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Volume is a more thoughtful approach to Metal Gear Solid VR Mission-like stealth photo
Volume is a more thoughtful approach to Metal Gear Solid VR Mission-like stealth
by Steven Hansen

Volume is a fitting name for a polygonal, Metal Gear Solid VR Missions-looking stealth game with enough rectangles to feed a geometry class for the entire year. In the case of Mike Bithell's Thomas Was Alone follow-up, however, "volume" is more about sound than shapes.

Lead Locksley can't kill or attack. It's all about being a sneak. Noise, then, becomes an important weapon for luring guards from their posts, and every bit of noise fractures the world so you can nicely see its effect, along with the ever-present enemy fields of vision.

It's about sight, too. Sound, sight, shapes. These things come together to make a readable stealth game with enough abstraction that it feels more puzzler than sneaking romp. Think Hitman GO compared to Hitman.

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Rock Band 4 is coming, and it's bringing the party back photo
Rock Band 4 is coming, and it's bringing the party back
by Brett Makedonski

Five years after the latest installment in the seminal music/rhythm franchise, Harmonix is going on a proverbial reunion tour. Rock Band 4 is in development for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and it's currently scheduled for a 2015 release. But, Harmonix doesn't want to put out Rock Band 3.5; the Boston-area developer acknowledges that it can absolutely improve upon past iterations.

In a conversation at GDC in San Francisco, project manager Daniel Sussman told Destructoid that Harmonix revisited Rock Band 1, 2, and 3 while brain-storming for the direction of the next game. Sussman readily admitted that Rock Band 3 was too much of a sprawl -- a bit unfocused to the point that it clouded the game's identity. In hindsight, it was somewhat off-putting to fans that couldn't get a definite feel for how seriously it took itself.

That's what Harmonix wants to change with Rock Band 4. The focus is purely on creating an accessible, social experience. There's a certain harmony that comes from playing and listening to your bandmates, a bonding sense that shines simply because of the format. Harmonix just wants to get back to that and make another title that people enjoy playing in the company of others.

Granted, we have to take Harmonix at its word for now. There's no playable build of Rock Band 4, and the team isn't even ready to talk about a lot of the features. That's all coming later, likely sometime around E3. But, it's worth noting that the word "evolution" kept coming up to describe the next steps in the series, a sign that Harmonix plans for Rock Band 4 to be a platform with a long-term vision, not just a precursor to sequel after sequel.

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Review: Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars photo
Review: Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars
by Darren Nakamura

A little more than four years ago, Nintendo released Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem! on the original DS. It continued the series' focus on the miniature Mario robots, to the chagrin of fans of the platforming in the original. In our review, Jonathan Holmes said "It didn't make me feel much, or think much, or have much of a memorable effect on me at all."

Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars plays the same as Mini-Land Mayhem!, but with a few new features. It remains a puzzle game that acts as filler; it can be picked up and played just as easily as it can be put down and forgotten.

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What was the very first PlayStation 2 game you ever played? photo
What was the very first PlayStation 2 game you ever played?
by Ben Davis

Today marks the 15th anniversary of the PlayStation 2. In those 15 years, we've already had two more Sony console releases, but the PS2 is still near and dear to many of our hearts. The console gave us many of our favorite games, from huge hits like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Kingdom Hearts, and Metal Gear Solid 3, to more experimental titles such as Shadow of the Colossus, Persona 4, and Katamari Damacy. The PS2 had something for everyone, and many people consider it to be one of the greatest consoles of all time.

But where did it all begin? Everyone has their own special memories of when they first saw the PlayStation 2 in action, and of their very first time playing a game on the console. Whether you got the PS2 at launch, waited a few years before diving in, or played it at a friend's house, everyone had to start somewhere.

So what was the very first PlayStation 2 game you played? Here's what our staff had to say:

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Tomm Hulett's unified Mario Timeline Theory photo
Tomm Hulett's unified Mario Timeline Theory
by Jonathan Holmes

Game director Tomm Hulett has been working in the industry since he was a kid, starting with a job testing NES games. Since then he's worked on everything from PersonaContraSilent Hill, and Adventure Time, but no matter what he does or where he goes, Mario will be in his heart.

Tomm asked me over a month ago if Destructoid would be interested in hosting one of his pet projects, a split-timeline that poses a theory on how every Mario game is connected that he'd been working on with artist Howard Milligan. I was excited about the idea, but was crestfallen a few weeks later when I saw that someone had apparently beaten Tomm to the punch. I shouldn't have worried. When I told Tomm that someone else has tried their hat at a Mario timeline, he said something like "Oh that? That's nothing. Wait until you see the size of the thing I've got for you."

He wasn't kidding. The image he was working on ended up being too large for Dtoid to host (you can grab it for yourself here), though we were able to shrink it down to a still-massive size for our gallery's servers. I'm not the Mario expert that I should be, but I'm pretty sure each and every game Mario has ever appeared in has found a place on the map, including Hotel Mario and Mario's Time Machine. He even got the the Super Mario Bros. movie in there somehow. The only thing I see missing is Mario Paint, but I suppose that could be construed as part of the "Mario Sports Series." I did have a guy try to convince me that Football was an art once, so I guess it's only fair to call Painting a sport. 

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Metal Gear Solid V launch details confirmed, Collector's Edition unveiled photo
Metal Gear Solid V launch details confirmed, Collector's Edition unveiled
by Chris Carter

After a leak involving the release date for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Konami has confirmed the date this morning -- September 1, 2015 (September 15 for Steam), with a few other details in tow.

Metal Gear Online is name-dropped in particular, which will go live the day of Phantom Pain's launch and is included in the base package. It will feature a "class system" and characters like Ocelot and Snake will make an apperance. Mother Base mode is also reconfirmed, with the ability to play online and raid other bases to steal items.

There will be a "Day 1 Edition" of the game and a Collector's Edition, which are priced at $59.99 on PS4 and Xbox One ($49.99 on Steam, PS3, and Xbox 360) and $99.99 respectively. The former will come with a physical map and a selection of DLC items.

The Collector's Edition will only be available for the PS4 and Xbox One, and will come with a half-scale replica of Snake's Bionic Arm, a collectible SteelBook, a behind the scenes Blu-Ray, the map, and a special box. It'll also ship with more DLC.

Catch the full version breakdown below. Thank God, all of the DLC so far seems to be cosmetic.

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Will Bethesda hurry up and announce Fallout 4? photo
Will Bethesda hurry up and announce Fallout 4?
by Nic Rowen

GDC is here, and as is the case with any big trade show or splashy industry event, I'll be on tenterhooks waiting to hear the one piece of news I care about -- When is Fallout 4 going to happen? For years I've expected the announcement “any day now” while Bethesda remains stubbornly tight lipped with every passing E3 and VGA ceremony. Still, like the child of a deadbeat father, I hold out hope that this time they'll surprise us and come through.

It's important to me because Fallout 3 taught me how to love open-world games. I thought I already did. Games like Oblivion and the GTA series were considered favorites even then. But in retrospect, I had a fondness for those games. An appreciation for them born out of respect to the jaw-dropping technical execution and the brass balls of the teams that designed them. When I actually played them, I was often a stressed out save-scummer, constantly scheming on the best way to tackle the game and maintain a perfect record. It wasn't until Fallout 3 took me, hand-in-irradiated-hand, on a guided tour of its desolate wasteland that I really learned to love.

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Review: Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines photo
Review: Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines
by Josh Tolentino

Like many games of its type, Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines features a tiny graphic in its text boxes to remind players they can press a button to advance to the next line. Usually the graphic is of an X or O button pressing itself, but Oreshika's is of a little weasel pushing a button with its nose.

It's animated, and viewed from the side the little weasel can also look just like a person, sitting on their knees Japanese-style, bowing respectfully, over and over. That behavior's almost emblematic of the game's attitude, as it's so eager to let players do what they like (sometimes to their own detriment) that it almost comes off as desperate. 

But hey, they're gonna be dead soon anyway, so perhaps some deference is warranted.

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Review: Helldivers photo
Review: Helldivers
by Conrad Zimmerman

Mankind has expanded throughout the galaxy, having come together under one government, a "managed" democracy. From the Super Earth homeworld, humanity spreads its message of liberation and freedom to every planet they land upon; the liberation of their natural resources and freedom from human opposition, that is.

And if you don't like it, expect them to spread a whole lot of ordinance instead.

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ArenaNet: Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns 'is like Metroid and Zelda slammed together' photo
ArenaNet: Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns 'is like Metroid and Zelda slammed together'
by Chris Carter

Guild Wars 2 is one of the most accessible MMOs ever made. Eschewing the Holy Trinity of class builds, you can basically pick any character you want and still fulfill a role in any group. Everyone can heal, and everyone can contribute in some way.

As a result of that design however, a lot of opportunities for advanced tactics fell by the wayside, and the endgame was too simplistic to keep everyone interested. Can the upcoming Heart of Thorns expansion rectify that problem?

I had some time to talk to lead designer Colin Johanson and figure out just that.

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Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns seeks to redefine MMO endgame progression photo
Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns seeks to redefine MMO endgame progression
by Chris Carter

Guild Wars 2 is an ambitious project. While ArenaNet's initial offering of Guild Wars was more of a social dungeon crawler than an MMO (the company called it a CORPG, or competitive online role-playing game), the sequel was a bonafide massive experience.

The kicker? ArenaNet was still able to cut out the subscription fee, effectively making Guild Wars 2 buy-to-play and allowing players to return at any time.

Here we are over two years later with the Heart of Thorns expansion on the horizon, and the developer continues to find ways to innovate.

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Review: Resident Evil: Revelations 2: Episode 2 photo
Review: Resident Evil: Revelations 2: Episode 2
by Chris Carter

I didn't expect to enjoy the first episode of Resident Evil: Revelations 2 as much as I did. It was nice to see Barry and Claire back in action, and the co-op elements were implemented in a neat asynchronous manner. Not to mention the killer Raid Mode that might be the best iteration yet.

The good times keep rolling in Episode 2 with a great atmosphere, more Raid levels, and an compelling-enough narrative.

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Review: Screamride photo
Review: Screamride
by Chris Carter

When I first saw the debut trailer for Screamride, I assumed it was a simulator. Growing up with Sim Theme Park and RollerCoaster Tycoon, I relished the idea of creating and managing my own commercial park and divining new and innovative ways to thrill people.

That's not what Screamride is. Instead, it's more like a series of minigames based on three concepts -- creation, destruction, and riding. You do that over and over, with mixed results.

In the end though, Frontier Developments' formula is a therapeutic way to spend an afternoon, even with its faults.

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Samus and Sagat: When Sagat met Samus photo
Samus and Sagat: When Sagat met Samus
by Jonathan Holmes

It's highly probable that an alien race, dwelling somewhere in outer space, has developed technology the likes of which we could only dream of, but lack something we consider mundane. For example, what if a race of magical bird-people from another planet had the ability to transport organic matter through thin air without any loss of quality, but had not yet discovered how to do the same thing with abstract content like "data"? How would they feel if the learned about the Internet? Better yet, how would they feel when they learned what most people use the Internet for? What would they think of terms like "social justice warrior," "lol," and "shitposting"? This special "Flashback to 19XX" episode of Samus and Sagat intends to answer those questions and more. 

This episode also marks the third time that Maddy Myers and I have gotten together to shoot Samus and Sagat, and things already feel different. It looks like we're through the "getting to know you" phase and already way off into the "drunk off each other's company so God knows what's going to happen next" phase. That definitely makes for a different kind of show. My acting in this episode is... really something. I'm not sure exactly what that something is, but I know it's true.

I also know it's true that making a collage of Maddy's various facial expressions is a lot of fun, and I hope to have the opportunity to do that again soon. We've got that collage in a wallpaper size right here, per the request of a few of my Twitter followers, so enjoy!

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Review: Blackhole photo
Review: Blackhole
by Conrad Zimmerman

There certainly have been a lot of creative 2D platform games releasing over the last couple of months, enough that there seems to be some genuine competition in the genre. If you're finding yourself in a position where it has become difficult to choose, allow me to make it easier. 

Get Blackhole. Problem solved.

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Beards optional: Embedded difficulty decisions in Fire Emblem photo
Beards optional: Embedded difficulty decisions in Fire Emblem
by Anna Anthropy

[Destructoid likes to invite game developers to write editorials for us from time to time. Their opinions don't necessarily represent Destructoid as a whole, but they sure are interesting. Here is a fun one on how Fire Emblem handles difficulty scaling from Anna Anthropy, the developer of Frog Assassin and Dys4ia.]

I want to introduce you to my boys. This is Marcus, Old Marcus, and Seth. They're from the Fire Emblem games on the Game Boy Advance: from left to right, Fire Emblem (the first game in the series to get an international release), The Binding Blade (the game Fire Emblem is a prequel to) and The Sacred Stones.

But who are they really? Just some dudes with weird anime hair? (Except for Seth. Seth is a dreamboat.) They're actually DIFFICULTY MODES.

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