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The Red Hood DLC pack for Arkham Knight is disgustingly short

Jul 03 // Chris Carter
[embed]295280:59335:0[/embed] [Straight-up, I'm not going to spoil the story for you, but be aware that this tale takes place after the events of Arkham Knight, and that many commenters may indeed spoil it for you below -- you have been warned.] First, the good news. Red Hood takes the path of least resistance, and can be seen as an anti-Batman vigilante of sorts -- Under the Red Hood was a fantastic film, and I think Rocksteady nailed that vibe here. Red Hood is pissed (for good reason), and he isn't going to let anyone get away with their crime sprees -- unlike Batman, who is content with putting people back in Arkham only for them to break out at a later date. Similar to Harley and all of the other characters in Knight, Hood feels the exact same in the close-combat sections (just mash attack and the counter simple-minded AI), with the added power of some unique animations like...murdering people with his pistols. Unlike Harley who simply couldn't use silent takedowns, this gives the DLC a distinctly different feel, and the tone is fairly unique to the series in general. I'm also a fan of Black Mask, so seeing him return was a treat. All of this is cut short by the fact that it's roughly 10 minutes long, which naturally gives it no room to grow any of the characters or deliver anything worthwhile. You'll be greeted with a combat scene, a brief Predator sequence, then another combat bit with Black Mask, who doesn't exhibit any real unique boss qualities (again, it's "this boss throws adds at you constantly, have fun"). It's a disappointment, to say the least, as both DLCs could have been so much more if they were an hour long, had more involved stories, and interesting boss mechanics. Rocksteady is teasing a few more of these "Arkham Stories" with the Season Pass, and I sincerely hope they're more than this.
Red Hood photo
Man do I love this character though
Just yesterday, we gave you the rundown on the Harley Quinn DLC pack for Batman: Arkham Knight. Much like many aspects of the core game, it was a letdown, mostly due to its length and the fact that it doesn't really provide a...

The Harley Quinn DLC pack for Arkham Knight is painfully brief

Jul 02 // Chris Carter
[embed]295181:59315:0[/embed] Much like Azrael and Batman's other playable companions, Harley's fighting style is nearly identical to the Dark Knight, and other than a few new animations, feels exactly the same -- though, she does have a "party popper" batarang substitute that functions like a Spider-Man web trap. Sadly, the most enemy waves will throw at you is roughly four standard foes and a shield-wielding cop, which doesn't really allow you to dig deep with the Free Flow combat system. A lack of nuanced gameplay permeates in the stealth portions too. In the few Predator sequences that are included, stealth is not really a priority for Harley. She employs laughing gas rather than smoke bombs, tumbles and leaps up walls instead of grappling, and so on, including exploding jack-in-the-boxes rather than explosive gel. Thankfully there are a few differences, most notably the fact that her "detective vision" shows her more demented side with graffiti written on the walls. Harley also cannot employ silent takedowns -- in fact, they're called "loud takedowns," and will always alert guards. She can however use a "Mayhem" ability that lets her knock out enemies in one hit for a limited time, and use Ivy's plants to take out enemies from afar. The entire affair is far too linear, taking place in the Blüdhaven Police Department. It's a prequel, so you know exactly how it plays out if you watch the intro, with a bit of stupid Penguin chatter (I never really liked Arkham's rendition of him) littered between the loose collections of challenge rooms. It all culminates with a final battle with a major hero from the story that uses the tired "throw adds at the player until he wins or loses" mechanic. There are some bright spots, like the idea of Harleen's inner self trying to reason with her insane "Harley" personality, but those concepts aren't really explored in half an hour. If you're a huge fan of Harley you can buy it this fall once its "pre-order exclusivity" (so dumb) is up, or you can just wait for the Game of the Year Edition where it will most likely appear as well. The same goes for the GameStop exclusive Red Hood pack, the PS4 exclusive Scarecrow DLC, and all the costume exclusives.
Harley Quinn photo
Less than 30 minutes
Harley Quinn is at it again this time with a pre-order exclusive DLC (yuck) for Batman: Arkham Knight. I have good news for everyone who didn't bother pre-ordering -- you aren't missing much. The entire add-on basically amounts to less than 30 minutes of the same core gameplay as Knight, minus the Batmobile-fest.

Blizzard: 'We have the freedom to bring any character we want into Heroes of the Storm'

Jun 30 // Chris Carter
Destructoid: Let's start out with a simple question -- what inspired Blizzard to create Heroes of the Storm? Kaeo Milker: It all started out as just a cool way to show off what the StarCraft II Editor was capable of for BlizzCon back in 2010. We’d just launched StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty and set a few very small teams of developers loose on creating fun mod maps for the show. These teams built several maps, and we selected four to bring to BlizzCon, including one that was an homage to Warcraft III Defense of the Ancients that we called, “Blizzard All Stars.” The expectation was that we’d release these maps to StarCraft II shortly after the show, but something special happened with Blizzard All Stars and the feedback we received changed the course of things.  There was so much excitement about the game from our team, from Blizzard, and from the BlizzCon attendees that we had to take a step back and reconsider how much additional work should go into the map before its release. We ended up holding it back and we assigned a handful of developers to continue working on it en route to BlizzCon 2011, where we showed it again as, “Blizzard DOTA.” There were new heroes, a redesigned map, and some different takes on game mechanics, and we got even more positive reinforcement on its potential. This growing excitement from internal folks as well as our community led to some very intense conversations about the scope of the game and how we should approach it.  Some serious discussions spawned where we started asking questions like, “What if we ignore the recent games in this space and approach this as a reimagining of what those early mods could have become?” Those conversations led to a decision to make a standalone game where we’d throw out the expectations and rules, and simply make the game we wanted to play. That decision was super scary in its departure from the norm, but also very liberating, and we ended up calling that game Heroes of the Storm when we re-announced it at BlizzCon 2013. D: Tell us a bit about the beginnings of the MOBA genre and its origins. How did the team react to this level of engagement out of a use map settings creation? K: The genre originated all the way back with our own mapmaking community’s Aeon of Strife UMS maps from the original StarCraft. Those maps set the stage for the now-familiar single-hero control and multi-lane map layouts that later inspired mapmakers in Warcraft III to create offshoots including the immensely popular Defense of the Ancients maps. Along the way, many of the RPG-like mechanics that were core to Warcraft III’s gameplay like individual heroes, unlocking and empowering abilities via hero leveling, and item-based stat manipulation were creatively used to evolve the gameplay from Aeon of Strife into that of DOTA and everything that’s come since. It’s inspiring to look back on the game genres that have incubated and spawned from the Blizzard mapmaking communities. The team responsible for Heroes of the Storm also made the original StarCraft as well as Warcraft III, and many of the people working on Heroes of the Storm today were either here at Blizzard or active in our communities when this all started. We’ve all watched this evolution with equal amounts of respect and admiration for everything our players have created. D: Can you give us a rundown of what to expect going forward after launch, both in terms of timelines and content? K: Historically for our team, launching a game has meant that it is “done,” but with Heroes, launch is truly just the beginning. The content and features in the game today represent the foundation of a game that we expect to be in constant evolution moving forward, and we have a growing team that’s been refining our tools and processes to allow us to create and deliver more stuff, more often. We’re moving into a phase now where we’ll be bringing new heroes into the game every 3-4 weeks and are planning for incremental changes and additions to the game even between hero releases.  We currently have several battlegrounds in development and we’ll continue to bring them into the game multiple times a year, starting with the Eternal Conflict release where we’ll introduce a collection of Diablo-themed battlegrounds, heroes, skins, mounts, and events over the next few months. There’s a lot more in store that I can’t talk about yet, but know that we have some amazing things in development and our team is just as excited about this game as our players are! D: What niche do you believe Heroes fulfills in the current MOBA scene today? K: Heroes of the Storm is Blizzard’s take on a genre that has been around for over a decade. We’ve set out to capture and accentuate the elements of these games that we found most compelling, while improving or eliminating the things that we found detracted from the fun. We approach this process with all of our games from the perspective of gamers, and again, we set out to build the games that we want to play.  The game we created features some pretty dramatic departures from the norm like action-packed 20 minute games, an ever-growing pool of objective-based battlegrounds, team leveling, per-hero talent trees that let players modify each hero’s playstyle, and of course, real Blizzard heroes and worlds – all wrapped up in the fun, light-hearted humor we’re known for. It’s free to play, so I invite everybody to check it out and see if it’s the kind of game they want to play, too. D: What is the current state of the MOBA genre financially as a whole? Is there room for more major releases? K: I’m much more of a development guy than a business guy, but clearly there is a ton of interest in this genre and there has been since the Warcraft III days. I’m excited about that interest not because of some potential financial opportunities, but because it represents players who might be open to checking out our game and I think we’re doing something really different with Heroes that can build on the things they’ve loved from past games, while also addressing concerns from players who may not have liked those other games.  Ultimately, I think there’s always room for great games. Our focus is to make the best games we possibly can, and history has shown us that if we stay true to that goal and uphold our commitments to quality and fun, success is within our reach. D: Who is your biggest competition currently, and what do they do right? K: We’ve always looked at other game companies less as competition and more as part of a community that’s pushing game development, technology, user experiences, gameplay, genres, and the industry forward together. Coexisting in a creative space like gaming can help lead to refinement and innovation, and that’s a very healthy thing for us both as developers, and as gamers.  We’ve clearly benefited from the things other developers have learned with similar games – the right choices as much as the wrong choices  –  and as we’re starting to see already, they will in turn benefit from the things we’re trying as well. D: What efforts are you going through in terms of growing Heroes as an eSport? K: This year will be a time where we establish Heroes as an eSport alongside establishing Heroes as a game. We’re off to an amazing start with Heroes of the Dorm, where we brought college teams together from across the US and Canada to battle it out for full college tuition. That event cemented the legitimacy of Heroes as an eSport given the intense competition and its undeniable strengths as a spectator event. The recently-announced 2015 Road to BlizzCon will be the professional extension of that path we’ve started down, and we’ll all get to watch the very best teams from each of our regions work their way through their regional qualifiers and semi-finals en route to the ultimate global showdown at BlizzCon. Like the game, our eSports support will be in constant evolution and I’m very excited to see what develops. D: Walk us through a basic outline of what it takes to create a hero from start to finish. K: Hero creation is a very involved, multi-month process that relies heavily on iteration tied to ideas and feedback from many people across our team, and even across Blizzard. It all starts with paper design, where a Hero Designer comes up with a written pitch for the hero, its playstyle, and its kit. After several rounds of feedback and refinement, that paper design gets approved for prototyping. Our tools allow our Tech Designers to stand up a first playable version of the hero with placeholder art, sounds, and effects very quickly and an exhaustive process of playtesting and iteration begins amongst our design team. This process can span several weeks, with constant reaction to feedback every step of the way.  Once the design team is feeling good about a hero’s progress, it graduates to team playtesting. These tests take place several times per week and several hundred of our team members and support personnel are invited to participate and provide feedback to help further refine the hero’s design.  Another multi-week reaction cycle begins based on that ongoing feedback, and only after successfully making it through the team playtesting phase does a hero graduate to full production where we unleash the full power of the development team on its finalization.  During production, our art, user interface, writing, sound, localization, and quality assurance teams begin their respective processes creating, refining, and testing the version of the hero you’ll eventually play in the game. Throughout the hero’s journey, each developer bolsters their part of its creation with a ton of polish and love, and that really shows in the final product. D: Can you give us an idea of potential heroes or kits you've been working on for future patches? K: Sure, up next is…wait a sec…nice try!  I can confirm that we’re spending some time with Diablo heroes for the Eternal Conflict before returning to heroes from other game worlds. Beyond that, all I can say is that anything’s possible – any hero from any Blizzard game, ever!  D: As a follow-up, are you concerned that certain franchises like Warcraft may be overrepresented? K: We currently have a disproportionate number of Warcraft heroes, but more than anything that is a function of the abundance of incredible Warcraft heroes to pull from when we started out. Our goal moving forward is to bring in excellent heroes from all of our games – past, present, and future. We value variety tremendously in this game and are trying to provide players with a dynamic experience where they have choices to make which give them the ability to directly impact that experience. This starts with selecting the hero they want to play and continues with choices in skins, mounts, team compositions, battleground strategies, and talent builds. Be on the lookout for an ever-increasing number of non-Warcraft heroes coming into the game with our Eternal Conflict event starting later this month! D: What is one hero from the Blizzard universe that will absolutely not fit in Heroes of the Storm? K: So far, this hasn’t been an issue. We have the freedom to bring any character we want into the game and enough flexibility in our game mechanics and design to re-interpret each one in a way that captures their essence while tailoring their gameplay for the best possible experience in Heroes. It’s an amazing space to play around in and we’re really enjoying this limitless potential. D: Finally, what is your favorite current hero? K: I love Kerrigan and have played her extensively since the first day of our Development Alpha. Her combo-driven, melee assassin kit brings out the overcommitting lunatic in me and I play her much more aggressively than perhaps any other hero in the game – for better or for worse. She’s incredibly powerful early game and can scale really nicely into late game, especially when paired up with another hero to complement her kit (Tassadar is one of my favorite partners). Beyond her gameplay, I have a personal connection to the character dating back to my passion for the original StarCraft and leading through my 8+ year investment in producing StarCraft II. And I’ve been saying this a lot lately, but my daughter is even named Kerrigan! While Kerrigan is my all-time favorite, I’ve been maining Nazeebo lately and have him on the cusp of hitting Level 20.  I relish the perfect Zombie Wall and am thrilled pulling off the well-timed Ravenous Spirit to clean up a team fight from afar after all of the enemy interrupts have been blown. Ayyyeeeee!!!
Heroes of the Storm photo
A Q&A with the game's lead producer
Heroes of the Storm has been out for almost a month now after a lengthy set of alpha and beta sessions, and I'm still enjoying it as much as I did at launch. Blizzard has vowed to constantly support and update the game w...


Review: Samurai Warriors Chronicles 3

Jun 30 // Chris Carter
Samurai Warriors Chronicles 3 (3DS [reviewed], PS Vita)Developer: Omega ForcePublisher: Tecmo KoeiMSRP: $29.99Released: June 30, 2015 In a sense, although Chronicles 3 is a continuation of the existing Chronicles offshoot series, it actually ends up being bite-sized take on Warriors 4, but with a few twists in tow. Players will create their own warrior right off the bat and follow a more personalized story, putting them smack in the middle of famous figures like Takeda Shingen. It's a strategy fitting for a portable, even if it takes some liberties when it comes to gameplay. What this does is it allows Samurai newcomers to instantly acclimate themselves without having to know any background on the franchise whatsoever. Even with the last full iteration, it was tough to glean a lot of ancillary backstory about armies and characters unless you had kept up with the series. With Chronicles you can just jump right in, and it will assist you in filling in the blanks. There's a bit of choice involved in the pre-battle cutscenes, but it's mainly an illusion and more of an excuse to learn more about the cast. This goes double for the story, which doesn't really change, and is more of a predetermined narrative for your character. Having said that, the "bonding" system does allow you to unlock new scenes (and a few levels) the more you battle (or pay to drink tea) with fellow officers. [embed]295006:59270:0[/embed] For the most part, gameplay is roughly the same: there's your standard attacks and combo openers as well as supers. It's fast, and despite claims of being "repetitive," it's still a damn fun approach to beat-'em-ups. Chronicles 3 takes things a bit further though (as it has in the past) and allows you to swap between four characters in the battlefield at will, which is better than Samurai's recent two-character mechanic, and a great way to always keep you in the action. Instead of running back and forth constantly, you can just switch to someone else. The main storyline took me roughly 10 hours to complete, then it's off to individual battles while you grind up your character and earn gold to buy new outfits. Instead of a bunch of different bonus gametypes, you'll have a simple challenge mode at your disposal, which is basically a score attack on a timer. Most of your enjoyment will derive from grinding it out for rare weapons and fighting enemies across the span of the entire campaign all at once. It's fun, but its appeal is definitely limited and your mileage may vary. I would have preferred more modes. Sadly, the 3DS hardware has not been kind to Chronicles. The game looks incredibly generic, especially in comparison to the detail that was put into Samurai Warriors 4's new character models. You can't even make out faces for enemy soldiers a lot of the time, much less the set pieces in the background. As a reminder, this review is based off the 3DS version (the only one that was provided), which does have the added benefit of constantly displaying the map on the bottom screen. The 3D effect enhances the experience a bit, but sadly, also contributes to some slowdown. It's never unplayable, but it does make things worse and I don't recommend using it. Samurai Warriors Chronicles 3 is held back by the switch to the 3DS, and I recommend just picking up the past core entry instead. In the meantime, I'll attempt to locate a Vita version to see how it compares to Warriors 4, which was also released on the Vita earlier this year. With some of the performance issues smoothed out, this personal story would be more worth telling. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the developer.]
Samurai Warriors review photo
Not quite as punchy on a portable
Samurai Warriors 4 was a noticeable advancement for the series, and added a number of interesting mechanics like instant character switching and more varied move sets for each character. It even solved a few common compl...

Review: Her Story

Jun 29 // Laura Kate Dale
Her Story (PC [reviewed], iOS) Developer: Sam BarlowPublisher: Sam BarlowMSRP: $5.99Released: June 24, 2015 From the first set of clips tagged murder, I had several options of which narrative thread to pull at first. Did I want to look for clips related to the victim's name first? Maybe I should try to track down the name of the person accused of the crime? Perhaps I wanted to go in a completely different direction and try to find references to the murder weapon on the database. Right from the start, several different avenues opened up and the number of narrative options to explore only expanded as I went deeper into the case. You can't organize clips you find chronologically or watch them in order without re-searching for them, meaning that a lot of the work of piecing the narrative together is down to you as the player. There's an in game application that will show you which pieces of the case you've watched and which you have not, but it's up to you to keep track of where each statement falls in the timeline of police interviews and how their placement fits together. Much of the mechanical challenge in the game comes from piecing the story together in a way that draws conclusions you're personally satisfied with. At around two hours in, I had seen enough that the game offered to let me see the credits roll, but I personally wanted to know much more of what was happening and ended up playing for around six hours on and off before I was truly satisfied with my understanding of the events. Others I know felt they knew everything they needed within half an hour. In terms of pacing, Her Story lasts however long you want it to in regards to narrative. Any time you feel the game is ready to end, you can draw your conclusions and walk away. Ultimately, Her Story is a really inventive way of exploring a narrative with an impressive number of twists and turns. Every time I thought I understood what was happening, a clip would become unearthed that turned my understanding of the case on its head. The story was personal, uplifting, dark, twisted, insightful, and unnerving all at once. I know we get a lot of talk of narrative-focused adventures as "not games," but this is a narrative that undoubtedly benefits from its open-ended interactive nature. If this isn't a perfect example of how video game interactivity can enhance a narrative, I don't know what is. Being able to unearth these twists out of order, rushing to understand what you've found, and bouncing tonally back and forth across a series of interviews truly is the perfect way to experience this skillfully crafted narrative. It's not a typical structure for a game, but the mechanics really do work in the context of the narrative. If you like the idea of an open-ended '90s murder mystery with no guarantee you'll find a solid answer to its mysteries, then I can't recommend this highly enough. Her Story is a spectacular video game, and one of the most gripping personal narratives I've experienced in some time. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the developer.]
Her Story review photo
Let's solve a mid-'90s murder
Her Story is certainly not what you would call a traditional video game. Set entirely on a police computer database in the English town of Portsmouth, it breaks a lot of new ground in terms of blending its narrative and gamep...

Review: J-Stars Victory VS+

Jun 28 // Laura Kate Dale
J-Stars Victory Vs+ (PS3, PS4 [reviewed], Vita) Developer: Spike ChunsoftPublisher: Bandai Namco EntertainmentRelease: June 26, 2015 (EU), June 30, 2015 (US) I may not be the most knowledgeable anime fan out there, but I'm always willing to try out a new series if it looks interesting. As such, I was pretty excited coming into J-Stars Victory VS+. I was hoping to experience well known characters I already knew, as well as finding new characters to get invested in and try watching going forward. Unfortunately, J-Stars Victory VS+ was a bit of a disappointment in that regard. The representations of characters I already knew didn't feel accurate and the hooks to get invested in new series just weren't there for me. So, as this is a fighting game first and foremost, let's talk about the fighting mechanics at play. Every character has one light attack button, a heavy attack button, a special attack button, a block and a dash. While these are tailored to each character, the movesets all feel very similar to play using. While it's cool to see Ichigo pull off a Getsuga Tensho and Goku a Kamehameha, both on a mechanical level act near identically. Every move is an approximation designed to fit a specific combat system's mold, which ultimately takes away some of what makes these characters unique. Defensive techniques like cancels are minimal, so if you wait for an attack animation to start then start mashing buttons you'll usually win. J-Stars Victory VS+ is not a game of skill, it's a game of waiting for any enemy to attempt anything slower than a light attack, interrupting with a light attack then button mashing while they remain locked in your combo. [embed]294934:59255:0[/embed] So, ignoring the fact the combat system itself lacks depth, lets look at how this functions as a pure fanservice game. Just looking at the numbers there is a lot here for fans of Shonen anime to love. There's representation from newer series like D.Gray-man as well as older series like Rurouni Kenshin and a whole host of series in between. There's even inclusions from my super niche sports anime, but only as support characters rather than full playable roster members. Damn, I was just about ready to praise this game for supporting my niche interests. So, let's talk about the modes on offer in J-Stars Victory VS+. There's J-Adventure, where you sail around the world on a tiny boat given to you by god to earn your way into a tournament of champions, where everyone involved seems perfectly fine with the fact god gave them a boat that couldn't get most of the places it needed to go and needlessly pads out the experience with narrative fluff between fights. This mode has four arcs, each of them near narratively identical. I couldn't see any reason players would want to go through all four of these, they're all equally padded and dull. Your other options are Victory Road which sets up special fights loosely themed around anime dream team fights, a standard Arcade mode which offers minimal challenge, local free battles and online free battles. None of these modes felt terribly coherent or fleshed out. On paper, the roster of nearly 40 playable characters is certainly impressive, but what makes these characters unique is rarely utilized fully. Each character's ultimate attack feels decidedly less visually impressive than comparable titles like Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4. The story mode offered on disk features static 2D images of characters that may say the odd single word to each other, but otherwise remain silent. Their dialogue feels terribly homogeneous, stripped down so that every character speaks with the same uniform voice. This doesn't feel like a series of characters clashing for the first time, rather it feels like one person in many different outfits badly acting out their alternative universe fanfiction. Where the games opening cinematic gave me hope for a visually impressive, fanservice heavy experience, the single player largely boiled down to watching static images talk to each other in a weirdly unemotional tone then fight for no adequately explained reason. It just wasn't compelling. Ultimately, J-Stars Victory VS+ only succeeds as numbers on paper, the game itself being largely disappointing. The roster have had much of what made them unique stripped down, stopping me getting truly excited about the characters I knew and preventing me getting a sense of which characters were worth me investing future time watching. The mechanics are shallow, the fanservice is surface level and it only succeeds in terms of its pure number of supported characters. Overall, I walked away rather disappointed. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the developer.]
J-Stars Victory VS+ photo
Mash, mash, mash, mash, mash, mash......
J-Stars Victory VS+ is a game that's mechanically light, heavy on fanservice volume but that only ever skims the surface of the characters it includes. If you want an anime brawler that focuses on the sheer volume of anime ch...

Beyond Earth & Civilization titles 81% off in Weekend Deals

Jun 27 // Dealzon
Civy Deals Use Code: GET23P-ERCENT-OFFGMG Civilization: Beyond Earth (Steam) — $15.40  (list price $50) Civilization V (Steam) — $5.77  (list price $30) Civilization IV: Complete (Steam) — $5.77  (list price $30) Civilization III Complete (Steam) — $0.96  (list price $5) Xbox One + Free Game + $50 (Saturday Only) Update: AC Unity now included for free in the bundles below. Xbox One Halo MCC Bundle + 2 Free Games + $50 Promo — $349 Xbox One 1TB Halo MCC Bundle + 2 Free Games + $50 Promo — $399 Recent Releases s06/25: Total War Attila: The Last Roman (Steam) — $9.95  (list price $15) 06/23: Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward — $29.99  (list price $40) 06/23: Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition (Steam) — $16.49  (list price $25) 06/23: Batman: Arkham Knight (PS4) — $49.99  (list price $60) 06/23: Batman: Arkham Knight (Steam) — $32.99  (list price $60) <- ehhhh maybe wait? 06/23: Evolve Hunting Season 2 (Steam) — $19.25  (list price $25) 06/09: Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense (Steam) — $10.49  (list price $15) Upcoming Releases 07/21: F1 2015 (Steam) — $35.49  (list price $55) 11/06: Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 (Steam) — $51.49  (list price $60) TBA: Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power — $18.69  (list price $22) TBA: Guild Wars 2: Heart Of Thorns + 2 Steam Games — $44.99  (list price $50) PC Game Deals Mac Game Store Super Summer Sale Use Code: PCGAMES5OFF Borderlands 2 Complete Edition Bundle (Steam) — $14.24  (list price $60) Daedalic Comedy Bundle (Steam) — $11.39  (list price $80) Broforce (Steam) — $11.39  (list price $15) Blackguards Franchise Pack (Steam) — $11.24  (list price $75) Star Wars Starter Pack (Steam) — $4.14  (list price $70) <- KOTOR, Jedi Knight I & II, etc. Games Republic Summer Blockbuster Sale Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin (Steam) — $26.79  (list price $40) Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition (Steam) — $4.99  (list price $20) DLGamer Hot Deals Ultra Street Fighter IV (Steam) — $15  (list price $30) Sid Meier's Civilization V: Complete Edition (Steam) — $12.50  (list price $50) Borderlands 2: Game of the Year Edition (Steam) — $10  (list price $40) XCOM: Enemy Unknown The Complete Edition (Steam) — $9.99  (list price $50) More PC Games Killing Floor 2 (Steam) — $25.49  (list price $30) Cities: Skylines Deluxe Edition (Steam) — $17.95  (list price $40) Football Manager 2015 (Steam) — $17  (list price $50) Cities: Skylines (Steam) — $14.49  (list price $30) <- cool beans. Alien: Isolation (Steam) — $12.50  (list price $50) World of Diving (Steam) — $9.24  (list price $20) Lost Planet 3 (Steam) — $6.25  (list price $25) Remember Me (Steam) — $6  (list price $30) Valkyria Chronicles (Steam) — $5  (list price $20) <- get it Console Game Deals $50 PlayStation Network Code (Digital Delivery) — $45  (list price $50) Bloodborne (PS4) — $39.99  (list price $60) The Order: 1886 (PS4) — $19.99  (list price $40) <- maybe  at this price? Final Fantasy Type-0 HD - Pre-owned (PS4, Xbox One) — $19.99  (list price $40) Gran Turismo 6 (PS3) — $14.99  (list price $30) Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag + AC Rogue (PS3) — $14.99  (list price $60) Xbox Live Gold 3 Month (Digital Code) — $14.95  (list price $25) Battlefield 4 (Xbox One) — $11.99  (list price $30) Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare (Xbox One) — $11.99  (list price $40) Laptop Deals 15.4" MacBook Pro, i7-4870HQ, 16GB, 512GB SSD — $2,049  (list $2,499) <- only $2k, you peasants. 14" Lenovo Y40-80, i7-5500U, Radeon R9, 16GB, 512GB SSD — $849  (list 1,600) 15.6" Asus, i7-4720HQ, 12GB, GTX 950M — $749  (list $1,000) Game deals from Dealzon. Sales from certain retailers help support Destructoid.
Weekend Deals photo
Facing Gandhi's wrath
Steam's Summer Sale is behind us but the the Summer PC gaming discounts continues on, especially on Civilization titles. This weekend GMG launched a wave of discounts on this year's Civilization Beyond Earth, drops to on...

And Destructoid's E3 Game of the Show is...

Jun 26 // Niero Gonzalez
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Konami isn't shy with what it has in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. With most titles, publishers tend to sit you down and let you play through a well-crafted chunk of game -- maybe 15 minutes before shuffling you off the station. That's the common preview experience. Not this time. Instead, Konami plunked three of our editors -- Jordan, Steven, and Brett -- down in chairs and let them have at The Phantom Pain from the very beginning. Jordan and Brett got a solid two hours in; Steven wound up with a staggering 14 hours. If this is some sort of vertical slice trickery, it's the most elaborate in the history of video games. Much more likely is that we got to see the final product (or very close to it), and Kojima's going out with a bang. The Phantom Pain has an open world that somehow doesn't feel all that open. Just ahead at pretty much all times are guards who are dead set on shouting things at you, throwing bullets with their guns, and just generally blowing the cover off this whole stealth operative you fancy so much. But, it's plenty open world in the sense that nothing seems scripted. You're given the reins (to a horse and the game), and the plan-of-attack is entirely up to you. The encounters often sprawl and there are just so many ways of doing anything and everything. For that to be pulled off with any degree of competency takes some seriously skilled design. That's not to say that our efforts were always executed with a degree of competency. The Phantom Pain has a way about it where you just sense that nothing you did was quite good enough. Sure, it got the job done, but that's not how real Snake would've done it. Botch job and all, it still has a neat "totally meant to do that!" air about it. Man, that kid makes fucking up look cool. Wait. Now, go ahead and jettison a guard away with a weather balloon -- err, your Fulton. That guy works for you now. And that horse you're riding? He poops when you want him to. Big Boss, indeed. All that stuff is indicative of what will surely make The Phantom Pain a great video game. Not only is it incredibly polished and detail dense, but it also has enough silly stuff to remind you that you're playing a game. There's plenty of weirdness to be found, and Kojima's tightly tethered it to the title's core mechanics. As we finished our play sessions, it was tough for us to imagine a game that would be more deserving of Destructoid's Best of E3 award. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain just plays so damn wonderfully. In hindsight, Konami wasn't going out on a limb by letting us have at it at our own pace; it did exactly what any publisher would do if it had something this special on its hands.
E3 Game of the Show photo
So many good options
We've hemmed. We've hawed. Destructoid's editors and judges have kindly suggested, boldly voted, bickered, scolded, stabbed each other with rapiers, revenge-slept with each other's illegitimate cousins, and finally have come ...

Review: LEGO Jurassic World

Jun 26 // Ben Davis
LEGO Jurassic World (PS4 [reviewed], PS3, PS Vita, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U, 3DS, PC)Developer: Traveller's TalesPublisher: Warner Bros.MSRP: $59.99Released: June 12, 2015 As a huge Jurassic Park fan, LEGO Jurassic World is pretty much exactly what I expected from a dinosaur game themed around children's toys. There is no shortage of humor, plenty of satisfying references to the movies and books, playable dinosaurs, and I get to run around as Ian Malcolm with his shirt torn open. What more could I ask for? LEGO Jurassic World's story is built around the plots of the movies, but while the movies can be tense and thrilling, the game remains silly and lighthearted. Death scenes from the films are played out in a comedic fashion. The LEGO characters are never actually killed; instead, they usually end up sharing a goofy moment with the dinosaur that attacks them. For example, Gennaro can be seen cleaning the T. Rex's teeth with a toilet brush after being pulled from his restroom hiding place, and the raptor tamer who dies in the very first scene of Jurassic Park only loses the precious sausage he was holding onto rather than his legs (there's a weird recurring sausage joke for some reason, which I can't say I really understood). Meanwhile, other parts feature raptors riding motorcycles, wearing fruit hats, and chasing lawn mowers through the long grass, so the dinos are generally more charming than they are terrifying. Of course, for a LEGO game, this was kind of a necessity. [embed]294839:59241:0[/embed] Gameplay is heavily puzzle-based, requiring obstacles to be solved by choosing the specific character required for the task. Most of these obstacles are accompanied by button prompts, and there are numerous quick time events scattered throughout as well. There is also some light combat, whenever the party is attacked by dinosaurs or InGen employees, but it involves little more than punching things until they get dizzy or fall apart. Characters do have health bars, but the only penalty for dying is losing a few studs, so it's not really a big deal. The health bars honestly feel wholly unnecessary, as there aren't any lives and characters already essentially feel invincible. They could have probably scrapped that mechanic entirely. It's possible to play as nearly every character from the Jurassic Park films, even minor characters such as Mr. DNA and that weird boy at the dig site who says raptors look like giant turkeys. Each character has their own unique skills which typically play off of their personalities and roles in the films, all of which will need to be utilized in order to traverse each level. Some characters, like Dr. Grant and Gray Mitchell, are good at building things out of dinosaur bones; characters like Lex Murphy and Kelly Malcolm can scream loud enough to shatter glass; characters like Tim Murphy and Ian Malcolm have items that can illuminate dark areas (night vision goggles and flares, for example); and others like Ellie Sattler and Owen Grady aren't afraid to get dirty and rummage through dino droppings (by diving in head first, no less!). It's necessary to play as many different characters in order to clear all of the puzzles and obstacles in the game. Of course, there's not only human characters, but dinosaurs to control as well. Most dinosaurs are unlocked by collecting amber bricks hidden in every level. They can be summoned via dinosaur creation pads, and sick dinosaurs can be healed in order to join the party as well. The dinosaurs come with their own sets of skills; Triceratops can charge and bash open large objects, Dilophosaurus can melt certain things with its venom, T. Rex can roar loud enough to shatter stuff, and Velociraptors can pull switches and sniff out hidden objects. The craziest option is the enormous Brachiosaurus, which can be used to crush certain platforms with a huge stomp, but it's so gigantic and slow that it's almost hilarious. It's even possible to play as Pteranodons and Mosasaurus, although they're restricted to the aviary and aquarium, respectively. Story mode will take the player through twenty levels centered around many of the most memorable and action-packed scenes from the movies. It's really fun to reenact classic scenes like the very first T. Rex attack, the raptors in the kitchen, the San Diego crisis, and more through the playful lens of the LEGO world. Every level is filled with puzzles to solve, obstacles to overcome, and a set amount of collectibles to find. Many levels implement chase sequences, such as running from the Gallimimus herd, or puzzle-based boss fights, like taking down Indominus Rex. There's nothing too complicated, though, so it should be an easy ride for most players. Upon completing each level in story mode, free play mode will be unlocked, allowing players to choose any character they want and switch to someone else at any time. Many of the collectibles can only be obtained in free play, since the characters in story mode might not have the required abilities, so it's necessary to play each level at least two times in order to find everything. Outside of story mode, players can also freely explore each of the four parks. The parks contain more collectibles to find, sick dinosaurs and workers in peril to help, characters to unlock, photograph locations, races, and more. The parks on Isla Sorna are unfortunately rather small and unexciting, but Isla Nublar's Jurassic Park and Jurassic World are both huge and full of all sorts of attractions and cool areas to discover. Strangely, though, once story mode is completed, free play in the parks takes place entirely during nighttime, which kind of bothered me as some areas just seem much less exciting in the dark. I'd prefer to view these beautiful parks in the bright sunshine. [Edit: Apparently, this can be changed, but only by fast travelling to specially marked areas on the map. Still an odd choice, but at least there are options!] Split-screen co-op is also an option, and players can jump in and out of the game at any time. Co-op can make solving puzzles and overcoming obstacles much easier, as players will not need to switch between characters as often and multiple tasks can be completed at once. For such a light-hearted adventure as LEGO Jurassic World, I can definitely see co-op being a popular option. The best aspect of LEGO Jurassic World for me was all the little nuances and nods to the films which were sprinkled throughout. Idle animations for characters usually highlighted certain aspects of their personalities or referenced specific moments from the movies. For example, Zach Mitchell will put on his headphones and start dancing, Amanda Kirby will test her megaphone (put that thing away!), and Ian Malcolm will run a Chaos Theory experiment by dripping water onto his hand. Many of the trophies also make great references to the movies; I think my favorite is the "Hello John!" trophy which is awarded for having both characters set to John Hammond. I also loved that Mr. DNA was in charge of all the tutorials and loading screen trivia. Aside from borrowing plot, characters, and locations from the movies, LEGO Jurassic World also borrows sound clips. While some new dialogue was recorded specifically for the game (mostly for the Jurassic World section), a lot of the dialogue is taken directly from the films. This can be entertaining at times (hearing Jeff Goldblum's ridiculous laugh on the helicopter never gets old, even when it's coming out of a LEGO character's mouth), but it can also be quite jarring. Since the tone of the movies does not match the tone of the game, the dialogue is often way too tense and emotional for what should be silly, light-hearted scenes. There are also many instances where background noise from the films can be heard in the game's dialogue, which sounds really strange when compared to the newly recorded dialogue. Unfortunately, LEGO Jurassic World is not without its fair share of bugs. During my time with the game, there were several instances where I had to restart a level after a character got stuck between a wall and an object and couldn't move or jump to escape, or after they fell through the ground when I switched away from them. There were also a few instances where, after spawning a dinosaur and taking control of it, I could no longer switch to any other character and was permanently stuck in my dinosaur body. Usually, this meant I lost all progress on that level up to the point where I got stuck, so that was always a bummer. While it may have its flaws, I was still perfectly satisfied with my time in LEGO Jurassic World. Fans of the LEGO games should basically know what to expect, and Jurassic Park fans should be more than happy with the story, cutscenes, characters, and references. It captured all of my favorite Jurassic Park moments and added its own unique sense of humor into the mix, and that's essentially all I really wanted. And if you still need a reason to play this, just remember that is has LEGO Jeff Goldblum. Let's be honest: that's all anyone really needs. [This review is based on a retail build of the game purchased by the reviewer.]
LEGO Jurassic World photo
Hold onto your butts
Another year, another beloved franchise gets the LEGO treatment. This year, blocks and dinosaurs come together in LEGO Jurassic World, a compilation of games spanning the entire Jurassic Park film franchise. Released simultan...

Review: Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward

Jun 26 // Chris Carter
Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward (PC, PS3, PS4 [reviewed])Developer: Square EnixPublisher: Square EnixMSRP: $39.99 ($12.99 per month)Released: June 19, 2015 (Early Access), June 23, 2015 The "40 hours" of questing claim by Square Enix for the main story (levels 50-60) is accurate, but there's a caveat. You'll have to do a combination of sidequests, daily hunt marks (which can be done solo), and dungeons to push through some gaps, particularly in the middle levels. A few portions can be off-putting sometimes in terms of pacing, especially since the sidequests aren't nearly as good as the main story questline. Having said that, there wasn't any point, even the aforementioned lows, where I stopped having fun. There's just so much to do at this juncture of Final Fantasy XIV. I would frequently stop to do world hunts, which respawn every few hours or so in each area. They're even more fun now once you've unlocked flight for that particular zone, and all of the old hunts still exist too, albeit with smaller rewards for kills. You could hunt all day if you wanted to. I'd visit my new apartment in my friend's beachfront property villa in the Mist, and see what was going on with their new workshop -- a feature that lets you build Free Company (guild) airships in Heavensward, which go on expeditions for more items, similar to Retainer quests. Although I don't tend to craft in any MMO I play, I hung out with a group of crafters and chatted for hours about the new crafter meta and theories for some testing, which are insanely deep. For those who aren't aware, each crafting and gathering class has its own miniature storyline, and crafters in particular now have a even more complicated method of creating new high quality items. Crafting was always like a puzzle, allowing players to learn the best rotations for creating the best items, but now, there's an "endgame" of sorts for the profession, featuring a separate system of crafting in guilds to help build airships, and more complicated patterns that will fetch big gains on the auction house. Flying makes gathering nodes more fun, which is a big improvement on the 2.0 system -- and more nuanced with new gathering abilities. I also took a break and started a Dark Knight, Astrologian, and Machinist, which are all new jobs in Heavensward. Although there's a debate going on regarding the latter's low damage output, I've grouped and played all of them, and each brings something unique to the table. The Dark Knight is really fun to tank with, as he can drop his "Grit" stance (having it on lets you take less damage) on occasion, which unlocks a whole host of damage-dealing abilities. [embed]294750:59242:0[/embed] As a general rule you always want to be doing your core job and tanking with Grit, but when you need that extra push, the Dark Knight is ready and willing, and feels far more engaging than the existing Warrior. The Astrologian sacrifices a bit of firepower (compared to the White Mage and Scholar) but makes up for it with a variety of different healing tricks, and the Machinist is one of the most complicated DPS classes in the game. They are all worthwhile additions, and each role (tank, healer, ranged DPS) fits perfectly in the current meta. By the time I was done with the story and hit level 60, I had played far more than 40 hours. While there are some predictable plot points and far too much Final Fantasy grandstanding, I have to say I enjoyed it as a whole. I really dig the dragon theme that permeates throughout the expansion (they commit to it), and I was satisfied with the conclusion, especially the final boss, which Final Fantasy fans will love. The epilogue also does its job of sufficiently teasing all of the upcoming free content updates, so I'm pumped to see where this goes. The dungeons are all par for the course, which again, is a theme with this expansion. Every dungeon, including the three level 60 ones at the end, have the same linear design that is crafted to prevent you from speedrunning them. Gone are the labyrinthine paths of some low-level dungeons, as well as the tricks of the trade of the vanilla endgame areas; the structure is basically the same every time. Thankfully, the boss fights are spectacular, and nearly every zone features an encounter that has something I've never seen before. Without spoiling it, my favorite dungeon has a fight where a bird flies up into the air, and causes the entire battlefield to fill with fog, forcing you to find his shadow before he comes back down. Another hilariously tasks players with picking up totems and placing them in certain areas to prevent a boss from casting a ritual that ties his health to them. Every fight is intuitive so you won't be scratching your head going "how does this work?" but you will have to actually try. It's a good balance, even if I wish some of the dungeons were a bit more open. The two Primals (Ravana and Bismarck) are worthy additions to the game, and both have EX (extreme) versions that will test your might at level 60. Ravana is an awesome fight that I refer to as "the ninja bug," and it basically feels like how Titan should have been, with a circular arena that you can fall off of. Bismarck on the other hand is like nothing else in Final Fantasy XIV, featuring the titular whale flying right next to a floating rock that the party is standing on. Players will have to hook him with harpoons (you can shout "call me Ishmael" while doing it) and whale on the whale's weak point temporarily. I feel like Ravana is faster-paced and more fun, but again, Bismarck is unique. Currently the endgame consists of gathering law tomes (obtained by high-level dungeons and hunts), buying item level i170 gear, and upgrading them to i180 by way of items from seals. Bismarck EX will net you i175 weapons, and Ravana earns you i190. You have two weeks to fully upgrade your left and right-side gear to face the first part of the Alexander raid, who will debut at that time (with the tougher "Savage" difficulty unlocking two weeks after that). Said raids will be even better thanks to the new loot systems, which can give a raid leader more control over who gets what (finally). With everything there is to do in the game though, it doesn't feel like a grind to get to that point. Did I mention Heavensward was beautiful? I'm pretty sure I have often, but I'll do it again just to drive the point home. It looks fantastic, from the snowy landscape of Ishgard to the Souls-esque Dravanian Hinterlands, complete with lush plains and hellish mountains filled with fiery depths. I would often stop just to admire the scenery, which is even easier thanks to flying mounts. Every time I visit an old content area I long for the chance to use a flying mount, but alas, it's only available in new zones. Specifically regarding the PS4 version, it's starting to feel the sting of the more open areas a bit, particularly when it comes to longer load times (which can be a pain while zoning in for hunts) and some slowdown. I should mention that said slowdown never becomes unplayable, even with 50 other players slashing away at the same world hunt target. It can just get a bit sluggish is all. My view is partially colored by the fact that the new Direct X 11 version on PC looks gorgeous and runs smoothly. Down the line you have new storylines to look forward to, as well as the aforementioned Alexander raid, more 24-player casual raids (which aren't currently in yet), a new PVP map, and a new multi-part relic weapon quest that will debut next month for all jobs. None of this was factored into this review, but it's something to be aware of -- based on its past track record, Square Enix will continue to evolve the game and make it better. Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward is more A Realm Reborn, which is a fine thing to strive for in my book. Whether you're the type of player who enjoys crafting, endgame content, or role-playing, there's so much to do here for people of all skill levels it's insane. While I fizzled out a bit after completing the main story in 2.5, Heavensward has rekindled my flame. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Heavensward review photo
Par for the heavens
When our story began last week, I was a level 53 Paladin, soldiering through the new content for Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward. I stand before you now as a level 60, having played everything that's currently available. My opinion on the expansion hasn't changed much, which is a good thing.

Review: Sonic Runners

Jun 25 // Chris Carter
Sonic Runners (Android, iOS [reviewed on an iPhone 6])Developer: SegaPublisher: SegaReleased: May 25, 2015MSRP: Free-to-play Sonic Runners is very clearly, well, a runner, but it's far more than meets the eye. It's level-based, features a variety of locales from Sonic's past, has a cute little story involved, and plays wonderfully well, just like how you'd imagine a good mobile Sonic game would. Our hero will run from left to right automatically through stages that mirror the classics from his storied history, and players can tap anywhere on the screen to jump. Tapping again will trigger another leap, and the process of jumping will inherently attack enemies. A lot of depth lies beneath the surface, with multi-tiered stages that are a lot like Robot Unicorn Attack's maps, giving you a good sense of adventure on a constant basis like a true platformer. Gathering more coins and pickups in a short period of time will grant you a combo bonus, which in turn earns you more points, which assists in your progress with the story and your skill unlocks. It looks great on paper and in action as well, sporting a cool bright look that differentiates itself from the classic titles while giving it a distinct style. It's great how Sonic Runners actually feels like a Sonic game through and through, from the "dying while having no rings" mechanic to plungers, to loops, and Tails' flight power and Knuckles' power dash are great additions. Sonic and the rest of the cast have individual experience levels, and can equip "buddies" (like Chao) for minor statistical bonuses. You can also level-up characters to beef up their response to power-ups and point bonuses for specific objectives. Like I said, it's surprisingly deep, and will keep you interested for the long haul rather than supply you with a selection of different cosmetic options. [embed]294806:59239:0[/embed] Unfortunately, Sega decided to be unreasonable with the free-to-play nature of the game. First, you'll have to go through a grueling signup process that involves updates (which crashed when I first tried to install it this morning), online checks, and age verification (so you don't spend all your parent's money). From there, you'll head on down to the microtransaction layer, of which you will likely never return. Let me just list off everything that's present in the game: two roulettes, one for each type of currency that you earn or buy spins for, an energy system that takes 30 minutes to recharge per life, a revive system that involves watching an ad to restart from your death point, three types of currency you can buy (yellow rings, red rings, and lives), friend invite bonuses (10 will get you Amy), and a ticker that shows "current deals" on the currencies involved. This is exacerbated by ads that run every so often after a level, seemingly for no reason, that happen to play the ad's audio alongside of the game's music. Sometimes, this happens while you're getting a post-match bonus tallied. It's exhausting. While playing each round and having a bit of confined fun will often have you forgetting about all of these elements, it's not long before they're thrown back into your face. The energy system is probably the worst part, limiting your playtime regardless of whether or not you wade through everything else. In practice, Sonic Runners is a fun mobile tribute to the Blue Blur, and the team that designed it should be proud -- this is how you bring a storied console franchise to the Android and iOS marketplaces. Unfortunately, the team in charge of that team decided that said fun should be gated by needless locks with cash keys, which is a problem. Give it a go and see if you can stomach the microtransactions. As for myself, I'm taking frequent breaks, mostly because I'm forced to.
Sonic Runners photo
Did Eggman design the microtransactions?
Hey, Sega actually made a really cool mobile Sonic game...then promptly proceeded to beat it down with layers and layers of microtransactions. Oh Sega, you scamp!

Review: Batman: Arkham Knight

Jun 25 // Steven Hansen
Batman: Arkham Knight (PC, Xbox One, PS4 [reviewed])Developer: RocksteadyPublisher: Warner Bros.MSRP: $59.99Released: June 23, 2015 Arkham Knight is stitched together with exceptional technical proficiency at the cost of tonal instability. City shared this problem. It insists on the direness of the narrative while letting you busy yourself with 69 (hah) AR challenges. It's worse in Knight, with even more dire stakes (there is nothing to do but escalate, of course) as Scarecrow intends to ruin all of Gotham with the help of the titular Arkham Knight.  There is so much "content" beside the main story path, but most of it is busy work. I've still not rescued all 20 captive firefighters spread throughout the city. Militia members set up dozens of roadblocks across Gotham's three islands that impede the Batmobile, but you can always go around them, or avoid driving except when mandated, given that Batman's grapple and glide are some of the coolest traversal methods in games. Clearing them isn't even that useful. It's just about getting to the super villain (most of whom have no story aside from "they're doing crime") at the end and notching the completion percentage. And of course this brings us to the Batmobile. It is cool and god awful. Calling it to pick Batman up; ejecting from it at high speeds and doing takedowns; the fact that all of Gotham's pillars and corners are destructible, so you typically don't do much crashing; remote control driving it towards Batman, who automatically jumps into it while you maintain control and momentum; the tank mode convincing me I need a Transformers game or Armored Core reboot. [embed]294804:59235:0[/embed] This all works well. It was also a lot of work for Rocksteady. Thus, there are heavy, mandated Batmobile segments, like the aforementioned waves of tank fights, and even a hilarious tank stealth section against bigger, stronger tanks. The Batmobile is cool as something I might occasionally use, but all the work that went into it means it needs a lot of screen time. It's actually pretty fun to chase Firefly through the streets in it, even if you have to do that several times before he's been punched enough to quit. When I'm forced to ferry passengers to the police station in it just so more drones can be thrown my way, it becomes a nuisance. When one side mission involves chasing missile-spongy armored cars while smaller armored cars attack me, over and over, it's not so fun. Everything is strung together nobly, but it's a case if "they were so concerned with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should." Disjointed content put together as well as possible mirrors a main story that works too hard to put Batman in his car. The shorter side missions that pop up woven into the narrative are much more fulfilling than saving 20 different firemen, stopping Two Face's goons from robbing several banks or destroying five or so of Penguin's weapons stashes (though the latter teams Bats with Nightwing and the dual fighter segments are fun). Thankfully I hardly looked at the map screen this time around because there's a d-pad button just to bring up a mission select wheel so it's easy to ping pong between waypoints like an errand boy. I also hardly looked at the upgrades, usually going several hours at a time before dumping like 50 points into skills I mostly didn't use (but do reinforce that car for the mandated tank segments). I can't tell if there is less punching this time around. Maybe it's been replaced by Batmobile segments. There are also more stealth options, including fear takedowns that can be used to instantly incapacitate up to eight enemies at a time (ok, upgrades are sometimes helpful, as it starts at three). I can string together perfect, room-clearing 60x combo fisticuffs with the best of them, but combat never drags in Arkham Knight, which I appreciate because my favorite thing to do is to explore the city. That does bring up a series-long issue of detective mode and waypoints guiding you to the point of feeling like a middle manager. It's nice to just notice side missions -- hearing strange shrieks, hearing opera blaring over a PA system, seeing a building on fire -- rather than being directed towards them, but that's the problem with dealing with this size of open world necessitated by the series trending upward as far as stakes raising goes. But when you stumble on mutilated bodies and every time -- five times! -- the answer is to scan one obvious thing on each of three layers (skin, muscle, bone) with detective mode, you're not really doing anything, much less detecting. Batman is boring, right? The character. Sad about parents, righteous, rich, mostly ideal. When comic fans point to his spot at the top of the echelon it's always about the supporting cast (villains, namely). And so, post Joker, what is there to do? Two things, neither of them original, but one of them done well. Without getting too spoilery, the Joker has inevitably left his mark in the Arkham universe and these ramifications are handled nicely in one half of Arkham Knight, even if they open the door for perhaps the most unoriginal and obvious Batman story to take seed beneath Scarecrow's reign of terror in the other. Scarecrow, to Rocksteady's credit, plays a great villain here, though he does so from the shadows. Because Batman is Batman, it's hard to feel the stakes sometimes, but Scarecrow is good for manipulating Bats and leaving him one step behind, more and more panicked and fragmented. The Arkham Knight, meanwhile, mostly tries to kill you with very large vehicles. The whole tenor of the character feels at odds with his Scarecrow partnership. There's the weird red tactical camo print and his general, impotent rage. His voice, which seems to waver beneath the autotune, is a mix of haughtiness and incredulity. He hates Batman, knows Batman is strong, is sure that he's better, and gets real petulant every time something goes wrong. His hugely amassed, literal army -- ex-United States soldiers now mercenaries -- occasionally remark about how better outfitted they are now than when they were government employees and ask if all this gear is overkill for just one man.   And it's not, because Batman is Batman and he feels immune to even the direst of straits. It makes the villains -- Knight, namely -- look goofy as plan after plan are foiled, though Scarecrow holds it together fairly well as the story takes shots at characters adjacent to Batman. The most interesting story stuff is happening within Batman's head, though, and that's where the series returns to effective use of jump scares (not a bad thing!), Dutch angles, and unreliable world distortion. Shifting the world around the player, moving things that the player isn't looking at. There's some cool, occasionally chilling toying going on, but it's mostly wrapped up in the end of the game. Getting there, Arkham Knight struggles to surprise and delight as Asylum and City. One musical boss "fight" stands out as a show stealer, but it would have been nice to have more inventive moments like the Mr. Freeze fight from City.   If the Batmobile was Rocksteady's gambit in that regard, it failed. It makes for a better occasional use gadget than core gameplay system. The Riddler side mission sums up Arkham Knight's issues fairly well. Apropos of nothing, he becomes a racing aficionado and constructs massive death tracks beneath the city to go with his death traps. This is to cram more Batmobile segments in. He does his same, tired shtick for a third game, this time holding Catwoman captive, but also he's made both race tracks and robots to fight, just to add more. He even explains in-game why if he wins because Batman can't beat the robots, it still counts as a victory of cunning. He's doing mental loops to defend padding. At one point, he taunts that even a chimp can follow basic instructions. Sometimes that feels like Arkham Knight. More of the same isn't all bad; too much more of the same is, especially at the cost of upsetting the balance between familiar and new. Riddler's story can't be resolved (nor can you get the full ending) until you do the 300 or so Riddler trophies/riddles/whatever, but you can at least take it far enough to free Catwoman. Arkham Knight is a solid, if uneven send-off for Rocksteady's trilogy. Combat and predation are still satisfying. The narrative mixes unsurprising, but well done segments with unsurprising and uninteresting elements. It's full of nods, winks, nudges for batfans, even if certain super villain side missions feel needlessly tossed in. It makes me worried about what will happen with Batman in a new developer's less comfortable hands, and excited for what Rocksteady might do, itself free of the Batman myth. [This review is based on a retail build purchased by the reviewer.]
Batman review photo
Long Halloween
[Note: This review is based on a retail PlayStation 4 copy of Batman: Arkham Knight, not the PC version that is so broken publisher Warner Bros. temporarily delisted it from sale] If the difference between the real Batman and...

Goodnight sweet Knight photo
Wow
It looks like Warner Bros. is doing the right thing and pulling Batman: Arkham Knight from Steam. The publisher released the following statement on the game's Steam community: Dear Batman: Arkham Knight PC owners, ...

Review: Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition

Jun 23 // Chris Carter
Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition (PC, PS4, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: CapcomPublisher: CapcomMSRP: $24.99Release Date: June 23, 2015 After booting it up, you'll have the option to play the original campaign with Nero and Dante, solely as Vergil, or a joint story of Lady and Trish, mirroring the former pair's split-story. Each character has their own customizable set of controls, and the Legendary Dark Knight mode (previously exclusive to the PC version) is open from the very start. I immediately sprung for Vergil and was not disappointed. If you're a newcomer, you'll likely want to replay the base story for some background, as the new characters merely have a new intro and ending to cap things off. It's essentially the exact same levels and bosses, but thanks to the fundamentally reworked movesets, the experiences feel nothing alike. Also for newcomers, the "automatic" control option returns for easier combos, as well as an automatic level-up function where the game chooses your upgrades for you. Veterans will be pleased to find a turbo option (increasing the speed by 20%) as well as your typical lock-on tweaks. Those of you out there who never played the PC version are in for a treat, as Legendary Dark Knight is about as balls-to-the-wall as it gets. The entire screen in nearly every area is littered with enemies, and it even goes so far as to add in endgame foes in the second mission. [embed]293573:58903:0[/embed] Despite the fact that there aren't any other major new modes, this is not a lazy remake by any means, as the three aforementioned character additions spice things up considerably. Vergil is probably my personal favorite new playstyle; possibly my favorite of the entire series. His style is fast and flashy, as he can still "trick" teleport up, down (which can also be used to cancel attacks), and forward, but he has a major new mechanic to manage that makes him more unique. Vergil now has a "concentration" gauge, which increases when he is walking, taunting, or connecting with abilities, and lowers when he runs, whiffs attacks, or gets hit. Raising this gauge increases your statline and opens up some new powers that are reliant on a full meter. It completely changes the way you play, as walking like a badass is now a priority, and missing attacks is more punishing. That's not to say that the game is "impossible" if you don't feel like mastering concentration on a normal or easy difficulty level, it just makes it more fun -- though it will increase your chances of survival later on. Take one advanced tactic from Vergil: teleporting. By using a sword projectile, Vergil can "stick" an enemy for later. By using the forward trick, you can instantly teleport to that marked baddie. He's extremely mobile, much like Dante's trickster style in Devil May Cry 3 or his appearance herein. To me, Vergil is the main event. Trish and Lady crash as well, starting with a small pizza party intro with Dante. Lady's playstyle, like Vergil before her, completely changes the way one would approach Devil May Cry, mostly because of her reliance on guns. In previous games, guns could always be used with effectiveness, but weren't really ideal. With Lady though, they're front and center. She has her Kalina Ann rocket launcher (which doubles as a grappling hook to mirror Nero's platforming abilities in the story), handguns, and a shotgun. While the latter two guns mesh with Dante's gunslinger style, the Kalina Ann acts almost nothing like it did in Devil May Cry 3. Her rocket sports a few melee abilities, a rocket-jump boost, and a throw, but the focus for her is ranged combat. Additionally, since Lady is human, she uses a super grenade blast instead of a Devil Trigger. It's really hard to get a good style rating at first, but once you learn to start chaining throws and juggling with different guns and abilities, it gets real fun real fast. Classic bosses like Berial are seen in a whole new light when you're trying to turtle and keep them at bay with rockets. I didn't expect much from Trish, but she's come a long way since her appearance in the first game. Her entire style hinges on the fact that she can't switch weapons, and instead just has a shit-ton of moves at her disposal. This sounds lame on paper. It's anything but in practice, as said moves are a ton of fun. In addition to a smorgasbord of powers from the entire series, she also sports some movesets from Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, as well as Round Trip, a boomerang of sorts that will continue to attack enemies while she's doing her thing. Dante himself though is still the king. He has access to his five styles (Trickster, Swordmaster, Gunslinger, Royalguard, and Dark Slayer), which can be switched out at any time using the d-pad. If you haven't seen the absolutely insane combos and possibilities that this system creates, take a look at this. Yes, with 1080p visuals and 60fps, you can still craft and employ advanced frame-specific mechanics, and beyond. With how deep the combat system is even to this day, I expect plenty of similar discoveries for the rest of the cast. That cast, by the way, is added in a way that feels like a natural continuation of Devil May Cry 3, which is a nice touch. I love little details like the fact that everyone has their own lock-on reticle. Sadly, the bad news is that all of this extra content doesn't necessarily fix the level design. The core problem hinges with the halfway point of the campaign, in which Dante (or Vergil/Trish) backtracks through the story, fighting the same exact bosses all over again. Not every level is exactly the same per se, but it's enough to grate on most players, especially since the pacing slows down a bit near the end. To unlock Dante, you'll have to play as Nero, and to unlock Trish, you'll have to play as Lady for a while. It's not that this system is bad per se because of how strong the combat systems are, it's just odd, as it feels like Capcom rushed its development a bit. The boss fights themselves are challenging and enjoyable, but having to do them all over again (or more, once you hit a gauntlet-like area at the end) is a bummer. The same goes for trekking through locales you've already seen at length. Having said all that, the juice is worth the squeeze, even more-so than before because of the new playstyles. While Nero operated like a handicapped Dante in the original edition, Vergil, Trish, and Lady have all cemented their places into the pantheon of Devil May Cry, to the point where I would love to see at least one of them (if not all) return in a future iteration. Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition reaffirms the series' status as the current king of the action genre. It may not fix some of the blemishes inherent to the game's campaign, but the new characters and styles are fantastic, and will have players creating combo videos for years to come. With respect to DmC and everything it accomplished, this is the Devil May Cry I want to see in the future, Capcom. [This review is based on a retail build provided by the publisher.]
Devil May Cry review photo
Real Dante returns
It wasn't until I played the very first Devil May Cry game that I knew I was an action fan. I must have beaten it five times at launch, pouring through every facet over weeks, perfecting my frame-by-frame combat abilities -- ...

Rumor: Hidden data reveals new Splatoon stages, modes, and weapons

Jun 21 // Jonathan Holmes
Here's a list of the rumored weapons. I'm particularly curious about the Gatling Hyper and the Bamboozler.  1. Sploosh-o-matic - Squid Beakons & Killer Wail 2. Neo Sploosh-o-matic - Point Sensor & Kraken 3. Neo Splash-o-matic - Burst Bombs & Inkzooka 4. N-ZAP '89 - Sprinkler & Inkstrikes 5. Custom Dual Squelcher - Squid Beakon & Killer Wail 6. Luna Blaster - Ink Mines & Inkzooka 7. Luna Blaster Neo - Splat Bombs & Bomb Rush 8. Range Blaster - Splash Wall & Inkstrike 9. Custom Range Blaster - Splat Bombs & Kraken 10. Rapid Blaster Pro - Seekers & Inkzooka 11. Rapid Blaster Pro Deco - Disruptors & Killer Wail 12. L-3 Nozzlenose D - Burst Bombs & Kraken 13. H-3 Nozzlenose - Suction Bombs & Echolocator 14. H-3 Nozzlenose D - Point Sensor & Inkzooka 15. Carbon Roller - Burst Bombs & Inkzooka 16. Carbon Roller Deco - Seekers & Bomb Rush 17. Inkbrush Nouveau - Ink Mines & Bubbler 18. Octobrush - Squid Beakons & Kraken 19. Octobrush Nouveau - Splat Bombs & Inkzooka 20. Bloblobber 21. T_BigBall_Strong01 22. Triple Bloblobber 23. T_BigBall_Diffusion01 24. Bomlobber 25. T_BigBall_Launcher01 26. E-liter 3K Scope 27. Custom E-liter 3K Scope 28. Bamboozler 14 Mk I 29. Bamboozler 14 Mk II 30. T_Gatling_Standard00 31. T_Gatling_Standard01 32. T_Gatling_Hyper00 33. T_Gatling_Hyper01  
Splatoon photo
Ryu not confirmed (yet)
It's seems that Nintendo may have once again let some of their future plans slip out through the magic of hidden data. Some hard working hackers have found content in Splatoon's code that reveals two yet unreleased stages (Ca...

Weekend Deals: Grab hold of Arkham Knight at 46% off for PC

Jun 20 // Dealzon
Batman Arkham Discounts Use Coupon: DEALZO-N40OFF-BATAKV Batman: Arkham Knight Premium (Steam) — $53.99  (list price $100) Batman: Arkham Knight Standard (Steam) — $36  (list price $60) Batman: Arkham Knight Season Pass (Steam) — $24  (list price $40) Console Deals Batman: Arkham Knight + $10 Rewards (PS4) — $59.99  (list price $60) Batman: Arkham Knight Serious Edition (PS4, XOne) — $69.99  (list price $90) Use Code: GRAB25-PERCNT-OFFNOW Batman Arkham Origins (Steam) — $3.75  (list price $20) Batman Arkham City GOTY (Steam) — $3.75  (list price $20) Batman Arkham Asylum GOTY (Steam) — $3.75  (list price $20) Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward Deals Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward - Collectors Edition — $44.99  (list price $60) Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward — $29.99  (list price $40) Xbox & PS4 Consoles PlayStation 4 Console + Last of Us + Bloodborne — $399.99  (list price $400) Xbox One Halo MCC Bundle + AC: Unity + $50 Promo — $349  <- plus 1 free game Xbox One 1TB Console + Halo MCC + $50 Promo + AC: Unity — $399 <- ditto PlayStation Plus 12-Month Card — $39.99  (list price $50) Xbox Live Gold 12 Month Gold Card — $35.99  (list price $60) Recent Releases 06/12: LEGO Jurassic World (Steam) — $25.99  (list price $40) 06/10: Kholat (Steam) — $13.50  (list price $20) Upcoming Releases 07/10: F1 2015 (Steam) — $39.95  (list price $55) 07/21: F1 2015 + $10 Xbox Gift Card (Xbox One) — $59.95  (list price $60) 08/04: Rare Replay + $10 Xbox Gift Card (Xbox One) — $29.99  <- not bad MSFT 11/10: Fallout 4 + $10 Xbox Gift Card (Xbox One) — $59.99  (list price $60) 11/10: Fallout 4 (Steam) — $45  (list price $60) PC Game Deals Just Cause 3 (Steam) — $40.50  (list price $60) Battlefield: Hardline Deluxe Edition (Origin) — $34.99  (list price $70) Dragon Age: Inquisition (Origin) — $29.99  (list price $60) World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor (PC DVD) — $29.99  (list price $50) Killing Floor 2 (Steam) — $23.99  (list price $30) <- Steam Sale Day 10 Battlefield 4 Premium (Origin) — $19.99  (list price $40) Resident Evil 6 (Steam) — $7.49  (list price $30) The Wolf Among Us — $6.24  (list price $25) Duke Nukem Forever (Steam) — $3.75  (list price $20) <- meh? Age of Empires II HD (Steam) — $2.99  (list price $20) Console Game Deals Lords of the Fallen (PS4, Xbox One) — $27.99  (list price $40) Just Dance 2015 (PS4, XOne, 360, Wii U, Wii) — $19.99  (list price $50) <- still going South Park: The Stick of Truth (Xbox 360, PS3) — $14.99  (list price $30) PS4 Bloodborne (PS4) — $39.99  (list price $60) <- not bad Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (PS4) — $32.95  (list price $60) The Last of Us Remastered (PS4 Download) — $11.49  (list price $40) Xbox One Sunset Overdrive (Xbox One) — $24.99  (list price $40) Forza Motorsport 5: Racing Game of the Year (Xbox One) — $24.99  (list $40) Wii U Zelda Hyrule Warriors (Wii U) — $48.99  (list price $60) Kirby and the Rainbow Curse (Wii U) — $29.99  (list price $40) Laptop Deals 13.3" Lenovo LaVie Z, i7-5500U, 8GB, 256GB, 1440p — $1,274.15  (list $1,700) 17.3" Lenovo Y70, i7-4710HQ, GTX 860M, 16GB, 256GB — $1,099  (list $1,500) 14" Lenovo Yoga 3, i5-5200U, 8GB, 256GB SSD — $919  (list $1,200) HDTV Deals 48" Samsung UN48H8000 Curved 240Hz 3D Smart TV — $1,049.99  (list $1,798) 55" LG 55UB8200 2160p 4K Ultra HD Smart TV — $838  (list $2,200) 55" Samsung UN55J6300 120Hz Smart HDTV — $749.99  (list $1,800) 55" LG 55LF6000 1080p 120Hz HDTV — $549.99  (list $899) 50" LG 50LF6000 1080p 120Hz HDTV — $499.99  (list  $700) SSD Deals Crucial M500 Series SSD 2.5" 960GB — $279.99  (list price $520) SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD 2.5" 480GB — $199.99  (list price $400) PNY CS1111 SSD 2.5" 480GB — $139.99  (list price $200) Seagate 1TB 3.5" Hard Drive — $34.99  (list price $80) Game deals from Dealzon. Sales from certain retailers help support Destructoid.
Weekend deals photo
Gotham's Bargaining
For PC gamers, Tuesday's release of Batman: Arkham Knight is fairly cheap over the weekend -- up to 46% off list price. Use our 40% off code at GMG which drops the price of the Standard Edition from $60 to only...

Review in Progress: Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward

Jun 19 // Chris Carter
Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward (PC, PS3, PS4 [reviewed])Developer: Square EnixPublisher: Square EnixMSRP: $39.99 ($12.99 per month)Released: June 19, 2015 (Early Access), June 23, 2015 Picking up directly where the last campaign left off, the first quest of Heavensward is located in the Coerthas Central Highlands, directing you to Ishgard. Yep, you heard that right -- it continues the story of the core game, so you'll need to complete the main campaign (ending with "Before the Dawn") and reach level 50 first. Newer players will find at least double the experience from the original vanilla quests to help boost them up a bit. According to Square Enix, the new Heavensward story is roughly 50 hours, and based on my pace so far in at 10, that's fairly accurate. It's about the same length as the original game, which is quite a feat, and about the sweet spot for a campaign in my mind. There's so much other stuff to do to keep you busy at this point. The flow of the process is to get from levels 50 to 60 with mostly story quests, which has worked out for the most part with my first character -- so far, I'm level 53 and counting. I decided to take on the leveling process with my trusty Paladin, who would be able to jump into queues at a moment's notice. Most classes have a handful of new abilities, and in the Paladin's case, there are five in total. I've acquired one so far -- the power to use a pinch block ability to give him some extra durability. There are a few new combo abilities that mix up your rotation quite a bit, as well as a few tweaks (like an accuracy buff to Shield Oath). It's just enough to keep you on your toes and get you interested in leveling without making things too tricky. Ishgard is the new capital city and the expansion hosts nine new locations, all of which are much larger than the original zones in A Realm Reborn. This is mostly because they now support flying mounts, a brand new mechanic in Heavensward. You can't just fly right off the bat, though -- you'll have to attune to each zone through a combination of locating aether and completing key quests. The idea is that you'll have fully explored the area by the time you're done, opening up a more vertical approach later on. [embed]294029:59024:0[/embed] It sounds like it could be annoying, but you'll get a compass item that will help you find said aether currents with instructions that aren't too vague and aren't on-the-nose either. It's a fun mechanic that reminds me a lot of the same design philosophies found in Guild Wars 2. Some of the currents are even built around jumping puzzles. Flying isn't as glorious as in, say, Aion, but it's very fun to soar about when tracking down hunt targets. I can see Square Enix doing a lot of cool things with future updates like hidden areas and quests; there's some of that already now. Speaking of flying, your personal Chocobo will allow you to do just that at a certain point in the story, so everyone can easily get on track and enjoy the ride. Having said that, the PlayStation 4 version is starting to show its age already. Although this is launch so there's lots more people concentrated in specific areas, the frame rate crawls a bit more than it used to in vanilla Realm Reborn, especially since most of these zones are so much bigger. It's not game-breaking, but it is odd. The PS4 was previously a powerhouse and nearly on par with the PC. I haven't tested it for that long, but the newly minted DirectX 11 engine on PC (that also released today) is drastically better than ever before, alleviating nearly all of my concerns. I'll provide more information on this in the future. The quality of the story is improved overall, drawing from what the development team learned from all of the superior updates. It deals with a thousand-year conflict between Ishgard and Dravania. I'm interested in seeing where this goes, and I'll provide a spoiler-free update when I complete it. The actual quests haven't been any better or worse than A Realm Reborn, and so far, the theme of the expansion seems to be "more of a good thing, without re-inventing the wheel." There are two starting zones to alleviate the congestion, which have worked, on top of the fact that roughly half of the post-level-50 community is going back to the old content with the new jobs anyway. As for other content, there are a handful of new dungeons, one of which I've tried out already called Dusk Vigil. It's about on par with the recent additions in the newer updates. That is to say they're very flashy, filled with their own lore bits, and while they cut down on exploration quite a bit, they're all designed to be completed casually with the occasional peppering of a challenge. The pacing is spot on, and they don't drag like a few of the vanilla dungeons. The same goes for the first hard mode trial (read: group instanced boss) I've encountered, which features a really badass bug that I don't want to spoil here. Suffice to say, it's a little more interesting than the initial Primals you meet in A Realm Reborn. Several other classes have gotten a few major shakeups, like the Bard, who now has a DPS-based Limit Break, and the Black Mage, which must stay within Ley Lines, a magical circle, to gain extra damage by way of haste. Every class now has a unique level-three Limit Break animation, which is great. All of these changes help make your job feel more unique and make Final Fantasy XIV a more well-rounded MMO as a whole. Switching to my other jobs for a few moments felt different, especially the Bard. You can really notice even just a few extra skills in dungeon runs. As for the three new jobs, I had a chance to try out Dark Knight, but there's also the Astrologian and Machinist. Unlocking them is as easy as reaching Ishgard and talking to a specific quest starter in town, then doing a 10-minute quest for each -- that's it! They all start at level 30, and come equipped with a few pieces of gear and roughly 10 skills each at first. It's perfect, as there's just enough there to give you plenty to do right away, but not so much that you're overwhelmed. While I need more time to test them, I think they all bring something unique to the table, and I love the Dark Knight's risk-reward mechanic. It's the freshest take on tanking yet. Other extras that I still need to dig into include the all new Au Ra race, the DirectX11 visual upgrade on PC, new hunt targets, a more comprehensive loot system for raids, the power to queue for dungeons with less than five players, Free Company (guild) upgrades like Workshops and Airships, crafting upgrades, Bismarck and Ravana as new Primals, more Triple Triad cards, a future new Frontlines PVP map, an all-new Relic questline set to debut in 3.1, and a new Alexander raid, which will unlock at a later date. Stay tuned as I continue to play through Heavensward, work my way up to level 60, and try out the new classes. Only then will I provide my full review for the expansion.+ [This review is based on a retail build provided by the publisher.]
Final Fantasy XIV review photo
Par for the heavens
The story of how Square Enix turned Final Fantasy XIV around is still incredible to me. I always tell people about playing it at E3 in 2010 for the very first time, pre-Realm Reborn, and how it was one of the least fun MMOs I...

Review: Dr. Mario: Miracle Cure

Jun 18 // Chris Carter
Dr. Mario: Miracle Cure (3DS)Developer: NintendoPublisher: NintendoMRSP: $8.99Release Date: June 11, 2015 Yep, this is pretty much the same Dr. Mario you know and love. Miracle Cure sports 10 training levels and 50 core stages for its "campaign," and mixes the classic gameplay of Mario with the newly-minted sub-franchise of Dr. Luigi, allowing both playstyles as a separate option. If you've never played a game in the series before, you're directing little pills on a screen, similar to Tetris, to eliminate viruses and clear the board. Each virus and pill has a respective color (blue, red, or yellow), and matching up four of a kind will clear that link. Dr. Mario features a standard pill shape with up to two colors, and Dr. Luigi makes things a bit more difficult with an "L" shape pill. That's the gist. Here in the newest 3D game there's a new mechanic though called the "Miracle Cure," which basically translates to "powerups." Leave it to Nintendo to barely iterate on a formula and still make a fun game, right? Said powerups include bombs, which blow up anything in their blast radius, and line-based explosions, which are more tactical in nature. For the most part, everything is the same as before, but the Miracle Cures do add a bit more nuance should you opt to turn them on. For instance, the pacing for individual levels is a bit faster since you can score a ton of bombs to blast out some mishaps you may have stacked up in a particular round. It's not mind-blowing, but it doesn't detract from the experience. In addition to the aforementioned preset puzzles, you can also play a custom mode that allows endless play, as well as the option to play directly with a CPU, head-to-head, racing to clear your board first. This versus mode also extends to both online play and local play, the latter of which thankfully supports a download play option, so only one person needs a copy. Honestly, the online experience was one of the smoothest of any recent Nintendo game, as I didn't have any lag of any kind playing a number of different people in Japan. It's all matchmaking based, mind. [embed]294288:59147:0[/embed] It also has this cool display method that shows your game on top and your opponent's on the bottom, both of which have been lag-free based on my testing. For all of these modes you can also opt for Dr. Mario- or Dr. Luigi-based modes, as well as the option to turn off Miracle Cures if you wish. My suggestion? Play with Miracle Cures online. It can be a radically different experience, looking up, then quickly looking down and realizing that your opponent has blasted away half their viruses with powerups. When all is said and done though, there really isn't a whole lot to Miracle Cure if you aren't going to play multiplayer with a friend who shares your passion. I really wish Nintendo showed a bit more effort when it comes to solo play, as the standard "missions" aren't cutting it. I would kill to see a new storyline (like Dr. Mario 64) incorporated into the franchise, one that unites both Mario and Luigi against a common foe. For now, there's only so much pill-dropping that I can take. If you're a Dr. Mario junkie, you can probably pull the trigger on Dr. Mario: Miracle Cure just to see what the fuss is about in regards to the power-ups. For everyone else, just stick with Dr. Luigi until Nintendo decides to overhaul the formula a bit more. [This review is based on a retail build provided by the publisher.]
Dr. Mario review photo
The next game should be Nurse Toad
There's something to be said about preserving old games. As we move into the digital era and publishers start putting less and less emphasis on physical media, many classic games and pieces of hardware will cease to exist. Fo...

Star Ocean photo
SO5 producer on how new game came to be
During an interview with Destructoid today, Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness producer Shuichi Kobayashi intimated the series was in a state of upheaval after the launch of Star Ocean 4. Kobayashi told me "nobody would ...

Talking Kingdom Hearts III (and a bit of Final Fantasy VII!) with Tetsuya Nomura

Jun 16 // Zack Furniss
[embed]294205:59114:0[/embed] Mr. Nomura, I see that Sora is dressed in new duds. With your history of costume design, are we going to see changing outfits to go with form changes like in Kingdom Hearts II? Yes. Form changes are being considered to bring back. I have enjoyed making different designs for different abilities in the past. What is the process like when deciding which Disney levels are going to be in the game? Does Disney often intervene to make sure you're utilizing certain properties? Disney sometimes does make suggestions, but the development staff has more sway over worlds and gameplay mechanics. When KH began, Disney was a large pool to pool from, but now with the additions of the Star Wars and Marvel properties, it is goddamn huge. Has this made it difficult to parse between which franchises you would like to insert into the ever-expanding universe? The fact that we have to pick, and the difficulty associated with that, is something we have faced with each installment since the beginning. We pick more IPs than necessary and consult the schedule and feasibility of actually getting our designs to work. It’s been a repeating process. How much would I have to pay you to draw a small portrait of me in your signature aesthetic? I do some work outside of my current projects. The tasks come and I do them without knowledge of how much money I will make. If I ever decide to leave Square Enix, I will determine a price! (I pull out my wallet and start taking out whole dollars. Tetsuya lets out an adorable giggle and shows a big, goofy [ha!] smile.) With Final Fantasy VII being remade, are you more excited to finally remake this, or nervous because of the years of players' built-up expectations? When I create anything, I feel no pressure for some reason. When the trailer was announced yesterday, I was texting Kazushige Nojima and Yoshinori Kitase, but I sensed that one of them was nervous and it was interesting to me. Seeing the reactions made everything worth it. Nojima said he is very determined to make this after seeing the reaction. I asked “you weren’t sure before that?” Haha. The news of the remake is impacting so many people. I couldn’t sleep last night because my phone was blowing up! So many people are congratulating me that I feel like “Oh wow, maybe I did do something profound here!
Tetsuya Nomura photo
What an adorable little man
HOLY FUCK I UNEXPECTEDLY INTERVIEWED NOMURA. I sat in a private room at the Square Enix booth with Kingdom Hearts III and Final Fantasy VII's creative director Tetsuya Nomura. Co-creator Tai Yasue was also there, though he let Nomura answer the majority of the questions that two other journalists and I asked him.

Just Cause 3 somehow makes explosions easier than ever before

Jun 16 // Brett Makedonski
Immediately after beginning, fellow editor Jordan Devore tethered three grapples to the crotch on a statue of an oppressive ruler, pulled it until the entire thing crumbled to pieces (dick tater, am I right?), hooked the statue's head to a helicopter, and flew it off a cliff to a fiery death. Yep, Just Cause 3 is pretty fucking wonderful. The third installment in Avalanche's over-the-top action thriller franchise has a plot, but you wouldn't know it from what we played. Now that he has a few kills under his belt, Rico's returned to the Mediterranean-inspired area that he left as a child to overthrow an evil dictator. Our sandbox was more concerned with defying physics with the parachute and grappling hook, and using the wingsuit to glide far over the land and sea alike. Ironically, the wingsuit moments provided a nice touch of tranquility as we floated over the gorgeous landscape. From that high up, everything looked so serene and peaceful -- it was almost impossible to believe it's the work of an oppressive regime. That was immediately cut short when the next thought was "this needs more explosions." Because Just Cause 3 prioritizes the ridiculous over the believable, Rico is a one-man demolition crew and his supply never wanes. Avalanche has equipped him with a never-ending supply of C4, meaning that explosions are never more than a second or two away. What's the best way to dismantle this factory or to put this bridge out of commission? Our good friend C4 does the trick nicely. A lot of the design decisions were seemingly made as a result of Avalanche shrugging its shoulders. Regarding infinite C4, a studio representative told us "Why not?" Likewise, a new helicopter stunt trick where you hang upside down from the bottom was implemented because "That's just cool." After playing Just Cause 3 for a half hour, it appears that the developer put anything in the game that would make for a good time. It's certainly not a bad direction to take. Another point of emphasis for Avalanche pertains to traversal. The developer wanted to create a world that's easy and fun to move around. That's why the wingsuit, grappling hook, and parachute seemingly offer an infinite amount of momentum -- because slowing to a crawl just isn't as thrilling. It's also the reason why cars can be saved in garages and then recalled anytime you're near one. Hey, if you're going to take the discreet way around Just Cause 3, you may as well do it in style. Regardless of method, getting around Just Cause 3 may take a bit longer than you'd think. Avalanche developers tell us that the world is at least as big as Just Cause 2, but the layout's inherently different. The third installment will feature lots of islands, archipelagos, and little towns (Just Cause 2 kind of did too, but we're just going with what we're told). Also, Avalanche says that all the towns feel varied from one another and have their own sense of culture, so to speak. We wouldn't know a ton about that, because we were restricted to the first area of the game. Zooming out on the map, we could see the other two regions. They were significantly larger, and, as we were assured, significantly more difficult. When that's all available, players will get to experience what might be the developer's biggest goal: To create a perfect flow through the world. When all is said and done, Avalanche wants you to be able to flawlessly travel anywhere you want, however you want, and have a blast doing it. While it was nice seeing first-hand that Just Cause 3 nails all the things you'd expect Just Cause to nail, it was almost disappointing that the demo was completely unstructured. Okay, the sandbox element works great, but what does it have to offer players who want a reason to press forward? We weren't given a glimpse at that. Hopefully it's as competent as the free reign component is. Really, the takeaway from our time with Just Cause 3 is blowing up a lot of stuff makes for an enthralling time. It's not a revelation necessarily, so much as it is a good reminder. As we concluded the demo by demolishing a water tower that towered over a military base, a rep for the developer told us with a half-grin on his face "we're not really into subtlety." That's great, Avalanche, because neither are we.
Just Cause preview photo
That's saying something
So many preview events obsess themselves with presenting a carefully crafted slice of game. Here's a chunk of gameplay that puts the title's best foot forward. Don't deviate too far off the path, stick to the rules, and a P...

Transformers photo
Later this year on everything but Wii U
After Best Buy and a leak spilled the beans, we now have official confirmation from Activision -- Platinum Games will develop Transformers: Devastation, an upcoming action project based on the Transformers universe. It ...

It's actually happening! photo
It's actually happening!
Wow. When a release exists so far in the realm of improbability that it becomes a joke -- like The Last Guardian or Agent or Half-Life 3 -- and then, bam, E3 gets a damn car battery to the gonads as one of these things actua...

These are EA Sports' big focuses for Madden, FIFA, and NHL in 2015

Jun 15 // Brett Makedonski
Without a doubt, Madden is the EA Sports franchise that's been given the most attention over the years. It'd have been easy for the publisher to ask for some more subtle changes like even slicker presentation. To EA's credit, it's working out a new take on a gameplay staple -- a risky venture in an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" culture of gaming. EA Sports has coined the term "Air Supremacy" for its Madden focus, and it begins at the position everyone starts with: Quarterback. There's greater control over the passing game now when helming a football team. Touch passes have been implemented to offer some variation in between lobs and bullets. The developers have altered how passers move on the run by using different animations for rolling out (yet looking for a receiver), and a full-on scramble. Maybe the biggest change to the quarterback position comes in the form of body positional passes. As an example, the presenter brought up the Seahawks' last offensive play in the Super Bowl this year. Russell Wilson threw a mid-body pass, and it was picked off. If he had thrown a low one (as he should have), the worst case scenario would've likely been an incompletion. With this installment of Madden, the player will have that sort of pinpoint control over every pass. However, passing is a two-way street, and no quarterback will put up Hall of Fame numbers without an apt receiving corps. Madden 16 also focuses on wideouts, as they can implement different styles to make catches. Maybe an ill-thrown pass calls for them to go up and challenge a defender for a ball. They likely won't gain many yards after the reception, but they might actually catch it (and more importantly, the chances of an interception go way down.) Or, maybe the situation is optimal for them to rack up some yards after catch. Do that, and pick up a first down. Those are just a few of the circumstances where Madden 16 lets you choose how to catch the ball after it lets you choose how to throw it. Lastly, ever eager to capitalize on the growing fantasy football trend, Madden 16 has a new fantasy mode. Draft Champions is a 15-round fantasy draft that allows you to build a team from all NFL players and play a full season. The publisher described this as the type of mode you might play if you had a couple hours to kill before you went to bed. The seasons are designed to go quickly, allowing you to draft an entirely new team relatively quickly after finishing one campaign. While Madden's focuses are easy to identify, FIFA 16's are a little more nebulous (apart from the women's national teams that were added.) They're centered around the player as the playmaker, but mostly in how all the surrounding pieces move. In a nutshell, EA Sports is upping the competency of FIFA's AI. It's improving positional defensive sense and how they defend as a unit. The goal (GOLAZO!!!) here is players have to be more strategic with their attack. Passing better be done with a purpose, or the opposition will just take the ball from you at midfield. But, working down the pitch and clinically finishing should feel like an actual accomplishment, one that sends you running and shouting toward a section of fevered supporters. This is the most difficult enhancement in the three games to recognize at a preview event. These are changes that define the very core of the sport. For instance, with Madden it's easy to play and realize "oh yeah, the quarterback is doing those things they said he would." It's not as simple with FIFA this year. If it's as improved as EA says, hardcore fans might recognize it, but more casual players might just think "Yeah, this is a good soccer game." As subtle as FIFA's intentions are, NHL's are far more brazen. It's eschewing the likes of physics and presentation for something else this year. Basically, EA's looking to add in a lot of the stuff that was inexplicably absent in NHL 15. Those who are dedicated to the series should be content, as long as they weren't too put off by last year's game. The most notable (re)addition to NHL 16 is EA Sports Hockey League -- an online competitive team mode that was quite popular. It was cut from NHL 15 due to "quality control," but it's back this year. Actually, EA's inclusion of several modes and features is a testament to the fact that it's listening to the fans (or to how awry the last game went). Also present are offline, single player Hockey Ultimate Team; simulating to the next shift in Be a Pro, along with playing a career beginning in the minors; and the ability to manage individual players in Be a GM. As it's moving beyond the growing pains of developing for new consoles, EA Sports is making strides with its hockey franchise. It sounds like NHL 16 will end up being the game NHL 15 should've been. It's just a shame it took an extra year. So, that's where EA Sports' intentions lie for Madden 16, FIFA 16, and NHL 16. They're all different in the varying degrees of change that needed to be made. Some, like NHL are more apparent, while Madden just moves a bit closer to that sim experience. But, they all look to be on track to be an improvement thanks to their one big focus.
EA Sports preview photo
EA Sports round-up!
Another year, another collection of EA Sports titles. EA's in a fortuitous position in that it has the video game rights to three of the five most popular athletics wrapped up. Demand for these games seemingly never wanes bec...

Review: Fallout Shelter

Jun 15 // Chris Carter
Fallout Shelter (Android, iOS [reviewed])Developer: Bethesda Game StudiosPublisher: Bethesda SoftworksMSRP: Free-to-playRelease Date: June 14, 2015 (iOS) / TBA (Android) The gist is that you'll basically need to build your first vault from scratch, with a power source, a water treatment plant, and a cafeteria to serve food as a baseline. As you play the game, more citizens will line up outside of your vault, ready to suit up and get placed into a new room. As time passes, said NPCs will work and earn you resources, which can be gained by tapping on the location -- simple stuff that I'm sure you've seen before. Other than a few nuances like the ability to place male and female NPCs in a living space and potentially create children or ship off inhabitants to scour the wasteland off-screen, that's it. It's a lot like SimTower, or its mobile successor, Tiny Tower. Tapping is the name of the game. Unlike many games though, Fallout Shelter actually forces you to keep up with your resources. If you don't power your vault enough, rooms will shut down. If you don't keep your NPCs fed, they will lose health and productivity. A low water resource will cause your citizens to become irradiated, and so on. Your personal hamster-wheel involves completing objectives and upgrading rooms to earn caps, which in turn allow you to build more rooms to take in more inhabitants, which unlocks more advanced buildings. It's all pretty straightforward, but sometimes objectives are a bit broken, as you'll need to re-do things you may have already completed (specifically in the case of equipping an NPC with a certain item in my game). The entire process is enhanced by the fact that visually, Fallout Shelter is far more impressive than most resource-management games on the market. I love how when you double-tap on a particular room it does this 3D-like zoom, which looks great when juxtaposed to the cartoony art style of the vault inhabitants.  It's very easy to click on everything, and although the scrolling sensitivity could use some tweaking, the game as a whole is responsive. During its E3 conference last night, Bethesda noted that it didn't have any underhanded sales tactics with Fallout Shelter, as it was playable offline "without energy meters." Now, that's technically true (it works in airplane mode), but you will have to wait to earn more caps from rooms to actually do anything substantial with your vault other than look at it. What's actually cool about Shelter is that you can "hurry up" activities by taking a chance rather than spending premium currency (like every other game on the market) -- the catch is that room might explode or cause an "incident," which may kill off citizens or spread to other rooms. These can involve things like fires, or even radroach infestations. In the latter case, I had just equipped my mess hall officer with a handgun, which she used to fight off said roaches. It's a nice risk-reward feature that you don't see often. For a game like this the pacing is decent, as most early-game resources take one to three minutes to earn. It's slow though for sure in terms of earning caps and building new rooms in the long-term, as Fallout Shelter is an experience that's meant to be played over time -- so much so that many of you may give up on it after all the waiting involved. There are optional microtransactions however in the form of "lunchboxes," which range from $0.99 per box to $19.99 for 40 of them. You'll earn "Shelter Cards" for your trouble, one of which is guaranteed to grant you a rare item "or better." For the purposes of science (and this review) I purchased one, which granted me a stimpack, a 10mm pistol, 100 caps, and a sturdy piece of battle armor. All of these items aren't particularly game-breaking, and you can earn a few lunchboxes yourself by completing objectives. Faster world progress hinges on earning lots of 500 cap boxes on a whim, so I see the obvious slot machine draw here that Bethesda is going for. Fallout Shelter is a pretty inoffensive mobile resource management game. While it could have exploited fans at every turn like EA tried to do with Dungeon Keeper, it's actually a nice little way to spend an afternoon while you wait for Fallout 4 to come out in November. Just don't expect anything particularly exciting, as it is slightly skewed towards enticing you to spend money on it -- lest you wait to enjoy it in short spurts. [This review is based on a retail build of the free-to-play game. $0.99 of in-app-purchases were made by the reviewer.]
Fallout Shelter review photo
Free-to-tunnel-snake
Last night at Bethesda's press conference, we got our first surprise of E3 2015: a brand new mobile game set in the Fallout universe called Fallout Shelter. It looked innocent enough, hearkening back to classics like XCOM as ...

Dark Souls III confirmed for early 2016

Jun 15 // Jordan Devore
(Cool box art, Namco.)
Dark Souls III photo
Rise from your grave!
The leaks killed the surprise, but I'm still into it -- Dark Souls III is coming early next year to PC, PS, and Xbox One. "Hidetaka Miyazaki and his team" are on the project, according to Bandai Namco. A pre-rendered video p...

Rock Band 4 is doing a new fun thing you wouldn't expect

Jun 15 // Brett Makedonski
Between those dueling stages was an innocuous, decidedly less interesting room. But, what it lacked in flair, it made up for in substance. Some posted up nearby talking Filipino politics, but those who ventured inside found the biggest change to Rock Band in years. Guitar solos aren't what they used to be. Trepidation was abound. Shredding in Rock Band is such a staple. Now it's different. Accuracy has been replaced with creativity. I couldn't help but think that's a musician's move right there. I also couldn't help but be a little dejected that there's less skill involved with the instrument that I spent the most time trying to perfect. Down the hall, Pearl Jam's "Alive" started playing, and Eric Pope couldn't hide his disdain. I thought about firing it up to figure out how these new solos worked. I refrained and chose "Cult of Personality." In everyone else's hands, this is a plastic guitar; in my hands, it's a pipebomb. Things didn't pan out quite as I wanted. Rather than rhythmically dissecting the song until the solo hit, I was met with five minutes of solo. That's a dev mode thing -- perks of the preview event. I guess that's adequate time to figure out the ins and outs of the new format. I was mostly right, but not entirely. [embed]293727:59016:0[/embed] A small group had formed after a few minutes. Someone made a comment about the five buttons on a Rock Band guitar. The timing couldn't have been more perfect. A Harmonix representative sprung into action to correct the misstatement and pitch the Freestyle Solos -- a system that reminded everyone there are ten buttons on these axes. Intricate notes have been left by the wayside for colorful patterns. Blue means to play in first position (normal notes); orange indicates you need to slide up the neck and play on those five forgotten-about buttons. An algorithm decides exactly what gets played, whether it be sustains, eighth notes, sixteenth notes, or just wildly tapping without any strumming. One of the patterns mandates you just play anything. Make noise, anything works. While it sounds somewhat insane, it mostly works. The solos come together in a way that's satisfying -- as if you were actually playing the solo. However, substituting that for nailing a classic solo isn't a trade-off that I necessarily appreciated. It just feels like maybe it's a bit too easy now. That's not the only concern. Harmonix has made a point of framing Rock Band 4 as a party game that anyone can pick up and play. But, I saw many of my peers struggling to integrate the solos into the gameplay they already knew. When I asked the devs how long they expected it'd take for casual players to grasp Freestyle Solos, they thought it'd go pretty quick. I estimate it'll take slightly longer than very casual players want to commit. In that event, the mode can be turned off, which seems like a less than optimal solution. For those who have the patience to learn it but aren't dedicated enough to excel at the old solos, Freestyle may be a fine compromise. Wailing on those solos makes you feel really good even when you're performing a relatively simple task. It makes for a nice little illusion for anyone who doesn't want to look past it. 
Rock Band preview photo
'Play Freestyle!'
Everywhere I looked, my peers seemed to be having fun. Mere minutes before, everyone couldn't stop talking about how cold that Santa Monica rooftop was. It was the opposite of fun. Now, that had melted away, a distant memory ...

Xbox One photo
Natively playable on Xbox One
Phil Spencer just dropped a bombshell at Microsoft's E3 presser. Xbox One will be backwards compatible with Xbox 360 games. By this holiday, 100 titles you've already purchased will be playable on Xbox One. Microsoft used Mas...

The Walking Dead photo
A mini-series
During today's E3 YouTube stream, Telltale Games announced The Walking Dead: Michonne. It's a three-episode mini-series starring the titular character from the comic/TV show, and will explain what she was up to after being mi...

Nindies@Home photo
Starting today you can download these
Nintendo has just announced a new intiiative to cater to indie games called Nindies@Home. The basic idea is dead simple -- starting right now until the oddly specific 8:59 AM PST on June 22, you can download demos for select ...


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