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Review: Game of Thrones: A Telltale Game Series: The Ice Dragon

Nov 17 // Darren Nakamura
Game of Thrones - A Telltale Game Series: The Ice Dragon (Android, iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed], PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Telltale GamesPublisher: Telltale GamesReleased: November 17, 2015MSRP: $4.99 (episode), $29.99 (season)Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit The reason I'm being so cavalier with discussing in general terms how my story ended -- spoilers be damned -- is that other players might see things play out quite differently. It took the whole season to make good on the promises that we may shape the future of House Forrester, but The Ice Dragon finally introduces significant divergence. Important characters may live or die, depending on not only the choices presented in this episode, but also on those made earlier. With Asher joining Rodrik and the convergence of those two paths at the end of A Nest of Vipers, more time can be spent on each individual thread. Up north, Gared and company finally make it to the North Grove. Down south, Mira learns who had been conspiring against her. Nestled in the middle of it all is the drama in Ironrath, with the Whitehills mounting up for war against the Forresters. Gared's path is probably the most disappointing of the three. After five episodes wondering what the significance of the North Grove is, I was hoping for a revelation when he finally made it. The main concrete takeaway is that it's important and must be protected, but precisely why is up for debate. [embed]321059:61115:0[/embed] What makes Gared's journey to the North Grove sting so much as a part of the story of the Forresters is that it feels like he made no measurable impact on any other section. The final recap does hint that he might have been a bigger player in the grand scheme if I had made different choices, but my personal Gared could have been cut from the story entirely and it would have made no difference. In contrast, Mira's scheming in King's Landing is at least mentioned by the characters on the home front. She may not have had any concrete effects on the conflict at Ironrath, but her path still feels important in the overall narrative. In Sons of Winter, I was so pleased with myself for winning a war of words as Mira. I was shrewd and calculating, manipulating the situation to get exactly what I wanted. Somewhere along the line I lost that slyness and turned into a softie, and Mira paid for it. I can't say I'm happy with how Mira turns out at the end of this episode, but I don't think I'd be particularly pleased with the possible alternatives either. Of course, the main action is at Ironrath, where the Whitehills have mounted up for war against the Forresters. There were hints in this episode at a possible diplomatic solution, but as Asher and his band of gladiators, battle seemed like the most appropriate option. The climactic scene is probably the most brutal in any Telltale game to date. There was figurative backstabbing followed by literal backstabbing. There was frontstabbing. There was sidestabbing. There was ramming a greatsword into someone's mouth and out the back of his head. Good lord, there was a lot of stabbing. It fits the universe perfectly, in that in one fell swoop a dozen named characters meet their ends, and the whole time I'm watching in horror, muttering obscenities to myself and wishing thing weren't the way they are. Valar morghulis: all men must die; fans of the source are well-versed in that concept, but it hurts more when it's my men dying. There may still be a glimmer of hope for the Forresters, despite being broken, beaten, battered, and beheaded. The finale leaves a few loose ends open (possibly for a second season), but the family as we have known it is done. In a way, I'm almost pleased the story finishes the way it does. In Iron From Ice, I noted the similarities between the Forrester clan and the more famous Starks. I realize now that I modeled my Forresters' behavior after them as well. I fought with honor and I did the right thing, though it eventually spelled my own doom. I can take solace in the moral victory. The Ice Dragon caps off a year of fretting and worrying. Telltale's take on Game of Thrones has been spot-on in that regard. Now that it's over it's almost a relief, even with a bleak end. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Game of Thrones review photo
A chilling finale
In my review for The Lost Lords, the second episode of Game of Thrones, I lamented that I was making all the wrong decisions and that my version of House Forrester was doomed. With The Ice Dragon wrapping up the series, my pr...

Game of Thrones trailer photo
Game of Thrones trailer

The Game of Thrones finale trailer hopes you have been following along

Spoilers abound
Nov 16
// Darren Nakamura
Don't watch the trailer below if you aren't caught up with the first five episodes of Game of Thrones: A Telltale Game Series. It highlights a lot of the major choices from the previous episodes, including the one right at th...
Uncharted 3 photo
Uncharted 3

No wonder Uncharted 3 was so average: Nolan North had broken ribs during filming

Another 'Did You Know'
Nov 16
// Chris Carter
Did You Know Gaming has another video in store for us, and this time it deals with the Uncharted series. One of the most interesting bits is definitely the fact that Nolan North broke two of his ribs before the filming ...
Saint Seiya photo
Saint Seiya

A Saint Seiya: Soldier's Soul PC port will be released this month

Previously exclusive to Sony platforms
Nov 13
// Chris Carter
The Bandai Namco trend of porting to PC continues. Saint Seiya: Soldier's Soul is next up on the block, and is slated for a November 27 Steam release in North America. Previously, it was exclusive to the PS3 and PS4 plat...

Review: Sword Art Online: Lost Song

Nov 13 // Josh Tolentino
Sword Art Online: Lost Song (PS4, PS3, PS Vita [reviewed])Developer: ArtdinkPublisher: Bandai Namco GamesMSRP: $39.99 (Vita), $59.99 (PS4)Released: November 17, 2015 (NA), November 13, 2015 (EU), April 28, 2015 (SEA), March 26, 2015 (JP) [Note: This review is based on the English-language version of Lost Song released in Southeast Asia on April 28, 2015. While there may be some differences between this version and the North American/EU ones, we expect the core experience will be highly similar, if not identical.] Let's not mince words: Like its predecessor Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment, Lost Song is meant for existing fans of Sword Art Online (or at least of Hollow Fragment), and few else outside that sphere. In fact, Lost Song's main plot virtually ensures that only those invested Kirito and the gang's adventures and interactions will find fulfillment from the game's narrative.  But first, an aside: When it came to the anime and novels, the reason the ALO-set story arcs felt so weak was the overriding sense that the show was treading water. In contrast to original's grand hook of "dying in the game means death for real", the goal of Kirito playing ALO to search for Asuna carried not nearly as much weight. This was exacerbated in the second season, which followed up an excellent murder mystery set in Gun Gale Online with Kirito and his pals literally just doing a raid and some quests in ALO for a nice sword. It came to pass that when ALO was onscreen, Sword Art Online became less about exciting adventures and speculative future game design than essentially watching a bunch of nonexistent Let's Players play a nonexistent game. Lost Song falls afoul of ALO's curse as well, with even its central story afflicted with the same sense of meandering and lack of stakes. Still placed in Hollow Fragment's alternative timeline (which saw the cast stuck in SAO for much longer than in the "canon", and adding characters like Sinon under different circumstances), Lost Song sees Kirito and his posse moving to ALfheim Online right on time for the game to debut "Svart ALfheim", its first expansion, consisting of five massive floating islands. Being the top-class gamers they are, the crew resolves to be the first to burn through it. [embed]318569:61096:0[/embed] The quest for "world-first" (a motivation familiar to anyone who's played an MMO) eventually brings them into conflict with Shamrock, a massive guild run by Seven, an idol/scientist (!) who's taking the opportunity run a big social experiment within ALO. If the whole premise of Lost Song's plot sounds like the kind of inter-guild "drama" that plays out on forums and social media feeds for actual games today, one wouldn't be too far off. This puts the bulk of the game's narrative appeal in the interactions between cast members new and old, told via entertaining Tales of-style vignettes, in-game events, and lengthy personal quests, some of which adapt storylines from the canon like the well-received "Mother's Rosario" arc. In a nice touch, these events are mostly encountered semi-randomly and often without explicit prompting. A minor thing, to be sure, but one that channels the "live" qualities of MMO play, where impromptu encounters and stories grow even against otherwise static environs and content. Ultimately, though, those invested in seeing the characters of Sword Art Online again, sporting their ALO-styled redesigns and touting long-running in-jokes, will get their fill, but players seeking epic adventure or the kind of JRPG saga that ends with the heroes saving the world will come away disappointed. It doesn't help, either, that Lost Song doesn't work very hard to introduce players to the characters themselves. In some ways that's to be expected, seeing as this is a sequel to Hollow Fragment and mostly features the same faces (with a few more added), but curious folks who just want to know what the fuss over Sword Art Online is all about would be better served by picking up Re: Hollow Fragment (the "Director's Cut" PS4 port of Hollow Fragment), or just watching the anime. Narrative pitfalls aside, Lost Song is at least less of a slog to play, mechanically, bringing some new, entertaining gimmicks to the table. The combat system ditches the auto-attacks, casting times, and menus of Hollow Fragment for a straightforward, directly-controlled action-RPG setup. Players can string together combos of light and heavy attacks, controlling any three of up to seventeen playable characters (they can even replace Kirito as the leader!), each wielding a number of weapons with signature skills and magic. Special moves and magic can be triggered by combining shoulder and face buttons. New attacks, spells, and passive effects can be unlocked by leveling up their weapon skills through use, and assigning them to preferred button combinations. A Union gauge fills up in battle, and when triggered enables devastating "Switch" attacks involving the whole party. While simpler and arguably less deep than Hollow Fragment, the new system is more engaging and wastes less time. Most low-level foes can be dispatched in seconds, and fighting large bosses rewards mobility and effective use of buffs and debuffs to chop away at their massive, stacked health bars. AI companions fight and support effectively, and need little in the way of handholding unless severely under-leveled. New gear can be found in the field, or bought, identified, and upgraded at Agil and Lisbeth's shops while Side Quests and Extra Quests can be accepted at the hub town's tavern. Side Quests usually fall into the "Kill X number of Y enemy" category, but Extra Quests usually pose an additional challenge, involving big takedowns of one or more boss-class foes for better rewards. And then there's the flying. Being a fairy-themed game, ALO plants wings on all its characters to enable long-distance travel and a level of verticality rarely embraced in the RPG space. Lost Song gladly obliges, featuring huge, open-world maps populated by roaming enemies and dotted with dungeons at varying altitudes. Players can switch from running on the ground to hovering to racing through the air with a flick of the D-pad. While a bit fiddly at first, this mobility quickly becomes second nature and makes a genuine difference when fighting outdoors, as aerial dashes can be used to set up powerful charging attacks, and hovering up high can put safe distances between players and ground-bound foes. Fighting indoors, however, is more of a chore, as most dungeons prohibit flying and often take place against large numbers of enemies spawning in ways that cause the combat camera and lock-on function to freak out unpleasantly. Worse still, the dungeons themselves are so bland and unimaginative that I initially mistook them for being procedurally generated. Having players visit these dungeons in order to progress just hammers home the apathetic level design. And there's even multiplayer, making Lost Song the only Sword Art Online game that's actually, well, online. Local and online play sessions are available, including a PVP versus mode, and team battles against roided-out versions of the single-player bosses. It's an alright option to have, but there's little compelling reason to engage with it. Players can use custom characters, but the customization options are so limited that anything created just resembles the generic NPC characters littering the hub world. For better or worse, Sword Art Online: Lost Song replicates both the highs and lows of its predecessors. Existing fans of the series will find plenty to like in the further adventures of Kirito and his MMO pals, despite a dull main story. The revamped mechanics also support a steady drip-feed of Sword Art Online fan service mainly by not getting in the way too much. Unfortunately, Lost Song stumbles hardest when trying to engage players outside that sphere of pre-existing investment, and in some ways ends up an even less suitable jumping-off point for newbies who want to get in on enjoying the franchise. My advice to those folks would be to watch the anime or try out Hollow Fragment first. If they're still jonesing for some more of this motley crew of irredeemable MMO nerds when they're done, then Lost Song will be music to their ears. [This review is based on a retail copy of the game acquired by the reviewer.] Fallout 4 (PC, PS4, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: Bethesda Game StudiosPublisher: Bethesda SoftworksMSRP: $59.99Released: November 10, 2015
SAO: Lost Song Review photo
Familiar Tune
Ask most folks who watched the Sword Art Online anime series, and they'll likely tell you that the show's weaker moments usually coincided with events set in ALfheim Online (ALO), a fairy-themed virtual reality MMO that ...

Destiny photo

Refer a friend to Destiny and get a reward

'We're planning something new'
Nov 13
// Vikki Blake
As a thank you for recruiting new Guardians this holiday season, Bungie will be rewarding players with a new Refer-a-Friend scheme for Destiny. "After this update is deployed, some of the more tech savvy among you will b...
Walmart Black Friday photo
Walmart Black Friday

Walmart Black Friday deals include amiibo, $250 Wii U, $299 PS4, and more

Get ready to stand on the edge
Nov 11
// Mike Cosimano
Best Black Friday, one of the many sites dedicated to collating deals available during the ebony-black altar of consumerism and bloodlust known as Black Friday, has published an early version of Walmart's ad, detailing its en...
Diamond Cat photo
Diamond Cat

Wear a cat on your head in Metal Gear Online

He's helping!
Nov 11
// Jordan Devore
Well, damn. Now I regret spending those Mother Base coins on that sweet crocodile hat. If you haven't checked in with Metal Gear Online in a while, this headgear might be just the nudge you need. It's a cat named Ricky that you can place on your head. That'll be 300 MB Coins, thanks.
Game of Thrones screens photo
Game of Thrones screens

First screens for Game of Thrones finale are non-canon (for me)

Gared fights a claymation bear
Nov 11
// Darren Nakamura
The long-awaited season finale for Telltale's Game of Thrones series following House Forrester is almost here. It releases next week, but today we have a few tastes of what to expect. Mira looks like she's in trouble with the...
Blops makes bank photo
Blops makes bank

Call of Duty: Black Ops III biggest launch of 2015 at $550 million

Until Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Nov 11
// Steven Hansen
Call of Duty: Black Ops III made a lot of money in three days. And while that's not surprising, it is notable, given that the series sales had been in a bit of a decline with Ghosts and Advance Wars: Days of Ruin. I guess the...
The Phantom Pain photo
The Phantom Pain

You can bring back a certain buddy in Metal Gear Solid V

But the process is repetitive
Nov 10
// Jordan Devore
As of a recent update in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, it is now possible to bring back a beloved buddy who becomes unusable after you progress far enough into the story. But you're not going to like the method. In a game full of padding, there's now just a little bit more repetition. To be clear, you'll want to stop reading now if you're looking to avoid specifics. Spoilers.
Mega Man photo
Mega Man

Brand new Mega Man avatars hit the PSN

From Legacy Collection
Nov 09
// Chris Carter
In the dead of night, Capcom has pushed a handful of new Mega Man avatars to the PSN. They're based on the new Legacy Collection artwork, and will run you around $0.49 each. There's a few cherry-picked Robot Masters here, two...
Alien: Isolation photo
Alien: Isolation

A modder has taken the Alien out of Alien: Isolation

And I bet it's still fantastic
Nov 09
// Brett Makedonski
The first time I played Alien: Isolation, I was at developer Creative Assembly's studio in Horsham, England. The game hadn't been announced yet and we were the first non-Sega people to see it. There was the briefest of introd...
Call of Duty photo
Call of Duty

91% of Black Ops 3 UK sales were on PS4 or Xbox One

Up from 67% for Advanced Warfare sales
Nov 09
// Vikki Blake
91% of all physical sales of Call of Duty: Black Ops III sold in the UK were for PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. According to UK chart company GfK Chart-Track, just 8% were picked up for last-gen consoles PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, leaving just 1% preferring to pick up the game on PC. The chart does not account for digital sales.
Call of Jr. photo
Call of Jr.

Carl's Duty: eat an absurd burger and win a gross gun skin

You know, for the veterans
Nov 06
// Darren Nakamura
The United States of America, right? Where our burgers are big and our guns are bigger. And our heart failures are spectacular. Or something. Let's start over. Carl's Jr. (also known as Hardee's) is teaming up with Activision...

Review: Call of Duty: Black Ops III

Nov 06 // Chris Carter
Call of Duty: Black Ops III (PC, PS3, PS4 [reviewed], Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Treyarch (PC, PS4, Xbox One), Beenox/Mercenary Technology (PS3, Xbox 360)Publisher: ActivisionMSRP: $59.99Released: November 6, 2015 I'm just going to get right into it -- this is the weakest campaign yet from Treyarch. Right from the start you can see what it's going for, and things get way too heavy-handed and exposition-laden without actually saying anything. There's lots of talk about a "new Cold War" in the future, and after rescuing an Egyptian minister after an uprising in Cairo, it's off to the races. There's plenty of Terminator-esque "Man vs. Machine" going on with the 2065 backdrop and a touch of surrealism, but all of it has been seen before and done better. To boot, none of the characters are memorable or compelling in any way, and the dialogue is the most generic it's ever been. Part of it is because you're now "The Player" (male or female) instead of someone like Modern Warfare's Soap MacTavish, a character you can somewhat connect with while you're playing. You're kind of just there, and the relationships with each cast member never really have a chance to flourish across all 11 missions. Treyarch seems to have a knack for historical narratives, but I'm not really buying its grimdark sales pitch here. Now, that doesn't mean that the campaign is all bad. The powers that be have now implemented a system where you can choose any mission you want, right from the start, without having played any prior stages. That way if you get bored and want to see the ending, you can skip right to the end. Additionally, the hub center where you can switch your abilities, weapons, and loadout around is convenient, as is the progression system with full XP rewards to encourage multiplayer playthroughs. There's also an arena-based "combat immersion" center to test weapons out in, which looks a lot like Metal Gear's VR missions. [embed]318891:61008:0[/embed] Split-screen play (for two players) is also in, as is online play for the story, on top of a "Nightmare mode" that remixes every level with undead foes. With the recent removal of split-screen from Halo 5, support for multiple players on the same console is a breath of fresh air. Yes, the framerate does suffer as a result of playing couch co-op, but I'm very glad it's there, and that Treyarch is still actively pushing for it. Hell, LAN play is even supported on consoles -- in 2015, that's pretty damn rare. Now, we get to the good stuff -- all the other modes besides the campaign. Although light, the Freerun gametype is a cool way to show off all of the new mechanics (wallrunning and the toned-down jetpack). It's only playable solo and has a scant four maps, but it's really reminiscent of Mirror's Edge's abstract DLC packs, which were my favorite part of the game. Plus, it has leaderboards, which are a major plus for a mode like this. I don't want to spoil much, but the Smash TV-like Dead Ops Arcade is back, and it's better than it was before. Of course, it wouldn't be a Treyarch game without zombies, and I think it's assembled the best cast, alongside of the most interesting setting to date. I'm talking Jeff Goldblum, Heather Graham, Ron Perlman, and Neal McDonough in a Lovecraftian noir city unique. Seeing Goldblum play a washed-up scumbag magician is a treat, and the actors really give it their all for this new chapter of the zombie saga, "Shadows of Evil." While I did appreciate the campaign tie-in for Advanced Warfare's zombie mode, I like where this particular setting is going, and I hope it can keep this same cast going forward. It's also the most fully-featured from a gameplay perspective, with customizable weapon loadouts, individual upgrades, and a leveling system. You can also change up your "Gobblegum Gumballs," which are like miniature $500 soda machines that grant temporary perks. It's a tiny little thing, but it really helps you play the way you want, which is only a recent concept for zombies. In terms of secrets I think this is going to be the most challenging one yet for the community, as a lot of it hinges on changing into the "beast" (read: a Cthulian creature) to unlock specific areas and bonuses. I've spent nearly 15 hours in Shadows of Evil alone and I feel like I've only scratched the surface. What the campaign lacks in personality, zombies makes up for in spades, and that principle also goes for multiplayer. Now players will choose a "specialist," when playing traditional multiplayer, which operates a lot like a unique character skin, with an added ability in tow. For instance, the robot "Reaper" has access to a minigun power-up that comes out of his arm, or a skill that creates non-lethal clones of himself to run around the battlefield. One dude even looks like The Fury from Snake Eater, complete with a flamethrower special. They clearly had a lot of fun designing these creations, and it plays that way. Most of the powers feel balanced, especially when you consider the fact that they can only be used once you earn enough meter for them, which is typically only one or two times per match. This is on top of the classic scorestreak rewards -- but since those reset your meter upon death and the specialist powers don't, it's a way for casual players to engage without feeling like they're never earning anything. Wallrunning also adds a new depth to arenas (of which there are 12 at launch), where specific chokepoints can be circumvented by traversing raised platforms on the sides of some bases. Likewise, swimming, as simple of a mechanic as it is, bids a welcome return from Advanced Warfare, with a lot more freedom in terms of movement and combat. Those of you who found Advanced's crazy twitch movement system to be too frenetic will be pleased to hear that it's been toned down for Black Ops III, as the jetpack is now essentially a double jump, or a slide boost, and that's it. While I did like airdashing and all of the craziness that the last iteration entailed, I'm happy that each game has a distinctly different feel to it. Multiplayer has been overhauled from a features standpoint too, as there's now full support for streaming (including a cavalcade of spectator options), arena ranked playlists with seasons, and an even more convenient instant menu option for perma-muting anyone outside of your party. There have been hundreds of people populating Black Ops III's servers during this testing period without issues, but if anything changes we'll provide updates as needed on the front page. At this point, at least two of the Call of Duty developers (Treyarch and Sledgehammer), have it figured out. They now have a three-year development cycle, which means that technically, each individual game is not a rushed "annual" iteration. While the campaign could certainly be a lot stronger, Black Ops III is living proof of that concept. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Call of Duty review photo
Zombies...uh...zombies, find a way
Call of Duty campaigns are some of the most inconsistent storylines in all of gaming. While some entries are content with wowing you on a constant basis with new setpieces and unique sequences, a number of them (Ghosts&n...

Destiny photo

Bungie finally addresses Destiny's weapon parts problem

Well, to some it's a problem
Nov 06
// Chris Carter
Destiny's economy is in constant flux, and Bungie never seems to know what to do about it. This patch everyone seemed to be fine with the changes in The Taken King, but after a few weeks, some issues started creeping up. For ...
Call of Duty photo
Call of Duty

Not all UK pre-orders of Black Ops III will get bonus Nuketown map

Turns out Nuketown is a GAME exclusive
Nov 06
// Vikki Blake
If you pre-ordered Call of Duty: Black Ops III in the UK, did you expect the Nuketown multiplayer map but a code hasn't turned up? You're not the only one. (via VideoGamer) noticed that a rec...

Call of Duty: Black Ops III's Dead Ops Arcade II minigame is batshit crazy

Nov 05 // Chris Carter
Call of Duty photo
Chicken love
Just like the original Black Ops, there's a hidden arcade game locked within Call of Duty: Black Ops III. It's actually quite easy to access (just select the top-left icon in the video on the mission hub screen), and like its...

Black Ops III photo
Black Ops III

Surprise! Black Ops III looks not great on last-gen, turns tanks into vans

Most likely will not care
Nov 05
// Brett Makedonski
Activision's in the fortuitous position with Call of Duty where the fanbase is so large that they haven't all adopted current-gen consoles yet. But, that means it's mostly obligated to keep releasing games on legacy sys...
Ubisoft photo

Ubisoft reports PC sales are rising, current-gen console sales are dipping

Not enough people have upgraded
Nov 05
// Chris Carter
In addition to its brief mention of how Unity impacted Assassin's Creed Syndicate sales, Ubisoft has broken down sales numbers as it pertains to the PC and console platforms. Evidently, despite its Uplay system, the...
Showing some skin photo
Showing some skin

Cringey Resident Evil 2 Easter egg is an outfit in Resident Evil 0 HD

Who likes short shorts
Nov 05
// Steven Hansen
You can find this picture of Rebecca ready to hoop in Resident Evil 2's S.T.A.R.S office if you grab a little black film canister (remember that smell?) and actually go get the thing developed. Capcom's giving it a nod in the...
Bungie photo

Bungie: 'Microtransactions and expansions can co-exist' for Destiny

'Fans are hungry for more'
Nov 04
// Chris Carter
Well, nuts. Shortly after the release of The Taken King, rumors started coming out that Bungie would supplement Destiny's new content with cosmetic microtransactions, and would refrain from going back to the underwhelmin...
PS4 avatars photo
PS4 avatars

PS4 users can now buy hilariously bad avatars

Your old PS3 avatars will transfer soon
Nov 03
// Jordan Devore
I've got the little futuristic frog guy as my PS4 avatar, so I'm set for life. But not everyone is down with him or the other freebies. Somehow, it has taken Sony until now to lend a helping hand. As of today, PlayStation 4 u...
Surprise Black Ops fact photo
Surprise Black Ops fact

Three-year-old Call of Duty: Black Ops II still has 12 million players a month

Called to duty, never called home
Nov 03
// Steven Hansen
Want to feel old? Call of Duty: Black Ops II is three years old. Want to feel, I don't know, surprised? Impressed? That "huh" feeling when you learn a moderately interesting but not too interesting or at all valuable piece of...
Destiny photo

25 million people have played Destiny

We average three hours a day, apparently
Nov 03
// Vikki Blake
The Taken King has brought an extra five million players to Destiny, boosting the number of registered players from 20 million to 25 million. Activision confirmed the figures yesterday during its earnings report. "Day-one dow...
Metal Gear photo
Metal Gear

Kojima shows how he made Metal Gear Solid V's 'Nuclear' trailer

Behind-the-scenes video translated
Nov 02
// Jordan Devore
Few trailers rival the "Nuclear" video for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. I must've watched it half a dozen times when it debuted last year at E3, and probably doubled that number leading up to the game's release in Se...
Final Fantasy XIV photo
Final Fantasy XIV

Final Fantasy XIV's patch 3.1 will once again feature Knights of the Round

Plus, a Pokemon-esque minion game
Nov 02
// Chris Carter
I haven't been playing Final Fantasy XIV as much as I'd like, mostly due to the content drought and other obligations. But that will change when patch 3.1 hits, which is set to bring a ton of new activities to the game. ...

Review: Minecraft: Story Mode: Assembly Required

Nov 02 // Darren Nakamura
Minecraft: Story Mode: Assembly Required (iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Telltale GamesPublisher: Telltale GamesReleased: October 27, 2015 (Mac, PC)MSRP: $4.99, $24.99 (Season Pass)Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit The one big risk Telltale took with this episode was hinted at the end of The Order of the Stone. Depending on whether players choose to side with Olivia and seek out Ellegaard or to side with Axel and look for Magnus, the entire first act of the episode will play out totally differently. On the one hand, it's a bold step forward for Telltale, which is often criticized for touting its choice-based gameplay while delivering roughly the same story to everybody regardless of the decisions made. With the choice of Ellegaard vs. Magnus, the consequences were immediate and impactful, affecting a huge chunk of this episode. The final outcome might not be any different, but the journey certainly is. On the other hand, it provides for an experience uneven among players. The first half of the episode takes about 40 minutes to get through, and most people will only see one of the two segments. It stings a little because I chose to find Ellegaard, but was later led to believe that the Magnus section is the more entertaining of the two. If nothing else, it might convince me to start up a second save file just to see what I missed. [embed]318431:60938:0[/embed] Speaking of Ellegaard and Magnus, both characters are fairly unlikable. Ellegaard is haughty and aloof and Magnus is snide and combative. It creates a conflict between the two that might serve a narrative purpose in the future, but mostly just makes me wish I could have chosen neither of them right now. That turns out not to matter much, since both make an exit not long into the collective journey and bring the group back down to the core members again. Just when Story Mode threatens to feature a real, interesting human moment, the action leading to the episode's climax starts up, postponing the good stuff until a future episode. The cast continues to perform adequately. Each of the characters has his or her own distinct personality, and the actors deliver well enough. The writing is still falling flat for me. Things are happening, the narrative is progressing, but it's just not especially good yet. None of the jokes made me laugh. None of the drama made me think. After two episodes of Minecraft: Story Mode, I find myself struggling to care. It's a story and I am experiencing it, but that's the best I can muster. It's not bad enough that I'm dreading having to play three more episodes, but it's not good enough that I'm looking forward to it either. It could cease to exist and I would be utterly unfazed. There is some hope for the future of the series, as Assembly Required has planted some interesting seeds of what's to come, but it's not quite there yet. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
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Telltale fans have grown accustomed to a two-to-four month wait between episodes. So when the studio surprise launched Assembly Required just two weeks after The Order of the Stone, it caught everybody off guard. Even though ...

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