Jul 28 //
Dark Room: Finish Episode 4: Dark Room
This is the only Achievement that's earned through story progression. Just finish the fourth episode. Easy peasy.
Ambient: Take optional photo #1 in Episode Four: Dark Room
The first photo op takes a while to get to. It's available as soon as Max has control of her camera again. Take a picture of Chloe while she's working hard at her computer.
Time-Lapsed: Take optional photo #2 in Episode Four: Dark Room
Fortunately, we don't have to wait as long for the second photo as we did for the first. Once in step-douche's garage, go take a gander at the bird's nest that's hiding behind the plank. Move the plank to the side and take a picture for Max's Arcadia Bay Wildlife Series. Make sure to move the plank back when you're done; drill sergeant David doesn't like people messing with his stuff.
Balance: Take optional photo #3 in Episode Four: Dark Room
You know that ominous totem pole in the corner of the Blackwell Academy courtyard? Well, now there's an ominous pile of stones in front of it. Go ahead and take a picture of the "Blair Witch" rocks for this episode's third Achievement.
Rangefinder: Take optional photo #4 in Episode Four: Dark Room
This one's also in the Blackwell courtyard. Go talk to Samuel -- he's sitting on the bench -- about animals, squirrels in particular. He'll throw a nugget of food, which attracts one furry friend. Use the box of food next to Samuel to lure another squirrel over. When they're snacking together, take a picture of them.
Gamma Value: Take optional photo #5 in Episode Four: Dark Room
Once in the boys' dorms, take the hallway to the right and look out the window. There are some footprints that Max finds photo-worthy.
Dioptic Power:Take optional photo #6 in Episode Four: Dark Room
Before long, you'll end up on the beach. This episode's sixth photo is the third beached whale from the right. Snap a picture for some of the saddest Gamerscore you'll ever earn.
Fisheye: Take optional photo #7 in Episode Four: Dark Room
This one requires some quick reflexes and possible a rewind or two. Off to the left of the barn is a bird posted up on the fence. Take a quick photo of it. If our feathered friend flies away, reverse time until he sits still long enough for a picture.
Manually Exposed: Take optional photo #8 in Episode Four: Dark Room
The next one's owlfully easy to find. There's an owl hanging out in the corner of the loft in the barn. Once you're up there, do what Max does best.
Slideshow: Take optional photo #9 in Episode Four: Dark Room
This one's inside the End of the World Party. Go around the outside of the pool and up to where the VIP booth is. Go into the unmarked door. When in there, take a photo of Justin at the sink with his lower half lined up with the skeleton graffiti.
Tripod: Take optional photo #10 in Episode Four: Dark Room
In the pool area of the End of the World Party, move off to the right side and look up and out the windows. Find a place where you can line up a nice double moon shot. Wait. Double moon?!
Shutterbug: Take all optional photos in Episode Four: Dark Room
This one will unlock as soon as you pick up the last optional photo. Two Achievements for the price of one!
Point camera, earn Gamerscore We're inching ever-closer to the conclusion of Life is Strange. As we get nearer to knowing what the narrative holds for Max and Chloe, we find a bit of familiarity in the Achievements. Like always, episode four Dark Roo...
With a name like Tactical Assault Commander 4, you know shit's about to get real.
Hori is creating another PC-style wired controller for consoles following its hybrid keyboard/mouse controller for PlayStation 3. This new one,...
Jul 27 //
Lost Dimension (PS3, PS Vita [reviewed], PS TV compatible)Developer: LancarsePublisher: Atlus USA (NA), NIS America (EU)Released: July 28, 2015 (NA), August 28, 2015 (EU)MSRP: $39.99
The story begins with a man who calls himself "The End" authoring a string of deadly terror attacks and threatening to destroy the planet in 13 days unless someone can stop him. To do just that, the United Nations dispatches S.E.A.L.E.D., an elite team of teenage warriors with psychic powers.
But before the final showdown, the kids must climb the villain's mysterious spire, where he awaits their arrival. The task is easier said than done, though, as the group soon discovers.
During the ascent the team is locked in a room, where they learn there is a traitor in their midst whom they will need to "erase" before moving on to the next level. The task falls on central protagonist Sho Kasugai to use his visions and deductive skills to root out the traitors.
When they're not pointing fingers at one another, the squad of psychics will need to work together to defeat an army of enigmatic robots that stand between them and their main objective.
While the ensuing battles have been compared to those of Valkyria Chronicles, the resemblance isn't overly deep. Lost Dimension is indeed a tactical role-playing game with a similar aesthetic, but the combat here is entirely turn-based and has enough distinctive features to make it feel unique.
All of the characters have unique psychic abilities, ranging from offensive powers like telekinesis and pyrokinesis to defensive powers like healing and buffs. Using these abilities is tied to a pair of gauges, one of which is a sanity meter. In addition to managing what is essentially a mana bar, players will need to be mindful of the sanity meter, as depleting it can turn the tide of battle.
Should a character run out of sanity, they will go berserk. In this state, players lose control over the character, who no longer differentiate friend from foe. It sounds bad at first, but berserk characters are extremely powerful, and utilizing them effectively is an essential strategy.
Another great tactic at players' disposal in Lost Dimension is deferring, which, at the cost of a little sanity, can allow allied units to have multiple turns. This is great for taking advantage of enemy weaknesses with a powerful attacker or moving your forces across the battlefield quickly to close distance or retreat to a more defensible position.
Since nearby units will assist their buddies in battle, stacking assists is another important part of the equation, netting you extra attacks for every ally in range. Of course, enemies can pull off this maneuver just as well, which can be pretty devastating.
Missions are usually quick affairs, lasting around 10 minutes or so on average, which was ideal for playing the game on Vita. After they're finished, Sho will have a vision where he'll see brief glimpses into what his teammates are thinking -- which might help players identify traitors.
There's another ability that should help you do this as well, which allows you to go into someone's subconscious mind and tell for sure if they're the traitor or not. Thing is, you can only use this ability three times per floor, so it's best to narrow down suspects before firing your silver bullets.
Since the traitors are randomized, each experience with the game will be somewhat unique, ensuring someone's first run through the game will be different than the second. But it might be a tough sell for most to invest a couple more dozen hours in the game after seeing the credits roll.
When a character is erased, they become Materia, which allows other characters to use the abilities they learned before their untimely demise. It's little things like this, and the whole tension surrounding judgement and betrayal that made Lost Dimension an enjoyable experience for me.
Knowing I made a blunder early on and would have to watch one of my favorite characters betray me was something I dreaded throughout the journey. It was a huge source of dissonance, enjoying my interactions with someone that I knew was playing me and would ultimately make the final showdown with The End all the more difficult.
Lost Dimension isn't particularly exceptional at anything it does, but I still really enjoyed the overall experience. It's a genuinely satisfying and memorable tactical RPG that I won't soon forget.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Keep your friends close, then kill them It wasn't long before I realized my adventure in Lost Dimension wasn't going to end terribly well.
My comrades and I were turning on one another, agreeing to sacrifice a teammate at the behest of our sworn enemy. None of...
Jul 25 //
The desert life
There really aren't enough games that go for the Wild Western setting, and probably no other game pulls it off quite as spectacularly as Red Dead Redemption. It's set in an area inspired by the Rio Grande Basin connecting Texas and Mexico, as well as the deserts and prairies of Arizona and New Mexico. It also takes place in a time of Wild West cowboys, horses, outlaws, gunslinging, and saloons, so it basically feels like playing a classic Spaghetti Western film.
The desert vistas in this game are absolutely gorgeous. In fact, my favorite thing to do was just to ride around and look at all the different locations. The sandy expanses, the majestic rock formations, the fields of cacti and desert shrubs, the old Western-style towns and dilapidated structures, and those sunsets... my god. Every inch of this game is stunning. Sometimes I just sat around on top of my horse for a few minutes and marveled at the world around me.
I've only been out West once in my life, when I was like five years old, so I didn't really get to appreciate it as much as I would have liked. I'd love to take a trip around that area again sometime, in part because Red Dead Redemption makes it look so beautiful. It's rare that a game makes me want to go out and see the world like this one did.
Good old-fashioned duels are a staple of the Western genre, so it's no surprise they make an appearance here. I've been obsessed with Western duel scenes ever since I watched The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, which has quite possibly the most glorious duel ever filmed. Two men (or three, in the case of the film) standing at a distance, their hands readied above their guns, sweat rolling down their faces, waiting for the signal to draw their weapons to see who can shoot faster and become the victor... it's always such a thrilling scene to watch.
The duels in Red Dead Redemption aren't quite as long and fancy as the ones from Sergio Leone's films, but they're still very satisfying. Some duels take place as a part of the story, but many occur randomly. Marston may be challenged to duels by outlaws just by walking through a town, or if he's caught cheating at poker, or even if he rudely knocks over a passing stranger. If he accepts the duel, then the standoff begins. The camera shows both participants before coming in close to focus on Marston's hand hovering above his holstered gun, and then time slows down as shots are fired. It's very cinematic, which makes it feel even more like an homage to its film inspirations.
I also like that, in some cases, Marston can win by simply disarming his opponent rather than killing them. Doing so generates both honor and fame, while killing only generates fame. It makes me feel good to play as the virtuous Western hero sometimes, so I always tried to aim for my opponent's gun hand whenever possible. It's what the man with no name would have done (unless he's dueling against Angel Eyes, that is!).
John Marston, with the rope, in the conservatory
Speaking of being honorable, I particularly enjoyed the option of using the lasso to subdue foes. It's not always the best method, but I tried to use the lasso as often as possible, not only because it means I don't have to kill as many people, but it's also just really fun to use.
Bad guys can be lassoed, hogtied, and lifted onto the back of Marston's horse to take them to jail kicking and screaming. It's a bit trickier to capture bounties this way, because the player often needs to act quickly before the criminal's pals appear to help him out. Plus it feels good knowing that it's possible to solve problems non-violently. I'm always pleased when games give me these kinds of options.
Of course, if the player wants to be a bit more villainous with their lasso, that's also a possibility. Marston can lasso someone while on horseback and drag them along behind him to kill them, hold on to the rope with the lasso around their necks to choke them, lasso their horses to try and buck them off a cliff, or even go the old-fashioned dastardly route and hogtie someone and then leave them lying on the train tracks to meet their demise. All you need is a bit of creativity to turn the lasso into a deadly weapon.
A horse with no name
John Marston wouldn't get very far without a trusty steed, and luckily there are plenty of horses for him to choose from. While the horses in Red Dead Redemption may not be as memorable as, say, Epona or Agro, they still play a very important role as companions. The game provides Marston with his own horse early on, but it also allows him to steal other people's horses or even capture and tame wild horses whenever he wants.
If a strong-looking stallion is spotted in the wild, Marston can use his lasso to reign it in and then jump on its back to try and tame it. This was my favorite method of finding horses. I tend to go for the solid white or solid black horses, which seemed to be kind of rare and challenging to tame, but they're just so impressive-looking. I liked to pretend I was riding around on Shadowfax or one of the Black Riders' horses.
Many players probably go through a lot of different horses during their playthrough, but I usually tried to keep my horses as long as possible. They tended to be more trustworthy and stronger the longer I kept them around, and I also couldn't help but feel a sense of connection with my horse friends after a while. I hated to see them get hurt, especially the ones I captured in the wild since so much work went into finding them and gaining their trust.
For something that could easily be seen as a disposable item within the game, Red Dead Redemption sure did a fantastic job of making the horses feel alive and full of personality, something more than just a mode of transportation.
While the story and free-roam play of Red Dead Redemption was phenomenal, I also just could not get enough of the mini-games. Poker, liar's dice, five finger fillet, horseshoes, arm wrestling, blackjack... I spent so much time playing all of these games in each of the settlements, trying to master them and win money. They're all really fun and impressively fleshed out.
While I probably spent the most time playing poker, my best game was definitely liar's dice. I'd actually never heard of it before playing Red Dead Redemption, but I quickly mastered it and raked in the cash. Horseshoes, on the other hand, was definitely not my game. I was terrible at aiming correctly, but it was still fun to learn.
Five finger fillet was also enjoyable simply because I would never want to try it in real life. I value my own hands, thank you very much, but I don't mind the risk of butchering Marston's body parts. Although it is kind of strange how his hands seem to be just fine even if he accidentally stabs himself repeatedly with a knife. I messed up so much that I'm surprised he still had fingers!
A grizzly encounter
There is almost nothing more terrifying than hearing the snarl of a cougar while Marston is roaming the wilderness in Red Dead Redemption. Cougars are fast and powerful, they can easily kill in one or two strikes, and they're very difficult to detect due to their tan color which blends in well with the sandy desert environment.
Usually, the player won't know a cougar is near until they hear the loud, ferocious snarling. The sound always stopped me dead in my tracks, as I desperately tried to search for the location of the animal before it was too late. Then when they pounce, it's a strenuous fight to the death as I try to avoid their attacks and get a few shots in as they're running around. Even when I was being careful, they mauled me to death on more than one occasion. The cougars are no joke!
But even the cougars pale in comparison to the grizzly bears. The bears make a loud growling sound as well, but more often than not, I would see the bear before I heard it. I would just be minding my own business in the woods, then turn around and BAM... there's a big old grizzly bear bounding straight toward me! It scared me every single time, and sometimes I'd even have to pause the game for a bit just to take a breather before confronting the animal.
The bears in Red Dead Redemption are arguably even more dangerous than the cougars. Sure, they're slower, but they're so powerful and difficult to take down that I found them to be way more frightening. And usually, once I killed one bear, two or three more would come running out of nowhere to avenge their friend. It was almost certain death once I found myself surrounded by multiple bears. Chill out, bears! I can only handle so much bear at once!
Past Experience Points
.01: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.02: Shadow of the Colossus.03: EarthBound.04: Catherine.05: Demon's Souls.06: No More Heroes.07: Paper Mario.08: Persona 4.09: Final Fantasy IX.10: Mega Man Legends.11: Rayman Origins.12: Metal Slug 3.13: Animal Crossing.14: Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King.15: Super Mario Sunshine.16: Final Fantasy VII.17: Nier.18: Chrono Trigger.19: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
John Marston! Remember the name! Experience Points is a series in which I highlight some of the most memorable things about a particular game. These can include anything from a specific scene or moment, a character, a weapon or item, a level or location, a p...
Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir is coming to the Americas sometime next year, Atlus confirmed today.
The high-definition remake of Vanillaware's gorgeous PlayStation 2 role-playing game was unveiled earlier this week. On top of...
Disney is allowing people to vote for the next Disney Infinity character, and the process is as easy as clicking on a picture. You can't just write-in anyone you want though, as they've narrowed down the vote to just 20 ...
Journey has been out on PlayStation 4 for a couple of days. No surprises here: it's stunning.
I didn't intend to beat it again so soon, but the game's seamless online co-op dug its hooks into me. I couldn't let my anonymous b...
Madden 16 used the above photo for Marshawn Lynch in its running backs player rating reveal. He is, naturally, number one at 96 overall.
He cannot, however, grab his dick in defiance, as he is wont to do in real life.
Seriously, watch this.
Square Enix has revealed the release date for the fourth episode of Life is Strange, titled Dark Room-- July 28. The above video is a teaser of sorts, but it does contain spoilers, so be warned. The episode is allegedly taki...
Konami has confirmed that Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 will run at 1080p on Xbox One.
Despite its predecessor PES 2015 running at 1080p on PlayStation 4 last year, its Xbox One sibling could only muster 720p.
Now, it ...
This is just ridiculous.
If you're familiar with the Vault of Glass raid in Destiny you'll know that it's arguably the harder of the two raids to complete, not least because every section (besides the opener) ships ...
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"Huh? Dragon Quest through the lens of Minecraft? Uhh, okay." *closes tab*
These latest screenshots are more substantial. The "Camp" bar in ...
I've already played two days worth of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. It's good stuff. Anyone attending gamescom in a couple weeks will be able to play it, too, in the first public hands-on. All well and good.
Odin Sphere: Leifdrasir is in the works for the PS3, PS4, and Vita, and it will be an HD remake of the original PS2 classic. As such, it will include a "Classic Mode" that will preserve the experience. Vanillaware is adding ...
It's been a little while since we last heard from Max and Chloe in Life is Strange. To be exact, it's been nine weeks since the third episode released, meaning the next installment should be right around the corner. There's a...
Journey looks great on PS4. This statue does, too.
But Journey on PS4 is free if you own it on PS3 ($15 otherwise), which I do, while this statue is $150, so I'm going to celebrate Journey on PS4 by maybe playing it on PS4 at some point. You are free to celebrate by buying the statue, or really whatever form of worship you prefer. Light a candle, maybe.
Another episode of Game of Thrones: A Telltale Game Series, another batch of screens I took while playing through for review. This batch seems especially small, for two reasons. For one, I was less diligent about taking scree...
Jul 21 //
Game of Thrones - A Telltale Game Series: A Nest of Vipers (Android, iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed], PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Telltale GamesPublisher: Telltale GamesReleased: July 21, 2015MSRP: $4.99 (episode), $29.99 (season)Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit
[Editor's note: there will be no major spoilers present for the episode reviewed here, but events in previous episodes may be discussed.]
Throughout the series, Asher and Mira have been the more interesting characters to follow, the former for his action and wit and the latter for her suspense and guile. Ethan and Rodrik at Ironrath have been fine as central characters, but haven't stood out. Gared's exploits at The Wall and beyond have easily been the least exciting thus far.
A Nest of Vipers shakes up that split, if only a little. Asher still stands at the top with scenes dense with action and dialogue choices that feel important. He and his partner Beskha find themselves in a fighting pit in Meereen, seeking combatants to follow them back to Westeros. During this sequence, the stakes are high and it genuinely seems like failure is possible, forcing Asher to return home without any extra aid.
One other point for Asher is Telltale's injection of humor into his lines. Though Game of Thrones takes an entirely different tack than Tales from the Borderlands, the little pockets of comedy help to break up the oppressively somber tone of the episode. One line in particular had me audibly chuckling, which I think is a first for this series.
Mira's sections, on the other hand, lacked a lot of the punch they have had in past episodes. Where the coronation ceremony scene in Sons of Winter left me feeling smart for having successfully navigated and manipulated King's Landing politics, both of Mira's major scenes here just had me along for the ride.
The first scene is one with Cersei and the second features Tyrion in his cell, locked up and awaiting trial for the incident at Joffrey's wedding. Perhaps because she was playing opposite two of the strongest personalities in Westeros, Mira didn't seem to do anything important or have much of an impact. This episode does set up for one final showdown with Cersei, in what sounds like it might be a life-or-death situation.
Gared's journey toward the nebulous North Grove continues, and how it can possibly help House Forrester so many miles south is still a mystery. That said, it's finally getting to the point where Gared feels important again. The first four episodes were spent putting him in place, first getting him to The Wall, then getting him north of it. Now he actually gets to do something.
Of all the intertwined stories, Gared's feels the most hopeful at this point. He's in a pretty sticky situation, but it's difficult to imagine a scenario where he doesn't make it out to at least play his part in the grand scheme during the finale. Everybody else in House Forrester might die and the clan might be wiped from the map, but he's going to get to the dang North Grove. Next time.
The crux of the story still lies in Ironrath, with Rodrik dealing with the fallout from the last episode. It's a little disappointing; all of the clever politicking from Episode Four is essentially nullified by the traitor. Where it previously seemed like a peaceful resolution could be possible, it's now clear that this story can only end with bloodshed.
That isn't to say Rodrik's sections were bad; there were still plenty of interesting decisions to make along the way. They may not all have a major effect on where things end up, but a few appeared to have serious immediate consequences and a few others appeared to affect how the final episode will shake out.
This episode culminates with a particularly emotionally impactful finale, the kind Telltale has steeled us for with series like The Walking Dead. It's difficult to discuss without going too far into spoiler territory, but I can say that I was thinking about the last scene hours after I played through it the first time. It could go down as the most memorable section for the entire series.
It's strange. Detailing all of A Nest of Vipers' parts makes it sound about average, if not even a little disappointing compared to the previous episode. But this one ends up working well as a cohesive unit, even if some pieces fall flat. This episode has its highs and its lows, but it still leaves an unforgettable impression.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Now we're getting somewhere Anyone following my exploits as House Forrester in Telltale's slice of A Song of Ice and Fire will know that the first four episodes have been a lot of setup for the main event. While only one episode felt like filler (The Lo...
FIFA 16 marks a first for the series with its inclusion of women footballers in the form of 12 playable women's international teams from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, England, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain, Swede...
"You might be able to erase the markings, but the memories will never disappear." That's what a Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes mission had to say about scrubbing away the logos for all the Metal Gear games. In h...
[Update: check out the new trailer!]
A short time ago Atlus and Vanillaware were teasing a special project, and now, they have confirmed that it's none other than Odin Sphere: Leifdrasir -- a new port for PS3, PS4,...
Sony is hosting a science fiction-themed flash sale on PlayStation Network this weekend.
Here are some of the deals that caught my eye:
Resonance of Fate ($5)
Metal Gear Rising - Ultimate Edition ($7....
Gust announced Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book for PS3, PS4, and Vita last month and has since expanded on that first trailer, not that you need a trailer to tell you what to expect from the 15th Atelier in as many years.
Monster Hunter continues its quest to cross over with everything. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate has been getting regular, free DLC including Animal Crossing, Devil May Cry, and Final Fantasy nods.
Japan's Monster Hunter Frontier...
"Has Gearbox Software dropped Brothers in Arms: Furious 4?" Jordan asked over three years ago. Yes. Furious 4 dropped the Brothers in Arms brand and then morphed into a new game entirely, Battleborn. Hot on the heels of Randy...
Bungie has messed with our weapons, you guys.
In a long update ("I hope you’re wearing your reading pants"), Destiny's sandbox designer, Jon Weisnewski, has detailed the various tweaks made to base weapons, as well as a...
The creator of the subreddit for Destiny has leveraged his message board helpfulness into a paying gig at Bungie. The Destiny developer has hired a new community manager, and it went straight to a leader in one of the ga...
From that trailer, A Nest of Vipers seems like a perfect title for this episode. The question is: which character is in the nest? Asher finds himself in a pit fight (presumably to the death), Gared is north of The Wall in Wi...
I was pleasantly surprised by High Moon's Deadpool game. Sure it wasn't the most polished action game, but it was mostly true to the character, and was a decent enough little romp. Then... it was gone. One day it just va...