Feudal Alloy: Exploring The Middle Ages As A Fish Inside A Robot

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 10/29/2018 - 21:00

Feudal Alloy is a platformer in the Metroid vein set in a medieval world following the story of a fish-controlled robot. To see what’s behind the intriguing concept, we played an early build and reached out to Eva Balikova and Lukáš Navrátil, the two-person development team at Attu Games.

The game’s artistic appeal is apparent right from the get-go. The whimsical hand-drawn trees flow in the breeze and grass sways underfoot as clouds float lazily by. In the center stands our champion, Attu, thrust on a hero's journey to recover his village's plundered oil – a vital resource that will heal Attu throughout his expedition. The villagers' fate rests on his spindly legs. His boxy metal chest bears the unfamiliar weight of a sword. And the fish encased in his glass dome blubs with determination. 

“After we finished our previous game, we were just sketching some characters, and we really liked this one with a robot controlled by a fish in its head, explains Navrátil. “We had our fish-controlled robots and we needed to put them in some cool environment. We wanted something uncommon, so we came up with this crazy medieval world.”

“We both are big fans of 2D Metroidvania games like Hollow Knight, Salt and Sanctuary, and Guacamelee, and we wanted to create something similar ourselves,” adds Balikova.

After a quick cutscene depicting the idyllic fish-controlled robot village being raided by bandits (who are also robots steered by fish), Attu's grand adventure begins in the tunnels under his village where I quickly learned to swing his sword at everything. Not only are interactive switches and destructible barriers placed generously along the path, but Attu gains experience from the spare parts (and, humorously, sausages) stuffed into every container and enemy.

When Attu’s experience bar is filled, you can spend ability points to unlock helpful buffs on the three skill trees, which literally look like trees and loosely represent attack, defense, and endurance. The trees offer stronger attacks and better defense, but one of the early buffs – which I strongly recommend unlocking quickly – makes Attu magnetic to spare parts, which helps you collect more experience and level faster.

Leveling up is imperative because Attu is not a naturally gifted warrior. His endurance is meager in the beginning and he can only swing his sword a handful of times before he overheats. When that happens, you’re at the enemies’ mercy for a few seconds until Attu cools down, which makes Feudal Alloy’s combat unexpectedly strategic. “Originally [we had] just a simple, boring button-smashing type of combat.” says Balikova. “We added the stamina management mechanic, and players would have to switch between offense and defense strategies.”

“Stamina [didn’t] make much sense for a robotic character like Attu,” adds Navrátil. We changed it to temperature and system overheating, thanks to an idea from one of our testers. It is basically the same thing, but it’s funny and makes much more sense. Coming up with using the liquid nitrogen and upgrading Attu’s cooling system was easy then.”

Don’t be fooled by the quirky hero, charming aesthetics, and jaunty tavern music. Feudal Alloy's combat can be brutal, and the game doesn’t provide much guidance. Unlocking new paths is exciting, and more than once, I chose to take one path at a fork in the road, which turned out to have another fork and then another. I felt like I was adventuring through a truly vast network of intertwining tunnels.

“We don’t like when the game tells the player exactly what to do and where to go,” Navrátil says, “It completely ruins the feeling of exploration. We love how games like Hollow Knight, the latest Zelda or Dark Souls games handle this stuff. So, we tried to do something similar, and use as few tutorials and hints as possible. We want players to find solutions on their own. There are no complicated puzzles in the game and players shouldn’t get stuck very much.”

Hidden treasure rooms branch into undiscovered creatively designed halls rife with danger from traps and enemies. High above the ground, a winding path made up entirely of harmless-looking but collapsible platforms put a healthy dose of pressure on my platforming skills. After triggering one, poor Attu landed on the previously unseen razor-sharp spikes below.

Many areas are unreachable until, with a sigh of relief, I found the right skill module. These clever data chips teach Attu skills that not only help him overcome barriers in the world, but also forge him into a formidable fighting machine. The first skill module I found grants Attu the ability to use bombs. After recklessly depleting my stash blowing tricky enemies to smithereens, I realized they also destroy metal gates I had previously been unable to open.

Like a traditional Metroid-style game, I spent an unavoidable portion of my time investigating old areas to find barriers I could now overcome with new skill modules. Feudal Alloy tries to address this backtracking problem by connecting disparate paths via unlockable shortcuts and placing teleporters in every region - usually next to merchants. The merchants sprinkled throughout the realm offer a chance to spend hard-earned coins on armor, weapons, healing, and coolant but unfortunately, they won’t buy objects from you.

Some equipment is exclusively squirreled away for Attu to discover in the world, such as weapons and armor sets that alter your look and your stats. “We want players to choose their equipment based on their play style,” says Balikova. “Some are focused on attack, some on defense and some on stuff like temperature management. This encourages players to explore the world in order to find all pieces and complete the armor set they like.”

The multitude of environments, puzzles, and battles are well-designed to test newly gained skills and push your endurance levels, and it is a little surprising that it was all developed by a team of two people. “There are some pros and cons in developing this kind of game in such a small team, Balikova recounts. “We love the feeling that we are independent and there’s nobody telling us what to do. We don’t have to add anything just because of profit or because it’s popular right now. We’re just trying to make a game we’d like to play, and hope people will enjoy it as well.”

Feudal Alloy is pleasantly addictive game that couples an amusing fish-powered, sword-wielding, robot hero with enjoyable exploration and calculated combat. The game is currently slated to come out in January for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, and Mac. Recently, Game Informer rounded up a list of games inspired by Metroid, if you need to scratch that itch for Metroid-style games before January.

Categories: Games

God Eater 3 Release Date Trailer Shows Off The Action Gameplay

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 10/29/2018 - 20:25

Bandai Namco has been somewhat quiet about their hunting action title God Eater 3 since its announcement in 2017, with occasional trailer drops here and there. It makes sense, then, that the game would get its release date announced the same way, with a completely English voice-acted trailer announcing a February date.

The hunting game kind of rides the line between Monster Hunter and other character action titles and was fairly successful on the PSP and Vita. God Eater 3 is the first title built without a handheld in mind, as the other games, even with console versions, shared their foundation with Sony's handheld systems.

The story definitely seems dramatic, and more than a little bit confusing, but snippets of previous games' stories would probably not fair any better in trailer form. God Eater 3 will release on PlayStation 4 and PC on February 8.

Categories: Games

Twin Mirror Trailer Reveals Dontnod's Newest Cerebral Adventure

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 10/29/2018 - 18:25

Dontnod, developers behind games like Life is Strange and Vampyr, have released a trailer for their newest adventure game, the Bandai Namco-published Twin Mirror. We talked about it a bit a few months ago on the GI Show and wanted to see more of the Twin Peaks-inspired story from the French developers at Dontnod.

At Paris Games Week, we finally got our wish with a new gameplay trailer, explaining a bit more about the game, to the point where actual metaphors and symbols are explained from the trailer's narration. You can check out the trailer below.

As you can see in the trailer, the gameplay has you reconstructing scenes based on half-forgotten memories and interacting with your internal monologue in multiple ways. There's also a very Life is Strange-style tone and tenor to the dialogue and the narrative, at this point fairly emblematic of Dontnod's writing.

Twin Mirror is scheduled to release in 2019 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Categories: Games

Twin Mirror Trailer Reveals Dontnod's Newest Cerebral Adventure

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 10/29/2018 - 18:25

Dontnod, developers behind games like Life is Strange and Vampyr, have released a trailer for their newest adventure game, the Bandai Namco-published Twin Mirror. We talked about it a bit a few months ago on the GI Show and wanted to see more of the Twin Peaks-inspired story from the French developers at Dontnod.

At Paris Games Week, we finally got our wish with a new gameplay trailer, explaining a bit more about the game, to the point where actual metaphors and symbols are explained from the trailer's narration. You can check out the trailer below.

As you can see in the trailer, the gameplay has you reconstructing scenes based on half-forgotten memories and interacting with your internal monologue in multiple ways. There's also a very Life is Strange-style tone and tenor to the dialogue and the narrative, at this point fairly emblematic of Dontnod's writing.

Twin Mirror is scheduled to release in 2019 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Categories: Games

Tetris Effect Is A Colorful Riot Of Falling Musical Blocks

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 10/29/2018 - 15:00

Imagine a shimmering kaleidoscope accompanied by meditative sounds wrapping entirely around you, and in the center, a familiar puzzle game of falling blocks. That was my introduction to Tetris Effect in PlayStation VR. Transporting the well-known classic into a plethora of fantastic environments, Tetris Effect has something for long-time fans and new ones.

Game director Tetsuya Mizuguchi flew out to our office recently, and I took the opportunity to jump into the VR headset to experience his immersive addition to the Tetris family. Much like Mizuguchi’s previous creation, Lumines, light, color, and sound vie for my attention as I work through each puzzle. The “Tetris effect,” from which the game derives its name is a phenomenon where repetitive video cues – like rhythmic falling tetrominos ­­– are burned into the player’s mind, and they continue to see patterns everywhere they look. Though you can play Tetris Effect without a headset, in VR, the game simulates its namesake like a beautiful, waking dream. If you have a PlayStation VR set, it would be a waste to play Tetris Effect without it.

I start out in Journey mode, which puts me on a serpentine, but linear path. I have to clear a certain amount of lines on the board before moving on to the next. The best levels I play through combine amazing visuals and catchy audio elements. I discover that rotating a block produces a sound that corresponds with the level’s theme and I forgot myself a few times playing around with the music. My favorite level for this was Downtown Jazz, in which I lost a hefty amount of points just melodically spinning the pieces in time with the upbeat rhythm.

The appearance of every stage shifts while you play, and a number of them stand out visually. I was surrounded by trees in a forest level, and birds flew out and around me when I successfully cleared a line. It was the best use of the VR capabilities in any level I played. Journey mode clumps games together by relative difficulty, but the theme of each level varies wildly. During my two hours of play time, I swam though oceans, soared through mechanical windmill fields, reveled between ornamental jewels, and watched sunlight spill through a canyon, all the while playing Tetris.

The core of Tetris is well preserved, and the object is still to successfully line up rows of the iconic shapes to clear lines before they pile up and spill out the top. The classic experience is enhanced with wonderfully dynamic effects like when the blocks twirl after I cleared a line. Tetris Effect also introduces a new twist on the well-known formula. The Zone mechanic – which you can activate after filling up a meter – stops time. The blocks didn’t fall until I placed them, and it was an easy way to set up as many tetris as possible for major bonus points. It took me a while to get the hang of it strategically, but after accidentally laying a shape horizontally that I meant to place vertically, I triggered the Zone and carefully toppled the offending block.

The Effect modes are a much more à la cart selection of challenges and play styles. In hindsight, checking out the Mystery mode first might have been ambitious. The diabolical mode lulled me into a false sense of security initially, but after I cleared a few lines, the board flipped upside down and it inverted all the controls. It messes with your brain in the best way, and there are plenty of other random effects that this trial will throw at you if you really want a challenge.

I hopped out of that and into the Purify mode, where I had to clear constantly emerging “dark” blocks in a punishing three minutes. If you’re not looking to push yourself with these challenges, Tetris Effect also offers more traditional Tetris experiences and ways to play through groupings of your previously completed levels. Playing any of these Effect modes might unlock special avatars that swim around in the online hub, so you can show off to people playing around your approximate geographical location.

Tetris Effect is coming out on the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR on November 9, and a limited-time demo is running from Thursday, November 1, to Monday, November 5, where you’ll have access to three Journey mode levels and the Marathon and Mystery Effect modes. For anyone looking to to find out more about the game, Game Informer recently sat down with Tetsuya Mizuguchi and Mark MacDonald to talk about Tetris Effect and we show off some Effect modes in our New Gameplay Today.

Categories: Games

My Hero One's Justice Review - In Their Own Quirky Ways

Gamespot News Feed - Sat, 10/27/2018 - 16:00

My Hero One's Justice is a 3D arena-style fighter based on the popular manga and anime My Hero Academia. Unfortunately, One's Justice offers a bare-bones recreation of My Hero Academia's story, and it doesn't succeed at differentiating its offline modes. The game does have its moments, though, capturing the thrill of grandiose superhuman battles and the distinct fighting styles of the series' main characters.

My Hero Academia takes place in a world where most individuals are born with superpowers called Quirks. Izuku Midoriya, the main series' protagonist, is unlucky enough to be born without one. However, when Midoriya's role model, All Might, sees the young boy bravely try and rescue his childhood friend/bully Katsuki Bakugo from a supervillain, the world's number-one hero takes the Quirkless teen under his wing. All Might helps his protege get into U.A. High School, Japan's top school for those who want to be superheroes, where Midoriya ends up in Class 1-A with Bakugo and 18 other first-years who all have powerful Quirks.

One's Justice's Story mode briefly touches on this before jumping ahead to My Hero Academia's sixth arc, "Vs. Hero Killer." That's fine if you've been keeping up with the manga or anime, but confusing if you're using this game as your entry point into the franchise or just hoping to understand what's going on at all. Even when you do understand what's happening, there's a lack of any kind of emotional impact, as the story plays off characters' prior relationships with one another without actually telling you what those connections might be. However, the choice of later story arcs does justify the inclusion of certain characters, including the League of Villains.

You may also find it tough to follow the story since the whole game is presented in Japanese with English subtitles. The entire Japanese voice cast from the My Hero Academia anime return to voice their respective characters, and each delivers noteworthy performances. However, with no option to play through One's Justice's Story mode with the English dub's voice cast, you'll be fighting your opponents in Story mode while trying to read subtitles at the same time. It's not impossible, but it's not easy.

The game's Story mode isn't bad, though. One's Justice's campaign has optional "What If" missions that offer a look at what certain characters might have been doing between the story's major events. Even though these missions aren't canon, they're written well enough to fit the larger plot and it's believable that they really took place. Plus, they further flesh out minor heroes and villains that haven't gotten as much screen time in the anime.

One's Justice's other four major modes--Local Match, Online Match, Arcade, and Missions--are where you'll probably be spending most of your time with the game. Local and online matches pit two opponents against each other in a best-of-three fight, with the former allowing you to go up against a computer or a friend in couch co-op and the latter sending you online to try and climb up in the rankings. You can also dress up your characters with new costumes and cosmetic items that you unlock by playing the game and show off your custom outfits in local and online fights. A fighter's wardrobe doesn't provide any in-game benefits, but it is rather fun to dress someone up as one of My Hero Academia's characters that aren't included in the game, like Mei Hatsume or Gunhead.

In Arcade, you face off against computer-controlled fighters in a six-tier ladder where opponents get stronger on every rung. There is a slight bump in difficulty compared to Local Match, but it's not enough to make Arcade feel different from playing six consecutive local matches against AI. Missions mode is like Arcade, but with added optional requirements that you can fulfill to earn bonus cosmetic items. Those optional requirements are typically what you're trying to do anyway--such as winning every match or getting a good rank from a well-placed combo--so they don't force you into playing differently from the other modes. All four modes play essentially the same, with the biggest difference being whether you're going up against a computer or another human being.

Each of the fighters in One's Justice's roster are unique. Some handle similarly--Tenya Iida, Gran Torino, and Deku: Shoot Style are all speed-based fighters, for example--but no two characters attack the same way, even the ones who have the same Quirk. 19 fighters are available at the outset, with another unlocked by playing the story and two more offered as DLC. Attacking is fairly simplistic, with one button for melee moves and another two for using different aspects of a character's Quirk. That said, each fighter's moveset is varied enough that you can form multiple strategies with a single character. Bakugo's powerful Explosion Quirk, for example, doesn't usually have much range, but he can charge it up to do larger, albeit slower, attacks. His Quirk also has a bit of kickback, so while in the air he can attack to quickly change his trajectory, and even keep himself airborne almost indefinitely for a faster, hit-and-run approach to combat.

Each fighter's moveset is varied enough that you can form multiple strategies with a single character

Learning the different fighting styles for a particular character--and then implementing their unique unblockable, grab, counter, and Plus Ultra attacks into your strategy--is key to mastering each one. Once you understand the basics, going up against computer-controlled opponents won't hold much challenge, but it does pave the way for more enjoyable moments in PvP play. When two players who know their respective fighter's strengths and weaknesses go head-to-head, it leads to some tense, yet exciting battles. And with One's Justice's relatively easy learning curve, it's not all too difficult to feel competent with at least a few characters and jump into a ranked Online Match.

The small moments of fan service during each fight are a nice touch too. Most Easter eggs come through in the characters' Plus Ultra special attacks, such as Ochaco Uraraka's Meteor Shower, but they show up cosmetically as well. The sleeves on Midoriya's suit will tear and his fingers will break if he uses an all-out Delaware Smash, for example.

It's a shame My Hero One's Justice's Story mode doesn't do a good job introducing the world of My Hero Academia, with several important narrative beats either missing or revealed through subtitles while you're busy trying to fight. The offline modes against AI don't do much for the game either. However, One's Justice's combat is both accessible and enjoyable. When two players face off--either online or off--the game captures the adrenaline-pumping feeling of My Hero Academia's most notable fights. Pulling off moves from the manga/anime and outsmarting an opponent with devastating combos feels rewarding, and that's enough to keep the player coming back to the game for more.

Categories: Games

Call Of Cthulhu's Launch Trailer Sets A Tone

Game Informer News Feed - Sat, 10/27/2018 - 02:30

Not many games have the courage to release so close to Red Dead Redemption II, but considering how close Halloween is, Call of Cthulhu is definitely eager to show why it deserves to do just that. The launch trailer for the game has been released and sets a tone for what you can expect from the Lovecraftian horror game.

 We've been keeping our eye on the game for a while and it definitely seems to show a lot of promise. This title and The Sinking City were once closely linked, but a change in publishers and developers separated them out into different projects, which means all the more Lovecraft goodness for us.

Explore the island of Darkwater as Edward Pierce, a detective looking for answers for the murders that have been occurring on the island. Of course, nothing goes that smoothly, especially when cults and ancient gods are involved.

Call of Cthulhu releases on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on October 30.

Categories: Games

My Hero One's Justice Launch Trailer Is Filled With Burning Heroism

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 10/26/2018 - 22:55

My Hero One's Justice, a game based on the popular anime series My Hero Academia, is out today. Bandai Namco thus becomes one of the few publishers in modern times to release a launch trailer on the actual launch of the game. Said launch trailer, which you can find below, shows you a lot of the characters you'll be using in the game.

Extremely strange title describes (which Bandai Namco explains as not wanting to feel tied down by the license), the game does look like it channels the source material somewhat well. Watching some of the fights in the trailer with the associated lines of dialogue makes me remember how much I liked those when I first read them.

My Hero One's Justice releases today on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC.

Categories: Games

Newest Hitman 2 Trailer Extols The Virtues Of The Briefcase

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 10/26/2018 - 19:00

We're coming up on the launch of Hitman 2 fairly soon and IO Interactive wants players to remember how to be the most inventive and efficient Agent 47 they can possibly be. Sure, for some it's just about finding the revealed opportunities and playing out a guaranteed kill, but other fans love the thrill of the hunt and assassinating targets in new and inventive ways.

To that end, IO has released a short snippet in their "How To Hitman" series, this time focusing on the briefcase. Not only can you store items in the briefcase, but the new changes to Hitman 2 allow you to throw the item over walls before you jump over and you can leave the briefcase for NPCs to pick up and carry with them. This means that you can go into an area after being frisked and then pick up the briefcase with deadly weapons in it already inside. 

You can check out the footage below.

For more Hitman 2, check out our impressions and video from the Colombia level, as well as footage from the game's multiplayer Ghost mode. The remaining stages in the game, including Vermont and Mumbai, were also revealed yesterday.

Hitman 2 releases on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on November 13.

Categories: Games

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Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 10/25/2018 - 22:40

Despite being nearly a year until release, Shenmue III's Steam listing has already gone up, bringing with it a few new screenshots for Ryo Hazuki's last chapter in the mystery of why his father was murdered. 

The new screenshots, which you can see above, show a beautiful vista, Ryo punching a large muscular enemy, burning representations of the Dragon and Phoenix mirrors, playing an arcade game to pass the time, and of course Ryo's favorite pastime, walking alongside a woman who is probably interested in him but he does not realize or care.

Shenmue III was a crowdfunded title announced at Sony's E3 conference in 2015. The game is scheduled to release on PlayStation 4 and PC on August 27.

Categories: Games

WWE 2K19 Review: A Step In The Right Direction

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 10/25/2018 - 18:43

If your relationship with 2K's pro wrestling series has been as fractured as a bickering tag team over the past few years, WWE 2K19 is unlikely to patch up old wounds. All of this to say: if you didn't like how it played then, you're probably not going to like how it plays now. Some minor quality of life refinements improve upon the in-ring action in a couple of specific match types, but beyond this the core system of strikes, grapples, and reversals has remained relatively unchanged. Instead, WWE 2K19's most notable additions appear outside of the squared circle; developers Yukes and Visual Concepts introduce a deluge of new content and game modes to satiate an aspect of the series that has been sorely lacking in recent years.

The first of which is a redesigned MyCareer mode. It ditches the grindy, glitch-ridden, personality vacuum of the series' previous career modes in favour of a linear storyline akin to those found in 2K's own NBA games. Your created wrestler begins his rollercoaster journey with a fictional indie promotion known as BCW, competing in front of roughly 30 people in high school gyms and parking lots. It doesn't take long before the WWE comes knocking, but this isn't the typical rags-to-riches tale we've come to expect from a sports game's career mode. You immediately blow your shot at the big time due to outside interference and a little sabotage. This forces you back to the indie scene for a short while before you eventually return to the WWE via some unconventional methods that earn you more than a few enemies.

It's far fetched and more than a little corny at times, but the writing by former WWE writer Sean Conaway is self-aware enough to poke fun at the frequent ridiculousness of pro wrestling, and every story-driven aspect of MyCareer is elevated by full voice acting. Each WWE superstar (with the exception of John Cena) lends their vocal talents to the game, while indie wrestler AJ Kirsch brings your created character to life with an enjoyable level of authenticity. There are more than a few wooden performances that reveal these guys are much better at playing off a crowd than they are sitting alone in a recording booth, but just having the likes of AJ Styles, Braun Strowman, and Triple H cutting promos and interacting with your character backstage injects WWE 2K19 with more personality and individuality than the series has ever had before.

The structured nature of this linear narrative also allows Yukes and Visual Concepts to delve into the tropes and familiar storylines that comprise a week's worth of WWE programming. You'll find yourself engaged in believable feuds and back-and-forth promos; you'll clash with authority figures, get screwed out of titles, form unlikely alliances, and win when the odds are stacked in your opponent's favour. The illusion of choice in certain scenes is an unnecessary facet, but this curated experience is much more enjoyable and reflective of the product we watch on TV every week. It's a substantial improvement over the dull, haphazard career modes of the past.

That's not to say MyCareer is without its faults, however. The lack of a women's career mode is still disappointing--a crudely ironic stance when you consider the three-man commentary team mistakenly spends the entire mode referring to every character as she and her. The women's division is large enough now to encompass all of the feuds and storylines you would ever need, so it feels like WWE 2K19 is still stuck in the past when it should be latching onto the recent resurgence in women's wrestling, particularly when the WWE itself is finally putting on its first ever women's only pay-per-view, Evolution, at the end of this month.

Character progression is also a tad too lethargic in MyCareer. By the time you're facing off against 80+ rated superstars in the WWE, your character will be hovering somewhere around the 50-rated mark. This doesn't make as much of an impact as you might imagine--there's never really a tangible sense that your character is substantially improving--but you do spend an awfully long time restricted to only two reversal slots that need time to recharge. For a game that's stringently built around its reversal mechanics, this is a needlessly frustrating decision, especially when you're forced to win three-on-one handicap matches and eight-man battle royals, leading to repetitive moments of trial-and-error.

The way you level up has at least been streamlined, with three different skill trees that pertain to your chosen fighting style, plus one extra sub-style. You can improve everything from strength, agility, momentum, grapple speed, and so on, but aside from choosing whether you want to be a high-flying cruiserweight or strong-style striker, among others, your customisation options are incredibly limited early on due to the much-maligned inclusion of loot boxes.

There are no microtransactions for purchasing loot boxes with real-world money--even with three different in-game currencies involved.

There are no microtransactions for purchasing these loot boxes with real-world money--even with three different in-game currencies involved. But everything from hairstyles, beards, wrestling tights, single moves, entrance music, taunts--right down to incremental cosmetic items like eyelashes and eyebrows--are stuffed into various kinds of loot boxes. This is disheartening because the creation suite is as comprehensive as ever, allowing you to create almost anything you put your mind to, but it's been needlessly limited in MyCareer due to this focus on randomised loot. You can spend one of the in-game currencies on any of these items directly--casting further bemusement over the inclusion of loot boxes--but the prices are so extortionate that you're better off bowing to the gods of the RNG. Maybe this strategy makes sense in other sports titles, but pro wrestling games have always been highly customisable, and limiting your options with a game of luck just feels wrong. No one wants to spend hours with a character they're not happy with.

Outside of MyCareer, the beloved Showcase mode makes its return after a two-year hiatus. WWE 2K19's charts the endearing, heartbreaking, and triumphant story of fan favourite, Daniel Bryan. You couldn't pick a better superstar for Showcase's return: he's not only a phenomenal wrestler, but an incredibly likeable guy with one of the most fascinating stories in the sport. Before each match, Bryan himself will set the stage and provide context for why each match is so noteworthy, taking you on a journey from one of his earliest contests against an up-and-coming John Cena, to his recent return to the ring after miraculously coming back from an early retirement. The matches themselves revolve around completing objectives to set up the moves and big spots that comprised each match. This can be fiddly at times when the AI doesn't want to co-operate, but the joy of Showcase mode has always come from recreating memorable moments in WWE history, and it achieves that here.

2K Towers riffs on Mortal Kombat X's Living Towers, challenging you to complete a series of themed matches that chart a rambunctious course through various opponents, with myriad match types and modifiers keeping things fresh. You might find yourself in a gauntlet involving British wrestlers that culminates in a match with the British Bulldog, before moving onto another that pits you against supernatural characters like Bray Wyatt and The Undertaker. It's a fun way to run the gamut of match types, and the modifiers keep things interesting by occasionally altering the way you would usually play. There are also some outlandish twists like big head mode and an 8-bit filter to contend with.

Of those match types, both steel cage and Hell in a Cell matches have seen some welcome tweaks. The latter introduces more options for escaping the cage, including yelling at the referee to simply open the door, and new animations let you scale the structure and navigate across it in ways that make for more exciting matches. Meanwhile, Hell in a Cell has been reworked so that it's much easier to break through the steel edifice to the outside, with context-sensitive actions removing a lot of the awkwardness.

Beyond this, Payback is a new mechanic that gives each superstar two powerful abilities. These might grant an immediate finisher, offer the ability to utilise dirty tactics like low blows and poison mist, or let you play possum to catch an opponent off guard. On paper, each ability sounds like a potential game-changing move that can alter the flow of a match, but WWE 2K19 is still far too dependent on reversals for them to have a significant impact. The timing on reversals is a little easier this year, but it would still be nice if there were more dynamic defensive options on-hand. The only other mechanical change comes from an incremental increase in speed. This isn't immediately palpable, but the faster animations do give each hard-hitting move some extra heft and impact.

The net code, while not always perfect, is good enough that your timing for reversals and pins is never compromised, while commentary is as egregious as it usually is. The interactions between the three-man booth are stilted and regularly out of context. During Showcase, for example, they regularly reference events years in the future when you're playing matches from the past. There are also some notable absences from the roster, which can be rectified to some degree by downloading the community's fantastic creations. Yet you're currently out of luck if you didn't pre-order and want to play as Rey Mysterio or the current Raw Women's Champion, Ronda Rousey. Glitches are a semi-regular occurrence, too, though they're not as bad as in previous years, often resulting in moments of physics-based hilarity rather than anything game-breaking.

Despite its flaws, WWE 2K19 is a step in the right direction for the long-running series. After two years toiling away with a dearth of interesting single-player content, the introduction of an engaging career mode is a welcome sight that finally captures some of the personality pro wrestling is partly built upon. The in-ring action is still inconsistent and will be as divisive as ever, but it's easier to stomach when the game surrounding the wrestling action gives you more reasons to play. WWE 2K19 might not reach the lofty heights of wrestling video gaming's heyday--or maybe that's just the nostalgia talking--but it's 2K's best effort so far. Maybe next year we'll be on to a true title contender.

Categories: Games

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Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 10/25/2018 - 17:09

Jump Force received a new trailer and a release date announcement at Paris Games Week, giving fans a better idea of what to expect from Bandai Namco's upcoming fighter.

The teaser, which can be viewed below, features two new roster additions: Ryo Saeba from City Hunter and Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star. We see Ryo fight with a pistol, missile launcher, and shotgun in the trailer, whereas Kenshiro sends impressive blows with his fists. The two join a roster of more than 20 fighters.

Jump Force releases on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on February 15. For more, check out this preview of Jump Force's original villain Kane.

Categories: Games

Red Dead Redemption 2 Review - Outlaw Country

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 10/25/2018 - 12:01

Red Dead Redemption 2 is a game about consequences where you have only the illusion of choice. Yes, there are some decisions to be made, and those decisions will shape your character and the world around you. But some of the most disastrous choices were made for you before the game even begins, leaving you to deal with the fallout. And because it's a prequel to Red Dead Redemption, you also (probably) know how the story ends. All that's left is discovering what happens in between and making the most of it. To that end, you fight against the repetitive nature of missions, frequent moral dilemmas, and the inconvenience of doing what's right. For the most part, the frustration that tension can cause is also what makes the story impactful, and when it all comes together, your effort is not wasted.

At the beginning of Red Dead Redemption 2, the Van der Linde gang is already on the decline we know from the previous game is coming. After a heist gone wrong in Blackwater, they're on the run, down a few members, and on the verge of capture, starvation, and succumbing to a snowstorm. There are familiar faces--Red Dead Redemption protagonist John Marston chief among them--as well as new ones. As senior member Arthur Morgan, you're in the privileged position of being Dutch Van der Linde's right hand, privy to his machinations and included in the most important outings. Once the gang escapes the storm and settles into a temporary campsite, you're also put in charge of the camp's finances, meaning you pick out all the upgrades and supplies. If Dutch is the center of the gang, Arthur is adjacent to all its vital parts at once, and that gives you a lot of power.

With that power, you're encouraged to do as you see fit and at your own pace. A lengthy series of story missions early on introduces you to some of the ways you can spend your time, including hunting, fishing, horse-rearing, and robbery. There are a lot of systems, and covering the basics takes several hours. While they're not so cleverly disguised as to not feel like tutorials, the actual learning is paced well in its integration with the story, and the missions also acquaint you with the characters and the surrounding area. For example, the fishing "tutorial" has you taking young Jack Marston out for the day, since John is not exactly great at fatherhood. Jack is pure and sweet--and incredibly vulnerable to all the gang's wrongdoings--and the mission is memorable for it.

In addition to the mechanics of various activities, you're also presented with a few elements of semi-realism you need to contend with. Mainly, you need to eat to refill your health, stamina, and Dead Eye ability "cores," which deplete over time. Eating too much or too little results in weight changes and stat debuffs. Eating itself isn't a problem, and neither is maintaining cores in general, but eating enough to maintain an average weight is intrusive; despite experimenting with what and how often I ate, I couldn't get Arthur out of the underweight range, and eating any more frequently would be too time-consuming to justify. You don't have to sleep (though you can to pass time and refill your cores), and surviving hot or cold temperatures comes down to choosing the right outfit from your item wheel, so managing your weight sticks out as superfluous rather than conducive to immersion.

Limited fast travel options are the better-implemented side of Red Dead 2's realism, perhaps counterintuitively. There's next to no fast travel at the beginning and few methods in general, so you have to rely on your horse to get around. It can be slow, but there's no shortage of things to do and see along the way. Chance encounters are plentiful and frequently interesting; you might find a stranger in need of a ride to town or a snake bite victim who needs someone to suck the venom out of their wound. You can stumble upon a grotesque murder scene that sets you entirely off-track, or you can ignore someone in danger and just keep riding. And just as you can decide to rob or kill most anyone, you'll also run into people who will do the same to you. Even the longest rides aren't wasted time, and it's hard not to feel like you're missing something if you do opt for fast travel.

Red Dead Redemption 2's version of America is vast and wide open, stretching from snowy mountains and the Great Plains down to the original game's New Austin in the southwest. Further to the east is the Louisiana-inspired Deep South, which is still feeling the effects of the Civil War after nearly 40 years. There's a distinct shift when traveling from region to region; as grassy hillsides become alligator-filled swamps, Union veterans give way to angry Confederate holdouts, and good intentions and casual racism turn into desperation and outright bigotry. The variety makes the world feel rich, and it both reacts to you and changes independently of your involvement; new buildings will go up as time goes on, and some of the people you talk to will remember you long after you first interacted with them (for better or worse).

Incidental moments as you explore make up a large part of the morality system, in which you gain and lose honor based on your actions. "Good" morals are relative--you're a gang member, after all--but generally, it's more honorable to punch up rather than down. Helping an underdog, even if they're an escaped convict and even if you need to kill some cops or robbers to do it, can net you good guy points. In these situations, it's easier to be noble than a true outlaw. Committing a dishonorable crime is hard to do undetected, even in remote locations, and usually requires you to track down and threaten a witness, run and hide from the law, or pay a bounty down the line. While you'll earn money more quickly doing "bad" things, high honor gets you a pretty discount at shops, and you'll make good money either way through story missions.

In many ways, you're nudged toward playing a "good" Arthur. The gang members he's closest to from the beginning are the more righteous, principled ones who are motivated by loyalty and a desire to help others, while he insults, argues with, and generally reacts negatively to those who are hot-headed and vicious. The most rotten of them is Micah, who's so easy to hate that it's hard not to follow Arthur's lead and take the higher road. Unlocking camp upgrades like one-way fast travel and better supplies also essentially forces you into being honorable; although everyone donates, you have to invest hundreds of dollars yourself if you want to afford anything, and that automatically gets you a ton of honor points whether you like it or not.

One of the best, most understated details in the game is Arthur's journal, in which he recaps big events as well as random people you've met and more mundane, everyday things. He sketches places you go, doodles the plants and animals you find, and writes out thoughts he barely speaks out loud. The journal changes with your level of honor, but at least for a relatively honorable Arthur, the pages are filled with concerns and existential crises--inner turmoil over being either good or evil, for instance--that make you want to see him become a better person.

It's a lot harder to feel like a good guy when doing the main story missions, though. Arthur, along with nearly everyone else, is loyal to the gang first and foremost. This means following Dutch into trouble, busting friends out of jail, and committing a number of robberies in the interest of getting money for the gang. Even if you're trying your hardest to be good, you'll inevitably slaughter entire towns in mandatory story missions--stealth and non-lethal takedowns aren't always an option, and the snappy auto-lock aim makes shootouts a far easier option anyway. The dissonance is frustrating to play through in the moment, but it's incredibly important to Arthur's arc as well as your understanding of the gang as a whole. To say any more would venture into spoiler territory.

Like any good prequel, there's an incredible amount of tension in knowing what happens without knowing exactly how.

That extends to the structure of story missions, which start to get predictable around halfway through the game. It's not that they're boring--the opposite is true, actually, and you see a lot of action from beat to beat. But after a while, a pattern emerges, and it's easy to figure out how any given heist or raid is going to unfold. This too becomes frustrating, partially because you often have no way of significantly affecting the outcome despite any decision-making power you thought you might have had. But your weariness is also Arthur's, and that's crucial. The mid-game drags in service of the narrative, which only becomes apparent much later. There's also enough variety between missions and free-roam exploration to prevent it from dragging to the point of being a chore to play.

Like any good prequel, there's an incredible amount of tension in knowing what happens without knowing exactly how. If you played Red Dead Redemption, you know who survives and as a result who probably won't make it to the end of the game. Even during the slower parts, you're waiting for betrayals and injuries and other events you've only vaguely heard mention of before. You're waiting for characters to reveal their true selves, and watching as everything unravels is riveting and heartbreaking if you know what's to come.

You can still enjoy the story in its own right without that background knowledge, though. Some of Red Dead Redemption 2's best moments have almost no relation to its predecessor. One mission takes you to a women's suffrage rally, and a painful side mission has you facing a woman whose husband you killed and life you ruined. The new characters are among the best, too; Sadie Adler is a personal favorite for reasons I won't spoil. Another, a young black man in the gang named Lenny, mentions how the Southerners treat him a little differently; Arthur says that he hasn't noticed anything weird, to which Lenny replies, "All respect, Mr. Morgan, you wouldn't notice."

Generally, Red Dead 2 tackles pertinent issues of the era with care. Rather than defining any of its characters by the bigotry they may experience, it allows them the room to be well-rounded individuals while still not ignoring that things like racism and sexism exist. One arc focuses squarely on a very serious issue, and here, the lack of real choice in the story's direction--and your resulting involvement in what transpires--will likely make you uncomfortable in a powerful way.

While Red Dead Redemption was mostly focused on John Marston's story, Red Dead 2 is about the entire Van der Linde gang--as a community, as an idea, and as the death rattle of the Wild West. It is about Arthur, too, but as the lens through which you view the gang, his very personal, very messy story supports a larger tale. Some frustrating systems and a predictable mission structure end up serving that story well, though it does take patience to get through them and understand why. Red Dead Redemption 2 is an excellent prequel, but it's also an emotional, thought-provoking story in its own right, and it's a world that is hard to leave when it's done.

Categories: Games

NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 Review - Ball Another Day

Gamespot News Feed - Wed, 10/24/2018 - 18:33

We may long for the days of NBA Jam or NBA Street and their brands of over-the-top basketball, but the closest modern equivalent is NBA 2K Playgrounds 2. Coming off of last year's game, Playgrounds 2 continues the two-on-two ridiculousness in an arcade style that's incredibly easy to pick up and play. Anything goes on the court where there aren't fouls or rules against goaltending, and double-front-flip dunks with a 12-foot vertical leap are standard. It's certainly fun to go back-and-forth with opponents to light up the scoreboard, but even all that flash has its limitations; the game hits one note that gets old rather quickly.

NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 keeps things simple by only giving you the essentials for balling up. Aside from shooting, passing, and crossover dribbles on offense, holding sprint turns normal shots into high-flying dunks. Alley-oops come in handy for throwing down on unsuspecting defenders thanks to easy execution. And if defenders are pressing hard, throwing your elbows provides an option for creating space. Although this style of basketball thrives off of offensive showmanship, defense still plays a big role in winning. Shoving and stealing can effectively create turnovers, and you need to be smart about when to use these as they take up your endurance meter and leave you vulnerable. You also have opportunities to disrupt dunks that seem like they'd be easy buckets just by getting in the paint and trying to block. It's a basic toolset that takes little time to get familiar with.

To keep games interesting, teams build up a meter that unleashes court-altering power-ups called Lottery Picks. The Lottery Pick meter recharges when you do anything that fills the stat sheet, and once it's full, you get a random power-up. There are nine in total, which range from double points for dunks or three-pointers for a limited time to freezing the opposing basket that'll take a few shots to break. This system can seem unfair at times, but there's no denying it's fun to run wild with the infinite stamina power for a short period, for example. If anything, it adds a bit of variety to a very basic game.

There's a decent foundation that Playgrounds 2 works with, but it doesn't quite come together as seamlessly as you'd hope. Uncontested dunks bounce out of the rim more often than they should because it's subject to the shot-percentage meter--you can be on a fastbreak and still miss. Shooting open threes with the likes of Steph Curry or Ray Allen still a large window of failure. As a result, the shot meter calculation often feels at odds with this style of basketball game. Playgrounds 2 suffers from a simple, yet damaging flaw--the shot-timing meter is displayed at the bottom of the screen. For a game that's built around fast and flashy action, relegating the most important element for scoring to a position away from what's happening on court is a big misstep. Instead of watching those sweet dunks unfold, you end up shifting attention to the meter to make sure the shot goes down. This also prevents you from seeing what develops on the court during key moments, like anticipating blocks and reacting to them.

Playgrounds 2 is at its best when playing competitive games with either an AI-controlled teammate or a real player against others. Online matches can take a while to find, but games get going quickly once matchmaking is set. And thanks to the fast pace of games, action is always just a few moments away. The game keeps track of your overall record, and you'll earn in-game currency whether you win or lose. There's also an online version of the three-point contest and a two-player cooperative mode that pits your team against the AI, but neither inspires much competition.

A few options exist for playing offline, like local multiplayer in exhibition mode and the new NBA season mode. The latter will have you play a condensed 14-game season with an NBA team, and you pick two players from the roster for each game. If you get seeded in conference standings, you'll move on to the playoffs. And if you win the championship, you'll unlock a historical player for the team you played as. Since there is a tangible reward for winning it all, playoff matches provide some challenge and tension. It's all a bit unceremonious; you play one season and it ends, and you just start another separate season. And with the starting roster you're given at the outset, it can be frustrating to grind away as players with lower stat ratings.

You can bypass most of the grind by using Golden Bucks, an in-game currency that can be earned at a fairly slow rate or bought with real money (which undermines the point of the NBA season mode, too). If you don’t want to unlock the full roster through microtransactions, you’ll have to get card packs using Golden Bucks or another in-game currency called Baller Bucks. Packs get you random players on the roster or cosmetics to dress up players. While the system gives you something to work for, it still feels somewhat exploitative. At the very least, player progression incentivizes using different players since they individually earn XP--leveling them up to silver and gold rank boosts their overall stats.

NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 tries to capture the more lighthearted side of basketball culture but doesn't bring with it a discernible sense of personality. NBA players are designed with big heads and exaggerated features to coincide with the ridiculous arcade approach. But it comes off as just absurd, and not in a charming sense--instead, most player models look like badly drawn caricatures by an amateur street artist. Courts don't inspire much of a basketball atmosphere either, with nonsensical locations and crowds that look like old Xbox 360 avatars. Seeing Playgrounds 2 in action is like watching expressionless bobbleheads floundering about in silly animations.

It's fun to jump in for a few games and rack up points through extravagant slam dunks with your favorite players from the past and present. However, the novelty of arcade-style basketball wears thin quickly in NBA 2K Playgrounds 2. There isn't much to keep you coming back once you've had your fill, and the nagging gameplay flaws hold back the experience. The game lacks a distinct personality, and that's a missed opportunity for any basketball game, let alone one that tries so hard to have one.

Categories: Games

Spyro Reignited Trilogy Launch Trailer Really Wants You To See The Difference

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 10/23/2018 - 19:35

Spyro Reignited Trilogy is an anticipated release for both fans of the original games and people who were never able to try the PlayStation classics. With a release date only a few weeks away, Activision is getting a jump on the excitement train by releasing a launch trailer for the game.

If you're down for hearing the name "Spyro" a lot, this launch trailer is definitely for you. The trailer also does a graphical comparison between the PS1 originals and the modern remake, showing that it's far more than just a resolution upgrade and some texture replacements. The game has been completely remade from top to bottom for the new version, much like Crash Bandicoot's remake trilogy not too long ago.

Spyro: Reignited Trilogy was originally intended to release in September, but got a short delay to November 14. Before the game's delay, a minor controversy over how much of the game was actually on the physical disc began to bubble around the release, but Activision has not clarified their answer since. We should find out soon, as a launch trailer means the game has likely already gone gold and is ready for its release date.

Categories: Games

Return Of The Obra Dinn Review - The Good Ship

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 10/23/2018 - 01:00

Like Lucas Pope's previous game, Papers, Please, Return of the Obra Dinn is primarily concerned with processing information. In the latter, you play as an insurance clerk assessing claims on a mysteriously abandoned ship rather than a customs agent assessing documents at the border of a totalitarian country, but in both games, you are presented with fragments of data and asked to check their veracity through cross-reference and deductive logic. Both games are also grim in their own ways, but while Papers, Please forces you to consider your personal moral compass and where you're willing to see it compromised, Return of the Obra Dinn leaves you in a more detached role as the time-traveling observer of a naval journey gone horribly wrong.

In 1802 the "good ship" Obra Dinn set sail from London to "the Orient" but never reached its destination. Five years later it is found drifting into the port of Falmouth in southwest England with no one left alive on board. As a clerk at the East India Company it's your job to explore the ship and find out what happened. You're given a nifty book--which includes a full crew and passenger manifest, annotated deck maps, a glossary of basic sailing terms, and a group sketch of the people on board drawn by one of the passengers--into which you are expected to record all the relevant details.

Like most insurance clerks, one suspects, you are also equipped with a magical pocket watch that, when opened and activated in the presence of a corpse, allows you to travel back in time to the moment of the person's death. It's almost literally a single moment, too, as the screen fades to black and you hear but a few seconds of speech or other sounds leading up to the fatal incident before you find yourself inside a scene that's been frozen in time, and the investigation begins.

In this space (which, like the entire game is explored in first-person) you can walk around a confined section of the ship but you cannot interact with anything. You can only zoom in for a closer look at any object, and beyond the immediate surroundings, the background just fades out into nothingness. The entire game is presented in a starkly beautiful monochromatic color scheme, a graphical style described by the developer as "1-bit". When still, it resembles something from an early '80s PC, albeit displaying at a much higher resolution. But in motion, when you're walking around the decks, it looks quite unlike anything seen before--a startling retro throwback that is as alien as it is familiar, and that inherent strangeness works only to enhance the sense of mystery.

Once inside an investigation space--or memory, as the game refers to them--the first thing you're compelled to do is examine the now-deceased body in front of you, matching their face to the artist's sketch in your book to commence the process of identification. You still don't know their name, but perhaps there was something you heard just before they died that could be a clue? Maybe there's something about what they were doing or wearing or where they were on the ship or who they were with? You also need to determine their fate--were they shot or stabbed or poisoned or crushed or worse? And, if they were murdered, then by whom? Which likely means having to identify someone else through another series of clues. Or maybe you'll need to find the answers in another memory instead?

At first, you won't have enough information to draw any firm conclusions about the fate of the ship. However, as you explore the ship and find more bodies, which in turn open up new areas of the ship and reveal yet more bodies, the gaps in your knowledge will start to close. Soon you'll have access to a series of memories that, by the time you're done identifying everyone and discovering their fates, come together to tell the story of the Obra Dinn and the sixty people on board. It's at this point, as you stand over an unknown corpse with your trusty notebook in hand, that Return of the Obra Dinn solidifies into an exceptionally compelling representation of detective work.

Unlocking a person's identity requires you to pay attention to every last detail across multiple memories. To narrow your search you can bookmark a specific person and revisit only the memories in which they appear, letting you focus on their individual story in an attempt to clarify their actions and link them to a particular role on the ship. Further, the Obra Dinn had a fairly multicultural crew so you'll do well to note the different languages spoken and the varying accents of the English-speaking majority, as well as the details of each person's physical appearance.

At any point, you can pull out your book to pencil in a detail. Perhaps you think this chap is the First Mate or this fellow with the beard got shot by the ship's surgeon. Correctly identify three people and their fates and the game will let you know by properly typesetting your penciled notes. Some will be obvious, most will not, and many will require keeping track of multiple scenes and threading together numerous what-at-first-seemed-inconsequential pieces of information. When a clutch of clues fall into place and you crack the case, as it were, it feels immensely satisfying.

Plenty of games promise to make you feel like a detective only to have you checking boxes, but here it's different. Return of the Obra Dinn gives you all the tools you'll need to solve its puzzles--the book interface is a masterpiece of connected design--and then trusts that you'll be capable of arriving at the correct answers by yourself.

But it's more than that. Your magical pocket watch and its time-traveling, corpse-identifying mechanic offers far more than just an exceptionally clever puzzle game--as if that wasn't already enough. It also delivers a wonderfully evocative method of storytelling as you gain glimpses into the lives of each person on board at vital moments along the Obra Dinn's journey and piece together who they were, what they had to deal, what motivated them, and how they responded when tragedy struck. You may only see them in scratchy monochrome stills and hear them in brief snatches of urgent conversation, if at all, but if you're paying attention then you should feel like you know (almost) every one of these sixty people intimately by the end of the game.

Categories: Games

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Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 10/22/2018 - 00:00

Bandai Namco has revealed Kane, the villain of their upcoming manga crossover game Jump Force. Kane, who is not from an existing series and has been made specifically for the game, seems to be responsible for the melding of worlds that is bringing all the Jump characters together with each other and into the real world.

"This world needs to be remade... And in order to do that, it must first be unmade." Take a closer look Kane, a villainous character coming to JUMP FORCE!

Excited to see more of this original character by Akira Toriyama? Check out #JUMPFORCE today:

— Bandai Namco US (@BandaiNamcoUS) October 20, 2018

Designed by Akira Toriyama, Kane certainly looks like a lot of Toriyama's other designs amalgamated together, such as Dragon Ball Z's Cell and Dragon Ball Super's Hit fused together. While Bandai Namco has said that not every character in the game will be a playable fighter, specifically pointing to the tease of Death Note's Light and Ryuk at the game's reveal, it does seem like Kane definitely fights from the screenshots.

Jump Force releases on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in 2019.

Categories: Games

Lego DC Super-Villains Review: Mediocre Mischief-Makers

Gamespot News Feed - Sat, 10/20/2018 - 17:30

It's been obvious for a very long time that Lego games iterate more than innovate. If you pick up a Lego title, you are guaranteed a wholesome romp in whichever licensed universe is at hand. Everything is breakable and spits out glittery, golden collectibles when destroyed. Beloved characters are Lego-fied and reenact their famous antics with an extra dollop of cartoon absurdity. Those qualities remain appealing, but every so often, developer Traveller's Tales stumbles onto an idea that requires an extra bit of creativity to really make it sing. Sometimes TT steps up to the plate, like it did for Lego City Undercover and Lego Dimensions. Other times, well, it doesn't. It's a little sad to see Lego DC Super-Villains fall into the latter category.

The issue here really comes down to the premise. The idea of subverting the Lego Batman playbook and making a game that's all about DC Comics villains is a great one in theory. However, opening up the game to the entire roster of DC villains has the unfortunate side effect of highlighting just how weak DC's broad slate of evil is. Sure, you're doing fine when you've got The Joker using Lex Luthor as a straight man, or when big, unique baddies like Sinestro and Gorilla Grodd start showing up, but much of the game's story mode has you saddled with third-string riff-raff like Heat Wave and Malcolm Merlyn for extended stretches. Somehow, both Captain Cold and Killer Frost figure heavily into the main story, but the far more compelling Mr. Freeze doesn't.

There's a fertile concept in the idea of the loser villains hatching a plan to head up to the big leagues, but the actual plot takes a far less interesting course: The Justice League gets captured and replaced by the Justice Syndicate, who comic fans probably know as the Crime Syndicate of America, a super-powered group from alternate dimension Earth-3. On the surface, it looks like the Syndicate is doing a great job cleaning up crime, but the Syndicate's going a lot harder on the bad guys than the League ever would, leading the Legion of Doom to gather up a slew of recruits and take the fight to the Syndicate.

The wild card would appear, at first glance, to be you. At the outset, you get to create your own custom villain who ends up joining the Legion. It's an impressive slew of options you get at the start of the game, and an even more extensive selection is available as you play, earn more powers, and unlock more parts. Everything from your villain’s haircut, to their weapon of choice, which arm they use to shoot energy at their enemies, to even what that energy looks like can be customized. It’s an extensive collection of options from the moment you start the game, and almost intimidatingly vast by the end. My first villain took maybe an hour to create and be happy with, after which I watched as my lovingly crafted superhero was sidelined for most of the story.

Unfortunately, your custom villain is not the star of the game--they don't even have a voice--and no matter how badass you make yourself, all the other villains simply refer to you as Rookie (except for Harley Quinn, who calls you Dr. Doesn't-Talk-Much). You're occasionally called upon to use your technical skills to open a specific door, and you are able to absorb new powers along the way, but for the most part your budding baddie has almost no impact or meaningful presence in the story. Instead, most of the game's levels boil down to a formula: A group of one or two big-ticket villains and one or two small-timers go to a familiar locale--Gotham, Metropolis, Smallville, Belle Reve prison--to free some more of their criminal friends, and run into some of the remaining small-time heroes in the process, e.g. the Teen Titans or Nightwing.

The moment-to-moment gameplay remains as simple and accessible as ever; combat boils down to spamming a single attack button, with the safety net of infinite lives, and there's some very rudimentary platforming. Finding secrets usually just means running around breaking everything until a shiny new toy pops out. There's nothing really wrong with that by itself, given the Lego games’ appeal to a younger audience, and watching Lego structures explode into a million pieces really hasn’t lost much of its innate joy, even after all this time. The problem is, only a few esoteric sliding tile puzzles differentiate the game mechanically from things the Lego Batman games were doing 10 years ago.

The level design in particular is a major strike against the game. It attempts to evoke a sense of chaos and disorder for the villains to feel at home in, but everything is so cluttered and elaborate, it's hard to know what's breakable and what's not, which character you're controlling, and what you can actually interact with. The wanton destruction that’s kind of Lego’s bread-and-butter loses something when the area being destroyed looks like a mess to begin with.

The villains themselves are well-animated, and great care has gone into differentiating the hundreds of playable baddies from each other, be it all of the Joker's attacks ending with theatrical flourishes, Killer Frost's ballerina moves, or Gorilla Grodd being able to literally leap over tall buildings in a single bound. There's a ton of overlap from the small-timers, though, and the alternative choices don't provide you with a reason to want to use them. Even the relatively easy attention grab that comes from having much of the voice cast from both the Superman and Batman Animated Series from the '90s show up--including Mark Hamill's iconic Joker, and a delightfully up-for-anything Michael Ironside reprising his role as Darkseid--doesn't quite land due to the more interesting villains taking a backseat.

Playing as all villains, you'd think there'd be more opportunity to wreak havoc on Metropolis or Gotham City, even if it's in an E-for-Everyone kind of way, but there isn't. The best part of the game is once the main story is over and you can just roam around the rather expansive open areas at will. Any and all villains unlocked during the game are accessible, and there's tons of little sidequests and races to take on. This is always the best part about the Lego games, though.

Ultimately, Lego DC Super-Villains goes down as another cookie-cutter Lego game, and while there's still plenty of merry mayhem to unleash, it's the same kind of mayhem we've seen before. What should be as wild and riotous as the Clown Prince of Crime comes off as just another mild-mannered reporter.

Categories: Games

Dark Souls Remastered Switch Review: A Very Special Revisit

Gamespot News Feed - Sat, 10/20/2018 - 01:30

When it comes to delivering a memorable and tense experience, not many games can match up to the original Dark Souls. Many fans swear by the approach From Software takes with its stoic and uncompromisingly bleak action-RPG series where one wrong move can cost you dearly, and it's become one of the most challenging and anxiety-inducing franchises in recent memory. Coming off the recent release of Dark Souls Remastered on PC, PS4, and Xbox One, the Souls series now brings its particular style of high-pressure gameplay to the Switch--marking its first appearance on a Nintendo console.

While this new release isn't as visually and technically impressive as the other current-gen versions, it is an admirable port that reinforces what makes Dark Souls memorable. It effectively makes use of the Switch's capabilities as a portable console, which in turn offers a slightly different feel to the Souls experience that's surprisingly refreshing.

As a recap, Dark Souls Remastered is an enhanced port of the original 2011 game. On PC, PS4, and Xbox One, the remaster runs at 4K and at 60 FPS and features a much sharper visual look, along with a suite of quality-of-life improvements--such as improved matchmaking with dedicated servers and a variety of gameplay tweaks. The Switch version is very much in line with what came before. However, due to the limitations of the system's hardware, it's seen some clear downgrades compared to the previous Remastered releases.

While playing through the Switch version, it felt closer to the original PS3 and Xbox 360 releases, albeit far more stable. Running at a consistent 30 FPS, the docked version of Dark Souls on Switch displays at 1080p, with the handheld mode set to 720p (the same resolution as the original game). Aside from the drop in resolution, general frame-rate between docked and handheld is largely consistent, which is great when swapping between the two modes during a session.

If you're used to Dark Souls Remastered running at 60 FPS on the other platforms, the Switch version will take some time adjusting to. In addition to some fairly short draw-distances on environmental details, the audio quality sounds far more subdued and quiet compared to other releases. While this doesn't happen often--and most times isn't that noticeable--it can create odd moments where some sound effects get drowned out by others, or when there's a slight delay in hearing a sound effect. Moreover, playing in docked mode with the Joy-Cons can often induce some lag with the camera controls, which can be a dire issue during careful platforming or an intense combat encounter. Fortunately, the Day One patch does work to address these issues to success, but some of the technical hiccups still linger.

Despite these rough edges, Dark Souls on Switch is an impressive port that manages to keep the Souls experience intact for its new platform. In a surprisingly neat feature, it's possible to pause the game when playing in the offline mode by backing out to the Home menu or setting the system to sleep. If you're planning to take Dark Souls mobile, then you'll more than likely make use of the offline mode often, and the Switch feels much more suited to.

To properly put this version through its paces, we journeyed to one of Dark Souls' most notorious levels, which frustrated and unnerved many players upon its original release. Blighttown, the derelict shanty town full of diseased creatures, was a nerve-wracking descent into a grotesque atmosphere filled with narrow walkways and an infamously unstable frame-rate. Many years later, it's still among one of the most game's most memorable and feared areas. The Switch version is fortunately able to keep a stable 30 FPS throughout, which includes the depths of Blighttown.

While there are noticeable dips during some encounters, particularly during bosses and set-pieces that have lots of action, the Switch handles the true Dark Souls experience quite well. The most notable success that Dark Souls Remastered has on the Switch--aside from the sheer fact that it runs properly on the hardware--is how it can feel like more of an involved journey. This is mostly due to how it works in handheld mode, allowing you to play Dark Souls on the go. As a returning player, it often felt like I was bundling up with an engrossing book, voraciously exploring and unearthing the game's many locations.

In an interesting way, playing in handheld mode can make for a more personal experience with Dark Souls, which is something that's entirely exclusive to the Switch release. While the portability feature of the console can often feel overstated for other games, it truly does amplify the core of what Dark Souls is all about. Over the course of your personal story in-game--which is on a road paved by defeat, small victories, and occasional humiliation--you'll eventually come to a major win, making the challenging journey feel worthwhile.

While Dark Souls Remastered on Switch possesses some odd quirks and isn't as technically impressive as its current-gen counterparts, it still retains the heart of what the original game is all about. To this day, Dark Souls remains a watershed moment for the action-RPG genre. Getting to re-experience many of the game's most nerve-wracking and iconic moments can be satisfying in its own right, but coupled with the Switch's flexible playstyle, this equally haunting and triumphant game becomes an even more involved journey.

Categories: Games

Soulcalibur VI's Launch Trailer Tells A Tale Of Swords And Souls

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 10/19/2018 - 02:40

Soulcalibur fans have waited a number of years for a new game and are finally getting it in the form of Soulcalibur VI. As we wait patiently for release and for the online servers to be turned on, there is still one last trailer to watch before the game officially comes out. Bandai Namco has provided a Soulcalibur launch trailer to get you just a bit more hyped up for the game.

The trailer takes you through the roster, what you can expect from the game's critical arts and major fights, and even take a look at the game's story mode and transformation. It turns out everyone has a little bit of a monster in them and some of the others are just straight up monsters.

Soulcalibur VI releases on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on October 19.

Categories: Games