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Weekend Summer Sales: GameStop, GamersGate, & PSN

Aug 02 // Dealzon
Weekend Top Picks PS4 DualShock 4 Wireless Controller + Free Charging Station — $59.99 PlayStation TV — $29.99  (list price $80) <- use code EMCAWAK35 Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel + Season Pass (PC/Mac) — $14.61  <- pick AUD as currency to get this USD price. SteamPlay key. Duke Nukem Forever (PS3) — $1.99  (list price $4) <- two bucks too many? Summer Sales GameStop Summer Sale Evolve (Steam) — $29.99 (list price $60) Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth (Steam) — $19.99 (list price $50) NBA 2K15 (Steam) — $19.79 (list price $60) Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel (Steam) — $19.79 (list price $60) SimCity: Complete Edition (Origin) — $7.49 (list price $30) Alice: Madness Returns Complete Collection (Origin) — $7.49 (list price $30) Command and Conquer The Ultimate Collection (Origin) — $4.99 (list price $20) Mirror's Edge (Origin) — $4.99 (list price $20) Titanfall Digital Deluxe (Origin) — $4.99 (list price $20) GamersGate Summer Sale The Talos Principle (Steam) — $13.60  (list price $40) Blackguards 2 (Steam) — $12  (list price $30) Saints Row Ultimate Franchise Pack (Steam) — $11  (list price $55) Saints Row IV - Game of the Century Edition (Steam) — $7.50  (list price $30) Unity of Command Trilogy Bundle — $6  (list price $30) Saints Row IV (Steam) — $4.99  (list price $20) Dead Island GOTY Edition (Steam) — $4.99  (list price $20) The Inner World (Steam) — $3  (list price $15) Bridge Constructor (DRM-Free) — $2.50  (list price $10) PlayStation Store The Order: 1886 — $27.99 (list price $40) <- tehee? Driveclub — $24.99 (list price $40) Deadpool — $20 (list price $50) Ender of Fire — $8 (list price $20) Tetris Ultimate — $4 (list price $10) Recent Releases 07/30: Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor GOTY (Steam) — $40  (list price $50) 07/29: Absolute Drift (Steam) — $8.64  (list price $12) 07/28: Kyn (Steam) — $16  (list price $20) 07/28: Legend of Kay Anniversary (Steam) — $14.40  (list price $20) 07/23: Better Late Than DEAD (Steam) — $5.60  (list price $7) 07/21: F1 2015 (Steam) — $39.49  (list price $55) Upcoming Releases 08/15: Armikrog (Steam) — $18  (list price $25) 08/18: Final Fantasy Type-0 HD (Steam) — $21.60  (list price $30) 09/01: Mad Max (Steam) — $48  (list price $60) 09/02: Act of Aggression (Steam) — $30.60  (list price $45) 09/30: Blood Bowl 2 (Steam) — $36  (list price $45) Console Game Deals Dragon Ball Xenoverse (PS4, Xbox One) — $39.99  (list price $60) Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited (PS4, Xbox One) — $29.99  (list price $60) Dying Light (PS4, Xbox One) — $29.99  (list price $50) The Crew (PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360) — $19.99  (list price $40) Destiny (PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3) — $19.99  (list price $40) Far Cry 4 (PS4, Xbox 360, PS3, PC DVD) — $19.99  (list price $40) Laptop Deals 17.3" Asus ROG i7-4710HQ, 24GB, GTX 970M — $1,299.99  (list price $1,650) 17.3" Asus ROG i7-4720HQ, 12GB, 1TB + 256GB SSD, GTX 960M — $1,199.99 15.6" Lenovo Y50 i7-4720HQ, 16GB, GTX 860M — $949.99  (list price $1,660) 17.3" Lenovo Y70 Touch i5-4210H, 8GB, GTX 860M — $899  (list price $1,200)
Weekend deals photo
Everywhere you look
August is still summer and thus the sale train continues. EA titles were understandably missing-in-action during Steam's Summer Sale back in June - so if you want historic low prices on Titanfall Deluxe or SimCity Complete, t...

Review: Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold: The Fafnir Knight

Jul 31 // Chris Carter
Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold: The Fafnir Knight (3DS)Developer: AtlusPublisher: Curve DigitalRelease Date: August 4, 2015 (US) / February 12, 2016 (Europe)MSRP: $49.99 (Atlus tax) For those unaware, the Untold portion of the moniker denotes the inclusion of an all-new story mode, complete with preset characters and a new narrative. It sounds weird, but any Etrian fan knows that the series started off with dungeon-crawler roots, and thus, allowed players to basically create and customize whoever they wanted --with a loose story binding it all together. Thankfully, The Fafnir Knight includes both gametypes and multiple difficulty options for players of all backgrounds If you spring for the new setup, the tale starts off with low-key princess protection duty with your childhood friend Flavio, but quickly evolves into a grand tale of adventure to seek out the city at the bottom of the Yggdrasil Labyrinth. Early into the fray, your hero awakens their true power -- the Fafnir Knight class, capable of transformation. While the story itself isn't as memorable as a lot of recent JRPGs, it's still a fun enough narrative with a cast of likable characters. The dialog in particular isn't riveting stuff, nor is it laugh-out-loud funny; it's serviceable, which is essentially how I feel about Etrian in general. Dungeon crawling is basically the same as always (now with the enhanced 3D style), and with Fafnir Knight, you'll have the ability to manually map out your findings on the bottom screen. Or, if you're feeling a bit more conservative, it can automatically populate. FOEs have returned, which are basically giant superbosses present throughout the game. [embed]296957:59744:0[/embed] Like many JRPG superbosses, they aren't easy to best. You'll generally have to avoid them early on or risk instant death. Since they're visible on the screen, it's easy to see where they're coming from however, and you'll have to either deduce their patterns or use trap items to fool them. It's a nice little diversion, and returning later on to defeat a pesky FOE is a great feeling. Don't think that a more concise campaign implies that the formula has been dumbed down, as players will still be able to create an initial avatar and customize the classes of story characters. There is a caveat: you'll need to sacrifice five levels to switch classes. Additionally, you can't just call upon the guild to create new characters at will. To further muddy the waters, the Grimoire system seeks to mix things up a bit, as you can now equip party members with items that allow them to tap into additional classes. However, it feels extremely limited in nature, as most of them are a random drop, and it took me hours to find the few specific tomes I really wanted. It's an odd gambit by Atlus even in the confines of the Fafnir story, as the Etrian series has always prided itself on full customization. It's a bit easier to forgive once you dig into the new cooking mechanic, which has been expanded in an unprecedented manner. Now, you can customize ingredients and discover new recipes to craft as you cook your way to statistical bonuses for your adventures. Eventually, this diversion works its way more and more into the story. The Duke of the main town allows you to potentially earn a profit from the restaurant as you expand and re-invest in the town. It's a nice little meta-narrative and adds some lightheartedness to the game. Classic mode is of course, utterly different. It's a less limited tale featuring a mysterious labyrinth, and the experience is more about the journey than a real story. You can register new party members at will, and you're free to choose from over 10 classes at the start. It's very intimidating for non-RPG fans, so I recommend trying out story mode first. And really, that's what's so great about the Untold series -- it allows new players to acclimate without holding their hand too often, and still provides a way for hardcore fans to create limitless combinations of parties to their heart's content. Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold: The Fafnir Knight is a remake that's perfectly timed and well crafted, despite the fact that the formula isn't quite as fresh as the wholly new Etrian IV (I really miss the more open-ended maps). Now all Atlus needs to do is remaster Etrian III, and it'll have all four core entries ready to play on the 3DS. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the developer.]
Etrian Odyssey 2 review photo
A worthwhile update
It sounds crazy, but 2008 was a long time ago. That's when Etrian Odyssey II was first released for the Nintendo DS, and seven years later, Atlus has decided to bring it to a new audience with The Fafnir Knight. While a few of the advancements from later games don't translate perfectly, it's still a worthwhile dungeon romp, and another great entry in this storied series.

Review: The Swindle

Jul 31 // Zack Furniss
The Swindle (PC [reviewed], PS3, PS4, Vita, Wii U, Xbox One)Developer: Size Five GamesPublisher: Curve DigitalRelease Date: July 28, 2015 (PC, PS3, PS4, Vita) / July 31 (Xbox One) / TBD (Wii U)MSRP: $14.99 I'll be honest, this review didn't come out on release day because I couldn't beat the fucking game in time. The Swindle starts off simply enough: the robotic police force that defends all of that sweet future funding projects a light in front of them indicating their line of sight. If you take a second to observe most obstacles and enemies, chances are you'll understand how they'll react in any given situation. That's the beauty of Size Five Games' newest creation: through its hand-drawn art and deft understanding of visual cues, a glance at your surroundings is usually enough to convey all of the information regardless of your location. With a general lack of tutorials, it's appreciated that there was a strong knowledge of mise-en-scène (ha! I've justified taking that one directing class now) involved in The Swindle's creation. A successful robbery goes as follows: from a side-scrolling perspective, your scoundrel will arrive at a procedurally-generated location ripe for the plucking. With a combination of climbing, sneaking, and watching, you just might be able to walk away with a considerable sum of money. Small vaults/chests/containers are strewn about, but aren't worth much. Computers (which are hacked through deliciously tense QTEs) are where you'll want to focus your efforts, as they offer the best payday. If you're spotted, you run the risk of dying and losing your character, though your purchased abilities are universal. The police will send increasingly deadly forces at you, but you can still get away if you reach your escape pod without dying. For the first 40 days or so, I felt like I was building a slow, subtle mastery over my surroundings. Though I started by robbing the poor to work my way up, the ramshackle security systems were enough to keep me vigilant. The intricacies of wall-climbing became more familiar to me, and various upgrades to my thieves expanded the possible approaches available at each newly-generated building. I watched many of these swindlers embrace sweet death via bullets, failed hacking attempts on explosives, and oh-so-many plunges off of tiled roofs. Each time, a new one rose with a new outfit and name: Lafeyette Weedbruiser lasted six successful heists before a wheelchair-clad robot shot her down from a magnificent double-jump. I eventually earned enough money to move onto the warehouse districts and the mansions. Each area was progressively more difficult but offered more lucrative lucre. I bought bombs, money-accruing bugs, and the ability to hack doors and security systems, feeling as though the Devil's Basilisk would be mine with days to spare. It wasn't until I purchased the right to try to pilfer from the casinos and banks that I hit an iron wall of challenge. Instead of skulking into buildings with multiple access points and hacking easily-reached computers for big bucks, I was relegated to picking up chump change and scrambling back to my escape pod before the tenacious security bots spotted me during one of my many slip-ups. The titular swindle is actually the final stage, where you attempt to steal the AI device. You need to be prepared for the big event by having the right tools and upgraded thieves, but you also need to pay for entry. Saving up £400,000 is already hard enough; however, failure requires you to pay the whole amount for each successive attempt. Since you'll be spending your hard-earned money on necessary upgrades like teleportation, triple-jumps, and being able to stop in the middle of a wall slide (seriously, buy this), that buy-in price makes an already difficult game feel ludicrously unfair. There are ways to buy extra days towards the end, but the price goes up each time. That's the game over screen, which I saw at the end of multiple attempts at all 100 days. I'm not one to balk at a challenge, but the finite lives combined with the money requirement of the last level feel like an artificial attempt to gate willing players away from the ending. I have no doubt that somebody is on Twitch at this very moment, controlling The Swindle with Donkey Konga drums ghosting through the final stage, but the vast majority of players will mostly find the latter half of the game frustrating. I think it's telling that most of the coverage I've read has only shown screenshots of the first few stages.  There's also the weird bloom effect that permeates some of your jaunt through London. While it makes sense to have your vision obscured when the alarms are blaring and the lights are flashing red, occasionally the screen is bloomed beyond belief and you can't discern the minutiae on the screen. I've committed almost-perfect crimes, hacking security systems and clearing out guards, only to land on an explosive I could barely see. Get used to seeing starbursts of paper money explode from your fresh corpses for the slightest of transgressions. The collision on spike pits also is a bit wonky, and I've died a fair few times just for standing close to one. Depending on the kind of player you are, you might just start finding exploits to accelerate your progress. I'm not all that ashamed to admit that I took advantage of bugs, which seem to go against the whole risk/reward theme of The Swindle. If you get close to a computer, you can place a bug that will siphon cash to your account at a rate of £/second. This goes directly to your account, so you can avoid having to run back to the escape pod to keep whatever you earn. The thrill of sneaking off with a sack full of cash is somewhat diminished when you can place a bunch of bugs and wait by the exit, but I found myself relying on this method in order to actually reach the Devil's Basilisk. Since hacking is accomplished via directional QTEs, you can just spin the stick in a circle without punishment (unless it's a mine, which will explode upon an incorrect input). I only did this once out of curiosity, but it feels like an unnoticed exploit. Hacking is my favorite part of the game, so I couldn't cheat myself out of that experience without feeling like a sad sack. For the record, I played on a gamepad, which was much more comfortable than the keyboard layout. The Swindle is nowhere near an entirely negative experience. It's a festival of moments, of anecdotes filled with failures and smiles. I found myself holding my breath as I hacked a computer with just enough time to dodge three heavy guards coming my way, jumped over two electricity traps, clung to a wall to let a patrol pass, and bombed myself a new escape route. These pockets of perfection kept me hooked, and made me boot up The Swindle again and again in order to preserve this world of rogues. That, and my dedication to you guys. Now, the Devil's Basilisk is for all of us to share. You're goddamned welcome. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the developer.]
The Swindle photo
Steal shit, get hit
A band of thieves in Steampunk Victorian London has been tasked with preventing Scotland Yard's creation of the ultimate surveillance device: The Devil's Basilisk. If they fail to swindle said device in 100 days (read: lives)...

Neverwinter: Strongholds might get me back into the game

Jul 31 // Joe Parlock
Building your Stronghold [embed]296961:59747:0[/embed] With the goal of providing “interesting and meaningful experiences to guilds”, the process of creating and upgrading your guild’s stronghold is at the heart of the expansion. All buildable structures and upgrades are ultimately decided by the leaders of the guild, but those goals are worked towards by every member through the “Coffers” system. Coffers are the total resources available to a guild to help build up their stronghold, and they’re separated into three categories: materials, which are found in the lands surrounding your stronghold such as lumber; treasures, which are earned by playing through the campaign zones of the wider game such as the Dread Ring campaign; and stockpiles, the normal loot, gold, and astral diamonds players earn throughout the game. Finding these resources ensures creating a good stronghold for your guild isn’t just a case of the leaders fiddling with the UI; every member of the guild would have a role to play, be it collecting resources or planning out where structures will go.  Once there are enough resources to build a new structure in the stronghold, or to upgrade an already existing one, the guild leaders can then start the work of upgrading, while also setting the next goal for the guild to work towards. However, the amount of upgrades you can apply to a structure depends on the overall level of the guild’s keep. While structures have a maximum level of 10, the keep can grow up to level 20. However, structures can’t out-level the keep, so sometimes an effort must be made to upgrade the keep rather than simply rushing for all the new and shiny buildings. As players donate these hard-earned resources to their guild’s coffers, they are awarded guild marks with which they can buy new gear and items for themselves at the marketplace. It’s a way of incentivising altruism among the guild, and is one of the few times in the game players can make decisions for themselves that aren’t directly linked to the decisions of their wider guild. Another way the guild must coordinate in building their stronghold is in the new added boons. Boons are passive bonuses granted to players, and in Strongholds, structures can be built to grant the entire guild specific types of boons. There are currently four categories: offense, defense, utility, and Player vs. Player (PvP). The catch is not every type of boon would available for a guild at the same time, as there are only a limited number of boon structures that can be made. This requires decisions to be made about how players within the guild will be buffed. An example given would be a raiding guild may put more emphasis into PvP or offensive boons to increase their power. The boons in each category would be optional for each individual player, however what type of boon is available is up to the guild. It’s a neat mechanic, as now other players who you’d regularly play with have an active impact on how your character works, and how these buffs influence your character may well change in the future. Should the guild decide to change an offensive boon structure to a defensive one, the boons you previously had would no longer apply. It’s interesting, however I could also see it causing some conflict within guilds. The area given to a guild to build its stronghold on is the biggest zone Neverwinter has ever seen: it is three times bigger than the biggest previous one. The zone is split into multiple, smaller themed areas, each with their own enemies and quests. For example, there may be faetouched areas, or there may be areas that are more desolate, and different enemies may be encountered in each one. It’s nice to see some variance in the zone, as Neverwinter does have a problem of each zone being its own themed thing that gets boring sometimes: the snowy zone, the desert zone, or the city zone and nothing but that. Some areas will be sealed off and hidden until the stronghold has been built up and expanded on, but what’s interesting is that the future of the zone isn’t entirely known even to Perfect World yet. The strongholds system is planned to be expanded upon over the course of at least the next two expansions: Strongholds and a currently unannounced expansion after that. According to them, being “done” with building a stronghold simply isn’t possible, as new structures and boons will be made available in future updates.  While there is a storyline planned out for Strongholds and the expansion after that, the specifics of what sort of boons and structures will be included in them are apparently down to player feedback and community suggestions. New Player vs. Environment Content Building up a guild’s stronghold isn’t the only new addition to Neverwinter. Alongside it comes a new range of player vs. environment content, much like in the previous expansions before it. However, a lot of this will still directly help your stronghold grow. Firstly, the act of actually acquiring your guild’s new keep will be part of a quest line that changes as the stronghold grows. At first, your guild and a travelling band of Orcs will both arrive at the same time, causing there to be multiple skirmishes and missions available. Finding guards, protecting farms, and driving off Orcs to ensure that your keep is safe in the early days. As the keep levels up, new enemies will start to appear in the zone. For example, the second phase of the zone involves mercenaries appearing to try and steal the keep from you, giving you multiple quests involving dealing with them. The zone’s campaign appears to play out in much the same way as previous campaign zones such as the Dread Ring have, however there is also the added dimension of it being dependent on your keep’s level. Of course, there will also be a series of daily quests available from your stronghold’s steward too, and they will also help guide players to the next of their campaign quests. Greed of the Dragonflight That’s all pretty standard expansion stuff: more of what Neverwinter players will be used to. What’s particularly interesting is the major new boss fight that occurs in the Strongholds zone. Dubbed Greed of the Dragonflight, the boss is designed to be played by guilds of 40 or more players who must coordinate and plan out how to take down four powerful dragons simultaneously across the map. If one dragon is killed, the other three will flee shortly afterwards, requiring guilds to figure out which players are best suited to take on each dragon, and make sure all four of them die at the same time. Doing so will net the guild huge rewards, some of the most powerful items in the game, according to Perfect World. However, failure to nab all for dragons doesn’t mean nothing was gained. Due to some guilds not having enough players to take down all four dragons, there is a sliding scale of what rewards are given. The more dragons the guild can kill, the better the loot given. What I saw of this event reminded me of my favourite bit of Neverwinter: the timed boss events. Instances are great, questing is fun, but seeing the alert to head to an area of the map to slay as big-as-hell lizard was always really cool to me. It’s involving, it’s hectic, and it looks as though adding in the extra element of needing to size up who takes on which dragon will make it all the more satisfying when the guild succeeds. The difference between normal timed events and Greed of the Dragonflight is that it isn’t only a timed event. Due to a large amount of player requests, Perfect World is allowing guilds to trigger the event manually whenever they like, and so it could become a pretty big part of guild social life somewhere down the line. A New PvP mode inspired by MOBAs Player vs. Player in Neverwinter has been the centre of Perfect World’s attention for a while now: originally offering a fairly basic 5v5 arena mode, an open-world PvP was later added in Icewind Dale, and of course Strongholds will be adding even more for those who like stomping other players. The PvP added to Strongholds is a 20v20 Guild vs. Guild mode, which when I first heard about it reminded me a lot of Guild Wars 2’s World vs. World feature. However, it appears as though the new mode is being more inspired by the likes of Dota and League of Legends. This isn’t a compulsory feature, guilds must queue up to enter the mode. Once in the game, guilds will find their strongholds and surrounding lands “glued together”, with a river separating the two. The MOBA inspiration comes on the emphasis of controlling the various lanes between the two strongholds, while pushing forward and sieging the enemy guild. Perfect World has also catered to smaller guilds that might not have 20 players online at a time. When in queueing, if a guild has enough players to spare, they will be transferred temporarily to the other guild and fight for them instead. It’s a nice way of evening the playing field, but it will also be interesting to see where their alliances lie once the match is underway. It’s worth noting I didn’t get to actually see any PvP in action, due to the problems setting up a game with 40 players just to show me it would’ve caused. As such, all of this is only how it was described to me by Overmyer. Final Thoughts As previously mentioned, I’ve got a fair amount of experience with Neverwinter, however the lack of something to keep me interested once I’d finished the story quests meant I dropped out of the game soon after. Guilds have always been something in MMOs I’ve had an interest in, but never found the right match – I always ended up in quiet, inactive guilds where nothing ever happened. Strongholds looks like it wants to solve both of my problems, while giving me more of the solo content that got me into the game at first. I’m somewhat concerned that finding decent guilds might still be tricky, but maybe the new toys guilds can play with will convince people to give running guilds a go. PvP has never been a big interest of mine. I got into Rift’s quite a bit, but still eventually found myself going back to questing. Neverwinter in particular has been quite notorious for equipment you can buy in the store being perceived to be more powerful than stuff you can earn in-game, which always put me off PvP. However, if it’s true that the rewards from Greed of the Dragonflight are some of the strongest in the game, it could go a way to fix that problem. Overall, I’m excited. I’m definitely going to be going back into it just to see how all of these new mechanics change how people interact within guilds, if at all. Plus Dragonflight is a condensed version of everything I like about Neverwinter, which is great. Neverwinter: Strongholds will be released on August 11 as the next free expansion on PC. Neverwinter is free-to-play on both Xbox One and PC, with a PlayStation 4 version of the game coming in the future.
Neverwinter: Strongholds photo
An in-depth look at all the new stuff
On August 11, Perfect World will be releasing the latest expansion to their Dungeons & Dragons-based MMO Neverwinter, Strongholds. With its action-based combat, fantastic locations, and relatively simple mechanics, N...


New update and DLC out for Super Smash Bros., preview it here

Jul 31 // Jed Whitaker
Stages: Peach's Castle (64) Hyrule Castle (64)  The stages include their music and a few extra tracks as well.  Mii Outfits: Bear (Gunner) King K. Rool (Brawler) Flying Man (Brawler) Chrom (Swordfighter) Black Knight (Swordfighter) Lloyd (Swordfighter) Samus (Gunner) Hoodie w/ Smash Bros. logo (All) Also, I'm proud to announce an impromptu Super Smash Bros. Destructoid tournament for Wii U! The tournament is now live and joinable by searching for "Destructoid.com" and is open up to 100 participants. You have until Sunday at 8:00pm ET to fight your way to the top, then I'll reveal the results on the site and give you a shoutout. Huzzah!  One last thing...
KING K. ROOL & KK SLIDER photo
Smash Bros. Wii U tournament!
The new update for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS is out in the wild now, bringing with it new stages, Mii costumes, tournament mode, and balance changes. Included for free in the update is a K. K. Slider costume for th...

Windows 10 is now available, these are the gaming features you might care about

Jul 29 // Jed Whitaker
The start menu is back and why are we celebrating this!? A big complaint about Windows 8 was the removal of the basic start menu for the Metro system with live tiles, tailor made for touch screen devices. As most of us probably still use Windows with a mouse and keyboard it wasn't a great solution. It had some apps running in basically their own full screen only windows, thus defeating the purpose of... you know... windows. Thankfully Windows 10 fixes this by combining the old school easy-to-use start menu with the flash and flair of live tiles from Windows 8 Metro start menu. The apps now launch in their own resizable windows instead of full screen only, and plenty of them can be downloaded from the Windows Store for free. Windows Store for those of you who haven't heard of Steam The Windows Store includes plenty of games you can play with your Xbox Live friends and even earn Achievements, but most of them are just ports of casual mobile or Facebook-style games. However, you can find Project Spark on the Windows Store, which runs far better on PC than Xbox One. In the future you can look forward to the sexy free-to-play Gigantic which I quite liked at PAX East this year. Halo's Cortana is the new voice assistant you'll most likely ignore Cortana is to Windows as Siri is to iOS devices, that is to say she is a personal assistant that can be used via text or voice. Cortana is voiced by Jen Taylor, just like in the Halo series, and can do all kinds of tasks such as scheduling appointments, setting reminders, opening apps, and even chatting about Halo and Master Chief. I honestly haven't used Cortana too much but I don't really dig voice assistants, as they don't always seem to understand what I'm saying; even Cortana had trouble understanding me while using my professional grade microphone. Even on my iPhone I've literally only used Siri to call Buffalo Wild Wings instead of adding them to my contact list because I'm too lazy. Voice assistants seem more geared towards business than common folk like me. The Xbox app with game streaming from Xbox One is actually decent but lacks multitasking The Xbox app is free on Windows 10 and gives you access to all your friends, messages, achievements, clips and even allows you to stream games from  your Xbox One. Streaming from the Xbox One requires an Xbox controller (360 or One) be connected to the system which at time of writing can only be done via USB, though a wireless dongle is coming. The Xbox app also allows you to record gameplay and take screenshots of any game on your PC, whether playing on Xbox or not via a handy keyboard shortcut (Win + G) and pop-up toolbar. Game streaming works about as well as you'd imagine. I just played a match of Halo 2's SWAT -- a game mode requiring precision aiming due to requiring headshots for kills -- in which I came in the middle of the pack with over ten kills. There was a smidgen of noticeable lag at one point, but not enough to really affect the gameplay enough to matter. Video quality-wise there was a bit of artifacting but only if I really looked for it, even with both my desktop and Xbox One running on wired connections. Also the "Xbox record that" voice command won't work during streaming, so you'll have to use Xbox apps keyboard shortcut to record directly onto your PC that way. Supposedly better performance out of your current graphics card with DirectX 12 To save you all the geeky technical talk just know that DirectX 12 allows many graphics cards to have majorly increased performance in comparison to previous versions, meaning you might be able to play at higher resolutions with better settings on your current setup. For more details check out this informative video from AMD.  I personally haven't seen much real world increase in graphical performance, but I'm running on an Nvidia GTX 980 that could already max out all the games I was playing on Windows 8 previously. Perhaps you'll see some gains? Minecraft: Windows 10 beta is a thing that exists If you are one of those people who must have every version of Minecraft possible then good news, you can get the Windows 10 beta for free if you already own a PC copy of the game. Details on how to get the beta are at the Mojang site. I just attempted to do it and it is only allowing me to download the trial version, so your results may vary. This version of Minecraft allows you to play with up to seven of your Xbox Live friends at once and eventually even play with mobile players. I guess that is probably exciting for someone.  -- Windows 10 has plenty of other new features, most of which just let you do what you'd normally do more efficiently such as new ways to snap windows, a new task view, automatic updates, and the Microsoft Edge web browser that is probably the fastest browser currently on the market. Edge doesn't currently support extensions, which is keeping me from switching from Google Chrome at the moment. I've been using Windows 10 on my main system for quite a while now with no issues and with all my games and applications working as intended. Windows 10 is easily the best operating system I've ever used as it allows me to play, work, and relax more efficiently and effectively. It has been worthwhile for me.
Best Windows yet? photo
Pizzazz, pizzazz, Windows 10 is here
Windows 10 is now officially available, and those who have Windows 7 or 8 can upgrade for free, which is a pretty good price for what I consider the best version of Windows yet. Windows 10 packs a bunch of new features, including some nice extras for Xbox One owners. Here is an overview of new features you might care about as someone who plays games.

Review: Life is Strange: Dark Room

Jul 28 // Brett Makedonski
Life is Strange: Dark Room (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One[reviewed])Developer: Dontnod EntertainmentPublisher: Square EnixRelease date: July 28, 2015MSRP: $4.99 (Each Episode) Interestingly enough, Dark Room largely betrays the pacing set forth by the previous three installments. Those chapters had a tendency to meander as Dontnod built the world and its characters. There wasn't anything inherently bad about that. Actually, now that the game's nearing its conclusion, it's paying dividends. We're invested in the story surrounding Arcadia Bay. Still, Dark Room is always tugging at your sleeves, trying to guide you somewhere. The stakes in this episode have been raised to a degree that doesn't lend itself to killing time. Urgency permeates the entirety of Dark Room. Rushing from one location to another advances the plot as things escalate steadily, and there's not always a chair handy to take a mental breather. As quickly as things move, a lot of the brilliance behind this episode comes in the form of finally tying together past events and seeing how they cause everything to shake out. There's some resolution, even if it's not full resolution. Dontnod has proven that it expertly laid the framework to affect future encounters. One particular instance comes in the form of another spat with a familiar antagonist. The branching paths can lead to several outcomes, none necessarily more optimal than the next. [embed]296752:59714:0[/embed] Another prime example is very un-Life is Strange, and maybe the only time Dark Room just sat still for a minute. Max has a board of clues that she must use to put together some damning evidence against someone. Putting on Max's sleuthing hat, the puzzle requires carefully finding related documents and grouping them in a sensible way. Odd as it may have seemed, this section nicely conveyed a sense of inter-connectivity and broke up the episode's breakneck speed. The rest of Dark Room's high points were the bleakest moments the game has seen, none of which should be discussed here. This episode doubled down on grim material and somber social issues. The absolute best thing Dark Room does is that it still somehow manages to present most of this (and the characters tied to it) from a complex perspective. It's not dealing in blacks and whites -- even though it's completely expected by now, given the nature of the subjects. The more time spent in Life is Strange, the more obvious it is that this isn't the game we may have originally thought. The supernatural won't overshadow the social issues. The rewind mechanic often doesn't feel like an option because you want to live with your decisions. Somehow, Dontnod resisted the urge to lean on these aspects, even though they'd be the easiest to lean on. The game's immeasurably better off for it. So, after another cliffhanger ending, we're left awaiting the conclusion and with no real idea where the narrative might go. Dark Room has been the most masterful installment in Life is Strange thus far, and it sets us hurtling toward the finish line. If the first 80 percent is any indication, it probably won't be a "happily ever after" ending. Only one thing's certain, though: that ever-present throat lump will be along for the ride.
Life is Strange review photo
Super Max
I played the fourth episode of Life is Strange with a lump in my throat. You know, the sort of uneasiness that puts a slight pressure behind your ears. The lump waned and grew with the chapter's crescendos and decrescend...

Review: King's Quest: A Knight To Remember

Jul 28 // Chris Carter
King’s Quest: A Knight To Remember (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: The Odd GentlemenPublisher: Sierra EntertainmentReleased: July 28, 2015MSRP: $9.99 per episode / $40 for the "Complete Collection" To be clear, this isn't a true continuation of the series, but rather, a "re-imagining" with the same characters, and some of the same events. For the most part, this new rendition is going to tell side stories that happened between the games over the course of five episodes -- A Knight to Remember is the first. There's plenty of fanservice scattered about to keep old fans happy, but newcomers won't be lost in the slightest in their first foray into Daventry -- it's a great balancing act. When I first booted up the game, it was seemingly taking a low-key Ico-like approach, which I really dug. The protagonist didn't talk much initially, and you're thrown into an unknown situation that sets up the rest of the tale. It immediately reminded me of a Don Bluth project, with beautiful scenery and interesting character designs. There are a few areas I encountered that had some screen tearing issues, but nothing that affected my enjoyment significantly, or crashed the game in any way on Xbox One. Slowly but surely the game opened up and started to become more talkative, at which point I immediately fell in love with it. The way the game is framed is through the narration of King Graham, who is telling his granddaughter the tales of his youth. Christopher Lloyd plays an older Graham to perfection, with plenty of "grandpa puns" and lots of heart. You can tell he's really enjoying it and isn't phoning it in like some stars might (Destiny), and in fact, the entire cast is one of the most organic collective of characters I've ever seen in a game. There's tons of great references to classic films like The Princess Bride with a welcome appearance from Wallace Shawn, and even direct references to characters like Gaston from Beauty and the Beast. While I don't want to spoil the surprises, they're done with the utmost respect to the source material, and never approach the level of an annoying forced meme. It helps that the game's animations are incredible, and it's hard to not laugh out loud when you see Graham frantically running with his arms flailing about like Disney's Ichabod Crane. In fact, I've never laughed so hard at a game in my life -- trust me when I say that's not an exaggeration. I particularly like how the game handles death with the Grandpa Graham narration mechanism, which even makes failure funny. There's also a few hilarious references to characters "remembering that" from Telltale games, and a clever use of the narration technique in other ways. For instance, there's one part where you're walking on a log, and after going over it again, Graham mentions that it would be repetitive if he had to explain that bit over and over to his granddaughter, so it transports you to the other side. It's convenient and charming in the same breath. One thing I need to mention is that the game is not as hardcore as past King's Quest titles, which is to be expected. The narration element sort of clues you in sometimes to the solution (which again, is done very well), and I really like how the game focuses in on objects you are currently trying to use a piece of equipment on, to eliminate any nasty instances of pixel-hunting. There's also plenty of choices to be had that change the story in smaller ways, like leaving tips in a collection plate in any empty store, or bigger conundrums that promise more of an impact in future episodes (stay tuned to future reviews to see how this plays out). While the first hour or so of the roughly five hour adventure is rather linear, the game opens up significantly after that, with a large sandbox that isn't as massive as a classic adventure game, but big enough to roam around in. There's also some third-person obstacle dodging, mild on-rails platforming, and several first-person aiming sequences. There's a few quick-time events but they are very few and far between, which is a nice touch, as modern adventure games use them as a crutch far too often. Of course, A Knight to Remember also has several puzzles as well as some memory work involved, which are well executed. So yes, it's much more involved than your average Telltale game. I wish King's Quest: A Knight to Remember was a bit more taxing, but I loved everything about it. If this series does well I hope we get to see the adventures of other family members like Alexander, and additional areas like the Land of the Green Isles. Right now though, I'm going through withdraws for the second episode already. Move over Telltale, there's a new adventure king in town. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
King’s Quest review photo
A kingly modern classic
Not all revivals or remakes instill a sense of nostalgia within me. For instance, if we ever got that sequel to Kabuki Quantum Fighter we were promised in the original's credits, I wouldn't be all that excited. But King'...

Review: N++

Jul 28 // Chris Carter
N++ (PS4)Developer: Metanet SoftwarePublisher: Metanet SoftwareReleased: July 28, 2015MSRP: $19.99 If you haven't played N+ before, you're in for a treat. This series is predicated on tough jumps, pinpoint controls, and a physics system that's built on momentum. All you can really do with your ninja avatar is jump, but you'll be able to use acceleration and specific leaps to your advantage. It's a platforming fan's dream, as nearly every level presents a unique challenge that will force you to master every facet of the control scheme. The general layout of the game is also dead simple. You have 90 seconds to complete each level, and picking up gold along the way increases your timer. On every stage you'll need to brush against a switch to open up the exit door, then make your way to said door. It's cleverly paced, as you can choose to go for as little or as much gold as you want -- though hardcore players will likely want the clear bonus earned for picking it all up.N++ is massive in size, and to properly convey just how big it is, let me just give you a concise breakdown: Solo:600 new N++ levels125 Intro 600 Legacy Co-op: 300 N++ 50 Intro 120 Legacy Race: 300 N++ 25 Intro 120 Legacy Yeah, that's a lot of levels right? What I really like about the campaign in particular this time around is that it does a better job of acclimating players to the game, and all of the different concepts within. These arenas are short enough where you won't get bored learning the basics, but you'll be adequately prepared for what's next. While I finished most of the solo stages, I wasn't able to complete them all, and I played for roughly 30 hours. Co-op is particularly fun (with up to four players), as some stages specifically require people to suicide into hazards to let the other player complete the level. Races are also a rush, requiring one player to get to the goal first, and while they operate similarly to the solo sets (they can even be played by yourself), they can get crazy with multiple people, and if you really want, you can play the solo stages with friends. Sadly, there's no online play to be found for any mode, which is a disappointment. In terms of extras, I like how the game keeps track of crazy stats like how much of your time was spent in the air, on the ground, and on the wall, and there's a ton of really cool UI and visual filters to unlock and test out.  If you're so inclined you can also create levels with all of the available tools used to develop the game, and share it online. Even pre-launch there's already over 100 levels up, and the coolest one I found automatically takes you through a giant level without pressing anything. Others are more artsy, with messages and poetry that gradually appear on-screen. N++ might lack online play and feel like more of the same, but it's pretty much everything a platformer fan could want out of a sequel. It's still challenging, it has a boatload of levels, and it's a hell of a lot of fun to play. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
N++ review photo
Go ninja go, again
I don't think anyone could have predicted to success of the original N+. I was sitting around my dorm, playing Devil May Cry 3 for the billionth time, and my friend came in and said "dude, you have to play this game." It...

Review: Five Nights at Freddy's 4

Jul 24 // Nic Rowen
Five Nights at Freddy's 4 (PC)Developer: Scott Cawthon Publisher: Scott Cawthon Released: July 23, 2015MSRP: $8.00 The setup of Five Nights 4 intentionally replicates the design of the first game. The original cast is back, their avenues of attack directly mimic their first outing, and the general layout of your besieged room is the same, making this entry feel like closing a loop. But, this time instead of haunting a creepy knock-off Chuck E. Cheese restaurant, they're spooking up your home instead. There are no more security cameras to monitor, no more batteries to fuss over. You're just a little kid with a flashlight, scampering between the two doors into his room and whatever might be lurking in his closet (or right behind him). The type of sense you rely on has been inverted: instead of keeping an eye on things, this time you'll be listening for whatever is out there. When you creep up to a door you have to pause, wait a moment, and listen for any kind of breathing or noise in the darkened hallway. If you hear something, you need to shut the door as fast as you possibly can. If it's clear, shining your flashlight down the hall will ward off anything stalking towards you. If you're wrong though, and the monster is right there, and you shine your flashlight right into its toothy mechanical face, well, it's is the last thing you'll ever do. What this means mechanically, is that you need to absolutely crank up the volume to reliably hear things. Headphones are nearly required. Of course, the jump scare death animations are as loud as ever. Do you see where this is going? Sonic fucking boom. If you want to know if this game made me yelp, or jump, or spill my coffee and send me trudging to the kitchen for a roll of paper towels while I swore angrily under my breath -- yes, it did. Of course it did. It's a cycle of protracted periods of peering into the darkness and intensely listening to absolutely nothing interrupted with SUDDEN. LOUD. JUMP. SCARES.   [embed]296612:59683:0[/embed] It's an easy, dull, and obvious trick. The final refuge for a game that has run out of any other ways to scare people. Don't think of anything new and clever, forget introducing any kind of gameplay twist, or carefully establishing tension or mood. Just take the basic components, crank up the contrast, pump up the volume, and jam the severity. It's trite, lazy even. I'm not sure how the inevitable Five Nights at Freddy's 5 will be able to top this kind of “subtlety.” Maybe it will come with a pair of electrodes you attach to your testicles, so it can administer 5,000 volts of spookiness every time something goes “boo.” *BZZZZZT* What, did that make you jump? Sissy. There are a few other tricks. Monsters introduced in later nights operate with slightly different rules, and by the time the fifth night rolls around, you'll be sprinting all over the bedroom trying to keep things locked down. Unlike previous games though, the rules don't feel tight. Things are sloppier, with more guesswork and chance baked into the experience. When I died, I often had no idea what I did wrong. And if I'm being honest, when I succeeded I wasn't always sure why. Frustrating deaths and unearned victories are equally unsatisfying in their own way. The animatronics' logic was never clear enough to me to come up with a reliable strategy to keep them at bay. I supposed that could be intentional, a way of always keeping even seasoned players on their toes, but I think that's giving the design credit it doesn't deserve. More than any other Freddy game so far, I just felt exasperated and annoyed playing through Five Nights 4.   The emphasis on carefully listening for every creak and groan in the darkness isn't just a lame way to manufacture easy scares. It's also a way to ruin one of the greatest pleasures I've had with the series, namely playing the game with an audience. While others sneer at Freddy's for being pure Twitch/YouTube bait, I've always understood it. I get why these games are fun to watch because I know how well they play in the living room with a couple of spectators and rotating victims. There is a real joy in playing these games with someone else or two in the room to watch you screw up. To have a small chorus whispering “oh shit, oh shit, oh shit...” behind your shoulder as the tension mounts. Of having someone to exchange nervous glances with when the doors stop working and it's 5 AM going on 6 AM and there is just the tiniest chance that you might roll over to the next day before Freddy pops out and – “OH GOD HE'S IN THE ROOM!” Those were moments I missed while I played Five Nights 4. What I'd think about while I was all hunched up in my chair with a pair of headphones clamped on tight. The memories that made me feel like a traitor whenever I violently shushed anyone in the room who made even the slightest distracting peep. However you played the previous games, know that this Five Nights is purely for the lone wolves and streamers out there who don't mind strapping on their pair of overly-expensive, sound-canceling Beats By Dre. But enough about how I resent the bargain-basement scares and penny-ante tricks the game uses to provoke a response from you. Enough about how this game is profoundly annoying and deeply unimaginative on a mechanical level. As a person who has followed the series since its start, the most damning part of this boondoggle of a game is how it absolutely folds under the pressure of its own established narrative. After all the teasing and hints, the essay-length forum posts and amazing fan-made theory videos that manage to be more entertaining than the games themselves, the promise that THIS Freddy's will be the one to finally answer the series long-standing questions -- it completely flubs the landing. All of the world building and story momentum generated by the first three games lurches to a disappointing stop, like a wind-up car gummed up with carpet lint. Yes, the infamous “bite of '87” is finally addressed in Five Nights 4. But like so many smoke monsters and Cylon replicants, the mystery was always better than any answer the series could reasonably provide. You see it, say “meh” to yourself, and retroactively wonder what the big deal was in the first place. The fact that this kind of anti-climax is common doesn't excuse Five Nights 4 of its wet noodle narrative and limp “reveals.” If anything, all of those previous failures should have been taken as cautionary tales, the value of mystery should be known and respected by now. Some questions are better left unanswered. It doesn't help that the way the game wraps up heavily implies that the events it depicts should not be taken literally. Yes, the tired old “it was all a dream/nightmare, or maybe a metaphor, or like a weird trippy memory, I don't know” trope is dusted off once again, so nothing is particularly clear. That's without getting into how the chaotic mass of prequels, reveals, and reinterpretations the games have constructed now threatens to collapse into a superdense black hole of no-longer-giving-a-shit at this point. I almost broke out a whiteboard trying to figure out the series' mythology at this point. “Okay, so this game is set in '87 to see the infamous 'bite,' around the same time as the prequel events in Five Nights 2. But it's also BEFORE the murders of the children that haunt Five Nights 1 and what you find out happens with Springtrap in Five Nights 3. The Purpleman doesn't really have a role, but he does show up in a cameo. Wait, are the kids in the last cutscene the eventual murder victims? Oh god, I'm seeing spots. Is this a migraine, or am I having a stroke? Do I need to call 911? If I die, are they going to find my body splayed out in front of a computer with a bunch of crazy notes about Five Nights at Freddy's? Am I going to end up as some shitty urban myth about how Five Nights totally killed a reviewer?” This game is stressful in all the wrong ways. The now familiar Atari-esque mini-games appear between chapters to deliver their payload of exposition and spooks, but all the menace of those scenes has been lanced and drained by repetition. There is a new sort of mini-game between nights where you play Weeping Angel stop-'n'-go with an animated plush doll. Stop him on a specific mark and you can knock two hours off the next night. Let him get too close or run out of time and, you guessed it, JUMP SCARE! It's the one new addition Five Nights 4 brings to the table, and it feels like the shadow of a reflection of an afterthought. You don't need to play this game. Even if you've been invested in the series up till now, it's just going to disappoint you and rankle your nerves. The interesting gimmicks have been completely rung out of the franchise; this game is imaginatively bone dry. The louder, nastier jump scares that are left are just a crass attempt to try and distract you from the lack of innovation. The story, the ongoing mystery of Freddy Fazbear's Pizzeria, and the strange goings-on surrounding it are best left to your personal headcanon or favorite fan theory. You'd be better served experiencing Five Nights at Freddy's 4 the way it was obviously intended to be enjoyed. By going on YouTube and watching some twenty-five-year-old, dressed like a fourteen-year-old, scream and cry his way through the game like a seven-year-old. The game truly has come full circle. [This review is based on a retail build of the game purchased by the reviewer.]
Five Nights 4 Review photo
This guest has overstayed its welcome
Well, it's been a few months, time for another Five Night at Freddy's game I suppose. I don't like to be cynical. I don't volunteer to review games, and pay for them out of my own pocket, hoping that they'll disappoint me and...

Asassin's Creed titles hit new low price as PC Summer Sale continues

Jul 24 // Dealzon
Top Deals Games Planet 2015 Summer Sale<- new low on lots of titles Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin (Steam) — $20.99  (list price $50) Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel (Steam) — $13.99  (list price $60) NBA 2K15 (Steam) — $11.62  (list price $60) Act of Aggression (Steam) — $29.45  (list price $45) <- access to multi-player beta PlayStation 4 Batman: Arkham Knight Bundle — $369.99  (list price $450) Dead: Xbox One 1TB Halo: MCC Bundle + $50 Gift Card — $399.99  (list price $400)** Xbox One Halo: MCC 500GB Bundle + $50 Gift Card — $349.99  (list price $400)** Recent Releases 07/23: Better Late Than DEAD (Steam) — $4.31  <- yep another open-world survival 07/21: F1 2015 (Steam) — $39.49  (list price $55) 07/20: Breach & Clear: Deadline (Steam) — $10.32  (list price $20) Upcoming Releases 09/29: NBA 2K16 (Steam) — $46.20  (list price $60) 09/30: Blood Bowl 2 (Steam) — $34.65  (list price $45) 11/10: Fallout 4 (Steam) — $46.20  (list price $60) <- 23% off returns PC Game Deals Games Planet 2015 Summer Sale Assassin's Creed Rogue (Uplay) — $25.19  (list price $50) Assassin's Creed Unity (Uplay) — $21.70  (list price $60) Football Manager 2015 (Steam) — $15.49  (list price $50) Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 (Steam) — $8.90  (list price $40) Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag (Uplay) — $6.19  (list price $30) GOG EA Catalog Sale SimCity 4 Deluxe Edition (DRM-Free) — $7.99  (list price $20) Jade Empire Special Edition (DRM-Free) — $5.99  (list price $15) Lands of Lore 3 (DRM-Free) — $2.39  (list price $6) Populous (DRM-Free) — $2.39  (list price $6) Ultima Underworld 1 + 2 (DRM-Free) — $2.39  (list price $6) Theme Park (DRM-Free) — $2.39  (list price $6) Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri Planetary Pack (DRM-Free) — $2.39  (list price $6) SimCity 2000 Special Edition (DRM-Free) — $2.39  (list price $6) Theme Hospital (DRM-Free) — $2.39  (list price $6) Dungeon Keeper 2 (DRM-Free) — $2.39  (list price $6) More PC Deals The Witcher III: Wild Hunt (DRM-Free) — $29.99  (list price $60) Dying Light (Steam) — $29.99  (list price $50) Pillars of Eternity Hero Edition (Steam) — $18.95  (list price $45) Blackguards Franchise Pack (Steam) — $15  (list price $55) Sid Meier's Civilization V: Complete Edition (Steam) — $12.50  (list price $50) Console Game Deals Disney Infinity: Marvel 2.0 Starter (XOne.360, PS4/3, Wii U) — $34.99  (list $75)** Skylanders Trap Team Starter Kit (PS4/3, XOne/360,) — $29.99  (list $60)** Disney Infinity: Toy Box Starter 2.0 (PS4/3, XOne/360) — $29.99  (list $60)** Madden NFL 15 (PS4/3, XOne/360) — $19.99  (list $30)** The Evil Within (PS4, Xbox One) — $19.99  (list $60) Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z (PS3, Xbox 360) — $5.99  (list $10) Borderlands 2 (PS3) — $3.99  (list $15) PS4 Dynasty Warriors 8 Xtreme Legends Complete (PS4) — $29.99  (list price $60)** Duck Dynasty (PS4) — $27.99  (list price $40)** Trials Fusion (PS4) — $19.99  (list price $40) Killzone: Shadow Fall (PS4) — $15.99  (list price $40) Xbox One Xbox One + Kinect + $50 Gift Card (Refurbished) — $379.99  (list price $380)** Xbox Live Gold 12 Month Gold (Physical Card) — $35.99  (list price $60) Xbox Live 12 Month Gold (Digital Code) — $34.95  (list price $60) Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved (Xbox One) — $9.99  (list price $40)** Titanfall (Xbox One) — $7.99  (list price $20)** Xbox 360 The Voice + Microphone (Xbox 360) — $29.99  (list price $40)** Ultimate Stealth Pack (Xbox 360) — $14.99  (list price $30) Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag (Xbox 360) — $9.99  (list price $20) Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved (Xbox 360) — $7.99  (list price $30)** PS3 Metal Gear Solid: The Legacy Collection (PS3) — $29.90  (list price $50) The Awakened Fate: Ultimatum (PS3) — $27.99  (list price $40) Alien: Isolation Nostromo Edition (PS3) — $19.99  (list price $30) Dark Souls II (Xbox 360) — $11.99  (list price $30) Escape Dead Island (PS3) — $8.99  (list price $30) Michael Jackson The Experience (PS3) — $3.99  (list price $20) Just Dance 2014 (PS3) — $2.99  (list price $40) Wii U Mario Party 10 + Mario Amiibo (Wii U) — $39.99  (list price $50) Zombie U (Wii U) — $8.99  (list price $30) 3DS Super Smash Bros. (Nintendo 3DS) — $29.99  (list price $40) Mario Kart 7 (Nintendo 3DS) — $19.99  (list price $30) Skylanders Giants Portal Owners Pack (Nintendo 3DS) — $9.99  (list price $60) Laptop Deals 17.3" MSI Stealth Pro i7-4710HQ, 16GB, GTX 970M — $1,499.99  (list $1,850) 17.3" Asus ROG i7-4720HQ, 16GB, 512GB, GTX 960M, 4K — $1,399.99  (list $1,699) 15.6" Lenovo Z51 i7-5500U, 8GB, Radeon R9 M375 — $669  (list $1,080) HDTV Deals 55" Sharp 2160p 4K Ultra HD LED TV — $899.99  (list price $1,000)** 60" Westinghouse 1080p Smart LED HDTV — $649.99  (list price $700)** 50" Seiki 2160p 4K Ultra HD LED TV — $399.99  (list price $1,000) Game deals from Dealzon. Sales help support Destructoid.
Weekend deals photo
Come grab the 18th or whatever # title
Where GMG's Summer Sale ends, Games Planet picks up the baton to take a stab at your wallet. The retailer's sale has been going fairly well in terms of the variety of titles at historic low prices. Fri/Sat batch inc...

How the hell did Galak-Z hide a Gundam for three years?

Jul 24 // Steven Hansen
Let's recap for a second if you haven't been following along. Galak-Z is broken into five seasons each with five episodes. The fifth season will be added in for free post launch. This is one diversion from the typical roguelike set up, in that when you die, you don't start all the way at the beginning of the game, but rather at the beginning of whichever "season" you're on. "One of [Kazdal's] pet peeves with roguelikes" is that playing very beginning segments over and over can get boring, so this blends that death-based need to replay with earned progression. More typically, levels are randomly generated, and you get different fractions of story and dialogue every time. This way you won't hear the same repeated bits death after death, but slowly glean more information until you finally get through the season. The space shooting half we already knew about is not just a twin-stick shooter, either. The ship maps thrusters (and a boost) to the triggers. There's also a backwards thruster so you can shoot and flee, a dodge thruster, and a a barrel roll (square) that juts the ship "toward" you like it's coming out of the screen (and over incoming bullets on the 2D plane). You have your standard weapon and an Itano Circus missile salvo (limited, but you can buy more if you find the shop during levels). [embed]296589:59676:0[/embed] Ok, so the not-Gundam? You can morph the ship into the robot at any time with a smooth, Transformers-like animation and change up the playstyle completely. It has a beam sword, which can be charged for a stronger, wider attack, and a shield that has parry capabilities. Perhaps most fun, though, is the extending claw arm that can grab dangerous space junk and throw it at enemies, or grab enemies themselves, bringing them in close so you can start wailing on them with punches. Keeping the mech locked up this long is impressive. The feature was locked off in the many public shows Galak-Z has been demoed at and no one slipped up about it. Kazdal tells me there were plans for a third, stealth-focused character, initially, but that it made for too many mental hoops in dealing with all the other things that could be happening at any given moment. Galak-Z is smooth, feels great to play, and the mech is a welcomed addition, adding one more layer to the game. There are warring factions you can sometimes pit against each other, environmental hazards to be aware of (and sometimes use to your advantage -- thanks alien trapdoor spider who saved my ass!), and instant shifts between ranged and close-quarters combat. It's tough, gorgeous, encourages exploration (beyond mission goals, there are blueprints for new gear and other upgrades to find), and a ton of fun.
HANDS ON: Galak-Z  photo
Spelunky by way of Macross...and Gundam
We've covered the "Spelunky by way of Macross" space shooting roguelike for a couple of years now and the follow-up from Skulls of the Shogun developer 17-bit is almost here, coming to PS4 August 4 and PC a few months down th...

My trip to the National Videogame Arcade

Jul 24 // Joe Parlock
For a building all about video games, there’s none of the pomp and flash that comes with your normal conventions – no mention of big publishers or upcoming games, the entire affair feels very non-commercial which is a nice change to the normal games-related places I find myself in, and that helps go a way to make gaming more accessible for people who may not be involved in the scene. Instead, many of the games on display are independent, or even built out of wood and paint to be exclusively shown at the NVA. There’s very much a DIY-feel to the place, and according to Iain that’s intentional. There is an emphasis on ensuring guests understand nothing simply magically appears, but instead has effort and work put into it.  For example, there is a game where players must try and hit buttons on a wall to match up items on a screen. The entire thing was built and painted on-site, and is intentionally imperfect to show the work that went into building it. This DIY approach doesn’t only apply to the building, but also to the games on display. Mission Command, a game made exclusively for the Arcade, takes up an entire room. Under the guidance of an NVA staff member, the room spreads out the different parts of game development into different stations, where all the changes made can be seen in real-time on the screen. Set out like a two-player Asteroids, while one person is piloting the ship, another may be designing the ship in real-time using a grid of pixel-like lights off to the side. Behind them, someone might be drawing on a whiteboard an enemy which will then appear on the screen as well. When the room is full, the game being played is practically entirely built by those in the room at that time, and works to teach visitors all about animations, enemy design, physics, and control schemes in a simple way free of techno-babble. According to Iain, the room can become incredibly hectic when full (the arcade was closed on the day I visited, and so was empty), but it still seems like an excellent way to put game development into practice without bogging people down with coding and engines and the usual barriers to entry. Tucked away behind Mission Command was a small, messy room. With toys, skipping ropes, and lots of little plastic bits and bobs strewn across the floor, Room Racers is another example of the NVA’s emphasis on showing the basics of game development in an accessible way. Made to teach people about level design, the aim is to place toys and objects onto the floor to shape a racing track for those playing the game. Put a skipping rope on the ground, and cars projected on the floor won’t be able to drive through them. Smash the car with a tennis racket and they’ll be trapped underneath it. To do it, Room Racers has a PlayStation 3 Eye mounted on the ceiling and maps out the stage using the contrast of the toys on the white surface. Sometimes it doesn’t go entirely according to plan, with glitches and bugs inevitable, but that is apparently just part of the process at the NVA. Should a game or piece of hardware break, Iain said it’s not uncommon for NVA staff members to try and fix it on-site for guests to see just how it’s done and yet again show games aren’t these perfect, randomly occurring things, but instead are made by normal people. The next floor up was something a bit different: the Arcade’s first exhibition, Jump!. The Jump! exhibition was made explicitly to introduce one of the most basic concepts from games in great detail to those who have little experience with them – jumping. The entrance to the exhibition is a wall of screens, each showing characters, such as Mario, Sonic, and a Spelunky character, jumping to explain how different games animate them differently. Inside, there were lots of different playable games revolved around jumping such asCanabalt, but the game I got to play was a small chest of drawers called the Jump-o-Tron. By turning knobs and pushing buttons, I could program a character’s entire jump pattern from the strength to the angle, before sending them on their journey through the sky. According to Iain, Jump-o-Tron is a particularly popular part of the exhibition, with lots of people spending quite some time just watching their jumper fly through the sky. Once they’ve finally hit the ground, a receipt is printed out from the machine with information all about the jump as a small souvenir. Also in the Jump! exhibition was a large wall covered in screens, each showing a different type of jump in action: Double-jumps, wall jumping, single jumps and more are all lined up to show people no two jumps are ever the exact same. Next to it, levels from Sonic and Mario are able to be explored without the pressure of actually playing the game and potentially failing, allowing people to see how the theory guests had just learned applies to real games. It was a really cool way of getting guests to think about some of the more abstract elements of level design after going through games like Room Racer on the previous floor. By showing this behind-the-scenes view of gaming without the barrier to entry we as a gaming community so often forget does exist, Iain hopes the NVA will be able to inspire kids to become game developers. He mentioned how if a kid is interested in football or dance, there are clubs that parents can sign them up to, but for game development there isn’t anything like that. The NVA seems to be about showing people gaming isn’t just being sat in a dark bedroom hammering away at a keyboard, but instead aims to bring the positives and the social aspects of gaming culture to the forefront. The NVA serves as a springboard to convince parents and the general public that there is an actual industry and careers available in making games. Despite all this, there is still something to be appreciated about seeing a hobby you’ve poured years of your life into laid out so simply. Even though I know full well what a jump is, or how a level is designed, seeing it all put so clearly and interactively still made me think about games in a way I’ve never really done before. So when I say the NVA does aim some of its stuff towards non-gaming guests, don’t take that to mean it’s not for people who like games. It provides a new perspective on the medium, which is really important. Of course, there is stuff that seems like it’s for a more dedicated gaming audience too. Up on the third floor is an exhibition called “A History of Videogames in 100 Objects”. Lining the walls of the room are a series of glass cabinets filled with memorabilia and oddities from gaming’s short history. Sega Saturns, test builds of the PlayStation 2, and even Hideo Kojima’s old Konami business card can all be seen. I have to admit I did spend a fair amount of time geeking out in that room. Iain explained to me it isn’t the 100 most important bits of gaming history, but is instead trying to show a more complete and widespread view of the medium and the culture surrounding it. Many of the items have been donated by guests and locals, and so it’s one of the most changeable rooms in the arcade – each time, there may be some new items on display. It’s also a really nice way of introducing the history of games to the same people who were just taught what a jump is one floor below. Iain told me that this room is one of the most popular, particularly among adult guests who can spend a long time looking over all of the many different bits and bobs. Also on the third floor is a room full of different controllers and peripherals from gaming’s history, all usable. There’s Donkey Konga bongos, Steel Battalion in all its intimidating glory, and of course my old friend the Street Fighter arcade stick. It’s meant to be a way to show guests the many ways they can interact with games, but it also doubles as an extra room to nerd out over for those into gaming. All in all, I had a really great time at the NVA. While a lot of the arcade is aimed more towards people who have little experience with games, it was absolutely brilliant being able to just enjoy and be impressed by games as a medium without the hype, the advertising, and the pomp that comes with your more standard game conventions. It’s a place that felt really optimistic about games. It wants to inspire people to be creative and get involved in the scene, run by people who are clearly knowledgeable about games too: Minecraft weekends and FIFA tournaments take place there, as well as indie developers coming to show their games in a Toast Bar, all in an environment which is accessible to “outsiders” really makes the National Videogame Arcade feel like a cultural hub for games rather than your standard arcade. They’re planning on altering and adding to the venue the coming months and years, but for the few months it’s been open, I was really impressed by what I saw. If you’re interested in visiting the National Videogame Arcade, please visit their website. Take your Gran and watch her totally wreck you on a Nidhogg arcade cabinet.
National Videogame Arcade photo
Guest starring my blurry camera
Last week, I was given a tour of the National Videogame Arcade in Nottingham, England by the Director, Iain Simons. Going in, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I knew it wasn’t your bog-standard arcade with T...

Video game movies to watch this weekend instead of Pixels

Jul 23 // Jed Whitaker
Ace Attorney (Gyakuten Saiban) [embed]296492:59644:0[/embed] Whether or not you're a fan of the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney games, the movie based on the series is pretty decent. All the characters look and act like their game counterparts and even with the subtitles the movie still nails the games' humor. Sadly the film has never officially been released for sale in the US, but if you have a way to watch it I highly recommend it. Sweet Home [embed]296492:59645:0[/embed] Sweet Home had a Famicom game by the same name, which Resident Evil was planned as a spiritual sequel to. It might not be the best horror film but it is certainly worth a watch. Those who go in thinking the movie will be a Resident Evil movie will be disappointed, as this is more a haunted mansion story than a zombie story. The Sweet Home game influenced a lot of survival horror games and could be painted as the original survival horror game. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters [embed]296492:59646:0[/embed] This documentary follows Steve Wiebe as he attempts to take the world record high score in Donkey Kong from (at the time) current champion Billy Mitchell. While that alone may not sound exciting, the real life characters in the movie make it something special. The film plays more like a drama than a documentary, so much in fact that a scripted film adaptation has been said to be in the works. The documentary was also parodied in a South Park episode where Randy Marsh attempts to take a larger shit than U2 frontman Bono Vox. It's one of my favorite movies ever and highly recommended. Dead Rising: Watchtower [embed]296492:59647:0[/embed] When the free-to-watch Dead Rising: Watchtower was announced I wasn't too excited, and upon release I went into it with low expectations. Turns out it is a rather competent zombie film and has enough fan service to make Dead Rising fans happy. Frank West may not be the lead character but he makes many appearances throughout the film as part of a news program, dickish charm intact.  Animal Crossing (Dōbutsu no Mori) [embed]296492:59648:0[/embed] Does anime count? Well I'm saying it does and you should watch the Animal Crossing anime film that was released in Japanese theaters. The anime follows the same plot as the games; a new girl moves to town, is an indentured servant to Tom Nook, and befriends and helps the other animals in town. Animal Crossing's anime adaptation was never officially released outside of Japan but a fan dubbed version is out there somewhere. The Lawnmower Man [embed]296492:59649:0[/embed] What list of video game-related movies would be complete without The Lawnmower Man, a movie that is more relevant now than when it came out as it deals with virtual reality headsets. A dumb dumb lawnmower man in town is approached by a scientist to be his human guinea pig in an experiment using drugs and a VR headset, and this somehow turns him into a genius with magical powers... I remember watching the movie when it came out and being amazed at the cutting edge special effects, though today they look extremely dated. Strangely enough the effects were made by Angel Studios, which later became Rockstar San Diego and went on to make Red Dead Redemption, L.A. Noire, and Grand Theft Auto V.  Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World [embed]296492:59651:0[/embed] Whether or not you've read the graphic novel series you should give the Michael Cera-led Scott Pilgrim vs. the World a shot, as it may be the best video game movie out there. The film is basically oozing with references to video games from band names, to Zelda music, to epic fight scenes that would feel at home in any beat 'em up. Speaking of which, if you haven't already, give the game a try because it is just as good as the film and plays very similarly to one of the greatest beat 'em ups of all time, River City Ransom. -- These are some of the best video game-related movies I've seen and surprisingly I don't see them getting the credit they deserve. Also don't let me stop you from watching Pixels, by all means tell Hollywood you want more garbage Adam Sandler films if you so wish. I know I'll probably be watching Pixels sometime this weekend because clearly I'm a masochist, and I'm part of the problem. 
#StopSandler photo
Think of the children
This week the critically lampooned Pixels movie opens in theaters nationwide in the United States, and if you'd rather spend your time and money on movies that don't blow consider these other video game-related films. Don't worry though, this list won't just be the movies you've all seen before, because I'm so much cooler than that.

Review: Onechanbara Z2: Chaos

Jul 22 // Kyle MacGregor
Onechanbara Z2: Chaos (PlayStation 4)Developer: Tamsoft CorporationPublisher: XSEED GamesMSRP: $39.99 (digital), $49.99 (retail)Released: July 22, 2015  Onechanbara Z2: Chaos, being the direct sequel to a game that never released on western shores, has a story that isn't easy to follow. Jumping into the adventure essentially in media res, you have to play a bit of catch-up, piecing together morsels of dialogue with information from loading screens and the accompanying art book to really get a good feel for what's going on here. In short, familiar faces Aya and Saki aren't exactly the best of friends with newcomers Kagura and Saaya. Coming from rival clans, Banefuls and Vampirics, the duos crossed swords in the prequel, but now find themselves forging an unlikely alliance to stem a worldwide zombie outbreak. The ensuing adventure isn't exactly riveting, but the localization team at XSEED did its best to ham up an otherwise banal scenario. Combat is clearly the main attraction here, which is an area where the series has made some progress since its last appearance in the West. The combat system is straightforward, but has a few wrinkles to it. In the beginning, the game essentially instructs the player to button mash, suggesting you hammer on the square and triangle buttons and see what works. A full list of attacks and combos can be found in the menus, more of which can be unlocked between missions and mastered in practice mode. Of course, the series' trademark blood meter returns. As you dispatch zombies, weapons will get progressively more crimson, necessitating periodic cleaning to remain effective. On the other side of the coin, enough carnage will send characters into a frenzy, causing a spike in offensive power at the cost of gradually diminishing health. You need to pay attention, lest suffer the consequences. The four protagonists can be tagged in and out of battle anytime, which players can use to their advantage in a number of ways. One character can set up a combo for another, and since all of them have vastly different movesets, this freedom opens up a lot of possibilities. For example, one of my favorite things to do was lock a group of enemies in one of Saaya's lengthy chainsaw attacks, then bring in another character to perform a devastating double team maneuver. Sadly, the solid mechanics are wasted on an ecosystem that isn't treated with anywhere near the same level of care. Onechanbara Z2: Chaos has a linear and repetitive mission structure that funnels players through corridors and locks them into arenas at regular intervals. In these arenas you'll need to kill every last zombie, as they respawn ad nauseam, until you're allowed to pass. Most of the enemies don't pose a threat on their own, but instead rely on sheer numbers to impose any sort of challenge. A lone zombie often won't attack for seconds at a time. They can also get hung up on terrain or spawn outside the combat zone, which leads to a frustrating mini-game of sorts where you're forced to play hide and seek with stragglers in order to proceed. This is exacerbated by the fact that basic grunts can blend in with their environments. The visuals are all over the place, ranging from pretty decent to downright abysmal, with the zombie hordes and background graphics obviously falling on the low end of the totem pole. The character designs and accompanying sexual fan service are on the other end of the spectrum. There are a variety of lewd outfits players can unlock, or purchase in the case of the shameless "Strawberries & Banana DLC costume," in which the heroines might as well be nude. It's pretty disheartening this is where Tamsoft decided to focus its efforts, rather than to improve the core game. This game feels like it has tunnel vision; it's a product where some aspects of the experience are given incredible attention to detail, while others feel like they were lifted from something found in a PS2-era bargain bin. Just as often as I found myself enjoying Z2:Chaos for its pulsing soundtrack or slick combat, there were times where it embarrassed, aggravated, or bored me to tears. Onechanbara Z2: Chaos could have been decent, but it seems content to revel in mediocrity. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Review: Onechanbara Z2 photo
Flirting with progress
Onechanbara Z2: Chaos is a game that wraps its identity around sex and violence like few others. This is, of course, nothing new for the series. Styling itself after exploitation films, Onechanbara has survived for over a dec...

100% Series Retrospective: Batman: Arkham

Jul 22 // Chris Carter
Why Batman? It's not the game series that means so much to me, but Batman as a whole. It was one of the first films I saw with my family as a young adult (the original Keaton flick), after watching re-runs of the old Adam West show on TV. Seeing Batman Begins was one of the first dates I had with my wife, and we tend to watch every Batman film together since, including the animated ones. Although Bruce Wayne himself has some great arcs (The Dark Knight Returns), it's the villains I truly love, and the Batman franchise has my favorite collective of rogues in history. While it's easy to point out the nuances of characters like Mr. Freeze, who transcend the stereotypical "villain" role, it's important to note that most of the characters, even a lot of the menial ones, are just so damn entertaining to watch, particularly when it comes to the The Animated Series. There's a lot of villains in other shows where you'd probably groan at the sight of them -- my wife hates Steelbeak episodes in Darkwing Duck for example -- but nearly everyone in TAS  (and by proxy, Batman lore in general) has their own, justified sense of purpose. As a side note, for the purposes of this quest, in addition to the four "core "games I added in Blackgate since the events are directly tied to Origins, as well as Arkham City Lockdown as it is technically a prequel to the second game. I also played through all available DLC for each entry. Batman: Arkham Asylum - PC [owned], PS3, Xbox 360 [owned] Although Asylum isn't my favorite game in the series (more on that in a second), if you made the argument that it was the best entry, I wouldn't put up much of a fight. It does practically everything it sets out to do, and doesn't go overboard in any respect, even with the Riddler trophy challenges scattered about the asylum. This is a streamlined, personal tale of Batman, with a collective of some of his most popular villains in tow, all of who are presented in a unique way that establishes a true "Arkham" lore. With both stealth and combat gameplay working in tandem it strikes the perfect balance, appealing to just about every possible action genre fan. The predator sections in particular are some of my favorite stealth sequences in all of gaming, as they truly are presented as a puzzle of sorts, allowing any number of combinations of gadgets and tactics as the solution. My only big holdups are a few bits in the middle which is where the story drags a little, and the conclusion, which features a very goofy and completely uncharacteristic Joker fight. Still, the reunion between Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill in video game form was a sight to behold, and they still have chemistry in spades. From the very start of the game when you're escorting Joker into the asylum, you can feel that connection. Having said all that, it is a little too cramped for my personal tastes, and even the outdoor areas, as small as they are, are heavily segmented. I get that they were going for the claustrophobic effect, but I would have heavily preferred a full open environment I could freely float around in -- good thing Rocksteady made another one. The DLC for the Game of the Year Edition is basically throwaway challenge maps, which is actually a nice little unintended bonus of sorts -- the entire core game feels "complete" without having to resort to any other premium add-ons. Batman: Arkham City - PC [owned], PS3, Wii U, Xbox 360 [owned] Arkham City took everything I liked about Asylum, and doubled it. While some people out there consider that a negative trait, I really liked the ability to scour an entire town and find all of the hidden little Easter eggs within. The story is a bit less focused this time around, but it also lets a whole new cast shine, and personally, I enjoyed the little callouts to characters like Hush and Azrael, and the bigger plotlines involving some of my favorites, like Mr. Freeze. The Catwoman mechanic was also a big risk, but ended up paying off, as it allowed City to have it's own distinct personality. It gets a bit hokey at the end, but no more hokey than a lot of other Batman storylines -- and not in a way that completely ruins the thrill ride up until that point. I feel like nearly every Arkham game has issues with the ending, as the writing crew (in the case of the first two games, primarily Paul Dini) seem to have some sort of obligation to the property to wrap things up in a certain way. I also completed the "Harley Quinn's Revenge" DLC, which ended up being a complete waste of time. The entire conceit is "Harley is mad because Joker!" and it doesn't really go anywhere. Funnily enough the only cool part is being able to control Robin with new gadgets in tow, but he's only playable for roughly 30 minutes. Batman: Arkham City Lockdown - Android, iOS [owned] The fact that this game is mobile-only will probably cue you in that Lockdown isn't anything special, and in this case, you'd be right. While it technically serves as a prequel to City, it doesn't do anything meaningful outside of "some people are locked up, and some people break out." It's just too much of the same "Batman can't keep people in jail" conceit, which was borderline already overdone with the first two games. As a mobile spinoff it wasn't really destined for an award-winning future, but developer NetherRealm Studios and publisher Warner Bros. could have taken it in a more interesting direction with a more personal and concise tale rather than try to cram everyone possible into it. In terms of gameplay, it's basically Infinity Blade with Batman, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it lacks a real identity. It's also still inexplicably $5.99 for some reason, and was only released on Android two years after City's debut. Batman: Arkham Origins - PC [owned], PS3, Wii U, Xbox 360 [owned] Origins is content with blowing all of its tricks in the first hour or so of the game. Marketed as an epic struggle with Black Mask with flashes of cool confrontations with villains such as Deathstroke, the story quickly devolves into yet another Joker-fest, but without any real new revelations or concepts. We don't really get to see any meaningful "origins" per se outside of the rivalry between Bats and Joker, but even that doesn't feel as organic as nearly every other tale that's been told for decades on end. I'm especially salty after just watching Under the Red Hood, Mask of the Phantasm, and Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker again this past week, all of which do a much better Joker arc. The main problem with Origins is that the city feels barren and lifeless. WB also had a huge issue with game-breaking glitches, and refused to fix them in favor of creating and marketing premium DLC. Despite all of those issues and WB Montreal's best efforts, it still feels like a Batman game, and still plays better than a lot of other open world titles on the market. All they had to do is mostly copy and paste Rocksteady's groundwork, which for the most part worked out for them. Predator sections are thrilling and tactical, and the freeflow combat is satisfying. In terms of DLC, the Initiation pack is one of the poorest showings (if not the poorest) in the entire Arkham series, but thankfully Cold, Cold Heart manages to justify its existence. Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate - 3DS, PC, PS3, PS Vita [owned], Wii U, Xbox 360 [owned] I have to give developer Armature Studio credit -- on the surface, Blackgate maintains the feel of the proper Arkham series, but with a 2.5D flair. Sadly, it falls flat in nearly every regard. I actually like the setup -- three wings of Blackgate Penitentiary have been taken over by the Penguin, Black Mask, and Joker, and it's up to Batman to maintain control yet again. In the end though, the core narrative is boring and straight-forward, even by portable spinoff standards. For starters, beyond a small twist at the end, nothing really happens. Additionally, the entire prison itself is dull outside of the Joker's modestly decorated section. Batman not being able to jump is also a big issue for me. There's no real sense of adventure in Blackgate -- you just run from side to side and mash R until you can grapple up somewhere. Touching the screen to initiate detective mode is clever, but you never really get to use it outside of scripted portions. Hits also don't have any real impact in combat, and Batman's animations are stunted. It's so uninspired, it makes Arkham City Lockdown look better by comparison. Batman: Arkham Knight - PC [owned], PS4 [owned], Xbox One I am so torn on Arkham Knight. On one hand I actually really liked the campaign, as well as John Noble's turn as Scarecrow, but on the other, Rocksteady didn't put a lot of work into most of the sidequests, and there's just too much Batmobile. If there's any sort of "puzzle" in the game -- you can bet the Batmobile is the answer. Also, fighting the same army of drones 50 times over in the exact same manner isn't very imaginative or fun, and grappling around Gotham is still a thousand times more entertaining than driving a car around in it. Unlike a lot of people out there, I actually enjoyed the main story. Yes it's predictable, but it had a lot of great nods to the source material, and the main cast was pretty solid (though I didn't really dig Jonathan Banks as Gordon this time around). It's crazy how detailed the world is, and I can see why the project was delayed multiple times -- it really does feel like a "current-gen" game. By that same token, sections like the mine vehicle battle exist, and it boggles the mind how some of this got through even one approval process. When all was said and done and I had completed the game 100% though, I would say I enjoyed it overall. You can see what I think of the Harley Quinn, Red Hood, and Batgirl DLC packs as well with the preceding links. In short, I'm not impressed by the bite-sized "episodic" content that Rocksteady and WB Montreal are going for. It would be fine if they were short and had substance, but sadly, they have no real tales to tell. Final thoughts: The Arkham series has its ups and downs, and Warner Bros. has tried to milk it for all its worth over the years, but for the most part, Rocksteady really did "get" how to develop a game that allowed you to "be the Bat." Even in their darkest moments, it's a blast to glide around and pick off unsuspecting thugs off the street, or get into an all-out brawl and take down 50 people at once. They created a template that will likely be used for years to come for similar open world games, and I'm really interested in seeing what they do next. Or, more importantly, I wonder if WB will greenlight similar projects for Superman, and other Justice League heroes that will be front and center next year when DC starts their big film push. As long as they're shown the proper amount of care, I'm willing to give them a shot. However they turn out and regardless of who is in control, Rocksteady has already made its mark on the genre and series.
Carter's Quest Batman photo
Carter's Quest
As I mentioned in my last update, it's been tough to commit to my Carter's Quest series ever since I took over the role of Reviews Director, as directing reviews takes up nearly all of my time. But every so often, a franchise...

Review: Trials Fusion: Awesome Level Max

Jul 21 // Jordan Devore
Trials Fusion: Awesome Level Max (PC, PlayStation 4 [reviewed], Xbox One)Developer: RedLynxPublisher: UbisoftReleased: July 14, 2015MSRP: $9.99 (DLC) / $39.99 (Full game, Season Pass DLC, and Awesome Level Max) While Ubisoft has spent much of its time talking up "The Awesome Adventure," the group of levels centered on the unlikely duo, that content makes up the minority of Awesome Level Max. It's only short eight levels, one of which is an even-shorter FMX course that has players performing tricks as they fall from space. The other twenty-two levels are a mix of developer and player-made creations. They're far more varied and come packaged under the "RedLynx vs. All-Stars" banner. But back to that unicorn -- it's meant to be ridiculous, silly fun. That may seem obvious, but some people take Trials leaderboards very seriously. Think of this set as something you'll go through once -- maybe a few times more, tops, to get better medals -- and never touch again. The scenery is a change of pace, especially from the core game's offerings. Level layouts aren't particularly memorable or challenging, and I suspect most dedicated players will be able to breeze past them, crashing only because the path ahead wasn't clear enough the first time through. The seventh track culminates in a boss battle, if you can even call it that, against a penguin inside a mech. There are pixelated cats, for some reason. You literally win the fight by balancing on the machine's helmet. I didn't know what to expect for the conclusion, but it sure wasn't that. Weird stuff. It's also worth noting that the unicorn and cat are locked out of other tracks aside from Supercross. [embed]296414:59632:0[/embed] The RedLynx vs. All-Stars side of the DLC is far more fulfilling. For one, it represents a better range of difficulty. Clearing the first checkpoint in the two new Extreme tracks felt like an accomplishment, as it should. I haven't managed to finish either of them yet, and that pleases me. One concern going in was that there would be an inconsistency between the player-created courses and the ones RedLynx designed. I didn't find that to be the case at all. If they weren't labeled separately, I'm not certain I'd be able to tell the levels apart. One takes place in a computer. Another is reminiscent of Limbo's shadowy, saw-filled world. Too many tracks employ lava but, on the whole, this bundle has exactly the variety I missed in the often bland base version of Trials Fusion. Folks who skipped the season pass but want more Trials in the vein of Trials HD and Evolution should consider downloading Awesome Level Max. It's a little on the easy side, but I appreciate RedLynx for trying new ideas and bringing back more of its unusual personality. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Trials Fusion DLC review photo
Just go with it
Why would Trials Fusion drop its motorbikes for a gun-toting cat on a unicorn? Because it's funny. The touchy controls transfer to your new ride, so when you inevitably lose balance, the quadruped will start hoofing it on two legs. If you're anything like me, you'll burst out in laughter.

Review: Tembo the Badass Elephant

Jul 20 // Chris Carter
Tembo the Badass Elephant (PC, PS4 [reviewed], Xbox One)Developer: Game FreakPublisher: SegaReleased: July 21, 2015MSRP: $14.99 Tembo has a rather short little setup, and from there, doesn't really give you any further exposition until the very end. What you see is what you get in essence, which is a Rambo-inspired elephant laying waste to an enemy dictator, who controls the Phantom Force army. It sports a charming little visual style that reminds me of Regular Show and a few other Cartoon Network properties. It even has effects like a literal "BADA BADA" phrase appearing while dashing about, and despite the low key setup it's a very bright and loud game, mostly in an endearing way. The basic gist is that you'll be able to jump, dash, and float in the air momentarily like Yoshi, with the added ability to shoot water from your trunk. More advanced moves involve uppercuts, slides, butt stomps, and a cannonball dive spin with a bounce. As you progress you'll start to learn more nuances, almost like you're fitting Tembo through various keyholes with your moveset. There are no real explicit puzzles, but it sure feels puzzle-esque if you're going for flawless runs. For instance, select levels can be completed without losing any momentum whatsoever, and it's a blast to dash, dive-kick, and slide your way through the entire thing. There's even a modified charge that you can utilize by holding down the water button, which can put out flames while running. It's pretty much the perfect amount of depth, allowing newcomers to pick up and play Tembo while giving hardcore platforming fans room to experiment a bit. [embed]296063:59600:0[/embed] The level design is fairly open-ended, tasking you with finding hidden civilizations scattered across the map, and killing as many enemies as possible -- both of which have separate goals that are tracked. Mini-bosses and a few full-on Big Bads are peppered into progression, but I would consider it more of a traditional platformer than a real action game -- especially with how muted and easy these encounters are. There's many more instances of timing and running than fighting, which is something you mostly happen to do while jumping around. Game Freak keeps things exciting with hazards, well-placed enemies, and lots of explosions, which will keep you on your toes constantly. Tembo has 17 stages, which last a few hours -- if you play very well, that is. Now, here's where my big holdup is with Tembo -- gating. In order to progress past certain stages, you need to kill a certain amount of enemies. Each stage has a death counter of sorts, which requires you to rescue most of the civilians trapped within a level, as well as actually seek out and defeat most of the enemy forces. It incentivizes actually killing foes, which is neat, but it ultimately ends up causing frustration and forcing players to replay levels over and over. While it is cool that levels do split off into branching paths, several of them have points of no return. If you happen to just choose a particular path, you may be locked out of say, 50 kill points or so -- which can easily be the difference between unlocking new levels and being forced to replay. It's maddening in some cases, and at one point I was held back by six points. Now, I did like returning to some levels to try to "master" them per se, but that should be a player choice -- not something that gates main story progression. Tembo the Badass Elephant is a really enjoyable game at its core, but it can get tiring to replay the same stage five times over just to grind out a few kills to see the next set of levels. It's an odd design choice for sure, but most of you will probably enjoy dashing through unsuspecting Phantom Soldiers and butt stomping them into oblivion regardless. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Badass Elephant review photo
They drew first blood
When someone told me that the developer of Pokemon was creating an action platformer called Tembo the Badass Elephant, I knew I had to give it a shot. While a few of the design choices are a bit odd, they don't overshadow the sum of its parts.

$5 Fallout 3 GOTY and Metro Redux titles

Jul 18 // Dealzon
Top Deals 14" Lenovo Y40-80 Laptop, i5-5200U, R9 M275, 8GB — $599  Two $50 PlayStation Network Codes — $85 Two $50 Xbox Gift Codes — $85 Green Man Gaming 2015 Summer Sale <- day 10 added below PSN Flash Sale GMG Summer Sale Use coupon DEALZO-NGMGSA-LESVVC <- derp forgot to mention this earlier Fighting Games Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds (Steam) — $4.80  (list price $12) Asskickers (Steam) — $4  (list price $10) Kiai Resonance (Steam) — $3.20  (list price $5) Skullgirls Deals (Steam) — $3  (list price $15) Titan Quest Deals (Steam) — $2.40  (list price $15) Ace of Spades (Steam) — $2.40  (list price $15) Vanguard Princess Deals (Steam) — $2  (list price $5) Fallout Fallout 3: GOTY Edition (Steam) — $5.44  (list price $20) Fallout: New Vegas (Steam) — $2  (list price $10) Fallout 2: A Post Nuclear RPG (Steam) — $2  (list price $10)   Metro Metro Redux Bundle (Steam) — $8  (list price $50) Metro Last Light Redux (Steam) — $5  (list price $25) Metro 2033 Redux (Steam) — $5  (list price $25) Borderlands Tales from the Borderlands (Telltale) — $13.40  (list price $25) Borderlands 2: Game of the Year Edition (Steam) — $8  (list price $40) Borderlands Game of the Year Edition (Steam) — $5.99  (list price $30) Recent Releases 07/14: Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords (Steam) — $12  (list price $15) 07/14: EA SPORTS Rory McIlroy PGA Tour (Xbox One) — $49.99  (list price $60) 06/23: Batman: Arkham Knight (PS4) — $49.99  (list price $60) Upcoming Releases 07/21: F1 2015 (Steam) — $39.49  (list price $60) 08/04: Rare Replay + $15 eGift Card (Xbox One) — $29.99  (list price $30) PC Game Deals The Witcher III: Wild Hunt (DRM-Free) — $29.99  (list price $60) Wasteland 2 (PC/Mac Download) — $19.99  (list price $40) <- GOG cheaper than GMG Pillars of Eternity Hero Edition (Steam) — $18.95  (list price $45) Unreal Series (DRM-Free) — $7.96  (list price $40) Saints Row IV - Game of the Century Edition (Steam) — $7.49  (list price $30) Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag (Uplay) — $7.49  (list price $30) Don't Starve (PC/Mac Download) — $4.99  (list price $15) Psychonauts (PC/Mac Download) — $2.49  (list price $10) Used Console Game Sale Battlefield: Hardline (Used, Xbox One, PS4) — $29.99  (list $50) Evolve (Used, PS4, Xbox One) — $12.99  (list price $60) PS4 DmC Devil May Cry: Definitive Edition (PS4 - Used) — $24.99  (list $40) Dynasty Warriors 8 Xtreme Legends Complete (PS4 - Used) — $19.99 LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham (PS4 - Used) — $17.99  (list price $60) Knack (PS4 - Used) — $17.99  (list price $40) Bound by Flame (PS4 - Used) — $14.99  (list price $30) Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes (PS4 Used) — $8.99  (list price $20) Xbox One Dead or Alive 5: Last Round (Xbox One - Used) — $24.99  (list price $40) LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham (Xbox One - Used) — $24.99  (list $60) NHL 15 (Xbox One - Used) — $24.99  (list price $30) Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Xbox One - Used) — $17.99  (list price $60) Dragon Age: Inquisition (Xbox One - Used) — $17.99  (list price $60) Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved (Xbox One - Used) — $17.99  (list price $40) UFC (Xbox One - Used) — $14.99  (list price $30) Wolfenstein: The New Order (Xbox One) — $14.99  (list price $23) Shape Up (Xbox One - Used) — $14.99  (list price $60) Bladestorm: Nightmare (Xbox One Used) — $14.99  (list price $60) Fighter Within (Xbox One - Used) — $12.99  (list price $40) Just Dance 2014 (Xbox One - Used) — $12.99  (list price $50) The Walking Dead: Complete First Season (XOne - Used) — $12.99  (list $30) Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag (Xbox One - Used) — $8.99  (list price $30) Laptop Deals 17" Lenovo Y70 Touch i7-4710HQ, GTX 860M, 8GB — $979.99  (list $1,450) 15.6" Asus i7-4700HQ, 8GB, GT 850M, 1080p Touch — $749.99  (list $1,100) 15.6" Lenovo Z51 i7-5500U, 8GB, Radeon R9 M375, 1080p — $699  (list $1,080) HDTV Deals 55" Samsung 4K LED TV + Wireless Sound Bar + $100 Visa Gift Card — $1,097.99 50" Sceptre LED HDTV — $299.99  32" Vizio LED HDTV (Refurbished) — $149.99  <- a TV for the bathroom!? Hardware Deals Xbox One Assassin's Creed: Unity Bundle — $319.99  (list price $400) Samsung 850 EVO SSD 2.5" 250GB — $89.99  (list price $150) Sandisk SSD Plus 2.5" 240GB — $79.99  (list price $110) Seagate Expansion 3TB External Hard Drive — $79.99  (list price $130) Game deals from Dealzon. Sales from certain retailers help support Destructoid.
Weekend deals photo
Just give us 4 already
GMG's Summer Sale turns day nine and with it comes a batch of post-apocalyptic games. Because if there's one thing human like to do -- it's make believe everything has gone to poo. Fallout 3 GOTY turns $5.44 while New Vegas i...

Review: Odallus: The Dark Call

Jul 16 // Jed Whitaker
Odallus: The Dark Call (PC)Developer: JoyMasherPublisher: JoyMasherMSRP: $14.99Released: July 15, 2015 Haggis's son has been taken by darkness, his village has been set ablaze, and his Gods have abandoned him, so he does what any father would do in this situation, brandish a sword and go on a killing spree. Along the way Haggis picks up axes, spears and torches to add to his arsenal of demon-dispatching weaponry; axes go in a straight line and torches ignite the ground much like throwing knives and holy water from Castlevania respectively. These sub weapons can be found and replenished via various chests along the way or at shops set up throughout the land in exchange for orbs enemies drop. Knowing when to use these sub weapons are key to success in Odallus, especially at the start of the journey as your sword is rather weak in comparison. Certain enemies and obstacles fall faster to sub weapons.  A weapon bag dictates how many of each weapon can be carried, luckily it can be upgraded by finding upgrades hidden throughout the landscape. Health, sword, and armor upgrades can also be found hidden in hard to reach places. Odallus is anything but hard as I was able to breeze through it in just over four hours. Health is carried over between levels, only being refreshed by finding health pickups in chests or by purchasing them at shops. Lives can be purchased at shops but there is little reason to as running out only causes you to restart the current level at the beginning instead of the latest checkpoint. The only real difficult part of the game is the final boss whose attack pattern was seemingly random and extremely cheap: the only way I was able to defeat him was to be equally cheap and abuse the final armor upgrades and their ability to make myself invulnerable for a brief moment while spamming attacks. Bosses in general are pretty easy, having predictable patterns and falling quickly to sub weapons or upgraded swords which is a shame because they all look so cool, mostly like hellish H. R. Giger creations. I found myself purposefully not being aggressive in boss fights just so I could see what attacks the bosses had in their arsenals. Like the bosses, many of the levels look awesome, even if some of them rely on Castlevania tropes such as a burning village or a dark forest. Graphically Odallus looks like an NES game, which isn't a bad thing, as the game honestly feels like a spiritual successor to the NES Castlevania games. While there are some commonplace level locations for this type of game, there are also some that mix up the formula a bit such as underwater levels and even a mine cart level. Riding in a mine cart, ducking stalactites, and jumping over other mine carts and gaps in the track are just as fun as they were in Donkey Kong Country, albeit a bit easier. The underwater levels play generally the same as the other levels, though jumping gets a bit of additional height. Jumping higher underwater when wearing armor may not make much sense, but it doesn't take away from the experience.  Each level has multiple paths to progression, though a lot of times they end up looping back to where they started in clever ways that prevent the need for backtracking. If you're like me and you always wonder which path you should go and worry about missing something, Odallus is pretty good about making sure you end up back in that area for one reason or another.   One thing I've never liked about metroidvania style games is the tedious, boring backtracking that is forced upon you if you're a completionist. Luckily here you're able to use a Ghosts 'n Goblins-esque map to jump between levels. The level selection screen also provides details on how many secrets are left to collect, if the boss is alive, and if you've unlocked the alternate routes. No levels are really secret as they are marked on the map when you unlock the levels that they can be accessed from. I had to repeat a couple of levels maybe two times to clean up on some secrets I'd missed, but for the most part your time isn't wasted to try to artificially extend the playtime.  Traversing levels at first feel mostly like a classic platformer; You have one jump, and getting hit knocks you back a bit, but unlike those games of old there are no bottomless instant-kill pits to be found. While cheap deaths plagued classic Castlevania games making them "NES hard," I was very pleased Odallus didn't follow in their footsteps. Another nice feature is the ability to grab ledges and pull yourself up; this leads to some interesting platforming and puzzles that I won't spoil here. Eventually you'll gain the ability to double jump, dash, and perform other actions to help you blaze through levels, though this is late into the game. Typically I'm team whip, but Odallus goes team sword and it feels great. Slicing enemies into pieces doesn't feel much different than using a whip, what is different though is the ability to parry an enemy's projectiles. Hitting a fireball or other projectile out of the air with a sword just feels awesome, Odallus definitely rewards aggressive play.  The entirety of the story plays out in an opening cutscene, hidden collectible runes, boss dialogue, and an ending cutscene. There are a few instances where the localization seemed a bit off on grammar, but it wasn't unintelligible. Just like the visuals, the music is very much NES-inspired. While the chiptune music is all right it certainly isn't as catchy as the music found in actual games available for the NES. Sound effects are seemingly more Genesis-influenced, as they sound more realistic and are often times brief voice clips much like Splatterhouse's effects. Odallus does nothing extraordinary in the audio department but what it does do works well enough. Only lasting four easy-to-complete hours and having a few minor localization issues are really the only hangups I had with Odallus, which aren't all that bad. Though JoyMasher has promised that a harder veteran mode will be made available in a few weeks, I just wish it were included at launch as this was a rare case of game being a bit too easy. Regardless of a few minor gripes, Odallus: The Dark Call is a worthy addition to any metroidvania fan's library and is worth the asking price. Do yourself a favor and play it. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Odallus Review photo
The best Castlevania game in years
JoyMasher, the Brazilian team behind Odallus: The Dark Call doesn't have a ton of games under its belt, but that doesn't mean it can't produce quality content. Somehow the developer has done something Konami hasn't ...

Dead Island 2 photo
Still doing Dead Island 2
Deep Silver has announced it is parting ways with Dead Island 2 developer Yager (Spec Ops: The Line). Just a few months ago, Deep Silver delayed the game into 2016 over quality concerns. The publisher made this announcement w...

Review: Rocket League

Jul 14 // Zack Furniss
Rocket League (PlayStation 4 [reviewed], PC)Developer: PsyonixPublisher: PsyonixMSRP: $19.99Released: July 7, 2015 Rocket League is Psyonix's follow-up to Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars, which had entirely too many hyphens. By dropping the hyphens and making every facet of their concept as simple and accessible as possible, they've made something undoubtedly focused. You are a car, and you must knock a large ball into the opposing team's goal. It never gets more complicated than that. You can play one on one (though I can't imagine that'd be terribly fun), or up to four on four with players around the world or bots. There are different modes available: Exhibition is for local games with four-player split-screen or bots, Season allows you to set up consecutive bot matches over complete with playoffs, and Training teaches you the basics of movement. Starting with Training is a swell, yet ultimately unnecessary idea since you'll have a feel for the driving by the end of your first match. You can accelerate, reverse, jump, double-jump, and boost all over the field and it all feels crunchy and responsive in the best way. The arenas all have just the right amount of friction to feel like you're completely in control of your vehicle at all times. When you try to boost into the ball to score a goal and you careen right past it, you have no one to blame but yourself. The perfectly-tuned controls lend themselves to a desire to acquire mastery, a feeling that seems rare as of late. If you master one skill, proper use of boosting is the one to pick. Since boost juice is finite, you have to drive over boost pads to keep it topped off. Whether you use said juice to dart from the goalie to position to attempt a risky goal or you boost long enough to crash into someone to temporarily destroy them, you'll learn to love judiciously tapping and holding that circle button. Exploding a member of the opposing team only takes them out for a second but can be a viable strategy when things get hectic. While you can play with four players per team, it tends to be too chaotic. You'd think with more players that one person would designate themselves as the goalie, but instead each person gets caught up in an offensive. With a dedicated team it'd probably be a viable mode, but I was playing mostly pick-up games. 3 on 3 seems like the definite sweet spot and is recommended when playing online. Since Rocket League has cross-platform play between the PlayStation 4 and PC, I was always able to find a match within a minute or two. The loading screens are always brief so it's a little too easy to find yourself starting up another match even after telling yourself it's 2 in the morning and you need to texture a patch of drywall tomorrow (that's a normal thing, right?). There's also a carrot on a stick to keep you playing in the form of car customizations. By playing well, you can enter the garage to customize your car's body type, decal, paint job, wheels, boost trail color, antenna, and topper. I rocked a pirate hat on my little pick-up truck for the majority of my matches. These are all purely cosmetic so as not to distort game balance. It would take quite awhile to unlock all customizations, but they're a nice little bonus for the already fun core gameplay. There are seven arenas (though a few of them are the same, with different weather) that are all gorgeous. Watching your little car zip over billowing grass as it rains down on you all in a crisp, smooth frame rate is more aesthetically pleasing than you'd expect from soccer car smash fusion. Though I sort of expected different obstacles or boost pad placement on each arena, I ended up appreciating that these changes are only cosmetic. You always know exactly what you're playing with. I didn't go in expecting much from Rocket League since I'm usually not a huge fan of driving and sports games. Instead of walking away with a confirmed bias, Psyonix's laser-focused concept gave me something fun to whip out the next time I have friends over. I imagine with a bunch of awful beer and willing companions, we'll have a great time. What's next, will I enjoy a game that mixes Metroids and Soccer? We'll see. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Rocket League review photo
I will only call it 'soccar' once
A good chunk of today's onslaught of complex games has convoluted controls, alienating lore, and feature creep that can sometimes be overwhelming. Every so often, a developer comes along and makes something that just seems nice and digestible -- no need to research the best character build or wiki-scan to catch up on the plot. And sometimes that tasty little morsel is a driving/soccer sandwich.

Review: Batman: Arkham Knight - Batgirl: A Matter of Family

Jul 14 // Chris Carter
Batman: Arkham Knight - Batgirl: A Matter of Family (PC, PS4, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: WB Games MontrealPublisher: Warner Bros.MSRP: $6.99Released: July 14, 2015 (for Season Pass holders) / July 21, 2015 (wide release) The Batmobile takes a backseat this time in favor of a tale told entirely from Barbara Gordon's perspective before the events of Arkham Knight. WB just couldn't resist the chance to bring The Joker back yet again, and it uses every opportunity to let you know that this is his DLC without really having him do all that much. In other more exciting news, Harley Quinn is back, but with her red and black Animated Series get-up for the first time in the Arkham games. It looks great. All of the action takes place in the Seagate Amusement Park, which can be thought of as a tiny little sandbox that hosts the new DLC area. The Joker has captured Jim Gordon, and it's up to Barbara (and Robin) to save the day. Family kicks things off with a by-the-book Dual Play combat session, then it's off to free roam for Batgirl. For the most part (like all the other playable characters so far), Batgirl operates just like Batman -- she even has identical detective vision. Combat is relatively the same, and even though WB Montreal notes that she's "weaker" than Bruce, it doesn't really feel that way at all. It's very cool grappling about with Robin, but other than the use of a new type of gadget (advanced hacking), it's the tried and true Arkham formula. In Family, Barbara can use her remote hacking device as a "catch-all" basically, to do all sorts of things like short-circuit devices or manipulate objects. Think of it like a super gadget that can do a lot. It's presumably done so you don't have to micro-manage all of Bats' tools all over again, and to give Batgirl a slightly different feel. Here's the thing -- it does work at a base level, mostly because it distills the experience down to a lot of the good bits, and takes away the pesky forced Batmobile sessions. In other ways it feels limited, as you're stripped of most of those wonderful toys. [embed]295688:59441:0[/embed] None of the environments are particularly memorable outside of a nice little cameo I found in a water tank (in fact, most zones are even less interesting than the random spots you'll find in Gotham proper), but the linear format isn't jarring, either. That's mostly because of the fact that the DLC is so short. Normally that would be fine, but the story never really goes anywhere until the very end. Even then, it feels like a footnote rather than an impactful part of the overall narrative. In terms of length, it's meatier than the Harley DLC, but not by much. You can complete the main story in roughly an hour, and sort out all of the other collectibles in another 30 minutes. What I would have really loved to see is a full-roam option with Red Hood, Harley, and Batgirl (I mean, the models are already in the game with grappling and combat animations), but it's not meant to be -- the latter is still confined to her tiny add-on area. There are eight Achievements/Trophies though if you're into that sort of thing. Warner Bros. is really employing an odd strategy with Batman: Arkham Knight's post-launch content and the relatively expensive $40 Season Pass. All that's been revealed so far beyond a bunch of throwaway content (skins, races) is a handful of bite-sized episodes such as this; it's a far cry from the competent Cold, Cold Heart add-on for Arkham Origins last year. While A Matter of Family may be worth it for hardcore Batgirl fans, WB will have to do a lot better than this to justify the cost of the pass. [This review is based on a retail build of the DLC purchased by the reviewer.]
Batman DLC review photo
The Killing DLC
Enough time has passed for me to make a solid judgement on Batman: Arkham Knight. For the most part, I agree with the sentiments expressed in Steven's review of the core game -- Rocksteady tried too hard in many respects, and...

Review: Deception IV: The Nightmare Princess

Jul 14 // Chris Carter
Deception IV: The Nightmare Princess (PS3, PS4 [reviewed], Vita)Developer: Tecmo KoeiPublisher: Tecmo KoeiMSRP: $49.99 (PS4)Released: July 14, 2015 Since the core experience hasn't changed all that much, head to the original review to get a full breakdown of the main mechanics. The gist is that you'll be controlling a character that, for all intents and purposes, can't attack on their own, and must rig an elaborate combination of traps to do their dirty work for them. You'll do this by pausing the game, bringing up a menu, and placing a number of wall, ceiling, and floor traps that can be used with one another for maximum mayhem. For instance, you can hold an enemy in place with a beartrap, shock them with a wall taser, then drop a giant boulder on their head from the ceiling. It's glorious. So before you get confused, The Nightmare Princess is an all-new SKU that includes everything in the original package on top of another story with 100 quests, a new character with a different moveset, and a "Studio" mode so you can create your own scenarios. The extra campaign is easily the new draw, and I have to say, newcomer Velguirie holds her own here. Her tale runs concurrently with Laegrinna's and doesn't feel tacked-on in the slightest. 100 new quests also isn't really anything to shake a stick at either, though it must be said that there's only a few new zones (which are rather small), as some quests re-use old areas from the base game. The second campaign does stand up on its own, and even playing both stories back to back, they didn't overstay their individual welcomes. Velguirie's big gimmick is that she can kick enemies now -- something no other protagonist was able to do in the history of the franchise. [embed]295432:59487:0[/embed] But it's important to put things into perspective here. She can't just karate-kick bad guys into oblivion with flashy combos. It's a simple timed kick on a cooldown that can be used to tactically slot foes into position for traps (or stomp them on the ground), which are still going to do the real legwork here. It's not a game-changer, but again, the story, bonus traps, and the new character design themselves are enough to carry another playthrough. Yep, I said bonus traps, including a deadly toilet, a bolt of lightning, a wardrobe that eats armor, and sticky flooring. At this point there are so many trap combos at your disposal that you're only limited by your imagination.  You'll get to test your inner demon plenty with the Studio mode, the other big addition in Nightmare Princess. Here, you can create enemies with various custom parts and name them, placing each creation inside an existing arena. You can craft fun scenarios like battling the entire Justice League, and even download or upload them online for all to see. It's not as expansive as I would have liked, but the fact that you can download new missions every so often is a breakthrough for the series. Keep in mind that your fun is also going to be limited by how many actual parts you have, which are unlocked by completing both campaigns. Here's the bad news for those of you who already bought the original. While the new story is enjoyable and the Studio is fun to mess around with, you aren't getting a substantial new expansion to pour over for weeks here. Think of it more like a hefty DLC package. In other words, unless you absolutely love Deception, it probably isn't a good idea to shell out $50 for Nightmare Princess. It's a really weird thing for Koei Tecmo to do, as it could have easily provided an "upgrade" for say, $20, and then released a package version on the side. As it stands, you either have to go all or nothing. At the very least, there is the added bonus of being able to import your old save data, so you don't have to complete the original campaign all over again to reap the unlock benefits. Deception IV: The Nightmare Princess is in a really weird spot, but here's the rub -- as a Deception enthusiast, I was more than happy enough to take Velguirie's story for a spin, and I found myself beating the original game again as well as creating a few levels in the Studio. Just know exactly what you're getting into with Nightmare and make an informed decision. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Deception IV review photo
Hardcore trappers only
I really liked the original release of Deception IV. It was refreshing to see the series get another lease on life after taking a hiatus with Trapt all the way back in 2005, and newcomer Laegrinna fit right in. This...

Satoru Iwata photo
May he rest in peace
It's a sad day for the video game world. Nintendo president Satoru Iwata passed away yesterday at 55 years of age. The cause of his unfortunate death was a bile duct growth. Nintendo announced the news with a brief one-senten...

Review: Nekoburo: Cats Block

Jul 12 // Jed Whitaker
Nekoburo - Cats Block (PS Vita, PlayStation TV [Reviewed])Developer: F K Digital Publisher: Neko EntertainmentMSRP: $7.99Released: July 7, 2015 Square alien cats made of electrical waves are passing the Earth when a solar storm strikes, knocking them to the planet. One of the cats gets found by a human female who takes him home and treats him nicely, so he decides to summon his pals through her television to join him living with his new servant. If this somehow related to the gameplay other than featuring said cats, it was never apparent.  Levels consist of a standard falling from the top of the screen match three mechanic, three cats fall from the top of the screen that can be moved left to right and be reordered on a tilted playing field. Each level has a specific quest such as clearing a certain number of cats of a certain color within a timelimit, or surviving for a set amount of time while cats drop quickly. Matching three or more cats of the same color in a horizontal, vertical or diagonal line will clear them. Clearing cats also fills up a meter that grants items that help clear the board such as horizontal and vertical bombs, a grid warp that clears a set of nine surrounding blocks, clearing all cats of a single color and a rainbow block that clears the entire board.  [embed]295827:59475:0[/embed] Acquiring these items and knowing when to use them are an important part of the game, as each level seemingly has a specific way to complete it. For example, one level has what look to be tofu blocks slowly advancing from the bottom of the screen that can only be cleared with items or clearing cats in horizontal lines. In this level the only real way to complete the level is to constantly build up and use items to keep the middle of the screen cleared, as the middle is the only area that can cause a failure, the other rows don't matter and stack up past the edges of the level with no repurrrrrrcussions. The levels are laid out in such a way that it forces you to learn the mechanics of the game with no hand holding. One level may require so many vertical bombs to be used to clear it, thus teaching you how to effectively use them, another may require rainbow blocks be detonated which is extremely important in later levels.  After every 10 levels a new cat will materialize through the TV in the human's house, in tow with its own personality, background information and colorful comic. Unfortunately the dialogue and background information is so poorly localized it is basically incomprehensible. I've played a lot of poorly localized games in my day -- looking at you Zero Wing -- but this one was easily the worst. Here are two examples of the awfully translated text: "He hope to become an charming men as chocolate," and "Even though fiery rude, he have sense of justice. He did something that against the grain with him, because think to much."  Nekoburo isn't exactly a hard game as it is random -- or more specifically, the difficulty is mostly due to the random generation of the falling cat blocks. Sometimes, exactly what is required to complete a level will spawn, other times you'll have to work for it. This isn't specific to any level though, so it isn't like the levels are specifically designed to spawn cats in a certain way, at least it seems that way on the surface level. Multiple attempts at the same level will eventually yield positive results, allowing level completion, other times the game just seems to be against you. Though this is the case with most puzzle games, so it isn't exactly a new problem with the genre -- it's just worse here. Between levels you can customize the apartment with furniture, and play with the cats with toys, both of which are unlocked by completing certain goals attached to them. While the cats are uber cute, this portion of the game left much to be desired; the furniture can't be moved, and the toys aren't exactly fun to play with more than once. One of the toys is turning on the TV for the cats to watch, the screen just lights up white as the cats sit there, not what I'd call a toy or entertaining.  The story mode can be completed in around six or seven hours, mostly due to trial and error. A survival mode is unlocked around half way through the story mode that is just an endless mode that increases in difficulty, much like marathon mode in Tetris. As there are no online leaderboards and the furniture is little more than pallet swaps there is little reason to continue playing once the story mode is finished unless you're a completionist.  The best thing about Nekoburo: Cats Block is the art style; everything is bright, colorful and super adorable, but take that away and you're left with a generic, poorly translated puzzle game with a tilted playing field that doesn't compliment gameplay. Nekoburo is certainly not the cat's meow.  [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Nekoburo Review photo
Pussies
I love pussies, my dad loves pussies and my Grand Peppers loved pussies before he met his untimely demise on that trampoline -- RIP Grand Peppers may you continue to love pussies in the afterlife. But, we are all fluent in th...

$8 Dishonored GOTY in day numero dos of GMG Summer Sale

Jul 11 // Dealzon
GMG Summer Sale Day 2 Use coupon: DEALZO-NGMGSA-LESVVC Dishonored & Doom Dishonored: GOTY Edition (Steam) — $8.16  (list price $30) <- free mystery game Dishonored (Steam) — $4  (list price $20) Doom 3: BFG Edition (Steam) — $4  (list price $20) Doom Classic Complete (Steam) — $3  (list price $15) FPS Goodies Half-Life & Counter Strike Series Shadow Warrior (Steam) — $4.80  (list price $40) Quake 4 (Steam) — $4  (list price $20) Brink (Steam) — $4  (list price $20) Rise of the Triad (Steam) — $3  (list price $15) Day of Defeat: Source (Steam) — $2  (list price $10) Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition (Steam) — $2  (list price $10) Return to Castle Wolfenstein (Steam) — $2  (list price $10) Shadow Warrior Classic Redux (Steam) — $1.20  (list price $10) More Top Picks Kick-Ass 2 (Steam) — $13.40  (list price $25) DieselStormers (Steam) — $12.16  (list price $19) Primal Carnage: Extinction (Steam) — $8  (list price $20) Chivalry: Medieval Warfare (Steam) — $4  (list price $25) Chivalry: Deadliest Warrior (Steam) — $2.40  (list price $15) Hotline Miami (Steam) — $2  (list price $10) Top Weekend Deals Elite: Dangerous (Steam) — $40.19  (list price $60) <- match Steam Summer Sale The Witcher III: Wild Hunt (DRM-Free) — $29.99  (list price $60) Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin (Steam) — $24.99  (list price $50) Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (Steam) — $22.99  (list price $60) Console Hardware Deals PS4 TLOU Bundle + PS Plus 3 Mo. + Extra Controller — $399.99 Xbox One Halo Master Chief Bundle + $40 Gift Card — $349  (list price $399) PlayStation TV — $39.99  (list price $80) Wii Fit U + Wii Balance Board + Fit Meter — $39.99  (list price $70) Sony Playstation Silver Wired Headset — $19.99  (list price $40) Recent Releases 07/21: F1 2015 (Steam) — $35.49  (list price $55) 06/23: Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition (Steam) — $17.99  (list price $25) 06/23: Batman: Arkham Knight (Xbox One) — $44.99  (list price $60) 06/16: Xbox One 1TB Halo: Master Chief Bundle + $40 Gift Card — $399 PC Game Deals Project Cars (Steam) — $34.99  (list price $50) Far Cry 4 (Uplay) — $23.99  (list price $60) Europa Universalis IV: Conquest Collection (Steam) — $14.99  (list price $60) Spintires (Steam) — $10.49  (list price $30) Metro Redux Bundle (Steam) — $8.99  (list price $45) Zuma's Revenge — FREE  (list price $5) Console Game Deals Battlefield: Hardline (PS3, Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360) — $39.99  (list price $60) Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin (PS4, Xbox One) — $39.99  (list price $60) Destiny (PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3) — $19.99  (list price $40) Dragon Age: Inquisition - Pre-owned (Xbox One, PS4) — $17.99  (list price $60) Borderlands 2 (PS3) — $3.99  (list price $15) PS4 MLB 15 The Show (PS4) — $39.99  (list price $60) Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes 2.0 Starter Pack (PS4) — $34.99  (list $60) Lara Croft and The Temple of Osiris (PS4) — $19.99  (list price $30) Madden NFL 25 (PS4) — $14.99  (list price $30) Xbox One The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited (Xbox One) — $44.99  (list price $60) The Witcher III: Wild Hunt (Xbox One) — $44.99  (list price $60) Disney Infinity: Toy Box Starter Pack 2.0 Edition (Xbox One) — $34.99  (list $60) Halo: The Master Chief Collection (Xbox One) — $24.99  (list price $60) Laptop Deals 15.4" Apple MacBook Pro i7-4770HQ, 16GB, 256GB SSD — $1,819  (list $1,999) 15.6" Asus i7-4720HQ, 12GB, GTX 950M, 1080p — $749  (list $1,000) 15.6" Acer Aspire V3 i7-5500U, 8GB, GT 840M, 1080p — $579.99  (list $760) 15.6" Lenovo Z50 i7-4510U, 8GB, 1080p — $499  (list $950) Game deals from Dealzon. Sales from certain retailers help support Destructoid.
Weekend deals photo
Jumpin' good deals
The weekend arrives and GMG's 2015 Summer Sale chugs on to day two. Some decent pickings this round with Dishonored GOTY for only $8 (plus you get a freebie mystery game). Hotline Miami 2 also hit a historic low pri...

Review: Skullgirls 2nd Encore

Jul 11 // Jonathan Holmes
Skullgirls 2nd Encore (PS4 [reviewed], PS Vita)Developers: Lab Zero GamesPublisher: Autum GamesReleased: July 7, 2015 So now that we've established that Skullgirls is great, we can get to the question you're all probably dying for answers about -- what the heck is a 2nd Encore? Well in this case, it's a boost in visual fidelity, tons of newly recorded voice acting, an 882 page virtual art book (with special pin ups by the likes of Chamba, Robaato, and OMOCAT), a few new single player modes, and five and a half new characters that you may have already download for the prior version of the game. If you haven't been keeping up with the Skullgirls DLC as its been released, then 2nd Encore is undoubtedly a worthy purchase for you. If you have been picking them up as they've been periodically put on the market since last year, then the price tag here may not be worth your while. It all depends on how much you care about owning the most complete, clean looking/sounding version of the game, Visually, Skullgirls 2nd Encore looks heaps better on the PS4 than Skullgirls or Skullgirls Encore did on the PS3. The black bars on the top and bottom of the screen are gone, allowing characters to stretch to their proper proportions, and everything looks brighter and sharper. As for sound, every cutscene now has full voice acting, which does a lot to make the game's world feel more alive. As Skullgirls fans already know, the game has a deep, fairly complicated story, filled with around 100 characters big and small. That said, fighting games aren't exactly well known for their vocal performances, but gratefully, the acting here is all top notch, thanks in large part to the direction of Christina Vee.  [embed]295474:59465:0[/embed] As for new modes, there's stuff for both newcomers and veterans alike. The new Survival and Challenge modes are great for old pros who are looking for new ways to tackle the CPU, and the new Trials mode is a great way to learn new combos or brush up on old ones. There's also a new Quick Match CPU mode that lets you do take on the computer without having to sit through any of the pre-fight delays you might find in Arcade or Story mode. That's all well and good, but the real stars of the show here are the new characters. The only true newcomer here is Robo-Fortune. She's a default part of the 2nd Encore package, but has also been released as a free download for those who already own Skullgirls Encore, so she's not exactly exclusive. That doesn't diminish how exciting she is to play though. Robo-Fortune is a great example of what I was saying about how the developers of Skullgirls seem to take the strangeness inherent in fighting games for granted, and as a result, have built upon that strangeness in ways that's filled with next-level weirdness.  Robo-Fortune was original planned to be a remixed version of Ms. Fortune, one of the original members of the Skullgirls roster and the game's resident "cat girl with a detachable head that can attack independently from its body." If that wasn't thought provoking enough for you, Robo-Fortune takes that concept and adds a few levels of surreal to it. She's a robot copy of a cat girl with a detachable head, and she can actually fire her head into the air like a rocket, only to grow a new one in its place. These stack-able, detached robot heads are a major part of her arsenal, along with her Cable-like beam attacks. She's also extremely chatty, which will likely turn off some players, while others are sure to fall in love with her immediately. Her two big catch phrases are "Beep Boop Meow" and "What am I fighting for!?!" These are questions I ask myself every day, which makes it all the more gratifying to see them finally expressed on the big screen by a robot cat woman thing.  The other four and a half other DLC characters (Beowulf, Big Band, Eliza, Squigly, and Filia's semi-clone Fukua) are equally fantastic, so if you missed out on them before, you'd do best to grab them now. It's also worth mentioning that the game is a Cross-Buy purchase, with a PS Vita port coming later this year. It all shapes up to the definitive, and maybe final version of one of the most beautiful, detailed, and passionately developed fighting games in recent memory. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Skullgirls review photo
Hold your applause, the show's not over
Skullgirls is one of my favorite fighting games ever. With an innovative combat engine spearheaded by top tier BlazBlue expert Mike Z, animation direction by Mariel Cartwright, and world and character design by Alex Ahad...

Call of Goldbum photo
DLC...DLC finds...a way
Activision has sent us a great deal of information regarding Call of Duty: Black Ops III's upcoming zombie mode today, revealed at its San Diego Comic-Con panel. For starters, the all-new zombies cast features Jeff Goldblum ...

Review: Spectra

Jul 09 // Brett Makedonski
Spectra (PC [reviewed], Xbox One, iOS, Android, Windows Phone)Developers: Gateway InteractivePublisher: MastertronicReleased: July 10, 2015 For all the things Spectra isn't, it does one thing very very well. The chiptune beats instantly remind of Chipzel's in Super Hexagon -- a game which is renowned for its recognizable and catchy music, and for its addictive qualities. There's a logical explanation for this connection: the music is made by Chipzel. Good as that component predictably is, one can't shake the feeling that the developers put the music too far at the forefront of Spectra. It's tied to the core of the game in such a way that Gateway Interactive actually developed around it. The ten levels are procedurally generated for what's happening with the music. Dynamic (racing) tracks for static (music) tracks. The problem isn't so much with the method, but with the absolute lack of variation in it. Spectra takes place on a winding two-lane road (like a Sheryl Crow song) with hexagonal prisms peppered along the way liberally to serve as obstacles. The entirety of Spectra consists of avoiding those barriers, picking up gold pellets, and ever-so-occasionally hitting a turbo marker that not only boosts speed but a score multiplier too. Technically, that score is probably the main reason to play Spectra. It's heavy on arcade-like qualities in that it asks the player to put up with great repetition in pursuit of leaderboard glory. Unfortunately, the procedural generation makes it so that no one can necessarily hunker down and teach themselves how to dominate the game. [embed]295486:59424:0[/embed] Instead, it emphasizes reaction over pattern recognition, which would be noble if the algorithm didn't often feel as if it spawns too many barriers at once. Sometimes it could very well be impossible to escape those situations unscathed. It's mostly unnoticeable on the earlier levels, but it's all too apparent in the later ones. Hampering those efforts is a control system that's not poor, but just slightly too loose for a game that only asks the player to steer. It's more a complication with the ship's animation than the actual controls. Regardless, it causes the tiniest of disconnects. A reaction-based game on a narrow pathway with thousands of hurdles has no excuse for not giving the player complete control. Spectra seemingly knows it as going off-track often grants a split second mercy window to get back on before plunging into the abyss. Besides score chasing, players may find themselves insistent on simply trying to finish each level. Clocking in around three and a half minutes each, it's no small feat as Spectra lends itself well to temporary concentration lapses causing immediate failure. The track length often seems about a minute too long to sustain any spurts of enjoyment. Even completion is unsatisfying as there's no finish line due to the game being unsure how far you will have made it over the duration of the song; rather than any sort of fanfare, a new screen pops up informing you of your accomplishment. I don't usually rely so literally upon Destructoid's scoring guide when assigning a number for a review, but it feels so apt in the case of Spectra. It's like a boring meal that did nothing more than chew up a little time. It does lack any real flavor. It didn't leave me any different than it found me. It's tolerable, but not anything special. Well, the music is special, but it turns out that Spectra can't stand on the merits of its music alone. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Spectra review photo
Beat it
Spectra isn't a lot of things. It isn't complicated; its mechanics and entire premise can be learned in literally five seconds. It isn't structured; level design is eschewed for procedural generation. It isn't long; an hour of playing will have unlocked all the tracks with plenty of time to retry the many failed ones. Probably most important: it isn't really fun.


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