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Extended Rise of the Tomb Raider video is way better than the E3 trailer

Jun 22 // Steven Hansen
This goes along with bigger tombs, either secret ones or ones on the narrative path. At one point Lara came up on an abandoned Cold War installation, which was apparently one of the game's "hubs" that contain quest givers, crypts, secrets, and story missions. There are also "systems that celebrate Lara's intelligence and archaeological background." Reading documents and murals throughout the ancient world gives Lara more experience and improves her proficiency, allowing her to uncover greater secrets. Like the secret of immortality hidden in a lost city beneath a lake, which Lara is fighting evil organization Trinity to get to. One other major gripe I keep having with the snow-ridden portions shown off is that Lara refuses to zip up her jacket and instead keeps showing off that cute infinity scarf. On top of that, no hat or gloves despite that fact that you lose heat fastest through those extremities. Bad guys, too, are not appropriately bundled for Siberian winter. [embed]294565:59186:0[/embed]
E3 preview photo
E3 preview
I was beefing a bit with Rise of the Tomb Raider for its heavily scripted sequences in which you hold forward on the analog stick as the game just sort of nonthreateningly happens around you (except for when a brutal cutscen...

Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash is a shockingly good time

Jun 21 // Jed Whitaker
Most of the time Chibi will be exploring levels looking for a plethora of hidden items, be them collectibles or upgrades that power up or extend his plug whilst solving platforming puzzles. Occasionally you'll be fighting bosses, whipping them to their demise. The Chibi-Robo amiibo included with the game can be used to power up the character and make it a bit easier. There are also other purposes Nintendo isn't letting us know yet, or so its Treehouse stream seems to allude to. While the game runs on both the 3DS and New 3DS hardware, currently amiibo can only be used on the N3DS as the adapter for the original 3DS line is still missing in action -- but it's expected to arrive sometime this year. Fans of both Metroid and platformers will want to pick up Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash. It may be linear, but it is the closest thing to Metroid Nintendo is releasing this year and the platforming is great. Nintendo has promised a great deal of collectibles that will take some time to 100%, so maybe by the time you're finished there will be a new proper Metroid game announced. As if.
Chibi-Robo preview photo
Zip it good
Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash for the 3DS seemingly came out of nowhere and captured our hearts, or at the very least mine. Nintendo describes it as a "whipping platformer," which is a phrase I'm not familiar with. But after playing, ...

Need For Speed is back with double spoilers and customization galore

Jun 21 // Jed Whitaker
While the cosmetic customization in the build I played was deep, it was nowhere near as in depth as the beloved Need for Speed: Underground. The car tuning was fantastic and simple enough for a none car guy like myself to understand. There is a slider that allows you to make cars control more like modern games in the series (drift handling), or more like classic games in the series (grip handling). You can also manually adjust features of cars to make them control as you see fit.  Hundreds of events are scattered around a large open world, and players just need to pull up and hit a button to start the event. Other players can fill out the roster as competing racers. Completing the events advances one of five stories based on different types of driving: speed, style, customization, hanging with your crew, and messing with the cops. It is still unclear how exactly these stories will be advanced, but story is rarely important in racing games. Need for Speed is looking like it really could be the definitive game in the series. Get your hype engines revving. 
Need For Speed preview photo
Definitive version of NFS
The upcoming Need for Speed doesn't have a subtitle because it wants to be the definitive game in the series, according to Craig Sullivan of Ghost Games. The developers have cherry picked the best parts of the previous subtit...

Persona 4 goes full Miku in Dancing All Night

Jun 20 // Kyle MacGregor
This is all a set-up for a rhythm game, where the spotlight shines on Atlus composer Shoji Meguro's infectious tunes, including some new tracks to go along with remixes of old favorites.  Persona 4: Dancing All Night's gameplay is reminiscent of Sega's Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA series, which makes sense given the tiles were both created in part by the same studio, Dingo. Unlike the Project DIVA games, where the notes fly in from off-screen toward the center, Atlus is taking the opposite approach with Dancing All Night. Star-shaped objects appear and fly from the center of the middle of the screen toward six points on the outer edges of a ring, all of which correspond to parts of the D-pad and individual face buttons. As rhythm game veterans know very well, how you time your button presses as the notes fly into these zones will impact how well you score. There are various levels of difficulty to select between, so fans of the genre can challenge themselves while those just looking for a new Persona story can breeze through the stages with less resistance.  As you tap along with the beat, familiar faces like Kanji and Chie will groove out to the music on the Midnight Stage while Shadows look on the in audience. Eventually, the stages will culminate in a Persona summon, which I got a real kick out of. Seeing (the main protagonist) Yu's partner Izanagi jam out on a bass guitar put a big smile on my face. Atlus also showed us the game running on a PlayStation TV, which might be a tad more challenging than playing it in the palm of your hands on the Vita depending on how far away you sit from your screen. Since we were pretty close to the monitor during our demo, this required us to rely heavily on our peripheral vision, which added a layer of challenge. Whether it's an RPG, fighter, or rhythm game, more Persona is always a good thing in my book and seeing Persona 4: Dancing All Night in action this week at E3 has me no less excited about the game. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing more of it when it finally launches sometime this fall.
P4D preview photo
Just set it free and dance!
It's been months since the Investigation Team cracked the case and life is getting back to normal. That is, until members of Rise Kujikawa's J-pop group suddenly go missing. And, surprise, surprise: The rescue mission brings ...

Mother Russia Bleeds is a brutal throwback to classic brawlers

Jun 19 // Alessandro Fillari
Set in an alternate universe where the USSR has been crippled with crime and drug abuse, leaving society in an ever-present dystopian fugue-state, a group of street fighters take it upon themselves to fight back against the criminal element. Addicted to mysterious drugs in syringes that enhance their abilities, they'll have to use their skills to take down the Russian mafia, the powerful government, and a secret society of sexual deviants to exact revenge on those that have laid waste to the motherland. While the plot is pretty standard for a beat-'em-up, the story gets damn dark throughout. What's interesting is that you're not necessarily a good guy -- just a lesser shade of grey roaming the streets. The presentation does a great job of pulling you into this twisted world. Much like Hotline Miami, it uses dark and hypnotic lights to set the tone, and also manages to mess with your head. There were several points where I really tripped by the visual style. And I mean that as a good thing. The style is trance-like, and once it gets you, it doesn't let go. Much like the classic titles Mother Russia Bleeds pays homage too, its controls are largely easy to get into and remember. With a combination of heavy and light attacks, including grab and dash moves, you'll be able to take out the various enemies trying to rush you down. You'll also find weapons and gear in the field, such as bats, guns, and bar stools. Moreover, each character possesses their own moveset and stats. Out of the three characters available, I chose Boris, a seemingly homeless brawler with serious speed. With his moves, I made quick work of the mobs. Oddly enough, friendly fire was enabled by default, which made battles hectic but also irritating. Thankfully, you can turn it off (unless you're in need of an extra challenge). With that said, there are a number of cool additions to the traditional mechanics. The syringes that the fighters possess grant them buffs for periods of time. When used, the screen turns dark and the fighter on his high will gain super speed and increased strength. Also, they get access to a unique fatality, which instantly kills one enemy. They're brutal and satisfying to pull off, but you'll sacrifice the remainder of your buff period. Also, syringes are used to heal yourself and revive downed allies. Though if you're running on empty, you can sacrifice some of your own life to revive them. Playing Mother Russia Bleeds was a trippy experience. Though there were a number of odd quirks they'll have to iron out before released, I was very pleased with what I played. We also got a peek of some upcoming features outside of the story mode. Along with Boss Rush, challenge missions, Arena, and Versus play, the developers plan on giving the people the total package. I got the sense that this was made from folks that loved the genre, and with their aspirations to help revitalize the brawlers, I can say fans will find a lot to admire here.
Devolver Digital photo
Launches on PC, Mac, and PS4 in 2016
One of my favorite types of games from back in the day was the side-scrolling beat-'em-up. Though the sub-gene has sorta evolved into more standard and narrative-based action games, I still feel there's more to be done with t...

Crossing Souls is a stellar tribute to the 1980s

Jun 19 // Alessandro Fillari
Set in a small town during the summer of 1986, a group of friends stumble across an ancient artifact that allows them to connect with the world of the dead. Interacting with ghosts of former residents, both long-past and recently departed, they begin to learn that things are not what they appear to be in their boring, quiet town. But soon after, they discover that several forces want control of the relic for themselves, and they must evade police, the U.S. government, and other supernatural entities in order to keep it out of their hands. The developers behind Crossing Souls cite '80s films and TV, along with '90s video games like EarthBound and A Link to the Past as their major sources of inspiration. During my half hour with the game, it was clear that this was a love letter to the era. It not only exudes style channeling the playful rebelliousness of E.T. and The Goonies, but also the sense of adventure found in SNES action/adventure titles. Stylistically, it's a charming game featuring VHS-esque distortion during many of the animated cutscenes. And with music from Timecop1983, one of the Internet's more well known Snyth-Pop artists, Crossing Souls pulls those nostalgia strings hard, and it does so in an evocative way. As the group must keep the balance between the world of the living and the dead, they'll have to explore both realms simultaneously. Each of the five friends possess their own strengths, which necessitates switching between them. Some have certain skills for climbing and heavy lifting, while others have access to ranged attacks. While exploring the town, you can freely interact with the folks from both the living and dead realms. It's completely open, and you can uncover side-missions and events that will have you explore the furthest reaches of town. My favorite part of the demo was exploring the town square and seeing ghosts from the past comment about 1980s culture. It was interesting to see the changes between the two. In one world you could be relatively safe in a populated area, but in another you might get swarmed by vengeful ghosts looking to attack anything alive. Also featured in the game will be an Arcade mode. Throughout your adventures, you'll come across mini-games and special encounters that will have you take part in a trial of wits and timing, and after they're completed you can play them again at any time within this mode. During one segment, I had to evade the police on my bike in style very reminiscent of Battletoad's infamous speeder bike sequence. Thankfully, this one was a lot more fun and less stressful. I wonder what else the game has in store. The mini-games were a cool diversion from the core gameplay, and I'm sure most players will find one they'll gravitate to. I wish I could've spent more time with Crossing Souls. I'm a huge admirer of 1980s culture and entertainment, and it hit all the right nostalgic notes. This was totally the type of game any '80s and even '90s kid would want to experience, and it recalled all the cool moments I had playing video games or watching cartoons back then. Fourattic channels that sense of wonder and awe of experiencing something so fresh and charming. I can't wait to see more from this title in the coming months, and with its release next spring, you'll get to re-experience an era of exuberance soon.
Devolver Digital photo
Releasing on PC and Mac in spring
In recent years, Kickstarter has opened the doors for a lot of developers looking to make things happen. It's a real pleasure to see titles that would've never been greenlit by publishers find an audience willing to put up ca...

Frictional Games' SOMA brings true horror to PS4

Jun 19 // Alessandro Fillari
[embed]292979:58725:0[/embed] In an underwater research station, you play as an engineer, Simon, who must uncover the mysteries behind the disappearances and deaths of the crew. After finding himself alone in an unknown part of the station, he discovers that things have taken a turn for the worse as machines begin inhabiting human characteristics. Some robots have even gone rogue after merging with the biology of the deep, and will hunt down anything they find. Using his own resourcefulness and whatever gadgets he can find, Simon will have to evade these horrors to reach safety. Following the school of design found in Amnesia: The Dark Descent, the player will not have any weapons at their disposal to take on whatever creatures they encounter. And gadgets and other support tools to help evade the creatures will only do just that. The name of the game is evasion, and hiding behind crates or other furniture scattered around is usually your best bet. Much like studio's previous title, this can make encounters incredibly nerve-wracking. Though my session only had one real encounter with one of the deep-sea abominations, I got pretty tense during it. That sure made solving the puzzle to escape more challenging. The environment is an interesting setting as well. The underwater research facility is dank and in disrepair, and with the horrors of the deep seeping into the facility, it feels like an industrialized take on the Lovecraftian aesthetic. While venturing through the halls of the station, you'll come across the bodies of workers that still possess clues and other secrets. As each member has in internal black-box installed, you can experience their last moments in audio-log form. It's a clever take on the mechanic, and it does a lot to flesh out the story as well. Though I only had a brief session with SOMA, I found the developers made something that felt like a more natural evolution of Amnesia -- a continuation of the same hide-and-seek-style horror that many fans loved. And in such a rich setting, surprises are in store. Without saying too much, there's a lot more going on with the character's journey and his surroundings than you might think.
SOMA preview photo
Releasing September 22 for PC and PS4
Even though it doesn't seem that long ago, it's been five years since a group of indie developers struck it big with the release of Amnesia: The Dark Descent. The game became a hit with players looking for...

Elite: Dangerous for Xbox One adds new multiplayer mode

Jun 18 // Alessandro Fillari
With its recent launch on Xbox One, Elite: Dangerous has seen immediate success on the console. Boasting over 500,000 active players, the community is very active and passionate about the game. The developers stated that though PC and Xbox One players can't play with one another, the economy and active-narrative within the universe is consistent with shared, which makes the universe feel more alive than ever before.During our presentation, we got to witness the upcoming multiplayer content, the Close Quarters Championship. Taking place in instanced arenas around the known universe, players will be able to take their best ship and compete with others in a variety of different modes ranging from Deathmatch, Team-Deathmatch, and a altered take on CTF called "Capture the Datasphere". As they level up and acquire currency, they'll be able to upgrade their multiplayer ship and build it up to be a top dog within the CQC. All upgrades made in CQC will only be available for multiplayer. The developers felt the mechanics and systems within the multiplayer were unique and required an extra boost, and that players can already acquire a massive amount of content within the open universe.Though the content is only set for Xbox One as of now, players on PC can expect to see it sometime later this year. The developers felt that the Xbox community was the best place to test out the new mode, given the existing player community that loves their MP content. Speaking of which, the Xbox One version of Elite has developed quite well. As it's in beta presently, the developers are still working on new features and tweaks to the port. One of the proudest accomplishments they had with the development of the console release was that they were able to place all the mechanics into the controller without watering down the gameplay. The controller utilizes context-sensitive prompts and hold-button options to bring up new options. It's pretty clever, given the scope of the original title.If you're interested in giving Elite: Dangerous a shot, and don't possess a beastly PC to do so, then the Xbox One release is your best shot. Currently on discount, this port retains all the best elements of the game, and might even make it a bit more accessible for those who may have been scared off by the scope of the PC title. And with new content coming to console first, there's plenty incentive to give it a go.
Elite: Dangerous photo
Launches in July, PC later this year
As one of the most well-known Kickstarter titles, Elite: Dangerous has really become a massive and seminal title within the PC community. With an entire universe to explore, built to scale according to the developers, they pr...

Total War: Warhammer changes the game of war

Jun 18 // Alessandro Fillari
Moving away from the historical settings of Rome and Attila, the Warhammer lore opens things up considerably for some intense and incredibly over the top action. Set in the high-fantasy universe, players will be able to choose one of four factions (Empire, Greenskins, Dwarves, and Vampyre) and build their nations, either through diplomacy, economics, or the raw might of their military forces. When things come to blows, each faction possesses its own unique style of combat and tactics that the opposing armies will have to deal with.The combat mechanics during battles have been greatly expanded. Units can utilize more moves and abilities from close range attacks to long-range tactics through magic or muskets. Along with the Hero characters, which can be leveled up and imbued with new skills to boost their units, players will be able to summon monsters and other creations to help their armies in a pinch. During one battle between the Empire and Greenskins, one of summoned a massive spider known as Arcanarok, which spawned mini-spiders that mowed down enemy units. I was very impressed with the sense of scale and the pace. I'm interested in seeing more of what the units can do once developed further.Rest assured, the nation-building gameplay from past titles is still present in Warhammer. But naturally, how each of the factions will go about expanding its civilization will vary. As each faction possesses its own unique culture, traditional diplomacy and negotiation may not be as effective as the swing of an ax, and some factions will be more focused on engagements than others. For the Empire, it'll have the traditional and more civilized routes for expansion with politics, trade, and economics as its biggest tools. But when it comes to showing off military might, the Empire will utilize its siege cannons and Demi-grifs to lay waste to invaders.For the Greenskins (Orcs), players will have to use brute force and cunning to expand their own empire. As Orcs don't really have much interest for diplomacy and the political aspects of nation-building, they choose the more direct approach to get what they want. While they possess the standard warrior and shaman classes, the latter who can utilize spells to summon giant constructs to stomp their foes, they also make use of kamikaze goblins that use leather wings to fly into enemy units. Launching catapults, they can be manually aimed while in flight for precision targeting.While the title is in pre-alpha, and the build we saw was hands-off, I was incredibly impressed with what I saw. The new visual aesthetic and a rich setting offers so much potential for what the Total War series can do within the fantasy genre. As you can spend countless hours with just one faction, building them up and taking down opposing forces, I'm very interested in seeing how much lore they can fit into this title. Though Creative Assembly was very hesitant to share any details about the Dwarf and Vampyre factions, it was very clear in stating that all of the factions will be very developed and possess their own unique cultures that will alter how they function on the world stage.It's still a ways off, but the folks at Creative Assembly are on track with developing something unique. Obviously, it's quite a departure for what the series has done before, but it's still very much a Total War title through and through.
Total War: Warhammer photo
Creative Assembly changes the scenery
The Total War series is known for its focus on intense real-time combat and simulation-based nation-building gameplay. As one of the more historical games, the series has garnered a lot of respect from fans and many critics a...

Transformers: Devastation made me feel like a kid again

Jun 18 // Mike Cosimano
[embed]294389:59150:0[/embed] Transformers: Devastation takes place during Season 2 of the cartoon, right before the 1986 film. That's just one example of the attention to detail Platinum has applied to the game. They've even based generic enemies on the obscure Jumpstarter figures, a visual reference that earned a sizable grin. All your favorite characters are back too, with their original voices. Peter Cullen is unlikely to relinquish the Optimus Prime crown any time soon (despite having been outclassed by both David Kaye and Garry Chalk years ago), so he's still hanging around. Dan Gilvezan, the original Bumblebee, is back in the game too, delivering a solid performance. However, the death of Chris Latta has deprived us of Wheeljack, resulting in a competent sound-alike. The game has five playable characters: Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Sideswipe, Grimlock, and Wheeljack. During the demo, we got our hands on Optimus Prime and Bumblebee. Although the characters feel different, there's a consistent undercurrent there -- a good sign of a solid combat system. Although this may come as no surprise to Platinum fans, Devastation's combat is simultaneously flashy and responsive. Even Bumblebee's light attack looks like it hits hard. Transformation is even incorporated; during a combo, players can transform into a car and ram into their foes, only to transform back and keep the combo rolling. This even works in midair. For example, during an enormous boss fight with the combiner Devastator, Optimus rocketed toward Devastator's head in truck mode before turning into a robot and smashing the Decepticon's face in with his Energon axe. This kind of spectacle is exactly what I was imagining on the floor of my living room, all those years ago. There's one thing in particular that stood out to me when I saw the game, and I think it perfectly encapsulates just what makes Devastation special. Optimus has a special attack where he transforms into a truck, summons his trailer from nowhere, drifts it into his foe, and then transforms back as the trailer disappears. Optimus Prime's disappearing trailer is a Transformers inside joke that's been turned into an attack in this real video game. Yeah, Transformers: Devastation plays like a dream. But it's nice to see one of my favorite franchises treated with the respect I believe it deserves. This truly is the Year of Cosimano.
Transformers: Devastation photo
Combiner Wars
Much like every other adult with an unhealthy love of The Transformers, I spent a good portion of my formative years on the floor, plastic robots in hand, crafting elaborate scenarios from whole cloth that would pit my diminu...

Mobile Tomb Raider Lara Croft GO feels lovely

Jun 18 // Kyle MacGregor
[embed]294301:59143:0[/embed] At first glance, Lara Croft GO bears a strikingly close resemblance to Square Enix Montréal's first effort. It echoes the quiet, clean aesthetic of Hitman GO, while featuring similar turn-based puzzle design, but pushes the concepts further. Fresh elements like verticality quite literally add new dimensions to the experience, and go a long way to making this feel like a legitimate Tomb Raider. The characters are no longer static figurines, as the designers felt it wouldn't be natural for Lara, a character known for her athleticism, to be portrayed in such a rigid fashion. So while our heroine is still navigating an on-rails obstacle course, she's fully animated, looking very much at home as she climbs and scrambles around ancient, subterranean ruins. Perspective is also used to great effect, with the isometric camera allowing the developers to add little flourishes like a silhouetted beetle crawling along a tree branch in the foreground, or see a bridge appear in the distance when Lara toggles a switch. Square Enix Montréal is also keen on avoiding unnecessary hand-holding. The title's 40 levels (which are quite a bit larger than those found in Hitman GO) are based around trial and error. With each stage now divided into segments with checkpoints, new mechanics can be introduced and then used in rather sophisticated ways in short order without a loss of progress.  One example of this is terrain that will fall away when walked over or climbed across twice. Shortly after being introduced to this by falling to my death, I was using it to evade an enemy. Knowing a certain surface would crumble away, I used it to lay a trap for the giant lizard nipping at my heels.  Not all of the obstacles I saw were quite that compelling, though. While it was a rush to see an Indiana Jones-style boulder trap, the turn-based nature of the game makes this sort of scene less compelling than if were to play out in real time. Still, what I've witnessed thus far has me eager to see what else awaits in the full game. Lara Croft GO is coming to iOS and Android devices sometime later this year.
Lara Croft GO photo
Small in scale, but no less impressive
Square Enix Montréal possesses a genuine talent for artfully distilling series down to their essence. In 2014, the developer released Hitman GO, a turn-based deconstruction of IO Interactive's stealth franchise, w...

Hideaki Itsuno talks his return to DMC with Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition

Jun 18 // Alessandro Fillari
It's been more than seven years since the release of DMC4 back on PS3 and Xbox 360 back in 2008, and things have changed quite a bit. During that time, Itsuno choose to begin work on his passion project, an open-world Action-RPG title for consoles, which eventually became Dragon's Dogma. The sprawling role-playing game was one of Capcom's most intensive projects, and was largely met with acclaim. Though sometime after its release, the opportunity to return to the series presented itself, and Itsuno was keen on giving the series another go. "Once the original DMC4 production was over , I was ready to be done with DMC for awhile, and it was quite good timing," said director Hideaki Itsuno while recalling his work on Dragon's Dogma. "But by that time [after Dragon's Dogma], I felt that I wanted to work on another DMC game, and the topic of the Special Edition came up and it was really good, it came at a great time for me. Also it wasn't too difficult coming back to DMC mentally after awhile. I had actually been working on some mobile titles for awhile before this. It was good to be home with DMC, it was a year and a half project, and and I really enjoyed it all." As the second Special Edition release for the series, many fans have det their expectations high for the return to DMC4. Since its reveal, we've learned much about what the Special Edition will contain, and surprisingly they decided to go further with including the most playable character in a single title that the series has ever seen. While talking about the development of the game, Itsuno recalled what they wanted to focus on when making the Special Edition."Coming off DMC3: Special Edition, including Vergil was a no-brainer really, and it was also something that a lot of fans pretty much expected to happen when you announce another Special Edition," said Itsuno. "The next thing we looked at was bringing it up to speed [...] It's been seven years since the last game, and people may not be as familiar with it as they once were. So even just having tiny things like auto-save, helped bring up to console standards. Then we added Lady and Trish."Right from the beginning of the series, gamers have recognized that DMC is in a class of its own when it comes to combat. After Itsuno took over as director for the series, the combat expanded much further. With experience on titles such as Capcom vs SNK and the Street Fighter series, he used much of his work on honing combat and fighting mechanics and transitioned it over to DMC. With DMC4SE, the developers plan on injecting more of the fighting game mentality into the series with the inclusion of multiple playable characters, as each posses their own unique playstyles.  "You definitely could say I've brought my fighting game experience to bare," said Itsuno while talking about the new playable characters. "Particularly because we got some additional characters and gameplay experiences are quite different for each character, and the gameplay will change for each. It's quite a unique aspect to DMC, compared to other action games where we have this selection of characters, so you're really getting a different gameplay experience with each character. We looked at people's combo play videos for 4 and also 3 Special Edition for Vergil, and we used those as references. But ultimately, we wanted to make sure it was the game you love." During my time with DMC4SE's Vergil, it was clear that he adopted some tricks from DmC Vergil. Ninja Theory's work on the mechanics for Vergil offered some very inventive takes on classic moves and also included some new skills that very clever in their own right. Over the years, DmC: Devil May Cry has been a pretty divisive title among series fans. Many of whom don't tend to view it in the same light as the original series. The director of the series spoke about his work supervising the developers at Ninja Theory, and still holds the game and its developers in high-regard."It was a three year project working on DmC: Devil May Cry with Ninja Theory, and I was going back and forth to Cambridge working on it with them. And I got a lot of great memories, I'm still really great friends with those guys, whenever I see them I'm like 'give me a hug, bro', and even though it was a divisive game, and that was the reaction from fans, obviously -- I still feel it's a well respected game. I don't like thinking of it as this separate other thing from the rest of the other games. My work on that game definitely influenced DMC4SE.As with every upcoming E3, many fans like to hypothesize about what's going to be announced at E3. Just checking on twitter or NeoGAF, you could see massive threads detailing fan theories and speculation about some upcoming news relating to the developers and publishers attending. And though many were convinced that Capcom was going to drop the bomb and announce Devil May Cry 5 at this year's expo, they of course were mistaken. But rest assured, Capcom is totally aware of the enthusiasm for the series. Itsuno had this to say to fans about the current state of Devil May Cry.  "Of course, there was some people rumor and speculating whether or not there'd be a new announcement at E3. Sorry, but there wasn't one this year. But 4SE is something I really wanted the chance to get DMC in the hands of the next-generation console player. It's been that long since the original series, the hardware has changed, standards are different, and I know that people are waiting to play the game again." With the upcoming Special Edition almost upon us, it's going to be a special time for many fans who've longed for the return to the original series. I've spent quite a bit of time with it, and I feel that many long time fans will love what Itsuno and the developers have done to reinvigorate DMC4. The new characters add a whole new level of freshness to the game, and fans who've spend countless hours exploring the nuances of Dante and Nero will love what Vergil, Trish, and Lady bring to the table. Expect our full review from Chris next week.
Devil May Cry photo
This Special Edition goes all in
As you have probably noticed over the last few months, Destructoid has been loaded with articles about the Devil May Cry series and its upcoming titles. The folks at Capcom have been very open with sharing details about the s...

Mirror's Edge preview photo
Good shoes
With Mirror's Edge Catalyst, DICE is giving us more freedom while robbing Faith of hers. This is an origin story, and an open-world one at that. It's the same fun first-person running, rolling, jumping, and sliding as before,...

Marcus Fenix's default Gears of War face is a permanent scowl

Jun 17 // Steven Hansen
Before Gears became the big bad brolf of Microsoft franchises, it was a bit more scrappy. Fergusson was excited to be able to go back and completely change Gears' cinematics. "Back then we were under such time constraints we called them Frankenscenes," he said. Motion capture was re-used and stitched together. The dialogue in cinematics remains intact, but there are all sorts of new camera angles, zooms. Fergusson and company went back to assess, "what were we trying to convey, what did we successfully or not successfully convey," in terms of tone. The five chapters left out of Gears' 2006 360 release (they later made it into the 2007 PC release) are also being included in Ultimate. The "casual" difficulty has become the new normal and a truer "casual" setting has been added. There's still local split-screen on and offline (take notes, Halo 5) with a pillar box look to give both players a view closer to 16:9. And, as folks might be seeing in the online beta, there are dedicated servers, a spectator mode, LAN support, 19 maps, Team Death Match, King of the Hill, community designed Gnashers 2v2, and 1080p, 60fps online play. Unless you're playing on PC and want to crank it up to 4K or whatever.
Gears Ultimate photo
And more on Gears of War Ultimate
Microsoft announced a 60fps, 1080p remake of the first Gears, Gears of War Ultimate, a couple days back. I sat down with Rod Fergusson for a meeting about the remake, which has completely replaced every single art asset, adde...

Shadow Warrior 2 goes even more over the top with co-op action

Jun 17 // Alessandro Fillari
Set after the events of the previous game, Lo Wang returns to battle armies of demons that have invaded our realm, and it's up to him and his new ninja warrior buddies to take them out. The plot is as ridiculous as the original, and probably more so with the addition of new characters and a much larger arsenal of weapons. The claws and throwing blades are extremely fast, and make quick work of the demons in incredibly gory fashion. One thing that was immediately clear was that the gameplay of Shadow Warrior has been considerably expanded. The corridor-shooter aspect of the original game has been ditched in favor of more open levels to explore. While not open world, there is much more room for exploration and traversal throughout the environments. Platforming and general movement has been enhanced to take advantage of the new lateral movement gameplay. Wang will no longer have to worry about managing his stamina, as his ninja abilities have given him enhanced strength and dexterity, allowing him to climb walls and run across rooftops with ease.  Moreover, the general structure of the game has been changed as well. With a new hub area, Wang and his allies will be able to acquire quests and upgrade their characters before venturing out into the missions. As the last game was largely a straight shot through a series of chapters, SW2 gives players more freedom in how they tackle objectives. This also allows players to revisit earlier missions much easier to re-engage past foes in order to build up Wang's strength. With the new character progression system, players will be flesh out the Shadow Warrior in very unique ways. Since the last game, the developers decided to seriously up the combat and character growth aspect with brand new RPG mechanics. As you battle enemies, you'll level up your weapons and acquire gems to augment your equipment, giving them elemental properties and buffs. While it's not Diablo-esque loot where you'll find near-infinite forms of the same weapons, the gems you find will give your gear some interesting buffs that will vary from character to character. Of course, you'll be revisting missions very often, and the devs decided to include new procedural content for the level design. Every mission (save for specific story events) will feature procedurally generated level design and content. Enemy positions, terrain, buildings, and weather conditions are all random, which will make repeat visits interesting. During one level, we came across a town with several buildings and mobs of foes to take down. The design itself was impressive, as it encouraged a large focus on vertical movement and flanking of the demons. Keep in mind that this was random, and it will feature an entirely different design. Furthermore, the level design will also take into account side-quests and other events that happen in real time, which will add more flavor. I only had a brief amount of time with Shadow Warrior 2, but I was plenty pleased with what saw. I sometimes get worried when action games go more RPG for their sequels, but the additions to the growth system and action only enhance the core sword/gun play. I was impressed with SW2. Lastly, co-op play looks to be a lot of fun, and though the new characters are mostly anonymous ninjas, each player in group will play as Wang in their own game, while the others appear as the newcomers. It's in a clever way of making sure everyone gets a bit of Wang. With release set for sometime next year across PC, PS4, and Xbox One, fans of the original will be getting more Shadow Warrior into their hands much sooner than they think.
Shadow Warrior 2 photo
Wang is back, baby
2013's Shadow Warrior reboot from Devolver Digital made a name for itself when it was released on PC. As most reboots of classic titles tend to go for a more gritty and toned-down vibe, the developers at Flying Wild Hog went ...

DICE's Star Wars Battlefront feels like a half-assed Battlefield mod

Jun 17 // Jed Whitaker
Air support has to be called in by finding tokens placed throughout the battlefield that randomly give you either a special weapon or a ship to fly, thus removing the need to rush for a vehicle to have the chance to pilot one. The flying mechanics feel a bit better than Battlefield games, where I typically can only stay in the air a few moments before crashing, but the hit detection was shit. As I flew my Y-Wing around Hoth, I tried to get a bit closer to the ground to lay down some fire for my comrades below and my ship inexplicably exploded -- I was told I'd killed myself. I'd estimate that I was at least 100 feet off the ground, so I'm not sure what I could have possible collided with. [embed]294292:59136:0[/embed] Upon starting each spawn you can select from loadouts, of which we had two to choose from. A primary weapon can be selected, and then the actual loadout is basically support options including: grenades, bubble shields, and short-use jetpacks. One particular option let you lob three explosives a great distance and this was typically an instant kill if aimed correctly. I fell to this the most. Gun-wise, there were a few different blasts available, none of which felt much different in third-person view, but had different scopes in first-person view. The former option felt similar to the old games: holding the left trigger allowed you to focus your shot while slowing down your movement speed. First person felt ripped from Battlefield, with aiming down sights or through scopes. In one of the trailers it shows swapping seamlessly from third person to first, but I couldn't figure out how to do it for the life of me other than using a menu, only taking effect after respawning.  Aim assist was on by default which had the crosshair sticking to enemies and turning red whenever aiming relatively close to one of them, which would be fine except for most shots miss if they are moving. This aim assist issue happened in both third and first person, causing me to have to fight with aim assist to try to line up shots for moving targets. After turning it off it felt a bit better, so perhaps for less advanced players it will be a great option, but more serious players will want to shut it off. I found myself dying far more often than I remember in classic Battlefront games, and that has been a problem for me in Battlefield games as well. Indicators that you're taking damage aren't obvious enough and by the time you do realize you're taking fire, you're dead. While there is a health meter that ticks down, I still felt like I was dying nearly instantly as if I were playing a Battlefield game. The demo I played was presented on PlayStation 4, and the amount of graphics popping in just a few feet ahead of my character was disturbing. I realize this is an early build but it was still shocking. There was a choice between locking the game to 30 frames per second and having better graphics or playing at 60fps. I didn't get a chance to test if the pop-in still happened at 30fps before the battle was over, but I certainly don't want to play a shooter at 30fps in 2015. Overall I wasn't impressed with what little time I spent with DICE's Star Wars Battlefront. It really did feel like a half-assed mod slapped onto Battlefield 4, and I'm surprised modders haven't created something better already. That being said the game was still enjoyable -- it looked and sounded like Star Wars -- but this is not the Battlefront you're looking for.
Battlefront preview photo
Not the Battlefront you're looking for
Ever since the announcement that EA's DICE studio would be developing Star Wars Battlefront, fans of the series -- myself included -- have feared it will be "Star Wars Battlefield" and it seems like our fears have come t...

No Man's Sky dev happy he didn't end up at 'Fuktown' at Sony conference

Jun 17 // Brett Makedonski
To be fair, there are systems in place to safeguard against it. Hello Games has implemented a filter to prevent those types of names from popping up. But, it's not perfect, and there's always the chance that something will be spelled in such a way to circumvent the filters. Murray anticipates it'll probably happen when No Man's Sky eventually releases on PS4 and PC. They'll just have to deal with it as it happens. That was the light-hearted side to our time with Hello Games; the rest was about the serious scope of No Man's Sky. In a way, it might be positioned to be an accessible EVE Online for the PS4 crowd. Murray said that three distinct styles of play pervade the game: exploration, trading, and fighting. He remarked that while most players they've seen blend the three activities, almost everyone leans more toward one than the others. Those who just want to find new planets and species can earn currency by uploading their finds to Atlas, the corporation that pays for this sort of thing. Others can invest their time in economy -- buying, selling, and trading to turn a profit. If anyone doesn't have the patience for those first two methods, they can make their living by attacking or protecting others. [embed]294286:59135:0[/embed] Murray was hesitant to talk about it, but there is an overarching objective to No Man's Sky. We hadn't heard much about that before, and after this interview, we still haven't heard much about it. The ultimate goal is to reach the center of the galaxy by expanding the breadth of your hyperdrive. However, we don't have any idea what we'll find there. When asked about it, Murray's colleague chuckled and said "Now he's going to start talking about metaphysics." And, he sort of did. Murray tangented to classic game design in titles such as Super Mario Bros. and how we've been trained to know what to expect from most games. He wants to move away from that, even if it means shrouding his game in mystery. Actually, maybe especially if it means that; he seems to revel in people not knowing what to expect from No Man's Sky. Murray's done a good job keeping everything under wraps. The truth is, we aren't all that much closer to understanding No Man's Sky than when it was announced a year and a half ago. Its universe holds untold secrets and discoveries, the likes of which no one's willing to divulge ahead of time. It's now apparent that it's by design. After all, no explorer ever knows the end-game; they just want to unravel the universe's mysteries.
No Man's Sky photo
That was a real concern
When Hello Games' Sean Murray stepped on the stage at PlayStation's E3 press conference, he had one fear, and he never bothered to voice it to Sony; he just hoped like hell that he wouldn't get bitten by all the randomness in...

Elena is real mad at Drake in Uncharted 4: A Thief's End

Jun 16 // Steven Hansen
[embed]294098:59077:0[/embed] At the end of this, Drake goes crashing through the wooden plank, skips across the water, and ends up getting dragged through the mud on the other side. All the while he's shooting with one hand, hanging on for dear life with the other, because he is very strong. It's not quite just a set piece set up as that grappling hook is a huge part of Uncharted 4's gameplay systems and you'll always be able to shoot from it. Drake pulls himself up onto the crane truck that'd been dragging him and so begins a long series of shooting with assumed bad guys on motor bikes as Drake tries to work is way to the front of the convoy chasing his brother, Sam. After hijacking a jeep and catching up, the two argue over who should jump to the other's vehicle. A little brotherly conflict. Then Nate gets blindsided by a truck and there's a nice, quieter moment of being pinned underneath a flipped over van that is increasingly on fire. Nate hops on Sam's bike and that armored truck returns with a vengeance in a Sonic Adventure 2 style chase sequence towards the camera. Eventually, of course, they escape. This is when we got wind of some story elements. Sully, Sam, and Nate are after collected treasure from a pirate commune, Libertalia. Someone named Rafe, presumably from Days of Our Lives, is trying to kill them. They chat up plans on the way into their motel and suddenly there's Nate, rarely tongue tied, as a very upset Elena is standing in the room. She hints that Nate was lying about being on a job in Malaysia and, as you can see above, she is pretty damn pissed off. It ain't anger, it's that, "I'm so hurt and disappointed in you" look that just cuts deep. Nate fucked up. We'll know how bad next year.
Uncharted 4 preview photo
Extended gameplay demo
Sony showed off Uncharted 4: A Thief's End yesterday to end its conference with a bang. A lot of them as a jeep careened through an entire city. In today's behind closed doors session, we saw creative director on Uncharted 4 ...

Corn on the cob crawdaddy and more in Return to PopoloCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale

Jun 16 // Jed Whitaker
Return to PopoloCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale certainly doesn't reinvent the wheel, but it certainly has a hella fresh wolf and the coolest crawdaddy I've ever seen.
Return to PopoloCrois photo
A wolf wearing a bandana
Listen, I'm going to give it to you straight forward here: I've not played any of the games in the Story of Seasons series, nor do I know the source material. What I do know, however, is that there is a wolf wearing a ba...

Mario Tennis Wii U photo
Expectations exceeded
Its reveal came and went without much enthusiasm during Nintendo's lackluster E3 2015 Digital Event but, you know what, Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash is fun as hell. I played a match against a random attendee and won through...

Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair still has framerate issues

Jun 16 // Jed Whitaker
[embed]294206:59108:0[/embed] After a brief hands on with the game today on the show floor at E3, it was obvious that the frame rate issues persist, although not nearly as bad as before. Running at 1080p and targeting 60fps, I'd say I still saw dips to around 30fps -- if not lower -- during explosions when there were many bugs on the screen. As the game is already available in Japan, it is doubtful frame rate issues will be fixed for the localized version. That being said this is still the smoothest EDF I've played, as previous titles had some atrocious frame rate issues. Still too early to tell if the added content and somewhat better frame rate are worth double dipping for, but fans of the series are used to it at this point and will probably pick it up regardless. If you're new to the series, this is a good place to start, especially if you have a friend for split screen co-op.
EDF 4.1 preview photo
But it is better
Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair is an enhanced and extended version of EDF 2025 adding more levels, including a giant mech versus monster fight, a first for the series, though a majority of y...

Fumito Ueda's new studio and another look at The Last Guardian

Jun 16 // Steven Hansen
[embed]294073:59057:0[/embed] Ueda didn't dish much while playing. It was as if time froze and the last few years of absence didn't exist. You'll have to "utilize the strengths and weaknesses of each of the characters," he said. That is dealing with Trico's animal nature, which can't be directly player-controlled, and the boy's limited physical abilities. Of course there was stuff already shown off in the trailer. The boy's delightful high-step running animation, along with a slow, adorable creep walk I didn't see yesterday. I also noticed for the first time what looks like a blue orb at the end of Trico's tail. And that second slow-motion jump where the boy grabs Trico's tail? Ueda fell to his death and respawned at right before the purple windmill thing got pushed down, so it's not a cutscene, you'll still have to make the grab. That fall was emblematic of the sense of height and depth Ueda likes to instill in his games. Trico serves as something of a "safety net" to help keep the boy safe, "overcome the psychological stress" of the fraught architecture. "ICO...was about the cooperation of the boy and Yorda," while Shadow of the Colossus was "about the dynamic interaction" between Wander and the monsters. The Last Guardian is the "best of both worlds," as if Shadow of the Colossus isn't a decade old. I kind of appreciate that lack as lip service paid to the lengthy development, however interesting a behind the scenes story it may be. George Miller just came back and made a new Mad Max after 30 years. Ten ain't shit. I'll likely have a pleasant time playing The Last Guardian next year, without mad hype or pent up disappointment. I hope Ueda manages to realize his vision after all the rigamarole, because his last two games are fabulous.
Timeless photo
Timeless
I had a chance to get another, slightly extended look The Last Guardian demoed by creative director Fumito Ueda himself. Ueda left Sony in 2011, though it was said he remained on in a contract capacity. Ueda explained the gam...

Star Fox Zero might have the best use for Wii U's GamePad yet

Jun 16 // Brett Makedonski
[embed]294193:59106:0[/embed] Without wishing to sound too hyperbolic, this integration is such a creative use of the GamePad because the disconnect between the third- and first-person make it actually seem like you're hopping into a fighter jet -- even if just for a few seconds. Like, you need to look down to take care of some stuff, and then it's right back to flying about. Simply put, it's really great. However, there's an obvious learning curve, and it's not one that I was able to master in my 15 minutes with Star Fox Zero. Knowing which screen to look at, dealing with two different sets of inverted controls (left stick and gyroscope), shooting, all while avoiding enemy fire is no small task. There were several times when I'd brilliantly handle one small section only to completely bungle the next. Even when I thought I had the hang of it, I didn't. The level I played was on Corneria and it consisted of three phases. The first two were meant to acclimate you to the controls. It was probably possible to fail, but it didn't seem likely. By the time the boss revealed itself at phase three, the kid gloves came off. I'm not ashamed to admit that I didn't last long. I got caught up in looking at the GamePad too long when I should've spent more time navigating the Arwing. Shucks. I may have been disappointed in my failure, but I can't say I was disappointed with my experience. It was fantastic seeing and hearing from Peppy, Falco, and Slippy again. I did barrel roll after barrel roll -- not for survival, but for fun. It probably would've helped if I did them evasively. Platinum and Nintendo could've taken a simpler, scaled-down approach to this Star Fox, and everyone would've welcomed it with open arms. Rather, they're doing interesting and innovative things with the Wii U hardware, and that might be enough to push Star Fox Zero into another stratosphere. 
Star Fox preview photo
But there's a learning curve
Only a few hours ago, the E3 show floor opened up. As soon as it happened, Nintendo's booth was flooded, and the half-dozen or so Star Fox Zero stations were thick with intimidatingly long lines. People were willing to w...

Medieval fighter For Honor defies description

Jun 16 // Kyle MacGregor
While there is some sort of story mode to ostensibly explain why feudal soldiers from opposite ends of the planet are sharing a battlefield, Ubisoft is keeping quiet about the single-player campaign. Instead, the publisher has opted to thrust the multiplayer component into the foreground. And what a strange and alluring experience that is. On the heels of its E3 media briefing, Ubisoft whisked the press off to a tower in downtown Los Angeles to compete in a mode called "Dominion." There, groups of eight players skirmished in 4-on-4 matches with an emphasis on territory control. With three King of the Hill-style zones to vie for, it's set up an awful lot like an online shooter. And at a glance, it gives off a Dynasty Warriors vibe, with hordes inept minions fighting battles of attrition while player-controlled hero characters grapple over objectives that, you know, actually matter. Neither of those comparisons really nail what For Honor actually feels like, though. The combat system is far more intricate than Koei Tecmo's hack-and-slashers, at any rate. This is no mindless action game. Each and every encounter with the enemy requires a great deal of care.  For Honor is all about sword mastery; success or failure largely hinges on one's proficiency with a blade. Being overly aggressive is a good way to get flayed, as defense is of vital importance here. Predictable attacks are easily blocked and countered, and even knights, despite being clad in heavy plate mail, can be felled surprisingly quickly after a string of defensive miscues. In some respects this is more of a fighting game, where opponents feel one another out with pokes and jabs, hoping to discern the enemy's plan of attack and capitalize when given the opportunity. You really have to pay attention to where the enemy's weapon is positioned, be ready to counter it while working to read them, and get an opening yourself. I quickly found myself outmatched when going toe-to-toe with the developers on the other team. They seemed to move with lightning speed, feigning attacks and throwing me off balance, only to hit me from my unguarded side a moment later. Thankfully, strategy and teamwork play a central role. When I figured out I wasn't a skilled enough fighter to take enemies on by my lonesome, I focused my attention on sneaking up the flanks and capturing the objectives. Eventually, somehow, after flailing in the early going, our team came back from the brink of defeat to pull off an unlikely victory. (Maybe they let us win.) On top of that, players act as field generals, earning mid-game perks called "Feats" that allow one to call in ordnance support catapults and archers, or even inspire your cohorts to fight better. Knowing how and when to play these cards figures to play a key role in turning the tide of battle. For Honor is a fascinating fusion of genres that has me eager to return to the battlefield.
For Honor impressions photo
Whatever it is, I like it
Ubisoft Montreal's For Honor seems to borrow inspiration from as many places as it does warriors. The newly-revealed project sees medieval knights clash with samurai and viking raiders, warping time and space to bring together foes as distinct as the overarching experience that unites them.

Just Cause 3 somehow makes explosions easier than ever before

Jun 16 // Brett Makedonski
Immediately after beginning, fellow editor Jordan Devore tethered three grapples to the crotch on a statue of an oppressive ruler, pulled it until the entire thing crumbled to pieces (dick tater, am I right?), hooked the statue's head to a helicopter, and flew it off a cliff to a fiery death. Yep, Just Cause 3 is pretty fucking wonderful. The third installment in Avalanche's over-the-top action thriller franchise has a plot, but you wouldn't know it from what we played. Now that he has a few kills under his belt, Rico's returned to the Mediterranean-inspired area that he left as a child to overthrow an evil dictator. Our sandbox was more concerned with defying physics with the parachute and grappling hook, and using the wingsuit to glide far over the land and sea alike. Ironically, the wingsuit moments provided a nice touch of tranquility as we floated over the gorgeous landscape. From that high up, everything looked so serene and peaceful -- it was almost impossible to believe it's the work of an oppressive regime. That was immediately cut short when the next thought was "this needs more explosions." Because Just Cause 3 prioritizes the ridiculous over the believable, Rico is a one-man demolition crew and his supply never wanes. Avalanche has equipped him with a never-ending supply of C4, meaning that explosions are never more than a second or two away. What's the best way to dismantle this factory or to put this bridge out of commission? Our good friend C4 does the trick nicely. A lot of the design decisions were seemingly made as a result of Avalanche shrugging its shoulders. Regarding infinite C4, a studio representative told us "Why not?" Likewise, a new helicopter stunt trick where you hang upside down from the bottom was implemented because "That's just cool." After playing Just Cause 3 for a half hour, it appears that the developer put anything in the game that would make for a good time. It's certainly not a bad direction to take. Another point of emphasis for Avalanche pertains to traversal. The developer wanted to create a world that's easy and fun to move around. That's why the wingsuit, grappling hook, and parachute seemingly offer an infinite amount of momentum -- because slowing to a crawl just isn't as thrilling. It's also the reason why cars can be saved in garages and then recalled anytime you're near one. Hey, if you're going to take the discreet way around Just Cause 3, you may as well do it in style. Regardless of method, getting around Just Cause 3 may take a bit longer than you'd think. Avalanche developers tell us that the world is at least as big as Just Cause 2, but the layout's inherently different. The third installment will feature lots of islands, archipelagos, and little towns (Just Cause 2 kind of did too, but we're just going with what we're told). Also, Avalanche says that all the towns feel varied from one another and have their own sense of culture, so to speak. We wouldn't know a ton about that, because we were restricted to the first area of the game. Zooming out on the map, we could see the other two regions. They were significantly larger, and, as we were assured, significantly more difficult. When that's all available, players will get to experience what might be the developer's biggest goal: To create a perfect flow through the world. When all is said and done, Avalanche wants you to be able to flawlessly travel anywhere you want, however you want, and have a blast doing it. While it was nice seeing first-hand that Just Cause 3 nails all the things you'd expect Just Cause to nail, it was almost disappointing that the demo was completely unstructured. Okay, the sandbox element works great, but what does it have to offer players who want a reason to press forward? We weren't given a glimpse at that. Hopefully it's as competent as the free reign component is. Really, the takeaway from our time with Just Cause 3 is blowing up a lot of stuff makes for an enthralling time. It's not a revelation necessarily, so much as it is a good reminder. As we concluded the demo by demolishing a water tower that towered over a military base, a rep for the developer told us with a half-grin on his face "we're not really into subtlety." That's great, Avalanche, because neither are we.
Just Cause preview photo
That's saying something
So many preview events obsess themselves with presenting a carefully crafted slice of game. Here's a chunk of gameplay that puts the title's best foot forward. Don't deviate too far off the path, stick to the rules, and a P...

It's truly fun traversing Assassin's Creed Syndicate's London

Jun 16 // Brett Makedonski
As these things go, our E3 demo was free of any sort of missteps that would hint at a repeat performance. No surprise there; these showings are almost always incredibly polished even though they're all in "pre-alpha." What is worth noting is that Ubisoft actually let us have hands-on time this year. In 2014, it was a one-on-one hands-off session while a developer played. That could be a small indicator that the publisher has more faith in this year's iteration. I was turned loose in a very small section of London, and I immediately felt a knowing comfort. Assassin's Creed isn't going to change that much, after all. Having just walked out of a pub, protagonist Jacob was on the ground and surrounded by three story (or so) buildings. Rooftops are the much preferred method of getting around, so it's time to start ascending. This is where Syndicate made its open-world pacing apparent. Rather than climbing the face of every structure, Jacob can shoot a grappling hook that will almost instantaneously transport him to any summit. It may seem like it wouldn't be all that noteworthy, as several titles have implemented the same feature in recent years. But, it does such a great job of opening up the Assassin's Creed traversal, it's impossible to ignore its significance here. [embed]294140:59097:0[/embed] Once on the rooftops, it was simple to shoot ziplines across to even further destinations. It's no longer necessary to go from roof to ground and back up when trying to cross a city. Now, pathfinding is incredibly simple because it just requires a quick tap of a button to fire across the chasm. These ziplines serve another purpose too, though. Partway between two points, Jacob can decide that whatever's underneath him needs a quick blade in the back of the neck. Performing air assassinations while gliding along proves to be quite satisfying, not to mention efficient. This particular demo tasked me with clearing out a relatively small compound, which was a great opportunity to test out the only new weapon I was shown. Jacob has hallucinogenic darts at his disposal, which make enemies easy to deal with. What's more, shooting them into a fire gives them an area-of-effect radius instead of only harming one target. I took out three people with one dart and then threw a knife to drop some cargo on the head of a fourth. It was a pretty great way to quickly and creatively dispatch a handful of enemies. That's when the faction leader began fleeing, necessitating commandeering someone's buggy to chase them down. With a terrified horse pulling me around with all the grace you'd expect from a panicked animal, I eventually caught up. This initiated a "gang war" where I fought alongside approximately ten others to kill those on the other side, which concluded the demo. For the few takeaways I had, I was left with more questions. What role would Evie play opposite of Jacob? Will either be playable under any circumstance, or do they each have scenes dedicated to them? How will gameplay differ between the two? What are Ubisoft's plans for the modern story? How will the boroughs of London seem unique? I had a lot of inquiries, but the developers were tight-lipped about almost everything, simply stating that oft-repeated line "We're going to be talking about that later." Frustrating as it is, it's par for the course. Information's always locked down until the publisher's ready to reveal. From what we saw, everything about Syndicate is very Assassin's Creed. That's not much of a revelatory statement, but it is what it is. The grappling hook -- the one thing that isn't very Assassin's Creed -- was undoubtedly the finest feature. It's not the type of change that will be at the forefront of someone's mind when they think about the game, but it's an improvement that will keep traversal from becoming too much of a slog. That's a welcome addition if I've ever heard of one.
AC Syndicate preview photo
And a whole lot quicker
Ubisoft finally had all the perils that come with annual franchise installments come crashing down on it last year with Assassin's Creed Unity. It was the most ambitious Assassin's Creed title to date -- with its insanel...

Guitar Hero Live rocks out with a fresher focus

Jun 16 // Alessandro Fillari
Guitar Hero Live (PlayStation 4 [previewed], Playstation 3, Wii U,  Xbox 360, Xbox One, Mobile)Developer: FreeStyle GamesPublisher: ActivisionRelease date: October 20, 2015 First and foremost, if you're a longtime fan of the series that may have felt burned by the last title, Warriors of Rock, you'll be pleased to know that the series has gone back to the basics to keep the focus on jamming out to a variety of tunes ranging from heavy metal, classic rock, and pulsating new metal. While on the surface Guitar Hero Live looks to be a massive departure from the rest of the series, it's very much in line with what was present in the earlier titles. This is purely about the music and experience of building your own personal rocker profile. As you may have seen from the reveal trailers, they've incorporated real video into Guitar Hero this time around. When selecting some of the classics or new tunes, you'll be treated to actual music videos or even concert footage of the band while you play. This is in keeping with the new television aesthetic and architecture that Guitar Hero Live utilizes. Gone are the bizarre storylines and cartoonish visuals showing off your character as they rise from garage-band amateur to international rock star, and in its place is a focus on realism to keep you invested in the songs and the experiences of being a guitar god. During Guitar Hero's absence, the developers have refined the gameplay and tweaked many aspects. The biggest change made is that you can't outright fail songs. As vets know, missing too many notes will fail the song, resulting in game over. In Guitar Hero Live, players that perform poorly can still finish the song. The folks working on the game felt that failing players resulted them in losing interest, so botching songs will only affect your overall score. This gives players the chance to save their performance should they struggle in some spots. Moreover, if players want to take a break during the song, all they'll have to do is stop playing and the song will revert to an attract mode. It's neat, and I feel GHL will be much more welcoming to newcomers. In the two central modes, Live and TV, the game goes about building the rocker experience in different ways; one from the side of media, and the other from in the shoes of a guitar player during a concert. The TV mode will definitely be where most of the action happens. Think of it as the online, multiplayer, and career modes all rolled into one. When in TV mode, you can engage in daily and premium challenges that task you with tackling certain songs to acquire in-game currency and play tokens. Much like cable or satelite television, the TV mode is essentially mix of on-demand and scheduled content. With multiple channels, you'll be able to view the current schedule of upcoming songs that are available to play. If there's one you like, you can jump right in and play. In real time, each 'program' plays a certain genre of music or focuses on a particular band, and is set for half an hour. If there's nothing on the channel's schedule that you like, just switch over to another and check to see what's on. I was impressed with the presentation, and it felt like was tuned to a parallel universe where MTV didn't focus on reality TV and kept with the music. It even made some of the programs feel like events, as you can plan ahead and bring friends over at certain time to rock out. If the channels aren't doing it for you, then you can switch over to the on-demand menu and choose the available songs to add to you playlist and experience at your leisure. Like the previous titles, the base game will come packed with existing songs, and more will be added later. However, the on-demand takes a slightly different approach. While you can play whatever song is present in the menu, they require play tokens for you to add to your playlist. Play tokens are acquired from just playing normally, and you'll accumulate them often. However, if you run out of play tokens, you're unable to play songs on the playlist. If you want to avoid using the tokens -- using them won't technically give you the song -- you can purchase the song outright and make a part of your permanent collection. I suspect this feature draw some ire from fans. While I understand it on an economic level, I feel this can be very annoying for anyone who likes to binge. By my count, there were three different forms of currency in the game: GH credits, real money credits, and play tokens, which will definitely bother people further. While there isn't a cap on play tokens, which can be purchased in bulk from the Guitar Hero store if you don't want to grind, I feel that the system of purchasing that's in place will confuse and annoy people. Thankfully, there are many features to keep players busy. The online mode is robust. Players can compete online against others in real time. During scheduled programs, players will be able to compete for the high score, with the current leader ranks being shown to the left of the screen. There will be many top dogs online, so in order to compete you'll have to make upgrades to your guitar. Using in-game credits acquired from daily challenges and tackling challenging songs, you can invest in a more sophisticated setup. Many of these upgrades range from score multipliers and other boosts to effectiveness. Thankfully, upgrades can only be purchased with in-game currency (which can only be acquired from in-game activity). With the currency, you can also purchase new highways and player cards for further customization. While most of the action will likely be spent in the TV mode, the brand new Live mode offers something a bit different. Ever wonder what it's like to play a guitar to a sold-out concert full of thousands of excited fans and music lovers? Live mode shows that in quasi real-time video that adapts to your performance. With two tours, spread across the U.S. and UK and spanning several sets (songs), you'll jam out with your band as they seek to keep the crowd on their feet and jamming. Playing online is one thing, but the Live mode is incredibly nerve-wracking. Maybe it's just me, because I'm not as good as other players, but watching the crowd and even your band mates turn on me was unsettling. It felt like I was experiencing a bizarre mix between Guitar Hero and those '90s full-motion video games. I don't mean that as a bad thing, however. I was impressed with how well it's presented. It's like those FMV games, except actually good. Shown from the first person, you're in the shoes of the lead guitarist, and when he stumbles, you experience it first hand. It can be tense, especially when your own band starts to turn on you. For the most part, I was largely impressed with my session with Guitar Hero Live. Though I still have some reservations with the game's economy, I still feel there's a lot of good here. The MTV-esque aesthetic was a stroke of genius and it really brought me into the experience much more than any of the other titles did. And given the number of platforms this is on, including mobile, it's clear they want to cover all the bases here. With Rock Band 4 also seeing a release this year, things must be looking up for the music genre now that the two juggernauts have returned. I'm looking forward to seeing how fans will take to it. 
Guitar Hero Live photo
I GOT BLISTERS ON MY FINGERS!
I remember a time when there was this massive swell of music and rhythm-based games. The most dominant one at the time was the Guitar Hero series, which was quite an obsession among many of my classmates back in college. But ...

Cammy and Birdie are fantastic in Street Fighter V

Jun 15 // Alessandro Fillari
At the Capcom event I went to a couple weeks back, I got the chance to play with the initial four characters, and also the newly announced Cammy and Birdie. Sorry I couldn't tell you before, but the folks at Capcom wanted to keep it a surprise. You had no idea how hard it was to sit on that without telling anyone. I got some quality time with both Cammy and Birdie, and they definitely set themselves apart from the others.Much like the rest of the cast, Cammy and Birdie take unique advantage of the Variable System in interesting ways. As the system allows the fighters to tap into unique skills and tactics to overcome difficult situations, they can be used quite creatively in the hands of skilled players. Just like the others, the Variable System plays to Cammy and Birdie's strengths and their personalities, which fleshes their characters out into pretty cool ways.As one of the original SFII characters, Cammy has been around for a long time. With her prowess for speed and agility, giving her quite the edge in footsies and aerial game, she's an incredible force during fights. And SFV expands upon that in a big way. Her V-Skill, known as 'Axel Spin Knuckle', gives her the ability to do a forward spin move and follow up with a forearm blow. What's interesting about this move is that it not only allows her to pass through projectiles unharmed, but it can also have her spin to the opponent's back and striking them from their blind-spot. But her V-Trigger is where she turns up the heat. Called 'Delta Drive', her Trigger grants her a massive boost of speed and cuts down on the delays for her specials moves, allowing her to use them more often.[embed]294083:59059:0[/embed] And of course, we've got the big guy himself. Birdie is back in action, and after his last appearance in Alpha 3, he's been itching for another fight. This one came of out of left field, and I can guarantee no one expected him to make the cut. Unfortunately, he's sorta let himself go. The once musclebound goon has lost his figure, and he can't seem to keep food out of his hands. With a massive gut, and some Ron Jeremy-esque chest hair, he's not what he once was back in the good ol' days. But his passion for battle is stronger than ever, and he's worked around his new impairment. And he might be a far better fighter because of it.Though he seems like a gimmick character, Birdie has still got the moves to go toe-to-toe with the others. His chains wrapped around his wrist can be used to lasso foes and slam them to the ground, and his famous head-butt still packs a wallop. His V-Skill called 'Break Time' has him scarf down some snacks, which grants him extra buffs. And he'll even leave the trash on the ground, which the opponents can trip over. You haven't lived till you've seen M. Bison slip on a banana peel. His V-Skill also works when using different directional prompts, which will have him eat and discard different types of food. His V-Trigger is called 'Enjoy Time', and after maxing out his V-Gauge, Birdie will scarf down a spicy pepper, which will grant him a boost in damage and guard break potential for his special moves. I'm pretty excited about Street Fighter V. After my session with, I was left super impressed with what the developers at Capcom have in mind for the fans. And with the additions of Cammy and Birdie to the roster, it's clear that Capcom has got plans for both the familiar and the unexpected characters of the series. I can't wait to see more.
Street Fighter V photo
Hands-on with some old friends
As you could likely tell, Street Fighter V is looking pretty amazing. I was very impressed with my hands-on session with the game, along with my chat with Peter 'Combofiend' Rosas, and I can tell that many people will find a ...

E3: First hands-on Ubisoft's Tom Clancy's The Division

Jun 15 // Steven Hansen
[embed]294064:59046:0[/embed] We sure as fuck weren't as team work oriented as Ubisoft's carefully directed demo, which will basically be the case if you aren't playing regularly with a couple pals. Quoting the developer, it's a "standard shooter" in terms of controls. Each character had a few different abilities, which later can be customized (there's a turret, remote sticky bomb, a homing mine that follows you until it finds an enemy to go after) and my character was outfitted with a shotgun that somewhat unsatisfyingly took chunks of my opponents' health bar out. Like, that's not what shotguns should be doing. But The Division is heavy on its crazy tech UI theme, and the co-op focus means it could end up something like Destiny -- kind of a boring loot fest, but fun with friends. It's cool that you're at risk of losing your high level loot if you're killed in this instance and that might make even strangers try and team up (loot is evenly split, too). There are crazy dudes with flamethrowers to worry about and "Rikers," a gang of murderous inmates escaped from Rikers Island prison, which kind of doesn't make sense given how many prisoners in the United States are non-violent offenders and probably would return to their families if released rather than into a group of murderous thugs, but, hey, gritty apocalypse. Of course there are also other players to worry about. At any moment they can go rogue and start fights between fire teams (in our demo, we all tried to kill each other), but you can also all work together and wait for an extraction out of the instance. The goal seems to be making it so your first impulse isn't to kill anyone you come across, because that just makes things harder and puts your gains at risk. The Division isn't quite for me. I don't need endless progressions, bars, and numbers to play a game. But folks who got well into Destiny might find a nice little squad-based multiplayer shooter here. But I also still have no clue how the open-world element works, as this demo might as well as have been any old multiplayer map.
The Division photo
Divisioning a division in Division
Tom Clancy may be dead, but The Division isn't. It's been two years since Ubisoft announced its apocalyptic "online, open-world action RPG," but I finally got hands-on at a Ubisoft event this E3. We were set up in a boiling h...

Battlefield found a way to infiltrate EA Sports' PGA Tour

Jun 15 // Brett Makedonski
Speaking with a PGA Tour representative, the publisher has plans to tie more EA franchises into the game. Coyly, the spokesperson said that the Battlefield course will be the only one that's available at launch. It's a fair bet that more courses themed after EA series will make their way into PGA Tour via paid DLC. For the time being, Battlefield is the only addition players will initially see. It might not be what we expected, but maybe EA needed to add a bit of irreverence to liven up its leading golf title. And, when you want to get back traditional golf, PGA Tour certainly has that in spades -- it's just sans explosions.  
PGA Tour photo
Well, that was unexpected
Golf has a reputation for being a stuffy game played by uptight, proper folks. After spending some time with Rory McIlroy's PGA Tour, we can safely say that the majority of it lives up to those expectations. However, there's ...


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