Thank goodness November is finally over. It was a hectic month -- that will go down in gaming history as one of the greatest ever -- thanks, in no part, to the launch of two brand spanking new consoles from both Sony and Micr...
My family is very musically inclined. My father sings, and my mother sings and plays guitar. My wife's family is also musical; playing piano, guitar, drums, etc. between her, her brother, father, aunt, and so on. When I was about 12, I got an acoustic guitar for my birthday. I didn't start taking lessons for it until I was 17, in high school, once they finally started offering classes.
I'm the mutant of the family. I have no real discernible musical talent. While I do a passable job at singing, I can't really play any instruments. And yet...I own four guitars. Real ones. I also own four plastic guitars for games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band. That's how you'll get me to learn and play: make it a game.
BandFuse: Rock Legends was made for people like me. And people like my family. And sometimes, both at the same time.
I consider myself a Mario Party veteran -- I’ve been a huge fan of the series, with a particular emphasis on the cutthroat days of the N64 titles. There’s nothing like losing the skin on the palm of your hands to prove to your friends that you are in fact the best at Mario Party.
Although the days of literal battle scars are left behind, the Mario Party franchise is still going strong. The 11th(ish) game, Island Tour is the first Mario Party title for the 3DS, so I was pretty excited to see how the handheld's capabilities played into the series. Sadly, my excitement quickly faded as I discovered some annoying faults in the gameplay.
Transcending more than just history, Soulcalibur II was the envy of every arcade-to-home conversion back in 2003. A feature-rich fighter, Namco’s weapon-based brawler exemplified perfection with deep mechanics, memorable characters, stunning visuals, and robust modes.
Additionally, its console iterations included console specific guest characters: The Legend of Zelda’s Link on GameCube; comic book icon Spawn on Xbox; and from Namco’s other 3D fighter Tekken, Heihachi Mishima on the PS2. It was unprecedented at the time, so much so that it caused quite a commotion amongst fanboys as they clamored which system had it best.
But how do you improve a game that already borders on perfection? Is it even humanly possible? Can the jump to HD and the inclusion of online instill the same passion in fans that fueled Soulcalibur II all those years ago? To me, these are the questions Namco and the team at Project Soul were faced with when they announced Soulcalibur II HD Online for XBLA and PSN earlier this year -- an update to a game that set the gold standard for the series.
Last month, the first Headhunter DLC pack for Borderlands 2 released, celebrating Halloween with T.K. Baha's Bloody Harvest. The Headhunter series aims to be quick and inexpensive, offering a couple of holiday-themed missions for just a few dollars apiece.
Next in the series is the Thanksgiving flavored content, with a title as stuffed as our stomachs will be in two days: The Horrible Hunger of the Ravenous Wattle Gobbler. While it follows the same general format as the previous entry, Wattle Gobbler has a bit more of the signature Borderlands charm, which benefits it in the end.
I remember my first episode of Adventure Time. It randomly came on the TV one day and I had no idea what it was -- but I couldn't stop watching. There was something about the show that kept my eyes glued to the screen, watching best pals Finn and Jake battle the "evil" Ice King to save princesses from all across the Land of Ooo.
Years later and I've seen every episode of the show, and I still can't predict what will happen on any given week, or what new endearing character I might meet. To me, that's the mark of something special.
Sadly, the new Adventure Time 3DS game is the opposite of everything the show stands for.
If you know me, you know what a big comedy fan I am. Comedy is kind of my whole life, my passion, my raison d'etre, if you will. Videogames are obviously one of my other passions. So, when the two meet, I tend to be very hopeful, yet cautiously optimistic. Comedy in video games tends to be very hit or miss (as does comedy about games, but I self-aware-ingly digress) but when it works well, it's a rare thing of beauty.
Victory at Stalingrad is paid DLC that's a part of the larger Turning Point update, which also includes new free multiplayer maps, the World Builder tools, four free commanders, and four premium commanders. The free stuff is great, so even if you don't want to buy more DLC for Company of Heroes 2, you will still find something new if you jump back into the game.
I really enjoyed the base game quite a bit, and it has added a lot of content since its release. It's also been patched up, balanced, and polished even further. Finally, the new content is here, and I can't wait to fail miserably at all of it.
Whilst Kickstarter has been abuzz in the last year or so seemingly reviving the point-'n-click adventure genre, Wadjet Eye Games has been quietly and successfully putting out quality adventure games for a number of years now as a publisher and developer. Gemini Rue, Resonance, Primordia, and the Blackwell franchise are its most well-known titles but the studio kicked things off in 2006 with The Shivah.
Now seven years later, the game has been re-released with updated graphics and new music; it's definitely interesting to go back and see the company's first game but is The Shivah: Kosher Edition worth playing in 2013?
When Killer Instinct was announced, I don't think I had heard the silencing of so many screams since the destruction of Alderaan. While many gamers quickly jumped for joy at the mere mention of this resurrection, said joy was completely obliterated when Microsoft said these two fateful words -- "Double Helix."
The Rare of old is dead and buried, and handing off such a storied franchise to a developer who generally handled licensed games was...interesting, to say the least. But here we are months later, and you know what?
Not all simulators are created equal. While some let you dabble into the tiniest microcosmic detail like individual wages of specific levels of society, others are content to let you roam free in a zen garden-like state. The newest iteration of Zoo Tycoon is decidedly the latter, as there's nary a concept presented throughout the course of a game that a child couldn't eventually figure out.
While Zoo Tycoon may not be the most complicated simulator on the market, it has a distinct amount of charm that distances itself from the rush-job many people were expecting. It's also pretty damn adorable.
The beat-'em-up genre has some serious classics in it; Turtles in Time and Castle Crashers immediately come to mind. There’s just something about those games that cement them as amazing experiences in our mind. Playing with buddies, throwing enemies at the screen, watching deer explosively poop, and some satisfying yet simple gameplay mechanics combine to bring smiles to our faces and put memories into our squish-brains.
Foul Play enters the genre with its own calling card: everything is done on-stage, in a theater. It’s a gimmick that works very well, but as I’m sure we all know, an aesthetic can only carry a game so far in this world.
Super Motherload was supposed to be my “tester” experience -- the first game that I booted up on my PlayStation 4 to get a feel for the system. I planned to take a few minutes to acquaint myself with the controller and then return to the home screen to browse the other titles I purchased.
Five hours later, I sat there drooling as I descended further into Mars, my stomach hungry but my mind without a care. My task was simple: drill for precious minerals and process them at the surface base.
Crytek has quite the reputation for crafting some of the most visually advanced games on the market. The Crysis games have been a consistent benchmark for PC fans, and even if you don't enjoy their work, it's always interesting to see how much further they can push a piece of hardware.
In this instance, Crytek is set to push the Xbox One at launch, with their first ever console exclusive -- Ryse: Son of Rome. As is the case with many games that are content to present visuals first and foremost, the rest of the campaign basically falls flat..
When Wii Fitlaunched, it kicked off the fitness craze in gaming for better or worse. Soon the Nintendo innovation (much like many of its other innovations) was being duplicated and improved upon everywhere. As motion controls became prevalent on every system so did fitness games. Nintendo attempted to keep up with Wii Fit Plus, which took the now embarrassingly bare bones Wii Fit and at least let you piece together a work out. It didn't really push Wii Fit up to the level of the fitness games around it, though.
Part of this was, of course, the fact that Wii Fit's idea of fitness is a lot more relaxed -- it focuses on stretching, balance, and core instead of working up a sweat and toning your biceps into Popeye levels of muscularity. The other part, however, was the fact that the game, for all its mini-game fun, just wasn't that robust in its overall fitness features. Wii Fit U aims to change that.
As a young gamer, often times my first foray into the wide world of sports was through videogames. Before I knew how to run a slant route in a real-life game of football, I knew how to run something in Tecmo Bowl and Madden.
The same could be said for the greenest of all sports, which was first introduced to me by way of Nintendo's Golf for the NES. Even though I had no idea what "par" was or the difference between a driver and a wedge, there was something tranquil about hitting a tiny ball down a giant digital course.
Powerstar Golf for the Xbox One captures that feeling as well, even if it has a few other issues in tow.
When this past generation began, fighting games seemed to be on their last legs. Capcom fighters were nowhere in sight, Sega’s Virtua Fighter laid hidden in the deepest of digital fight clubs, and Namco’s Tekken and SoulCalibur began to wane after a few uninspired sequels. But to the hardcore, fighting games never went away; their devotion kept the once booming genre alive -- even if it had been relegated to a “niche” category.
Then Street Fighter IV happened. Like an injection of Red Bull straight into the vein, the genre got its renaissance. Doors were opened and more and more fighters saw, not just daylight, but also success. The power of the Xbox 360 and PS3 brought more realistic and jaw-dropping 3D models, and increased memory gave us high-definition 2D sprites that rivaled the quality of hand-drawn animation.
The advent of live streaming has additionally kept the viability of the genre flowing, especially in the wake of EVOs recent tidal wave of popularity growth, and in the public eye for the foreseeable future. Additional platforms, like XBLA, PSN, and Steam, also afford us more venues for fighting games to come out on. Pair that with the closing of this current generation, and a few titles that would normally not see the light of day are beginning to radiate through the cracks.
We've had plenty of racing games come out at console launches, but we've never had a Forza Motorsport game. Don't get me wrong -- I love powersliding around silly tracks while rocking out to Japanese techno anthems. It's just that as a racing fan, I'll end up wanting more later.
Where your typical launch racer might be a tasty fast food cheeseburger, a new Forza game would be like a dry-aged cowboy ribeye, broiled medium, and topped with butter and grilled onions. I want more. I want something I can sink my teeth into. I want something that will leave me full and satisfied, fat and happy.
I was sitting in a doctor’s office waiting room, lost in my Vita because doctors are terrible timekeepers. 2:00 pm means 2:00 pm, life-saving scumbag. Suddenly, I was looking at dimly lit tartan chairs and an old, wrinkled man with a mustache of frayed steel wool.
When I realized it was the seats and man across from me, a hole ripped open in the waiting room, spewing shredded strips of paper, and I fell into the papery world of Tearaway.
Microsoft's Xbox 360 grew from being a simple game console to an all-in-one entertainment box over the last eight years or so, somehow squeezing in everything from multiplayer gaming to streaming movies and television.
And now that they're on a roll, their new console, the Xbox One, embraces that complete system idea. They've packed the Xbox One with the technology and features needed to give us the games and other entertainment forms we'll seek out in this next generation, while adding in new control schemes and television support.
In other words, they've built a big box for their big push into our living rooms.
Mario and I go way back. Although I had dabbled in a few Atari games when I was younger, Super Mario Bros. for the NES was my first real game that I sat down and played from start to finish. Since then, I've collected and played every main series Mario game, adding a steady stable of all time favorites to my list. Why am I telling you all this, you may ask?
Because I want you to know that I have a basis for comparison for the newly released Super Mario 3D World for the Wii U -- so when I say it's one of the greatest Mario games ever made, I mean it.
I really love role-playing games, and I will usually put up with some flaws if the overall experience is interesting. A bad game can have a couple of good mechanics, and I will probably play it longer than I should. When I started up Legends of Aethereus I thought it would be a mediocre role-playing game with a weird steampunk fantasy setting. After playing it for a few hours I realized that it was actually a bad game cleverly disguised as a mediocre game.
Sure, it has some cute tricks up its sleeve, but after the first mission I felt like I had seen everything the game had to offer. Fifteen hours later I realized that I was right -- the first mission does have everything this game has to offer
Remember daydreaming about a system that would let you buy and download games online, and then let you share your experiences socially? There was a day when the concept seemed so far off, but now that system is finally here. We've been talking about Sony's next game console for years, so it feels kind of weird to actually have one now.
The PS4 is a blend of technologies we expected and features we didn't. It's a clear step forward from where the PlayStation brand has come, and a statement on where Sony thinks games are going. It's less about what it is and more about what it does.
I've always had a soft spot for SpyHunter. Although Twisted Metal and other arena-based shooters are great in their own right, there's something special about an action racing game that lets you hit the open road.
LocoCyle is kind of like that. But add in a few sentient talking motorcycles, crazy biker gangs, a plot for world domination, and an innocent mechanic forced along for the ride. Yep, it's pretty hard to explain, but I'll try.
As the spiritual successor to the Panzer Dragoon franchise, Crimson Dragon has some big shoes to fill. The talent is there, as the former director of the first three Panzer games and a Panzer composer are attached, but the prospect of Kinect gameplay and an Xbox One exclusivity deal made things a bit hard to swallow.
The forced Kinect scheme has since been dropped, and as time went on, the game looked better and better. Although it may not be quite up to par with some of the masterful games it takes inspiration from, it's a fine successor all the same for old and new fans alike.
A lot of doubts filled the air when Dead Rising 3 was announced. As both an Xbox One exclusive and a Capcom-produced title, not a whole lot of excitement was abound when the game was first announced. Then you add in the "We're going for a Call of Duty audience" developer comments, and you have one certified shit-storm of a release.
But nothing compares to actually playing it for yourself, and I'm pleased to say that the third iteration of this now famous franchise has risen (ha!) to the occasion. In fact, Dead Rising 3 is the first game I've seen that really harnesses the power of next-gen consoles.
Like any good racer, the Need for Speed franchise never stops moving. They've come a long way since the early '90s, though the last few years' releases have been more about refinement of the formula than anything else, moving more towards an open world structure.
The latest in the franchise, Need for Speed: Rivals, takes a big step by going all-in on one mode that combines a single-player campaign with online multiplayer. The rest -- including the cops, the cars, and the crashing -- stay the same. In a sense, they've made it so players can jump in and go fast without having to worry about the details.
There aren't many games out there that deal with children and their struggle to cope with situations that we take for granted every day. While there are some stories out there like Papo & Yo, the market isn't exactly filled with them, leaving a rather sizable gap for others to take their place.
Here to answer the call on the launch of the PlayStation 4 comes Contrast, the adventure of a young girl named Didi and her imaginary shadow friend Dawn. Contrast isn't a system-seller by any means, but it's a great little distraction for a rainy afternoon.
Roguelike elements have been steadily gaining popularity in the past few years, especially among independent developers. Titles like The Binding of Isaac, FTL: Faster Than Light, and Spelunky have taken the ideas of random level generation and short games usually ending in permanent character death, and applied them masterfully to each of their own gameplay genres.
Risk of Rain follows in those footsteps, applying the same roguelike mechanics to an exploration-based sidescrolling shooter. Like the aforementioned games, it can be brutal, with punishingly impossible scenarios and quick defeat for those who are not prepared. Unlike them, Risk of Rain suffers from a few technical issues that detract from what is otherwise a great experience.
In recent years, Zelda games have gotten a tad too flowery. What was once a true open world adventure involving a hero thrown into the great unknown with the ability to explore to his heart's content, has become something else entirely. With lengthy intros, gated content, and other trappings, there's more action than adventure in some Zelda games.
As a direct sequel to the SNES game A Link to the Past (my personal favorite Zelda), A Link Between Worlds seeks to rectify these issues by letting you get on with it as soon as possible. At the core of this concept is the "item renting" system, that lets you obtain every key item in less than an hour of playtime, opening up the world like never before.
But one great idea doesn't make a great game, and A Link Between Worlds is lacking one major ingredient -- heart.
Every system launch needs a good platformer, right? Knack is a bit different from, say, Crash Bandicoot or Ratchet and Clank, but it does feel like it takes a bit from both games. Of course, that has a lot to do with the its creator, Mark Cerny.
Cerny worked on both Crash Bandicoot and Ratchet and Clank, as well as other top PlayStation platformers like Spyro the Dragon. It’s great then that the PS4 has a launch game with such solid PlayStation platforming DNA.
But is Knack strong enough of a platformer to lead the way into next-gen?
For franchise sequels that accompany system launches, it's not uncommon to see the reuse of assets or game engines. We've come to expect a simple turning up of the graphics, if you will. The good stuff? The brand new stuff? That usually comes later.
Killzone: Shadow Fall does not follow that pattern. Guerrilla Games went back to the beginning, starting fresh with its first PS4 game. Sometimes a fresh start is the best thing.
Housemarque already had my heart as the creators of Super Stardust. Their latest, PS4 launch title Resogun, shares some of Stardust’s spirit, but it’s a new experience -- a shoot-em-up in a cylindrical loop, built entirely from thousands of voxels.
Eight years ago when Microsoft kicked off this generation with the Xbox 360, the concept of downloadable arcade titles on a home console was nothing more than a vision. With the Xbox 360 came the Xbox Live Arcade and one addictive title that I still play to this day: Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved. Sony and Nintendo followed suit, with their respective services and a digital generation from the comfort of the couch was born.
Along with downloadable titles, one other prominent trend that this generation can lay claim to (and hopefully move on from) is that of the zombie game. There are too many titles to list, and while some were great -- one even earning our game of the year for 2012 -- most were forgettable.
Well, as we wind down to Sony’s and Microsoft’s next console launches, and usher in another era of high-definition gaming, it’s only fitting that we begin to wrap up this generation with one more zombie game.
As I finish this review, English Premier Division side Tottenham Hostspur, managed by Andre Villa Boas, sit fourth in the league, despite some inconsistent performances. In Football Manager 2014, Tottenham Hotspur, managed by myself, are just inside the top half of the table and are lucky to still be involved in the Europa Cup.
Videogames often criticized for being power fantasies, letting players live out unlikely dreams of being heroes and warriors. Football Manager doesn't do that; it overwhelms you with information and makes you eat all drunken armchair punditry you've spewed whilst watching your favorite team. No, you couldn't do a better job and Football Manager 2014 is going to prove it.
For whatever reason, the Ratchet & Clank series never really grabbed me during the PlayStation 2 era. Maybe I was spending too much time playing Jak and Daxter (or perhaps I was adverse to games with ampersands in their titles) and the million other mascot platformers at the time, but it took me quite a while to get into it.
Once I did however, I found out I was missing quite a bit. Over the years I've seen the Ratchet series acquire more and more outstanding titles, and Into the Nexus is no exception.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown was one of my favorite games of 2012. As a fan of the original franchise back in the '90s, I felt like it did an excellent job of not only re-introducing the once-beloved franchise back into the fold for newcomers, but also providing veterans with a fulfilling strategy experience. Developer Firaxis is now revisiting the XCOM universe with Enemy Within, a new expansion pack set to augment the original game.
Leaping back in, I immediately jumped at the prospect of creating an Exosquad-esque mech soldier with the new Within content. I named him Duke Nukem, gave him a blonde buzz cut, and pumped tons of credits into his loadout -- I even had a brief vision of completing the game with him, sticking through the thick and thin. Then he promptly died on the very next level.
Yep, this is still XCOM alright, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
BioShock Infinite was one of the most polarizing releases in recent memory among the gaming community. While a number of critics lauded it as an apex for Irrational, many fans were left feeling underwhelmed by certain facets of the design, some of which felt like a regression for the franchise.
I really enjoyed Infinite myself, but I'm also fully willing to admit that there were a number of design flaws that detracted from the experience. Some of those issues are directly addressed in Burial at Sea, but in the process, others are created. Uh oh!