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Hands-on with Aliens: Colonial Marines photo
Hands-on with Aliens: Colonial Marines
by Casey Baker

Before going out to view Prometheus, I felt it necessary to watch the first three Alien movies again to get a more cohesive feel of the universe. After coming away from this marathon viewing, I noted once again how different in tone the three movies are to each other while still managing to weave a compelling narrative. My personal favorite of whole series is decidedly the original Alien, as the movie ratchets up the tension in great scenes of psychological stress between the crew members of the Nostromo, and then eventually it all pays off in a structure very reminiscent of most modern day slasher films.

I bring this personal preference up primarily because after getting some hands-on time with Aliens: Colonial Marines, I feel more than a little conflicted about the game's tone. While the fan service is doled out in helping heaps -- especially in regards to Aliens -- the actual single-player experience seems a little mired in convention.

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3:00 PM on 12.08.2012

Impressions: Trine 2: Director's Cut on the Wii U

When Trine 2 was initially released, I was excited to check it out on Xbox Live Arcade as I had heard many good things about the first one and its open-ended, puzzle-platformer gameplay. Unfortunately, as much I was entranced...

Casey Baker



Review: The Last Express (iOS) photo
Review: The Last Express (iOS)
by Casey Baker

When The Last Express was first released in 1997, it was considered an incredibly engaging mystery set on the Orient Express as it traveled from Paris to Constantinople on the eve of World War I.

In many ways the game was far ahead of its time, but what really pushed it ahead of its peers (and even some current-day titles) was the way it progressed through real time as you tried to solve a murder mystery among a diverse set of characters with varying nationalities and motives. However, The Last Express was also a commercial flop when it actually released and was soon forgotten by the gaming culture at large despite its brilliance.

Last month, an iOS port was released, and I finally had a chance to play through this endearing game for myself and truly understand why it was such a critical darling. I just wish the finicky touch controls didn't keep impeding my immersion and enjoyment.

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Preview: How cassowaries saved my life in Far Cry 3 photo
Preview: How cassowaries saved my life in Far Cry 3
by Casey Baker

The original Far Cry was an incredibly fun experience, with a varied deadly tropical landscape and relatively intelligent A.I. opponents for the time. The gameplay was both challenging and continuously engaging, and made me a fan of the series from early on. I even played and enjoyed the lowly console port spin-offs with long names, such as Far Cry Instincts: Predator.

Then Far Cry 2 came along, and my love affair slowly died. Though I appreciated the vast landscapes and the reactive environmental effects such as spreading grassland fires and seeing the sparse glimpses of wildlife that ran away when it noticed you, I found the missions to be paced too far apart and the constant traveling to be burdensome at best, and an absolute bore at worst.

When I began to hear more about Ubisoft's latest foray into an expansive first-person shooter environment, I held a few concerns that the gameplay would feature much of what we've come to expect from the series' recent iteration, including the long periods of traveling and a storyline that wasn't very engaging.

At a recent Ubisoft extended hands-on press event for Far Cry 3, I quickly learned that the experience far exceeds those expectations, and the series may in fact be back on track in returning to what made running through tropical environments and causing chaos so much fun in the first place.

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8:30 PM on 10.09.2012

Get acquainted with the allies of Far Cry 3 in this video

The trailer above details two of your main allies in Far Cry 3. Dennis Richards is a Liberian National who has found a home among the Rakyat tribe that lives on Rook Island. During my own playthrough that will go up tomorrow...

Casey Baker



Preview: Strike Suit Zero and space-based mech warfare photo
Preview: Strike Suit Zero and space-based mech warfare
by Casey Baker

Born Ready Games has a vision to revive large-scale space combat as a viable genre in the vein of games like Wing Commander and Freelancer. With their new PC venture Strike Suit Zero, the company is poised to do exactly that.

Taking place in various reaches of space, Strike Suit Zero sports an excellent soundtrack by Paul Ruskay of Homeworld fame and an objective-based mission structure that will deeply affect the final outcome of the game.

During my extensive hands-on time, I had a chance to check out two huge missions that involved several dogfights and a few tough battles against huge frigates and other large ships. In both of these missions, I had a chance to really get a feel for the Strike Suit that the game is named for; a transforming ship that doubles as a massive mech suit.

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Preview: Solving simple puzzles in The Cave photo
Preview: Solving simple puzzles in The Cave
by Casey Baker

At the Sega Booth during PAX Prime 2012, I was able to get a quick demo preview of The Cave, an upcoming puzzle platformer coming to both consoles and PC by Ron Gilbert and Double Fine. From first impressions, I immediately appreciated the graphical style and humorous attention to detail.

The demo I played gave me only a small glimpse of the direction the game is going in, though I came away slightly wondering at the overall difficulty of the various puzzles considering the way the game plays as opposed to Gilbert's more traditional adventure games.

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PAX: State of Decay is not just another zombie game photo
PAX: State of Decay is not just another zombie game
by Casey Baker

As PAX wound down to its final hour, I happened to walk by the Microsoft booth once more on my way out and noticed the Xbox Live Arcade game State of Decay finally had some space for me to get a quick runthrough as the convention closed down. I had been meaning to check it out these past three days but because of the long lines and the amount of other things going on, I just hadn't had the chance.

I'm incredibly happy that I finally got an understanding of what this title from Undead Labs is all about.

Forget tired zombie apocalypse games. State of Decay is a persistent, open-world where your choices actually matter and finding inventive ways to eradicate the zombie menace is only one aspect of the experience.

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PAX: Avatar Motocross Madness is actually decent photo
PAX: Avatar Motocross Madness is actually decent
by Casey Baker

The Xbox 360 indie scene is filled with a ton of throwaway games and "experiences" that incorporate your Xbox Avatar into the gameplay. It's not surprising that Microsoft's own Avatar Motocross Madness for Xbox Live Arcade sits in a neglected corner at PAX next to the much-more-frequented Tomb Raider and Forza Horizon booths.

Admittedly, I walked by the empty game booth a few times before my curiousity got the best of me and I decided to finally take a look. In a few minutes of play, I got the impression that Avatar Motocross Madness might be a bit more robust than what you might expect.

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10:00 AM on 09.02.2012

PAX: Borderlands 2 Mechromancer character unveiled

At a closed-door screening, Gearbox's Mike Neumann officially unveiled the previously described fifth character class, Gaige the Mechromancer. Unsurprisingly, Gaige more or less looks like her concept art as realized in the c...

Casey Baker



Interview: Defining 2D stealth in Mark of the Ninja photo
Interview: Defining 2D stealth in Mark of the Ninja
by Casey Baker

I've always had a complicated relationship with stealth games. On the one hand, I love sneaking around and plotting out how I'm going to take out every enemy in a given room. On the other, I get frustrated easily when a game has very specific goals in mind for me and I can't really deviate from the norm without ruining the playthrough. This is why I love the more action-oriented stealth series, such as Deus Ex or Assassin's Creed, and why I shy away from the Hitman series and others that force too much trial and error.

Recently, I had the chance to sit down at a coffee shop with Nels Anderson, the lead designer of Klei Entertainment's upcoming Mark of the Ninja, and get an understanding of not only how the game will bring stealth into a two-dimensional world, but also how it will engage players who may find hardcore stealth games difficult to play because of their lack of player cues.

From the interview, I gleaned that Mark of the Ninja may be the kind of stealth game that introduces a whole new audience to the genre without compromising what makes the concept of stealth fun.

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Review: Rainbow Moon photo
Review: Rainbow Moon
by Casey Baker

Tactical role-playing games gained a more mainstream momentum with titles such as Final Fantasy Tactics and Fire Emblem on the Nintendo DS due to their bright, friendly graphics and user friendliness.

After more notable hardcore strategy RPGs came onto the scene, the whole genre (along with most traditional Japanese RPGs) abruptly got neglected in favor of the new influx of Western RPGs that often includes a focus on action-oriented gameplay and flashier graphics.

In this new climate, it's a bit unusual to find Rainbow Moon as a recent addition on the PlayStation Network, as the game sits firmly within the traditional constraints of early SRPGs. Despite its vast universe and diverse customization options, Rainbow Moon fails to make a splash in a genre that deserves a much-needed revival.

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Preview: Worms Revolution brings a deluge from the past photo
Preview: Worms Revolution brings a deluge from the past
by Casey Baker

The history of the Worms franchise is a long and storied one, spanning all the way back to the very early days of gaming. In an interview with Andy Davidson, the main creator of the original Worms game, I was given insight into exactly why the series has been such a lasting success. I also got an extensive hands-on look at the newest iteration being brought forth by Team17 for consoles and PC.

With Andy back on the team for Worms: Revolution and a new 3D engine, this latest title looks to offer fans the same excellent strategic 2D gameplay the series is known for while also appealing to new players with a great, polished look and entertaining water physics that add to the strategy and humor of Worms.

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Preview: Sleeping Dogs may be a sleeper hit photo
Preview: Sleeping Dogs may be a sleeper hit
by Casey Baker

The road Sleeping Dogs has taken since first inception has been a rather rocky one. After starting development as its own beast, Activision took up the game in the interest of creating a third iteration in the (admittedly mediocre) True Crime series, called True Crime: Hong Kong. Sadly, it was cancelled in 2011, and that may have been the end of a very promising title. Fortunately, Square Enix picked up the reigns and it's been brought back as Sleeping Dogs.

I was incredibly impressed with the amount of care and attention to detail that has been put in during an extensive hands-on session with the game last week, where I was able to check out some of the earlier missions and side missions. What was once a title that flew completely under my radar has become the next, and possibly most unique action-packed sandbox style beat-em-up game I've seen in a long time.

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Preview: A fresh take on cover-based warfare with Hybrid photo
Preview: A fresh take on cover-based warfare with Hybrid
by Casey Baker

Historically, 5th Cell is a company known for fun and incredibly innovative games that skew towards a younger audience, such as the surprisingly deep Lock's Quest and the award-winning and beloved Super Scribblenauts (both for the Nintendo DS). When the company decided to develop an Xbox Live Arcade game, it almost seems kind of uninspired and dare I say -- lazy -- that the company would develop a third person cover-based shooter for a console that serves as a haven for games of this exact genre.

Hybrid adds a new twist to the old formula by prohibiting player movement to different areas of cover. In concept, this idea seems almost counter-intuitive as confinement to covered sections would possibly slow down player movement and make for a frustrating game of whack-a-mole with other players.

Yet with 5th Cell, "intuitive" is exactly what the company seems to specialize in, and from everything we were shown at our hands-on session, it looks like Hybrid will be serving up a nice fresh dose of intuitive gameplay design.

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Review: Colors! 3D photo
Review: Colors! 3D
by Casey Baker

While Nintendo's 3DS system has seen the release of an abundance of great games recently on the eShop, there has also been a dearth of applications that really utilize the 3DS' functionality. At launch, the system saw some great little games and toys that utilized AR abilities and the primary 3D gimmick, but nothing that really made the system a useful tool for creative ventures.

Fortunately, Colors! 3D has arrived, and it may be one huge first step towards filling that gap. For a simple painting application that allows the user to also use 3D layers, Colors! 3D has a surprising amount of depth to it, as well as a thriving community of talented artists who are more than happy to share their incredible work online.

After spending a great deal of time with Colors! 3D, both online and off, I found a lot to like about the application and its usefulness for both aspiring artists and those who are proficient in the field.

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