hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

ps3

Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell was inspired by Disney movies

Sep 02 // Jordan Devore
In Gat Out of Hell, your player character from Saints Row IV, the President, is pulled into hell to marry Satan's daughter Jezebel. The devil believes the Saints boss to be the most dangerous person alive -- a perfect general to lead his army against heaven -- but Jezebel isn't interested. Johnny Gat and Kinzie Kensington journey to hell to save their fearless leader and from there, it's up to you playing as either character (or both, in co-op) to wreak havoc however you see fit. Perhaps you'll use some of the ridiculous new weapons based on the seven deadly sins. My favorite one shoots locusts, which is almost as good as a gun that fires bees. Almost. You're meant to run around -- or fly; you have wings -- and fill up a piss-off-Satan meter at which point the story will unfold as various milestones are met. Gat Out of Hell features historical figures and even characters from past games, including Dane Vogel and Dex, plus "well over 30 instances of open-world things to do," according to Jaros. After reaching 100 percent completion on a given island of hell, you'll be rewarded with an epilogue relating to its central character -- like spymaster general William Shakespeare, for example. Completionists will also be able to unlock a "crazy epilogue" for the full story. Asked if Gat Out of Hell was considered canon or if it'd have an impact on the series' story going forward, Jaros just kept saying "I recommend that you play it" with a smile on his face. "It is not a Saints Row V. It is not a sequel," he said. "It's a fun thing for our fans. A new place to go and play around with super powers. Another city to go and terrorize. [A chance to] play as a character that people really seem to dig, and just have another excuse to have a lot of fun and do some shit that we're able to get away with." [embed]280509:55544:0[/embed] Okay, so about that Disney connection. "I'm pretty certain that we'll be the only open-world game that comes out with a full-blown musical number in the middle of the critical path," Jaros told Destructoid. "One of the things that we lean on [heavily] for inspiration for this is Disney movies. I'm a big Disney fan. For instance, if you remember stuff like in Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella, the beginning of the movies [have] the ornate story book that opens up. It's illuminated text and story-book pictures, and a narrator -- that's kind of our story structure. Jane Austen narrates you through this fairy tale; Jezebel is very much a sort of Disney princess." The creative director made it clear that "It's not a parody of Disney at all, but it echoes some of those themes." There aren't any talking animal buddies here, but Gat does have a talking gun who wants to help him become the ultimate killing machine. Basically, Gat Out of Hell is what a fairy tale would look like in the Saints Row universe. "It's a whimsical, weird fucking game."
Saints Row photo
There's a full musical number and everything
I've played and enjoyed all of the Saints Row games to date, but wonder how much longer this can last. How much more ridiculous can the series get, and even if there is room to up the insanity, do we even want that? Where Vol...

Geometry Wars 3 may look different, but it feels right

Sep 01 // Jordan Devore
For my appointment, I was free to play whichever single-player levels I wanted and much as I would've liked to try them all, I attempted to get a good feel for the variety. Some levels are reminiscent of past games in that the playing field is (more or less) flat, while others used Pacifism as a foundation. Even then, there's further variety -- one Pacifism level had no enemies and required me to fly through as many "gates" as possible in a time limit, while another was more traditional with enemies chasing my gun-less vessel. Shooting and movement feels great, as expected. Your past Geometry Wars skills will directly translate to Dimensions, though it will take time to acquaint yourself with the new level designs. You're free to move across the 3D environments at will, but so are enemies. Lot to keep track of. Stages themselves can also have moving walls, which was interesting. These are great at blocking foes from reaching you, but can also trap you in a crowded corner. Thankfully, you still have bombs, and there are drones to help out too. You select yours before starting a stage and equip it with a power -- one could drop a black hole, while another placed proximity mines (that I could fly over, free of harm). Helpful but, again, there's lots happening on-screen and it can take a while to adjust to what is and isn't dangerous. You can earn up to three stars in a level based on how high of score you attain, but only a single star is needed to unlock the next stage -- unless it's a boss fight, in which case there will be a set amount of stars needed to unlock it. Bosses, at least the two I tried, seemed right at home in Geometry Wars. It was like playing any other level, except there was this Big Thing I had to shoot at when its shield went down. Still plenty of other stuff to dodge in the mean time. When choosing levels from a grid-like world map of sorts, you're told which game type they represent and if a friend tops your high score, you'll see that level glow. I stopped the person giving me my demo to thank them for that feature. So crucial. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to try out any of the cooperative or head-to-head multiplayer offerings, but I'm expecting similarly good things out of those. If you enjoy the series on the whole, you'll dig Dimensions -- or parts of it, at the very least. It wasn't until the end of my appointment that I began getting into a groove and at that point, I just didn't want to put the controller down. Sorry about the wait, Patrick Klepek.
Geometry Wars photo
Hooray for PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One
There was some initial skepticism when it came to Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions and its so-called "3D action." For starters, it's been several years since the last games entered our lives to rekindle old leaderboard feuds. Ther...

I could've been a pirate ship but I was a disco ball instead in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

Aug 31 // Brett Makedonski
[embed]279529:55279:0[/embed] Being a non-carbon entity as he is, Claptrap's abilities are based around running a series of random computer sequences. A variety of different effects can take place like getting bumped up to full health or spawning a little minion helper, but once every few times, a disco ball appears and lights up the party. When this happens, enemies need to stay off the dance floor. The disco ball launches an area-of-effect attack that hits baddies with every elemental damage type at once. Every. Elemental. Type. Yeah, it's badass. Moon jumping around, power bombing on enemies, then melee attacking while the shiny ball does its thing makes quick work of most everything around you. Apart from the quirky capstones, playing as Claptrap had another major perk. Being a robot and all, he doesn't need to be constantly aware of oxygen levels like the other characters do. This means you can jump, jump, jump to your heart's desire and not really care about suffocating. Robots don't have lungs, at least not yet. Other than that, The Pre-Sequel felt a lot like more Borderlands. Shocking, right? The new emphasis on verticality will maybe frustrate anyone looking to get to the next waypoint as quickly as possible. However, loot hunters should find it appealing because of all the extra nooks and crannies where chests can be hidden. And, if you get bored doing that, just throw a disco party; it should liven things right up.
Borderlands photo
Disco ain't dead
As I sat down for my appointment with Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, I had to make my toughest decision at PAX Prime. Running through Claptrap's capstone abilities, I was faced with the following dilemma: Do I want to become a ...

Costume Quest 2 is still cute, trying to be more engaging

Aug 29 // Steven Hansen
[embed]280362:55487:0[/embed] I was starting from the beginning of the game, so the fights may ramp up in intensity, but I was able to make it through the first area on auto-pilot, just using the attack of whichever costume I felt like wearing. Still, I didn't mind the basic JRPG battles, either, as I was taking in the colorful world. Down in the starting bayou, I smacked alligators to retrieve pieces for a clown costume. You can zip around on what I'm pretty sure are Heelys, which someone recently told me still exist. One of the starting enemies had a digital clock in its chest and they were all set to 4:20 (you know, the weed number), though that's going to be changed to 2:30. 2:30. Tooth hurty. The main antagonist is a dentist. At the start of the game, a rip in time brings you to the dentist-ruled, terrifying, authoritarian future. He's collaborating with some evil witch. You're then rocketed back in time to stop him after a cyborg ninja crow teaches you how to fight. Also, there's a Thomas Jefferson costume. Its special move is the Declaration of Destruction. He throws it dramatically at enemies, who will put on reading glasses and look at it closely before it explodes. And Jefferson's out of battle ability, Diplomacy, is great, even though I never used it properly. I was only chastised, "This doesn't seem like the time for diplomacy," which amused me endlessly. You also duel a little, fiddle-playing boy in a devil costume using your goofy clown horn. Costume Quest 2 is just precious.
Preview photo
New costumes, from Thomas Jefferson to a pterodactyl
Costume Quest, like every Double Fine game, is charming. It's a fresh-feeling, low stakes take on the JRPG genre, more Earthbound than Final Fantasy. Though, as Chad put it in his review, it's "RPG Lite," accessible...

Life is Strange is a world you'll want to lose yourself in

Aug 13 // Brett Makedonski
Life Is Strange is Dontnod’s sophomore effort, the follow-up to Remember Me. It chronicles the tale of high school students Max Caughfield and her friend Chloe as they investigate the disappearance of a classmate. While it’s rooted in the adventure genre, it feels like it’ll be an experience piece more than anything else -- a coming-of-age story about the struggles of two girls looking to make sense of a world that hardly seems fair. Exploration and curiosity mark every turn in Life is Strange. An early scene that played in front of us showed a house highlighted with objects just begging to be interacted with. Most of the items will serve to let the player dig as deep into the story as they please. In the same vein as Gone Home, this knowledge isn’t absolutely essential to the plot, but it provides finer details. It’s the information that helps you relate and care about the characters you’re controlling. That’s most of the objects -- not all. Some serve a greater purpose. These will alter the course of the story -- sometimes in big ways, other times small. For instance, as we were rooting through Chloe’s stepdad’s garage to find tools to repair a camera, we took a peek at some personal files that he had lying out. In a later scene, he barged into her room, enraged that she had been snooping. It’s a bit of ill will that’s going to linger and be easier to build upon with future actions. However, Life is Strange’s biggest hook is that it gives you complete control over future events by always being able to alter the immediate past. Max has the supernatural ability of time manipulation, which makes for an interesting mechanic that serves two purposes: as a means to solving puzzles, and to allow things to play out exactly as you intend. With a quick screen blurring/burning/tearing effect, Max can rewind time to her pleasing. After inadvertently breaking Chloe’s snowglobe, we took advantage of it to undo that clumsy misstep and keep her from getting a little annoyed with us. Later, while trying to knock some tools off of a high spot, we properly dislodged them, but they fell in a hard-to-reach place. By rewinding time, we first slid some cardboard to where they would land, and then proceeded. Now we could pull the tools toward us. Voilà! Puzzle solved. Where the rewind mechanic will most likely shine the brightest is in conversation. Most times, dialogue will have branching options, and it’ll be ambiguous as to what the outcome of each selection will be. All exchanges can be rewound to fit your liking, something that looks as if it’ll be easy to obsess over. During the demo, we ratted out Chloe when her stepdad found her weed. Not thrilled with the results, we tried again and took the fall for her. After a quick scolding and some harsh words, it was clear that he’d be more wary of Max, but Chloe would be more loyal. That’s how it seems as if everything in Life is Strange will play out -- as a trade-off. The developers said that no choices would be clear-cut, there’d always be some sort of negative off-setting a positive. Maybe it wouldn’t be immediately apparent, but it’ll always lead to some sort of different sequence down the road, even if it’s only marginally different. With the ambiguity playing such a big role, there’s not really a right or wrong way to play. The developers confirmed that there are no fail states or reloading. Additionally, there aren’t any action scenes to “succeed” at. While there are situations where death is imminent for Max, Life is Strange gives her the somewhat mandatory option to rewind time to a safer point. It won’t actually kill her. Early on, the developers referred to Life is Strange as “triple-A indie.” My eyes might’ve popped out of the back of my head if I rolled them any harder, but it kind of made sense once the game was played in front of us. Despite having a full studio and Square Enix’s backing, Dontnod’s created a world that feels like it has an indie edge. Underscored by a modern folk soundtrack, the Pacific Northwest setting might as well be a Japanese garden. It’s so uncompromisingly serene, when it really shouldn’t be. As you control characters that are very uncertain about themselves, it’s tough not to feel an immediate sense of empathy and nostalgia. It can almost have a calming effect when the individuals are anything but calm. It’s tough to pinpoint what it is exactly about Life is Strange that makes it so promising. The exploration aspect is definitely alluring, especially with the time mechanic bolstering it. The plot is interesting, even if claims of dynamic story-telling rarely play out as advertised. But, it might be the atmosphere that Dontnod’s cultivated that’s the real draw, if not the centerpiece that ties the entire game together. Even if you haven’t lived similar circumstances, it’ll evoke some sort of adolescent memories. When it does, it’ll be easy to care about what Max and Chloe care about so much. It might not make sense looking from the outside in, but it will when viewed from the inside out.
Life is Strange preview photo
You won't be able to help it
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 un...

Alien: Isolation is haunting and uncompromisingly scary

Aug 13 // Alessandro Fillari
Alien: Isolation (PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 [previewed], PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Creative AssemblyPublisher: SegaRelease Date: October 7, 2014 Back when the uproar over Aliens: Colonial Marines happened, the developers at Creative Assembly were hard at work on Isolation and waiting for the time to unveil their project. "No one ever made the Alien game I wanted to play, which was about taking you back to the roots of the series -- which is one Alien, who is really meaningful," said creative lead Alistair Hope. "What would it be like to encounter Ridley Scott's original Alien? Who's massive, intelligent, and just something that's hunting you down." First off, forget everything you know about the sequels to the original Alien. This game is set several decades before those events, and many of the buzzwords, tropes, and other plot points for the colonial space-marines don't exist yet. The ship from the original film, the Nostromo, is destroyed, the Alien was blown out of the airlock, and the fate of lone survivor Ellen Ripley is unknown. Taking place 15 years after the original film, Alien: Isolation tells the story of Amanda Ripley, the daughter of the series' central character. After receiving word that the space station Sevastopol has recovered the Nostromo's flight recorder, she hurries to the station to learn of her mother's fate. Upon arriving, she finds the station in chaos as staff have gone into disarray after an Alien has taken up residence there. Now with the lives of herself and her crew on the line, Amanda must venture through the Sevastopol looking for answers, while evading the near omnipresent Alien. Now when I first heard that we'd be playing as the daughter of Ellen Ripley, I sorta rolled my eyes and thought of it as a gimmick to eek some connection from the first movie. But I was wrong -- in the few hours I had with the game, I saw a lot to like with Amanda's character. She's scrappy, determined, and can definitely handle herself. "We wanted to tell a story that had an emotional connection to that first film, to focus on someone who actually cared about the Nostromo," said Hope. "She has a lot of the same qualities of her mother, but she's taken her own path and she's very much her own character." With more people clamoring for strong female heroes to play as, Ripley is exactly the kind of character many would like. Not only does she set herself apart from her mother by being more talkative, and more knowledgeable and handy, but she feels like a unique character that works well on her own. It's refreshing to play as a regular character with an unusual history brought into a trying circumstance, as opposed to just another space-marine that you'd likely forget about by game's end. In more ways than one, Alien: Isolation is very much a throwback to the bleak and haunting sci-fi and horror films of the 1970s. Everything from the character look, atmosphere, and visual style have been recreated to match the tone and style of the original Alien film. To take things further, film grain and the color palette match with what many fans saw from the first film, and Creative Assembly wanted to recreate the same atmosphere for this new game. "One of the big things I love about Alien is that '70s view of the future," said Hope. "That low-fi sci-fi. It's cool because it owns its own space, it's not the style of science fiction that we're used to, and it looks great and very immersive." One of the big takeaways I had from this game is the art design. Isolation's aesthetic comes from the past's view of the future. As future prediction is relative to the times, the 1970s view of the future features structural designs and computers that feel analog and mechanical, CRT monitors with charming and antiquated graphics are placed in every room, and multilingual welcome signs show a coalesced human society of the future. The developers at Creative Assembly did an admirable job with replicating the "used" future look, as seen in Alien, Moon, and Star Wars. And it definitely makes for a more visually appealing haunted house. In case you haven't figured it out by now, Alien: Isolation is almost the opposite style and tone seen in James Cameron's Aliens, and from all the derivatives that followed. While Aliens emphasized action-horror with powerful characters stretched to their limits, Alien is a horror-thriller with characters who are outmatched by an unknown force. Creative Assembly wanted to return to the original tone and atmosphere, as it's still largely unknown for gaming. "One of the things we put up on the wall [during initial design] was to 're-Alien the Alien'. You can go back to the original Alien, which is over 35 years old, and even though it's old you can still get an emotional response from it," Hope stated. "And it's a testament to the power of the craft. It was important to me to have the Alien not run around your waist like a rabid dog, but to be big and imposing, that commanded your respect." Respect is a great way of putting it. In the previous games, players are used to mowing down swarms of aliens without feeling any real fear. It's very ingrained, when you think about it. This aspect of the human vs. alien conflict is what CA wanted to change, and in order to do so, players had to be knocked down a few pegs. "Horror I think is about small victories. It's those tiny moments where you think 'maybe I can make it,' and if I keep doing it maybe I can." In an atmosphere filled with dread, the tension is incredibly heavy. You're not playing as a badass space-marine with ammo and firepower to blow away swarms of Aliens; you're a regular person with limited resources that has to think about firing a shot or even whether to make the tough decision to peek around a corner to see if the enemy is near. You're vulnerable, and the odds are against you. And the creature you're up against is intelligent, cunning, and unkillable by conventional means. And encountering it is quite possibly the worst thing that can happen to your character. During my session, I had to find a trauma kit to heal an injured crew member. I carefully made my way through an abandoned crew's quarters, and suddenly the Alien crashed down from a shaft in the ceiling. Not noticing me, I ducked under a table and watched as he lurked through the halls, looking for a new prey. For most other Alien games, we would've ended the encounter there with a few shots from a pulse rifle. Not so here. Stealth and careful use of your gadgets, such as the invaluable motion tracker (which shows movement and objectives) and noisemaker gadget (which does exactly that) are necessary for survival.  Once the Alien discovers you, you're pretty much done for. Within the first ten minutes of encountering this thing, I was killed twice. Both times featured unique death animations, one where the Alien yanks Ripley and finishes her with a single bite, and another where the Alien crawls on top of Ripley and goes for the kill. It was certainly humbling to face against something that I was no match for, I was definitely on edge throughout my few hours with the game. In keeping with its "throwback" style, the gameplay feels very much like a return to classic survival horror. Specifically in the vein of early Resident Evil titles and Alone in the Dark. Your resources are limited and sparse, you face unrelenting and powerful odds, and you're vulnerable to attack at the unlikeliest of moments -- to say things are tense would be putting it lightly. Moreover, Isolation also uses a fixed save point system. Creative Assembly cited this as a design choice to get players to think about where they want to set their flag, but also to prevent players from taking advantage of checkpoints and save-anywhere options, which would mitigate the tension. There were definitely times where I felt too nervous to make a move, as the Alien would have a general sense of where I was and stay around the area. And no, it usually won't go away if it knows you're there. Safety feels like a luxury, and moments that felt like downtime only resulted in the creature re-emerging from its hiding spot, almost as if to remind players who's boss. "We certainly don't want players to feel 100 percent safe, however this game has to be about tension and release," said Hope, while discussing the balance between creating tension. "It can't be unrelentingly oppressive and constantly overbearing, you need to be able to breath, before you can embark into the unknown." While he's definitely correct about striking a balance between tension and release, I myself was mostly tense throughout the experience. One major criticism I had was that the objective locations are kept fairly vague while only giving you a general direction to head to. Picture this: you're looking for a small keycard located in a hallway with multiple rooms. You don't know where it is, and you have to sneak through each room searching for it, all the while having the Alien lurking about. You begin to get frustrated, you can't find what you need to leave and you start to panic, you knock over a nearby object (objects create noise which attracts the Alien), and the creature rushes off to your room. At times, it felt like I was in a hopeless situation and that a restart was necessary. I was stuck in a supply closet and the Alien stuck its head toward the vents of the closets to see if I was inside. During this point, you can hold your breath and wait for the Alien to pass, but I let go of the button and let out a big gasp for air -- of course, the Alien heard it, ripped the doors off its hinges and dragged me to my death. It's moments like these that make the experience incredibly suspenseful, but in order to survive, you have to be prepared. To get the upper hand on the Alien and overcome many other obstacles, Ripley must use her engineering skills to craft items and weaponry to survive her trek through the Sevastopol. The in-game crafting system allows players to make Medkits, ammo, and other tools to survive. While you will acquire core weaponry, such as the revolver, stun-baton, and flamethrower, many other gadgets like the noisemaker and Molotov cocktails require components that are found from looting dead bodies and crates. Though be careful, crafting will not pause the game and if you're in an unsafe location, you can be easily picked off by the Alien. While the Alien is unrelenting and intimidating, it isn't the only enemy you have to worry about. Throughout the station you'll find other humans doing whatever it takes to survive the chaos. Even if means taking out Ripley. While there are people that players can peacefully interact with, others will attack on sight. Which is not only a problem, but the noise from this conflict will also attract the Alien. Though depending on how you play, this can work to your advantage. If you're clever enough, you can lure the beast out of hiding with gadgets and use the humans as a distraction. If done right, the Alien will leap out from whatever vent or rafter it's hiding from and make quick work of them, allowing you to pick up resources after the carnage. "It's not about killing, it's about survival. It felt like there had to more interaction with this creature than just pulling a trigger," said Hope while discussing the different options you have for combat." You can actually finish the game without killing anyone, so it's down to your choice. It's a big part of the game experience, we put these situations in your hands." Another enemy to watch out for are the Working Joes, or synthetic androids as seen from the films. Throughout the Sevastopol there are Working Joes on standby, and in some cases players can activate them for assistance, such as locating and procuring sensitive equipment. However, the Working Joes are also kept to maintain the integrity of the station, and if players tamper or destroy sensitive equipment, the androids will treat you as a hostile threat and enter a search-and-destroy protocol. While they appear slow and crude, they're extremely powerful and possess some sharper senses than the creature. The Alien is intimidating and scary, but Working Joes are just plain creepy. I came in expecting a game that would be better than the previous titles by default, but I ended up playing a game that not only surprised me with its cleverness and complexity, it gave me a greater appreciation for the original film as well. Alien: Isolation knows exactly what it's doing, and its approach to offering an uncompromising and harsh experience that'll frighten and humble players should win over many who wrote off the series. With its release on October 7, Isolation's return to classic horror will likely give gamers looking for a survivalist experience -- and those in need of a good scare -- something to look anticipate. And with the Alien lurking the halls of the space station, the odds will certainly be against you. But to quote the cunning android Ash from the original film, "I can't lie to you about your chances, but … you have my sympathies."
Alien: Isolation photo
Admire its purity
Though it was initially seen as "Jaws-in-space," the legacy for Alien is certainly much more pristine than the one with the giant shark. Originally released in 1979, the first Alien would eventually become a much-loved horror...

Assassin's Creed Rogue gives you more open ocean goodness

Aug 13 // Hamza CTZ Aziz
Assassin's Creed Rogue (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)Developer: Ubisoft SofiaPublisher: UbisoftRelease: November 11, 2014 You play as Shay Patrick Cormac, a former assassin who was betrayed by his brotherhood. So Shay is out for revenge, and he's teamed up with his former nemesis the Templar in order to accomplish his goals. This is a story of revenge, and from what little I got to play I could really feel the experience was more violent compared to playing as an assassin. Specifically, it's the ship combat that felt way more brutal compared to Black Flag's. It is a smaller vessel this time around, so you're much quicker on the ocean. You also have a giant ram at the front of the ship designed to break apart ice on the water, but it can totally be used to plow into enemy vessels all the same. The overall firepower is nothing to laugh at either, with a cannon that acts like a machine gun of sorts now, and the ability to release burning oil from the rear of the ship and set those giving chase on fire.  There's no shortage of assassins in Rogue and you'll be hunting them down. Remember how in Assassin's Creed III there was a great shortage of assassins in the North American territory? Yeah, blame Shay for that. The events in Rogue set up that aspect of ACIII, and Haytham Kenway himself happens to be your second in command aboard your ship, in fact. The assassin we dealt with in our demo was holed up at a base with some of his allies in the open world outside of a story mission. You have to hunt down the assassin when you get to his base, but you have to be careful as you go about it. Your targets can do everything you could always do in past Assassin's Creed games. In this particular case, the target literally got the drop on us, and then fled the area. As we gave chase, we saw him call in allies, hide in bushes, and use his environment to his advantage. He even shot an explosive barrel just as Shay ran past it, knocking him over.  [embed]279374:55278:0[/embed] At one point the assassin dropped a smoke bomb, but Shay does have plenty of his own new tricks to directly counter his former allies. In this case, he dawned a gas mask to bypass the smoke bomb, and eventually was able to corner the assassin to finish him off.  Shay was also using a primitive grenade launcher to take out some enemies. He even had this poison that was able to cause anyone in the vicinity to go wild and attack each other; a great way to infiltrate bases. This would cause civilians to go nuts too -- which, by the way, you can totally kill civilians without any consequences. You're a Templar now, who cares!  Again, if you got your fill out of Black Flag you may just want to focus on Unity. If you're looking for more of that seamless open-world ocean experience with new and expanded features -- and the ability to play on the other side of the war -- then Rogue may just be the game for you. 
Assassin's Creed Rogue photo
Except now you're a bad guy so you can totally kill everybody
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag was a huge game. Like, you could easily sink 100 hours into that whole experience before getting 100 percent completion. So Assassin's Creed Rogue may or may not be quite the game for you. It ...

Dragon Age: Inquisition plays like a solid mix of Origins and Dragon Age II

Aug 13 // Chris Carter
Dragon Age: Inquisition (PC [previewed], PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: BioWarePublisher: Electronic ArtsReleased: November 18, 2014MSRP: $59.99 I got a chance to play Dragon Age: Inquisition extensively with multiple classes, and one of the areas I encountered was "The Bog" -- the subject of the gamescom demo. During this portion, I played as a Qunari warrior, who happened to be taking advantage of the two-handed skill tree. One of the first things I noticed is that attacks actually had weight to them in Inquisition, as opposed to the floaty feel of Dragon Age II. As executive producer Mark Darrah told me, "faster and easier [combat] got us in trouble in Dragon Age II, so we're moving away from that." The two-handed skillset in Inquisition is ferocious, consisting of abilities like a running charge attack, multiple stuns, and whirlwinds. I was able to answer just about any situation, and close the gap with my dash -- but all of the Warrior's powers felt right within the confines of the class. You can also jump now, which allows you to tactically retreat or gain a better vantage point. There were multiple times where I found a new foothold by way of leaping up to a new location and it felt natural -- like the option had always been there. Of course, the classic tactical camera is back, with all-new improvements in tow for those of you who loved the option in the PC version of Origins. I found myself going back and forth from the satisfying behind-the-back action camera and the tactical view consistently, enjoying both on their own merits. Inside and out, combat has been improved this time around. When asked how much tougher it will be even on normal mode, Darrah responded, "You'll have more tools at your disposal, and you'll have to master at least one of them to get by. Whereas in Dragon Age II you could just wing it, Inquisition will challenge players to master something." In terms of player choice, BioWare notes that it's "going back to the personal story that was originally contained in Origins, while opening up the scale." One of the core faults of Dragon Age II, I felt, was that it had such a small scale and didn't really do much in terms of advancing a personal story. Speaking to the developers, they stated that Inquisition aims to fix those issues, with four playable races and two genders. BioWare informed me that not only will your race and gender affect how people around the world treat you, but it will also change the core story a bit. [embed]279148:55276:0[/embed] Just as your Origins avatar was the Warden, the new Inquisitor position comes with a lot of responsibility, which ramps up over the course of the game. While your authority may be rather tame towards the start, eventually you'll be able to pass judgments on others -- with the choice to make them an agent of the Inquisition, a prisoner, or even execute them yourself. Even with experimenting on select scenarios throughout my gametime, it seemed clear that the story would have an impact on the rest of the world, which is great news for those of you who crave a more open, epic tale. The build I played was on PC, and you could really see that new engine working overtime. As the wind blew and the rain fell in The Bog, trees really twisted and flapped in the breeze, adding to the feel of the environment as you hacked your way through hordes of the undead. As a general rule I'm not a big proponent of visuals over gameplay, but it's nice to know that Inquisition has both bases covered, and has plenty of detail. I was assured again that no areas would be re-used like in Dragon Age II, and everything I saw during my time spent with the demo backed up that claim. BioWare states that the current-generation versions of the game should look roughly the same as the PC build. I also got a chance to test out the new map icon system, which adds a bit more exploration to the mix. In short, many objectives aren't exactly spelled out for you with a conveniently-wrapped Google Map-esque tack like in the past. Instead, select quests will give you a giant circular "gist" icon as I call it, letting you know that your quest is somewhere in the area. It's a nice compromise since the exploration zones are around ten times bigger than any previous zone in the series, so you won't get completely lost -- but you'll have to at least work for it. Dragon Age: Inquisition is shaping up to be a glorious return to most of what made Origins so great. The jury is still out on whether or not BioWare can keep that greatness up throughout the course of the entire adventure, but from what I've played so far, I'm pretty satisfied, and most of my fears have been quelled. There's more Inquisition coverage on the way later this month, including a big announcement that I can't wait to share.
Dragon Age 3 preview photo
This is coming from a big supporter of Origins
I wasn't very happy with Dragon Age II. 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 di...

 photo
Thunder butts and meat popsicles
I got my hands on Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel recently, and I've got some hot info on the new mechanics, and one of the new player characters, Athena the Gladiator. The game's new Stingray vehicle has a neat trick to it, the...

Natural Doctrine is a brutal, sort of ugly turn-based strategy game

Jul 07 // Steven Hansen
Natural Doctrine (PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita)Developer: Kadokawa GamesPublisher: NIS AmericaRelease Date: September 16, 2014 Natural Doctrine's UI has been an illegible clutter in what we've seen so far (which is sort of extensive, as it's been out in Japan for months), so I was glad to finally get some clarification, though nothing will beat playing it for a few hours to figure everything out.  First, it's like a cross between Valkyria Chronicles and a grid-based SRPG. Though large, outlined, adjacent squares? You can move anywhere within one -- moving into a new square, crossing a boundary, is what counts as a movement. And your free positioning within squares is actually meaningful. The first map shown involved catching up to protecting a character who will essentially be your first mage, if you succeed. If you don't succeed and he dies, you should probably start over. I'm told that's the case with any character, really. "You come in with a team, you better leave with that team." And so part of defending this mage involved getting your troops to his square and actually setting up a defense wall around him because enemies will need line of sight to hit (I saw a lot of shots from a ranged gunman bounce ineptly off of a piece of wall later in the demo -- third person view is helpful to avoid that). As for the messy top of the UI, that's the turn order, but it's fungible. Doing an action with in the same square (or an adjacent square) as one of your units activates Linking, which changes up the turn order. While the Initiative above may alternate you, enemy, you could theoretically link everyone and get all your turns in -- though you've opened up for your enemy to do the same. Also key are same square Link attacks which get stronger as you move your linked characters away from each other, which is great for extra offense but could compromise any defensive positioning you were working with. Grouping is also useful because everyone in an attacked square will counter. An adjacent, ranged fighter can also counter without being attacked if close enough.  Things like terrain and positioning also matter (for line of sight). You can even friendly fire your own units if you're not careful. Killing an enemy also makes the attacking unit move into the adjacent section (provided it isn't filled with further enemies), which can sometimes screw you over, as I saw in a later level.  You could spend three turns trying to close a gate, requiring enemies to flank around (and giving you more turns to pick them off slowly) or brute force your way through. Our demoer took Jeff and set him up with some buffs and set him to guard the space right behind the gate. This prevented enemy troops from moving up and allowed him to counterattack while ranged units also attacked. But our demoer fell a few times, once when a successful attack forced Jeff to move up a square, into the open, where he was unceremoniously wrecked. After finally making it through, more, stronger enemies showed up. Thankfully, someone asked Kadokawa to throw some checkpoints in so some of the longer stanges wouldn't need to be fully replayed (especially since you're advised to restart upon character death). This is more of an XCOM situation than other SRPGs. There's no grinding, just the main missions. And you're given the soldiers you have to use for each mission, though you can respec characters at the onset to some degree. They have specialties, of course, and you'll want to keep your mages for their invaluable healing and strong offensive magic -- if you conserve enough Pluton, the MP source, which doesn't always replenish between stages.  It all seems as if Natural Doctrine is a bit antagonistic. It is. But at least you can hold down a button to fast forward enemy turns.  It won't be cross-buy, but the PS3, PS4, and Vita versions will be cross-save and cross-play -- there's also a multiplayer component where you play with units of all four in-game races (in the story, you only play as humans) that you earn by playing multiplayer and getting trading cards. Each unit card has a cost to play, so you will hopefully not get steam rolled by someone just because they have stronger units than you.  And I forgot to only refer to the game as Natty Doc. Shoot. 
Preview: Natural Doctrine photo
Hmm...how about we go with 'homely'
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 intern...

Escape Dead Island is a single-player 'survival mystery'

Jul 01 // Steven Hansen
Escape Dead Island [PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360]Developer: Fatshark SwedenPublisher: Deep SilverRelease: Fall 2014 Contrary to the above image, Escape Dead Island is a stealth-reliant (and story-focused) game. Those two things are interwoven, too. Escape is in part a response to critique of the series' absent characterization and story (hence no multiplayer). There's even a mysterious, Emmy-winning writer behind the script.  The story, like the aforementioned Groundhog's Day, loops. Escape's lead is part of a three-person documentary team trying to figure out what's going on on the closed off island from the first game (it's six week after those events and bridges Dead Islands 1 and 2). This, of course, gets the three stranded on a terrible island of zombies.  You play as Cliff, the loudmouth of the group. He's got some obnoxious combat barks. Cliff's (other) problem is that he keeps waking up at 4:37 and going through time loops, during which he will end up scavenging items that will then be used to open up new available branches. It's a fairly linear world, but with different branches, a "3D Metroidvania, like Darksiders or Zelda." Cliff also experiences color-drained Insanity segments. I played the fifth or so mission of Escape, which was actually the first time Cliff encountered a zombie. Without weaponry, I had to sneak around the zombie and get to a rope, which I used to get down to a beach. That rope, then, becomes part of cliff's inventory and he'll hang on to it when he cycles back.  From the beach, the goal was to meet up with the ambitious woman and hipster wearing a scarf in a tropical climate that are the rest of Cliff's crew. Sneaking through some buildings, I found a screwdriver, which could be used for stealth kills as some mysterious person kept calling phones in the office I was crouching through, alerting the zombies.  After making it through the area, I ended up looping back to washing up on the beach with Cliff's crew. We walked around for a while, listening to them talk at me, until we reached a point where I'm told, from then on, the game would be more "like a Dead Space" in that you're in communication with your friends, but not directly, and they don't entirely believe everything you're going through. If you're counting, there's been a number of grand comparisons to some well-liked things (I just last night dreamt Bill Murray was evicting me, but he felt bad about it). I don't anticipate Escape Dead Island will live up to any of them. It's a different look for the series, though, and will release to the past generation of consoles for a more appropriate $40. Those who buy get access to Dead Island 2's beta as well. 
Dead Island preview photo
And now for (another) something different
The next Dead Island game isn't Dead Island 2. Of course, Dead Island: Riptide already showed the series' disregard for numeration. Counting the early access MOBA, Dead Island 2 should be Dead Island 5. But Dea...

Platinum is making a Legend of Korra game, and it's pretty awesome

Jun 26 // Hamza CTZ Aziz
The Legend of Korra [PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 [previewed], Xbox 360, Xbox One]Developer: Platinum GamesPublisher: ActivisionRelease: Fall 2014 For all you fans of the series, The Legend of Korra game takes place right after book two, centering on the consequences of what happened at the end of last season. Think of this as more of a self-contained episode, a nice side story before we deal with the real consequences in Book 3: Change which debuts this Friday on Nickelodeon. Show creators Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko worked closely with Platinum to develop the game. They even jointly created the new villain, one that uses a new type of Chi blocking that has left Korra powerless at the beginning of this adventure. Her powers haven't been taken away completely, and as you go through the levels (with set pieces taken from the show such as Air Temple Island, Republic City, more), Korra will remember how to use her bending abilities once again.    The story here will reference elements from the show and there will undoubtedly be a lot of callbacks that will make fans happy. That said, don't let that keep you from this game. The action elements are pretty awesome, thanks in large part to Platinum's skills at making great combat mechanics. All you need to know is that you're playing as a real badass who can bend the four elements of fire, water, air, and earth to her will. As Korra re-discovers her various bending skills, she'll find that she's stuck using more of the basic attacks with each element. But as you progress and level up, you'll upgrade your attacks and learn new combos. What makes the fighting top notch here is how seamlessly you can swap between your four powers as you're unleashing combos on enemies. Water bending, for example, is good for long-range attacks -- either throwing out projectiles, or using a "water whip"-like move to reel enemies closer to you. On the other hand, air bending is best as an area-of-effect attack when dealing with a group of enemies surrounding you. Each bending style offers something unique, and it's best to mix up your attacks as much as possible. Oh, and you totally can summon an air ball and ride it around just like in the show. Between your light and heavy attacks, you also have a special charge attack for more powerful bending moves, plus there's a dodge and counter move as well. Countering is especially encouraged, most of all when dealing with boss-type enemies. It's a similar counter system to that of Revengeance, where you have to learn the enemy patterns to best time the counter over being babied and getting some notification to time the counter correctly. Though, admittedly, the learning curve for timing is way smaller in The Legend of Korra.  And yes, you can go into the Avatar state. The specifics of what will allow you to summon your special ability haven't been quite nailed down yet, but ultimately the game will let you know when you can go full out, and at that point you'll be unleashing all your bending abilities at once for a duration of time. Again, for an alpha, the combat system was pretty damn fluid. The camera was a little finicky during my hands-on time, but didn't ultimately hinder my session. I was impressed with how far along the game was already, and there's going to be loads of time for polish between now and the release date. Visually, the game was looking nice too. The cartoon-y/cel-shaded look was pleasant, especially when the different bending elements were in use by the player or enemies. Speaking of which, while the big boss is new, most of the enemy foot soldiers were recycled from the past two seasons of the show. My playthrough saw me encountering chi blockers, Mecha Tanks, and some of the Triads too. A nice touch though at least is that chi blockers can knock out whatever last ability you were using for a small duration of time. The voice actors from the show reprise their role here for the game, and a large chunk of the game's music is taken from the show too. On top of the core action elements, there's also a Naga-running section where you have to navigate levels much in the same way as something like in Temple Run. Plus there's Pro-Bending sections where Korra, Mako, and Bolin will be fighting others in Pro-Bending! So, you're probably asking at this point how this crazy collaboration came to be. Platinum, a Japanese studio, working on a license game of a American TV series that takes heavy influences from Japanese anime. And it's being published by Activision, no less. Well, on Activision's end, the specific office in charge was presented with a list of developers to work with. It was a "no brainer" when they saw that Platinum was an option, as Robert Conkey, producer on the Activision side told Destructoid. "These guys are one of the best third-person action developers in the world." As for Platinum's perspective, producer Atsushi Kurooka broke down exactly what made the Japanese studio interested in working on this project (as translated through Robert Conkey): "One of the first impressions with Korra was that [we] were blown away by how awesome the show was. The main reason [we] were interested in the brand was one, [we] were really impressed with how involved the story was and how detailed it was. It was just really fascinating to [us]. Just the fact that it's so detailed and the fact that each of the bending styles is based on actual different types of Kung-Fu. The way that it's actually animated is just really impressive. "There's more to it than that too. There's the love story that they have, and there's Bolin as the comic relief and the comedy in it is just awesome. [We] felt that it was an incredibly well put together and balanced show and [we] hadn't seen something like that before ... [We] felt like [we] could relate. In a lot of [our] older games, it was often that they had a serious side to it but it also had a tongue-in-cheek aspect. We considered it a challenge that we never really had to do it very strictly before, stick to a brand and actually realize that brand while still keeping to [our] way of making games." I think the one only downside to The Legend of Korra game is that it's going to be four hours long for an average playthrough. Of course you can do replays and go for 100% completion, but as a giant fan of the cartoon series, I wish there was going to be more. Otherwise, like I said before, think of this as a self-contained episode. It's not going to outstay its welcome, and it's a solid deal when you also factor in that this will be $14.99 when it comes out. Oh, and there's a 3DS The Legend of Korra game in the works. I only found out because it was offhandedly mentioned in the press release I got so I guess Activision doesn't have much faith in it? Anyway the 3DS game is being developed by Webfoot Technologies as a retail release where it follows the same story as the console version, but it's a turn-based strategy RPG where you maneuver Korra and her allies around on the battlefield.
Legend of Korra photo
First hands-on preview
Yup, you read that headline correctly. Platinum Games, the maker of such fine titles as Mad World, Bayonetta, Metal Gear Rising, The Wonderful 101, and more, is creating a game based on The Legend of Korra series. It's being ...

Dying Light is less about zombies and more about movement

Jun 23 // Brett Makedonski
[embed]276979:54555:0[/embed] Dying Light, rather than being about zombies, is about movement. It doesn't take long to figure this out. Every facet of the game is designed around traversal. The zombies that litter the landscape are less active enemies, and more active obstacles to discourage any disingenuity when getting around. Spanning the open-world map looks as if it'll be an enjoyable exercise, with moments of frustration peppered in due to the drawbacks of the methods at-hand. Best described as a Mirror's Edge-esque free-running system, isolated incidents of climbing buildings, mantelling over ledges, and jumping over a gap can be thrilling -- like a well-executed combo in a fighting game. However, first-person platforming is a fickle mistress, and the inherent irritations spring up often enough to be noticeable. Exactly what you can climb and how far you can jump are issues that take continuous trial-and-error to solve, especially given that you can feel the character's weight in a sense that you just know he's not capable of everything, even if sometimes it seems like he's totally capable of anything. Being a game about movement, it's a no-brainer that these free-running mechanics will be employed constantly. Guided at all-times by a waypoint on a mini-map, players are best served sticking to roofs and avoiding the ground when searching for the next objective. Techland rewards that style, as almost every climb and jump earns experience points toward agility, hopefully ensuring that the player will eventually feel less clumsy and more confident in their actions. Although taking the roads isn't advisable, it's definitely feasible -- at least for half the game. During the daytime, zombies are generally weak and slow enough that combat isn't completely ill-advised. However, combat can seem like a chore, as the melee system has that clunky, unwieldy feel about it that just isn't pleasurable to use. Even if there are some neat improvised weapons on display (less a novelty, and more a staple of zombie games by now), avoiding interaction altogether is the more enjoyable route. Keep in mind, that's all when the sun is up. At nighttime, discard any ideas of engaging the zombies because it'll most likely just lead to imminent death. That's when the Volatiles -- the worst of the worst in Dying Light come out --  and the need for discreet and deliberate movement is higher than ever. The mini-map graciously provides a coned effect to represent each Volatile's field of view, and its value is indescribable. In the event that it's impossible to stay hidden from these, the next best course of action is to take advantage of the game's traversal system in any given direction -- just make sure it's quick. As Dying Light progresses, it's remarkable to see the transformation of the mechanics, presumably all that acquired experience paying dividends. Warped from an early-game setting to somewhere significantly later, the difference in my character's abilities were almost like day and night (to draw an apt analogy from Dying Light). All of a sudden, getting around just seemed easier. The uncertainties that plague the whole first-person platforming situation still existed, but everything that worked worked better. Climbing was faster and more fluid. Jumping had some much-appreciated extra distance to it. There was even a handy grappling hook of sorts that yanked me to whatever was targeted; it almost felt like cheating in a way. It was at this point that a Techland developer requested for me to climb down to fight a few zombies. He wanted to show off some of those gadget weapons, like ones that added electric or fire damage to the melee attacks. I briefly obliged, but was still unenamored. I couldn't wait to get to back to the roofs and just move about the buildings. It's fitting that Dying Light is about movement, because it's by far what it does the best. At times, it's unclear how substantial your objective is, just that you're moving toward something. Maybe the objective is only to survive. That'd make sense. For all the zombie material that focuses on attacking the undead, it's an unwise approach. Much smarter would be running, jumping, and climbing to get as far away from them as possible. Dying Light ensures you'll do plenty of that.
Dying Light preview photo
Go somewhere, anywhere
What can be done freshen up the zombie genre at this point? Videogames, television shows, movies, comics -- virtually every pop culture medium's been infested by the craze, long ago hitting a saturation (and then oversaturati...

I couldn't believe the size of Dragon Age: Inquisition's world

Jun 18 // Brett Makedonski
Dragon Age: Inquisition centers around the on-going war between the mages and templars. The presenter emphatically stated several times throughout the demo that this was our goal. That might be what's on BioWare's mind, but honestly, it seems like the more important objective in Inquisition is simply keeping the world from tearing itself apart. All across the land are breaches that need to be repaired, which is the protagonist's duty as the Inquisitor leading the Inquisition. There's plenty of room for customization here as four races and nine specializations (as well as choice of gender) are offered. If Inquisition's going to ask the player to make decisions to affect the outcome of the game, it's a good thing that the option to play several different ways is represented. Not that the Inquisitor would attempt this on his/her own, however. Inquisition has many playable characters that are leaders in their own right, effectively making the player a leader of leaders. These characters react based on choices made throughout the game. For instance, in the demo, we sent one to Redcliffe Castle where she was captured and tortured. We eventually freed her, but the presenter remarked that it'll have a long-term effect on our relationship moving forward. It's probably for the best that relationships be tended to as carefully as possible, because you'll anyone and everyone on your side in the thick of battle. The combat system has been sort of reworked for Inquisition to compromise between Origins' and Dragon Age 2's. Now, the player is able to pause time entirely to take an overhead tactical approach, or get into the fray themselves while switching characters on-the-fly. This was displayed flawlessly in a battle against a ferocious Fereldan Frostback dragon. With different reticules aiming for specific parts of the dragon, the team chipped away. This is where Focus was shown off -- a shared resource that slows down time for everyone but our party. After inflicting some major damage, the dragon was wounded enough that we could move in and deliver the coup de grâce. By the time the 30-minute presentation was up, I realized that we had barely even scratched the surface of what Dragon Age: Inquisition will have to offer. With a massive play space that changes based on in-game decisions and actions, dynamic RPG offerings, and an entire story to tell, Inquisition needs several hours to express what it's all about -- not just a thirty minutes. That being said, a half hour was sufficient time to impress; I can't imagine more time wouldn't just build on that.
Dragon Age preview photo
The rest of the game looked damn fine, too
Fantasy games have some of my favorite settings in all of videogames. Forests, mountains, chasms, rivers -- they all have a serenity and majesty about them that wonderfully adds to the sense of scale. It shouldn't surprise me...

Do you love setpieces? You'll probably like Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

Jun 16 // Brett Makedonski
There were two levels shown during the presentation, both adept at communicating the new(ish) style that Advanced Warfare brings to the table, but also assuaged any fears (or dashed any hopes?) that this year's Call of Duty will be a departure from its bread and butter. The first of the two slices was nothing more than an extended gameplay video. Set up by a violent car chase along the San Francisco freeway gone awry, the majority of the level took place fighting across the Golden Gate bridge. This is where we got to see enemy soldiers jetpacking on top of semis, as the character we were watching mirrored those movements with his own boosts onto abandoned vehicles. I couldn't help but feel as if it seemed like a slower Titanfall. Although the shooting was a lot of what we've come to expect, the setting provided a wonderful playground for the action. Terrified civilians running away and cars littering the road made for a good start. But, it went into overdrive when a pack of drones were accidentally released from the enemies' truck and started cutting the cable to the bridge. As one might suspect, suspension cables are critical to suspending a suspension bridge. Who would've thought? With several of the cables no longer intact, the bridge started to slowly come down as vehicles and people alike careened off the edge and into the bay below. At one point, a policeman was about to escape harm's way until a bus plowed into him, followed by someone jetpacking to the protagonist like nothing ever happened. His demeanor eerily mirrored what players might feel; when you've become accustomed to this level of action over the course of a decade, what will it take to truly drop jaws again? The second level, which was actually played by a presenter (supposedly), took a more methodical approach to things. Set in and around a Biolab in a Bulgarian forest, stealth was paramount to infiltrating the facility. However, just because cloaking devices and quiet knife kills were in play doesn't mean that the setpieces slowed down. Almost immediately, a helicopter spotted the two principal characters and began a mad dash through a river to get to cover before it could snipe them. After leaping off a cliff and hustling into the forest, it was finally safe. Well, sort of. Making good use of the cloaking technology, the two slinked through the forest, knifing some unfortunate enemies in the throat, while opting to spare the lucky ones. After a bit, a tank rolled through blasting some sort of light that exposed cloaked individuals -- a subtle reminder that not all setpieces need to be grand. The inside of the facility held a lot of corridor-based shooting galleries that sometimes define the first-person shooter genre, but once outside, the commandeering of a tank made things interesting again. Rumbling along, nothing was spared from the path of destruction, as helicopters, vehicles, and individual troops fell in gratuitous numbers. Upon arriving at a getaway plane, the protagonists blew up the tank just for good measure. Given thirty minutes to watch Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, there are certainly mechanical changes being made to the way the game plays. However, its reliance on setpieces and scripted action makes sure that nothing strays too far from the Call of Duty formula. Maybe Advanced Warfare isn't really as advanced as everyone claims. But, maybe that sort of service to the fans keep millions of them loyal year after year. And, hey -- maybe that isn't a bad thing at all.
Call of Duty preview! photo
The action you expect
The last decade has brought us ten new Call of Duty games. With that steady drip of titles, the series' developers have figured out how to craft increasingly elaborate action scenarios. Despite being at it for a while, t...

Rollers of the Realm: A nice surprise

Jun 16 // Dale North
A female character doubles as a pinball (stay with me here) that can be launched into a play field or town to interact with enemies or NPCs by bouncing into them. You’ll guide our hero with flippers that have been placed in these locations. In the most basic example, hitting an NPC lets you speak with them in town. Hitting an enemy chips off at its hit points. If guards are blocking a gate, as was the case in the earliest level, you might have to hit them with shots to clear the way. Actually, in this case, I was able to summon my dog (also a pinball) and send him up as a distraction for the guards while I made a sharp shot towards an alternate access point into the next area. Just like in any good pinball game, there are opportunities to show off your paddle skills by launching multi ball play, or shooting through trap doors to access other locations. Expect bumpers, ramps, treasures, and bonus zones. Some of the paddles have life bars, which adds to the challenge. Completing a level requires a sharp shot to a goal zone once all objectives have been met. What’s interesting is that this character pinball is the first member of a party, and that each additional character has its own traits on the play field, just as different character types would in a traditional RPG. For example, a drunken knight hits harder and moves slower because he’s heavier, though that movement is erratic because he’s had a few too many before going into battle. I played a demo just to the point where I was able to add a third party member, a healer. This pinball also has a movement and abilities of its own to be used. As the game progresses and the levels become more challenging, use of two or more party members can be required to proceed. In one of the more interesting encounters I had to use the knight to force my way through barriers that the hero wasn’t strong enough to access. From there, the hero would take over, being more agile and fast. Rollers of the Realm is quite a bit more pinball than RPG, but the mix of elements makes feel like the biggest, most involved pinball table ever. As an RPG fan, i welcome the varied challenges. I’m not great at pinball, but after seeing what I did at E3 I’m sure I’ll be taking on the challenge anyway.   Rollers of the Realm is coming to PC, PS4, and PS Vita this holiday season.
 photo
RPG/pinball mashup succeeds
I tried my hardest to imagine what the combination of pinball and RPG would look and play like before meeting with Atlus at E3, but I kept coming to mental roadblocks so I decided to wait and be surprised when I got to see it...

Project DIVA photo
Quick hands-on preview
As Miku fans likely already know, Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F 2nd is coming to North America this year, to both PS3 and Vita. It was through your support for the first title that this sequel's release is possible, Sega tell...

Okay, now I'm super excited for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Jun 11 // Steven Hansen
[embed]276462:54426:0[/embed] I hate horses. I take my dog to a dog beach. It's a human beach, but dogs are allowed, off leash. Once in a while, rich people take their horses onto the beach. This is dangerous for curious dogs, who could get kicked. Plus, the horses shit as much as 20 dogs. Do those assholes get off their horses and pick it up? No. Unfortunately, Phantom Pain is 200 times bigger than Ground Zeroes, and walking across barren desert would just not be that fun. Snake did not get off to pick up the poop. Instead, he rode up to an ill-guarded structure and did that cool hanging off the side of the horses lean to tranq a guard undetected, though I'm not sure how he got that close undetected, riding a horse. He held up the other at gunpoint, getting the drop on him, and interrogated him about the contents of the nearby shipping container: raw materials. Raw materials can be Fulton'd up in the air and sent back to Mother Base to add to your GMP, the in-game currency. You can also find some, like raw diamonds, in the environment. You may be rolling solo, but you're building an army, and that takes money. Money and troops. Zipping screaming, downed soldiers into the air and back to Mother Base is hilarious. You can also Fulton over vehicles or armaments (like an anti-aircraft weapon). You can even stun some grazing sheep and send them back home. The return of levity is delightful. There was a whole lot going on in the demo and I loved all of it (except I'm still torn on the already-known slow-mo effect when you're spotted). The dynamic weather, coupled with the day and night cycle, is a neat addition. Sudden sandstorms obscure your vision, but your enemies', too. Snake also has a Phantom Cigar, an e-cig with holographic smoke. Taking a drag speeds the passage of time, all in real time, so you can see the weather and time of day changing like a time lapse and wait until you think it's best to act. When Snake rolls up on an encampment, a lot of this big-picture openness comes into play. "A huge part of the fun is just looking at the map, 'how do I get in here? What time of the day would be better? What route should I take?' That has been missing in my games," Kojima said through a translator. From up on high, Snake is able to make enemies, mark multiple way points in the camp to plot his route of entry, and keep an eye on guard sleeping and walking patterns. A lot of stealth games have a disconnect between player ability and character ability. This all helps you feel like a trained saboteur while requiring  you to do some work to earn it. Mother Base helps, too, especially if you have been training recruits (and have the GMP to afford things). You can, for example, order intel on areas. You can also have ammo airdropped in. You can even airdrop a box and konk a guard on the head, knocking them out. At the end of the mission, when Snake was detected, he called in an airstrike from Mother Base and heroically drove away in a jeep, explosions behind. A little earlier, Snake went into his R&D department and had the ultimate of stealth technology dropped in: a cardboard box. And it's hilarious that it just lands, empty, and Snake just gets in the top. It's no ordinary cardboard box, though. First, you can now pop out of the top like a stripper in a cake and shoot enemies or what have you, so you don't have to equip and unequip. You can also still use the Fulton recovery system from inside. You can also propel yourself out the front of the box (I have no idea how the box manages more than two openings), which could be useful if you're in just the right position -- nearing a wall, for example -- to get out without the enemy seeing you. You can even get them suspicious of the moving the box, rocket sneak out, and use it as a decoy. Its these sort of little touches (also the kind voice that reminds you to vacate your airstrike zone) and unique design that make Metal Gear for me. Even something as simple as being able roll onto your back while crawling (and still inch backwards with your elbows) and shoot instead of having to turn all the way around speaks to a much improved fluidity that skilled players are going to be able to use to do impressive things. You can also pretend to be a trapdoor spider and sit in garbage bins until a guard walks by and quickly knock them out and hide the body. The other big reveal from today's demo is that Mother Base isn't a menu that you jettison force labor to. It's a physical place you can return to and run around in. And when you show up, everyone salutes you, because you're the boss. In keeping with the less linear design that lets you tackle missions openly, you'll have choices that dictate how your Mother Base develops over time, what platforms get built. The sheep Snake scooped up from the battlefield is there and seems to be enjoying itself. We saw Ocelot hanging around, too, and a security UAV buzzing about (you can build them with proper investments). My favorite thing is that you can train (shooting) and spar (CQC) with recruits to raise their skills. I've never been as good as I'd like at CQC, so being able to practice freely will be great. Mother Base isn't just a hub you hang out at during missions, though. During our neatly scripted demo, rain started falling a bit after Ocelot gave a wave, and the base was suddenly under attack. We didn't get to see all of the attack play out, but we were told that your actions during missions -- how many enemies you make -- will affect the rate of these sieges. Better keep recruiting. And can we talk about the artistic design of Snake's High Planes Drifter-red robot arm? It's so cool! And it takes over the old "knock" function used for hitting walls to get attention (and can be used anywhere) by spinning and clicking like an adorable cuckoo-clock. I've had some trouble getting too excited about anything in particular this E3. That changed after the Phantom Pain demonstration. The level of detail and nuance to the mechanics, on top of already great Metal Gear staples, is so exciting to see. The juxtaposed weird levity and war crime seriousness is in full effect and I just want to mess around with it for myself. 
Phantom Pain is so cool! photo
Cardboard boxes, customizable Mother Base, stealing sheep -- I am so down
The Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain E3 trailer was good, but I'm used to good trailers for Metal Gear. It didn't light a fire in my belly. Ground Zeroes didn't exactly do so either. The behind-closed-doors Phantom Pain g...

Halo players will be right at home with Destiny's PvP

Jun 10 // Hamza CTZ Aziz
[embed]276138:54316:0[/embed] [embed]276138:54317:0[/embed]
 photo
We gave the competitive multiplayer a spin
Along with our open world walkthrough, Max Scoville and I went ahead and checked out the competitive multiplayer in Destiny. We gave both maps a spin, and we also checked out each playable class for the videos. The biggest t...

 photo

I rode an elephant in Far Cry 4 and went on a complete rampage


Semi-auto grenade launchers anyone?
Jun 10
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
You all saw the gameplay footage of Far Cry 4, right? Well I got to play through the demo myself, specifically focused on taking over the outpost (now referred to as fortresses). We saw how to take it over from the sky at the press conference, but I decided to take things differently by riding a big elephant into battle.  It was glorious. 

Alien: Isolation is more than just you and a Xenomorph

Jun 10 // Brett Makedonski
Being dumped into this slice of Isolation with prior experience gave me a sense of comfort as if I already knew what to expect. Motion tracker out: check. Crouch-walk everywhere: check. In the opening minute, there was nothing on my radar, so I figured I wasn't in any real danger. Not yet, anyway. I broke my strategy and ran to where I thought the next objective was. Big mistake. The Alien came running out of nowhere to violently emphasize that it was in charge of this demo, not me. With my confidence sufficiently shattered, I took to it again, knowing I would no longer stray from my tried-and-true technique. Methodically moving from room to room and corridor to corridor, I was focused partially on moving toward my goal, and maybe moreso on creating distance between myself and the Xenomorph. When I got to the area of my objective, I accidentally triggered a giant explosion. Oops. "Well, if this doesn't kill me, that pesky Alien surely will," I thought as I sighed in defeat. Oddly enough, it never showed up. As the demo progressed, I soon encountered my first human. As I hid behind some crates with a flamethrower I picked up, she yelled at me to show myself. She wasn't some space marine barking orders. There was panic in her voice. She was as scared as I was. A trickle of empathy spilled into my mind. We were kindred spirits in that moment, only I was much more well-versed in knowing to keep my mouth shut. [embed]275906:54249:0[/embed] Sure enough, as if on cue, the Xenomorph appeared and did away with the aggressor. Learning and adapting just as any good survivalist would, I took a mental note. Let it do the dirty work. Playing cat and mouse is hard enough when you're the rodent; there's no need to wander into mousetraps. Moving forward, I made my way to a medical ward, and found a gun. This wasn't a smooth-shooting assault rifle, though. It was a pistol that felt incredibly unnatural in Ripley's hands. Bulky and unwieldy. Like something she'd never held before. Like something she didn't want to hold. Like something I didn't want to hold. As I crept along, I came across more humans. They were idly chatting with trepidation in their voices. I had no idea if they were friendly or hostile. With no way of knowing and not particularly inclined to find out, I slithered around them and toward the next waypoint. After all, why tempt fate? The next section locked me in a giant room that was aflame. "Great," I thought. "This is practically inviting the Alien to feast on me." After pushing buttons on opposite sides of the room, there was a center console to hack. Unbeknownst to me, the buttons also freed a synthetic from his holding pod, and he was on a mission to choke the life out of me. I was at a loss for ideas as I took laps around the room to stall. Any weapon would attract the Alien, that much I was sure of. I tried the flamethrower, but with my limited fuel, it wasn't enough to put the android down. Shit. At least the Xeno hadn't appeared. Time to try the pistol. A few rounds with that didn't seem to faze him. I found a Molatov cocktail hidden by a box that eventually did the trick. Thoroughly relieved that that little snafu was over, I couldn't come to terms with why the Alien hadn't shown up. It had dropped out of the ceiling mere minutes before to surprise me (which literally made me jump in my seat, by the way). It showed up after I jogged for ten seconds earlier. Yet, as a giant explosion goes off or I'm pinging bullets off an android, it can't be bothered? How is Isolation going to frame the experience so we know what are acceptable ways to deal with these situations? Or, is that dissonance going to run rampant, making everything a frustrating game of trial and error? After handling the synthetic, a checkpoint popped. Checkpoints are a big deal in Alien: Isolation; every single one is a miniature victory unto itself. However, I could also sense it would signify the last section of the demo. In the first build of the game, the final bit was by far the toughest. I expected no less this time 'round. That expectation proved to be correct. It began with two humans that detected my presence. Just like before, I let them shout at me, effectively devoting their life's purpose to becoming Alien fodder. This is my design. From here, one of two things would happen: either the Alien would branch off to patrol some rooms on my left, or it'd come down the hallway toward me. The times it'd approach my location, I just had to give up. There was nothing I could do. Those attempts were essentially "unwinnable." Yes, that's as disheartening as it sounds. However, when it broke off to the direction I needed it to go, that frustration melted away and was immediately replaced with perseverance. I gritted my teeth and vowed to get past that bastard. The atmosphere of Alien: Isolation is just too immersive to rip you out of the game for long. Cautiously advancing, I took to sticking to every object I could. Sure, the motion tracker was out, but the Xenomorph has a habit of changing position quicker than I can process what's happening. As I took refuge under a medical cart, the perfect scene played out. The Alien approached from behind as I silently wondered if this is where this run would conclude. Turning my field-of-view with it, I watched as it slinked past me mere inches from my hiding spot, its tail slithering perilously close as it grew ever more distant. That moment felt like a personal victory against the Alien. Like I was the champion of our persistent game of Hide and Seek. It was simply chill inducing. I held my breath just knowing that within fractions of a second, it'd whip around and rush toward me. When it didn't, I couldn't help but break out in a grin. At least a half hour after beginning, I finally completed the demo. My many failures left me feeling like I took a long time -- maybe too long. Looking around the room, I was actually one of the first to finish. It seemed that everyone else was having the same issues I was -- maybe I was just luckier. Ultimately, the crux for Alien: Isolation is going to be how the player learns as the game progresses. If the player can adapt to the Alien adapting, Isolation could turn into a cerebral chess match, a true thing of beauty. If the adaptive Alien just means that the game's going to reward the lucky and occasionally be unfair, well, that'll be tougher to stomach. Whatever the outcome may be, this demo did a lot to further my confidence in Alien: Isolation. Seeing first-hand that interactions with other humans don't devolve into shoot-em-up segments was entirely helpful. Experiencing the same terrified sensation that the first build evoked was essential. The atmosphere that the game cultivates is so on-point that it may detract from some of its issues. That is, as long as those issues aren't hulking monstrosities like Isolation's Xenomorph. 
Alien: Isolation preview photo
Everything else is mean too
At the reveal event for Alien: Isolation, we were shown a lengthy demo that got right to the heart of the conflict at-hand: Amanda Ripley trying to navigate a space station as a very aggressive Xenomorph hunted her. In our fi...

Hour of Destiny photo
Plus we go check out the social space known as The Tower
The folks at Bungie gave Destructoid full access to the Destiny Alpha just before E3. You may remember that I wasn't all that excited for the game the last time I saw it, but having full freedom to do whatever and being able...

Hands-on with the Destiny first-look alpha

Jun 10 // Chris Carter
Bungie (PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 [previewed], Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: BungiePublisher: ActivisionRelease: September 9, 2014 Whatever you do, don't call it Borderlands. Well, you can actually in some regards, because it is a class-based FPS with RPG elements. The comparisons basically stop there though. Once you boot up Destiny, you'll get to fully customize a character with an editor that trumps pretty much every other shooter I've ever played. Any of the three classes (Titan, Hunter, and Warlock) can be male or female, as well as any of the three included races -- Human, Awoken (aliens), and Exo (robots). I chose an Exo Titan. Right off the bat one of the first things I noticed about Destiny was the weird user interface. Everything is controlled by a virtual mouse cursor that floats around the screen, which you'll direct by way of the left stick. It's odd, because there's no way to flip around the menus with the d-pad like any other game, and it can be jarring to slowly scroll across the screen to select something. On the flipside, the menus themselves are clean, and easy to read, which is more important. Upon the start of the alpha I was thrown into a story mission, which is just part of Destiny's three pronged method of gameplay -- story, sandbox exploration, and PVP. As a Guardian sent to Earth to save it from the mysterious Fallen, the first mission involves an indoor colony and a boss fight. Peter Dinklage of Game of Thrones fame is your AI guide, calling out hints and tips as you slowly make your way into the depths of your target building. Honestly I'm just happy to hear his voice, but he could use a little more "oomph" in his lines. Hopefully his performance ramps up as you advance in the story. [embed]276045:54376:0[/embed] Slowly but surely I made my way through the darkened abandoned building, taking in the sights and admiring the great lightning engine on the PS4. It really reminds me of the flashlight sections in Doom III in a good way, and there was a fair bit of tension once the baddies started rushing out of the dark crevices of the room. Everything culminated in a boss fight, which was sufficiently satisfying, and consisted of plenty of adds to take out. Combat is built around the constant injection of action. You don't run out of grenades, you recharge them. You don't just get to jump -- you can extend your leap with a jetpack. Each character also has a super move (in this case, a ground pound), which can be used in a pinch, and recharges fairly quickly. The upgrade system is fairly robust, doling out new skill points at a quicker rate than most RPG shooters, allowing passives like bonus damage, better grenades, and upgraded jumps. You'll also unlock some new moves, like a shoulder charge and the like. While the visuals didn't really blow me away at this point in the game's development, they look great on the PS4, and the draw distance is vast enough to where you'll want to sit down and take in the sights every so often. It's very smooth, and as I mentioned previously, the lightning is smooth as well. It's not going to take the honors of the best looking current-gen game, but everything is insanely polished. It helps that you can summon your mount at will and just ride around, looking at everything. I also really liked the "ruined cape motif" that Destiny's art direction is going for. The enemies remind me of fighting the Covenant from Halo for the first time, and the elite type characters are formidable enough to earn my respect. With moves like teleports, special attacks, and even call-backs like Needler weaponry, it's a style that reminds me of Mass Effect mixed with Knights of the Old Republic -- with it's own unique spin. Destiny isn't just about doing linear story missions though, as some levels are billed as "open world" joints. I wouldn't necessarily think of them as on the scale of say, a GTA game, but they are fairly large sandboxes that allow you to just wander around willy nilly. It's not just aimless exploration either, since tiny optional beacons can be found that trigger mini-missions. Multiplayer-wise I really dig Bungie's take on the whole "online-only" system. Yes, it sucks that you'll need to connect to the internet to even play the game, and many of you out there will probably forgo the opportunity, which is fine. But the result is something that reminds me of the best parts of Journey -- players will randomly phase in and out of your game seamlessly, helping you out in a pinch and forming squads. I love that it just drops players in without the hassle of checking what level you are, looking for other games in a giant list, or worrying about connection issues. It's just seamless. Destiny has a hub world too, and it reminds me of Phantasy Star Online in a big way. There's a message center to grab mail from, equipment vendors to get gear from, and even bounties to acquire. There's even a PVP vendor that sells specific PVP gear with tokens that you can only earn by fighting other players. Wait, PVP? Yep, Bungie is incorporating what it does best -- full competitive multiplayer in the form of the Crucible. There will be multiple modes available in the full game, but I only got a chance to try out "Control" -- which is basically "Capture the Point" (A, B, C). This mode is 6v6, and operates like a traditional FPS, but with the same character you've used in all of your other missions. There's vehicles to use, and the level itself really reminded me of playing Halo for the first time, which is a great feeling. The audio has a real punch to it, and makes combat pretty entertaining as a whole -- especially with a pair of great headphones. At the present time it looks like you can play the Crucible as much as you want, but the actual currency you earn from it is capped at 100 tokens per week (a very MMO-like trait). Destiny is an ambitious game, and I had a lot of fun during my lengthy stay with the alpha -- I can't wait to see if it'll hold my attention when the final version drops. I will say though, the MMO influences are really working to its advantage, and I see lots of long nights storming dungeons for loot in my future.
Destiny hands-on photo
When Tyrion Lannister tells you to kill something, you kill it
After months of hype it's nice to be able to sit down and actually play a game for yourself. It's crazy to think that Bungie sent over members of the press to an event without even giving them a chance to play Destiny, but he...

Battlefield Hardline: First hands-on impressions

Jun 09 // Dale North
The idea started as a dream when DICE and Visceral studio heads met in Barcelona a couple of years ago. Big fans of each others' games, they started talking about games they'd like to make. A crazy idea snowballed into a full-on plan. But Visceral, the team behind the Dead Space games, knew third-person shooting better than first-person. So as a way of learning the ropes, Visceral did a Battlefield expansion pack, End Game.  After that, they started on the concept work for what would eventually be Hardline. In a pre-E3 reveal, Ian Milham, Creative Director on Hardline, explained that his team at Visceral had been working on a new IP following the last Dead Space. He put his presentation together for executives after working on it for a few months, but it got a mixed reaction. The execs brought up making a Battlefield game instead. Milham says he has been a franchise fan for a long time, but he did not want to do another military shooter. Milham talked about how modern military shooters were going science fiction lately. He wanted to do something different, fun, and relatable -- no grizzle-voiced heroes or private armies. His dream was to make something that played off backyard fantasies. Robbing banks, relatable places, real weapons -- no fancy equipment or high-end squad tactics.  We had a chance to spend some time with Battlefield: Hardlline's multiplayer a few weeks back. playing a couple of short matches in two newly revealed game modes. The game does have a full single-player component, but Visceral wanted to show multiplayer first to show the direction they're going with this project. Milham noted that they've done a lot of single-player games in the past, so we know they have that side covered. The cops in Hardline are pretty militarized, so armored cars and helicopters are the norm in battle. On the criminals side, these guys are pros, so they have a bunch of handy technologies and automated gear like grappling hooks and ziplines. Cops have ballistic shields, gas masks, flash bombs and more. For vehicles, my hands-on time felt like anything goes in Hardline. Cops have fast interceptors that can zip around town while a partner hangs out the passenger side window, shooting. Criminals have muscle cars as a parallel, but they also have their own armored transports. I was suddenly dropped into just about every vehicular situation you could imagine in one match that had both factions fighting over control points in a city. I went from being on the ground, to manning a turret on top of a transport, to shooting a machine gun from an open helicopter door, all in a scramble. I played in a large group multiplayer session to try out the Heist mode. This has the criminals trying to break into a defended area,  gathering loot, and then working to escape safely. They have to get to vaults, arm charges, and defend them until the charges explode. From there, they'll take their loot to a drop-off point. Meanwhile, the cops are working to intercept these transports and halt escapes. In this mode I had fun as a cop, running down criminals with cars, or picking them off after they've worked so hard to crack a vault. Another mode, called Blood Money, has cops and robbers fighting over stolen loot. A transport was stopped mid-route, and the cops have to try to secure the transport while the criminals try to steal from it. The criminals have to take the stolen money, bag by bag, to their vault and protect it. But the cops can raid this vault and steal it back. Nothing is safe, and the line, measured in money, is constantly shifting.  This mode was even more fun than Heist. The map, a large city with plenty of damaged buildings and roadways, has plenty of hiding places and alternative paths to sneak away in as a criminal. Despite the large number of cops running, I was able to steal loads of cash for my team by keeping low and taking underground passageways. Above ground, gun fights, helicopter patrols, and crazy setpiece events, like crashing buildings, kept the tension up.  From my short time with it, Hardline feels more relaxed and approachable than the multiplayer in past Battlefield games. There's quite a bit more character and personality as well, which had these matches feeling less competitive and more enjoyable.  Battlefield is a huge franchise, but Hardline feels like a departure from the big budget, super serious games of late. Hats off to Visceral and DICE for taking the opportunity to try something different. We hope to see more of Hardline in the coming weeks.
Battlefield hands-on photo
Details on how Hardline came to be
I was pretty excited to be able to be the first to tell you about Battlefield Hardline, the new team up cops-and-robbers title from Visceral (Dead Space) and DICE. But trailer leaks, detail leaks, and even gameplay video lea...

 photo

Yes! PC version of Hotline Miami 2 will have a level editor!


Share levels with others online
Jun 09
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number will have a level editor on the PC! Fans can create their own demented levels, decorate it however they want to. And yes, you'll be able to share these custom created levels with other players. ...

Costume Quest 2 isn't for the hardcore, but it's for the hardcorn

Jun 02 // Brett Makedonski
This time around, the action's set to pick up almost immediately after the original's add-on Grubbins on Ice ended. While the timeline's a bit fuzzy at this point, one thing is evident, and it's that Reynold and Wren are eager to get back to what they love most - Trick or Treatin'. Beyond that, Rice was hesitant to reveal anything about the narrative, giving the frustratingly boilerplate "We're not talking about that yet." The demo took place in the game's first area, a bayou that segues into a French Quarter part of town. It was a sample size that was adequate to show off what it has to offer, and it was all so wonderfully Costume Quest. The bayou had a kid that wanted us to find pieces for a pterodactyl costume. The French Quarter was filled with bustling NPCs that were itching to assign sidequests as jazz music filled the air. Houses by the swamp had doorbells that were begging to be rang -- some occupied by adults that were dishing out candy, others by Grubbins looking to ambush our pint-sized protagonists. Upon being attacked, we got a look at how the combat system has been altered. While Double Fine's touting Costume Quest 2 as having a "deeper and juicier" battle system, don't expect that to translate to increased difficulty. One of the defining traits of Costume Quest that made it so beloved was its accessibility, and that hasn't changed -- it's just gotten tweaked a bit to make things more interesting. One of the biggest moves was lending itself toward making combat more action-oriented. Now, when attacked, a perfectly-timed button press will result in increased defense and a counter-attack. Likewise, when on the offensive, the original had prompts flash on-screen that needed to be executed. Costume Quest 2 utilizes a system reminiscent of Super Mario RPG where coordinating a button press to the exact moment a strike lands will result in extra damage. It's not the most revolutionary of upgrades, but it makes combat feel more involved than ever before. Of the many costumes that are sure to be on display in the full game (which is coming to PC, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3, Wii U, Mac, and Linux), we were only shown three. Two of those were a clown that has some truly bizarre animations, and a superhero. The third was a humorous salute to the unplayable candy corn costume in the first game. This time, you can wear it into battle, but it does absolutely nothing, effectively reducing the team size from three to two. Rice commented that the nod is for players looking for an extra challenge, and those that complete the whole game with the corn costume in the party will unlock an Achievement called "Hardcorn Mode." Truth be told, that feat probably won't be all that difficult to achieve. Even though health doesn't automatically replenish after every fight in this installment, there are water fountains located around each map that fill your party's HP up. When I asked Rice if these would be a pain to get to between encounters, he didn't think so, but that he always wants to try to get one more fight in before retreating to a fountain. However, maybe the most welcomed modification of all has to do with the traversal of the locales. In the original, only the robot was able to zoom around thanks to the use of rollerblades, leading most to play with that costume equipped at all times. Now, rollerblades are always available by default, making getting around much more convenient. That's probably a good thing too, because according to Rice, the maps are going to be bigger and more involved than in Costume Quest. For all the changes that are going into Costume Quest 2, honestly, the biggest takeaway might be that it still feels so much like Costume Quest. That's a revelation that any fan of the original will be elated to hear. And, if you fall into that category, Costume Quest 2 has probably already won your heart and your sweet tooth.
Costume Quest 2 preview photo
Mo' candy, mo' problems
If there's one thing that the folks at Double Fine aren't known for, it's being pigeon-holed into making the same game. In fact, almost all of its titles are wildly different from one another. From the likes of Brüt...

The Evil Within seems like it forgot the 'horror' in 'pure survival horror'

May 27 // Brett Makedonski
It's a shame because The Evil Within does a fairly decent job at cultivating an atmosphere that lends itself to a survival horror game. The gritty filter over the visuals and the methodical music set up the pins. Nothing ever knocked them down. Chapter 4 takes place in a hospice, and was an odd environment to get our first taste of the game. The level's set up to be somewhat open-ended, and the game did a poor job of giving direction as to what the current objective was and where it was necessary to go. After some wandering about and eventually putting a bullet in the head of an evil doctor, it funneled me back outside to three zombies wandering around a burning pile of wreckage. It was here that I died thrice, only to be returned to the start of the demo each and every time. An annoyingly unpredictable checkpoint system would be a continuing theme of both slices of the demo we were shown. At one point in Chapter 8, there's a set piece that requires you shoot a not-so-obvious button before being pulled into two giant blades. Speaking with others attending the event, dying here negated approximately 20 minutes of progress; I was lucky enough to twitch to it my first time. Going back to the scene in Chapter 4 with the undead around the fire, despite being entirely avoidable (to my immense ire upon finding out), it served as a good training grounds to how The Evil Within's combat works. Gunplay is typically the way to go, as melee attacks will just slow enemies down. However, there are some bigger weapons scattered about, such as hatchets, that will finish them off. Additionally, using a match to set fire to the body is the only way to ensure that they won't get back up. Being a survival horror game, there are limited resources, making the inclusion of a stealth kill incredibly valuable, as it uses nothing. Trying to pick off these three zombies one-by-one proved to be incredibly frustrating. There was no clear indicator of what made enemies detect you. Sometimes I'd crouch in the shadows and bushes, patiently waiting for one to turn around on his path when it'd see me out of nowhere and come lumbering toward me. Other times, I'd be brazenly attacking one in front of another, but it wouldn't react at all. To compound issues, at no point did anything control well. Running around was a chore, especially navigating the game's many hallways and doors. Shooting was unimpressive, as the aiming reticule never felt like it moved fluidly. It's never fun to wrestle with a game's controls, but it can be overlooked under the right circumstances. The Evil Within didn't fit this criteria. By the time I progressed through the level and was mysteriously dropped into a sewer full of blood, I had gotten a feel for the tricks up The Evil Within's sleeve. It's one-third jump scares, one-third paranormal uneasiness, and one-third disturbing visuals. But, it's zero parts scary. As some monster lady summoned about 15 zombies in the area with all the grace of PlayStation 2 graphics, I was not at all concerned about the supposedly terrifying prospect of being that outnumbered, but entirely dreading fighting that many enemies using that shoddy combat system. Chapter 8 fared a bit better because it had the benefit of multiple paths to take, but each one necessary to the completion of the level. Enemies came in smaller numbers, and everything was just generally more manageable. However, an apparition named Ruvik would appear on occasion, and if she touched you, she'd knock you down to just a sliver of health. I generally just ignored her when she showed up, as I thought these bits were scripted. It turns out these were random encounters. Another person told me that she spawned when he was in a tiny room with another enemy, unfairly leading to an inevitable death -- a death that set him back 15 minutes. It's bad enough replaying extended sections of a game; having to do that when it's not fun is just downright miserable. We're at a point where I honestly don't know what can be done to salvage The Evil Within. It's commonly known that at preview events, publishers try to put their best foot forward and show the most impressive parts of their game. If this is the best that The Evil Within has to offer, I can't see how it doesn't flatline. Maybe the benefit of being told the story in its entirety can be the saving grace, but that's a puncher's chance. Otherwise, it's looking like it'll be entirely forgettable.
The Evil Within preview photo
How disappointing
All too often, survival horror titles perform poorly in some areas, but it's somehow acceptable because that's the trade-off for being survival horror. If the experience is tense and scary, it seems like everything else is fo...

First hands-on of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor won me over

May 22 // Dale North
[embed]275215:53980:0[/embed] Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC [previewed])Developer: MonolithPublisher: Warner Bros. GamesRelease Date: TBA 2014 (For the full rundown, see our initial preview on Shadow of Mordor.) One does not simply walk into Mordor for the first time without understanding of the game’s structure. Ranger for the kingdom of Gondor, Talion, is well-equipped to do battle Batman-style chops and new Wraith powers. But he can’t do it alone. He’ll need to influence Orcs to take Sauron’s army at its heart, turning it inside out. So while this is a third-person action sandbox, there’s an ongoing strategy game tied to your choices. Using the power of Wraith you’ll build up, orc by orc, until you have own own sizable army. Or tear Sauron’s army down, orc by orc, until you can properly take it down.  What’s interesting is that you’re completely free to decide how you’ll go about achieving this ultimate goal. Every enemy in this huge world can be a part of your army if you work hard enough at it. A screen with orcs laid out by rank lets you dig down and gather intel so that you may use its strengths and weaknesses to your advantage. You can mark any enemy from this screen and then jump into the world to hunt them down and use them as you will. I started out by trying to take out one of the bodyguards of a captain that I wanted to control. Hunting him down could have been easy, but he was completely surrounded in an orc camp, and one mistake could have the entire camp coming down on me. Using fast travel, I got close to the camp’s gate, letting me use some of my Wraith powers to scan through walls to find my target and mark him. Going in, I used stealth to sneak around the walls of the camp, staying close to the leftmost mountains, moving as slowly as possible. Hidden in the grass, I happened upon a platform where my mark just happened to be taking a break, urinating against a camp wall. I thought it would be a perfect time to take him out. I used stealth to sneak up behind him but my takedown attempt was unsuccessful, which had him sounding the camp alarm to warn of an intruder. Suddenly I was running for my life, using Shadow of Mordor’s free traversal to get as far away from the camp as possible. I had several on my tail, so I took advantage of verticality to hop over the camp walls, scramble up in the mountains, and let my health uncover. Eventually I got back in and found the target mostly alone. Instead of sticking to my original plan of capturing him, I killed him on the spot. That felt good. I picked another bodyguard from the army screen with the hopes of taking over his mind with Wraith powers to use him against his boss. This hunt was a bit easier, and it let me try out Shadow of Mordor’s Batman-like combat system. Hard hits, combos, blocks, and parries are all here, but the Wraith powers add another dimension with ranged and psychic attacks. All of this at your disposal makes Talion feel like a walking army. It’s no problem for him to take a small group of orcs out on his own, and with careful approaches and proper use of the Wraith powers, he could probably take out a sizable unit alone.   This bodyguard lived — I took his health down just enough to be able to dominate him, making him a follower. From there I was able to command him to go after his boss, the war chief, my ultimate target.  I followed my new underling to oversee his mission and saw that while he was strong enough to make a dent in his boss’ life bar, he would die if I left him alone. So I joined the fight and took him down to next to nothing. But instead of killing him, dominated him as well, saving him for an even bigger takedown later. A Monolith rep told me that it’s possible to take a large group of captured orcs together to form a small army to take out a bigger target. Or you could just use their bodyguards to help you kill them all. Or, if you’re good enough, use stealth and/or brute force to take them all out on your own. It’s totally up to the player on how to approach the overall goal, with missions opening up along the way to let them create their own stories. Ridable beasts, customizable weapons, and a world so big that I can’t imagine seeing it all will make this one heck of a sandbox to get lost in.  If you're a fan of Assassin's Creed's open-style sandbox play, know that this takes it and turns it up a few notches with better combat and an underlying strategy side. Again, less than an hour of play had me wanting more.  Look for more coverage leading up to its release worldwide on October 7, for PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, and PC.  
 photo
First-hands on
I had absolutely no expectations for  Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor. I’ve never played any of the franchise games, and I knew very little about the upcoming title. But my first hands on was a very pleasant surprise. A mere 45 minutes of play of its sandbox game got its hooks in me and now I'm totally sold.   

Valiant Hearts: The Great War is haunting

May 14 // Alessandro Fillari
Valiant Hearts: The Great War (PS3, PS4 [Previewed], PC, Xbox 360, and Xbox One)Developer: Ubisoft MontpellierPublisher: UbisoftRelease Date: June 25, 2014 Set during the first World War, known as The Great War back then, Valiant Hearts tells the story of a set unique characters who cross paths and must traverse Europe in search of family, friends, and the means for revenge. Emile and Karl are from the same family, but drafted onto opposing sides, Freddie is an American soldier enlisted in the French military, and Anna is medic living in Paris. Each of the playable characters will encounter one another and they must work together to stay alive across war-torn Europe. Described as a passion project by the developers at Ubisoft Montpellier, they wanted to a make a game that drew upon the impact of the Great War, without designing it as a standard shooter or action title. Working with the smallest team on a modern Ubisoft title, many of whom had family serve in the war, they wanted to make a game that had a very personal story about a group of unlikely heroes. The events of Valiant Hearts are loosely based on real conflicts during the war, and many of the details and specifics are pulled from actual letters and documented occurrences. "The team read a lot of letters that date back to WW1 and noticed that many of the men called to the front were simply everyday "men in the street," in the words of lead designer Julien Chevallier. "Several letters are used as a basis for the narration of the cutscenes. For example, Emile writes letters to his daughter at various points throughout the story in order to give her news about himself and her husband Karl, a German soldier. " Since this is set during an actual conflict, and not fictional one, many of the details and phrases used in the game may be lost on some. At any time during play, you can access a Facts menu to learn more information about the war, terminology, people, and events. Think of it as a handy and abridged wiki page on relevant details from the past, which pulls information from the official Mission Centenaire 14-18 history compendium and Apocalypse: World War I documentary. This will likely help those who aren't history buffs, or otherwise didn't pay attention in school during history class, but it also reveals some not so well known facts about the war. I felt like I was learning details about the war with every passing moment. For instance, the character Freddie is an American who was inspired by the war overseas and enlisted in the French military. At first I thought this was something that the writers took liberties with, but then looking into the facts page showed detailed information, along with color pictures of how many American enlisted into French military prior to the U.S's entrance into the War. The character Freddie in particular was based on real-life African-American soldier Freddie Stowers. It's not often you learn actual history from war games, even the more popular ones. Though this is a game set during a major war, it is by no means a title focused on quick action and shooting. It's an adventure title through and through, and the developers wanted to set a game within the war and provide a more unique and personal story. "The game tells the story of each character's journey during a time of war, and it is not up to the player to shoot or kill other people," said Chevallier, "but to show how it has impacted their lives in different ways. It was really important for the team to keep that humanity in the game." As an adventure title, players will explore, traverse, and interact with other characters throughout the game space. You'll be constantly on your toes as you evade gunfire, mustard gas, and the hellish machinery invented during The Great War. I really appreciated the fact that throughout many sections of the game, you're constantly moving forward. Mostly because you're under fire and have to evade the enemy, of course, but I found it to be an interesting change of pace for an adventure title. To give players extra incentive to replay chapters, the developers asked members of the Ubisoft community to share details and photos of family heirlooms related to World War I. The developers handpicked the most interesting ones and placed the items as collectibles throughout the game. Diversity is a big element to the story and gameplay, and it's clear to see how things change when you play other characters. While for the most part you'll be performing similar puzzle solving and action beats throughout the game -- how these characters actually go about it is a bit different. For instance, Freddie's gameplay sections feel more action-oriented, as he's often on the front lines breaking through enemy barricades and bases, Emile focuses more on puzzle solving and using his dog to examine points of interest, and Anna's medic gameplay has her exploring the environment for supplies and performing a rhythm-based operation mini-game to save the lives of the wounded. "From the beginning, the team wanted to provide an added-value to the player experience with a clever shifting of the pace and a variety of gameplay," said Chevallier. "In order to meet the objective of creating a game with a wide range of emotions, it was important for the team to integrate different kinds of gameplay simultaneously. For example, action-oriented sequences elicit feelings of fear, suspense or tension." I rather enjoyed how clever the gameplay and puzzles were. One moment, I was running across a battlefield evading enemy fire and using grenades to bust open a machine gun nest, and then I moved to a different scene with a character as a P.O.W, where I had to prepare food for the enemy camp. In most other games of this genre, you're centered in a particular location where you explore and solve puzzles at your own pace. While those situations are still present, there are many different spots where you have to move quickly and think fast while avoiding danger. Oddly enough, it makes it feels much more like an action-puzzle adventure title. Which is neat. One aspect of Valiant Hearts that was I was very impressed with was the visual style. As you already know, this title runs on the UbiArt Framework engine, which was used by the recent Rayman titles, and the just released Child of Light. Visually, Valiant Hearts evokes the style reminiscent of French comic books and animated shorts from the 1960s. The art style is both detailed and crisp, as it helps to illustrate the grittiness and grim nature of war, while at the same time showing emotion and complexity in the character's personality and design. The juxtaposition between bleak and vibrant is stark, and very effective in helping to the story. With that said, I did find that the art style and layout design made it a little difficult in some cases to find clues and other objectives. There were points where clues and items I had to locate would blend into the background, and it was unclear if I could interact with it or not. I often times found myself wandering around trying to find the solution, and I had to get help at some points to figure out what to do. Here's hoping they can make objectives a little more obvious by the time of release. I'd like to think that it says a lot about a game when they're willing to tackle a more personal story set during a time of war. And to be frank, I find that level of humanity is missing from other games that are set in war. In one sequence, I was controlling the character Emile, who was awakened by his dog after surviving a bombing raid. Even with the cartoon aesthetic, the carnage seen from traversing the ruins of the base, along with what remained of the soldiers was tough to witness. I found more honesty, and more emotion in this scene than most other games about war. Valiant Hearts: The Great War is quite an intriguing and evocative game. I spent a lot of time thinking about how to best share my thoughts about it. It very much channels indie game sensibilities, such as streamlined gameplay and a personal and expressive story; which is surprising coming from a big publisher such as Ubisoft. While there were some rather serious bugs and quirks that still need to be ironed out, I admire a lot with this title. With its release next month, fans of the adventure genre will have another neat, and interesting title to look forward to.
Valiant Hearts photo
To Hell and back
I don't know about you, but I really like Ubisoft's recent output of games utilizing the UbiArts Framework engine. I'm quite a fan of games that use 2D visuals to tell a story, and even with the recent release of Child of Lig...

Destiny's combat is solid, but I'm not so sure about the rest of it

Apr 28 // Hamza CTZ Aziz
Bungie (PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 [previewed], Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: BungiePublisher: ActivisionRelease: September 9, 2014 Here's a quick recap of the story of Destiny. It's the near-future, and humanity has been visited by the mysterious Moon-sized being known as the Traveler. This being breathes new life into our solar system, paving way for massive human expansion. It's a Golden Age, as humanity rushes into the stars, creates colonies on Mars, Venus, and so on. It's an amazing era of unbounded human progress, but it doesn't last. The Traveler had an enemy and this evil is finally able to track it down in our galaxy. The human race is nearly destroyed from the ensuing war. When hope is all but gone, the Traveler sacrifices itself to save what's left. It now hangs above Earth where humans begin to rebuild underneath it as they try to reclaim their former Golden Age. Players come into the story centuries later. The alien enemies have been slowly regaining power. You as a Guardian live in The Tower, the last safe city on Earth, and are tasked with protecting this home, and helping humanity push back into space and carve your destiny in the stars once again. So, first let's focus on the stuff I know for a fact based on what I got to experience. What Bungie had us play through was a Strike mission, instances where up to three players work together to take on replayable scenarios that last an average of 30 minutes or so. Strikes are designed to be linear in nature, and while I experienced a great mixture of wide open spaces and tight corridor interiors in this particular Strike, the level was always kind of funneling you along. The Strike we played took place on Earth in Old Russia, and Bungie had us replay it three times in order to experience all three playable Guardian classes: Titan, Warlock, and Hunter. All the weapons in the game are available to each class, so what differentiates them is primarily their Focus abilities. Focus is a special offensive or defensive power derived from The Traveler's energy, and it's only the Guardians who can wield these powers. As you're fighting in Destiny you'll be drawing energy from the Traveler to fill up your Focus. The better you fight, the faster you'll draw this power. Once your energy meter is filled up, you'll trigger it by pressing both bumper buttons at the same time. With the Titan, you have this super melee strike that has to be directed right at a target. The Warlock is able to summon this energy blast that he shoots at the ground, giving off area-of-effect damage. The Hunter gets a golden gun that kills most targets with just one shot instantly. Those were just some of the Focus abilities I got to mess with as there's plenty you can choose from. That's a key point for Destiny, in fact. You as a player are provided with a ton of choices all throughout the game and it all affects your character. The MMO/Borderlands comparisons come up a lot when talking about Destiny, and for good reason -- there's a ton of loot to acquire. On top of the weapons, you can get helmets, cloaks, gauntlets, chest plates, and so on. Beyond the cosmetic reasons, your armor will alter your characters traits. You can configure armor to favor movement, strength, speed, and more in order to change how your character handles to fit your exact play style. Plus, the loot and ammo you see is just for yourself -- you never have to worry about sharing or calling dibs on items that fall on the map. In fact other players can't see the loot that you're seeing, making the items all the more meaningful for just you. You have nine inventory slots when it comes to your guns and each of your gear slots, and as you encounter stronger items you can dismantle older items to gain resources/materials. Or you can take them to The Tower, the social space for players where you can sell your collection and buy new things. On top of all this, Bungie is looking into item trading. At launch you'll only be able to trade items between the three characters you're able to develop. "We're really excited about doing a player economy," investment lead Tyson Green stated. "This is going to be a game that the community really drives. But for launch we're going to be restricting it to trading items between your own characters. We have a lot to learn about the way the economy works, and also the security situation both for our own systems and platforms. We're excited about opening up player to player trade as soon as we can, but we're actually going to keep it to character-to-character trade at launch." Here's the most important thing you'll probably take away from my hands-on experience: Playing Destiny felt like I was sliding right back into Bungie-made Halo games. It felt extremely natural for me as a hardcore Halo player taking the fight to the various aliens in this Strike setting. Combat was very satisfying. I could feel the weight of each of my different gun types. Most of all the impacts of each bullet/laser blast felt like they mattered. Fights are not that typical MMO bullshit where you see the numbers falling/dwindling down from the enemy while you're taking turns hitting each other like everyone is a sponge. You see your enemy's lifebar as they take damage, and you see health fall based on where you're hitting them. Headshots are often instant kills, whereas you may need to shoot enemies a few times if you're hitting them in the chest or limbs. I was worried about Destiny being too MMO-ish, but as Green told us, Bungie always focused on the action foremost. "We started off saying we want to build a game that's got more RPG to it. In fact I would say early in Destiny's life we were really mostly thinking about what kind of formulation of that do we want. But as it evolved, as it developed, as it firmed up -- we're talking years ago -- we really said okay first and foremost we're making a first rate action game. We have I guess a reputation to live up to and so that's what we really concentrated on delivering. We have tailored the investment systems to support that rather than I would say replace it. So very iterative process but really always our eye has been on the action game. Really making sure the action plays well ... we really concentrated on that and layered the investment game on top of that." Arsenal-wise, you have your Focus, grenades, and three weapon types. Tapping the weapon-swap button will bounce you between smaller weaponry like a pistol, to special weapons like shotgun, assault rifles, and the like. Holding the weapon swap button down for a couple of seconds will switch you to the heavy category, such as a belt-fed heavy machine gun or rocket launcher. You can pick what weapon to use before jumping into a mission, but you're free to swap guns out at any point on a mission from your inventory screen.  Bungie is really hyping up all the different guns you can get, giving them cute special names like "Super Good Advice" and such, but from what I saw they just seemed like the standard offering of guns you see in most games. I didn't really get to mess with any of the gear or character customization during my time, so I can't say what makes them extra special other than some of them just look cool and future-y. Players have a slide move, but the biggest thing with your movement abilities is that there's double jump. Each character class has a different double jump too. The Titan has a jetpack, the Warlock ends up with more of a floaty effect, and they both can hover in the air for a small duration of time. The Hunter meanwhile has jet boots, and that's more of the traditional double jump effect. All the double jump stuff will nearly instantaneously recharge the second your feet touch the ground too. The double jump ability is helpful in combat, for instance hovering over someone's cover and then shooting them from below. Just don't go expecting Titanfall-style parkour or traversal here. While you have to take on a Strike with three players (with friends or via matchmaking if you have no friends), you're not bound to each other at all once in the mission. You can totally summon your hoverbike (that everyone can pull up at anytime), and just take off. There are good reasons to stick with your team, however. For one, whenever you use your Focus attack you drop little energy balls that can be picked up by allies that go to filling up their Focus meter faster. The biggest reason of course is that it'll make all the fights more manageable. While the enemy AI seemed pretty dumb overall (standing out in the open, not really being overly aggressive when near a player), they can get overwhelming when there's over a couple of dozen enemies at key choke points. Granted, dying has no serious effect, at least in Strikes. If you are killed you'll have to wait for about 30 seconds before you can respawn again on your own. Or a teammate can come revive you to get back in faster. I was told that you will lose some progress in certain situations if you die, though. My favorite moment during my hands-on time was when we encountered a giant spidertank mech as a mini-boss halfway into the Strike. I posted up on a perch with plenty of cover around me, and used my sniper rifle to pick off the spidertank, hitting its obvious weak points. Meanwhile my teammates flanked each side of me to distract the enemies, allowing me to focus all my energy on the mini-boss before I joined them on ground to mop up what was left. There was a lot of variety of enemies all throughout the Strike as there were two alien races present: The Fallen and the Hive. From low-level grunts, captains with shielding, creatures that used magical forces, and giant boss-sized enemies. In a lot of ways, it was reminiscent of the Covenant from Halo in terms of variety. It was always a good mix throughout the experience, and there was even a moment where we encountered both alien races as they were waring on each other, vying for control over a certain location in Old Russia. As for the whole universe exploration, you can't immediately go anywhere you want to at the beginning. You have to level up, develop your character as you explore more of the story. The Director is a HUD system that you will pull up to view all the active missions and others activities you can go mess around with, and it adds more content as you develop and explore areas. Some areas you can re-explore too, such as the Old Russia level I played where I wasn't able to go through some doors until I was able to level up more. The places you will visit will be specific interesting locations filled with content Bungie has created on each of the planets, as opposed to just being able to go anywhere and explore say the entirety of Earth itself. Traveling from planets take place through your space ship, and from what I saw (with the Strike missions at least) the space ship stuff was more of a loading screen element over you being able to pilot the ship. So that's all the stuff I got to experience myself. Everything from here on out is just stuff we were briefly shown, or told while the developers had to dance around certain subjects they couldn't talk about yet. Which was a lot, with most of the reasons being they're holding off to reveal more at E3.  Where Strikes are small, linear experiences, Patrols are Destiny's more open-ended story-type offerings. Bungie's Eric Osborn showed off a section that took place on the Moon, where he was traveling by himself in a giant open environment with incredible draw distances of actual areas you could explore, taking on objectives as they came up. Aside from the whole acquiring loot and cool-looking armor, I'm still not sure why I as a player will be invested to make any sort of progress in Destiny, and that's primarily why my excitement has dwindled from this hands-on look. I'm first and foremost a story kind of guy when it comes to shooters, and Bungie still won't really share what's going to motivate players. We've been told there will be a beginning, middle, and end with the story, and while in most games that would mean something, it's pretty hard to grasp when it's said about a massively multiplayer online game. It was also disappointing that we weren't able to experience any of the public event instances. As you're playing Destiny, you'll come across public events that will seamlessly bring in other players to take on a big adversary. How many players wasn't specified, but I was reassured by community manager David "DeeJ" Dague that these events will be scaled in a way to make them exciting. "There isn't any one technical limitation that says '45 [people]' you know? We try to make sure that a public event is something where there are enough people where it's exciting. But not so many people that any one Guardian is not important in the encounter. Everyone who is there, everyone who is fighting should feel like they contributed to that action." While public events scale the difficulty, it's not something just one player alone can defeat. You have to cooperate, but again if you don't want to play with others or just don't like the odds, you can straight up bail and go back on your own thing. Some last miscellaneous points before I wrap up my thoughts: I was never given a clear answer why they're still not supporting the PC platform as an option. It's even more baffling once you experience the character customization section. Instead of going through menus and such with the d-pad or whatever as you would 99% of console games, you have a cursor that you have to move around with your directional stick much in the way you would move a mouse cursor, just not as fluid. And for all of you who asked me over Twitter, there's no info to share on split-screen, with one Bungie rep stating they weren't allowed allowed to talk about it yet. At the end of the day I'm happy that I finally got some hands-on time with Destiny, if for nothing else but to be reassured with how well the combat mechanics felt. That, and the game is incredibly gorgeous. There's so much detail and color to everything that it really looks like a living, breathing world. As for everything else, well, my excitement has fizzled out. After talking about Destiny for so long, and being kept in the dark throughout it even now, it's just getting old. I'm totally going to play Destiny when it comes out later this year. But I'm ultimately wary that I'll have no real good reason to spend any significant time on the story.  For more on Destiny check out some early details on the competitive multiplayer, plus how you'll be able to import characters from last- to current-gen.
Destiny HANDS-ON! photo
The mystery is just getting old
It's been over a year since Bungie first released details on Destiny, its next big project after handing off the Halo series to Microsoft. While the studio was done telling the tale of the Master Chief and his journey, Bungi...


Auto-loading more stories ... un momento, corazón ...