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Xbox 360

Games with Gold photo
Games with Gold

December's Xbox Games with Gold will leave you wanting to spend time with family

Kind of a May retread
Nov 24
// Brett Makedonski
Xbox closes out the calendar year not with a bang, but with a whimper. December's free games for Xbox Live Gold subscribers have been revealed a bit early this month. Despite the inclusion of an extra title, the whole lot is ...
Minecraft screenshots photo
Minecraft screenshots

Minecraft: Story Mode Episode 3 screenshots, we got 'em

Look at last
Nov 24
// Darren Nakamura
The third episode for Minecraft: Story Mode is out today, and it's actually not half bad. I think I took more screenshots this time around than in the first two episodes as a result. Going through these after the fact, it's o...

Review: Minecraft: Story Mode: The Last Place You Look

Nov 24 // Darren Nakamura
Minecraft: Story Mode: The Last Place You Look (iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Telltale GamesPublisher: Telltale GamesReleased: November 24, 2015 (Mac, PC)MSRP: $4.99, $24.99 (Season Pass)Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit After having found Ellegaard the redstone engineer and Magnus the griefer in the previous episode, the gang needed only to locate Soren the architect for the full original Order of the Stone to be accounted for. The journey to find Soren takes the party to some peculiar locations, most located in The End. However, since Soren is a master builder, the areas highlighted are more diverse than the typical darkness of The End. Between Soren's feats of engineering in the overworld and colorful constructions in The End, it's a nice nod to Minecraft proper players who are known to build some of the craziest things. Soren himself is a much more likable character than some of the other members of the Order of the Stone. Where Ellegaard and Magnus were basically insufferable (especially after they were brought together), Soren is quirky and at times genuinely funny. Voiced by John Hodgman, he's neurotic and paranoid, but still fun to be around. [embed]321869:61211:0[/embed] Overall, the quality of the writing has taken a half-step up from the previous two episodes. None of the jokes elicited any sustained belly laughs, but I did let out a few snorts and chuckles along the way. The Last Place You Look started up a running gag where Axel falls on top of Lukas repeatedly, which happens just enough to be comical without getting tired. Some of the seeds of drama sown in previous episodes have begun to sprout, and while it still maintains the kid-friendly narrative, it's finally beginning to feel like the events happening matter and Jesse has an important role to play. The greatest success of The Last Place You Look is that it allows the player to feel accomplished while still moving the narrative along. This is, after all, only the third episode in a five-episode season, so anybody who knows Telltale knows everything won't be resolved here. But even so, the climax of this episode feels like a high point for the team. Sure, they're not done with their mission, but they did something, at least. There's never really any downtime during this episode either. Though there are a few sections of walking around and talking or searching for clues, they all serve a purpose and generally lead to action sequences. The first action sequence in particular is probably the best so far in the series, melding the fantastic environments, a sense of danger, and the classic Telltale decision-making into a tight opening credit roll. One thing that might turn some off is the quiet lowering of the bar for success during the action sequences. Some of the quick-time events seem more demanding here than usual, but I noticed after I flubbed a button press or two, the resulting animation didn't seem to react accordingly. Perhaps it takes multiple failures in a single section to make a difference. More experimentation is necessary. As much as I may praise The Last Place You Look, it is with respect to the first two episodes of Minecraft: Story Mode. It definitely is an improvement, but an improvement from mediocrity is just okay. The comedy is slightly improved, but still doesn't hold a candle to that of Tales from the Borderlands. The characters are becoming easier to sympathize with, but they aren't are interesting as those from The Wolf Among Us. The drama is beginning to heat up, but it doesn't come close to what we saw in The Walking Dead. Perhaps it's unfair to compare Minecraft: Story Mode to Telltale's more adult-oriented series. This is built for a particular demographic, and it seems like it's really hitting with that audience. The Last Place You Look is more of the same -- and slightly better, if anything -- so those who have enjoyed the series thus will be pleased to just keep on trucking. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Minecraft review photo
Looking up
Minecraft: Story Mode didn't impress me with its first two episodes. Aimed at young players and Minecraft super fans, its writing didn't have a whole lot going for it past its Saturday morning cartoon plot and series in-jokes...

Destiny photo

Here's how Destiny's Refer-a-Friend thing works

'We can make it if we try!'
Nov 24
// Vikki Blake
Bungie has revealed what spoils you can score if you successfully convince a pal to play Destiny.  There are already 25 million registered players in Destiny, but that's not enough for Bungie. The publisher wants you to introduce a friend via the Refer-a-Friend website (your pal must be on the same platform as you to qualify).

Plants vs. Zombies photo
Plants vs. Zombies

EA is handing out free Garden Warfare coins

Just log in for 80,000 coins
Nov 23
// Jordan Devore
Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare was one of my most-played games last year. What a fun shooter! I won't get back into it, but I don't see the harm in opening a few card packs. As a celebration for passing the eight-million-...
Xbox photo

Xbox's Black Friday sale is live, here are all the deals

Silver accounts have to wait a bit
Nov 20
// Brett Makedonski
The biggest shopping day of the year starts one week before the biggest shopping day of the year. Some retailers have already begun with the Black Friday consumerism, Amazon probably being the most notable example. Xbox falls...
Game of Thrones Season 2 photo
Game of Thrones Season 2

Telltale's Game of Thrones is getting a second season

Surprise, surprise
Nov 20
// Darren Nakamura
After finishing the season finale for Game of Thrones: A Telltale Game Series, I had my suspicions that it was all setting up for an inevitable second season. Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Telltale CEO Kevin Bruner co...
Destiny photo

Bungie flip-flops, nerfs Pulse Rifles in Destiny right after buffing them

Nov 20
// Chris Carter
On the next episode of "as the nerf turns," it looks like Bungie is making pulse rifles and shotguns less effective in its big December update for Destiny. This follows an update in the 2.0 edition that actually made pulse ri...
Minecraft: Story Mode photo
Minecraft: Story Mode

Minecraft: Story Mode keeps up its brisk schedule with Episode 3 out next week

The Last Place You Look
Nov 19
// Darren Nakamura
This minecart just keeps on a-rollin' (whether we care about it or not). After having met up with and then subsequently lost track of Ellegaard and Magnus in Assembly Required, the team is now searching out the fourth member ...
Destiny photo

Destiny players experiencing 'Vulture' issues on Xbox One

These error codenames are rad
Nov 19
// Vikki Blake
Some Xbox One Destiny players have been encountering "Vulture" errors since the 2.02 update recently rolled out. You should only receive that error if you try to play co-op or PvP without a Xbox Live Gold (or PlayStation Plus, as the code is not unique to Xbox) subscription, but it seems players are triggering the problem even if their sub is active. 
RE Revelations photo
RE Revelations

Go download the first episode of Resident Evil Revelations 2 for free

Or don't, I'm not working on commission
Nov 17
// Brett Makedonski
Let's have a Big Fantastic Tuesday Giveaway Extravaganza. The prize is the first episode of Resident Evil Revelations 2. The winner is you! Well, not you, PC player; you are a loser in this isolated situation. Microsoft and S...
Raiden costume photo
Raiden costume

Raiden joins Metal Gear Solid V as the Skulls come home to roost

Raiden suit costume
Nov 17
// Steven Hansen
The Gray Fox outfit in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is pretty dope, though it's a challenge to get me out of my sexy Black Ocelot. But maybe for FOB missions, wherein I will sacrifice style for results. A recent Fami...
Black Friday photo
Black Friday

Xbox's Black Friday actually kicks off this Friday with a 150+ game sale

Hey, no lines
Nov 17
// Brett Makedonski
The Black Friday Creep is upon us once again. Every year, retailers try to move the goalposts for when the year's biggest shopping day begins. Xbox, bold as ever, has decided it's bumping the event up an entire week. We have...

Review: Game of Thrones: A Telltale Game Series: The Ice Dragon

Nov 17 // Darren Nakamura
Game of Thrones - A Telltale Game Series: The Ice Dragon (Android, iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed], PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Telltale GamesPublisher: Telltale GamesReleased: November 17, 2015MSRP: $4.99 (episode), $29.99 (season)Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit The reason I'm being so cavalier with discussing in general terms how my story ended -- spoilers be damned -- is that other players might see things play out quite differently. It took the whole season to make good on the promises that we may shape the future of House Forrester, but The Ice Dragon finally introduces significant divergence. Important characters may live or die, depending on not only the choices presented in this episode, but also on those made earlier. With Asher joining Rodrik and the convergence of those two paths at the end of A Nest of Vipers, more time can be spent on each individual thread. Up north, Gared and company finally make it to the North Grove. Down south, Mira learns who had been conspiring against her. Nestled in the middle of it all is the drama in Ironrath, with the Whitehills mounting up for war against the Forresters. Gared's path is probably the most disappointing of the three. After five episodes wondering what the significance of the North Grove is, I was hoping for a revelation when he finally made it. The main concrete takeaway is that it's important and must be protected, but precisely why is up for debate. [embed]321059:61115:0[/embed] What makes Gared's journey to the North Grove sting so much as a part of the story of the Forresters is that it feels like he made no measurable impact on any other section. The final recap does hint that he might have been a bigger player in the grand scheme if I had made different choices, but my personal Gared could have been cut from the story entirely and it would have made no difference. In contrast, Mira's scheming in King's Landing is at least mentioned by the characters on the home front. She may not have had any concrete effects on the conflict at Ironrath, but her path still feels important in the overall narrative. In Sons of Winter, I was so pleased with myself for winning a war of words as Mira. I was shrewd and calculating, manipulating the situation to get exactly what I wanted. Somewhere along the line I lost that slyness and turned into a softie, and Mira paid for it. I can't say I'm happy with how Mira turns out at the end of this episode, but I don't think I'd be particularly pleased with the possible alternatives either. Of course, the main action is at Ironrath, where the Whitehills have mounted up for war against the Forresters. There were hints in this episode at a possible diplomatic solution, but as Asher and his band of gladiators, battle seemed like the most appropriate option. The climactic scene is probably the most brutal in any Telltale game to date. There was figurative backstabbing followed by literal backstabbing. There was frontstabbing. There was sidestabbing. There was ramming a greatsword into someone's mouth and out the back of his head. Good lord, there was a lot of stabbing. It fits the universe perfectly, in that in one fell swoop a dozen named characters meet their ends, and the whole time I'm watching in horror, muttering obscenities to myself and wishing thing weren't the way they are. Valar morghulis: all men must die; fans of the source are well-versed in that concept, but it hurts more when it's my men dying. There may still be a glimmer of hope for the Forresters, despite being broken, beaten, battered, and beheaded. The finale leaves a few loose ends open (possibly for a second season), but the family as we have known it is done. In a way, I'm almost pleased the story finishes the way it does. In Iron From Ice, I noted the similarities between the Forrester clan and the more famous Starks. I realize now that I modeled my Forresters' behavior after them as well. I fought with honor and I did the right thing, though it eventually spelled my own doom. I can take solace in the moral victory. The Ice Dragon caps off a year of fretting and worrying. Telltale's take on Game of Thrones has been spot-on in that regard. Now that it's over it's almost a relief, even with a bleak end. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Game of Thrones review photo
A chilling finale
In my review for The Lost Lords, the second episode of Game of Thrones, I lamented that I was making all the wrong decisions and that my version of House Forrester was doomed. With The Ice Dragon wrapping up the series, my pr...

Game of Thrones trailer photo
Game of Thrones trailer

The Game of Thrones finale trailer hopes you have been following along

Spoilers abound
Nov 16
// Darren Nakamura
Don't watch the trailer below if you aren't caught up with the first five episodes of Game of Thrones: A Telltale Game Series. It highlights a lot of the major choices from the previous episodes, including the one right at th...
Destiny photo

Refer a friend to Destiny and get a reward

'We're planning something new'
Nov 13
// Vikki Blake
As a thank you for recruiting new Guardians this holiday season, Bungie will be rewarding players with a new Refer-a-Friend scheme for Destiny. "After this update is deployed, some of the more tech savvy among you will b...
Xbox One photo
Very smoothly
The New Xbox One Experience rolled out today, and for me and many others, the transition has been painless. I simply booted up my console, downloaded a roughly 1GB update, and the UI popped right up after a restart. I think s...

Microsoft photo

Here's how DLC will work with Xbox One Backward Compatibility

TL;DR: go to
Nov 12
// Vikki Blake
[Update: To clarify, while you can't purchase DLC via your Xbox One, you can still buy Xbox 360 DLC via the 360 store, or via] Microsoft has detailed how DLC will work for those backward compatible Xbox 360 games. &...
Walmart Black Friday photo
Walmart Black Friday

Walmart Black Friday deals include amiibo, $250 Wii U, $299 PS4, and more

Get ready to stand on the edge
Nov 11
// Mike Cosimano
Best Black Friday, one of the many sites dedicated to collating deals available during the ebony-black altar of consumerism and bloodlust known as Black Friday, has published an early version of Walmart's ad, detailing its en...
Xbox One update photo
Xbox One update

The new Xbox One dashboard rolls out tonight

Backward compatibility to follow
Nov 11
// Jordan Devore
November is flying by me. It's nearly time for the new Xbox One dashboard update, and you know what that means: backward compatibility! The initial list of supported Xbox 360 games falls short of my expectations, but it'll im...
Diamond Cat photo
Diamond Cat

Wear a cat on your head in Metal Gear Online

He's helping!
Nov 11
// Jordan Devore
Well, damn. Now I regret spending those Mother Base coins on that sweet crocodile hat. If you haven't checked in with Metal Gear Online in a while, this headgear might be just the nudge you need. It's a cat named Ricky that you can place on your head. That'll be 300 MB Coins, thanks.
Game of Thrones screens photo
Game of Thrones screens

First screens for Game of Thrones finale are non-canon (for me)

Gared fights a claymation bear
Nov 11
// Darren Nakamura
The long-awaited season finale for Telltale's Game of Thrones series following House Forrester is almost here. It releases next week, but today we have a few tastes of what to expect. Mira looks like she's in trouble with the...
Blops makes bank photo
Blops makes bank

Call of Duty: Black Ops III biggest launch of 2015 at $550 million

Until Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Nov 11
// Steven Hansen
Call of Duty: Black Ops III made a lot of money in three days. And while that's not surprising, it is notable, given that the series sales had been in a bit of a decline with Ghosts and Advance Wars: Days of Ruin. I guess the...
Fallout 4 photo
Fallout 4

That free Fallout 3 with Fallout 4 offer expires in February 2016

Don't hold out for Fallout freebie
Nov 11
// Vikki Blake
If you've picked up Fallout 4 on the Xbox One specifically so that you'll also be able to play Fallout 3, don't leave it too long to redeem your code - the offer expires in February 2016. GameSpot spotted the deadline on the Xbox Live store, which also confirms that you'll need to have bought Fallout 4 on Xbox One by February 6, 2016 to qualify for the freebie.
The Phantom Pain photo
The Phantom Pain

You can bring back a certain buddy in Metal Gear Solid V

But the process is repetitive
Nov 10
// Jordan Devore
As of a recent update in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, it is now possible to bring back a beloved buddy who becomes unusable after you progress far enough into the story. But you're not going to like the method. In a game full of padding, there's now just a little bit more repetition. To be clear, you'll want to stop reading now if you're looking to avoid specifics. Spoilers.
Alien: Isolation photo
Alien: Isolation

A modder has taken the Alien out of Alien: Isolation

And I bet it's still fantastic
Nov 09
// Brett Makedonski
The first time I played Alien: Isolation, I was at developer Creative Assembly's studio in Horsham, England. The game hadn't been announced yet and we were the first non-Sega people to see it. There was the briefest of introd...

Review: Rise of the Tomb Raider

Nov 09 // Steven Hansen
Rise of the Tomb Raider (Xbox One [reviewed], Xbox 360, PC, PS4)Developer: Crystal Dynamics (Xbox One), Nixxes Software (Xbox 360)Publisher: Microsoft (Xbox One, 360); Square Enix (PC, PS4)MSRP: $59.99Released: November 10, 2015 (Xbox One, Xbox 360); Q1 2016 (PC); Q4 2016 (PS4) Having previously glimpsed the supernatural, Rise of the Tomb Raider's Lara is open to the wild theories of ancient immortality that consumed her father. A brief trip into Syria introduces the new enemy, a highly-funded, obviously evil group called Trinity led by Konstantin, a religious zealot and less comic book version of Uncharted 2's Lazarević. Lara then tries to beat the stonejaw-led shadowy entity to the Siberian wilderness, where most of the game takes place. The first thing I noticed in Syria was its rich orange sands, a strong contrast to the last Tomb Raider's much more muted palette. Then it was Lara's powerful blue glow stick as she began navigating tombs, providing the same orange/cyan look you find in most Hollywood movie color grading. Naturally, when Lara goes to off to Russia and the blue-white snow and ice, she's suddenly packing orange glow sticks. It's not a bad thing, though. Rise of the Tomb Raider is not shy about using unrealistic lighting to set a mood and it works, like when the blizzarding night sky is illuminated with an eerie deep red light thanks to Trinity flares. It's one of the best-looking games this year, but it also goes beyond stylish at times and helps set the mood. Coupled with a camera that occasionally, but never annoyingly, takes control from you to frame the next impressive mountain establishment or some such thing you have to climb. [embed]319740:61038:0[/embed] The combination of framing, use of color, and lighting are welcomed Hollywood cribbing. Most of the additions since the last entry are welcomed, too. The stealth options make more sense in a supposedly serious game hellbent on showing the brutality Lara deals with (gruesome death close-ups are still plentiful), rather than the more discordant Lara-as-Terminator that doesn't jive with the story being told. That said, you can still mostly do that. Even when the game hinted I could stealth through an environment, unless I saw an obvious path, it was easy to loose bows from afar into enemies' heads. Rise also touted the tombs pre-release, which are peppered throughout the world. They're probably the highlight. I think Tomb Raider is a better platformer than shooter and working out these beautiful, often complex environmental puzzles had me yearning for a more ICO-like distribution of puzzle/platforming versus murder. The stealth, too, kind of hints at a game that could've made death and killing meaningful in line with the narrative, but instead we're left with a refinement of the Uncharted series sans one-liners.  Except for the bloat, which kind of flies in the face of the snappy movie cues and Uncharted's beats. Rise borrows slightly from the Legend of Zelda formula in that there are distinct areas ("hubs") organically woven together, but requiring back-tracking with new gear and items. It's a very game-y conceit. In the cinematics I asked why Lara hadn't a camera (or even a cell phone) to prove (evidence!) the things her father died over, but she didn't even slip an iPhone out of her pocket. At the same, coming across a rope and being told I can't cut it until I find a knife, well, why the hell does Lara not have a knife? People who like busywork will probably appreciate the hub areas replete with open-world style challenges (burn all 10 communist propaganda posters, cut down all the snared rabbits, etc.), but it kind of grated on me. I didn't open the map until a few hours in and I immediately wanted to slam it shut after seeing the Assassin's Creed-style unreadable mess of icons. And while these tasks often yield rewards, including XP, it just feels to unnecessary. Which is kind of true, given that I got through the game fine without doing anything but the most convenient extras, and didn't find a +2 damage Polished Barrel to affect my capacity to kill folks all that much. So why's any of it there at all? Rise has a very pressing, dire narrative, and is a joy when you're moving around and exploring the gorgeous environments. Constant IU flashes (10XP!!!) only serve as an intrusion and gum up the works. Having to pause the game and look at a static menu screen to hear picked-up audio logs (already a bit of a lazy, all too convenient way to shove more story into your game) kills momentum, tension, excitement. You just have to stare at a render of a tape recorder if you want to know why the big bad bleeds from his hands. The story handles the necessary, telegraphed third act turn to the supernatural well, but generally suffers from a glossing over. The Burberry-clade arm of Trinity trying to beat Lara to the punch are well-acted, but pretty one-dimensional (even with everything wrapped up in explanatory audio logs). An entire society isolated in the Siberian wilderness speaks perfect English. It's perfunctory Hollywood boilerplate, down to the set up for the sequel, but competently done. Worth noting: I ran into an odd problem late in the game where enemies would disappear. First right before me when I was swinging an ice axe at them as if Lara did so with enough force to banish them from this plane of existence, but then sometimes they'd vanish completely on their own. Once this locked me in a room because whatever needed to trigger to open the door couldn't and I had to restart (not losing much progress), while it also happened during the game's final boss fight, which was anticlimactic. The loss of XP from these tactical Houdinis might impact games on harder difficulty settings where the leveling and crafting system could prove more necessary, though on normal I got to a point where I didn't even care to spend my skill points. That excess is a problem shared with the last Tomb Raider, which bills itself (and thematically tries to be) a survivalist game, but simply isn't. It's a bit goofy ruining the beautiful colors of the world by constantly jamming down the "survival instincts" button to light up objects of interest and clambering around to strip trees of their boughs. Eventually I stopped going out of my way to pick up trash, yet I still always had ammo and arrows. Crafting, skill trees, open-world-style quests: it just feels like bloat. Busy work. And it isn't consistent with the story. Moving around, on the other hand, is sublime. It is odd, though. There's an animation for when Lara is pushed up against a short, maybe knee-high lip; pressing the jump button has her labor up it a bit. Yet if you push the jump button otherwise, she will leap clean four feet into the air like a cat. That amusing inconsistency aside, Lara's movement animations are all so fluid and impressive. If she barely makes a jump, she can slip and fall if you don't press a button. But rather than her needing to get a grip be a recurring quick-time event, it organically happens every time you barely snag a ledge. This means you can tell if that prompt is about to come up and can preemptively push it, and Lara will secure her grip and you can continue about fluidly climbing around. It's a good bit of adding interaction to the platforming without having to pre-plan bits of structure that will start to crumble when you grab them. Rise of the Tomb Raider is better than its predecessor, but only because of its additions; it doesn't fix any of the things that were wrong with Tomb Raider (2013). The story is smoothed down, much of it hidden away in dull audio logs. It's not about "survival" as billed, given the ease of mowing down dozens of folks and plenty of resources. But finding tombs wherein to clamber about ancient Rube Goldberg machines, coupled with the gorgeous visual flair and diverse environments, make Rise's wilderness one worth exploring and elevate Tomb Raider's otherwise perfunctory take on the third-person action platformer. I still get a strong sinking feeling in my stomach when I've misjudged a jump and watch Lara careening towards a splat. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Tomb Raider review photo
Get to know 'er
I sometimes forget that Raiders of the Lost Ark came out in 1981. Its breezy pulp adventure quality carries only obvious signifiers of its era (like, Nazis), and the repetition of these tropes act as enough hand waving to the...

Xbox 360 photo
Xbox 360

Here's the first full list of Xbox 360 backward compatible launch games

104 in all
Nov 09
// Chris Carter
I really think that Microsoft and Sony have switched places in terms of functionality with their consoles this generation. The former came out of the gate with a terrible DRM concept that crippled their image, and Sony took t...
Call of Duty photo
Call of Duty

91% of Black Ops 3 UK sales were on PS4 or Xbox One

Up from 67% for Advanced Warfare sales
Nov 09
// Vikki Blake
91% of all physical sales of Call of Duty: Black Ops III sold in the UK were for PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. According to UK chart company GfK Chart-Track, just 8% were picked up for last-gen consoles PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, leaving just 1% preferring to pick up the game on PC. The chart does not account for digital sales.
Call of Jr. photo
Call of Jr.

Carl's Duty: eat an absurd burger and win a gross gun skin

You know, for the veterans
Nov 06
// Darren Nakamura
The United States of America, right? Where our burgers are big and our guns are bigger. And our heart failures are spectacular. Or something. Let's start over. Carl's Jr. (also known as Hardee's) is teaming up with Activision...

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