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Review in Progress: World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor photo
Review in Progress: World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor
by Chris Carter

I've been playing World of Warcraft off and on since it launched in 2004, but the Burning Crusade expansion came at the perfect time in my life. Throughout the years I've been dabbling in the other expansions, leveling up my characters and only stopping to raid mostly in Lich King before taking it casual.

If my first 20 hours or so with Warlords of Draenor are any indication, I might get back into it.

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Review: Five Nights at Freddy's 2 photo
Review: Five Nights at Freddy's 2
by Nic Rowen

It feels like only a few weeks since Five Nights at Freddy's managed to completely ruin my childhood memories of family restaurants and dancing animatronics. The creepy horror/resource management game put you in the shoes of a night security guard at the world's worst Chuck E. Cheese's knock-off and made sure you'd never look at those restaurants the same way again after viewing them through the distorted lens of static-ridden security cameras.

Now, just after I've managed to sweep up the jagged psychic debris of that disaster, they want me to spend another fun-filled week at Freddy Fazbear's Pizza.

Let the chorus of "nope, nope, nope" begin.

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Review: Tengami photo
Review: Tengami
by Patrick Hancock

Tengami has been out on iOS devices for quite some time but has now finally made its debut on Wii U. I think it's great that the Wii U has the perfect setup for iOS games to make a pretty seamless transition thanks to the GamePad. I already love the GamePad for the unique gameplay potential it brings, so this is an extra bonus!

Tengami is a particular game for a particular type of enjoyment. Sometimes you might just need to relax a bit after murdering hundreds or solving awful murder mysteries and just...slide some paper to one of the most relaxing soundtracks you'll come across!

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Review: Mario Kart 8 DLC Pack 1 photo
Review: Mario Kart 8 DLC Pack 1
by Jordan Devore

Mario Kart 8's first DLC pack has Link riding a horse-shaped bike called the Master Cycle. And, good lord, Mute City from the beloved but still dormant F-Zero series. Also, a track based on Excitebike with a killer remix. Are you even going to read this review?

Don't answer that. Let me have this moment.

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Review: Far Cry 4 photo
Review: Far Cry 4
by Chris Carter

Far Cry 3 was one of my favorite games of 2012. It didn't stray too far from the normal sandbox conventions set before it, but gallivanting around beautiful island vistas and flying about with wingsuits was pretty damn fun.

For some that wasn't enough, though, and for those folks, Far Cry 4 won't be enough either. But for me, it's still pretty damn fun.

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Review: Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F 2nd photo
Review: Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F 2nd
by Brittany Vincent

Hatsune Miku is an international sensation. Despite the fact that she's a simple digital creation, she's managed to rack up a massive amount of record sales and sold-out concerts, including a tour with Lady Gaga and even an appearance on Letterman.

It's impossible to ignore her cultural significance now as she only skyrockets in popularity, and with Sega publishing the sequel to last year's Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F, now's a better time than ever to get acquainted with the diminutive diva. Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F 2nd is your ticket to J-Pop heaven, overflowing with content and a real challenge for anyone who decides to take the plunge.

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Review: Assassin's Creed Rogue photo
Review: Assassin's Creed Rogue
by Brett Makedonski

Ever since its 2007 debut, the Assassin's Creed franchise has been presented as a one-sided affair. Chronicling the persistent struggle between the Assassins and the Templars, Ubisoft has always framed the story casting the former in a positive light. Assassin's Creed Rogue has a new take on that formula, which, in some ways, makes it the most refreshing, thought-provoking, and introspective installment in the series to date.

Unfortunately, it's also the laziest.

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Review: Senran Kagura: Bon Appétit! photo
Review: Senran Kagura: Bon Appétit!
by Brittany Vincent

Some may call Senran Kagura inherently tasteless, but the series of action-packed brawlers has depth and satisfying combat. The games have swept the handheld community mainly because of their increasingly risqué content, but their best-kept secret is that they're just plain fun.

Yeah, there's a whole lot of indecent exposure in each of the Senran Kagura games. No one's disputing that. But so what? These are genuinely fun and engaging titles, and the latest spinoff under the Senran Kagura umbrella is no different. Senran Kagura: Bon Appétit! may be lighthearted and riddled with thinly veiled jokes about male anatomy, but it's also a challenging rhythm game skewed toward an adult audience that can be enjoyed by just about anyone -- especially if you like your sundaes with Senran Kagura girls on top. Just don't expect award-winning prose or Grammy-nominated tracks. 

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Review: Tales of Hearts R photo
Review: Tales of Hearts R
by Kyle MacGregor

The Tales series may not have the same cachet in the West as do other prominent role-playing game franchises, but its renown is definitely on the rise. Bandai Namco has expressed more confidence in the franchise in recent years, showing a willingness to push Tales as a global brand rather than just a curiosity for Japanese audiences.

It seems there's a market for this sort of thing -- a healthy niche that appreciates something more antique in a world so obsessed with pioneering and being cutting-edge. Time marches on and the Tales series digs its heels into the ground, refusing to yield to fads and ephemeral trends. It's old-fashioned to a fault. But would you have it any other way?

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Review: The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth photo
Review: The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth
by Nic Rowen

In 2011, I lost a chunk of my life. An insidious tendril of addiction, despair, and obsession caught me by the ankle and dragged me into the The Binding of Isaac's darkened basement. I lost dozens of hours, whole days at a time. I let life slip by around me while muttering a demented mantra of “just one more try, just one more try...”

Now with the release of Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, a 16-bit looking half-remake, half-sequel of the original, I can feel the same cold touch on my leg. Its grip is stronger than ever, pulling me back into the same dark pit. I should kick and scream and try to escape... Well, maybe just one more try won't kill me.

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Review: Assassin's Creed Unity photo
Review: Assassin's Creed Unity
by Chris Carter

Assassin's Creed IV was a turning point for the series. While a lot of fans were disappointed by the pointless Revelations and the polarizing Assassin's Creed III, Black Flag delivered everything you could possibly want from Ubisoft, and then some. Fans embarked on quite the adventure with Edward Kenway, and many newcomers even described it as "a pirate game that happens to be Assassin's Creed."

Assassin's Creed Unity doesn't live up to the new standard set by Black Flag, but it's a journey worth taking if you're already into the series, and proves that the franchise is still sustainable.

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Review: Dragon Age: Inquisition photo
Review: Dragon Age: Inquisition
by Chris Carter

Dragon Age II felt like a great action game that was outsourced to a lesser developer. It lacked the polish BioWare typically puts into its titles, and almost the entire affair felt like a gigantic step back from everything Origins had established. What was once a promising franchise that reminded me of the glory days of RPGs such as Baldur's Gate became a shadow of its former self, with lazily re-used assets and no sense of scale.

BioWare went back to the drawing board with Inquisition, the third Dragon Age outing, and the game is all the better for it. It feels like a culmination of its predecessors' strengths, with all of the bells and whistles that come with current-gen hardware.

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Review: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (Patch 2.4) photo
Review: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (Patch 2.4)
by Chris Carter

The prospect of playing as a Ninja again in Final Fantasy excited me. After working my way up to level 50 in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, the class ended up having so much style and substance that it changed the game for the better, and I'll be enjoying it for months to come.

While the rest of the Dreams of Ice update wasn't as enjoyable as playing a Ninja at endgame, A Realm Reborn remains worth playing.

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Review: The Voice: I Want You photo
Review: The Voice: I Want You
by Brittany Vincent

Do you live for the thrill of belting out your favorite songs whenever you've got five minutes to yourself? Are you an amateur singer looking for guidance, or a professional looking for something fun to brush up your vocal technique? Do you love NBC's The Voice? Then go out right now and pick up Rock Band 3 or Guitar Hero 5. Or, get a karaoke machine and a vocal coach. Whatever the case, you're going to absolutely loathe The Voice: I Want You.

But, you're not going to hate it because it has a dizzyingly awful male version of "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" or embarrassingly haphazard song accompaniments that resemble Just Dance crossed with a slapdash lyric video on YouTube created with iMovie. You won't even hate it because it features a startling lack of interesting or exciting songs to sing along to. You'll hate it because it's such an obvious money grab, an uninspired cash-in that exists solely to rake in dough from unsuspecting buyers looking to replicate the experience so many dream of having -- standing onstage before The Voice's celebrity judges and angling for stardom. 

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Review: Halo: The Master Chief Collection photo
Review: Halo: The Master Chief Collection
by Chris Carter

Although Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary was a noble effort to remaster the original game that brought first-person shooters on consoles into a post-Goldeneye era, I couldn't help but feel a bit underwhelmed by the overall package.

I enjoyed the idea of replaying the original, but there weren't enough bells and whistles to keep me interested for a lengthy period of time. Enter the Master Chief Collection, which not only gives you the remake of the first game, but a fully-featured remaster of Halo 2, as well as Halo 3 and 4.

I never thought I'd see the day when four major Halo games are under one roof [disc], but here we are. With promises of full 1080p support and 60 frames-per-second across every game, Halo: The Master Chief Collection follows through where it counts, and is now the new standard for remakes.

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Review: Freedom Wars photo
Review: Freedom Wars
by Brett Zeidler

Ever since it came out in Japan earlier this year, Freedom Wars has been high on my list of anticipated releases. Being from the illustrious SCE Japan Studio, the game found success overseas as one of the Vita's answers to a lack of the market-leading Monster Hunter franchise, which jumped platforms with the advent of the Nintendo 3DS.

As a hunting game, Freedom Wars certainly stays true to the heart of the genre, but differentiates itself enough to claim its own spot among the giants.

 

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Review: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare photo
Review: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
by Chris Carter

After the disappointing Call of Duty: Ghosts, Activision needed fresh ideas, and Sledgehammer was just the developer for the job. Even before it delivered its first game, a weight has been lifted off of Infinity Ward and Treyarch's shoulders. No longer does it need to turnaround a Call of Duty every other year, and there is more time to figure out how to make the series fresh again.

As a result, Sledgehammer has a lot riding on Advanced Warfare, the newest game in the series. It has everything going for it -- a fresh futuristic theme, the same core multiplayer gameplay everyone knows and loves, and the talented Kevin Spacey running the show with the campaign.

The gambit paid off, even if it won't bring back in those who have sworn off the series.

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Review: Woah Dave! photo
Review: Woah Dave!
by Jonathan Holmes

[Note: Jonathan Holmes' name appears in the Special Thanks section of Woah Dave!'s credits. No one knows why. One guess is it's because Jonathan and Woah Dave! creator Jason Cirillo had a decent conversation at PAX East 2014, during which time Jonathan was wearing a Woah Dave! t-shirt. Maybe that's it.]

Woah Dave! is a game that you don't want to get excited for. Any hype at all, even the slightest praise, might ruin your chance of getting into it. Ironically, there are plenty of reasons why some people can't help but be excited for Dave. For one, it's the latest game from Choice Provisions (formerly known as Gaijin Games), who have quite a large and dedicated following chomping at the bit for a new game from the studio. Not only that, but Woah Dave! has both an exclamation point and the word "woah" in the title, as though the game itself is excited that it exists. 

If you go into the game expecting to say "woah!" right away, you may be disappointed. Like Super Crate Box, Geometry Wars, or Samurai Gunn, it's not a game that works to impress at first. That makes it all the more surprising when you discover how deep, intense, and unpredictable this game of controlled chaos can get.

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Review: Sakura Spirit photo
Review: Sakura Spirit
by Brittany Vincent

The visual novel genre is multifaceted. It runs the gamut from awe-inspiring and horrifying (à la personal favorite Saya no Uta) to controversial (such as the excellent Kana: Little Sister). Others still are simple vehicles for debauchery and sexual desires involving women whose cups runneth over and devilishly handsome men. And that's awesome.

Those types of games are fun, perverse thrill rides that offer colorful characters, familiar tropes, and a waifu or husbando for everyone. I've completed dozens in my time, and I'm always on the lookout for great ones, whether they're fluffy romantic otome titles or hardcore guro sleazefests. But, like any other genre, they can be hit or miss.

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Review in Progress: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (Patch 2.4) photo
Review in Progress: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (Patch 2.4)
by Chris Carter

I still can't believe Square Enix salvaged the original Final Fantasy XIV. I mean, it had the guts to make the game a core entry, so I'm glad the studio reworked it into A Realm Reborn -- this whole saga is just really interesting to me.

The newest update is Dreams of Ice, featuring a Primal/Summon many fans of the classic series know and love, Shiva. It also brings along the typical major changes and content bits, as well as one of the biggest additions so far -- a new class/job.

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Review: Sunset Overdrive photo
Review: Sunset Overdrive
by Chris Carter

After booting the game up, it's apparent that Sunset Overdrive is the result of Insomniac Games going back to its roots. Before the developer was called upon to release the shades-of-brown-tinted Resistance and Fuse, it was known for the bright and exciting Spyro and Ratchet & Clank franchises, which were among the PlayStation's finest offerings for gamers of all ages.

Not only is Sunset bright and exciting, it's actually a good game too.

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Review: Dreamfall Chapters Book One photo
Review: Dreamfall Chapters Book One
by Alasdair Duncan

It wasn't surprising to hear that the long-awaited Dreamfall Chapters would be split into separate episodes -- it's in the name, really. Episodic adventure games are well established now, so in my mind, separating a new Dreamfall game into smaller chunks isn't a bad idea.

Book One starts at the end of 2006's Dreamfall: The Longest Journey so if you've been dying to see what happens to Zoë, Kian et al. then you'll be glad to have this story continued. Series newcomers might be left scratching their heads, wondering what's going on. Trouble is, this episode doesn't do much to help you understand what's happening. You're left wanting more.

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Review: Mind Zero  photo
Review: Mind Zero
by Brittany Vincent

At a glance, it's easy to look at Mind Zero and compare it to the Persona series given its art style and the narrative advertised within early trailers and promotional materials. And you wouldn't be incorrect in declaring that it borrows several elements from the popular role-playing series.

Still, it's unfair to call Mind Zero a copycat when its most fundamental elements are much different from the Shin Megami Tensei spinoff. That doesn't mean the game is actually all that impressive, however. Acquire and ZeroDiv's Vita RPG features an interesting premise, but in the end it's a weaker product than those that obviously inspired it.

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Review: Bayonetta 2 photo
Review: Bayonetta 2
by Chris Carter

Outside of Devil May Cry 3, Bayonetta is one of the finest action games of all time. The action systems were so clean, so precise, and so rewarding that it leaves pretty much everything these days in the dust.

Bayonetta 2 doesn't change a whole lot, and that's perfectly okay with me.

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Review: Fantasy Life  photo
Review: Fantasy Life
by Brittany Vincent

One of the biggest gripes I hear from friends interested in but hesitant to play Japanese role-playing games is that they're too "complicated." It's a sentiment I've never understood; several take great pains to be accessible and enjoyable to a wide variety of players. Unfortunately, my explanations of tropes and tried-and-true mechanics aren't usually enough to sway the potential players, and they're swept away by a title of a different ilk.

That's why Fantasy Life is such an interesting case. It takes familiar elements such as classes, grinding for XP, and character customization and distills them into something that can be digested by just about any type of player. Oh, and it helps that it's a lot of fun, too.

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Review: Pokémon Art Academy photo
Review: Pokémon Art Academy
by Brittany Vincent

Educational games that impart knowledge while remaining entertaining are certified rarities. Too often you're left with staggering amounts of informative material and meager side portions of "game" that contribute to a rather lopsided product.

Pokémon Art Academy is an interesting blend of both, with useful tips and tricks, drawing instruction, and helpful guidance for fledgling artists or those who simply want to learn how to draw their favorite Pocket Monsters. It's just like the learn-to-draw books you could pick up at the store, but with real-time feedback.

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Review: Shantae and the Pirate's Curse photo
Review: Shantae and the Pirate's Curse
by Chris Carter

I've always thought that Shantae is a bit of an underrated series. While WayForward can be hit or miss these days, I can always rely on their ability to craft a good platformer. Shantae: Risky's Revenge for the DSi is one of my favorite games in the genre, so naturally I gravitated towards the follow-up, Pirate's Curse.

While Curse takes a few steps back from the formula developed by its predecessor, it's still a great action-romp that any 2D fan can get behind.

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Review: Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth photo
Review: Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth
by Darren Nakamura

"Civilization, but set in the future on an alien planet." That is really all Firaxis and 2K needed to say to get people excited for the next entry in the long-running turn-based strategy series. There is a fair amount of new ideas to be found here: new systems to explore, new technology to research, and new obstacles to overcome.

But even with everything new, Civilization: Beyond Earth is still Civilization, but set in the future on an alien planet. And it is exactly as good as that sounds.

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Review: A City Sleeps photo
Review: A City Sleeps
by Nic Rowen

[Disclosure: Nick Chester, who is currently employed at Harmonix, previously worked at Destructoid. As always, no relationships, personal or professional, were factored into the review.]

It's a weird time to be Harmonix. It is hands down one of the most successful and influential independent developers of all time. It led the development and popularization of an entire genre of games over the last generation; who else can say that? At the height of its power, the company released a near-perfect game with Rock Band 3, and it's still just about the only studio to have ever done right by the Kinect.

But times change, the rhythm-game craze is over. All of those plastic instruments Harmonix built its name on are gathering dust in closets or bargain bins, and the masses openly celebrated when Microsoft took the Kinect out of the box. So what is Harmonix to do?

Go and make an old-school 2D shoot-'em-up, apparently.

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Review: The Legend of Korra photo
Review: The Legend of Korra
by Chris Carter

One of the biggest surprises of 2014 had to be the announcement of a Legend of Korra game, published by Activision and developed by Platinum Games. Yes, that Platinum Games -- the current master of action titles.

It's only been a few months since the reveal of said Korra game, and already it's out on just about every platform imaginable outside of the Wii U. While the core result is indicative of Platinum's seal of quality, it feels rushed in many ways.

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Review: Samurai Warriors 4 photo
Review: Samurai Warriors 4
by Chris Carter

While the Dynasty Warriors series is often heralded as the pinnacle of Omega Force's hack-and-slash catalog, the lesser-known Samurai franchise has been churning out some of the best games in the stable.

Based around the Sengoku era of Japan, Samurai Warriors mixes things up with unique offerings like ninjas, samurai, and historical figures such as Goemon Ishikawa and Musashi Miyamoto. If you can get past the repetition, Samurai Warriors 4 delivers another hearty helping of action the developer is known for.

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Review: Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved photo
Review: Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved
by Chris Carter

[Disclosure: Nick Chester, who is currently employed at Harmonix, previously worked at Destructoid. As always, no relationships, personal or professional, were factored into the review.]

Fantasia holds a special place in my heart. My wife and I both grew up playing instruments, and whenever a song comes on from the film, we get to share a little moment as Disney fans. Yes, PhilharMagic is one of our favorite attractions at Disney World.

So when I heart that Harmonix was making a Fantasia game, I got excited -- until I heard that it had at least one song by Drake in it. Of course, my full judgment was reserved for the finished product, and I found it to be a magical experience overall.

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Review: Fairy Fencer F photo
Review: Fairy Fencer F
by Brittany Vincent

If you want to think outside the box, the role-playing genre may not be the perfect playground for you -- at least, when it comes to traditional Japanese titles, which generally confine themselves to a set of tried-and-true mechanics. For some, that’s acceptable. We know what we’re getting into, and what to expect. When it comes to Compile Heart’s latest, Fairy Fencer F, it’s clear that the company. famous for the Hyperdimension Neptunia series. went back to basics in order to tell its newest story of fairies, furies, and fencers.

Unfortunately, “back to basics” in this instance translates to a dull slog through menus, tutorials, and conversations interspersed with combat. And while the combat is enjoyable, there just isn’t enough of it to propel you through the slower parts.

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Review: The Art of Alien: Isolation photo
Review: The Art of Alien: Isolation
by Alasdair Duncan

Alien: Isolation has received a lot of praise over its faithful recreation of the original film's lo-fi take on science fiction. "Truckers in space" was the aesthetic director Ridley Scott set out to capture and the decks and corridors of the shipping vessel Nostromo defined a sci-fi art style for 35 years.

Titan has a new book out showcasing the concept art and illustrations that inspired Isolation but they could have just as easily come from a book showing the ideas behind the original movie.

[Don't forget to enter our competition to win a copy of The Art of Alien: Isolation. Just click here for more info.]

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Review: The Evil Within photo
Review: The Evil Within
by Chris Carter

I grew up happily playing Shinji Mikami's games, and he's probably one of the most influential directors/producers that ever lived. I remember the first time I played Resident Evil, the day I bought Devil May Cry from EB Games, and the exact moment when my friend showed me God Hand.

All in all Mikami has worked on over 20 major games that have impacted the industry in some way. Even if The Evil Within is one of the worst in the bunch, it's still in good company.

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Review: Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus photo
Review: Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus
by Brittany Vincent

In the world of Senran Kagura, excess is the rule. The outfits are skimpy, the plot threads are ludicrous, and the breasts are laughably large, so huge in fact that you wonder how the skimpy bras the girls are eventually stripped down to are actually wrangling those things.

But beneath a veneer of silliness and near-parodical levels of fan service lies a brawler with plenty of hack and slash goodness to offer.

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Review: Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments photo
Review: Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments
by Alasdair Duncan

In Fyodor Dostoyevsky's weighty novel Crime and Punishment, the central character robs and murders a loan shark and pawn broker but justifies the act in his own mind because he will use the money for good. Doestoyevsky's anti-hero believes that even murder is justified if some benefit can come of it, that even a wicked act can have some merit. Eventually, besieged by guilt, he confesses to his crime and accepts his punishment. 

Throughout Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments, there are frequent loading screens where you'll see the titular detective flick through Dostoyevsky's work and it seems to have had an effect on him. Now Sherlock can decide if a crime truly was justified and how he will punish the guilty. It's a novel approach that unfortunately only partially works out.

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Review: Short Peace: Ranko Tsukigime's Longest Day photo
Review: Short Peace: Ranko Tsukigime's Longest Day
by Kyle MacGregor

The Short Peace project was born out a desire to unite some of Japan's most talented artists and tell stories about the country's past, present, and a possible future. The result is a lovely bouquet of action, romance, and social commentary, a collection of four animated short films that are thought-provoking, gorgeous, and brilliant in just about every way.

The anthology also includes a game, Ranko Tsukigime's Longest Day, a modest collaboration between Grasshopper Manufacture and Tokyo Jungle studio Cripsy's that seems doomed to live in the shadow of greatness.

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Review: Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel photo
Review: Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel
by Darren Nakamura

[Disclosure: Anthony Burch, one of the writers for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, was previously employed at Destructoid. As always, no relationships, personal or professional, were factored into the review.]

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it." I can imagine that mantra circulating the 2K Australia office as the team worked on Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. Gearbox had a huge hit on its hands with Borderlands 2, and there is not much reason to mess with a winning formula.

To be clear, a lot of what matters is new. The story, playable characters, environments, dialogue, and physics are all new. Despite that, it all feels very familiar. Where a number of core systems were significantly upgraded between the first and second games in the series, The Pre-Sequel's additions are much less pronounced.

One odd aspect of some of the new content that this entry brings to the vault hunting universe is that it feels more like Borderlands than Borderlands 2 in some ways, for better and for worse.

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Review: Dance Central Spotlight photo
Review: Dance Central Spotlight
by Chris Carter

[Disclosure: Nick Chester, who is currently employed at Harmonix, previously worked at Destructoid. As always, no relationships, personal or professional, were factored into the review.]

Although it's been a lot tougher to get people together for a Dance Central party than a Rock Band one, Harmonix's new franchise gave some hope for the Kinect, as it was one of the most accurate games for it.

The series isn't as groundbreaking as it used to be -- especially in the era of Kinect-less Xbox Ones -- but it's still good for a fun dance session every so often. That also goes for Dance Central Spotlight.

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