[Disclosure: Anthony Burch, one of the writers for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, was previously employed at Destructoid. As always, no relationships, personal or professional, were factored into the review.]
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it." I can imagine that mantra circulating the 2K Australia office as the team worked on Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. Gearbox had a huge hit on its hands with Borderlands 2, and there is not much reason to mess with a winning formula.
To be clear, a lot of what matters is new. The story, playable characters, environments, dialogue, and physics are all new. Despite that, it all feels very familiar. Where a number of core systems were significantly upgraded between the first and second games in the series, The Pre-Sequel's additions are much less pronounced.
One odd aspect of some of the new content that this entry brings to the vault hunting universe is that it feels more like Borderlands than Borderlands 2 in some ways, for better and for worse.
It's really not all that long until Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel comes out, and you've already made a grave mistake. You didn't call dibs on Claptrap. Know how I know that? Because I'm writing this post right now. If you called dibs, I'd be doing something dumb like whatever dumb thing you're doing in your dumb life this very second.
Two years ago, Chris, Tara, Conrad, and Andy each called dibs on a Vault Hunter for Borderlands 2 before I ever could, and so I was never able to play it. All I could do was sit there looking at my copy, wishing I had called dibs first. I will not make that same mistake twice.
I have dibs on Athena. Simply put, Athena is the best. Don't worry, there are three other perfectly okay Vault Hunters for you to choose from. You should be all right, I guess. Anyway, here's why Athena is the best and I call dibs on her.
Toys For Bob has found some rather interesting ways to evolve the Skylanders franchise. While the conceit the first time around was simply interactive toys, the developer mixed things up with giants on the second go, and with a mix-and-match concept (my personal favorite to date) after that.
Trap Team is the fourth iteration of the series, and the gimmick this time around involves tiny plastic pieces that essentially function as little Ghostbusters tools to ensnare enemies. While the core game is still as strong as ever, the trap mechanic isn't all that exciting.
The original Costume Quest was a seminal game for Double Fine; it was the first game to come out of Amnesia Fortnight, a two-week period of experimenting with small-scale games. Costume Quest's success led the way for Stacking, Iron Brigade, and other download-only games.
Now, Costume Quest 2 is here just a few weeks before Halloween and it's delivering the same fun as the original. It may be a little too similar in some spots, but there are plenty of improvements to satisfy fans.
From the old school "20th Century Fox" opening to the first few seconds, Alien: Isolation wants you to know that it takes after the first film from the series it was based on. One alien, one spaceship, one chance at survival.
This is the game we should have gotten from Gearbox.
It's still tough to believe a fighting game based on the Persona series exists, let alone is any good, but Persona 4 Arena certainly came as a pleasant surprise. Atlus and Arc System Works are two distinctive studios known for creating very different types of experiences, but somehow managed to meld their unique strengths into a stellar fusion.
It must have been a difficult task, trying to charm two disparate audiences at once, but the developers proved more than capable of surmounting the challenge. Now they've returned with a followup in Persona 4 ArenaUltimax, hoping to make lightning strike twice.
Developing a licensed game can be extremely difficult. Not only does Monolith Productions have the Lord of the Rings film series to honor with Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, but the developer also has to work in many aspects of Tolkien's other works to weave together a story that calls from multiple sources.
In that regard Monolith has succeeded in creating something believable, but in the process, the game itself didn't receive as much attention.
The original Forza Horizonimpressed us back in 2012 with its ability to incorporate what we already loved about Forza Motorsport into an absolutely massive open-world sandbox racing game, while not completely ditching its simulation roots and easing new players into an arcade-simulation racer hybrid. It also helped that the game was really nice to look at.
Playground Games and Turn 10 are back with Forza Horizon 2, and I am so glad they are.
With regard to sports games, the most important facet of any given title should always be the actual playing of the sport. That's how NHL 15 is. It mostly shines when you're on-ice, leading the charge through the neutral zone or lining up a bone-crushing hit on an unsuspecting forward. Damn EA for making me want to say this, but with NHL 15, when you're in the game, you're in the game.
But, if that's all that really matters, why's it impossible to overcome the feeling that its off-ice issues drag NHL 15 down like a player that just got viciously hooked from behind?
In case you have not yet heard, the full, interactive skill trees for all four of the Vault Hunters in the upcoming Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel have been released for public consumption.
Some of the mathematics governing the skill trees has been tweaked for the Pre-Sequel, so in contrast with Borderlands 2, these new Vault Hunters will be able to reach the end of two of their three skill trees before hitting the initial level cap of 50.
Most people looking forward to the title had already decided on which character to main, but now we can all make more educated decisions. In my case, I am sure I will eventually play them all. So after reading every skill carefully, imagining how it will all play out on the battlefield, and spending far too much time tweaking skill points, I have come up with proposed builds for how I expect to play each of the new characters.
My time with Resident Evil: Revelations 2 at Tokyo Game Show was brief -- maybe 20 minutes if we're being generous. Swiftly dumped into the beginning of the game, I was left to try to unravel the mystery of what exactly was happening, an inquiry that went unsolved. It was predictable, though. There's a lot of story to tell over Revelations 2's month-long release of four installments in early 2015; they're not going to clue me in right from the get-go.
What I do know is that I woke up in a jail cell as Claire Redfield, the action protagonist of Revelations 2. She handles all the shooty/stabby parts, and her cohort Moira Burton handles all the investigation bits. Moira was similarly imprisoned close by, until I used Claire to free her. From then on, the two could be switched on-the-fly with a simple press of a button.
Seeing as it was the beginning of the game, this is where Revelations 2 did its best to acclimate players with the simpler mechanics. Here's a knife, stab stuff with it; here's a gun, it's used for shooting bad people. That sort of thing. After teaching me how to push shelving, a zombie burst through the other side, imploring me to punch him with my knife in his big dumb face.
Disney Infinity was quite the ambitious project, but it fell flat in a few key areas. This was mostly due to a lack of even game worlds, with a few of the universes overshadowing others that felt more rushed. The other aspect of the game that didn't fully deliver was the Toy Box mode -- a take on LittleBigPlanet's "create your own" levels mechanic.
With Disney Infinity 2.0, Avalanche Software is poised to rectify both of those issues, combined with free reign of the Marvel license. While 2.0 is still primarily targeted towards the younger audience, the overall package is much more enticing the second time around.
[Screenshots shown here are not the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 versions.]
The marketing for Destiny would have you believe that the only place it makes an appearance is on the PlayStation 4. But no, it certainly made its way to Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. The latter of the three, specifically, are particularly surprising. Of course, Destiny was announced before the now current-gen consoles were even announced, so Bungie made due on its original announcement to bring their new shooter to last-gen systems.
You already know our thoughts on Destiny, and now you're not sure whether or not the PS4 or Xbox One versions are truly worth it over the PS3 or Xbox 360. After spending some time with both the PS3 and PS4 versions myself, the technical disparity between the generations has finally become quite apparent.
It's been a small journey reviewing Destiny, but now I've experienced every facet of the game and I'm ready to make my decision. As mentioned previously, the story and setting leave a lot to be desired, but the gunplay is very sound, and the PVP element reminds me of some of my favorite shooters, filled with tons of exciting moments.
But even after digging into the nitty-gritty, the endgame structure is rigid and has too many problems at the current moment to warrant a full recommendation.