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The Dark Souls-inspired action RPG, The Surge, just received a flashy new trailer that takes a deeper look at combat.
Set in a dystopian future, Earth's inhabitants struggle as the planet nears its final days. Those left alive in overpopulated cities must world relentlessly to find ways to survive.
In the trailer below, you see that you can attack both vertically and horizontally to target a foe's specific body parts and limbs. Upgrading your exo-suit by finding loot is also integral to your success.
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A previous trailer detailed how you can harvest enemies, which you can watch here. The Surge, from developer Deck 13, releases May 16 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
Today is Earth Day, a holiday dedicated to conserving our planet by picking up after ourselves and not being wasteful. Though the game doesn't take place on Earth, Prey is showing a little love to the holiday be featuring its Recycler Charge, which takes the various objects you can pick up around Talos I and turns them into miniature black holes.
You can turn pretty much anything into a Recycler Charge, including bins, trash, glass, and... heavenly bodies.
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Capcom is big on cashing in on its extensive gaming history, so yet another blast-from-the-past package of 8-bit games from the company is no surprise. In this case, the theme is Disney--and a good reminder that, when Disney put its name on a game back in the day, it was a pretty sure bet you'd be in for a good time. Disney and Capcom had a great track record of solid NES titles based on beloved late-'80s/early-'90s cartoons, and now those 8-bit classics are available in one affordable package.
If you're the kind of person who even just sees the word DuckTales and instantly hears "woo-ooo!" in your mind, Capcom's gifting you a retro treat here. Six games are included in the Disney Afternoon Collection, and they are the kind of side-scrolling platformers so prevalent in the NES' heyday.
You'll find DuckTales and DuckTales 2, both Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers titles, Darkwing Duck, and the aerial shooter TaleSpin in the collection. These are largely straightforward ports of the original games made to fit your HDTV, but they're otherwise untouched replications of the original NES versions. You can turn filtering on and off on the fly to smooth out the pixelated graphics and stretch the game to fit your screen (or leave the bordered version true to the original aspect ratio), but none of the graphics have been explicitly retouched.
Given the nature of this collection, the entire pack feels like an historical artifact. In their day, Capcom's Disney-themed games had impressively high production values, solid level design, and otherwise stood out thanks to their recognizable cartoon cast. They also shared another defining feature--they were almost universally, uncompromisingly difficult (a trend that would continue well into the Super Nintendo years).
The Chip 'n Dale games were cooperative platformers, which was distinctive for the time. DuckTales offered players the ability to take the large worlds in whatever order they wanted and offered replay value with the ability to revisit previously explored worlds, since the levels were full of secret gems. Darkwing Duck focused on side-scrolling shooting and a humorously noirish atmosphere that was countered by a controller-throwing level of potential frustration due to game mechanics and difficulty level. The odd duck out (so to speak), TaleSpin, starts off almost like a side-scrolling arcade shooter, where you can only shoot one slow bullet at a time, which can be upgraded over time. The pacing is such that every shot must be timed perfectly, or you're doomed.
The games themselves are only part of the appeal here, though. Capcom has included a plethora of additional content as well. The Disney Museum lets you stroll down memory lane and provides some interesting perspective on each game and their characters. The goodies offered in the Museum include ads, concept art, and soundtracks. Given the historical nature of the games, this is a particularly nice touch that adds more weight to the idea that once, long ago, these were premium-priced, triple-A titles.
Each game also comes with two new modes: Boss Rush and Time Attack. Boss Rush distills the game down into a gauntlet run made up entirely of bosses, as the name suggests. Time Attack adds an interesting layer of social gaming to the mix--this mode lets you race through the levels against the clock but also links to online leaderboards to let you compete against the world for the fastest times.
The final addition to the Disney Afternoon Collection is the rewind button, which boosts the enjoyment of these challenging diversions. Pressing the left shoulder button instantly backs the action up so you can try again. It works throughout every game, and you can even use the feature to go back to the very beginning of a level. To say it's a sanity saver for those not used to punishment of this magnitude is an understatement.
The Disney Afternoon Collection is a refined time capsule that covers a very specific chapter in gaming history. While these games might not be anything to get overly excited about individually, in a package that includes plenty of history and extras, this collection is a nostalgic curiosity with heart.
Gun Media and Illfonic are ready to unleash Jason Vorhees on the public. Today the studios announced Friday the 13th: The Game is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on May 26.
The asymmetrical multiplayer game puts one player in control of the deranged psychopath, while the seven other players act as Camp Crystal counselors trying to survive the evening any way possible. Though the game is releasing with only the multiplayer mode, Illfonic plans to release a single-player component at a later date. Read more about those plans here. You can watch the launch trailer below:
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Dawn of War III, the latest entry in the Warhammer 40K space opera, is nearly upon us, and the open beta for the real-time strategy title is now live.
The beta runs from today through 10:00 a.m. PT on April 24. It gives players access to the three factions in 1v1, 2v2, and 3v3 multiplayer matches across three maps. To celebrate the beta's launch, Sega has released a new trailer for the title:
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Dawn of War III launches for PC on April 27. For more on the game, watch this earlier trailer, which explores the three factions competing for galactic dominance.
[Source: Dawn of War]
As Outlast two nears its April 25 launch date, we find ourselves with a new trailer that shows off a few more shots of where we can expect to find ourselves as we try not turn on the lights.
The launch trailer highlights a run through a cornfield, a sadistic ritual, a brief snippet of a scene inside a helicopter (and what may be the aftermath of that scene), and several in-game scenes showing all the angles bad guys can come for you. You can watch the blood-soaked trailer below.
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NetherRealm has released yet another 'Shattered Alliances' story trailer for Injustice 2, this time centering on Brainiac and his efforts to destroy Earth and Superman. While we have known about Brainiac's inclusion in the story since January, this is the first time fans have gotten a look at his motivations and his role in the larger narrative. You can check out the full trailer down below.
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As with previous trailers, Shattered Alliances Part 5 is full of tidbits for fans to put together. The trailer starts with Brainiac's invasion of Earth, as we see Supergirl hanging out with Wonder Woman and Black Adam, warning them about Brainiac, and saying that they need to find her cousin Kal-El. This is a pretty big moment, as it shows that Kara is in league with the Regime, at least at the beginning of the game, and that she knows about the danger Brainiac poses to Earth.
We later find out that this is because Brainiac was responsible for the destruction of Krypton, and he sees Superman's escape as an oversight that must be corrected. Judging by the trailer, it appears he isn't aware of Kara's escape from the dying planet, which may come into play later in the story.
Later in the trailer, we get a glimpses of a battle between Brainiac and the combined efforts of Batman and Superman. It isn't known how those two team-up, but planetary extinction tends to break down some barriers. There's not a whole lot of Brainiac gameplay shown in the trailer, but it seems like he will have some long limbs thanks to his metal tentacles, and possible a long-range command grab. Knowing NetherRealm, we should see a gameplay trailer for the character relatively soon.
Injustice 2's previous trailers have shown off Gorilla Grodd's villainous society, which you can look at here, as well as a gameplay trailer for Catwoman, which you can see here. Injustice 2 is coming to PC, PS4, and Xbox One on May 16.
Last week, Bandai Namco teased a new RPG project, and today the company has revealed it's a console title named Code Vein.
The game takes place in the future where vampires called revenants balance their formidable abilities with the danger of becoming one of The Lost – ghouls drained of their humanity.
Code Vein is a "story-driven connected dungeon experience," where you choose a partner that complements your combat style. Weapons (such as bayonets, axes, and spears) have their own abilities, and these combine with Blood Veil attacks, which are fueled by the blood of your enemies.
Bandai Namco is saying Code Vein is coming to "major home consoles" in 2018.
For more on the game, be sure to check out the screens in the gallery below.
Dawn of War III is a game at odds with itself. Matches start with a lot of momentum and expand quickly before settling into a soft balance for long stretches. Careful control of elite warriors on the front line is essential, but so is constantly nurturing your base and marshalling upgrades for your armies. Despite that, Dawn of War III holds its own, offering delicious tooth-and-nail fights that will push both your technical skill and strategic aptitude to their limit.
Continuing the story of Gabriel Angelos, head of the storied bunch of Space Marines known as the Blood Ravens, Dawn of War III centers on the search for an artifact from the Eldar blood god Khaine. However, the campaign shifts between each of the game's three major factions--the Space Marines, the Eldar, and the Orks--to show each of their perspectives and explain why a magical MacGuffin is worth interplanetary war.
If you got through that paragraph fine and you know your tyranids from your chaos demons, you're good to go. Otherwise, like most games under the Warhammer umbrella, this isn't friendly to newcomers--and it matters this time around. Everything from tactical options to unit management leans at least partially on knowledge of the Warhammer universe. The tutorial will do a solid job of giving you the tools needed to get going, but background knowledge is all but essential.
Beyond a healthy addition to the already massive Warhammer canon, the campaign doesn't offer much. You have a straight push through 17 missions, and each of them serves as a really drawn-out tutorial, offering contrived scenarios for you to test out different strategies before playing against others online. That's fine on its own, but without interesting twists on the fundamentals of play, you're better off starting with multiplayer. There's only one mode, but it's packed with ideas.
Skirmishes can have between two and six human (or AI) players split into two teams. Each is charged with defending a power core. Both sides start with an array of basic defenses, including a pair of powerful automated turrets, to deter early intruders. From there, you'll plan out your base and capture strategic points around the map to pull in resources and keep tabs on the enemy.
That, in itself, could form the backbone of a game, but Dawn of War III also has an array of powerful hero units. Each is a pillar of the Warhammer story and comes with weapons and powers befitting their esteem. You'll be able to summon your first after the first few minutes of a match, after which they can press fronts, boost morale, or harass your foes. While most of these units can turn the tide on their own, they're akin to a queen in chess, in that if you do manage to lose one, it can be devastating.
That's fine on its own, but what it means, practically speaking, is that just as your base-building gets more complex and requires more care and attention, you're also tasked with tactically managing your Elite units. That makes for one steep learning curve, but for those that manage it, there's a lot of added depth.
Bases in Dawn of War aren't just where your core units get churned out. They're a vital part of resupplying and supporting your forward troops. Elites, tough as they are, also don't typically heal on their own, and marching your shiny Morkanaut all the way to the foe's headquarters--only to have to march home and then back just to freshen up--isn't wise. That creates an unusual attentiveness to the front lines that lends itself to white-knuckle play.
Awkward as it can be, there's magic to be found here. Pressing with the gargantuan Wraithknight Taldeer as a distraction right as you capture a resource node is exhilarating, and it’s made that much better when you can connect the Webway and warp in reinforcements from across the map.
These gains are always tenuous, though. Dawn of War strictly limits army sizes, and resource gathering slows exponentially the more troops you have. This means that even if you knock an opponent down, they'll build up resources quickly and come back swinging in short order. That magnifies the importance of the psychological play. Running with the previous example, while you'd have a strong forward position, that also stretches supply lines and leaves you open to a swift, brutal counterattack.
These quick reversals are brilliant and make for intense, memorable matches. While humans are more fun to spar with, the included AI isn't a slouch either. Computer players will try their own tricks, often hinting at larger armies than they have for intimidation, or launching sneak attacks to your core base.
Each of the three main factions also complement each other well in the classic rock-paper-scissors fashion. Space Marines are slow to build up momentum, but once they've hit the field, they're a force. Eldar are mobile and suited for hit-and-run attacks, and the Orks...well, they're weird. They’re exceptionally strong, but only when they declare a "WAAAAAAAGH!!!"--which, while terrifying, notifies everyone on the field, letting others adjust defenses accordingly.
Between matches, you can tune your army a bit, changing out different elite units as a kind of loadout. Plus, in a nod to Warhammer’s tabletop inspirations, you can customize the paint and color scheme for every unit in the game. Given the role of army customization in Warhammer proper, it's a shame you can't also swap out weapons and gear for your basic units and vehicles, for example. They're nice additions that mix things up a bit, but they're also a bit shallow.
A few other problems lurk here and there, particularly in the user interface. On multiple occasions, Elite units won’t deselect when clicking around the map. At times, dragging boxes around troops won’t highlight them at all. While small problems on the whole, they did cause their share of raised voices.
Dawn of War III doesn't quite keep up with its predecessors' pedigree of high production values. The game certainly sounds amazing, with crisp sound effects and an excellent soundtrack, but the same can't always be said of the visuals. Battles often look great zoomed out, but pulling in shows plenty of blemishes. The camera also doesn't do a great job of showing off the battlefield. Even at its most distant, very little of the map fits in the screen, meaning that you can expect to need to move around a lot during play.
An odd chimera of its forebears, there's a lot in this fast-paced RTS that’s a little bit off. Parts of the interface don't work sometimes, inter-match army management is half-baked, and the micromanagement needed to use the game's signature hero units effectively doesn't jibe with the extensive base-building you'll need to support them. But those problems fall away when you’re in the heat of battle. Dawn of War III builds and maintains an organic tension that yields huge pay-offs, and there’s nothing else quite like it.
For Mario Kart fans, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe might look like more of the same with small Double Dash-inspired tweaks. But thanks to a series of updates both big and almost unseen, it's the version of Mario Kart to get. If you don't own a Wii U or skipped out on Mario Kart 8 the first time around--or even if you've played it before--Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is worth your time. It plays beautifully on Switch in both handheld and docked mode, and its core racing is as exciting as ever. And, most notably, it completely revamps the original's lackluster Battle Mode, rounding out an already great racing game.
In the original version of Mario Kart 8, the balloon-popping Battle Mode disappointingly repurposed tracks designed for regular racing instead of having arenas designed specifically for a completely different way of playing. All of those tracks have been replaced in Deluxe, and the Battle maps we get make all the difference. There are five new maps and three retro maps, and each has choke points great for face-offs built around central areas where you can mercilessly toss items at your friends. And unlike on regular racetracks, those items have a much greater chance of actually hitting someone instead of flying off to the side pointlessly. The Splatoon-inspired Urchin Underpass and the almost Overwatch-like Dragon Palace are standouts.
In order to fully take advantage of these new maps, Battle Mode introduces modes that weren't in the original. Balloon Battle is of course back with a few changes--it's point-based rather than last-man-standing, which keeps battles exciting right up until time is called, and it's nice to not get booted out of the fun when all your balloons are gone. There's also a completely new mode called Renegade Roundup that's very similar to cops-and-robbers tag, meaning it capitalizes on Mario Kart 8's strong racing for a different kind of battle.
Finally, there are three modes that return from previous Mario Kart games--Bob-omb Blast, Coin Runners, and Shine Thief--that all complement the maps, with my personal favorite being the explosive, competitive mayhem of Bob-omb Blast. You have to drive around collecting item boxes, throw the bombs you get at your opponents, and avoiding getting hit with bombs yourself, and it's very easy to get way too competitive amid a flurry of bombs dropping around you. Combined with the other modes, this is the varied, exciting Battle Mode that Mario Kart 8 should have had all along.
Regular racing is as strong as in the original and gets minimal updates in this version. All the tracks and characters from Wii U, including the DLC, have returned, and there are also a few new characters to choose from. Unfortunately, there are no new tracks, so if you've done your share of racing (and yelling at) your friends on the existing tracks, you'll pretty much know what to expect.
This is the varied, exciting Battle Mode that Mario Kart 8 should have had all along.
That said, the ability to carry two items at once is back from the Double Dash days, and that means slightly more items on the track to keep you on your toes. My mastery of the tracks from playing on Wii U was challenged a bit by a few more Blue Shells thrown my way. But your driving ability still matters more than in previous Mario Kart games, and racing in Deluxe is as enjoyable and rewarding for skilled players as it was originally. Precise drifting and a good handle on what kind of kart or bike configuration fits your style and the tracks you're on goes a long way.
Deluxe also adds some small quality-of-life updates that make for a more polished package. Load times are shorter on Switch than on Wii U, and the game takes advantage of the Joy-Cons' vibration capabilities--off-roading is bumpier and drifting boosts feel more satisfying thanks to a stronger sense of acceleration. Plus, you can change your kart configuration in multiplayer without having to leave the lobby first. (About time.)
Even if you didn't really care about Battle Mode, the smallest changes in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe refine an already great racing game. But the huge overhaul to the original's afterthought of a Battle Mode is a chaotic, varied opportunity to play very differently than in Grand Prix mode and well worth reinvesting yourself in Mario Kart 8 on Switch.
Remakes are a tricky business, especially for a game like Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap. Originally released on the Sega Master System in the console's waning days, the game didn't get a lot of attention in North America in the 80s, but it won over the hearts of many in Europe, where the Master System was far more popular. The problem is, how do you reintroduce a game that's a beloved classic to some but virtually unknown elsewhere to a modern, global audience? By keeping the gameplay close to the source material while giving the game an audiovisual overhaul. The result is a classic game that feels fresher than ever before.
The Dragon's Trap is an early example of what's now commonly called a "Metroidvania." This style of action game presents a free-roaming map that you're able to explore more of as you obtain new items and abilities. Most of your abilities in The Dragon's Trap come from the animal forms you can take after beating the dragon bosses. You start off as a lizardman who has limited defense and movement capabilities but wields a ranged fire projectile. As you assume other forms, your abilities will expand greatly: a mouseman with small stature and the ability to scale certain walls, a piranhaman who can swim through water freely, a lionman with a fierce offensive sword swing, and a flight-capable hawkman who can soar the skies but rapidly loses health in water. Each of these forms offers a play style that's both unique and easy to grasp--you won't have to struggle to re-learn controls for each transformation.
The world of The Dragon's Trap is fairly small compared to most modern games of this nature--there's no in-game map, but you probably won't need one. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially since this game doesn't have true "save points." If you die or continue a saved game, you'll always begin in the hub town. It's a nod to the game's old-school, password-save roots (you can even use old passwords, if you like), and while it can be a bit annoying to redo entire dungeons if you're KO'd partway through, it also emphasizes the importance of skillful play and proper preparation.
What does "proper preparation" entail? Upgrading your weapons and armor, stocking up on limited-use magic spells that aid you in beating some of the game's more obnoxious enemies, and keeping a few health-restoring potions on hand that'll save your scaly/furry/feathered behind.
A bit of exploration and creative thinking will pay off immensely in the form of loot-filled treasure rooms, permanent health boosts, and secret shops selling high-powered gear. Few things are more satisfying in The Dragon's Trap than pressing up in a suspicious-looking enclave to find a wondrous hidden door to a treasure chamber with copious goodies for the taking. Developer Dot Emu has even gone the extra mile and included new, extra-challenging secret areas made exclusively for this version of the game.
Despite the world map's small size, each area manages to remain distinct and interesting--and this is augmented by the remake's charmingly upgraded presentation.
Despite the world map's small size, each area manages to remain distinct and interesting--and this is augmented by the remake's charmingly upgraded presentation. Between the stunningly drawn backgrounds, exceptionally well-animated characters, and little visual flourishes that make every set of screens unique, The Dragon's Trap is a visual delight. What's even more amazing is that the core gameplay hasn't been compromised at all from the original to accommodate the new visuals--it's still the same in terms of controls, physics, and overall exploration progression. In fact, you can switch from new- to old-school visuals and sound on the fly with simple button presses.
Despite its modernized 2D graphics, The Dragon's Trap does show its age in a few places. Sometimes the means of progression isn't always obvious, leaving you feeling stuck. This version of the game adds a fortune-teller who sometimes drops vague hints, which helps somewhat, but it's still a bit annoying to wander around aimlessly trying to find something to help you progress. (At least the old FAQs for the game are still useful.)
A few of the mechanics also take some getting used to, such as the odd stun state that can happen when you're trapped by an enemy or rapid-fire projectiles and debilitated for seconds at a time. The boss fights also feel very underwhelming--the enemy dragons fall into simple patterns that are easy to learn after a bit of observation, and they don't change them up even at low health. But since they can tank a lot of damage, these encounters turn into tests of patience and endurance rather than skill.
As things stand, however, Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap shines as one of the best retro remakes yet. It knows not to tamper too much with the enjoyable, exploration-driven gameplay that made the original so good, instead focusing on updating the presentation to reintroduce the game to a new generation of players. While it's a bit on the short side--you can probably beat it over the course of a lazy Saturday--its small world is packed with personality. Whether you've played the original or are completely new to the weird, wacky world of Wonder Boy, The Dragon's Trap is an adventure well worth embarking on.
Previous trailers of Prey have answered the who, what, and how of the game: who is Morgan Yu, what are some of the aliens will players face, and how can weapons and powers be used to destroy them? The latest trailer for the sci-fi shooter focuses on the "where" as Arkane Studios takes players on a guided tour of the Talos I space station.
Featuring commentary from key figures behind the game's development, the trailer below shows off the diverse environments housed within Talos I and how they relate to gameplay. Some areas are full of luxurious red carpets with plenty of classy furniture for Mimics to copy, while others have no oxygen and allow Morgan to maneuver in zero gravity. Players can even leave the station and explore the space outside, which the developers say can eventually be used to quickly navigate between different areas of the station.
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Prey is set to release for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on May 5. For more on the game, check out news about the upcoming demo and ongoing film series, and visit our hub by clicking the banner below.
Thirteen years after Syberia II, the long-awaited third entry in the series is finally upon us.
Syberia 3 picks up right where its predecessor left off, with Kate Walker setting off on a new adventure alongside members of the Youkol tribe. Along the way, she will make friends and enemies, and presumably solve a bunch of complex puzzles, with the 3D graphics hopefully breathing new life into the point-and-click adventure genre. Check out the dramatic launch trailer below:
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Syberia 3 comes out for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on April 25, and for Nintendo Switch later in 2017. For more on the latest game from Benoit Sokal, check out an earlier trailer and hands-on impressions of how Syberia's classic adventure gameplay has been updated for modern sensibilities.
Farpoint's latest trailer gives insight into something we have known very little about up to this point: The game's story.
The PlayStation VR title follows a small cast stranded far from Earth as they try to survive on an alien planet. The trailer sets up an intriguing story, and also shows off some impressive vistas.
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Farpoint releases May 16 for PlayStation VR. For more on the game, head here.
Professor Layton fans have some more info to chew on regarding the upcoming spinoff, which stars the professor's daughter, Katrielle Layton. Layton's Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires' Conspiracy (formerly called Lady Layton: The Millionaire Ariadone's Conspiracy) is coming to iOS and Android this July, with a 3DS version of the puzzle game following sometime later in the fall.
According to the press release, the protagonist isn't the only thing that's slightly different. "The new title is an exciting departure from previous games in the Professor Layton series as it is made up of a combination of smaller conundrums and puzzles that need to be solved in order to complete the overall mystery. This new format is going to appeal to existing Layton fans as well as attract a brand new audience."
The game is launching worldwide on iOS and Android on July 20.
For more on the game, take a look at our earlier coverage, from when it was announced.
The first episode of Telltale's Guardians of the Galaxy series sets the action-packed, sarcasm-filled stage for what's to come. It has just the right amount of exposition to keep things on track and establishes its characters without over-explaining things for those who are familiar with the comics or film. But while its two hours are paced like a movie and consistently engaging, its more game-like elements of choice and exploration remove you from the story rather than keep you grounded in it.
The episode starts strong, immediately diving into some action. The Guardians get a call from the Nova Corps, who need help fighting Thanos; soon enough, their ship is crashing and they stumble into battle. It might feel a little abrupt if you're unfamiliar with Guardians, but bickering among the team fills in most of the gaps with their personalities and dynamic. The whole episode feels true to their characters, especially how they're portrayed in the movie, and it's a good introduction to what they're all about without relying on lengthy exposition.
Before the actual fight begins, though, you first find the Nova Corps decimated by Thanos--and you have to do some exploring to figure things out. It's the first of several point-and-click adventure sections that feel out of place in the episode's movie-like structure. Since it's not immediately apparent what you're looking for, a section that would take maybe a minute in a movie can take 10, and things come grinding to a halt. It almost feels as if your participation is just the episode checking to make sure you're paying attention, when it was doing a fine job of being interesting on its own.
The fight itself picks things back up. Switching between team members to try and take Thanos down fits Telltale's quick-time events style well, and it's also a critical setup for the real conflict at the heart of the episode: rising tensions between the Guardians. Most of your important decisions revolve around siding with one team member over another. After the kind of bonding experience only fighting a genocidal maniac can achieve, not being able to make everyone happy is a little heart-wrenching, and those decisions have weight to them.
Less-important dialogue choices can reveal some backstory, but a lot of them can get confusing given that Star-Lord has such an established personality. He's snarky and sarcastic most of the time, but when you have options, you can choose to say something a little more mushy about friendship and family. That by itself works fine, but as the episode goes on, it can feel like you're choosing between acting the way you'd think Star-Lord would act and saying the things you'd actually want to say. In certain situations, it's jarring to have choices when the decision Star-Lord would make seems obvious, especially given the episode's cinematic format.
After the kind of bonding experience only fighting a genocidal maniac can achieve, not being able to make everyone happy is a little heart-wrenching.
Because of that characterization, though, jokes land more often than not, and even less-important interactions serve to build out the team. That and good voice acting balance out a few rough bits of dialogue (Rocket making a "your face" retort and following it with, "That was terrible," for example). Quiet, intimate moments between characters are what Telltale does best, and this episode strikes a good balance between Guardians-style snark and conversations with a little more meaning to them.
The episode has one majorly important decision toward the end, but I was only able to experience one of the two options. When I replayed it to see what would change, the only scene that was really different had no sound. It's the only bug I encountered, but its timing was more than inconvenient. From what I can tell, it's a decision that will more greatly affect later episodes than this one.
Even without that one scene, the episode sets up an important conflict and serious questions about the galaxy going into Episode 2. Some more game-y elements can take you out of the experience a bit, but this is also a compelling introduction to the series that captures the unique charms of the Guardians--plus, there's some kickass music.
Mr. Shifty's influences are easy to identify. In one sentence, it's "Hotline Miami meets that opening Nightcrawler sequence in X-Men sequel film X2." It's high-concept, but Mr. Shifty lives up to the expectations that description might instill.
You play as the eponymous Mr. Shifty, a gun-averse thief with the power of teleportation who spends the entire game storming a tower in the style of movies like The Raid or Dredd. There's a plot, but the script all but acknowledges that it doesn't matter--you're here to teleport a lot and beat up hundreds of bad guys. Mr. Shifty only has three abilities: He can teleport a short distance, he can punch hard, and he can pick up melee weapons which can then be used to strike an enemy directly or thrown from afar.
In a typical encounter, you might aggressively warp into a room, punch an enemy twice, and then immediately jump out. The foes in the room will give chase, and you'll stand by the doorway and take out another one by slamming them into the door as they exit, then warp to safety. From there, you can warp back into the room they just left and take out the last to leave, then run outside and warp between the stragglers, taking them down as fast as possible.
This is one of the game's simpler scenarios--at any given point, there's a chance you also need to deal with proximity mines, rocket-launching enemies, turrets, moving laser grids, and zones that hinder shifting. The true beauty of Mr. Shifty is that you can only plan so far ahead, especially in later levels. You can have a perfect plan for how to deal with the first 10 foes in an area, but one of them might use a surprising new tactic or more enemies might flood in, and you suddenly need to adjust your strategy. As you warp around--being careful not to use five warps in quick succession and deplete your shift meter--carnage is likely to unfurl around you, and it's up to you to corral your enemies while also being aware of any nearby hazards. Mr. Shifty feels varied, even as you're performing the same actions repeatedly.
It's like a shot of adrenalin, offering an exciting, intense experience, and it's easy to forgive the game's performance flaws when it so consistently makes you feel like a badass.
Enemies are dumb enough to kill their fellow soldiers if they think they have a shot at you, a fact that becomes near-vital once they begin carrying rocket launchers. You can pick up grenades or timed mines, teleport into a room, drop one, and teleport back out. Tricking an enemy into taking out their support or provoking a group of foes before blowing them up with a well-placed mine feels fantastic, and surveying the ensuing carnage makes you feel amazing for having survived it. The key is confidence and fast action, and when you're taking out 20-plus bad guys in quick succession, it's easy to walk away feeling smug.
Mr. Shifty is a hectic, challenging game, but it's rarely frustrating or unfair--the checkpointing is generous, meaning you rarely lose more than a minute of progress at a time. However, a few puzzles and scenarios don't align with game's typical scenarios: a small handful of rooms across Mr. Shifty's 18 levels offer up light puzzles, and in a few instances, the solution requires prompting the somewhat flighty AI into performing very specific actions. These sequences are brief and too uncommon to become a huge issue, though. Realistically, all this means is that the game may hold you up for a few minutes until you figure out a solution.
What's more likely to turn players away from Mr. Shifty is its presentation--to be blunt, this is not a great-looking game. The developers have opted for a cel-shaded look, but everything is rendered very simplistically. The game also suffers from performance issues whenever the screen is full of enemies and effects, which happens a lot toward the end. Mr. Shifty can stutter heavily on both Switch and PC, visibly struggling to handle all the moving parts. However, this isn't a deal breaker, and one of these brief stutters can actually grant you an extra half second to plot your way out of a sticky situation.
Mr. Shifty isn't a huge game in terms of length, but the three- to four-hour campaign is ample. It's like a shot of adrenalin, offering an exciting, intense experience, and it's easy to forgive the game's performance flaws when it so consistently makes you feel like a badass.
The first episode of Telltale's Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, titled "Tangled Up In Blue," comes out tomorrow (for various platforms), and the game's launch trailer reveals more about Thanos and his threat to the crew.
For another look at Thanos, check out the episode's initial trailer.
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With the global popularity of the Monster Hunter series on the rise, several developers have attempted to put their own spin on the “team of warriors working together to take down a giant beast” concept. While some players might simply dismiss any game besides Monster Hunter as a knock-off, many games inspired by that series are valuable in their own right because they introduce and iterate on the formula in meaningful ways. Toukiden 2 is one such game, taking genre foundations and building upon them to form an identity all its own.
The game doesn’t waste any time before thrusting you into demon-crunching action; the very first scene puts you in the middle of a battle in Yokohama in an alternate-history version of Japan. Wicked demons known as the Oni are flooding through an interdimensional portal, and it’s up to you to destroy them before they finish wreaking havoc on Earth. This scene serves as a tutorial, introducing you to the basics of fighting: attacking with your chosen weapon, targeting (and cutting off) body parts of larger enemies, and purifying the remains of the fallen demons. Unfortunately, things don’t turn out so well in the end, and you wake up on the other end of the country 10 years later. You’re rescued by a professor and her strange mechanical companion who, along with various warrior factions of the local village, are working to help stem the tide of the Oni scourge.
One of the big things that sets Toukiden 2 apart from its peers is its ongoing story. New locations, characters, and plot elements frequently appear as you progress through your objectives. Framing the narrative is a semi-open world where you can fight monsters, find extra side quests, gather materials, and locate collectibles like ancient pillars that provide insight into the game’s backstory. Having this sort of freedom in a hunting game feels fresh and makes the world itself more engaging. But if you want traditional mission-based quests from a hub area, those are available as well.
Toukiden 2 is not totally open world at the start, however. Some locations are locked until later in the story, and some areas are infected by an evil miasma emitted by the Oni. The longer you stay in an afflicted area, the more impure your body becomes. Fail to purify yourself and it’s game over. It’s a harsh system, but there are ways to get that nasty air out of your body: you can use cleansing stones located around the world and back in town, or kill and purify a lot of demons. This system adds a nice balance of danger to exploration and adds to the overall atmosphere of the game by showing you directly how the Oni are corrupting the world.
Special praise must be given to the variety of Toukiden 2's monsters. The Oni you fight have a distinct look that falls somewhere between Japanese yokai and modern game creature design. Onis can present fast-paced one-on-one fights or lengthy, hard-fought battles that require a group strategy. Demons don’t go down easily--you’ll need to first get them to reveal their hidden life force by attacking and eventually severing specific body parts. Then you can lay into a weakened Oni with attacks and special skills to finish the job.
A crucial weapon in your fight against the Oni is the “Demon Hand,” a special piece of gear given to you by the professor. This acts like a sort of grappling hook, allowing you to perform an array of flashy attacks and maneuvers. For starters, you can latch onto enemies and objects in the environment and slingshot over to them, launching a sweet aerial attack along the way. You can also grab elemental sources and certain objects in the environment, flinging them at foes or using them to augment your weapon. Finally, you can use the Demon Hand to launch special unity attacks when your team’s unity gauge is full, tearing off certain body parts and making it extra hard for the Oni you’re fighting to regenerate. It definitely takes some getting used to, but few things are more satisfying than summoning a gargantuan supernatural hand to rend the weakened limbs from giant enemies.
Wandering through the world can be very frustrating at times due to the lack of detail on your map, repetitive environments, and a lackluster guidance system.
While you’ve got a diverse array of weapons (each with differing play styles) to choose from, Toukiden 2 also offers an interesting way to customize your warrior in the mitama. Mitama represent souls of historical and mythological Japanese figures that have been devoured by the Oni, and by freeing them, you can make use of their powers. Some mitama are earned over the course of playing the game normally, while others are random drops from slain Oni or quest rewards. You can equip them in offensive, defensive, or support roles, and depending upon where you put them, they offer various boosts and special effects.
The mitama in the attack role is the most vital since they give you a set of active skills to utilize in combat, but other mitama offer handy abilities that trigger when conditions are met (for example, when you’re hit with a status ailment). In addition, the boosts they provide can be leveled up, giving you numerous passive buffs that improve the more you fight with them. Finally, mitama abilities can be boosted if they’re equipped in certain combinations--for example, using a set of mitama from the same historical period or finding mitama whose lives were connected to each other in some way (so brush up on those Japanese history books). Collecting, levelling, and creating ideal sets of mitama is one of the big draws that keeps you coming back to the game. It can be a bit grindy, but thankfully, there are drop- and experience-boosting items you can buy in-game to make the process faster and easier.
While Toukiden 2 introduces a lot of valuable ideas, it's not without its flaws. Wandering through the world can be very frustrating at times due to the lack of detail on your map, repetitive environments, and a lackluster guidance system that will indicate where you need to go but not the often-roundabout route to get there. Areas that have stronger miasma concentration compound these issues, as they cause your corruption meter to increase many times faster than usual. There’s no indication that you’re entering one of these areas, so it’s not uncommon to take a peek at your miasma corruption mid-exploration and see that, whoops, it’s suddenly going up really fast--and also, you’re almost dead.
Toukiden 2 also neglects to explain its nuances. There’s an in-game guide you can reference that covers many topics, though it never feels like it describes things well. This extends to the multiplayer mode, which doesn’t explain how joining sessions and embarking on missions works--it just assumes you’ve played other hunting games and know the drill.
Fortunately, once you know what you’re doing, multiplayer becomes one of the highlights of the game, offering smooth, fun Oni fights with up to three other players. While you can’t do the story mode as a co-op event, the multitude of missions that are available offer up plenty of challenging quests that reward teammates for working well together to accomplish their objective.
What seems at first glance like a fairly standard genre game, Toukiden 2 ultimately offers an interesting setting, imaginative creature designs, story- and exploration-driven gameplay, and unique combat elements. While its flaws are obvious, it’s not hard to forgive them when you’re in the heat of battle, chopping off a hellish spider-demon’s legs one by one and watching its life force disappear with every slash, shot, and punch.
Star Wars: Battlefront II is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on November 17. A small taste of what this sequel has to offer leaked in a teaser trailer last week, but the extent of just how big the game is was revealed today at this year's Star Wars Celebration. Electronic Arts has heard the demands of fans and is turning Battlefront II into a robust experience that spans both single and multiplayer.
Star Wars is at its best when it focuses on a group of unlikely heroes coming together to save the day. Luke meeting Leia, Rey finding Finn – their stories intertwine and become one, like the Force. Electronic Arts knows the heart of Star Wars is an ensemble story, but has no intention of shining the spotlight on the heroes of the Rebellion again. Star Wars Battlefront II features a single-player campaign that is told from the perspective of the Empire.
"We want you to feel like an elite Imperial," says Mark Thompson, game director at Motive Studios. The first character we will get to know is Iden Versio, a middle-aged female soldier in a military group called Inferno Squad. Iden was on Endor when the second Death Star was destroyed, and the Emperor was killed. She has vowed to avenge the Emperor and keep his war going. Inferno Squad is a never-before-seen branch of the Imperial army, comprised of elite pilots, sharpshooters, and commandos capable of handling most assignments including sabotage and infiltration. Iden is obviously a versatile character for the gameplay, being able to shift from intense firefights to aerial combat over a city or in space.
The story picks up right after the Empire’s defeat and will shed some light on what happened between the destruction of the Death Star and the creation of Starkiller Base. The intent isn’t to deliver the feeling of “I’m playing as the bad guys.” This story is taking the somewhat controversial angle of the Empire having heroes of its own, and people who live in Imperial controlled cities seeing the Empire as the purveyors of peace and the Rebellion as the terrorists trying to disrupt it.
Players will get to see just how citizens of the Empire live on a new planet called Vardos. In a piece of concept art shown at the game’s unveiling at Star Wars Celebration, Vardos retains the Empire’s sterile colors. The image showed a huge enclosed habitat, consisting of people walking on a path, and a subway racing along the ceiling. The architecture was mostly ridged, with sharp corners and despite it being a vast area, a suffocating feeling hangs over it. The colors are mostly grey, but red banners with the imperial insignia give it a hint of life. Trees with similarly colored red leaves are scattered everywhere. Blasts of lightning can subtly be seen outside of the windows.
Although the Emperor is dead, he will be a key player in this story. In Lucasfilm’s expanded novels and comic books, the Emperor created a contingency plan that would allow his vision and beliefs to carry forward even after his death. He created prerecorded messages that are inserted into Sentinel droids outfitted in red Royal Guard-like cloaks, and a smooth, black faceplate that displays a hologram of the Emperor’s face. Iden will come in contact with this robotic deity, but we don’t know exactly how he factors into the conflict at hand.
The ensemble around Iden remains a mystery for now, but we do know she is the daughter of an Imperial admiral, and has a companion with her at all times; a little droid you may not even know is there. “The Empire is known for its technological prowess and flexes its might through weapons and gadgets,” Thompson clarifies. “For a special-forces [soldier], it seems like a good fit to have a seeker-style droid.”
This helper, which rests on Iden’s back and can detach to take flight, is inspired by the ID9 droid from Star Wars Rebels. In a brief, behind-the-scenes look at the development of Battlefront II, we see the droid fly in front of Iden to create a red energy shield. “He can also electrocute enemies,” Thompson adds. “He’ll also be customizable with other powers, but I don’t want to talk about that right now.”
We also know Inferno Squad uses a ship called the Corvus. At first glance this mid-sized vessel looks like an amalgamation of a Star Destroyer and TIE Fighter – triangularly shaped, with black wings tucked around its hull. Fans of Fantasy Flight’s beloved Star Wars miniatures game likely know of this ship class. Electronic Arts is bringing the Raider class that debuted in that game out of the expanded universe graveyard and back into the current Star Wars continuity.
Iden is the main character in this story, but she isn’t the only perspective players will see it unfold from. Throughout the narrative, control will occasionally switch to a hero of the Rebellion. One such moment gives players control of Luke Skywalker. We don’t know how significant these sequences are, but they will give the campaign variety, and show on a more intimate level how the Rebels are sewn into the story.
Lucasfilm views Battlefront II’s campaign as an authentic story that fits in with the films, and other expanded stories like Aftermath, and is working closely with Electronic Arts development armada to nail every little detail.
Battlefront II’s development spans four different studios: DICE handling multiplayer, Motive Studios and Lucasfilm on the single-player and story, and Criterion Games is creating the vehicular play. DICE’s Bernd Diemer was quick to state Battlefront II is the biggest project he’s worked on.
The multiplayer component spans every generation of Star Wars, and in a way is a celebration of Star Wars celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, from the prequels up to The Last Jedi. While DICE’s focus is once again on recreating the look and feel of the films and characters, the multiplayer experience will be quite different in this sequel.
DICE wants every player, whether they are a standard trooper or someone like Darth Maul or Rey, to feel like a hero and have the ability to turn the tide of a battle. “Luke didn’t start out as a powerful hero. He was a farm boy,” says Diemer. “He went on that hero's journey.” That’s something DICE wants players to experience in Battlefront II.
Heroes are still a large part of multiplayer, but how you use them is quite different. DICE wanted them to be available to more players, so there will no longer be a mad dash across the battlefield to grab hero or vehicle tokens. DICE wouldn’t specify exactly how hero instances are initiated, but did say it is tied to a resource-based system where if you do certain things, you’ll unlock the ability to change into a hero. Diemer said there’s something else you can control using resources, but didn’t want to reveal it yet.
"We made [the heroes] more physical, so they have more presence in the game,” Diemer says. You can’t do Darth Maul without him being able to kick ass. We also gave them a career, so they can become better heroes, and you can unlock different abilities.”
Rey, Kylo Ren, Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Darth Maul, and Yoda are just a handful of the heroes that are a part of this experience. DICE is also adding classes back in, so you can play the style you want, ranging from light to heavy types. You can also play as droids, such as the Trade Federation’s chatty battle droids. All of the character types will be themed to their appropriate eras, so you won’t see First Order storm troopers in the Battle of Hoth.
Space battles are a part of the multiplayer experience, and each vehicle is being treated like a character, meaning it offers a career with upgrades earned through play. The vehicles teased were X-Wings, TIE Fighters, Boba Fett’s Slave One, Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon (with the new radar dish), and Obi-Wan’s Jedi Starfighter.
No multiplayer modes were discussed, nor was any actual gameplay shown. The trailer is comprised entirely of content from within the game, but we didn't see anything from the first-person perspective.
DICE's first Battlefront game was criticized for not offering enough content; where the first Battlefront felt like the illusion of a small moonbase, Battlefront II appears to be the huge, fully functional space station people wanted. The multiplayer spans every era, has space battles, career paths, and more. The campaign gives us a different take on the Star Wars saga and is considered canon. We'll have to see how all of these parts turn out in the end, but it sounds mighty impressive at this point.