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PS Plus for June photo
PS Plus for June

PlayStation Plus scores Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes next week


A Hideo Kojima Game
May 27
// Jordan Devore
Fair amount of PS4 love from PlayStation Plus next month including, hell yes, the turn-based strategy title Skulls of the Shogun. But folks who held out on Ground Zeroes are in for the best treat of all. It'll be nice to have...

Review: Magicka 2

May 27 // Steven Hansen
Magicka 2 (PC [reviewed], PS4)Developer: Pieces InteractivePublisher: Paradox InteractiveReleased: May 26, 2015MSRP: $14.99 If you haven't played the first Magicka, the set-up is still familiar enough: up-to-four-player overhead adventuring and monster killing. The trade tools are the big difference. You're granted immediate access -- there's no progression system, really -- to eight different magics, just about all of which can be combined, in different strings and quantities. There's a balance between stronger spells, which are more complex to cast, and dealing with basic elemental affinities. On a controller, spells are mapped to four face buttons, while L1 swaps to a second set of four spells, a system I much prefer over the first's fighter-like quarter circles. Once queued, they can be cast forth offensively, as area of attack, or unto oneself. And Magicka 2 is more than willing to let you drop a rock on your own noggin as easily as you might heal yourself. Or let you set an unfortunate friend on fire. Magicka 2 gets most of its good will for its co-op, which is why controllers for couch play are sort of preferred, though you can play online, and in parties of any make up (two local, one online, and so on). While playing co-op can make the worst game fun, Magicka 2 is definitely improved with and seems designed around having friends to revive you and to separate enemies whose AI encourages them to clump in writhing, obscuring masses. It is no fun to play solo, constantly drowned in a sea of goblins. [embed]292791:58693:0[/embed] The clean interface and easy drop in, drop out are about the only significant improvements over the original. That and the lack of bugs. Enemy AI mildly trips out sometimes and, especially in co-op, being anywhere near the edge of the screen feels like you're constantly stuck on screen restrictions mixed with level geometry, but mostly it's a clean running -- and lean running -- game. Collision detection also comes into play with the physics heavy final boss fight, which was equally the most creative and frustrating encounter.  The story is told over 10 or so brief chapters with replays encouraged by challenge instances and modifiers (collectable artifacts) that allow for Mortal Kombat Test Your Luck-style additions. Madly increased movement speed (please), extra unsafe damage boosts. There's a fair amount to tinker with. That's if you want to tinker, though. Again, Magicka 2 just feels like more Magicka levels and I felt fairly sated not even having finished the first. There's a giant enemy crab as a sort of sub-boss, and then you fight another giant enemy crab, and then you fight two giant enemy crabs. It gets redundant. Enemies are fodder, relentlessly marching toward you en masse, hardly flinching in the face of your supposedly powerful magics. The crowds get messy and you die, or you do a lot of running backwards while spraying spells at your angry entourage like metal filings chasing a Wooly Willy pen. It often feels like the equivalent to a shooter with lengthy mounted turret sections, the discovery of powerful spell combinations evoking sighs of, "Thank god, I can kill the next wave of 20 goblins more easily." And while I appreciate Magicka 2's lighthearted take on fantasy tropes, I don't like the bulk of its humor, which confuses making references with making jokes. It's like a non-hipster version of Life is Strange, allowing you to be self-satisfied for having seen Game of Thrones rather than Battle Royale. Thwacking a wooden cow -- or your friend -- and it exploding into chunks of meat is always funnier, but Magicka 2's actual jokes at least fare better than the winks and nudges. Repeated insistence that Dracula-accented, narrative-driving Vlad is not a vampire? Even a deadpan loading slide regularly reserved for game tips that just says "Vlad is not a vampire." Funny. Oregon Trail jokes? Belongs on Epic Threadz next to the "I [picture of cartoon bacon] BACON" shirts. If you want to pat yourself on the back for getting in-jokes and you can drum up enough play pals for co-op, you might find Magicka 2 [Borat voice] very nice! Like its references, though, Magicka 2 is just a retread.
Magicka 2 review photo
Spelling inside the lines
Magicka 2's tagline is "learn to spell...again," and that sums up the sequel to the Paradox-published, surprise-millions-selling first Magicka. The second fantasy trope stuffed outing comes from Pieces Interactive, makers of ...

'What Remains of Edith Finch?' is far creepier than I could've imagined

May 27 // Brett Makedonski
I was overcome by curiosity when I first saw this house in the distance. I wanted to explore every inch of this family's makeshift mansion; I wanted to glean any information about them that I possibly could, as if I were playing Gone Home all over again. That curiosity was quickly stunted as I realized that there simply isn't that much in Edith Finch to explore -- not yet anyway. Hallway after hallway was adorned by locked doors with nothing but nameplates and years on them. After looking at maybe the third one of these which told of a particularly premature death, I remarked "Sad. He didn't live very long at all." "You'll find that's a recurring theme in this family," Dallas quickly replied. What Remains of Edith Finch? is exceptionally dark in that it doesn't just speak of all this tragedy; it shows it. The majority of the game is made up of chapters wherein you relive exactly how the individual family members die. And, each one looks to be drenched in just as much mystery as morbidity. The one playable instance during our demo told of the untimely fate of a small boy, maybe seven years old at most. One night, he awoke to great hunger pangs. With a self-narration that proved to be equal parts adorable and macabre, he set off to do what any child in that situation would: find something to eat. The bathroom didn't hold much to satisfy his growling tummy, as he consumed a tube of toothpaste that didn't quite sate his appetite. [embed]292645:58691:0[/embed] It was then that he turned into a cat on the prowl for a bird to eat. With some guided platforming, he chased the feathered creature from branch to branch in hot pursuit. Eventually he caught up, devoured the unfortunate jay, and suddenly transformed again. Now, the little boy was an owl in a snowstorm. Rabbits ran through the fields below, and he swooped down to pick them up, three in total. Disturbingly, Edith Finch presented each of these hares being gulped down from a first-person perspective (as the whole game is), completely devoid of gore yet still unsettling. He noted how full they were making him, but how he wanted to keep consuming more. Then, he was a shark in the open waters taking giant chunks out of a seal. As the seal bloodied the water, he got more and more frenzied. Finally, he morphed into a sea monster -- one who navigated the deck of a ship and crept up on unsuspecting sailors before killing them. Almost as quickly as it all began, it was over. The boy was back in his room. He crawled under his bed, somehow knowing the fate he was destined to suffer. Maybe more disconcerting was that he seemed at terms with it. He knew this monster would kill him, and that was that. I don't fully understand exactly what happened to this little child, but then again, I don't think I'm supposed to. There's clearly a mystery that What Remains of Edith Finch? has buried across it's twenty or so short stories, and it's one that I'm ridiculously excited to unravel.
Edith Finch preview photo
But I could not be more curious
"What fucked up person came up with this?" I asked. Giant Sparrow creative director Ian Dallas sheepishly raised his hand. He knew I wasn't admonishing him, though; the expression on my face and the excitement in my voice gav...

Darksiders II photo
Darksiders II

The PS4 version of Darksiders II is called the 'Deathinitive Edition'


#Darksiders2
May 27
// Chris Carter
As a part of the Monthly Remake and Remaster Global Initiative project, Darksiders II will appear on PS4 sometime this year. I'm actually pretty excited, as I found Death's journey to be quite the fun romp and wouldn't m...
Battlefield Spring  photo
Battlefield Spring

Battlefield 4's big spring patch adds weapons and a gun-swapping mode


There's a pdf and everything
May 26
// Jordan Devore
DICE rolled out its spring update for Battlefield 4 today and it's substantial enough to warrant a pdf with highlights. The short of it is five new guns, the return of Battlefield 3's Gun Master mode, and a revamp of the dama...
Deals photo
Deals

Sony debuts new PlayStation Plus deals program with a sale on Bloodborne


PS3, PS4, and Vita deals through June 1
May 26
// Jordan Devore
As a response to feedback from fans, Sony has started a new members-only deals program called PlayStation Plus Specials. Typically, games are discounted for everyone on PlayStation Network, but PS Plus subscribers save even m...
Battlefield photo
Battlefield

Battlefield Hardline's new add-on trailer has shades of Hotline Miami


Our first look at Criminal Activity
May 26
// Brett Makedonski
EA and Visceral would want you to watch this new Battlefield Hardline trailer and take away the broader details of the upcoming Criminal Activity DLC. But, that's near impossible when there are guys with guns weari...
Evolve free update photo
Evolve free update

Evolve's free new Arena Mode forgoes the foreplay


You're out of a job, Trapper
May 26
// Jordan Devore
As a hunter, my experience with Evolve often involved catching a glimpse of the beast, giving chase, and then losing its zigzagging trail ad infinitum until it came back all beefed up to wipe us out. If only there were some w...

Yep, Ultra Street Fighter IV on PS4 sure looks great

May 26 // Chris Carter
[embed]292798:58682:0[/embed] At this point there are 44 characters in all, and you can select a fighting style from every different iteration of the game. It's pretty comprehensive, but again, most people aren't going to dig into all of the configurations for every fighter. In other words, if you already have a previous version of Ultra, especially on the PC, you'll probably just want to stick with that, as it's proven to work well at this point. 1080p60 on a console is nice, and only the most trained veterans will be able to notice the minor input lag from the previous generation to the PS4 -- since it's going to be the new de facto build for tournies, you can only assume this will be patched soon, but nothing has been confirmed yet from Capcom. The menus are a bit slower compared to other versions, which seems like a bug -- still, it's not a dealbreaker unless you compete at a high level. In terms of my netcode testing, all of the matches I've played have been very smooth. My main issue has been finding games, which you can likely chalk up to a launch-day "wait and see" crowd. I can't predict the future in terms of the adoption rate on PS4, but so far I don't have any major issues to report. We'll update you if that changes. Oh, and as community member Beelz points out, PS4 USFIV is the standard for this year's EVO. Ultra Street Figher IV [PSN]
Ultra Street Fighter IV photo
But there's a few bugs to squash
[Update: players have been reporting various bugs with the PS4 version across the net. While I didn't encounter any of these in my roughly 20 hours of testing outside of the ones mentioned here, it's important to be aware of ...

PS4 horror photo
PS4 horror

We won't have to wait until Halloween for Until Dawn


Everyone can die
May 26
// Jordan Devore
Oh, hey, that's digital Peter Stormare! How eerily accurate. He's going to be in Until Dawn, the upcoming choice-driven survival horror game for PlayStation 4 in which pretty young people are stranded at a remote lodge with ...
PS4 bundle photo
PS4 bundle

Amazon's selling PS4s bundled with a free year of PlayStation Plus


Not a bad time to get in on that
May 26
// Brett Makedonski
The late adopters continually have justification for putting off purchasing a new console. You know, as long as they don't mind the extra time on legacy systems. The latest reasoning comes from Amazon in a sneaky good deal. A...
Guitar Hero Live photo
Guitar Hero Live

I don't recognize most of the new songs revealed for Guitar Hero Live


But that's probably my fault
May 26
// Darren Nakamura
The tracklist so far for Guitar Hero Live has been a bit puzzling for some. Personally, I can suspend disbelief long enough to pretend to play a Skrillex song on guitar. I mean, I'm pretending to play guitar using an electron...
Game of Thrones screens photo
Game of Thrones screens

Game of Thrones: Sons of Winter screenshots, we have some


Painted with blood
May 26
// Darren Nakamura
Another episode of Game of Thrones: A Telltale Game Series, another batch of screenshots I took while playing through for review. There weren't any huge twists this episode, so I'm not afraid of spoiling too much, but as alwa...
Dragon Quest XI?1 photo
Dragon Quest XI?1

Dragon Quest creator hints at series return to PlayStation


E3? TGS?
May 26
// Steven Hansen
Dragon Quest Heroes is a thing that's coming west this year and Dragon Quest Heroes 2 has already been announced, but what about an actual, numbered entry? How about the first on a PlayStation Console since Dragon Quest VIII ...

Review: Game of Thrones: A Telltale Game Series: Sons of Winter

May 26 // Darren Nakamura
Game of Thrones - A Telltale Game Series: Sons of Winter (Android, iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed], PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Telltale GamesPublisher: Telltale GamesReleased: May 26, 2015MSRP: $4.99 (episode), $29.99 (season)Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit [Editor's note: there will be no major spoilers present for the episode reviewed here, but events in previous episodes may be discussed.] Those following along with the series shouldn't expect any major changes in how events play out. There is lots of dialogue, lots of split-second decisions, a handful of quick-time events, a little bit of exploration, and not much else. The split between the four living playable characters stays about the same as well: Mira's sections are almost entirely dialogue-based and Asher's are generally more action-focused. Despite being the Forrester known better for stabbing first and asking questions later, Asher's story in Meereen comes with some of the more interesting this-or-that decisions this episode. Where Rodrik has to choose between murder and mercy, Asher has the more nuanced quandary of loyalty to the family that exiled him and loyalty to his sellsword partner Beskha. Parts of Beskha's past come to light in Sons of Winter that give the situation more gravity. Of all the decisions in this episode, Asher's handling of the mission in Meereen is "the big one" for me, and I'm most anxious about the potential fallout from my choice, which won't show up until next episode at least. [embed]292557:58611:0[/embed] Mira's tribulations in King's Landing continue to be a high point for the series. Though this episode lacks the big names -- neither Cersei, Tyrion, nor Margaery makes a significant appearance -- the way Telltale handles Mira shows genuine understanding of what makes the source material so great. Any game could have quick-time swordfights, but a Game of Thrones game ought to be more than that. Her best scene is at Tommen's coronation feast. It comes closest to being like a classic adventure game. She must navigate the celebration cautiously, eavesdrop on conversations to gain information, and use that information at the right time. Even if it turns out not to be the case in the end (as Telltale games often do), the feast scene felt like it could have ended with a much different outcome. As it stood for me, I came out of it laughing, pleased with how clever I felt to have achieved what I wanted and particularly smug about the last line I had Mira say to close out the scene. It reinforced the idea that in King's Landing, shrewd manipulation of information is just as powerful as a sword, if not more so. Rodrik has his own share of politicking to deal with on the home front. A new opportunity lands in his lap that could help return control of Ironrath to House Forrester, and he has his own decisions to make, though they seemed a bit more obvious. Satisfy a desire for petty revenge near the beginning and he loses some leverage for later on in the episode. I'm curious to know how things shake out with other choices; in contrast to the first few episodes I feel like I made the best decisions for Rodrik this time around. There is a tense scene as Rodrik at Highpoint, the Whitehill stronghold. Not only are the stakes high, but it also rewards an attention to detail. Prior to the meeting with Lord Whitehill, some light exploration can help to reveal information that can be used in the encounter. It's another instance where proper intel beats physical force that feels right in place in the A Song of Ice and Fire universe. Gared's scenes were the least interesting this time around. Where prior episodes set him up to be part of the party that goes to Craster's Keep, he ends up with a blander story. It still has room to get better once the importance of the North Grove is revealed, but in this episode it felt a bit like he was stagnating. The oil paint aesthetic that turns people off remains, though it does feel like Telltale has tuned down the baffling polygon edge blur effect that plagued the first two episodes. It's still present, but not nearly as distracting as it used to be. There aren't any heart-stopping moments or dramatic twists like there were in the early episodes, but Sons of Winter sets a good pace and keeps it up throughout the episode. It's great to see the continued focus on shrewdness over brute strength for most of the characters, especially considering House Forrester's situation in Westeros. What the family lacks in soldiers, it must make up for in cleverness. Being party to the events makes me feel clever, whether I truly have much of an effect or not. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Game of Thrones review photo
Son of a...
At the end of Episode 3: The Sword in the Darkness, Game of Thrones: A Telltale Game Series was in an interesting place. Nearly all of the playable characters were in tough spots, but all of them ended the episode with some h...

Bloodstained photo
Bloodstained

IGA's whip gets cracking on Bloodstained level design as Ayami Kojima joins project


$3M bucks later, development gets going
May 26
// Steven Hansen
What with all the excitement around Castlevania: Symphony of the Night assistant director and subsequent series producer Koji "IGA" Igarashi's Kickstarter project, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, it's easy to forget that ...

Life is Strange: Episode Three Achievement guide

May 26 // Brett Makedonski
Chaos Theory: Finish Episode 3: Chaos Theory This is the only Achievement that's earned through story progression. Just finish the third episode. It shouldn't give you any trouble at all. Parallax View: Find optional photo #1 in Episode 3: Chaos Theory Break into Victoria’s room after finding out that she snuck off campus. She has a glow-in-the-dark action figure sitting on her desk. Shine your flashlight on it for a few seconds, then take a picture of it. Lenscrafted: Find optional photo #2 in Episode 3: Chaos Theory Awww, it’s our little squirrel friend again. He’s sitting on the bench to the right after exiting the dorms. Coming close will cause him to scurry away, but rewind time to get him to pose for a picture. The Reflex: Find optional photo #3 in Episode 3: Chaos Theory After meeting up with Chloe and entering the school, take a quick detour to the science room. Max wants a photo of the fish, so turn on the light in their tank and snap a quick pic. Histogrammar: Find optional photo #4 in Episode 3: Chaos Theory While you’re still in the science room, let’s grab another photo. Head toward the back and take a picture of the skeleton with a cigarette in its mouth. Smoking kills, kids! Bokeh: Find optional photo #5 in Episode 3: Chaos Theory In the principal’s office, take a picture of Chloe behind the bronze hawk. It’s not easy to line everything up; it pretty much has to be arranged exactly like this screenshot. Pinholed: Find optional photo #6 in Episode 3: Chaos Theory After getting dressed in Rachel’s clothes, stop off in the upstairs bathroom for a quick selfie. RAW Strength: Find optional photo #7 in Episode 3: Chaos Theory Just like the squirrel, our bird friend is back too. Before eating Joyce’s breakfast, scare the bird from the top of the cabinet, off of the fireplace, and out the window. Then, it’ll land on the fence in the backyard. Go take a picture of it. Viewfinder: Find optional photo #8 in Episode 3: Chaos Theory Try taking a picture of the big rig across the street from the diner. The trucker standing outside will stop you. Talk to him, rewind the conversation, and casually bring up the make and model of his semi. He’ll be so impressed that he’ll let you take a picture for real, as long as you also bring up Rachel Amber. Cross Processing: Find optional photo #9 in Episode 3: Chaos Theory Immediately after the last photo, move around the side of the diner. There’s an unfortunate birdie being swarmed by a million ants. Snap a picture of the carnage. Flash!: Find optional photo #10 in Episode 3: Chaos Theory Toward the end of the episode, Max will discover that her abilities range beyond what she previously thought. After a bit of revelatory dialogue, pick up the camera on the kitchen counter and snap this episode’s final picture. Camera Eye: Find all optional photos in Episode 3: Chaos Theory This one unlocks as soon as you nab all ten photos. Bonus Achievement!
Life is Strange guide photo
Point camera, earn Gamerscore
We're at the halfway point of Life is Strange, and while the story is moving right along, the Achievement lists remain similar. Ten optional photos to snap in every episode, and Chaos Theory is no different. This guide s...

Hack photo
Hack

Locked Steam achievement requires you to hack game's code


Invisible, Inc.
May 26
// Steven Hansen
It's not to say that secrets are no fun anymore, but the internet sure can take the luster out of 'em. I mean, what would have been the point of my dog eared, note scribbled Myst notebook if I could solve the whole thing cons...
Mad Max game photo
Mad Max game

Mad Max trailer is seriously missing some Furiosa


Warboy pale in comparison
May 26
// Steven Hansen
Oh, man. Look, I trust in Avalanche's (Just Cause) ability to make crazy, fun, open action games, even if I'm leery about the studio putting out two in one year (Mad Max and Just Cause 3).  But! And this is a honking 'o...

Review: Life is Strange: Chaos Theory

May 26 // Brett Makedonski
Life is Strange: Chaos Theory (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One[reviewed])Developer: Dontnod EntertainmentPublisher: Square EnixRelease date: May 19, 2015MSRP: $4.99 (Each Episode) As Life is Strange plays out chapter by chapter, it's increasingly difficult to talk about with any degree with specificity. Doing so not only runs the risk of spoiling the many significant plot points that continually punctuate this game, but it also feels like a disservice to discuss Life is Strange's events in black and white when much of its brilliance lies somewhere else. It's not a linear story progression that makes this title worthwhile, rather it's the character building and continually changing relationships that constantly shine. While episode two felt like it meandered too much, it laid the framework for an effective third part. Just spending that extra time inside the head of Max, getting to know Chloe, and seeing the incessant vitriol at Blackwell made for characters who are easier to empathize with. It all pays off in a big way in Chaos Theory as the cast is finally at a place where the audience feels like it knows them and cares for them. At the forefront of this trend is Max's relationship with Chloe, as the duo is ditching the re-introduction stage and have hit a groove of sorts with their interactions. There are plenty of moments when Chloe's rebellious carpe diem spirit rubs off on Max in a charming way; likewise, Max's level-headed and rational demeanor affects Chloe, probably for the better. [embed]292750:58673:0[/embed] These conflicting personalities may have been most at equilibrium during a serene midnight dip in the academy's swimming pool. It's here that the two are at their most introspective and humble. It's here that they express that they lean on one another. There's an understated emotionality about it all that makes it one of Life is Strange's best scenes yet. Really, the swimming pool scene best exemplifies the quality that Dontnod's employed masterfully throughout the three-fifths of Life is Strange that we've seen: restraint. It would've been easy to highlight the moment with some sort of memorable event. But, the developer didn't. Instead, it let the two simply talk, which wonderfully lends humanity to them both individually and as a team. However, it's not just Chloe and Max that are further humanized. Almost all characters have some sort of sympathetic progression, as Life is Strange continues to prove that it excels at dealing in shades of grey. We get a glimpse at how scumbag drug dealer Frank has loved and lost. We see how "step-prick" David password protects his computer not with a nod to his army service or himself, but with a receipt that holds the date he met his wife. The latter of those revelations is discovered through a fetch quest-style puzzle. As painful as it is to admit, this element of gameplay is still where Life is Strange is at its very worst. The reason that's sort of tough to swallow is because it always encourages exploration and will often reward the curious. However, when it forces that wandering upon the player, the pacing drops from a self-imposed standstill to a mandatory one. It's enough to deaden the mood rather quickly. It's a rare instance of Dontnod eschewing that aforesaid restraint to somewhat negative results. Thus far, the developer has done a great job keeping everything in check so as to not go off the rails. The time-rewinding mechanic still doesn't feel as if it's taken over the game nor does it serve as a permanent crutch. Instead, it's mostly sparingly used, usually to glean more information from a tight-lipped witness. Similarly, Life is Strange hasn't yet gone full-out on the paranormal aspect that clearly hangs over the entire story. This reserved approach is appreciated, as it lends weight to the characters and their personal circumstances rather than spotlighting the supernatural. There may be an imminent deviation from that pattern in the very near future, though. In the waning minutes of Chaos Theory, Max discovers a new ability that could easily shift the narrative focus. Chaos Theory is effective in that it's the first time Life is Strange asks the player to evaluate the net benefit of Max's ability to alter time. Until now, it's mostly dealt in small affairs where the results are immediately noticeable. Episode three finds a way to work on a longer timeline and with more at stake. In all honesty, it's the first time I've felt that exact heart-wrenching emotion that I experienced eleven years ago when watching The Butterfly Effect. The cliffhanger that Chaos Theory ends on is so perfect for this portrayal of the fictional Arcadia Bay, Oregon where nothing's ever perfect. However, it's also scarily dangerous in that it very well might render most of the world-building a moot point. It'd be such an absolute shame if that were to happen. We have to wait to see if that's the case. But, Life is Strange now has me in its grips, and if I'm worried, it's only because I care. I finally really, truly care. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Life is Strange review photo
Tornadoes in Texas
I'm worried about Life is Strange. But, it's not the same concern usually expressed when a game's teetering dangerously close to mediocrity or worse. It's the type of uneasiness reserved for a title that's taken three install...

Batman: Arkham Knight photo
Batman: Arkham Knight

Did you really think Batman: Arkham Knight wouldn't have pre-order costumes?


Of course it does
May 26
// Chris Carter
Because WB has to monetize every single facet of their games (hello pay-for-fatalities on top of a Season Pass and lots of paid costume DLC), Batman: Arkham Knight will also feature more pre-order bonuses beyond its $40 ...
The Witcher 3 photo
The Witcher 3

Two new DLC updates arrive in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt this week


One quest and an alternate look
May 26
// Chris Carter
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a pretty lengthy game, and it's about to get even longer this week. In addition to a new "alternate look" for Yennefer, there's also a new quest coming called Missing Miners. Both will be free. It'...
Resident Evil photo
Resident Evil

Resident Evil 0 Remastered revealed, arrives early 2016


Re-enter the survival horror..on a train
May 25
// Alessandro Fillari
Coming off of the super successful Resident Evil Remastered earlier this year, Capcom made plans to invest more in HD remasters of classic titles. And after seeing how well REmake HD sold, it's clear that there was quite an a...

Review: Stealth Inc. 2: A Game of Clones

May 25 // Conrad Zimmerman
Stealth Inc. 2: A Game of Clones (PC [reviewed], PS3, PS4, PS Vita, Wii U, Xbox One)Developers: Curve DigitalPublisher: Curve DigitalReleased: October 13, 2014 (Wii U), April 3, 2015 (Xbox One), April 7, 2015 (PS3, PS4, PS Vita),  April 30, 2015 (PC)Price: $14.99 In Stealth Inc. 2 the player controls a quality assurance clone, created for the purpose of testing products in dangerous situations and intended to be disposable. After surviving a test meant to kill them, the clone becomes aware of their nature and breaks loose into the facility, where they discover other trapped clones and an employee determined to kill them in service of a high productivity rating. To free the other clones and escape the PTI Complex, the player must traverse six zones where products are being tested. Each contains test chambers, progressively complex environmental puzzle stages focused on a different product. Test chambers are completed by accessing one or more terminals which open a path to the exit, while avoiding death by way of traps including mines, lasers, whirring blades, and the constantly shifting walls of the facility. That last one is a favorite of the game. Stealth Inc. 2 frequently employs traps which are unforseeable, mostly by crushing the player with walls and usually mocking them after doing so with pithy text. It's a game where level memorization is fundamental to play, an element reinforced by the rank-based scoring system which grades on completion time, number of deaths and the number of times spotted by enemies. While it does occasionally feel a bit mean-spirited, regular checkpoints within a test chamber usually mean that little ground is actually lost when it happens, softening the blow. [embed]292743:58667:0[/embed] The first zone, a testing area for night-vision goggles from which the player initially escapes into the larger facility, introduces basic elements common throughout the remainder of the game. The player's clone can run, jump, and cling to certain ledges, while encountering environmental objects (like pressure switches, force fields, and infrared beams), enemy turrets and robots, and the simple lighting system which determines how visible the clone is. Zones after this introduction each provide an additional piece of equipment around which all test chambers in the zone will revolve. The products vary in their range of function and the simplest objects generally provide the broadest possibilities. The Inflate-A-Mate, a small device which may be thrown and then enlarged remotely to become a rectangular block, is the most utilitarian by far. It can function as a weight for buttons, a platform for climbing or standing on, a wedge to stop moving walls, and a barrier to block lasers or create shadows. It can even be thrown over enemies and expanded mid-flight to crush them or provide a boost for high jumps. The other gadgets may not have as much range, but they have enough to justify ten stages in which to explore them, at least. The "Me Too" lets the player create a second clone, with both clones responding simultaneously to commands and allowing for one to be killed without consequence. A pair of teleporter beacons enables instant relocation for both the player and enemy robots, while a portable light illuminates paths and activates special switches. The least interesting of the gadgets, the "Jack Boy," allows the player to assume control of robots, provided they can sneak up on them and successfully time the use of the device. And while it's fun to control the enemies, the very fact that the robots are the only element the gadget interacts with gives it limited application. It doesn't take long to realize that for an entire zone you will tag the back of at least one robot per test chamber because that's all your gadget does. It's forgivable, especially as there is clever level design at work. Determining the proper approach to clearing a test chamber, where to throw gadgets and what objects to interact with first, is an enjoyable process if you don't mind the occasional bit of trial-and-error learning. A few stages verge on maddening in their difficulty, but these are rare and Stealth Inc. 2 is a moderate challenge, though total completion will require thorough and riskier exploration of stages to free hidden clones. Completing the eight required test chambers in a zone rewards the player with that zone's gadget for use in the facility overworld, necessary to enter the next zone and providing ways to reach collectible items and bonus test chambers. Completing zones also opens up the facility to provide easier access between previously explored areas and aid in the hunt for these extras. The previous Stealth Inc. had no such overworld; levels were instead selected from a menu. The addition does give the game a greater sense of cohesion by minimizing interruption of play and serves the sparse plot with more opportunities for taunting from the scientist (the necessity of which is questionable), but not much more than that. Moving from one door to the next is rarely compelling. There are few enemies and those that exist present little to no challenge, making these passages mostly consist of stuff to clamber over on the way to something worthwhile. It seems like the overworld should be fun, too. As the player accumulates more of the gadgets, the potential is there for complex puzzles requiring the use of multiple items. The way equipment works winds up limiting a lot of that potential, as only one tool can be in the field at a time anc changing tools returns any thrown objects. Stealth Inc. 2 is by no means a bad 2D puzzle platformer, but it doesn't stand out in a genre which has had some impressive entries in the past year. Attempts to improve the experience of its predecessor by adding an overworld feel more like padding than an increase in scope and many of its levels necessitate foreknowledge to complete them successfully. Still, there are pleasures to be found in discovering the many facets of the tools and the puzzles do an admirable job of squeezing out their individual potential in clever ways. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Stealth Inc. 2 Review photo
No trace in the crowd
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