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Gamescom

Crookz puts a '70s heist movie spin on tactical gaming

Aug 17 // Dale North
[embed]279728:55320:0[/embed] Crookz is a single-player tactical game has players guiding the movement of a crew of thieves through their missions as they infiltrate buildings, sneak around guards, and work through obstacles to lift their heist target. These thieves all have unique skill sets that forces players to think about how they'll work together achieve goals. For example, a technician might have to cut the security cameras off so that the specialist can enter a room to pick a lock.  The game is presented in an isometric view, with the ceiling removed from a missions buildings and obstacles, letting players guide crew members through. Each member is directed by clicking on interaction points, like doors or locks, where context-sensitive options will pop up. Some of these situations have timing attached. For example, the runner would want to wait until an armed guard passed by before sneaking down a hallway. Otherwise, the game's action stays paused, leaving the player to issue commands and develop strategies. Crookz's missions play out like a large, multi branched puzzles. While applying different crew members' specialities to is at the heart of the gameplay, there is some freedom for creativity with the game's single-use items and found treasures. With the right item, the runner could temporarily take on the role of a technician to hack surveillance gear, for example. I watched a mission where a crew of three had to break into a protected building, work their way through laser traps, pick locks, sneak past guards, find keys, hack junction boxes, and more, to make their way to a room where an erotic gold statue protected a huge diamond. It sounds complicated, but you don't take all of these challenges on at once. With the way the player is able to move about the map and thoughtfully apply skills and item use, Crookz has a pretty laid-back pace. The music I heard during this showing was quite good. We were told that they hired a band to track the funky soundtrack, which comes complete with wah-wah guitars and drums.  There are a lot of games with thieves in them, but not many where they sport afros and leisure suits. I dig how the heist vibe somehow really fits with its tactical gameplay. With its 20 missions to work through, Crookz looks like a game that could be really groovy to really dig into. Crookz is coming to PC, Mac, and Linux in 2015. 
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First look at gamescom
A tactical game with a '70s heist movie theme? Finding something like that at gamescom is about as unlikely as finding a videogame trailer with porn star Ron Jeremy in it. But here we are with both. 

Star Citizen multiplayer photo
Star Citizen multiplayer

This Star Citizen multiplayer crew gameplay demo looks amazing!


Suit up, gather your crew, and head into space in this latest Star Citizen demonstration
Aug 16
// Rob Morrow
Chris Roberts' ambitious space trading and combat simulator Star Citizen has come a long way since its crowdfunding beginnings back in 2012. In this latest footage from gamescom 2014, Roberts and his staff demonstrate h...

Rediscover a Lara Croft you already know in Temple of Osiris

Aug 16 // Brett Makedonski
Perhaps the biggest alteration that Temple of Osiris employs is simply the number of people that are in on the action. Whereas the first game in the series featured two-player co-op, Temple of Osiris drops up to four into the fray. The characters pair off into two groups with unique capabilities. Lara and fellow treasure hunter Carter Bell can grapple to distant locations, while Egyptian gods Horus and Isis are equipped with light staffs. Each proves essential for clearing certain sections, but no characters feel more powerful than others. In the event that there's only a single player, Lara is given a staff to assist with certain sections. On the surface, Temple of Osiris is all about teamwork. Traversing across several tombs in an Egyptian setting in an effort to stop the god Osiris' evil brother Set is technically the reason for this dangerous endeavor. Your partners will feel invaluable as you fight monsters, solve puzzles, and wander off into intriguing nooks. Don't be naive -- they have an ulterior motive just like you. Underscoring the entirety of Temple of Osiris is a sense of competition. The game ranks players after each level, elevating the top performer on a pedestal where they're showered with gems. These gems act as the game's currency, so it's easy to get caught up in wanting more than your compadres. Before long, you're scrambling to pick up the point bonuses, get the final blow on enemies, and find that secret area first. It gives you that one-up that isn't necessary, but you just want so badly. [embed]279606:55317:0[/embed] The pursuit of gems is how the game accentuates its light RPG system. A treasure room that's available in between levels features a wealth of chests that all have random gear to equip. Chests vary in cost to open -- the higher the cost, the better the chance that it'll hold rare items. Crystal Dynamics isn't too willing to talk about the economy of Temple of Osiris yet, so it's unknown whether you'll be able to just buy specific items. Regardless, it's a certainty that gems are something you'll want lots of. Temple of Osiris offers the ability to go back to previous sections and grind out gems if you so wish. After each level, an elevator option is available, which takes the team back to an overworld hub where everything's replayable. It'll end up being a great help when seeking to clear side challenges or set high scores, especially considering that doing so is how some of the game's best gear is unlocked. These challenges won't be a cakewalk. In our demo, gameplay wasn't overly difficult, but it also gave the impression that it'd be tough to do consistently well. Dying resets a point multiplier along with a deduction in points, meaning that consistency is absolutely key. Compounding matters are the typical flaws associated with this style of game. Depth of field and precision platforming aren't Osiris' strengths, but it's likely that familiarity will eventually mitigate most frustrations that arise as a result. It may not be perfect but it works, and it'll probably work really well. It brings with it a sense of exploration and adventure that'll be welcome by those who grew up with Lara. Crystal Dynamics may have taken divergent paths with her character, but Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris proves that it hasn't forgotten the series' roots.
Lara Croft preview photo
She likes shootin' and lootin'
Which Lara Croft do you prefer? Crystal Dynamics has two versions of her, splitting the iconic character into distinctly different properties. The recent Tomb Raider reboot and the scheduled follow-up Rise of t...

California is not an island, but here are my Dead Island 2 impressions

Aug 16 // Dale North
I played in a group with three others, with each of us playing one of the two available classes in the demo. The berserker class does exactly what you'd expect: crowd control. Named Ryan, he can push through with big weapons, breaking up zombie traffic with only a few swings. But I played as Dani, a speeder. She's quicker, and can slice limbs off with her blade. She's great for the type of player that likes to slash and run.  Both types work great on the standard zombies, called walkers. A short bout of slashes has their heads flying off easily. There are runners that charge at you out of nowhere, though. Playing Dani made it easy to get in and get things done. She was also great for getting the hell away from the suiciders -- the zombies that explode after they chase you down.  Dani has this great move where she can sneak up on a big zombie thug tank-type character, get behind it, kick it to have it fall on its knees, and then cut it up in a big way. I did that a few times. Her big attack required a wait, but if it hit right it would slice most zombies clean in half. It's too bad that our demo had no real objectives outside of a short defense mission, guarding a video store. That was still a good time, though. I looted an electronics store to upgrade my weapons, snuck around a neighborhood, fought in backyards, and found some great vantage points to enjoy the view. I enjoyed playing with the various weapons the demo had available. Picking a lock in the back of a gas station had me finding a wood axe to get slashy with. And throwing propane tanks into crowds is always fun.  Dead Island 2 isn't finished -- what I played was considered pre-alpha -- but it's looking pretty nice already. Things lagged a bit when the crowds got thick, and there was a weird blur when I spun the camera around. Still, the highly detailed neighborhood was easy to appreciate, and the California sun that drenched the streets was just as I know it to be. The Hollywood sign served as a backdrop to all of this. Crowd control in a small, closed space is only fun for so long, but I'm sure there will be plenty of next-gen gutting in the final game. We'll get a better look at it as we draw closer to its Spring 2015 release date. Dead Island 2 is coming to PS4, Xbox One, and PC. 
Dead Island 2 photo
Hands-on at gamescom
You'll be able to explore Los Angeles, Santa Monica, some beaches, a golf course, and maybe even more in the final version of Dead Island 2. But what Deep Silver was showing at gamescom 2014 was pretty limited. I only got to run around a small, closed-off section of the Los Angeles suburbs. It was a short taste of what the Southern California zombie-slaughtering life is like. 

Here are Destructoid's top ten games from gamescom

Aug 15 // Brett Makedonski
Alien: Isolation It's easy to understand why everyone has initially opted to take a decidedly guarded approach to Alien: Isolation. Fool me once, and so on. But, after several hands-on sessions with the game (including three different extended sections), it's almost impossible to contain our excitement for Isolation. Creative Assembly looks to have cultivated an atmospheric thriller that's actually deserving of the highest praise -- being compared to Ridley Scott's Alien. That's elite (and almost unspeakable) company, but all the demos we've seen nail what made the film so haunting. Turns out it's a considerably more terrifying experience when you're not just watching, but actively eluding this monstrosity. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Horses and cardboard boxes. Bikini model posters. Stealth and theft. Shit skids. It's serious and silly, stuffed into a highly anticipated next-gen package. At gamescom this year, we didn't see much more of MGS than we saw at E3, but seeing it again made me crave it that much more. But take your time, Kojima. If this is as good as we're hoping it is, it'll be worth the wait. Evolve Turtle Rock Studios' Evolve lets you pick your play style. Prefer team-oriented action, or the god complex that comes alongside being a hulking behemoth? It doesn't matter which you choose, both look to be equally fantastic. Evolve's four-versus-one asymmetrical multiplayer thrives because of one thing -- balance. It's remarkable how despite all the different character pairings and ability combinations there are, a harmony's always struck to never give either side an unfair edge. In the many matches we've played, it's constantly up in the air as to which will prevail, proving that it'll be an ideal experience for both solo and multiplayer goers alike. Life is Strange Both of Dontnod Entertainment's efforts, 2013's Remember Me and the upcoming Life is Strange, feature prominent female characters. The team says it isn't trying to "fix" the videogame industry, but it's just telling the stories it wants to tell. After seeing Life is Strange for an hour, it's difficult to imagine the tale being told from anyone else's perspective. Thrust into the role of teenage girl Max Caughfield, Life is Strange is about exploration, adventures, curiosity, and in all likelihood, growing. As Max and her friend Chloe investigate the disappearance of a classmate, they'll investigate the world around them, too. What parts do they play in this existence? How do they fit into it? Do they even want to fit into it? To complicate things, Max has the supernatural ability to rewind time. If an event played out to her disliking, she can take a mulligan and have another go at it. Not that it'll necessarily make matters easier. How can you expect a confused, inexperienced, misunderstood, and scared girl to make perfect decisions? All you can expect is that she'll inevitably grow. No Man's Sky Hello Games' Sean Murray told us that his studio was formed to make No Man's Sky. This is their dream game, satisfying their desire for a true science-fiction game with the ability to freely navigate the universe, exploring strange alien planets. It's a world we'll have to jump in to fully appreciate, but what has been shown so far has already captured our imaginations.  Assassin's Creed Unity As the Assassin's Creed franchise commits fully and takes a leap of faith into the new generation of console gaming, it's impossible not to recognize the upgrades that the change in hardware affords it. Apart from a visual enhancement, Unity's Paris in the throes of revolution simply looks and feels more alive and complete. This is essential for Assassin's Creed to take its next step. The series has always thrived on the playground that it gives the player. By creating a world that absolutely oozes dissent and uprising, Ubisoft seems to have reached a new pinnacle for the sandbox. And, that's precisely the element that ties the entire experience together. Bloodborne Do you love From Software's Souls games? Great. Upcoming PS4 title Bloodborne is going to be your dream game. But, if you've never bothered, I still think this one is going to draw you in with how they've approached their formula with new combat mechanics, much more gore, and a seriously freaky world to explore. The new area and beasts we saw at gamescom this week have us even more excited (and scared) to start playing. Ori and the Blind Forest Yeah, Ori and the Blind Forest is gorgeous. Anyone that's laid eyes on even a screenshot of the game knows that. But, good games are a lot deeper than superficial aesthetic. Luckily, Ori is more than just some beautiful art. Ori and the Blind Forest handles wonderfully as a platformer. With several different mechanics and abilities that open up through progression, it's a skill-based endeavor that challenges the player and taunts them into mastering its systems, but is never unfair. Those visuals are just the cherry on top. A giant, delicious cherry. Yoshi's Wooly World Soft, wooly eye-candy with Nintendo's platforming know-how made Yoshi's latest outing a crowd-pleaser on the gamescom show floor this year. Making the little dino the star of the action makes for a fresh experience, like soft towels just out of the dryer. Bllleh! Until Dawn Two years ago, Sony showed a campy, horny teen horror PS3 game that would be played solely with a PS Move controller. Now, Until Dawn has completely transformed into a full-fledged PS4 adult horror game with a Hollywood cast and branching gameplay that can lead players to one of hundreds of endings. Oh, and it's legitimately scary. Most improved player award.
Best of gamescom photo
All the winners, in no particular order
Gamescom is the largest videogame trade show in the world. Sound like a big deal? It absolutely is. Hundreds of thousands of people cram together in a convention center that's massive, but doesn't feel even close to huge enou...

Far Cry photo
Far Cry

Far Cry 4's take on Shangri-La sure is stunning


The Himalayas look nice, too
Aug 14
// Jordan Devore
As someone who tended to stick with the bow as the weapon of choice in Far Cry 3 -- and especially in Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon -- I like the look of the mythical Shangri-La in Far Cry 4. In these levels, you'll fight against ...
Assassin's Creed photo
Assassin's Creed

Here's a full look at one of Assassin's Creed Unity's open-ended missions


11 minutes of footage with developer commentary
Aug 14
// Jordan Devore
With Assassin's Creed Unity, Ubisoft is promising missions that feature multiple ways to complete a given objective. Hamza talked about this "black box" design in his recent preview, and here's a look at one of the ways an e...
Hellblade photo
Hellblade

Ninja Theory wants to involve you in their game-making process


Reminds me of Planescape: Torment for some reason
Aug 14
// Brittany Vincent
Hellblade was announced for PS4 to be developed and published by Ninja Theory (DmC: Devil May Cry, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, Heavenly Sword). Hellblade is set to focus on a Celtic-inspired twisted world, with brutal com...
The Witcher photo
The Witcher

Set aside five minutes for this Witcher 3 footage


Nothing good ever comes from swamps
Aug 14
// Jordan Devore
An evil force is causing the villagers of Downwarren to sleepwalk into a nearby forest, never to come back, and it's up to Geralt to figure out what's going on. Yesterday's images looked as good as ever but there's no compar...
gamescom photo
gamescom

Gamescom looks absolutely hellish


Just be glad you aren't there right now
Aug 14
// Kyle MacGregor
Gamescom is in full swing, and it's difficult to envy those attending Europe's largest gaming convention this weekend. Just look at all those bodies. Envision the endless queues and pungent odors housed within the Koelnmesse. The things we do for videogames... Brian Albert [Twitter via Kotaku]

The Halo Channel is a huge indicator of Microsoft's plans for the franchise

Aug 14 // Brett Makedonski
[embed]279449:55232:0[/embed] Videogames aren't just about playing games anymore. They're about being an inclusive experience through all methods of media consumption. They're a service. That's unabashedly apparent with The Halo Channel. It's an easy prospect for skeptics to guffaw at, but anyone that wants to be immersed in everything Halo would be hard-pressed to find a better place to do it. Microsoft's branding the channel as an "interactive digital network." All of those claims are true. 343 Industries is putting an emphasis on two-way communication -- not only can it deliver its message to you, but you can deliver your message to it and all of your social contacts. After all, conversation helps things grow; it's how a stagnant experience turns into a talking point. Maybe the key to The Halo Channel is the balance of passive and active activities for users. The active ones are obvious, but still somewhat nuanced. Want to simply play Halo? Hop into a game from the network's hub. Watching a match and fancy some multiplayer of your own? The exact game type that you were viewing can be instantly set up, turning you from a spectator to a player in seconds. However, it's the passive aspect of The Halo Channel that will really justify its existence. The channel will boast a video on-demand service along with a continuous rotation of programs. Microsoft's keen on producing a lot of unique video content that strengthens the Halo lore, so there's sure to be no shortage of shows to watch. With the videogame industry putting more and more emphasis on eSports all the time, 343's direction with The Halo Channel might be a good indicator of its approach to the subject with regard to Halo. 343 producer Kiki Wolfkill explained that the studio's "doubling down" on Halo as a spectator sport. Twitch will be integrated to the channel so players can watch matches at any time, and as mentioned previously jump into similar matches at a moment's notice. When asked what 343's future plans for Halo as a competitive eSport are, the team sort of dodged the question, but remarked that Halo 2 would be well-suited for that kind of thing. Whatever happens with all aspects of the franchise in the future, The Halo Channel is 343 and Microsoft's way of ensuring that fans stay invested and interested in the present. It'll be fairly easily accessible, as it's coming to Xbox One and Windows 8 devices soon, with plans to release on Windows phones sometime down the line. It might be an ambitious project for a singular brand, but if there's one in Xbox's arsenal worthy of the honor, it's Halo. And, if it's as simple, streamlined, and packed with content as it looked to be during the presentation, Halo fans won't need to go anywhere else to get their fix.
Halo Channel photo
Games as a service
Xbox's flagship franchise isn't something that Microsoft's going to stray from anytime soon. Why would it? If there was any doubt about Halo's lasting appeal, it was dashed with the E3 reveal of Halo: The Master Chief Collect...

Until Dawn has hundreds of endings and thousands of branches

Aug 14 // Dale North
As eight friends stranded in a mountain getaway work to survive, you'll control each of them, making choices for them. The paths you go down take every action into consideration, from small choices, like choosing to pick up a book, to large moral dilemmas. You might have to decide to shoot your friend in the head, for example.  This is important as Until Dawn was designed so that every character can survive and/or die. And if they die, they stay dead -- no restarts here. The game will adapt the story if a character dies, so every decision you make can alter the story completely. During some of these choices, a small butterfly icon will appear in the upper right side of the screen. This indicates that the Butterfly Effect is underway. Pulled straight from chaos theory, the butterfly effect has it so that any one small change can bring about larger changes further down the road. For the purposes of Until Dawn, any one choice you make can have you going down any one path, eventually ending up at one of any of the hundreds of endings.  To demonstrate, Samuels shared a great visual that I wish we had a copy of. Using an image of a butterfly, its very center represented the story's origin. Highlighted veins branching from that center represented the first few choices, and all of the subsequent branches fanned out to the very ends of the butterfly's wings, with each end representing the hundreds of possible endings. The branches fanned out and connected at various points along their length, representing the thousands of possible paths.  So opening the wrong door, picking up the right clue, or saying something when you should have said something else will take you down your own path. There's a good chance that your path and ending will be nothing like your friend's path and ending. As the game progresses, there's a good chance that two people won't see the same scenes or hear the same dialogue.  Believe it or not, Supermassive shot and recorded every possible scene and outcome for these branches and endings. They believe that being able to experience your choices adds to the suspense and horror of Until Dawn so they went to the trouble of auditioning 200 actors before getting to their current cast, which includes TV star Hayden Panettiere. They wanted only top actors to fit with the high-definition capture and high volume of voice work required. From what I saw, they've done a nice job with both the casting and capture. Supermassive has come a long way from the campy PS3 Move game they showed here at gamescom two years ago. They went from flashlight scares to a full-fledged PS4 playable horror movie that lets the player decide on its story and outcome. What an overhaul! Read our hands-on preview of Until Dawn here.
Until Dawn's many endings photo
The Butterfly Effect
Supermassive Games' Pete Samuels and Will Byles held a behind-closed-doors session during gamescom to give us a better look into upcoming PS4 horror title Until Dawn. During that session they explained how their PS3 Move-only...

Ori and the Blind Forest is a lot more than just a beautiful game

Aug 14 // Brett Makedonski
For the 30-minute showing, Moon only really wanted to talk about the gameplay and platforming aspects of Ori. Starting approximately three hours into the game, the demo began right as a new mechanic was obtained -- the bash ability. It's just one of the several unique mechanics that will be introduced as Ori runs its course, but the core philosophy will be the same each time. Like all well-designed games, Ori makes sure that the player knows how to use the tools in its arsenal. When something new is opened, the next several sections will ensure that the player's honed -- if not perfected -- the skill before moving on. Later in the game, an amalgamation of the abilities combined with some platforming prowess will be the only way to advance, so it's essential to know them early. In our demo, bash (which might as well have been called "dash") was the one that Moon wanted to focus on. It's a multi-faceted tool with many uses to accomplish different goals. With regard to puzzle solving, it's a means to redirect projectiles in different directions. In terms of combat, it's a handy alternate attack if you ever feel like switching things up. And, maybe most crucially, it bolsters the platforming by adding some much-needed distance mid-jump. Even though Ori looks as if it'll be a lot of things, that last one's the heart of the entire experience -- the platforming. Without it, Ori would be just another beautiful puzzle game (not that there's anything wrong with that). However, it's the incessant platforming challenges that make the game a true test of skill -- something that looks as if it'll cause actual frustration instead of being a walk in the park. Luckily, that frustration won't come as a result of Ori's ineptitude. If the final release is as polished as the demo was, any failures will fall squarely on the player's shoulders. It's been a long time since I've felt platforming controls that were as tight as Ori's, evoking memories of my time spent with Super Meat Boy. That's not bad company to have in this conversation. Really, that's the aspect of Ori and the Blind Forest that I'm most excited about -- the well-controlled platforming. These games can have a million tricks up their sleeves -- gorgeous aesthetics, unique mechanics, wondrous music -- the list could go on forever. But, without a solid core tenet tying everything together, it'll ultimately come off as sloppy. Fortunately, that's not the case with Ori; it's poised to be a platformer that we remember for a long time, and not just because it looks so damn good.
Ori preview photo
There's a really solid platformer in there too
One glance at Moon Studios' Ori and the Blind Forest is enough to be immediately enamored by the game's visuals. Actually, it's almost an inevitability. Every piece of media that Microsoft releases for Ori draws att...

Ryse on PC photo
Ryse on PC

Ryse: Son of Rome on PC shows tons of detail, runs at 4K


But you'll need a pretty nice rig
Aug 14
// Dale North
This fall, Xbox One launch game Ryse: Son of Rome comes to the PC with some significant visual upgrades. This morning at gamescom, we met with Crytek's Brian Chambers, senior producer on Ryse, to check out the PC build for the first time. It looks goooood.
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Put your hands in the air, this is for the players
Sony came and delivered pretty much what I expected from their gamescom 2014 press conference. They had a boatload of indie games with interesting visual styles. They've continued their expansive trajectory of porting bigger...

Battlefield photo
Battlefield

Battlefield Hardline's single-player campaign reminds me of Far Cry 3


A 12-minute slice of gameplay
Aug 13
// Jordan Devore
Up until now, Visceral Games has concentrated on showing the multiplayer side of Battlefield Hardline. That's been fine, but unlike most other Battlefield titles, I'm actually somewhat interested in hearing about the single-...
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Except for that Tomb Raider thing
Microsoft's press conferences often leave me with cranial damage from head-to-desk impact, but their gamescom 2014 presser felt pretty okay to me. I'm excited to see Microsoft making an attempt to partner with more indies. A...

Sony does more for Vita than it gets credit for, but it's okay to be frustrated

Aug 13 // Kyle MacGregor
The outrage and despondency came swiftly. And judging by the reactions, you wouldn't know that Sony is actually exhibiting Vita titles at gamescom. A lot of them, actually. Not everyone can walk the Koelnmesse show floor this week and see that for themselves, though. People from around the world did, however, tune in to watch that press conference, and witnessed what they perceived to be Sony ignoring one of its front-line products. That's not exactly new. The Vita has seen less and less time in the spotlight in recent years. Once it became clear the platform wasn't ever going to set the world ablaze, Sony seemed to dial its efforts back a notch, setting the burners to simmer. But to say the portable has "no games," as some have suggested, is simply untrue. And while Sony doesn't seem willing to put the Vita in center stage, one individual at the company vociferously disagreed with those asserting the handheld is lacking new software. That man is Shahid Ahmad, a senior business development manager at Sony responsible for inking deals that brought titles like Fez, Hotline Miami, OlliOlli, and so many others to PlayStation systems. Much of his focus (and passion) seems to be centered around the Vita, and he's become somewhat of a champion for the device. On Tuesday, Ahmad responded to critics on Twitter by recounting a litany of excellent-looking Vita presently titles in development. That ledger included the likes of Titan Souls, Axiom Verge, Papers, Please, Tales of Hearts R... The list goes on and on.  Some of those titles are exclusives, whereas others are most definitely not. No matter what you think about what Sony is doing with Vita, just don't use the phrase "indie ports" around Ahmad and his team. Them's fightin' words, apparently. Developers do not just show up at Sony's doorstep with finished products looking to turn a quick buck. Folks like Ahmad put in a lot of hard work and effort to court developers, curate, and help bring games to market. And in the case of Sony's Santa Monica Studio, a lot of resources go into incubation programs, fostering talent, and helping with the creative process as well as logistics.  It's true, though: The Vita library features a myriad of games that you can experience elsewhere. And while it doesn't take anything away from the system necessarily, it doesn't make for a terribly compelling case as to why you should purchase one either. The conventional wisdom states what the Vita really needs is some hot exclusives. The problem there is exclusive games in this day and age are a dying breed. They might convince consumers to buy one device over another, but they don't benefit anyone other than the platform holder. A lot of people look at an exclusive game and see something they will never get to play. Did you notice how people responded to the new Tomb Raider (falsely) being announced as an Xbox exclusive? It was like poking a hornet's nest. Not many people can justify the purchase of yet another system just to get their hands on the Rise of the Tomb Raiders of the world. The folks at Microsoft sure hope you'll come running into their arms, though. They're certainly banking on it. Exclusives don't benefit developers either. Why would you want to limit the size of your audience? Not everyone can count on Microsoft lining their pockets to keep their products off competing platforms. So, exclusives are becoming increasingly rare. Still, exclusives happen. It just takes time. Eventually systems will amass a number of unique titles and we fence-sitters will inevitably acquiesce. A nice library goes a long way to making consumers amenable to sinking their hard-earned dollars on a device. You want to feel good about your purchase. It's the same for early adopters, in a way. They want to justify their investment. They bought a promise, and if it's never delivered, then that's disappointing. I suppose the Vita is a bit of a disappointment then. It's a lovely system. It has so much potential. And yet, so few people actually seem to want one. It exists in a wasteland between home consoles, Nintendo 3DS, and mobile phones. The install base is tiny, so big publishers aren't making games for it; and because there are so few big games, people aren't buying the thing. It's a vicious cycle. The cavalry isn't coming. EA said thanks, but no thanks. Activision put out a truly awful Call of Duty game, before following suit. Ubisoft actually managed to do right by Vita owners with Assassin's Creed III: Liberation, you know, before repackaging it as a high-definition remaster for consoles and PC. It's basically up to Sony to make its platform a success, but that's not really happening. Awesome console-quality experiences, such as Killzone: Mercenary and Uncharted: Golden Abyss, seem to be a thing of the past. Sony says the economics for AAA games just don't work on Vita. So the task of propping up the system seems to have fallen squarely on the shoulders of developers like Mike Bithell and midsize purveyors of Japanese goods. The economics seem to work a tad better for Atlus, XSEED, and indie developers. Teams with low operating costs can turn a tidy profit in an ecosystem that big-budget studios cannot. And that's just fine for them. It's just very unlikely to move the needle for Sony in any significant way, though.  Maybe that's okay. Maybe Sony is content with having a dedicated machine for fans of obscure JRPGs and indie games. I'm perfectly fine with it. I love that stuff. It just might be nice if we could share that love with more people. It might be nice if Sony tossed in a two-minute reel of that stuff amid the hour of glossy PS4 stuff. Maybe someday I'll get to see the Vita in the limelight again, even just for a moment. Until then, I'll just keep an eye out for baffling product placements, like that one in the first season of House of Cards.
Anger Vita Sony wow photo
Time for some tough love
A lot of people seemed disappointed when Sony closed its gamescom press conference without much mention of the PlayStation Vita. And it isn't difficult to understand why. The struggling portable seemed like an afterthought ye...

Infamous photo
The power of neon!
Jack of all trades, master of none. Sure Delson from Infamous: Second Son has the ability to suck up other people's powers for his own, which is pretty cool in its own right. But those that just have one specific power to man...

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Mordor Shatitself?


Also gamescom floor gallery
Aug 13
// Dale North
Here are some of the weird and neat things we found running around the gamescom show floor today. I don't even know what's going on with those noodles.
Poop confirmed photo
Poop confirmed

Weaponized horse poop CONFIRMED for MGS V


This is next-gen gaming at its finest
Aug 13
// Kyle MacGregor
Poop is something frequently omitted in videogames. How many epic adventures have we all played without seeing our heroes take a quick trip to the water closet en route to saving the world? A lot. Probably. Thankfully, that w...
Far Cry 4 photo
Far Cry 4

How Far Cry 4 plans on making memorable missions


'Here’s a palette, a brush, and a canvas. Go wild.'
Aug 13
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Think back on Far Cry 3. Reflect on all the memorable moments you had with that game. What sticks out the most? The missions or the unscripted stuff that happened in the open world? Chances are you primarily remember the unsc...
Hideo Kojima photo
Hideo Kojima

Hideo Kojima not keen on remaking his previous games


If he had to choose MGS 1 would be the one
Aug 13
// Alasdair Duncan
Considering most of the Metal Gear Solid games have been re-released in various fashions over the years, it's surprising that Hideo Kojima isn't too keen on remaking his older games. When asked at Konami's Metal Gear Solid V ...

Prepare to hate your co-op partner in Project Totem

Aug 13 // Brett Makedonski
The sentiment fades quickly though as Project Totem -- which will launch on Xbox One, and likely later on other platforms such as Xbox 360 and PC -- immediately erases any memory of missteps as it teleports you back to the previous checkpoint seamlessly. No waiting. No time to let the frustration manifest. Just another instantaneous go at it. Maybe we’re one step closer to figuring out the required actions to solve that puzzle. Maybe he’s going to fall into a pit again. Project Totem takes its crafty design and amplifies everything for multiplayer. Solo play is packed with situations where you die and throw your head back with a grim grin on your face. Taking care of two of the adorable little totem guys is work enough. Having four on-screen and cooperatively keeping track of the two you’re responsible for and ensuring that your partner has control of his own makes for a more hectic experience -- even if the design is almost the exact same. Cooperative play in Project Totem draws from the mechanics of single-player. Stack your totems, figure out puzzles, flex your platforming muscle, and do it all as quick as you can. However, it’s simultaneously more flexible and more rigid. Certain elements are gone, such as the ability to switch totems with the X button. However, doubling the number of totems opens up a world of possibilities to solve puzzles different ways. Well, the solutions generally remain constant, but you and your partner might find unique ways to come to that end. Press Play has a familiar and relatable experience to draw from with its approach to multiplayer. The lead developers are brothers, naturally putting in a wealth of time in their youth playing games together. As such, and maybe in an effort to recapture that experience, Project Totem will only contain local co-op play -- the intimate experience of being next to someone and working through a level together. I asked whether there will be some sort of countdown timer to assist the coordination of maneuvers, a la ‘Splosion Man. I was firmly told that I can just count with my mouth. They were right; it worked flawlessly. When digging a bit into the developers’ childhood experiences, I prompted as to which was fortunate enough as a child to be first player. One regretfully resigned that he was most often relegated to playing as Luigi. However, Luigi is nothing to scoff at. It’s not like one of the plumber siblings has an advantage over the other. Actually, Mario and Luigi is an apt comparison for Project Totem. Both players have identical abilities, and the only thing that might provide any differentiation is platforming skill. But, it’s that platforming skill that’s likely to cause a constant rift between you and someone else in your living room. A team that’s on the same page will function as a well-oiled machine, probably breezing through levels with little trouble. All others will need to hold onto the successes, because failures will come more often than not. Just remember that it’s always the other guy’s fault.
Project Totem photo
Seriously, he's the worst
Even though I wasn’t optimistic about the prospect, I wanted to put my best foot forward. With a cheery tone to my voice, I affirmed the stranger’s request to play Project Totem cooperatively with me. The entire m...

LittleBigPlanet 3 photo
LittleBigPlanet 3

See some new screenshots for LittleBigPlanet 3


Sackboy and friends take things to a new level with enchanced user content
Aug 13
// Alessandro Fillari
After the runaway success of the first two LittleBigPlanet titles on PS3, fans had been clamoring for a follow-up on Sony's new hardware. With the announcement of LittleBigPlanet 3 at E3 coming to both PS4 and PS3, the LBP co...
Titanfall final DLC photo
Titanfall final DLC

Titanfall's third and final DLC pack drops this autumn


'IMC Rising'
Aug 13
// Chris Carter
Today at gamescom EA, announced the last map pack for Titanfall -- IMC Rising. The three maps will be titled Backwater, Zone 18, and Sandtrap, and as always, it'll run you $10 or $25 for the Season Pass. The Xbox One an...

Life is Strange is a world you'll want to lose yourself in

Aug 13 // Brett Makedonski
Life Is Strange is Dontnod’s sophomore effort, the follow-up to Remember Me. It chronicles the tale of high school students Max Caughfield and her friend Chloe as they investigate the disappearance of a classmate. While it’s rooted in the adventure genre, it feels like it’ll be an experience piece more than anything else -- a coming-of-age story about the struggles of two girls looking to make sense of a world that hardly seems fair. Exploration and curiosity mark every turn in Life is Strange. An early scene that played in front of us showed a house highlighted with objects just begging to be interacted with. Most of the items will serve to let the player dig as deep into the story as they please. In the same vein as Gone Home, this knowledge isn’t absolutely essential to the plot, but it provides finer details. It’s the information that helps you relate and care about the characters you’re controlling. That’s most of the objects -- not all. Some serve a greater purpose. These will alter the course of the story -- sometimes in big ways, other times small. For instance, as we were rooting through Chloe’s stepdad’s garage to find tools to repair a camera, we took a peek at some personal files that he had lying out. In a later scene, he barged into her room, enraged that she had been snooping. It’s a bit of ill will that’s going to linger and be easier to build upon with future actions. However, Life is Strange’s biggest hook is that it gives you complete control over future events by always being able to alter the immediate past. Max has the supernatural ability of time manipulation, which makes for an interesting mechanic that serves two purposes: as a means to solving puzzles, and to allow things to play out exactly as you intend. With a quick screen blurring/burning/tearing effect, Max can rewind time to her pleasing. After inadvertently breaking Chloe’s snowglobe, we took advantage of it to undo that clumsy misstep and keep her from getting a little annoyed with us. Later, while trying to knock some tools off of a high spot, we properly dislodged them, but they fell in a hard-to-reach place. By rewinding time, we first slid some cardboard to where they would land, and then proceeded. Now we could pull the tools toward us. Voilà! Puzzle solved. Where the rewind mechanic will most likely shine the brightest is in conversation. Most times, dialogue will have branching options, and it’ll be ambiguous as to what the outcome of each selection will be. All exchanges can be rewound to fit your liking, something that looks as if it’ll be easy to obsess over. During the demo, we ratted out Chloe when her stepdad found her weed. Not thrilled with the results, we tried again and took the fall for her. After a quick scolding and some harsh words, it was clear that he’d be more wary of Max, but Chloe would be more loyal. That’s how it seems as if everything in Life is Strange will play out -- as a trade-off. The developers said that no choices would be clear-cut, there’d always be some sort of negative off-setting a positive. Maybe it wouldn’t be immediately apparent, but it’ll always lead to some sort of different sequence down the road, even if it’s only marginally different. With the ambiguity playing such a big role, there’s not really a right or wrong way to play. The developers confirmed that there are no fail states or reloading. Additionally, there aren’t any action scenes to “succeed” at. While there are situations where death is imminent for Max, Life is Strange gives her the somewhat mandatory option to rewind time to a safer point. It won’t actually kill her. Early on, the developers referred to Life is Strange as “triple-A indie.” My eyes might’ve popped out of the back of my head if I rolled them any harder, but it kind of made sense once the game was played in front of us. Despite having a full studio and Square Enix’s backing, Dontnod’s created a world that feels like it has an indie edge. Underscored by a modern folk soundtrack, the Pacific Northwest setting might as well be a Japanese garden. It’s so uncompromisingly serene, when it really shouldn’t be. As you control characters that are very uncertain about themselves, it’s tough not to feel an immediate sense of empathy and nostalgia. It can almost have a calming effect when the individuals are anything but calm. It’s tough to pinpoint what it is exactly about Life is Strange that makes it so promising. The exploration aspect is definitely alluring, especially with the time mechanic bolstering it. The plot is interesting, even if claims of dynamic story-telling rarely play out as advertised. But, it might be the atmosphere that Dontnod’s cultivated that’s the real draw, if not the centerpiece that ties the entire game together. Even if you haven’t lived similar circumstances, it’ll evoke some sort of adolescent memories. When it does, it’ll be easy to care about what Max and Chloe care about so much. It might not make sense looking from the outside in, but it will when viewed from the inside out.
Life is Strange preview photo
You won't be able to help it
Gamescom is a noisy, crowded mess. Shoulder to shoulder with patrons that didn’t seem to care what they bump into, I trudged my way to my next appointment. As I stepped through the door to the meeting room, something un...

Command a tiger that can turn invisible in Far Cry 4

Aug 13 // Hamza CTZ Aziz
There will be a handful of these levels spread across Kyrat. Completing them will give you new skills for the skill tree, but let's face it, you're largely going to do these levels to tell a tiger whose face to chew off over and over again.  In this particular we had to go free a bell of enlightenment that had been tied down by large chains. This is a fantasy realm, and the path to the bell is spread across floating islands. You'll have to go through teleporting doors to reach other islands, and along the way are these wild-looking enemies.  For the most part you can take them down with just your bow and arrow. There will be enemies that can't be killed with arrows, so you'll have to use your tiger buddy to distract these enemy types, giving you a chance to sneak up behind them and drive a knife into their skulls.  So yeah, not much to it. A fun diversion and I'm hoping each instance of these tanka missions will be diverse enough to warrant actually playing through them all. It will get old fast, as much fun as it is was to command a ninja tiger.  Oh, and rhinos confirmed to bring about the pain in Far Cry 4.
Far Cry 4 photo
Go on a wild trip
Far Cry 3 had some pretty wild moments. Like, remember when Vaas was dancing around on the stripper pole? Good stuff. Far Cry 4 will have some crazy segments as well, but these are a little more grounded to the core of the ga...

Until Dawn photo
Until Dawn

Until Dawn is my kind of horror


It's all about the butterfly effect
Aug 13
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
I am a little baby when it comes to horror movies. I just can’t. I can’t sit and force myself to stare at a screen that will make me scream and flinch. That’s not fun to me! The opposite is true when it com...
 photo

It would take you 4,000 years to see repetition in No Man's Sky


An FU to the 'guy in the comments'
Aug 13
// Dale North
At a gamescom presentation today, Sean Murray from Hello Games wanted to give his comeback to a "guy in the comments" that goes against his claim that the universe of upcoming game No Man's Sky is infinite. The comments ...

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