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Review: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Aug 24 // Chris Carter
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (PC, PS3, PS4 [reviewed], Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Kojima ProductionsPublisher: KonamiRelease: September 1, 2015Price: $59.99 (PC, PS4, Xbox One) $49.99 (PS3, Xbox 360) [There will be no story spoilers here, though themes and gameplay elements will naturally be discussed in this assessment. I'll be as vague as possible.] Phantom Pain opens up with a brutal playable sequence that sets the tone for the game. Big Boss has woken up after a nine-year coma, and just in time, as an elite infantry unit has invaded his location, ready to kill anyone and everyone just to get to him. Looking back on this opening, it's amazing to see how well thought out everything is in Phantom Pain -- there is very little wasted time. This rapid fire mentality shines throughout the entire game. No longer will you spend hours listening to two portraits talk back and forth via codec. Instead, it's all done through a radio seamlessly integrated into regular play. David Hayter's endless monologues are eschewed for Kiefer Sutherland's more deliberate interjections, and as a result, the entire experience has a very different feel to it. That's not to say there aren't some classic conventions present, or that Kojima has abandoned his roots. There's still plenty of silliness that ensues, crazy mutated boss fights, tons of robots, and Easter eggs for days. It's the gameplay that feels a bit more grounded this time around -- one mission even provided me with flashes of Splinter Cell, but with the obvious Kojima flair to it. The main setup involves a timeline in 1984, 11 years before the first MSX Metal Gear, in which the Soviets invade Afghanistan. Your first job as a newly awakened Big Boss is to rescue your comrade Kazuhira Miller, and begin work on an entirely new Mother Base as the "Diamond Dogs" -- taking on Skull Face and his forces. From here, it evolves into a tale of espionage and deceit, complete with franchise-wide reveals and some breathtaking action sequences. Yep, it's still Metal Gear all right. [embed]305699:60106:0[/embed] But thanks to the advancements Kojima has made over the years refining his craft and the power of the Fox Engine, this is the biggest game yet in just about every regard. To accompany this huge shift is a suitable open-world focus, which allows you to explore a giant portion of Afghanistan, and another region I won't spoil here. It's interesting to see a mainline Metal Gear go this route, but after a few hours, I was used to it. The principle reason I was able to acclimate so quickly is Kojima and his team have made the game fun to play almost at all times. Nearly every situation can either be taken head-on by knocking down the front door, by stealth, or any combination therein. By researching different weapons and tools in Mother Base, you'll have the option to equip hundreds of different loadout variations, and face challenges in completely different ways. For instance, I later came back to one area, took an utterly new route, and used the Fulton extraction system to kidnap an entire base -- one member happened to be a translator who upped my force's efficacy considerably. What's even crazier is how deep the customization goes. You can choose from an assortment of "buddies" (which include the horse and wolf that have been previously revealed, among a few others) to accompany you on missions, all of whom have various costumes and loadouts themselves. You can also choose to alter the appearance of Big Boss, Mother Base, and even your own support Helicopter team. If you enjoyed the prospect of switching up camo suits in Snake Eater, you'll spend hours customizing all your junk here. Mother Base is a whole different animal as well. By using the Fulton system in the field you'll slowly acquire new soldiers, which you can in turn visit at your base at any time. It's similar to the Farmville-esque Garrison system from World of Warcraft, but much more rewarding. While I usually tend to ignore mechanics like this, your crew is integrated into the game in a number of ingenious ways. New weapons rely on the R&D team's efforts, for example, and the Intel team can inform you of incoming weather, as well as nearby enemy patrols if they are sufficiently staffed. The rewards are both tangible and poignant. You can also visit some more important NPCs, partake in a few target practice minigames, hit the shower to wash off the blood of your enemies, and generally just explore the base's nooks and crannies for collectibles. As I touched on a tad, the Fox Engine renders this all beautifully. It's insane to see a portion of the game and realize that it's not a cutscene, but actually done with in-game visuals. Although I've only had access to the PS4 version of Phantom Pain, it's run flawlessly, with minimal load times and no major framerate issues during my time. Another huge thing I noticed was the impeccable sound direction, which may be the best I've ever witnessed in a game to date. It's especially delightful if you're wearing headphones, as you can hear every clomp of your horse as the wind rushes behind you, bullets darting past your head. In terms of my assessment of the plot from start to finish (which all told took me roughly 40 hours to beat), it's definitely not one of my favorite entries, but it does a good job of closing a number of storylines and providing us with a few revelations of its own. As a fan it was tough to forget Hayter at first, but Sutherland really works here, especially with how different Phantom Pain is tonally. Which again, isn't to say that it's all serious all the time, as plenty of absurd characters and storylines pop up fairly quickly. For those of you who are curious, you won't be completely lost if you haven't played previous games in the series, but Snake Eater and Peace Walker knowledge will definitely up your enjoyment of the narrative. But as satisfied as I was with the story, there are a few inherent issues with the way the missions are structured. For starters, a number of levels are uninspired, and force a degree of backtracking, usually for a menial task you've already completed multiple times. This is especially evident later in the game, as it's required to redo some missions with either the "Subsistence," "Extreme," or "Full Stealth" modifiers in tow. The former drops you in with no items or assistance, Extreme ups the amount of damage you take considerably, and the latter ends a mission automatically if you're spotted. Series regulars will probably remember playing a lot of these higher difficulty levels on their third or fourth optional playthrough, but now they're incorporated into the game itself. I have a feeling these objectives are going to be incredibly polarizing, especially since a few of them took me at least 30 tries to complete. It's a level of dedication that hasn't really been seen lately in the gaming arena, but to me, it's classic Kojima. I powered through these tough and sometimes aggravating sections, and was sufficiently rewarded, both in the sense of storyline progression, and the acquisition of completely new tactics. As a note, I couldn't test the online features of the game, including the base-to-base combat sections (FOB). The story calls for at least one scripted invasion, but I was required to play the game in its entirety offline. Once Phantom Pain launches we'll provide some impressions of this feature, and we'll provide a separate review for Metal Gear Online, which has been delayed until October 6. Rest assured, the entire campaign can be played offline, beyond the reach of microtransactions or pre-order bonuses. Despite the fact that I hit a few snags along the way, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain feels like a simultaneous celebration of the series, and a decidedly new chapter. It's equal parts tough and flashy, and it's fitting that if this is Kojima's last Metal Gear, he goes out on a high note. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher. We did not attend the review event.]
Metal Gear V review photo
Happy trails, Kojima
Despite the fact that most of the spinoff Metal Gear games are good in their own right, they just don't get me excited the same way the mainline console editions do. Every core Metal Gear entry has something new, and offers up some sort of revelatory storyline event that has fans talking for years on end. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is no exception.

Madden 16 photo
Madden 16

EA goes way over the top to promote Madden


We didn't see this coming
Aug 21
// Brett Makedonski
EA Sports' promotion of Madden has largely been the same for years now. Gameplay trailers, new features, interviews with developers -- we've been there and done that. This is different. This is...weird. And, kind of amazing....
Destiny photo
Destiny

Is Destiny coming to PC? It seems like maybe


You must like static bags and zip ties
Aug 21
// Vikki Blake
Destiny might be heading to PC. A job posting on Bungie's website requires new staff to "evaluate PC hardware-specific features and ensure various systems work together across multiple PC configurations to provide a...
Metal Gear Solid V photo
Metal Gear Solid V

No pre-load for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain on PC


Consoles can still pre-load though
Aug 20
// Vikki Blake
Bad news if you were hoping to get Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain all pre-loaded up on your PC in time for the September 1 launch -- Konami has confirmed that there's no pre-load available on Steam. "Unfortunately PC St...
Goosebumps: The Game photo
Goosebumps: The Game

There's going to be a Goosebumps video game


That strange woman is very strange
Aug 19
// Vikki Blake
WayForward will be bringing the Goosebumps book series to life by way of an all-new, point-and-click adventure game, Goosebumps: The Game. "The walk home from school today is going to be a lot spookier than usual… Your sleepy neighborhood’s been overrun by monsters!" says the listing on the Xbox Store.
WWE 2K16 photo
WWE 2K16

It's Fight Owens Fight with WWE 2K16's latest roster reveal and entrance video


You just gotta Bo-lieve!
Aug 18
// Brett Makedonski
WWE newcomer Kevin Owens has already had spats with John Cena, Cesaro, and Michael Cole, but he won't find any of them when he gets to the bottom of this ramp. That's because his entrance video for WWE 2K16 is in NXT wh...
Borderlands screenshots photo
Borderlands screenshots

Tales from the Borderlands: Escape Plan Bravo screenshots, we got 'em


Is episode five out yet?
Aug 18
// Darren Nakamura
Wow wow wow. This episode was so good, guys. I don't think I've ever given a 10/10 to anything on Destructoid before. Y'all need to play this series. For those who would rather just look at some pretty pictures, I have those ...

Review: Tales from the Borderlands: Escape Plan Bravo

Aug 18 // Darren Nakamura
Tales from the Borderlands: Escape Plan Bravo (iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Telltale GamesPublisher: Telltale GamesReleased: August 18, 2015 (Mac, PC, PS3, PS4)MSRP: $4.99, $24.99 (Season Pass)Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit [Editor's note: there will be no major spoilers present for the episode reviewed here, but events in previous episodes may be discussed.] Things were looking bad for Fiona and Rhys at the end of the third episode. Sure, Gortys found her first upgrade and the path to the Vault of the Traveler became clearer, but newcomer Vallory had the group pretty well pinned under her thumb by the end. Complicating matters was the revelation that the final Gortys upgrade isn't even on Pandora; it's up on Hyperion's moon base Helios. For a series known for fast travel between exotic locations and featuring interstellar travel as part of its lore, it's easy to forget just how infrequently anybody takes a trip off Pandora. Usually, denizens of the wasteland are stuck there. And so the first act of this episode involves the non-negligible task of actually getting from Pandora to Helios. The group grows as August and Vallory's henchmen ride along to ensure Rhys and Fiona don't try anything funny and Scooter hops in as the on-board mechanic. It's a pretty motley crew, well deserving of the '80s rock credits sequence rocket launch montage. [embed]306135:60017:0[/embed] Telltale continues to demonstrate its comedic mastery with Tales from the Borderlands. One of the funniest parts comes from a totally visual gag within the launch montage. It elicited more laughs with no words than some comedy games do with thousands. The written jokes here are on point too. Each of the characters brings something different. Gortys remains a highlight through the whole ordeal, even if she has fewer lines than she did in the previous episode. Fiona's sarcasm hits just the right notes. Handsome Jack is about as likable as a murderous psychopath can be. The plan that comes together even allows players to act like total assholes without having to feel too bad about it. The trip to Helios also allows for one of the most bizarre scenes in recent memory. Without spoiling too much: it's a classic Telltale quick-time event action sequence, but it involves a horde of Hyperion accountants and a lot of mouth-made sound effects. It isn't all laughs. The series has had its serious moments in the past, but Escape Plan Bravo will cement Tales into the overall Borderlands lore. It is no longer a side story on Pandora. It feels like its own proper entry in the timeline, with real effects on the world Gearbox built. It's a stark contrast with Telltale's other current series Game of Thrones. While the events in that series are important to the Telltale-designed protagonists, they aren't important to anybody else in that world. Telltale's characters and story in Tales from the Borderlands are important to Borderlands as a whole. I have to imagine there is at least a modicum of trepidation when handing over a franchise to another developer, but if Gearbox had any fears that Telltale wouldn't do right by Borderlands, those fears would be unfounded. If anything, it feels like Gearbox needs to hire the Telltale writers to consult on Borderlands 3. Escape Plan Bravo solidifies Tales as a must-play series for those interested in the Borderlands universe. I cannot wait for the last episode, The Vault of the Traveler. There is so much to resolve: Vallory, Handsome Jack, Vaughn, Gortys, the masked man, Felix, the vault. I'm stressing out just thinking about it all. There isn't much more to say without spoiling the best episode of Tales from the Borderlands yet. I laughed. I cried. I haven't been able to say that about a Borderlands game since Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep, or about a Telltale game since the first season of The Walking Dead. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Borderlands review photo
Encore! Encore!
[Disclosure: Anthony Burch, who consulted on the story for Tales from the Borderlands, was previously employed at Destructoid. As always, no relationships, personal or professional, were factored into the review.] Tales ...

Telltale Borderlands photo
Telltale Borderlands

Tales from the Borderlands Episode 4 trailer blasts off


'I was wired ready!'
Aug 17
// Darren Nakamura
Tales from the Borderlands: Escape Plan Bravo hits this week, so as is its custom, Telltale has released a trailer to pump audiences up for it. In Catch a Ride we learned Gortys's second upgrade was somewhere up on Heli...
Black Ops III photo
Black Ops III

This is how Black Ops III has the moves like Jagger


Aim for the heart if you feel like it
Aug 14
// Brett Makedonski
Wait. I don't actually know how Jagger moves. That dude is super old. It's probably not like this now that I think about it. Disregard the headline, but retain all the flashy running, hurdling, swimming, and boosting you can do in Black Ops III. That's what it looks like if you're good. If you're bad, it likely looks more akin to Mick Jagger running around a battlefield.
Spelunky record photo
Spelunky record

This Spelunky run through hell is astounding


Also record breaking
Aug 13
// Jordan Devore
The new world record for clearing Spelunky, including hell, is 3:44:411. Holy shit. Despite knowing this run by D Tea would end successfully, I still got nervous watching it all unfold. What can I say? Rapidly navigating randomized areas with a teleporter while shopkeepers run wild puts me on edge. Even at a slow pace, there's just so many ways to screw up in this game.

Turns out I'm still in love with Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons

Aug 13 // Brett Makedonski
Yet, the controls -- a scheme that's supposed to represent the bond between the siblings -- is as ineffective as ever. Again, I never got a consistent feel for how to operate the two in tandem. Everything would be fine for a moment until one veered into the wall, meaning I'd have to stop controlling one to focus on another and the whole harmony was ruined. I've felt this way the entire time, but it's such a testament to the rest of Brothers that a central mechanic can be this broken, yet the game is still superb. Brothers' relative ease softens the blow, but the vast majority of titles in this situation would be immediately relegated to a mediocre score and a short-lived legacy. Brothers has far exceeded that fate. With regard to improvements in this version, I'm not sure there are many. If memory serves correctly, I believe this re-release has a deeper palette of hues. Everything seems richer in color which enhances the experience. More notably, the Xbox One and PS4 re-release includes director's commentary, the soundtrack, and a gallery of concept art. Inessentials, but a nice addition for some people. [embed]305002:59971:0[/embed] The rub here is that nothing in the re-release is far and away better than the versions on legacy consoles or PC. That's sort of how it goes with games that launched later in the last-gen life-cycle -- there's a fair parity across those versions. Brothers doesn't feel like a game you need to play on current consoles. This investment is better reserved for those who missed it the first time 'round, or those who have a burning desire to shell out extra money in hopes that it encourages more titles like this to be made. For more in-depth analysis of Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons, read my review from the summer of 2013. If you need help with the game's Achievements or Trophies, check out my guide.
Brothers impressions photo
Impressions of the re-release
I may not have picked it up in two years, but I still remember every second of Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons. It's just that kind of game. It leaves you in a more fragile mindset than when you started. I don't care if that so...

Brothers photo
Brothers

Did you know the Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons kids have names?


Also, the game re-released today
Aug 12
// Brett Makedonski
It's been two years since I've played through Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons, but that's going to change tonight. The game just re-released on Xbox One and PS4. I bet I find it just as emotionally evocative and generally fanta...
Telltale Borderlands photo
Telltale Borderlands

Tales from the Borderlands Episode 4 out next week


Have some screenshots
Aug 12
// Darren Nakamura
From the announcement of the "crowd-play" event at PAX Prime, we knew Tales from the Borderlands: Escape Plan Bravo was imminent. I figured the event attendees would have advance knowledge and the rest of us would get it the ...
The Phantom Pain photo
The Phantom Pain

Metal Gear Solid V 1080p PS4, 900p Xbox One and PC system requirements


4K Phantom Pain on PC
Aug 10
// Steven Hansen
Buried in last last week's PS4/PS3/360/One/PC comparison shots of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (they all look great!) are the underlying technical performance of the five versions. The PS3 and 360 versions both run at...
Telltale Borderlands PAX photo
Telltale Borderlands PAX

PAX Prime attendees able to 'crowd play' Tales from the Borderlands Episode 4


Potential hints about its release date
Aug 06
// Darren Nakamura
With just a little over three weeks to go, PAX Prime is almost upon us. The full schedule isn't available yet, but Telltale sent over a snippet including its plans at the sold out gathering. On Saturday, August 29, Telltale w...
Microsoft photo
Microsoft

'When you fail, it means you're pushing the boundaries of what's expected,' says Xbox's Phil Spencer


First-party exclusives 'more difficult'
Aug 06
// Vikki Blake
In a frank exchange with GameSpot, Xbox boss Phil Spencer acknowledged that experimentation with new IPs inevitably resulted in a "higher fail-rate." "When you're starting new games, in terms of new ideas and mechanics, your&...
Destiny photo
Destiny

Destiny's Taken King is a real soul-sucker


Cinematic trailer for upcoming expansion
Aug 06
// Steven Hansen
Or is something else going on at 1:20? Seems like some nice young cats come to wake the old man up and he responds by devouring their very life. Rude. The trailer also shows off the Taken King's massive (space) ship that was...
No more last gen ports? photo
No more last gen ports?

Ubisoft on The Crew's Wild Run expansion not coming to 360


'Shifting its development force'
Aug 05
// Steven Hansen
If you're in the small subset of people who: 1) enjoy Ubisoft's weird ass open world racing game The Crew, 2) play it only on the Xbox 360, and 3) are excited for the upcoming Wild Run expansion (November 17) , then I have ba...
LEGO Marvel photo
LEGO Marvel

LEGO Marvel's Avengers pushed back to January 2016


Block quotes
Aug 05
// Steven Hansen
LEGO Marvel's Avengers will miss its fall 2015 release and instead come to North America on January 26 and Europe on January 29. Some real missed holiday sales opportunity there, looks like, especially with it coming to every...
Destiny photo
Destiny

Destiny players have clocked up 2 billion hours


(Only half of that is me, honest)
Aug 05
// Vikki Blake
Destiny has over 20 million players. Together, they have clocked up a combined total of two billion hours play time since launch.   That works out at around 100 hours of gameplay from each player. (Which is around half o...
Guitar Hero Live photo
Guitar Hero Live

Guitar Hero Live's new batch of songs is... actually pretty good


Boston, Rush, MGMT, and others
Aug 05
// Darren Nakamura
Past updates to the Guitar Hero Live set list have puzzled me, betraying how out of touch I am with popular music, but this one brings me back. I don't care how many times I have played Boston's "More than a Feeling" in a mus...
Rare Replay Sundown photo
Rare Replay Sundown

Rare's cancelled horror title Sundown looks hellish


This isn't your dad's Rare
Aug 04
// Jed Whitaker
Rare Replay is available now and includes unlockable videos of canceled games with concept art, stories, and gameplay that have never been show to the public. Unlocking the videos means completing various challenges and...

Review: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare: Reckoning

Aug 04 // Chris Carter
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare: Reckoning DLC (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: Sledgehammer Games (Current-gen) / High Moon Studios (Last-gen) / Raven Software (Zombies)Publisher: ActivisionReleased: August 4, 2015MSRP: $14.99 ($50 Season Pass for four packs) Let's kick things off with Overload, the sexiest map in Reckoning. Taking place in a giant Middle Eastern hotel complex, it has all of the pizazz you'd expect, and more. It's a great mix of indoor and outdoor environments, with a layout that keeps you in the action while allowing you to have condensed firefights. It allows the Exo movement and jetpack mechanic to really breathe without confining it like some maps in the past have. It also has these little tesla coil things littered about, which are basic in their functionality (an area-of-effect jolt when shot), but very cool aesthetically -- plus, they sound really neat. Next up is Swarm, a map set in a ruined Korean city. It's nice to see the series return to a setting like this, as I enjoyed "Magma" in Black Ops II. There's plenty of windows to boost into and buildings to hide in, and the map lends itself to vertical movement well. They really go with the destruction theme, and there's a ton of detail present that I wasn't expecting. It's another great showing for Reckoning. Fracture is an ice level that reminds me of The Thing, in a good way. The backgrounds are very detailed, and the smaller, more intimate theme works to its advantage. It's basically all outdoors, which gives it a distinct feel compared to the rest of the DLC. Although Array from the original Black Ops is probably my favorite snow map in Call of Duty history, Fracture does the frozen sub-genre proud. Quarantine, the last of the four core maps in Reckoning, gives off a distinct Walking Dead TV series vibe, which I dig. It also feels like it has a Call of Duty 4 theme with its simplicity, but it's not as vertical as I hoped it would be. The general gist is that the arena is a testing site for experiments on primates, complete with tons of banana boxes and even a room full of live test subjects. It's a rather generic theme, but it must be said that I do enjoy playing it in the rotation. I wouldn't consider it a wasted slot. [embed]297123:59780:0[/embed] Now, onto the best part -- the zombie level. Following along with the narrative that saw the demise of John Malkovich's character (and the debut of Bruce Campbell), and his ascension into zombie-hood, Descent is one of the most unique zombie stages in the entire series (the one that featured mafia ghosts withstanding). It straight-up feels like you're in a Bond villain base, which is partially true as Malkovich is there to taunt you every step of the way as you navigate your path through an underwater testing site. As you make your way through each wave, various power-ups will start to appear at the top of the deck, which you can periodically gather. These range from standard stuff like turrets, to more interesting mechanisms like defensive AI robots that float around your character. Everything feels much more action-packed and desperate, with more firepower and abilities to match the more aggressive enemies. At times, Malkovich will teleport you to a room for a boss fight session of sorts, with different hazards to avoid (like laser grids above you, preventing double-jumps) and a variety of enemies to best in close-quarters. It's a sight to behold with four players, as power-ups are constantly appearing in this secluded room while you fight for your life. Again, intensity is what they're going for here, and it really works. I'd have to think about it for a while, but it may be the most fun I've had with zombies since first playing World at War. I mean, Malkovich actually says the line "The teleporters are mine now, bitch," to give you an idea of what I'm talking about here. At the end of the day, I'm happy with what Sledgehammer Games (and Raven) brought to the table with Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare as a whole. Though it'll be tough to dethrone the current kings of the franchise (Treyarch), I have more confidence in their follow-up than before, and I'm eager to see what they can come up with next. At this point Infinity Ward is a lame duck, and the odd developer out. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the developer.]
Call of Duty DLC review photo
Did John Malkovich just call me a bitch?
So here we are with the Reckoning DLC pack, the last add-on for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare after Havoc, Ascendance, and Supremacy. All in all, it's been a great ride, and slowly but surely, each map pack has improved upon the last. It's great then that Advanced Warfare is going out with a bang with its best DLC yet.

Destiny recast photo
Destiny recast

Nolan North replacing Peter Dinklage in Destiny


Ghost's lines re-recorded
Aug 04
// Jordan Devore
Prolific voice actor Nolan North (Uncharted's Nathan Drake) is becoming the Ghost in Destiny, reports Game Informer. He'll voice the AI companion in The Taken King and, no joke, the original game too -- the dialogue is being ...
Cobalt at gamescom photo
Cobalt at gamescom

Cobalt, that arena battle game, is still a Microsoft exclusive


New trailer
Aug 04
// Chris Carter
Mojang has shifted gears a bit since the Microsoft aquisition, and is going to be publishing some more projects in the future. One such game is Cobalt, an arena battler, that will debut on PC, Xbox 360, and Xbox One at an undisclosed date. Based on the trailer above, it looks like a fun little romp. I could always go for the occasional arena title with friends.
Xbox One photo
Xbox One

Xbox One Backward Compatibility comes to everyone in November


Games with Gold gets a boost, too
Aug 04
// Brett Makedonski
Microsoft is obviously looking forward to the future, but it hasn't completely turned its attention from the past. At E3, it dropped the bombshell that it had a backward compatibility program so that Xbox 360 titles could be ...
Backward compatibility photo
Backward compatibility

Shadow Complex playable on Xbox One for preview members


As is Gears of War
Aug 03
// Jordan Devore
I'm using my Xbox One more than ever now that Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise is playable by way of Rare Replay. Gotta catch 'em all. Backward compatibility is a huge deal for people like me who have an extensive Xbox...
Metal Gear Solid V photo
Metal Gear Solid V

MGSV: The Phantom Pain for PC moved up, Metal Gear Online delayed


MGO on PC set for January 2016
Aug 03
// Alessandro Fillari
With less than thirty days until Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain's release, Konami has still been keeping things close to the vest. Which is amazing, considering that the recent extended gameplay demos and videos show...

Review: World of Tanks

Aug 03 // Brett Makedonski
World of Tanks (PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: WargamingPublisher: WargamingRelease Date: July 28, 2015 (Xbox One)MSRP: Free-to-play (with microtransactions) Really, World of Tanks treads the line uneasily that all massively multiplayer online titles do: How do you make a game like this rewarding and nuanced for experienced players, yet inviting and engaging enough for a new audience? Extrapolating from that (and more importantly): How do you convert both Group A and Group B into dollar signs? Wargaming doesn't always do a great job of it, as its intentions often seem paper-thin. That aforesaid selfishness is where the moneymaking lies though, and it can come at the expense of the experience. World of Tanks on Xbox One gives people no reason to press forward except for personal gain. Being killed in a match means it's the end of that match as far as you're concerned. Sure, one could theoretically watch the rest of the round through the cameras of other players, but literally no one will do that. Instead, they'll head back to the garage, hop into another tank, and try again in a different match. This was my exact experience for much of my time with World of Tanks. After several hours of playing (but possibly more spent in loading screens), I checked my stats to see that I had a victory rate of just about 50 percent. That's not bad at all, but I had no idea. Worse yet, I didn't really care. I only cared about the currency dripfeeding into my account at the conclusion of each match. That's all World of Tanks wants us to care about. [embed]296821:59762:0[/embed] The last statement is made obvious by the way which Wargaming organically introduces players to some later-game content. During matches, it's not completely uncommon to come up against an opponent that seems literally invincible. Your ammunition will do next to nothing to it; it will dispose of you with the disdain of a Midwesterner swatting one of a thousand mosquitoes on a humid July night. That is your goal -- you want to be that guy. Make no mistake about it: World of Tanks is a continual left-to-right surge through a spiderweb of tanks you don't yet have, but might have very soon. Those first few come relatively quickly and the progression feels real. After that, everything gets slower. Each match contributes, but less so than before. Looking ahead through that web, some of it seems unattainable (or at the very least, extremely far off). World of Tanks wants your time or your wallet -- pick your poison. Fortunately, giving it your time isn't the worst option. World of Tanks can be rewarding. Every hit landed on another player is satisfying. Blowing them up is exponentially better than just damaging them. Surviving the entire match, destroying several on the other team, and/or capturing a base might just make you feel like you're General Patton. You start to think "I'm getting better. If I keep playing like this, those end-game tanks will be mine in no time!" These are the immutable highs of World of Tanks. It's simply enthralling when you set off on a literal warpath and cut down everything in your way. This is the meat of the game, and it's a prime cut. Excelling at tank-play against other humans feels very, very good. At this point, imminent defeat in the next match is all but assured. That's where World of Tanks is at its worst. Barring the progression frustrations, it's all too often that you'll feel like your opponents know something you don't. Their death machines are probably superior to yours, sure. Still, they'll angle their tanks in such a way that they never expose the weak part of the armor that you didn't even know was weak. They're really good, and you're not sure how to get to that level. The game doesn't teach you, and it doesn't seem like you'll ever learn on your own. It's very unintuitive. For everything that might appear impossible, what you do pick up on your own is invaluable. It isn't long before rushing in looks like a fool's game. Flank, hide, proceed with caution. These vehicles may be harbingers of destruction, but you can't treat them as such. Each minute movement actually means something when you're in the thick of it. These are the times when you'll feel a strategic sense in World of Tanks. Suddenly, things aren't so bad again. Everything seems possible, at least. And, that's what World of Tanks thrives on -- a cyclical mindset between frustration, slight progression, and back to frustration. There are intermittent spurts of elation peppered in occasionally in the event of an outstanding performance. Otherwise, it's right back to not quite understanding why others know more than you do. Which poison did they pick? Time or wallet? Or, heaven forbid, both? Anyone who truly appreciates World of Tanks won't need a review to guide them. They're already well beyond the long barrier to entry. Everyone else will likely find themselves similarly on the outside looking in. There might be something special to World of Tanks, but it's not something that's immediately apparent; it's something that only shows itself after a significant investment. The gameplay can be rewarding at times, but most won't have the patience (or the money) to ever get to that point. Thus, World of Tanks won't ever be more than a quick detour on the way to something that's easier to comprehend. [This review is based on a retail build of the free game downloaded by the reviewer.]
World of Tanks review photo
Pick your poison
World of Tanks is a selfish game. It acts selfishly in that it hides information from its players, expecting them to figure out any and all intricacies on their own. Similarly, it asks its userbase to roll into combat as...


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