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Metal Gear Online photo
Metal Gear Online

Quiet will be playable in Metal Gear Online


More DLC scheduled for March
Jan 30
// Jordan Devore
Boy, Metal Gear Online. I sure forget about that in a hurry. Those of you who have stuck with The Phantom Pain's multiplayer suite and plan to continue doing so might be pleased to know that more content is coming in March 20...
Bad Updates photo
Bad Updates

New Vita update physically attacks anyone who tries to play with it (Fauxclusive)


You may want to wait for update 3.59
Jan 30
// CJ Andriessen
In its continuing efforts to convince fans to finally let go of the PlayStation Vita, Sony released an update for the device earlier this week that caused a wide variety of problems, including making it nearly impossible to c...

Horror movie characters I want to see in MKX

Jan 30 // Nic Rowen
Chop Top Leatherface is cool, but let's be honest, he was the most obvious choice (which is a slightly veiled way of saying the most boring choice). NetherRealm used up the most recognizable faces in horror and instead of getting creative, it aimed low, called up the second-best, the also-ran. The sad thing is, it was so achingly close to finding a great sideways pick from the same franchise. Chop Top from Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 would bring a great mix of carnage and comedy to the tournament. Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 isn't your typical horror movie (it has a much lighter tone than its predecessor), and Chop Top isn't your typical psychopath. He's from the same murderous hillbilly family as Leatherface (and is every bit as unhinged as him when you get right down to it), but he has a gentler side. He's a music lover and hippie cliché who seems just as excited about touring the local radio station as he is about murdering random teenagers. How multidimensional! Chop Top gets his name from the metal plate in his skull, a souvenir he claims is from a tour in Vietnam. But he's out of his fucking mind, so I'm not sure how much stock I'd put in that. Occasionally he'll scratch the plate with a heated coat hanger for, um, I guess “relief” would be the most polite way to put it? Long story short, I feel like he'd have a lot to talk about with Kano. Let's be honest, anyone can be scary with a chainsaw. It takes a special kind of creepy to be menacing with a coat hanger. “Lick my plate, you dog dick!” Ash There's no reason to limit ourselves to horror movie bad guys, a guest character could just as easily be a good guy. Or in the case of Ash from The Evil Dead, an okay guy. Or maybe a “he'll do in a pinch I guess” guy, if we're being honest. You know what I mean anyway. Ash is such a ready-made video game character I'm a little shocked we haven't seen more games from him (there are a few, but I'd avoid them if I were you). He's got a chainsaw arm, a shotgun, and a penchant for inappropriate quips, he's like 70 percent of the way there already. And hey, if you're gonna put a dude with a gun in the game you might as well get your full value out of it. Give him a Stryker-inspired secondary costume, so all the police brutality fans that had to go without in MKX can finally feel validated. Putting Ash in the game would also close the spiritual loop on a film project that never-was. Years ago, Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema kicked around the idea of making a Freddy Vs Jason Vs Ash film that would have seen the three icons go chainsaw to machete to weird-knife-fingers-glove (which I feel is a little low in the deadly-weapon pecking order to hang with this crowd). The project was eventually killed, but it apparently got far enough along to get a script treatment (which you can read for yourself, care of Bloody Disgusting). A comic of the story was even produced, but that's some weak tea compared to what could have been. Getting Ash in MKX would be the closest thing to seeing that fight happen. Well, at least the Ash on Jason part (which sounds like a horrifying slash-fic when I put it like that). Pyramid Head Who says we have to pull from horror movies? Horror games have some pretty damn big icons of their own. If NetherRealm had the sheer balls to include Kratos as a console exclusive character in MK9, why not bring Pyramid Head to MKX? Show a little class and make him available on every platform (well, other than PC of course, NetherRealm already buried that version of the game in a shallow grave and covered it with dissolving lye). Besides, it's not like Konami is doing anything with him now, other than sticking him on the side of pachinko machines. Pyramid Head is perfect for an MKX conversion. He's big, he's angry, he already loves dismembering people with an intimidating, but probably unwieldy, weapon. What's one more giant shirtless guy in a skirt and a ridiculous headpiece on the roster? (Just kidding Kotal, you know I love you). He could have a Fatality called “helloooo nurse!” where he... Um, this was a bad idea. Never mind. The Spooky Girls This one is more conceptual, a way of sneaking in more than one character. Hey, if they can do it with Triborg (who they should just rename to Quadborg at this point) they can do it for someone else! The horror world is chock-a-block with evil spooky little girls and while I'm pressed to think of one that could carry a fighting game character on her own, their combined powers could properly represent the trope in MKX. I'm thinking a base spooky girl (long hair, ghostly voice, the usual) with variations based on the twins from The Shining , Samara from The Ring, and everyone's favorite spider-walking, projectile vomiter, Regan from The Exorcist. The Twins could have projectile special moves based on a duplicate (shout-outs to Noob Saibot), Samara could do her creepy implacable walk and burning hands thing, and Regan could have the most foul fight introduction quotes of any character in the game! Seriously, have you watched The Exorcist recently? Girl has a mouth that would put Jimmy Carr to shame. Freddy Fazbear I don't actually think Freddy Fazbear would make a particularly great Kombatant. I just want to see the internet burn to the ground when they announce him. These are my picks, but there are plenty of other possibilities. You could get Jack Torrance looking all fashionable with his plaid jacket and handsome fire axe. The, uh, Thing from The Thing could be a crazy monster and a kind of ghetto Shang Tsung with his copycat abilities. Hell, get Norman Bates in the mix swinging around his mummified mother. If you could have your druthers, which horror movie icon would you see in Mortal Kombat X?
MKX horror photo
If they're gonna do it, do it right
When NetherRealm announced it was going to put Freddy Krueger in Mortal Kombat, I thought it was a cheap cash in. And, as much as I hate to admit it, I also thought it was the coolest thing ever. I don't consider myself ...

Killer Instinct photo
Killer Instinct

Watch Killer Instinct's Kim Wu in action


Big changes for Season 3
Jan 30
// Jordan Devore
Our prior coverage of Killer Instinct has been repeatedly met with comments expressing love and affection for Kim Wu. Well, y'all, today's the day. We're getting our first full look at the martial artist with a "friggin' drag...
SFV mode trailer photo
SFV mode trailer

Street Fighter V trailer shows off new modes and training options


Put baby in the corner
Jan 30
// Nic Rowen
If there is one thing you can say about the Street Fighter series, it knows how to make attractive trailers out of boring info. I've enjoyed watching slickly produced videos about training mode options and network settings si...
Ghostbusters photo
Ghostbusters

New Ghostbusters game reportedly in the works, I hope we get to be the ladies


Let's change it up in here
Jan 30
// Zack Furniss
2009's Ghostbusters: The Video Game was a pleasant return to the ghoul-infested New York City, and it sounds like we'll have another chance to get bustin' this year. What remains unclear is whether it'll feature the cast...

The Silent Hill Retrospective: Homecoming

Jan 30 // Stephen Turner
Homecoming starts with an intentional bang; no dreaded slow burn, no setup, giving away all its secrets within the opening cutscene. The sounds of war give way to the harsh clatter of gurney wheels and slamming double doors. Alex Shepherd demands answers and receives a gory rebuttal, before waking up on a hitch-hike back home, after many years away. The déjà vu of Alex’s search for his missing brother is just too familiar, caught up in this mandated movie tie-in veneer. Homecoming’s biggest sin is that it’s sketchy. Not purposefully vague, just sketchy; from its supporting cast to its sparse locations and even loose endings. Whereas Silent Hill was fully imagined in its first appearance, Shepherd’s Glen is completely faceless, hard to differentiate from the infamous town during Homecoming’s final act. Despite Josh’s disappearance being a key motivator, Alex only has two memories of his brother – one good, one bad – and the rest are doled shown, oddly enough, without his presence. A sign of numerous redrafts, if we're being honest. It’s never enough to make you care, busy as it is with telling certain events with biased awe. Pyramid Head makes a fleeting appearance, spied on like a creature in the wild. Later, Deputy Wheeler talks about Silent Hill with mystical reverence. Gone are the days where the town was just an unassuming name on the road map, somewhere you wouldn’t think twice about passing by. [embed]337353:62057:0[/embed] Especially with concerns to the latter, Homecoming showed how Silent Hill’s fundamentals had radically changed under the Western gaze. It’s still a Silent Hill game at heart – any accusations can easily be applied to previous efforts – but one that looks inward at its own country’s history of horror. It’s all there in the way Alex and his companions stick together, make plans over the radio, survive sieges, and get too close to the truth. Yes, it’s insular, but one shouldn’t be critical of Homecoming’s influences for not being Eastern or spiritual. America produced some amazing horror tales in the '70s and '80s; a reaction to cinematic stereotypes, increases in violent crime, and the scars of Vietnam. Homecoming tries to at least update those themes with its protection of small town values and allusions to Iraq and Afghanistan. Alex Shepherd is seen as this well groomed soldier with a flashy fighting style, which at first plays well towards the critics of the game. Despite his all American values, it’s really his jacket that lends us this weight of authority and self-made heroics. But keen eyes will notice that the jacket doesn’t really fit him; too long on the arms, a little broad on the shoulders. When the twist hits, we learn Alex is merely living up to his father's legacy. That symbol of duty, their only connection, is really just a reminder of their estrangement. Duty and sacrifice are prevalent themes in Homecoming. Even the title itself recalls more to do with warriors than prom queens, especially in this day and age. The self-preservation of Shepherd’s Glen is a ludicrous compromise, where an unbridled fear of those across the waters (in this case, Toluca Lake and the Order of Silent Hill) ruins more lives than it saves. Heinous acts are committed by those in charge, fearful of religious retribution. And when the balance is finally upset, a reactionary Otherworld returns at its most vengeful. Shrieking monsters with impotent forms feverishly scale fences and walls, only wanting blood. The town’s sacrifices are reimagined as furious deities; their porcelain skin fractures and drowning lungs a reminder of their once frail former selves. They do lack the macabre, tumorous puzzles of Masahiro Ito’s designs, but we must remember that Homecoming was Silent Hill at its most casual. But more importantly, this was a Silent Hill title that lacked the time to go deeper. Even if it did, with the story it had, where exactly could it have gone? When you look at the games, post-The Room, they’re all variations of stories told; parental fears and domestic worries, a coming of age and religious interpretation, suburban loneliness, all filled in with mistakes and regrets. Nearly everything that Homecoming picked up on was already said in Silent Hill 2 and 3. It’s a cherry picker of ideas, hoping the best ones fit together. And maybe that’s why, beyond the more obvious debate of Eastern vs. Western quality and the terrible plot holes involved, Homecoming has a division of fans, rather than outright hatred. It’s a B-movie horror film within a B-tier game, nothing more, nothing less. As for the future of the franchise, we would never hear from Shepherd’s Glen ever again, but the past was worth revisiting. Silent Hill would take centre stage, once more. Though it would be very different from the one buried in our memories.
Silent Hill photo
'These people are your responsibility!'
Homecoming was the Hollywood take on Silent Hill. All crisp and clean, with a Jensen Ackles-type in the lead, and a straightforward plot that paid more homage to Dean Koontz’s Phantoms than Koji Suzuki’s Dark Wate...

Star Wars photo
Star Wars

Disney will not allow EA to break canon with Star Wars Battlefront


But I want to be BB-8!
Jan 30
// Zack Furniss
While we've known since last month that Star Wars Battlefront is going to focus on the original trilogy for this release in the series, we didn't know exactly why. An EA earnings call (via VideoGamer) has shed some light on w...
Deals photo
Deals

Cheap XCOM 2 & Rise of Tomb Raider in Weekend Deals


XCOM 2 discounts sighted
Jan 30
// Dealzon
Oh, you thought you saved humanity when you beat XCOM: Enemy Unknown? Nope! XCOM 2 says you didn't (or at least that humanity surrendered at some point). Come next week Friday we'll all be forced to reverse the fortunes ...
JRPG photo
JRPG

PS Vita JRPG Stranger of Sword City delayed


Now coming in late April
Jan 30
// Kyle MacGregor
Stranger of Sword City's PlayStation Vita release is being pushed back a month. Initially planned for a late March debut, the portable dungeon crawler is now expected to arrive in North America on April 26. A E...

Obscure Video Games: Top 5 Bosses of Ninja Baseball Bat Man

Jan 30 // Obscure Video Games
Makeshift Villain This mafioso makes quite a statement with his lavender trench coat and bowed-up hair. It's a fashion crime. Hit him with a bat. Windy Plane It's a plane with teeth. He cries a lot. Hit him with a bat. Ghost Buffalo You know that freaky deer head in Evil Dead 2? Well, what if he was a buffalo head? What would you do if he jumped off the wall and started biting you? You'd hit him with a bat; that's what you'd do. Mechanical Alligator This muscle-bound hunk of luggage wants to snap you in half. Before he does, you need to strip him down to his scales, once piece of armor at a time. Try hitting him with a bat. King Babe The final boss is Babe Ruth on steroids. A swing of his weapon creates pink tornadoes of destruction. Want to see the end credits? Hit him with a bat. Ninja Baseball Bat Man is a great game, especially if you like hitting things with bats. Unfortunately, the arcade machine is quite rare, and it's never been released on a console. If you can swing an emulator, you won't regret it. [embed]333518:61839:0[/embed]
Obscure Video Games photo
Hit them with a bat.
Ninja Baseball Bat Man is not a baseball game. It also has nothing to do with Batman. It's actually a wacky arcade beat-'em-up released in 1993 by Irem (maker of R-Type). You might assume it's just another example of Japanese...

Falcom photo
Falcom

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel is out now across Europe


For PS3 and Vita
Jan 30
// Kyle MacGregor
A month after its North American release in December, The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel is now available across Europe, courtesy of NIS America. I haven't had a chance to crack open my copy just yet, but it's definit...

Contest: Win a copy of Slain! and an Alienware Alpha!

Jan 30 // Mike Martin
[embed]336684:61996:0[/embed]
Contest photo
Freebies of a custom nature
Thanks to the amazing folks at Wolf Brew Games, Digerati Distribution, and Alienware, we have an awesome contest for you to enter. The prize? A hand-painted Alienware Alpha and a copy of Slain! (on its March 24 release). You can find the entry form, just below these words. If that isn't showing for you, please scroll down to the link below and enter there.

The Division photo
The Division

Ubisoft can't keep up with demand for The Division's closed beta


Some people are stuck waiting
Jan 29
// Jordan Devore
Ubisoft says it "can no longer guarantee access" to this weekend's closed beta for Tom Clancy's The Division due to "unprecedented demand." "If you have already pre-ordered The Division and have yet to receive your key, we'r...
Danny DeVitochu 2016 photo
Danny DeVitochu 2016

More evidence that Danny DeVito needs to be the voice of Detective Pikachu


Humans are filthy, dirty filthy
Jan 29
// Jed Whitaker
Some saint created the above trailer showing off what the English release of Great Detective Pikachu could be like if Nintendo takes notice of the petition to cast Hollywood sweetheart Danny DeVito in the starring role....
Twilight Princess HD photo
Twilight Princess HD

A story trailer in case you forgot what Twilight Princess is about


Howl lovely
Jan 29
// Brett Makedonski
Twilight Princess is the Zelda game with the wolf and the orcs and the shadow monsters. There's a good chance you already knew that because Twilight Princess is nearly ten years old and was widely beloved. A l...
Hellblade photo
Hellblade

I forgot to mention Tameem's f***hat in that Hellblade video


Please forgive me
Jan 29
// Zack Furniss
When I typed up that post about Hellblade's newest developer video, something jumped out at me: director Tameem Antoniades' hat. I made a mental note to mention it, but then ended up focusing on the motion capture. I've made ...
Xbox One photo
Xbox One

Beautiful and unwieldy Xbox Ones for the Chinese New Year


Banana controller!
Jan 29
// Brett Makedonski
The Chinese New Year is rapidly approaching, beginning on February 8 (thanks, Wikipedia!), just little more than a week away. Microsoft commissioned eight local artists from China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan to design Xbox Ones to...
The Witness photo
The Witness

Jonathan Blow says The Witness is very popular among pirates


Popularity isn't always a good thing
Jan 29
// Brett Makedonski
The Witness is very popular this week, but popularity and revenue don't always correlate directly. There's a whole subset of people out there who prefer to get their games through nefarious, illegal means and The Witness...
Detective Pikachu photo
Detective Pikachu

You've got the right stuff, Detective Pikachu


This freakin' game
Jan 29
// Jordan Devore
I've been following Great Detective Pikachu for years, and what a journey it has been. There was a time when we just had a scant few seconds of nightmarish facial-capture footage to go on for the 3DS game and even then, in it...
Hellblade photo
Hellblade

Watch Ninja Theory make this mocap lady do silly shit for Hellblade


Still seems like a fun job
Jan 29
// Zack Furniss
I'm quietly anticipating Ninja Theory's Hellblade, and its transparent development videos have been stoking that fire. I always enjoy watching how games are made, and confirming that I know dick about the process. In this lat...
Dying Light photo
Dying Light

These are the parkour playgrounds you'll traverse in Dying Light: The Following


And race tracks for your buggy, too!
Jan 29
// Zack Furniss
There's little more than a week until Dying Light: The Following releases and we can all start drop-kicking the undead off of buildings again. Adding to an already steady flow of pre-release footage, Techland is showing ...
 photo

Friday Night Fights - Krang-arang Rufio!


Game with the Ninjatoid Community!
Jan 29
// Mike Martin
Huh. That thing kind of freaks me out... yet... deep down, I want to stick the D in it. I wonder if it has teeth? Hrm. Moving on... How is everyone this week? Doing good? Ready to play some games together? Sign up below if y...

Review: LEGO Marvel's Avengers

Jan 29 // Chris Carter
LEGO Marvel's Avengers (3DS, PC, PS3, PS4 [reviewed], Vita, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: TT Fusion, TT GamesPublisher: WB Interactive EntertainmentReleased: January 16, 2016MSRP: $29.99 (3DS, Vita), $39.99 (PC) $49.99 ( PS3, Wii U, Xbox 360), $59.99 (PS4, Xbox One) Marvel's Avengers is the latest beat-'em-up in a long line of Traveller's Tales LEGO joints, a subseries that has hosted roughly 30 games since 2005. It follows the same rough format as past titles, with a few added bits of panache (like more cinematic attacks and sequences) for good measure. You probably know the drill by now -- multiple characters are on-screen at a time, all of which sport several attacks, but they have slightly different ways of going about it. For instance, Captain America and Hulk are both melee fighters, but Cap will be able to reflect beams, and Hulk can smash through giant machinery. Iron Man and Thor excel at range and can fly, but the former can melt metal with his beams. You get the idea. Playing with a partner will enhance your experience tenfold as you can operate in tandem with one another, as going at it solo puts a damper on things by forcing you to switch characters often. That's even more true for Avengers, where the two-person synergy attacks (like Thor slamming into Cap's shield for a shockwave) are that much more satisfying. The best part, the LEGO franchise's signature silly humor, is intact. Interactions and events play out in a similar manner, so there aren't a lot of surprises, but additional jokes and a general sense of lightheartedness actually elevate a few dud portions of the films. As such, every cutscene brings a smile to my face, and helps break up the repetition a bit. I never really minded the shift from the gibberish "LEGO speak" of the past into full voice acting, as Traveller's Tales has always maintained the same tone successfully. [embed]337320:62048:0[/embed] That cavalier, cartoony attitude can go a bit overboard, though. While including over 200 characters is a cool notion, especially for kids who are fans of some of the more obscure heroes, you end up with an overwhelming number of clones and a general sense of vanilla loadouts. They're also inherently limited by the plotlines put forth in the MCU so they can't deviate too much, compared to a wholly original game like Dimensions. So where does LEGO Marvel start to really falter? Its inability to stick to one script at at time. It jumps around so many films that it fails to tell a cohesive story, and assumes you've seen every movie. If you haven't, you'll probably be a mite bewildered as to what's going on. In fact, the game kind of just jumps into Age of Ultron's intro with no rhyme, reason, or setup, before moving onto scenes from both Captain America movies, Thor 2, Iron Man 3, and more. And don't think there's some overarching "Galactus is narrating the story" device -- it just happens as it comes. The open world hubs are a welcome respite from the constant bang bang action, in that sense. As for me, I've experienced every bit of the MCU outside of the comics, so it did mostly make sense. Some is good, some is bad (Agent Carter, which just returned to TV, is pretty good!), but the vast majority of it is easy to follow. It's not like you're going to be scratching you head trying to decipher poignant plotlines -- the game just mostly lacks context, and suffers from fanservice-itis. The latter especially comes into play when the game splices in direct quotes from the film, some of which feel forced, with an odd audio mix to boot. Does your kid constantly go on about Chris Hemsworth and Robert Downey Jr. while they run around the room in their Hawkeye outfit? Pick up LEGO Marvel's Avengers and add it to the massive pile of LEGO games you likely already have. It's a fun mindless romp through a couple of interesting setpieces, but not a whole lot more than that when it comes down to it. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.] 
LEGO Marvel's Avengers photo
WB always finds out, bro
The MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) is intimidating, to say the least. In addition to all of the feature films there's also official tie-in comics, one-shot short films, multiple sequels that set up sequels, and now, eight separate television shows with multiple seasons across two networks. If you haven't been at least following the movies, LEGO Marvel's Avengers probably isn't for you.

Stardew Valley photo
Stardew Valley

Harvest Moon-like Stardew Valley is out on February 26


Let's go live there
Jan 29
// Darren Nakamura
It seems like it's been forever since we last checked in on Stardew Valley, a pixel art farming life simulator/role-playing game that evokes memories of Harvest Moon in those fortunate enough to have played it in its prime (o...

Lupe Fiasco is going to kick Daigo's ass in Street Fighter V

Jan 29 // Steven Hansen
And, finally, onto our story, our ostensible reason for reading (you) and writing (me) this article, other than to put content online for pay, to pal around with my friends about music on a lazy Friday, but mostly to talk about Kanye lying about not liking his ass eaten. Rapper Lupe Fiasco's last album, a return to form, is called Tetsuo & Youth if you want to check the standard millennial nerd bonafides. He also he drops Lupin the III and Thundercats references in his verse on Kanye's "Touch the Sky" over a decade ago. Someone asked Lupe on Twitter if he watches EVO, to which he replied, "Only to study Daigo..." Mad Catz' Mark Julio -- who loved my recent dispatch from the Mad Catz Street Fighter V tournament, by the way -- asked Lupe if he was down to fight Daigo, who is sponsored by Mad Catz, in Street Fighter V. Lupe confirmed, "It would be an honor to lose to Daigo-San." Good week, all. See you Monday. [embed]337545:62043:0[/embed] [embed]337545:62044:0[/embed]
Rapper v pro gamer photo
This is Rocky VIII
Things are popping off in the hip hop world this week. Kanye lied about not liking his ass eaten after a deluge of tweet beef with Wiz Khalifa. Kanye eventually deleted the 20 or so tweets aimed at Khalifa, but they still ex...

Ode to Wetrix photo
Ode to Wetrix

Ode to Wetrix


Sonnet #2
Jan 29
// Darren Nakamura
To start the land is purely plain and flatBut earthy blocks then fall down from the skyTake care in where they are placed on the matMake sure you never build it up too high Construct containers for the coming stormBut to...

Review: American Truck Simulator

Jan 29 // Patrick Hancock
American Truck Simulator (Linux, Mac, PC [reviewed])Developer: SCS SoftwarePublisher: SCS SoftwareRelease Date: February 3, 2016MSRP: $19.99  Euro Truck Simulator has quietly worked its way into the lives of many gamers over the years, myself included. I'm not sure why or when I thought I'd enjoy it, but I'm certainly glad the decision was made. These types of games are many things for many people; some enjoy the serenity, others enjoy the realism, and I'm sure there are those who turn their trucks into a replica of Darkside from Twisted Metal and ram into anything that crosses their path. For those veterans, American Truck Simulator is more of the same but in a new region. Calling it "American" seems a bit disingenuous at the moment, since players can only drive through California and Nevada. That's a lot of area to be sure, but hardly represents America. Many will envision a coast-to-coast trek from New York to Los Angeles, or traveling on Route 66 from state to state, but neither of these are possible at the moment. I say "at the moment" because, like Euro Truck Simulator before it, players should understand that they are buying into a platform. Nevada is technically free DLC at launch (and is included in this review), and the development team is working on Arizona as future free DLC as well. As of now there's no definitive DLC roadmap, but SCS Software has stated that "it will take us years to cover the continent," if it is financially viable. For newcomers to the series, or those simply curious as to how this is a real thing, here's the deal. Players assume the role of an American truck driver, making cargo deliveries in California and Nevada. Early on, taking jobs from various companies, using their trucks, is a steady income. As profit increases, players can afford their own trucks and even hire other drivers to carry out jobs. There are only two trucks available at the moment, which is a bit of a bummer. There are, of course, plans to add more, but as of now there are a Kentworth T 680 and a Peterbilt 579. There are variations of the two and plenty of  customization options, which help make them stand out more, but it's still only two models of truck at launch. Drivers will also gain experience and level up as deliveries are completed. Upon leveling, stat points can be distributed to categories like fuel economy, long-distance deliveries, and unlocking new types of cargo. As if making an expensive delivery wasn't nerve-wracking enough, think about delivering explosive or chemical cargo! Increasing these statistics will net the player higher rewards for completing assignments under those categories. The benefits are very detailed to the player, allowing them to make informed decisions when leveling up. While driving, it's important to remember the rules of the road. Running a red light will result in a fine (damn red light cameras), as will speeding. While Euro Truck Simulator utilized speed cameras, here in America things work a little differently. Cops are constantly on patrol, and if caught speeding near one, a fine will instantly be deducted. There's no car chase or even getting pulled over, just cop lights and sirens and $1,000 removed from your bank account. Along the way, players may need to stop for gas, rest, get weighed at weigh stations, or get repairs. These must be done at certain locations and have corresponding meters on the HUD. The biggest concern with these is the time invested, since each assignment has a window in which the recipient expects their items to be delivered in. Just a heads up: if you're driver starts yawning, stop at a rest station! The traffic AI seems to be vastly improved in American Truck Simulator. Cars will stop early at intersections, making those wide turns that much easier. They also rarely pull out in front of your giant truck barreling down on them, though I have had that happen once or twice. Hell, they'll even slow down if your blinker is on to let you move over! Well, sometimes. There are a few different control methods, ranging from very simple to complex. Steering can be done with the keyboard or mouse, and of course the game supports both console and steering wheel controllers. I found myself most  comfortable with the Steam Controller and gyro controls. The biggest gap between the simple and the complex is changing gears manually, though even at its most complex it's not exactly a "hardcore" simulator. There's definitely a lot to manage, especially for me, but people who were looking for more depth in this entry won't find it here. Is it difficult? Well, it's as difficult as you want it to be. Making the controls complex is an easy way to make the game more engaging. Personally, I think the most difficult aspect is parking. When delivering cargo there will be three options. The hardest option yields the most experience, and will ask players to pull some fancy backing up and maneuvering in order to place the trailer where it needs to go.  The second option is much more achievable, while the third option is to skip it entirely and earn no bonus experience. It's a great to be able to say "you know what? I really don't feel like parking this explosive gas tank right now." To help pass time, a good amount of radio stations are available to listen to while on the road, and it is also possible to input a personal music library by relocating some files on your computer. I enjoyed listening to some classic rock stations while "working." I must say, listening to Eric Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight" while driving a big rig at night into Las Vegas is something that will stick with me probably forever. That's in part due to the beautiful engine. The scenery is quite a change of pace compared to the European scenery, which helps make this feel like something fresh, despite the mechanical similarities. Cities are also fleshed out more and feel more "alive" than ever before. Google Maps has been used to help create a realistic recreation of the Golden State, so many areas will be immediately recognizable to those familiar with them. Yes, players will begin to see repeat storefronts over and over again, but it hardly detracts from the overall immersion. American Truck Simulator caters to a wide array of people. There's something to be said for the serenity of cruising down a highway at night and obeying all the traffic laws. It's also a great opportunity to enjoy some audiobooks or podcasts while somewhat-mindlessly growing a trucking enterprise.  Those looking for vast mechanical or design improvements in the series won't find them here. The map is relatively small, considering the size of America, but the tradeoff is worth it: the scenery is fresh, accurate, and varied, while cities feel much more realistic. With two trucks and two included states, and another one on its way, American Truck Simulator is an investment into the series' future, but it's not a steep one and easily earns its value with what is already presented. So, while it may not be possible to go from Phoenix, Arizona all the way to Tacoma, it is possible to go from Oakland to Sactown, the Bay Area and back down. And that's just fine. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.] 
American Truck Sim Review photo
California love
I live in New Jersey, so I think I know a thing or two about California. After all, I've listened to plenty of N.W.A. and Tupac, plus I've seen Fast Times at Ridgemont High.  Oh, and I've been to California a whole lot to visit my brother and for that one E3 I attended. Does this make me an expert? Yes. Yes it does.

Star Trek Online photo
Star Trek Online

Star Trek Online kicks off its 6th anniversary celebrations


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

Review: Bombshell

Jan 29 // Steven Hansen
Bombshell (PC)Developer: Interceptor EntertainmentPublisher: 3D RealmsReleased: January 29, 2016MSRP: $34.99 The most surprising thing about this 2016 heir to the Duke Nukem throne is how toothless it is. The Duke's puerile shtick is beyond dated as 2011's tragedy Duke Nukem Forever might remind us, but save for a rocket launcher called the "PMS" -- haha, menstruation! -- Bombshell is tonally distinct, and instead goes for a nerfed "ooh rah" à la Independence Day. It even opens with a Fourth of July alien invasion of the White House and kidnapped president (whose American flag eye patch is, admittedly, hilarious). The result is a milquetoast lead whose repeated, constant combat barks like, "I never thought aliens would land on the White House lawn" or "You're not worth the metal you're made of" or "Die, alien scum" do disservice to a solid acting performance. Making an old-school, character-led action game with a boring character is a huge misstep. In the opening cutscene, Shelly's jeep is blown up. It's on screen and blown up in a few seconds. There are two combat barks devoted to complaining about her lost car and they're totally unearned. I forgot there even was a car until roughly the 25th mention. At one point an enemy must've fallen off the map without dying because I had to hear his robotic droning about his shield every five seconds for the next 45 minutes.  [embed]337527:62042:0[/embed] In addition to being boring, Bombshell is a bit broken. I fell through the level and died three times. Shelly got stuck in place on a couple occasions, necessitating a restart to accompany the countless times she hitched on the environment. Enemies get stuck, too, or at least some choose to lay down arms and not attack until I kill them, anyway. Sometimes the map, which is uncovered as you explore, completely erases itself and leaves you with no sense of direction. The latter was far more annoying than I thought it could be, especially given that it was coupled with archaic level design. There are three distinct areas in Bombshell, including an ice stage, because this is a video game, and they're all designed like someone cracked a sheet of glass and traced the sprawling result. There are constant dead ends, fetch quests, and side quests that actually require backtracking to turn in. The mini-map, on the other hand, is incredibly useful because the camera is kept so tight that you will regularly run face-first into bullets if you navigate by watching Shelly move rather than watching the blips on the mini-map. Apparently fixed isometric perspective shooters were also missing a huge thing all these years: platforming. Most of my deaths came after falling into a pool of water or after walking over a nonsensical hole in the ground like some Wile E. Coyote shit, like the architect of the alien home world had a debilitating Swiss cheese fetish. But it isn't just that there is platforming, it's that it is floaty and unsatisfying. One of the reasons Shelly's lines bomb (besides that they're vacuous and repeated a hundred times) is that they're so disconnected from the character in the isometric view, and similarly there isn't anything to ground or give weight to her jumps. Even her walking animation is like a hockey puck on ice. That missing weight is a big part of why Bombshell's most redeeming factors, the twin-stick-style shooting, also falls flat. The weapons (rapid-fire machine gun, shotgun, flamethrower, and so on) have little stopping power. Enemies don't seem to react when shot, but instead absorb bullets like sponges until their HP empties and they limply rag doll to the floor. The first two worlds accost you with loads of pain-in-the-ass tiny enemies that poison (damage over time) or freeze you (slow movement speed) while the last just goes full bore and sends out six Gundam-sized robots at a time. I appreciated being able to see them more clearly than the ankle-biters, but seeing giant robot after giant robot go weak in the knees after getting hit with a laser beam was almost pathetic. Also, the last level theme (it goes alien, ice, metal) looks exactly like the end of Mass Effect 2 down to the Terminator-cribbed robots. Which reminds: Bombshell has some of the worst boss fights I have ever played. Sticking to conventions, they tend to be of the three-phase fare and toss regular enemies into the mix to make things more difficult. By the last form of the first boss I was out of ammo save for Shelly's default, infinite-ammo weapon. I beat it by standing pissing distance in front of the boss and holding the trigger for a few minutes while scrolling through Twitter. The same thing happened with the boss of the ice world, which decided it just wasn't interested in attacking me during its final phase. Every once in a while, during a taut firefight that actually necessitates mixing and matching weapons (the shotgun alt fire, a stun gun, is possibly too useful), there are glimpses of a solid shooter let down by everything else around it. As it stands, playing Bombshell for more than an hour at a time is like ingesting a sedative, save for flashes of rage as you fall through the map one more time or are asked to find six more crystals. [This review is based on a build of the game provided by the publisher.] 
Bombshell reviewed photo
Dud Nukem
"It's so hard to believe this is real. It's like a video game or something." A random soldier told me this in Bombshell and it's not the worst meta dialogue in the game. Shelly "Bombshell" Harrison is quick to complain about ...


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