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Impressions

Review: Fortified

Feb 04 // Jed Whitaker
Fortified (PC, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: ClapfootPublisher: ClapfootMSRP: $14.99Released: February 3, 2016 Fortified's story is quite familiar; robotic martians come to Earth and start destroying every living thing in their path, and it is up to four heroes to stop them. In this case, the heroes are made up of four different selectable characters ranging from a spaceman, a rocket scientist, a secret agent and, of course, a handsome captain of the team. For my playthrough, I chose to play as mostly the rocket scientist as she was the only female character available. Each character has special abilities that they can do for a brief time upon filling a meter, and the rocket scientist's allows her to fly around the map with endless clips of ammo and invulnerability. Her starting weapon is a grenade launcher that knocks enemies in every direct with each explosion, which is a nice way to delay the advancement of martians. Each level plays out in a varying number of waves of enemies. Before each wave, players have the ability to stage defenses along the path enemies will be following as they attempt to blow up your base, or, in this case, rocket ship. Some stages only have one rocket; others have multiple and if any of them are destroyed, the level is lost. During waves, players can freely attack with their weapons of choice which have unlimited ammo but varying reload times. After completing stages, characters gain experience points and upon leveling up gain points to unlock and upgrade weapons and defenses. Each character levels independently and has their own set of unlockables, though it appears there may be some crossover between characters. XP is only gained when completing levels for the first time on each difficulty, or by grinding the endless waves of Invasion mode, so you can't cheese the system and grind the first level to unlock everything quickly. This keeps the game from being a total cakewalk, but it certainly isn't hard. [embed]338092:62075:0[/embed] I was able to complete the 12 stages on offer without much of a challenge. I believe I had to retry three or four levels, but that was typically caused by loading into the levels without needed defenses. Specifically, early on in the game, I was given the choice between unlocking a couple of options, and I didn't choose the auto-turret that fires at flying enemies, therefore I got quickly bested in the next stage. Luckily, you can redistribute your points between levels as you see fit, and unlock the necessary equipment without any hassle. While there are two other difficulties available -- hard and the unlockable insane difficulty -- they don't feel like what I was hoping for. Hard limits you to 15 seconds between waves with a 15-second respawn timer, but otherwise felt the same as the normal difficulty. Insane only has five seconds between waves, enemies can kill you in one or two hits, and respawns are only at the start of each wave. The time between waves doesn't matter so much as you can place defenses whenever, nor does an extended respawn timer for the most part. Insane mode felt mostly unfair and cheesy. Multiplayer, on the other hand, is a bit more difficult in the sense that enemies take far more damage before keeling over. I would have preferred to see more enemies instead of having them be proverbial bullet sponges, but I guess this is intended to encourage players to work together -- if only players did that. Can't blame the developer for your teammates not communicating or working together, though. Overall the online experience was smooth, with no noticeable issues. Playing Invasion mode with a high-level character felt far too easy, as I was able to build enough defenses to sit back and let them do all the work for me. That said, it is a nice addition, but only has three different maps to play on, so unless you plan on using it to grind XP, I don't think it adds much longevity to the game. While 12 levels may seem like a low amount, it felt just right to me. The game didn't overstay its welcome and the levels were varied enough to remain interesting. Some of these levels have over 700 enemies to kill, with tons of them on the screen at the same time. Impressively, the Xbox One version didn't have any noticeable framerate issues or slowdowns, keeping a pretty nice 60-ish frames per second. While the graphics aren't all that spectacular, the art style stays true to the films of old that it is based on. As far as audio goes, get ready to hear the same song over and over, as apparently there can be only one. Somehow, I still found myself both humming it and hating it by the time the credits rolled. Overall, I enjoyed my time with Fortified, but it is hard to recommend as a single-player-only experience due to it being too easy, and with no split-screen on offer, you're going to have to make friends or play with randoms online. The entire story consists of three short cutscenes, so those wanting a deep narrative need not apply. If you're looking for a campy romp with some friends and a few thousand martians, though, Fortified is easy to recommend. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.] Fortified (PC, Xbox One)Developer: ClapfootPublisher: ClapfootMSRP: $14.99Release Date: February 3, 2016 If you're familiar with any of the campy 1950's sci-fi flicks, then Fortified's story will be quite familiar; robotic Martians come to planet earth and start destroying every living thing in their path, and it is up to four heroes to stop them. In this case, the heroes are made up of four different selectable characters ranging from a spaceman, a rocket scientist, a secret agent and, of course, a handsome captain of the team. For my playthrough, I chose to play as the rocket scientist as she was the only female character available. Each character has special abilities that they can do for a brief time upon filling a meter, and the rocket scientist's allows her to fly around the map with endless clips of ammo and invulnerability. Her starting weapon is a grenade launcher that knocks enemies in every direct with each explosion, which is a nice way to delay the advancement of Martians. Each level plays out in a varying number of waves of enemies. Before each wave, players have the ability to stage defenses along the path enemies will be following as they attempt to blow up your base, or, in this case, rocket ship. Some stages only have one rocket; others have multiple and if any of them is destroyed the level is lost. During waves, players can freely attack with their weapons of choice which have unlimited ammo but varying reload times. After completing stages, characters gain experience points and upon leveling up gain points to unlock and upgrade weapons and defenses. Each character levels independently and has their own set of unlockables though it appears there may be some crossover between characters. XP is only gained when completing levels for the first time on each difficulty, or by grinding the endless waves of Invasion mode, so you can't cheese the system and grind the first level to unlock everything quickly. This keeps the game from being a total cakewalk, but it certainly isn't hard. [embed]338092:62075:0[/embed] I was able to complete the 12 stages on offer without much of a challenge. I believe I had to retry three or four levels, but that was typically caused by loading into the levels without needed defenses. Specifically, early on in the game, I was given the choice between unlocking a couple of options, and I didn't choose the auto-turret that fires at flying enemies, therefore I got quickly bested in the next stage. Luckily you can redistribute your points between levels as you see fit, and unlocked the needed equipment without any hassle. While there are two harder difficulties available, the hard and unlockable insane modes, they don't feel like the difficulty I was looking for. Hard limits you to 15 seconds between waves with a 15 second respawn timer, but otherwise felt the same as the normal difficulty. Insane only has five seconds between waves; enemies can kill you in one or two hits, and respawns are only at the start of each wave. The time between waves doesn't matter so much as you can place defenses at any time, nor does an extended respawn timer for the most part. Insane mode felt mostly unfair and cheesy, but might be the best way to play if the difficulty doesn't scale with multiplayer; I hope that is the case. Playing Invasion mode with a high-level character felt far too easy, as I was able to build enough defenses to sit back and let them do all the work for me. That said, it is a nice addition, but only has three different maps to play on, so unless you plan on using it to grind XP I don't think it adds much longevity the game.
Review: Fortified photo
Domo arigato Mr. Martian Roboto
The 1950s were considered the golden age of campy sci-fi films, with aliens often invading Earth alongside giant animals, and, of course, robots.  Fortified tries to recreate the feeling of those films in a third-pe...

Review pending photo
Review pending

I shot martians to death and lived to tell about it in Fortified


Impressions of a solo playthrough
Feb 02
// Jed Whitaker
One part third-person cooperative shooter, one part campy 1950s sci-fi, Fortified releases today for PC and Xbox One. I've had the chance to play through the single-player mode and will be doing a full review once t...

Not a Hero nearly broke me

Feb 02 // Jordan Devore
I wasn't sure how I'd like cover-based shooting in a 2D game, going in, but in the case of Not a Hero, I'm quite fond. This isn't so much standing still, popping out to take a few shots, and retreating back into hiding as it is shuffling between safe spots to close the gap, sliding right next to (or into!) enemies, and racking up split-second kills. Think Vanquish more than Gears of War. Cover is plentiful, but you won't stick to it for long unless you're nervously waiting on your few precious health points to restock or your gun to reload. Death comes quickly and repeatedly, both for you and for the hundreds of criminals you're meant to wipe out across three city districts. A single hit can be enough, especially in the later Yakuza-ish levels with samurai chasing you down. That's where I started to lose my cool over the lack of checkpoints. It's also where Not a Hero almost broke me with two overly long, overly demanding levels. (The exact same ones Steven struggled with.) By the time I hit the credits, I felt exhausted, not accomplished or elated. Getting up to that point was great fun, though. Still an experience I'd recommend. The story isn't as successful. Basically, you're helping an anthropomorphic rabbit claim his rightful spot as mayor by, uh, killing loads of people. The tone is Internet Silly to the point of going way overboard, at times, and the humor didn't consistently land for me. But on the whole, I admire the effort that went into the presentation -- particularly the funny graphics in the interludes. Great tunes, too. The story is there, if you want it, but otherwise you're only a few button presses away from getting into that next level. As far as this specific port goes, I don't have much to say. Despite being a PC/Mac exclusive until now, Not a Hero has always struck me as something of a console-style, couch-sitting experience meant to be played with a gamepad. Aside from a couple instances of glitches (my character going invisible once; the occasional floating dead body), there wasn't anything out of the ordinary. Existing fans won't find meaningful extras in this version to warrant double dipping, but it is a solid port of a surprisingly fresh little game. I'm glad I found my way to it. Shame about the canceled PlayStation Vita port, though. Not a Hero would've fared well there. [This impressions piece is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Not a Hero PS4 photo
Impressions of the PS4 port
Thank you, Roll7, for reminding me what an utter joy it can be to slide around in video games. I'm not sure what I was so wrapped up playing last May, but it wasn't Not a Hero, the studio's cheeky side-scrolling take on cover...

Crashlands impressions photo
Crashlands impressions

Crashlands is much longer than it needs to be


I get it, let's move on
Feb 01
// Darren Nakamura
It's easy to settle into playing Crashlands. To start, it takes on the fairly well-trodden survival genre, where players start with nothing, punch some trees, harvest resources, and eventually build fantastic items. It most c...

Like solving puzzles with little to no help? INFRA might be for you

Feb 01 // Jed Whitaker
Long story short, some rich guy bought up a lot of businesses in town and financially bankrupted them and is in cahoots with the local government, or so I gathered in my time with the game. While I enjoyed a lot of what I played in INFRA, I also found that it isn't a game for me. So instead of doing a full numbered review, these are my impressions for those of you who would surely love it. Most of your time in INFRA will be spent solving puzzles involving buttons, levers, and even some platforming. When those things work, they work great, but other times it can almost feel like you're glitching the game. For example, at one point I came across a saw mill and couldn't find a way through it. I did, however, find some crates that were able to be picked up and stacked, so I did just that to get on the roof and jump across to continue the game. Was this the solution the developers had intended or had I just "cheated" my way forward? I have no idea. "I have no idea" is a great way to describe many of the puzzles. I like to think of myself as a person of some intelligence, yet many times I felt I was just randomly pressing buttons or levers till I stumbled across the solution. Other times I'd piece together tidbits of information found on stationary or posters nearby to give me an idea of how to complete a puzzle, but most of the time there was no hand holding, for better or worse.  INFRA runs on the Source engine, but it makes good use of it; crumbling buildings, murky water, vibrant caves, and green foliage stand out while not being wholly impressive. For an indie title from a team that no one has ever heard of, it gets the job done and didn't make me want to tear my eyeballs out. If anything the graphics not being top of the line and striving to be realistic help set the tone of a city falling apart. I had hoped for a story driven mystery, but the story presented suffered heavily from a shoddy localization with bad grammar abound. On top of that, INFRA has some of the most unintentionally funny and awkward voice acting I've heard in a game. Upon starting the game, you'll be greeted with a boardroom where your boss is going over assignments with you and coworkers, and everyone is fully voiced in a scene that I'd call the video game equivalent of The Room as seen below. That is a both a compliment and a complaint by the way. If the original trailer hadn't had such wonderful voice work that got me to play the game in the first place, I wouldn't be writing this, but I also kind of love how awful it is.  [embed]336879:62074:0[/embed] After six hours, I got to the point that I felt I couldn't be bothered with stumbling through any more puzzles by chance. I don't think INFRA is a bad game by any means, just not one that I'm not ready for. It made me question whether or not I'm stupid or if some of the puzzles just didn't make sense, but it was often enjoyable. If you're looking for an interesting take on the first-person adventure puzzle game that will make you scratch your head, this is for you. Otherwise, maybe wait for a sale.  INFRA launched on Steam with the first part of the game available now, and the second part to be released later this year for free. Judging by the very positive Steam reviews, you'll get between 12 and 15 hours out of what is currently released for $15.  [embed]336879:62074:0[/embed]
INFRA IMPRessions photo
Voice acting equivalent of The Room
Some games just hand out answers to puzzles -- if you can even call them that -- with numbers or solutions written nearby. While the first-person adventure INFRA does this a bit, it certainly isn't holding your hand most...

Li-Ming is a powerhouse in Heroes of the Storm, but not overly so

Jan 27 // Chris Carter
[embed]337067:62020:0[/embed] I took her for a spin in PTR this week, and I have to say I'm impressed. Her magic missile ability is really fun to aim, as it alters its skillshot path depending on the amount of heroes present. It allows for a unique kill potential that a lot of players won't be expecting when she's fresh on the roster. Her Arcane Orb is also really fun to use, especially on objective-heavy maps like Cursed Hollow. Throwing a few of those bad boys in will definitely disrupt things more than most characters, and if you score a kill, Li-Ming's passive refreshes your cooldowns. A five second cooldown on teleport also makes her quite the mobile character, especially on maps with lots of twists and turns to phase through. She's fun to play if you're quick with your fingers, as she can both chase and escape (or dodge) damage on a near constant basis. Think of her first Heroic as a modified Diablo Lightning Breath, as she remains stationary for an angled beam attack. It's damage on top of damage, and it works with her passive. But where Li-Ming falters is utility and crowd control. Unlike Kael'thas who has a killer stun, zoning Phoenix Heroic, and a similar kit, Li-Ming is pure damage. Her teleport is self-serving, as is her passive. Her second Heroic can be used as a minor zoning power of sorts with a forgiving 20-second cooldown, but it just isn't enough, and takes insane coordination to really set up a kill like a stun can. As a result, I think Li-Ming is in a good spot balance-wise. Sure she seems overpowered at first glance, but I can already think of a few counters, and she just hit the PTR. Since their debut, Artanis and Morales (the latter especially) have climbed in winrate, as Blizzard tends to favor newer creations first when it comes to balancing. As such, Li-Ming seems like a safe bet to buy when she arrives in early February -- at the very least, she'll be a competent pick. There's also a few big changes coming, as Nova and Rehgar have been completely reworked (nerfs and buffs respectively), and a ton of new stuff is on the way.
Heroes of the Storm photo
Up now on PTR
The last two characters in Heroes of the Storm have ended up with rather disappointing when it comes to rankings. After two weeks, Greymane is the fourth worst hero in terms of win-rate, and Lunara is the fifth worst. That's ...

The Witness photo
The Witness

The Witness has no need for impatient players, and that's awesome


Blow won't hold your hand
Jan 27
// Chris Carter
I've been playing The Witness for the past day or so. Although I don't like it as much as Brett (yet, at least) I think it's pretty damn great, and if you even remotely like puzzle games you should get it -- it's like a modern day Myst. In this era of instant gratification I suspect a lot of people are going to be turned off by it, but for me, it couldn't have come at a better time.
Minecraft photo
Minecraft

The Minecraft Middle Earth project is still spectacular, nearly six years later


'Put it out, you fools!'
Jan 22
// Chris Carter
I've been playing a lot of Minecraft lately, and part of that process involves checking in on past projects to see their progress. And you know what? The folks who are working on Minecraft Middle Earth are pretty damn ta...

Blade & Soul reminds me of TERA, which is both good and bad

Jan 21 // Chris Carter
From the screens alone, it's easy to see that Blade & Soul is a beautiful game, and that has translated very well into the localization. The western version even features fully-voiced cutscenes in English (even the screenshot feature gives you a vocal confirmation, with widescreen support to boot), which is a nice touch and adds to the already impressive in-game engine. I actually don't even mind the voice acting at all, but it's nice that said scenes can be skipped. Everything on the UI can also be customized, for those of you who yearn for full control. It's important to note that this is a free-to-play game, where real money purchases will net players items, more skill build slots, and extra character slots. "Premium Memberships" grant you increased XP, more gold, and in-game discounts. For reference, a 365-day membership costs roughly $125, and many bonuses are not cosmetic in nature, including faster death recovery time, crafting items, and the aforementioned XP and gold bonuses. The game is playable in its free incarnation without feeling like you're entirely missing out, but keep that all in mind. I'm surprised at how smooth the game runs in general, which helps as the combat system is more action-oriented than most games in the genre. Combat is much, much faster than most MMOs, sporting a full-on action system inspired by fighting games. The default control scheme uses left mouse button for standard attacks with a built-in combo of sorts, with right-click and additional buttons (1-4 by default) reserved for alternate abilities. Blocking and dodging is a key mechanic in Blade & Soul, which gives combat situations a lot more weight than your average MMO (just like TERA). Playing as the Blade Dancer class, I had to time my two-second block to essentially counter and riposte at the exact moment, which allows for even small skirmishes to be pretty engaging. Grinding for abilities actually has more of a point, as you're not just gaining new powers that are essential for a slugfest-based rotation, but situational abilities that can be used to gain a tactical advantage. I particularly enjoy sprinting, as it's done by pressing the shift key, instantly putting a pep in your step, while triggering an impressive super leap when jumping. The fact that you get a flying squirrel-like glide after a few minutes really drives home how mobile this game really is. The endurance meter is rather generous, too. [embed]335735:61948:0[/embed] Controller support exists, but it's not ideal. Face buttons are tied to abilities by default, which works, but additional tasks like talking to NPCs is triggered by pressing RB+RT on an Xbox controller. It's strange, and the developer really needs to take note of how well Square Enix translated Final Fantasy XIV with its cross-hotbar system for gamepads. After acquiring just a few new abilities, I promptly switched back to mouse and keyboard -- which thankfully can be done instantly without having to swap between the two in the main menu. Xbox One remotes work by the way, wirelessly and wired. Did I mention it looks great? Because from the very first moment I stepped out of the starting area I gazed up at a gigantic floating monolith, complete with breathtaking eastern architecture and flowing waterfalls. The designs for the supporting cast don't really stand out to me per se, but the actual models have so much care put into them it's crazy. Under that glitzy surface, however, is a tried and true old school MMO. Hours upon hours are going to be spent questing for menial items, and gathering bear pelts for some dude. It's...exhausting after doing it for years, but as someone who is always playing at least one MMO, it's something I'm willing to put up with to enjoy a good combat system, and possibly spark up some dungeon runs with friends. Like most MMOs these days there have been massive launch issues, though I first jumped in shortly after NCSoft added more servers to the game. Players are still experiencing long queues for the more popular choices and maintenance is happening on a daily basis now, but expect things to get better as more people trickle out of the game. In fact, it's noticeably better now if you haven't created a character yet and want to play on a new server. One thing that hasn't been fixed however is the major gold spamming problem in chat -- it's actually one of the worst cases I've seen in years (since the launch of Aion Online, actually), and NCSoft needs to address it immediately. At the moment I'm enjoying myself, but I'm wondering if I'll hit a grind wall like I have with many other Korean MMOs. Time will tell, but for now, it's fun.
Blade & Soul photo
First impressions
Do you have time for another MMO? NCSoft sure hopes you do, as the long awaited localization of Blade & Soul has finally arrived this week. It was released in Korea in 2012 and took the country by storm, and now, nearly four long years later, it's available in the West. I took it for a spin, and found a mix of both fresh ideas and stubborn legacy concepts.

Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is off to a great start, based on the beta

Jan 15 // Chris Carter
The biggest change I noticed immediately was the hub world, which the game grants you access to right from the start. It essentially consists of two giant bases (one for Plants, the other for Zombies), with a giant battlefield in the middle. Right now in the beta quests aren't enabled, but it was fun to just roam around in, as there's plenty of canon fodder to destroy and new areas to discover. Players can level-up in the hub it seems, breaking up some of the monotony of playing online over and over. You can also instantly switch allegiances and see how the other side lives. I'm hopeful for this element of the game in the finished version. In terms of the new classes, I'm rather impressed. Each army has three new playstyles, all of which add their own unique imprint to the metagame. On the Plant side I really enjoyed the Rose, which functions as a mage archetype, complete with a polymorph spell. The Citron, a tank-like character is a real game-changer with its shield, which can block sniper shots with ease for both you and your party. Kernel Corn is a bruiser of sorts, with limited mobility and the power to call in airstrikes. The Zombies have a lot of utility as well with the Imp, who is fast and fragile, but dual wields pistols and can call in the devastating mech power-up. Captain Deadbeard suits the Zombie playstyle just fine as a wildcard, who is more of a jack of all trades/master of none type deal, with long and short range abilities. Super Brainz is probably the wackiest of them all though, as he's a melee character that's seemingly based off of Bizarro with a host of different moves, including a hadoken. Of course, all the old favorites return, with four variants for every character, including the new classes. While microtransactions are in at launch this time (they weren't in the first game, but were added later), they seem to be par for the course, which basically means you can ignore them. Players will be able to buy coins for real cash, but those coins are handily awarded by playing the game, and according to EA "nothing you can't earn can be bought." The beta kicked off as of yesterday, and you can join in on the festivities until January 18. It's limited to just multiplayer and several modes, but the finished version will bring back the wave-based "Garden Ops" mode, as well as split-screen for "all game modes," as well as the ability for the second player to earn their own upgrades on their account. Barring a tiny amount of lag in a few of my matches, things seem to be going very smoothly.
Plants vs. Zombies photo
Plants or Zombies
It's a damn shame that Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare wasn't more popular. I mean, it did well enough for EA to greenlight a sequel, but many of my friends weren't keen on it because it looked too silly. Little did t...

I'm undecided when it comes to Heroes of the Storm's Greymane

Jan 12 // Chris Carter
[embed]333706:61834:0[/embed] His main gimmick is that as a human he operates as a ranged combatant, and in Worgen form, as a melee fighter. Every single one of his abilities is modified towards each style, like his Q, which throws a cocktail or swipes in a cone at enemies for human and wolf respectively. His W is a generic stat buff of sorts that grants you attack power, and E leaps backward as a Worgen, or forward as a human, altering your state. His Heroics are familiar territory, with a Worgen-centric "Go for the Throat" (that's, you guessed it, an aggressive lunge), or "Marked for the Kill," which is a lot like Tyrande's coveted mark ability to allow increased damage on targets. None of this feels particularly new, especially in comparison to some of the more interesting champions (ha) that have dropped in the past several months. Note that you can't actually shift between forms at will with a convenient passive -- rather, you're restricted to using your E. If you're a human, that means that you need a specific target to leap onto within the range of your circular ability. He also isn't all that exciting after you've grasped his basic moveset, as his entire strategy essentially boils down to damage. Now that's not inherently a bad thing as he is an assassin after all, but he seems to have no real synergy with a group, which is a problem in this stun-based teamfighting meta. Because of these reasons and more, he feels a bit limited and one-dimensional. My favorite thing about him has to be his E though, as it can also be used as in pursuit of foes, and when combined with his burst damage potential and cocktail toss, it's very easy to chase down stragglers and then retreat back into the night. Even with that nice bit of mobility though I'm likely going to fall back to other characters.
Heroes of the Storm photo
15,000 gold or $9.99
Greymane has hit Heroes of the Storm today, entering the arena as the only Worgen character -- the werewolf-like race of Warcraft fame. After an afternoon of giving him a shot though, I'm not super jazzed about fitting him into my normal rotation.

The Banner Saga photo
The Banner Saga

The Banner Saga feels at home on PS4


Barring a couple of control confusions
Jan 11
// Zack Furniss
Kyle plunged into the icy depths of The Banner Saga almost, aw jeez, exactly two years ago. Somehow I never took that same jump, even though vikings, strategy RPGs, and Oregon Trail all put together in a neat little box is My Kinda Thing. Now that it's on consoles, I've finally taken a stab at leading too many people too far across a land that's much too wide on PS4.

Looking at it like $13 DLC, the Shovel Knight amiibo is worth it

Jan 10 // Chris Carter
The primary function of the amiibo, as you may have heard, is co-op, but there's so much more to it than that. Tapping a figure to your GamePad base will in fact open up the "Custom Knight" character, which looks like the main hero at first glance, but is actually so much more. Instead of gaining powers by way of Relics and Meal Tickets, this hero levels-up as you play, and saves its data to the figure itself. Skills are granted randomly, and include both Shovel and Plague Knight powers, as well as a few extras. The extras are hefty too, as each Custom can equip a Relic (as well as swap between them with L/R like Mega Man X), a charge move, special effect (like a fire trail), gesture, color, and costume. It's literally like playing as a brand new character. As for co-op, it works very well. Two players share the screen, and if one hits a transition phase, the other will teleport to their location and begin the next screen. The game is designed so that most bonus areas and such are one screen, so you don't need be jumping on top of each other constantly. If someone dies, they can revive at any given time by taking half of the surviving player's health. In terms of jumping, players can actually boost off of each other vertically with a downwards thrust, and you can even enhance that boost by having the lower player leap in the air. It reminds me of the Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers NES game in all the best ways. Oh, and any supported controller can be used for either player (nice), and 10 challenges are added to the game as a result of the amiibo, including five that are specific to co-op play. So what are the aforementioned caveats? Well, to play with two Custom Knights, you'll need two amiibo. On paper it kind of makes sense (storing the information in separate figures, or as a form of DRM) but on another, it really doesn't (why can't the Wii U just store a local file?). Secondly, the Plague Knight campaign is not supported in any form, full stop -- so don't get too excited at the prospect of Custom and Plague joining forces. Though, it stands to reason that if the Shovel Knight amiibo is a smashing success, they could make more to suit the character roster. And I really hope they do, because it would make the game that much better. As far as $13 DLC goes, the Shovel Knight amiibo is pretty impressive. It not only adds co-op to the affair but it also re-ignited my interest in the single-player campaign with the Custom Knight. The concept of granting one individual character a level-up system is pretty unique, and since it rounds out the total roster to three, it adds even more content to this already packed game. At this point the Wii U has the definitive version of Shovel Knight.
Shovel Knight amiibo photo
There's a few caveats though
I managed to pick up a Shovel Knight amiibo yesterday for the US launch, and I couldn't resist giving it a go immediately on Wii U. Despite the fact that I've completed the campaign roughly 10 times since its launch (not counting the Plague Knight add-on), I was surprised to find that I fell in love with it all over again.

Heroes of the Storm's Lunara sure is fun

Dec 17 // Chris Carter
[embed]327377:61557:0[/embed] She also has a straight-forward set of moves. Her Q is a slightly delayed explosion, her W can be detonated after hitting an enemy with an auto-attack for an extra slow, and her E calls out a Wisp, which can be controlled for scouting. Her kit is fast and furious, and you'll be doing lots of constant clicking with slow cooldowns and poison, damage over time auto-attacks. Positioning is everything with Lunara, because while she can do a ton of damage overall, she's very squishy, and only has one proper escape outside of her raw speed. When it comes to Heroics, I favor her second choice (Leaping Strike), which is a two-charge attack that causes her to leap in the air over her opponent (rendering her unstoppable) for a quick damage spike. This is an escape of sorts, but it can also put you in harm's way if you leap incorrectly (watch the above video at 3:38 for an example). Her other Heroic is a tad less interesting, as it merely damages enemies in a straight line, and doesn't mesh with her mobile playstyle. As for her abilities, I tend to take a few specific ones every time, which increases her utility a bit. At the first level mark I pick up the skill that grants you vision for enemies during the auto-attack poison duration, which, when coupled with her Wisp, helps out your team quite a bit (especially if you're playing cloaked heroes). Speaking of the Wisp, I always take the skill that makes it cost zero mana and grants it a shorter cooldown period. That way, I can constantly use it to scout out camps or objectives -- it took me a bit, but I got in the habit of using it every time it was up, and micro-managing it around the board using the mini-map. It's really hard to tell if a character is balanced when it hasn't even been out a week yet, but Lunara is very fun to play, and my favorite new character since Kharazim. It's important to note though that she works better with planned out team compositions, as she has almost no wave-clearing ability or utility. She is a pure single-target damage dealer. And really, that suits my playstyle just fine.
Heroes of the Storm photo
15,000 gold or $9.99 ($4.99 with sale)
Lunara arrived in Heroes of the Storm this week, and I boosted her up to level 5 in one night alone -- she's that fun to play. As an assassin she's capable of tons of damage (I'm usually top Hero Damage in unranked play)...

PaRappa on PS4 photo
PaRappa on PS4

I'm glad I got PaRappa the Rapper 2 on PS4


What a delightful experience
Dec 16
// Jordan Devore
PaRappa the Rapper 2 holds up so well! As you might have seen, the PlayStation 2 rhythm game became available this week on PS4. It's a classic tale about a rapping dog with a lifetime supply of noodles who really just wants a...
Don't Starve: Shipwrecked photo
Don't Starve: Shipwrecked

My first five days in Don't Starve: Shipwrecked did not go swimmingly


Drowning, yes, swimming, no
Dec 11
// Zack Furniss
I've always wanted to do one of those 'survival diary' types of writings, even though that's hardly an original idea at this point. And what better time to start than now that Don't Starve: Shipwrecked has come to Steam Early...
Review: Gamevice photo
Review: Gamevice

Review: Gamevice for the iPhone


Like the Vita's controls for your iPhone
Dec 09
// Jed Whitaker
Mobile gaming is becoming closer and closer to console gaming, and with the line thinning the only thing missing is phones coming with dedicated controllers. That is where the Gamevice comes in, to try to fill that hole by turning your iPhone 6 into a fully-fledged gaming console. While it does the job well, it certainly isn't without some minor flaws.
Destiny Sparrow Racing photo
Destiny Sparrow Racing

Destiny's SRL Sparrow Racing is a middling and shallow diversion


Out for three weeks
Dec 08
// Chris Carter
Bungie laid out its plans going forward for Destiny today. Instead of providing full expansion-like experiences, they're going to be focusing on micro-events, like the Festival of the Lost Halloween activity at the Tower a fe...

Beyond: Two Souls is very much the same game on PS4

Dec 08 // Vikki Blake
Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe lead an otherwise unremarkable cast in the tale of Jodie Holmes, a seemingly ordinarily girl blessed - or cursed, depending upon your viewpoint - with an extraordinary secret. Abandoned by her adoptive parents (all the hallmarks of a superhero origins tale, I know) and essentially brought up by Dr. Dawkins, her parent-by-proxy at the paranormal agency at which she lives, Jodie’s tale is at once both a Teenager Simulator and an episode of the X-Files, her life inevitably dictated by the fiercely protective entity, Aiden, inexplicably linked to her. The story unfolds as we step into non-sequential chapters of Jodie’s life, watching - and occasionally orchestrating - the girl’s passage from child, to teen, to woman. The vignettes focus on the key moments of her life that shape both her growth and her relationship with Aiden, but also those rites of passages familiar to all of us who’ve rebelled (if unsuccessfully) growing up.   While Page’s portrayal of protagonist Jodie Holmes is perfectly fitting in a perfunctory kind of way, her story fails to resonate fully, possibly because the choppy, Lost-esque out-of-sequence storytelling means you rarely grow with her, your time together boxed into disparate adult/child/adult/child again chapters that feel oddly insular.  There’s also very little consequence to the decisions you directly influence. Regardless of what you choose to do - or don’t do - to your emotionally-frozen father or those assholes in the bar, the story marches on regardless, with only a handful of actions having a meaningful impact on the story before you.  It’s here where we welcome one of the PlayStation 4 version’s new, and most requested, features. If you were put off by the original game’s pick ‘n’ mix story delivery you can now choose to explore Jodie’s tale in the full chronological order. While the original time-jumping version is (naturally) still available, it offers a fresh take to those who who’d like to take an alternative - and perhaps more comprehensible - route to the game’s finale.  [Image courtesy of Digital Foundry] The original PlayStation 3 game occasionally spluttered with the weight of Quantic Dream’s boundary-pushing, but the PS4 remaster performs sweetly. Sony are keen to ensure we know about the 1080p rescale and enhanced graphics - which include motion blur, bloom, field of depth and boosts to the game’s celebrated lighting/shadowing effects - are what sit at the heart of this remaster, and to be honest, the game delivers here in every sense.  Whereas the PS3 version occasionally hiccuped with visual noise and juttery transition, for the most part, the PlayStation 4 version handles the strain with little discomfort. Two years ago there was little we could critique about the graphics (come on, it looked amazing on a near-end-of-life console) and now, able to compare the new with the old, we can see the tangible improvements. The lighting looks and feels organic, with the corresponding shadows smoother and more blended. Most marked perhaps is the introduction of camera-sensitive field-of-depth lens, a tool that naturally softens the fore- and backgrounds with beautiful results, albeit occasionally at the cost of sharpness.  Though it does run at 1080p, PlayStation 4’s version of Beyond hits that marker by compromising on your ratio, presenting a 1920x817 resolution with a cinematic framing. While the assets are left mostly untouched and recycled from the PS3 version, in some places - such as the Embassy, for instance - a side-by-side comparison (thanks, Digital Foundry!) shows that though most PS3 assets have been recycled, in some instances the graphics have been replaced or improved, with wallpaper and flooring textures in particular benefiting from the refresh.  As you might expect, however, the things that might have frustrated us the first time around - Aiden’s cumbersome control scheme, for instance, or the spoon-fed narrative waypoints - remain untouched. I didn’t enjoy my time operating as Aiden in 2013, and nothing’s changed. Aiden can now (kind of) communicate with you via the speaker in your controller, but if it’s designed to heighten immersion, for me it simply achieves the opposite. And once again, the possibilities here - your natural curiosity to explore as Aiden, perhaps, or your desire to take control of an undesirable - are curtailed. The pacing still feels mismatched and uneven, with some chapters whizzing pass in minutes, and others feeling like they’re been (unnecessarily) drawn out for hours ... particularly as the gameplay’s irregular prompts are sometimes painfully overt, whereas in others they’re frustratingly absent.  Also new, besides the spiffy graphics and all, is the Telltale-esque stats page at the end of each chapter. Though some may flinch at the spoilerific alternative story branches that hint at opportunities you may not have known was possible, for me, it gave a tantalising glimpse at the alternatives, and offers huge temptation to jump back in and replay alternative routes… as well as ascertain what were the popular - and not so popular - decisions taken by other players facing the same dilemmas. Whilst the things that bugged me before still annoy me, I wasn’t sorry that I replayed Beyond: Two Souls. Regardless of the execution, Beyond remains an ambitious project, and I’m all for developing playstyles that deviate from what what’s become the norm, particularly if doing so attracts hitherto “non-gamers” to our beloved pasttime. Quantic Dream’s stunning visuals and engaging narrative mean the game just falls on the right side of boring - it’s just the rehash of those QTEs and the curiously disjointed storytelling that frustrates, not the tale nor the presentation itself.   If you enjoyed it on the PlayStation 3 and relish the chance to revisit Jodie's story, now boosted by enhanced visuals and the new Experiments expansion - as well as the chance to live Jodie's life chronologically - then you won't be disappointed. But if you intentionally side-stepped Beyond: Two Souls the first time around, there’s probably little here that will tempt you back... particularly if you like your storytelling charged with meaningful agency. For those who missed out last generation and remain intrigued by Quantic Dream’s unique and ambitious game? I can’t say it isn’t pretty. It’s just a shame that that’s all it is, really.  
Beyond: Two Souls photo
It's pronounced A-DEN, Jodie, not I-DEN!
When Beyond: Two Souls released at the end of 2013, it epitomised not just the lofty ambitions of creator David Cage, but also the capability still lurking in the PlayStation 3’s ageing infrastructure. But whilst it&r...

PC Port Report: Helldivers

Dec 07 // Nic Rowen
Helldivers (PC)Developer: Arrowhead Game StudiosPublisher: PlayStation Mobile Inc.Released: December 7, 2015MSRP: $19.99 If you were foolish like me and never played Helldivers on the PS4 when it came out, it's a top down four-player co-op shooter with an emphasis on teamwork and coordination. You play as a squad of Helldivers, a group of all-purpose space-marines, representing the peaceful (and not at all totalitarian, xenophobic, or belligerent) world of Super Earth as they “defend” their sovereign nation-planet against the scum of the galaxy. Cyborgs, giant bugs, and robots all threaten the future well-being of Super Earth (by not giving up their resources and getting in line fast enough), and it's your squad's job to either bring them democracy or hot death (note: there is no “democracy” button on your controller, just a trigger). The titular Helldivers have access to all the typical space-marine gear: machine guns, flamethrowers, miniature walking mechas, as well as specialized “stratagems” that can be called in from headquarters to be airdropped into the field. Stratagems range from supply drops and reinforcement respawns, to orbital bombardments and quick-deploying auto-turrets. All you have to do is stop firing, take a knee, tap out a quick series of directional movements (think the Konami code, but for strafing runs instead of 30 extra lives) and toss out a drop beacon. A total snap while fending off never-ending hordes of flesh-devouring bugs the size of school buses, right? Of course, being the biggest badasses Super Earth has to offer, the Helldivers are the most lethal thing on the battlefield -- even to each other. If you're not accidentally clipping a buddy with a spray of machine gun fire, or (oops) crushing half of your squad underneath a poorly placed supply drop, you're not bringing democracy to the front lines hard enough. Helldivers plays collateral damage for laughs, and stacks the deck in favor of hilarious live-fire "happy accidents." Mostly, these quirks add to the charm of Helldivers and only get frustrating if you happen to be playing with a madman who can't keep his grenades to himself or seems to be executing squad members on purpose. [embed]324957:61443:0[/embed] Thankfully, multiplayer support on the PC version is every bit as smooth and easy as the PS4 version. Hosting a game or joining one in progress is effortless and linking up with friends or kicking a toxic player is just as simple as it should be. Helldivers features built-in VOIP (which is actually enabled as an open mic by default as I found out accidentally to my teammates delight and my embarrassment. You can, of course, set it to push-to-talk if you prefer) but there are also quick-response radio options ("roger," "negative," etc.) if you're the type that doesn't like to talk into a mic, but still wants to coordinate with the rest of the team. The game has a very breezy, low-commitment feel. Unlike other multiplayer games where you can get roped into long, shitty matches, it's easy to pull up stakes and move on to greener pastures in Helldivers. Loading screens are mercifully short, inventory management and menu dithering is curtailed by a brisk timer that starts to count down as soon as one person readies up (so you're not stuck waiting on that one guy who wants to try out every cape option he has before dropping), and the actual missions are fast paced, "get in and get out" affairs. After spending a lot of time with MOBAs and games like Evolve this year, where a bad match can handily flush a half hour of precious quality game time away, I've really enjoyed the speed and ease of Helldivers lobby system. To top it off, every round I've played in the pre-release beta has been nice and stable with nary a hiccup. As always, the full release will put the game to the real test, but I'm optimistic that it will do just fine from what I've seen so far. In addition to the standard PC release, there is also a Digital Deluxe version available for $39.99 if you want to go wild. It comes stuffed with a boatload of DLC weapons, stratagems, vehicles, and extra swanky capes if you want your Helldiver to look his or her best. Personally, I feel like the regular game has enough content to unlock and play around with that you probably don't need to jump into the deep end right off the start. Small DLC packs of specific weapons and items just like the PS4 version are on the way, so you can probably wait and just cherry pick your favorites for a couple of bucks if you really want a particular outfit (or personal mecha, you know, just as an example and not something I plan on picking up as soon as its available). This is a great version of a great game. Pick it up, get some friends together, and do your part to keep Super Earth free, happy, and secure (by making every other planet broken, miserable, and reduced to a pile of ashes). [This PC Port Report is based on a press beta build of the game which was provided by the publisher.]
Helldivers PC photo
Airdropped into my heart
Earlier in the year, Conrad Zimmerman gave the PS4 version of Helldivers his highest recommendation. He praised it for its brutal and unrelenting action, and its dedication to pitch-black humor and decidedly laissez-faire att...

The Curse of Issyos is the Ninja Gaiden of Greek mythology

Dec 05 // Ben Davis
The story of The Curse of Issyos follows Defkalion, a fisherman from Issyos who hears the voice of Athena warning him about a curse affecting the isle. Worried about the safety of his daughter, Defkalion hurries back home to protect his only remaining family member. On his quest, Defkalion will have to fight off hordes of monsters and giant bosses, including cyclopes, hydras, and minotaurs, with a limited arsenal of weapons. He can swap between a quick, short-range sword and a slow, long-range spear. I vastly preferred the spear myself, but the sword can be useful in certain situations. There are also arrows which can be fired by holding up and attacking, in order to pick off pesky enemies from afar. As usual for a Locomalito game, the biggest hurdle is the level of difficulty. He likes to use old-school difficulty mechanics. Players will need to beat the game with three lives and four continues, and finish each level under the time limit. Some extra lives can be found as well. It's a hard game, but it feels very fair. You have plenty of time to watch and react to new enemy types, and bosses tend to project which attacks they're about to use, so there's nothing that should really take the player by surprise. It's all about watching and learning, and then skillfully pulling off attacks at the right moment. I was able to make it all the way to Medusa's lair on my first attempt, but I never made it to the end. Victory seemed so close, though, I could feel it! The Curse of Issyos will be available December 15 for PC (or right now, for anyone who has donated to the developer), and can be downloaded for free over at Locomalito's website.
Curse of Issyos photo
More free games from Locomalito
The Curse of Issyos is the newest game from indie developer Locomalito, known for releasing a ton of cool freeware games like Hydorah, Maldita Castilla, and L'Abbaye des Morts. He started this particular project back in 2010,...

The Uncharted 4 beta is live, have a quick look at its tutorials and storefront

Dec 03 // Chris Carter
[embed]324044:61354:0[/embed] You can watch the tutorial for yourself in the video above, and skip to 3:20 for all of the menu junk, like the storefront, skins, taunts, loadouts, skills, and what have you. It's...okay so far. I played a bit of multiplayer from 2 and 3, but I never really got into all that much -- I don't see that changing here outside of a fleeting bit of fun. To check out the beta for yourself, you need a copy of Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection for the PS4. As of a few minutes ago though, there are some "session errors" being reported -- likely from a flood of people getting in after they realized it was live. Sony also will be reporting downtime on the official forums. We'll keep you updated if anything changes. For now you can just watch the tutorial over and over, haha.
Uncharted 4 beta photo
'Get yo drank on,' Drake
The Uncharted 4 beta is now live, and set to run until December 13. After it launched I was able to get in immediately, and was plopped into an intro section that showed off the new engine, as well as a few pointers for the m...

Dragon's Dogma runs wonderfully on PC

Dec 03 // Patrick Hancock
Tested on: Intel i7-4770k 3.50 GHz, 8GB of RAM, Geforce GTX 970, Windows 10 Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen is officially releasing on PC on January 15, so there will still be optimizations and tweaks between now and then. Honestly, though? I've encountered no technical issues whatsoever.  Here are the options included in the PC version: [embed]323834:61344:0[/embed] As you can see, the graphics menu has just about all the options players should expect, including a field-of-view setting. Playing with everything cranked up, I was able to run the game at a consistent 60 frames per second, including during the in-game cutscenes. As I mentioned, I'm only a couple of hours in, and nothing has gotten too crazy yet. Playing on a keyboard and mouse feels rather comfortable, and I'm generally not happy with third-person action games using this control scheme. The keyboard keys can be remapped, so if the defaults don't tickle your fancy, change them! The individual controller buttons cannot be changed, but there are six different control schemes provided. The game also automatically detects the controller (in my case, an Xbox One gamepad) immediately and even adjusts the button prompts. A small, but dedicated detail involves the screenshot feature. Players can pause the action and go into a specific "Share" menu option to get a screenshot (as I have done, above) to move the camera about and get a nice image. The PC version will automatically take a Steam screenshot when the Take Photo button is pressed. I expected the game to save it to some random location in My Pictures, but the developers went so far as to program Steam screenshots into this feature -- awesome! We'll have a full PC Port Report on Dark Arisen's official Steam release in January, but as of now, the outlook is very good!
Dragons Dogma PC photo
Smooth like butta
At some point, I downloaded Dragon's Dogma onto my PS3, but never got around to playing it. I'd scroll through and tell myself "some other day." Well, apparently that other day is the day it comes to PC. I hear tell that...

Battlefront DLC photo
Battlefront DLC

Star Wars Battlefront's Battle of Jakku DLC is just okay


But at least it's free
Dec 02
// Jordan Devore
Oh thank goodness, more content for Star Wars Battlefront. While The Battle of Jakku hasn't seen a wide release yet (that's happening on December 8), the free new DLC is now available for folks who pre-ordered the game. It's ...
Alienware photo
Alienware

One month later, the Alienware Steam Machine is still a nice accompaniment to the PC


But again, not a replacement
Dec 02
// Chris Carter
Back in October, I had the chance to test out the new Alienware Steam Machine's mid-range model (i3 Dual Core, 8GB DDR3, 1TB HDD), and was fairly pleased with the results. As the hardware manufacturer even noted before launch...

Lara Croft GO's new expansion is sadistic

Nov 29 // Kyle MacGregor
The team at Square Enix Montréal has been listening to feedback, and "The Shard of Life" expansion is targeted squarely at players who wanted something more complex out of the base game. Comprised of 26 new puzzles, the free update has a high floor in terms of difficulty, picking up right where the main story left off and ratcheting up the tension from there. The Shard of Life sees Lara descend into a new ancient burial chamber, the Cave of Fire, where she comes across a new obstacle, immortal enemies, en route to pilfering the grotto's hidden treasures. The invincible creatures can be stunned, but will eventually rise back to their feet (or insert turn of phrase that better applies to snakes). This adds a new dimension of challenge, requiring players to approach puzzles from different vantage points and hastening the window of opportunity for certain obstacles to be surmounted. In addition to adding a new dimension of challenge (these immortal enemies often make it so precise movements must be made, narrowing the window of opportunity for you to get by them), they inject a new element to puzzle solving, where their felled-bodies might hold a switch down, but only for a certain amount of time before they start moving again and alter the landscape. While I confess I wasn't among the virtuosos who completed Lara Croft GO without breaking a sweat, The Shard of Life never feels unfair. That said, I've probably spent more time dealing with some of the individual rooms in the add-on content than I did with entire stretches of the original game. It definitely has me thinking more, as each puzzle is a multi-step process with nary an easy solution. At times, there's a bit more mental gymnastics involved than I might have preferred, considering I was comfortable with the campaign, but it's difficult to get too broken up over some mild frustrations in a sizable, free update to an experience I already love and enjoy. If you've yet to try Lara Croft GO, it's currently 40 percent off via iTunes and Google Play for $2.99.
Lara Croft GO impressions photo
But I still love it
Lara Croft GO might just be my favorite mobile game of the year. Having played through the campaign twice now, I can safely say there isn't much I'd change about Square Enix Montréal's minimalist puzzler -- though...

Ghostbusters photo
Ghostbusters

The Ghostbusters board game is like a mini Arkham Horror


With multi-mission campaigns
Nov 27
// Chris Carter
Every so often we cover board games here at Destructoid, mostly from our tabletop expert Darren Nakamura. But when the opportunity presented itself to check out the brand new Ghostbusters game, I sprang at the chance. Ha...
CronusMAX Plus photo
CronusMAX Plus

The CronusMAX Plus V3 allows interchangeable PS4, Xbox One, and Wii U controllers


I put it to the test
Nov 26
// Chris Carter
For weeks now, readers have been asking about the CronusMAX Plus. With its grand claims of using "almost any controller on any console," a lot of people wanted to know if it worked, especially given the pricey $50 price tag for what essentially amounted to a fancy dongle. After some initial issues, it ended up taking me by surprise at how well it worked.

Batman: Arkham Knight's Catwoman and Robin DLCs aren't worth playing

Nov 25 // Chris Carter
[embed]322485:61248:0[/embed] At some point there was probably a kernel of a good idea with the Catwoman’s Revenge DLC, but ultimately, it feels rushed like the others. There's almost nothing interesting about the premise: Catwoman, one day after the events of Knight, wants to steal money from The Riddler, who is in jail. We get it, Catwoman likes to steal things, and there is no added depth for either character, nor is there any satisfying conclusion, mostly because the core villain isn't actually present outside of an interlude under the guise of a "prison phone call." It took me about 10 minutes, all told, across two challenge maps (one Predator, one combat), with one very short 30-second puzzle involved. Flip of a Coin is slightly better, but not by much. In this episode, Robin takes on Two-Face at some point following the retirement of Batman, with the help of Oracle by way of remote assistance. There's a slightly interesting dynamic afoot during the DLC, where Oracle assures Tim Drake (whom she is dating) that he can not only measure up to Batman's legacy, but end up coming out of it better than Bruce did. The [albeit mostly played out] duality of Two-Face is also shown quite well with a location that's half destroyed, and half pristine. But again, like every other episode before it, the sheer brevity of the adventure halts any meaningful discussion or character advancement. Players will basically auto-pilot their way through two small Predator maps and two combat rooms for about 20 minutes, all of which operate in the exact same manner as Knight. Unlike Catwoman, Tim feels exactly like Batman gameplay-wise, minus the bullet shield gadget from Arkham City, which is only used briefly during a very staged encounter. To add insult to injury, the final boss fight with Two-Face isn't a fight at all, but a quick one-button QTE. There also isn't even an ending tying together Tim and Bruce's relationship or narrative -- it boots out immediately after the QTE. If this is the last Arkham game from Rocksteady, the poor Season Pass definitely assists in tainting its legacy. There's almost nothing here of worth nearly five months later, and certainly nothing even close to justifying the $40 cost.
Batman photo
Holy Season Pass, Batman!
As I've said before, Batman: Arkham Knight's Season Pass is probably the one of the worst pass prospects in gaming right now. Besides an alright Batgirl DLC, there's a heap of mediocre challenge missions, sub-30 minute "...

A guided tour of Life is Feudal: Your Own's many, many loading points

Nov 23 // Joe Parlock
Our utterly fascinating journey begins when entering a multiplayer server. I chose a heavily populated one (around 60 out of 64 potential players), and was treated to a nice, incredibly lengthy loading screen. But that's alright, the loading screen taking the better part of five damn minutes isn't a problem! Just take a look at those suave jet blacks and those imposing yellows as they come together beautifully in a visual feast slap bang in the middle of the screen. Isn't it just delightful? Note how the relevant information. such as how close the loading is to being complete, is relegated to being dark grey text on the black background. It’s a bold move that screams “I’m absolutely taking form over function, but when your form is as sweet as mine who really cares, eh?” Now I know what you might be thinking: this piece isn’t technically a true loading screen. But don't you worry, we're accepting of all hangups, slowdowns, waiting periods and roadblocks here! Look at this abstract art dancing around the screen. Look at how those blues and whites gently give way to a more rustic and earthy brown. You may have mistaken this for a delicious artisinal blueberry muffin, or maybe a painting by Johan Sebastian Mozart himself. In reality, this is  actually the world popping in incredibly slowly all around you! Unable to move, all you can do is stand and absorb the waves of colour as they cascade over you. You may have already sat through the initial loading screen, but Life is Feudal loves to just spoil you with how much waiting you're allowed to do before having to play the game! With time, those lighter areas might’ve gradually become a tree or a patch of grass, but in those few minutes it was something so much more: it was a discussion of the nature of reality, and the futility of seeking perfection. All I can describe it as is ‘inspiring’. And now we come to the main event, the one I've been most eager to show you. To do literally anything within Life is Feudal, you are rewarded with this low-key progress bar, slowly scrolling from left to right. Want to chop a tree, make an axe, or even just pick up some grass? Don’t be silly, nobody wants to do that, we all just want to gaze longingly at the progress bar in all of its sluggish, beige splendor. Some critics might argue that this bar is a metaphor for the unyielding capitalist society we find ourselves in, where even the smallest and most insignificant of actions requires hard toil. Life may be feudal, but does it really need to be this difficult? Alas, the beige progress bar seems to suggest so. And so here we are at last, the very end of our tour, and the thing that I believe might well be the most exciting statement Life is Feudal's makes. Should you ever find yourself tiring of the artistic genius that is the game’s many loading screens, and should you ever want to to stumble wearily away from the deep philosophical questioning of its progress bars, Life is Feudal will leave you with one parting message: life is nothing but waiting. Our fascinating journey begins when entering a server. I chose a heavily populated one (around 60 out of 64 potential players), and so got to sit through a nice, minutes-long loading screen. Look at those suave jet blacks and imposing yellows coming together beautifully in an absolute visual feast slap bang in the middle of the screen. And look at how the actually relevant information is relegated to being dark grey text on the black background. It’s a bold move that screams “I’m absolutely taking form over function, but when your form is as sweet as mine who really cares, eh?” Now this one isn’t technically a true loading screen. However it will become clear in time why I’ve included this in our tour. Just look at this abstract art dancing around the screen, merging blues, whites and browns. You may have mistaken this for a delicious artisanal muffin, but it’s actually the world popping in incredibly slowly. Over time, those lighter areas might’ve become a tree or a patch of grass, but in those few minutes it was something so much more. A discussion of the nature of reality itself. All I can describe it as is ‘inspiring’. And then we come to the main event. To do anything within Life is Feudal, you are treated to a low-key progress bar, slowly scrolling from left to right. Want to chop a tree, plow a field, or even just pick up some grass? Don’t be silly, nobody wants to do that on this tour, we all just want to gaze longingly at the progress bar in all of its beige splendour. Some critics argue that this bar is a metaphor for the unyielding capitalist society we find ourselves in, where even the smallest and most insignificant of actions requires hard toil. Life may be feudal, but does it really need to be this difficult? Alas, the beige progress bar seems to suggest so. And so here we are at last, the very end of our tour, and the thing that I believe might well be the most exciting statement Life is Feudal makes. Should you ever find yourself tiring of the artistic genius that is the game’s loading screens and wanting to stumble wearily away from the deep philosophical questioning of its progress bars, Life is Feudal will leave you with one parting message. That is right, my most esteemed guests. Even closing the game and ending your presence in their world will give you another wonderful loading screen. Hauntingly similar to the first, yet instead of the welcoming bearded gentlemen bringing you into his world, you are given a dragon-headed longboat to guide you far, far away. I hope you enjoyed your tour of what might be the most poignant, emotive piece of digital art created this decade. Truly, Life is Feudal is an artistic cornerstone, a piece to be held up for generations to come who seek to learn how to most effectively waste a player's time.
Life is Feudal: Your Own photo
This game has to be performance art
Life is Feudal: Your Own finally released on Steam last week after a hefty period in early access. The idea is great: take survival sims like Rust and The Forest, and add a pinch of Mount & Blade to make the ambitious med...


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