Hohokum is amazing. It can also be awful. My time with it was often as captivating as it was arduous. Hohokum is everything right and wrong with videogames. It's equally worthy of condemnation and acclaim.
Gamescom is the largest videogame trade show in the world. Sound like a big deal? It absolutely is. Hundreds of thousands of people cram together in a convention center that's massive, but doesn't feel even close to huge enough. Need a frame of reference? This is the crowd in the main hall on Thursday -- what's supposedly the least busy of the three days it's open to the public.
Reciprocating the scale of the event is the size of the games that publishers have on display. That was the theme at gamescom 2014: Big. All the biggest titles are here, and given how close we are to the holiday launch season, they're looking the most polished that we've seen them yet.
In no particular order, these were Destructoid's top ten games of gamescom 2014, as explained by Dale North and myself.
[Update: Konami has confirmed this news live at its gamescom conference. No release dates were given.]
For years, Metal Gear Solid fans have been asking director Hideo Kojima if and Konami would bring the games to PC. Traditionally the series has been a mostly console-only affair, but with Metal Gear Rising we saw that maybe the publisher was changing its mind in regards to the platform.
Gamescom is a noisy, crowded mess. Shoulder to shoulder with patrons that didn’t seem to care what they bump into, I trudged my way to my next appointment. As I stepped through the door to the meeting room, something unexpected happened. I was teleported from a loud convention center to a rebellious teenager’s room.
Seated at the foot of a twin-sized bed, I took in my surroundings. The top of a makeshift television stand housed a half-smoked joint, while a pair of dirty Converse rested underneath. Posters of influential punk rockers littered the wall, all askew. “Fuck” was scrawled on almost everything, but especially a tattered American flag.
I wasn’t in Germany anymore. I was in Arcadia Bay, Oregon. More specifically, I was in Chloe’s safe place -- the only spot in the world where a misunderstood teenage girl can be herself. I was inside the world of Dontnod’s newly announced Life is Strange, and it was a wonderful place to be.
Whereas Origins was a glorious return to old-school RPG sensibilities, Dragon Age II played like an action game that took place in the same universe. I liked the sequel for different reasons, but it felt like a wasted opportunity as it attempted to juggle some of the RPG elements from Origins while having some faults of its own, like re-used environments and a lack of scale.
If you felt the same way, Inquisition may be for you.
Sony's gamescom showing went by quickly, with announcement after announcement and more than a few new intellectual properties put on display for the first time. Really, though, it's still From Software's Bloodborne that has me most wanting a PlayStation 4. As for the PS Vita, the handheld was practically non-existent at the press conference. Poor thing!
If you missed out on the stream or simply couldn't keep up, here's what went down.
Diablo III has had a tumultuous history to say the least. Always-online DRM, the Real-Money Auction House, and loot problems plagued the original release -- all issues that took months to address. It's a hot-button issue even now, with many gamers stating that the PC players were had, paying for a "demo" of the console version that would eventually drop with all the fixes in tow.
For those of you who did enjoy the game previously or haven't gotten caught up in the maelstrom of problems though, the Reaper of Souls expansion delivered in just about every way possible. Thankfully, the Ultimate Evil Edition brings that same great experience to consoles.
Look, $50 is a lot of money for a Season Pass in a first-person shooter. If it was just comprised of 16 maps alone, no matter how good they were, it probably wouldn't be worth the money for all but the most diehard of FPS fans.
But thankfully, Infinity Ward has made amends for the rather bland core package of Call of Duty: Ghosts, and the Nemesis map pack is no exception. In addition to four solid maps, there's another chapter of Extinction, the developer's out-of-this-world take on Treyarch's zombies.
Because of these packs, I'm actually a bit more excited for Infinity Ward's follow-up in two year's time.
Rumors have been floating around since March about Ubisoft's plans to release two Assassin's Creed titles this year -- one for current consoles and one for legacy consoles. Originally codenamed Comet, Ubisoft formally revealed and detailed Assassin's Creed Rogue today, and gave us our first trailer.
Assassin's Creed Rogue is in development by Ubisoft Sofia (with the usual collaboration across many other Ubisoft studios), and takes place during the Seven Years War in the mid-18th century. Rogue makes a return to the northeastern area of North America, particularly the North Atlantic, Appalachian River Valley, and New York.
The twist this time around is that the protagonist fights for the other side. Following the story of Shay Patrick Cormac, Rogue tells the tale of how he was betrayed by the Assassin brotherhood and turned against them. It appears as if Rogue will put significant emphasis on the naval aspect that defined Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, as Ubisoft detailed Cormac's ship -- the Morrigan -- which will be used for Assassin hunting.
While Assassin's Creed Unity is the installment for current consoles, Rogue is exclusive to legacy consoles -- specifically the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It's currently slated for a November 11 release in North America. That's when you get to find out how the other half lives.
The last episode of The Walking Dead was probably my favorite one yet -- and that's including all of Lee's tale from the first season. Clem has made the switch from tough to full-on badass depending on your choices, and it's clear that she is fully a part of some of the horrific life-or-death choices in the world.
Clem can no longer hold onto her innocence and fall back on her young appearance -- at this point, many decisions have been made that cannot be taken back, and the rest of the group is starting to notice it. That hook right there is what makes Amid the Ruins such a great tale, even if it doesn't have the same wow factor as its predecessor.
2014 has been very good to me, but Dark Souls II is one of my favorite games of the year. Many debates have raged on as to whether or not it's as exceptional as its predecessor (Demon's Souls is better than both), but having played it prior to launch without any hints or guides, I heartily enjoyed getting lost in its labyrinthine tunnels and deadly arenas.
The Crown of the Sunken King DLC expands that goodness by about five to ten hours depending on your skill level, and even if it's one of the less remarkable levels in the game, it's still worth playing.
One of the first games I ever played on PlayStation was Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee. I remember opening up the jewel case, adorned by a creepy looking creature with his mouth sewn shut, with no idea of what to expect. Over the course of the next few weeks I became acquainted with that creature called Abe, and slowly made my way through the difficult puzzle platformer at a slow, but steady pace.
2014's New N' Tasty is basically a recreation of that same experience from 1997, for better and for worse.
When I was a kid, I loved watching Gundam Wing and the original Mobile Suit Gundam on Cartoon Network. The mecha genre has always been a personal favorite of mine so I tried to capture the same feeling while playing a video game as I had watching Gundam anime and pretending that I was Heero Yuy or Amuro Ray.
With interest in Gundam on the rise in the US after the Cartoon Network runs, some of the games were finally localized for North America. I thought I’d finally be able to play through the stories I loved so much, picking up Mobile Suit Gundam: Journey to Jaburo as soon as it came out and the disappointment I had in that game resonates with me today. It sure didn’t feel like I was in command of the mobile suit that won the One Year War. I felt like I was in control of a robot-shaped RC car.
Luckily, I was finally able to find the game that would finally reproduce the warm and fuzzy feelings that viewing Gundam for the first time did so long ago, and who would have thought it would have come in the form of a Dynasty Warriors game?
The Wolf Among Us has been one hell of a ride. Although Tellltale's The Walking Dead managed to craft a grimdark world worth seeing time and time again, Wolf has a more nuanced take, with larger-than-life fairy tale characters who have decidedly human problems.
All of it comes to an end here with Cry Wolf, the last episode of the series. While I'll refrain from spoiling anything in particular, I will say that is indeed a satisfying conclusion.
Sure, Natural Doctrine doesn't look great (well, the environments; it does look better in miniature on the Vita). It's a far cry from director Atsushi Ii's gorgeous minimalism in Patapon.
But Kadokawa Games' first internal venture can get a pass for looking a bit dated if the core gameplay can hold up, and it just might. Producer Kensuke Tanaka felt that JRPGs were "lacking in difficulty," that they didn't "make you think," NIS America representatives explained. Natural Doctrine is an answer to that.
However, NIS America was not able to answer why exactly the lead in a fantasy RPG of orcs, magic and lizard men is named Jeff.
High Moon Studios set a decent bar with its Activision-published Transformers games in terms of quasi film tie-ins (though the crown still goes to X-Men Origins: Wolverine, in my book). None of them were mind-blowingly good, but they succeeded in setting their own tone while staying inline with the film series, and delivered a mostly enjoyable action romp with a fun horde mode before it was featured in every game ever.
Here on the advent of the worst-reviewed Transformers film yet is by far the worst game so far in the franchise -- it's a shame High Moon couldn't have had a crack at it.