From the old school "20th Century Fox" opening to the first few seconds, Alien: Isolation wants you to know that it takes after the first film from the series it was based on. One alien, one spaceship, one chance at survival.
This is the game we should have gotten from Gearbox.
Super Smash Bros. and I go back a long way. When the first game was released in 1999, I didn't drive. Heck, I didn't even have a Nintendo 64 at that time. But I had a Smash Bros. addiction, and would spend hours upon hours at friends' houses, often staging sleepovers just so we could play more. It was probably the first game I ever put over a thousand hours into.
My Melee addiction was even worse. With wheels, I could drive to local tournaments and hone my craft. I had "training buddies" that I'd sit for hours and play with, trading new strategies along the way. I had groups who played all items on random levels, I had friends who played Final Destination no items only, and I had acquaintances who played a mix of both. However you shake it, Melee may be my most-played game of all time.
But when Brawl came out, a lot of the groups I had been playing with for all these years kind of fell off the map. They either continued to play Melee regardless, or just quit Smash entirely. It was an odd time seeing a franchise that I had enjoyed so much fall off like that in my personal circles, and from what I've seen over the past few years, I wasn't alone. It wasn't a bad game -- it just didn't set off that spark in me that 64 and Melee did before it.
Enter Smash 3DS. Not only has it rekindled my love for the series, but I have a feeling that once the Wii U version hits, living rooms will be smashing for hours all over again.
As a growing gamer, Maxis was always one of my go-to developers at a young age. From the original SimCity, to SimAnt, to SimTower, the company was almost infallible in my eyes, and I ate up practically every simulation it had to offer.
But while Maxis had seen a great deal of success, it wasn't until The Sims that it truly crossed over into the mainstream market and exploded. Before FarmVille, before Wii Sports, there was The Sims, and it snared a lot of the non-gaming market over the years.
The Sims 4 tries to tap into that market yet again, but it doesn't really have anything to offer over its predecessor.
Perhaps the biggest surprise about The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is that the developers behind the game were members of People Can Fly, the studio responsible for Bulletstorm; the idea that some of the people who came up with the over-the-top and potty-mouthed first-person shooter would go on to also make this contemplative, supernatural mystery.
It's a beautiful-looking game where players are tasked with finding a missing youngster but are quick to find that there are dark things lurking behind the lovely surroundings.
Local cooperative play is something that's been increasingly neglected in an age of videogames that pushes online connectivity seemingly first and foremost. It's ironic that titles like Destiny are the current benchmark for social experiences, when all communication is done through a headset. After all, it really doesn't get more personal than sitting next to someone on a couch and working (almost literally) hand-in-hand to achieve a goal.
Frima Studio hasn't forgotten these golden moments of yesteryear, and aims to recapture them with Chariot. The developers succeeded in their ambition. In fact, they pull it off so well, that you might find yourself short-changed when you don't have a partner in crime readily handy.
It's still tough to believe a fighting game based on the Persona series exists, let alone is any good, but Persona 4 Arena certainly came as a pleasant surprise. Atlus and Arc System Works are two distinctive studios known for creating very different types of experiences, but somehow managed to meld their unique strengths into a stellar fusion.
It must have been a difficult task, trying to charm two disparate audiences at once, but the developers proved more than capable of surmounting the challenge. Now they've returned with a followup in Persona 4 ArenaUltimax, hoping to make lightning strike twice.
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc was an intelligent riff on the perils of high school -- you know, if you had thrown a murder mystery in between classes and the principal was a maniacal stuffed animal.
Its sequel, Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, takes a beleaguered trope and turns it on its head. This is one "trapped on a desert island" story that takes things to another level entirely.
Many, many fun hours were spent playing Gauntlet with friends. As one of the most ingenous arcade games of all time, Gauntlet Legends had a really cool mechanic that allowed you to save your progress at the same machine -- warranting multiple trips to the same location just to play it. The fun continued on with the console version of the game, and even further into Dark Legacy, my personal favorite.
Once Seven Sorrows hit in 2005 though my interest kind of waned -- it simply wasn't a very good game, and the lack of a distinct art style didn't help it stand out among the masses of dungeon crawlers that were emerging out of the console market. But in 2014, Arrowhead Studios has done right by the franchise, and is ready to usher in a whole new audience.
Developing a licensed game can be extremely difficult. Not only does Monolith Productions have the Lord of the Rings film series to honor with Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, but the developer also has to work in many aspects of Tolkien's other works to weave together a story that calls from multiple sources.
In that regard Monolith has succeeded in creating something believable, but in the process, the game itself didn't receive as much attention.
The original Forza Horizonimpressed us back in 2012 with its ability to incorporate what we already loved about Forza Motorsport into an absolutely massive open-world sandbox racing game, while not completely ditching its simulation roots and easing new players into an arcade-simulation racer hybrid. It also helped that the game was really nice to look at.
Playground Games and Turn 10 are back with Forza Horizon 2, and I am so glad they are.
With regard to sports games, the most important facet of any given title should always be the actual playing of the sport. That's how NHL 15 is. It mostly shines when you're on-ice, leading the charge through the neutral zone or lining up a bone-crushing hit on an unsuspecting forward. Damn EA for making me want to say this, but with NHL 15, when you're in the game, you're in the game.
But, if that's all that really matters, why's it impossible to overcome the feeling that its off-ice issues drag NHL 15 down like a player that just got viciously hooked from behind?
When you're faced with imminent danger, what's the first thing you do? Do you gear up to fight back? Do you see if you can land the first punch? Or do you take all of your clothing off? I'm guessing that's a pretty uncommon reaction, though it's something you'll get used to seeing on a regular basis within Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed.
The otaku-come-Yakuza special is actually Akiba's Trip 2 in Japan, and it's the first time the series has reached Western audiences, who may or may not have been ready for its bizarre machinations. But for those who were willing and able to take the trip, what awaited them was a strange and colorful world full of plenty to do and discover.
[Disclosure: I backed the Wasteland 2 Kickstarter and as such received an Early Access copy of the game.]
Wasteland 2 is one of the projects that saw success in the wake of Double Fine's Broken Age. Just a month after Tim Schafer's adventure game project blew past its funding goal, Brian Fargo and inXile Entertainment also saw their Kickstarter pull in millions of dollars.
Despite the original Wasteland dating back to 1988, there were more than enough fans who wanted to see a sequel made. So Wasteland 2 exists in a strange position where the fans who remember the original played a very different game than the one that's been delivered in 2014.
While PC RPGs have changed a lot over the years, Wasteland 2 is still very old-school in a lot of ways -- some good, some bad -- and remains true to its intentions and origins.
D4 starts off rather grounded. The game's opening narration describes the tale as a "story of a man with a very strange fate." A man whose wife was murdered, and is tirelessly searching for her killer.
Then a cat girl named Amanda runs into your apartment, spits a mouse into your mouth, and you puke.
Disney Infinity was quite the ambitious project, but it fell flat in a few key areas. This was mostly due to a lack of even game worlds, with a few of the universes overshadowing others that felt more rushed. The other aspect of the game that didn't fully deliver was the Toy Box mode -- a take on LittleBigPlanet's "create your own" levels mechanic.
With Disney Infinity 2.0, Avalanche Software is poised to rectify both of those issues, combined with free reign of the Marvel license. While 2.0 is still primarily targeted towards the younger audience, the overall package is much more enticing the second time around.