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10:45 AM on 12.05.2014

Harmonix returns to classic rhythm-action with Amplitude

Before the folks at Harmonix Studios put themselves on the map with Guitar Hero and Rock Band, it was known for the cult hits Frequency and Amplitude. Blending fast-paced rhythm-based action with mesmerizing visuals and ...

Alessandro Fillari


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Evolve is about more than just monster hunting photo
Evolve is about more than just monster hunting
by Kyle MacGregor

"Hopefully, nobody has any questions about Hunt," Turtle Rock co-founder Chris Ashton said, his eyes darting around a cloistered room flush with press. "We've been talking about that forever!"

Over the past several months, the humble, long-bearded design director has ceaselessly detailed this one fragment of the experience, holding his tongue about just about every other facet of the asymmetric game of pursuit. In that moment you could see it on his face, a shy glimmer of excitement to, at long last, reveal something new.

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Narcosis: Hallucinogenic, ocean floor terror photo
Narcosis: Hallucinogenic, ocean floor terror
by Steven Hansen

I said it when I checked out Amnesia developer's SOMA early this year, but we could do with some more games set underwater. It's a scary place. There are goblin sharks down there, damn it. And you don't even have to go deep down to terrorize. Jaws spooked a generation. 

The ocean is like space, but with more horrifying, alien, living organisms to kill you. Opposed to the flashy, bright monsters of SOMA, Narcosis is aiming for a (somewhat) more realistic terror. 

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The Talos Principle makes me feel smart and dumb photo
The Talos Principle makes me feel smart and dumb
by Darren Nakamura

Back at E3 2014, I got a brief chance to get my hands on The Talos Principle while talking to one of its writers Tom Jubert (FTL: Faster Than Light, The Swapper). In the presentation, Jubert explained the intended approach to discussing philosophy with the player, but I was only able to get through a few puzzles.

With its retail release scheduled in less than a month, I have had some more time to spend with Croteam's first-person puzzler. So far, it has made me think hard, both about the solutions to puzzles and its thoughts about sapience.

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If you like spaceships, Fractured Space could be your jam photo
If you like spaceships, Fractured Space could be your jam
by Steven Hansen

The makers of Strike Suit Zero are increasing the scale of their space battles with a new game, Fractured Space, which features 5 vs 5 matches between massive ships.

The newly minted Edge Case Games, comprised of Strike Suit's same Born Ready folks, had this to say: "Above all else we want to transmit a sense of scale to the player - the feeling of participating in a massive space battle inside their own titanic capital ship, blasting apart enemy ships and working together with other players to achieve a common objective."

I talked with Edge Case Games CEO James Brooksby at Game Connection Europe about, "the game that was in [his] head when [he] was 14." 

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Inside My Radio is a rad rhythm-platformer photo
Inside My Radio is a rad rhythm-platformer
by Steven Hansen

There are things to consider when it comes to playing music in public. Are you in an open space, perhaps a park, with enough distance between you and others so that your tunes don't dance on over into unwilling ears? Are you busking bad Dylan covers with your acoustic guitar? Is your music good? Mine is, which is why I drive windows down with confidence, going between Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Tribe Called Quest.

I mean, who could object to me playing this for the entirety of a two-hour car ride? No one, because I was driving alone. 

Here's a good and easy rule, though. Stop playing music on public transportation over your cellphone speakers. You are trapping people with your music, but also at horrible sound quality. I'd much rather someone be rocking a Radio Raheem boombox then sit through the equivalent of someone letting their ringtone keep on because they like the song. 

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Dungeons II takes a humorous approach to being the bad guy photo
Dungeons II takes a humorous approach to being the bad guy
by Alessandro Fillari

Being the bad guy has its perks. With an entire force of orcs, goblins, and other nasty creatures at your bidding, more gold you can count, and a near infinite supply of dark magic at your disposal -- it seems like you've got things pretty much handled in your conquest of the world. But fate seems to have other plans. And with a snarky disembodied voice mocking you and narrating your journey, it certainly looks like your quest for power will be a lot more difficult than you thought.

This is what you can expect in the upcoming sequel to Dungeons. During a private session at a press event by Kalypso Media, I got to spend some hands-on time with their upcoming Dungeon Keeping/RTS hybrid title Dungeons II, that aims to take a light-hearted and comedic approach to being the evilest villain in all the land.

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Crookz brings 1970s style and swagger to heist gameplay photo
Crookz brings 1970s style and swagger to heist gameplay
by Alessandro Fillari

What happened to the style and cleverness that came from heist thrillers? I remember watching films like Ocean's Eleven and Thief, that had little to no action or shooting. But now, these high-pressure and tense moments just seem like over the top spectacles. Due to the success of Grand Theft Auto and Pay Day building entire gameplay scenarios around such high-pressure and intense moments, it's likely that 'heist' is now synonymous with shooting and explosions.

But what about the methodical and low-key approach to pulling off such crazy scores? Well, that's what the developers at Skilltree Studios have in mind for their take on pulling off big scores. With Crookz, they seek to take a different approach to heist gameplay, while doing it in authentic and funky 70's style.

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Majestic Nights should be taken away in an unmarked van for its own good photo
Majestic Nights should be taken away in an unmarked van for its own good
by Nic Rowen

I dig espionage stories. Faceless government agents running amok, corporate interests dominating the nation's politics, scruffy retired spooks pulled in for "one last job"; I eat that stuff up.

So I was excited when I heard about Majestic Nights, a conspiracy driven, episodic adventure game set in a neon-soaked hyper-'80s, a la Hotline Miami. I was hoping for John le Carre meets Scarface. What I got was X-Files fanfiction meets a game I don't want to play.

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Halo 5: Guardians has left me oddly cold and worried photo
Halo 5: Guardians has left me oddly cold and worried
by Abel Girmay

I am not opposed to change. While certain circles of Halo fans find it popular to hate Halo 4, I've always appreciated what 343 Industries did with that game. Sprint was a logical next step to character movement, while loadout abilities such as shielding, dexterity, and promethean vision felt like natural additions to Halo's formula.

With Halo 5: Guardians, well, I'm not quite so excited with what 343 is doing. During my time with Guardians I often struggled to find that feeling of playing a Halo game.

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Mushroom 11 is the next great puzzle-platformer photo
Mushroom 11 is the next great puzzle-platformer
by Jordan Devore

Everyone I know who's tried Mushroom 11 won't shut up about how good it is. After clearing the first two levels today in a preview build, I'm joining them. 25 minutes well spent.

This is a puzzle-platformer unlike any I've seen before. You guide a green blob through a post-apocalyptic world -- up cliffs, through tunnels, over toxic sludge -- by erasing parts of it. Each time you click on the ooze, you'll trim its cells and fresh replacements will pop up somewhere else; do this enough and it'll start to move (though not always in the exact direction you want).

It's fun to aimlessly "push" the blob forward across the ruined world, but traversing obstacles requires careful planning, quick improvisation, or both. In one puzzle, I anchored the organism to the perimeter of a cave suspended above lava and chipped away at it in such a way that a makeshift limb stretched down and left toward solid ground without falling straight to its fiery doom.

A later section, a boss fight against a giant mutant spider, involved launching the blob off a seesaw and navigating up and around the creature's jabbing arms. Sequences like this are frenetic. You have to rapidly erase cells to maintain momentum but you can't overdo it; the blob won't rematerialize mid-air. Brute-force attempts at puzzle solving proved futile by the second level.

All that said, I'd recommend watching footage or, better yet, playing the game yourself next year on PC/Mac/Linux (pre-orders come with a preview). It's tough to convey what makes Mushroom 11 such a treat in text, but pick it up and you'll understand the appeal in seconds. Tell your friends.

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Here's how Halo: Combat Evolved's PC multiplayer looks on Xbox One photo
Here's how Halo: Combat Evolved's PC multiplayer looks on Xbox One
by Bill Zoeker

At a recent Xbox event, I got to play a bunch of multiplayer stuff in Halo: The Master Chief Collection. I was caught off guard when we were suddenly dropped into the online multiplayer for Halo: Combat Evolved's PC version, which was added to this Xbox One anthology to compensate for the original Xbox version's lack of online play. Naturally, when I posted this video on YouTube, there were a bunch of angry comments from people who got confused and thought of tricking them into thinking The Master Chief Collection was on PC to scam clicks because they have trouble comprehending sentence structure. Sigh. Anyway, Halo is cool.

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Resident Evil: Revelations 2 brings the mystery back to survival horror photo
Resident Evil: Revelations 2 brings the mystery back to survival horror
by Alessandro Fillari

There's certainly been intrigue surrounding Resident Evil: Revelations 2. Since its existence was leaked a few months back and several cryptic images of a derelict prison made the rounds, there has been speculation about what to expect from this installment. And, with the return of characters from other titles, there is evidently a larger focus on linking things back to the series' past.

Its predecessor, Resident Evil: Revelations, felt very much like a back-to-basics approach to the series, which earned a lot favor from fans. With the upcoming sequel, more characters from the past are brought back to the forefront and are drawn into a greater conspiracy. Obviously, this isn't entirely new for the franchise. However, with the greater focus on mystery in Revelations 2 and how Capcom plans to release the game in episodes, it could give the series a much needed change of pace. After Brett's hands-on time with the sequel back at Tokyo Game Show, he was left unsure of what to expect from the game. And, judging from my own time with it last month, that might be for the best.

This is one title you might want to go into blind.

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Crescent Bay gives me hope for the consumer Oculus Rift photo
Crescent Bay gives me hope for the consumer Oculus Rift
by Steven Hansen

I've had some fun with the first and second iterations of the Oculus Rift, but it's mostly a novelty I don't want to spend extended time in, especially if it's not a genre suited to the Rift. Anything in a cockpit works well, naturally, because you lose the need for incongruous simulated walking mechanics.

The Crescent Bay demo Oculus showed off at Games Connection Europe is a huge step forward, though there are still some issues, including movement. Crescent Bay ups the screen resolution, adds 360 degree field of view, and motion tracking. 

With Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe saying of the consumer Rift package, "We're getting very close. It's months, not years away, but many months," I'm a bit more comfortable with the notion, even if I'm still not sure what the Rift has to add to non-cockpit, traditional gaming experiences. 

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This War of Mine is a harrowing journey of survival photo
This War of Mine is a harrowing journey of survival
by Alessandro Fillari

War, what is it good for? For starters, it makes for easy entertainment in fiction. With the rise of war games over the last two decades, it's common to see these experiences as nothing but an over-the-top spectacle to show off explosions and the might of the military. But in recent years, we've begun to see more games that pay attention to the philosophical and existential conflicts related to war.

One of my favorite last-gen games, Spec Ops: The Line, subverted expectations by reintroducing the horror and dread that war imparts on those it touches. And with last summer's Valiant Hearts, which told the stories of men and women during World War I, I'm glad we're seeing more of the human and emotional side of armed conflict.

Back at PAX Prime 2014, I had the opportunity to experience another such title called This War of Mine. Meeting with the developers at 11 bit studios, I got to chat about the origins and intentions they have with their survivalist take on war.

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Whoa! Final Fantasy Type-0 HD is pretty fun photo
Whoa! Final Fantasy Type-0 HD is pretty fun
by Steven Hansen

Look, you can't blame me for turning a blind eye to Final Fantasy Type-0. Why hurt and labor and want over something you can't have? At least not a videogame, of which there are alternates and substitutes plenty.

Elliot Gay knew what was up. He played it on PSP. He sought out the unlikely HD remake, which we are somehow getting in the United States of America next spring, and played it at TGS.

What Square brought to Paris Games Week was a similar demo. Three playable characters partied up, a large area to run through. I'm just here to tell you what Elliot already knew. This game is pretty cool. Maybe Final Fantasy XV could be good.

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