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Impressions

Sling TV, which brings live TV to Xbox One, is looking great so far

Jan 28 // Chris Carter
Although it's not quite ready for launch just yet, I had a chance to test out Sling TV on both the iOS and Roku 3 platforms, as the Amazon and Xbox apps aren't currently available. The idea is to help facilitate cord-cutting from the antiquated cable model, where you're paying upwards of $100 or more for hundreds of channels you don't need. When coupled with a few extra services like Hulu, Netflix, or Amazon Prime, the concept gets even sweeter. So what does it offer for your 20 bucks? ESPN, ESPN 2, TBS, TNT, HGTV, Food Network, the Travel Channel, CNN, the Disney Channel, Cartoon Network, and ABC Family are included in the base package, with a two extra add-on tiers (Kids and News) available on the side for $5 each. ESPN is likely going to be the crux of this campaign, particularly given that subscribers will gain access to the Watch ESPN app. With more sports options, this service will have a gigantic impact on the market. The prospect of ESPN alone is enticing for a lot of millennials and stalwart non-cable owners, but I can see many folks enjoying at least one or two of the other channels consistently. For instance, Regular Show or Adventure Time fans will be able to catch those shows on Cartoon Network -- which is a good thing given how terrible and limited the network's official app is. But without a heavy-hitting drama network like FX, HBO (set to launch its own service this year), or Showtime, it's going to be a hard sell for some -- TBS is no FX. There's another potential holdup for prospective buyers, which is the entire "live TV" aspect. The reason so many people have cut the cord is the immediacy of the Internet. Binge-watching entire seasons of Breaking Bad or House of Cards in one or two days is now the norm. A lot of you out there are not going to watch certain shows at certain times when on-demand is available elsewhere. Sling TV also comes with an option to watch on-demand films though, including some new releases. It's not as amazing as a standard cable setup or even Amazon's Instant Video section, but it has a good deal of new releases on-hand, with more to come after the full service rolls out. Once you rent something you have 30 days to watch it, and 24 hours to finish it once started. In other words, it's a standard on-demand service, which is a nice thing to have packed in the box. Dish has also announced that it has a partnership with the Maker network to provide a host of online videos, but that content isn't live yet. Performance-wise, Sling TV is near-flawless, and I was legitimately surprised at how well it worked out of the box, even in its preview state. It's the same quality as any 1080p cable box would provide, and even on LTE it's still crystal clear on my iPhone 6 (you can even adjust the picture performance to help ease the data-cap pain). Mobile support is a big differentiator from some of its competition, which don't even function without WiFi. All in all I only had a few drops with roughly 20 hours of TV watching, and those were mainly the fault of the Roku 3 itself. After booting the app again I was back to where I was in seconds. Sadly, only select stations have full "live TV" options at this time, like fast-forwarding and such, and there's no real way to DVR anything. So if you're a TV junkie and record 5-10 shows per day, you may not be ready to shed your service just yet. Sling TV is in its early phases with exclusive preview access, but is fully expected to launch in roughly two weeks, and over the next month or so Dish will roll out the apps for the Amazon Fire TV and Xbox One. At this point I can heartily recommend giving it a try if you don't already subscribe to a cable service, as $20 for the first month isn't a huge pill to swallow on top of a free trial week. Microsoft even has a deal with the company that allows Xbox One owners to get an entire month free. Maybe you'll end up cutting the cord, maybe you won't. Check back later for a look at the full launch and Xbox One impressions. [These impressions are based on a trial subscription of the service provided by Dish.]
Sling TV thoughts photo
Based on early-access impressions
Earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show, Dish announced a rather interesting prospect called Sling TV. As one of the first companies to embrace Internet TV, its new subscription-based service will stream live telev...

Destiny photo
Destiny

Destiny's Crota's End Hard Mode is disappointing outside of the final fight


More of the same until the end
Jan 22
// Chris Carter
I have a stable of around 30 people I raid with in Destiny regularly, but yesterday I picked the five I play with the most and set a scheduled time for the brand new Crota's End Hard Mode. Everyone showed up, and te...
Blackguards 2 photo
Blackguards 2

Blackguards 2 is deep, unfriendly, and buggy


First impressions
Jan 20
// Darren Nakamura
Last year Patrick reviewed PC strategy role-playing game Blackguards, and he loved it. Blackguards 2 is out on Steam today. I have put about a dozen hours into the sequel, but I am not even close to the point where I can...

The Halo 5 early access beta left me pleasantly surprised

Dec 22 // Brett Zeidler
We've already talked more in-depth about the new mechanics in our preview from last month, and Chris listed some tips for the beta, so I'll talk specifically about the small amount of content I saw from the early access beta and what I thought about everything in general. For this weekend, there were only two maps and one gametype available. "Empire" is a smaller asymmetrical map that sits on the top of a skyscraper and "Truth" is a re-imagining of none other than "Midship." The single playable gametype was plain old classic slayer. However, notice I said old -- map control and effective team dynamic are key here just as they were in classic Halo. From the limited content in the early beta phase, no loadouts or ordnance are anywhere to be found. Everyone always starts on equal ground. That is, everyone starts with an assault rifle and pistol, with the goal being to secure various weapons in key places (especially power weapons). It feels strange to describe this like it's new again, but I suppose it is at this point. If you liked Halo before the fourth entry, you'll feel at home here. However, it's not without its flaws. One thing I find strange is the gametype heavily focuses on securing power weapons, to the point where universal markers show their location (with a timer that lets everyone know when they will spawn again), and, if that wasn't enough, someone announces when they've spawned. This felt forced. It really should be left up to the team to be cognizant of spawns. The assault rifle is extremely overpowered, and the battle rifle's burst fires so quickly it doesn't feel any different from the DMR outside of no longer having a scope. I also feel the ADS (aim down sights) system is unnecessary as well as not being snappy or useful enough to help me in most cases. Quick-scoping, in its current sluggish form, also needs adjusting. Lastly, matchmaking was very unreliable at times -- although this was a stress test, so hopefully it's resolved for the actual beta roll-out. Minor gripes aside (it is a very early beta, after all), I'm loving the way the gameplay all comes together. Every entry in the franchise always feels like Halo should feel, but there's something that separates it from the other entries: Halo 2 had dual-wielding, Halo 3 had equipment, and Reach had Armor Abilities. All of them added a unique element with equal pros and cons. Halo 5's unique gameplay component is maneuverability. Halo 5 feels much faster than any other entry. I'm really digging that so far. Sprint is here to stay, every player has a thruster pack, and they can clamber onto just-out-of-reach ledges. Sprinting allows quick movement, but shields can't recharge during its execution. Thruster packs allow for shoulder charges (while sprinting), quick dodging, and extra boosts for jumps. A ground pound can also be performed in the middle of a jump by holding crouch (annoying for people such as myself who utilize crouch jumping by nature at this point), but I almost always get punished for using it and have never successfully fragged anyone with it. That's exactly how it should be. All these abilities already feel balanced, with maybe just the charge move needing some tweaking. The rest of the game feels very tight, and all the weapons on the two maps available look, sound, and feel exactly how I'd expect. It also helps that Halo 5 is a really pretty game as well. As I've said, this is a small window into how the game's shaping up. It also doesn't represent the entirety of the three-week beta, with that set to have a total of seven maps and three gametypes unlocked over its span starting December 29. Having said that, I went into the beta skeptical but came away looking fondly back on what I had played. Honestly, it was a lot of fun and I'm hoping the rest of the beta (well, ultimately, the rest of the game) is just as fun.
Halo 5 beta impressions photo
Arena-based Halo is back, baby
When we reviewed Halo 4, we really liked it. If you were to ask me personally, I was not enthusiastic about the game at all. Campaign aside, the multiplayer clearly lost sight of what made Halo multiplayer so damn fun in the ...

Don't Starve Together works just as well as you'd expect it to

Dec 16 // Chris Carter
[embed]284875:56620:0[/embed] Don't Starve Together is a separate client from the original, and boots up to a similar looking title screen. But because it isn't the same build, a few bells and whistles are noticeably absent, like controller support. Klei promises it will come in time as the beta progresses. Starting a game is just a click away. You can host servers, both temporary and dedicated, join random games, or create password-protected and "friends only" instances for up to six players. Three modes are available: Survival (the basic gametype, where if you die you become a ghost, and can be resurrected with a certain item), Wilderness (players suffer permadeath), and Endless. The former seems to be the standard. I decided to give the game a shot with my wife, who is the resident Don't Starve expert with over 200 hours of experience with the game. We started off in the wilderness with nothing, coming out on the same spot in a portal-like contraption. You are just as naked as you are in the original, picking at leaves and cutting trees to build your first base of operations. Speech bubbles appear above your head in your partner's game, which is a neat effect. Because of the multiplayer aspect of Together, it was fun to plan out our strategy. We split up and went our separate ways at times, or cooperated to chop down the same tree -- it was really open-ended. In theory, you could build an entire base twice as fast, kill enemies at double speed, and so on. With more players in the mix your efficiency will increase, but so will your ability to command the limited pool of goods. The cool thing about Together is how you can share items, or "give" them to another player by clicking on them. I was able to cook a bunch of food for my wife and hand it to her when she came back from an expedition empty-handed. It really works just as well as you'd expect, and I can't wait to see how the combination of multiple minds works service of the already fun game. If you still play Don't Starve from time to time, I'd highly recommend buying into Together if you have a friend willing to go in on it with you. Stay tuned for more coverage as the beta progresses.
Don't Starve Together photo
Still in beta
Starting this week, you can buy into the Don't Starve Together beta if you don't have access already. It's $5 if you own the base game, and it comes with a gift code for the core package as well as two Together code...

Here are some day-one thoughts on The Crew

Dec 02 // Chris Carter
In essence, The Crew is an online-only, open-world racing game. Yep, good old Ubisoft and its predictable open-world formula is at again -- right down to the outpost/radar buildings (called "data stations" here, haha). Once you're done with the prologue you can basically just roam around the world, which, in this case, is the entire United States. This is easily my favorite part The Crew, as developer Ivory Tower nailed the way the map works. First of all it's presented in a seamless manner with very little loading time on the actual map. But the real kicker is that everything is connected perfectly, so you can actually drive around the US at a reasonable pace. For reference, take a look at this map -- to get from Detroit to New York City, it would take roughly 15 minutes. Add in a ton of distractions along the way (including arcade-oriented challenges that can instantly spring up while you're driving down a highway) and an open world full of players and it starts to feel a lot bigger. You start off in Detroit, but the main hubs are Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, and Miami -- with some smaller locations like Washington D.C. and New Orleans in the mix. Each area has a distinctly different terrain type, and you can modify your car accordingly in every city to adjust for dirt, street, or highway conditions. Again, this is a massive game just by world map standards, and there is a fast travel option if you don't want to drive everywhere. The story and characters are bad in a Fast and the Furious manner, and that's not a compliment (most of those movies are fun popcorn flicks). Even with a bit of cheese, the actual plot is just plain awful, and serves as a basic setup to drive around the country. In short, your brother was murdered, and after you've been framed by the gang who did it, you have to serve the FBI and bring down the bad guys. It's by the books and could have worked, but the flat and laughable characters make it worse than it has to be. I'm half expecting a gritty Vin Diesel impersonator to pop out and say "I live my life a quarter mile at a time" at any point. In fact, it may have already happened, but I was half-asleep during most of the cutscenes. Gameplay-wise my experience has been mixed. I love the cool touches like the overhead GPS trail when you are pursuing an objective, and the RPG-esque level-up/part acquisition system always ensures that you feel like you're earning something. However, the controls, uninspired perk mechanic, and car options fall flat in many ways. The main problem with the handling is that it feels like a weird mix of simulation and arcade controls, which is a problem without going in and tinkering with the options menu. It's weird, because at first cars feel like they're perpetually on ice. It's not until you tweak some stuff and get better equipment that you feel like you're really driving a car. Collisions also have a strange feel to them just like Watch Dogs, where you sort of "bounce" off things rather than feel like you're naturally hitting them. The bar has been raised by games like Forza, so it's disappointing to see that Ubisoft hasn't gone all in on car handling. So far I'm pretty happy with how the actual overworld turned out, but everything else in The Crew hasn't wowed me yet. That's not to say it's bad, though. So long as you're looking for another chance to get your exploration on, I think there's plenty to like here -- but I still have to test out the mechanics and get further in the story to make a full decision. Stay tuned for our review from Brittany in the future.
The Crew impressions photo
Our review is coming later
Ubisoft recently notified the press that it wasn't going to send out early copies of The Crew. Instead, critics would have to experience everything at launch and beyond, meaning there would be no reviews for the gam...

Some quick thoughts on Grand Theft Auto V for current-gen consoles

Nov 17 // Chris Carter
For those unaware, the campaign mode is relatively untouched outside of a few new weapons, vehicles, radio songs, items, and, of course, the current-gen graphics bump. So if you hated the story and don't like the idea of GTA Online, you won't find anything to bring you back in outside of the shiny new visuals. And they are shiny: while they don't look like a native current-gen title, Rockstar took the time to polish and I noticed it right off the bat. The game runs at 30 frames per second, but it's consistent, and the resolution clocks in at 1080p. The biggest upgrade is the draw distance and stability of the frame rate, since I didn't notice a drop even in areas rendering quite a lot of objects. More wildlife both on the ground and in the air help add to the idea that Los Santos is a real world. The environment is enhanced too, and the new foliage as well as the stunning weather effects are the real stars of the show. The biggest improvement is the new first-person mode, which lets you use the perspective everywhere during gameplay, even in cover (though a third-person instant "switch" can be used, if you prefer). Simply put, it feels like I'm playing a different game, and I'm already content with replaying the story solely in first-person. Everything from hanging out on the couch, smoking weed and watching TV to intense shootouts can be played with the new viewpoint. Driving is also heaps more engaging, as the speedometers and gauges are functional. It doesn't relent unless you trigger a cutscene, so I hope you don't mind the camera flipping out while you're rolling around. [embed]283479:56213:0[/embed] First-person mode is an instant toggle (the touchpad or back button triggers it), and from there you can do everything you can do normally: run, jump or climb, and aim. Aiming comes in two styles, either the standard viewpoint or of the ADS (aim down sights) variety. I actually found that although there is some form of auto-aim even in the FPS mode, missions were tougher without the ability to constantly see around corners and instantly tag enemies from afar. That's a good thing mind you, as it makes replaying the story even more exciting with an added bit of challenge. GTA Online is also vastly improved, to the point where it's not only playable, but at the level Rockstar presumably wanted it to be at in the first place. The player count is now 30, there are more missions to choose from, the graphical enhancements really make a difference online, and you can import your previous characters into the game. The import process is painless, and it took roughly two minutes for everything to transfer over before I was able to use my character. Of course, there are legitimate concerns from some unhappy fans that Rockstar basically "beta tested" the original version of GTA V on the Xbox 360 and PS3 to come up with this SKU. Just like Diablo III, the original game was released with a heap of problems (all of which were basically GTA Online), missing content (Heists), and fewer features. Now here we are roughly a year later with a package that fixes almost everything. Personally, I felt like Grand Theft Auto V was a fine game that stood on its own merits in 2013, particularly in regards to the campaign. While it's unfortunate that Heists and the like never made it as promised, I spent well over 100 hours doing everything, and got more than my money's worth. I expect to play through the campaign again in first-person mode with the current-gen edition and test out Heists when they become available, so I'm happy replaying it on the Xbox One/PS4. If you haven't played GTA V at all yet and are slightly interested, now is the time to jump in. If you have a capable PC though you may as well wait until January when you'll be able to reap all of the benefits described above as well as those sweet, sweet mods.
Grand Theft Auto V photo
Thumbs up
Grand Theft Auto V was one of my favorite games of last year, mostly due to the insanely fun Heist missions in the campaign, and the detailed sandbox of Los Santos. It suffered from some of the same trappings as every GT...

Borderlands Pre-Sequel photo
Borderlands Pre-Sequel

Here are the details of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel's Bloody Harvest Celebration


Lots of exploding pumpkins, basically
Oct 31
// Darren Nakamura
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel's free, limited-time mini event Bloody Harvest Celebration just launched a couple hours ago. The teaser image has several pumpkin-flavored pieces of art, but little extra information. I jumped into...

Not-review: Devil's Dare

Oct 25 // Jonathan Holmes
The game takes place at PAX East during a zombie outbreak, so it makes sense that all four of its playable characters are videogames lovers. Axel even has his own homegrown Hylian shield, Master Sword, and hookshot, though his use for the latter is more inspired by Scorpion than Link. Queenie is the magic user of the group, though you might not guess that at first glance. She looks like a cross between Tron Bonne and Baby Head from Captain Commando. Kingston is a modern-day barbarian. He is the game's tank and resident Golden Axe tribute. Jackson is the baby of he bunch, light and fast, wielding a pair of sais. Though he's not a direct reference to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it would be easy to see how one might make that connection. Thankfully, Jackson plays a lot better than Raphael did in the TMNT NES game, meaning that he is not the absolute worst character in any action game ever. I still hate you, Raphael. I hate you for life. Devil's Dare uses just two attack buttons, which makes it seem simple at first. That surface-level simplicity makes it all the more surprising when you discover all the little decisions you can make in combat, and how those decisions can kill you. The main twist is the fatality system and the risk vs. reward tradeoff that comes with it. Bring an enemy's health to zero and hit special to do a fatality. Sounds easy enough, but you can only store four special attacks at a time, and you need that meter for other important apocalypse-surviving stuff, like parries and projectiles. Your special meter replenishes automatically at a brisk pace, but new players are likely to find themselves out of meter and running for their lives fast, while veterans will have no problem controlling crowds of zombies while racking up huge fatality counts. Fatalities aren't just for fun. They're also for profit. Pull off a fatality on three or more enemies at a time and it becomes a massacre which, weirdly enough, rewards the player with food and loot. The food may feel important in the moment, but it's the loot you're really need in the long run. Not only do you need loot to buy power-ups and stat boosts, but you also need it to continue. If you go broke, it's game over, permi-death, save file auto-delete. Just like in real life, poverty comes with harsh consequences.  The idea here is to bring back the feeling of "arcade mortality" that comes from having to choose between using your actual money for real-life food or for in-game lives. A lot of brawlers lose that feeling after making their way out of the arcade and into your home. Limited continues just aren't the game, and "pay-to-win" microtransactions are just exploitative and gross. It's no surprise that most arcade-style games don't even attempt to get that "arcade mortality" back. It's not something you can just tack onto a game design. It has to be integrated into the whole experience for it to work.  Secret Base knows this, and has done well to make sure Devil's Dare is fun no matter how much you die. The game has a stage select screen, which helps cut down on repetition. More importantly, the difficulty ramps up dynamically and drastically, regardless of what order you play each stage in. That means if you play the "Train" level first, the stage's Jason Voorhees boss will be a "regular-sized giant" murderer. Play that stage second, and you'll face both "regular-sized giant" Jason and some little baby Jason's helpers at the same time. Take on that level third, and you face an entirely different "gigantic" Jason with huge Splatterhouse-style muscles and all new attacks. Permi-death is scary, but it also rewards you with the opportunity to see a lot of stuff you may not have missed before.  Even if there weren't so many things to discover through replays, Devil's Dare's graphics, music, and game feel make it a joy to play and replay, just for the heck of it. The sepia-toned sprites and cute-yet-gruesome character designs do a great job of being creepy and charming. The music is a mix of sweet and sinister, with ever so slightly dissonant chords joined by spooky, catchy melodies. Subtle touches are added all over the place to make every little event convey impact and gravity. An incidental animation here, a little screen shake there, a quick screen flash after a particularly big attack -- it all adds up to make the game feel alive, even though most of its characters are long dead.  If you hate "cultural reference" humor, you may struggle to get into Devil's Dare at first. The nods to various videogame and movies hit fast and furious in the opening cut scene and tutorial level. That's the only thing that beat-'em-up fans might have to fear before picking up the game. It's a fine example of how to infuse new ideas with old influences to create a game that feels simultaneously fresh and familiar. 
Devil's Dare photo
We walk the streets at night...
[Note: Destructoid's robot mascot, former news manager Conrad Zimmerman, and I appear briefly in the opening cinematic for Devil's Dare. We'll be giving out Steam codes for the game tomorrow on Sup Holmes if you want one.] S...

Pokémon demo photo
Pokémon demo

Don't overplay the Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire demo


I forgot Tropius can fly
Oct 21
// Jordan Devore
Do you have your code for the special demo of Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire? There are a handful of ways to acquire one before the games' full release on November 21. Those who missed getting a code via email s...
South Park Pinball photo
South Park Pinball

South Park Pinball is the crossover you never knew you wanted


They killed my multiplier, you bastards!
Oct 21
// Brett Zeidler
With Marvel, Star Wars, and The Walking Dead under their belts, there's no license too big for Zen Studios to take on at this point. This time around, Zen has teamed up with Comedy Central and put together two new tables themed after none other than South Park. I wasn't sure what to expect, but should have known the tables would be phenomenal.
Minecraft Vita photo
Minecraft Vita

Minecraft on PS Vita is the definitive portable version


Where was this two years ago?
Oct 21
// Brett Zeidler
You know what Minecraft is, your parents know what Minecraft is, and your grandparents just don't understand why that younger family member is on the iPad all the time. It's everywhere, but why has it never received a proper ...

Hyrule Warriors' 'Master Quest' DLC is worth the price of entry if you're already addicted

Oct 17 // Chris Carter
Hyrule Warriors: Master Quest DLC (Wii U)Developer: Omega Force, Team Ninja, NintendoPublisher: NintendoReleased: October 16, 2014MSRP: $7.99 (part of the $19.99 Season Pass) Let's start with the additional campaign. Put simply, it's a prequel and a side-story to the events that unfold over the course of the narrative. You'll see Cia's rise to power, how she recruited Wizzro and Volga, and her interactions with the denizens of each of the "portal" worlds like Skyward Sword and Twilight Princess. It takes place over five missions, all of which re-use maps from the story mode but offer new scenarios. Where these maps really shine are with the game's Hero difficulty. They're some of the most challenging ones on offer, and you'll have to employ some actual tactical thinking to best them without a few retries. The first map in particular is really cool in that it features three armies, all of which are constantly warring as the battle rages on. It also gives you a great look into the character of Volga, who is easily the star of the new update. Link's new Epona weapon is surprisingly one of the best parts of the package. It functions very similarly to horses in the Warriors series -- outside of the fact that you can't actually get off said horse. Attacks range from charges (with the classic carrot icons from past Zelda games) and area-of-effect abilities. In other words, Epona can be used in every map without an issue and kicks a lot of ass. I really liked the added touch of the shadow aesthetic when using the Dark Link skin. [embed]282707:56003:0[/embed] The new map is titled the "Master Quest," and gives you another board to work through in Adventure Mode from square one. Although hardcore fans probably breezed through the first map without too much difficulty, Master Quest is going to put your skills to the test. Every piece of the map features a certain challenge requirement, like "no healing of any kind," or a time limit on your objective. This is on top of the fact that a lot of the levels are just harder in general, and some require the use and mastery of the new characters. In my mind this is a great way to do DLC, as it's a natural progression from the first map. I would have liked to have seen something drastically different like a monochrome or Game Boy Color-themed Link's Awakening map, but the missions speak for themselves. Having said that, if you didn't dig the first map, you probably won't bother to complete this one, and you should wait for the next DLC pack to hit -- unless you like the idea of costumes and 8-bit weapons for your troubles. Finally, the last part of the paid Master Quest add-on is two costumes for Cia and Lana. These are essentially holy-themed getups, and while Lana's isn't all that special, it drastically changes Cia's appearance from evil to good, which is something. Still, it's not nearly as enticing as a Fierce Deity or Toon Link skin, per se. While the three free extra characters aren't technically part of the DLC, buying Master Quest unlocks a few perks, like their higher-level weapons and the ability to use heart containers on them. They're also some of the most fun characters in the game by far. Cia's badassery speaks for itself. As one of the core villains of the game, she uses her magic abilities and her whip as weapons. She can throw energy balls, summon flying discs to attack groups of enemies, and even summon a small army of Dark Links to lay waste to the battlefield. She's an AOE-oriented character but still holds her own in one-on-one situations. She also feels completely unique, even from Lana. As a neat bonus you'll also get two extra costumes right off the bat, including a hatless skin and a skin without her mask. Volga took me completely by surprise, and ended up being one of my new favorite characters. He plays similarly to a polearm character from the Warriors games, which should make more than a few fans happy. His "dragon" aspects are also well done to the point where it doesn't feel like they're overdoing it, and wings and claws will sprout during specific attacks. In terms of raw power he's one of the stronger characters in the game, giving you an extra viable roster option if you're the min-max type. Wizzro on the other hand feels weaker at first, but he's a highly technical character that shines in co-op. What's cool about him is that the vast majority of his attacks are ranged, putting him in a class of his own. He's adept at juggling and has a very useful beam attack that can be aimed at single enemies or even groups. I really like how the developers allowed him to use some of the basic moves of the Poe enemies but keep his own style. Hyrule Warriors is on a roll. Not only does the base game have more gameplay than nearly anything released in 2014, but the DLC does a decent job of augmenting the experience. While I'd like to see a little more original content in future DLCs, the three characters alone will add hours of entertainment.
Hyrule Warriors DLC photo
It's not as new as I would have liked, but it keeps me going
Hyrule Warriors is a massive game. If you want to 100% everything, get every weapon, and max out every character, it could last you roughly 200 hours or more. I'm hitting the 100-hour mark myself, due in part to the new ...

Killer Instinct's Season 2 is off to a great start

Oct 17 // Chris Carter
To dispel the notion that Microsoft is "ripping people off," you can get the entire base game so far (read: Seasons 1 and 2) for $40 ($20 per Season), including every character that's been released and the upcoming Season 2 fighters. While 16 [eventual] fighters is a fairly low count compared to many other games in the genre, Killer Instinct manages to make every combatant feel unique and worthwhile. There are no clones or wasted roster slots. You can also still download the game for free and play one character a week. It's a good deal in my mind, as strong mechanics ultimately outweigh "more fighters." If you spring for the Ultra upgrade you'll get a number of extras (mostly costumes), as well as a Killer Instinct 2 arcade port, complete with local and online play. I had a chance to test it out and much like the port of the original game in the Season 1 Ultra kit, it plays great and has an incredible amount of stuff packed into a gallery mode. So how is Season 2? The first thing you'll notice is the updated user interface, which makes it easier to get around the game's various modes and unlocks. Progression isn't tied to online ranking anymore (which solo players should really dig), and everything has a much better explanation attached to it -- like the enhanced movelists in training mode. Every mode now contributes to unlocks, thank goodness. There is a new "boost" system (read: microtransactions), but they are completely optional, and you'll be unlocking things at a faster pace than before. It's a non-issue for me. Of course the biggest add-ons are easily TJ Combo and Maya, returning from their graves as classic characters. Riptor and Cinder are confirmed so far (and will arrive in the future), as are four all-new characters. [embed]282607:55986:0[/embed] It only took me ten minutes to see that TJ Combo is a great addition to the game, especially given that he feels difficult to master. A lot of his combos are unconventional and require precise timing, but he has a way of making the best of just about any close-combat situation. His new character model also fits the game quite well, and Iron Galaxy didn't need to go over-the-top in this instance. Combo's new level also has a "Stage Ultra" finisher attached to it which should please old-school fans, but sadly it's the only one with said ultra capabilities so far. Maya however is one of my favorite new go-to fighters. Her entire gimmick revolves around her two daggers, which can be thrown in tandem or one at a time, and depending on the situation, drop on the ground similar to Vega's claw. Her combos are fast and her openers are plentiful, leading to a lot of cool-looking moments, particularly with her shadow moves. She's quickly been deemed the new "scrub" character, but like any other combatant she has counters and is easily manageable if you know what you're doing. While it's tough to really say whether or not the remaining six fighters will be worth the price of entry, Iron Galaxy has proved its worth in terms of picking up the slack on Killer Instinct. If you're curious, give TJ Combo a shot this week, as he's free.
Killer Instinct Season 2 photo
Maya is one of my new favorites
Although it had a few issues in terms of content, Killer Instinct on Xbox One was actually a good game at launch. Since then, I've taken a look at both Spinal and Fulgore, and found them to be a great addition to the alr...

 photo
Sadly, the C'caine Tiger has been un-stabbed to near-extinction
Max was poring through some new Far Cry 4 footage and spotted a few things that he didn't quite understand. Here's his top picks of interesting things he can't explain, because this game isn't out yet and we thought you might want to see some of it because this is a videogame website, you clown.

Destiny is the same gameplay experience on last-gen, but looks pretty rough

Sep 17 // Brett Zeidler
Destiny (PS3 [tested], PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: BungiePublisher: Activision Released: September 9, 2014MSRP: $59.99 Bungie was very adamant about keeping the Destiny experience exactly the same no matter what platform a player chooses (outside the PlayStation exclusive content, of course). That is, the overwhelming majority of content, environments, quests, enemies per screen, enemy levels, weapons, etc. are all exactly the same no matter what system the game is played on. This is where the similarities end for the last-gen versions. Getting Destiny set up on PS3 was an ordeal. After a small patch install, the game has a mandatory 6 GB install process. Before that, however, a 170 MB Compatibility Pack needs to be installed via the in-game PlayStation Store embed, and the aforementioned mandatory install cannot run in the background. I have no idea what content the game needed to download to be compatible with a week after launch, but it was apparently necessary and took forever to download. It gave me a nice hour to catch up on homework, so that was nice. How did we ever put up with this? I have been playing a bit on PS4 when I've had time, so it was a nice surprise to immediately see my character greet me after the start screen. I convinced myself that I would have to start completely over and test the character transfer system later, but, nope, as long as you're signed into the same platform family with the same account everything will just be there. Even my controls were saved. After selecting my character, my ship didn't appear in the destination selection screen or loading screens (even after restarting). The ship sounds still played out, so it's definitely supposed to be there. Destiny on last-gen runs at a sub-720p resolution, and, while this may have been passable about a year ago, this really is hard to look at nowadays. Nevertheless, it's still understandable. There also appears to be little, if any, anti-aliasing, texture detail is far lower, skybox quality is much lower, and shadows are extremely pixelated. The worst offender probably has to be the clipping issues. Shrubbery and foliage will appear about twenty feet in front of you, and trees randomly appear/disappear for no apparent reason. Enemies appear to have rendering priority, and awkwardly stick out in seemingly empty areas off in the distance; instead sometimes actually lurking in tall grass that only appears after getting closer or zooming in. It may sound like Destiny is just entirely poor-looking on last-gen systems, but that's not the case. I do still think it looks nice as, stylistically, it's all there. And that's probably why the result is the way it is; Bungie wanted to cram every single detail from the current-gen versions into the PS3 and 360 while not suffering from performance. As with PS4 and Xbox One, the game is locked at 30 FPS and never substantially dips even when things get crazy, so they certainly succeeded there. It's up to you how paramount a bump in resolution and substantial detail increase in every aspect really is to you. If any system is an option to you, or a new one will be very soon, then the choice should be very clear. Would you rather spend fifty hours looking at a blurry, pixelated game when you could have the same experience but instead with the game's assets' full potential presented to you? Destiny on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 may fall short in graphical prowess, but stylistically, and content-wise, it's the exact same experience that can be found on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The cloud-based character transfer system for in-line platform families makes it very worthwhile for soon-to-be adopters of current-gen consoles who simply can't wait any longer to play the new hotness to do just that if they're not bothered by the graphical limitations.
Destiny PS3 photo
720p is so last-gen
[Screenshots shown here are not the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 versions.] The marketing for Destiny would have you believe that the only place it makes an appearance is on the PlayStation 4. But no, it certainly made its way t...

Joylancer photo
Joylancer

Joylancer, the love letter to the Game Boy, will hit Early Access in October 26th


Watch the trailer if you love retro games
Sep 10
// Chris Carter
[Update: the Steam listing page is live right now.] Joylancer has been on my radar for quite a while now. It's an independent production that seeks to recreate the great feeling of the Game Boy era, with a solid platforming ...
Mega Man Legends 3 photo
Mega Man Legends 3

Mega Man Legends 3 8-bit fangame is now available to the public


It's pretty good, too
Sep 01
// Chris Carter
Mega Man Legends 3 may be cancelled, but fans have worked tirelessly to create a fangame based on the concept. Created as a prologue to Legends 3, this 8-bit release walks you through what might have happened, with great gam...

Super Meat Boy Forever is harder than the original

Aug 29 // Kyle MacGregor
The experience is akin to driving a car with faulty breaks. It puts players behind the wheel and requires they avoid any and all hazards placed in their path. One's agency extends only to jumping and ducking, the latter of which allows our protagonist to fall more quickly than usual and slide beneath low-hanging obstacles. The new constraints make for a far more difficult game, part of which can also be attributed to the title's randomly-generated levels. Stages are essentially playlists made up of pre-designed challenges Team Meat refers to as "chunks" placed on shuffle. Well, sort of. The configuration in which these hurdles appear isn't entirely without order. Chunks are ordered into three difficulty tiers, ensuring for a progressively more challenging experience. Though the title is designed for smartphones and tablet devices, it's also coming to PC, and programmer Tommy Refenes stresses Super Meat Boy Forever is far from another disposable mobile game. Players can expect a similar amount of content as what's found in Super Meat Boy, complete with a myriad of new environments and challenging bosses to surmount. Rest assured, it isn't just styled after the existing Xbox 360 and PC game. I'm convinced Forever will be a far tougher nut to crack than was its predecessor. After an extensive amount of time with a particularly challenging build of the game Team Meat put together just to test the press, I only managed to complete a handful of levels and eventually succumbed to a dark world stage that Refenes admitted even he has yet to conquer. Despite the extreme difficulty, I couldn't help but smile throughout the demo. Super Meat Boy Forever looks and feels amazing. It's the kind of game you can pick up for two minutes only to discover hours have gone by. 'Just one more try' never seems to be enough. Super Meat Boy Forever is targeted for a 2015 release, and Refenes says it will be "affordable."
Meat Boy Forever photo
Team Meat's new auto-runner is just brutal
Team Meat's new project Super Meat Boy Forever made its first appearance today at PAX Prime in Seattle -- and it makes the original game look like a cakewalk by comparison. The newly revealed title is an a...

SteamWorld Dig photo
SteamWorld Dig

SteamWorld Dig will have a cross-buy discount in Europe, but not in North America


Nintendo of America is apparently to blame
Aug 27
// Chris Carter
SteamWorld Dig is hitting the Wii U on August 28th, and if you happen to live in the EU, AUS, or NZ regions, you'll get a 25% off discount for owning the 3DS version. But wait -- why isn't this cross-buy discount availab...
The Walking Dead Pinball photo
The Walking Dead Pinball

The Walking Dead Pinball is just as good as I had hoped


Around every flipper
Aug 26
// Brett Zeidler
Zen Studios has been quite busy the past few years expanding its line of pinball tables; most of which have been in the form of licensed Marvel and Star Wars tables. There have been videogame-themed tables in the past --...

Fibbage is a fun digital party game, even if you only have two people

Aug 26 // Chris Carter
The concept is very simple -- at the start of each round, all players will come up with a convincing "lie" to add to the multiple choice pool. So for a question like "this strange fishing rod sold at Hank's Goods in Camden, Maine is comprised of 70% [blank]" -- you might come up with "fish bones" or "endangered redwood." The real answer is usually something odd (but not always), and in this case, it's carrots. It's not all niche trivia, and I found myself knowing roughly one answer every three rounds or so. Setting up a game is also easy. All you have to do is go to fibbage.com on basically any device, then enter your name and the "room code" that each round displays on the screen -- that's it. I was able to get the game up and running on multiple tablets, smartphones, and PCs, and it's a good game to spring on people since they will likely always have their phones on them. Like any lie-based board game it's a blast to play with friends, as Fibbage shows you what everyone's fib was at the end of a round, and the satisfaction you'll get from successfully passing off a lie is amazing. It gets better the more players you add to the mix, but it's completely playable with two people, because it adds an extra "lie," on its own to keep you on your toes. Jackbox Games promises that there are "hundreds" of questions, and in roughly 40 games comprised of multiple rounds I haven't seen a repeat yet. Fibbage originally launched on the Amazon Fire TV, but you can find it on the Xbox One now and the PS3/PS4 in "early September."
Fibbage photo
It works for up to eight
I was randomly flipping through my email last week and saw a peculiar Xbox One release -- a little party game called Fibbage. Billed as a "fibbing" party game (the likes of which I'm sure you've seen before), this one has a ...

Wii U photo
Wii U

Steamworld Dig is better on the Wii U


Best of both worlds
Aug 25
// Caitlin Cooke
This isn’t the first rodeo for SteamWorld Dig -- the cute mining adventure game first arrived last year on the 3DS eshop, followed by a Steam release. Now it’s making a comeback to the Wii U this week on August 28...

Some quick thoughts on League of Legends' Braum and Gnar

Aug 18 // Chris Carter
[embed]279768:55330:0[/embed] Braum is the latest mustachioed hero to hit League of Legends, and his design fits the game perfectly. Although his "dragonslayer" skin isn't really worth buying, his standard skin is one of the stronger models in League, and the fact that he uses his giant shield as a weapon is hilarious. Braum's moves are straightforward -- he has a slowing projectile, a shield dash (just like a few other support characters), a blocking ability, and a straight-line pop-up ultimate. On paper, all of these powers have been seen before, but in tandem, they all meld very well. A lot of people prefer to play as a carry for more glory by way of kills, but I think it's incredibly satisfying to set up teammates with kills instead. Braum has a lot of tools in his shed, including his passive stun, his Q slow, and his ultimate pop-up. One of my favorite new things in League is dashing towards a teammate with Braum's W, then putting up his E shield to block an incoming attack that would hit multiple players. Braum is a true support character, and definitely a fun addition to the game -- it helps to play him with friends though, rather than random people who may not gel with the support type. Having said that, I wouldn't expect a whole lot from Braum in terms of originality -- especially after seeing what Gnar brings to the table. I'd only recommend him to support junkies. [embed]279768:55329:0[/embed] Gnar is a unique champion, and one that I fell in love with after my first game with him. Billed as a yordle that was born a "millennia ago," Gnar was frozen in ice, and has a passive "Rage Gene" that allows him to transform into a giant beast. The catch: "rage" is the key word here, as he gains power by way of a separate bar to transform into said beast -- and he can't really control when the transformation takes place (although you'll see the bar approach 100/100 and you'll get a transformation imminent animation). As such, you'll have access to a Jekyll and Hyde character of sorts, one who is super fast but fragile, and the other who is slow but tanky. Gnar's standard form is quick, allowing constant speed boosts and even a "hop" move that lets him escape and pursue. His boomerang power is one of my favorite skillshots, as it allows him to "catch" the projectile to shorten the cooldown, or let it run to potentially hit more enemies. It's perfect for laning and harassing -- since it slows the first enemy it touches. The "Mega" version of Gnar has access to similar moves, but instead of a swift boomerang and an agile hop, he throws boulders and slams the ground. It's really fun to do well as the tiny version, then all of a sudden have access to Mega Gnar, run in, and wreck shop with all your new cooldowns. That's not to say that he's easy to play, as any player can run down the tiny Gnar (which you'll be playing as most of the time) and slice him to bits in seconds. You have to play conservatively and run in at the right times, sometimes with split-second decisions in tow, which makes Gnar a really fun champion to play, and a great unpredictable addition to League of Legends. He's also easy to pick up at first since his core form has two passive-like skills -- so you only really have to master his hop and boomerang initially.
LoL champion hands-on photo
The two newest champions
I've been covering every new League of Legends champion for over a year now, but ever since Braum dropped, I haven't had the chance to really get in and play as many ranked games as I would have liked due to a few other ...

Diablo III's Ultimate Evil Edition makes the core game a must-play for console owners

Aug 12 // Chris Carter
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls: Ultimate Evil Edition (PS3, PS4 [tested], Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Blizzard EntertainmentPublisher: Blizzard EntertainmentRelease: August 19, 2014MSRP: $39.99 (PS3, Xbox 360), $59.99 (PS4, Xbox One) If you've played the game previously and want to bring over your character, the process is painless -- you just log into Battle.net by way of in-game menus, and log into Xbox Live or PlayStation Network. You can transfer over saves/characters from the previous console generation to the new generation (even cross-platform or cross-publisher), with the only limitation of not being able to transfer from PS4 to Xbox One and vice versa. The process takes a total of roughly one minute, but it could be longer if you forgot your Battle.net password. What you're getting with the Ultimate Evil Edition is everything from Reaper of Souls basically (which is still currently $40 on PC) -- the new Act V, the Crusader class, Loot 2.0, the new difficulty system, adventure mode, the level cap of 70, the Mystic artisan, and a few more changes. The console version of the game allows you to use an in-game mail system to share loot as well as take advantage of the "Nemesis" feature, which is set up kind of like a Souls game. In short, players can encounter rare creatures that will attempt to assassinate them, which will allow your friends to avenge your spirit. It's a very small social feature, but it's a welcome one that doesn't impede on the experience in any way. There's not a whole lot that's different about Ultimate Evil outside of those small additions, but if you're playing it on PS4 you can nab a Shadow of the Colossus armor pattern, as well as randomized enemies from The Last of Us in certain Rifts. [embed]279348:55207:0[/embed] Ultimate Evil also has the same great console controls, which translate perfectly with Diablo III's skill system. All of the face buttons as well as R1 and R2 are still mapped to abilities, and the right stick is used as a combat roll that's unique to the console version. The only hangup still are the menus, which are particularly slow to navigate with local players since only one player is allowed to use them at at time. Blizzard should have taken a cue from Champions of Norrath on the PS2, which allowed people to have separate menu instances, as well as buy or sell items at the same time. As it stands though it's not the end of the world since the quick-equip system exists with the d-pad, and online players all have their own menus. Speaking of local players, four-player online and couch co-op returns, which is easily one of the biggest draws. On the PS4 the game doesn't chug in the slightest even with extra players on-screen, and there's something about playing dungeon crawlers locally that makes them even more enjoyable. In case you're wondering, loot is distributed equally upon pickup (or directly to players that can use an item, like bows in the instance of a Demon Hunter), and with Loot 2.0, the drops are plentiful. Ultimate Evil Edition is a natural progression for those of you who loved the console version of Diablo III, and current generation owners can pay a $20 upgrade fee of sorts for a slight visual upgrade. If you've already played the PC version to death and don't have any local friends to play with, there isn't much here for you, though.
Diablo III consoles photo
Go try it if you haven't already
Diablo III has had a tumultuous history to say the least. Always-online DRM, the Real-Money Auction House, and loot problems plagued the original release -- all issues that took months to address. It's a hot-button issue even...

Swapper PSN impressions photo
Swapper PSN impressions

The Swapper is just as incredible on PS4 and Vita


Swappin' makes me feel good
Aug 11
// Brett Zeidler
Somehow Facepalm Games' The Swapper slipped under my radar in 2013. Even though I've owned it for a while from a Humble Bundle, I just never fired it up. Releasing on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation Vita la...
GotG Pinball Impressions photo
GotG Pinball Impressions

Guardians of the Galaxy Pinball may be the best table yet


Guardians of the table
Aug 02
// Brett Zeidler
Hot off the heels of the stellar Deadpool table back in June, Zen Studios is going strong with its line of Marvel pinball tables. Guardians of the Galaxy finally got the film treatment, and now it has the pinball tr...

Titanfall's Frontier's Edge DLC is another okay, yet underwhelming map pack

Jul 31 // Chris Carter
Titanfall: Frontier's Edge (PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: Respawn EntertainmentPublisher: Electronic ArtsRelease: July 31, 2014 (PC, Xbox One) / TBA (Xbox 360)MSRP: $9.99 ($25 Season Pass) Once again, Frontier's Edge brings three maps along with it, one of which is Dig Site. This is the strongest map in the group, and both the aesthetic design and layout are reminiscent of the Halo series, which is a good thing. The rock-lined walls definitely give it character, as does the giant saw spinning on the battlefield. There are also a few cool hollowed-out tunnels that remind me of some of the desolate maps from Killzone, but with Respawn's own personal spin on it. The only major disappointment is that some of the higher-up areas are considered "out of bounds," forcing the player to retreat to lower ground or risk instant death -- it makes you wonder why those portions are even there, since most zones don't have that problem. The good news though is that you'll actually remember this map when it cycles in. Haven is another decent addition to the complete pack of maps, even if it doesn't help justify the cost of the DLC. It's similar to Angel City both visually and layout-wise, as it contains tons of buildings with vantage points and windows. It's bright and open for the most part, which is a stark contrast to many of the brown-hued stages that take up half the game. It reminds me of a good Call of Duty map, but with the game's signature future-flair injected into it. It's a nice way to keep the map grounded yet memorable within the confines of the Titanfall universe. Having said that, Haven is so by-the-books that it feels weird once you realized you paid money for it. Export, like Runoff before it, is the clear-cut worthless part of the trio. It's a boring industrial map that's as underwhelming to play as it looks. With a diverse color palette of browns on top of browns (and some muted indoor shrubbery for good measure), Export feels like a disjointed map that doesn't have a cohesive theme or layout. There's lots of nooks and crannies with elevated ramps that make for decent Titan skirmishes, but overall it has that "been there done that" feeling that you really can't have with a pack that only has three maps. At one point I didn't even realize that I was playing a paid DLC map. The Black Market update itself (which again, everyone gets for free) is actually a nice, non-intrusive little addition. Now when you go to browse your Burn Cards, you can simply press the back triggers to sell them, earning credits to invest in new cards or emblems. Now, you can buy packs of cards that suit your needs, all of which are fairly priced, and can be bought by earning credits through normal play. It probably won't reignite the community, but it's a great way for veterans to get back in the action and work towards something when they become bored of prestiging. It's safe from micro-transactions, for now. At the present time however, I cannot recommend the Titanfall Season Pass, even if it discounts the overall package by $5. The first two DLCs simply aren't strong enough to warrant a full purchase, so hang in there for an inevitable Season Pass discount before you go all in. If you can't help yourself and want just one pack though, Frontier's Edge slightly edges out Expedition -- even if it continues the trend of one good, one decent, and one poor map.
Titanfall DLC review photo
Wait for a Season Pass discount
Titanfall was a good game for what it was -- a fun, but not revolutionary shooter. It didn't change gaming (or even the genre) forever, and some players abandoned it weeks after launch, turning many playlists into desola...

Sunless Sea photo
Sunless Sea

Early Access Review: Sunless Sea


All aboard for darker shores
Jul 07
// Alasdair Duncan
[Want to know how an Early Access game is coming along? Check out our Early Access Reviews, which will be a series going forward with the intent of informing you whether or not a game is worth buying into at this time.] Ca...






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