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Brett Zeidler

Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster on PS4 looks better than ever, but has major problems

May 14 // Brett Zeidler
Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster (PS Vita, PS3, PS4 [tested])Developer: Square EnixPublisher: Square EnixReleased: May 12, 2015MSRP: $49.99 In terms of the entire package, the PS4 version is the exact same compilation as the original remaster release. The international versions of both base games, Eternal Calm, Last Mission, and the super weird audio drama are all here. Nothing in terms of gameplay content was added or removed. However, there appears to be an alteration or a major bug affecting FFX's random number generation. People even more keen than myself on FFX have noticed the RNG system is completely broken in the PS4 version. Random encounters and events are supposed to be, well, random. However, this is no longer the case in this version. Encounters always occur when they are supposed to, they will always have the same enemies, and the battles will always play out exactly the same way. No matter how many times the game is reset, the occurrence and outcome of encounters or events that involve the RNG system are set in stone. This has a drastic affect in key aspects of the game. Say you're having trouble on a specific boss, and if you could just land that twenty-second hit it would change the tide of battle for you. Well, the bad news is on the PS4 version you're always going to miss that twenty-second hit as it stands. Additionally, this changes ribbon farming, blitzball, and likely everything else that involves RNG. I couldn't test every aspect of this, but I could easily predict down to the second when my first battle against two Chimera would occur during one of my saves in the Calm Lands. I could have tracked this up to as many subsequent "random" encounters as I wished. I checked the exact same save file on PS3, and encounters were always random. FFX-2 does not appear to have this problem. [embed]292113:58550:0[/embed] A major complaint of the PS3 and Vita release was the new rearranged soundtrack. It seemed a lot of people simply outright hated its existence, whereas others would have at least preferred the choice to switch to the original soundtrack. Thankfully, players now have that option at any point during their playthrough. I actually really enjoyed the remaster soundtrack, but on my current playthrough it's been nice to use the original. It sounds amazing. The Besaid Village theme in particular sounded the best even back in 2001. Unfortunately, the background music system also has a major bug in the PS4 release. Background music on the PS2, PS3, and Vita versions continued playing where the track left off once a battle occurred, but now this is no longer the case. For a game like FFX that has a ton of random encounters, you will likely only ever hear the first ten or twenty seconds of a track unless you stop and listen to the music. It appears to have to do with how the soundtrack switching system was implemented, affecting both FFX and FFX-2. The soundtracks sound amazing, which makes this bug so unfortunate. Hopefully it can easily be fixed in a future patch. Cross-Save was a great feature of the PS3 and Vita version, and it's been extended here for the PS4 version. Once a particular game is fired up, all old saves that were stored in the cloud previously can be accessed just as quickly and easily as before. It took me less than a few minutes to install the game, start up Final Fantasy X, load a save from awhile back, and instantly pick up right where I had left off at that point. That's pretty cool. The PS4 version of the remaster has even more enhanced visuals, which is pretty amazing considering how incredible and smooth the game looked on PS3. To check this, I started a fresh playthrough on both consoles on the same television and played them alongside each other. The PS4 does have a slight graphical enhancement overall, but I really only noticed it because I was looking for it. There's a sort of extra crispness to the PS4 version, and the occasional aliasing issues that were still on the PS3 version are gone here. It's not a major overhaul, but the improvements are there. Additionally, Square claims more NPCs and monsters received enhanced models. I didn't notice any of these in my current playthrough (it's really hard to just stumble upon these without knowing specifically which were enhanced), but seeing poor-looking character models in the same scenes with enhanced ones was a big complaint, so it's nice to know this was addressed in some fashion. However, some other major complaints were not addressed at all. Cutscenes, for whatever reason, are still not skippable and there's no option to toggle between the old character models and the remastered ones. These types of things don't detract from my experience, but they were definitely huge complaints upon release last year, and it's unfortunate they weren't taken care of here. Some of those cutscenes are really long, man. As is stands, the PlayStation 4 version of Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster is not the definitive version of the compilation. Even for super fans of Final Fantasy X, it's hard to recommend a version of their favorite game that has broken RNG, a background music bug, and still no skippable cutscenes no matter how beautiful the game looks or how incredibly fast it loads now. With an MSRP of $50 it's also a really hard sell to a brand-new player when the other two versions are currently so much cheaper, even more so if they already own one of those two versions (especially since they launched at $40). The PS3 version does lack the original soundtrack, but other than that it offers the truest experience of Final Fantasy X and X-2. If you must have it on PS4 or that's your only option, I'd honestly recommend waiting for the RNG and background music issues to hopefully be patched soon and the inevitable price drop. If those two major issues are ever fixed, the PlayStation 4 version of Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster would easily be the definitive package.
Final Fantasy X/X-2 PS4 photo
Spira never felt so good
Barely over a year after its original release on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita, Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster makes its way to the PlayStation 4. A remaster of a remaster, if you will. However, the original releas...

The Halo 5 early access beta left me pleasantly surprised

Dec 22 // Brett Zeidler
We've already talked more in-depth about the new mechanics in our preview from last month, and Chris listed some tips for the beta, so I'll talk specifically about the small amount of content I saw from the early access beta and what I thought about everything in general. For this weekend, there were only two maps and one gametype available. "Empire" is a smaller asymmetrical map that sits on the top of a skyscraper and "Truth" is a re-imagining of none other than "Midship." The single playable gametype was plain old classic slayer. However, notice I said old -- map control and effective team dynamic are key here just as they were in classic Halo. From the limited content in the early beta phase, no loadouts or ordnance are anywhere to be found. Everyone always starts on equal ground. That is, everyone starts with an assault rifle and pistol, with the goal being to secure various weapons in key places (especially power weapons). It feels strange to describe this like it's new again, but I suppose it is at this point. If you liked Halo before the fourth entry, you'll feel at home here. However, it's not without its flaws. One thing I find strange is the gametype heavily focuses on securing power weapons, to the point where universal markers show their location (with a timer that lets everyone know when they will spawn again), and, if that wasn't enough, someone announces when they've spawned. This felt forced. It really should be left up to the team to be cognizant of spawns. The assault rifle is extremely overpowered, and the battle rifle's burst fires so quickly it doesn't feel any different from the DMR outside of no longer having a scope. I also feel the ADS (aim down sights) system is unnecessary as well as not being snappy or useful enough to help me in most cases. Quick-scoping, in its current sluggish form, also needs adjusting. Lastly, matchmaking was very unreliable at times -- although this was a stress test, so hopefully it's resolved for the actual beta roll-out. Minor gripes aside (it is a very early beta, after all), I'm loving the way the gameplay all comes together. Every entry in the franchise always feels like Halo should feel, but there's something that separates it from the other entries: Halo 2 had dual-wielding, Halo 3 had equipment, and Reach had Armor Abilities. All of them added a unique element with equal pros and cons. Halo 5's unique gameplay component is maneuverability. Halo 5 feels much faster than any other entry. I'm really digging that so far. Sprint is here to stay, every player has a thruster pack, and they can clamber onto just-out-of-reach ledges. Sprinting allows quick movement, but shields can't recharge during its execution. Thruster packs allow for shoulder charges (while sprinting), quick dodging, and extra boosts for jumps. A ground pound can also be performed in the middle of a jump by holding crouch (annoying for people such as myself who utilize crouch jumping by nature at this point), but I almost always get punished for using it and have never successfully fragged anyone with it. That's exactly how it should be. All these abilities already feel balanced, with maybe just the charge move needing some tweaking. The rest of the game feels very tight, and all the weapons on the two maps available look, sound, and feel exactly how I'd expect. It also helps that Halo 5 is a really pretty game as well. As I've said, this is a small window into how the game's shaping up. It also doesn't represent the entirety of the three-week beta, with that set to have a total of seven maps and three gametypes unlocked over its span starting December 29. Having said that, I went into the beta skeptical but came away looking fondly back on what I had played. Honestly, it was a lot of fun and I'm hoping the rest of the beta (well, ultimately, the rest of the game) is just as fun.
Halo 5 beta impressions photo
Arena-based Halo is back, baby
When we reviewed Halo 4, we really liked it. If you were to ask me personally, I was not enthusiastic about the game at all. Campaign aside, the multiplayer clearly lost sight of what made Halo multiplayer so damn fun in the ...

Review: Freedom Wars

Nov 04 // Brett Zeidler
Freedom Wars (PlayStation TV, PlayStation Vita)Developer: SCE Japan Studio / Shift / DimpsPublisher: Sony Computer EntertainmentRelease:  October 28, 2014MSRP: $29.99 Freedom Wars takes place in a future uninhabitable Earth, in which groups of citizens take shelter in underground Panopticons. A Panopticon is a city-state that functions based on the contributions of its citizens. Naturally, this has lead to an intensely Orwellian society. Big Brother is always watching, except here he's an adorable teddy bear mascot that spreads propaganda and cheers on the player to risk their life fighting giant monsters. Citizens are monitored through their Accessories, which are law-spewing robotic companions that never stop watching over them. The player's character has been stricken with amnesia in battle, but, hear me out, Freedom Wars puts an honest twist on the trope. Everything in this universe is a crime; laying down while resting, allowing silence in conversation longer than five seconds, running too much, and a multitude of other offenses all hinder the advancement of the state. Biggest of all is losing one's memory. Physical resources are tight, but nothing is more precious in this world than knowledge. This leaves the player with a million-year long sentence for losing just that. Outside of the core gameplay, managing this sentence is the most prominent mechanic of the game. Completing missions takes many years off, and any resources donated or held back from the state can subtract or add years (if the player is not yet entitled to said resource), respectively. All those ridiculous crimes mentioned earlier are absolutely real infractions the player can commit. They don't add too many years back on, but act as an effective reminder about the setting the player is in. Want to run for more than five seconds without receiving an additional twenty year sentence? Buy the entitlement for it. Want new clothes? There are entitlements for that. The freedom motif is really driven home. To obtain these entitlements, the player simply has to save up entitlement points by being a productive member of the Panopticon. Completing missions and donating resources are the two main ways to accrue entitlement points. The more achieved, the more entitlements become available. Freedom Wars is a hunting game through-and-through, so the main missions break down into a few different categories and that's really it. If variety is the spice of your life, you just won't find an abundance of it in a hunting game. The enemies that attack the player are called abductors, and, as their name implies, they abduct citizens as punishment for being sinners. Hunters are given the option of saving citizens from abductors, straight-up fighting abductors, or participating in firefights with enemy Panopticons. The main weapon types are melee and guns. Melee breaks down into one-handed/two-handed swords and polearms; assault rifles, portable artillery, and autocannons make up the ranged weapons. The player can take any combination of the two of these into battle. Most hunting games emphasize personal style and preference, but the focus of strategy in Freedom Wars is knowing when to use these weapons. For example, melee is the most effective way to take down an abductor, but the same is definitely not true when facing opposing hunters. Verticality is Freedom Wars' most appealing gameplay element, and it comes by way of the player's thorn -- a vine-like lasso that can be used for movement or attack. Trap, healing, and shield are the available thorn types that offer the benefits their names imply. More exciting, however, is that the thorn allows for zipping around the environment and grappling onto abductors themselves. Taking down giant monsters with a sword is cool, but latching onto them and severing limb by limb is even more satisfying. The thorn does a great service in improving the gameplay of Freedom Wars. Characters met throughout the game's progression can be taken along on all missions, but the entirety of it is playable through local and online co-op. The companion AI does a decent enough job, but will only follow exactly where the player goes, and thus doesn't ever act on its own. Obviously, co-op is always more fun and is what the game advises, but with that said, the Freedom Wars can be played solo just fine. End-game missions just don't work with AI companions, however. The plot structure can be completed somewhere in the neighborhood of fifteen to twenty-something hours, give or take depending on if the player participates in everything else there is to do. Hunting games are all about finally upgrading your favorite weapon, obtaining even better weapons, and finally getting that sweet new armor (in this case, outfit). Personal achievement is the name of the game, and Freedom Wars has no shortage of it. Weapon crafting and upgrading is nothing new here -- gather basic resources and/or weapons, and this allows the player to use those to upgrade, modify, and create new weapons. It's as addictive as it is in any other game. I found myself more engrossed in the aesthetic customization, as I'm a sucker for it. Every aspect of physical appearance can be changed at any time. There are tons of clothing, accessories, and color palettes to unlock and choose from. These can be used on both the player's model and their Accessory. Fighting monsters for the good of the state is great, but looking good while you do it is even better. Freedom Wars looks stunning. Character models are crisp and detailed, with their textures looking particularly nice. The game handles motion like a champ, and seemingly never suffers from slowdowns while fighting the biggest baddies (particularly impressive considering the amount of maneuverability at play). Even on the PlayStation TV, the game really holds its own on a large HD display (as well as feeling great played with a DualShock 4). Strangely, the main section of the hub world suffers from really bad character pop-in and framerate stuttering while that's happening. It's an odd problem considering how small that area is and how big the gameplay environments are. Freedom Wars starts off painfully slow, but picks up after around the first few hours. The narrative progression is kind of strange during this time, and doesn't add much to the experience at all. It's quite an investment to finally see payoff, but it is worth it to stick around. Loading times are fairly long, and there are a lot.. I could have done with less of them as there is just way too much time spent looking at loading screens as it is. Freedom Wars has an intriguing setting, solid hunting action (with an always welcome grapple hook), insane amounts of customization, fully supported co-op, PVP, all through a beautiful presentation. There are numerous hours of content to keep you coming back again and again. It doesn't reinvent the wheel, but, by that same token, there's nothing else quite like it. It's the PS Vita's biggest release this year, and likely will be for some time. If you own a PlayStation Vita or TV, you'd be crazy to pass up Freedom Wars.
Freedom Wars review photo
Hunting with a side of grappling hook
Ever since it came out in Japan earlier this year, Freedom Wars has been high on my list of anticipated releases. Being from the illustrious SCE Japan Studio, the game found success overseas as one of the ...

South Park Pinball photo
South Park Pinball

South Park Pinball is the crossover you never knew you wanted


They killed my multiplier, you bastards!
Oct 21
// Brett Zeidler
With Marvel, Star Wars, and The Walking Dead under their belts, there's no license too big for Zen Studios to take on at this point. This time around, Zen has teamed up with Comedy Central and put together two new tables themed after none other than South Park. I wasn't sure what to expect, but should have known the tables would be phenomenal.
Minecraft Vita photo
Minecraft Vita

Minecraft on PS Vita is the definitive portable version


Where was this two years ago?
Oct 21
// Brett Zeidler
You know what Minecraft is, your parents know what Minecraft is, and your grandparents just don't understand why that younger family member is on the iPad all the time. It's everywhere, but why has it never received a proper ...

Review: Forza Horizon 2

Sep 25 // Brett Zeidler
Forza Horizon 2 (Xbox 360, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: Playground Games (Xbox One) / Sumo Digital (Xbox 360) / Turn 10Publisher: Microsoft StudiosReleased: September 30, 2014MSRP: $59.99 (Xbox One) / $49.99 (Xbox 360) If you're familiar with the first Forza Horizon, you'll feel right at home. The Horizon Festival is taking place again, except this time it's all the way over in southern Europe by way of France and Italy. Your role is, yet again, to become the top Horizon racer by collecting different colored wristbands as you win championships and work your way up the ladder. Your progress is tracked a couple different ways. Obviously an overall level is raised by completing activities, and every level gives you one Wheelspin. The Wheelspin is a slot machine that either gives you a credit payout or a free car. I've gotten some sweet rewards from this thing. Tracking your progress is really easy with a win/loss ratio, but in Horizon it's all about how cool you look while doing all this. Drifting, near misses, getting air, and destroying things in the world can all add to a skill chain if done in a row. After accruing up a certain amount of points, these unlock skill points that can be spent on perks. Everyone loves perks. These are pretty standard, and increase things like bonuses, XP, or unlock certain abilities that make life easier.  There's a couple characters that interact with you over the course of the game; Ben and Ashley. Ben is the guy. He's the type of guy everyone wants to know, party with, and, in Horizon 2, he's that guy everyone wants to drive with. He's the guy leading the Horizon Festival, after all. Be prepared to hear him say "mate" at the end of every single race. I promise it gets funny eventually. Ultimately, he ends up helping the player learn the mechanics of the game, suggesting where they should go next, and even hooks them up with new rides every once in awhile. Ashley is the mechanic that fixes up all those new rides, and that's all she's really present for outside of being a support character. As far as story and character development goes, that's as in-depth as it gets in Horizon 2. That's really all one expects from a racing game, anyway. It's non-intrusive (nor over the top) to -- and provides a good foundation for -- the real focus: racing. Forza Horizon 2 doesn't attempt to shake up the tried-and-true racing formula. The championship event races break down into one of two types: beat everyone to the finish line in one long sprint or in a traditional lap-based race. Instead of structural variety, Horizon instead relies on locale and visual variety to keep players interested. This was totally the right call. Forza Motorsport 5 was already a visual treat, but the heavily modified engine used in Horizon 2 is absolutely breathtaking. All of the 200-something cars are painstakingly detailed (interiors and all) as always, and are convincingly true-to-life. Southern Europe features back country, densely packed urban areas, coast towns, and everything in-between. It's a very, very big world that's incredibly open and just begs to be explored. For the first time, Forza now has a dynamic weather system. Truly, this is the standout visual element in the game. Sunsets and sunrises are amazing, and never look the same as the cloud placement/density changes their appearance every single time. At any moment, thick clouds could fill an entirely blue sky and, suddenly, there's a downpour of rain. Radio personalities will also comment on this when it happens, which is also pretty cool the first few times it happens. This isn't just a visual trick either, as rain will puddle up in the roads, bead up on the cars (and windshields), and create slick conditions. The visual effect on the windshield is particularly jaw-dropping; light will refract off of each individual bead of rain and cause visual interference just as it does in real life. Windshield wipers will automatically clear the windshield, and will leave a line of water wherever their turn radius ends. You have never seen something like this done in a racing game before, and it's something you really need to see for yourself. In motion, everything comes together to create one of the best-looking titles out there right now. Horizon 2 runs in full 1080p at 30 frames per second, never dipping below that. Some may have an issue with a racing game running at 30 FPS, but it's honestly no problem here. Everything runs incredibly smooth and feels perfectly responsive. If I wasn't told it ran at that frame rate, I would've been none-the-wiser. Having a vast, detailed world can still feel empty fairly quickly if there's not a lot to do, and thankfully Horizon 2 does not come up short in activities to partake in. Outside of over 150 championship events, there are Showcase events, barn finds, Bucket List activities, speed traps, and online modes. Showcases have the player up against some type of machinery (not a car) in a head-to-head race. They're easily the craziest out of all the events, and, despite being blatant smoke and mirrors, created some of the most memorable moments in the game. Since there's so few of them, I won't spoil any of the surprise. Definitely be on the lookout for these every few championship events. Barn finds are nothing new, and still task the player with finding an old, rusted-out vehicles in abandoned barns around the map. They're actually pretty difficult to find. I found an army jeep in one of them, which felt particularly silly to bring into a racing event, but things like that fit right in with the rest of Horizon. It's just a fun atmosphere. Bucket List activities are pretty straightforward as well. These also involve finding cars around the map, placed on the side of roads. However, these cars are usually the best in the game and give a taste of what they're like by completing small activities in them (with varying degrees of difficulty). Speed traps are simply just cameras that radar how fast you're going on a particular road. Sometimes I'd try and beat my personal best on these over and over before I realized I spent a good twenty minutes doing this. At any point, two button clicks will take you to the online lobby system. No menu navigating or lobby juggling needed, as it just works within the game and brings you together with strangers or friends in the full game world. You can participate in road trips, championship events, or explore parts of the map together. It's the type of thing where the structured events are certainly fun, but I imagine the community coming up with pick-up games that add to the multiplayer's longevity. The avoidance of too much menu navigation extends into the rest of the game as well. If you have a Kinect hooked up, a digital personal assistant named ANNA can take your commands and make life a whole lot easier. ANNA allows you to just about play the entire game without ever using a menu of your own doing. Say you know you just want to do the next championship event -- you can have ANNA set the GPS navigator to take you to whichever one is nearest. She'll also provide suggestions of things to do occasionally, or you can just outright ask her what it is she thinks you should do next. This system creates a nice flow, and truly enhances the experience. It's the perfect use of the Kinect. I'm all about a stellar soundtrack, and Horizon 2 nails it. There's something to be said about driving a Lamborghini through a super dense field somewhere over 150 mph, barely able to see, with Chvrches is playing in the background. A soundtrack where Chromeo, The Clash, or Thee Oh Sees are just as likely to play as Vilvaldi, Schubert, or Tchaikovsky excites me like nothing else. Playground Games really knows how to make a road trip playlist. With the original Forza Horizon, we were a little disappointed in the frequency and length of the loading screens. Unfortunately, that's still the case here. Again, the loading screens aren't overwhelmingly long, but they appear before and after every single race. All that time adds up to quite a lot. It's understandable that they're there, but I could've done with less of them. If you were a fan of the original or its simulator brother, there's no reason to pass up Horizon 2. It's simulation enough to not lose longtime fans, while easing the realistic driving just enough to allow new players to jump in and not feel like the car physics are working against them the whole time. Every element in Forza Horizon 2 adds up to an exceptional experience. The story isn't over the top so as to get in the way of racing, driving feels as good as it ever did in Forza Motorsport, there's a ton of things to do, and the game looks absolutely beautiful -- especially the long-awaited dynamic weather system. Forza Horizon 2 is a must-have on the Xbox One.
Forza Horizon 2 review photo
Good racing, mate
The original Forza Horizon impressed us back in 2012 with its ability to incorporate what we already loved about Forza Motorsport into an absolutely massive open-world sandbox racing game, while not completely ditching its si...

Destiny is the same gameplay experience on last-gen, but looks pretty rough

Sep 17 // Brett Zeidler
Destiny (PS3 [tested], PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: BungiePublisher: Activision Released: September 9, 2014MSRP: $59.99 Bungie was very adamant about keeping the Destiny experience exactly the same no matter what platform a player chooses (outside the PlayStation exclusive content, of course). That is, the overwhelming majority of content, environments, quests, enemies per screen, enemy levels, weapons, etc. are all exactly the same no matter what system the game is played on. This is where the similarities end for the last-gen versions. Getting Destiny set up on PS3 was an ordeal. After a small patch install, the game has a mandatory 6 GB install process. Before that, however, a 170 MB Compatibility Pack needs to be installed via the in-game PlayStation Store embed, and the aforementioned mandatory install cannot run in the background. I have no idea what content the game needed to download to be compatible with a week after launch, but it was apparently necessary and took forever to download. It gave me a nice hour to catch up on homework, so that was nice. How did we ever put up with this? I have been playing a bit on PS4 when I've had time, so it was a nice surprise to immediately see my character greet me after the start screen. I convinced myself that I would have to start completely over and test the character transfer system later, but, nope, as long as you're signed into the same platform family with the same account everything will just be there. Even my controls were saved. After selecting my character, my ship didn't appear in the destination selection screen or loading screens (even after restarting). The ship sounds still played out, so it's definitely supposed to be there. Destiny on last-gen runs at a sub-720p resolution, and, while this may have been passable about a year ago, this really is hard to look at nowadays. Nevertheless, it's still understandable. There also appears to be little, if any, anti-aliasing, texture detail is far lower, skybox quality is much lower, and shadows are extremely pixelated. The worst offender probably has to be the clipping issues. Shrubbery and foliage will appear about twenty feet in front of you, and trees randomly appear/disappear for no apparent reason. Enemies appear to have rendering priority, and awkwardly stick out in seemingly empty areas off in the distance; instead sometimes actually lurking in tall grass that only appears after getting closer or zooming in. It may sound like Destiny is just entirely poor-looking on last-gen systems, but that's not the case. I do still think it looks nice as, stylistically, it's all there. And that's probably why the result is the way it is; Bungie wanted to cram every single detail from the current-gen versions into the PS3 and 360 while not suffering from performance. As with PS4 and Xbox One, the game is locked at 30 FPS and never substantially dips even when things get crazy, so they certainly succeeded there. It's up to you how paramount a bump in resolution and substantial detail increase in every aspect really is to you. If any system is an option to you, or a new one will be very soon, then the choice should be very clear. Would you rather spend fifty hours looking at a blurry, pixelated game when you could have the same experience but instead with the game's assets' full potential presented to you? Destiny on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 may fall short in graphical prowess, but stylistically, and content-wise, it's the exact same experience that can be found on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The cloud-based character transfer system for in-line platform families makes it very worthwhile for soon-to-be adopters of current-gen consoles who simply can't wait any longer to play the new hotness to do just that if they're not bothered by the graphical limitations.
Destiny PS3 photo
720p is so last-gen
[Screenshots shown here are not the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 versions.] The marketing for Destiny would have you believe that the only place it makes an appearance is on the PlayStation 4. But no, it certainly made its way t...

The Walking Dead Pinball photo
The Walking Dead Pinball

The Walking Dead Pinball is just as good as I had hoped


Around every flipper
Aug 26
// Brett Zeidler
Zen Studios has been quite busy the past few years expanding its line of pinball tables; most of which have been in the form of licensed Marvel and Star Wars tables. There have been videogame-themed tables in the past --...
Swapper PSN impressions photo
Swapper PSN impressions

The Swapper is just as incredible on PS4 and Vita


Swappin' makes me feel good
Aug 11
// Brett Zeidler
Somehow Facepalm Games' The Swapper slipped under my radar in 2013. Even though I've owned it for a while from a Humble Bundle, I just never fired it up. Releasing on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation Vita la...
GotG Pinball Impressions photo
GotG Pinball Impressions

Guardians of the Galaxy Pinball may be the best table yet


Guardians of the table
Aug 02
// Brett Zeidler
Hot off the heels of the stellar Deadpool table back in June, Zen Studios is going strong with its line of Marvel pinball tables. Guardians of the Galaxy finally got the film treatment, and now it has the pinball tr...
$10 off PS TV pre-order photo
$10 off PS TV pre-order

Amazon sending out $10 off coupons for PlayStation TV pre-orders


$89.99 really is a steal
Jun 16
// Brett Zeidler
Ah, it's a beautiful, brand-new week fresh off the craziness of E3. We've had time to let all the sweet announcements settle in, one of which being that the PlayStation TV is finally making its way to the West. No, not that P...
Splatoon photo
Splatoon

Nintendo announces Splatoon, a 4v4 action game


Third-person ink shooter
Jun 10
// Brett Zeidler
A new 4v4 multiplayer game was announced by Nintendo, and will be a third-person shooter. Well, kind of. Ink is the key gameplay element in Splatoon that is used in many ways. It's shot on the ground so you and your tea...
Midna, Zelda in Hyrule photo
Midna, Zelda in Hyrule

Midna and Zelda are playable in Hyrule Warriors


Midna looks freaking rad
Jun 10
// Brett Zeidler
Hyrule Warriors of course got some screen time during Nintendo's E3 digital event today, where the developers talked a bit more about what separates this game from their respective franchises. Midna and Zelda were both annou...
Captain Toad game photo
Captain Toad game

Captain Toad getting a full-on game, coming holiday 2014


Will be called Treasure Tracker
Jun 10
// Brett Zeidler
Nintendo announced a new game during their E3 digital event, that stars the one and only Captain Toad. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a fully-fledged game inspired by the levels found in Super Mario 3D World. It will be out on Wii U this holiday.
Arkham Knight's Scarecrow photo
He stole the show yet again
During a demo showing off Batman: Arkham Knight at Sony's E3 press conference (which showed the caped crusader scaling Gotham City and driving around the Batmobile), the Scarecrow stole the spotlight to broadcast his sp...

PS TV in the US/Canada photo
PS TV in the US/Canada

PlayStation TV coming to US and Canada this Fall for $99


$139 controller/game bundle also announced
Jun 09
// Brett Zeidler
Sony finally announced their plans for the formerly Japan exclusive PlayStation TV, releasing it this fall in the US and Canada for $99. A $139 bundle was also announced, coming with a controller, one game, a voucher, and HD...
Devolver Digital on PS photo
Devolver Digital on PS

PlayStation getting exclusive console debuts from Devolver Digital games


Broforce, Titan Souls, Not a Hero, Hotline Miami 2, The Talos Principle
Jun 09
// Brett Zeidler
At Sony's E3 press conference, Adam Boyes announced a continued partnership with Devolver Digital that will see their upcoming library of games make their console debuts exclusively on PlayStation systems. The Talos Principle, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, Not a Hero, Titan Souls, and Broforce will all be coming to PlayStation 4 and/or Vita when they are ready to make their console debuts.
FromSoft's Bloodborne photo
Hidetaka Miyazaki is directing
Sony's always lovable Shuhei Yoshida walked on stage at Sony's E3 press conference to announce a brand-new IP developed by From Software called Bloodborne. Hidetaka Miyazaki is directing this creepy looking title that will hit PlayStation 4 in 2015. Check out the incredible trailer for yourself above.

Rainbow Six: Siege photo
Holy destructible environments
Ubisoft closed off its E3 press conference with the announcement of a brand-new game, Rainbow Six Siege. The demo shown featured a 5v5 multiplayer session that had one team holding a citizen hostage and barricading the house...

Halo 2 HD comparisons photo
Halo 2 HD comparisons

Halo 2: Anniversary comparison hits right in the nostalgia


A full decade of technology has done wonders
Jun 09
// Brett Zeidler
As part of the Master Chief Collection that was announced this morning, Halo 2: Anniversary is getting a fully remastered face lift just as Halo: Combat Evolved did three years ago with Halo: Anniversary. So, the game lo...
New Dawngate details photo
New Dawngate details

EA unveils more details on Dawngate


Developers talk about design philosophy of the game
Jun 09
// Brett Zeidler
Electronic Arts talked a little bit about their new MOBA Dawngate at their E3 press conference. The game has already been out and about in beta very recently, so they talked more about their design philosophy behind the titl...

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn made me a fan of MMOs

May 16 // Brett Zeidler
I think my staying away from MMOs comes from a lot of things, mainly stemming from the fact that I prefer both the living room console experience and handheld gaming. It's what I grew up with, and it's what I'm comfortable with the most to this day. I've also only really ever had gaming computers that were just okay, and usually had trouble running games optimally. Most critically, as a kid it was difficult to convince my parents that a monthly subscription to a game was worthwhile, and -- even when I was getting older and could afford it on my own -- it became increasingly difficult to convince gamers that it was. As a console gamer there's not much to choose from for MMOs; Phantasy Star Online and Final Fantasy XI both come to mind immediately. FFXI I actually did play on Xbox 360 and, before FFXIV, was the MMO I enjoyed playing the most. I didn't level very far, and I remember it being difficult to me for some reason, but I loved it because it was Final Fantasy. As a huge fan of the franchise, it was cool to check out a world full of recurring elements standard for the series with tons of other players also running around at the same time. From what I can remember, it was still tough to get into because it didn't feel all that welcoming or really designed too well for a controller. It was almost there. Final Fantasy XIV was supposed to make its way to PS3, and I was stoked. However, that port was dropped until an overhaul on the game was made, and that obviously eventually came in the form of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn on PS3 and PS4. All anyone had to say was Final Fantasy, MMO, console, and I was immediately on board. I expected to check it out, but probably not get too into it (as usual fare for MMOs with me). That changed quickly once I actually started playing. [Kou-Ji] I wanted to check it out on PS3, but it released right around when my semester was starting and I knew the PS4 version was in the pipeline not too long later. So my first exposure with FFXIV was during the beta weekend before the game launched on PS4. In those short couple days, I already had both the Gladiator and Lancer classes at level 20 (the cap for the beta). This was immediately one of the first things that drew me into the game. Leveling up in FFXIV is fluid, and just doing the normal progression of quests naturally progresses you to the proper level and area you're supposed to go to next. That's not to say that is the only way to play, just the way I prefer. There's no grinding needed (at least in the early-to-mid-levels content), and in fact just doing quests alone over-leveled me slightly. I'm not really down with too much grinding, and would rather just jump in, do some quests, and progress my character with minimal hassle. However, should you need to grind, that's also done extremely well and doesn't feel like grinding. At many points you'll probably be running across one of the grassy fields in Limsa Lominsa (or any area), when suddenly you'll see a group of players rush past you with intent. Those people are on their way to a FATE, which is a collection of randomized quests anyone can join/participate in at any point. The more contribution put in, the more experience that is rewarded to that specific player. It's incredibly tempting to join those FATE groups whenever you see them rush by, and, more often than not, it becomes one of those "why not?" moments. The quests themselves are varied enough to keep it interesting, but they're pretty standard MMO stuff. Combat really shines as it's fun to do and quite visually interesting. It also has a nice progression, with early enemies easy enough to just brute force and tougher enemies slowly needing more placement and timing strategy. Most importantly for me is that it truly feels like a Final Fantasy game. It's not an MMO with the brand slapped on after, it's a fully realized world with recurring elements, characters, and beasts as with any other entry. Seeing Chocobos and Cactuars never gets old. The soundtrack feels very Final Fantasy and I like it quite a bit. The world is absolutely huge, beautifully crafted, and still mostly unexplored for me. If you're not a fan of Final Fantasy I don't think your enjoyment of the game will hinge on that, but it certainly will add to it. Of course, this all wouldn't matter if the game wasn't fun to play on PS4, but that's definitely not the case. Square clearly put a lot of thought into making the controls feel natural on the DualShock 4, while not sacrificing anything on a controller that a keyboard and mouse can do. I never feel disadvantaged or that I should be using a keyboard and mouse, but having that option is also empowering. The UI might feel cluttered to someone, but thankfully that's entirely resizable just as it is on the PC. All the visuals have been turned up to what would be the max on PC, and the PS4 handles it extremely well. In short, the console version lost nothing in translation, and that makes me incredibly happy. As a huge handheld gamer, being able to pull out my PlayStation Vita in between classes and knock out a couple quests through Remote Play added so much to my enjoyment of the game. Things like first-person shooters don't work well on Remote Play because of slight input lag, but FFXIV is perfect as it's not imperative to have precise input. Remote Play is reason enough to pick up the game on PS4 over PC, if you ask me. MMOs are sort of in a post-subscription era, however the big-budget games still launch with subscriptions. Some suffer for that, but FFXIV is doing quite well with one. That obviously has to do with it being a well-crafted game, but more importantly it probably has to do with the post-launch support. End-game content is being added every couple months or so, and that's incredibly important to keep players coming back with a monthly $12.99 subscription. It's great to see Square taking that seriously and giving players their money's worth. I don't think Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is making me an intense MMO player, and I honestly don't think that will ever happen. However, it's a rare MMO that I enjoy playing, and even rarer still it's one that I absolutely plan on playing for the far foreseeable future. I finally have a true appreciation for why so many people love the genre so much, and I think other players like me can also discover that through this game. I've barely scratched the surface of FFXIV, as I'm still only nearing level 30 on my main class, but I can't wait to see what the rest of the game has to offer. And beyond that, what will eventually be added in updates and expansions has me excited. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn makes it super easy and welcoming to get into, but impossible to put down. Also, I think I forgot to mention the Fat Chocobo.
FFXIV got me into MMOs photo
It had everything to do with Fat Chocobos
I'm generally not that big of a fan of MMOs. I've checked out a good portion of what the genre has to offer, but for many reasons none of the games that I spent some time with could ever keep my interest longer than the beta ...

Killzone: Shadow Fall DLC photo
Killzone: Shadow Fall DLC

'The Canyon' is the next free Killzone: Shadow Fall map, out today


Remember all those people who said nothing comes free?
May 14
// Brett Zeidler
It's been over a couple months since the first two free multiplayer maps for Killzone: Shadow Fall dropped, so it's about high time we had another arena to play in, right? Well, have I got news for you! "The Canyon" released...
Soul Sacrifice Delta photo
Soul Sacrifice Delta

Here's a trailer to remind you Soul Sacrifice Delta launched today


Reminder that it's also digital only
May 13
// Brett Zeidler
I was never able to really get into Soul Sacrifice when I played it around this time last year, which probably had something to do with Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate still getting plenty of attention from me at that point in tim...
Watch Dogs' many bonuses photo
Watch Dogs' many bonuses

All the Watch Dogs collector's editions are the wrong versions


Wikipedia table doesn't help make that purchasing decision any easier
May 12
// Brett Zeidler
Earlier today, Cheap Ass Gamer's Robert Goode pointed out on Twitter that Watch Dogs' Wikipedia page listed out every single various edition of the game you could possibly purchase in a handy table that also detailed what pie...
Halo: CE lobby update photo
Halo: CE lobby update

Halo: CE multiplayer will live on through official patch from Bungie


Internet lobby system will work exactly how it always has
May 12
// Brett Zeidler
A little over a month ago GameSpy Technology announced they were shutting down on May 31, and their server hosting along with them. Various games have found solutions with different levels of official support, but some titles...
Dustforce PSN impressions photo
Dustforce PSN impressions

Dustforce feels right at home on the PS Vita and PS3


Dustin' makes me feel good
Feb 05
// Brett Zeidler
Believe it or not, it's been over two years since Dustforce originally hit the PC. Even more surprising is none other than Capcom helping the fine folks at Hitbox Team bring their dusting platformer to PlayStation 3 and PS Vi...

Review: Zen Pinball 2 (PS4)

Jan 10 // Brett Zeidler
Zen Pinball 2 (PlayStation 3, PS Vita, PlayStation 4 [reviewed], Wii U)Developer: Zen StudiosPublisher: Sony Computer Entertainment, Zen StudiosReleased: September 4 2012 (PS3/Vita) / March 21 2013 (Wii U) / December 24, 2013 (PS4)MSRP: Free (Sorcerer's Lair table included, other tables are various additional prices) As usual, Zen Pinball 2 is a free platform that offers a "try before you buy" model for each table, and an import process for players who own any tables from PlayStation 3 and/or PlayStation Vita's Zen Pinball 2. Whereas on PS3/Vita this was a simple Cross-Buy purchase, on the PlayStation 4 this has to be done through an import button on the game's main menu. Since this entry is not technically a Cross-Buy title, the import process does not work backwards from the PlayStation 4 version to any other system, so a player with multiple systems who would like the most bang from their buck would do well to remember this. It's clear the import system was not the easy solution, so the effort Zen Studios went through to make sure players would not have to re-purchase anything is definitely appreciated. PS4's Zen Pinball 2 does not currently offer the entire back catalog of tables. Instead, it has Star Wars Pinball, Star Wars: Balance of the Force, Marvel Pinball, Avengers Chronicles, Plants vs. Zombies, Epic Quest, Paranormal, Earth Defense, and Sorcerer's Lair in starting line-up. This collection includes arguably the best tables Zen has put together so far and will no doubt give players plenty of pinball action to digest while the rest of the library -- and new tables, of course -- will inevitably make their way to the platform in the coming months.  The game runs in 1080p at a blazing 60 FPS, and looks stunning in motion. There doesn't appear to be any noticeable visual edge here, but there didn't need to be. Zen Studios' tables are consistently colorful, vibrant, and have always had an unmatched visual presentation. It looked stellar before, and still does in this outing. Ball physics also appear to be untouched; which is also great as they were perfect the way they were. Zen Pinball is not a simulation of the real pinball experience, but rather what I colloquially refer to as cinematic pinball. Objects and characters will move around the table and directly influence the ball, with the camera sometimes moving to set pieces that do not exist on the table itself. These are pinball tables that can only exist in a videogame, and that's what makes them -- and this game -- so special. Controls are standard fare, with things like the DualShock 4's TouchPad not being used for any radical control option. Of course, this is just fine as it wouldn't make any sense and would more than likely end up feeling imprecise; detrimental to something like a pinball videogame. L1/R1 (or L2/R2) control the left and right bumpers respectively, and the left analog stick handles nudging (don't tilt!). The controls are simple, but there's a sense of even more control now with the fantastic DualShock 4 feeling much more tight and precise than the DualShock 3. Leaderboards, personal statistics, the in-game trophy system, multiplayer, and an operator's menu are all here, and create a wide range of incentives to continually return to the game outside of simply wanting to impulsively best personal high scores. Zen Studios were undoubtedly the digital pinball kings last-gen, and are already well on their way to claim the same title on current-gen. PS3/PS Vita players, other platform players, and complete newcomers alike all have no reason to miss Zen Pinball 2 on the PS4. There's no added benefit to this version; just the same game with the same tables we've come to adore, but that doesn't stop it from being a game absolutely everyone should play. Zen Pinball is a must-have anywhere you can grab it, and Zen Pinball 2 specifically on PlayStation 4 is equally just as desirable -- if not more-so.
Zen Pinball 2 PS4 review photo
That PS4 sure plays a mean pinball
You've no doubt run into at least one of Zen Studios' pinball platforms by now, appearing on virtually every current device out there that can play games (the only exception being Xbox One as of right now). They hit it big ov...

Year of Luigi swag photo
Year of Luigi swag

Club Nintendo Japan gets Year of Luigi goodies


I need all of these
Dec 20
// Brett Zeidler
Not to be outdone for once by the US Club Nintendo, Club Nintendo Japan will be getting its own Year of Luigi items to celebrate everyone's favorite Mario character's year. These include a 3DS XL case, notebook and pen combo,...
Runner 2 Vita impressions photo
Runner 2 Vita impressions

Runner 2 plays exactly how you would expect on the Vita


And that's only a good thing
Dec 19
// Brett Zeidler
Bit.Trip Presents Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien launched very early on in the year for just about every platform under the sun. We reviewed it, and really liked it. Not long after that, Gaijin Games announced that R...

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