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Review: Battlefield Hardline photo
Review: Battlefield Hardline
by Steven Hansen

Following a year characterized by increased public awareness of rampant police violence against citizens and the militarization of local law enforcement, a gun fetishist's game riding a "cops versus criminals" tagline feels slimy.

Not unexpectedly, Hardline doesn't want to interact with that discussion. Before you can even press a button, every time you load the game, you're met with loud, fast cuts of the EA and Visceral logos, then an explosion.

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Review: Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 photo
Review: Fruit Ninja Kinect 2
by Brett Makedonski

Any way you slice it, Fruit Ninja is one of the most popular mobile games of all time. It's built around such an unassuming foundation that it lends itself perfectly to those lulls in life when you don't really want to think about anything. Hell, as fast as the fruit flies, there isn't time for thinking, just reacting. It's certainly easy to understand and appreciate the appeal.

Shortly following the advent of the Kinect, Halfbrick released a version of Fruit Ninja that made use of the Xbox 360's motion control peripheral. While it was generally well-received, it was still a curious decision that seemingly flew in the face of everything the title stood for. After all, this was a game that lent itself to short bursts during downtime; now that you have to lug a coffee table across the living room to get started, well, it's just a different experience.

Unsurprisingly, Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 hasn't changed much from its 2011 Xbox 360 adaptation. Sure, there are new bells and whistles, and it's definitely an improvement. But, the core game is still the same, and again, just like nearly four years ago, it's the limitations of the hardware that hold everything back.

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Review: Mario Party 10 photo
Review: Mario Party 10
by Chris Carter

I haven't enjoyed the past few console editions of Mario Party. I felt like 8 was rushed to the Wii as an excuse to show off the technology, and it ended up being a generic waggle-fest that was a stark drop in quality compared to 7.

I never could have predicted that 9 would be even worse, introducing the new vehicular-based progression system (also known as "the car"), which tied every player to each other and forced them to ride along together on maps.

Mario Party 10 on the Wii U keeps that same format sadly, but improves upon a few other aspects of the experience. It's just not enough to return the franchise to its former glory.

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Review: Final Fantasy Type-0 HD photo
Review: Final Fantasy Type-0 HD
by Chris Carter

For years now, some people have been saying that Final Fantasy is dead. While XIII was considered a misstep by some, XIII-2 was a marked improvement and Lighting Returns was one of my favorite games of last year.

Oh, and there's the impressive showing for Final Fantasy XV, the constantly improving Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, which is one of the best MMOs ever made, a fantastic rhythm-based sub-franchise, and a handful of interesting side projects. Now we have Type-0 HD

Final Fantasy is far from dead, folks.

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Review: Dragon Ball Xenoverse photo
Review: Dragon Ball Xenoverse
by Patrick Hancock

Dragon Ball Z games have been quite the rollercoaster over the past couple decades. The Budokai series often stands out among fans as some of the best entries into the crowded scene, thanks to its developer Dimps. Well, Dimps is back with Dragon Ball Xenoverse, so naturally fans are excited.

A Dragon Ball fighting game developed by Dimps, what could go wrong?

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Review: LA Cops photo
Review: LA Cops
by Conrad Zimmerman

At first glance, the potential for LA Cops to be an interesting title is great. A top-down shooter in the style of a retro cop squad drama, its main appeal lies in the combination of real-time action with teamwork management, one player using two characters to systematically take down a criminal enterprise.

It's just too bad that one of those cops always has to be Barney Fife.

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Review: Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. photo
Review: Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.
by Kyle MacGregor

Nintendo has created some of the most bizarre intellectual properties in the medium, but the latest strategy game from Intelligent Systems (the studio behind Fire Emblem and Advance Wars) may be among the strangest. The adventure follows Abraham Lincoln and a crack team of agents conscripted from American folklore and classic literature on a mission to repel an alien invasion.

What's more, the Nintendo 3DS game is set in a steampunk universe. Meanwhile the art direction draws inspiration from the Golden Age of Comics. It's an extraordinary pastiche, to say the least. However, despite its originality of the concept, Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. never quite lives up to the intrigue one might expect, given the project's pedigree and fascinating pool of influences.

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Review: White Night photo
Review: White Night
by Conrad Zimmerman

When people look back upon the great horror games of this year, they're probably going to forget about White Night, and that's understandable. It doesn't break any ground, it isn't littered with jump scares to draw in the YouTube crowd, and its gameplay lacks depth.

It's also one of the better composed horror stories in games over the last few years, assuming you don't mind that being the only real reason to show up.

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Review: Flame Over photo
Review: Flame Over
by Robert Summa

Roguelikes suck. They don't suck as in they are horrible to play. They suck for me because they're so damn hard. But in this genre, that's part of the challenge. For whatever reason, our gamer brains desire to overcome the impossible odds roguelikes provide.

Flame Over for the PlayStation Vita is no different. As challenging as Spelunky, this latest offering from Laughing Jackal will have you crying as you attempt to overcome those initial upgrade hurdles that stand in your way of perfection.

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Review: Cities: Skylines photo
Review: Cities: Skylines
by Jason Faulkner

The connection between the design and implementation of the sidewalks and streets we use on a daily basis requires a huge mental leap for me. Walking down the cobblestone in my city and looking up to see the sky framed with highrises inspires my sense of awe. It’s as if they represent humanity’s dominion over the natural world, and seem to stand as a testament to our species’ tenacity. It’s as if their monolithic forms are a raised fist against all the devastation and hardship we’ve experienced as a whole since we left the fertile crescent over 60,000 years ago.

To make a city of our own, to imitate and create the spaces in which we live our lives is quite alluring. The nurturing and planning that goes into creating your own little virtual metropolis is naturally stimulating to the desire to solve problems that most of us find so innate. For more than a decade, Maxis’ SimCity series was the go-to for a city-building fix. However, the changes in the latest iteration of the series were very unpopular, and begged the question, “Is the city-building simulation genre dead?” Cities: Skylines answers with an emphatic, “No,” and goes beyond what even the venerable SimCity series had to offer.

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Review: OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood photo
Review: OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood
by Kyle MacGregor

OlliOlli was a pleasant surprise. A year ago, the minimalist skateboarding game materialized out of nowhere, deconstructing the genre and distilling its essence down the barest essentials. It stripped away any traces of excess, resulting in an experience focused on eliciting trancelike states and a never-ending pursuit of high scores.

Simultaneously accessible and unfathomably intricate, OlliOlli lured players down the rabbit hole, presenting itself as an airy side-scroller just long enough to get its hooks into you before quickly giving way to something far weightier and more profound.

And now it's been topped in virtually every conceivable way with an unexpected sequel, OlliOlli 2.

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Review: Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number photo
Review: Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number
by Chris Carter

For some, Hotline Miami was an existential look at the current macro-state of videogames. You were told to commit random acts of murder seemingly without remorse, and at the end, you get a bit of interesting commentary on the culture of violence. Many argued that the only way you can truly win is to not play, and it started some insightful conversations.

For me, it was a really bitchin' action puzzle game that made me constantly reinvent my strategy for each and every level. It was an experience that didn't hold my hand at every turn, and let me be as creative as I wanted while a kickass soundtrack blared in the background.

Hotline Miami 2 may not be as "profound" as its predecessor, but it's still a bloody good time.

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Review: Resident Evil: Revelations 2: Episode 3 photo
Review: Resident Evil: Revelations 2: Episode 3
by Chris Carter

When I first approached Resident Evil: Revelations 2, I was fairly cautious. I had been burned many times by Resident Evil games in the past, but having played through Episode 1 and 2, most of my concerns were alleviated.

At this point, I think I can heartily recommend Revelations 2 as a whole, even if Episode 3 drags momentarily.

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Review: Ori and the Blind Forest photo
Review: Ori and the Blind Forest
by Chris Carter

Every so often I come across a game that just makes me smile. I mean, I play videogames almost daily because I have fun doing it, but certain titles have me grinning from ear to ear the entire journey for a myriad of different reasons.

Ori and the Blind Forest is one of those games. It's just plain enjoyable from start to finish, and doesn't waste your time.

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Review: Shelter 2 photo
Review: Shelter 2
by Jason Faulkner

Underneath the vision of all but the most observant of people lay the secret lives of the animal kingdom. From the meekest field mouse to the mighty lion, each is born into a world of hardship and violence, where merely surviving is the ultimate goal. Humans, with our obsession over the minutiae of modern society, can't fathom the sheer terror and panic that many animals face multiple times per day.

Few forms of media attempt to strip away the ties that bind us to the sentient, and force us into the role of a wild animal. The Shelter series has attempted with minimalistic graphics and gameplay to translate what it would feel like to be a scared and lonely new mother defending and providing for her litter. This iteration focuses on a family of lynx, and although you are a predator, the vulnerability of your position is poignantly felt. But even though Shelter 2 evokes a certain amount of emotion, the package leaves something to be desired.

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Review: Five Nights at Freddy's 3 photo
Review: Five Nights at Freddy's 3
by Nic Rowen

While it has been a mere four months since the last sequel was released, Five Nights at Freddy's 3 is set years after the events of the first game. Crafty businessmen keen to exploit the gory legacy of the infamous Freddy Fazbear's Pizza restaurant have assembled a slapdash haunted house attraction, Fazbear's Fright, using real props and recovered animatronics from the infamous murder restaurant. What could possibly go wrong?

I can't help but wonder if one-man-band developer Scott Cawthon is being a bit cheeky with this setup, commenting on the popular accusation that he's cranking out sequels of his surprise cult hit to cash in. I suppose you can't blame a guy for striking while the iron is hot.

Much like the attraction itself, Five Nights 3 is a grab-bag of recycled parts with some new gimmicks tossed in to liven up the experience. How much fun that is will depend on your tolerance for the now expected (but still embarrassingly terrifying) jump scares, and if you come to the series for its gameplay, or for its world.

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