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On the cusp of Nintendo's uncertain future, I played video games in the desert with John Cena

by @destructoid
0

Let's go Cena


It's about 9:30 AM on a Thursday, it's an unheard-of-for-Los-Angeles 55 degrees out made worse by intense winds, and I'm ready to see the Nintendo Switch for the second time, days before the console launches. The Switch is ostensibly the reason for my visit, but everyone knows that's only a formality. I don't know that I need to see that Zelda E3 demo for a record-breaking third time. But if I'm not here for video games, why would I trust people that I've never met to drop me in the middle of nowhere?

I chose to put my life in the hands of some Nintendo employees because I heard this media event would feature the John Cena, not unreasonably far from Los Angeles. When you hear about an event where John Cena will be playing some video games, you do whatever it takes to get there. In my case, "whatever it takes" boiled down to "email the PR people and borrow my roommate's car." I needed the car because this wasn't just a regular preview event that also happened to feature John Cena, otherwise I would just take an Uber or something. I had to drive up to Santa Clarita -- which is in the middle of nowhere -- and take a shuttle from the eerie Blue Cloud Movie Ranch to a shack Nintendo constructed in the middle of the desert. Supposedly, this is meant to play off the idea that you can play the Nintendo Switch anywhere you go, but that's real easy for you to say when you can build a fake living room with power and heat in the middle of nowhere.

After spending five minutes in Santa Clarita, I understood why someone would set a horror TV show in this suburb. Being there felt like I was actually in the uncanny valley. Its rolling hills are plastered in rows upon rows upon rows of nigh-identical McMansions, like a neighborhood occupied exclusively by a hive-mind. There's a Westfield mall. There's a Chick-Fil-A. Don't go to Santa Clarita, even if you think seeing the empty sets at the Blue Cloud would be worth the trip. I should have turned around and left as soon as possible, but the allure of Cena was too great. I had to see the man who cannot be seen.

 
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( about 6 minute read, 1274 words )


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Review: Ride 2

by @destructoid
0

I (kinda) wanna take you for a ride


There has been a dearth of racing games recently, let alone ones focused entirely around motorcycles, so Ride 2 jumped out at me. I've always been a huge fan of the genre, but since I'm generally terrible at it I'm drawn to more arcade racing titles with less technical aptitude required. I've wanted to try a technical racer before, but felt overwhelmed by how much I really don't know about cars. 

Despite a perilously steep learning curve, Ride 2 did alleviate my growing pains the more I played it. It's just a matter of whether or not to invest a hefty amount of time for such little return. 

 
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( about 4 minute read, 805 words )


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Review: For Honor

by @destructoid
0

Death by a thousand cuts


I spent a lot of time dueling other players in Dark Souls. I'd carelessly wander into the Darkroot forest and willfully invite the protectors of those shaded woods to come and try to force me out of them. I'd painfully claw my way through the game with a sub-optimal build for taking on the monsters of the land with gear designed to give me a slight edge in the one-on-one combat with other players I craved, regardless of how it compromised me in other areas.

And through it all, PvP in Dark Souls was always a secondary feature. An interesting sub-game tucked away in a much richer and varied world. It's always been the domain of ad hoc fight clubs, risky invasions, and inevitable ganks. But, I stuck with it, the thrill of patient one-on-one combat too irresistible to ignore.

That's why I was so looking forward to For Honor. A game that promised to take the tense beauty of staring down the edge of a blade and trying to get inside the mind of your enemy. Waiting for the slightest dip of the blade, the most innocuous shuffling of the feet, that micro-second moment of vulnerability to make your move.

When For Honor is at its best, it is that game. As beautiful and brutal as one could hope. Sadly, those moments are few and far between. While For Honor was supposed to bring the thrill of the duel to the surface, it feels more tucked away and obscured by poorly conceived game modes, obnoxious grinding, and technical glitches than it ever did in the deepest recesses of the Darkroot Garden.

 
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( about 11 minute read, 2672 words )


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Review: Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin

by @destructoid
0

Ra Ra Razputin


Not that you need any more reminders, but dang, it sure has been a while since the first Psychonauts. More than a decade later, Double Fine's funny psychic-power platformer has stuck with us, thanks in part to re-releases and also the uplifting fact that a full-on sequel is in production at the studio.

Before Psychonauts 2, though, we're off on an excursion with Rhombus of Ruin, a first-person puzzle-adventure title created for PlayStation VR. This game is meant to bridge Psychonauts and its forthcoming sequel, but don't let that timeline deter you if you haven't yet played the original. Even though existing fans who already know (and probably love) these characters will be at a clear advantage to get more out of Rhombus of Ruin, it works as a standalone experience. Quite well, I might add!

 
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( about 3 minute read, 569 words )


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Review: Berserk and the Band of the Hawk

by @destructoid
0

Griffith!


Watching the original Berserk anime for the first time had a profound impact on me. I had seen bleak or otherwise violent films like Starship Troopers before as a youngster, but gazing upon Berserk was the first time I had felt like I had been truly taken hold by a grimdark, hopeless world of despair.

Berserk and the Band of the Hawk misses out on some of that in its effort to provide a Warriors hack-and-slash power fantasy, but it succeeds all the same.

 
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( about 5 minute read, 1183 words )


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