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Finding Weezer's 'Across the Sea' in Firewatch

Feb 10 // Brett Makedonski
[embed]340578:62211:0[/embed] Firewatch's protagonist, Henry, is in need of something, anything that's therapeutic. That's why he accepted this job in the mountains away from his ever-crumbling life. His wife was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's and her parents took her back to Australia to live with them. Henry didn't have much say in the matter. So, he fled to the isolation of a Wyoming outpost, more alone but not necessarily any more lonely. The only human communication Henry would have for three months was with his boss, Delilah, via walkie talkie. It's the most beautiful part of Firewatch. The two converse regularly -- sometimes in a boss-to-subordinate capacity, sometimes just shooting the shit. On day one, Delilah feels like a stranger on the other side of the radio; by day 70-something, she feels like a best friend. Or, something more. Throughout "Across the Sea," Rivers maybe laments more than anything else. "Why are you so far away from me? I need help and you're way across the sea," he sings. It's clear that he has fallen to the rock star loneliness complex, the thought that even though you're immensely popular, there's no one who's actually close to you. It may be aggrandizing to cling to one fan in Japan, but he did. And it helps. In Rivers' case, his anchor is a world away. For Henry, it's as far as a short-range walkie talkie can reach. It doesn't matter; the difference is all the same. Both have found resounding solace in another person they've never physically met.  As both examples reveal, these types of relationships amplify certain emotions. There's an exchange early in Firewatch where Delilah prods Henry to describe himself. She wants to know what his eyes look like, what he'd be wearing if she caught his glance from across the bar. Rivers and counterpart have the same natural curiosity described in lines like "You wanted to know all about me and my hobbies," and "I wonder what clothes you wear to school, I wonder how you decorate your room." There's a darker side, though. Feelings of insecurity and guilt manifest for both. More accurately, they've always been there, but they surface now. Rivers emphatically states "I could never touch you, I think it would be wrong." Henry's reactions in certain moments make it clear that he's not sure all of this is appropriate, especially while his wife is still alive. He and Delilah aren't romantic, but they're intimate. They're close. Is that any better than a physical tryst? The answer is, well, it's complicated. Firewatch affords a lot of time to walk around and think about these things, but nothing ever becomes any more cut and dried. There's ambiguity and uncertainty, just as there should be. But, like Rivers' Japanese girl, Delilah gives Henry something to lean on. She's a beam of hope in an otherwise dark cloud of loneliness and doubt. That seems like it's probably worth it all. "Why are you so far away from me," indeed.
Firewatch photo
Fall to little pieces
As I trekked through Firewatch's forested western Wyoming landscape, one song kept entering and leaving my head, and it wasn't one of the game's serene, folksy acoustic guitar tunes. It was a song I listened to a lo...

Minecraft photo
Minecraft

Someone made Dark Souls' Anor Londo in Minecraft


Prepare to mine
Feb 10
// Chris Carter
LNeoX spent ages creating one of his favorite fictional locations -- Anor Londo of Dark Souls fame -- in Minecraft. It's a 1200x1200 map, complete with a dungeon and a minecart system. The screens are definitely awe-insp...
Project Elea photo
Project Elea

Project Elea, a sci-fi walking simulator, is coming to a PC near you


Maybe it's near you? I'm not your dad
Feb 10
// Chris Carter
Independent Bulgarian developer Kyodia has unveiled Project Elea today, which is an "interactive storytelling adventure inspired by the work of classic 20th century sci-fi authors." It'll wield the Unreal Engine 4 to tel...
Star Wars photo
Star Wars

Star Wars Battlefront is handing out double XP this weekend


Anyone still play this?
Feb 10
// Chris Carter
I only jump onto Star Wars Battlefront every so often with friends as it got stale pretty fast, but for those of you who still play, there's a double XP event this weekend. This is because the community managed to complete ov...
Tough, but fair photo
Tough, but fair

Hitman minimum PC requirements shouldn't kill you


Nor should the recommended
Feb 10
// Steven Hansen
The new Hitman boasts bigger crowds than most games, but it has some of the more reasonable minimum (and recommended, actually) required specs that I've seen in a while, according to the Steam page: Minimum: OS: OS 64-bit Wi...
Dead: Michonne photo
Dead: Michonne

Telltale's Walking Dead: Michonne launches this month


And monthly after that
Feb 10
// Chris Carter
After months of waiting, Telltale has finally decided to unveil the premier date for The Walking Dead: Michonne. It'll drop on February 23 on PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One -- as usual, the iOS and Android versions are ...
The Flame in the Flood photo
The Flame in the Flood

Everything is out to kill you in The Flame in the Flood


The wilderness is not your friend
Feb 10
// Ben Davis
After a successful Kickstarter campaign a couple years back, The Molasses Flood is set to release its first game, The Flame in the Flood, later this month. The team, comprised of industry veterans who have worked on AAA games...

Hands-on: I like the new Hitman, and its episodic model

Feb 10 // Steven Hansen
[embed]339955:62169:0[/embed] Okay, so, that out of the way, yep, the Prologue does take you back 20 years to 47's entrance into the ICA (like a pimp, but for murderers) and first meeting with his British-accented handler out in some Siberian-looking snowy wilds. The amount of story there, besides peoples' surprise at 47's murder prowess, is minimal, and it's mostly about setting up training missions to help get people acquainted with the Hitman style. And they're actually really cool because instead of virtual reality or whatever, the missions are actual, constructed sets. For instance, there is a yacht infiltration, but the boat is landlocked and there are blue tarps around it on the floor representing water (all the people, too, are, I suppose, ICA staff acting a part -- not sure where the secret organization finds dozens of extras, but, whatever). Beyond that cool touch, they are legitimate Hitman-style missions, closer in size to older entries. The boat adventure tasks you with killing "The Sparrow," a legendary thief half-heartedly trying to go clean, while introducing distraction techniques, disguises, acquired weaponry/items. Various costumes will grant you access to various parts of the ship -- security will keep you from walking straight on, but you can go around, choke out a maintenance worker, and work your way into the ship's underbelly and up towards the waitstaff, then clobber one of those fools. And maybe then just take up position at the bar and pour The Sparrow's lady a drink laced with poison. Me, I snuck into the room where he was doing business and shot both him and his associate in the head. Second bit in the prologue involves a Soviet defector whom I was able to kill by disguising myself as a mechanic and fiddling with the ejector seat he was meant to test per safety rules in the jet he was making his escape on. Shot his ass right through the roof and walked slowly away while everyone freaked out. I keyed onto the option because Hitman will offer some guidance in the form of Opportunities. Generally, you'll overhear some dialogue (if you stop and listen at the right place, right time) that hints at a murder solution (or towards a murder solution, i.e. letting you know where a target will be and when). If you decide to track that opportunity, it leaves breadcrumbs to the next bit in the form of UI markers on the map. Hitman purists, however, can turn them off completely, and there's no shortage of ways to do a murder, especially when it really opens up with the first mission, Showstopper, which takes place in an enormous mansion in Paris during a fashion show. One fun solution in Paris (also offered as an opportunity): the German model headlining the show looks quite a bit like 'ol McFurrowed-Brow, hint hint, wink wink. There are two targets here, a power couple in the fashion world secretly dealing undercover operator names to highest builder on the sly. The fashion show is huge, brimming with several hundred NPCs, from reporters to wait staff to models to socialites, while the dual targets encourage you to do something cool and stealthy (so as to not raise alarms and get into a firefight before you can take out the second). In addition to Prologue and Paris, the initial $15 (or $60 if you're a gambling man) also opens up Contracts, player-made hits using the same sandbox, as introduced in Absolution. The feature was something of an afterthought in the latter but ended up hugely successful, played by over 40% of players. One cool addition is the Elusive Targets, which appear for a limited time (in real-world hours) and only afford you one shot at making the assassination, like real life. Your success or lack thereof is tracked in your profile. They'll be much harder to suss out, too, requiring some detective work (eavesdropping, etc). These high stakes missions could end up a surprise high point. There are also developer-designed Escalation missions. The first -- again, set in the same Paris sandbox with the story-mode targets still present -- required me to kill a certain, new NPC with a saber (which you can only acquire in a certain area). From there, difficulty ramps up as parameters are added. The next rendition requires killing the same man with a saber, but also hiding the body within 90 seconds after the kill. And as you can see we're getting into the realm of replay and re-use. Player-made Contracts and Escalation missions are effectively the same as the lone story mission, but with different goals. If all you want is to keep fulfilling tasks until the game is over, Hitman's set up might not be for you. But I think the series works best as a creative sandbox you have fun and experiment with, which is why the $10 release structure for new areas makes sense for me, so long as the new areas are varied enough in their killing options and layouts. I enjoyed skulking about the Paris level for a few hours and there are still experiments I'd like to try -- not to mention that I never did finish the mission with finesse (I always cocked up by the second hit for a noisy kill, subsequent firefight, and inelegant escape). That you can test the waters with the first $15 episode -- if you don't like it, you're unlikely to like any more areas -- is an alright option as far as I'm concerned.
Hitman hands-on photo
Hands-on Ste-view
Have you ever wondered just how Cueball McFurrowed-Brow became the famously good killing man of the Hitman series' glory years? Of fucking course not, which is why the need to string Hitman: Absolution together into some S&am...

Gigantic photo
Gigantic

Gigantic developer Motiga announces layoffs


The game is still in closed beta
Feb 09
// Mike Cosimano
Just over two months after its most recent layoff announcement, Gigantic developer Motiga has announced another round of redundancies. Motiga CEO Chris Chung made the announcement on the site's official blog earlier toda...
Overwatch photo
Overwatch

The Overwatch beta is back and it brought loot


Progression system and new mode added
Feb 09
// Jordan Devore
The closed beta for Blizzard's multiplayer shooter Overwatch returns today in the Americas and Europe, and it has upgrades: a new progression system for cosmetic rewards, a capture-point mode called Control with a pair of map...
Rift bundles photo
Rift bundles

The first batch of Oculus Rift PC bundles go up for pre-order next week


They start at a discounted $1,499
Feb 09
// Brett Makedonski
Now that full-blown VR Fever is upon us, many people find themselves in the regrettable position of having an under-performing PC. Running the Oculus Rift requires a decent rig, which isn't something that everyone who wants V...
Humble Bundle photo
Humble Bundle

The Humble Ubisoft Bundle adds Blood Dragon


And Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
Feb 09
// Jordan Devore
I'm with Brett: the lowest tier in the Humble Ubisoft Bundle is worth springing for if you haven't played Call of Juarez: Gunslinger or Grow Home or Rayman Origins. It's one dollar for all three! The bundle's next tier up (ar...
SFV legacy support photo
SFV legacy support

Street Fighter V will have legacy controller support after all


No need for a new stick yet
Feb 09
// Nic Rowen
This is one case where I don't mind seeing a developer go back on something they've said. Spanish website MeriStation broke the news that Street Fighter V is going to come with a day-one patch to add in support to make PS3-er...
Baldur's Gate photo
Baldur's Gate

BioWare writer David Gaider moves to Beamdog


Back to Baldur's Gate
Feb 09
// Jordan Devore
Long-time BioWare David Gaider (Baldur's Gate II, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Dragon Age) recently departed from the role-playing game studio in search of a "new challenge." As of this week, he has joined the Edmo...
SQUARE ENIX photo
SQUARE ENIX

Final Fantasy IX out now on mobile, PC soon


With optional random encounters
Feb 09
// Kyle MacGregor
Final Fantasy IX is now available on iOS App Store and Google Play for a whopping $17. Square Enix announced the PlayStation 1 classic was on its way to PC and mobile devices back in December. There's no w...
Sherlock Holmes photo
Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes: The Devil's Daughter is launching on May 27


Has really, really nice cover art, too
Feb 09
// Joe Parlock
Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter, Frogwares’ newest Sherlock Holmes game, has finally been given a release date: May 2017, 2016 for PS4, Xbox One and PC. Publisher BigBen Interactive has also unveiled the box...
Far Cry Primal photo
Far Cry Primal

Get up to speed on Far Cry Primal with this '101' trailer


'Unlimited creativity'
Feb 09
// Darren Nakamura
Some people follow news on Far Cry closely, taking in every nugget of information out there. Others might be vaguely aware of Far Cry Primal's existence and premise, but don't know much else past that. This video is for the l...

Review: Dying Light: The Following - Enhanced Edition

Feb 09 // Zack Furniss
Dying Light: The Following - Enhanced Edition (PC [reviewed], PS4, Xbox One)Developer: TechlandPublisher: Warner Bros. Interactive EntertainmentReleased: February 9, 2016MSRP: $19.99 The Following doesn't weave into Dying Light's main campaign. To start the expansion, you choose it separately in the main menu. You can drag your character's progress and inventory back and forth between the two campaigns at any time, but you can't just go to a fast travel and warp from one to the other. Once you begin, a short cutscene cuts to the chase: your character, Kyle Crane, has become aware of a route leading out of Harran. In this wild outback area, there's a cult that claims to have found some kind of immunity to the zombie virus. As this would benefit your cadre of survivors, you set out to investigate. The new area, called the Countryside, is huge. Techland claims that it's larger than the entirety of the original game, and I'd agree with that after playing to 100% completion. Since there are numerous open fields, it's not quite as packed as the urban environments in Dying Light proper, but I found this to be welcoming. It's not all open, either: you'll go from farms, to beaches, to graveyards, to caves, to factory areas, so you're constantly being stimulated in a new way. With a larger map, the customizable buggy goes from novelty to necessity rather quickly. Using a new Driver skill tree, which you level up by doing racing competitions, ramming zombies, maintaining top speed, and jumping off of ramps, you'll be able to improve your ride and add gadgets such as electrical pulses and UV lights. Since there are always zombies to squash under your wheels, this tree levels up rapidly. The buggy starts off entertaining, and gets better as you tinker with it. You can craft better tires, brakes, engines, and the like to make it faster and more responsive. I'm a sucker for driving in first-person games as it is, and driving in The Following might be the best incarnation I've played to date. A crossbow has also been added to your arsenal, which is a nice way to take out biters without attracting a horde. There are four different bolt types that you can use: normal, toxic, impact, and stun. I generally stuck to the normal arrows, especially when I snuck around the new Volatile caves. In Dying Light, Volatiles are the creatures that only come out during the night and can kill you within seconds if you aren't paying attention. In The Following, you can go directly to their nests to try to thin out their presence in certain areas. If you go in during the day, the caves will be littered with these bastards, and sneaking through with a crossbow was about the most tense this game can get. Going during the night is the safer bet, but I found it less thrilling when the odds weren't stacked against me. Another welcome addition is the Freaks of Nature, giant versions of the more devious types of infected strewn throughout the Countryside. The game recommends that you only try to fight these jerks with friends in co-op sessions, but if you find their weak point (or bring a really good gun like a cheater [me]), you can take them out solo. They offer special blueprints to create ever-more-vicious weapons. Usually you'll find these Freaks when you're on another mission, and suddenly a health bar will appear on the top of the screen a kick-ass John Carpenter-esque song will start pulsing. As far as the missions and story go, they're handled much better than the original game. This time, Techland is less interested in trying to make you care about certain characters and more interested in getting you to find out more about the cult. Instead of being a scary group of folks that are out to kill you, you're tasked with earning their trust so you can learn their secret. This leads to a mission structure where the side quests must be completed in order to progress in the main story. I didn't have a problem with this, because the side stuff, as before, is generally more intriguing than the actual story. Looking back on it, there aren't many story quests in The Following, but it all feels interwoven in a way that encourages you to scour every last bit of the Countryside. The only quest that I had trouble with was the penultimate one that involves some timed driving, and if you have no health packs, you're sort of fucked. I eventually persevered, but it was frustrating to be locked into the finale and unable to make it easier.  The final mission has some curious implications about the overall plot in Dying Light, but the ending shoots that momentum right through the head. I'm still hoping a sequel comes out of this, but I'm a little confused as to where it would go now. At this point, I must mention a caveat: I found Dying Light to be too easy about halfway through the game, so I played The Following on hard. I usually don't like to blather about the "right" way to play a game, but if you're going to play this expansion, I urge you to play hard mode.  Instead of the usual "enemies do more damage, and you do less" type of difficulty, Techland's version of hard is an improvement in almost every way. Medkits are no longer an instant heal, and instead provide healing over time. If you want to craft something or look at your map, you can't pause the game any more. Survivor sense doesn't show you every little item in every little room, so you have to more carefully observe your environments. If this sounds tedious, I promise that it makes the game both more immersive and more rewarding. Since this is part of the Enhanced Edition, which owners of the base game get for free (minus the expansion), there are a litany of other improvements to be found. There are daily bounties and a new Nightmare difficulty that have been added to rack up tons of experience, which you'll want for the new legendary levels. After maxing out a skill tree, points that would've gone to that tree now go to your legendary rank. You can spend these points on various buffs: 50% more firearm damage, more crossbow damage, better health regen, and other bonuses. There are a total of 250 of these points to earn, and they make you incredibly powerful. You'll earn them pretty slowly unless you play on Nightmare mode. In my 22 hours with The Following, I reached level five. Clearly, I need to jump back in there already. The Following was larger than I expected, and it maintains a high level of quality throughout. Being pared down from the bloat of Dying Light earns it more moment-to-moment excitement, and I greedily consumed it over the weekend. The last few minutes have me pondering the future of what's clearly going to become a franchise, and I'm ready for whatever Techland brings next. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Dying Light review photo
It should still be called Far Die
Dying Light surprised the heck out of me last year. While I mostly agree with Chris about the various faults and clichés found within (you can read my thoughts here, from back in my before-Destructoid days), it wa...

Amazon photo
Amazon

Amazon unveils new CryEngine-like Lumberyard


It looks interesting
Feb 09
// Chris Carter
Amazon hasn't really taken off in the game space yet, even after acquiring the recently-on-fire Double Helix, but it's still trying. Its latest project actually looks pretty damn cool -- a new in-house engine called Lumberyar...
Downwell photo
Downwell

Downwell is definitely coming to Vita and PS4


Also a bunch of other indies
Feb 09
// Chris Carter
Indie champion Downwell is preparing to make a move beyond the PC and mobile realms. In addition to its Android release earlier this year, Devolver Digital is preparing to publish the game on PS4 and Vita. This has been ...

Review: Arslan: The Warriors of Legend

Feb 09 // Chris Carter
Arslan: The Warriors of Legend (PC, PS3, PS4 [reviewed], Xbox One)Developer: Omega ForcePublisher: Koei TecmoReleased: February 9, 2016MSRP: $59.99 One of the chief problems with Arslan is that it assumes, to some extent, that you're familiar with the source material. This will likely be a problem for a lot of you out there as it's a relatively obscure anime. I'm pretty surprised to see that it's been localized, truth be told. It isn't that hard to follow though, as the gist is mostly set up for you in the first few chapters. The titular Arslan is the 14-year-old crown prince of a kingdom who is forced to step up after one of the worst wars his country has ever seen, and he'll have a little help from his friends. That's all a given. But the ins and outs of each character, their idiosyncrasies, and backstories -- much of those are lost in translation, literally. With a history spanning three decades across multiple manga volumes and anime adaptations, there's lots parse. The encyclopedia menu option helps but it's merely a band-aid. That's not to say a certain type of person can't get get drawn into the world -- far from it -- as that's exactly what happened to me. Arslan is more flashy than previous games from Koei Tecmo (with the obvious exception of Pirate Warriors), but it also touches on a few heavy-hitting subjects, albeit on a tertiary level, like slavery and freedom. The anime cutscenes are wonderfully integrated, and there's often a seamless transition to gameplay. Note that it's fully voiced in Japanese and subtitled, with no dub track. [embed]334572:62104:0[/embed] As expected, the same two-button combo system holds up. Combos flow effortlessly once you pick them up, and the efficacy of multiple abilities ensures that you're not just flailing about wildly mashing buttons. There's also the added bonus of blocking and evading, as well as the classic "musou" super attack and a special that's unique to each character. Once I started to unlock more of the cast, I was surprised at how little Omega Force resorted to cloning, accentuated by said special abilities. For instance, Narsus (an outspoken critic of the status quo) wields a paintbrush. Well, a magical paintbrush that can set traps, queue up earthquakes, and cause rainbow explosions. Daryun, Arslan's right hand, is a pole-arm-wielding fiend reminiscent of Warriors characters like Guan Yu, but he sports some of the most interesting animations yet in the series, specifically his prowess on horseback. Elam, an unassuming young kid, ended up being one of my favorite characters. His bow skills surpass most ranged characters in action games today. One dude uses a lute! And the list goes on.  Switching weapons by way of the d-pad also serves to mix up your tactics on the fly. The "Mardan Rush" mechanic is also a standout feature, rallying an entire battalion as a single unit, causing all sorts of mayhem and kill-counts in the thousands in just seconds. There are also several fun RPG elements to Arslan. You can equip up to three skills by way of "cards," which can be earned by completing specific objectives or just playing the game, or by synthesizing your collection. This is fun to do on higher difficulty levels, but it's not something you'll have to micro on normal or below, so don't get too worked up.  But all of that flash and panache comes with a tradeoff: the boss battles are more tedious than you're probably used to. A "shield" system is in place here, which requires players to whittle down a meter until they can do proper damage. The tactic is usually the same, in that hammering on them as much as possible is paramount, saving your musou to deliver the blow after cracking it, and repeating. It would be more of a crushing feeling if nearly every level weren't such a joy to play through. If you can stomach a few minor issues that add up over time, Arslan: The Warriors of Legend will be your huckleberry. True to Warriors form there's plenty of collectibles to find, new weapons to discover, online and offline co-op, and a free-play mode. Like nearly every Omega Force game before it, I'll be playing this one for quite some time. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Warriors review photo
Dynasty anime
Koei Tecmo is killing it in the beat-'em-up action space. While a lot of detractors erroneously claim that all Warriors games are "mindless button mashers," the studio has managed to keep the series interesting for nearl...

The Divison photo
The Divison

Ubisoft didn't take 9/11 into consideration when making The Division


The subject apparently never came up
Feb 08
// Kyle MacGregor
Ubisoft recently held a press event for Tom Clancy's The Division in New York City, which is also the setting for the upcoming third-person shooter's post-pandemic survival story. The Division takes place in the wake of what ...
Firewatch photo
Firewatch

Get real printed pictures from Firewatch's photo mode


What else is on that old Kodak?
Feb 08
// Brett Makedonski
When Firewatch releases tomorrow, it'll have a neat little bit of functionality that blurs the line between video game and real life. Photo modes traditionally are used as a passive feature to memorialize something ...
Plague Inc on Steam photo
Plague Inc on Steam

Plague Inc: Evolved leaves Early Access soon


Spread disease with a friend
Feb 08
// Jordan Devore
After nearly two years and some 800,000 copies sold, Plague Inc: Evolved is ready for a full release on Windows, Mac, and Linux. That'll happen next Thursday, February 18. "By the time we launch, 18 major Evolutions (updates)...
Cookie Clicker photo
Cookie Clicker

Cookie Clicker wants back in your life


Version 2.0 is here
Feb 08
// Jordan Devore
Sorry about this. A new version of Cookie Clicker launched today with a revamped ascension system, quality-of-life improvements, and a cookie dragon, among many other additions. I'm telling you about it because I am a bad man...
And another one photo
And another one

Somehow DJ Khaled fits perfectly in The Witness


You smart. You very smart. We the best.
Feb 08
// Jed Whitaker
I've been playing through Jonathan Blow and gang's The Witness of which I have very mixed feelings -- unlike Brett who gave the game a perfect score in his review -- but that hasn't stopped me from falling in love ...

Review: Assassin's Creed Chronicles: Russia

Feb 08 // Chris Carter
Assassin's Creed Chronicles: Russia (PC, PS4, Xbox One [reviewed]) Developer: Climax StudiosPublisher: UbisoftReleased: February 9, 2016MSRP: $9.99 I was never really a fan of the modern settings in Assassin's Creed -- at least, the action sequences, because the walking simulator IT department bits from Black Flag on were cool -- but that doesn't mean they can't be done. As such, I was keen on seeing what Climax Studios could do with a tale set in 1918, this time shadowing assassin Nikolai Oreov and the quest for a Bolshevik artifact. The pulp animation cinematics are stunning, but the showstopping elements end there. The cast is simply not memorable, including Nikolai, who is doing "one last job" before he abandons the Assassins and finds a new life for his family elsewhere. It's a good hook but Russia never fully sells it, particularly given the underplayed performances. I don't need a charismatic, wisecracking Nolan North per se, just something to connect with. Russia also desperately wants you to know that "he's old," which should be meaningful, but we got a better angle on that storyline with Ezio in later core games anyway. That feeling of familiarity permeates throughout some of the other elements of the game. The Schlinder's List-esque monochrome and red aesthetics looked dope at first, but started to wear after a few levels. Outside of the blazing red and orange sky, a lot of the areas look too similar, even if it serves to differentiate all of the interaction zones (all those hidden little hovels). Though it does have the added benefit of cordoning off secret areas by purposefully not brightening them, which is rad. [embed]339981:62172:0[/embed] Beyond that, you can expect more of the same compared to the past entries in the trilogy, which is to say great things. The 2D switch-off works wonderfully. The controls are so responsive, and the tools available are not only effective, but succeed in not overwhelming the player. I love that you can approach levels with either a gung-ho or pacifist style, or anything in between, and the running slide assassination ability is still just as satisfying. Unique to Russia, yanking off grates Arkham style with a winch and using phones to distract guards is silly, but it works when juxtaposed to the serious art style. I'm a bit torn on the gunplay however, because while the art of sniping does technically fit the quiet nature of the universe, it wasn't done in such a way that elevates it beyond an arcadey shooting gallery. There are a few sequences where distraction is key, like a mini-puzzle of sorts, but in most cases you're just blasting away at folks until no one is left standing. With six challenges to do (just like India) and a New Game+ option, Assassin's Creed Chronicles: Russia has plenty to offer for a bite-sized package, but it fails to live up to the bar set by its predecessors. The loud and powerful styles of China and India simply trump the final piece of the pie, which goes out with a muted rebel yell. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Assassin's Creed review photo
Once more, with guns
Assassin's Creed Chronicles had a nice thing going on with China and India, delivering some of the classic stealth action the series is known for with a striking new art style and a shift to 2D action. Now Ubisoft i...

N++ photo
N++

Precision platformer N++ headed to Steam


And possibly other places
Feb 08
// Jordan Devore
N++ released last year as a PlayStation 4 exclusive and, considering how dang good it was and how much of a following its predecessors N and N+ had, not nearly enough people played it. Hopefully that'll change this year when ...
Street Fighter V photo
Street Fighter V

Necali goes full creeper in newest Street Fighter V CG trailer


Launch is near
Feb 08
// Chris Carter
Chun-Li laces up, Ken fixes his hair, Ryu gazes longingly at the sky, and Necali is creepy as all getup in the new CG trailer for Street Fighter V. I'm not a fan of the animation outside of that hand-drawn effect that the gam...
Fallout 4 photo
Fallout 4

This Mirelurk war in Fallout 4 does its best Starship Troopers impression


Mods away
Feb 08
// Chris Carter
More Fallout 4 machinima and mods are steadily pouring out from the community, some of which are better than anything the core game is offering. Rather than just throw a bunch of creatures into an arena and let things pl...

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