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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...
SQUARE ENIX photo
SQUARE ENIX

Here's your first look at Dragon Quest Heroes II


Just as pretty as the last one
Feb 09
// Kyle MacGregor
Square Enix has shared the first images of Dragon Quest Heroes II, and it doesn't look dramatically different from its predecessor. That isn't too surprising, considering its predecessor debuted just a year ago and looked per...
Hitman photo
Hitman

The Hitman beta starts this week, get a quick look at it


Oh that Agent 47
Feb 08
// Chris Carter
Hit "don't call it a reboot" Man is set to arrive in March (but not fully, since it's episodic -- gaming!), but before then you can get a taste of the beta. It drops on February 12 on PS4, and PC on February 19. Sorry Xbox On...
Final Fantasy photo
Final Fantasy

Square Enix might bring that Adventures of Mana Vita port to the West after all


Thanks to you
Feb 06
// Kyle MacGregor
Every time I've written about Adventures of Mana, the new Final Fantasy Adventure remake, just about every one of you have clamored for Square Enix to localize the PlayStation Vita version. In case you haven't been following ...

Square Enix photo
Square Enix

Square Enix's Adventures of Mana is out now


For mobile worldwide, PS Vita in Japan
Feb 04
// Kyle MacGregor
Adventures of Mana, a remake of the Game Boy classic Final Fantasy Adventure -- the first entry in Square Enix's Mana series, is now available worldwide on iOS and Android for $14 / £10.50 / €14. Of course, there's also a PlayStation Vita version, but for some reason it's exclusive to Japan.
Life is phone cases photo
Life is phone cases

Someone get me this Life is Strange phone case


It's hella sweet
Feb 03
// Brett Makedonski
The last time I got a new phone, the Verizon rep asked me if I'd like to trade in my old phone for credit toward accessories -- specifically a case for it. I politely declined and she was shocked. "You mean you don't want a c...
Hitman photo
Hitman

Square Enix unveils Hitman's PS4 exclusive mission plans


First mission arrives at launch
Feb 03
// Chris Carter
Sony has locked up some more exclusive content for yet another shooter -- Hitman. In fact, when the game's beta launches on February 12, PS4 owners will be able to play it a week before PC and Xbox One players. It has also co...
Dissidia photo
Dissidia

See Ramza in all his Dissidia glory right here


That's it for now, folks!
Feb 03
// Chris Carter
Over the past few months we've covered all of the Dissidia Final Fantasy arcade character reveals, and the last character is a pretty welcome surprise -- Final Fantasy Tactics' Ramza Beoulve. You can watch him in action ...
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy photo
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy confirmed for arcades!


Glad to see this series alive and well
Feb 03
// Chris Carter
Just this morning, Square Enix confirmed that they are working on an arcade build for Theatrhythm Final Fantasy. The same producer from the 3DS version will return to supervise the project, and more info is coming next w...
Bravely Second photo
Bravely Second

It looks like the 'Tomahawk' outfit in Bravely Second was changed to a cowboy


Localizations
Feb 01
// Chris Carter
Some time ago, a rumor was flying around that a Native American outfit in Bravely Second, titled the "Tomahawk" class, was altered for the western release. Strangely enough that alteration was the polar opposite job in the fo...
Square Enix photo
Square Enix

Adventures of Mana drops February 4


For mobile platforms (and Vita in Japan)
Jan 31
// Kyle MacGregor
Square Enix's Adventures of Mana is launching worldwide for iOS and Android on February 4, the company has announced. And because we can't have nice things, a PlayStation Vita version will be available the same day, but ...
Final Fantasy photo
Final Fantasy

Final Fantasy XV release date coming March 30


Announcements of announcements
Jan 31
// Kyle MacGregor
[Update: New screens are in the gallery below.] In case you're chomping at the bit to find out when you're going to find out when Final Fantasy XV is coming out, well then chomp no further. Square Enix is hosting an event on ...

Review: Rise of the Tomb Raider - Baba Yaga: The Temple of the Witch

Jan 29 // Laura Kate Dale
Rise of the Tomb Raider - Baba Yaga: The Temple of the Witch (PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: Crystal DynamicsPublisher: Square EnixMSRP: $9.99Released: January 26, 2016 Baba Yaga: The Temple of the Witch is a short, story focused piece of Tomb Raider DLC that focuses on creepy supernatural elements, tough environmental puzzles, and exploring the complex relationship between Lara Croft and her father. Set in the Wicked Vale, a new region exclusive to the DLC, Baba Yaga tasks Lara with hunting down Baba Yaga, a witch who has allegedly terrorised locals for generations. Gone are the enemies that make sense, replaced by ethereal tormentors. While these foes and obstacles may be mechanically very similar to enemies in the base game, they feel very tonally different in practice and work well to emphasise the game's narrative themes. Oh, and the fact the DLC culminates in an over the top awesome supernatural boss battle, which provides satisfying amounts of conclusion to the plot, is fairly impressive. While most of the DLC is set in the Wicked Vale, an environment that was fascinating to explore, one section does throw you back into a combat arena from the main game. With the DLC only clocking in at two hours long, it's disappointing that any of it was retreading old ground. [embed]337554:62045:0[/embed] While the gameplay in Baba Yaga is unchanged from the main game, the difficulty of environmental puzzles is nicely ramped up, paced for progression from the end of the base game. Completing it unlocks a new weapon that fits nicely with the themes of the DLC as a bonus, but the lack of any new post game challenge tombs meant I had very little incentive to try my new weapon out. So, here's the deal with Rise of the Tomb Raider's newest DLC. If you're looking for several hours of story content that's supernatural in nature, yet offers very little additional content post story? Well, Baba Yaga: The Temple of the Witch is probably your thing. Just be aware it reuses some assets in that two hour length and offers very little in the way of options for using your weapon once the story is over. [This review is based on a retail build of the game purchased by the reviewer.] 
Rise of the Tomb Raider photo
That's one freaky temple
Rise of The Tomb Raider's main campaign, while lengthy, tries to keep its gameplay grounded for the most part in realistic threats. The game's first story DLC, Baba Yaga: The Temple of the Witch, turns that on its head, repla...

Ramza photo
Ramza

Square Enix finally reveals Ramza in Dissidia Final Fantasy


Pretty dope
Jan 29
// Chris Carter
Finally! After dancing around it for weeks and teasing his lower body, Square Enix has showed off Ramza's character model in Dissidia Final Fantasy. He's currently set to debut at some point in the near future on the arcade e...
Final Fantasy photo
Final Fantasy

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance hits Wii U today via Virtual Console


Goodbye, free time
Jan 28
// Alissa McAloon
The second game in the Final Fantasy Tactics family can now be found on the Wii U. Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, originally released for the Game Boy Advance in 2003, follows the journey of a boy named Marche after he and hi...
Bravely Second photo
Bravely Second

Bravely Second shows off some new jobs, including Astrologian


Also, Exorcist and Charioteer
Jan 28
// Chris Carter
If Bravely Second: End Layer is simply more Bravely Default, I can deal with that. Of course it will have some new stuff to go with its story continuation, including nine new jobs. That includes Guardian, Exorcist, Wizar...

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...

Life is Strange photo
Life is Strange

Square Enix is giving away a $10,000 scholarship in its Everyday Heroes photo competition


A good chance for avid photographers
Jan 27
// Joe Parlock
Square Enix has announced it will be giving away a scholarship to one lucky photographer, as part of its Life is Strange-inspired Everyday Heroes competition. This is totally separate from the identically named anti-bull...
FFXV photo
FFXV

Final Fantasy XV's January 30 update will detail stealth, magic


Oh and have some new screens
Jan 26
// Chris Carter
Square Enix has been peppering in "Active Time Report" updates for some time now, which are basically just big livestreams that detail more information for Final Fantasy XV. Normally I'd be over a gigantic hype campaign ...

Review: Final Fantasy Explorers

Jan 26 // Chris Carter
Final Fantasy Explorers (3DS)Developer: Square Enix, RacjinPublisher: Square EnixReleased: January 26, 2016MSRP: $39.99 Right at the character creation screen, it's immediately evident that Final Fantasy Explorers is a dated game. It was released in 2014 in Japan, after all, and the limitations of the tool itself will not inspire any confidence. I actually got a laugh out of the initial male avatar -- it had typical chibi-like features but a rock-hard manchild set of abs. It won't matter much when you're all suited up in gear, and the game has a Goku hairstyle in its small pool of options, so it gets a pass. Like many other entries in the series, Explorers revolves around crystals (of course), and the overall plot is kind of secondary to leveling up, acquiring cash, and completing missions, which lead to those sweet, sweet boss battles we all crave. You'll roam about in a Monster Hunter-esque hub world complete with shops, upgrade centers, and a few other fixins (like a one-mission-bonus-granting fortune teller who takes Play Coins as payment) as you take on new quests that lead you out into the overworld. Combat is based around AP, which fuels your abilities and is used when sprinting. The game has a rudimentary lock-on feature, the option to use the Circle Pad Pro (or the New 3DS nub) to control the camera, L or R toggles menus for your powers (with four mapped to each trigger, for a total of eight active abilities), an auto-attack button, and that's really it. To dodge or do anything fancy, you'll need to equip a skill for it, and even then, it's a bit rigid in nature. Make no mistake, this is not a high-intensity twitch action game. [embed]335296:61957:0[/embed] You'll get the keys to the kingdom so to speak after roughly 30 minutes of tutorials, where Explorers will provide you with five jobs (classes) right away: Knight, Monk, Ranger, White Mage, and Black Mage. Thankfully, it isn't as rigid as a lot of other RPGs in that jobs and abilities can often overlap. With the exception of, say, a Knight using bow-based skills while equipped with a sword, players can thankfully experiment a bit. Almost anyone can use magic, including the always helpful Cure spell. It's a great concession for newcomers and veterans alike. You can really mess around with nearly everything available to tool up your dream build -- which includes silly "Trance" modes featuring fan-favorite characters like Cloud. As time goes on it only gets deeper, as an impressive 21 jobs are at your disposal. The freedom to do what you want is even better when playing with a party (both locally or online). Team synergy and class makeups aren't necessarily bound by the RPG Trinity (tank, healer, damage), but are composed a bit more loosely, to the point where everyone can have fun with what they want to play -- like a Dragoon that can use his jumps along with evasion techniques from other jobs for maximum mobility. Speaking of multiplayer, there is support for lobbies online (rather than shoddy matchmaking), which allowed me to get into a number of games even before launch. If you're going at it solo, you can bring up to three other monsters with you on your travels, with the caveat that the AI isn't very intelligent or nearly as effective as players. By the time you fight Shiva several hours in, it picks up, but as a general rule Explorers is a slow burn. Now, I did have fun working my way up the ladder, earning more jobs, and crafting my own equipment, but it's a bit too slow going at times. As such, the "it gets better after you put time into it" argument comes to mind, but plenty of games do allow for an enjoyable early game to accompany the payoff. That's not the case here, to an extent. If you do end up sticking with it though, you'll find a 100-hour RPG full of stuff to do, including an endgame that involves fighting all of the core bosses again with new strategies in tow. Like many games filled to the brim with different classes, a lot of my time was spent trying out new jobs. While some of them don't feel wildly different from one another, the dichotomy between the three core playstyles (melee, ranged, and magic) is strong enough to feel like you're playing a different game. Final Fantasy Explorers has a litany of pacing issues, particularly when it comes to its quests and, visually, it feels like a DS-era game at times. But players who are willing to jump in with both feet will find a lot to love, and that goes double if you're planning to play through the adventure with a friend. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.] 
Final Fantasy review photo
Eidolon Hunter
If one wanted to delve into the world of Final Fantasy for the first time, the barrier to entry is generally rather high. You have a host of 50-hour JRPGs, several daunting MMOs, and a number of complicated and deep tactical spinoffs. Final Fantasy Explorers tries to ease people into the world of Black and White mages with a different, gentler approach, albeit with its own set of flaws.

Dragon Quest photo
Dragon Quest

This Dragon Quest Builders display was built with lots of blocks


Go on, take a piece
Jan 25
// Jordan Devore
Last year, Square Enix promoted Dragon Quest Heroes in Japan with a huge wall of poppable slimes at a metro station. It was the stuff of dreams. (For me, anyway, but then again I see strange things when I sleep.) A similar ca...
Cracking photo
Cracking

Far Cry Primal and Rise of the Tomb Raider will use the Denuvo anti-tampering system


Hopefully it won't hurt the performance
Jan 25
// Joe Parlock
The PC releases of both Far Cry Primal and Rise of the Tomb Raider will make use of the controversial Denuvo anti-tampering software. Denuvo isn’t technically DRM because it doesn’t manage content licenses. Howeve...
Nosgoth photo
Nosgoth

Silenced Cathedral, Nosgoth's newest map, is out now


Left 4 Big, Burly Vampires
Jan 22
// Joe Parlock
I quite like Nosgoth. I know it’s hated by some long-time Legacy of Kain fans, but I’ve had fun with it. It’s basically a free-to-play, early access version of Left 4 Dead’s Versus mode, but with vamp...
FFXV photo
FFXV

Well, it looks like Final Fantasy XV has Magitek armor


Alright alright alright
Jan 21
// Chris Carter
Folks, Magitek armor has been confirmed -- nostalgia boosters, engage. New screens from Final Fantasy XV show the iconic suit in action, with the team battling one. Magitek has shown up in several games after its debut i...
Bravely Second photo
Bravely Second

Bravely Second: End Layer launches April 15 in North America


Props on that packaging
Jan 19
// Jordan Devore
Bravely Second: End Layer (video game names are just the best) hits North America on April 15, 2016, Nintendo confirmed today. If you're in Europe, you'll only have to wait until February 26. The collector's edition comes wit...
Life is Strange photo
Life is Strange

Life is Strange Limited Edition is out today


Plus an update for the digital versions
Jan 19
// Jordan Devore
Square Enix released the limited-edition boxed version of Life is Strange ($39.99) today in North America for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. It's coming to Europe this Friday, January 22. What's included? The full five epis...
Final Fantasy Explorers photo
Final Fantasy Explorers

Final Fantasy IX gets the Final Fantasy Explorers snub


FFVII, X over-represented
Jan 19
// Steven Hansen
The upcoming Monster Hunter-ish Final Fantasy Explorers is a more nondescript, job-system-based affair, but that doesn't mean your favorite characters are absent. While in Trance mode, your character can use previously equip...
Square Enix - Activision photo
Square Enix - Activision

Rise of the Tomb Raider director leaves Crystal Dynamics for Infinity Ward


Now art director at Call of Duty studio
Jan 16
// Kyle MacGregor
Tomb Raider Senior Art Director and Rise of the Tomb Raider Game Director Brian Horton has left Crystal Dynamics, the developer announced via the official Tomb Raider Tumblr account Friday. "It’s been a huge honor to be...
Omikron photo
Omikron

You can grab Omikron for free in remembrance of David Bowie


From the Square Enix store
Jan 15
// Chris Carter
Square Enix is paying tribute to the legendary David Bowie today, who unfortunately passed earlier this week. All you have to do is go onto the Square Enix store, add Omikron: The Nomad Soul to your cart, and use the promo co...
Hitman photo
Hitman

Hitman's release structure changed, now fully episodic


Releasing monthly, supposedly
Jan 14
// Brett Makedonski
"What exactly is the new Hitman going to be?" That's a question that has been on players' minds for a long time now. Looking in from the outside, the development process has been confusing and unclear. Judging by the waffling...

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