Geometry Wars games have always been, in a sense, one-dimensional. They present the player with the seemingly simple task of "shoot everything in sight," and that's the sole objective apart from staying alive. The onslaught of flying colors and booming music molds the experience, but the core remains uncomplicated. For many, that's enough to be held in the highest regard when discussing twin-stick shooters.
In 2008, the heralded Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 vastly and competently iterated upon its predecessor. It added a handful of new modes, each one legitimately fun and addictive in its own right. But more importantly, it fueled sincere and passionate competition across online leaderboards -- a social dynamic that few games since have been able to recapture. In many ways, it was the perfect game.
All hyperbole aside, Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions makes Retro Evolved 2's efforts look puny by comparison. It adds depth in so many more ways than just literally, but never strays from the formula that makes Geometry Wars incredibly lovable. It's certainly the most ambitious and fully realized title in the series to date, and it's difficult to imagine a different take that would improve it. In many ways, it is the perfect game.
We were lucky enough to have Ron Gilbert (Maniac Mansion,Monkey Island) on Sup Holmes a few weeks back. Looking back, it looks like Ron may have been utilizing the show for a little pre-kickstarter promotion. Explains why he did the whole show in pixel-face. Fine by me. I'd have his pixel-faced puss on the show every week if I could.
Ron hinted that he may be working with original Maniac Mansion artist Gary Winnick again soon, but I didn't think it would be this soon. But here we are, looking at a new SCUMM-style game from the creators of the term "cut scene" and the fathers of an entire genre. As a longtime fan of Maniac Mansion, Zak McKracken, and the first two Monkey Island games, I'm feeling like this all over again.
It's a murder mystery that contain hundreds of locations and puzzles, all centered around Thumbleweed Park, a town that "...once boasted an opulent hotel, a vibrant business district and the state’s largest pillow factory, but now teeters on the edge of oblivion and continues to exist for no real reason." Sounds like a cross between Twin Peaks and Waiting for Guffman. Outside of Ron getting the rights to make a new Monkey Island game, this is about as close to perfect as it gets for fans of classic Lucasfilm Games.
A cursory glance at Upper One Games' Never Alone, while sure to impress, won't do it justice. Its appeal is obvious, but its intention is buried shallow under a light dusting of snow. But, it's that intention that transcends Never Alone from another gorgeous 2D platformer to a game of great importance.
Never Alone is the rare example of a title that aims to bring culture to its audience without forcing it upon them. It skirts the oft-annoying "edutainment" category by being a game first and foremost, but is nevertheless adept at instilling a sense of curiosity about history and beliefs of the people on the screen. The execution is undeniably flawed at times, but not enough so as to undo what it strives for -- to teach, and to make that process enjoyable.
It feels like only a few weeks since Five Nights at Freddy's managed to completely ruin my childhood memories of family restaurants and dancing animatronics. The creepy horror/resource management game put you in the shoes of a night security guard at the world's worst Chuck E. Cheese's knock-off and made sure you'd never look at those restaurants the same way again after viewing them through the distorted lens of static-ridden security cameras.
Now, just after I've managed to sweep up the jagged psychic debris of that disaster, they want me to spend another fun-filled week at Freddy Fazbear's Pizza.
Far Cry 3 was one of my favorite games of 2012. It didn't stray too far from the normal sandbox conventions set before it, but gallivanting around beautiful island vistas and flying about with wingsuits was pretty damn fun.
For some that wasn't enough, though, and for those folks, Far Cry 4 won't be enough either. But for me, it's still pretty damn fun.
Ever since its 2007 debut, the Assassin's Creed franchise has been presented as a one-sided affair. Chronicling the persistent struggle between the Assassins and the Templars, Ubisoft has always framed the story casting the former in a positive light. Assassin's Creed Rogue has a new take on that formula, which, in some ways, makes it the most refreshing, thought-provoking, and introspective installment in the series to date.
In 2011, I lost a chunk of my life. An insidious tendril of addiction, despair, and obsession caught me by the ankle and dragged me into the The Binding of Isaac's darkened basement. I lost dozens of hours, whole days at a time. I let life slip by around me while muttering a demented mantra of “just one more try, just one more try...”
Now with the release of Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, a 16-bit looking half-remake, half-sequel of the original, I can feel the same cold touch on my leg. Its grip is stronger than ever, pulling me back into the same dark pit. I should kick and scream and try to escape... Well, maybe just one more try won't kill me.
Assassin's Creed IV was a turning point for the series. While a lot of fans were disappointed by the pointless Revelations and the polarizing Assassin's Creed III, Black Flag delivered everything you could possibly want from Ubisoft, and then some. Fans embarked on quite the adventure with Edward Kenway, and many newcomers even described it as "a pirate game that happens to be Assassin's Creed."
Assassin's Creed Unity doesn't live up to the new standard set by Black Flag, but it's a journey worth taking if you're already into the series, and proves that the franchise is still sustainable.
Dragon Age II felt like a great action game that was outsourced to a lesser developer. It lacked the polish BioWare typically puts into its titles, and almost the entire affair felt like a gigantic step back from everything Origins had established. What was once a promising franchise that reminded me of the glory days of RPGs such as Baldur's Gate became a shadow of its former self, with lazily re-used assets and no sense of scale.
BioWare went back to the drawing board with Inquisition, the third Dragon Age outing, and the game is all the better for it. It feels like a culmination of its predecessors' strengths, with all of the bells and whistles that come with current-gen hardware.
The prospect of playing as a Ninja again in Final Fantasy excited me. After working my way up to level 50 in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, the class ended up having so much style and substance that it changed the game for the better, and I'll be enjoying it for months to come.
While the rest of the Dreams of Ice update wasn't as enjoyable as playing a Ninja at endgame, A Realm Reborn remains worth playing.
There's certainly been intrigue surrounding Resident Evil: Revelations 2. Since its existence was leaked a few months back and several cryptic images of a derelict prison made the rounds, there has been speculation about what to expect from this installment. And, with the return of characters from other titles, there is evidently a larger focus on linking things back to the series' past.
Its predecessor, Resident Evil: Revelations, felt very much like a back-to-basics approach to the series, which earned a lot favor from fans. With the upcoming sequel, more characters from the past are brought back to the forefront and are drawn into a greater conspiracy. Obviously, this isn't entirely new for the franchise. However, with the greater focus on mystery in Revelations 2 and how Capcom plans to release the game in episodes, it could give the series a much needed change of pace. After Brett's hands-on time with the sequel back at Tokyo Game Show, he was left unsure of what to expect from the game. And, judging from my own time with it last month, that might be for the best.
This is one title you might want to go into blind.
Over at Blizzcon today, Blizzard has announced Overwatch. This is named similarly to Insomniac's original name for Fuse, which was Overstrike, and is also a cartoonish, team-based first-person shooter.
There is a fighting gorilla in it. And it's coming out sooner than you might expect, with a beta starting in 2015 and Blizzcon attendees able to play it this weekend.
You can sign up for the beta here. There are also little profiles for all of the announced heroes, including gameplay videos. so start calling dibs. I like Hanzo, Tracer, and Mercy for looking like an Evangelion.
After the disappointing Call of Duty: Ghosts, Activision needed fresh ideas, and Sledgehammer was just the developer for the job. Even before it delivered its first game, a weight has been lifted off of Infinity Ward and Treyarch's shoulders. No longer does it need to turnaround a Call of Duty every other year, and there is more time to figure out how to make the series fresh again.
As a result, Sledgehammer has a lot riding on Advanced Warfare, the newest game in the series. It has everything going for it -- a fresh futuristic theme, the same core multiplayer gameplay everyone knows and loves, and the talented Kevin Spacey running the show with the campaign.
The gambit paid off, even if it won't bring back in those who have sworn off the series.
Over the weekend, details came out of PAX Australia regarding the first downloadable Vault Hunter for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. At first, it looked to me like a commendable gesture for a series that receives a lot of criticism on its downloadable content policy. To include a new character in addition to the originally promised content for those loyal enough to buy a season pass seemed worthy of applause. However, that image was based on a misinterpretation of the official blog post's line that references "all four of the upcoming add-on content packs," and a few other (incorrect) assumptions.
As it turns out, the Handsome Jack Doppelganger Pack is DLC #1 for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel (November 11 is upcoming, after all), and I could only feel more disappointed by that revelation if I had actually purchased this iteration's season pass. My condolences go out to those who did.
War, what is it good for? For starters, it makes for easy entertainment in fiction. With the rise of war games over the last two decades, it's common to see these experiences as nothing but an over-the-top spectacle to show off explosions and the might of the military. But in recent years, we've begun to see more games that pay attention to the philosophical and existential conflicts related to war.
One of my favorite last-gen games, Spec Ops: The Line, subverted expectations by reintroducing the horror and dread that war imparts on those it touches. And with last summer's Valiant Hearts, which told the stories of men and women during World War I, I'm glad we're seeing more of the human and emotional side of armed conflict.
Back at PAX Prime 2014, I had the opportunity to experience another such title called This War of Mine. Meeting with the developers at 11 bit studios, I got to chat about the origins and intentions they have with their survivalist take on war.
I still can't believe Square Enix salvaged the original Final Fantasy XIV. I mean, it had the guts to make the game a core entry, so I'm glad the studio reworked it into A Realm Reborn -- this whole saga is just really interesting to me.
The newest update is Dreams of Ice, featuring a Primal/Summon many fans of the classic series know and love, Shiva. It also brings along the typical major changes and content bits, as well as one of the biggest additions so far -- a new class/job.