolve be a real evolution of the formula. You remember those moments in L4D where you just knew that the enemy was toying with you? Well, this title certainly brings those moments back in a big, and even more devious way. I found my time with Evolve to be incredibly fun, and it brought out the best of what co-op play is all about. There's a signature moment that's constantly happening, and I'm just dying to see what I can expect from the full release next year.
Evolve photo
I'm gonna have me some fun
There's been a lot of buzz surrounding Evolve, the new co-op shooter from Turtle Rock Studios. Helmed by the same developers of the original Left 4 Dead, fans have certainly been chomping at the bit for more information. Afte...

Borderlands Remaster photo
Borderlands Remaster

Australian Classification Board listing points to Borderlands collection on current generation consoles


You all saw it coming
Dec 11
// Darren Nakamura
It seems like every post about Borderlands has the same comments in it: a scathing remark about Aliens: Colonial Marines, a proclamation to wait for the Game of the Year Edition, and a prediction that 2K and Gearbox will...
GTA Australia photo
GTA Australia

Take-Two: Think GTA 5 is offensive? Don't buy it


Slatoff lashes out at Australian retailers
Dec 09
// Kyle MacGregor
Take-Two Interactive boss Karl Slatoff is disappointed in the Australian retailers that recently pulled Grand Theft Auto V from shelves in response to a consumer petition. Speaking at the  BMO Capital Markets 2014 T...
Borderlands photo
Borderlands

Bonus mission for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel ties into Tales


Help Dr. Nakayama with a secret project
Dec 09
// Darren Nakamura
[Update]: In an email to Destructoid, 2K has confirmed that the Handsome AI bonus mission will be included for free as part of the update adding Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode, not part of the Holodome Onslaught DLC pack that ret...
Civilization Beyond Earth photo
Civilization Beyond Earth

Civilization: Beyond Earth update is live, makes all my strategies obsolete


Thanks, Xenobama
Dec 08
// Darren Nakamura
A pretty substantial update rolled out for Civilization: Beyond Earth earlier today, addressing some of the issues that the more hardcore Civ fans have had with the title. I took a read through the extensive patch notes and.....
Borderlands Pre-Sequel photo
Borderlands Pre-Sequel

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel's second piece of DLC is out December 16


Welcome to the Holodome
Dec 04
// Darren Nakamura
2K Games announced today the second DLC pack for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, and as with the first pack, it is commendable in some ways but disappointing in others. In The Holodome Onslaught, Axton and Gaige join the crew in...
Hanger 13 photo
Hanger 13

2K announces new studio Hangar 13, working on a new game


Ominous
Dec 04
// Chris Carter
2K has announced today that they have formed a new game studio called Hangar 13, located at their HQ in Novato, California. It's led by developer Haden Blackman (who began at LucasArts and has worked with DC and Marvel), and ...

Evolve is about more than just monster hunting

Dec 03 // Kyle MacGregor
Ashton, along with his partner in crime, creative director Phil Robb, provided us with the rundown on Hunt anyway. Evolve follows a team of four hunters who endeavor to take down a colossal alien monster. Though, as we soon learned, that's not always the primary objective. Turtle Rock revealed three new game types: Nest, Rescue, and Defend. Nest was by far my favorite of the bunch, as hunters attempt to eliminate a handful of monster eggs before they can hatch unto the world and terrorize its colonists. Of course, the alpha monster will have some say in the matter, doing its damnedest to save the young. Part of that effort may involve hatching one of the eggs prematurely, allowing the alpha to double team the humans alongside a stunted Goliath. It's a delicate balance of risk and reward, enlisting the help of an infant demon, simultaneously increasing your firepower whilst also bringing the enemy one step closer to their goal. The mode also lends itself to new tactical possibilities for the hunters. Typically, it's in your best interest to stick together, as a single human is no match for the monster. But the monster also can't be in several places at once, and the hunters always have the option of splitting up and taking out multiple eggs in concert. I have one word of advice for players keen on employing this strategy, though. Make sure to keep an eye on your surroundings. It really sucks getting gobbled up by a carnivorous plant and have no one around to help. Rescue mode turns the tables on the human team, giving them something to protect. After a group of colonists is attacked and flees into the wilderness, it's up to the hunters to locate, revive and lead the survivors to rescue shuttles. Meanwhile, the hulking monster is trying finish the job. This can lead to some pretty tense moments, trying to target these civilians while four well-armed soldiers harass you from afar, as well as flashes of frustration. Nothing is quite so disheartening as coming up short because one of these goons gets hung up on a piece of scenery. The final mission type we saw, Defend, is something of a retrenched horde mode. There's a massive spaceship looming overhead. It's loaded with civilians, refueling, and preparing to escape. There's one problem, though. Small waves of Goliath minions led by a stage three alpha are headed its way, aiming to take out the generators and make the whole thing explode. It's a spectacle and makes for an intense showdown.  While each of these modes can be played individually, Turtle Rock showed us the game's full array of content via Evacuation, essentially Evolve's take on a campaign. Five players at a time huddled into small, sauna-like rooms, each stuffed to the gills with high-end PC equipment to get our hands on the game. Though there is a narrative woven throughout Evacuation, it's sparse. Taking place on the overrun planet of Shear, colonists have five days to fend off the monsters and get out of dodge. Each day is a mission, the outcome of which impacts the next. Say the monster sabotages a dam, for example. The following stage will be flooded with water full of man-eating eels. Robb told me about another scenario where the hunters win and release "a shit ton of birds" into the atmosphere, making it hard for the monster to maneuver without tipping off folks to its location. It always culminates in a Defend mission, but the journey to that point has the potential to be different. Apparently there are over 800,000 possible combinations of mission types, maps, and environmental effects. Pair that with an expansive roster of twelve characters, each of which with their own unique skills and abilities, and it feels like I've barely scratched the surface -- even after spending several hours with the game. It was difficult to walk away from Turtle Rock Studios and Evolve without positive impressions. The game certainly seems to have a lot of potential, and I can safely say I'm looking forward to its February 10, 2015 release on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. Should you wish to get a taste of Evacuation mode before then, be sure to check out the open beta, which is coming exclusively to Xbox One in January. 
Evolve preview photo
You can scramble eggs, too!
"Hopefully, nobody has any questions about Hunt," Turtle Rock co-founder Chris Ashton said, his eyes darting around a cloistered room flush with press. "We've been talking about that forever!" Over the past several months, th...

Evolve photo
Evolve

Evolve's story trailer makes its monsters look more badass than ever


Introducing Evacuation
Dec 02
// Brett Makedonski
Everything we've seen of Turtle Rock's Evolve thus far has largely been without context -- two points of view ranging from "go kill that giant thing" to "go kill those four little people." This trailer isn't exactly wil...
Borderlands photo
Borderlands

Catch a jaunty tune (and an elbow to the grill) in this Tales from the Borderlands trailer


Episode One: Zer0 Sum
Nov 25
// Brett Makedonski
Telltale titles and Borderlands are almost polar opposites. One has you constantly making tough, game-altering decisions. The other only asks that you decide between shooting everything and dying. (Hint: you defini...

Review: Tales from the Borderlands: Zer0 Sum

Nov 25 // Darren Nakamura
Tales from the Borderlands: Zer0 Sum (iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Telltale GamesPublisher: Telltale GamesReleased: November 25, 2014 (Mac, PC)MSRP: $4.99, $24.99 (Season Pass)Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit Any who have played a Telltale game in the past few years will find few surprises here. Play is split into sections of walking around and examining the surroundings, making dialogue choices that sometimes have profound effects on the path of the narrative, and navigating interactive cutscenes through quick-time events. That said, Tales from the Borderlands includes a few new lore-appropriate features. Rhys, one of the two protagonists, is in management at Hyperion. Three years after the fall of Handsome Jack, he has schmoozed his way into the upper echelon of the corporation. In doing so, he has access to advanced technology that grants him special abilities. His left eye is a cybernetic Echo Eye that can be used to scan objects for additional information, which often contains funny descriptions. His right arm is entirely robotic, and can be used to communicate with his friends or call down a custom combat Loader bot when the situation gets hairy.  Fiona, the other main character, is a Pandoran scam artist. Without a large company's assets at her disposal, she instead relies on her wit and the power of cold, hard cash. Having money on hand opens up additional narrative options through purchases or bribery. In contrast to the core titles in the series, money is a finite resource here; if it is spent early, it will not be available for potential use later on. This type of quandary also comes up with Fiona's hidden pistol: It has one bullet in it and the choice of whether to use it or not at any given point is not an obvious one. [embed]283779:56317:0[/embed] The narrative moves back and forth between Rhys and Fiona, who form a fragile alliance toward a common goal. The two get separated occasionally, each sent to experience a different set of simultaneous events. When the two come together, it has an almost Tarantino-esque feel, where the player gets to see the same scene play out through another viewpoint and with additional context to frame it. Part of that effect stems from the fact that the story is being told through flashback by the two not-quite-trustworthy characters. There are points when one or the other is obviously embellishing the story, which brings up the question of whether they are stretching the truth in other, less obvious instances. One slight disappointment with the storytelling is the illusion of choice it sometimes helps to create. In one sequence, the player is asked to describe what "the most important part" of the story is, and a handful of very different choices are made available. Though it initially seems like this choice could drive the story in one of a few hugely different directions, it turns out that all of those choices happen and it is only a matter of which the character emphasizes. That said, the overall narrative is fantastic. Despite the shift in focus from gunplay to wordplay, the events that unfold are sufficiently exciting, violent, and absurd to fit into the Borderlands universe. If anything, the tone of Tales is a little less wacky than that of Borderlands 2. There is still the over-the-top depiction of a lawless land, but a back alley stabbing in Tales feels heavier and more real than a bandit dissolving from a corrosive shotgun blast in previous games in the franchise. The writing does a superb job of capturing the dark comedy of the Borderlands universe. There are probably as many "laugh out loud" moments in Tales from the Borderlands: Zer0 Sum as there are in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, which is impressive because the latter is about ten times longer than the former. And some of those moments are not just snorts or chuckles, but actual sustained laughter. This might be the funniest Borderlands game to date, and it is at least the densest in that sense. The downside to Telltale's focus on crafting a great story is that it seems like classic adventure gameplay takes a backseat here more than ever. Exploration sections are cut short before the player can finish scouring an area and the only things close to being puzzles are Rhys's decision on how to spec his Loader companion for an impending battle and a simple memory exercise for Fiona. The Telltale Tool engine might be showing its age with other new releases, but it shows off Borderlands' signature comic book style well. Pandora is every bit as bright and colorful as a desert wasteland can be, and it looks great despite the low polygon count. Aside from the disappointing lack of puzzles and limit on exploration, Tales from the Borderlands: Zer0 Sum is excellent. Where the first episodes of other Telltale series can start off slowly, Tales maintains high energy throughout. Its consistently funny writing and duo of unreliable narrator protagonists set the stage for a great overarching story, and it feels very much like it belongs in the Borderlands franchise. If the rest of the season maintains this level of quality, Tales from the Borderlands will be up there in history with the other great recent Telltale adventures. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Telltale Borderlands photo
Two tales worth telling
[Disclosure: Anthony Burch, who consulted on the story for Tales from the Borderlands, was previously employed at Destructoid. As always, no relationships, personal or professional, were factored into the review.] When Tales ...

Irrational photo
Irrational

Irrational's hiring again almost a year after 'winding down'


Who wants to work with Ken?
Nov 24
// Brett Makedonski
In February, Ken Levine (bio)shocked the gaming world by announcing that Irrational Games was shutting down. Well, sort of. The plan was to lay off the majority of the staff, and continue forward as a small group dedicated to...

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