The holidays are quickly approaching and so are two brand spankin' new consoles. It's already one of the craziest times of the year to buy things, and both Sony and Microsoft are only adding to the chaos. How does one even pr...
[Want to see what I thought of Wind Waker HD and A Link Between Worlds 3DS? Read past my 2011 quest to beat every core Zelda game ever made.]
Halfway through beating Ocarina of Time 3D, I had a pretty neat thought: I decided that in honor of Zelda's 25th anniversary, it would be fun to play through every mainstead Zelda game, including the upcoming Skyward Sword, and beat all of them before the year's end.
Here we are a mere day before the release of Skyward Sword, and my journey nears its final leg. Now is the perfect time to look back on the whole thing, warts and all.
The prospect of Mario and Sonic appearing side by side in the same videogame was once a near-unthinkable fantasy. But it happened. Thanks to the demise of Sega's console business, the bitter rivals eventually put aside their differences and joined forces to create a novel assemblage of Olympic sports minigames for the Nintendo Wii.
That was six years ago. In the interim the unlikely pairing has since spawned a biannual franchise with three entries across as many systems. And like clockwork, just in time for February's international competition, the iconic mascots have reared their heads for fourth.
Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Batman (later the entirety of DC), Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter, and The Lord of the Rings -- arguably a majority of the world's largest entertainment properties -- have all been brought to life in videogames after being passed through the adorable LEGO filter by Traveller's Tales. And, well, they've handled each franchise masterfully and created some truly great games with each of them over the years. What could possibly be next?
I can't be the only one who's been dreaming since LEGO Star Wars that we would one day see LEGO Marvel make its videogame debut, but, seeing as Traveller's Tales is a subsidy of Warner Bros., it was seemingly never going to happen. However, by some remarkable turn of events (due to the magic of licensing), here we are with LEGO Marvel Super Heroes.
It's nothing short of a miracle this game was even made, but it's something we can only be happy about.
While Call of Duty is often regarded as the epitome of the annualized, cynically produced, lazily constructed videogame franchise, I've always maintained that both Infinity Ward and Treyarch expended much more effort than they were ever given credit for.
Whether it's the underestimated storytelling prowess of Modern Warfare or the noble efforts to revitalize the COD formula with Black Ops, the overwhelmingly popular series is far more cognizant of its own criticisms than many like to believe.
My defense of the consistent quality of Call of Duty has certainly caught criticism of its own. Indeed, I am lauded as a hypocrite for daring to suggest that Modern Warfare 3 was not objectively, factually, a mediocre game. I still believe that, and I still have respect for Call of Duty as a series. However, I've always been mindful that the gravy train cannot last forever, and as "military shooters" are in 2013 what World War II shooters were in 2008, it's high time Call of Duty underwent another dramatic transformation, the likes of which gave us the original Modern Warfare.
Black Ops II was a step forward in this regard, an earnest attempt to inject fresh life into a flagging idea. By comparison, Ghosts is not only a failure to capitalize on the goodwill Black Ops II earned, it's a disappointing step backward.
[Editor's Note: Our copy of Assassin's Creed IV came in late and, as a result, the review by Conrad Zimmerman will be tardy as well. We hope this piece by Chris will help tide you over.]
It turns out Ubisoft made good on its promise to not shove the modern day portion of Assassin's Creed IV down your throat. Throughout my time with the game, there are only a scant few portions that require you to venture outside of the exciting, debauchery-filled life of Edward Kenway, and into the present day.
But you know what? I actually spent a lot more time in it that I had initially planned, because the developers made an interesting call -- they made the real world sub-plot ancillary to the core game. And it was the right choice.
[Update: Official trailer added. Extinction is described as a "1-4 player cooperative game mode featuring a unique blend of fast-paced survival action, FPS base defense, scavenging and class leveling." Get to the chopper.]
I've always found Treyarch's Zombies mode to be a fun bonus for the studio's otherwise fairly serious Call of Duty games and have longed for Infinity Ward to offer something similar in its titles. Seems we may be getting exactly that in Call of Duty: Ghosts if an image of a loading screen for "Extinction" (shown below for the spoiler averse) is to be believed.
Aliens? Yeah, looks like it. There's been an official teaser that matches the design of the creature as well as achievements for Ghosts that reference the mode. Neat. I'd assume we'll hear more from Infinity Ward leading up to launch but, if not, that's only a week off.
Batman: Arkham Origins had to endure a lot of cynicism from the peanut gallery as it rushed headlong from sudden announcement to pre-Christmas release. It's hardly surprising, too -- after the Arkham series earned high critical acclaim, the third installment appeared to be little more than a hollow cash-in.
It was set to be a contentious prequel, Warner Bros. announced downloadable content in tandem with the reveal of the full game, a pointless multiplayer mode was added, and it had switched developers from the beloved Rocksteady to the less lauded Warner Bros. Games Montréal and Splash Damage. Most people had come to expect little more than a stopgap release -- a bit of filler, made to scrape a quick buck off the Arkham name simply because that's what could be done.
Guess what. Arkham Origins is exactly what most people expected. Except slightly worse.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution was quite the accomplishment when it was released. It wasn't everything an old-school Deus Ex fan could ask for (those boss fights), but it was a very reasonable compromise, and a great game in its own right.
Fast forward over two years later, and the Director's Cut is now gracing the twilight of the current console era, with new content and improved visuals in tow. While I'm not quite sure those extras are enough to sway fans who have already beaten the game from top to bottom, the good news is it's still the same great game we all enjoyed back in 2011.
While it's still popular to suggest Sonic the Hedgehog hasn't had a decent game in decades, this generation alone has at least shown significant improvements. Sonic the Hedgehog 4 was an enjoyable, if controversial game, while Sonic Generations remains a genuinely great experience that finally nailed the 3D gameplay Sonic Team's been so thoroughly challenged by.
Unfortunately, Sonic Team's biggest struggle is with its need to constantly reinvent the Sonic formula, even after it's found something that works. Following Generations, we are already seeing a dramatic shift in style, this time to a game that scraps much of what has defined Sonic's 3D games, and embraced something far more akin to Mario's latter day console adventures.
After years of rivalry against Nintendo, it's amusing to see Sonic Lost World liberally, shamelessly steal from Mario Galaxy. However, while Lost World isn't a patch on the Galaxy games, the art of theft works considerably in Sonic's favor. Indeed, this game may very well be onto something.
[Update: If you're curious about those PlayStation 4 or Xbox One bundles that you pre-ordered GameStop and Amazon have both released a statement detailing what they'll be doing.]
Ubisoft has pushed two of its high-profile titles, Watch Dogs and The Crew, off until its next fiscal year. Watch Dogs was originally slated to help round out this year's annual holiday crush in late November. The Crew never had a formal release date, but was expected in the first quarter of 2014.
Now, both of them are expected sometime after April 1, 2014. With regard to Watch Dogs, the development team said "We struggled with whether we would delay the game. But from the beginning, we have adopted the attitude that we will not compromise on quality. As we got closer to release, as all the pieces of the puzzle were falling into place in our last push before completion, it became clear to us that we needed to take the extra time to polish and fine tune each detail so we can deliver a truly memorable and exceptional experience."
The Watch Dogs news doesn't come as much of a surprise, given that Ubisoft hasn't ramped-up the marketing as one would expect with a game that's set to come out in a month. However, it's quite the blow for people that were looking forward to picking it up alongside an Xbox One or PS4.
Skylanders has had a bit of an odd history. Initially, it launched under the auspices of the Spyro name, and made a very small splash in the market -- so small, that barely anyone knew what it was. Fast forward to six months later, and it was the hottest toy on the shelves, so much so that many retailers couldn't even keep it stocked consistently.
A sequel was greenlit, and the rest was history, as Activision raked in over a billion dollars from the Skylanders franchise alone. It's a massive success, and now, the third iteration is attempting to claim the throne once again, fighting off the juggernaut that is Disney Infinity.
Let's just say it's going to be a very interesting holiday season for videogame toys.
This doesn't appear to be the case in the UK however, with the Wii U version slightly cheaper at £23.99 on Amazon.co.uk, compared to the 360 and PS3 versions which are £24.99. The PC version on Amazon costs just £14.36. Other UK retailers, like GAME and Play.com, have priced the Wii U version at £29.99.
I can understand the annoyance at paying more for a game that's cheaper on other platforms but in this case I can sort of see justifying charging more. The Wii U GamePad support is pretty extensive and those are features gamers won't necessarily get on another platform. Still, I'd be really interested to see a breakdown of how sales of the Director's Cut were split between all platforms, especially as this is the first time Human Revolution has appeared on Wii U.
I recently got to play a solid few hours of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag and was able to do whatever I wanted, outside of the select core missions Ubisoft wanted to specifically show off. There was a lot to do, but I wanted to focus specifically the open ocean world and how you'll be interacting with it here.
Why? Because it was easily my favorite new feature for the Assassin's Creed series due to it being something fresh and different. Plus I liked ramming my big ship into tiny little ships because I'm the best pirate ever.
It's here! It's finally here! Pokemon X and Y is out this week for the 3DS and it's pretty much going to be the only thing anyone talks about leading up to the next-gen consoles. Oh, Beyond: Two Souls is also out this week. It has emotions and stuff. You like emotions, right?
Other biggies this week are two repacked re-releases: Borderlands 2 and Dishonored Game of the Year Editions. Oh, videogame industry. No wonder gamers love Steam sales so much.