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#darksiders photo
#darksiders

The Darksiders II remaster doesn't look all that different


Reminder: This thing is $40
Jun 29
// Jordan Devore
Were we expecting the remaster of Darksiders II for current systems to look significantly better than the 2012 original (RIP THQ)? I was not. Crisper and smoother, sure, but that's about it. Here are some comparison screenshots that, at least to these less-than-stellar eyes, took some studying.
Bukkoro photo
Bukkoro

Nier, Drakengard creator starts new company


Still doing Nier 2!
Jun 29
// Steven Hansen
Taro Yoko (Nier, Drakengard) has started a mysterious new company, Bukkoro. There's a website and not much else to go on. It does have adorable drawings done by Taiko Drum Master artist Yukiko Yokoo. According to Siliconera, ...

Which is your favorite Batman: Arkham game?

Jun 29 // Chris Carter
[embed]294941:59268:0[/embed]
Batman photo
Don't say 'Origins!'
Let's start at the beginning, shall we? Batman: Arkham Asylum, through and through, is just a good video game. It took a simple concept ("Be the Bat"), introduced the free-flow combat system and the Predator stealth...


Review: J-Stars Victory VS+

Jun 28 // Laura Kate Dale
J-Stars Victory Vs+ (PS3, PS4 [reviewed], Vita) Developer: Spike ChunsoftPublisher: Bandai Namco EntertainmentRelease: June 26, 2015 (EU), June 30, 2015 (US) I may not be the most knowledgeable anime fan out there, but I'm always willing to try out a new series if it looks interesting. As such, I was pretty excited coming into J-Stars Victory VS+. I was hoping to experience well known characters I already knew, as well as finding new characters to get invested in and try watching going forward. Unfortunately, J-Stars Victory VS+ was a bit of a disappointment in that regard. The representations of characters I already knew didn't feel accurate and the hooks to get invested in new series just weren't there for me. So, as this is a fighting game first and foremost, let's talk about the fighting mechanics at play. Every character has one light attack button, a heavy attack button, a special attack button, a block and a dash. While these are tailored to each character, the movesets all feel very similar to play using. While it's cool to see Ichigo pull off a Getsuga Tensho and Goku a Kamehameha, both on a mechanical level act near identically. Every move is an approximation designed to fit a specific combat system's mold, which ultimately takes away some of what makes these characters unique. Defensive techniques like cancels are minimal, so if you wait for an attack animation to start then start mashing buttons you'll usually win. J-Stars Victory VS+ is not a game of skill, it's a game of waiting for any enemy to attempt anything slower than a light attack, interrupting with a light attack then button mashing while they remain locked in your combo. [embed]294934:59255:0[/embed] So, ignoring the fact the combat system itself lacks depth, lets look at how this functions as a pure fanservice game. Just looking at the numbers there is a lot here for fans of Shonen anime to love. There's representation from newer series like D.Gray-man as well as older series like Rurouni Kenshin and a whole host of series in between. There's even inclusions from my super niche sports anime, but only as support characters rather than full playable roster members. Damn, I was just about ready to praise this game for supporting my niche interests. So, let's talk about the modes on offer in J-Stars Victory VS+. There's J-Adventure, where you sail around the world on a tiny boat given to you by god to earn your way into a tournament of champions, where everyone involved seems perfectly fine with the fact god gave them a boat that couldn't get most of the places it needed to go and needlessly pads out the experience with narrative fluff between fights. This mode has four arcs, each of them near narratively identical. I couldn't see any reason players would want to go through all four of these, they're all equally padded and dull. Your other options are Victory Road which sets up special fights loosely themed around anime dream team fights, a standard Arcade mode which offers minimal challenge, local free battles and online free battles. None of these modes felt terribly coherent or fleshed out. On paper, the roster of nearly 40 playable characters is certainly impressive, but what makes these characters unique is rarely utilized fully. Each character's ultimate attack feels decidedly less visually impressive than comparable titles like Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4. The story mode offered on disk features static 2D images of characters that may say the odd single word to each other, but otherwise remain silent. Their dialogue feels terribly homogeneous, stripped down so that every character speaks with the same uniform voice. This doesn't feel like a series of characters clashing for the first time, rather it feels like one person in many different outfits badly acting out their alternative universe fanfiction. Where the games opening cinematic gave me hope for a visually impressive, fanservice heavy experience, the single player largely boiled down to watching static images talk to each other in a weirdly unemotional tone then fight for no adequately explained reason. It just wasn't compelling. Ultimately, J-Stars Victory VS+ only succeeds as numbers on paper, the game itself being largely disappointing. The roster have had much of what made them unique stripped down, stopping me getting truly excited about the characters I knew and preventing me getting a sense of which characters were worth me investing future time watching. The mechanics are shallow, the fanservice is surface level and it only succeeds in terms of its pure number of supported characters. Overall, I walked away rather disappointed. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the developer.]
J-Stars Victory VS+ photo
Mash, mash, mash, mash, mash, mash......
J-Stars Victory VS+ is a game that's mechanically light, heavy on fanservice volume but that only ever skims the surface of the characters it includes. If you want an anime brawler that focuses on the sheer volume of anime ch...

Dad Beat Dads photo
Dad Beat Dads

Belated Father's Day: Throw babies in Dad Beat Dads


My dad could beat up your dad
Jun 26
// Darren Nakamura
True story: my dad used to be quite the brawler. At a stocky 5'5" (165 cm), he was often underestimated. What he lacks in height and reach he makes up for in tenacity. What I'm trying to say is that I'm pretty sure my dad co...
Attack on Titan 3DS photo
Attack on Titan 3DS

Attack on Titan 3DS maneuvers to Europe next week


Plus a discount for North America
Jun 26
// Kyle MacGregor
After a short delay, Shingeki no Kyojin: Humanity in Chains is launching across Europe, Australia, and New Zealand next week on July 2, Atlus USA announced today. If you're curious as to why the Nintendo 3DS game is being rel...
Toukiden photo
Toukiden

Toukiden: Kiwami is now on Steam but it's $60


I still love those demon designs
Jun 26
// Jordan Devore
Omega Force's action-RPG about hunting Oni has come to Steam. Great news! There are few if any games like this available on PC. But because it's Koei Tecmo, Toukiden: Kiwami costs $59.99. This is an expanded version of Toukid...

Review: LEGO Jurassic World

Jun 26 // Ben Davis
LEGO Jurassic World (PS4 [reviewed], PS3, PS Vita, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U, 3DS, PC)Developer: Traveller's TalesPublisher: Warner Bros.MSRP: $59.99Released: June 12, 2015 As a huge Jurassic Park fan, LEGO Jurassic World is pretty much exactly what I expected from a dinosaur game themed around children's toys. There is no shortage of humor, plenty of satisfying references to the movies and books, playable dinosaurs, and I get to run around as Ian Malcolm with his shirt torn open. What more could I ask for? LEGO Jurassic World's story is built around the plots of the movies, but while the movies can be tense and thrilling, the game remains silly and lighthearted. Death scenes from the films are played out in a comedic fashion. The LEGO characters are never actually killed; instead, they usually end up sharing a goofy moment with the dinosaur that attacks them. For example, Gennaro can be seen cleaning the T. Rex's teeth with a toilet brush after being pulled from his restroom hiding place, and the raptor tamer who dies in the very first scene of Jurassic Park only loses the precious sausage he was holding onto rather than his legs (there's a weird recurring sausage joke for some reason, which I can't say I really understood). Meanwhile, other parts feature raptors riding motorcycles, wearing fruit hats, and chasing lawn mowers through the long grass, so the dinos are generally more charming than they are terrifying. Of course, for a LEGO game, this was kind of a necessity. [embed]294839:59241:0[/embed] Gameplay is heavily puzzle-based, requiring obstacles to be solved by choosing the specific character required for the task. Most of these obstacles are accompanied by button prompts, and there are numerous quick time events scattered throughout as well. There is also some light combat, whenever the party is attacked by dinosaurs or InGen employees, but it involves little more than punching things until they get dizzy or fall apart. Characters do have health bars, but the only penalty for dying is losing a few studs, so it's not really a big deal. The health bars honestly feel wholly unnecessary, as there aren't any lives and characters already essentially feel invincible. They could have probably scrapped that mechanic entirely. It's possible to play as nearly every character from the Jurassic Park films, even minor characters such as Mr. DNA and that weird boy at the dig site who says raptors look like giant turkeys. Each character has their own unique skills which typically play off of their personalities and roles in the films, all of which will need to be utilized in order to traverse each level. Some characters, like Dr. Grant and Gray Mitchell, are good at building things out of dinosaur bones; characters like Lex Murphy and Kelly Malcolm can scream loud enough to shatter glass; characters like Tim Murphy and Ian Malcolm have items that can illuminate dark areas (night vision goggles and flares, for example); and others like Ellie Sattler and Owen Grady aren't afraid to get dirty and rummage through dino droppings (by diving in head first, no less!). It's necessary to play as many different characters in order to clear all of the puzzles and obstacles in the game. Of course, there's not only human characters, but dinosaurs to control as well. Most dinosaurs are unlocked by collecting amber bricks hidden in every level. They can be summoned via dinosaur creation pads, and sick dinosaurs can be healed in order to join the party as well. The dinosaurs come with their own sets of skills; Triceratops can charge and bash open large objects, Dilophosaurus can melt certain things with its venom, T. Rex can roar loud enough to shatter stuff, and Velociraptors can pull switches and sniff out hidden objects. The craziest option is the enormous Brachiosaurus, which can be used to crush certain platforms with a huge stomp, but it's so gigantic and slow that it's almost hilarious. It's even possible to play as Pteranodons and Mosasaurus, although they're restricted to the aviary and aquarium, respectively. Story mode will take the player through twenty levels centered around many of the most memorable and action-packed scenes from the movies. It's really fun to reenact classic scenes like the very first T. Rex attack, the raptors in the kitchen, the San Diego crisis, and more through the playful lens of the LEGO world. Every level is filled with puzzles to solve, obstacles to overcome, and a set amount of collectibles to find. Many levels implement chase sequences, such as running from the Gallimimus herd, or puzzle-based boss fights, like taking down Indominus Rex. There's nothing too complicated, though, so it should be an easy ride for most players. Upon completing each level in story mode, free play mode will be unlocked, allowing players to choose any character they want and switch to someone else at any time. Many of the collectibles can only be obtained in free play, since the characters in story mode might not have the required abilities, so it's necessary to play each level at least two times in order to find everything. Outside of story mode, players can also freely explore each of the four parks. The parks contain more collectibles to find, sick dinosaurs and workers in peril to help, characters to unlock, photograph locations, races, and more. The parks on Isla Sorna are unfortunately rather small and unexciting, but Isla Nublar's Jurassic Park and Jurassic World are both huge and full of all sorts of attractions and cool areas to discover. Strangely, though, once story mode is completed, free play in the parks takes place entirely during nighttime, which kind of bothered me as some areas just seem much less exciting in the dark. I'd prefer to view these beautiful parks in the bright sunshine. [Edit: Apparently, this can be changed, but only by fast travelling to specially marked areas on the map. Still an odd choice, but at least there are options!] Split-screen co-op is also an option, and players can jump in and out of the game at any time. Co-op can make solving puzzles and overcoming obstacles much easier, as players will not need to switch between characters as often and multiple tasks can be completed at once. For such a light-hearted adventure as LEGO Jurassic World, I can definitely see co-op being a popular option. The best aspect of LEGO Jurassic World for me was all the little nuances and nods to the films which were sprinkled throughout. Idle animations for characters usually highlighted certain aspects of their personalities or referenced specific moments from the movies. For example, Zach Mitchell will put on his headphones and start dancing, Amanda Kirby will test her megaphone (put that thing away!), and Ian Malcolm will run a Chaos Theory experiment by dripping water onto his hand. Many of the trophies also make great references to the movies; I think my favorite is the "Hello John!" trophy which is awarded for having both characters set to John Hammond. I also loved that Mr. DNA was in charge of all the tutorials and loading screen trivia. Aside from borrowing plot, characters, and locations from the movies, LEGO Jurassic World also borrows sound clips. While some new dialogue was recorded specifically for the game (mostly for the Jurassic World section), a lot of the dialogue is taken directly from the films. This can be entertaining at times (hearing Jeff Goldblum's ridiculous laugh on the helicopter never gets old, even when it's coming out of a LEGO character's mouth), but it can also be quite jarring. Since the tone of the movies does not match the tone of the game, the dialogue is often way too tense and emotional for what should be silly, light-hearted scenes. There are also many instances where background noise from the films can be heard in the game's dialogue, which sounds really strange when compared to the newly recorded dialogue. Unfortunately, LEGO Jurassic World is not without its fair share of bugs. During my time with the game, there were several instances where I had to restart a level after a character got stuck between a wall and an object and couldn't move or jump to escape, or after they fell through the ground when I switched away from them. There were also a few instances where, after spawning a dinosaur and taking control of it, I could no longer switch to any other character and was permanently stuck in my dinosaur body. Usually, this meant I lost all progress on that level up to the point where I got stuck, so that was always a bummer. While it may have its flaws, I was still perfectly satisfied with my time in LEGO Jurassic World. Fans of the LEGO games should basically know what to expect, and Jurassic Park fans should be more than happy with the story, cutscenes, characters, and references. It captured all of my favorite Jurassic Park moments and added its own unique sense of humor into the mix, and that's essentially all I really wanted. And if you still need a reason to play this, just remember that is has LEGO Jeff Goldblum. Let's be honest: that's all anyone really needs. [This review is based on a retail build of the game purchased by the reviewer.]
LEGO Jurassic World photo
Hold onto your butts
Another year, another beloved franchise gets the LEGO treatment. This year, blocks and dinosaurs come together in LEGO Jurassic World, a compilation of games spanning the entire Jurassic Park film franchise. Released simultan...

Bombshell photo
Bombshell

3D Realms' female-led Bombshell gets a new trailer


Old school
Jun 26
// Chris Carter
3D Realms just shared its E3 gameplay trailer for the upcoming Bombshell project, and man does it look cheesy as all hell. Whether that's a good or a bad thing by the time the game hits I don't know, but for now you can...

Review: Batman: Arkham Knight

Jun 25 // Steven Hansen
Batman: Arkham Knight (PC, Xbox One, PS4 [reviewed])Developer: RocksteadyPublisher: Warner Bros.MSRP: $59.99Released: June 23, 2015 Arkham Knight is stitched together with exceptional technical proficiency at the cost of tonal instability. City shared this problem. It insists on the direness of the narrative while letting you busy yourself with 69 (hah) AR challenges. It's worse in Knight, with even more dire stakes (there is nothing to do but escalate, of course) as Scarecrow intends to ruin all of Gotham with the help of the titular Arkham Knight.  There is so much "content" beside the main story path, but most of it is busy work. I've still not rescued all 20 captive firefighters spread throughout the city. Militia members set up dozens of roadblocks across Gotham's three islands that impede the Batmobile, but you can always go around them, or avoid driving except when mandated, given that Batman's grapple and glide are some of the coolest traversal methods in games. Clearing them isn't even that useful. It's just about getting to the super villain (most of whom have no story aside from "they're doing crime") at the end and notching the completion percentage. And of course this brings us to the Batmobile. It is cool and god awful. Calling it to pick Batman up; ejecting from it at high speeds and doing takedowns; the fact that all of Gotham's pillars and corners are destructible, so you typically don't do much crashing; remote control driving it towards Batman, who automatically jumps into it while you maintain control and momentum; the tank mode convincing me I need a Transformers game or Armored Core reboot. [embed]294804:59235:0[/embed] This all works well. It was also a lot of work for Rocksteady. Thus, there are heavy, mandated Batmobile segments, like the aforementioned waves of tank fights, and even a hilarious tank stealth section against bigger, stronger tanks. The Batmobile is cool as something I might occasionally use, but all the work that went into it means it needs a lot of screen time. It's actually pretty fun to chase Firefly through the streets in it, even if you have to do that several times before he's been punched enough to quit. When I'm forced to ferry passengers to the police station in it just so more drones can be thrown my way, it becomes a nuisance. When one side mission involves chasing missile-spongy armored cars while smaller armored cars attack me, over and over, it's not so fun. Everything is strung together nobly, but it's a case if "they were so concerned with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should." Disjointed content put together as well as possible mirrors a main story that works too hard to put Batman in his car. The shorter side missions that pop up woven into the narrative are much more fulfilling than saving 20 different firemen, stopping Two Face's goons from robbing several banks or destroying five or so of Penguin's weapons stashes (though the latter teams Bats with Nightwing and the dual fighter segments are fun). Thankfully I hardly looked at the map screen this time around because there's a d-pad button just to bring up a mission select wheel so it's easy to ping pong between waypoints like an errand boy. I also hardly looked at the upgrades, usually going several hours at a time before dumping like 50 points into skills I mostly didn't use (but do reinforce that car for the mandated tank segments). I can't tell if there is less punching this time around. Maybe it's been replaced by Batmobile segments. There are also more stealth options, including fear takedowns that can be used to instantly incapacitate up to eight enemies at a time (ok, upgrades are sometimes helpful, as it starts at three). I can string together perfect, room-clearing 60x combo fisticuffs with the best of them, but combat never drags in Arkham Knight, which I appreciate because my favorite thing to do is to explore the city. That does bring up a series-long issue of detective mode and waypoints guiding you to the point of feeling like a middle manager. It's nice to just notice side missions -- hearing strange shrieks, hearing opera blaring over a PA system, seeing a building on fire -- rather than being directed towards them, but that's the problem with dealing with this size of open world necessitated by the series trending upward as far as stakes raising goes. But when you stumble on mutilated bodies and every time -- five times! -- the answer is to scan one obvious thing on each of three layers (skin, muscle, bone) with detective mode, you're not really doing anything, much less detecting. Batman is boring, right? The character. Sad about parents, righteous, rich, mostly ideal. When comic fans point to his spot at the top of the echelon it's always about the supporting cast (villains, namely). And so, post Joker, what is there to do? Two things, neither of them original, but one of them done well. Without getting too spoilery, the Joker has inevitably left his mark in the Arkham universe and these ramifications are handled nicely in one half of Arkham Knight, even if they open the door for perhaps the most unoriginal and obvious Batman story to take seed beneath Scarecrow's reign of terror in the other. Scarecrow, to Rocksteady's credit, plays a great villain here, though he does so from the shadows. Because Batman is Batman, it's hard to feel the stakes sometimes, but Scarecrow is good for manipulating Bats and leaving him one step behind, more and more panicked and fragmented. The Arkham Knight, meanwhile, mostly tries to kill you with very large vehicles. The whole tenor of the character feels at odds with his Scarecrow partnership. There's the weird red tactical camo print and his general, impotent rage. His voice, which seems to waver beneath the autotune, is a mix of haughtiness and incredulity. He hates Batman, knows Batman is strong, is sure that he's better, and gets real petulant every time something goes wrong. His hugely amassed, literal army -- ex-United States soldiers now mercenaries -- occasionally remark about how better outfitted they are now than when they were government employees and ask if all this gear is overkill for just one man.   And it's not, because Batman is Batman and he feels immune to even the direst of straits. It makes the villains -- Knight, namely -- look goofy as plan after plan are foiled, though Scarecrow holds it together fairly well as the story takes shots at characters adjacent to Batman. The most interesting story stuff is happening within Batman's head, though, and that's where the series returns to effective use of jump scares (not a bad thing!), Dutch angles, and unreliable world distortion. Shifting the world around the player, moving things that the player isn't looking at. There's some cool, occasionally chilling toying going on, but it's mostly wrapped up in the end of the game. Getting there, Arkham Knight struggles to surprise and delight as Asylum and City. One musical boss "fight" stands out as a show stealer, but it would have been nice to have more inventive moments like the Mr. Freeze fight from City.   If the Batmobile was Rocksteady's gambit in that regard, it failed. It makes for a better occasional use gadget than core gameplay system. The Riddler side mission sums up Arkham Knight's issues fairly well. Apropos of nothing, he becomes a racing aficionado and constructs massive death tracks beneath the city to go with his death traps. This is to cram more Batmobile segments in. He does his same, tired shtick for a third game, this time holding Catwoman captive, but also he's made both race tracks and robots to fight, just to add more. He even explains in-game why if he wins because Batman can't beat the robots, it still counts as a victory of cunning. He's doing mental loops to defend padding. At one point, he taunts that even a chimp can follow basic instructions. Sometimes that feels like Arkham Knight. More of the same isn't all bad; too much more of the same is, especially at the cost of upsetting the balance between familiar and new. Riddler's story can't be resolved (nor can you get the full ending) until you do the 300 or so Riddler trophies/riddles/whatever, but you can at least take it far enough to free Catwoman. Arkham Knight is a solid, if uneven send-off for Rocksteady's trilogy. Combat and predation are still satisfying. The narrative mixes unsurprising, but well done segments with unsurprising and uninteresting elements. It's full of nods, winks, nudges for batfans, even if certain super villain side missions feel needlessly tossed in. It makes me worried about what will happen with Batman in a new developer's less comfortable hands, and excited for what Rocksteady might do, itself free of the Batman myth. [This review is based on a retail build purchased by the reviewer.]
Batman review photo
Long Halloween
[Note: This review is based on a retail PlayStation 4 copy of Batman: Arkham Knight, not the PC version that is so broken publisher Warner Bros. temporarily delisted it from sale] If the difference between the real Batman and...

Review: Cosmochoria

Jun 25 // Patrick Hancock
Cosmochoria (Linux, Mac, PC [reviewed])Developer: Nate SchmoldPublisher: 30/30Released: April 27, 2015MSRP: $9.99  When Cosmochoria begins, the player is plopped into an unknown point in space with a few seeds and a gun. From there, they are tasked with restoring planets using seeds to bring some color and harmony back to the universe. Along the way, the player uncovers secrets about the history of the universe and destroys some evil beasts that come to ruin the party. The backstory isn't exactly rich with details or particularly interesting, but it does help build the universe. The game is a bit of a mix between a tower defense and a twin-stick shooter. It's a very unique combination, and honestly I'm not sure that description does it much justice. As the player flies around to different planets, they must plant seeds to restore the planet back to life. The bigger the planet, the more seeds needed. A player must first tend to the seed to plant it, which makes them immobile for a short time. Then, it takes some time for the seed to fully bloom. Once a seed blooms, it drops more seeds for exponential seed gains (players will never run out of seeds). After enough seeds have bloomed on a planet, it becomes restored! This does two things: the planet now has a "health pool" that it can transfer to the player to heal them up, and it brings the game one step closer to the next boss fight. The latter is not explicitly stated, but from my experience is true. Naturally, enemies come to chop off the player's green thumb. Luckily, the player can use a resource called Bricks to create towers and defend the planets. In addition, there's always the trusty gun to ward off foes. Ammo is unlimited, but Bricks are not. Bricks are occasionally dropped by enemies and are far scarcer resource than seeds. Towers are the standard fare of rapid-fire, fireballs, shields, and close-ranged.  [embed]293752:59233:0[/embed] While playing, I heavily favored gunplay over towers, especially once I unlocked the shotgun. When I was building towers, it was generally because I felt guilty for having so many Bricks saved up or because I expected a boss fight to break out. The bosses are quite the mixed bag. A handful of them act in very similar ways, but the game does change them up often enough to keep the players on their toes. Towards the mid-point of the game, I had no idea what to expect from any upcoming boss fight. In some cases towers were quite useful, whereas in others they were borderline useless. The final boss fight, while fittingly grand in scale, can be confusing because it forces the player to use a weapon they may have never tried before. For anyone stuck like I was: your weapon during the final boss fight can be charged, so charge it. The common enemies have interesting behaviors, but there are not enough different types. Towards the latter half, everything starts to feel like it's on auto-pilot. Plant seeds, kill the same enemies, move on. It got to the point where I could predict what was going to happen and when. Enemy spawning felt way too formulaic instead of being organic.  Cosmochoria is not meant to be completed in a single life, but it isn't what would be considered a "rogulike," "roguelite," or even a "rogue-lighter-that-lite." Killing foes rewards red crystals, which can be used in between playthroughs to purchase upgrades. Things like life, speed, starting seeds, and new weapons can all be purchased and have various prices. While it is probably technically possible to complete the game with the starting stats and equipment, it's very unlikely. Plus, it would be a slow and painful process. The increase in efficiency after getting a new weapon is huge and dramatically improves the experience. The early-goings can get a bit dull, since even a skilled player has to take their time killing enemies and bosses at the slow pace the starting weapon achieves. My second run lasted for a couple of hours, but I didn't make tremendous progress. New characters can also be unlocked, but not through spending crystals. They need to be found, usually through completing mini-objectives, during the game. They do have slight differences. For example, the ninja character becomes intangible while planting seeds. This is an incredibly neat mechanic, though enemies still know where the player is and will often just hover above and hurt them as soon as they become tangible again. Regardless, it still has its uses and is better than the starting character (but not as naked). In addition to upgrades, players can find artifacts to modify the way the game is played. The modifiers vary wildly in what they do and are completely optional. Some make the game harder, like only refilling jetpack fuel with kills, while others do the opposite, like removing certain types of enemies completely. It's a great way to spice up the core gameplay with mini-objectives of finding artifacts and to customize Cosmochoria to the player's liking.  The game saves the player's progress after each boss fight, though towers and location of planets do not stay between lives. The amount of planets restored is saved, but they are in different locations and different sizes. In addition, all planted towers are removed between lives, which further discouraged me from planting them in the first place.  The art and music are both wonderful, making the time spent in Cosmochoria memorable. The art is downright adorable in every way. Colors pop, which has a huge impact when restoring planets. Players can really see their progress in that regard. What once was a drab and lifeless husk of a planet becomes a bountiful and beautiful one,giving the player a real sense of accomplishment. Cosmochoria is a great way to explore space, but falls short in some aspects of its design. The core mechanics are great, but the latter half feels too repetitive, and there's not much real incentive to replay the game, despite there being many new things to uncover. It is certainly worth the time invested into it, though it may not have players screaming for more. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Cosmochoria review photo
In space, no one can hear you plant
When I first played Cosmochoria at PAX, I had to be pulled away from the demo station because of an appointment. The game's blend of calming gardening mixed with tower defense and space spelunking really jived with me. A...

Rodea: The Sky Soldier might be a bumpy ride

Jun 25 // Kyle MacGregor
Rodea: The Sky Soldier was initially conceived as a Wii game, but it came too late in the day for a system nearing the end of its life cycle. It needed to be reworked as a Wii U and 3DS title. The thing is, the Wii is a special console, and Rodea was developed with its unique attributes in mind. Motion controls are a tad different than standard inputs, and the transition between the two seems to have left an indelible imprint on Rodea's design. Taking to the skies in this aerial action game doesn't come as second nature. With the press of a button, Rodea lifts into the air and hovers for a moment as you aim where you want him to go. He can't fly indefinitely, though, and will fall to his death unless you find another object for him to bounce off within an allotted time frame. It seems like the type of interface that would work seamlessly with the Wii's IR pointer, but on Wii U GamePad, I found myself flying off at odd angles, often coming frustratingly close to objectives that seemed just out of reach. Perhaps it's the sort of thing that comes with practice, but in a brief demo on the E3 show floor, only got a glimpse at what sort of joys Rodea might have to offer.  Though it never felt intuitive, there were flashes when I managed to soar through the air with some semblance of precision. And in those fleeting moments I could really feel Yuji Naka's (Sonic Adventure, NiGHTS into Dreams) fingerprints all over the game, as I bounded from one floating isle to the next, collecting rings in this ethereal obstacle course. More than anything, my time with Rodea: The Sky Soldier made me oddly happy the Wii U version is coming tethered with a copy of the game on Wii. I'm not sure how much easier it will be to pilot on its original platform, but it feels like that's how it was intended to be experienced. Either that or flight isn't a skill easily mastered in a few mere minutes.
Rodea impressions  photo
Awkward aeronautics
My first flight with Rodea: The Sky Soldier wasn't a smooth one. But perhaps that's to be expected of a title that's seen such a turbulent development history. The project went dark shortly after its initial announcement in 2010, then underwent a change of platforms -- something that seems all too apparent after a few minutes with the final product.

Arkham Knght photo
Arkham Knght

Arkham Knght's gude mght have made a spellng mstake


How long before someone notced
Jun 24
// Joe Parlock
Writing for the Internet is strangely calming. I know that if I make a mistake (which I do, frequently) that I can quickly edit it and it’s gone forever. Unfortunately in the world of book publishing, that’s not s...

Review: Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition

Jun 23 // Chris Carter
Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition (PC, PS4, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: CapcomPublisher: CapcomMSRP: $24.99Release Date: June 23, 2015 After booting it up, you'll have the option to play the original campaign with Nero and Dante, solely as Vergil, or a joint story of Lady and Trish, mirroring the former pair's split-story. Each character has their own customizable set of controls, and the Legendary Dark Knight mode (previously exclusive to the PC version) is open from the very start. I immediately sprung for Vergil and was not disappointed. If you're a newcomer, you'll likely want to replay the base story for some background, as the new characters merely have a new intro and ending to cap things off. It's essentially the exact same levels and bosses, but thanks to the fundamentally reworked movesets, the experiences feel nothing alike. Also for newcomers, the "automatic" control option returns for easier combos, as well as an automatic level-up function where the game chooses your upgrades for you. Veterans will be pleased to find a turbo option (increasing the speed by 20%) as well as your typical lock-on tweaks. Those of you out there who never played the PC version are in for a treat, as Legendary Dark Knight is about as balls-to-the-wall as it gets. The entire screen in nearly every area is littered with enemies, and it even goes so far as to add in endgame foes in the second mission. [embed]293573:58903:0[/embed] Despite the fact that there aren't any other major new modes, this is not a lazy remake by any means, as the three aforementioned character additions spice things up considerably. Vergil is probably my personal favorite new playstyle; possibly my favorite of the entire series. His style is fast and flashy, as he can still "trick" teleport up, down (which can also be used to cancel attacks), and forward, but he has a major new mechanic to manage that makes him more unique. Vergil now has a "concentration" gauge, which increases when he is walking, taunting, or connecting with abilities, and lowers when he runs, whiffs attacks, or gets hit. Raising this gauge increases your statline and opens up some new powers that are reliant on a full meter. It completely changes the way you play, as walking like a badass is now a priority, and missing attacks is more punishing. That's not to say that the game is "impossible" if you don't feel like mastering concentration on a normal or easy difficulty level, it just makes it more fun -- though it will increase your chances of survival later on. Take one advanced tactic from Vergil: teleporting. By using a sword projectile, Vergil can "stick" an enemy for later. By using the forward trick, you can instantly teleport to that marked baddie. He's extremely mobile, much like Dante's trickster style in Devil May Cry 3 or his appearance herein. To me, Vergil is the main event. Trish and Lady crash as well, starting with a small pizza party intro with Dante. Lady's playstyle, like Vergil before her, completely changes the way one would approach Devil May Cry, mostly because of her reliance on guns. In previous games, guns could always be used with effectiveness, but weren't really ideal. With Lady though, they're front and center. She has her Kalina Ann rocket launcher (which doubles as a grappling hook to mirror Nero's platforming abilities in the story), handguns, and a shotgun. While the latter two guns mesh with Dante's gunslinger style, the Kalina Ann acts almost nothing like it did in Devil May Cry 3. Her rocket sports a few melee abilities, a rocket-jump boost, and a throw, but the focus for her is ranged combat. Additionally, since Lady is human, she uses a super grenade blast instead of a Devil Trigger. It's really hard to get a good style rating at first, but once you learn to start chaining throws and juggling with different guns and abilities, it gets real fun real fast. Classic bosses like Berial are seen in a whole new light when you're trying to turtle and keep them at bay with rockets. I didn't expect much from Trish, but she's come a long way since her appearance in the first game. Her entire style hinges on the fact that she can't switch weapons, and instead just has a shit-ton of moves at her disposal. This sounds lame on paper. It's anything but in practice, as said moves are a ton of fun. In addition to a smorgasbord of powers from the entire series, she also sports some movesets from Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, as well as Round Trip, a boomerang of sorts that will continue to attack enemies while she's doing her thing. Dante himself though is still the king. He has access to his five styles (Trickster, Swordmaster, Gunslinger, Royalguard, and Dark Slayer), which can be switched out at any time using the d-pad. If you haven't seen the absolutely insane combos and possibilities that this system creates, take a look at this. Yes, with 1080p visuals and 60fps, you can still craft and employ advanced frame-specific mechanics, and beyond. With how deep the combat system is even to this day, I expect plenty of similar discoveries for the rest of the cast. That cast, by the way, is added in a way that feels like a natural continuation of Devil May Cry 3, which is a nice touch. I love little details like the fact that everyone has their own lock-on reticle. Sadly, the bad news is that all of this extra content doesn't necessarily fix the level design. The core problem hinges with the halfway point of the campaign, in which Dante (or Vergil/Trish) backtracks through the story, fighting the same exact bosses all over again. Not every level is exactly the same per se, but it's enough to grate on most players, especially since the pacing slows down a bit near the end. To unlock Dante, you'll have to play as Nero, and to unlock Trish, you'll have to play as Lady for a while. It's not that this system is bad per se because of how strong the combat systems are, it's just odd, as it feels like Capcom rushed its development a bit. The boss fights themselves are challenging and enjoyable, but having to do them all over again (or more, once you hit a gauntlet-like area at the end) is a bummer. The same goes for trekking through locales you've already seen at length. Having said all that, the juice is worth the squeeze, even more-so than before because of the new playstyles. While Nero operated like a handicapped Dante in the original edition, Vergil, Trish, and Lady have all cemented their places into the pantheon of Devil May Cry, to the point where I would love to see at least one of them (if not all) return in a future iteration. Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition reaffirms the series' status as the current king of the action genre. It may not fix some of the blemishes inherent to the game's campaign, but the new characters and styles are fantastic, and will have players creating combo videos for years to come. With respect to DmC and everything it accomplished, this is the Devil May Cry I want to see in the future, Capcom. [This review is based on a retail build provided by the publisher.]
Devil May Cry review photo
Real Dante returns
It wasn't until I played the very first Devil May Cry game that I knew I was an action fan. I must have beaten it five times at launch, pouring through every facet over weeks, perfecting my frame-by-frame combat abilities -- ...

Bat deals photo
Bat deals

All the Batman: Arkham Knight deals for this week's launch


Price takedown
Jun 22
// Dealzon
After a few delay and hiccups, the Caped Crusader's newest title Batman: Arkham Knight releases tomorrow on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. The game lists for the usual $59.99, but on PC there are a handful of deals for...
Phantom Dust photo
Phantom Dust

Xbox One's Phantom Dust no longer in active development


Microsoft-canceled project done
Jun 22
// Steven Hansen
Microsoft announced a Phantom Dust reboot at its E3 conference in 2014, but less than a year later the project was shelved, allegedly due to unfair demands by Microsoft. Developer Darkside was shutdown and over 50 people lost...
Eitr photo
Eitr

Hands-on with 2D Souls-like Eitr


Eitr? I hardly even know her!
Jun 22
// Steven Hansen
Zack and I finally played Eitr, which I've talked about before, at E3 this year. Then we sat very close together in camping chairs, shared a mic, and talked about it. To quote a YouTube comment, "Is everyone is dtoid just ga...
Batman photo
Batman

This will be a nice eulogy for Batman if he dies in Arkham Knight


Legends live on
Jun 22
// Brett Makedonski
Like The Wallflowers (and David Bowie before them), we're talking heroes, if just for one day. And, in just one day, Batman will likely again prove himself a hero in Arkham Knight. That's sort of his thing. In this rather po...
Hyrule Warriors photo
More DLC is basically confirmed
It looks like there's going to be more to Hyrule Warriors Legends on 3DS than meets the eye, if this Famitsu interview with producer Yosuke Hayashi is any indication. Apparently the inspiration for a portable version is ...

Mother Russia Bleeds is a brutal throwback to classic brawlers

Jun 19 // Alessandro Fillari
Set in an alternate universe where the USSR has been crippled with crime and drug abuse, leaving society in an ever-present dystopian fugue-state, a group of street fighters take it upon themselves to fight back against the criminal element. Addicted to mysterious drugs in syringes that enhance their abilities, they'll have to use their skills to take down the Russian mafia, the powerful government, and a secret society of sexual deviants to exact revenge on those that have laid waste to the motherland. While the plot is pretty standard for a beat-'em-up, the story gets damn dark throughout. What's interesting is that you're not necessarily a good guy -- just a lesser shade of grey roaming the streets. The presentation does a great job of pulling you into this twisted world. Much like Hotline Miami, it uses dark and hypnotic lights to set the tone, and also manages to mess with your head. There were several points where I really tripped by the visual style. And I mean that as a good thing. The style is trance-like, and once it gets you, it doesn't let go. Much like the classic titles Mother Russia Bleeds pays homage too, its controls are largely easy to get into and remember. With a combination of heavy and light attacks, including grab and dash moves, you'll be able to take out the various enemies trying to rush you down. You'll also find weapons and gear in the field, such as bats, guns, and bar stools. Moreover, each character possesses their own moveset and stats. Out of the three characters available, I chose Boris, a seemingly homeless brawler with serious speed. With his moves, I made quick work of the mobs. Oddly enough, friendly fire was enabled by default, which made battles hectic but also irritating. Thankfully, you can turn it off (unless you're in need of an extra challenge). With that said, there are a number of cool additions to the traditional mechanics. The syringes that the fighters possess grant them buffs for periods of time. When used, the screen turns dark and the fighter on his high will gain super speed and increased strength. Also, they get access to a unique fatality, which instantly kills one enemy. They're brutal and satisfying to pull off, but you'll sacrifice the remainder of your buff period. Also, syringes are used to heal yourself and revive downed allies. Though if you're running on empty, you can sacrifice some of your own life to revive them. Playing Mother Russia Bleeds was a trippy experience. Though there were a number of odd quirks they'll have to iron out before released, I was very pleased with what I played. We also got a peek of some upcoming features outside of the story mode. Along with Boss Rush, challenge missions, Arena, and Versus play, the developers plan on giving the people the total package. I got the sense that this was made from folks that loved the genre, and with their aspirations to help revitalize the brawlers, I can say fans will find a lot to admire here.
Devolver Digital photo
Launches on PC, Mac, and PS4 in 2016
One of my favorite types of games from back in the day was the side-scrolling beat-'em-up. Though the sub-gene has sorta evolved into more standard and narrative-based action games, I still feel there's more to be done with t...

Crossing Souls is a stellar tribute to the 1980s

Jun 19 // Alessandro Fillari
Set in a small town during the summer of 1986, a group of friends stumble across an ancient artifact that allows them to connect with the world of the dead. Interacting with ghosts of former residents, both long-past and recently departed, they begin to learn that things are not what they appear to be in their boring, quiet town. But soon after, they discover that several forces want control of the relic for themselves, and they must evade police, the U.S. government, and other supernatural entities in order to keep it out of their hands. The developers behind Crossing Souls cite '80s films and TV, along with '90s video games like EarthBound and A Link to the Past as their major sources of inspiration. During my half hour with the game, it was clear that this was a love letter to the era. It not only exudes style channeling the playful rebelliousness of E.T. and The Goonies, but also the sense of adventure found in SNES action/adventure titles. Stylistically, it's a charming game featuring VHS-esque distortion during many of the animated cutscenes. And with music from Timecop1983, one of the Internet's more well known Snyth-Pop artists, Crossing Souls pulls those nostalgia strings hard, and it does so in an evocative way. As the group must keep the balance between the world of the living and the dead, they'll have to explore both realms simultaneously. Each of the five friends possess their own strengths, which necessitates switching between them. Some have certain skills for climbing and heavy lifting, while others have access to ranged attacks. While exploring the town, you can freely interact with the folks from both the living and dead realms. It's completely open, and you can uncover side-missions and events that will have you explore the furthest reaches of town. My favorite part of the demo was exploring the town square and seeing ghosts from the past comment about 1980s culture. It was interesting to see the changes between the two. In one world you could be relatively safe in a populated area, but in another you might get swarmed by vengeful ghosts looking to attack anything alive. Also featured in the game will be an Arcade mode. Throughout your adventures, you'll come across mini-games and special encounters that will have you take part in a trial of wits and timing, and after they're completed you can play them again at any time within this mode. During one segment, I had to evade the police on my bike in style very reminiscent of Battletoad's infamous speeder bike sequence. Thankfully, this one was a lot more fun and less stressful. I wonder what else the game has in store. The mini-games were a cool diversion from the core gameplay, and I'm sure most players will find one they'll gravitate to. I wish I could've spent more time with Crossing Souls. I'm a huge admirer of 1980s culture and entertainment, and it hit all the right nostalgic notes. This was totally the type of game any '80s and even '90s kid would want to experience, and it recalled all the cool moments I had playing video games or watching cartoons back then. Fourattic channels that sense of wonder and awe of experiencing something so fresh and charming. I can't wait to see more from this title in the coming months, and with its release next spring, you'll get to re-experience an era of exuberance soon.
Devolver Digital photo
Releasing on PC and Mac in spring
In recent years, Kickstarter has opened the doors for a lot of developers looking to make things happen. It's a real pleasure to see titles that would've never been greenlit by publishers find an audience willing to put up ca...

Vampyr photo
Vampyr

Vampyr teaser: Brief look at Life is Strange dev's new game


'The Role Playing Game'
Jun 18
// Steven Hansen
Dontnod is still wrapping up Life is Strange, but the Remember Me developer is also working on a new RPG with Focus Home Interactive called Vampyr. It was announced earlier this year, but this little concept teaser is the first look at the tone and whatnot Dontnod is going for its new project.
Batman CE photo
Batman CE

Batman: Arkham Knight $200 Batmobile edition canceled


'Greatly compromised' statue
Jun 18
// Steven Hansen
Ugh, what is this, Batmantoid!? I just wrote about how the exclusivity of the retail-exclusive DLC expires a few months after release, but there's one other Bat-thing to note, which is that WB has canceled the $200 edition wi...

Shadow Warrior 2 goes even more over the top with co-op action

Jun 17 // Alessandro Fillari
Set after the events of the previous game, Lo Wang returns to battle armies of demons that have invaded our realm, and it's up to him and his new ninja warrior buddies to take them out. The plot is as ridiculous as the original, and probably more so with the addition of new characters and a much larger arsenal of weapons. The claws and throwing blades are extremely fast, and make quick work of the demons in incredibly gory fashion. One thing that was immediately clear was that the gameplay of Shadow Warrior has been considerably expanded. The corridor-shooter aspect of the original game has been ditched in favor of more open levels to explore. While not open world, there is much more room for exploration and traversal throughout the environments. Platforming and general movement has been enhanced to take advantage of the new lateral movement gameplay. Wang will no longer have to worry about managing his stamina, as his ninja abilities have given him enhanced strength and dexterity, allowing him to climb walls and run across rooftops with ease.  Moreover, the general structure of the game has been changed as well. With a new hub area, Wang and his allies will be able to acquire quests and upgrade their characters before venturing out into the missions. As the last game was largely a straight shot through a series of chapters, SW2 gives players more freedom in how they tackle objectives. This also allows players to revisit earlier missions much easier to re-engage past foes in order to build up Wang's strength. With the new character progression system, players will be flesh out the Shadow Warrior in very unique ways. Since the last game, the developers decided to seriously up the combat and character growth aspect with brand new RPG mechanics. As you battle enemies, you'll level up your weapons and acquire gems to augment your equipment, giving them elemental properties and buffs. While it's not Diablo-esque loot where you'll find near-infinite forms of the same weapons, the gems you find will give your gear some interesting buffs that will vary from character to character. Of course, you'll be revisting missions very often, and the devs decided to include new procedural content for the level design. Every mission (save for specific story events) will feature procedurally generated level design and content. Enemy positions, terrain, buildings, and weather conditions are all random, which will make repeat visits interesting. During one level, we came across a town with several buildings and mobs of foes to take down. The design itself was impressive, as it encouraged a large focus on vertical movement and flanking of the demons. Keep in mind that this was random, and it will feature an entirely different design. Furthermore, the level design will also take into account side-quests and other events that happen in real time, which will add more flavor. I only had a brief amount of time with Shadow Warrior 2, but I was plenty pleased with what saw. I sometimes get worried when action games go more RPG for their sequels, but the additions to the growth system and action only enhance the core sword/gun play. I was impressed with SW2. Lastly, co-op play looks to be a lot of fun, and though the new characters are mostly anonymous ninjas, each player in group will play as Wang in their own game, while the others appear as the newcomers. It's in a clever way of making sure everyone gets a bit of Wang. With release set for sometime next year across PC, PS4, and Xbox One, fans of the original will be getting more Shadow Warrior into their hands much sooner than they think.
Shadow Warrior 2 photo
Wang is back, baby
2013's Shadow Warrior reboot from Devolver Digital made a name for itself when it was released on PC. As most reboots of classic titles tend to go for a more gritty and toned-down vibe, the developers at Flying Wild Hog went ...

Hollowpoint photo
Hollowpoint

Hollowpoint gives co-op shooting a fresh perspective


Cover shooting from all angles
Jun 17
// Alessandro Fillari
Update: Cross-play for PS4 and PC will not be a feature for Hollowpoint.It feels like you can't go anywhere without seeing another co-op shooter set for release or being announced for the first time. Since the success of titl...
Hyrule Warriors photo
Hyrule Warriors

Everyone look under your Hyrule Warriors chairs!


Free costume
Jun 17
// Chris Carter
While everyone was off enjoying all of the new announcements that came out of E3, Hyrule Warriors got a really small update. How small? Well, Link now has an extra "Classic Tunic" costume for use in the game to celebrate...
Fable Legends photo
Fable Legends

Fable Legends has 'years of content' planned


Not a one-and-done
Jun 16
// Darren Nakamura
At the PC gaming show this evening, Xbox's Phil Spencer came out and introduced a few developers working on PC and Xbox One. One game in the presentation was Fable Legends, which I liked the last time I played it. In addition...

Fumito Ueda's new studio and another look at The Last Guardian

Jun 16 // Steven Hansen
[embed]294073:59057:0[/embed] Ueda didn't dish much while playing. It was as if time froze and the last few years of absence didn't exist. You'll have to "utilize the strengths and weaknesses of each of the characters," he said. That is dealing with Trico's animal nature, which can't be directly player-controlled, and the boy's limited physical abilities. Of course there was stuff already shown off in the trailer. The boy's delightful high-step running animation, along with a slow, adorable creep walk I didn't see yesterday. I also noticed for the first time what looks like a blue orb at the end of Trico's tail. And that second slow-motion jump where the boy grabs Trico's tail? Ueda fell to his death and respawned at right before the purple windmill thing got pushed down, so it's not a cutscene, you'll still have to make the grab. That fall was emblematic of the sense of height and depth Ueda likes to instill in his games. Trico serves as something of a "safety net" to help keep the boy safe, "overcome the psychological stress" of the fraught architecture. "ICO...was about the cooperation of the boy and Yorda," while Shadow of the Colossus was "about the dynamic interaction" between Wander and the monsters. The Last Guardian is the "best of both worlds," as if Shadow of the Colossus isn't a decade old. I kind of appreciate that lack as lip service paid to the lengthy development, however interesting a behind the scenes story it may be. George Miller just came back and made a new Mad Max after 30 years. Ten ain't shit. I'll likely have a pleasant time playing The Last Guardian next year, without mad hype or pent up disappointment. I hope Ueda manages to realize his vision after all the rigamarole, because his last two games are fabulous.
Timeless photo
Timeless
I had a chance to get another, slightly extended look The Last Guardian demoed by creative director Fumito Ueda himself. Ueda left Sony in 2011, though it was said he remained on in a contract capacity. Ueda explained the gam...

Just Cause 3 somehow makes explosions easier than ever before

Jun 16 // Brett Makedonski
Immediately after beginning, fellow editor Jordan Devore tethered three grapples to the crotch on a statue of an oppressive ruler, pulled it until the entire thing crumbled to pieces (dick tater, am I right?), hooked the statue's head to a helicopter, and flew it off a cliff to a fiery death. Yep, Just Cause 3 is pretty fucking wonderful. The third installment in Avalanche's over-the-top action thriller franchise has a plot, but you wouldn't know it from what we played. Now that he has a few kills under his belt, Rico's returned to the Mediterranean-inspired area that he left as a child to overthrow an evil dictator. Our sandbox was more concerned with defying physics with the parachute and grappling hook, and using the wingsuit to glide far over the land and sea alike. Ironically, the wingsuit moments provided a nice touch of tranquility as we floated over the gorgeous landscape. From that high up, everything looked so serene and peaceful -- it was almost impossible to believe it's the work of an oppressive regime. That was immediately cut short when the next thought was "this needs more explosions." Because Just Cause 3 prioritizes the ridiculous over the believable, Rico is a one-man demolition crew and his supply never wanes. Avalanche has equipped him with a never-ending supply of C4, meaning that explosions are never more than a second or two away. What's the best way to dismantle this factory or to put this bridge out of commission? Our good friend C4 does the trick nicely. A lot of the design decisions were seemingly made as a result of Avalanche shrugging its shoulders. Regarding infinite C4, a studio representative told us "Why not?" Likewise, a new helicopter stunt trick where you hang upside down from the bottom was implemented because "That's just cool." After playing Just Cause 3 for a half hour, it appears that the developer put anything in the game that would make for a good time. It's certainly not a bad direction to take. Another point of emphasis for Avalanche pertains to traversal. The developer wanted to create a world that's easy and fun to move around. That's why the wingsuit, grappling hook, and parachute seemingly offer an infinite amount of momentum -- because slowing to a crawl just isn't as thrilling. It's also the reason why cars can be saved in garages and then recalled anytime you're near one. Hey, if you're going to take the discreet way around Just Cause 3, you may as well do it in style. Regardless of method, getting around Just Cause 3 may take a bit longer than you'd think. Avalanche developers tell us that the world is at least as big as Just Cause 2, but the layout's inherently different. The third installment will feature lots of islands, archipelagos, and little towns (Just Cause 2 kind of did too, but we're just going with what we're told). Also, Avalanche says that all the towns feel varied from one another and have their own sense of culture, so to speak. We wouldn't know a ton about that, because we were restricted to the first area of the game. Zooming out on the map, we could see the other two regions. They were significantly larger, and, as we were assured, significantly more difficult. When that's all available, players will get to experience what might be the developer's biggest goal: To create a perfect flow through the world. When all is said and done, Avalanche wants you to be able to flawlessly travel anywhere you want, however you want, and have a blast doing it. While it was nice seeing first-hand that Just Cause 3 nails all the things you'd expect Just Cause to nail, it was almost disappointing that the demo was completely unstructured. Okay, the sandbox element works great, but what does it have to offer players who want a reason to press forward? We weren't given a glimpse at that. Hopefully it's as competent as the free reign component is. Really, the takeaway from our time with Just Cause 3 is blowing up a lot of stuff makes for an enthralling time. It's not a revelation necessarily, so much as it is a good reminder. As we concluded the demo by demolishing a water tower that towered over a military base, a rep for the developer told us with a half-grin on his face "we're not really into subtlety." That's great, Avalanche, because neither are we.
Just Cause preview photo
That's saying something
So many preview events obsess themselves with presenting a carefully crafted slice of game. Here's a chunk of gameplay that puts the title's best foot forward. Don't deviate too far off the path, stick to the rules, and a P...

It's truly fun traversing Assassin's Creed Syndicate's London

Jun 16 // Brett Makedonski
As these things go, our E3 demo was free of any sort of missteps that would hint at a repeat performance. No surprise there; these showings are almost always incredibly polished even though they're all in "pre-alpha." What is worth noting is that Ubisoft actually let us have hands-on time this year. In 2014, it was a one-on-one hands-off session while a developer played. That could be a small indicator that the publisher has more faith in this year's iteration. I was turned loose in a very small section of London, and I immediately felt a knowing comfort. Assassin's Creed isn't going to change that much, after all. Having just walked out of a pub, protagonist Jacob was on the ground and surrounded by three story (or so) buildings. Rooftops are the much preferred method of getting around, so it's time to start ascending. This is where Syndicate made its open-world pacing apparent. Rather than climbing the face of every structure, Jacob can shoot a grappling hook that will almost instantaneously transport him to any summit. It may seem like it wouldn't be all that noteworthy, as several titles have implemented the same feature in recent years. But, it does such a great job of opening up the Assassin's Creed traversal, it's impossible to ignore its significance here. [embed]294140:59097:0[/embed] Once on the rooftops, it was simple to shoot ziplines across to even further destinations. It's no longer necessary to go from roof to ground and back up when trying to cross a city. Now, pathfinding is incredibly simple because it just requires a quick tap of a button to fire across the chasm. These ziplines serve another purpose too, though. Partway between two points, Jacob can decide that whatever's underneath him needs a quick blade in the back of the neck. Performing air assassinations while gliding along proves to be quite satisfying, not to mention efficient. This particular demo tasked me with clearing out a relatively small compound, which was a great opportunity to test out the only new weapon I was shown. Jacob has hallucinogenic darts at his disposal, which make enemies easy to deal with. What's more, shooting them into a fire gives them an area-of-effect radius instead of only harming one target. I took out three people with one dart and then threw a knife to drop some cargo on the head of a fourth. It was a pretty great way to quickly and creatively dispatch a handful of enemies. That's when the faction leader began fleeing, necessitating commandeering someone's buggy to chase them down. With a terrified horse pulling me around with all the grace you'd expect from a panicked animal, I eventually caught up. This initiated a "gang war" where I fought alongside approximately ten others to kill those on the other side, which concluded the demo. For the few takeaways I had, I was left with more questions. What role would Evie play opposite of Jacob? Will either be playable under any circumstance, or do they each have scenes dedicated to them? How will gameplay differ between the two? What are Ubisoft's plans for the modern story? How will the boroughs of London seem unique? I had a lot of inquiries, but the developers were tight-lipped about almost everything, simply stating that oft-repeated line "We're going to be talking about that later." Frustrating as it is, it's par for the course. Information's always locked down until the publisher's ready to reveal. From what we saw, everything about Syndicate is very Assassin's Creed. That's not much of a revelatory statement, but it is what it is. The grappling hook -- the one thing that isn't very Assassin's Creed -- was undoubtedly the finest feature. It's not the type of change that will be at the forefront of someone's mind when they think about the game, but it's an improvement that will keep traversal from becoming too much of a slog. That's a welcome addition if I've ever heard of one.
AC Syndicate preview photo
And a whole lot quicker
Ubisoft finally had all the perils that come with annual franchise installments come crashing down on it last year with Assassin's Creed Unity. It was the most ambitious Assassin's Creed title to date -- with its insanel...


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