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8:30 PM on 10.01.2014

Review: The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

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...

Alasdair Duncan




Review: Dark Souls II: The Crown of the Ivory King photo
Review: Dark Souls II: The Crown of the Ivory King
by Chris Carter

Dark Souls II was quite the ride. Although the game had its fair share of issues, I had a blast playing it, and a number of its zones now have a place in my list of all-time favorite Souls locations.

One of those areas includes the last piece of DLC, The Crown of the Ivory King, which brings back some of the powerful icy imagery from the Painted World of Ariamis.

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Review: Chariot photo
Review: Chariot
by Brett Makedonski

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.

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Review: Gauntlet photo
Review: Gauntlet
by Chris Carter

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.

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Civilization: Beyond Earth makes weekends disappear photo
Civilization: Beyond Earth makes weekends disappear
by Darren Nakamura

The Civilization series is famous for playing out in unplanned marathon sessions, where "one more turn" quickly turns into five more turns, which turn into another hour, before the player finally looks away from the screen to see that it is starting to get light outside. Knowing this, I'm not sure what I was thinking starting the preview build of Civilization: Beyond Earth on a Friday night.

By the time I finished for that session, I had played for eight hours straight and it was then four in the morning. Then I went to sleep, woke up four hours later, and started playing again, eventually logging almost a full day's worth of play time in a single weekend.

Yes, this is still Civilization through and through, but there are some new concepts included that impact gameplay in significant ways. Though there are clear connections, Beyond Earth is far more than just a reskinning of Civilization V.

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Review: Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor photo
Review: Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
by Chris Carter

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.

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Review: Wasteland 2 photo
Review: Wasteland 2
by Alasdair Duncan

[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.

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A quick guide to all four Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel skill trees photo
A quick guide to all four Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel skill trees
by Darren Nakamura

In case you have not yet heard, the full, interactive skill trees for all four of the Vault Hunters in the upcoming Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel have been released for public consumption.

Some of the mathematics governing the skill trees has been tweaked for the Pre-Sequel, so in contrast with Borderlands 2, these new Vault Hunters will be able to reach the end of two of their three skill trees before hitting the initial level cap of 50.

Most people looking forward to the title had already decided on which character to main, but now we can all make more educated decisions. In my case, I am sure I will eventually play them all. So after reading every skill carefully, imagining how it will all play out on the battlefield, and spending far too much time tweaking skill points, I have come up with proposed builds for how I expect to play each of the new characters.

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Resident Evil: Revelations 2 raises more questions than answers photo
Resident Evil: Revelations 2 raises more questions than answers
by Brett Makedonski

My time with Resident Evil: Revelations 2 at Tokyo Game Show was brief -- maybe 20 minutes if we're being generous. Swiftly dumped into the beginning of the game, I was left to try to unravel the mystery of what exactly was happening, an inquiry that went unsolved. It was predictable, though. There's a lot of story to tell over Revelations 2's month-long release of four installments in early 2015; they're not going to clue me in right from the get-go.

What I do know is that I woke up in a jail cell as Claire Redfield, the action protagonist of Revelations 2. She handles all the shooty/stabby parts, and her cohort Moira Burton handles all the investigation bits. Moira was similarly imprisoned close by, until I used Claire to free her. From then on, the two could be switched on-the-fly with a simple press of a button.

Seeing as it was the beginning of the game, this is where Revelations 2 did its best to acclimate players with the simpler mechanics. Here's a knife, stab stuff with it; here's a gun, it's used for shooting bad people. That sort of thing. After teaching me how to push shelving, a zombie burst through the other side, imploring me to punch him with my knife in his big dumb face.

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Review: Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes photo
Review: Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes
by Chris Carter

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.

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It's official: Microsoft bought Mojang, creator of Minecraft photo
It's official: Microsoft bought Mojang, creator of Minecraft
by Chris Carter

[Update: Microsoft's Phil Spencer and Notch have chimed in with their own statements. Spencer is obviously excited (and confirms that Minecon still exists), and Notch gives us a look at his mindset over the past few years, as well as were he's headed.]

The rumors are real -- Mojang has confirmed that they are being bought by Microsoft for a "smooth 2.5 BILLION dollars."

In a post to fans, representatives of the company noted that "Minecraft has grown from a simple game to a project of monumental significance. Though we’re massively proud of what Minecraft has become, it was never Notch’s intention for it to get this big. As you might already know, Notch is the creator of Minecraft and the majority shareholder at Mojang. He’s decided that he doesn’t want the responsibility of owning a company of such global significance. Over the past few years he’s made attempts to work on smaller projects, but the pressure of owning Minecraft became too much for him to handle. The only option was to sell Mojang. He’ll continue to do cool stuff though. Don’t worry about that."

According to the post, the development and support of Minecraft on the PC, PS3, PS4, Vita, iOS, and Android platforms will continue. Minecraft will also "continue to evolve," and it is predicted that the "majority" of Mojang's staff will continue to work there. Notch, Carl, and Jakob, the founders, are leaving. The fate of their other game, Scrolls, is still up in the air -- my guess is if it's doing poorly Microsoft will can it and focus more on Minecraft.

Well, that's interesting. We'll see how this goes, and it's a real testament of how powerful AAA publishers are -- Minecraft was one of the prime examples of how sustainable independent development was in the industry.

Yes, we’re being bought by Microsoft [Mojang]

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BioWare is working to specifically differentiate Dragon Age: Inquisition from Dragon Age II photo
BioWare is working to specifically differentiate Dragon Age: Inquisition from Dragon Age II
by Chris Carter

When I entered BioWare's offices and had a chance to speak to the game's Executive Producer and Studio GM, I had one goal in mind -- to find out how Dragon Age: Inquisition was going to be more like Origins, and less like Dragon Age II.

You'd expect a lot of Molyneuxian backpedaling when confronted with the idea that the last game was a letdown in many eyes, but the responses I received were genuine, with a real concern for learning from past mistakes, and a confident assurance of the game Inquisition could really become.

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Grand Theft Auto V current-gen will launch on November 18, PC version coming next year photo
Grand Theft Auto V current-gen will launch on November 18, PC version coming next year
by Chris Carter

[Update: Rockstar has confirmed these details alongside of a November 18 release date for PS4 and Xbox One, and a January 27, 2015 date for PC. You'll get $1,000,000 in-game bonus cash if you pre-order, new vehicles are in, and GTA Online will have an increased player count (up to 30).]

According to a leak from an attendee of the GameStop Manager's Conference in Anaheim California, the current-gen rework of Grand Theft Auto V is going to be massive. After seeing 30 minutes of gameplay, the attendee gave us a few details, such as "completely reworked foliage," "insane" draw distance increases including traffic flow and lights that aren't pre-rendered from a distance (like they are on Xbox 360 and PS3), and a completely redone water system.

Animal counts and texture work is reworked, and Rockstar allegedly stated that they wanted to improve animal interaction a la Red Dead Redemption. For all these improvements to really take shape, development was supposedly started before GTA V's release.

New content was briefly mentioned such as a new set of songs and more radio stations -- this was already confirmed previously by an in-game DJ voiceactor who stated that she was going back to the studio to record more voicework.

No release date was given other than "soon." Of course, a lot of this could be pure hype, but it's nice to hear about details like real-time traffic and light effects.

GTA V *NEXT GEN* Impressions from the GameStop managers conference [NeoGAF]

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After two straight hours of Fortnite, I'm a fan photo
After two straight hours of Fortnite, I'm a fan
by Jordan Devore

When Epic first announced Fortnite, I was on board based on the premise of defending player-made forts from monsters. But that was a couple of years ago. Things change.

My interest had been waning up until recently, when I got to spend two hours with the "action building" game during PAX Prime. Mechanically, it's like a mix of the third-person shooting and trap-laying defense of Orcs Must Die! with the scavenging and construction of Minecraft.

Pretty damn good combination, then.

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Review: Divinity: Original Sin photo
Review: Divinity: Original Sin
by Patrick Hancock

Remember the first "western RPG" that really made an impression on you? Maybe it was Baldur's Gate, maybe it was Planescape: Torment, or maybe it was Dragon Age: Origins. Regardless, you love that game. It might have flaws, it might not appeal to everyone, but you freaking love it.

Divinity: Original Sin will be that game for many people. This will be the RPG that sticks with them forever. 20 years down the road they'll turn to their friend and say "Remember Divinity? Man, they just don't make RPGs like that anymore!" The game fits in very well with what we consider to be the classics, and if you do have those fond memories, Original Sin is bound to imprint some more.

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I didn't think Dreadnought's hulking ships could be as fun as they are photo
I didn't think Dreadnought's hulking ships could be as fun as they are
by Brett Makedonski

A very specific connotation pops into your mind when you think about spaceship fighters. Your brain's flooded with thoughts of dogfighting ships zooming around, barrel rolling, and flipping end-over-end to fire unceasing space lasers at equally nimble opponents. That's not what Dreadnought is; not even close, in fact.

Dreadnought -- which is currently only slated for PC -- is a thinker's game, a title for those more adept at thinking two steps ahead rather than those that rely on their twitchy fingers. It's a chess match in space -- a chess match that trades in kings and queens for lumbering, massive ships that actually feel like they have weight to them.

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