Games

Avalanche Studios Announces New Co-op Shooter

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 06/07/2018 - 18:04

Avalanche Studios brought us Just Cause and Mad Max, and now it's ready for its next big thing. Today, the studio announced a new project called Generation Zero, an open-world shooter set in an alternate history of 1980's Sweden. You take on the role of a local fighting against an invasion of machines in the rural Swedish countryside.  Players can play solo or have three friends join in for seamless four-player co-op. 

Enemies in the world will be persistent and the damage you inflict will stay on them, whether you remove limbs or armor. If an enemy returns an hour or weeks later, those battle scars will still be visible. 

Players can share loot, revive teammates and use guerrilla tactics to fight back and eventually unravel the mystery behind the machine invasion. The huge world is rendered with the Apex engine, and will have a full day/night cycle, dynamic weather, simulated ballistics, complex A.I., and a 1980's soundtrack.

 

Categories: Games

Insomniac's Next VR Game Makes You A Robot On A Mysterious Planet

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 06/07/2018 - 16:00

After teasing it recently, Insomniac fully revealed its new VR game, Stormland this morning. In the game, you are a robot on a strange planet. In the trailer, you are hard at work on a new planet, but are shot and left for dead by The Tempest. You wake up years (decades? Centuries?) later in order to repair yourself, figure out what happened to you, and take some revenge.

Insomniac is promising new ways to navigate in VR and says it is coming in 2019 exclusively for Oculus Rift.

 
Categories: Games

Onrush Review: Push It To The Limit

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 06/07/2018 - 01:00

Calling Onrush a racing game is a tad reductive and maybe even a little disingenuous. Sure, there are two- and four-wheeled vehicles careening around a track with reckless abandon. But with no finishing lines in sight, achieving victory in Onrush is about much more than simply seeing who can reach a chequered flag first. This bold idea for an arcade racing game comes from a new studio formed out of the remnants of Evolution Studios. It's a curious transmogrification of various genres and styles, taking elements from the high-octane takedowns of Burnout, the multi-vehicle chaos of Evolution's MotorStorm, and the class-based competitive action of a hero shooter like Overwatch. These influences might be unmistakable, but developer Codemasters has crafted a wholly original and innovative racing game that's quite unlike anything you've ever played before.

Describing how this off-kilter mixture functions is best achieved by explaining Onrush's Overdrive mode, which dilutes the anomalous experience down to its purest form. Here, two teams of six go head-to-head in up to eight diverse vehicle classes, with victory achieved by chaining together boost multipliers in order to rack up points. Earning boost is done by hitting jumps, wrecking opponents and weak fodder vehicles, performing bike tricks, and other actions that are tied to specific vehicle classes. Once you've depleted enough boost you can unleash the cathartic Rush Ultimate, which propels you forward at lightning speed and provides a bonus ability that is, once again, tied to your vehicle class. Overdrive is relatively simple and doesn't have the same depth as some of Onrush's other modes, but as an introduction to this brazen new style of game, it's a clear signal of intent: this is not a traditional racer by any stretch of the imagination.

Click image to view in gallery

Part of Onrush's ingenuity comes from its rubber banding, which sounds absurd until you see it in motion. Both teams are congregated together with the AI fodder vehicles in a pack known as The Stampede. Fall too far behind and you'll be teleported straight back into the maelstrom of crunching metal for a sustained period of high adrenaline driving. Not only does this keep everyone in the thick of the action at all times, but it tears down the divide between newcomers and veterans alike. You don't have to be amazing at racing games, or even have previous experience in the genre to feel like you're contributing to each match because you're always in amongst the histrionics. And this attention to inclusion is reflected in Onrush's other game modes, vehicle classes, and its driving model, too.

The bar to entry is quite low with the kind of straightforward driving mechanics you would expect from a thrills-and-spills arcade racer like this, so it's relatively easy to get to grips with the basic framework. But the skill ceiling is high enough for those looking to improve their play and delve into the intricacies of how to successfully line up pulverising takedowns and maneuver out of harm's way. There's a discernible sense of weight to each vehicle, too, that translates into a tangible heft that dismisses any thoughts of floaty handling. You're also afforded a degree of aerial control that allows you to exert downforce and crush any opponents unfortunate enough to find themselves beneath your tyres, representing the most satisfying of all of Onrush's myriad takedowns. Despite this subtle depth, however, Onrush's primary challenge still derives from your vehicle choice, and how you manipulate it to cater to the current game mode and your team's makeup.

During Overdrive, for example, you might want to play more of a support role, using Dynamo's special ability to drop boost pick-ups for your team to collect, and utilising its Rush Ultimate to supply any nearby teammates with a dollop of sustained boost that will extend their multipliers. Or perhaps you're in a game of Countdown, the mode that most closely resembles a traditional racing game, as both teams battle it out to drive through checkpoints to add incremental time to an ever-depleting clock. The speed and agility of the Blade motorcycle might come in handy here, especially with the whole Stampede moving in the same direction, as Blade's Rush Ultimate leaves a destructive trail of fire behind its two-wheeled fury. On top of this there are other classes that grant you improved magnetism on in-air attacks, ones that drain your opponent's boost, and others that deploy shields for teammates. The latter comes in particularly useful during Lockdown, which is essentially King of the Hill on wheels, as both teams fight for space in order to capture a moving zone.

You don't have to be amazing at racing games, or even have previous experience in the genre to feel like you're contributing to each match because you're always in amongst the histrionics

There's a robust single player mode that does an excellent job of teaching you the ins-and-outs of each vehicle class and game mode, with challenges that encourage you to focus on particular areas--whether it's using the hulking 4x4 Enforcer to blind opponents, or taking down vehicles in the Lockdown zone, and so on. It's a good primer for what's to come, as Onrush really comes alive once you hop online and start tearing it up with other players.

If you have like-minded friends, there are tactical opportunities to work together to wreck opposition vehicles with coordinated attacks, and use your class abilities in tandem to get the most out of each one. If you're only playing alone, however, the experience isn't impaired in any way. With every driver in close vicinity and a plethora of useful visual cues, it's relatively easy to aid your teammates despite having no direct communication. The only negative arises in Lockdown, where a recurring glitch captures the zone when nobody's in it. Wrecks can also be a bit finicky at times; on some occasions you'll total your car after scraping a wall, while at other times a head-on crash will have no effect.

There are also loot boxes, although they’re not the heinous kind likely to incite an angry furore. By completing matches you’ll earn XP that goes towards an overall level. Each successive level unlocks a loot box containing three random items of varying rarity. These can be things like new bodies and paint jobs for your vehicles, tombstone emojis that are left behind after you wreck, and different clothes for the largely inconsequential avatars. You can also buy any of these items using in-game money that's also earned simply by completing events. There are no microtransactions in sight, this is just a way to gradually dole out cosmetic items that give your whole style a sense of ownership.

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Visually, Onrush is a beautiful showcase for electrifying particle effects, dynamic lighting, and increment weather, with each of its 12 tracks catching the eye due to their diversity and multi-faceted aesthetics. The sun-kissed Whitewater Canyon, for instance, uses a vibrant, almost otherworldly, colour palette to illuminates its red rocks, while Glory Dam propels you through a winding forest before spitting you out into a dam that's adorned in vivid street art, and Big Dune Beach offers a glimpse of the Northern Lights in its night sky. Each crash and exertion of boost is also complemented by a curated concoction of popular, licensed music, usually remixed to be more up-tempo and chaotic, in case trading paint wasn't hectic enough.

When it comes to crumpling metal and high speed thrills, not all of Onrush's game modes are on equal footing in terms of consistent excitement. Yet its foundations are so strong, and so unique, that it's easy to lose hours upon hours barreling around these disparate tracks. The question of longevity will, of course, depend on post-release support, with new classes, game modes, and tracks potentially on the horizon. Considering you need 12 players to fill a full room, it would be a shame if Onrush doesn't find the kind of audience that will give it the lifespan it deserves. Part of this will depend on how Codemasters iterates on the game from here on out, but they've shown a proficiency in knowing how arcade racing games click, and Onrush is such a bold, refreshing twist on the genre that there should be little hesitation in putting your faith in them to succeed.

Categories: Games

BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle Review - The Tag Team Dream

Gamespot News Feed - Wed, 06/06/2018 - 18:00

2D anime fighters like the BlazBlue series are often intimidating for their elaborate movesets and demand for precise execution. However, BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle breaks from tradition by simplifying its gameplay systems, and bringing in characters from three other franchises to join the fight. By no means does the simplification make Cross Tag shallow--the dynamic tag system and the clever ways you can mix mechanics are where Cross Tag shines. Factor in the charm of these distinct worlds and you'll have plenty of reasons to consider this fast, flashy, and endearing fighter.

Across four mainline games, BlazBlue developed a complex fighting system, while Persona 4 Arena and Arena Ultimax distilled the formula and captured the charisma of the eponymous RPG. Under Night In-Birth (from developer French-Bread in collaboration with Arc System Works) had its own twist on a deep, yet accessible fighting game. The RWBY animated series makes its fighting game debut, and the cast's talents and flair make the transition incredibly well. Cross Tag Battle unifies all four series as a five-button fighter with two main attack buttons, a universal overhead attack that can also function as an EX attack, a tag button, and the partner skill. While it may seem a bit too straightforward, even the most historically complex characters on the roster remain true to form where it counts. By distilling classic fighting mechanics, the focus is shifted from performing elaborate directional inputs to creating openings for sweet high-damage combos through easy-to-execute attacks.

You'll recognize familiar moves with similar properties from respective games, but the conditions for execution have changed. Basic attacks, smart combos, and even Supers (called Distortion Skills) are easy to pull off, though the number of techniques mapped to the limited controls can cause some inadvertent activations of very different moves--particularly throws and Distortion Skills. Auto-forward dash on most characters may also be jarring to fighting game veterans. But it doesn't take much effort to adjust to this game's quirks and pace.

Partner skills will take time to grasp; every character has unique back, forward, and standing assist attacks where they fly in from off screen to lend a hand. Cross combos take the tag system one step further by letting your duo pile on damage simultaneously; pulling these off will make short work of opponents if you can expertly control your tandem. These are key to maximizing the effectiveness of combos, creating openings, or pulling yourself out of a rut. With this in mind, you're encouraged to either experiment using different duos or form your own collaborative attacks with the pair you love most. It's chaotic and tough to nail down in live matches, and it's where the depth of combat comes from.

Most of your advanced moves require you to expend meters that charge during the course of combat and it's critical that you keep an eye on them at all times. Meter management requires you to think about using up the skill gauge for distortion skills, laying down EX moves, or saving up for back-to-back supers with your tag partner. Cross combos and tag counters to get out of combos use up the two-bar cross gauge. And when you're down a fighter, the Resonance Blaze (the comeback mechanic) kicks you into overdrive for 15 seconds by regenerating health, adding chip damage, automatically filling the skill gauge, and strengthening Distortion Skills--be sure to use that time wisely.

All the pieces of a fast, smooth, and endlessly fun fighting game exist within Cross Tag, but it truly shines by channelling and fusing the personality and charisma of each franchise.

Cross Tag Battle has a lot to absorb, and it'll take time to get comfortable with the fighting system and unravel all its intricacies. Thankfully, the onboarding process is top-notch. Tactics Mode walks you through the basic terminology, mechanics, and their use-cases, and each character has a tailor-made tutorial that gives you the opportunity to perfect specific combos. On top of that, there's a slew of missions in Tactics Mode that pit you in difficult challenges to build awareness of the more specific situations you'll encounter in matches.

All the pieces of a fast, smooth, and endlessly fun fighting game exist within Cross Tag, but it truly shines by channelling and fusing the personality and charisma of each franchise. Whether it's the stylish super moves, battle cries, or fluid animations, this large cast is bursting with charm. While many of the assets have been repurposed from previous games, this is the first time we see members of RWBY in 2D with anime-inspired models. Under Night's cast also gets redrawn portraits to better fit the BlazBlue aesthetic. Despite their differences, the combination of worlds works so well that each fanbase will find something to love about seeing their favorite characters in unexpected scenarios.

Mixing up teams brings about collaborations I've always wanted to see. Sure, Hyde, Ragna, and Narukami may play like the standard sword-wielding boys from their respective worlds, but having either of them work together makes for a badass team. As a die-hard Persona fan, having the Investigation Team reunited at Yasogami High for a hectic brawl while bumping the Arena mix for Reach Out To The Truth warms my heart. Especially smaller moments, like the unique chatter and interactions between two characters before fights commence, makes this feel like more than a rehash of multiple assets or collection of characters thrown together all willy nilly. When I'm hopping from Under Night's Riverside stage in one fight to BlazBlue's Cathedral the next, using my favorite duo of Chie and Ruby while listening to Hyde's battle theme, Cross Tag Battle evokes and amplifies the fondness I have for this roster.

The crossing of worlds primarily plays out in the Episode Mode, where the four factions of fighters are forced to fight in a fake realm by a mysterious, omnipresent AI that creates arbitrary rules. By obtaining color-coded keystones, and eventually uniting to fight this AI, they'll be able to return home. The overarching plot sounds ridiculous, and it's borderline nonsensical. Each of the four campaigns play out as a visual novel with static character portraits and fully voiced dialogue; actual fights are embedded within each chapter to keep you an active participant. It's all quite trite, sometimes eye-rolling.

Cross Tag Battle has a lot to absorb, and it'll take time to get comfortable with the fighting system and unravel all its intricacies. Thankfully, the onboarding process is top-notch.

Some character appearances feel shoehorned for the sake of making an appearance, but despite its absurdity, moments of cross-franchise fan service stick the landing. Ruby's obsession with fancy weapons permeates her encounters with the likes Ragna and Hyde. References to Chie's obsession with steak, and Yukiko's inability to make curry call back to the moments I first met them in Persona 4; even Noel gets caught up in the mix as she's completely oblivious to how bad it'll taste. And as each episode concludes, I was rewarded with heartfelt scenes that reminded me of why I'm invested in these characters.

Story mode highlights something odd, though. DLC characters take part in the story as opponents despite not being available in the playable base roster. Their movesets, character models, theme songs, and voice lines are in the game, but they're gated as add-on content. Half of RWBY's cast is offered for free, but to see several Persona, BlazBlue, and Under Night folks so obviously withheld feels unfair.

Taking the fight online is where you'll spend most of your time after getting your feet wet in single-player. Cross Tag online component consists of multiple lobbies for different skill levels where players walk around as chibi versions of their favorite character. Customizing your player card with character portraits and familiar catchphrases is another avenue to express your love. It's cute and lighthearted, magnified by the adorable batch of emotes that often take the edge off exhilarating fights. And thankfully, jumping into matches works seamlessly. After hundreds of rounds online, both in the casual lobby and ranked matchmaking, we can say that netcode is solid and that latency is a non-issue with a decent connection.

Players that want a more competitive environment should be happy to know that we had little trouble finding a fair fight in ranked matchmaking. In both victory and defeat, memorable moments abound. Although it can be frustrating, I'm always taking note of how high-level players get the better of me. I'll also never forget making a comeback from being down a teammate, activating resonance blaze and perfectly timing both Chie's power charge and God Hand super while my opponent was in mid-tag to take them both out in one hit.

Whether playing through the story mode alone or against hardened opponents online, Cross Tag Battle is an absolute joy with a surplus of possibilities within its wide roster and versatile fighting system. Even with all the ridiculousness of the overarching plot, I reveled in the charm of my favorite characters and embraced the many moments of fan service. It's a masterful unification of styles and mechanics from four different universes that compels you to dig deeper and dedicate the time to getting the most out of the beloved members of this cast.

Categories: Games

Golem Review: Hidden In Plain Sight

Gamespot News Feed - Wed, 06/06/2018 - 17:00

Golem often feels at odds with itself. This gorgeous puzzle-filled adventure successfully wraps you in a mystical world, where bright hues and cheerful melodies set the mood. But beneath this inviting exterior lie disjointed challenges that no amount of whimsy can sugarcoat. Even with smart mechanics that are introduced at a sensible pace, Golem's rhythm is regularly disturbed by jarring difficulty spikes and obtuse solutions.

A vague narrative tells of a lost civilization that once upon a time used magical stone creatures to build and maintain its structures. These beings, or golems, are practically extinct, save for one you're tasked to rebuild throughout ten puzzle-filled stages. Starting as a lifeless ball, the golem feels like a nuisance at first, which only serves to make its eventual evolution that much more gratifying.

As your golem is slowly pieced back together, new mechanics are introduced to allow for more complex puzzles. When it gains the ability to walk on its own, for example, you will have to accurately predict its movement while manipulating the environment to clear pathways at the right moments. Later, it evolves into a dog-like creature that you can command to move to specific locations, and will eventually grow strong enough to carry you across treacherous tracts of land that are otherwise impassable.

Golem's ten stages act as large puzzle rooms, each with the objective of going from one end to the other. This traversal is restricted by your golem's growing moveset, which puts the onus on you to chart an appropriate course. This can be as simple as moving a rock pillar to close a gap, or as complex as activating a series of switches to resuscitate an old, aging turbine that in turn spins up other nearby mechanisms. Regardless of the conceit, the goal remains the same but with shifting responsibilities. Your golem will sometimes, for example, need to be precisely placed to apply pressure to a switch, giving you access to a new area via a now moving railcar. In turn you might need to ensure that your ally has a clear path to the next hurdle. If you've gone one step too far without a clear solution in sight, backtracking and starting from scratch may be your only option.

Herein lies one of Golem's most frustrating aspects. Puzzles ought to require intricate solutions that make you second guess your instincts, and the best of them give you that "aha" moment, when you recognize that the blueprint to success was evident from the start--you just hadn't yet learned how to see a certain number of steps ahead. Golem instead obscures your view of many puzzle elements, forcing you to succeed through trial and error as opposed to relying on foresight and analysis. Golem also regularly fails to make some unique interactive objects standout from the background, which forces you to tediously move your mouse around the screen to determine what is or isn't useful. Basic switches and levers, on the other hand, are clearly marked; an inconsistency that makes it hard to trust that the game is always playing fair.

Moving about a stage isn't a fast or free-flowing affair, but instead a point-and-click style dictation. This systematic process and your character's slow movement speed is mercifully compensated for with the inclusion of a fast-forward button, which you’ll use frequently. And just like the indiscernible key items throughout each stage, walkable pathways are often indistinguishable from off-limits areas. The inconsistency of Golem's visual language leads to tiring efforts of just clicking on possible destinations in the hopes of finding one that's actually accessible.

Golem confuses size with ingenious puzzle design, which just dilutes the euphoria it aims to generate on completion. Yet it still conjures infrequent moments of bliss that re-establish a sense of wonder. Golem’s vast, mysterious world is ultimately inviting to poke and prod around in, even if its stringent mechanics don’t allow for looking further beyond the stage at hand. There’s an underlying drive to discover what this world is about, what secrets its lost inhabitants might have held, that prevent temptations to just leave it entirely. Golem’s puzzles might feel shallow, but its saving grace is the captivating setting it desperately latches them onto.

It's the fizzle at the end of the fuse that encompasses a disappointing journey into an otherwise visually captivating world. Golem attempts but fails to find harmony in bringing a vague tale together with any sort of emotional resonance. That might have been easier to forgive if the journey itself was exceptional. Instead Golem's inconsistent puzzles and jarring difficulty spikes will infuriate you more than they infatuate.

Categories: Games

Lumines Creator Puts A Trippy Twist On A Classic

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 06/06/2018 - 16:31

Sony has announced a new game from Tetsuya Mizuguchi, the creator of Lumines and Rez, which puts a psychedelic spin on an old favorite. Tetris Effect features more than 30 stages, featuring unique visuals and sound effects that change as players progress through the game.

The game is named after the Tetris Effect, an actual phenomenon where subjects who were exposed to Tetris could visualize lingering Tetronimos long after stepping away from the game. Take a look at the clip below to see Tetris Effect (the game) in action, and imagine what kinds of lingering effects this one could have on players.

Tetris Effect is coming to PlayStation 4 this fall, with enhanced versions available on PS4 Pro and PlayStation VR.

 

Categories: Games

How To Retrain Your Dragon

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 18:00

Part of Activision’s business mimics archaeology – digging through decades of gaming history left behind by other development studios with the hope of reshaping their work for a new generation to enjoy. Last year we watched Activision subsidiary Vicarious Visions dig up Crash Bandicoot’s first adventures, which date back over 20 years to the original PlayStation.

In creating the Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy, Vicarious was tasked with what may sound like a fool’s errand: preserve the nostalgia so fans would feel like they were revisiting their favorite games, but also make it look state-of-the-art so the next generation of gamers thought it was new and exciting. To accomplish this feat, not one line of code from the original games was used. Vicarious rebuilt those titles from the ground up, replicating the design right down to the exact placement of specific items. Crash’s movement speed was also unaltered. The one significant alteration was enhancing the visuals. Vicarious made it look as beautiful as any big-budget PlayStation 4 game out there.

Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy was a critical and commercial success, leading many to believe Activision would explore Spyro the Dragon’s history next. Activision made this decision well before the launch of N. Sane Trilogy, enlisting developer Toys for Bob to resurrect Insomniac Games’ original three Spyro games for the PlayStation. Fans now get to experience Spyro the Dragon, Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage, and Spyro: Year of the Dragon through the Spyro Reignited Trilogy. Toys for Bob is no stranger to Spyro – this beloved dragon was a key player in this studio’s wildly successful Skylanders games.

Spyro's fire breath won't just torch enemies, it can melt ice and burn grass

Toys for Bob’s mission to retain the nostalgia of a series but enhance it visually proved to be a little more challenging than Vicarious Visions’, as the visual fidelity of the original Spyro games didn’t hold up as well as Crash’s. The narrow play space of the Crash titles allowed for more detail to be included in the environments, whereas Spyro’s worlds were more open and less defined. Toys for Bob’s artists did their best to try to get into the mind of Insomniac’s artists to figure out their grand vision. Some of the stages teased the idea of ancient civilizations and magical places but ended up consisting of just two huts and a streak of magical light in the distance. Without adding any other geometry that would change the play space, Toys for Bob’s design team expanded on this vision as much as possible. The environment still consists of just two huts, but they look entirely different, and are now intricately detailed to convey the sense of society and magic. It looks like a new game, but fans will find it oddly familiar.

Josh Nadelberg, art director at Toys for Bob, says there’s a tricky balance to this process. “We tried to evoke the memory you had,” he says. “Memories are always seen through rosy glasses. I had this experience showing my kids the original The Legend of Zelda. I told them, ‘You’re going to love this game. It’s so cool!’ They looked at it and didn’t see what I saw. It totally wasn’t what I remember.”

We’re trying to stay true to the original intent, but 20 years have passed, and when you go back and see what those games look like, you have a nostalgic idea in your mind, but it isn’t what you expect. – Josh Nadelberg

Toys for Bob showed me two stages from Spyro the Dragon, both set in the introductory Artisans Homeworld. Even in the original games, this realm delivered a strong European and Tuscan vibe, but I now find myself focusing more on the foliage than the architecture in the distance. The stage of note is called Toasty. Spyro is in ankle-high grass that flows with the wind and turns to cinders when his fire breath scorches it. Even the grass completely changes the look of the game. In the original title, Spyro just stood on a flat green slab. I notice a series of sparkling gems sitting along a brick wall are slightly hidden in the grass, and are also in shade – another new element as the games didn’t have any form of lighting and instead relied on vertex coloring to simulate it.

Toys for Bob rebuilt all of the games from scratch in Unreal Engine 4, and developed tools to extract as much data from Insomniac’s games as possible. “It wasn’t the actual source assets, however,” says Peter Kavic, senior producer at Toys for Bob. “The tool allowed us to map out the precious placement of objects in the world, and lines things traveled on. We have all of that accurately captured and recreated here.” Insomniac was able to rely on the exact level meshes, and used them for paint overs for the artists. They also used the original collision meshes to deliver what is essentially the exact same experience, but with a fresh coat of paint.

“The original game is basically running under a bunch of layers,” Kavic explains.

All of the enemies have new animations, but exhibit the same behaviors as before

The enemies that prowl these stunningly detailed environments offer the same behaviors and basic designs as before, but are now filled with life. We come across a scruffy white dog, but don’t engage it. We instead sit back to see what it will do. The dog sniffs around, yawns, and curls up to take a nap. As we approach, he opens one eye to see if he heard something. We freeze in our tracks, and he falls back asleep. His ears perk up with our next step and he leaps to action, barking incessantly. A blast of fire breath burns his hair off, revealing a hilariously skinny pup underneath.

The wizard, who is with the dog, starts an assault but again isn’t a match for fire. His physical being goes up in smoke, and his hat sinks comically onto his cloak. Spyro looks exactly the same, but the lighting in the environment often makes him look different in color. He is still gold and purple, but his shiny scales are pulling in the shades of pink from the artisan sky.

The gate the wizard was protecting leads to a hallway filled with paintings of dragons and vistas. This is a nice touch that showcases the skills of the dragons that once roamed these lands. As the plot details, Spyro is the only dragon left in this world, a result of a magical spell cast by Gnasty Gnorc that trapped all of the elder dragons in crystal shards. Spyro must free all of them, and take down Gnorc’s forces in the process.

The worlds all feature new details inspired by Insomniac's original vision

The one big change fans of the PlayStation games will see is every elder dragon has been redesigned. We had a chance to see one, which Spyro frees after exiting the art gallery. Toys for Bob wants each dragon to hammer home the theme of the world they inhabit. This particular one holds a paint tray, wears a stylish cap, and sports a tiny moustache. None of the dragons are just palette swaps.

As Spyro converses with the beast, we notice his voice has changed. In this first game he was originally voiced by Carlos Alazraqui, but then was replaced by Tom Kenny (best known as SpongeBob SquarePants) for the next two games. Kenny now voices Spyro in all three titles.

Composer Stewart Copeland’s original scores are being used, but the music is now dynamic, shifting in tone when Spyro moves from exploration to combat. It’s a small change that goes a long way in heightening the moment of facing off against Toasty the scarecrow, who now has a mischievous grin, fluid animations, and can eventually be burned down to reveal he’s a sheep standing on stilts.

The second stage we see is Stone Hill, another space that showcases just how big of a difference a detailed field of grass can make in redefining the look of the game. In this area we get a good glimpse at how Spyro’s companion Sparx feeds. A sheep turns into a butterfly that is chased and consumed by the colored firefly. Sparx looks a little different, thanks to him having arms and legs, which he uses to express himself more.

From my brief look at Spyro Reignited Trilogy, I was impressed by the visual changes to the environment, but wonder how fans will take to the newly designed dragons, which are a great departure from the original games’ vision. Regardless of this one hesitation, this remake looks like it’s going to be good fun, and a great way to explore the series that put Insomniac Games on the map.

Categories: Games

One Gun Simply Isn't Enough In New Demo

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 17:55

Mothergunship is an arms race. When every turret can fire a screen-filling barrage of bullets and every new level is a glorified deathtrap, the only solution is to strap a few more flamethrowers to your arms and dive back in. Although you'll certainly be outnumbered, hopefully you won't be outgunned.

Set on the ships of an alien armada, Mothergunship is a first-person shooter with a mix of scripted and procedural content. Each level is a bullet-hell gauntlet with dozens of bots to blast through and upgrades to grab. The game follows in the footsteps of Tower of Guns, the previous title from indie developer Joe Mirabello. This time around, Mirabello has partnered with the developers at Grip Digital to bring the polish and scale missing from his previous release. 

“Tower of Guns struck a nerve with some people,” says Mirabello, “and we spent a lot of time trying to ... build that into the core DNA of Mothergunship, while at the same time not fooling ourselves about what could be improved. For example, it was pretty established that a lot of people wanted to see more gun variety.”

And the game delivers variety in spades. Like the crafting system from Dead Space 3 taken to its logical extreme, players build every gun from the ground up.

Mothergunship's customization on display

Mothergunship features three categories of gun modifications. Connectors make up the base of any given weapon. Each connector has numerous points that can be attached to new connectors, expanding the usable surface of the weapon. But they can also be attached to barrels, the things that shoot. Mothergunship has barrels for flamethrowers, lasers, and anything else that hurts, and they can all be jammed onto the same gun.

In addition, there are caps, mods that affects the behavior of the whole weapon. Slapping a lava cap on a gun provides shots a chance to leave explosive mines on enemies, while something that looks like a Walkman turns all bullets pink and makes them bounce. 

I played through Mothergunship's demo (free on Steam now), and left feeling like I had only scratched the surface. After jamming shotguns and grenade launchers together with mixed results, I realized different combinations of connectors could even set barrels to fire straight up in the air or down at my feet. Players have already shared many of their creations from the demo; from the looks of it, the game has almost no limitations on what can be built.

“We don’t worry about the game-breaking combos,” Mirabello says. "Too many games try and file away the game-breaking combos ... rather than embracing them. For Mothergunship, players will build an overpowered gun at some point. As designers then, it becomes our mission to keep that from overstaying its welcome.” 

Instead of traditional ammo, all guns use a shared energy gauge. There’s nothing to stop players from throwing 12 Gatling guns on one chassis, but it’ll probably burn through all that energy in about a second. Finding the perfect balance of power and efficiency is the name of the game.

Massive bosses are planned for the main game

“Mothergunship, like Tower of Guns, knows it is absurd.” Mirabello says. “The crafting system alone carries the potential for a lot of ridiculous antics, and to frame anything realistic around that would be incredibly strange. Instead, we let the crafting system’s ridiculousness inform the tone of the rest of the game.” NPCs reflect this silliness; one brags about her "gungineering" degree, and another gives you a giant metal cookie as a reward. The demo only features the voices of these other characters, but they hint at the game’s ultimate goal of destroying the mothergunship. To accomplish this, players must upgrade themselves as well as their guns (although the nature of these upgrades wasn’t shown in the demo).

The demo takes place over a series of rooms, each one ramping up the number of enemies and complexity of the design. By the tenth room I was bouncing between floors, setting turrets on fire with one hand and blasting flying robots with the other. Partially procedurally generated and partially scripted, the full game will also have co-op, bosses, and more ludicrous combinations of guns. 

A free demo is available on Steam, with a planned release on PC, PS4, and Xbox One later this year.  

 

Categories: Games

Yoku’s Island Express Review: A Breath of Fresh Air

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 17:00

Metroid-style platformers have become more common recently, which makes standing out from the pack a daunting task for new games in that style. Yoku’s Island Express overcomes this hurdle by creatively combining both Metroid-style exploration and pinball mechanics into one unique product. This combination sounds unusual at first, but the final result is a charming, delightful, and wonderfully satisfying hybrid.

You play as Yoku, a cute little beetle who has a ball attached to his hip with a string, and it's his first day as postmaster on Mokumana Island. The story is cute and straightforward, and there’s a large amount of backstory sprinkled throughout the game, but it doesn’t take long for the rest of Yoku’s Island Express’ beautiful game design to quickly take the spotlight.

The world of Mokumana Island is gorgeous, and the delightful painterly art style realizes each of the game's different stages with vibrancy--lush jungles and dark labyrinths blend in seamlessly with stunning snow-covered mountains and underground caves, and the background scenery is just as beautifully detailed as the foreground. Every environment is perfectly accompanied by sound design which gives everything a cheery and quirky atmosphere, and the charming background music keeps things light and breezy throughout. The roster of supporting characters is also a delight to meet. Ranging from animals and plants to imaginary creatures, the large cast of NPCs are all amusing in their own ways. Some give you side quests, some give you exposition regarding the main story or island lore, and some are simply there for a quick quip or two.

Yoku can only move left and right, and can't jump. However, flippers and platforms can be found all over Mokumana Island, which can be operated by using just two buttons, much like in pinball. These devices are all used to fling Yoku and his ball (which doubles as a pinball) in helpful directions to help you find and explore new paths of game’s cleverly branching world.

If Yoku is the pinball, then Mokumana Island is a giant pinball table. One minute you could be strolling through the jungle, the next you might find yourself seamlessly dropped into a literal pinball puzzle carved out of the environment. Familiar pinball mechanics, like lanes and bumpers, are all there and completing these challenges will reward you with fruit (the game’s currency) and unlock additional paths around the island. Though the puzzles require precise timing demands, and there are many moments when your skills and reactions feel tested, no puzzle feels impossible. Most can be completed in only a handful of minutes, but there's a lot of variety to the boards which help keep the game incredibly engaging.

Mokumana Island is surprisingly large, and filled with secrets and collectible items. A sprawling story quest and numerous side quests constantly push you in different directions, and there’s a lot of traveling and pinballing to be done. It’s also easy to get sidetracked from your tasks in favor of searching for the game's many secrets hiding within the beautiful island stages.

Exploring becomes even more exciting as Yoku learns new, goofy abilities, which are used to overcome hurdles in a lighthearted fashion, like removing boulders using an exploding slug vacuum cleaner. These fun and practical abilities add extra layers of cheery personality to an already joyful game, and as common in the genre, they make you feel excited to backtrack and unlock previously inaccessible paths.

Traveling back and forth from one end of Mokumana Island to the other can sometimes become tedious, however. A fast-travel system isn’t unlocked until later in the game, but even that is quite limited in regards to where you can and can’t travel. Some areas require you to complete a pinball puzzle in order to get from point A to B, which makes retreading quite repetitive and occasionally frustrating, particularly when the pinball puzzle is a complex one.

Yoku’s Island Express takes two unlikely genres and combines them into one playful, natural experience. The game’s audio and visual design is simply joyous and the large game world seamlessly combines its pinball puzzles with some brilliant level designs. While traversing the large map does get frustrating at times, Yoku’s Island Express’ main quest never drags, and with its slate of fun abilities, quirky supporting characters and a generous amount of optional content, Yoku’s Island Express is a unique journey that’s refreshing and just straight up fun.

Categories: Games

Octopath Traveler - A Tale Of Intertwined Destinies

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 15:00

After a strong first year, Nintendo Switch owners are looking for the next game they can sink hours upon hours into from their couch or on the go. Role-playing games are particularly suited for portable platforms, and this summer delivers an RPG that many Switch owners have been eagerly anticipating. From the team behind the popular Bravely Default and Bravely Second: End Layer, Octopath Traveler expands on concepts explored in those games and ties everything together with a beautiful, distinct art style that mixes pixel art with realism. After playing a couple hours, I’m excited for the ways it harkens back to retro role-playing games through its robust systems and fun turn-based combat.

Continue reading...

Categories: Games

Vampyr Review: The City That Never Sleeps

Gamespot News Feed - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 23:17

Vampyr may seem an unlikely game from the studio that made the narrative-focused Life Is Strange, but being an action-RPG doesn't preclude it from being a great vehicle for storytelling. It's set in a harsh city in the midst of a humanitarian crisis, and much of the game involves potentially becoming the savior the world so desperately needs. If anything, Vampyr feels like the spiritual successor to the beloved cult hit Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines, but with much of that game's vampire politics replaced by heartfelt interpersonal drama. It's a story strengthened through the power of choice, with the fate of thousands resting on your ability to sacrifice your needs for the greater good.

Vampyr takes place in England, 1918, at the height of the Spanish flu pandemic. You play as Dr. Jonathan Reid, a renowned doctor just back from the frontlines of World War I. Not even minutes off the boat, he's violently welcomed back to his homeland by a vampire and subsequently shoveled into a mass grave. When Reid reawakens, confused and stark-raving mad with bloodlust, he attacks the first person he comes across. Before he's able to process his profound grief and confusion, a guild of vampire hunters chases him off into the night.

How deep you're able to dive into Vampyr's narrative rabbit holes depends on your dialogue choices, and whole subplots can be blocked off permanently by not correctly identifying what a patient needs or wants to hear.

Thanks to the help of a sympathetic stranger, your time scared and alone is graciously brief. It's not long before you're employed for the night shift at a hospital, and it's there that you also gain the support of Lady Ashbury, another vampire hiding in plain sight. Once acclimated, Reid aims to come to grips with his afterlife, maybe find a cure for his vampirism, and get some much needed answers as to why he was turned to begin with.

The larger story beats delve deep into the lurid lore you might expect from a turn-of-the-century vampire tale, but it's not until much later that it becomes the crux of the story. For the majority of the game, Vampyr goes all in on the idea of Reid as an altruistic doctor, a man tirelessly dedicated to the wellbeing of his patients and travelling around town seeing to their various needs. Much of the game involves chatting with fellow hospital employees, patients, and citizens about town, finding out how they're coping with the epidemic, and building a case file to get to the heart of whatever ails them. Sometimes, their problems can be fixed by simply lending a sympathetic ear. Some troubles can be fixed by concocting a bit of medicine in your lab. But the most engaging quests are resolved by getting down and dirty in an infected area of town, spearheading investigations no living person ever could. How deep you're able to dive into Vampyr's narrative rabbit holes depends on your dialogue choices, and whole subplots can be blocked off permanently by not correctly identifying what a patient needs or wants to hear.

Vampyr leans hard into the RPG side of the action-RPG spectrum, and though there's often a campy texture to the storytelling, it's very easy to get attached to its motley crew of characters. A factory worker waits on surgery to fix a near-gangrenous arm because his two attending doctors can't agree on an approach to treatment. A nurse and an ambulance driver rely on Reid to keep their interracial relationship secret. A man becomes an alcoholic due to his survivor's guilt over an anarchistic plot gone wrong. A non-ordained preacher goes around the city burning the sick alive, believing God told him to cleanse the flu pandemic with fire. Everyone you can converse with has a tale to tell, and the vast majority of them are worth the time it takes to hear them out.

It's impossible to avoid the fact that Reid needs to feast on blood in order to survive, but his thirst manifests in more subtle, diabolical ways than just a steadily declining hunger stat. Every little thing Reid does for the citizens of London adds to a pool of overall health for each of the game's four main districts, all of which contribute to the wellness of London as a whole. While that pool is useful for keeping an eye on the citizenry, it also just so happens you can explore that menu to get details on each of the citizens you've met. You can learn how nourishing their blood will be should you decide to feed on them--i.e. how much XP you'd get from taking their life--and refamiliarize yourself with their backstory. The stories of the city change depending on who, if anyone, you prey upon, and in much subtler ways than you might expect.

One of the best choices I made was to feed on a gruff man who Reid discovered was secretly a mass murderer. After his death, the man's mother, while certainly grieving her son, copes by deciding to take in the awkward orphan living nearby and giving him the love she foolishly gave to protect her own flesh and blood. Reid can certainly drive relationships into chaos in much the same way, but the fact that there's enough information to be had through your interactions to guide those decisions with is both impressive and empowering.

Walking the streets of London between residential districts, Reid is a persistent target for vampire hunters, brutal sub-human mutants called Skals, massive beasts, and highly skilled vampire elites. Encountering any of them means it's time to take a more hands-on and proactive approach. Using a combination of bludgeons, sharp implements, firearms, and terrifying vampire magic, you're quite capable of fighting your many enemies off, but these late-night battles are still difficult. Physical attacks and dodges drain a stamina meter that, if not carefully managed, leaves you utterly defenseless while it recharges. Your vampire powers are impressive and can devastate enemies, but they cost fresh blood to execute. While you can bite your enemies in combat to recover some, not only is stunning enemies to get the bite tricky--you either land enough hits in quick succession or parry an attack, which has a frustratingly small window of opportunity--the powers tend to use more blood than a single bite can replenish.

There are games that have tied survival and power to moral choice, but very few have managed to tie the lure of evil so perfectly--or seductively--to the core gameplay.

Mild combat frustrations are further amplified by performance issues. Playing on a PS4 Pro, Vampyr succumbs to frame rate drops and surprisingly frequent loading screens. You begrudgingly learn to live with these hiccups, but the most preposterous load times--stretching well over a minute--haunt you after death. In a game where enemies can one-hit kill you, and where bosses require a bit of trial and error to overcome, such long pauses aren't easily overlooked.

One of the best ways to avoid death is to trade in XP earned for ability and stat upgrades. You can increase bite damage and improve the amount of blood you draw with each attack, but the most interesting improvements come in the form of advanced vampiric powers. Some are simple, such as sharpening your claws mid-combo to increase your damage output, but you can also learn advanced spells, such as one that boils all the blood in your victim's body before causing them to explode. You can become an unstoppable force in London, but it all costs XP. And while you can gain XP from handing out meds or killing enemies, the payouts are a pittance compared to the thousands of points earned from killing just one of the proper citizens of London.

If you desire, you can work to improve the vitality (and XP potential) of everyone in town, only to drink your way through an entire district of healthy people in one night, personal connections be damned. This will make Reid nigh-invincible for hours to come, but conversely cause the district to descend into utter chaos as friends, family, and colleagues go missing, leaving those who remain in despair. Alternatively, you can play the game as a much more civilized sort of vampire, getting by only on the blood of rats and those who attack you first. Theoretically, it's even possible to play the game without killing a single soul, save the few mandatory boss fights. However, walking the path of the righteous man is the game at its hardest, especially as enemies jump up in level.

Ultimately, I opted for a balanced, Hannibal Lecter-like path: kindness and erudite mystery, coinciding with a predilection to savagely prey on the free-range scum of society--the occasional mass murderer here, a crime boss there, etc. It felt good, righteous, even, for a while. And somewhere around the time I reached level 20, I was still getting ambushed and demolished in two hits by a guy wielding a torch and cheap sword. The problem could be easily remedied by sacrificing yet another juicy, XP-heavy victim, but that could potentially put the surrounding community at risk of devastation. There are games that have tied survival and power to moral choice, but very few have managed to tie the lure of evil so perfectly--or seductively--to the core gameplay.

The narrative does take a mild decline as time goes on. The late-game answers to Dr. Reid's questions feel more focused on the game's fantastical threads than they do on Reid himself--though it cleverly delves into semi-obscure British/Celtic legend and very real macabre British history for inspiration. More and more as the game goes on, Reid's dialogue choices don't end up corresponding to the intended tone. And a few of the really huge choices to be made are no-win situations none of the characters deserve.

And yet, the credits roll on Vampyr with the realization of how seldom we see an open-world RPG experience like this, where being a citizen with a responsibility to a place and its people feels personal, even if that investment lies in who looks delicious tonight. Vampyr is certainly shaggy and rough in the technical department, but its narrative successes still make for an impactful and worthwhile experience.

Categories: Games

Hands-On With The Enchanting World

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 14:00

After announcing last year that Dragon Quest XI would get a North American release, Square Enix has finally confirmed which platforms it's coming to. While many stateside fans have been pining for a Switch version, DQ XI has only been announced for PS4 and PC. It appears the company has no plans for the 3DS iteration to come here either, and seeing as the Switch version has yet to debut in Japan, it's unclear if or when we'll eventually see that one. If you're not keen on waiting for the biggest Dragon Quest adventure to date, however, then you'll be happy to know the PS4 and PC versions are coming packed with extras and the release date is merely months away. We recently went hands-on with the game, which, like past entries, includes British voiceovers for the Western release. We got a good look at party member Sylvando and an intense boss battle.

The demo focuses on a desert area, featuring the kingdom of Gallopolis. Gallopolis is known for its horse races and fearless desert knights. The party visits in search of a mysterious branch that can aid them in stopping a dark force from taking over the world. As soon as I enter the vast landscape, I notice the new dash function. This is a nice addition and makes getting around much faster and easier than it was in the original Japanese version.

 My main quest is to visit a sultan whose son, Prince Faris, is having his coming-of-age ceremony where he must prove himself in a horse race. The prince says he'll convince his father to give us the branch we need if we do him a favor. He takes us to the circus to discuss it in depth, where I find out he can't ride horses at all, begging our hero to pretend to be him for the big race. At the circus, a cheeky character named Sylvando appears. Sylvando is a jester, and a show-off through and through, spitting fire, juggling knives, and cracking jokes. Later when I take the prince's place in the horse race, Sylvando appears as one of my opponents.

 

Horse racing is a new minigame for the series. The controls are basic: Hold down a button to gallop, press another to slow for turns, and run through green swirls to gain speed and stamina. Win or lose this race, you prove your skills well enough to the sultan, but Sylvando catches on to the farce. Before much more can be done, a giant, yellow, scorpion-like enemy named The Slayer of the Sands is killing knights left and right. The sultan asks Prince Faris to take care of it, and once again he asks for your help so no one can discover his incompetence.

The turn-based Dragon Quest battle system hasn't changed much since its inception. As this boss battle proves, though, it's not about just choosing an attack. You are challenged to use your abilities, magics, buffs, and debuffs accordingly. To win the battle against this vicious beast, I use a balanced strategy, having two characters focus on healing, buffs, and magic, while the others tap into their special abilities. Special abilities can inflict status ailments such as poison or sleep, or have elemental strength. One of my characters has a spell that automatically deals damage when the enemy attacks, which I make good use of, wearing down the giant scorpion to ensure the prince's success. Sylvando is also along for the battle, but the A.I. controls him. He won't reveal his reasons for coming, which I'm sure is explored later in the game.

I won't spoil what happens with the prince's facade, but I will say there's a cool moment that occurs after the battle. If you're a fan of the series or just itching for a classic RPG, Dragon Quest XI should be on your radar.

Categories: Games

Hands-On With The Enchanting World

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 14:00

After announcing last year that Dragon Quest XI would get a North American release, Square Enix has finally confirmed which platforms it's coming to. While many stateside fans have been pining for a Switch version, DQ XI has only been announced for PS4 and PC. It appears the company has no plans for the 3DS iteration to come here either, and seeing as the Switch version has yet to debut in Japan, it's unclear if or when we'll eventually see that one. If you're not keen on waiting for the biggest Dragon Quest adventure to date, however, then you'll be happy to know the PS4 and PC versions are coming packed with extras and the release date is merely months away. We recently went hands-on with the game, which, like past entries, includes British voiceovers for the Western release. We got a good look at party member Sylvando and an intense boss battle.

The demo focuses on a desert area, featuring the kingdom of Gallopolis. Gallopolis is known for its horse races and fearless desert knights. The party visits in search of a mysterious branch that can aid them in stopping a dark force from taking over the world. As soon as I enter the vast landscape, I notice the new dash function. This is a nice addition and makes getting around much faster and easier than it was in the original Japanese version.

 My main quest is to visit a sultan whose son, Prince Faris, is having his coming-of-age ceremony where he must prove himself in a horse race. The prince says he'll convince his father to give us the branch we need if we do him a favor. He takes us to the circus to discuss it in depth, where I find out he can't ride horses at all, begging our hero to pretend to be him for the big race. At the circus, a cheeky character named Sylvando appears. Sylvando is a jester, and a show-off through and through, spitting fire, juggling knives, and cracking jokes. Later when I take the prince's place in the horse race, Sylvando appears as one of my opponents.

Horse racing is a new minigame for the series. The controls are basic: Hold down a button to gallop, press another to slow for turns, and run through green swirls to gain speed and stamina. Win or lose this race, you prove your skills well enough to the sultan, but Sylvando catches on to the farce. Before much more can be done, a giant, yellow, scorpion-like enemy named The Slayer of the Sands is killing knights left and right. The sultan asks Prince Faris to take care of it, and once again he asks for your help so no one can discover his incompetence.

The turn-based Dragon Quest battle system hasn't changed much since its inception. As this boss battle proves, though, it's not about just choosing an attack. You are challenged to use your abilities, magics, buffs, and debuffs accordingly. To win the battle against this vicious beast, I use a balanced strategy, having two characters focus on healing, buffs, and magic, while the others tap into their special abilities. Special abilities can inflict status ailments such as poison or sleep, or have elemental strength. One of my characters has a spell that automatically deals damage when the enemy attacks, which I make good use of, wearing down the giant scorpion to ensure the prince's success. Sylvando is also along for the battle, but the A.I. controls him. He won't reveal his reasons for coming, which I'm sure is explored later in the game.

I won't spoil what happens with the prince's facade, but I will say there's a cool moment that occurs after the battle. If you're a fan of the series or just itching for a classic RPG, Dragon Quest XI should be on your radar.

Categories: Games

Dillon's Dead-Heat Breakers Review: Running On Fumes

Gamespot News Feed - Sat, 06/02/2018 - 20:00

Dillon the Armadillo is every stoic hero of the Old West... but as an anthropomorphic armadillo. He doesn't say much because he really doesn't need to. His prowess with weapons and dedication to defending good folks just trying to make their way is essentially his whole character. And while, until now, he's been known for his forays within small downloadable games, Dead-Heat Breakers represents a big next step for the franchise.

Most of the game makes the transition well, in part because the premise is played in a tongue-in-cheek fashion. Dillon's a no-nonsense guy, and seeing him surrounded by a colorful cast of goofy sapient animals works pretty well. But, after a time there's definitely the feeling that too little game is spread out over too much time. Dead-Heat Breakers grinds to a crawl at times, and while it's far from insurmountable, it's hard to shake the feeling that in this case less would have been more.

While Dillon may be the game's namesake and main action hero, he's not the actual protagonist. When you start up the game, you'll have a Mii of your choice polymorphed into an Amiimal. And it's this "person" that the story centers around. In short, you've narrowly survived an attack on your home town, and you've gone to get help from the infamous "Red Flash," Dillon. On your way, your big rig is attacked by some industrial monstrosities and Dillon and his sidekick/mechanic Russ happen to be in the right place at the right time.

Most of the proceedings are played for comedy, poking at the classic tropes of the western, while mixing a good bit of modern absurdity. Not too long after that encounter, for instance, Russ determines that the team needs a massive gun. And they aren't kidding. He maps it all out in his head and sets to work getting the materials to build a weapon that would put World War II-era train-mounted cannons to shame.

This pair of scenes (the battle between your would-be attackers and Dillon, as well as the process for gathering materials after the fact) make up the two primary phases of play. They loosely correspond to the day and night and will follow that pattern throughout. In the prep part (daytime), you'll wander around town doing odd jobs for the people and participating in mini-games to gather up the required gear for your nightly missions. This works well for pacing at first, but you'll start to feel the drag as the cycles wear on.

Daytime will put you through a few different main activities, including time-trial races and bouts against the series' most iconic foe--the stone-headed, space-faring Groks. Here you can earn money which you can then toss to Wendon for supplies, which go to Russ for assembly into the Breaker (i.e. that giant gun). These are meant to help give you some practice for the more rough-and-tumble nighttime bouts but are too dissimilar to serve as a proper warm-up, and not unique enough to feel like a good break from the main action.

When that time does come, though, you and the Amiimals of your friends and other Miis on your system will assemble into a group, ready to tackle the big bad of the night. This is where the series' touted tower defense-action fusion comes in. Here, like in the opening segment, you'll command the Red Flash and have the option of hiring on the different Amiimals to play defense. Each carries a different weapon with their own attack styles and strengths. Ostensibly the daytime's mini-games are there to help acclimate you to these differences, but in practice, over the game's 15 missions, you'll know who does what pretty quickly and can make your own appropriate choices.

Dillon's Dead-Heat Breakers is best enjoyed in spurts. Powering through the game quickly reveals its many weaknesses (the toll on your hands, and the repetitiveness of the combat and day-night cycle being chief among them), but no part of the adventure is bad, really; it simply wears thin.

Once you've made your choices, you're off to the fight. Your job as Dillon is to keep the pressure off the Amiimals. Using a powerful accelerator as well as Dillon's natural claws and thick hide, you can slam and slash your foes while zooming about the map. On the bottom screen, you'll be able to see a breakdown of the map, the attack range of your team, and which places need your help.

Recruiting more teammates helps take the pressure off you but depletes your coffers and therefore cuts your strategic options for later down quite a bit. Therein lies the big question for how to allocate resources.

Dillon himself can be great fun to play, but the controls are perplexing. Most everything is handled with the joystick and the A button; attacks are somewhat contextual but rely on holding the button down, releasing before pressing, and holding or tapping quickly to different moves. This isn't ideal as it can be occasionally easy to accidentally dash instead of landing an attack, and the constant strain on your thumb during combat sections would have been reduced if you simply used another button or trigger when your attack was ready.

Many of these sequences devolve into high-speed chases where you'll have to clear out every foe during their final assault. There's an excellent bit of white-knuckled tension as you rush from enemy to enemy, spinning up, bashing them, and slashing to bits. Combined with some smart visuals and a great system for snapping you to baddies so you don't inadvertently overshoot them makes these segments a great bit of intense fun--even if they leave your thumbs sore.

Dillon's Dead-Heat Breakers is best enjoyed in spurts. Powering through the game quickly reveals its many weaknesses (the toll on your hands, and the repetitiveness of the combat and day-night cycle being chief among them), but no part of the adventure is bad, really; it simply wears thin. It's a competent, fun little outing that's almost perfectly suited for kids who need something silly and ridiculous that won't require too much thought or technical mastery.

Categories: Games

The Forest Review: Are You Afraid Of The Dark?

Gamespot News Feed - Sat, 06/02/2018 - 18:00

The broad premise of The Forest is far from unique. A plane crash lands on a seemingly deserted island, and you, a lone survivor, have to figure out a way to survive. It doesn't take long, however, until blood curdling screeches fill the night and glowing eyes appear in the distance. Once it sets in that your new home isn't as empty as it first appeared, The Forest evolves into a uniquely harrowing adventure that you won't soon forget.

Cannibals inhabit the grassy fields and pristine lakes around you, watching your every move; they are the source of The Forest's ever-present tension. You might expect monsters like this to attack on sight, but their behavior is erratic. Sometimes they'll charge forward to unsettle you during daylight but stop just outside striking distance to simply stare in silence. Other times they might feign a retreat before leaping into nearby trees to quickly get behind you. The Forest's enemies aren't easy to predict, which makes each encounter thrilling.

The breadth of enemy types is impressive too, and they can get surprisingly weird. As you explore the island more and dive into terrifying, pitch-black caverns, enemies transform into terrifying body-horror figures--amalgamations of appendages that bellow deep, disturbing howls. They're frightening to behold and even scarier to fight.

The Forest does a good job of trickling out these surprises while you're already struggling to manage vital meters and resources. It's also imperative that you keep a close eye on the quality of the resources you find. Not every berry bush contains a bounty that won't poison you, and not all water is safe to drink. Meat you gather from hunted animals will rot if not cooked quickly. None of the resulting illnesses are serious enough to dissuade you from eating questionable food if you have no other choice, but needing to think about what you eat adds an additional layer to the minute-to-minute hunter-gatherer gameplay.

Chopping down trees for logs or scouting a route to clean water is paramount in your first few days on the island, and once you establish yourself, this goal shifts to fortifying your position with a base, and perhaps complex spike traps and tree swings. The sheer number of structures you're able to build is impressive, and thankfully The Forest doesn't gate your ingenuity with illusive blueprints. You're given a notebook filled with outlines at the start.

Building has a tangible effect on the island in several ways. Resources like small game and shrubs will respawn over time, but larger trees will remain felled for the entirety of your stay. You might turn a dense forest into an open field of stumps not long after you start, which gives enemies a clearer line of sight into your doings. The more you impose yourself on the island, the more aggressive your aggressors become. Patrols will grow and the more monstrous creatures will emerge from their caves for an all-out assault. The Forest doesn't force you to play in any specific way though, so a more reserved nomadic approach is sometimes safer and more viable. But the sheer delight at seeing an enemy trigger a well-placed trap during a raid is priceless, and well worth the risk of angering the locals.

There's a lot to think about when it comes to surviving in The Forest, but the balance between each of its interlocking parts keeps the game moving at a riveting pace. For every danger the island offers, there's a smart solution around the corner.

Crafting smaller items plays a big part when it comes to personal safety, too. Your inventory screen allows you to combine items you've collected to create new tools; from something as simple as combining a few sticks and stones to make an axe, to creating high-powered explosives using a combination of wristwatches, electrical boards, and spare change. The number of items you can both collect and craft is vast, but the inventory page eventually becomes cumbersome and overwhelming to navigate. And with only four customizable hotkeys, you don't have easy access to everything you want in a pinch.

Although it's constantly testing your perseverance and wants you to feel stretched thin, The Forest never feels overbearing. You'll always be able to depend on your crafted weapons as they aren't hampered by durability. Your pocket lighter will always help you see in the dark, never running out of vital fluid. This reliability frees you from the burden of worrying about the lifespan of any potential upgrades you can make to items too.

Exploration in survival games is usually tied only to your immediate well-being, but The Forest features a narrative that's slowly uncovered by exploration and incidental environmental storytelling. Abandoned camps are a great hunting ground for modern resources and offer hints at past and present events. Putrid remains of long-dead victims aren't an uncommon sight, but you'll also come across small photographs, videotapes and magazines that flesh out a conspiracy with the island at the center.

Uncovering The Forest doesn't have to be a lonely experience, and it offers co-operative play for up to eight people. The time spent getting a fortified settlement up and running is drastically reduced, but remains just as compelling. Co-operative play does, however, deflate the the feeling of being exposed. Larger groups of enemies become easier to deal with, and the fear of diving into caves alone is undercut by both voice chat and the fact that enemies don't scale accordingly. The Forest might be silly fun with friends, but it's at its best when playing alone.

There's a lot to think about when it comes to surviving in The Forest, but the balance between each of its interlocking parts keeps the game moving at a riveting pace. For every danger the island offers, there's a smart solution around the corner. Combined with unpredictable enemies and captivating horror set-pieces, The Forest strikes a compelling balance between survival and horror that you won't soon forget.

Categories: Games

E3 Trailer Shows The Game's Combat Flexibility

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 06/01/2018 - 21:20

OtherSide Entertainment has released a new trailer for Underworld Ascendant, highlighting the flexible systems that players will have at their disposal. In the immersive sim, a spiritual successor to Ultima Underworld, players have a dizzying array of options for burning, flattening, and destroying their enemies.

Improvisation is a key part of the game's dungeon crawling, and players who pay attention to their surroundings will be rewarded for being perceptive. Take a look at the clip below to see how enemies and environments can be tackled using what's nearby – whether it's using a brazier to set an arrow alight, cutting a rope to squash goblins, or, well, finding plenty of other ways to squash goblins.

 

Look for Underworld Ascendant on PC later this year. For more on the game, take a look at our recent preview.

Categories: Games

E3 Trailer Shows The Game's Combat Flexibility

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 06/01/2018 - 21:20

OtherSide Entertainment has released a new trailer for Underworld Ascendant, highlighting the flexible systems that players will have at their disposal. In the immersive sim, a spiritual successor to Ultima Underworld, players have a dizzying array of options for burning, flattening, and destroying their enemies.

Improvisation is a key part of the game's dungeon crawling, and players who pay attention to their surroundings will be rewarded for being perceptive. Take a look at the clip below to see how enemies and environments can be tackled using what's nearby – whether it's using a brazier to set an arrow alight, cutting a rope to squash goblins, or, well, finding plenty of other ways to squash goblins.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Look for Underworld Ascendant on PC later this year. For more on the game, take a look at our recent preview.

Categories: Games

New Trailer Shows Its Fangs

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 06/01/2018 - 17:43

Just ahead of its June 5 release date, Dontnod has dropped a new Vampyr trailer featuring its Victorian setting and lots of neck-biting.

The developer, whose previous work includes Life is Strange and Remember Me, boasts that each unique citizen can be killed or spared by the vampire protagonist. Each action will summarily affect the fate of the other characters, and of London as a whole. 

Vampyr, despite its infuriating spelling, looks really neat. Dontnod has a great track record in terms of involving storylines, and the combat seems interesting and skill-based. Hopefully this will be a nice reprieve for the dry summer months. 

Categories: Games

New Trailer Shows Its Fangs

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 06/01/2018 - 17:43

Just ahead of its June 5 release date, Dontnod has dropped a new Vampyr trailer featuring its Victorian setting and lots of neck-biting.

The developer, whose previous work includes Life is Strange and Remember Me, boasts that each unique citizen can be killed or spared by the vampire protagonist. Each action will summarily affect the fate of the other characters, and of London as a whole. 

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Vampyr, despite its infuriating spelling, looks really neat. Dontnod has a great track record in terms of involving storylines, and the combat seems interesting and skill-based. Hopefully this will be a nice reprieve for the dry summer months. 

Categories: Games

New Trailer Highlights The Action-RPG's Bloody Gameplay Pillars

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 06/01/2018 - 16:24

Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr is coming out next week, and there's a lot to do in the action-RPG. Developer Neocore Games has released a lifeline to prospective players in the form of a new trailer. It highlights the game's biggest (and bloodiest) pillars and also shows off plenty of in-game action.

Take a look at the video below to see the game's combat, upgrade paths, cover system, bosses, and much more.

Look for Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on June 5.

Categories: Games

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