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Game News Haikus photo
Game News Haikus

Game News Haikus: Battlefield Hardline, Banjo-Kazooie, Final Fantasy XV, and more

Zen distilled stories
Mar 23
// Darren Nakamura
Last week we took a break from the usual poetic news recaps to highlight our favorite games from PAX East, but now we are back in the swing of things. You can check out all of the past episodes on the Game News Haikus YouTub...

CCP's found the best use for Xbox One's Kinect so far

Mar 20 // Brett Makedonski
The Atlanta studio put together three demos, and used Rift DK2 and Microsoft's Kinect for all of them. While it's a suitable use of the VR peripheral, it's the integration of Kinect that pushes everything to the next level. Taking the controller out of your hands and replacing it with actual movement goes a long way toward achieving the ever-sought-after "immersion." I dare say that these three demos are the best use of Microsoft's Xbox One Kinect yet. Speaking with Atlanta's executive producer Morgan Godat, he shed some light on the developer's decision to make use of the Kinect. "We said 'What comes next?' Our assumption was that the Xbox controller was kind of the first generation of VR like you're seeing with Valkyrie. But, what might come after that?" he said. The result was what Godat described as a "Frankenstein setup." The team started with a PC, Oculus Rift, PlayStation Move controllers, and a Kinect. It just threw everything together to see what worked and what didn't. As Godat put it "Some of the hardware has fallen off, but Kinect has made the long haul. It's really impressive." It's the piece that, for now, is crucial in taking that next step in VR development. When standing in front of the Kinect with an Oculus strapped to your head, it's apparent how important that proverbial (and, in this case, literal) next step really is. Hands-down, the most impressive and enjoyable game was a player-versus-player contest named Disc Arena. The only way to paint a mental image of the aesthetic is to call it "overtly Tron." Standing across from another person in the futuristic corridor, you're tasked with flicking a disc toward your opponent. If you hit them, you get a point. The challenge comes from the fact that you're both "equipped" with a shield that can be held up with the left hand. Blocking will break the disc; swiping at the disc with the shield reflect it back. At first, it's easy to get caught up in the simple exchange of flick a disc, block a disc. It's boring, simple, and basic. But, then a disc goes astray and you learn that the walls can be used to bounce the disc and disorient your opponent. Suddenly you have to watch all directions for incoming projectiles, throw your shield everywhere, and still find time to shoot off your own discs. When you score a point, it feels like an actual accomplishment. It's just great. (And, I won six points to five, by the way.) Ship Spinner was the most experimental of the three titles. There wasn't an objective, but rather exploration was the focus. With a detailed spaceship hovering in front of you, you were asked to swipe it around to change the orientation. From there, leaning into the ship completely changed the view and offered insight as to what's actually happening aboard. All the rooms were detailed in their own special way. At one point I triggered lounge music. A colleague of mine found a dead guy. I raised the ship as high as I could, and explored the underbelly and furnace of the ship. There wasn't really any point, but that's what made it great. The last of Atlanta's demos, called The Workshop, let me grab fire and throw it. Putting elements on a literal pedestal, I just picked up fire or electricity and lobbed it about as I felt fit. Then, a stack of boxes appeared and I kicked them as far as I could. It was neat, but nothing on the level of Disc Arena or Ship Spinner. The Shanghai studio went in a very different direction and ended up developing an untethered VR experience. Using GearVR, it created an on-rails shooter named Project Nemesis. Originally codenamed Invaders, it's simple to grasp where it draws inspiration from. It's essentially a VR conceptualization of Space Invaders which requires tapping on the side of the headset to dispose of waves of ships circling in patterns. Admittedly, there's a good chance that none of these demos will ever see the light of day as some sort of consumer release. That's fine with CCP, though; that was never the intent. As Godat emphasized, the point of making these one-off experiences was to get creative and see what the developers could do with virtual reality. It's all a part of CCP's ultimate goal of "finding a future vision within the EVE universe with a laser focus on VR."
CCP does VR A-OK photo
CCP's VR Labs
It’s no secret that virtual reality is quickly making its mark on the videogame industry. If that weren't evident before, GDC 2015 kicked the door wide open. That's why, with numerous developers turning their attention ...

Review: Fruit Ninja Kinect 2

Mar 16 // Brett Makedonski
Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 (Xbox One)Developer: Hibernum CréationsPublisher: Halfbrick StudiosReleased: March 18, 2015MSRP: $14.99 For the few who don't know, Fruit Ninja relies on the suspension of disbelief that you are a ninja (apologies to the actual ninjas in the audience), and that fruit is your mortal enemy. As fruit is tossed up on the screen, slashing, slicing, dicing, chopping, and cleaving motions dispel the pesky produce. Efficiency is key, and eliminating melons, berries, and citrus in numbers of three or higher is more rewarding in every sense of the word. Again, it's a simple premise. Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 warmly welcomes back arcade, classic, and zen modes, all of which remain (almost) untouched in their varying degrees of danger and urgency. However, there's also an attempt to add depth with four new modes, a bolstered multiplayer system, and campaign objectives. They're all fine improvements -- small tweaks on a formula that really can't be tweaked all that much. Festival is where seasoned Fruit Ninja players will find the most jarring changes. These four games each place their own significant caveat on gameplay. Two of them require avoiding incoming shurikens and staying out of a moving spotlight while still slicing fruit. Another throws seeds into the mix which, when not disposed of, turn into bamboo that needs chopping down. And, in maybe the biggest twist yet, one game trades in faux katanas for barroom darts. [embed]289110:57801:0[/embed] All that mostly ends up serving as a distraction -- a palate cleanser when the three mainstay modes temporarily overstay their welcome. They'll also have a share of campaign objectives that are unique to them, as Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 has a level progression system that sees the player from whatever unremarkable title rank one holds, through Fruit Ninja at rank 30. In the past, the only real reason to keep at Fruit Ninja was for leaderboard dominance. While that urge is still present, the stripped-down campaign does a lot to encourage continued play, even if there's nothing notably unique about it. Honestly, Fruit Ninja Kinect 2's most alluring prospect is as a party game. Fortunately, the multiplayer has evolved significantly since the past iteration. Now, four-person play is supported (although only two at a time, with swift trade-offs), and there are mini-games galore to ensure that everything's more varied than "chop more fruit than your friends." Predictably, Fruit Ninja Kinect 2's biggest weakness comes from the implementation of the Xbox One's Kinect. It's not a perfect motion peripheral, and that can become all too evident when laser-like accuracy is necessary. But, to their credit, the developers did the best they could minimizing the severity of the issue. One of Fruit Ninja Kinect's greatest strengths (and it's true of this game, too) is that it maps the player's shadow to the background. It seems somewhat insignificant, but this gives the player an omnipresent frame of reference, something that other Kinect titles couldn't offer. Most importantly, it mitigates the imprecision of the Kinect by projecting a constant and reliable method to altering body movements that'd achieve desirable results. And, brilliantly enough, this all exists in the player's subconscious. Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 is subject to the same technical downfalls in theory, but it handles them a bit better in execution. That's to be expected; it's using improved hardware, after all. There aren't many instances of Kinect just flat-out refusing to read your movements. The issues are more nuanced than that. Sometimes it'll put players on the wrong side in multiplayer and refuse to fix the problem. Other times, it won't accept the bowing command to pause the game. Most of these are niggling complications that can be worked around once you know how Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 consistently functions. Still, it's frustrating until that point's reached. Ultimately, Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 is a game that improves upon its predecessor in almost every conceivable way. Anything less would be unacceptable given that this feels somewhat more like a remaster of sorts than a true sequel. There aren't any major alterations, as the Fruit Ninja concept can't be shaken up too dramatically. But hey, it turns out that frantically slicing fruit still makes for a nice little distraction, regardless of whether it's on a tablet, a phone, or a television.
Fruit Ninja review photo
Banana, split
Any way you slice it, Fruit Ninja is one of the most popular mobile games of all time. It's built around such an unassuming foundation that it lends itself perfectly to those lulls in life when you don't really want to think ...

Rock Band 4 photo
Rock Band 4

Kinect interference won't be an issue in Rock Band 4

That's certainly reassuring
Mar 09
// Brett Makedonski
Harmonix wants the Rock Band 4 experience to be a social one -- a group of people together in a room using music as the driving force toward enjoyment. However, Microsoft has a once "integral" peripheral for the Xbox One...
Gearbox x Harmonix photo
Gearbox x Harmonix

Borderlands characters are now in Dance Central Spotlight

From Inside Gearbox panel
Mar 08
// Darren Nakamura
Gearbox and Harmonix have worked together in the past with a dance section in one of last year's trailers for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. At the PAX East Inside Gearbox panel, Gearbox and Harmonix announced a new p...
Kinect photo

Microsoft's Kinect for Windows sensor will be gone in 2015

That Kinect you like isn't coming back in style
Jan 01
// Chris Carter
Microsoft has announced that they will be ending sales for the original Kinect for Windows sensor in 2015. Since the "v2" edition (Xbox One) is available, it makes sense to phase out the original. They've reminded developers ...
Kinect photo

This game looks like one of the best uses of Kinect or PS Eye I've seen yet

Bonus: You get to take selfies!
Nov 19
// Brett Makedonski
Console camera peripherals are often neat in theory, but fall flat in practice. Turns out that very few people actually want to use the damned things to try to control their games. But, what if they were only used to control...
ScreamRide photo

Roller coaster crashing game ScreamRide will be budget priced

$29.99 on Xbox 360, $39.99 on Xbox One
Nov 13
// Jordan Devore
Frontier Developments' ScreamRide is a game about building and crashing roller coasters and while I'd prefer to play something like that on PC (or just scratch that itch in RollerCoaster Tycoon where I can also charge people ...
D4 sale photo
D4 sale

D4 is on sale, so everyone should buy it immediately

Deez discounts do discontinue
Nov 04
// Brett Makedonski
Hey, you! Yeah, the person that owns an Xbox One and is staring confusedly at the guy yelling at them over the Internet! I'm talkin' to you! D4's on sale for Xbox Live Gold members, so you should probably go pick that up righ...
National Cat Day photo
National Cat Day

Literally amazing! I let a stray cat into my friend's house and then put it in the tub with a Kinect

Introducing Freddy Purrcury
Oct 29
// Brett Makedonski
It's National Kitties Are F*cking Adorable and Awesome Day. The best day of the year, in my opinion. To celebrate, I let a stray cat into my friend's house and he beelined to the shower. That's how cats roll (when they feel ...
ScreamRide photo

You're actually supposed to crash roller coasters in ScreamRide

With pleasure
Sep 29
// Jordan Devore
ScreamRide is an Xbox 360 and Xbox One game due out this spring that should appeal to those of us RollerCoaster Tycoon players who regularly have "accidents" happen at our amusement parks. Now, it's more action than simulati...
D4 photo

Behold, D4's chilling grand finale... or something. Whatever

Xbox, go home
Sep 25
// Max Scoville
Sometimes playing video games is a fun experience and everyone enjoys themselves. Other times, someone winds up screaming at the TV. That's life. However, I can't remember the last time I found myself screaming "Eat the f*cki...
D4 photo
Damn! Dang! Darn! Uhh... Dildos!
I think the lesson Bill and I learned playing D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die is that we need to calibrate the Kinect, and make sure it can see us properly. Beyond that, I'm still unclear what this game is about, and it's vaguely u...

D4 photo
Look D4 you leap
Okay, so Chris Carter absolutely loved D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die, so Bill and I figured we'd check it out... and uh. Wow. Goodness gracious. That certainly is some sort of video game. I think. Honestly, if I didn't have this whole experience on video, I might think there was a gas leak in my house making us go all stupid and insane.

Gears of War photo
Gears of War

It's a good thing Gears of War: Tactics was canceled

Oh, Kinect
Sep 11
// Jordan Devore
A few years back, it was repeatedly rumored that Gears of War would get a spinoff game built around Kinect. The project never came to fruition and that's seemingly for the best, if this alpha footage of Gears of War: Tactics ...
Harmonix photo

Check out Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved at PAX Prime

Dance the night away
Aug 28
// Brittany Vincent
Harmonix is headed to PAX Prime in Seattle this weekend, and bringing with them Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved, as well as swag and some brand new songs that you can check out if you happen to be in attendance. The event's on...
Kinect photo

Standalone Xbox One Kinects go on sale in October for $150

Packaged with a copy of Dance Central Spotlight
Aug 27
// Brett Makedonski
Microsoft moved a lot more Xbox Ones when it made the prudent business decision to offer a SKU sans Kinect for $100 cheaper. But, what about those that have found themselves saddled with Kinect regret, those that long to come...
Rareware photo

Xbox boss on Rare in a post-Kinect Sports world

Maybe the studio is finally working on its next Perfect Dark or Banjo Kazooie
Aug 17
// Kyle MacGregor
Rare's time in the sun may be a distant memory, but Xbox boss Phil Spencer still feels the developer has bright days ahead. Speaking with CVG, Spencer said the British studio "should, can and will be" an important part of Mic...
Xbox Fitness photo
Xbox Fitness

Feel the burn of P90X on Xbox One with Xbox Fitness

There will be sweat
Jul 29
// Jordan Devore
P90X has joined Xbox Fitness for Xbox One this week with a 30-day program priced at $59.99. The program features P90X creator Tony Horton and five exclusive workouts. A downloadable calendar and nutrition plan are also on th...
TMNT photo

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Kinect, and Pizza Hut together at last

The Bay turtles would be down for this, wouldn't they?
Jul 15
// Jordan Devore
Dunno about you, but when I think of Kinect, I do occasionally think about Pizza Hut. And when I think about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, yeah, pizza (of the non-Pizza Hut variety) often comes to mind. These three things...
Xbox One photo
Xbox One

There's going to be a Fruit Ninja Kinect 2

Sure, why not?
Jul 11
// Jordan Devore
A ratings board listing has outed the existence of Fruit Ninja Kinect 2. You cool with that? Fruit Ninja was one of the rare titles for Xbox 360 that made decent use of the motion-sensing device, so it makes sense that the ne...
$200 Windows Kinect v2 photo
$200 Windows Kinect v2

You can buy PC compatible, standalone Kinect v2 for $200

Releasing next week
Jul 06
// Steven Hansen
As the Kinect is wrest free from the Xbox One, it will be available for standalone purchase directly from Microsoft.  This is meant to serve as a development tool, not something you should buy for your Xbox One -- that's...
Microsoft photo

Microsoft's Phil Spencer on Kinect: 'consumers love the device, they'll buy it'

We'll see I guess
Jun 24
// Chris Carter
As much as people make fun of Kinect, it sold a lot of units on the Xbox 360 as an add-on. On the Xbox One -- they didn't have a choice -- they had to buy it. But as of a few weeks ago Microsoft had a change of heart, and dec...
Kinect photo

Microsoft executive: Kinectless Xbox One SKU is the best thing for Kinect

It's all about more options
Jun 10
// Brett Makedonski
Approximately a month ago, Microsoft revealed that it was releasing a new Xbox One SKU -- a package that was $400 and didn't include a Kinect. A lot of people interpreted this as the beginning of the end for Kinect, a sign th...

Swery65's D4 is all about finding D, dodging weirdos

Jun 10 // Steven Hansen
[embed]276379:54404:0[/embed] D4 (Dark Dreams Don't Die) plays like an adventure game with motion controls. It's a lot like the recent The Walking Dead, except without free movement. You can reach out towards footprint icons on screen with an open hand and effectively "grab" them (close your hand) to move spots. You can also swipe away left or right at the screen to rotate perspective. You can at times move your head and torso to adjust the camera as well, like while you're looking in the mirror. I was started in protagonist David Young's home. You have a stamina meter in the top left corner and interacting with things, like flushing toilets, uses up some of the gauge. In a pretty lengthy examination of his abode, it didn't seem near to running low, so I'm not sure if the cap will become strenuous at all. You can also put both your hands to your head to activate an internal monologue which acts as a sort of hint system and will direct David to something he needs to interact with to start pushing things along. In this case, it was a file on his wife's murder. He can't remember all the details around it, only that his wife told him to search for "D." 4D also references time, and the trauma has given David a limited time-hop ability that activates under certain conditions. All of that is the sort of set up. The rest? The rest is Swery. He has said that his main inspiration for his games are his own life and experiences. Later in the demo I met Amanda. The heterochromatic, bunny-eared blonde was frantically trying to (and successfully does) break into the apartment. The game goes into a combat scenario as she bursts in and you do various swipes and movements to try and corral her, which was surprisingly trying for me only because I made the ill-advised decision to try and spend the day before E3 playing pick-up basketball. After you catch all the dishware thrown at you and the "fight" winds down, I realize Amanda has had a mouse in her mouth all this time. She "just started living with us one day," David's internal monologue explains. "Sometimes she helps with the groceries." The text under her name reads "Freeloader/Grocery Shopper?" Once you get over the weird barrier of remembering how the Kinect and motion controls work, D4 is actually surprisingly polished. In what I played, the motion controls also felt a bit more interesting for the otherwise mundane actions the game wants you to be a participant in. It gives it a little more energy than, say, the simpler Walking Dead interaction mechanics. For all the flying coffee mugs, there are also prompts to draw a line with a pen or grab a remote to turn on the TV. If D4 is going to live in this minutia and be more about the story, I think I'd be fine with playing with the Kinect. But if not, controller support is there now, too.
Hands-on D4 photo
Unfortunately, weirdos abound when you're looking for D...
Swery65 brought us Deadly Premonition, so you know D4 is going to be weird. In fact, Swery told me that he drafted six or seven different stories to work on next and in his partnership with Microsoft, went with the "most biza...

Ubisoft photo

'Vaporize aliens with your abs' in Ubisoft's Shape Up for Xbox One

An attempt to make workouts fun
Jun 09
// Jordan Devore
Ubisoft is the latest company to make use of the Kinect for its fitness game but rather than strive for realism, Shape Up tries to be wacky in the hope that you'll work out harder if you're having fun. Squat into outer space...
Bungie photo

Bungie to forgoe Kinect on Destiny to improve resolution

Jun 09
// Chris Carter
It's crazy how much Microsoft changed their stance in the infamous "Xbox 180" debacle, and how much they've changed in the past month or so. The latest development is the decision to sell a Kinect-less Xbox, which has had a b...

Fantasia: Music Evolved introduces partner apprentice Scout

Jun 06 // Dale North
A new hands-on (hands-off?) session had us playing a newly revealed area called The Neighborhood. The scene features urban street art, psychedelic colors, and has a bit of a comic book vibe. Harmonix said that it was inspired by artists like The Who, and by songs like Cee Lo Green's "Forget You," among others. The area starts out pretty quiet, but as you move the Muse 3D cursor around to manipulate zones, it starts to come alive, first with radio signals, and later with music that you've unlocked. A play through of "Forget You" had us layering rock guitars and keyboards with Cee Lo's original vocals from the hit song. Later, we chopped up drum loops in a composition spell, and created a keyboard solo by waving hands in another.  After this, a diversion into a subway stop of The Neighborhood had us doing a freestyle sequencing section with singing vegetables. A turnip and beet had their own vocal tracks, while a carrot dropped a beatbox track. By moving between the vegetables, the player can jam out to create their own loops, making their own track. This performance is then added back into The Neighborhood as background music. In this case, the trio was added to a train that came back around to the scene regularly. A few new tracks for Fantasia: Music Evolved were announced during our session. Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence" will be a part of this stage, as will The Police's "Message in a Bottle." On the classical side, "The Nutcracker" was pulled from the original Fantasia. I tried my hand at Drake's "Take Care." Things got pretty interesting with alternate music tracks that underscored the entire song with acapella background vocals and beatbox rhythms.
Hands-on with new Neighborhood level
Harmonix has thought a lot about how they'll welcome players to Fantasia: Music Evolved and they've decided to add a partner apprentice that will serve as a sort of game guide. Her name is Scout, a talented but impatient appr...


Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved dated: October 21, 2014 for Xbox One and Xbox 360

New tracks revealed
Jun 06
// Dale North
Harmonix sends word that Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved finally has a solid release date: October 21, 2014, for Xbox One and Xbox 360. We have a brand new preview for you to check out this morning. For now, here are the new ...

Creating an out of body experience with an Oculus and 3 Kinects

Kinect is useful for SOME things
May 18
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Kinect may suck for gaming, but it sure is a great piece of tech for everything else. Take for instance this 3D recreation that involves three Kinects, and an Oculus Rift. One of the cool takeaways from this demonstration is...

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