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8:30 PM on 10.01.2014

Review: The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

Perhaps the biggest surprise about The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is that the developers behind the game were members of People Can Fly, the studio responsible for Bulletstorm; the idea that some of the people who came up with...

Alasdair Duncan




Review: Dark Souls II: The Crown of the Ivory King photo
Review: Dark Souls II: The Crown of the Ivory King
by Chris Carter

Dark Souls II was quite the ride. Although the game had its fair share of issues, I had a blast playing it, and a number of its zones now have a place in my list of all-time favorite Souls locations.

One of those areas includes the last piece of DLC, The Crown of the Ivory King, which brings back some of the powerful icy imagery from the Painted World of Ariamis.

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Review: Chariot photo
Review: Chariot
by Brett Makedonski

Local cooperative play is something that's been increasingly neglected in an age of videogames that pushes online connectivity seemingly first and foremost. It's ironic that titles like Destiny are the current benchmark for social experiences, when all communication is done through a headset. After all, it really doesn't get more personal than sitting next to someone on a couch and working (almost literally) hand-in-hand to achieve a goal.

Frima Studio hasn't forgotten these golden moments of yesteryear, and aims to recapture them with Chariot. The developers succeeded in their ambition. In fact, they pull it off so well, that you might find yourself short-changed when you don't have a partner in crime readily handy.

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Review: Persona 4 Arena Ultimax photo
Review: Persona 4 Arena Ultimax
by Kyle MacGregor

It's still tough to believe a fighting game based on the Persona series exists, let alone is any good, but Persona 4 Arena certainly came as a pleasant surprise. Atlus and Arc System Works are two distinctive studios known for creating very different types of experiences, but somehow managed to meld their unique strengths into a stellar fusion.

It must have been a difficult task, trying to charm two disparate audiences at once, but the developers proved more than capable of surmounting the challenge. Now they've returned with a followup in Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, hoping to make lightning strike twice.

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Review: Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair photo
Review: Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair
by Brittany Vincent

Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc was an intelligent riff on the perils of high school -- you know, if you had thrown a murder mystery in between classes and the principal was a maniacal stuffed animal.

Its sequel, Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, takes a beleaguered trope and turns it on its head. This is one "trapped on a desert island" story that takes things to another level entirely.

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Review: Gauntlet photo
Review: Gauntlet
by Chris Carter

Many, many fun hours were spent playing Gauntlet with friends. As one of the most ingenous arcade games of all time, Gauntlet Legends had a really cool mechanic that allowed you to save your progress at the same machine -- warranting multiple trips to the same location just to play it. The fun continued on with the console version of the game, and even further into Dark Legacy, my personal favorite. 

Once Seven Sorrows hit in 2005 though my interest kind of waned -- it simply wasn't a very good game, and the lack of a distinct art style didn't help it stand out among the masses of dungeon crawlers that were emerging out of the console market. But in 2014, Arrowhead Studios has done right by the franchise, and is ready to usher in a whole new audience.

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Review: Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS photo
Review: Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS
by Chris Carter

Super Smash Bros. and I go back a long way. When the first game was released in 1999, I didn't drive. Heck, I didn't even have a Nintendo 64 at that time. But I had a Smash Bros. addiction, and would spend hours upon hours at friends' houses, often staging sleepovers just so we could play more. It was probably the first game I ever put over a thousand hours into.

My Melee addiction was even worse. With wheels, I could drive to local tournaments and hone my craft. I had "training buddies" that I'd sit for hours and play with, trading new strategies along the way. I had groups who played all items on random levels, I had friends who played Final Destination no items only, and I had acquaintances who played a mix of both. However you shake it, Melee may be my most-played game of all time.

But when Brawl came out, a lot of the groups I had been playing with for all these years kind of fell off the map. They either continued to play Melee regardless, or just quit Smash entirely. It was an odd time seeing a franchise that I had enjoyed so much fall off like that in my personal circles, and from what I've seen over the past few years, I wasn't alone. It wasn't a bad game -- it just didn't set off that spark in me that 64 and Melee did before it.

Enter Smash 3DS. Not only has it rekindled my love for the series, but I have a feeling that once the Wii U version hits, living rooms will be smashing for hours all over again.

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Review: Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor photo
Review: Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
by Chris Carter

Developing a licensed game can be extremely difficult. Not only does Monolith Productions have the Lord of the Rings film series to honor with Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, but the developer also has to work in many aspects of Tolkien's other works to weave together a story that calls from multiple sources.

In that regard Monolith has succeeded in creating something believable, but in the process, the game itself didn't receive as much attention.

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Review: Forza Horizon 2 photo
Review: Forza Horizon 2
by Brett Zeidler

The original Forza Horizon impressed us back in 2012 with its ability to incorporate what we already loved about Forza Motorsport into an absolutely massive open-world sandbox racing game, while not completely ditching its simulation roots and easing new players into an arcade-simulation racer hybrid. It also helped that the game was really nice to look at.

Playground Games and Turn 10 are back with Forza Horizon 2, and I am so glad they are.

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Review: NHL 15 photo
Review: NHL 15
by Brett Makedonski

With regard to sports games, the most important facet of any given title should always be the actual playing of the sport. That's how NHL 15 is. It mostly shines when you're on-ice, leading the charge through the neutral zone or lining up a bone-crushing hit on an unsuspecting forward. Damn EA for making me want to say this, but with NHL 15, when you're in the game, you're in the game.

But, if that's all that really matters, why's it impossible to overcome the feeling that its off-ice issues drag NHL 15 down like a player that just got viciously hooked from behind?

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Review: Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed photo
Review: Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed
by Brittany Vincent

When you're faced with imminent danger, what's the first thing you do? Do you gear up to fight back? Do you see if you can land the first punch? Or do you take all of your clothing off? I'm guessing that's a pretty uncommon reaction, though it's something you'll get used to seeing on a regular basis within Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed.

The otaku-come-Yakuza special is actually Akiba's Trip 2 in Japan, and it's the first time the series has reached Western audiences, who may or may not have been ready for its bizarre machinations. But for those who were willing and able to take the trip, what awaited them was a strange and colorful world full of plenty to do and discover.

Oh, and a whole lot of underwear. 

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Review: Wasteland 2 photo
Review: Wasteland 2
by Alasdair Duncan

[Disclosure: I backed the Wasteland 2 Kickstarter and as such received an Early Access copy of the game.]

Wasteland 2 is one of the projects that saw success in the wake of Double Fine's Broken Age. Just a month after Tim Schafer's adventure game project blew past its funding goal, Brian Fargo and inXile Entertainment also saw their Kickstarter pull in millions of dollars.

Despite the original Wasteland dating back to 1988, there were more than enough fans who wanted to see a sequel made. So Wasteland 2 exists in a strange position where the fans who remember the original played a very different game than the one that's been delivered in 2014.

While PC RPGs have changed a lot over the years, Wasteland 2 is still very old-school in a lot of ways -- some good, some bad -- and remains true to its intentions and origins.

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Review: D4: Dark Dreams Donít Die (Prologue, Episode 1, Episode 2) photo
Review: D4: Dark Dreams Donít Die (Prologue, Episode 1, Episode 2)
by Chris Carter

D4 starts off rather grounded. The game's opening narration describes the tale as a "story of a man with a very strange fate." A man whose wife was murdered, and is tirelessly searching for her killer.

Then a cat girl named Amanda runs into your apartment, spits a mouse into your mouth, and you puke.

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Review: Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes photo
Review: Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes
by Chris Carter

Disney Infinity was quite the ambitious project, but it fell flat in a few key areas. This was mostly due to a lack of even game worlds, with a few of the universes overshadowing others that felt more rushed. The other aspect of the game that didn't fully deliver was the Toy Box mode -- a take on LittleBigPlanet's "create your own" levels mechanic.

With Disney Infinity 2.0, Avalanche Software is poised to rectify both of those issues, combined with free reign of the Marvel license. While 2.0 is still primarily targeted towards the younger audience, the overall package is much more enticing the second time around.

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Review: Hyrule Warriors photo
Review: Hyrule Warriors
by Chris Carter

We never could have imagined this mash-up in our wildest dreams.

Nintendo, Team Ninja, and Omega Force together, co-developing a game based on the Legend of Zelda and Dynasty Warriors series. Few stranger things have happened, and fans of both franchises have been eagerly awaiting this all-star combination for months on end.

While the typical Warriors trappings are still present in Hyrule Warriors, Nintendo has injected more than enough charm to make this collaboration something special.

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Review: Destiny photo
Review: Destiny
by Chris Carter

It's been a small journey reviewing Destiny, but now I've experienced every facet of the game and I'm ready to make my decision. As mentioned previously, the story and setting leave a lot to be desired, but the gunplay is very sound, and the PVP element reminds me of some of my favorite shooters, filled with tons of exciting moments.

But even after digging into the nitty-gritty, the endgame structure is rigid and has too many problems at the current moment to warrant a full recommendation.

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