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PS4 streaming photo
PS4 streaming

Official PC and Mac streaming is coming to the PS4

Sorry, third-party programs
Nov 27
// Joe Parlock
Have you ever gazed longingly at the Xbox One's ability to stream games to a PC? Have you ever wished your PS4 could do the same thing, wished to be taken into the sweet embrace of inFamous: Second Son or Metal Gear Solid V s...
CronusMAX Plus photo
CronusMAX Plus

The CronusMAX Plus V3 allows interchangeable PS4, Xbox One, and Wii U controllers

I put it to the test
Nov 26
// Chris Carter
For weeks now, readers have been asking about the CronusMAX Plus. With its grand claims of using "almost any controller on any console," a lot of people wanted to know if it worked, especially given the pricey $50 price tag for what essentially amounted to a fancy dongle. After some initial issues, it ended up taking me by surprise at how well it worked.

PC Port Report: Assassin's Creed Syndicate

Nov 26 // Joe Parlock
Rig: AMD FX-8320 3.50GHz Eight-Core processor, 12GB of RAM, AMD HD 7970, Windows 10 64-Bit. Framerate measured with Raptr. Game played at the “High” graphics preset. First things first, as a technical product Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is definitely one of the best of the series on PC. The graphics options are incredibly descriptive, so those who may not quite understand which ambient occlusion or anti-aliasing settings would be best for them aren’t left in the dark. I particularly like the little bar in the top-right corner that shows just how much of your video memory is being used, letting you tweak the game to be as high quality as your card will allow. The game supports 4K resolutions for people with absolutely monster rigs and big enough screens to run them on, as well as widescreen resolutions (up to 2560x1080) and borderless windowed mode for easy swapping between applications. However, there are also some important options missing, such as the ability to change the FOV. This is a third person game though, so it probably isn’t as big of a problem for the majority of people as it would be in a first person ganme. Some people do still suffer from motion sickness when playing third person games though, so the option to change it could have been beneficial. Also worth noting is that Syndicate features full and complete key remapping, adjustable mouse acceleration, and full controller support for Xbox 360, Xbox One and PS4 controllers. Disappointingly, the menus suggest there is a way to remap controller inputs, but this doesn't actually appear to be possible. After spending so long playing Assassin’s Creed on PC, trying to play it with an Xbox 360 controller felt unnatural to me. The ability to tweak which button does what thing would’ve been nice. As I mentioned, Assassin’s Creed has never been known for its stellar PC ports. Assassin’s Creed III and Unity in particular suffered from poor optimisation, and I struggled to hit even a steady 30FPS on them with the rig described above. I’m not a framerate perfectionist who demands 60+ FPS in all things (even though I also understand people wanting to get what they’ve paid for out of their expensive hardware), but even then being able to get solidly 40+ FPS in Syndicate on the high preset felt like a breath of fresh air. Even in the most expansive or detailed areas I noticed very little drop in my framerate and considering how big the game is, that is a massive achievement. [embed]322674:61263:0[/embed] The only times there was a notable drop was on initially loading into the game (which is somewhat expected), and unfortunately during the carriage portions. Syndicate reintroduces drivable vehicles to the series, but whenever I picked up the pace or caused some carnage, the game would drop to around 20-25 FPS. This may be due to moving quicker through the world than it could load, but it was a bit of a disappointment none the less. Overall, I would have to say I’ve had a better time with Assassin’s Creed Syndicate’s port than with Unity or AC3, and it’s even arguably running better than the better games in the series like Rogue or Black Flag. When I played the demo at EGX, I came away feeling incredibly disappointed. At the time, it was just as buggy as Unity, without building on any of the mechanics introduced. It felt like one big rehash, and it left me worried for the future of the series. Now that I’ve been let loose on the final version, I can safely say that I was totally wrong. Syndicate is right up there as being one of my favourites in the entire series. It has its problems, but I can confidently place it alongside Black Flag and Assassin’s Creed 2 as being one of the series high points. Victorian London is recreated beautifully. The detailed streets, the steam trains barging down the tracks, the Thames chock-full of boats…the entire game feels like you’ve stepped into a Charles Dickens novel. One that involves lots of stabbing and the threat of naked hologram aliens, but a Charles Dickens novel none the less. Weirdly, I’d argue Syndicate borrows and improves on a lot from Watch_Dogs too with just how many moving parts the city has. Carriages, trains and boats make London feels a lot more dynamic than previous cities in the series, and at times can allow for some really cool getaways. A big problem I had with combat in Unity was how effective ranged weapons were against you. Almost every enemy carried a gun, and there was no way to counter against them, meaning armed enemies at range had a massive, massive advantage and frequently proved fatal. This problem was elegantly solved in Syndicate, where now you can simply dodge shots at any time. You don’t even need a human shield anymore. To balance it, melee combat is a lot trickier now. Gone are the days of simply countering everything and killing everyone all in one combo. Now you have to be smart, do damage when you can, and often running away to get an advantage later on is the better solution. It really helps encourage stealthier play, while also not being an instant death sentence should you decide to be a bit noisy. Speaking of stealth, Syndicate takes a lot of emphases away from the series’ cornerstone of “social stealth”. Instead, you now have a stealth button that will cause Jacob and Evie to crouch down and pull their hoods up. A lot of the creeping is based more around hiding behind walls and staying out of sight, rather than hiding in plain view as has always been the core of the series up to now.  Blending into crowds just doesn’t feel all that important anymore, and at times I actually found it almost impossible to do. For example, bumping into other people can cause crowds to break up just enough to leave you exposed, but when you want to close the gap on an enemy using the crowd as cover you’ll be bumping into people a whole lot more. I’m still not sure whether this change is good or not, as when you’re placed into environments designed for it the new stealth system feels involving and effective, but it does make the game feel a bit less Assassin’s Creed to me as well. The changes to player movement in Syndicate can be a bit of a mixed bag. I love the new line launcher that lets you quickly scale buildings, across entire streets, and opens up lots of new tactical possibilities in dealing with enemies. Being able to jump in, cause some damage, and then zip away again really made me rethink how to handle enemy encounters, as now the strategies I’d learned from the earlier games simply wasn’t the best way of dealing with things. On the other hand, the parkour system does frequently suffer from weird pathfinding issues.Syndicate adopts Unity’s system of having one button to move up and another to move down, but moving down often resulted in me getting caught up on bits of scenery and winding up heading in a totally different direction than what I was intending. While it’s certainly nowhere near the broken state of Unity, Syndicate does still suffer from some bugs. Aside from the pathfinding issue I’ve already mentioned, I’ve notice plenty of people teleporting around in crowded areas, random deaths when pinned against stationary trains, and enemies running around in tiny circles. It’s by no means a bug-free game, but they’re minor hitches in a massive game, so I personally could look past them. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate does have problems, but that doesn’t stop it from being the most enjoyable, interesting and different entry since Black Flag. The setting is great, and the changes to combat, movement and stealth mean you can’t play it the same way as every other game in the series. It’s a bit buggy, and there are some minor performance issues, but please don’t let that stop you from picking up Syndicate. For both ardent fans and those who are a bit tired of the formula, chances are Syndicate is what you were hoping for. [This PC Port Report is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Assassin's Creed Syndicat photo
Let's 'ave a butcher's at the PC version
Assassin’s Creed has had a rough time on PC. Not only did the very first game control poorly, but later both the third game and the infamous Unity both had a glut of technical issues, bugs, and suffered with very p...

Rocket League photo
Rocket League

Play ice hockey in Rocket League

Here comes a Snow Day!
Nov 26
// Vikki Blake
Psyonix has confirmed that from December 14, you'll be able to jump into the Winter Games event, Snow Day, in Rocket League. The ice hockey-inspired playlist (well, it's a puck instead of a ball) replaces the Mutator Mashup a...

Fez photo

Oh my gosh, this Fez vinyl!

The game has a new limited edition, too
Nov 25
// Jordan Devore
I was checked out for the day when I saw this vinyl set for Fez, or so I thought. It's so dang good! Disasterpeace is one of my favorite musicians working in games right now, and the Fez soundtrack is among his best work, eas...
System Shock photo
System Shock

I have high hopes for the System Shock remake

First images appear
Nov 25
// Jordan Devore
Night Dive Studios sure is keeping itself busy with the System Shock property. The company touched up the iconic Looking Glass title earlier this year for an Enhanced Edition release on PC and, as we recently learned, there a...
Jack the Ripper photo
Jack the Ripper

Assassin's Creed Syndicate's Jack the Ripper DLC is probably imminent, but not definitely

Achievement lists light the way
Nov 25
// Brett Makedonski
It has only been a month since Assassin's Creed Syndicate launched, but the first add-on might be lurking in the shadows, ready to strike any moment. The compelling Jack the Ripper DLC is the biggest expansion that...
Star Wars photo
Star Wars

This is the best Battlefront brawl I've seen yet

And it doesn't involve Luke or Vader!
Nov 25
// Jordan Devore
Star Wars Battlefront isn't quite what I hoped it would be, but I keep coming back to it for a chance to see moments of pure, unscripted delight. It usually doesn't take long. This hilarious encounter captured by YouTube user Nick Nixon is a great example of just how goofy this game can get.
Dying Light photo
Dying Light

Dying Light's next DLC gets jacked-up in price, but you can make the most of it

Season pass to the rescue
Nov 25
// Brett Makedonski
In a surprisingly transparent moment, Dying Light developer Techland has decided to be upfront about raising the price of the game's next add-on, The Following. Back in August, it was originally announced that the DLC would c...
Rainbow Six Siege photo
Rainbow Six Siege

Rainbow Six Siege beta delayed six days before game launch

This can't be good
Nov 25
// Brett Makedonski
The open beta for Rainbow Six Siege isn't kicking down any doors yet. Despite being scheduled to being today at 10am Eastern, it's not available to play. Ubisoft has delayed it because of technical issues. Specifically, ...

Review: Mighty Switch Force! Academy

Nov 25 // Chris Carter
Mighty Switch Force! Academy (PC)Developer: WayForwardPublisher: WayForwardReleased: November 23, 2015MSRP: $9.99 The gist this time around is that series heroine Patricia Wagon, instead of finding a new line of work, returns to law enforcement in the form of a VR training module assisting new recruits. Academy isn't like past titles in that it's a zoomed-in, Mario-like platformer -- players will see the entire map all at once, similar to one of my all-time favorites, Castlevania: Harmony of Despair. As a result, everything feels a lot more sprawling and involved, especially on a larger monitor or TV screen. Bullets go across the entire board, and maps can be "looped" a la Pac-Man, opening up deep possibilities when it comes to strategic planning that weren't possible in prior iterations. I feel like the "whole screen" gimmick is also far more fair when it comes to the time trial element of the game, as players no longer have to guess as to what's behind a specific turn, or play levels multiple times to learn the layout. I was skeptical of this approach at first, but ultimately came around to it after just two missions. Having said that, there are sparing instances where maps are mirrored, forcing players to do the same basic run twice, even while playing solo -- presumably, this is a side effect of the four player co-op function. Even with that small caveat, Academy remains engaging throughout. Series staples like crumbling blocks and catapults return, as do most of the same exact enemies from the previous games. Academy doesn't really do a whole lot of iterating beyond the multiplayer and zoomed-out angle, but in most cases, that's completely fine. There's 25 stages in all, with five labeled as "classic" bonus maps (all of which support co-op), and four arenas to battle it out in. [embed]322505:61251:0[/embed] While there is a degree of replayability in the game's versus mode, I don't think it would be too forward to expect the entire first game to be added in at some point. Also, the complete lack of online play for either mode can really put a damper on things after you've mastered every level, and there's no level editor in sight, which would have been perfect for this release. Despite my mostly enjoyable experience, it's clear why WayForward works primarily with consoles -- this PC-only game suffers from a lack of options and optimization. For starters, there are nearly no visual options outside of HUD scaling, and the way control schemes are handled is barebones at best. Only player one may use a keyboard, and the others (two through four) must wield controllers. It's odd, because I had controller issues even during solo play, to the point where the "switch" button wasn't recognized. If you're big into the Mighty series, you'll probably have a decent time with Academy. It's a bit too chaotic to be a worthwhile multiplayer party game if that's primarily what you're looking for, but the great gameplay from the past Switch Force games has translated over in a nearly 1:1 ratio, which is fine by me. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Switch Force review photo
Patricia Wagon rides again
WayForward could probably make Mighty Switch Force! games until the end of time, and as long as they retained the basic concept, I'd still play them. They're fun puzzle platformers in spite of their faults, and the memor...

Steam sale photo
Steam sale

Steam's autumn sale is different this year

Prepare to scroll
Nov 25
// Jordan Devore
Send help! It's that deal-filled time of year when I have far too many browser tabs open. As you might have noticed from the new storefront illustration, Steam began its autumn sale today (officially, it's the "Exploration Sa...
Disney Infinity 3.0 photo
Disney Infinity 3.0

Here's a first look at the Disney Infinity Force Awakens campaign

Use the expensive toys, Luke
Nov 25
// Chris Carter
Disney Infinity 3.0 is still chugging, thanks to the upcoming Force Awakens film tie-in Play Set that will launch next month. This is the second to last set that we know of that will be launching for Infinity. The ...
Republique photo

Republique gets a PS4 trailer, still isn't done nearly two years after launch

Five episodes
Nov 25
// Chris Carter
If you're interested in espionage narratives and stealth-based gameplay, Republique may be your huckleberry when it releases next year on PS4, with all five episodes bundled together. I enjoyed what I've played of the i...
Retro photo

Retro City Rampage sequel, 'Shakedown Hawaii' announced

Now 16-bit
Nov 25
// Chris Carter
Developer Vblank has announced a brand new follow-up to Retro City Rampage titled Shakedown Hawaii. It will be released on PS4, Vita, 3DS, and PC at some point, and updates the original aesthetic with 16-bit visuals. Th...
Kentucky Route Zero photo
Kentucky Route Zero

Kentucky Route Zero Act 4 is 'almost done'

It's (not) too late to love you now
Nov 25
// Mike Cosimano
Hey, quick question. Do you pronounce the word 'route' as "R-out" or "root"? I'm in the latter camp, myself. Anyway, independent developers Cardboard Computer released another 140-character progress update on the much-an...

Batman: Arkham Knight's Catwoman and Robin DLCs aren't worth playing

Nov 25 // Chris Carter
[embed]322485:61248:0[/embed] At some point there was probably a kernel of a good idea with the Catwoman’s Revenge DLC, but ultimately, it feels rushed like the others. There's almost nothing interesting about the premise: Catwoman, one day after the events of Knight, wants to steal money from The Riddler, who is in jail. We get it, Catwoman likes to steal things, and there is no added depth for either character, nor is there any satisfying conclusion, mostly because the core villain isn't actually present outside of an interlude under the guise of a "prison phone call." It took me about 10 minutes, all told, across two challenge maps (one Predator, one combat), with one very short 30-second puzzle involved. Flip of a Coin is slightly better, but not by much. In this episode, Robin takes on Two-Face at some point following the retirement of Batman, with the help of Oracle by way of remote assistance. There's a slightly interesting dynamic afoot during the DLC, where Oracle assures Tim Drake (whom she is dating) that he can not only measure up to Batman's legacy, but end up coming out of it better than Bruce did. The [albeit mostly played out] duality of Two-Face is also shown quite well with a location that's half destroyed, and half pristine. But again, like every other episode before it, the sheer brevity of the adventure halts any meaningful discussion or character advancement. Players will basically auto-pilot their way through two small Predator maps and two combat rooms for about 20 minutes, all of which operate in the exact same manner as Knight. Unlike Catwoman, Tim feels exactly like Batman gameplay-wise, minus the bullet shield gadget from Arkham City, which is only used briefly during a very staged encounter. To add insult to injury, the final boss fight with Two-Face isn't a fight at all, but a quick one-button QTE. There also isn't even an ending tying together Tim and Bruce's relationship or narrative -- it boots out immediately after the QTE. If this is the last Arkham game from Rocksteady, the poor Season Pass definitely assists in tainting its legacy. There's almost nothing here of worth nearly five months later, and certainly nothing even close to justifying the $40 cost.
Batman photo
Holy Season Pass, Batman!
As I've said before, Batman: Arkham Knight's Season Pass is probably the one of the worst pass prospects in gaming right now. Besides an alright Batgirl DLC, there's a heap of mediocre challenge missions, sub-30 minute "...

Tokyo School Life photo
Tokyo School Life

A couple of age-gated visual novels are on sale on Steam

Up to 40% off...the price
Nov 25
// Steven Hansen
You know, those weird ass god damn Clannad eyes got me thinking; I'm not sure about what, but I'll get back to you if I figure it out. Anyways, a couple more visual novels are on Steam and these ones at a more reasonable pric...
Heroes of the Storm photo
Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm's 360 day XP boost is $60

A 50% discount
Nov 24
// Chris Carter
Heroes of the Storm's Black Friday sale is upon us today, which provides a 50% discount on everything in the game. But I couldn't find info on the supposed "deeply discounted" 360 day Stimpak (read: XP boost) so I decided to ...
Animal Inspector photo
Animal Inspector

Animal Inspector is like a cute Papers, Please

Well, if euthanasia is cute
Nov 24
// Nic Rowen
Did you play the dystopian Soviet nightmare Papers, Please and think “this is good, but I bet it would be better if I was accepting or rejecting cute pets instead of these dreary Eastern Bloc sad sacks.” If so, you're a lunatic. But, the good news is some other lunatic went ahead and made that game.
Heroes map photo
Heroes map

This Heroes of the Storm map is a lot to take in

Towers of Doom
Nov 24
// Jordan Devore
Prior to playing the new Heroes of the Storm map, Towers of Doom, my only real exposure to it was reading the all-too-brief objective summary during the loading screen. Thank goodness I was only training with the AI. This map...
Star Wars photo
Star Wars

Battlefront's new free mode should be chaotic

Turning Point
Nov 24
// Jordan Devore
I'm far enough into Star Wars Battlefront's progression system that I have most of the unlocks I genuinely want (aside from the best Rebel and Empire characters, which is the final carrot on the stick). I've played every mode...
First Assault Online photo
First Assault Online

Ghost in the Shell shooter hits Steam next month

Team-based FPS
Nov 24
// Steven Hansen
The wonderfully named Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - First Assault Online -- GITS:SAC-FAO for short -- is coming to Steam some time in December. It will also be available through publisher Nexon's launcher. GITS:SA...
Just Cause photo
Just Cause

The first hour of Just Cause 3 is predictably wild

See it now, or just wait a week
Nov 24
// Jordan Devore
It's common for media to share the "first __ minutes!" of a new game release, but I don't recall too many big-name developers partaking in that practice. Avalanche has put up the first hour of Just Cause 3. If you are concern...
Austrania photo

Xbox 360 shmup Strania - The Stella Machina sups on Steam

From Ikaruga co-developers
Nov 24
// Steven Hansen
Who wants to read a Destructoid review from 2011? Strania - The Stella Machina has come to Steam today apropos of nothing (the product page notes it's developer G.rev's "long-awaited debut on Steam," by whom I do not know). ...

Explore and conquer the galaxy in Stellaris

Nov 24 // Steven Hansen
Stellaris (PC)Developer: Paradox Development Studio Publisher: Paradox Interactive Release: TBA So, conquest in space, again, with Stellaris. The Beyond Earth comparison isn't just based on the sci-fi theme, as director Henrik Fåhraeus explained to me last week, Stellaris, "is a grand strategy game masquerading as a 4X game." In that sense it's a departure from past Paradox successes and the upcoming, WWII-set Hearts of Iron IV. He explained in a blog post earlier this year, "The early game is thus characterized by exploration and discovering the wonders of the galaxy," until reaching the mid-game wherein, "there is not much left to colonize and your easy expansion grinds to a halt. At this point, the map stabilizes into the Stellaris equivalent of the world map in Europa Universalis." You begin as one planet directed by a set of cultural guidelines (shown off to us last week was an Individualist Xenophobic empire, which made for a good first encounter with another large empire during which the only dialogue option was, "Alien scum!") that has just discovered faster than light travel. You'll choose between slower , free-moving warp travel; hyperspace across straight lines; and wormhole travels, which requires wormhole stations to be built. [embed]322210:61231:0[/embed] As opposed to pre-canned societies, there are over 100 alien portraits that can be aligned with a variety of traits, so "you will never meet the same aliens again;" or, at least, those bug-eyed purple asshole from your third game might be an inquisitive, pacifist sect next time you encounter that alien art. There are a few other parameters to set, like how many large empires will populate the galaxy you're exploring, but there are also quick start and preset options that reflect Paradox's attempt to widen its appeal, "without compromising our level of depth and complexity." There is an in-game adviser, for example, full voiced to help guide burgeoning emperors (or democratically-elected fish-faced idiots, whatever). In fact, Stellaris is Paradox's first project with a dedicated audio director. Coupled with all the space-faring in a full-figured galaxy and it could prove a little more inviting than playing on a giant map if the grand scope of spaaace isn't too alienating itself. Other simplifications include ditching tech trees for a system, "more like a collectible card game where you draw three cards and pick one." Research into Physics, Society, and Engineering is dictated by your scientists' traits and immediate options are weighted to be most convenient to you at any given time, though sometimes rare research opportunities pop up ("space amoeba weapons" were mentioned). Game progression goes something like this. Start on your home planet, represented by squares arranged 4x4 wherein you can place population unites (and strive for adjacency bonuses, like XCOM's base-builder). Send your science ship around to survey the galaxy, including addressing strange anomalies. In the demoed instance, we were drawn to a distress signal much like our own. There was a 10% failure rate, which just means missing out on the anomaly, though there is potential for catastrophic failure. In this case, the crew of the discovered ship was dead by brain parasite and a trait of our surveying scientist is the only thing that saved our crew from succumbing. Instances like these are neatly thrown into a Situation Log and you can research them from there. Then you'll want to send out ships for colonization and build construction ships to take advantage of resources (habitable planets are rare and meant to be cherished). There's a detailed ship builder, but you can auto-build for the best, too. "I don't want the flow in this game to be too micromanagey," Fåhraeus said. Other systems will start looping back around later. The population of a colonized planet or even your native planet can splinter off into factions of warring ideology, leaving you to choose if you want to say, quash the insurrection with force or give rein to a splintered, population-supported political spin off group. Eventually you will make it to the aforementioned mid-game, where it's "more like Europa Universalis" and you're butting up against large, rival empires. If one scouts you, it has the option to research you before you research it, and make first contact. There are other, smaller civilizations you'll discover, too, some pre-industrial, some post-technology.  To counter past Paradox games' anti-climactic endings when "you reach a point where you know you won," and are just trudging along to victory, late game crises are introduced, revolving around things like dangerous technological advancements or sentient robot worker uprisings -- things that threaten the whole galaxy. And there's maneuvering to do there, too, like letting the killbots off your biggest threat while allying elsewhere, bolstering yourself for the impending man-vs-bot slaughter. Also, you can "uplift" alien wildlife and, say, create a planet of space-faring, extremely loyal dolphins to go space crusade in your name, amen. Stellaris is "coming soon."
Stellaris preview photo
In space no one can hear you scheme
Earlier this year, Paradox offered an alternative for the many disappointed by EA's botched SimCity two years earlier by publishing Colossal Order's excellent city-building-simulator Cities: Skylines. Now Paradox's internal s...

Minecraft screenshots photo
Minecraft screenshots

Minecraft: Story Mode Episode 3 screenshots, we got 'em

Look at last
Nov 24
// Darren Nakamura
The third episode for Minecraft: Story Mode is out today, and it's actually not half bad. I think I took more screenshots this time around than in the first two episodes as a result. Going through these after the fact, it's o...

Review: Minecraft: Story Mode: The Last Place You Look

Nov 24 // Darren Nakamura
Minecraft: Story Mode: The Last Place You Look (iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Telltale GamesPublisher: Telltale GamesReleased: November 24, 2015 (Mac, PC)MSRP: $4.99, $24.99 (Season Pass)Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit After having found Ellegaard the redstone engineer and Magnus the griefer in the previous episode, the gang needed only to locate Soren the architect for the full original Order of the Stone to be accounted for. The journey to find Soren takes the party to some peculiar locations, most located in The End. However, since Soren is a master builder, the areas highlighted are more diverse than the typical darkness of The End. Between Soren's feats of engineering in the overworld and colorful constructions in The End, it's a nice nod to Minecraft proper players who are known to build some of the craziest things. Soren himself is a much more likable character than some of the other members of the Order of the Stone. Where Ellegaard and Magnus were basically insufferable (especially after they were brought together), Soren is quirky and at times genuinely funny. Voiced by John Hodgman, he's neurotic and paranoid, but still fun to be around. [embed]321869:61211:0[/embed] Overall, the quality of the writing has taken a half-step up from the previous two episodes. None of the jokes elicited any sustained belly laughs, but I did let out a few snorts and chuckles along the way. The Last Place You Look started up a running gag where Axel falls on top of Lukas repeatedly, which happens just enough to be comical without getting tired. Some of the seeds of drama sown in previous episodes have begun to sprout, and while it still maintains the kid-friendly narrative, it's finally beginning to feel like the events happening matter and Jesse has an important role to play. The greatest success of The Last Place You Look is that it allows the player to feel accomplished while still moving the narrative along. This is, after all, only the third episode in a five-episode season, so anybody who knows Telltale knows everything won't be resolved here. But even so, the climax of this episode feels like a high point for the team. Sure, they're not done with their mission, but they did something, at least. There's never really any downtime during this episode either. Though there are a few sections of walking around and talking or searching for clues, they all serve a purpose and generally lead to action sequences. The first action sequence in particular is probably the best so far in the series, melding the fantastic environments, a sense of danger, and the classic Telltale decision-making into a tight opening credit roll. One thing that might turn some off is the quiet lowering of the bar for success during the action sequences. Some of the quick-time events seem more demanding here than usual, but I noticed after I flubbed a button press or two, the resulting animation didn't seem to react accordingly. Perhaps it takes multiple failures in a single section to make a difference. More experimentation is necessary. As much as I may praise The Last Place You Look, it is with respect to the first two episodes of Minecraft: Story Mode. It definitely is an improvement, but an improvement from mediocrity is just okay. The comedy is slightly improved, but still doesn't hold a candle to that of Tales from the Borderlands. The characters are becoming easier to sympathize with, but they aren't are interesting as those from The Wolf Among Us. The drama is beginning to heat up, but it doesn't come close to what we saw in The Walking Dead. Perhaps it's unfair to compare Minecraft: Story Mode to Telltale's more adult-oriented series. This is built for a particular demographic, and it seems like it's really hitting with that audience. The Last Place You Look is more of the same -- and slightly better, if anything -- so those who have enjoyed the series thus will be pleased to just keep on trucking. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Minecraft review photo
Looking up
Minecraft: Story Mode didn't impress me with its first two episodes. Aimed at young players and Minecraft super fans, its writing didn't have a whole lot going for it past its Saturday morning cartoon plot and series in-jokes...

Clannad releases photo
Clannad releases

Clannad visual novel on Steam, briefly outsells Call of Duty

Cheap this week, too
Nov 24
// Steven Hansen
Visual novel Clannad released on PC in Japan back in 2004 and since spawned various adaptations, including an anime series. Publisher Sekai Project ran a Kickstarter last year for an official English release that was funded ...
Star Wars photo
Star Wars

A Stormtrooper smacking his head is one of Star Wars Battlefront's best easter eggs

So that's what the helmet's for
Nov 23
// Brett Makedonski
Stormtroopers are kind of a clumsy lot. For supposedly elite soldiers, they sure do miss often with their blasters. Oh yeah, a bunch of Ewoks outsmarted and defeated them, too. It seems like if Darth Vader wants something do...

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