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Review: Saints Row IV: Gat out of Hell photo
Review: Saints Row IV: Gat out of Hell
by Brittany Vincent

There’s something about a series that doesn’t feel the need to make a ton of social commentary, or really feel grounded in reality. The Saints Row series is like if the worlds of The Naked Gun and Grand Theft Auto merged, and the result is a unique blend of zany comedy, copious cursing, and ultraviolence. Saints Row: The Third is one of my favorite games of all time.

The series hit its peak there, with an almost perfect balance of the real, the absurd, and the fantastical. Saints Row IV was still a blast, but I felt it lacked the magic of its predecessor. So it’s understandable that I was therefore jaded by the time Saints Row: Gat out of Hell came down the pipe to review. But wherever you are and wherever you go, there’s always gonna be some light.

With that said, plenty of it shines through in this standalone expansion.

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Review: Funk of Titans photo
Review: Funk of Titans
by Chris Carter

Funk of Titans is not a very fun game.

But Brett Makedonski and I had a lot of fun talking about it.

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Review: Legend of Grimrock 2 photo
Review: Legend of Grimrock 2
by Patrick Hancock

The first Legend of Grimrock was damn near perfect. Coming seemingly out of nowhere, it put a fresh new face on the dungeon-crawling genre. It was a game that didn't forget its roots yet also didn't forget that we live in a different time.

It's no surprise, then, that the sequel is absolutely stunning.

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Review: Assassin's Creed Unity: Dead Kings photo
Review: Assassin's Creed Unity: Dead Kings
by Brett Makedonski

If our time spent wandering the Parisian streets in Assassin's Creed Unity has taught us anything, it's that Arno Dorian is a self-serving man. Almost all of his actions, whether aligned with the cause of the Brotherhood or not, weren't altruistic, but rather, efforts for personal gain. With his attention wholly divided between personal vendettas and the apple of his eye, Arno was the least sympathetic model for role-playing Assassins since, well, last year when Edward Kenway held that mantle.

Given his affinity for all things Arno, it should come as no surprise that the Dead Kings add-on extrapolates upon that theme heavily. While Ubisoft dialed up the protagonist's selfish pretense, it took pause with the gameplay and varied it up moreso than the base game.

That is, as much as can be expected with the tried-and-tested Assassin's Creed formula.

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Review: Super Mega Baseball photo
Review: Super Mega Baseball
by Chris Carter

Like many people out there, I learned how to play most sports through videogames. By the time I entered various real-life leagues for baseball, basketball, and football, I had a grasp of the basic concepts of each, mostly thanks to classics like Bad News Baseball and Super Baseball 2020, two of my personal favorites.

Super Mega Baseball seeks to remind us of that retro arcade-like era of sports, where the games were mechanically sound, but more exciting than a hardcore simulation.

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Review: Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition photo
Review: Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition
by Chris Carter

When I was younger, Duke Nukem 3D had a "parental lock" option with a passcode. Naturally, as any inquisitive child would do, I backed up my save files, uninstalled the game, re-installed it, and set up a new jibberish password that way my parents would assume they forgot the code or there was an error with the game.

With or without the adult content, Duke was one of my most cherished shooters. Although it is decidedly dated by today's standards, its massive 10-weapon loadout featured a ton of diversity, and the environments contained some of the best hidden areas in the genre, even today.

It's a bit of a relic, but Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition is an endeavor worth pursing if you have any interest in first-person shooters, and can deal without a handful of modern conveniences.

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Review: Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham photo
Review: Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham
by Caitlin Cooke

Don’t let the name fool you -- this is by no means a Batman game. The Dark Knight may grace the box, but underneath its bat-enameled shell lies a Justice League game at heart. A menagerie of DC heroes and villains combined steal the show in this installment and take us far away from the streets of Gotham.

Despite this identity shift, the game still manages to provide a decent amount of content, features, and unlockables -- perhaps at the expense of more crucial mechanics.

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Review: Escape Dead Island photo
Review: Escape Dead Island
by Brittany Vincent

In my years as a freelancer and staffer at various videogame outlets, I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing a ton of great games. In fact, this year I had the privilege of reviewing pretty much every “AAA” game that hit stores. I also review a lot of garbage, or games that are fundamentally broken in one or more aspects. Games that only through providence made it out of QA.

I always try and remember though that every game, whether it’s an EA blockbuster or a one-man indie project, was someone’s baby. No matter what game you talk about, there is at least one guy or gal out there who put their all into it, even if the rest of the team couldn't be bothered to exert much effort. So I always try to approach criticizing a game from that angle. Escape Dead Island is a special case though. 

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Review: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy  photo
Review: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy
by Brittany Vincent

The visual novel has been ubiquitous in Japan since the early ‘90s, but in the West they've never truly caught on. Whether it was the U.S.’s love for its own home-grown adventure games like Sierra’s King’s Quest, the SCUMM games by LucasArts, or the absolute pain it is to translate games from Japanese that can be over 450 English pages long, it's never been clear as to why that is. In fact, it wasn't really until the early 2000s that they finally started catching on. The Nintendo DS was the platform many English-speaking gamers experienced their first visual novel on, through none other than Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney.

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Review: Xeodrifter photo
Review: Xeodrifter
by Jonathan Holmes

A lot of the kids who grew up with Metroid, Super Mario Bros., and The Legend of Zelda are now older than than their creators were when those legendary Nintendo franchises were first released. Some of those kids are now videogame developers themselves. Jools Watsham of Renegade Kid is one example. He created Xeodrifter in five months, fueled by financial stress, time constraints, and a raw love of Super Metroid. You can read about his process here

Showing your Metroid DNA on your sleeve is a blessing and a curse. It instantly communicates to the relatively large Metroid fan base that your game was made for them. It also sets the bar incredibly high. Begging for a comparison to Super Metroid is a dangerous thing. As we saw with the reaction to Other M, a disappointed Metroid fan can be an intensely spiteful force. 

My guess is Xeodrifter won't inspire that kind of caustic reaction in the Metroid faithful. If it were an official Metroid game, it would rank near or above many of the other games in the franchise. As long as you go into it expecting something short and sweet, it's hard to imagine that Metroid fans will be disappointed. 

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Review: The Crew  photo
Review: The Crew
by Brittany Vincent

A great racer to me doesn’t focus on an abundance of customization options or entire garages of cars. It doesn’t even serve up solid multiplayer modes or an interesting soundtrack. It keeps me playing.

And let me tell you, unless it’s Mario Kart or a stupidly solid racer that entrances me from its opening credits, that doesn’t happen very often. I don’t care about winning a tournament and I have no interest in being a professional race car driver like Jerry. 

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Review: Kalimba photo
Review: Kalimba
by Chris Carter

Games built around co-op have always had a place in my life. When I was younger, I had a lot of friends who were gamers, which made it easy to pick up and play multiplayer titles. As I grew up, I attended college, met more gamers, and then met my wife, who also plays games.

As such, I almost always have someone who is down to co-op. Thankfully, Kalimba not only has one of the best cooperative experiences around, but it also has a strong single-player element.

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Review: Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- photo
Review: Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN-
by Chris Carter

I've spent many late nights with Guilty Gear. Week-long tournaments, money-matches between friends; it was the perfect series to play around with, and one of my most competitive. But as time went on, the franchise started to get a little stale. We saw the same exact character models, the same movesets, and not much in terms of innovation.

Guilty Gear Xrd changes that significantly with a complete overhaul of the visual style on top of everything that made Guilty Gear so great in the first place.

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Review: Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris photo
Review: Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris
by Darren Nakamura

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light was a surprise hit for me. I had never been a huge Tomb Raider fan, but its focus on puzzles, asymmetric cooperative multiplayer, and replayability drew me in. It's hard to believe that was already four years ago.

Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris (abbreviated as Lara Croft: TOO, which any word nerd will appreciate) picks up the torch from Guardian of Light, adding four-person multiplayer, new puzzle mechanics, and updated visuals. It has a great formula for success, but it slips a little in execution.

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Review: Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD ReMIX photo
Review: Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD ReMIX
by Brittany Vincent

The odd concept of melding a host of characters from Square Enix’s seminal Final Fantasy series, Disney’s perennial film favorites, and a cast of original personalities, seemed as though it was destined for failure. I mean, who would want to hear Donald Duck’s honking lisp while sharing the screen with the likes of Cloud Strife or Sephiroth?

Being a Square fan, I had to try it out though, and not only did I fall in love with the games, but I rediscovered my love for the Disney franchises of my youth. Although it took almost four years for a sequel to be released, Kingdom Hearts was and is a series that has stuck with me. Then, when Kingdom Hearts II was released in early 2006, I bought it immediately.

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Review: Destiny: The Dark Below photo
Review: Destiny: The Dark Below
by Chris Carter

Having basically played the new Destiny expansion The Dark Below nonstop since launch, I've experienced everything it has to offer. That in itself is an issue, because although I have played more than the average person, to exhaust the content this early isn't a good sign.

While Destiny feels just as great as ever, perhaps even more-so due to the design of a few mechanics herein, I can't help but feel underwhelmed just like I did back in September.

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