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Assassin's Creed photo
Assassin's Creed

We found hidden clues about the next Assassin's Creed


We'll find out for sure on May 12
May 07
// Brett Makedonski
Six months ago, a rumor surfaced that the next Assassin's Creed would be set in Victorian London. Although the report looked extremely credible, we hadn't ever received anything in the way of confirmation from Ubisoft th...
Watch Dogs 2 photo
Watch Dogs 2

Watch Dogs 2 is real according to a Ubisoft employee


Better keep that CV on a tighter leash
Apr 30
// Laura Kate Dale
Watch Dogs 2 is deep into development. Well, either that or someone was lying to potential employers about being the game's senior gameplay programmer. Julien Risse, who works for Ubisoft in Paris, had Watch Dogs 2 listed on ...
Nepal earthquake photo
Nepal earthquake

The Far Cry team is matching Nepal earthquake relief donations


Up to the first $100k
Apr 29
// Brett Makedonski
Late last week, immeasurable disaster struck in Nepal in the form of a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. As a result, the death toll is in the thousands, and thousands more are injured and/or stranded. That's not to mention the devas...
Rainbow Six Siege trailer photo
Rainbow Six Siege trailer

Watch a Rainbow Six Siege trailer or read a recipe for slow-cooked chicken here


Or if you can multitask, do both
Apr 23
// Darren Nakamura
This chicken is suitable for Mexican-style dishes like enchiladas, chilaquiles, or quesadillas. 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts1 can chicken broth1 onion, quartered1 jar green sauce1 pound pepper jack cheese, shredded1 ...

Review: Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China

Apr 21 // Chris Carter
Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China (PC, PS4, Xbox One [reviewed]) Developer: UbisoftPublisher: UbisoftReleased: April 21, 2015MSRP: $9.99 (China is part of the Assassin's Creed Unity Season Pass) Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China isn't a new concept, as Assassin's Creed II: Discovery basically built upon the older Prince of Persia games, which Ubisoft even took a crack at last generation with a remaster. Nonetheless it's a welcome one on paper if we get to see other parts of the world beyond western civilizations, even if it does feel rushed in many aspects. The story this time around follows Shao Jun, one of the lone assassins left in her order after Zhang Yong of the Tigers (Templars) wiped them out. It takes place after the events of Assassin's Creed: Embers, which ties her into the core storyline by way of a chance encounter with Ezio Auditore. Fans will enjoy the connection for sure, but most of you out there can completely ignore it as yet another wacky "Assassins versus Templars" adventure and just enjoy this as a 2D platformer. You might want to ignore the story anyway, because it's not very good. Framed as a standard revenge tale, Shao Jun will hobble across various landscapes killing whoever gets in her way to the top. The dialog is particularly terrible and not in a funny B-movie way, and no one that turns up is memorable. I know a lot of people didn't dig the meta-narrative fluff in the core series, but at least it was something worth talking about. In many ways it feels like a missed opportunity to flesh out the brotherhood in China, but hot damn if the setting itself isn't beautiful. [embed]290711:58237:0[/embed] In fact, the first thing I noticed about the game was the killer art style. The lazy slideshow cutscenes aren't that big of a deal when everything looks like a living painting, especially Shao's flowing red cape. In-game the art is still wonderful, but the environments themselves often lack detail, with washed-out backgrounds making a frequent appearance. That feeling of disappointment will pass quickly though once you reach another vibrant setpiece. Fans of the core series will find it easy to acclimate, as the controls are very similar. There's a button to hold down to run and initiate reckless mode, a button to go all stealthy, and your standard light and heavy attacks. While the narrative isn't all that slick, Shao Jun controls like a master assassin, and I had very few issues getting her to go anywhere I needed her to be. Grabbing ledges, crawling about, and avoiding guards was a breeze. All of this action will be navigated around awareness cones for enemies, which are visible front and center on-screen. Enemies are fairly observant of their surroundings, with clear "sound" circles and other nuances influencing their movements, but sadly they don't follow you to the ends of the earth like past games -- if you're in a tricky spot, they'll just sit there for about 10 seconds before returning to their patrol route. It reminds me of the camp of the original Tenchu, with mixed results. Non-lethal force is preferred, but Shao has access to a whistle ability for distractions, in addition to firecrackers, daggers, and a noisemaker tool. Every power feels roughly the same which makes for some dull variations early on, but every level will unlock newer, cooler abilities that mix things up much more than her basic skillset. I'm talking grappling hooks, more options for hiding places (like that "quick switch" leap Sam Fischer is so good at), and sliding assassinations. Melee combat is run-of-the-mill but it looks sexy, especially when coupled with Shao's unique animations. Backwards blocks and bullet dodges are fluid and responsive, which is key as you'll be doing both of those things a lot. You won't fight many interesting enemies, but even the meat grinder of foes the game throws at you is fun with this system. Once you're done with the five-to-six-hour adventure there's two New Game+ options to replay with slightly different mechanics, which do just enough to justify another playthrough or two. Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China has the makings of a good 2D Prince of Persia re-awakening, but it lacks a lot of character both aesthetically and mechanically. Still, there's very little actually wrong with it if you're looking for another platformer to add to your pile. Hopefully future iterations of the Chronicles subseries can build upon the foundation that China has provided. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Assassin's Creed review photo
Shao Jun gettin' it done
Just last week I asked readers if they were into the idea of 2D Assassin's Creed games. Roughly 41% were on board, 33% preferred the 3D iterations, and 26% have checked out of the series entirely. Ubisoft doesn't really care what you think, though. As long as they sell, those assassins will keep on stabbin'.

AC Chronicles photo
AC Chronicles

Assassin's Creed has a new perspective, but a familiar thirst for blood


We go to China first
Apr 20
// Brett Makedonski
A cursory glance at the launch trailer for Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China, and you might think that the franchise is moving in an entirely different direction. A stylized aesthetic, wonderful ploofs of color, and a focus...
Assassin's Creed photo
Assassin's Creed

Are you interested in Assassin's Creed Chronicles?


Or do you wish these settings had proper 3D games?
Apr 15
// Chris Carter
Assassin's Creed Chronicles will take the series to China, India, and Russia over the coming months. All three (in addition to Japan and Egypt) were among the highest requested settings for the series, leading to a certain de...
Far Cry 4 photo
Far Cry 4

When Far Cry 4 goes right, it goes so, so right


Style bonus
Apr 10
// Brett Makedonski
"Hmm, shotgun's not gonna work for this boat. Damn. Guess I'll have to go down there. Oooh, cargo truck! Let's take care of this real quick... ... Totally meant to do that."

Rainbow Six Siege is coming along nicely, if the closed alpha is any indication

Apr 08 // Chris Carter
This week, the Rainbow Six Siege closed alpha kicked off, featuring one mode (Hostage Rescue), two maps (a house and an airport), and 10 Operators (classes). Although playing a single gametype can lead to a certain degree of tedium after a while, I really enjoyed seeing the core components at work, and I think it'll be worth checking out come release time later this year. Hostage Rescue hosts a very simple premise: two sides, each playing the role of either offense or defense. Before the match actually begins, a prequel phase of sorts occurs, with the offense commanding rolling drones to locate the target, and the defense setting up barricades to hinder the capture of the hostage. It's a really fun mechanic, as drones can leap through the air and the defenders can blow them up after locating them. There's quite a bit of stuff to do during this phase on either side. Teams can hole up with the hostage, or go out in the open, put down barbed wire on chokepoints like stairs, or tactically leave drones in a spot that will have a lot of foot traffic -- allowing an attacker to switch views mid-match to get a better look. Those on the offensive will have plenty of fun rappelling off walls with the tap of a button (with the ability to go inverted at will), and defenders can set up their own labyrinthine corridors and traps to thwart the other team. While asynchronous multiplayer has the tendency to favor one side in terms of fun factor, I really liked playing both. Classes are very unique, leading to some interesting counters. For instance one defender has the ability to see through walls at short distances, and one attacker can set charges to blow through barricades. At one point a player blew away an attacker while he was setting an explosive through the barricade while another player blasted through the ceiling and took him out. There are some "iron bars" in place so you can't literally bring the whole house down, but it's open-ended enough. When choosing a loadout, players can very clearly see the icons of your team across the top, so even without direct voice communication you can get a well-rounded composition of classes. Teams choose their spawnpoints (and thus, where the hostage is located on the defense) for each round, and deaths are permanent until the next one starts. Because of the nature of shifting spawns, teams can both enter and defend the house in a multitude of ways every time. In terms of its pedigree as a first-person shooter, Siege runs very smoothly on PC, and thank goodness, it's not going to be held back by the previous generation -- it's set to only appear on Xbox One and PS4. The controls are very easy to pickup, but the two shoulder buttons assigned to each classes' unique abilities is where the learning curve starts. Bullets have weight to them, and blowing away walls is satisfying every time. It's too early to tell how Rainbow Six Siege will really turn out, but I'm impressed so far. It seems to have a great class system on its shoulders, and there's a good mix of action and tactical gameplay abound. I can see this becoming a really fun eSport to watch if there are interesting teams involved.
Rainbow Six Siege photo
Classes done right
Rainbow Six has had quite an interesting history. After playing it in 1998 on a friend's PC I fell in love, and so did mostly everyone else in the gaming community. For a full decade, Ubisoft pumped out game after game, most ...

Rainbow Six Siege LIVE! photo
Rainbow Six Siege LIVE!

Watch me be sexy while playing the Rainbow Six Siege alpha!


I'm going to capture so many woman flags
Apr 07
// Jed Whitaker
[Update: Live stream is over but check out the replay embedded below.] The closed alpha for Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six starts at 10am Eastern / 7am Pacific, and I'll be streaming it live here on our Twitch channel at ...
Funny glitch photo
Funny glitch

His hair is made of the sky


Happy accident
Apr 03
// Jordan Devore
If glitches had sequels, this would be the long-awaited follow-up to Mafia II's "his hair is made of little faces" bug. The accompanying line of dialogue -- "I don't give a fuck" -- makes it even better. How did this happen? ...
Assassin's Creed photo
Assassin's Creed

Travel to India and Russia in future episodes of Assassin's Creed Chronicles this fall


Fan-favorite Assasins finally have their time to shine
Mar 31
// Alessandro Fillari
Recently, I got to go hands-on with Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China. For this downloadable title, Ubisoft redesigned the AC experience to fit within a 2.5D perspective. With China releasing next month, players will finally...

Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China gives the series a fresh perspective

Mar 31 // Alessandro Fillari
Assassin's Creed Chronicles (PC, PS4, Xbox One [previewed])Developer: Climax StudiosPublisher: Ubisoft Release date: April 21, 2015 (Episode One) / Fall 2015 (Episodes Two and Three) "It's a very exciting and very challenging project to work on," said lead game designer Xavier Penin. "[Ubisoft] had a pretty [sizable] pitch for the project and wanted them to be short, episodic, and each of the stories would have their own specific artstyles that fit the character and time period. We knew we had to focus our efforts on making something that didn't just feel like a smaller Assassin's Creed." For the first episode, Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China, players take on the role of female assassin Shao Jun, who fans might recognize from the animated film Assassin's Creed Embers. Picking up some time after the events of Embers in 1526, Shao Jun returns to China after her training with Ezio Auditore and seeks revenge against Emporer Jiajing of the Ming Dynasty after the massacre of the Chinese Assassin Brotherhood. During her exploits, she'll acquire new abilities and contacts that will help in her quest, and revitalize the Assassin presence in 16th-century China. China has been a top requested location from fans, along with a playable Shao Jun, and seeing it come to pass is exciting. In the three levels I played, set in The Forbidden City and Fujian Province, we got to experience a starkly different setting and visual palette not seen from the series. Moreover, the brief taste of the India and Russia episodes we saw also feature their own art styles and aesthetic. Granted, the nature of this downloadable title allows them to try different settings, but I was blown away by the potential AC has in such lush environments. This enthusiasm was also shared by the folks behind the title. [embed]289710:57987:0[/embed] "When we were going to do this game with [Shao Jun], I was really excited about it and wanted to get all the information about background and her story, but it was actually pretty thin," said Penin. "So eventually we decided to come up with new ideas and settings, beyond Embers, and we came up with a story that AC fans will enjoy." Understandably, the switch from 3D to 2.5D has brought some changes to the action-stealth gameplay. For the most part, players will still traverse the environment with free-running maneuvers while avoiding detection, and only using combat as a last resort. Players will run and leap across obstacles in the environment and move between the foreground and background during traversal. I was impressed with the depth shown in the environments, and I was quite surprised that areas shown off were largely interactive. In one section during a prison escape, I had to find my gear before making an exit, which meant having to search for a guard's keys. After traveling through a hallway, I entered a large cavern housing dozens of prison cells. Off in the distance in the background, there were several guards making their rounds near a number of prisoners. From the foreground, I jumped onto a fallen pillar, which allowed me seamlessly run across to the background of the environment, which had its own unique layout and design. It was neat to be able to see how much depth the levels have, and the later levels show off much more intuitive and clever design. The stealth gameplay has had a bit of change, however, and the assassins now have to rely more on shadows and darkness to slip past their foes. Instead of the line-of-sight design from past titles, Chronicles utilizes a vision cone system. Similar to Mark of the Ninja's gameplay, all enemies can see and hear only a certain distance ahead of them, which gives you the means to figure out the best way around them. While it's still very much AC, the new design feels different. The lead designer elaborated a little further with how they went about re-designing AC stealth for 2.5D. "We had a lot of work to find the right recipe because this is the type of gameplay that require precise signs of feedback," said Penin. "We experimented a lot with the detection system, which focuses on cones of vision that work really well because it shows accurately in the 2D perspective. While some people initially thought [the visual representation of enemy line of sight] got in the way of the art style, ultimately the function allowed for us to design the stealth for players to be more interesting." Though you can easily avoid all conflicts by sticking in the shadows or hiding inside doorways or off the sides of ledges, there are a whole assortment of gadgets that Shao Jun has at her disposal, such as the rope dart which can sling enemies and help her traverse to new heights. The action and pace of the stealth from past games is present, though there seems to be much more thought put into it. Some sections felt like actual puzzles more than action-stealth gameplay, and I mean that as a good thing. The narrowing of the perspective put a lot more depth into this facet of gameplay, and it was refreshing to have a more refined approach to it. I'm also quite impressed with the visual aesthetic of Chronicles. The developers have stated that each episode will have a unique look to it, and China's style is stunning in its representation of perpetual autumn and uses of inkblot-style visuals and palettes. The colors are vibrant and lush, and the shadows and darkness show a certain roughness, as if it's a place that only the Assassins, history's wet-workers, can venture to. These still-images do not do this title justice -- it's quite gorgeous in action. While I was enjoying myself throughout the China setting, a part of me wished this was a fully 3D title rather than a downloadable side story. Nothing against this game, as it's really solid and makes some clever choices in regards to approach to stealth in a limited perspective, however I feel that such rich settings would be better used for full-fledged 3D Assassin's Creed titles. In any case, Assassin's Creed Chronicles is looking to be a nice surprise for the franchise. Though we can undoubtedly expect to see another main entry in the series this year, Chronicles will serve to be a nice change of pace for those looking for a different take on the series. For those who bit on the Unity season pass, you'll get the first episode on day one. The bite-sized nature of these titles will make them easy to get into, but they're sure to surprise players with how much depth is present.
2.5D Assassin's Creed photo
Stabbin' necks through history in 2.5D
It's not often we see a major player in the big leagues of yearly releases reinvent itself in a more modest and distinct way. With Assassin's Creed titles expected every year, it's been a bit of a challenge for Ubisoft to kee...

Rainbow Six Siege photo
Rainbow Six Siege

Smooth Operator: Rainbow Six Siege lets you destroy suburbia your way


Like the Burger King of mayhem
Mar 30
// Brett Makedonski
Despite all evidence to the contrary, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege isn't just about destroying track homes until a hostage is either saved or killed. It's much more tactical than that. Sometimes you have to go on the ...
The Crew photo
The Crew

The Crew is getting a two-hour trial, upgradable to the final version


Go hit the hoad
Mar 25
// Chris Carter
Starting this week, both PS4 and Xbox One owners can go grab a free version of Ubisoft's new open-world racer, The Crew. It's a two-hour trial of sorts, and if you want to buy the full game you can continue your progress. Whi...
Rainbow Six Siege photo
Rainbow Six Siege

You can sign up for the Rainbow Six Siege beta without a preorder


Just follow our super secret tips
Mar 25
// Laura Kate Dale
Are you curious about trying out the Rainbow Six Siege closed beta but reluctant to pre-order the game? Well, you may just be in luck. There's now a way to register for the closed beta without needing to put any money down fo...
Driver Speedboat Paradise photo
Driver Speedboat Paradise

Ubisoft brings Driver back as a speedboat racer


Mobile speedboat racing
Mar 20
// Jed Whitaker
  Ubisoft is bringing back the classic series Driver as a speedboat racing game for mobile devices in April. I'm not quite sure how the series developed from a game about a getaway driver to racing speedboats, but they can't just let an IP die a peaceful death -- it has to buried alive.
Rainbow Six photo
Rainbow Six

Homewreckers wanted for the upcoming Rainbow Six Siege PC alpha


Sign-ups are open in North America and Europe
Mar 12
// Jordan Devore
I'm a total newcomer to the Rainbow Six series but I quite liked Siege's wall-blasting ways at E3 last year. Not so much for the tactical possibilities that destructible environments enable as the simple human desire to punc...
Can't rhyme/No time photo
Can't rhyme/No time

Ubisoft does a physical Vita release of Child of Light/I'm not sure why, it doesn't seem right


This release is new for us/I guess we can consider it a plus
Mar 12
// Steven Hansen
Child of Light was late to Vita, coming in July.That the handheld wasn't a priority Ubisoft can't belie. And yet, what's this, a North American physical Vita release in March?Could it be Ubisoft doesn't want to leave our hand...
Ass Creed modernity photo
Ass Creed modernity

Assassin's Creed will feature more modern day segments in the future


Twenty more years of Assassin's Creed
Feb 27
// Steven Hansen
The amusing glitch-fest that was Assassin's Creed Unity didn't intentionally eschew the series' whacked out modern day narrative. In fact, more dalliances into now-time were planned for Unity, Assassin's Creed lead writer Dar...
Far Cry 4 DLC photo
Far Cry 4 DLC

Far Cry 4 somehow gets more dangerous in Valley of the Yetis


Didn't think that was possible
Feb 26
// Brett Makedonski
If Far Cry 4's jaunt through Kyrat serves as any indication, the Himalayas are an incredibly dangerous place. Whatever isn't trying to maul you is trying to shoot bullets at you. It's like being caught between a rock and a h...
Rocksmith photo
Rocksmith

Rocksmith will turn you into a guitar legend like Hendrix or the guy from Papa Roach


*results not guaranteed
Feb 25
// Brett Makedonski
Rocksmith 2014's getting some DLC songs by Papa Roach today. One time in eighth grade, a kid in my class started a speech by saying "Cut my life into pieces, this is my bat report. Echolocation, no seeing. Vampire bat bite your arm, now you're bleeding." I wonder what he's up to. Probably not playing Papa Roach songs on Rocksmith, if I'm being really honest.

Review: Risk

Feb 18 // Robert Summa
Risk (PlayStation 4 [reviewed], Xbox One)Developer: Zoë ModePublisher: UbisoftReleased: February 4, 2015MSRP: $14.99 But let's get to the meat of what we're working with here. What you're getting with Risk is the board game translated directly for a modern audience using the classic 2010 rules. The mechanics and gameplay are generally the same with the main difference being the interface with which you're playing. There are some non-traditional touches, like a helpful AI companion called Iris. And the game offers animations for battle sequences, but nothing that is AAA worthy or will set it apart from its cardboard counterpart. Actually, you'll find yourself skipping these battle scenes just to get to the end result. Thankfully, there is an auto-attack button to advance all that stuff. [embed]287846:57393:0[/embed] I found myself watching these animations at first, but because the matches are so long, they quickly lose their novelty. It's the same when it's the AI's turn. You'll watch at first, but soon find yourself hitting the fast AI option and skipping as much as possible. It's still not fast enough in a lot of cases, but it's better than nothing. If you really want to speed things up, then you'll want to choose the "capture capitals" option when setting up your game. Otherwise, expect to play for at least an hour against two other opponents in the default setting; of course, it could be more or less depending on the amount of enemies you face. As far as difficulty, I never touched the actual play style of the AI, choosing to keep them balanced. However, you do have the options to make them more aggressive or defensive. Risk is really meant to be played amongst friends and enemies -- whether that be online or locally with up to four players. This is why the game exists. If you're only playing the AI, then you're literally only playing half of the game. At its core, Risk is about just that, risk. And the charm of the game comes when you reach those moments of domination, only to be out-lucked at the worst possible times. Risk is cruel. Even downright heartless at times. If you go in expecting to always win, you'll come to realize how foolish an idea that actually was. There were times when I was completely dominating. I had more troops, more territory, the momentum was on my side. Then, all of a sudden, the AI would decide to hand in cards, receive massive amounts of troops, and sweep through my lands like a cool spring breeze. At one moment you are king of the world, master of your domain and the next, nothing. You are worthless. Alone and about to be obliterated. For better or worse, this is what Risk is. In its simplicity is its utter cruelty. If you're looking for a deep strategy game in an effort to plan your takeover of the world, this isn't it. But if you're looking for something to play with friends or something to scratch that old-school itch, it's a nice little pickup. For the most part, Risk is a rather generic but serviceable title that does what it needs to do. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Risk review photo
Lady Luck is a cruel mistress
Typically, board games involving just dice aren't my thing. I don't like playing a game in which I feel I have no control in whether I win or lose. Yahtzee is a prime example of this, while Risk is somewhere in between. Much ...

Grow Home photo
Grow Home

Grow Home update brings a new side quest, tons of bug fixes


Warm and fuzzy
Feb 18
// Jordan Devore
Thank goodness Ubisoft Reflections' little robot adventure turned out well. That could've been such a letdown. Reviewing Grow Home for Destructoid, Ben Davis said he "got more than enough enjoyment out of exploring the world...
Ubisoft photo
Ubisoft

Ubisoft had a good quarter despite mediocre showing from Assassin's Creeds


No year-over-year change
Feb 12
// Brett Makedonski
Ubisoft didn't have a disappointing holiday season, as it posted financial reports today indicating that the publisher exceeded its quarterly sales expectations by approximately €80 million. More surprising, it did ...
Far Cry 4 photo
Far Cry 4

Ride a dune buggy in Far Cry 4's 'Overrun' DLC


Or just keep on riding on elephants, that's cool too
Feb 10
// Jason Faulkner
Already tired of everything Far Cry 4 has to offer? You're in luck, because Overrun, the latest batch of content for Far Cry 4, is available today. This is a more multiplayer-focused endeavor, with a brand new PvP mode in whi...
Ubisoft photo
Ubisoft

The Crew patch fixes months-old lost stats bug, doesn't return lost stats


Ubisoft
Feb 09
// Steven Hansen
Ubisoft's open world racer The Crew launched in December with a bug that the team couldn't fix over the holidays or also the month of January. It was a big bug, too, what with it randomly erasing players' stats.  Wi...
AC Rogue on PC photo
AC Rogue on PC

Assassin's Creed Rogue's PC port will be first triple-A game to use eye-tracking


Made possible by SteelSeries Sentry
Feb 05
// Brett Makedonski
When Assassin's Creed Rogue comes to PC later this spring, players will be able to take advantage of some optional tech that, in a sense, won't restrict their field of vision to the confines of their screen; in fact, it...
AC Rogue PC date photo
AC Rogue PC date

Assassin's Creed Rogue sneaks over to PC on March 10


Stabs a thing or two along the way
Feb 05
// Brett Makedonski
For more than three months, Assassin's Creed Rogue has been an exclusive to legacy consoles. That'll change on March 10, as the PC version finally has a release date that's set in stone. Strangely, the word doesn't come...

Review: Grow Home

Feb 05 // Ben Davis
Grow Home (PC)Developer: Ubisoft ReflectionsPublisher: UbisoftReleased: February 4, 2015MSRP: $7.99 Grow Home is the story of a happy little robot named BUD (a Botanical Utility Droid), who is sent to an alien planet to search for flora to bring back to his home world. Your mission is to collect seeds from a beanstalk-like plant called the Star Plant. In order to harvest the seeds, you must help the plant grow tall and strong by guiding its vines to the surrounding nutrient-rich islands. Your main objective will be growing vines. Basically, you grab onto the end of a vine, press a button, and hold on for dear life as it shoots off, twisting and turning through the air. You can control the vine's movement and try to aim it towards the nearest island. If it doesn't reach, there will be more budding off of the one you just made, so you can select which one you want to grow next. Since the plant's growth is controlled by the player, everyone's Star Plant will be unique. You can choose the most direct path to each island, or you can play around and create a massive plant with arching, intersecting vines growing every which way. [embed]287190:57170:0[/embed] To climb, you'll have to control BUD, and this is probably the most entertaining aspect of Grow Home. His body parts move around freely as he walks about, affected by physics rather than predefined animations. This gives his movements a wobbly effect, almost like he's drunk. Quite often while I was playing, BUD would suddenly tumble over himself, start spasming, or flail about wildly. This usually didn't affect his momentum or cause him to fall or anything, so rather than being frustrating, it just made me laugh. He was genuinely fun to watch. BUD is able to climb on any surface, using the shoulder buttons (if you're playing with a gamepad) to control each of his hands independently. The climbing, combined with the procedural animation, kind of reminded me of the controls in GIRP or Octodad, except it feels like you have a little more input over your character this time around. You lose some of that control while walking, though. I found BUD's movement while walking to be rather slippery and awkward at times, causing me to slip involuntarily off of islands or vines, but usually this could be prevented by jumping or grabbing hold of something at the last second. He can also use the local flora to move around more efficiently. Large leaves and mushrooms can bounce him high into the air, flowers can be used as parachutes, smaller leaves can be used to hang glide, and several other plants have strange effects as well. You can keep the flowers and small leaves in his backpack for later use, but can only carry one at a time. You'll want to take advantage of all the different plants at every opportunity, because they make scaling the Star Plant and traversing the islands a breeze. Aside from growing vines, there are also crystals scattered around the islands for you to collect. There are 100 crystals total, and BUD will earn upgrades upon collecting certain numbers of them. At 20 crystals, you get a jetpack, which is immensely useful. Most of the other upgrades involve beefing up the jetpack, so it's not a waste to go out of your way to find a few crystals. Since you'll be doing a lot of climbing, you'll want to be careful not to fall too often. Luckily, there are teleportation devices which allow for fast travel, so you won't have to start all over from the bottom of the plant. You can die from falling too far or falling into the water, but there's really no penalty. A new BUD will appear in the last teleportation device you used, while the old BUD's body remains scattered in pieces where it fell. Sometimes, I actually found it quicker to just fall to my death rather than climb back up a vine. There's even a self destruct button you can use in those situations, too. I only encountered a few problems during my time with Grow Home. Sometimes while climbing, the camera would freak out or clip through the terrain, which was kind of disorienting when you're really high up. This was especially bad while climbing on cave ceilings or the undersides of islands. I also noticed that it will start to stutter if you grow too many vines. This shouldn't be a problem if you're playing normally, but I really wanted to see how many vines I could possibly grow, and apparently that was a bad idea. None of the problems I encountered were too serious, though. You can probably get a good three to four hours of gameplay out of Grow Home, and more if you decide to search for every crystal and seed. It's relatively short, but it oozes charm and personality. I got more than enough enjoyment out of exploring the world, free falling through the vines, and watching BUD be all adorable and weird. If you're still unsure, just give it some time. I bet it will grow on you. [This review is based on a retail build of the game purchased by the reviewer.]
Grow Home reviewed photo
Seed of joy
Grow Home is another entry in Ubisoft's recent string of passion projects, in the same vein as Child of Light and Valiant Hearts. It started out as a tool for a small group of Ubisoft developers to experiment with procedural ...


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