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About
I'm in my 20s and a recent college grad. I have two passions in life: writing and gaming. I grew up doing both, and now I'm looking to combine them. I was a '90s boy, which meant an endless amount of Toonami and hours upon hours of N64. I've always been a console gamer, which is why I'm so excited about what's going on with the next generation. It's never been a better time to be in gaming.

The N64 and Gamecube will always hold special places in my heart as the two best consoles I've ever played. My favorite game series is, without question, The Legend of Zelda; and my favorite game within that series will always be Ocarina of Time.

I've played everything from Sonic, Mario and Donkey Kong to Jak and Daxter, Assassin's Creed and Halo. My favorite style of game is Action-Adventure, but I'm also a big fan of RPGs and Shooters if they're done well.
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It was one of the most anticipated games of 2014. Expectations were high, promises were made, but some fell well short of leaving players wholly satisfied. It was framed as a genre hybrid, one that would seamlessly blend first-person shooters with MMORPGs. And it only sort of lived up to the hype.

We’re only a month into Bungie’s latest production, Destiny, and already players are getting bored and putting the game down. I wanted to give myself enough time to get through the majority of the game before I wrote anything about it, and now that I’ve completed everything but the Vault of Glass, I figured it was time. So let’s break down this big-budget space adventure and talk about the best and the worst aspects of the game. We’ll start with……

 

The Good

Environments

There’s no denying that Destiny is an entertaining game. Exploring alien planets—from the jungles of Venus to the sand dunes of Mars—was an alluring trait that Bungie had players all hot and bothered for, and I’d say they delivered. Each environment is relatively unique, with their own atmospheres, aesthetics, and alien life forms. I enjoyed blazing a trail into the vast emptiness of space, uncovering ancient treasures and gunning through the planets’ many hordes of enemies that tried to stop me.

 

Mechanics

If there’s one thing that Bungie knows how to make, it’s a shooter. Destiny’s shooting mechanics are some of the best I’ve experienced in an FPS game, making running and gunning feel effortless. Every weapon has a different feel to it, and no two weapons can be used the same way. Grenades are just as easy to use, and it makes missing your throws nearly impossible if you have even a hint of accuracy.

The game’s mobility mechanics are equally as smooth, helping the player move nimbly from place to place. That attribute carries over to the Sparrow as well, the player’s personal speeder. The vehicle is light, fast, and has some of the best handling I’ve ever worked with.

 

Talents & Upgrades

This is where Destiny gets into the nitty gritty details. Each class has two subclasses to choose from, and each subclass is broken down into a variety of skills, abilities, and character traits that allow players to customize their guardians as they see fit. This concept is also prevalent in the game’s weapons and armor, giving players the ability to enhance their arsenals with a variety of damage and defense upgrades and unique abilities that give them different advantages in the field.

These talents and upgrades can be changed on the fly, giving players more room to stretch their legs and tailor their subclasses to better match their individual play styles. I’ve really enjoyed playing with both of my character’s subclasses; swapping out talents for different combat scenarios has kept me on my toes, preventing me from getting too complacent with the way I play.

 

Music

Martin O’Donnell does it again. Why did Bungie fire him?

The esteemed game composer and his partner, Michael Salvatori, known for their iconic scores of the Halo series have, not surprisingly, delivered a solid soundtrack for Destiny. The game’s music perfectly captures the moods and feelings of the environments, imbuing Destiny’s universe with more emotion than literally any of the characters ever do. From soothing overtures that complement the vastness of space, to intense combinations of strings and drums that add tension to epic boss fights, the musical prowess of these composers is extremely evident in Destiny.

 

Art Direction

Whether you like Destiny or not, you can’t deny the beauty of the game’s visual landscapes. Bungie has done a superb job in creating a universe that is easy on the eyes. Every time I play, I find another vista that forces me to stop what I’m doing and just gawk at the scenery.

Easily the most notable aesthetic of the game is the starry sky that overlooks the player as he or she explores planets at night. This is especially noticeable on the moon, where shadows are more prominent, and players can watch the rotation of the Earth and the rising of the sun. The designers of Destiny’s environment did a remarkable job in making the game’s universe come to life, and that gives Destiny points in my book.

 

Player vs. Player

It’s no surprise that the studio that brought us the Halo franchise delivered a solid multiplayer experience in Destiny. In the Crucible, players are pitted against each other in various objective-based playlists, with three deathmatch game variants peppered in for those who prefer to just point and shoot.

This is where class talents and weapon/gear upgrades can really be experienced. With every player utilizing a different class build, it gives Destiny’s multiplayer a much greater depth than most shooters. That, combined with each class’ super ability, makes the Crucible a very entertaining portion of Destiny that keeps things mixed up.

Unfortunately, my complaints about Destiny significantly outweigh the compliments. Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying the game a great deal, but every game has its faults. Which leads me to…..

 

The Bad

 

The Story

Where do I even begin? From the beginning, I suppose.

Destiny’s campaign—if that’s what you want to call it—starts off with a very sporadic cutscene that tries to provide the player with centuries of exposition within a matter of minutes. We see a trio of astronauts land on Mars, discover something known as the Traveler, and then hear Bill Nighy explain everything that has happened since. In all honesty, Nighy’s role as the Speaker—the only character who can converse with the Traveler, apparently—throughout the game’s story is one of the best parts of Destiny’s campaign. He delivers the only memorable voice acting performance in the game; all the other characters, unfortunately, fall flat.

Voice acting aside, the story basically follows this premise: humans discover a celestial being known as the Traveler. This being ushers in a golden age for Earth, tripling human lifespan and allowing humans to build cities and settle on multiple planets. The Traveler, however, has an enemy, which is ambiguously referred to as “the Darkness.” It is this Darkness that you, the player, must destroy.

And that’s it. Not a whole lot of depth, right?

From there, players are taken from Earth, to the moon, to Venus, and finally to Mars in some of the most repetitive and shallow story missions I’ve ever played through. Each mission requires players to go to a certain destination, find something for their ghost—a robotic companion that plays a role similar to that of Cortana in Halo, only with much less personality—and defend that ghost from waves of enemies that spawn for four or five minutes. Those waves are followed by a boss fight, and then we’re on to the next mission.

Now, granted, Bungie isn’t known for its games’ stories, but Destiny’s is almost nonexistent. I’ve beaten the story, and the only thing I could tell you about it is what happens during the final boss fight. Why? Because I didn’t feel the need to pay attention to what was going on as the campaign progressed. I felt no emotional connection to any of the characters or their plight against galactic zombies and space pirates.

 

The Rewards System

This is easily the single aspect of the game that has left the most players with an overwhelming sense of frustration and disappointment. Destiny’s loot system leaves a lot to be desired, and it makes earning high-end gear a tad too difficult. Now, I won’t deny that the journey makes the end result that much sweeter, but Bungie has made this journey entirely too repetitive. We’ll start with the engrams.

In Destiny’s universe, one method of obtaining loot is from items known as engrams. These shiny, octagonal balls of light most commonly drop when enemies are killed while exploring the universe, and they can be brought to an AI known as the Cryptarch, who decrypts them and turns them into loot.

Just like weapons and armor, engrams are color-coded according to rarity—gold and purple being the most valuable, and blue and green being the most common. Gathering engrams is a decent way to accumulate loot, but there was a substantial problem with this system.

The Cryptarch almost never rewarded players with legendary items.

Players who collected legendary (purple) engrams would eagerly return to the Cryptarch, their fingers crossed in giddy excitement as they anticipated the legendary gear that awaited them. Only, what seemed like 95 percent of the time, players’ legendary engrams would yield less valuable loot. I’ve found a handful of legendary engrams over the last few weeks, and only two or three have yielded legendary gear.

For those who haven’t played the game and are a little confused, imagine finding a gold brick on the ground. You pick it up and exclaim, “I’m rich!” So you take that gold brick to a buyer, expecting to be rolling in Benjamins by the end of the day; but you find out that the buyer is only willing to pay you a measly $500 for it. Which is absurd, so naturally you would want to find another buyer.

Problem is, in Destiny, there’s only one buyer, and he’s been shorting everyone. This system angered players so much that Bungie actually had to go in and patch it. Thankfully, though, engrams are but one of the ways in which to gather loot.

Unfortunately, that’s where the repetition comes in.

Destiny contains several factions that players can choose to align themselves with. It isn’t an official declaration, it’s just easier to pick one faction and stick with it. Each faction offers its own unique weapons and gear, which give players a variety of unique upgrades and abilities. But if you absolutely loathe grinding, you’re in trouble, because that’s all this is. Literally.

In order to buy faction gear, players have to earn both marks and reputation. Marks come in two forms: Vanguard, which players are awarded for completing strike missions and public events in the universe, and Crucible, which are earned by playing in Destiny’s PvP game modes. Just about every weapon requires 150 marks to purchase, and the most players can collect for Vanguard activities is six at a time. Crucible marks take even longer to amass; players earn three marks per victory and two per loss in PvP.

See how this could get so repetitive?

If a player were to collect an entire set of faction armor, plus a weapon for each slot, it would require more than 500 marks; and that doesn’t count the reputation, which is earned by completing bounties and missions, or quests. In order to purchase faction armor, players must achieve a level 2 reputation with that faction. Weapons require level 3, and each level requires reputation points totaling more than 1,000. With most activities rewarding players 25 reputation points or less, it becomes extremely monotonous after only a short period of time.

This system has made Destiny feel like a fulltime job, and getting great gear feels far less rewarding than it does in most other RPGs. Unfortunately, these two items on the list aren’t even the biggest problem I have with the game, which leads me to my next section.

 

The Over-Promised

 

Size & Content

I know I wasn’t the only person who was extremely disappointed with the scope of Destiny’s content. I completed the story in a matter of days (although it can easily be done in one sitting, if you marathon it), and when I finished all the strikes, I couldn’t help but ask, “So…..is that it?”

Part of it is my fault. I did allow myself to get caught up in the game’s marketing and hype, so I went in with my expectations set at an unrealistic level. But Activision set the bar too high on this one.

The game was in development for years, and it was framed as one of the largest gaming environments being created for consoles. Knowing the game’s primary objective was space exploration, I couldn’t help but get excited. Traveling to unknown planets to navigate their alien landscapes sounded like a huge undertaking, and I was freakin’ pumped. Bungie even went so far as to say that each planet would be roughly the size of Halo: Reach.

If that was the case, it certainly didn’t feel like it.

I was able to traverse all of Earth in about 45 minutes, and every other planet in about an hour. While the size of each location does feel large, it doesn’t feel large enough. Destiny was advertised as an MMO-FPS hybrid; and when I hear MMO, my mind strays to that first “M,” which stands for Massive. After playing games like World of Warcraft and Guild Wars 2, I thought, “Oh man, this is gonna be huge.” When I think of RPGs, I think of games that have a seemingly endless amount of content for players to go through, with innumerable choices to make and vast environments to explore.

But…..it wasn’t that at all. The scope of Destiny’s universe doesn’t really do anything groundbreaking for the RPG genre, but it certainly raised the bar for shooters. Which leads me to believe that the game was simply marketed the wrong way.

Unfortunately, Destiny doesn’t even feel like a full game. Perhaps that’s just because we live in an age of DLC; perhaps we won’t have what Destiny was supposed to be until 2015. I understand the DLC business model, and I even don’t mind paying for more content if that content is strong and entertaining. But at least make a game that can stand on its own two feet for several months rather than one players can blast their way through in two weeks. I completed almost everything there was to do by level 26, with the exception of the raid, leaving me next to no incentive to reach level 30. There was no more carrot at the end of my stick.

Overall, Destiny is a solid game that was disappointing simply because of the hype. If I had ignored all of the advertising, the articles, and so on, I’m sure I would have been pleasantly surprised with Bungie’s latest project as a shooter. Then again, that can be said about every AAA IP in development these days.

Granted, Bungie has never made an RPG before, so I do cut them some slack there. I’m sure they’ll improve their process considerably as future Destiny installments are made. However, with the amount of repetition involved and the game’s lack of replay value, I score Destiny at a 7 out of 10. It was worth a shot, but if you're looking for depth, this is not your game.











The amount of time I spent playing Watch_Dogs dwindled over the course of two weeks, and now Iíve officially given up on Ubisoftís posterchild, unable to finish any one part of the game. Part of the reason had to do with the release of Carbineís Wildstar, which I have grown to love over the last few weeks; but again, thatís only part of the reason.

The gist of it is, I lost interest.

Watch_Dogs was an entertaining game right out of the gate. The hacking aspect was a feature that hadnít really been done before, and I thoroughly enjoyed making my way through the streets of Chicago with my handy hack-all-things-with-the-push-of-a-button cellphone. The plotline was decentóI was interested in Aiden Pearce as a character and his struggle, and part of me wanted to progress through the game just for the sake of finding out what happens. After a while, though, I went from ďThis is interestingĒ to ďMeh.Ē I barely made it to Act III of the gameís campaign before calling it quits.

It only took me a few minutes to figure out why my attitude about the game had shifted so drastically in such a short amount of time. I hadnít lost interest in a game so quickly in a long time, and I was pretty excited for Watch_Dogs. I took a critical look at the formula of Ubisoftís games, and from there it was easy.

Thereís no question that a lot, if not most, of the AAA titles hitting shelves today are repetitive to a certain degree. Gaming studios have taken the concept of the side missionóan activity that should be a welcome retreat from pursuing the gameís story modeóand put it through a cookie-cutter formula. Side missions today are less of a refreshing and enjoyable break and more of a chore. Why?

Because theyíre all the sameóthereís no variety. And most of Ubisoftís AAA titles are well known for using this formula.

I asked myself why I was getting tired of Watch_Dogs so easily when I love the Assassinís Creed franchise, even its side missions, which are usually just as repetitive. The answer came down to the gameís environment. The Assassinís Creed games take me on exciting adventures, allowing me to visit exotic locales across the globe that I wouldnít normally get the chance to see first-hand. Watch_Dogs, on the other hand, is set in Chicago.

I can get in my car and drive to Chicago in a matter of hours.

Ubisoft can get away with somewhat repetitive side missions and activities in games like Black Flag because you play as a freakiní pirate. Iíll sail all over the Caribbean just to accept another assassination mission or grab another set of Animus fragments because itís fun just being in that environment and exploring the region. If Iím just cruising through the streets of Chicago, all the areas begin to blend together, and the repetitive nature of the side missions becomes much more noticeable. I can handle repetitive activities if those activities lead me through sprawling jungles or aquamarine seas. If I just have to drive through traffic to do the same-ish activity, no thanks.

Watch_Dogs made it difficult for me to immerse myself in its experience. Donít get me wrong, I had fun with it for a little while, but over time that fun lost its allure, and I gave up on it. Game devs are going to have to try harder to captivate their playerbase with content that is different, refreshing, and challenging if they want to maintain such a large audience. Otherwise everyone will just play through the story and be done with it.

And thatís not worth $60, is it?

This has been a hot-button issue for gamers for a long time. So what do you guys think? Where are AAA games headed if their dev teams canít seem to implement a variety of content to eliminate, or at least reduce, the repetitive aspect of these games? Drop some knowledge in the comments.
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All right Nintendo, color me impressed.

I havenít seen an entertainment company perform a turnaround like yours since Microsoft retracted all of its rules surrounding the Xbox One after being crushed by Sony at E3 2013. It seems new life has been injected into the gaming titan, a company that has struggled of late due to severely low sales of its newest console, the Wii U. It seems, though, that things are moving in an uphill direction for Nintendo now, and it all started with Mario Kart 8.

I didnít want a Wii U to begin with, but Mario Kart 8 made me at least want to look into the possibility. The game looks incredible, and many are saying itís the greatest Mario Kart installment to date, which is a feat in and of itself. Itís been disappearing from shelves faster than people can get their hands on it, and it even drove Wii U sales up nearly 700 percent in the UK. The gameís viral success drove Nintendo to produce a special Mario Kart 8 Wii U bundle, which has become a coveted console everywhere because itís so difficult to find.

And of course, the game ushered in a Luigi revolution.



The first time I saw Luigi death stare gifs, I cried a little. It's nice seeing Mario's brother in the spotlight, and it seems he's gotten tired of never getting any attention. Well Luigi, you entered the stage on a glorious note.

Nintendo made a powerful statement this week with its Super Smash Bros. Invitational, a tournament that hosted 16 of the best Smash players around in a battle of skill. The tournament was a huge success, giving gamers everywhere their first real look at the game in action. I liked what I saw, and Iím eager to play the game myself. I've heard that it plays more like Melee, which I'm most excited about. I played the hell out of Melee, and another Smash game that comes anywhere close is a win.



But wait, thereís more!

On top of all that, Nintendo is also working on its newest Zelda game for the Wii U, which looks and sounds amazing. The graphics seem to take a page out of Wind Wakerís book and combine it with Skyward Sword, and the result is awesome. Not only that, but itís been confirmed that this installment of the beloved Zelda franchise will take a new approach to the seriesí gameplay. It can be summed up in three words: Open-world Hyrule.

Wut.

Iím a huge Zelda fanboy, and the very idea of an open-world Hyrule is enough to make me sweat. It seems Nintendo has some great things in store for Zelda fans, and I canít wait to see what the finished product will deliver. As if that wasnít enough to digest, there are brand new Yoshiís Story, Starfox and Kirby games on the way, all of which are being developed for the Wii U.

I donít know what happened over at Nintendo, but it seems the company decided to kick its ass in gear when it saw how disappointing the Wii U performed around the globe. Itís a known fact in gaming, thoughómake good games, and they will come. Well Nintendo, you seem to be on the right track, so keep it up and soon youíll have me as a loyal customer again.
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Itís that time of year againóa time when gamers everywhere turn their eager eyes toward the glowing stages of E3. Last year we witnessed one of the most exciting E3 events in years as Microsoft and Sony pitted their next generation consoles against one another in a battle that most would say Sony absolutely dominated. I had the live stream ready to go well before the show began, sitting on my couch like a giddy child on Christmas morning. The console bouts made last yearís E3 exciting, yes; but now that the consoles are out, gaming developers and publishers everywhere are ready to show the world what they're capable of when flexing their next-gen muscles. Thatís why Iím excited for this yearís E3 even more so than I was last year, because now we all get to see just what we've been waiting for: nothing but games.

There will be plenty of dazzling new projects on display this year, some of which we've seen a lot of in recent months and some of which we havenít seen much at all. So, to get everyone ready for this exciting showcase, I've put together a list of my top 10 contenders to watch for at this yearís E3.

1. Destiny



Bungieís latest foray into the depths of space and futuristic shooters has been the biggest tease in gaming history, in my opinion. Information regarding the studioís first non-halo game was first discovered in 2012, when the†Los Angeles Times†published a written agreement between Bungie and its publishing partner, Activision. Ever since, Bungie has teased gamers over and over again (feels like practically every day, at this point), divulging bits and pieces about the game to give players just another taste of whatís to come. I almost feel like I've gotten my fill of Destiny already, and it hasn't even gone to beta yet.

Destiny is a futuristic MMORPG-shooter set on a dystopian planet Earth. Playing as a Guardian, players will be able to traverse the vast realm of space, exploring planets such as Venus and Mars and battling enemies with friends and guns. Lots and lots of guns. So far weíve seen concept art, plot details, game trailers and even some gameplay footage, but the floodgates are about to open. With a September 9 release date and a playable beta coming in July, thereís no question that Destiny will be in the spotlight this year at E3.

2. Assassin's Creed: Unity



Another year means another Assassinís Creed installment, but that isnít necessarily a bad thing. Ubisoft Montreal stumbled with Assassinís Creed III, but the team certainly managed to pick up the slack with Black Flag. Following the success of its pirate-themed assassin adventure, Ubisoft will have to deliver a kick-ass game to keep its fans satisfied.

Titled simply as ďUnity,Ē the next chapter in the historical franchise will take place in Revolutionary France, which puts the gameís timeline in the late 1700s (1790s, to be more precise). In March of this year, Ubisoft confirmed Unity as the studioís next AC project and released an alpha footage teaser trailer, giving a brief glimpse of the Notre Dame Cathedral and the infamous guillotine. What makes this game one to be excited about is itís the first exclusively next-gen AC installment, which means better graphics, more fluid mechanics and more detailed artwork. AC: Unity is scheduled for release this holiday season, and I have no doubt Ubisoft will be eager to share more details on stage at E3.


3. Halo 5: Guardians



E3 2013 treated viewers to a briefóand I do mean briefólook at the newest game currently in development for the Halo franchise. The teaser trailer showed a weary-looking traveler, wrapped in a tattered brown cloak, dragging his feet through the desert. That traveler was eventually revealed to be the well-known Master Chief, who was facing a gigantic Forerunner creature. Since then, there has been little chatter about the follow-up to Halo 4.

Earlier this month, however, the new Halo game resurfaced in a big way: an official announcement from both Microsoft and 343 confirming a 2015 release date for Halo 5, as well as the gameís title: Guardians. In an interview about the game, 343ís General Manager, Bonnie Ross, stated that E3 2014 will have much more new information about the game for hungry fans. While I restricted myself from playing future Halo games by purchasing a PS4, Iím still very interested in seeing what 343 will bring to the table with future installments.

4. Super Smash Bros.



One of Nintendoís most popular game franchises ever is going to make an appearance at this yearís E3 in a big way. News surrounding the newest Super Smash Bros. game has taken the Internet by storm in the last year, reporting on everything from playable characters to battle stages. Itís not to be unexpected, thoughóNintendo released Super Smash Bros. Brawl in 2008, six years ago. A gap like that leaves any gamer hungry for the next course of the meal, and this year Nintendo is set to deliver.

Nintendo has elected to skip the traditional E3 press conference again this year in favor of a more hands-on approach. In addition to the Nintendo Digital Eventóthe companyís way of getting information out to gamers about its plans for the next yearóNintendo is hosting a Super Smash Bros. tournament for 16 skilled Smash Bros. brawlers. This will give fans of the game series their first in-depth look at the newest Smash Bros. game, which is scheduled for release later this year. The tournament will be streamed live online via Twitch.

5. Tom Clancy's The Division



Seeing gameplay footage of Ubisoftís The Division at last yearís E3 was enough to make me take $60 out of my wallet and throw it at my monitor. Unfortunately, that didn't work. The combination of futuristic technology, guns, the post-apocalyptic setting and the gameís RPG elements made me quiver. Now that a year has passed since the gameís unveiling, there is sure to be more to see at this yearís convention.

Unfortunately, rumors have recently arisen that predict this gameís release will be pushed back into 2015 or possibly early 2016. Seeing as how Ubisoft Massive, Reflections and Red Storm are building a new game engine, known as Snowdrop, for The Division, itís pretty much expected for the original release date of holiday 2014 to be pushed back. Which is fine with me, in all honesty; if these three studios focus all of their time and efforts into developing a high quality game on a truly next-generation engine, I say itís worth the wait. Iím just eager to see what E3 will have to show us about this game two weeks from now.

6. Far Cry 4



Earlier this year, Ubisoft confirmed the development of the next chapter of its popular jungle shooter, Far Cry 4. The game will offer players a change in scenery by taking the story out of the tropics and moving the focus to the Himalayan region of the globe, which apparently includes rideable elephants. The game is scheduled for release this coming November.

The popularity of this franchise pretty much seals the deal on a Far Cry 4 appearance at E3 this year. With very little information floating around about the game as of yet, plus an early 2015 release scheduled, the stage is set for Ubisoft to reveal much more about the game under the spotlight in June.

7. Arkham Knight



The finale to Rocksteadyís Arkham game series overwhelmed the Internet recently when the gameís first trailer surfaced, and it looks downright nasty. Arkham Knight is highly anticipated for many reasons, one of the bigger ones being the seriesí first drivable Batmobile, which looks pretty awesome. The game is being developed for PS4, Xbox One and PC only, meaning it will come nicely packaged inside a stunning graphics engine. In fact, rumors indicate that Arkham Knight will be the first game powered by Unreal Engine 4.

So far, all weíve seen is the initial reveal trailer and a recent gameplay trailer, which means there are a lot of hungry Batman fans out there ready for more, including myself. With E3 right around the corner and an anticipated release date of October 2014 for Arkham Knight, I can think of no better time for a wealth of information and footage to come tumbling forth.

8. Star Wars Battlefront



A studio known for games featuring detailed graphics, cutting edge gaming engines and wanton destruction unlike any other is the perfect home for the up-and-coming Star Wars Battlefront game, the first in the series since Battlefront II hit stores almost 10 years ago. At last yearís E3, we saw a teaser trailer showing the snowy wastelands of the ice planet, Hoth, an out-of-control snowspeeder and the gigantic, ominous footstep of an AT-AT walker.

Now one year further into development, we can bet that DICE and EA have a lot to show us at E3 2014, especially since EAís CEO confirmed the gameís presence at the convention during an investor phone call. He also stated that there will be other Star Wars projects on display as well. As far as I know, Battlefront is being developed on the Frostbite 3 engine, which can only mean wonderful, beautiful, destructive things. I was a big fan of Battlefronts I and II, and I canít wait to see whatís in store with the latest installment. DICEís Battlefront is expected to release around summer 2015.

9. Uncharted 4



A new chapter in Naughty Dogís wildly popular, Playstation-exclusive Uncharted series is currently in development, much to fansí delight. As of now, all Naughty Dog has shown us of its upcoming title is a teaser trailer, which scrolls across a map of southern Africa and the surrounding islands while a threatening voice speaks of vengeance for a wrong committed 15 years ago.

Many who have broken the trailer down and analyzed it from all angles suspect that the newest Uncharted game could be pirate-themed, a speculation that certainly isn't out of the question after the success of Ubisoftís Black Flag. The fog surrounding this game has swirled and thickened since November, which means its time for a big update from Naughty Dog, an update thatís sure to land during E3 this year.

10. The Crew



A game that combines a seemingly endless list of customization options, badass cars and an open-world map is a game that I had to put on my list. When I first saw The Crew during Ubisoftís opening keynote at last yearís E3, I got excited. The thought of being able to assemble my cars piece by piece, fine-tuning them to meet my exact needs, and having the ability to drive around the entire United States was more than enough for me to put this game on my buy list.

The Crew is set to come out in a matter of months, and with such a fast-approaching drop date, thereís no question that Ubisoft will want to refresh gamersí memories about its shiny new racing game at this yearís E3. Since The Crewís debut, we've seen trailers, gameplay videos, screenshots, artwork and more; and now that Ubisoft will once again be under a global spotlight, thereís no question that itís ready to show off more of the gameís features and gameplay.

So there it isómy list of top 10 for this yearís E3. Which of these games are you most excited for, or not excited for? What games are on your lists but not on mine? Let me know in the comments!
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Another month means another set of free downloads on Playstation Plus, and June is bringing two games that look far more promising than Mayís selection, which didnít grab my attention at all. This month, PS4 owners will have access to Trine 2 and Pixeljunk Shooter Ultimate, two very different games that are sure to satisfy two different tastes and styles of play.

Trine 2 is a side-scrolling, medieval-style adventure/platform/puzzle game that gives players access to three different charactersóa wizard, a knight and a thiefóeach with their own unique abilities that are necessary to progress through the varying stages of puzzles. This is one of the best-looking games Iíve ever seen, even if games like inFAMOUS: Second Son and Killzone Shadowfall are taken into consideration. The vibrant colors and fluid animations truly pop off the screen, and the authentic music laid behind the gameplay makes for a genuinely enjoyable experience.


For those who prefer a more arcade-style game reminiscent of Asteroids, Pixeljunk Shooter Ultimate is the way to go. Players control a small ship that flies through stages, blasting its way through obstacles and enemies and rescuing helpless pedestrians along the way. Iím not looking forward to this one nearly as much as Trine 2, but Iím sure there are players out there who will enjoy this Indie title as well.

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Greetings, Destructoid community! Iím beginning a series known as First Impressions, a series of ďreviewsĒ that convey my first impressions of any new games I play as theyíre released. These are not meant to be traditional reviews, namely because Iím going to write these pieces after only a few hours of gameplay, which wonít allow me to divulge much information in the forms of story arc or progression.



However, it doesnít take long to get a solid first impression of a game, and thatís what I intend to convey to readers. Hopefully these posts communicate a decent sense of what the game is like; maybe theyíll even help some of you make a decision about whether you want to buy the game in question or not. So, without further ado, my first installment of First Impressions will cover Watch_Dogs.

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Ubisoft released its latest and greatest poster child for next generation gaming on Tuesday after months upon months upon months of promotional campaigns and marketing outreach efforts. I wonít lieóI was really excited for Watch_Dogs. After seeing the initial gameplay demo at E3 2012, I couldn't wait to get my hands on the title and start hacking things left and right. So, when the game finally came out (after an eight-month delay), I was eager to see if the wait was worth it.

Iím a sucker for a good story, and the very first thing I noticed about Watch_Dogs was the introduction to the story felt rushed. The player is greeted with short, sporadic cutscenes that only partially convey a clear sense of what the game is all about before being thrown into the thick of it. Now, I will say that the game makes up for that over time and more clearly establishes a sense of purpose, but it takes some time to get there. So far, though, Iím enjoying the dark and gritty story of Aiden Pearce, the gameís protagonist.

Speaking of our storyís vigilante hero, itís a good thing the game comes with subtitles turned on. The first few times I heard Aiden speak, I couldnít help but ask, ďIs that you, Batman?Ē

I get itóthe gritty, baritone, manly voice does serve a purpose in making Aidenís character whole. Heís a man driven by vengeance and tragedy (sounds a lot like Batman in his early years, doesnít it?), and the voice Ubisoft chose does a fairly good job bringing those aspects together. The downside, though, is that the acting falls flat. With a voice as deep and mysterious as Aidenís, the tonal range becomes almost non-existent, and without subtitles much of the characterís dialogue would be lost on me.

Once I received the freedom to wander around the streets of Chicago, I immediately got hooked on the gameís foundation: hacking. The character profiler is a powerful tool, allowing the player a brief glimpse into everyday citizensí lives and unlocking the ability to listen in on phone calls, read text conversations and even hack their bank accounts, withdrawing funds from their banks and depositing them into Aidenís pocket. So far I've struggled to put Aidenís phone away and lost myself in peopleís personal details, which range from funny and interesting to criminal and secretive.

The hackerís abilities allow him to do much more within the city as well, since Chicago is run on a futuristic, large-scale operating system known as CtOS. Those abilities include infiltrating peopleís personal homes, which is both awesome and terrifying at the same time, considering these side activities are officially titled ďPrivacy Invasions.Ē

Big Brother is always watching I guess.

These activities give the player an even deeper look into peopleís lives. Iím pretty sure I witnessed a suicide during my first experience with these activities; I couldn't be positive since the homeowner was off-screen, but someone telling themselves to ďstop being a pansy bitch and just DO IT,Ē followed by an ominous silence, could only be so many things.

Hacking goes well beyond personal research and serves a much larger purpose in the forms of combat and car chases. Aiden has access to anything with an electronic signal, which means security cameras, traffic lights, comm channels, roadblocks, remote explosives and more. This gives players the option to either infiltrate an enemy hideout digitally, jumping from camera to camera and using various electronics to eliminate threats with stealth and finesse, or charging in guns blazing and doing it the old-fashioned way. I've thoroughly enjoyed taking cover and picking off targets with nothing more than a cell phone; itís a unique combat system that I've never experienced before, and Ubisoft did a great job in giving the player complete control over their surroundings.

Speaking of guns, the weapon selection in Watch_Dogs is adequate but not extensive. Everything from pistols and assault weapons to shotguns, sniper rifles and grenade launchers are available for purchase at the local gun shops, but each category only has a handful of weapons to choose from. Iím not sure if that selection will expand as the game goes on, but I can hope. The shooting mechanics in the game were a little tough for me to get used to in the beginning, since most shooters give you more than a tiny white dot as a targeting reticle, but it serves its purpose well enough.

Now, while the game does have its good qualities, driving is certainly not one of them. Honestly, I havenít experienced driving mechanics this unresponsive since my Gamecube/PS2 years. My first few attempts at driving around the city resulted in dozens of car crashes and accidental pedestrian injuries/deaths, which aren't a good thing if youíre trying to follow the ďgoodĒ path during your first playthrough. Thankfully, Ubisoft included motorcycles, which Iíve found are necessary for me to get anywhere without crashing into things left and right like I always do in larger, less maneuverable vehicles. After playing a game like Need For Speed: Rivals on the PS4, which utilizes incredibly smooth and responsive driving mechanics, commuting through the streets of Chicago in Watch_Dogs is more of an unwanted chore than an enjoyable experience.

Overall I've enjoyed my time thus far with Ubisoftís latest title. The graphics are just as good as I expected, contrary to the many complaints about that aspect of the game in recent months. Watch_Dogs has its ups and downs, as any game does these days, but the quality of the gameplay, combined with enjoyable side missions, make this game a fun experience. Iím looking forward to delving deeper into the story and seeing what new features are waiting for me. If you enjoy Action-Adventure games, I recommend picking this one up.
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