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Steven Hansen

CONTEST photo
Courtesy of Xbox and The Coalition
The original Gears of War is back almost nine years to the day on Xbox One with the HD soul-patched Gears of War Ultimate Edition. To celebrate, Xbox and The Coalition are giving away a custom Xbox One designed by The Coaliti...

Special edition photo
Special edition

Xenoblade Chronicles X gets a special edition with a USB stick


Sick USB stick
Aug 29
// Steven Hansen
Xenoblade Chronicles X is getting a collector's edition along with its December 4 release in North America (it launched in Japan earlier this year).  The $90 version includes the game, a 100 page art book, a tiny illustr...

Get your XCOM fix this year with the brutal Hard West

Aug 28 // Steven Hansen
[embed]308273:60179:0[/embed] At one point in my demo I had to rescue a man held on a cannibal farm because I needed information from him. An elixir vendor further south, when pressed about the cannibalism (information gleaned from earlier adventure), admitted some of that crew come into his shop to buy spices and things. He offered to vouch for me if I drank one of his elixirs. I did, and it was poison, which weakened me a bit. But I was also able to take that poison to a well near the farm and poison their water supply, thus weakening all my upcoming enemy combatants. Plus, with the snake oil salesman's help, I was able to stealth my way through my turns and to the hostage's shack. With my cover, enemies would get suspicious if I got too close for too long, but I was able to get through fairly easily. After the rescue, that upped our ranks to three, leaving me even better off for the impending slaughter. (An optional objective was to try the human meat, which would restore strength, but it could've had some drawbacks; I opted to avoid it). There are a number of cool options available within the tactical half. Like XCOM, you have to reload, sometimes after just one shot, because of the period guns. You can also hold up an enemy if you don't want to kill them (or don't want to kill them yet). There's also no overwatch phase, so if you know where an enemy is and they aren't expecting you, you can run up on them and unload. Hard West also challenges the random number generator. You can permanently lose characters (as I did, last minute, with my would-be informant); the game is not easy. But it tries to reward you for playing well, which all comes down to positioning. Accordingly, you don't have those point blank, 98% chance shots that somehow always miss when you need them most. If you get close enough, you were playing well, and you're rewarded with sure hits. Which is important when both you and your enemies can go down in one or two hits. There are plenty of other wrinkles in Hard West I'd like to explore. There is full/half cover, but you can also make your own cover by, say, flipping over a table in the middle of a room. There are also challenging richochet shots, which I didn't try out, and each gun has secondary fire (a spread cone for the shotgun, fanning for multiple pistol shots). Playing card modifiers also enhance your characters -- by greater degrees if you also make a poker hand. And I didn't get to the early promised bit about dynamic sunlight casting shadows that can alert you to enemy positions (and vice-versa). Hard West is coming to PC this fall.
Hands-on preview photo
Cowboys and strategy
With XCOM 2 just pushed back into 2016 and, I assume, everyone needing a short break from 1,000 hours of Invisible, Inc, strategy-minded folks seem to have a good option this fall: Hard West. The Western turn-based strategy g...

Hang out with Destructoid at PAX Prime 2015

Aug 28 // Steven Hansen
The general schedule of funsies is as follows: THURSDAY Join the Destructoid staff and community for some pre-PAX drinking and arcades at Gameworks (1511 7th Ave). Meet new folks, catch up with the homies, play Taiko Drum Master, and let me coax you into drinking strange liqueurs (round of Fernet? Round of Fernet) Let's say folks roll in around 8PM allowing time for dinners (find people to dine with!). FRIDAY Nothing "official" planned for today, but you've made so many new friends last night at Gameworks that you'll have no problem coming up with some great plans, eh? SATURDAY Elephant & Castle, it lives! Located in the Motif Hotel (formerly the Red Lion, 1415 5th Avenue), it's a fake English bar to remind you of home. You're all from England, right? Let's plan for typical convening around 8PM, but note that this joint does food, too. SUNDAY Our yearly picture, days into the show, when when we look near our worst, but new and old friendships have had time to ferment and everyone has that glint in their eye, probably from all the sex. (No one is allowed to have sex, this is a family website - Ed.). Be ready for your close up at 12PM at Pike St in front of the convention center. MONDAY I'm leaving. I probably should get home and feed my cat. But elsewise, to quote the much better at this Andy Dixon, "Monday means sad goodbyes to friends you don't see nearly enough, and as always, we'll be meeting up at Rock Bottom (1333 Fifth Ave) about 8pm." - Plans can always change. Stay frosty. Keep friends in the loop. Use any means of communication you got. Take pictures. Get hugs. Give hugs. Say no to drugs. Let's have a lovely weekend.
PAX Prime 2015 plans photo
THAT MEANS YOU
PAX Prime is this weekend. It's a yearly, consumer-focused gaming convention held in rainy Seattle, Washington that always has a large turnout of Destructoid folks. And I'm not just talking about us writerly jagoffs, though w...


PAX gallery photo
PAX gallery

PAX Prime 2015 show floor gallery (not literally)


Hardly any carpets (or sexy cosplay)
Aug 28
// Steven Hansen
We're in Seattle chillin' out, maxin', PAX'ing all cool. Remember that if you, too, are in Seattle, you should come hang out with Destructoid staff and community members. We even managed to stake out an entire sports table la...
BREAKING photo
BREAKING

REPORT: This is what a Bullet Bill's butthole looks like


Live on scene at PAX Prime in Seattle
Aug 28
// Steven Hansen
Venerable Super Mario villain Bullet Bill (really, villain? He just a bullet, he goes where he is shot, he has no say in the matter!) is most often seen in profile thanks to his 2D leanings. However, if this official character mock up provided by Nintendo at its PAX Prime booth answers that age-old question: what does a Bullet Bill's butthole look like?
Dragomon classes photo
Dragomon classes

Dragomon Hunter shows off monster hunting character classes


Chibi, colorful Monster Hunter-like
Aug 26
// Steven Hansen
That Monster Hunter-styled MMORPG Dragomon Hunter has put out a new video focusing on the available characters classes. All the classics are there: scout, mercenary, mage, buscemi, cleric, substitute teacher. The free-to-pla...
PSN sale photo
PSN sale

PlayStation Network sale stretches the meaning of 'retro'


Cheap PS4, PS3, and Vita games
Aug 25
// Steven Hansen
The PlayStation Network is having a sudden sale with deals of up to 90% off (with PlayStation Plus) games. This "Retro" sale includes classic titles like Beyond: Two Souls (2013) for $8 and OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood (20...
Bad breath photo
Bad breath

Have you seen Final Fantasy XV's malboro? Terrifying


Bad breath
Aug 25
// Steven Hansen
Ah, the days when the sight of a drooling malboro brought with it dread. This encounter is looking as if Final Fantasy XV will recapture that worry. With the push towards realism and the large scope of the world, it needs be...

Review: Madden 16

Aug 25 // Steven Hansen
Madden NFL 16 (PlayStation 4 [reviewed], Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)Developer: EA TiburonPublisher: EA SportsReleased: August 25, 2015MSRP: $59.99 Madden 16 makes an interesting opening gambit, once again going right into a game, this time a fabricated Super Bowl 50 starring the Cardinals and Steelers. No one wanted to watch that match up seven years ago (except me because of the Kurt Warner), but EA insists on framing this nostalgia-less, fake match up with Any Given Sunday editing, close ups on players, and even tepid, badly-acted football dialogue, the kind of jawing written by someone who has not played sport.  Fuck, is it boring. It introduces new (very simple) catching mechanics in painful slow motion setting up situations (oh, one of the teams is trailing!) we're supposed to have emotions in, like I have any stake in Fake Super Bowl 50, like I'm supposed to feel something when alleged rapist Ben Roethlisberger (who narrates later tutorials) tells his mates, "It's time to be the team we're supposed to be right now. Believe in the man to your left and to your right. It's our time right now" like he's reading commercial cue cards. At least the San Jose 49ers' digital Levi's Stadium field hasn't turned to pudding like the real one. This is what Madden is, though. In past years I have creatively ripped on the series for aggressive advertisements of real-world products, which this one seems to have toned down significantly (unless they're coming dynamically as updates post launch). But! Madden is a yearly advertisement for the NFL. From the start menu it encouraged me to share my information with the NFL, promising digital playing cards as a reward. This is what it means to have exclusivity rights to the only meaningful football league (because no one internationally gives a shit), the commodification of players. It is cool to see the increased likeness of Arizona's head coach whose fascinating neck folds and face-scanned pores have him looking like a corrugated version of Dana Carvey's turtliest member of the turtle club. [embed]307755:60128:0[/embed] In 2006 (that would make it Madden 07) I distinctly remember when I fell into the habit of abusing slot receivers instead of number one and number two wide receivers. This meant a lot of balls to the perfectly serviceable Kevin Curtis instead of two of the greats, Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt. The worst thing about those slot receiver posts, or crossing routes over the middle, has always been linebackers undercutting the passes for picks. Here is the scenario: a player looks reasonably open for a pass. It is a pass any NFL quarterback could make. It is a pass I, an idiot with bad knees, could make. You throw it with a nice arc over the front defensive layer and before the safeties. Madden has never wanted to give you that pass and it has taken near 10 years for the series to introduce "touch passing," a double tap that lets you drop balls into open zones. Ten years. Low and high throws are executed by holding L1 (high) or L2 (low) while passing. The passing game has seen the most new features added this year. Aside from the aforementioned quarterback stuff, there are three types of catches, done by holding one of three buttons while the ball is in the air en route to the receiver. The Aggressive catch (triangle) is for leaping catches and bodying cornerbacks. RAC (square) encourages the player to make a catch in motion and continue running up field, provided they're not about to be clocked. Possession catches (x) are for keeping feet in-bounds or making sure the receiver hangs on to a first down. These useful buttons encourage more user interaction during catches and also speak to a refined interplay between defensive backs and receivers. On the other side of the ball, you can have defenders play the ball (hold triangle) to go for an interception or deflection, or more conservatively play the receiver (hold x) to ensure you make a tackle and possibly knock the ball from them. There is much more realistic jockeying for body position and faithful physics so long as you don't stare too closely at the instant replays. Eventually you'll notice some similar, more dramatic catch animations (a particular one-handed one stuck out), but it is a plus on the whole for verisimilitude, for giving weight and feeling to awesome athletes interacting in a confined space. That's about it, though. There are some neat presentation additions (statistic graphics overlaid on players) and the menus are well laid out, though they are also pretty slow. Load times, too, are still a bit of a problem (and intrusive presentation elements are bothersome when running a hurry up offense). The insistence towards microtransaction-laden Ultimate Team and the new fantasy football-cribbed Draft Champions modes is useless. Throwing, catching, and defending throws have seen some welcomed, long-ignored additions that get a couple yards closer to faithful simulation. You can decide if that's enough. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Madden reviewed photo
Mildly deflated
I do feel, some, for Electronic Arts and the people responsible for making Madden every year. This is only my 4th year (out of  27 releases) covering it and I fear I may have peaked with last year's review. But like a fr...

Review: Everybody's Gone to the Rapture

Aug 22 // Steven Hansen
Everybody's Gone to Rapture (PS4)Developer: The Chinese RoomPublisher: Sony Computer EntertainmentReleased: August 11, 2015MSRP: $19.99 That technical snafu highlights Raptures biggest problem: it is slow and empty. It is too big. I've lived in San Francisco all my life. It isn't small town England, but I've literally walked it from end to end; it's not huge. And still there are blocks, stores, buildings, entire neighborhoods that I have hardly any connection to, that walking through wouldn't evoke any intimate feeling. The exploratory nature of Gone Home, confined to a single family house and connected with tactile engagement, develops its personal story through telling detail. Rapture, on the other hand, is scaled towards a mysterious apocalypse that has seemingly wiped out all things, including this entire village. It is world-concerning. The "pattern," the frightened townspeople fed lies about "influenza," the bloodied tissues strewn about, the quarantine. And it is stuffed with characters, but you only hear them in snippets, like a radio play, after stumbling on orbs of light (and awkwardly tilting the PS4 controller) or abandoned radios. I, apparently, struggle telling a dozen English voices apart and remembering their names, devoid of context or faces. After triggering enough events to start figuring out who's who, I did appreciate the quality character performances. I clung to these characters' story, too, because it was obvious the mystery of the apocalypse was being withheld. The interpersonal drama of village living, of life lost in war, of forbidden relationships, of difficulties in small, religious community. [embed]305705:60101:0[/embed] But why the long walking between points of interest? Rapture is beautiful, no doubt, but that fidelity and scale means that differing local pubs carry the same hand-written signage and no one seems to have personal affects in their vehicles. The beautiful village is unremarkable to the outsider, and the flitting luminescence of peoples' lives hardly feels grounded in the environment that was meant to have connected them. Snooping through the detritus of peoples' homes should say more. There is a difference between the thematic, profound emptiness of the absence of others and the dull emptiness of a beautiful world that doesn't feel lived-in, though aesthetically consistent. Then we are back to the issues of scale, as the story, which guides you through the waning lives of several characters, loops back to its key ones and back to the science-fiction mystery we've given up on for hours in favor of English infidelity. It almost feels garish to go back to, admitting that the in media res character sketches, the handful of dialogue lines about and around interpersonal drama, are not, in fact, enough. Or at least not obvious enough. The end is the theme extrapolated, turned up. Rapture deals with mature, human subject matter -- failing relationships, aging, death -- with notable verisimilitude before acquiescing to its lurid, fantastical bent. The latter feels disconnected from the initially analog apocalypse and your thoughts on Dear Esther will likely echo off this ornate end. What Rapture does well feels slight. Interwoven character sketches stretched out like clippings of a short story dropped every mile. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Rapture review photo
A moment frozen in time
Everybody's Gone to the Rapture wouldn't end. I was lost in the middle of the 1984 English countryside having made my circuit trudging through several connected areas, yet suddenly I was back somewhere in the middle. Without ...

First screens photo
First screens

Bikinis, volleyball confirmed for Dead or Alive Xtreme 3


First screens
Aug 21
// Steven Hansen
Just in case you were concerned that Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 would not feature Japanese women in bikinis playing volleyball on the beach, I am here to reassure you that Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 will in fact feature Japanese wome...
MGSV merch photo
MGSV merch

Sony's selling Metal Gear Solid V Walkmans and they're not cheap


Also phones and tablets
Aug 21
// Steven Hansen
Sony is producing various Phantom Pain-branded electronics to coincide with the release of Metal Gear Solid V. The tie-in release includes a Metal Gear version of Sony's premier Walkman, the ZX2, which costs something like $1...
Don't hit me, I'll hit me photo
Don't hit me, I'll hit me

New Hitman movie receiving worse reviews than Pixels


Worse rated video game movie ever?
Aug 21
// Steven Hansen
Awful Adam Sandler tax dodge Pixels flirted with a 0% positive reviews yield on film aggregate Rotten Tomatoes last month, but eventually stumbled all the way up to a more respectable 16% positive rating. So obviously these t...
Star Citizen unrest photo
Star Citizen unrest

Some contributors to Star Citizen's $87.6 million funding are demanding refunds


The number 'very, very low'
Aug 21
// Steven Hansen
The insanely funded space game Star Citizen has been offering refunds to players following constant delays and brewing disenchantment. Its executive producer recently quit the project, the first-person shooter mode was delaye...

Cities: Skylines gets nightlife with After Dark expansion

Aug 21 // Steven Hansen
[embed]297379:59852:0[/embed] There is also, "a new specialization for the commercial areas," leisure areas like casinos and night clubs, "the downtown area, the nightlife center of the city." Nighttime also brings about higher rates of crime, helping to fill out prisons. Daytime has unique additions, too. New beachfront property thrives during the day like the casinos and clubs of nighttime, and the cities can also allow bike lanes for cyclists (or let them travel more slowly on sidewalks), thereby reducing traffic. The team wants to add, "smoother ways of handling large systems" with its updates, "helping people do what they're already doing in a more elegant and streamlined way," like by adding bus stations that can accept multiple bus lines and allow for in-building transfers. The $15 expansion launches September 24. The day and night cycle itself is a free update added to all owned copies of Cities: Skylines, while the After Dark expansion will house additional content.
September 24 photo
September 24
Cities: Skylines' major expansion, After Dark, has been dated for September 21. After dunking on SimCity, the successful city simulator is, "focusing on making large expansions over making many small ones," Colossal Order's l...

Nope photo
Nope

WTF: PlayStation tries selling us on Vue with Aqua Teen ad


Nope
Aug 20
// Steven Hansen
WANT TO FEEL OooOoOoOoOoLDDDD?!?!?1 Aqua Teen Hunger Force is a 15 years old television program. Remember television? That humble technology before Snapchat, million view pre-teen Minecraft let's plays, and Super Porn? And A...
Bethesda ramps up photo
Bethesda ramps up

Bethesda aims to build toward 'three or four big titles a year'


That doesn't mean Skyrim 2
Aug 20
// Steven Hansen
While Bethesda’s VP of Marketing Pete Hines recently said it would be "a very long time" until the next Elder Scrolls -- Skyrim's follow up -- would be announced, it seems the publisher  also wants to avoid a black...
Girl you look familiar photo
Girl you look familiar

Bethesda doesn't mind if you don't like Fallout 4's graphics


Long hair don't care
Aug 20
// Steven Hansen
Boston-bound Fallouts acting like they federal. A lot of people were upset that Fallout 4 looked more like Fallout 3 than, say, The Witcher 3. Bethesda's Pete Hines has a pretty zen attitude about the whole thing, explaining ...
amiibo skins photo
amiibo skins

Sonic, Splatoon, Pit amiibo costumes surface in Super Mario Maker


amiibo skins
Aug 19
// Steven Hansen
[Update: more pictures are available in the gallery below, like Waluigi.] It's no surprise that the sprawling Super Mario Maker supports Nintendo's amiibo toys -- we saw Wii Fit Trainer show up in-game a few months ago. All t...
Get 200 amiibo photo
Get 200 amiibo

Unofficial 'amiiqo' can save amiibo data without buying the toys


Nintendo not pleased
Aug 18
// Steven Hansen
People are varying degrees of upset over Nintendo's not-unexpected decision to lock content -- even if it's mainly costumes and the like -- behind amiibo pairing. The "amiiqo" is an okay answer to these complaints. The compl...
Blubber Busters photo
Blubber Busters

Save space whales from disease in this pretty platformer


Blubber Busters
Aug 18
// Steven Hansen
With a name like Blubber Busters I was expecting something akin to that video where some knuckleheads try and dispose of a beached whale with dynamite, sending gore and viscera all over looker-ons (not to be confused with th...
Wingsuit photo
Wingsuit

Just Cause 3 has Super Monkey Ball style challenge mode


Also wonton destruction, natch
Aug 18
// Steven Hansen
Curious: does anyone pronounce Just Cause like Just 'Cuz? Just wondering. Why? Just 'cause. Hah. But seriously. I know some of you must've started with that pronunciation and it stuck, right? I mean, it works, too. That was ...
Smokin' photo
Smokin'

Spiritual Syndicate successor Satellite Reign out August 28


Paint me like one of your Bladerunners
Aug 18
// Steven Hansen
Neon, synth, Tron-coats, rain and grime. All you need for a cyberpunk adventure.  Satellite Reign ran a successful Kickstarter campaign back in 2013. Programmer Mike Diskett, who worked on the original Syndicate and was...
Well, he would know photo
Well, he would know

Former Double Fine COO launches games-only crowdfunding platform where backers can make money


Kickstarter? I hardly even know her!
Aug 18
// Steven Hansen
Former Double Fine COO has just launched Fig, a curated, games-only alternative to sites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo. It's only for games and only for games approved by the advisory board, which consists of the like of Do...
Final Fantasy Type-0 HD photo
Final Fantasy Type-0 HD

Final Fantasy Type-0 HD hits PC with extra HD, system requirements


Scalable motion blur?!?
Aug 18
// Steven Hansen
Final Fantasy Typo [Not a Type-0 -Ed.] has come to Steam and it's even more HD than when it released on Xbox One and PlayStation 4, and certainly more HD still than when it released on PSP. It's $30 and features: Upgraded gr...
Two month delay photo
Two month delay

Ubisoft delays Rainbow Six: Siege into December


Two months
Aug 18
// Steven Hansen
Ubisoft's upcoming improbable trailer dialogue game Tom Clancy Presents (RIP) Rainbow Six: Siege will miss its October 13 release date, the company announced. The closed beta will still start September 24, but the pushed back...
I choose Metal Gear photo
I choose Metal Gear

Mad Max gets a choose-your-own-trailer


I choose Metal Gear
Aug 17
// Steven Hansen
"See that mountain? You can walk to it." The audience, hushed, is stunned. The presentation script writer leans back, whiskey in hand and a hunk draped around her like a fur. The audience, catching up to the transcendent rea...
Dishonored 2 photo
Dishonored 2

Arkane talks furthering Emily's story in Dishonored 2


Want
Aug 17
// Steven Hansen
Bethesda has just released this stage discussion from its special E3 presentation and in it Arkane head Harvey Smith explains why Emily was such a big deal in the original Dishonored, and why the team wanted her center stage...
Free Persona DLC photo
Free Persona DLC

Persona 4: Dancing All Night swimsuit set free the first week


No Kanji swimsuit though
Aug 14
// Steven Hansen
Persona 4: Dancing All Night's ladies swimsuit DLC will be free during the rhythm game's first week of release (it comes out September 29). After October 5, the costume pack will cost money. Unfortunately, this free DLC does...

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