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Review: Hatred

May 28 // Chris Carter
Hatred (PC)Developer: Destructive CreationsPublisher: Destructive CreationsReleased: June 1, 2015MSRP: $19.99 To be clear, I don't have an inherent problem with Hatred. We've seen far, far worse in terms of the video game medium -- in this very generation with Grand Theft Auto V's playable in-game torture scene. Or even Ninja Gaiden III's new "cutting" system, where enemies scream in agony as they're sliced into multiple pieces of flesh. The obvious difference here is that a lot of the targets in Hatred are civilians, which put people on edge. But really, plenty of mainstream action titles have more nuanced takes, killing servicemen and women, officers of the law, and yes, plenty of civilians. Where Hatred partly fails is that it doesn't really make any meaningful statements in regards to its violence. That that it needs to, mind, it kind of just "is." The main character (who is not named) hates the world, so he's going to take down as many people as he can before he dies. That's basically it. He starts in his neighborhood, then branches out across the surrounding area, using various forms of transportation to do it. I suspect there are going to be thinkpieces spouting up across the 'net after release, but don't expect anything as interesting as the ones that were spurred by Hotline Miami playthroughs -- another ultraviolent romp. All the while, he's ranting pseudo-philosophical nonsense. The developers have noted that he isn't trying to quote or channel anyone in particular, and boy can you tell when he says repeats tired phrases like "dust to dust" and "the death is waiting." Half the time you can't even hear what he's saying over the sound of gunfire and explosions. Nothing about the presentation is memorable outside of the distinct visual style. [embed]292912:58710:0[/embed] As a shooter, Hatred is fairly impressive (outside of the sparing terrible vehicular controls). Destructive Creations clearly has a knack for the genre, which makes the fact that it decided to create this lifeless world more disappointing. Shooting feels responsive, and the control scheme is easy to pick up and play, especially on a controller. I don't like that there isn't a toggle option for sprinting (you have to hold it down, which hurts your thumb after a while), but aiming, including the precision-aim system that provides an imaginary laser sight while holding the trigger, is spot-on. Visually, Hatred is somewhere in-between unique and messy. The grey sheen generally looks great, but it does get old after a few levels. Plus, you'll want to jack up the gamma considerably, as the playable character tends to get lost in the fray. Individual objects are all rendered with care though, and the destruction system allows you to do things like craft new exits by blowing through walls. There isn't a whole lot to do in those worlds though. It's level-based, and most missions boil down to "kill [x] number of civilians, then kill [x] number of police, then escape." There's a few unique levels like a sewer chase with the SWAT team or a linear stage taking place on a moving train, but most of them follow this same principle. The train scenario in particular presents some interesting possibilities, in that random civilians on-board are armed. It's often hard to pick them out of a crowd, and if a gun drops, they'll run to pick it up. That mission only lasts a few minutes though, then it's onto the next generic hub. Seriously, that's about all the game has to offer.  I also encountered a few bugs while playing, including disappearing bodies, wonky physics that caused some deaths, and a few fatal game crashes. Several levels were also mislabeled in the level select screen and sometimes, mission objectives wouldn't calculate correctly. The crashes in particular really hindered my playthrough, as they were all at the very end of a level, which forced me to replay them from the start. If it weren't for these issues, it would be a decent twin-stick shooter. Developer tools are evidently going to happen which may allow more interesting levels, but haven't been provided at launch. If you're curious, here's a full video rundown of the options menu. There's nothing really special about Hatred. It's a twin-stick shooter. It has guns in it. It has objectives. Most of the time those objectives involve acting like a menace to society or blowing stuff up. It doesn't have anything new to bring to the table, or anything interesting to say about the genre. You can go back to yelling at it now if you want.
Hatred review photo
Do you hate it?
When Hatred debuted, I pretty much kept quiet. No one can really win in that situation, when the explosion of opposing viewpoints was at its loudest. I decided to wait until the finished product was out and play it for m...

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Very Quick Tips: Splatoon

May 28 // Chris Carter
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Splatoon tips photo
Jelonzo is the coolest
Just because Splatoon is a light-hearted online experience, that doesn't mean that it lacks depth. Here are some tips to help you along the path to ranked dominance.

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Twitch

Twitch bans streaming AO games


No watching Twitch streams of Hatred
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Review: Starless: Nymphomaniacs' Paradise

May 27 // Alissa McAloon
Starless: Nymphomanics' Paradise (PC)]Developer: EmpressPublisher: JAST USAReleased: May 11, 2015MSRP: $39.99 After a slow introduction typical of visual novels, Sawatari arrives at the Mamiya Mansion for his job interview. Almost right away, he encounters the ridiculously busty residents of the mansion. Seriously, the chest sizes of the women range from massive to gargantuan and their outfits leave very little to the imagination. What variety the women lack in cup size, they make up for in personality. Each has distinctly different motivations and fetishes, all of which are showcased regularly through their interactions with Sawatari and the other servants around the house. Even during the initial job interview, each of the three Mamiya women find creative ways to expose their own individual kinks. Starless doesn't drip feed players the smut. It takes place across 14 days, but the first day alone crams a lifetime of anime pornography into a few short hours. During the job interview alone, Sawatari gets handjobs, footjobs, blowjobs, roofied, drugged with horse aphrodisiac, handcuffed, peed on, sat on and then peed on. The list goes on. Seriously, by the end of this first sex sequence I had complied a list of well over 15 different sexual acts the women forced on Sawatari. Each and every one of these acts are accompanied by various sloshing and slurping sound effects that are likely to haunt your dreams, in the not-sexy way.  Oh, and by the end of all that he was still a virgin.  If that three hour introduction scene wasn't enough of an indicator, Starless suffers from horrible pacing issues. Beneath all of the perversion and overly graphic sex scenes lies an actually interesting plot line filled with deeply fleshed out characters. Unfortunately, it's hard to enjoy the story itself during the constant onslaught of sex. Typos and grammatical errors frequently plague what little worthwhile dialogue there is, which can straight up ruin the experience if you're anal about that sort of thing. Yes, tons of erotic content should be expected in an adult visual novel, but the sex scenes just drag on and on. After round one, characters waste no time and quickly go back for seconds and sometimes thirds. Frequently they won't even mix things up. A 20 minute long blowjob will be followed by another, identical 20 minute long blowjob. Even when the encounters get creative and downright weird, the game still feels the need to repeat the exact same scene multiple times in a row.  Starless is focused on showing off some very extreme fetishes, which results in some understandably over-the-top scenes. But so much content, so early in the game just drags on. Rather than build any anticipation for future scenes or plot advancement, Starless just throws the entire experience directly in your face. Progressing through each day becomes more a chore than it should be. On a massively positive note, the dialogue is every bit as outrageous as the sex scenes. Some of the puns and wordplay are equal parts masterful and deeply disturbing. The line "semen would go great with a side of wasabi and soy sauce" takes the gold medal. It might just be the best line in this thing. Starless also takes some hilariously appetite-ruining liberties with food metaphors. I won't go into details here, but let's just say that I won't be eating yogurt for a very long time.  I'd like to say that I spent a week playing Starless: Nymphomaniacs' Paradise because I play anime porn games for the plot, but at the end of it I felt overworked and underpaid. Many of the sex scenes just went too far, too long, or both and more often than not the sex itself was less than consensual. The game tries to dodge the label of rape by drugging characters until they beg for sex, but the sleazy misdirect only makes the scenes feel even worse. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Starless review photo
Nothing can save you now
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