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Reinhardt photo
Reinhardt

Overwatch adds a robotic knight to its roster


Go team silver foxes
Jun 11
// Nic Rowen
Well, Steven asked for more old men and Overwatch delivered. Reinhardt, the latest character to receive a personal sizzle reel, is a 61-year-old self-styled knight who fights evil by encasing himself in a robotic suit of arm...
Halo photo
Halo

All new Halo games will be publicly beta tested first, says 343i head


Beta safe than sorry, right?
Jun 11
// Vikki Blake
From here on in, all new Halo games will be preceded by public beta testing.  "Going forward, you will never see a Halo game coming out without a beta. [Master Chief Collection] was obviously painful for our fans and for...

Review: The Next Penelope

Jun 10 // Chris Carter
The Next Penelope (PC [reviewed], Wii U)Developer: Aurelien RegardPublisher: Plug In DigitalMSRP: $12.99Release Date: May 29, 2015 (PC) / TBA (Wii U) It's the year 3044, in Ithaca. Odysseus has been away at sea for 10 years, and his kingdom is now under attack by Poseidon, father of the Cyclopes race. As a result, it's up to Odysseus' wife Penelope to find him. If you couldn't tell by the year marker, all of this is set to the tone of a futuristic epic -- spaceships are prevalent throughout Penelope's universe, and Poseidon is basically a member of an alien race. A lot of people probably won't even pay attention to the ties to Homer's Odyssey, but it works for the most part. All of this setup brings us to the main event -- racing. Yep, somehow, someway, this is a classic top-down racer reminiscent of the Micro Machines games or Blizzard's Rock'n'Roll Racing. As such, the visuals are retro-centric, and I have to say, they look excellent. Everything from the animated anime-like portraits during cutscenes and the colorful, flashy in-game graphics are painstakingly detailed. The controls take no time at all to learn, as they mostly consist of just altering your direction by way of the arrow keys or the gamepad's triggers, but they'll take quite a while to master. Acceleration is automatic, but weapons and power-ups can be enacted by pressing a specific button (in the case of a keyboard, the up arrow). These range from things like boosts to bullets, which you'll often need to blow away enemies or blast through hazards like boulders. They're fun to use, but since the general gameplay is so fast, they don't have as big of an impact as they should. [embed]293674:58914:0[/embed] Power-ups also bring another classic racing mechanic into play -- energy zones from F-Zero. While micromanaging your abilities, staying on track, and fighting off foes, you'll also have to occasionally steer yourself into the way of energy areas to sap up more power-up meter. It's fast, frantic, and fun, especially since individual stages are roughly a minute or two long. What's amazing to me is that The Next Penelope hosts a four-hour campaign. Heck, with its old-school flair it didn't even really need to go this extra mile, but it did. The campaign is even further augmented by a full galaxy map, the power to choose what stats to level-up (including upgrades to steering, defensive capabilities, and more outwards camera zoom). Boss battles on top of all this madness make things even more interesting, turning the game into a full-on shooter. It's crazy how much variety there is. The four-person multiplayer mode also has a mini-story involving Penelope's suitors, who are battling each other for glory. It's not a fully-fledged campaign or anything, but it's a neat little way to justify its inclusion. The gist is that all four racers, CPU or player-controlled, are attempting to blow each other up while they struggle to stay on one screen. If you're left behind, you're dead, and the last ship standing takes it all. It's a good old-fashioned slugfest across nine maps, and given the way it works, all four players can feasibly share the same keyboard. It's important to note that no online play of any kind is supported. The Next Penelope is a blast to play on PC, and will probably be a massive hit at parties when it arrives on Wii U later this year. It's a shame more old-school racers aren't around, but with games like this and 90s Arcade Racer, the scene is seeing a revival that brings a huge smile to my face. [This review is based on a retail build provided by the publisher.]
Next Penelope review photo
My, how mortals take the gods to task
If I told you that I wanted to mix Greek mythology with the racing and shoot-'em-up genres, you'd probably call me crazy. But that's just what developer Aurelien Regard did with his one-man show The Next Penelope, and for the...

Overwatch photo
Overwatch

Overwatch might appear in Heroes of the Storm, but only after its launch


I'd be up for it
Jun 09
// Chris Carter
Overwatch, the newest IP from Blizzard, looks like their biggest gamble yet. It's not banking on an established franchise like Hearthstone did with Warcraft, and the cast is composed of completely original character...
Wolfenstein photo
Wolfenstein

Bethesda to release Wolfenstein: The Old Blood on disc


Pre-order today!
Jun 09
// Vikki Blake
From July 21, North Americans will be able to pick up a copy of Bethesda's Wolfenstein: The Old Blood on disc for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Until now, you could only purchase the title online and download the 40GB ...
Destiny photo
Destiny

Destiny leak hints at Taken King release date, new subclass abilities


Get ready, Guardian
Jun 09
// Vikki Blake
Destiny's next content drop, The Taken King, will release on September 15 and open up a third subclass and ability for each of the Guardian classes according to a report from Kotaku. Kotaku is asserting this following a tip o...
Dreadnought photo
Dreadnought

If you lose your ship in Dreadnought, you get put in a dinky little jet


In one mode, at least
Jun 08
// Brett Makedonski
Everything we've seen of Dreadnought thus far has been relatively low stakes. Sure, your ships are big -- and it's not good when they blow up -- but you'll come back strong as ever after a short wait. That's how Team De...

There's no way I'm playing Fortnite with randoms

Jun 08 // Jordan Devore
[embed]293554:58880:0[/embed] I didn't come away with any major new insights. This is a meaty game meant to be experienced over a long period of time, and it's hard to get a sense of how justified that will be from preview events alone. At what point do you grow tired of smacking abandoned junk for resources? There's also the matter of putting a lot of care into your fort's design but not quite enough care to stop the masses from ripping everything apart. Or maybe you didn't craft enough ammo, and now you're being overwhelmed by bees and laser beams. The threat of the grind demoralizes. I'm fond of Fortnite, conceptually, but I wonder if people will connect with it the way Epic hopes. It being free to play on PC and Mac will help. If you're planning on playing, be sure to do so with friends who can hold their own, communicate, and adapt when things inevitably go awry.
Fortnite photo
The PC and Mac beta is coming this year
I don't know that I've ever previewed the same game twice, but that's the situation I'm in after seeing Fortnite again at a recent pre-E3 event. It was much the same as last year. But since many people are unaware of what the...

MWO update photo
MWO update

Mechwarrior Online retools its MechLab again


Hold the phone, NEW MENUS!?
Jun 05
// Nic Rowen
Have you seen a commercial where a company basically throws its last product or several years of service under the bus to promote its new stuff? Like those bizarre ads for Domino's Pizza a few years ago which basically boiled...
Splatoon update photo
Splatoon update

Splatoon unlocks the paint brush weapon tonight


Look for it at 7:00pm Pacific
Jun 05
// Jordan Devore
Nintendo is adding a free weapon, the Inkbrush, to Splatoon today. It functions much like the rollers (#TeamRoller), but it's smaller, more nimble. As for gear, it comes with the Sprinkler and Inkstrike. You'll be able to fin...
E3 2015 photo
E3 2015

XSEED reveals E3 lineup full of hot new projects


Trails, Onechanbra, EDF, Senran Kagura..
Jun 05
// Kyle MacGregor
XSEED just revealed the games it's planning to bring to E3 this month and they're pretty exciting. First things first: There will be a lot of new reveals at the event, including The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel...
Torbjörn photo
Torbjörn

Blizzard multiplayer shooter Overwatch gets an old Swedish dwarf


Torbjorn
Jun 05
// Steven Hansen
Blizzard's first new franchise in 17 years, Overwatch, keeps adding to its cast of original characters. Well, as original as grouchy dwarves and Man With No Name knock off cowboys can be, anyways. The defensive-minded Torbj&...
Splatoon photo
Splatoon

Japan is really into squids now and kids now


Pure domination
Jun 04
// Brett Makedonski
Nintendo's Splatoon is enamoring people everywhere it releases. The family-friendly shooter has fans across the world transforming from kid to squid and back again. That influence extends to Japan, where players are eati...
Uncharted remasters photo
Uncharted remasters

Uncharted 4 beta access tied to The Nathan Drake Collection


Uncharted 1-3, 1080p, 60FPS
Jun 04
// Jordan Devore
Following this morning's accidental early reveal, Naughty Dog has come out with proper details on Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection. This bundle of PlayStation 4 remasters covers the first three games (in 1080p, running ...
GTA GIF photo
GTA GIF

A GTA Online GIF that sums up why friends are the best


Now that's an Air Bud
Jun 04
// Brett Makedonski
This GTA Online player looked to be dead in the water. The ground isn't much of an advantageous position to have when your enemy is floating in the sky. "Wasted" is imminent, right? Not if your bestie has anything to say about it. I was playing GTA:Online with a friend, and was pinned down by the cops. He helped out by being air support [reddit]
Splatoon photo
Splatoon

Splatoon developers talk about lack of voice chat


It doesn't seem to bother most of you
Jun 04
// Chris Carter
Just two days ago, I asked readers if the lack of voice chat in Splatoon, among other issues, really bothered you that much. Only 6.5% of you answered "yes" as of the time of this writing, and most people were more bothered b...
Dirty Bomb photo
Dirty Bomb

Splash Damage's team-based shooter Dirty Bomb hits Steam


It's still in beta!
Jun 02
// Jordan Devore
Huh. It feels like literal years have passed since I last paid much attention to Dirty Bomb, the free-to-play, class-oriented, multiplayer first-person shooter from Brink developer Splash Damage. It's still around. Stranger y...

Do any of Splatoon's online shortcomings bother you?

Jun 02 // Chris Carter
[embed]293141:58775:0[/embed]
Splatoon photo
No voice chat still a problem?
Splatoon is here, and our review was commented on more than The Witcher 3 or Hatred, which surprised me. People had a lot to say about Nintendo's newest shooter, and not everything was positive -- a lot of folk...

Review: Shooter

Jun 02 // Nic Rowen
Shooter (Book)Released: June 2, 2015MSRP: $5.00 Shooter is a collection of essays from recognizable names in game criticism speaking on a wide range of topics related to games that involve some kind of gunplay. Some chapters take a deep dive into the mechanical and technical details that make shooters what they are. Steven Wright's “The Joys of Projectiles: What We've Forgotten About Doom” for example, laments the rise of “realistic” modern shooters and how their largely interchangeable hitscan assault rifles have abandoned many of the mechanics that made early FPS games so pleasurable and skill testing. Others are more personal, such as Gita Jackson's touching reflection on how Counter-Strike could be seen as a microcosm of the (seemingly one-sided from her self-deprecating perspective) sibling rivalry she shared with her brother. Shooter strikes a great balance, it never gets so bogged down in technical minutia that it feels like a lecture in game design, but has enough mechanical grounding that it doesn't just become a series of anecdotes either. The games Shooter examines are varied and numerous. Of course genre forebears and trendsetters like Doom, Half-Life and Call of Duty are discussed as you would expect, but there is plenty of attention paid to less bombastically popular titles as well. Genre-defying shooters like Red Orchestra 2 with its brutally unforgiving depiction of realistic combat, and the insidious darkness of Far Cry 2, which sets aside the typical rationales for heroic violence to make the player complicit in something unsettling, get entire chapters dedicated to them. It's a great technique. By examining the few games that step outside of the bounds of typical FPS conventions and power fantasy dynamics and figuring out why they feel so different, it is easier to pinpoint the standard tropes and expectations of the genre that have become so ubiquitous that they are nearly invisible. Perhaps the greatest praise I can give to Shooter is that it made me reexamine and reflect on my feelings about a few games. When a piece of criticism grabs you by the collar and demands you take a second look at something, you know its doing it's job right. Filipe Salgado's chapter on the intentional ugliness and barely contained chaos of Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days almost made me want to play through the game again with a fresh set of eyes -- eyes more willing to see past the clunky mechanics and thoroughly unlikable protagonists to scan for deeper meaning. Almost anyway (this is still Dog Days we're talking about). At its best, Shooter feels like a lively conversation with some very smart people who enjoy, but expect more from, their trigger happy games. Its snappy, intelligent, and occasionally funny. At it's worst, the book veers into the pretentious. At times, it feels less like a conversation and more like an awkward dinner party dominated by a lecturing windbag everyone is too polite to interrupt. Thankfully these rough patches are few and far between. The rest of the book is well worth putting up with the occasional eye-rolling turn of phrase. Mostly though, Shooter feels important. The industry needs more “capital C” Criticism to unravel the subtext and ideas behind the games we love. Games mean something. They impart messages, communicate ideas, either by conscious choice on the part of their developers or by the assumptions they make -- the casual omissions and things taken for granted. We have to start examining these ideas in a mature, intelligent, and yes, academic way. Shooter isn't the first example of this kind of criticism in games writing of course; there have certainly been other books written, and articles penned (on sites like Destructoid, I might add) that dive into these waters. But, it is still very much a nascent field. Video games are a young medium, and we haven't had time to establish a critical tradition like film and literature has. We need to cultivate these voices; the generation of writers that will talk about games in a serious manner in the coming decades. What better way to stake a claim in this new field than to gather a variety of exceptionally talented voices to talk about and critically examine what is generally considered gaming's dumbest, most developmentally arrested genre? The thrill of shooting a Cyber-Demon with a rocket launcher may be obvious and simple, but there is a lot to unpack when you take a closer look.
Shooter Review photo
Looking at life down the barrel of a gun
Shooters seem simple. You step into the shoes of your typical tough guy space-marine or mercenary and empty clip after clip into the faces of Nazis, or aliens, or alien-Nazis from the vaguely disembodied gun bobbing up and do...

Splatoon photo
Splatoon

What's your favorite weapon in Splatoon?


#TeamRoller
Jun 01
// Jordan Devore
Splatoon released on Friday. I went away for the weekend, and now a bunch of folks are level 20. It's not a race! (Says the guy who is losing the race at a meager level 11.) Clearly, people are digging competitive painting to...
Splatoon photo
Splatoon

Ranked battles are nearly unlocked in Splatoon


More players need to reach level 10
Jun 01
// Chris Carter
Before launch, Nintendo detailed the method in which ranked play (Splat Zones) was unlocked in Splatoon. It's accessible only by players who have reached level 10, but beyond that, there's an additional requirement that enoug...
Splatoon photo
Splatoon

Splatoon's servers have held up fairly well at launch


Hopefully they'll stay that way
May 29
// Chris Carter
Splatoon is finally here. There's been quite a bit of community buzz regarding the game, and in my view, it turned out to be a pretty great shooter despite the fact that it's a bit light on content at launch. The really ...
Splatoon photo
Splatoon

Why yes, I would like an NES Zapper in Splatoon


Too good to be true?
May 28
// Jordan Devore
This supposed image of the Prima strategy guide for Splatoon shows some curious weapons including, oh my god, NES Zappers. The names even reflect the light guns' release years! Is this stuff real? One of the weapons, the Inkb...
Deals photo
Deals

Humble is bundling Relic's Warhammer 40,000 and Company of Heroes games


Step one: Play Space Marine
May 28
// Jordan Devore
There's a lot to love in this Humble Weekly Bundle of Relic games, but I have to give a special shout out to Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine. Years later, I'm still amazed it turned out as well as it did. Satisfying shooting, ...

Review: Hatred

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

Very Quick Tips: Splatoon

May 28 // Chris Carter
General tips: Try out every weapon in the game. Too intimidated to play online with it? Go to the shop to give it a trial run in the training course. Play whatever you want, but know that early on, there will be a lot of rollers out there to deal with. Talk to the cat in town every day for the occasional bit of free gold. Try to recharge your ammo by going into ink constantly. If you can get somewhere by way of your squid form, do it. There are lots of advanced tactics in this game, but one is done by inking the ground quickly below you, squid morphing, and jumping away from your opponent. Repeat as many times as necessary. In the campaign, you can press any level to instantly super jump to it -- it's really useful for getting around quickly, and I didn't even realize it until the very end.   Turf War: This sounds self-explanatory, but when you're playing Turf War, look for a special (grenade or super attack) that can earn you more turf. For instance, the Splash Wall is a great defensive tool, but other powers will help you actually cover more ground. You always want to be taking turf, even while taking out enemies. Later on in a match, look around for areas that haven't been covered yet. It's safe bet that the enemy team hasn't even realized that this place exists, and likely won't return to it as the match ends. Always watch the GamePad map after a death. Is your ally deep into a base with lots of uncovered ground? Tap them to super jump to them. Mash the screen (gently) in case they die -- you'll jump over there anyway if you tap in time. You'll learn to see certain weapons on the map by the pattern they lay down. For instance, it's easy to spot a roller going in a straight line, switching the territory color. Learn to spot them and stay away if necessary, and get to higher ground. Ambushing people on walls is a great tactic to stay alive if you're outgunned. While running around a corner, quickly ink the wall and stick to it. Most players won't suspect an aerial attack from behind. Don't have enough time at the end of a round after a respawn? Paint objects quickly in your base. You won't have time to super jump or get to any useful location. Splat Zones: Always get to the zone immediately, but create at least one path back. If you have nothing to do and your zone is more than covered, consider ruining the other team's path towards their spawn. It'll significantly slow them down when returning. There are a lot of items here that particularly shine in Splat Zones, like Splash Walls. Use these to block off choke points and prevent enemies from rushing into your zone.
Splatoon tips photo
Jelonzo is the coolest
Just because Splatoon is a light-hearted online experience, that doesn't mean that it lacks depth. Here are some tips to help you along the path to ranked dominance.

Shooters photo
Shooters

Assault Android Cactus looks like the next solid twin-stick shooter


And there's co-op!
May 27
// Jordan Devore
Assault Android Cactus? Didn't that come out ages ago? No, that was merely the initial Steam Early Access build. Some of us -- myself included, now that I've seen this latest trailer -- are waiting for the finished release t...
Splatoon photo
Splatoon

Large shipment of UK copies of Splatoon stolen, GAME heavily affected


Check your email UK readers
May 27
// Chris Carter
Our Splatoon review just went up this morning, and a lot of people have been discussing the game in anticipation of Friday's launch. Unfortunately, a number of community members have brought a disturbing series of events...

Review: Splatoon

May 27 // Chris Carter
Splatoon (Wii U)Developer: Nintendo EAD Group No .2Publisher: NintendoReleased: May 29, 2015MSRP: $59.99 Players will start the journey as a measly level one squid in Inkopolis. You should learn the layout in roughly 20 minutes. It's not huge, but it has a lot of character, mostly due to the fact that other players are littered about the townside. No, this isn't quite like a Phantasy Star Online lobby with live players running around, they're more like static NPCs that draw upon the character's avatar, style choices, and Miiverse postings. If you're not keen on walking everywhere to play a specific mode, an easy-to-access map is located on the GamePad -- perfect. There is one annoying thing about the hub world -- the news station. Every so often at certain intervals, a fake "news" show will play, interrupting whatever you're doing. It displays the next set of levels that are up for multiplayer, and any other relevant events that are happening. A lot of you will probably think it's cute, and it is a neat idea, but sometimes they're literally repeating the same phrases on the same stages I've seen multiple times over -- it's not a dealbreaker, I just wish I could just skip through it. Shops, however, are anything but annoying, as I'm a full-on fashion addict. Whether it's the shoe, shirt, or hat boutique, I'm usually inside of a [digital] brick and mortar location ready to spend all of my cash on clothes I will never wear. These items are mostly cosmetic however, and even though they do have some stats attached to them, they're negligible at best. So if you aren't down with the idea of amassing clothes, you probably aren't going to be spending a lot of time in Inkopolis. [embed]291959:58680:0[/embed] It also must be said that the story mode isn't really linked to the hub world, which is mostly for multiplayer. Any acquisitions from the hub are strictly used in online play, though you can unlock some weapon blueprints in the campaign and you'll get a few bonuses to bring back after you complete the story. In other words, think of the single-player narrative as a staging grounds for playing online. The levels themselves are very well designed, and in line with a 3D Mario game -- which is definitely a compliment. There's a lot of variety found in every single stage, with mechanics like geysers, invisible paths, moving blocks, and a whole lot more. Gimmicks never outstay their welcome, and just as you've started to master a concept, Splatoon moves on to the next one. The pacing is superb. Boss fights aren't exactly innovative, as they all boil down to "kill the giant weak point three times," but they are fun to play. They remind me of less inspired Mario Galaxy or 3D World fights, even down to the enemy models. All in all you'll go solo for roughly 30 levels, which should last you 10 hours -- a little less if you rush, a little more if you go for all of the collectibles (which do a great job of worldbuilding, by the way). So how is the game actually played? By inking everything in sight, of course! Well, sort of. In the campaign you'll have access to just the Splattershot, which is like a rapid-fire rifle. You'll use your colored ink to defeat enemies and create paths, which can be crafted on most surfaces on the ground and most walls. By holding the L trigger you'll instantly morph into a squid-form, which isn't capable of attacking (outside of a special super ability), but can traverse quickly in ink. You'll have to master the art of offense as a kid and defense as a squid to really grasp what Splatoon has to offer. Other weapons essentially mirror other shooters (Splat Charger is a sniper rifle of sorts, there's also a grenade launcher and a light machine gun) outside of the Splat Roller, which is utterly unique. In my mind it's easily the most fun weapon to play with in the game, as you'll roll your way to victory, painting the town as you run and destroy enemies along the way. It seems broken at first glance, but it's actually pretty balanced, as skilled snipers and nearly anyone with a gun can counter it from high-ground, all the while earning points online (which I'll get to in a minute). Outside of the story mode there's also "Dojo," which is strictly a one-on-one offline affair, with one player using the GamePad, and another the Wii U Pro Controller. Your goal is to pop 30 balloons, and you'll have the ability to choose from every basic weaponset as well as five arenas. It's fun, but extremely limited, and felt like a momentary distraction from anything else. It was really disappointing once we realized that we can't play together online on the same console. As for the amiibo-centric mode, the only figure I had access to was the Splatoon Boy for the purposes of this review. It keeps the high going from the campaign, mostly because it is the campaign. Each figure features the same levels, but with a new weapon -- in the Boy's case, a Splat Roller. The rewards are mostly gold, with some cosmetic items and the rare weapon variant. So is it worth $35 to pick up the lot? Based on the Boy, I'd say "no," but it's a nice extra. Try the story first, and if you are really itching to play it multiple times, grab them.The main attraction of course is online play. The entire draw of Splatoon is simplicity in this regard. Matches are short, and they don't feature voice chat. In other words, even if you get spawn camped or dominated, matches are only a few minutes, and you don't have another team taunting you along the way. The core mode you'll be playing right off the bat is Turf War, which is a lot like Tony Hawk's Graffiti gametype -- kills don't matter, and the more you paint the battlefield your color, the higher your score at the end. Your personal score is how you level-up online, earn gold for clothes, and unlock the right to use new weapons. I enjoy lots of shooters, and in my mind, Splatoon has easily carved its own little niche around them. It's a more relaxing affair, both in terms of the zen-like qualities of the paint, and the online experience in general. It's refreshing to be able to try out new loadouts without fearing that they might not be viable, and the maps are fairly easy to learn as they are symmetrical. Don't worry though, there's plenty of room for advanced tactics, which the playerbase is already experimenting with just based on the Global Testfire events. My favorite trick that I discovered while playing online is to paint a wall while running from someone, quickly hide as a squid, and leap out from above as they turn the corner. Ranked play by way of the Splat Zones mode, unlocked at level 10, can be a respite from constant Turf War matches. Based on the current XP gain, it should take roughly a day's worth of playing to unlock, and although Nintendo automatically enabled it for my build of the game, a "certain amount of players" will need to reach 10 to play it. It's basically King of the Hill, with more of an emphasis on zone control and kills than Turf War. Your objective is to score as many points as possible while owning a point on the map, keeping everyone else out of the area. It's pretty great, but sadly, these are the only two current online modes. Nintendo has revealed that more are in the pipeline (Rainmaker and Tower are already confirmed), but for now, you'll have to deal with just two. Online play was smooth for me during the past two weeks of testing on pre-launch servers. I've played well over 100 games, and there were only a few sessions that were dropped during matchmaking. Once the game arrives we'll provide a launch-day report of the server situation, but for now, it's been wonderful. There are a few hangups with the way this component was designed though. When you're in the queue for a round, you can't quit -- not even with the home button. It's a bit odd, especially if you realize that you need to handle something in real life, as your only option is to turn the Wii U off. Additionally, you can't switch up your weapons while you're waiting for a game to start, as you can only do that in the previous menu. Also, after a match is completed, if you hit "yes" to quickly start a new match, you cannot change your loadout there either. It's odd, as nearly every other shooter allows you to do so, and it breaks up the pacing to constantly drop games (that you can't quit) to go try a new style. No voice chat actually isn't a big deal to me in unranked Turf War as it's going for a more casual type of gameplay, but it really should be an option in Ranked play. After all, Nintendo set up a grading system that sees your rank drop if you lose. I'd appreciate the ability to at least communicate with my team. Lastly, there's nothing implemented currently for AFKers (I guess Nintendo is relying on short matches to eventually weed them out), and there are limitations in the current build in regards to playing with friends. After matching up and playing a few games, the game will switch you around on opposite sides every so often. An update is coming later this year will allow friends to play together consistently -- odd. None of this really bothers me all that much, but I can see some of these problems being major issues for a lot of you out there. The thing that mostly bothers me about online play is that there's only a handful of maps and two modes at the moment. In some ways, Splatoon's online component is disappointing, and the lack of so many features will likely push other shooter fans away. But most of those shortcomings can be forgiven in my mind because of how damn fun it is. As a shooter it's refreshing, and as a 3D platformer it's up there with some of Nintendo's greatest creations. You'll quickly forget about the fact that you're playing Turf War over and over as you squid down an alley, leap across a gap, and shoot enemies in the air as you fall. All Nintendo needs to do is keep supporting Splatoon, because the foundation is fantastic. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher. Nintendo also provided the Squid Boy amiibo.]
Splatoon review photo
A splash hit for Nintendo
If you think Nintendo hasn't been taking risks, you haven't been paying attention. Yes, most fans await the next Mario and Zelda announcement with bated breath during every E3 presentation, but the publish...

Hatred photo
Hatred

GOG refusing to sell Hatred


Still coming to Steam and Desura
May 26
// Laura Kate Dale
Whatever your stance on the controversial game, Hatred is finally getting ready to release. Hatred will be coming to Desura, it will be the first AO rated title to come to Steam, but it will not be coming to GOG.com. GOG, kno...

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