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Review: The Elder Scrolls Online photo
Review: The Elder Scrolls Online
by Chris Carter

It's been a long month in The Elder Scrolls Online, full of ups and downs.

At first, ESO wowed me unlike essentially any other MMO before it. Similar to Lord of the Rings Online but with much more bravado, the opening act of the game seeks to deliver a core Elder Scrolls experience that's worthy of the name, and at the start on a high-end PC, the world is just as astonishing as Morrowind, Cyrodiil, and Skyrim were for the very first time.

Although, once you reach level 15 or so the game slows down considerably, and the blemishes start to become more apparent. I enjoyed a lot of my time with The Elder Scrolls Online, but it's clear that it needs some more work before the console version drops.

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Review: Bound By Flame  photo
Review: Bound By Flame
by Brittany Vincent

What is the appeal of a role-playing game? A gripping, sometimes heartrending story that reaches into your very soul and doesn't let go? How about shallow level progression and a grind that won't quit?

Call me crazy, but sometimes I'm swept away by the promise of greatness and the allure of the completed skill tree. I just want to sweat and toil until I'm at the level cap. I want to enjoy a means to an end. Bound By Flame is that means to an end. It's rough around the edges; a discount Witcher, by many counts, but it also possesses a certain degree of playability that I find devoid in other, more polished outings. And for that reason, despite its many confusing design decisions and mechanics, I commend developer Spiders on a job medium well.

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Review: Hitman GO photo
Review: Hitman GO
by Brittany Vincent

Agent 47's steely gaze and austere demeanor are far too threatening to be properly translated to a stoic board game piece. That, and given the nature of the Hitman series revolving around stealth and murderous intent, a mobile game that distills the finer points of assassination into a kitschy series of diorama puzzles seems laughable.

And yet, here I am to sing the praises of Hitman GO, Square Enix's bizarre addition to the franchise. It's a minimalist series of wordless, ambient vignettes taking place inside virtual dollhouses dotted with tiny figures representing the hunter and the hunted. It shouldn't work as well as it does, but the end result is a satisfying blend of strategy and turn-based problem-solving that should appeal to a much larger demographic than that of the classic Hitman ilk.

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Review: Republique: Metamorphosis photo
Review: Republique: Metamorphosis
by Chris Carter

Republique started off with a lot to prove. As a Kickstarted stealth game featuring stars like David Hayter and Jennifer Hale, the project garnered an equal amount of high expectations and skepticism. The move towards an episodic format and a backer reward snafu further added fuel to the fire.

But after playing through Republique's second episode, it's very clear to me that they have a long-term gameplan for this.

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Review: Klipsch KG-200 Pro Audio Wired Gaming Headset photo
Review: Klipsch KG-200 Pro Audio Wired Gaming Headset
by Dale North

Many of the very same Klipsch gaming headphones we spotted at CES earlier this year are now here in our office, with the Klipsch KG-200 set being the latest to get our review treatment. 

While Klipsch has always been a big name in audio, with its products in millions of theaters and homes, the company is only just now getting into gaming audio (outside of the ProMedia 2.1 computer speakers, which have a solid following). Its first offerings are the KG-200 and KG-300 gaming headsets, with the main difference being that the latter is wireless. We went ears-on last week with the former, so read on for our full review. 

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Review: Sportsfriends photo
Review: Sportsfriends
by Chris Carter

Sportsfriends is another example of a last-minute Kickstarter save. Although it didn't look like it was going to get funded, fans came together on the final stretch and gave the game a chance -- which leads us into the PS3 and PS4 release this month.

So was it worth the wait? Well that depends on how much you want to play Johann Sebastian Joust.

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Review: Raiden IV: OverKill photo
Review: Raiden IV: OverKill
by Chris Carter

Back when the Xbox 360 was getting shoot-'em-up releases left and right, hardcore fans of the genre sprung at the chance to pick up Raiden IV for a whopping $40 price tag. The expensive nature of the game ensured that only the most dedicated of fans would pick it up, and as a result a lot of people missed out.

But that all changed this year when UFO Interactive decided to publish Raiden IV: OverKill -- an enhanced version of the game that comes in at a much easier to swallow price: $20. Like I always say -- shmups will never die.

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Review: Cambridge Audio DacMagic XS USB DAC photo
Review: Cambridge Audio DacMagic XS USB DAC
by Dale North

Before I tell you why you need this DAC or any other, let me tell you what it actually is. 

Think of a Digital to Analog Converter as an external upgrade for the circuitry of your audio device's innards. Every modern audio device, from your MP3 player to your gaming PC, has a little chip in it that takes the digital sound information and changes it into something you can hear; this chip is also a DAC. But the difference is that the external DAC, the upgrade, will be geared specifically for quality conversion, whereas the built-in one from your mass market device is likely just barely doing the job.

Spending even the smallest bit on a DAC will make appreciable changes in the sound quality of any of these devices, as sound quality is only as good as its source.

In short, get a DAC, plug it in, and enjoy much improved sound and music. Hear your headphones/speakers like never before.

That's exactly what the Cambridge Audio DacMagic XS USB DAC does.

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Review: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (PS4) photo
Review: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (PS4)
by Chris Carter

At this point, we've talked about the early-game mechanics of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, and the trip to level 50. Now it's time to really put out a final verdict based on everything patch 2.2 has to offer, up to and including the Extreme Primal bosses and other pieces of endgame content.

After everything is said and done, I'm still loving it just as much as I did while leveling. There's so much on offer here for just about everyone, and incremental patches add such a monumental amount of content that it's hard to keep up.

As long as you're willing to brave through a few shortcomings, A Realm Reborn is one of the best MMOs in years.

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Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 photo
Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2
by Chris Carter

Spider-Man games used to rule the roost when it came to licensed comic book properties. Spidey led the way in fact on the NES, and continued his streak into the SNES with classic brawlers like Separation Anxiety and Maximum Carnage, and one of my personal favorites -- the 1995 cartoon adaptation.

But ever since 2004's Spider-Man 2, developers have struggled to recapture the magic of what it means to swing about in 3D. While I saw a lot of hope in the first Amazing Spider-Man game, there's been an unfortunate drop in quality the second time around.

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Review: Destiny of Spirits photo
Review: Destiny of Spirits
by Chris Carter

After the free-to-play boom on the PC and mobile platforms, it's no wonder why major publishers want a slice of the pie. Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony have all tried their hand in the scheme, and some have been more successful than others.

Sony's latest attempt is Destiny of Spirits, a collection battle game of sorts that does a few things right, but mostly suffers from the same trappings as a lot of other games in the free-to-play market.

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Review: Daylight photo
Review: Daylight
by Caitlin Cooke

I've been an enthusiast of the horror genre ever since I laid hands on Eternal Darkness for the GameCube. Although not a fair comparison to many survival horror games since, I’ve understood what it takes for a game to creep under your skin and leave a lasting impression. Daylight, unfortunately, is not one of those games.

Daylight manages to hit every generic horror trope in a less-than-meaningful manner and with limited mechanics. Within the three hours of gameplay I did manage to find some scares, but they were few and far between and rarely left me wanting more.

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Review: Borderlands 2: Sir Hammerlock Versus the Son of Crawmerax photo
Review: Borderlands 2: Sir Hammerlock Versus the Son of Crawmerax
by Darren Nakamura

After one of the longest tails for a game on the last-generation consoles, Borderlands 2's DLC has finally come to an end. The fifth and final Headhunter pack is out, and it sends the Vault Hunters on vacation to the tropical Wam Bam Island.

This release was a bit overshadowed by the recent announcement of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, which focused attention away from Borderlands 2 and onto the next entry. However, it does not seem like Gearbox was intentionally downplaying Sir Hammerlock Versus the Son of Crawmerax. For better or worse, it hits about the same level of quality as the other four Headhunter packs, though it does take some of the better elements from them.

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Review: Life Goes On photo
Review: Life Goes On
by Darren Nakamura

In most games, as in the real world, death is something to be avoided. Often it is a learning experience, but that is used to teach how not to die next time. In Life Goes On, the gameplay centers on death, but its approach is one of utility and necessity. One man may die in order for others to succeed in the future.

As a puzzle platformer, the idea appears a bit shallow at first, but it leverages some great game design tenets to stay fresh throughout the experience. Though it begins with the simple concept of using dead bodies as stepping stones to cross spike pits, it is constantly introducing new puzzle elements to play with across its dense campaign.

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Review: FRACT OSC photo
Review: FRACT OSC
by Alasdair Duncan

Although FRACT OSC is a music game, it doesn't fall into the two distinct genres that we're used to seeing. It's neither a rhythm game like Rock Band, Elite Beat Agents, or Rhythm Heaven and nor is it a title that uses your own music to create gameplay, like Audiosurf or Beat Hazard.

In fact, the game FRACT OSC resembles most closely is the indie exploration game MirrorMoon EP, which strands you on a desolate landscape with very little clues about what you should be doing to progress.

FRACT OSC shares some of the same problems as MirrorMoon but once you've worked out its secrets, it becomes a game that's worth exploring.

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Review: Child of Light photo
Review: Child of Light
by Chris Carter

When Ubisoft revealed that it was working on an old-school JRPG with modern visuals, I was utterly surprised. It's not really in its wheelhouse, and the striking visuals of Child of Light were immediately apparent -- even more striking than either of the recent Rayman games, which utilized the same UbiArt engine.

Now that it's finally here, I'm pleased to say it looks even better in action, and I'm eager to see what the team can do with this formula in the future. 

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