Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Josh Tolentino

Star Trek Online photo
Star Trek Online

Star Trek Online kicks off its 6th anniversary celebrations


With a 50th-year birthday soon-ish
Jan 29
// Josh Tolentino
Star Trek Online turns six years old this week, and it's time for developer Cryptic to celebrate the fact as is the custom: By holding its yearly anniversary event. Players that log in between now and February 24th can p...
Idolm@ster Platinum Stars photo
Idolm@ster Platinum Stars

Get your body Lady for Idolmaster: Platinum Stars' trailer


Prepare for EXTREME LIVE
Jan 28
// Josh Tolentino
It wasn't enough for Bandai Namco to merely announce that Idolm@ster: Platinum Stars was on its way to PS4 this year, oh no. No, they had to show the thing off in motion today, and I have to say it's looking quite good....
Idolmaster on PS4 finally photo
Idolmaster on PS4 finally

PS4 Idolmaster game readied for 2016, gets a name


I'm Ready, I'm Lady
Jan 26
// Josh Tolentino
It took them long enough, but Bandai Namco's finally making good on its promise to put an Idolm@ster game on the PS4. Details and screens have arrived in the latest issue of Famitsu, giving the game a name and a timefram...

Review: Gravity Rush Remastered

Jan 15 // Josh Tolentino
Gravity Rush Remastered (PS4)Developer: SCE Japan Studio and Bluepoint GamesPublisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Japan and AsiaReleased: December 10, 2015 (Japan/Asia), February 2, 2016 (NA/EU)MSRP: $29.99 [Note: This review is based on the English-language version of the game released in Asian regions on December 10, 2015. We expect that there will be few if any significant differences between this release and the upcoming North America/EU releases.] The most striking part of Bluepoint's work on Gravity Rush Remastered is on the technical side. The game runs at a smooth, uninterrupted 60 frames per second, at a native 1080p resolution. Higher-resolution textures sport additional detail and sharpening while improved lighting and antialiasing brings out the color in the game's unique cel-shaded aesthetic. No one's going to mistake Gravity Rush Remastered for a "native" PS4 game, but it does look much like the way I (fondly) remember the Vita original, which is high praise considering that I can compare the two side-by-side and see just how much work went into the porting job.  While Bluepoint has made some considerable improvements to Gravity Rush Remastered's graphical quality and performance, it was more conservative in terms of content, opting just to add the original's three downloadable content packs as standard, and a gallery mode to check out concept art, character designs, and unlocked cutscenes. This may dilute the game's value proposition somewhat for existing Gravity Rush owners on the fence about double-dipping since the game is identical in content and design to the Vita version. [embed]334467:61883:0[/embed] If there's anything about the game that qualifies as "bad news," it's rooted in the fact that the content itself is unchanged. As such, the criticisms raised by Jim Sterling in his review of the original do stand, to an extent. The game's mission design never really lives up to the sheer joy of its central gravity-shifting mechanic, and no amount of frame rate improvement or antialiasing can change that. Combat and control in stressful situations can still be a little squirrely, though the better "feel" of a DualShock 4 controller, combined with the extra awareness afforded by a larger screen, makes it easier to compensate. Even players who enjoyed the tilt- and touchscreen-based features of Gravity Rush are accommodated, thanks to the DualShock 4's own motion sensing and touch panel (though these can be turned off if desired). The narrative is also much more proficient at establishing atmosphere and personality than at answering the questions it raises, and by the end of the campaign it can feel like one has just read an incomplete set of obscure foreign comic books, not knowing when or where the next issue will turn up. That said, I'm of the opinion that these rough edges are not nearly as serious in their impact as some may think, and to players in the right mindset, even add to Gravity Rush's considerable charm. The writing, dialog and story all emphasize Kat's character as a somewhat hapless amateur superhero (think "anime Ms. Marvel with a different power set") just getting started in her crime-fighting career, and she's exactly the kind of person who might whiff on landing a gravity kick and go flying into a pile of boxes. Just in the way that deliberately "slow" controls can improve the atmosphere of a horror game like Amnesia, occasional finickiness and flubs reinforce Gravity Rush Remastered's sense of character (albeit unintentionally). In the end, Bluepoint deserves credit for managing to bring out the best in an already-pretty-good game, allowing PS4 owners the chance to experience the charm of Gravity Rush unhampered by the limitations of its original platform.  [This review is based on a retail copy of the game acquired by the reviewer.] UnderRail (PC)Developer: Stygian SoftwarePublisher: Stygian SoftwareReleased: December 18, 2015MSRP: $14.99
Gravity Rush Remastered photo
Falling with style
Gravity Rush is and remains one of the coolest games on the PS Vita, even three years after its original 2012 release. Unfortunately for fans of cool games, the PS Vita didn't get into nearly as many hands as Sony was ho...


Josh Tolentino's personal picks for Game of the Year 2015

Jan 05 // Josh Tolentino
The "Old Story, Good As New" Award Pillars of Eternity and Fate/Stay night: Unlimited Blade Works This award goes to games and anime that are in many ways old, but presented in a way that makes them seem new and fresh.  Obsidian's crowdfunded take on the long-quiescent style of the classic Infinity Engine RPGs reaffirmed that the old formula was not only still viable but pretty damn good, adding new ideas and contemporary touches that made its original setting of Aedyr feel as rich and fresh as Faerun did back in the Baldur's Gate days. Studio Ufotable managed a similar feat with its animated adaptation of Type-MOON's 2004 visual novel, and while neither anime nor the Fate property could be said to have been dormant, the twists, additions, and embellishments the renowned studio added to Kinoko Nasu's original tale put a new spin on a story most fans, myself included, had thought thoroughly explored. In fact, it's thanks to that stuff that this series feels like the definitive version of the scenario, deepening the core story of heroism with a bittersweet look at its costs. Runners-up: Wasteland 2: Director's Cut and JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders   The "I'm Having A Great Time, But..." Award Fallout 4 and JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders This award goes to games and anime that I had a blast with, but just couldn't enjoy without caveats, either in retrospect or recommendation. I've got more than a hundred hours logged with Fallout 4, which is kind of scary since I'm nowhere near finished. That's because I consider myself a big Fallout fan, and this is possibly the least Fallout-like Fallout game anyone's ever made (barring Brotherhood of Steel). The tension's never been higher between the way Fallout was as a series and the way Fallout is as a game made in the fashion Bethesda prefers. At the same time, Fallout 4 is some of the most fun I've had with any "Bethesda-style" game. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring, looting, shooting, and the way the studio's typical talent for environmental storytelling has lapsed into self-parody ("Oh, an artfully posed skeleton!"). I'm still not sure how happy I am with Fallout 4 as a representative of the series' future, but despite the changes, it's been as engaging as ever, if in a different way than before. Thankfully, though, the caveats associated with JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders can be blamed on the source material. The latest phase in David Production's take on the long-running series suffers from a meandering progression, an overlong broadcast run, and flat character arcs compared to the first two chapters, Phantom Blood and Battle Tendency. At the same time, it's packed with some of the most memorable moments in the entire saga (like a glorious twenty-second fight that takes ten full minutes), and still remains a joy to watch, start to finish.  Runners-up: Metal Gear Solid V and GATE The "Best-Yet-Least-Informative Opening" Award Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and Death Parade This award goes to title whose (otherwise awesome) early bits practically misrepresent the rest of the (still awesome) experience. The opening hour or so of Metal Gear Solid V is pure Metal Gear as we had come to know it before 2015. Lots of cinematic flair and cryptic nonsense rooted in the depths of Hideo Kojima's mind. The game that followed felt almost nothing like that first blast of familiar insanity. It felt like Peace Walker, which some didn't see as a "real" Metal Gear. That is, until The Phantom Pain seemed to reveal itself as the game Kojima had always wanted to create, freed by technology to be closer than ever to that vision. It turns out he wanted to make the ultimate version of Peace Walker. That's pretty great, since Peace Walker, and now The Phantom Pain, are as much about the stories that players make for themselves as they are about the grizzled soldiers that star in the opening credits, a fact that's not lost on the main story as well. Madhouse's Death Parade also opens strong, but tricks the viewer twice at the outset. The first is in the killer opening sequence, which, despite being superbly animated, featuring a fun song by a bunch of guys who dress like the people you beat up in Yakuza games, barely has anything to do with the show itself, seeming to sell Death Parade as some kind of party anime. The first episode baits the audience more subtly, leading them to think they might be in for a season's worth of voyeuristic glee, watching the newly-dead get judged by a purgatorial bartender over pub games. Instead, what follows is far more thoughtful and even interesting, though definitely not what folks might have signed up for initially. Runners-up: Fallout 4 and Comical Psychosomatic Medicine The "Existential Crisis" Award Invisible, Inc. and One Punch Man This award goes to the rare game or show that does what it does so well that I end up questioning my ability to critique it, and by extension, critique anything at all. Games like Invisible, Inc. and shows like One Punch Man make me not want to do reviews sometimes, because the process of reviewing often means you're aware of things that you later can't ignore in the name of having fun. In some ways this award is the opposite of the one I passed to Fallout 4 and Stardust Crusaders above. In the case of Klei's turn-based heist game and Madhouse's animated take on the popular superhero satire, playing or watching in the critical state of mind leaves me with little to hold against either, causing me to question whether I've somehow missed something or if there's something I've done wrong, because nothing can feel this perfect to play and/or watch. I'm not saying they're flawless, but they do a damned good job of making it look that way, by mastering their narrow niche and seemingly leaving nothing to chance or apathy. Runners-up: The Witcher 3 and Blood Blockade Battlefront The "Actual Best of 2015" Award Undertale and Shirobako OK, hear me out: Yes, I practically just gave a different game and series perfect marks not two paragraphs ago, to the point of stating that I had so much fun playing/watching them that I didn't even feel comfortable exerting critical thinking in their presence. So why are my "actual" favorites these two? Well, the last two were fun, and practically bulletproof in my opinion, but neither made me more excited about games -- and anime -- this year than Undertale and Shirobako. Both took structures and genres I'd taken for granted as "comfortably moribund" and refreshed them in a way that made me feel better about both games and anime in general. Undertale was a delightful, iconoclastic send-up of the JRPG tradition, making hoary old conventions classed even by their fans as "comfort food" feel fresh and impactful again. Shirobako excelled by having more life and heart than most shows that get tagged with the "slice-of-life" descriptor, crafting genuine humanity out of the trials and triumphs of a small-time anime studio.    The "Oh God Why Am I Still Playing This" Special Award Destiny: The Taken King and Star Trek Online Because oh god why am I still playing these send help please Steins;Gate and Steins;Gate 
Game of the Year Lists photo
AKA The Anime Awards
As Chris Carter likes to say, every year is a good year for games if you look hard enough. That said, 2015 seemed particularly fecund, thanks to a particularly diverse selection of things I ended up liking quite a bit. From o...

Review: UnderRail

Dec 30 // Josh Tolentino
UnderRail (PC)Developer: Stygian SoftwarePublisher: Stygian SoftwareReleased: December 18, 2015MSRP: $14.99 The good news is that most of UnderRail's potential flaws are largely dependent on how highly a given player regards the era of late-90s PC role-playing games. As an isometric-perspective, tile-based, post-apocalyptic RPG with turn-based combat, it's so much a student of the likes of Fallout and Arcanum that it's not surprising to see some of its fans call it "the game Fallout 3 should have been." That debate aside, UnderRail certainly plays as enjoyably as those older games with regard to its systems. Everything from its perk-and-skill-based character creation scheme to its action-point-governed combat system works as well as one might have expected from such a game. That style didn't need much fixing 18-odd years ago, and UnderRail proves the fact. [embed]328021:61683:0[/embed] This isn't to say that the game is devoid of new ideas. Nearly two decades of design hindsight do manifest in some ways, such as in a more intuitive approach to stealthy play, and an (optional) experience system that privileges exploration and thoroughness over combat prowess. Item crafting also makes an appearance in a more contemporary style, incorporating stat choices in ways that feel meaningful and rewarding for players who emphasize less combat-focused character builds. The addition of spell-like psionic abilities also gives the game a cyberpunk edge. Unfortunately, the places where UnderRail feels like it falls short are the ones where the games of Fallout's era hold up best: in atmosphere, art, and writing. As a world and a narrative, UnderRail feels less like its own setting than a slightly genericized spin-off of Metro 2033 (though technically UnderRail's development predates the release of 4A's shooter series). Humanity can no longer live on the surface of the planet for reasons, and have reconstructed society in the titular UnderRail, a vast network of subway lines and stations. Players begin as a newly accepted resident of South Gate Station, a neutral settlement on the borders of larger, more politicized factions. Starting out doing errands for the stationmasters, players uncover a larger conspiracy, following it to its roots. It works well enough, but the flat writing lacks the creative spark that made those older games stand out, igniting imaginations to fill the gaps where primitive graphical engines couldn't provide the details. As it stands, UnderRail's world to me is less an intriguing setting than a series of cave labyrinths filled with mannequins. A few other curious omissions -- like an overly vague quest journal (good luck remembering what you needed to do in a quest without writing it down), and the complete absence of a world or local map -- feel like steps back from those very old titles. It's an area where being conspicuously retro doesn't help.  Ultimately, UnderRail is a loving tribute act to the role-playing games of yesteryear, and in preserving those old forms and mechanics, also recaptures some of their soul and the unique sense of possibility afforded by those old, arcane systems. But it also falters when it comes to replicating the narrative and atmospheric qualities that cemented those old games as lasting classics in many players' minds.  If what you miss most about games like Fallout is the act of rolling your character, exploring a space from that particular camera angle, allocating your AP in combat, or tweaking a build after several runs' worth of trial and error, you'll be in good hands with UnderRail. Otherwise, it may be more productive to simply play the older games again. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Underrail Review photo
Home Under Da Riles
Dejan Radisic first began development of UnderRail, then known as Timelapse Vertigo, almost seven years ago. Originally a solo effort, and then later conducted by Radisic and his team at Stygian Software, the game proceeded a...

Review: Sakura Santa

Dec 24 // Josh Tolentino
Sakura Santa (PC)Developer: Winged CloudPublisher: MangaGamerMSRP: $9.95Released: December 21, 2015 The aforementioned solitary souls seem to be situated smack in the target-audience sweet spot for Sakura Santa's story, as it revolves around Koji, an otherwise unremarkable college student whose main claim to fame is that he'll be lonely on Christmas eve. Yeah, that's really about it. Sakura Santa takes advantage of the fact that Christmas in Japan is more of a romantic holiday than a familial one, and kicks off with Koji visiting a nearby shrine to wish for someone to spend Christmas with. His wish is granted in short order, by fateful run-ins with Itsumi, an old childhood friend, Akina, a local fox spirit, and none other than one of Santa Claus' daughters. Then the only question is: Who shall he spend the time with? Now, before anyone gets any ideas, it's worth pointing out that Sakura Santa is not an adult game. The game's Steam store page takes care to stress that it contains "no sexual content." And they're technically right. There is no nudity, nor are there sex scenes in the whole of the game's two- to four-hour runtime. There is, however, plenty to ogle in the form of the three girls' character designs and the event scenes from the four available storylines. The art does stand out as the main draw, given that Sakura Santa has little else going for it. It's shorter and possessed of a much more bland premise than Sakura Spirits, and features a smaller cast to boot. Akina and Santa's stories quickly fall into too-similar "magical/alien girlfriend" templates familiar to anime, and though Itsumi's plotline also veers on the generic side, the story of trying to connect with an old flame after years growing apart is, at least, more inherently engaging. Then again, the other girl has fox ears and a short kimono. A dilemma, to be sure. Ultimately, Sakura Santa fails to stand out from the growing crowd of visual novels on Steam and elsewhere, except in the single respect of being a Christmas-themed story, coming out just in time for the holiday. Unfortunately, one would probably have to be as lonely as the game's protagonist to find a compelling reason to play. [This review is based on a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher.] Batman: Arkham Knight: Season of Infamy (PC, PS4, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: WB Games MontrealPublisher: Warner Bros.MSRP: $9.99Released: December 22, 2015
Sakura Santa Review photo
A Christmas Miracle for the Solo Set
When it comes to holiday traditions, Christmas-themed video games aren't as common as Christmas movies or television specials. For whatever reason, be it development times, commercial titles' higher average price tag, or the ...

NexusMods security photo
NexusMods security

Change your passwords: NexusMods suffers database breach


Or, a 'potential' one, at least
Dec 07
// Josh Tolentino
I hope you've got your password strategies down because you'll have to think up a new one if you've got an account at Nexus Mods, the popular mod repository. According to a statement posted by site founder Robin "Dark0ne...
PlayStation Awards photo
PlayStation Awards

Metal Gear Solid V, GTA V win big at the PlayStation Awards 2015


V has come to...the top sales bracket
Dec 03
// Josh Tolentino
The Game Awards may be coming up soon, but another awards show made minor waves just a few hours ago: Sony's PlayStation Awards, the yearly event hosted by Sony Computer Entertainment Japan and Asia to give a pat on the back ...
Nuclear-free FOB photo
Nuclear-free FOB

Consoles lead Metal Gear Solid V's race to nuclear disarmament


Peace Day comes to PC last
Nov 29
// Josh Tolentino
In case you missed it, the Metal Gear series has always had a pretty strong anti-nuclear message, and it's never been more literal than in Metal Gear Solid V, the multiplayer "FOB" component of which allows players ...

Review: Sword Art Online: Lost Song

Nov 13 // Josh Tolentino
Sword Art Online: Lost Song (PS4, PS3, PS Vita [reviewed])Developer: ArtdinkPublisher: Bandai Namco GamesMSRP: $39.99 (Vita), $59.99 (PS4)Released: November 17, 2015 (NA), November 13, 2015 (EU), April 28, 2015 (SEA), March 26, 2015 (JP) [Note: This review is based on the English-language version of Lost Song released in Southeast Asia on April 28, 2015. While there may be some differences between this version and the North American/EU ones, we expect the core experience will be highly similar, if not identical.] Let's not mince words: Like its predecessor Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment, Lost Song is meant for existing fans of Sword Art Online (or at least of Hollow Fragment), and few else outside that sphere. In fact, Lost Song's main plot virtually ensures that only those invested Kirito and the gang's adventures and interactions will find fulfillment from the game's narrative.  But first, an aside: When it came to the anime and novels, the reason the ALO-set story arcs felt so weak was the overriding sense that the show was treading water. In contrast to original's grand hook of "dying in the game means death for real", the goal of Kirito playing ALO to search for Asuna carried not nearly as much weight. This was exacerbated in the second season, which followed up an excellent murder mystery set in Gun Gale Online with Kirito and his pals literally just doing a raid and some quests in ALO for a nice sword. It came to pass that when ALO was onscreen, Sword Art Online became less about exciting adventures and speculative future game design than essentially watching a bunch of nonexistent Let's Players play a nonexistent game. Lost Song falls afoul of ALO's curse as well, with even its central story afflicted with the same sense of meandering and lack of stakes. Still placed in Hollow Fragment's alternative timeline (which saw the cast stuck in SAO for much longer than in the "canon", and adding characters like Sinon under different circumstances), Lost Song sees Kirito and his posse moving to ALfheim Online right on time for the game to debut "Svart ALfheim", its first expansion, consisting of five massive floating islands. Being the top-class gamers they are, the crew resolves to be the first to burn through it. [embed]318569:61096:0[/embed] The quest for "world-first" (a motivation familiar to anyone who's played an MMO) eventually brings them into conflict with Shamrock, a massive guild run by Seven, an idol/scientist (!) who's taking the opportunity run a big social experiment within ALO. If the whole premise of Lost Song's plot sounds like the kind of inter-guild "drama" that plays out on forums and social media feeds for actual games today, one wouldn't be too far off. This puts the bulk of the game's narrative appeal in the interactions between cast members new and old, told via entertaining Tales of-style vignettes, in-game events, and lengthy personal quests, some of which adapt storylines from the canon like the well-received "Mother's Rosario" arc. In a nice touch, these events are mostly encountered semi-randomly and often without explicit prompting. A minor thing, to be sure, but one that channels the "live" qualities of MMO play, where impromptu encounters and stories grow even against otherwise static environs and content. Ultimately, though, those invested in seeing the characters of Sword Art Online again, sporting their ALO-styled redesigns and touting long-running in-jokes, will get their fill, but players seeking epic adventure or the kind of JRPG saga that ends with the heroes saving the world will come away disappointed. It doesn't help, either, that Lost Song doesn't work very hard to introduce players to the characters themselves. In some ways that's to be expected, seeing as this is a sequel to Hollow Fragment and mostly features the same faces (with a few more added), but curious folks who just want to know what the fuss over Sword Art Online is all about would be better served by picking up Re: Hollow Fragment (the "Director's Cut" PS4 port of Hollow Fragment), or just watching the anime. Narrative pitfalls aside, Lost Song is at least less of a slog to play, mechanically, bringing some new, entertaining gimmicks to the table. The combat system ditches the auto-attacks, casting times, and menus of Hollow Fragment for a straightforward, directly-controlled action-RPG setup. Players can string together combos of light and heavy attacks, controlling any three of up to seventeen playable characters (they can even replace Kirito as the leader!), each wielding a number of weapons with signature skills and magic. Special moves and magic can be triggered by combining shoulder and face buttons. New attacks, spells, and passive effects can be unlocked by leveling up their weapon skills through use, and assigning them to preferred button combinations. A Union gauge fills up in battle, and when triggered enables devastating "Switch" attacks involving the whole party. While simpler and arguably less deep than Hollow Fragment, the new system is more engaging and wastes less time. Most low-level foes can be dispatched in seconds, and fighting large bosses rewards mobility and effective use of buffs and debuffs to chop away at their massive, stacked health bars. AI companions fight and support effectively, and need little in the way of handholding unless severely under-leveled. New gear can be found in the field, or bought, identified, and upgraded at Agil and Lisbeth's shops while Side Quests and Extra Quests can be accepted at the hub town's tavern. Side Quests usually fall into the "Kill X number of Y enemy" category, but Extra Quests usually pose an additional challenge, involving big takedowns of one or more boss-class foes for better rewards. And then there's the flying. Being a fairy-themed game, ALO plants wings on all its characters to enable long-distance travel and a level of verticality rarely embraced in the RPG space. Lost Song gladly obliges, featuring huge, open-world maps populated by roaming enemies and dotted with dungeons at varying altitudes. Players can switch from running on the ground to hovering to racing through the air with a flick of the D-pad. While a bit fiddly at first, this mobility quickly becomes second nature and makes a genuine difference when fighting outdoors, as aerial dashes can be used to set up powerful charging attacks, and hovering up high can put safe distances between players and ground-bound foes. Fighting indoors, however, is more of a chore, as most dungeons prohibit flying and often take place against large numbers of enemies spawning in ways that cause the combat camera and lock-on function to freak out unpleasantly. Worse still, the dungeons themselves are so bland and unimaginative that I initially mistook them for being procedurally generated. Having players visit these dungeons in order to progress just hammers home the apathetic level design. And there's even multiplayer, making Lost Song the only Sword Art Online game that's actually, well, online. Local and online play sessions are available, including a PVP versus mode, and team battles against roided-out versions of the single-player bosses. It's an alright option to have, but there's little compelling reason to engage with it. Players can use custom characters, but the customization options are so limited that anything created just resembles the generic NPC characters littering the hub world. For better or worse, Sword Art Online: Lost Song replicates both the highs and lows of its predecessors. Existing fans of the series will find plenty to like in the further adventures of Kirito and his MMO pals, despite a dull main story. The revamped mechanics also support a steady drip-feed of Sword Art Online fan service mainly by not getting in the way too much. Unfortunately, Lost Song stumbles hardest when trying to engage players outside that sphere of pre-existing investment, and in some ways ends up an even less suitable jumping-off point for newbies who want to get in on enjoying the franchise. My advice to those folks would be to watch the anime or try out Hollow Fragment first. If they're still jonesing for some more of this motley crew of irredeemable MMO nerds when they're done, then Lost Song will be music to their ears. [This review is based on a retail copy of the game acquired by the reviewer.] Fallout 4 (PC, PS4, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: Bethesda Game StudiosPublisher: Bethesda SoftworksMSRP: $59.99Released: November 10, 2015
SAO: Lost Song Review photo
Familiar Tune
Ask most folks who watched the Sword Art Online anime series, and they'll likely tell you that the show's weaker moments usually coincided with events set in ALfheim Online (ALO), a fairy-themed virtual reality MMO that ...

Star Trek Online photo
Star Trek Online

Star Trek Online celebrates new Trek show with free Enterprise stuff


It's been a long road
Nov 03
// Josh Tolentino
Rejoice, Trek fans. On the off chance you haven't heard yet, CBS is planning a new Star Trek TV series, which will premiere as part of the CBS All-Access streaming service in the far-flung future timeline of 2017, right ...
Star Trek Online photo
Star Trek Online

Star Trek Online hands out Back to the Future hoverboards


This one works over water, too
Oct 22
// Josh Tolentino
Are you tired of hearing news about Back to the Future day yet, especially now that it's technically over already? If you are...well, I'm sorry, but hey, this one might even be cool, because it comes from even further into th...
Destiny Exotics photo
Destiny Exotics

Destiny begins the quest for Sleeper Simulant today


Wake Up, Guardians
Oct 07
// Josh Tolentino
When it comes to Destiny's vast collection of fancy space guns, exotic weapons are the fanciest of them all. Every exotic weapon has unique qualities and is usually designed to bend or break a rule that governs one of the gam...
Destiny: The Taken King photo
Destiny: The Taken King

Destiny has a secret exotic weapon buried in its daily mission


All hail the Black Spindle
Sep 23
// Josh Tolentino
[Update: Bungie designer Rob Engeln confirmed via Twitter that Black Spindle drops only when "Lost to Light" is featured as the Daily Heroic Mission. This means that players who don't get it before the daily reset will ...
Game Art Book review photo
Game Art Book review

Check out Japanator's review of a cool game art book


40 Games from Japan and Beyond
Sep 01
// Josh Tolentino
Hey there! It's not all "manga this, anime that" over at Japanator. We get cool game stuff, too, and one such thing is Game Art: Art from 40 Video Games and Interviews with their Creators, an appropriately-titled book about t...

Review: Satellite Reign

Aug 31 // Josh Tolentino
Satellite Reign (PC)Developer: 5 Lives StudiosPublisher: 5 Lives StudiosReleased: August 28, 2015MSRP: $29.99Reviewer's Rig: Intel Core i5 3.40Ghz, Nvidia Geforce GTX 780 Ti, 8GB RAM I mentioned the discrepancy between my memory of what Syndicate was and the fact of how it actually played, and Satellite Reign's existence makes that difference all the more apparent. That's because, despite the latter game's obvious tonal and thematic debt to Syndicate, it's a closer cousin, mechanically speaking, to Firaxis' XCOM: Enemy Unknown.  Whereas Syndicate and Syndicate Wars had you controlling a squad of roughly identical agents, each distinguished mainly by the weapons you had them carry, the corporate wetworks team you run in Satellite Reign's consists of four distinct character classes; each class has unique abilities unlocked through the leveling system, as well as individualized ways of dealing with the obstacles in their way. Soldiers can attract and resist enemy fire or hardwire enemy power generators to turn off turrets, doors, and cameras. Hackers can shut down security systems, use drones, and "hijack" enemy and civilian NPCs to puppet as they please, a la Syndicate's Persuadertron. Support agents heal their comrades and can use a "World Scan" ability to trace systems and find suitable hacking targets. Infiltrators can use ziplines, vents, and cloaking devices to sneak past guards while packing powerful melee and sniper attacks.   [embed]307082:60210:0[/embed] This class system, in addition to the game's requisite suite of cybernetic augmentations, weapons, and equipment, as well as an XCOM-like cover system, makes every encounter and excursion in Satellite Reign a far more involved affair than in its inspiration. Whereas those older encounters usually boiled down to how quickly your guys could mow down theirs, here, every member can work in concert, their abilities complementing each other to lay even the toughest defenses bare. Evasion, subterfuge and pitched combat all have their place, and can happen at virtually any time on the game's open map. That open map is another way 5 Lives stands apart from its peers and inspirations. Instead of missions, whether bespoke like in Syndicate or procedurally-generated like in XCOM, Satellite Reign opts for an open-world structure set on what the developers claim is one of the largest maps ever generated for the Unity Engine. The map is that of a city owned and run by Dracogenics, a massive future megacorporation propped up by selling "Res-tech", a cloning technology not unlike that seen in The Sixth Day. Your team, part of a rival corporation, is dropped into the city with an older, pirated version of Res-tech (their explanation for respawning), and tasked with overthrowing Dracogenics' monopoly in the name of business, no matter how much murder and robbery it takes to do so. Everything happens on the map, as your agents claw their way through the city, with nary a loading screen between tasks. Each district, from neon-soaked Downtown to the smog-choked Industrial zone, houses a number of side missions designed to reduce Dracogenics' control. For example, infiltrating the local police station can lengthen the time it takes for guards to call in reinforcements, while planting bugs in a surveillance center keeps security cameras from recognizing your agents too quickly. Breaking into the district bank can increase the speed at which ATMs funnel cash into your coffers. Bribing a disgruntled sanitation worker can unlock a side entrance into a heavily-guarded military base. Locating a conveniently hung power line might give your agents a quick way over the walls, but only if your Soldier can sabotage a nearby generator to keep that line from frying anyone trying to slide down it. It all feels interconnected and detailed in the manner of the best obstacle courses and levels. Through it all your agents will be getting their hands on new gear, unlocking new abilities, and getting more formidable, as the game's structure allows for a near total freedom of approach. Virtually every scenario can be handled in the way you choose (short of peaceful negotiation), limited only by your ability to coordinate your agents and their own equipment and abilities. Every upgrade makes you feel more powerful, but not just in a simple "numbers went up" sense, but in the way that new upgrades unlock new options and ways to break past barriers that limited you before. Unfortunately, like a proper cyberpunk story, Satellite Reign's shiny, polished exterior reveals some grit and ugliness upon close examination. Civilians walk aimlessly to and fro, only there to provide a source of fresh clones for your agents and inconvenient witnesses for their crimes. The open-world structure of the game excises the possibility of truly lasting consequence, with the world, guard patterns, and even destroyed cameras eventually resetting over time. Enemies are a touch too durable as well, their multiple layers of armor, health, and energy shielding limiting certain approaches, and turning most firefights into drawn-out affairs as enemies summon reinforcements faster than you can kill them. Perhaps the most disappointing thing about this otherwise brilliantly-executed game is how hollow its world feels. Despite the gorgeously rendered city visuals and a goodly amount of text to be found by digging through random data terminals, Satellite Reign's city feel less like a world than a cyberpunk-themed playset. You direct your little squad of action figures around and play as you like, but rarely feel lost or immersed in the setting. It would be churlish and greedy to demand storytelling on the level of, say, Deus Ex from the game when it already does everything else so well, but it's saying something when Syndicate still manages to establish a better mood despite being nearly twenty-two years older. At the same time, rough edges like that are a small price to pay when Satellite Reign does Syndicate better than Syndicate ever did.  [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.] [embed]307082:60210:0[/embed]
Satellite Reign Review photo
Guerilla Startup
I can still remember the first time I played Syndicate. It was after school in late 1993, and I was messing around on an office computer while waiting for my mother to finish a meeting and take me home. I remember the cool mi...

Dragon Age: Inquisition photo
Dragon Age: Inquisition

Dragon Age: Inquisition's DLC epilogue is called Trespasser


Plus, Golden Nugs for all!
Aug 30
// Josh Tolentino
Dragon Age: Inquisition isn't even a year old yet, but for some reason it feels like it's been forever since it came out. I played it, had a gay old time with my slender elven Knight-Enchanter, finished the story, then settl...
Star Trek Online photo
Star Trek Online

Star Trek Online goes post-war in Season 11: New Dawn


A New Hope?
Aug 11
// Josh Tolentino
For the five years it's been running, Star Trek Online's story has been one of a galaxy at war. First it was a war between the Federation and Klingon Empire, then between an alliance of the Federation, Klingons, and Romulans...
Elite: Dangerous photo
Elite: Dangerous

Elite: Dangerous gets Horizons expansion, planetary landings


From Space Trucks to Space Buggies
Aug 05
// Josh Tolentino
Time to kick the tires, Commanders. Frontier Developments, they who run premier space-trucking sim Elite: Dangerous, just announced Horizons, the next expansion for the game. Due to open on PC and Xbox One this year, Ho...
Legend of Legacy photo
Legend of Legacy

Legend of Legacy published by NIS America in Europe


Winter (2016) is coming
Jul 28
// Josh Tolentino
Despite the "America" in the company name, it looks like NIS America is the publisher of choice when it comes to bringing Atlus games across the pond. That's certainly true for their latest announcement, the 3DS-bound RPG Leg...
Summer Lesson photo
Summer Lesson

Summer Lesson looks like everything I want from virtual reality right now


S-sign me up?
Jun 17
// Josh Tolentino
OK, real talk: That headline makes me sound like a giant creeper because, in case you didn't know, Summer Lesson is a Sony Morpheus-based tech demo that involves you just sitting beside a girl, listening to her, an...
Chris Avellone photo
Chris Avellone

Chris Avellone has left Obsidian Entertainment


No reasons given as yet
Jun 09
// Josh Tolentino
If you're at all into PC-style role-playing games of the Baldur's Gate variety, this may be big news to you: Chris Avellone has, according to brief Twitter and Facebook announcements, parted ways with Obsidian Entertainm...
Star Trek Online photo
Star Trek Online

Star Trek Online starts summer event, answers important question


Oh, and a new ship or something
Jun 05
// Josh Tolentino
Indeed, Star Trek fans, the answer that's eluded us is finally here: Andorian chest hair is as white as fresh snowfall.   Now, you could go back to your business, or you could stick around Star Trek Online between t...
GOG x Star Trek photo
GOG x Star Trek

Maximum Warp: GOG bringing back classic Star Trek games


Set Phasers to "Stunning Discounts"
May 07
// Josh Tolentino
Remember when GOG was called "Good Old Games"? When the fine folks at CD Projekt were more concerned about getting classic games like, er..NOX to contemporary players at low prices, rather than selling brand new games an...

Review: Chroma Squad

May 04 // Josh Tolentino
Chroma Squad (PC) Developer: Behold StudiosPublisher: Behold StudiosReleased: April 30, 2015MSRP: $14.99 Not that they really needed to, of course. Such a "feature" would interfere with play, and there's plenty of service in the game as it is for fans. The play, in this case, is of the turn-based tactical variety, as if Behold took XCOM and ran it through the parodic, pixelated filters of Knights of Pen and Paper.  Like the former, players will manage a small squad of combatants, with unique classes and abilities, running them up against groups of goons and the occasional boss, one turn at a time. Like the latter, every mechanic serves as a distillation of tokusatsu's essence through heavy referencing and a clear, almost palpable appreciation of the source material. The premise alone is ripe enough with potential that it's baffling more games haven't taken advantage: Players manage a fledgling production studio, with each mission treated as an "episode" of an upstart spandex superhero show. Names, casting, and even catchphrases are up for customization, as well as the requisite selection of bright primary colors to outfit the roster with. If players want to commit sentai sacrilege and name a non-red-colored character the "Lead," no one can stop them but their inevitable guilt (guilt, I say!). Cast members can also be selected from a pool of actor candidates, each with their own special qualities.  [embed]291251:58411:0[/embed] When the cameras start rolling and the minions exit wardrobe, the fight is on. The goal of any given mission is to amass as much "audience" as possible, by performing flashy attacks, fancy stunts, and of course, winning the fight. Additionally, optional "Director's Instructions" add extra conditions, such as finishing off boss monsters with a screen-filling finishing move, or not killing off the boss before dispatching the cannon-fodder minions. Such extra goals help introduce variety to the combat, which is more simplistic than one might find in XCOM or other dedicated tactical titles. Enemies follow simple patterns and lack much in the way of extra abilities, so most of the tactics devolve to crowd and ability cooldown management rather than more elegant stratagems. Chroma Squad's main mechanical wrinkle comes in the form of "Teamwork," which allows squad members to leapfrog over each other to boost their movement range, or carry out simultaneous attacks with adjacent teammates. This, alongside somewhat simplistic giant-mecha boss battles, give the game enough of a unique flavor to override its otherwise thin tactical substance.  Following the mission, gained audience is converted into "fans," and also into increased studio funding, the better to buy one's way out of Papier-mâché costumes and into some real spandex duds. Behind the scenes, the studio itself can be outfitted with various upgrades that improve performance in each episode. Buying health care for the actors improves their health in combat, and improving the lighting on set reduces enemies' chance to dodge or counter blows. Materials dropped in combat can also be used to craft customized gear with semi-random statistics, a useful (and cheap) alternative to costly store-bought costumes and weapons. Fan mail can be answered for flavor and smaller benefits, and players can even choose marketing agencies to confer more benefits. Going with a niche-market enthusiast firm might increase the amount of fans gained after an episode, but will likely lack the mass-audience-gathering benefits of a more mainstream advertising push. Tradeoffs like that characterize much of Chroma Squad's meta-game. Speaking of meta-things, the game's narrative and missions regularly break the fourth wall, and form one of the game's potentially divisive aspects. While the self-aware script and obvious understanding of tokusatsu's many conventions and tropes lend it an endearing level of charm, some players might be turned off by references to dated Internet memes and other metahumor. Personally, I found the story hit quite a bit more than it missed, but I will admit that at times the dialog read more like a forum chat log than a script, and wasn't always helped by rough spots in the localization and editing. Then again, it's not like tokusatsu attracts its fans for complex plotting and characterization, so it may balance out in the end for players in the right mindset. What isn't as easy to let by are some unfortunate, if minor, technical and design blemishes on Chroma Squad's pristine pixelation. Mission scripts would occasionally freeze in "cutscene" mode, forcing me to start the mission over. A nasty little bug accidentally equipped low-level equipment on my giant robot, making some late-game boss battles much more tense than I'd have liked them to be. One bug even gave me control of an enemy unit rather than my own squad members for a few turns! Thankfully, dev posts on the forums appear to indicate that Behold is aware of most of the bugs I encountered, and a patch is in the works at the time of this writing. Beyond that, the lack of a mid-mission checkpoint or save, or a mission-select option is inconvenient for players wanting to explore the game's branching story paths (especially for those curious to see what Behold has to say about Kamen Rider). That said, the team has stated a New Game+ option may yet be in the cards for a future update, so repeated playthroughs may become more appealing in the future. Zordon may have wanted "teens with attitude," but Chroma Squad and its unabashed, utterly geeky love-in for all things tokusatsu shows something even harder to find: A game with heart and soul. That heart shines through the rough edges, and in some ways even turns them to its advantage. It might have taken quite a while in getting here, but fans of spandex-clad superheroic finally have the videogame to help them fill that little fantasy. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Chroma Squad review photo
Lights, Camera, Henshin!
Ever since a badly-dubbed lady popped out of a dumpster on the moon, sending a weird computer-man to seek "teenagers with attitude," geeks of a certain age have been on the lookout for a game that can capture the essence of w...

Review: Omega Quintet

Apr 29 // Josh Tolentino
Omega Quintet (PS4) Developer: Compile HeartPublisher: Idea Factory (JP), Idea Factory International (US/EU)Released: October 2, 2014 (JP) / April 28, 2015 (US) / May 1, 2015 (EU)MSRP: $59.99 Speaking of other "firsts," playing Omega Quintet brings to mind the very first Hyperdimension Neptunia title. That's not a good sign, seeing as the original game literally put Matt Razak to sleep back in 2011. Indeed, despite being, on paper, one of the most feature-rich titles Compile Heart has produced, the experience of playing Omega Quintet feels decidedly regressive, a far cry from the comparative refinement that the Neptunia franchise has managed to cultivate over the years. Perhaps some of that disconnect is cultural. Whereas the Neptunia series' light parody of the game industry and its never-ending platform wars will be familiar to most gamers, idol culture -- which informs much of Omega Quintet's setup -- is largely absent outside of Japan. Many of its references to the peculiarities of pop-princess life fall flat for lack of that common ground. On the other hand, not even Neptunia could be considered especially sophisticated in its satire. Anyone familiar with that series would know that the premises, however niche or inventive, really serve as a framework on which to drape a proven mix of cute girls, complex battle systems, anime-tinged humor, and sexualization. Omega Quintet is in much the same way, and its paeans to the life of celebrities are ultimately skin-deep. Except even by those lowered standards and tempered expectations, the game still comes across as lazy and half-hearted, without the charm or spark that helped its cousins rise above their otherwise mundane core.  Omega Quintet at least sounds interesting at first. Its future-set, ostensibly apocalyptic setting is cutely subverted by the fact that the Blare, an existence pushing humanity to the brink of extinction, can only be stopped by the Verse Maidens, a troupe of magical girl idols who sing and fight with giant weapons called "Mics". The Verse Maidens are powered by the adoration of the people, which necessitates their fights being broadcast live like a concert. Sadly, the last active Verse Maiden, Momoka, is retiring, because she's apparently much older than she looks. Enter Otoha, a fresh-faced youngster, and her male friend/player stand-in Takt, as the newest Verse Maiden recruit and the team manager, respectively. As more new Verse Maidens join to take up the reins, various anime-flavored antics ensue alongside goodly amounts of suggestive posing, relationship-building, wacky conversations, and of course, saving the world. The catch, unfortunately, is that all this cutsey waifu fun has to be experienced from the perspective of Takt, one of the least likable male leads ever to be inflicted on videogames. It's as if whomever wrote his lines mistook being a total prick for an aloof kind of coolness. Every word from his mouth is marinated in pointless sarcasm and brain-dead snark that it makes the event scenes -- which already run far too long and stretch their one-note jokes to the breaking point as it is -- a grating exercise in tedium. If he can't even be bothered to care what's going on, why should we? The game can't even be bothered to fully incorporate its premise into the main structure. Omega Quintet comes with a surprisingly robust "PVS" mode, which allows players to essentially construct dance and concert videos from the game's (rather small) collection of idol songs, complete with video recording and upload functions, but there's rarely any point or main-game benefit to engaging it. Ironically, despite the fact that this game is supposed to be Compile Heart's "idol RPG," Neptunia Producing Perfection, which is more of an actual idol-centric game than this could hope to be, came out last year. [embed]290971:58370:0[/embed] If there is a group that could look forward to enjoying Omega Quintet, it's the crowd that comes to JRPGs not for narrative or anime antics, but for abstract and engaging battle systems. Omega Quintet's is enjoyably complex and interesting to master. Where the trend in RPG battle has moved away from menus and into quasi-action game territory, Omega Quintet is all too happy to throw players into a sea of menu selections and gauge-driven turn-based combat. At its core, the game's battling relies on using attacks of varying effectiveness, range, and recovery time to manipulate the turn order. Stacking commands and attacks so that the Verse Maidens all take their turns in quick succession unlocks powerful Harmonics attacks, and building "Voltage" (a gauge representing the audience's fervor) eventually results in engaging the cinematic "Live Concert" mode, a sort of super attack that involves big damage, over-the-top animation, and background lyrics. Throw in Takt's ability to partner up with the Verse Maidens to deliver follow-ups or stat boosts, as well as score-boosting Overkill systems, a Sphere-Grid-like character progression system, and even item and gear crafting, and there's plenty of mechanical fat to chew on. If only the context and characters surrounding this part of the game were more worthwhile. Though there's nothing explicitly wrong with it, Omega Quintet feels far too much like a "by-the-numbers" Compile Heart title to do justice to the studio's first current-gen effort. Its narrative and aesthetic "fluff" ultimately fail to support its dense and otherwise engrossing mechanical heart. For a game about a bunch of girls finding their voices and path in the world, it has distressingly little "voice" of its own.  [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Omega Quintet review photo
Same old song and dance routine
Omega Quintet is a game of firsts. Chronologically, it's the PlayStation 4's first exclusive Japanese RPG (Final Fantasy Type-0 originally being a PSP game). It's also developer Compile Heart's first PS4 game, and by certain logic, the first JRPG to plumb Japan's idol subculture. If only being such a pioneer had resulted in a game that actually put its best foot forward.

Star Trek Online photo
Star Trek Online

Star Trek Online goes to (more) war in its Season 10 update


Would you like to know more?
Apr 26
// Josh Tolentino
If we go by seasons, Star Trek Online has been the longest-running Star Trek-branded property of all, with the game's Season 10: The Iconian War update having gone live just this week. Of course, that's a bit of a cheat...
Chroma Squad  photo
Chroma Squad

Power Ranger sim Chroma Squad gets dated, trailered


Teenagers with Attitude!
Apr 24
// Josh Tolentino
Ever since I, as a grown man, got back into watching Japanese television shows targeted at seven-year-olds, I've wanted to see a proper, well-done videogame inspired by Super Sentai, Power Rangers, Kamen Rider and other...
Star Trek Online photo
Star Trek Online

Star Trek Online resorts to time travel to boost recruitment in April


Because war is coming
Mar 24
// Josh Tolentino
Ah, time travel. It's a staple of science fiction, and Star Trek has played host to more than a few yarns about tripping the light chronologic. Thus it's not unusual to see a few time-travel quests lodged into MMORPG Star Tre...

Auto-loading more stories ... un momento, corazón ...