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Review: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare photo
Review: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
by Chris Carter

After the disappointing Call of Duty: Ghosts, Activision needed fresh ideas, and Sledgehammer was just the developer for the job. Even before it delivered its first game, a weight has been lifted off of Infinity Ward and Treyarch's shoulders. No longer does it need to turnaround a Call of Duty every other year, and there is more time to figure out how to make the series fresh again.

As a result, Sledgehammer has a lot riding on Advanced Warfare, the newest game in the series. It has everything going for it -- a fresh futuristic theme, the same core multiplayer gameplay everyone knows and loves, and the talented Kevin Spacey running the show with the campaign.

The gambit paid off, even if it won't bring back in those who have sworn off the series.

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Review: Woah Dave! photo
Review: Woah Dave!
by Jonathan Holmes

[Note: Jonathan Holmes' name appears in the Special Thanks section of Woah Dave!'s credits. No one knows why. One guess is it's because Jonathan and Woah Dave! creator Jason Cirillo had a decent conversation at PAX East 2014, during which time Jonathan was wearing a Woah Dave! t-shirt. Maybe that's it.]

Woah Dave! is a game that you don't want to get excited for. Any hype at all, even the slightest praise, might ruin your chance of getting into it. Ironically, there are plenty of reasons why some people can't help but be excited for Dave. For one, it's the latest game from Choice Provisions (formerly known as Gaijin Games), who have quite a large and dedicated following chomping at the bit for a new game from the studio. Not only that, but Woah Dave! has both an exclamation point and the word "woah" in the title, as though the game itself is excited that it exists. 

If you go into the game expecting to say "woah!" right away, you may be disappointed. Like Super Crate Box, Geometry Wars, or Samurai Gunn, it's not a game that works to impress at first. That makes it all the more surprising when you discover how deep, intense, and unpredictable this game of controlled chaos can get.

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Review: Sakura Spirit photo
Review: Sakura Spirit
by Brittany Vincent

The visual novel genre is multifaceted. It runs the gamut from awe-inspiring and horrifying (à la personal favorite Saya no Uta) to controversial (such as the excellent Kana: Little Sister). Others still are simple vehicles for debauchery and sexual desires involving women whose cups runneth over and devilishly handsome men. And that's awesome.

Those types of games are fun, perverse thrill rides that offer colorful characters, familiar tropes, and a waifu or husbando for everyone. I've completed dozens in my time, and I'm always on the lookout for great ones, whether they're fluffy romantic otome titles or hardcore guro sleazefests. But, like any other genre, they can be hit or miss.

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Review in Progress: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (Patch 2.4) photo
Review in Progress: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (Patch 2.4)
by Chris Carter

I still can't believe Square Enix salvaged the original Final Fantasy XIV. I mean, it had the guts to make the game a core entry, so I'm glad the studio reworked it into A Realm Reborn -- this whole saga is just really interesting to me.

The newest update is Dreams of Ice, featuring a Primal/Summon many fans of the classic series know and love, Shiva. It also brings along the typical major changes and content bits, as well as one of the biggest additions so far -- a new class/job.

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Review: Sunset Overdrive photo
Review: Sunset Overdrive
by Chris Carter

After booting the game up, it's apparent that Sunset Overdrive is the result of Insomniac Games going back to its roots. Before the developer was called upon to release the shades-of-brown-tinted Resistance and Fuse, it was known for the bright and exciting Spyro and Ratchet & Clank franchises, which were among the PlayStation's finest offerings for gamers of all ages.

Not only is Sunset bright and exciting, it's actually a good game too.

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Review: Dreamfall Chapters Book One photo
Review: Dreamfall Chapters Book One
by Alasdair Duncan

It wasn't surprising to hear that the long-awaited Dreamfall Chapters would be split into separate episodes -- it's in the name, really. Episodic adventure games are well established now, so in my mind, separating a new Dreamfall game into smaller chunks isn't a bad idea.

Book One starts at the end of 2006's Dreamfall: The Longest Journey so if you've been dying to see what happens to Zoë, Kian et al. then you'll be glad to have this story continued. Series newcomers might be left scratching their heads, wondering what's going on. Trouble is, this episode doesn't do much to help you understand what's happening. You're left wanting more.

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Review: Mind Zero  photo
Review: Mind Zero
by Brittany Vincent

At a glance, it's easy to look at Mind Zero and compare it to the Persona series given its art style and the narrative advertised within early trailers and promotional materials. And you wouldn't be incorrect in declaring that it borrows several elements from the popular role-playing series.

Still, it's unfair to call Mind Zero a copycat when its most fundamental elements are much different from the Shin Megami Tensei spinoff. That doesn't mean the game is actually all that impressive, however. Acquire and ZeroDiv's Vita RPG features an interesting premise, but in the end it's a weaker product than those that obviously inspired it.

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Review: Bayonetta 2 photo
Review: Bayonetta 2
by Chris Carter

Outside of Devil May Cry 3, Bayonetta is one of the finest action games of all time. The action systems were so clean, so precise, and so rewarding that it leaves pretty much everything these days in the dust.

Bayonetta 2 doesn't change a whole lot, and that's perfectly okay with me.

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Review: Fantasy Life  photo
Review: Fantasy Life
by Brittany Vincent

One of the biggest gripes I hear from friends interested in but hesitant to play Japanese role-playing games is that they're too "complicated." It's a sentiment I've never understood; several take great pains to be accessible and enjoyable to a wide variety of players. Unfortunately, my explanations of tropes and tried-and-true mechanics aren't usually enough to sway the potential players, and they're swept away by a title of a different ilk.

That's why Fantasy Life is such an interesting case. It takes familiar elements such as classes, grinding for XP, and character customization and distills them into something that can be digested by just about any type of player. Oh, and it helps that it's a lot of fun, too.

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Review: Pokémon Art Academy photo
Review: Pokémon Art Academy
by Brittany Vincent

Educational games that impart knowledge while remaining entertaining are certified rarities. Too often you're left with staggering amounts of informative material and meager side portions of "game" that contribute to a rather lopsided product.

Pokémon Art Academy is an interesting blend of both, with useful tips and tricks, drawing instruction, and helpful guidance for fledgling artists or those who simply want to learn how to draw their favorite Pocket Monsters. It's just like the learn-to-draw books you could pick up at the store, but with real-time feedback.

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Review: Shantae and the Pirate's Curse photo
Review: Shantae and the Pirate's Curse
by Chris Carter

I've always thought that Shantae is a bit of an underrated series. While WayForward can be hit or miss these days, I can always rely on their ability to craft a good platformer. Shantae: Risky's Revenge for the DSi is one of my favorite games in the genre, so naturally I gravitated towards the follow-up, Pirate's Curse.

While Curse takes a few steps back from the formula developed by its predecessor, it's still a great action-romp that any 2D fan can get behind.

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Review: Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth photo
Review: Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth
by Darren Nakamura

"Civilization, but set in the future on an alien planet." That is really all Firaxis and 2K needed to say to get people excited for the next entry in the long-running turn-based strategy series. There is a fair amount of new ideas to be found here: new systems to explore, new technology to research, and new obstacles to overcome.

But even with everything new, Civilization: Beyond Earth is still Civilization, but set in the future on an alien planet. And it is exactly as good as that sounds.

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Review: A City Sleeps photo
Review: A City Sleeps
by Nic Rowen

[Disclosure: Nick Chester, who is currently employed at Harmonix, previously worked at Destructoid. As always, no relationships, personal or professional, were factored into the review.]

It's a weird time to be Harmonix. It is hands down one of the most successful and influential independent developers of all time. It led the development and popularization of an entire genre of games over the last generation; who else can say that? At the height of its power, the company released a near-perfect game with Rock Band 3, and it's still just about the only studio to have ever done right by the Kinect.

But times change, the rhythm-game craze is over. All of those plastic instruments Harmonix built its name on are gathering dust in closets or bargain bins, and the masses openly celebrated when Microsoft took the Kinect out of the box. So what is Harmonix to do?

Go and make an old-school 2D shoot-'em-up, apparently.

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Review: The Legend of Korra photo
Review: The Legend of Korra
by Chris Carter

One of the biggest surprises of 2014 had to be the announcement of a Legend of Korra game, published by Activision and developed by Platinum Games. Yes, that Platinum Games -- the current master of action titles.

It's only been a few months since the reveal of said Korra game, and already it's out on just about every platform imaginable outside of the Wii U. While the core result is indicative of Platinum's seal of quality, it feels rushed in many ways.

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Review: Samurai Warriors 4 photo
Review: Samurai Warriors 4
by Chris Carter

While the Dynasty Warriors series is often heralded as the pinnacle of Omega Force's hack-and-slash catalog, the lesser-known Samurai franchise has been churning out some of the best games in the stable.

Based around the Sengoku era of Japan, Samurai Warriors mixes things up with unique offerings like ninjas, samurai, and historical figures such as Goemon Ishikawa and Musashi Miyamoto. If you can get past the repetition, Samurai Warriors 4 delivers another hearty helping of action the developer is known for.

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Review: Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved photo
Review: Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved
by Chris Carter

[Disclosure: Nick Chester, who is currently employed at Harmonix, previously worked at Destructoid. As always, no relationships, personal or professional, were factored into the review.]

Fantasia holds a special place in my heart. My wife and I both grew up playing instruments, and whenever a song comes on from the film, we get to share a little moment as Disney fans. Yes, PhilharMagic is one of our favorite attractions at Disney World.

So when I heart that Harmonix was making a Fantasia game, I got excited -- until I heard that it had at least one song by Drake in it. Of course, my full judgment was reserved for the finished product, and I found it to be a magical experience overall.

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