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Review: A Boy and His Blob

Feb 06 // Brett Makedonski
A Boy and His Blob (Linux, PC, Mac, PS4, PS Vita, Wii, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: WayForward TechnologiesPublisher: Majesco EntertainmentReleased: October 13, 2009 (Wii), January 20, 2016 (Re-released on other platforms)MSRP: $9.99 WayForward's take on A Boy and His Blob is intentionally vague and that's possibly its best quality. In an opening sequence reminiscent of EarthBound, a child is woken in the middle of the night to a crash outside his window. After a brief bout of exploration, Blob is discovered. From there, it's just adventuring for the sake of adventuring, and saving the world for the sake of saving the world. Blob is billed as the greatest asset, a shapeshifter who can perform about a dozen different functions. For example, Boy feeds Blob a jellybean and Blob turns into an anvil. Or a soccer ball. Or a trampoline. Over the course of 40-some levels, variations of this sequence play out hundreds (maybe thousands) of times as the main function of this puzzle platformer. You wouldn't think it from the game's title, but Blob is actually a tertiary character. If it were named more accurately, this would be called A Boy and His Jellybean Wheel. A disconcerting amount of time is spent in a time-frozen state clumsily navigating a menu of the level's eight-or-so pre-assigned jellybeans. After a jellybean is thrown and Blob (hopefully) performs his duties, it's only a matter of seconds until you're forced to again pull up that menu. That process sucks the life out of A Boy and His Blob. Even though most of the game's levels are notably short, they often feel like arduous endeavors because the pace grinds to a crawl. Puzzle solutions are usually easily identifiable -- in fact, there are often giant signs pointing out the answer -- but their execution is needlessly slow and sluggish. [embed]338372:62152:0[/embed] Making matters worse, there are many many instances when Blob simply won't do what you want. Blob has a tendency to shift shapes just ever-so-slightly not quite where intended. It's annoying at first, but becomes a detriment in later levels. That combined with stiff and unresponsive platforming controls often leads to starting the section over from scratch.  And, that's all when Blob is actually on-screen. It's not uncommon for Blob to be missing altogether, either because it was left behind or it hopped into an abyss. When this happens, the game would like for the balloon jellybean to be tossed, causing Blob to eventually float to your position. Mercifully, however, there's a call button that can just be impatiently pressed over and over until it balloons your way automatically, slowly but surely. What A Boy and His Blob has on its side are intangibles, of sorts. They're plucky attributes that significantly and understatedly enhance a game, but don't necessarily make a game. For instance, there's no denying A Boy and His Blob's innocent aesthetic, unspoken emotion, or charming spirit. Those are the qualities that make the game more tolerable than it would otherwise be. Without much option of anything besides leaning on the NES version's method of using Blob (a non-playable character) as the means of gameplay execution, WayForward's take on A Boy and His Blob is frustratingly imprecise and inaccurate. But, by deviating a bit and adding the jellybean wheel, it killed any momentum and turned the game into a slog. That is truly the worst of both worlds. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
A Boy and His Blob review photo
Blah-b
A Boy and His Blob, a 2009 "re-imagining" of the NES game of the same namesake (and recently re-released on current platforms), is an interesting case study. When does retro game design and a devotion to source material becom...

PC Port Report: Rise of the Tomb Raider

Jan 27 // Joe Parlock
Rig: Intel i7-4790k 4GHz 4-core processor, 16GB of RAM (2x Corsair Vengeance 8GB DDR3), GTX 980. Windows 10 Pro 64-bit. Framerate measured with Steam. Game played at the “Very high” preset, with anti-aliasing and ambient occlusion slightly lowered. [Update: Due to playing a pre-release build, I did not have access to Nvidia's Game Ready Drivers while writing this. I can now confirm that installing the Game Ready Drivers that were released today (January 27) did not fix the problems I discuss below. In fact, I would say it's made things worse: the stuttering is more frequent and the loading times are now two or three times longer than what I saw pre-drivers.] The options menu is comprehensive, with menus both inside and outside of the game. Rise supports up to 4K resolutions for those with a PC strong enough to run it, which is a decent boost from Xbox One's native 1080p. The options include all of the usuals you’d expect in a decent PC port, such v-sync, anti-aliasing, and ambient occlusion. Full key rebinding is also available, with the ability to set both a primary and secondary key for every action. You’re not exactly spoiled for choice when it comes to anti-aliasing options, with only four options that might end up not being the most efficient for your graphics card. Being able to force your preferred style of anti-aliasing in the graphics card control panel means this isn’t a huge problem, but I would’ve liked more in-game settings. I also appreciate the existence of a few quality-of-life settings that I've I’ve never seen in other games before. They’re not huge additions: simple stuff like each character having their own subtitle colour and full support for Razer Chroma hardware, but I like that they’re there. Weirdly there aren’t any colour blind options, though, which would have been useful for some players considering how the game relies upon discerning different shades of the same colour for navigation. Visually, Rise is gorgeous. The textures are insanely crisp and detailed, and even when I rammed the camera right up against a wall I struggled to see much blurring. The lighting effects are also wonderful, and really add to the atmosphere of the many tombs and caves Lara has to jump through. I thought 2013's Tomb Raider was pretty, but when you pump Rise up to the maximum settings it really is a visual treat... if you can get it to run properly. [embed]336747:62000:0[/embed] As far as the port goes, that’s unfortunately where the positives end.  Playing it with keyboard and mouse is a mixed bag. While aiming and shooting feel nice and responsive, movement is slow, sluggish, and generally difficult to control. Climbing was the biggest challenge, as I’d often find Lara leaping to her death or in a direction I wasn’t even pressing. I heavily recommend you use a gamepad if you can, as standard PC controls can be quite a nightmare in the more fiddly portions. That's peanuts, though, compared to the biggest problem with Rise of the Tomb Raider’s port: the numerous, terrible, and sometimes even game-breaking performance issues. It’s worth noting that I have a new, beefy PC that is way above the already fairly high minimum requirements, and yet I still suffered from inconsistent framerates and memory usage problems that made playing Rise a chore. At some points, I was able to enjoy a solid, smooth, and stutter-free 60FPS, but then only a minute later my game would be dragged down to a low of 20FPS for seemingly no reason.  For example, a very chaotic set-piece with lots of explosions, snow, and flying debris had a totally stable 60FP, but then I was lucky to get 25 in the small, dark, undetailed cave that immediately followed it. I’ve even gone to an area running at 60FPS, briefly ducked into a cave, only to come back out in the exact same place and find the game was now running at 40FPS instead. Even putting the game on the lowest possible graphics quality settings didn't help, which makes me think this probably will affect everyone regardless of the strength of their rig. I’m not a programmer, and so I can't conclusively identify the cause, but I think it might have something to do with the game’s fairly significant memory usage problems. Sometimes it was using upwards of 6GB RAM, even in relatively quiet and simple areas. This is the only game I have ever had crash due to my PC running out of memory, and on 16GB of brand new RAM and a new video card with 4GB VRAM, that shouldn’t be happening. It especially shouldn’t be happening after only about an hour of play. I don't want to definitively say this is a memory leak, but it sure as hell feels like one. Overall, Rise of the Tomb Raider’s port is a strange one. It has all the hallmarks of a good job: lots of graphics options and it supports both a higher framerate and resolution than its console counterpart. It’s such a shame that those positives are then dragged down by numerous, unacceptable performance issues, even for PCs much higher than the minimum spec. If my brand new, high-end PC is having trouble running this game smoothly, I dread to think how it affects those who are closer to the minimum requirements. I have to admit, I wasn’t wowed by 2013’s Tomb Raider. On its own, it was a pretty good game. It had stunning visuals, exciting set-pieces, and great exploration, but it didn't feel like a Tomb Raider game. I felt that Square had pulled out the campy, trap-avoiding, dinosaur-shooting heart of the previous games, and replaced it with a generic, edgy, and sometimes borderline sadistic husk. Fortunately, Rise of the Tomb Raider feels like a great midpoint between the solid game design of 2013 and the campy, silly fun of the original games. It has a sinister organisation racing for a powerful ancient artifact, and it’s up to you, badass archaeologist Lara Croft, to beat them to the punch. If every animal in the area hasn’t become an endangered species by the time you’re done, you’ve been playing the game wrong. Mechanically there doesn’t seem to be much of a difference between Rise and its predecessor. It’s still essentially Uncharted by way of Bear Grylls, but those mechanics are put to much better use in Rise, and you're given far more varied locations to play in. Whereas Tomb Raider 2013 rarely deviated from its green island setting, within the first hour of Rise you’ve been to a wintery cliff face, a vast network of desert ruins, and then eventually dropped into the forests of Siberia. And there are tombs! Actual, honest-to-God tombs that you can raid! In the previous game, tombs were rare as hell, and when they did finally show up they didn’t amount to much more than a single room with a simple puzzle. In Rise, not only are there are far more optional tombs to explore, they're well designed, lengthy, and actually worth doing. Exploring the world feels much more satisfying when you know the stuff you're going to find isn't unmitigated arse for a change. While I agree with Steven that Rise of the Tomb Raider is basically more of the same, it does feel a lot more confident in its execution. The story and dialogue aren’t afraid to ham things up, Lara is finally a decent character, and there’s a much greater variety of locales to explore.  Nice job, Crystal Dynamics. You've successfully got me back into a series that I've been turned off from since Legends. Here's hoping you're able to fix the port-specific problems soon. [This PC Port Report is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Tomb Raider PC Port photo
Rise of the Performance Issues
After being an Xbox One exclusive for all of five minutes, Rise of the Tomb Raider is finally making its way to PC. As the follow-up to the popular 2013 reboot, it certainly had a lot to live up to. Back when it originally la...

PC Port Report: Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen

Jan 15 // Patrick Hancock
Tested on: Intel i7-4770k 3.50 GHz, 8GB of RAM, Geforce GTX 970, Windows 10. Framerate measured with RivaTuner. First thing's first: the PC version has an option to turn off all Pawn banter completely. In case you think you might be missing something, just know that its gibberish like "IT'S WEAK TO FIRE" and probably also "A FORMIDABLE FOE!" As an aside, I kind of like how annoying the Pawns are. For whatever reason, I get a huge chuckle out of their loud, uncalled for shouts. The PC Port also supports 4k resolution, but as I do not have the capabilities to test this, I cannot comment on how it looks. My bet is that it looks very good. Most players who have played before will have one thing on their mind when it comes to the PC Port: the framerate. While I have not played the original, the framerate was evidently awful. There are three options for framerate in the options: 30, 60, and Variable. The PC port runs smooth as butter on my rig, easily going above 60 framer-per-second in towns and hovering around 60 FPS outside and in combat. The texture quality is, well, the game is from 2012 and it shows. They're a bit muddy, especially when viewed up close. Comparing screenshots and videos, I can't say they are much better than the original, but it's hard to tell without playing the other version myself. Regardless, I wouldn't say it looks bad. Just...not great. There's also some noticeable pop-in with objects. Generally they appear off in the distance, but occasionally when turning a corner, an NPC will magically appear right in front of your very eyes. Damn, this game does have some fancy magic! Key bindings can be remapped to your heart's content, but the same is not true when using a (non-Steam) controller. There are six different presets for controllers though, and you're bound to find something that fits your playstyle between them. The Steam controller works just fine, either using it as a traditional controller or rebinding the keys to your heart's content. I've found that binding "grab" to a back grip paddle makes fighting monsters as melee way more entertaining. It really feels like grabbing! Consumables can be assigned to hotkeys, but only numbers 1-5. It's incredibly simple to do: open up your inventory, select the consumable, then press the number key to assign it. Done! This makes things like pulling out a lantern or using flasks a breeze and is also an incentive to use a keyboard and mouse. The keyboard and mouse controls feel very tight, and aiming bows has never been easier. When switching between keyboard controls and a controller, the game automatically changes the on-screen prompts and recognizes the new input device. I've tested with with both the Steam Controller and a wired Xbox One controller. There are plenty of graphics options, including the ability to change the field-of-view, something not seen too often in PC ports, let alone ports of third-person action games! Regardless of FOV, the camera pans out while a weapon is active, so there's always plenty of room to see what is happening on screen; the FOV slider affects non-combat view more than it does combat view, from what I can tell. Other graphical options that PC players have come to expect are here and can be tuned to fits any player's setup. Remember, Dragon's Dogma is a few years old at this point and shouldn't really be taxing to most gaming PCs these days. One issue is that the graphics can only be changed from the main menu. Once you load a save, most graphics settings are locked in. As for the "double dippers" who are curious if this is worth a second investment, it depends. If you bought it and never spent much time with it because of technical issues, definitely pick it up again. The same goes if you never got a chance to play the Dark Arisen content for whatever reason. If you've had your fill of the game and its expansion originally, then I'm not sure there is much here, except the opportunity to play a smooth game and not a PowerPoint presentation. This is a wonderful port from Capcom. It could have just easily just plopped this on the new platform with little to no care and called it a day. The fact is though, there are many features that are exclusive to the PC version and it runs at a stable framerate. Plus, it's not being released at full price! No, it's not perfect, but for $30 it's hard to say no to such a great RPG. [This PC Port Report is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Dragon's Dogma PC photo
They hold the advantage!
Why didn't anyone tell me Dragon's Dogma was so amazing?! I missed out on the original back in 2012, and I hadn't really heard much about it in the first place. I knew, vaguely, what it was, and had even downloaded it vi...

Console Banner Saga dated photo
Console Banner Saga dated

Banner Saga Vita on hold over porting studio's closure


Console ports dated for next month
Dec 16
// Steven Hansen
The Banner Saga is coming to PS4 and Xbox One after all. While both the follow up, The Banner Saga 2, and the console ports of the first game have missed their 2015 release windows, the port is slated to come to PS4 and Xbox ...

Beyond: Two Souls is very much the same game on PS4

Dec 08 // Vikki Blake
Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe lead an otherwise unremarkable cast in the tale of Jodie Holmes, a seemingly ordinarily girl blessed - or cursed, depending upon your viewpoint - with an extraordinary secret. Abandoned by her adoptive parents (all the hallmarks of a superhero origins tale, I know) and essentially brought up by Dr. Dawkins, her parent-by-proxy at the paranormal agency at which she lives, Jodie’s tale is at once both a Teenager Simulator and an episode of the X-Files, her life inevitably dictated by the fiercely protective entity, Aiden, inexplicably linked to her. The story unfolds as we step into non-sequential chapters of Jodie’s life, watching - and occasionally orchestrating - the girl’s passage from child, to teen, to woman. The vignettes focus on the key moments of her life that shape both her growth and her relationship with Aiden, but also those rites of passages familiar to all of us who’ve rebelled (if unsuccessfully) growing up.   While Page’s portrayal of protagonist Jodie Holmes is perfectly fitting in a perfunctory kind of way, her story fails to resonate fully, possibly because the choppy, Lost-esque out-of-sequence storytelling means you rarely grow with her, your time together boxed into disparate adult/child/adult/child again chapters that feel oddly insular.  There’s also very little consequence to the decisions you directly influence. Regardless of what you choose to do - or don’t do - to your emotionally-frozen father or those assholes in the bar, the story marches on regardless, with only a handful of actions having a meaningful impact on the story before you.  It’s here where we welcome one of the PlayStation 4 version’s new, and most requested, features. If you were put off by the original game’s pick ‘n’ mix story delivery you can now choose to explore Jodie’s tale in the full chronological order. While the original time-jumping version is (naturally) still available, it offers a fresh take to those who who’d like to take an alternative - and perhaps more comprehensible - route to the game’s finale.  [Image courtesy of Digital Foundry] The original PlayStation 3 game occasionally spluttered with the weight of Quantic Dream’s boundary-pushing, but the PS4 remaster performs sweetly. Sony are keen to ensure we know about the 1080p rescale and enhanced graphics - which include motion blur, bloom, field of depth and boosts to the game’s celebrated lighting/shadowing effects - are what sit at the heart of this remaster, and to be honest, the game delivers here in every sense.  Whereas the PS3 version occasionally hiccuped with visual noise and juttery transition, for the most part, the PlayStation 4 version handles the strain with little discomfort. Two years ago there was little we could critique about the graphics (come on, it looked amazing on a near-end-of-life console) and now, able to compare the new with the old, we can see the tangible improvements. The lighting looks and feels organic, with the corresponding shadows smoother and more blended. Most marked perhaps is the introduction of camera-sensitive field-of-depth lens, a tool that naturally softens the fore- and backgrounds with beautiful results, albeit occasionally at the cost of sharpness.  Though it does run at 1080p, PlayStation 4’s version of Beyond hits that marker by compromising on your ratio, presenting a 1920x817 resolution with a cinematic framing. While the assets are left mostly untouched and recycled from the PS3 version, in some places - such as the Embassy, for instance - a side-by-side comparison (thanks, Digital Foundry!) shows that though most PS3 assets have been recycled, in some instances the graphics have been replaced or improved, with wallpaper and flooring textures in particular benefiting from the refresh.  As you might expect, however, the things that might have frustrated us the first time around - Aiden’s cumbersome control scheme, for instance, or the spoon-fed narrative waypoints - remain untouched. I didn’t enjoy my time operating as Aiden in 2013, and nothing’s changed. Aiden can now (kind of) communicate with you via the speaker in your controller, but if it’s designed to heighten immersion, for me it simply achieves the opposite. And once again, the possibilities here - your natural curiosity to explore as Aiden, perhaps, or your desire to take control of an undesirable - are curtailed. The pacing still feels mismatched and uneven, with some chapters whizzing pass in minutes, and others feeling like they’re been (unnecessarily) drawn out for hours ... particularly as the gameplay’s irregular prompts are sometimes painfully overt, whereas in others they’re frustratingly absent.  Also new, besides the spiffy graphics and all, is the Telltale-esque stats page at the end of each chapter. Though some may flinch at the spoilerific alternative story branches that hint at opportunities you may not have known was possible, for me, it gave a tantalising glimpse at the alternatives, and offers huge temptation to jump back in and replay alternative routes… as well as ascertain what were the popular - and not so popular - decisions taken by other players facing the same dilemmas. Whilst the things that bugged me before still annoy me, I wasn’t sorry that I replayed Beyond: Two Souls. Regardless of the execution, Beyond remains an ambitious project, and I’m all for developing playstyles that deviate from what what’s become the norm, particularly if doing so attracts hitherto “non-gamers” to our beloved pasttime. Quantic Dream’s stunning visuals and engaging narrative mean the game just falls on the right side of boring - it’s just the rehash of those QTEs and the curiously disjointed storytelling that frustrates, not the tale nor the presentation itself.   If you enjoyed it on the PlayStation 3 and relish the chance to revisit Jodie's story, now boosted by enhanced visuals and the new Experiments expansion - as well as the chance to live Jodie's life chronologically - then you won't be disappointed. But if you intentionally side-stepped Beyond: Two Souls the first time around, there’s probably little here that will tempt you back... particularly if you like your storytelling charged with meaningful agency. For those who missed out last generation and remain intrigued by Quantic Dream’s unique and ambitious game? I can’t say it isn’t pretty. It’s just a shame that that’s all it is, really.  
Beyond: Two Souls photo
It's pronounced A-DEN, Jodie, not I-DEN!
When Beyond: Two Souls released at the end of 2013, it epitomised not just the lofty ambitions of creator David Cage, but also the capability still lurking in the PlayStation 3’s ageing infrastructure. But whilst it&r...

PC Port Report: Assassin's Creed Syndicate

Nov 27 // Joe Parlock
Rig: AMD FX-8320 3.50GHz Eight-Core processor, 12GB of RAM, AMD HD 7970, Windows 10 64-Bit. Framerate measured with Raptr. Game played at the “High” graphics preset. First things first, as a technical product Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is definitely one of the best of the series on PC. The graphics options are incredibly descriptive, so those who may not quite understand which ambient occlusion or anti-aliasing settings would be best for them aren’t left in the dark. I particularly like the little bar in the top-right corner that shows just how much of your video memory is being used, letting you tweak the game to be as high quality as your card will allow. The game supports 4K resolutions for people with absolutely monster rigs and big enough screens to run them on, as well as widescreen resolutions (up to 2560x1080) and borderless windowed mode for easy swapping between applications. However, there are also some important options missing, such as the ability to change the FOV. This is a third person game though, so it probably isn’t as big of a problem for the majority of people as it would be in a first person ganme. Some people do still suffer from motion sickness when playing third person games though, so the option to change it could have been beneficial. Also worth noting is that Syndicate features full and complete key remapping, adjustable mouse acceleration, and full controller support for Xbox 360, Xbox One and PS4 controllers. Disappointingly, the menus suggest there is a way to remap controller inputs, but this doesn't actually appear to be possible. After spending so long playing Assassin’s Creed on PC, trying to play it with an Xbox 360 controller felt unnatural to me. The ability to tweak which button does what thing would’ve been nice. As I mentioned, Assassin’s Creed has never been known for its stellar PC ports. Assassin’s Creed III and Unity in particular suffered from poor optimisation, and I struggled to hit even a steady 30FPS on them with the rig described above. I’m not a framerate perfectionist who demands 60+ FPS in all things (even though I also understand people wanting to get what they’ve paid for out of their expensive hardware), but even then being able to get solidly 40+ FPS in Syndicate on the high preset felt like a breath of fresh air. Even in the most expansive or detailed areas I noticed very little drop in my framerate and considering how big the game is, that is a massive achievement. [embed]322674:61263:0[/embed] The only times there was a notable drop was on initially loading into the game (which is somewhat expected), and unfortunately during the carriage portions. Syndicate reintroduces drivable vehicles to the series, but whenever I picked up the pace or caused some carnage, the game would drop to around 20-25 FPS. This may be due to moving quicker through the world than it could load, but it was a bit of a disappointment none the less. Overall, I would have to say I’ve had a better time with Assassin’s Creed Syndicate’s port than with Unity or AC3, and it’s even arguably running better than the better games in the series like Rogue or Black Flag. When I played the demo at EGX, I came away feeling incredibly disappointed. At the time, it was just as buggy as Unity, without building on any of the mechanics introduced. It felt like one big rehash, and it left me worried for the future of the series. Now that I’ve been let loose on the final version, I can safely say that I was totally wrong. Syndicate is right up there as being one of my favourites in the entire series. It has its problems, but I can confidently place it alongside Black Flag and Assassin’s Creed 2 as being one of the series high points. Victorian London is recreated beautifully. The detailed streets, the steam trains barging down the tracks, the Thames chock-full of boats…the entire game feels like you’ve stepped into a Charles Dickens novel. One that involves lots of stabbing and the threat of naked hologram aliens, but a Charles Dickens novel none the less. Weirdly, I’d argue Syndicate borrows and improves on a lot from Watch_Dogs too with just how many moving parts the city has. Carriages, trains and boats make London feels a lot more dynamic than previous cities in the series, and at times can allow for some really cool getaways. A big problem I had with combat in Unity was how effective ranged weapons were against you. Almost every enemy carried a gun, and there was no way to counter against them, meaning armed enemies at range had a massive, massive advantage and frequently proved fatal. This problem was elegantly solved in Syndicate, where now you can simply dodge shots at any time. You don’t even need a human shield anymore. To balance it, melee combat is a lot trickier now. Gone are the days of simply countering everything and killing everyone all in one combo. Now you have to be smart, do damage when you can, and often running away to get an advantage later on is the better solution. It really helps encourage stealthier play, while also not being an instant death sentence should you decide to be a bit noisy. Speaking of stealth, Syndicate takes a lot of emphases away from the series’ cornerstone of “social stealth”. Instead, you now have a stealth button that will cause Jacob and Evie to crouch down and pull their hoods up. A lot of the creeping is based more around hiding behind walls and staying out of sight, rather than hiding in plain view as has always been the core of the series up to now.  Blending into crowds just doesn’t feel all that important anymore, and at times I actually found it almost impossible to do. For example, bumping into other people can cause crowds to break up just enough to leave you exposed, but when you want to close the gap on an enemy using the crowd as cover you’ll be bumping into people a whole lot more. I’m still not sure whether this change is good or not, as when you’re placed into environments designed for it the new stealth system feels involving and effective, but it does make the game feel a bit less Assassin’s Creed to me as well. The changes to player movement in Syndicate can be a bit of a mixed bag. I love the new line launcher that lets you quickly scale buildings, across entire streets, and opens up lots of new tactical possibilities in dealing with enemies. Being able to jump in, cause some damage, and then zip away again really made me rethink how to handle enemy encounters, as now the strategies I’d learned from the earlier games simply wasn’t the best way of dealing with things. On the other hand, the parkour system does frequently suffer from weird pathfinding issues.Syndicate adopts Unity’s system of having one button to move up and another to move down, but moving down often resulted in me getting caught up on bits of scenery and winding up heading in a totally different direction than what I was intending. While it’s certainly nowhere near the broken state of Unity, Syndicate does still suffer from some bugs. Aside from the pathfinding issue I’ve already mentioned, I’ve notice plenty of people teleporting around in crowded areas, random deaths when pinned against stationary trains, and enemies running around in tiny circles. It’s by no means a bug-free game, but they’re minor hitches in a massive game, so I personally could look past them. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate does have problems, but that doesn’t stop it from being the most enjoyable, interesting and different entry since Black Flag. The setting is great, and the changes to combat, movement and stealth mean you can’t play it the same way as every other game in the series. It’s a bit buggy, and there are some minor performance issues, but please don’t let that stop you from picking up Syndicate. For both ardent fans and those who are a bit tired of the formula, chances are Syndicate is what you were hoping for. [This PC Port Report is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.] Update: Since writing this PC Port Report, I have upgraded to an Nvidia GTX 980. I can now confirm (albeit only anecdotally) that people with Nvidia cards may struggle with getting acceptable performance out of the game. The GTX 980 is a high-end card in Nvidia’s range, and can easily get a steady 60FPS in every other game I’ve tried so far with it. However, when setting Syndicate to max settings (which is what it recommended for me), I rarely hit 60FPS, and instead generally hovered somewhere around 45-55FPS. For my old card, I considered this acceptable because of its age and mid-range status, but for something like the GTX 980 I would really be expecting better performance. One thing that weirdly became more noticeable once I’d upgraded were the cloth physics, which are for some weird reason locked to 30FPS. Even if you’ve somehow got the game running at a smooth 60, Jacob and Evie’s capes will look incredibly jerky. Fortunately,PCGamingWiki has a simple .ini tweak that will uncap the cloth’s framerate. Overall, I’d say that the previous reports of Nvidia kind of struggling with this game are accurate. It still plays at a framerate I’m personally happy with, but I would’ve expected more out of my sparkly new card. Optimisation seems to be somewhat worse, and I noticed graphical glitches were a bit more frequent than before. It’s still by no means a broken port on Nvidia-powered PCs, but it’s something to keep in mind. --
Assassin's Creed Syndicat photo
Let's 'ave a butcher's at the PC version
Assassin’s Creed has had a rough time on PC. Not only did the very first game control poorly, but later both the third game and the infamous Unity both had a glut of technical issues, bugs, and suffered with very p...

Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection is a great history lesson

Oct 16 // Mike Cosimano
Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection (PS4)Developer: Naughty Dog/Bluepoint GamesPublisher: SonyReleased: October 9, 2015MSRP: $59.99 Drake's Deception manages to outdo its predecessors in one area: the interplay between its characters. In a franchise known for witty, naturalistic dialogue, the conversations in Uncharted 3 still manage to stand out. It's hard to nail down exactly why this is the case (change in development staff, practice makes perfect, etc.), but I believe it has something to do with the mechanics of the story. A popular complaint in sequel-driven franchises is the perceived lack of stakes -- "We know the hero isn't going to lose/die for real, so none of this matters." This is self-inflicted misdirection. What matters isn't the particulars of the plot, it's the characters. A story is only tense if the audience cares about the people who inhabit it. Yes, Nathan Drake's gonna make it through the conflict de jour with all his limbs intact. But what kind of emotional losses will he suffer along the way? That's a reductive way of putting it, but you get what I'm going for, right? The humanity on display in Uncharted 3 starts and ends with the relationship between Nate and Sully. There are shades of this in Drake's Fortune and Among Thieves, as is to be expected with such excellent character work, but it's given a proper analysis in Drake's Deception. Origin stories for established characters are so often either redundant or blunt, so it's pleasantly surprising that the flashback sequence manages to add real, genuine depth to Nate and Sully's partnership. The knowledge that Sully was practically a father to Nate re-defines both of their relationships with the other characters, and proves that both of them are some of the most meaningful people in each other's lives. [embed]315656:60750:0[/embed] Not to say the rest of the characters get the shrift, either. Nate's team is expanded with both old and new faces, all of whom feel both compelling and rounded -- especially Cutter. Oh man, do I love Cutter. Every scene with that wonderful man was nothing short of rapturous, and when he was away I prayed to any deity that would hear me voraciously for his return. Every time he was in danger (physically or emotionally), it felt like I was on the verge of death. The big, bombastic, cinematic moments that give Uncharted its fame? They mean so much more when I care about the people involved. Although Drake's Deception is the most successful on the story front, the other two games are still worth seeing. Playing all three Uncharted games in a relatively short timeframe is fascinating. From the moderately awkward post-Jak and Daxter lessons of Drake's Fortune, to the brilliant iteration of Among Thieves, to the thematic and character evolutions in Drake's Deception, there's so much work to appreciate here -- especially in the context of Naughty Dog's history. The games also look fantastic as well, and not just thanks to the fresh coat of paint. It's amazing what a great lighting engine can do, especially when applied to a franchise that is partially remembered for pushing what we thought the PS3 could output. Bluepoint Games does fantastic port work, and The Nathan Drake Collection is another win for the studio. There were zero framerate drops and only the occasional walk animation freakout on the part of your compatriots. Nothing game-breaking. The Uncharted series is ostensibly about one adrenaline junkie (the man that gives The Nathan Drake Collection its name) and his failure to evolve. When Indiana Jones resets his love life at the beginning of every Indiana Jones adventure, it's a way of starting from scratch. When Nathan Drake starts every post-Drake's Fortune game separated from Elena, it's a commentary on his immature refusal to move past the treasure hunting that defined his childhood and teenage years, especially in the third installment. The first two Uncharted games are roller coaster rides that are a bullwhip away from a Lucasfilm lawsuit. Drake's Deception, comparatively, spends its time applying those time-worn stereotypes to some degree of reality and is all the more compelling as a result. You should play The Nathan Drake Collection if you're one of the many Xbox 360 to PlayStation 4 transplants, or even if it's been too long since you last spent time in the Uncharted world. The first game doesn't really hold up, but Among Thieves and Drake's Deception are certainly worth your time -- especially you're interested in the latter's more complex thematic work. And based on what we've seen of A Thief's End's darker tone, this history lesson might just be mandatory.
Uncharted: TNDC photo
Cutter needs to be in Uncharted 4, right?
In a sea of PS3/Xbox 360 to PS4/Xbox One ports, The Nathan Drake Collection is one of the few that actually makes sense. Many former Xbox 360 owners made the jump to PlayStation 4 this generation; as a result, they've mi...

Mega Man Legends photo
Mega Man Legends

Mega Man Legends heading to PSN next Tuesday


Take that, Red Ash?
Sep 22
// Mike Cosimano
Today, Capcom announced a PSN port for original PlayStation classic Mega Man Legends. It will be re-released next Tuesday for $9.99 and work on PlayStation 3 and PS Vita. PSP owners are out of luck, and not just because ...
Xeodrifter photo
Xeodrifter

Xeodrifter has more room to breathe on Wii U


No frills port, no complaints
Jul 26
// Jonathan Holmes
Xeodrifter stands among a proud line of games we recommended to Metroid fans who were disappointed with the idea Metroid Prime: Federation Force, and now it's coming to Wii U next week. It's yet another game to hit the c...
FF7 photo
FF7

The Final Fantasy VII port you don't want is coming in October


Contain your excitement
Jun 22
// Brett Makedonski
[Update: Square Enix reached out to "...confirm that the published release date for this title is incorrect. As discussed at this year's E3, Final Fantasy VII will be ported to the PlayStation 4 in Winter 2015. The pricing ...

PC Port Report: D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die

Jun 03 // Steven Hansen
D4 isn't a robust PC port, but it's functional. There were two instances of models (once a full character, once a tie) kind of spazzing out and shaking for a bit; I had a crash trying to bow out to the main menu between episodes; and things aren't crazy cleaned up from the Xbox One release, but the port is a fine option and not any kind of messy downgrade from the original. It's clear a lot of work went into adapting usable mouse controls (replacing the stripped out Kinect controls), UI, and so on. Not that it needs much else. Xbox One DLC is packed in with a "free shirt" section of the store that hilariously gave me a Gears of War tee right off the bat. Buying clothes is very important for no reason. Nice to see a game with different outfits in this day and age. There's some new DLC if you're into that sort of thing. The controls are the big thing, though. Chris was sure it was better without Kinect when he played it, but I do feel there is something missing, oddly enough. Never thought I'd be going to bat for the Kinect. I also never used Kinect controls for longer than 30 minutes at a time, so maybe that would drag after a while. It's just that some of the mouse swipes, especially when your cursor is at the opposite end of where you're being prompted to begin swiping across, don't quite have that same tactile connection. It feels like flailing more than literal arm waving. Clicking, pushing, grabbing -- those all work, maybe even better with point-and-click precision. But then I sort of miss those dramatic, painterly slashes across the screen. Particularly during big action sequences, but also for the rote swipe-to-do-somethings, like opening doors. And the middle mouse button to look around felt finicky to me, but that may have something to do with my broken finger. Mouse versus Kinect versus controller, it's mostly preference. The best thing about mouse controls is pure one-handed play, leaving the other hand free to sip some tequila.
Agave photo
1 tequila, 2 tequila, 3 tequila, D4
First, let's take a moment to really appreciate my tequila sub header. It's the little details that count. That's what D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die is all about. Sure, when a catgirl is doing karate in your face it's easy to thi...

PC Port Report: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

May 22 // Patrick Hancock
[Note: Screenshots and video used in this post are taken from my experience with the game.] Tested on: Intel i7-4770k 3.50 GHz, 8GB of RAM, Geforce GTX 970, Windows 7. Framerate measured with FRAPS. I'd be remiss if I didn't address the now-infamous trailer of the game that incorrectly showed what it would look like back in 2013. The developers have since downgraded what the game can do, and have addressed the issue. There are lots of elements to this and it isn't as simple as "downgraded because consoles" or "they couldn't afford it," but the end result is still the same. Regardless of that trailer, The Witcher 3 still looks phenomenal. In order to achieve 60 frames per second with my setup at 1080p, I needed to play with the settings a bit. Most things were kept at the Ultra settings, except for the foliage and shadows, which were turned down to High. The game stays consistently above 60 FPS for me now, even during combat and most in-game cutscenes. Some cutscenes are evidently capped at 30 FPS, which is offputting and incredibly noticeable. The biggest setting to turn off in order to achieve a good framerate is HairWorks. With HairWorks on, hair does looks absolutely stunning and is perhaps the best rendering of hair I've ever come across, though up close it's still a bit funky looking. There are three options for HairWorks: on, Geralt-only, and off. If fully on, even the monsters and Geralt's horse will have HairWorks-quality hair. However, even when I had this on "Geralt only," the framerate would fluctuate between 30 and 50 at any given moment. Yes, the hair looks great, but it is not worth the huge dip in framerate. Another option to be aware of is the "Hardware Mouse." It's located under Options in the Video section for some reason, and anyone playing with a keyboard and mouse is likely going to want to turn this option on. Doing so disables mouse acceleration, essentially making the mouse "feel" like it is supposed to. Many of the .ini files located in the installation folder can also be edited to further customize many of the options. [embed]292553:58627:0[/embed] There's some strange odds and ends in the options to take note of. To turn on unlimited FPS, the FPS slider needs to be all the way to the left. The middle option is 30 FPS, and the right option is 60. For those playing on a big television screen via Big Picture Mode or something similar, be aware that the font size is rather small, and the HUD size does not get any bigger, only smaller. In fact, there's only two sizes for HUD size: Large and Small. Controlling Geralt with a keyboard and mouse is somewhat clunky. Turning is awkward and slow, and managing to interact with a specific object or NPC can be a struggle. Combat on a mouse and keyboard feels fluid, at least. Controlling Geralt with a controller simply feels better, all things considered. It's not that controlling him with a keyboard and mouse is awful, but there's an unfortunate feeling of "this just isn't right." Switching to a controller input is as simple as hitting any button on a connected controller. As soon as the game detects a controller input, everything is switched to controller prompts and the game immediately recognizes it. The same goes with switching back to the keyboard. The responsiveness of switching is fantastic, and future PC game designers better take note. The keyboard keys can be remapped, except for movement. The WASD keys are set in stone. When using a controller, all of the buttons are locked in at the default assignments; there is no remapping of any of the buttons. Since the PC release, there has already been a couple of large patches to help improve performance and fix bugs. CD Projekt RED has always put a lot of focus on the PC community, and that certainly still seems to be the case with The Witcher 3. More patches are on the way, and despite the console-esque nature of the third iteration, I would not expect the game to be neglected on PC going forward. It's also important to note that, apparently, it is coming to SteamOS/Linux. There was a banner on Steam saying as much, but CD Projekt RED has not commented on the Linux situation. Currently, the game is only available for Windows. Some users have been reporting crashes on their systems, but I have yet to encounter a single one. Mods are still in their infancy, but they are there. Mostly small game tweaks at the moment, but the toolkit is evidently on its way. It took a couple of years to get the official modding toolkit out for The Witcher 2, but it has been promised to come out sooner for the latest installment. Plain and simple, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a great PC port. Whether or not it should have ever been a "port" in the first place is a separate discussion, but what's presented here to the consumer is thoroughly enjoyable. Oh. and you can skip all the splash screens when booting up. 10/10, would port again.
Witcher 3 on PC photo
Gwent Simulator 2015
The Witcher is an interesting series on PC. The first game was a PC experience through and through: you could pause the action at any time and movement was mapped to mouse clicks. The second was way more action-oriented ...

D4 on PC photo
D4 on PC

It's official, David: Swery's D4 is coming to PC


'When' is just one more unknown
May 01
// Brett Makedonski
Japanese developer Swery has done a great job curating an air of mystery around the plot of his games. However, he hasn't been as outstanding at keeping the games themselves a mystery. Such is the case with a PC port of D4: D...

PC Port Report: Grand Theft Auto V

Apr 25 // Patrick Hancock
Grand Theft Auto V (PC, [tested], PS3, Xbox 360)Developer: Rockstar GamesPublisher: Take TwoReleased: September 17, 2013 / April 14, 2015MSRP: $59.99Rig: Intel i7-4770k 3.50 GHz, 8GB of RAM, GeForce GTX 560 Ti GPU  First of all, know this: Grand Theft Auto V on PC is a whopping 60 gigabytes. Let me spell it out for you -- sixty! Be careful if your Internet plan has a data cap, because this is guaranteed to push it to the limit. You also may need to clear some space on your harddrive, so be aware of that before you begin the download! The next step is setting up your Rockstar Social Club account. The account name system bans certain  words, so if your last name happens to contain a "bad word," you can't include it in your account name (sigh). The system has been more or less unobtrusive, though it is annoying that the game can't simply use everyone's Steam ID since they get linked anyway. However, this does allow players to transfer their characters from the consoles to the PC. Grand Theft Auto V has a metric butt-ton of options for the users to play with and optimize. Because of this, many players will be able to find a group of settings that allows GTA V to run very smoothly on their rig. Perhaps the best thing the game does is show the amount of video memory for the installed graphics card. As the user changes the settings, the amount of video memory the game is using will fluctuate. This helps players, especially those not in tune to optimization, fine-tune the numbers to get a smooth experience. After some tinkering, I was able to run the game at my native 1920x1080 resolution and consistently get 60 frames per second. I wasn't able to turn the textures to High, but the game still looks great. In order to run it at this resolution, however, I had to turn off the option that limits players to their graphics card memory usage. The number it was showing was barely higher than the total for my graphics card, and it doesn't seem to have any real trouble running the game smoothly. The framerate does occasionally dip to around 30 when traveling around mountainous or heavily wooded areas. After running at a constant 60 for the rest of the time, this dip in framerate is very noticeable and is very consistent in the aforementioned areas. YouTube user "wiliextreme" did a great job showing different graphics settings in this video. [embed]290676:58331:0[/embed] The biggest issue with the PC version of GTA V is the long and frequent loading times when playing online. When cruising around and enjoying the city of Los Santos, the game is great. However, when players want to do missions, the main way to advance online, they get thrown into frequent long load times. Getting into a mission forces the game to load, and this loading time feels like forever. In reality it's around two minutes, usually. Then there's the potential of waiting for players to join in, which can also take some time, but at least this wait is understandable. I've even loaded into a game that was full, forcing me to load back into Los Santos, back at square one. Once the mission is completed, players vote to either retry (if failed) or for what the next mission should be (if succeeded). Then, when loading whatever is next in store, another long load time rears its ugly head. I have the game installed on a traditional HDD, since the game is HUGE, but I've seen other players who have installed it on an SSD having the same issue with load times. The initial load into the online portion of the game is much longer than loading into missions, but to be fair it is quite a large city to be loaded. Just like any online game, GTAV Online's lag comes from being paired up with players who are far away or with poor connections. Most of my time was rather lag-free, however being in a car with someone who is lagging is not an entertaining experience. "Woah we're just about to crash into that-- oh, nevermind we're on the highway now." Doing missions like this makes certain players virtually useless as they teleport all over the place and neither player knows what's really happening. Playing with friends can be an absolute blast, but also frustrating to get going. Loading into the same instance of Los Santos is easy enough, but joining the same mission, especially on the same team, is not. Since there's no "party" system in GTA V Online, one player needs to join a mission and then invite others to that mission. Then, if there are teams, chances are they will not be on the same team. Heck, the mission might even be started by the host before a friend can join the mission. Part of this can be alleviated by someone becoming the host and having the "Remain Host after Next Job Vote Screen" option enabled, though this is disabled by default. There's also the first-person perspective mode, which is certainly interesting. There is a field-of-view (FOV) slider, but the highest it goes is incredibly low for most people. However, there is a mod to increase the FOV in first-person. In fact, the whole idea of mods being implemented at all is what skyrockets the PC version of the game into the realm of infinite possibilities!  I've seen some users mention that, depending on graphics cards, the framerate can inexplicably go down at times. Some 970 users have seen their framerate drop to the 30s when inside vehicles, for example. The game has gotten a few patches already in order to fix some bugs and performance, so the team seems to be paying attention and can hopefully iron things out in a timely manner. Using a controller (tested with a wireless Xbox 360 controller) is a seamless experience. Players can easily swap between the keyboard and mouse control style to a controller by simply pressing a button on a controller. When playing missions online, the game will even let others know who is using a controller and who is on a mouse and keyboard setup. That way, when one person dominates an online deathmatch mission, everyone understand why. The game also works well using Steam's Big Picture mode. I was initially worried because of the Rockstar Social Club integration, but the game automatically maps the mouse to the left analog stick when using a controller. So when the Social Club overlay is used, players using a controller can still respond to friend requests or look at game invites. Another big draw in the PC version of the game is the video capturing and editing program that's built in to the game, the Rockstar Editor. Capturing footage is as easy as hitting a button, so long as you have the amount of space needed to actually capture the footage. Editing is rather simple, but convoluted in many ways. First of all, it is only possible to access the editor while playing offline, which took me forever to figure out. Adding things like camera angles and filters is incredibly easy, but adding text is a bit annoying. Adding text to a specific location to the video is easy, but the game doesn't give a preview of the video at that time, so players need to go in and out of the actual video to see what it looks like. It's an extra step that's totally unnecessary, but the editor is still crazy good for being in-game. The GTA V port has one of the most important aspects to any PC game: malleability. The amount of options help ensure that players with at least semi-decent rigs should be able to run it well. The online portion of the game isn't as cohesive as it should be, but GTA V can easily be one of the PC ports that players point to in the future and say "why isn't it more like that?" [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
GTA V on PC photo
Wonky tennis at 60 frames per second
After many delays and what feels like forever, Grand Theft Auto V is finally on PC. It's incredibly exciting to just think of all the hilarious and unique mods that people will inevitably come up with to change the ...

Game Arts photo
Game Arts

Should GungHo bring back Grandia and Lunar?


The company is gauging interest in porting the Game Arts catalog to PC
Apr 16
// Jordan Devore
GungHo Online Entertainment America wants to know which Game Arts titles it should port to PC. Grandia. Lunar. Uhh, Thexder. The list goes on. Problem is, there's only enough room in this survey for one choice, so you've got ...
Metal Slug 3 photo
Metal Slug 3

Metal Slug 3 blasts its way onto PS4, PS3, and Vita


Rocket lowncha!
Mar 24
// Ben Davis
Have you played the phenomenal Metal Slug 3 yet? If not, you really have no excuse at this point, as the game has come to just about every console imaginable. Today, the Neo Geo classic is also available on PS4, PS3, and PS V...
Neo Geo photo
Neo Geo

SNK asks which Neo Geo games we want ported to PlayStation


Mark of the Wolves and The Last Blade 2 are leading
Dec 04
// Jordan Devore
Despite never owning a Neo Geo (I was mad jealous of my friend who had a Neo Geo Pocket back in the day), I've played many of the system's best games thanks to digitally-distributed ports and compilation discs. SNK shows no s...
The Last of US PS4 photo
The Last of US PS4

Naughty Dog: Porting The Last of Us to PS4 was hell


'I canít describe how difficult a task that is' - creative director Neil Druckmann
May 18
// Kyle MacGregor
Remastering The Last of Us for PlayStation 4 isn't as simple as flipping a switch, according to Naughty Dog's Neil Druckmann. Speaking in an interview with Edge, the creative director explained the developer "expected it to b...
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Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited out this August for PlayStation Vita


August 12 for North America, August 29 for Europe
May 16
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited finally has a release date for the PlayStation Vita! North America can expect this one on August 12, while Europe will see this on August 29. The game will be available via retail and digital st...
Wii U photo
Wii U

Capcom confirms GBA games coming to Wii U


Mega Man Battle Network 3 first announced
Apr 29
// Conrad Zimmerman
Nintendo started launching Game Boy Advance titles for the Wii U Virtual Console earlier this month, but now the third-parties are getting in the act. Speaking with IGN, a representative of Capcom has confirmed Mega Man Battl...
Tales of Heart R photo
Tales of Heart R

Hideo Baba confirms Tales of Hearts R for Western release


A tale of too many awesome Tales games
Apr 18
// Brittany Vincent
Ready for more Tales games to invade your backlog? Who isn't, right? Like a fabulous shooter once said, get psyched, because Tales series producer Hideo Baba has just confirmed that the PlayStation Vita Tales entry Tales of ...
PvZ: Garden Warfare photo
PvZ: Garden Warfare

Impressions: Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare (Xbox 360)


A downgrade, but still absolutely worth playing
Mar 08
// Jordan Devore
It's as if we slipped into some alternate dimension. The long-awaited Plants vs. Zombies 2 went straight to mobile, passing over PC fans, and while it wasn't bad -- not at all -- I sure lost interest. Instead, it's PopCap's t...
PS Vita photo
PS Vita

Magnetic puzzle-platformer Teslagrad coming to PS Vita


Another port confirmed
Feb 27
// Jordan Devore
Another worthwhile indie port for PlayStation Vita. What else is new? Following Teslagrad's "good reception" on PC, Rain Games will be porting its puzzle-platformer over to the system this summer. Before that, however, the ti...
 photo

Swapper popping in on PlayStation in May


Cross-buy for PS3, PS4 and PS Vita
Feb 26
// Conrad Zimmerman
The Swapper came seemingly out of nowhere to be a pleasant surprise last year on PC. The fun won't be stopping there, as Curve Digital has announced that they (through their in-house developer, Curve Studios) will be por...
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Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate Deluxe Edition dated


HD port of handheld title due April 1
Feb 20
// Conrad Zimmerman
Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate released to tepid reviews (at best), but that's not stopped Armature Studios from taking another crack at the Dark Knight as they transition the handheld game to PC and console platforms in t...
PS Vita photo
PS Vita

Risk of Rain is coming to PS Vita


More of the good stuff
Feb 11
// Jordan Devore
I quite enjoy playing Hopoo Games' action-platformer Risk of Rain, and like most independently-developed games, I'd be happy to see it ported over to PlayStation Vita. That's happening. The list of indies on the handheld grow...
Grand Theft Auto photo
Grand Theft Auto

GTA V on other platforms if 'that is where consumers are'


But Take-Two won't 'drive them there'
Feb 07
// Jordan Devore
There was no official word about Grand Theft Auto V coming to PC, much less PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, during Take-Two's earnings call. CEO Strauss Zelnick was asked about the possibility of such ports, of course -- these are...
Treasure photo
Treasure

Treasure has plans for more ports to Steam and a new game


Company is focused on PC development right now
Jan 29
// Jordan Devore
Ikaruga coming to Steam by way of Steam Greenlight was an unusual sight to behold but if that's weirdly what it takes to get Treasure games on the platform, I'm all for it. In an interview with Famitsu, Treasure president Mas...
Metal Slug photo
Metal Slug

Okay, sure: Metal Slug 3 hits Steam next month


Where are you going with this, SNK?
Jan 28
// Jordan Devore
I have lost track of the number of times I've bought Metal Slug 3, which usually isn't a good sign -- but it's one of those timeless games and I can't help myself. Absolutely no regrets. Temptation will arise once again in Fe...

Impressions: Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition

Jan 27 // Chris Carter
Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition (PS4 [tested], Xbox One [tested])Developer: Crystal DynamicsPublisher: Square EnixReleased: January 28, 2014MSRP: $59.99 To be perfectly clear, outside of the graphical upgrades, the Definitive Edition is basically the exact same offering as the original Tomb Raider package on 360, PS3, and PC. DLC has been bundled in (sans one previously exclusive character), mostly consisting of unimpressive multiplayer maps and even less impressive costumes. There's also approximately 15 screens of art from the official artbook which, while beautiful, isn't something you'll spend more than a minute on. You'll also get a 28-page Dark Horse comic book, which serves as a nice little prequel, providing back stories to flesh out the poorly developed supporting characters in the game. It has a nice UI that automatically zooms in on panels, and it's pretty easy to read overall. There's also a six-part developer video series with Chuck's Zachary Levi. In other words, it's all ancillary content, nothing to get excited about, and nothing really meaty or new. The real question is does it look better? Yes. Yes, it does. That's evident after the first ten minutes with the cave-in sequence and all of the particles that dance about in the environment, whether it's embers from your torch's flame or just general dust. Pretty much everything is better, which not only makes the game enjoyable to look at, but makes combat that much more intense when all of the enhanced filters are applied. Lara's impressive new hair effects are a standout improvement as well, and her face has been completely rebuilt. Every strand on her head is active (and it shows), and effects like sweat are now more noticeable. [embed]268858:52211:0[/embed] Bushes also sway in the wind, the water is more clear, and just about every single environmental aspect of the game is improved. It's a good thing, too, as Tomb Raider's island is pretty iconic, and I found myself looking at some of my favorite sequences in an all new light. Although I don't think most fans will care or notice the differences, I was fairly impressed by them.Does it look sixty dollars better (or that much better than the already souped up PC version)? Not really -- at least to most people it won't. It runs at 1080p and 30/60 fps (Xbox One/PS4 respectively), so it's at the very least on par with the PC version, even exceeding it at points with the completely reworked portions. There are other gameplay-related extras like Kinect support for the Xbox One and remote play for the PS4, but again, nothing major. The DualShock 4's lightbar is a factor, as it flashes when you fire a shot or light a torch, and the speaker also plays random ambient sounds (which can get annoying after a while). Along with the PS4 version's 60 fps, it's the clear-cut winner here. The Definitive Edition of Tomb Raider truly is meant for those who haven't played this great game yet, and in that regard, it's a shame that it wasn't competitively priced. A clear amount of effort went into making this look like the best version, and with all existing content in tow, it's also the easiest way to get everything. The catch is you'll find it much cheaper on the 360 and PS3 sans visual upgrades, and even cheaper on PC during a Steam sale. If you've never played it though, wait for a price drop and try the Definitive Edition.
Tomb Raider impressions photo
Definitive version, not so definitively priced
Tomb Raider had a rather interesting development cycle. It went from pure hype, to "this looks like an Uncharted clone," to controversy, and back to hype. But all of that dev drama aside, when the game actually came...


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