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Review: New Nintendo 3DS XL photo
Review: New Nintendo 3DS XL
by Chris Carter

Nintendo has an interesting history in terms of portables. Outside of the rare add-on like the expansion pack for the Nintendo 64 or the Game Boy Player for the GameCube, they play it rather conservatively when it comes to consoles.

But for their portable line, yowza do they go all out. Colors, new styles, paint jobs -- heck, it'll take you half a day to sift through this massive list of 3DS iterations. So here we are with the "New" 3DS, a moniker Nintendo has used far too often.

In this case, it's somewhat justified.

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Review: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (Patch 2.5) photo
Review: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (Patch 2.5)
by Chris Carter

Final Fantasy XIV has come a long way. Although there wasn't any real endgame content to speak of when A Realm Reborn launched in its 2.0 incarnation, Square Enix worked hard to deliver in 2.1, and has continued to deliver in every major patch since.

With each update came new "Primal" (read: Summon) fights, all of which had an Extreme version to test the mettle of its playerbase. Now, the developer is gearing up for an expansion later this year, and the latest 2.5 patch has provided a ton of mid-level content, with no Extreme or proper hardcore raid in sight.

That makes this patch rather unique, and players of all skill levels will enjoy it.

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Review: Citizens of Earth photo
Review: Citizens of Earth
by Brittany Vincent

The Fifth Element came on TV the other day, and it really got me thinking about mise-en-scène versus characterization. It’s one of my absolute favorite movies, and is an exemplar of sci-fi in cinema without being too derivative of other works. The grittiness of futuristic New York, the contrast between earthtones and bright colors in the costume and set design, and the excellent choreography of the action scenes come together to make a great movie.

What’s a movie though without characters that entertain, blossom with personality, and can be empathized with? Would The Fifth Element be as entertaining without the bluster of Bruce Willis, the innocent sexuality of Milla Jovovich, or the ridiculous Chris Tucker as Ruby Rhod? Can well-crafted artwork, concept, and background come together to make a good production regardless of the characters within it? Those are the questions that Citizens of Earth brought to mind.

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Review: Resident Evil HD Remaster photo
Review: Resident Evil HD Remaster
by Chris Carter

Playing the original Resident Evil was an experience. The mansion, the campiness, the mystery of it all -- before walkthroughs were easily accessible from all corners of the internet, getting lost was practically a given, and it was a blast.

Secrets were traded between us gamers, telling of hidden rooms and items, and most of them was accurate. The Spencer Mansion was a veritable treasure, and that couldn't have been more true for the subsequent GameCube remake, and now, the recent HD edition.

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Review: Saints Row IV: Gat out of Hell photo
Review: Saints Row IV: Gat out of Hell
by Brittany Vincent

There’s something about a series that doesn’t feel the need to make a ton of social commentary, or really feel grounded in reality. The Saints Row series is like if the worlds of The Naked Gun and Grand Theft Auto merged, and the result is a unique blend of zany comedy, copious cursing, and ultraviolence. Saints Row: The Third is one of my favorite games of all time.

The series hit its peak there, with an almost perfect balance of the real, the absurd, and the fantastical. Saints Row IV was still a blast, but I felt it lacked the magic of its predecessor. So it’s understandable that I was therefore jaded by the time Saints Row: Gat out of Hell came down the pipe to review. But wherever you are and wherever you go, there’s always gonna be some light.

With that said, plenty of it shines through in this standalone expansion.

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Review: Funk of Titans photo
Review: Funk of Titans
by Chris Carter

Funk of Titans is not a very fun game.

But Brett Makedonski and I had a lot of fun talking about it.

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Review: Legend of Grimrock 2 photo
Review: Legend of Grimrock 2
by Patrick Hancock

The first Legend of Grimrock was damn near perfect. Coming seemingly out of nowhere, it put a fresh new face on the dungeon-crawling genre. It was a game that didn't forget its roots yet also didn't forget that we live in a different time.

It's no surprise, then, that the sequel is absolutely stunning.

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Review: Assassin's Creed Unity: Dead Kings photo
Review: Assassin's Creed Unity: Dead Kings
by Brett Makedonski

If our time spent wandering the Parisian streets in Assassin's Creed Unity has taught us anything, it's that Arno Dorian is a self-serving man. Almost all of his actions, whether aligned with the cause of the Brotherhood or not, weren't altruistic, but rather, efforts for personal gain. With his attention wholly divided between personal vendettas and the apple of his eye, Arno was the least sympathetic model for role-playing Assassins since, well, last year when Edward Kenway held that mantle.

Given his affinity for all things Arno, it should come as no surprise that the Dead Kings add-on extrapolates upon that theme heavily. While Ubisoft dialed up the protagonist's selfish pretense, it took pause with the gameplay and varied it up moreso than the base game.

That is, as much as can be expected with the tried-and-tested Assassin's Creed formula.

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Review: Super Mega Baseball photo
Review: Super Mega Baseball
by Chris Carter

Like many people out there, I learned how to play most sports through videogames. By the time I entered various real-life leagues for baseball, basketball, and football, I had a grasp of the basic concepts of each, mostly thanks to classics like Bad News Baseball and Super Baseball 2020, two of my personal favorites.

Super Mega Baseball seeks to remind us of that retro arcade-like era of sports, where the games were mechanically sound, but more exciting than a hardcore simulation.

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Review: Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition photo
Review: Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition
by Chris Carter

When I was younger, Duke Nukem 3D had a "parental lock" option with a passcode. Naturally, as any inquisitive child would do, I backed up my save files, uninstalled the game, re-installed it, and set up a new jibberish password that way my parents would assume they forgot the code or there was an error with the game.

With or without the adult content, Duke was one of my most cherished shooters. Although it is decidedly dated by today's standards, its massive 10-weapon loadout featured a ton of diversity, and the environments contained some of the best hidden areas in the genre, even today.

It's a bit of a relic, but Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition is an endeavor worth pursing if you have any interest in first-person shooters, and can deal without a handful of modern conveniences.

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Review: Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham photo
Review: Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham
by Caitlin Cooke

Don’t let the name fool you -- this is by no means a Batman game. The Dark Knight may grace the box, but underneath its bat-enameled shell lies a Justice League game at heart. A menagerie of DC heroes and villains combined steal the show in this installment and take us far away from the streets of Gotham.

Despite this identity shift, the game still manages to provide a decent amount of content, features, and unlockables -- perhaps at the expense of more crucial mechanics.

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Review: Escape Dead Island photo
Review: Escape Dead Island
by Brittany Vincent

In my years as a freelancer and staffer at various videogame outlets, I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing a ton of great games. In fact, this year I had the privilege of reviewing pretty much every “AAA” game that hit stores. I also review a lot of garbage, or games that are fundamentally broken in one or more aspects. Games that only through providence made it out of QA.

I always try and remember though that every game, whether it’s an EA blockbuster or a one-man indie project, was someone’s baby. No matter what game you talk about, there is at least one guy or gal out there who put their all into it, even if the rest of the team couldn't be bothered to exert much effort. So I always try to approach criticizing a game from that angle. Escape Dead Island is a special case though. 

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Review: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy  photo
Review: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy
by Brittany Vincent

The visual novel has been ubiquitous in Japan since the early ‘90s, but in the West they've never truly caught on. Whether it was the U.S.’s love for its own home-grown adventure games like Sierra’s King’s Quest, the SCUMM games by LucasArts, or the absolute pain it is to translate games from Japanese that can be over 450 English pages long, it's never been clear as to why that is. In fact, it wasn't really until the early 2000s that they finally started catching on. The Nintendo DS was the platform many English-speaking gamers experienced their first visual novel on, through none other than Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney.

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Review: Xeodrifter photo
Review: Xeodrifter
by Jonathan Holmes

A lot of the kids who grew up with Metroid, Super Mario Bros., and The Legend of Zelda are now older than than their creators were when those legendary Nintendo franchises were first released. Some of those kids are now videogame developers themselves. Jools Watsham of Renegade Kid is one example. He created Xeodrifter in five months, fueled by financial stress, time constraints, and a raw love of Super Metroid. You can read about his process here

Showing your Metroid DNA on your sleeve is a blessing and a curse. It instantly communicates to the relatively large Metroid fan base that your game was made for them. It also sets the bar incredibly high. Begging for a comparison to Super Metroid is a dangerous thing. As we saw with the reaction to Other M, a disappointed Metroid fan can be an intensely spiteful force. 

My guess is Xeodrifter won't inspire that kind of caustic reaction in the Metroid faithful. If it were an official Metroid game, it would rank near or above many of the other games in the franchise. As long as you go into it expecting something short and sweet, it's hard to imagine that Metroid fans will be disappointed. 

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Review: The Crew  photo
Review: The Crew
by Brittany Vincent

A great racer to me doesn’t focus on an abundance of customization options or entire garages of cars. It doesn’t even serve up solid multiplayer modes or an interesting soundtrack. It keeps me playing.

And let me tell you, unless it’s Mario Kart or a stupidly solid racer that entrances me from its opening credits, that doesn’t happen very often. I don’t care about winning a tournament and I have no interest in being a professional race car driver like Jerry. 

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Review: Kalimba photo
Review: Kalimba
by Chris Carter

Games built around co-op have always had a place in my life. When I was younger, I had a lot of friends who were gamers, which made it easy to pick up and play multiplayer titles. As I grew up, I attended college, met more gamers, and then met my wife, who also plays games.

As such, I almost always have someone who is down to co-op. Thankfully, Kalimba not only has one of the best cooperative experiences around, but it also has a strong single-player element.

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