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Review: The Evil Within photo
Review: The Evil Within
by Chris Carter

I grew up happily playing Shinji Mikami's games, and he's probably one of the most influential directors/producers that ever lived. I remember the first time I played Resident Evil, the day I bought Devil May Cry from EB Games, and the exact moment when my friend showed me God Hand.

All in all Mikami has worked on over 20 major games that have impacted the industry in some way. Even if The Evil Within is one of the worst in the bunch, it's still in good company.

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Review: Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus photo
Review: Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus
by Brittany Vincent

In the world of Senran Kagura, excess is the rule. The outfits are skimpy, the plot threads are ludicrous, and the breasts are laughably large, so huge in fact that you wonder how the skimpy bras the girls are eventually stripped down to are actually wrangling those things.

But beneath a veneer of silliness and near-parodical levels of fan service lies a brawler with plenty of hack and slash goodness to offer.

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Review: Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments photo
Review: Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments
by Alasdair Duncan

In Fyodor Dostoyevsky's weighty novel Crime and Punishment, the central character robs and murders a loan shark and pawn broker but justifies the act in his own mind because he will use the money for good. Doestoyevsky's anti-hero believes that even murder is justified if some benefit can come of it, that even a wicked act can have some merit. Eventually, besieged by guilt, he confesses to his crime and accepts his punishment. 

Throughout Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments, there are frequent loading screens where you'll see the titular detective flick through Dostoyevsky's work and it seems to have had an effect on him. Now Sherlock can decide if a crime truly was justified and how he will punish the guilty. It's a novel approach that unfortunately only partially works out.

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Review: Short Peace: Ranko Tsukigime's Longest Day photo
Review: Short Peace: Ranko Tsukigime's Longest Day
by Kyle MacGregor

The Short Peace project was born out a desire to unite some of Japan's most talented artists and tell stories about the country's past, present, and a possible future. The result is a lovely bouquet of action, romance, and social commentary, a collection of four animated short films that are thought-provoking, gorgeous, and brilliant in just about every way.

The anthology also includes a game, Ranko Tsukigime's Longest Day, a modest collaboration between Grasshopper Manufacture and Tokyo Jungle studio Cripsy's that seems doomed to live in the shadow of greatness.

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Review: Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel photo
Review: Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel
by Darren Nakamura

[Disclosure: Anthony Burch, one of the writers for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, was previously employed at Destructoid. As always, no relationships, personal or professional, were factored into the review.]

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it." I can imagine that mantra circulating the 2K Australia office as the team worked on Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. Gearbox had a huge hit on its hands with Borderlands 2, and there is not much reason to mess with a winning formula.

To be clear, a lot of what matters is new. The story, playable characters, environments, dialogue, and physics are all new. Despite that, it all feels very familiar. Where a number of core systems were significantly upgraded between the first and second games in the series, The Pre-Sequel's additions are much less pronounced.

One odd aspect of some of the new content that this entry brings to the vault hunting universe is that it feels more like Borderlands than Borderlands 2 in some ways, for better and for worse.

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Review: Dance Central Spotlight photo
Review: Dance Central Spotlight
by Chris Carter

[Disclosure: Nick Chester, who is currently employed at Harmonix, previously worked at Destructoid. As always, no relationships, personal or professional, were factored into the review.]

Although it's been a lot tougher to get people together for a Dance Central party than a Rock Band one, Harmonix's new franchise gave some hope for the Kinect, as it was one of the most accurate games for it.

The series isn't as groundbreaking as it used to be -- especially in the era of Kinect-less Xbox Ones -- but it's still good for a fun dance session every so often. That also goes for Dance Central Spotlight.

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Review: Neverending Nightmares photo
Review: Neverending Nightmares
by Nic Rowen

Mental illness is terrifying. Depression is a soul vampire that will suck the light right out of you. Obsessive compulsive disorder does not make you a supernaturally great detective like it does in the movies. It makes you paranoid and agitated, a raw nerve constantly scraping against a coarse world. The insidious, pervasive terror of mental illness can be far more horrifying than any chainsaw-wielding maniac could ever hope to be.

Which is exactly why Neverending Nightmares works.

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Review: Heavy Bullets photo
Review: Heavy Bullets
by Caitlin Cooke

The security system in Highrise Hunting Grounds has gone rogue, and you’ve been sent to shut down the mainframe. With only six initial bullets, you must fight your way through eight levels of neon jungle rife with lethal spiders, turrets, bush worms, and feisty cat-balls.

It’s a good thing your bullets bounce back, because you’ll need them.

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Review: Skylanders: Trap Team photo
Review: Skylanders: Trap Team
by Chris Carter

Toys For Bob has found some rather interesting ways to evolve the Skylanders franchise. While the conceit the first time around was simply interactive toys, the developer mixed things up with giants on the second go, and with a mix-and-match concept (my personal favorite to date) after that.

Trap Team is the fourth iteration of the series, and the gimmick this time around involves tiny plastic pieces that essentially function as little Ghostbusters tools to ensnare enemies. While the core game is still as strong as ever, the trap mechanic isn't all that exciting.

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Review: Costume Quest 2 photo
Review: Costume Quest 2
by Alasdair Duncan

The original Costume Quest was a seminal game for Double Fine; it was the first game to come out of Amnesia Fortnight, a two-week period of experimenting with small-scale games. Costume Quest's success led the way for Stacking, Iron Brigade, and other download-only games. 

Now, Costume Quest 2 is here just a few weeks before Halloween and it's delivering the same fun as the original. It may be a little too similar in some spots, but there are plenty of improvements to satisfy fans.

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Review: Driveclub photo
Review: Driveclub
by Dale North

Driveclub was supposed to be a launch day title for the PS4, but it was delayed for a while, pushing back until now. We got our hands on it at the E3 following the PS4 announcement last year and thought it needed more time in the oven, so a delay was actually welcome.

But that was a long delay. So, how much of a difference has a year made? 

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Review: Natural Doctrine photo
Review: Natural Doctrine
by Kyle MacGregor

Natural Doctrine is a strategy role-playing game with a sadistic side. It's a brutal and uncompromising experience, one keen on taxing players and pushing them to their limits with its intense difficulty.

The architects behind the title invite comparisons with Dark Souls, and have certainly built a similarly steep hill to climb. Natural Doctrine is enigmatic and soul-crushing, but lacks execution and awareness. Simply being tough as nails doesn't make an experience rewarding.

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Review: Tappingo 2 photo
Review: Tappingo 2
by Ben Pack

As someone who has gone through several Picross apps on his iPhone, I was excited to hear about Tappingo 2, a puzzler for the 3DS in the same vein. Maybe this would be the perfect game for my long train rides.

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Review: Alien: Isolation photo
Review: Alien: Isolation
by Chris Carter

From the old school "20th Century Fox" opening to the first few seconds, Alien: Isolation wants you to know that it takes after the first film from the series it was based on. One alien, one spaceship, one chance at survival.

This is the game we should have gotten from Gearbox.

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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: The Sims 4 photo
Review: The Sims 4
by Chris Carter

As a growing gamer, Maxis was always one of my go-to developers at a young age. From the original SimCity, to SimAnt, to SimTower, the company was almost infallible in my eyes, and I ate up practically every simulation it had to offer.

But while Maxis had seen a great deal of success, it wasn't until The Sims that it truly crossed over into the mainstream market and exploded. Before FarmVille, before Wii Sports, there was The Sims, and it snared a lot of the non-gaming market over the years.

The Sims 4 tries to tap into that market yet again, but it doesn't really have anything to offer over its predecessor.

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