Kilik, Xianghua, Nightmare, and Grøh Enter The Stage Of Destiny

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 01/25/2018 - 18:24

The newest trailer for Soulcalibur VI introduces several returning characters, as well as the mysterious new Grøh.

Grøh, known as The Agent in Black in the trailer, appears to be an assassin that is targeting the fighters of Soulcalibur. He wields a double-ended sword that can be split apart and used as two separate knives. 

Returning characters include Nightmare, who moves fast but still puts significant weight behind his giant (and evil) broadsword; Xianghua, who's unique sword fighting style returns in full force; and Kilik, who once again returns to his bo-staff style that made him so popular. The trailer also shows off several Critical Arts and rage transformations for the characters, putting their opponents in a world of hurt.

Soulcalibur VI is scheduled to launch on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC this year. You can check out the new trailer below.

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Categories: Games

Monster Hunter World Review: A Hunt For All

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 01/25/2018 - 08:01

While some fans of the series were disappointed when Monster Hunter XX came to the Switch as a Japan-only exclusive, the good news is that we don't have to suffer in region-imposed torture any longer. The latest big fish in the franchise's pond, Monster Hunter World, is finally here, and it blows the previous western releases out of the water.

For seasoned players, the gameplay loop in Monster Hunter World is immediately recognisable. Your job is a cycle that involves crafting weapons, bulking up, killing monsters, and looting them for materials. However, a well-crafted narrative has not traditionally been a part of that gameplay loop, and that may have been a deterrent for those looking for a foothold into the franchise in the past. Luckily for them, the first major point of difference here from the previous mainline titles is the way that the plot and gameplay are grafted together. A spinoff, Monster Hunter Stories, stepped off the beaten track by introducing a simple yet satisfying narrative, and now Monster Hunter World solidifies that step by using the building blocks of previous narrative concepts to deliver a well-paced experience that spends more time focusing on the bigger picture.

While you spend a lot of time chasing an Elder Dragon that wouldn't look out of place in the movie Pacific Rim, Monster Hunter World's choice to integrate Guild and Village quests into one coherent story cuts out any confusion or ambiguity that new players may feel when it comes to figuring out which quests progress your journey. The fact that everything is tuned for a rewarding solo experience is a plus--it's entirely possible to pump through 60 hours of quests without ever interacting with another player online. And when combined with more intelligent monster AI, facing off against a fire-breathing Tyrannosaurus-like creature on your own makes the stakes feel even higher.

On top of the story, which revolves around the mystery of why the aforementioned Elder Dragon has appeared in the game's new region, there have been some quality-of-life changes that ease your transition into the world of monster hunting. Instead of frontloading a lot of text-based tutorials as in previous titles, you now have a Handler who doles out helpful information to you as you progress through zones of increasing complexity. It can feel a bit like having an annoying younger sibling tagging along on otherwise deadly adventures, but her vocal cues and vast knowledge about monster types are helpful when encountering new enemies for the first time. This assistance ceases when you start cutting your teeth on High Rank monsters, but hearing about new skills and immediately putting them into practice in the field is an excellent way to learn about the game from the ground up.

Monster Hunter World was always promised as an open-world experience. To some extent, it delivers on that; fantastically large maps of a scale that we haven't seen before (both vertically and horizontally), no discernable game-pausing loading screens between zones in hunting areas, and a wealth of beautifully rendered environments to slaughter colossal monsters in. A helpful addition to this new world is the swarm of scoutflies that serve as a way to track monsters and other objectives.

Navigating the vastness of those areas without scoutflies would have been incredibly tedious. Once you've located a few traces of a monster's path in a zone, your scoutflies automatically track it to its current location. Gather up enough clues over time and soon your insectoid minions will be able to predict where a certain monster is located based on past movements. This is very useful for investigation missions with tight time frames at higher ranks and sticks to your canon characterisation: a seasoned hunter who understands their prey. Except, perhaps, when said prey glitches through two stories' worth of foliage and can't be attacked with any weapons that you've got on hand. Fortunately, those instances are few and far between.

Part of the ability to capitalise on a monster's weakness is the smart use of all the tools in your hunting arsenal, with the most important being your weapon of choice. The Hunter Arts from Monster Hunter Generations have been removed, and the game's focus is solely on your ability to dish out ridiculous amounts of damage using your respective weapon's combo. Light weapons are still the most mobile while the technical weapons are still the most difficult to understand and master, but there are ample opportunities to get experience with whichever blade, bow, or lance you've decided on. Weapon upgrade trees are all viewable at a glance, and the ability to make a wishlist of parts for your next upgrade makes the process more convenient, and helps you decide which expeditions to focus on.

Bowguns in particular have received the most notable facelift: it appears that there has been an effort to mimic the kind of playstyle you'd have in a third-person shooter, and this is most apparent when you're firing from the hip with the light bowgun. That doesn't necessarily change the strategy needed; you'll still have to make effective use of environmental hazards, traps, barrel bombs, and dung in order to chase down your quarry. There are now more ways to get a leg up on monsters, which make combat encounters more accessible to different playstyles. Elemental effects are all the rage once more, with weapons boasting essential new perks that have evolved alongside the enemies that you forge them from, and the benefits of bringing water to a firefight is a lesson you'll learn early.

Of particular necessity is the ability to mount monsters through aerial combos, or through the slightly less coordinated mad scramble off a cliff onto a creature's back; you're given the opportunity to knock a monster down, which will buy you time to slice off a tail or a claw. While the game will reward you no matter what strategies you take, knowing a monster's weak points is still a must if you strive to upgrade your gear. It's best to nail down your favourite weapon in the Arena--a mode where you test your mettle with specific gear against a monster that you've fought before.

Multiplayer integration is, for the most part, seamless. As mentioned above, there's no distinction between Village and Guild quests anymore, so missions can be done alone or with a friend, and you'll both only have to do it once to complete it. You can start a quest alone in an online session and wait for more hunters to pop in to assist. Alternatively, you can seek out an online session for people of a certain hunter rank, and just go along for the ride if they need a hand with anything. The only qualifier is that some story-focused missions require the leader to either watch a cutscene or discover a monster before others can join.

You can be in the same online session as someone else without having to do the quests that they're doing, which is useful for those who might want to keep an eye on a friend who's new to the franchise. Players who are struggling solo can also send out an SOS flare that lets their friends put together a little rescue party to save the day. In the downtime between adventures, you can do anything from arm wrestling to challenging each other's times on the killing leaderboards.

Getting together with your mates takes a couple of extra steps compared to loading into a multiplayer session on the fly with a stranger. If you know you’ve got a friend online, you’ll have to join in on their fun via the friends list on the console dashboard. While you can drop in and out of public sessions with strangers easily, getting people to specifically join your online session will require them to enter a 12-digit session ID. In a game that’s all about momentum and sprinting off into the horizon at the next challenge, getting your hunting posse together is manageable but slightly tedious. That being said, a few minutes to specifically set up a multiplayer session doesn’t necessarily make or break the game.

As expected, Monster Hunter World scales the difficulty up if you're not the only one embarking on the quest. Up to four people can go out into the wilderness at once, and the beta experience has already demonstrated to many how exhilarating group combat can be. The more targets available for monsters, the more unpredictable their movements. This means that while you may have more firepower, it can be harder to lock down a monster that's particularly prone to relentless charging or rapid aggression. Luckily, playing with others gives you the opportunity to try out different weapon compositions, and while unusual weapons like the hunting horn might see minimal use in the solo campaign, its sweet, party-buffing tunes and your teamwork abilities will become crucial to helping your friends take down the most savage of beasts.

While it may seem like quite a bit has changed, there's a hell of a lot in Monster Hunter World that's stayed the same. Whether it's the appearance of draconic series regulars like the Rathalos and the Rathian or the presence of tried and true weapons, the roots of the Monster Hunter franchise are strong with its latest release. Apart from the overall sprucing up of graphics and the cutscenes with full voice-over, the standout improvements really come from the simplification of the existing systems in a way that welcomes newcomers without alienating existing fans. A lack of loading screens makes exploration a pleasure, and tracking new and improved monsters through areas as they rank up means that you've got plenty to conquer once the story quests are complete. There may not be any new weapons, and there may be a Hunter Arts-sized hole left in the hearts of players who spent hours getting good at the various Styles. However, the removal of those old mechanics feels less like a funeral and more like a necessary streamlining.

Ever since the title was first announced last year, it was clear that Capcom was gunning for something grander than Monster Hunter Generations. It has succeeded, and this is likely the biggest and best that the franchise has ever been. It's not just the comparative depth of the narrative; it also boasts almost seamless integration between combat systems that were previously incomprehensible for amateurs. The Monster Hunter formula has definitely honed its claws, and all the above factors play their part in making Monster Hunter World a meaningful evolution for the series at large.

Categories: Games

Five Early Takeaways

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 01/25/2018 - 05:01

EA Sports' third UFC title comes out next week, and you're likely seeing some reviews across the internet. I've put a ton of time into UFC 3 – particularly career mode – but we're not ready to publish our review just yet. We decided to hold off to see how the game behaves in a live environment. However, with tens of hours under my belt, I have plenty of thoughts about the game, which I can now share with you. Here are my five biggest takeaways from EA Sports UFC 3.

1. The Overhauled Stand-up Game Is Largely Successful
UFC 3 tosses the animations from past UFC games aside and starts anew using EA Sports' Real Player Motion technology. The result is more realistic transitions from move to move, and better-looking locomotion around the Octagon. Strikes look more natural when thrown, and the transitions in the clinch look good. On the ground, some of the transitions still look slightly choreographed, but do a good job of capturing the grapple struggle.

The revamped striking controls take some getting used to, but their intuitive nature means I was competently striking after just a few matches. However, fighters sometimes take an absurd amount of damage, meaning that even my career-mode fighter that reached a power rating of 100 sometimes had trouble putting opponents away. Sure, an overhand right could stun the opposing fighter fairly consistently, but the hooks, uppercuts, and Superman punches felt underwhelming in their power at times.

One thing I absolutely love that UFC 3 brings to the table is its new vulnerability windows. These windows open you up for more damage if you're hit during certain points in your strike, and the window size varies based on the move you're throwing. For example, a jab has a very small vulnerability window, so if you're caught while throwing a jab, it's not nearly as severe as if you take a hook to the chin while throwing a wild haymaker.

2. The New GOAT Career Mode Is A Huge Improvement
One of the biggest focuses of UFC 3 is the new GOAT Career Mode. In this single-player, offline mode, you try to develop a new fighter all the way from fighting in the local circuits to becoming the greatest combatant to ever set foot in the UFC Octagon. However, the road to becoming the greatest of all time is a long, difficult one. In order to become the GOAT, you need to set six performance records, and two promotional records by the time your career ends. These are all long-term goals that you slowly build to as your career progresses. Because of that, UFC 3 adds short-term goals for each contract you sign, as well as a rival to look forward to facing at the conclusion of your contract. You go back and forth with your rival on social media over the course of your contract, building hype for your fight. I enjoyed these back and forths, even though I wish it had more interactivity.

Each fight lets you select where you want to set up your training camp. You can do everything from train in your parents' basement for free to join an elite gym for thousands of dollars per week. I like the balancing act of not only deciding between the splurging on the best gyms and saving money for the future, but also choosing how to spend your time while in camp. With the need to complete both performance and promotional milestones, you need to build up hype for your fight through activities like making an appearance at a local business or streaming video games for fans. Each activity, whether it's training or promoting, takes time from your week, and when you reach zero in your time bank, you advance to the next week.

The presentation of the GOAT Career Mode is a massive upgrade. Whether you're talking the usage of Dana White's Looking for a Fight, The Ultimate Fighter, or the UFC Minute starring Megan Olivi, the career mode does a great job of building up the drama surrounding your fights before the fight even happens.

That's not to say the mode is perfect, however. One small detail that irritated me through my three playthroughs of the mode is that while the rankings change throughout the many simulations, the champion never does. It's strange to see Michael Bisping still the champ of the middleweight division in the year 2022, four years after he's likely retired (and five years after he lost the belt in real life). On a similar note, I appreciate that big-name fighters never retire from career mode, but I found it pretty funny that I was so easily dominated by a 47-year-old Anderson Silva; I get that he's one of the greatest to ever fight, but I don't know if he's going to still be that great as he rapidly approaches the 50-year mark.

3. The Commentary Needs Some Work
Longtime play-by-play commentator Mike Goldberg left the UFC last year for Bellator, meaning that they had to replace him in-game with new commentator Jon Anik. Anik does an exemplary job with his lines, even adding several new custom tags for some of the more high-profile fighters in the UFC (such as talking about how the road to the heavyweight belt still goes through Cleveland, Ohio when Stipe Miocic wins), but color commentator Joe Rogan adds very little in way of new voiceover. The biggest problems with the commentary, however, are in its accuracy and consistency. My second career reached its final fight, and the UFC Minute did a nice little video on how it was my fighter's final time in the Octagon. However, once my fighter reached the cage, Anik and Rogan excitedly went back and forth about how my fighter had a bright future and would one day in the future challenge for a belt, completely taking me out of the big moment in my fighter's career.

On other occasions, the commentators would incorrectly call the action. One such occurrence saw Anik and Rogan talking about the brutal roundhouse kick my fighter just threw to knockout her opponent. One problem exists: I knocked my opponent out with an uppercut. During another sequence, my fighter was knocked out with a single strike and the winning combatant walked away without throwing a follow-up. In this case, Anik and Rogan exchanged admiration for the awesome combination the fighter threw. These are all small problems with contextual awareness, but they amount to more pressing issues when it's taking me out of the immersion so regularly.

However, it's absolutely hilarious that EA Sports got Snoop Dogg to commentate Knockout Mode this time around, an homage to his gig with Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series. He's funny and surprisingly uncensored as he gives you the play-by-play in the hard-hitting mode.

4. Ultimate Team Adds A Lot More Customization
If you played the UFC 3 beta, you noticed that each fighter has more customization options. This allows you to further customize your team beyond what you could do in UFC 2. However, it also means that you have a lot more slots to fill, which can be done by earning packs in-game, or by buying them with real money. Like all card-collection modes in modern sports games, Ultimate Team is designed with microtransactions in mind. However, while they will give you a boost, they're not required to enjoy the mode. The addition of the single-player challenges that let you compete offline is welcome, and I like the team-chemistry boost.

5. The Short-Term Fight Modes Are Bolstered
If you're just looking to jump into a fight or two without the long-game structure of career or Ultimate Team, you have plenty of options that offer you single-sitting experiences. Of course, you can jump right into a standard UFC fight with any fighter and custom rules/presentation, but if you want to mix it up, the thrilling Knockout Mode, where you essentially have a set number of hit points before you're knocked out, returns with Snoop Dogg commentary in tow. Also, for those who want to focus on stand-up or ground games, Stand and Bang lets you go into a fight where no grappling, groundwork, or ground and pound is permitted, while Submission Showdown puts your chokes, armbars, and locks to the test.

Those modes are all fun to mess around with either by yourself or with a friend, but I love the returning Custom Event, and the new Tournament Mode. Custom Events lets you set your own UFC fight card, all the way down to the arena you want it to take place in and who you want refereeing. Tournament Mode allows you to set up a bracket with 8 or 16 fighters and customize the rules to a ridiculous extent. If you want 8 fighters to compete in stand-up-only matches with damage that carries over from match to match, or if you want 16 fighters with equalized skills and attributes to compete in standard MMA fights, you can do that. The standard online suite outside of Ultimate Team also returns in the form of Ranked Championships and Online Quick Fight.

Categories: Games

Live Through The End Of The World In New Trailer

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 01/24/2018 - 23:55

Human Head Studios, the developer behind 2006's Prey, released a pre-alpha trailer for Rune: Ragnarok. The game provides a world-ending twist on a classic franchise.

The new trailer gives us a taste of the various locales and grisly combat as man, beasts, and even the trickster god Loki fight for survival. The original Rune launched in 2000 and it was a hack-and-slash action adventure game that received fairly good reviews. Hopefully, this long-awaited sequel can hold up in today’s climate.

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For more on the return of Rune, check out the announcement trailer.

Categories: Games

Developers Talk Returning To The Series Roots

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 01/24/2018 - 22:30

The developers behind one of the year's first big games get together to talk about their inspirations for Monster Hunter: World, how the monsters function as part of the ecosystem, and what the original prototypes looked like.

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Monster Hunter: World releases on January 26 for PS4 and Xbox One. For more info on this monsterous game, check out our coverage hub full of exclusive features and videos.

Categories: Games

Realism Is The True Ruler In This Medieval RPG

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 01/24/2018 - 21:05

A new 16-plus minute trailer for Kingdom Come: Deliverance shows off the game’s gorgeous world and myriad, deeply realistic facets.

Drawing on real events from 1403 within the Holy Roman Empire, players assume the role of Henry, the son of a village blacksmith. The trailer starts with Henry investigating a camp of bandits with a stealthy approach followed by gritty swordplay. There are no reticles when using archery, so players must rely purely on their eyes. The combat, based on 15th century techniques, relies on hitting one of six strike zones and perfectly timed blocks, the former of which drains stamina. This isn’t Skyrim. You can’t jump into a bandit camp and one-shot everyone, or wipe out a town with fireballs. Kingdom Come’s combat seems to be built around careful planning, intricacy, and realism for intense one-on-one duels.

Depending on your play style, you can increase one of four main stats: strength, agility, vitality, and speech, each of which have individual skill sets that come with perks the more they are used. One segment in the trailer shows Henry stealing a house key from a drunk merchant on a dark night. As Henry approaches the house, he notices a guard dog. Instead of killing it, Henry throws a slab of meat and distracts it. After breaking into the house and silencing a sleeping guard, he proceeds to the merchant’s stash and tries to pick the lock. The situation goes awry, however, when the pick snaps, causing a loud ruckus that alerts others to his criminal activity. After deciding he can’t fight or outrun the guards, Henry surrenders to the authorities using a high speech skill and to salvage the last of his reputation in that town.

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Kingdom Come releases worldwide on February 13 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Until then, read our hands-on preview here.

Categories: Games

Stoic Announces Release Window With Fasolt Character Trailer

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 01/24/2018 - 19:20

Publisher Versus Evil along with developer Stoic announced a Summer release for the final installment of the Viking role playing game, Banner Saga 3.

This vignette trailer focuses on the Fasolt, the Loyalist, leading an army towards the human capital to avenge his fallen comrades and restore honor to the Varl. Character trailers are often an effective promotional tool and we can expect more Banner Saga 3 trailers as we head toward the anticipated conclusion of this cult indie franchise.

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To see what we thought of the Banner Saga 2, check out our review.

Categories: Games

The Inpatient Review

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 01/23/2018 - 23:50

Prequels run the risk of diminishing the magic of the stories they lead into, but The Inpatient is a rare exception that entirely manages to avoid that. As opposed to its jumpscare-obsessed peers on PSVR--even in opposition to the game from which it spun off, Until Dawn--The Inpatient relies less on the element of surprise, instead utilizing the far more diabolical and harder-won asset of dread.

You play as an amnesiac--the gender and skin color of whom you can choose at the outset--at the illustrious Blackwood Sanitorium and Hotel. You wake in a wheelchair on a snowy February day in 1952, a doctor gently but ominously grilling you about your fleeting scraps of memory. After the first session leaves your curiosity hanging with more questions than answers, you're carted off to your room. There, nothing but your paranoid roommate, a hard-looking bed, and a steady supply of flimsy sandwiches awaits you each day, and vicious, gory, absinthe green-tinted nightmares await every night.

You'll be shuffling your way through The Inpatient's various unpleasantries using either a DualShock 4 or two Playstation Move controllers. Unlike playing with a DualShock, Move controllers enhance your immersion--giving you two functional onscreen hands to use--but collision detection is on the buggy side, where the hands can get very easily stuck on random objects while trying to interact with them and twist in weird ways. In addition, movement is a bit clunky; the quick-turning radius makes it far too easy to get stuck in a doorway because your virtual shoulder happens to be at a strange angle, which is especially awkward when you're not able to step out of the way of a scripted event in time. Lastly, no matter which control scheme you pick, the game is in desperate need of the ability to walk backwards.

You have ample time to pace around your dingy room getting used to the controls, but just as you begin to settle into your new routine, the day comes when the nurse stops paying a visit, the food stops arriving, and a chilling daily chorus of ungodly shrieks and screams from deep in the sanitorium starts taking the place of actual human conversations.

Survivors of Until Dawn can already take a wild guess at what's happening outside the door, but The Inpatient isn't so quick to jump to that conclusion. Instead of introducing its antagonist upfront, half the game is spent dealing with a far more human monster: starvation. The slow decay of sanity is executed with a steady hand; every time you wake up from an extended slumber brings a new level of deterioration to the room and your roommate. Add in the amnesia, and you're trapped in your own personal hell long before the physical devils actually start showing up.

Eventually, of course, they do, and The Inpatient's second half settles into a familiar, exploratory groove of wandering the pitch black hallways of an asylum, waiting for just about anything to come for your blood. The game loses some of its intrigue around this point, but certainly not all. A more deep-seated terror gives way to external horror, as The Inpatient's incredible, all-encompassing soundscape echoes all sorts of grisly happenings from god-knows-where in the sanitorium. It's chilling enough until you realize the sounds are happening closer than you thought, and then it's maddening. It all culminates in a specific setpiece involving a careful, pins-and-needles walk from the sanitorium to a nearby chapel. A certain red-light-green-light challenge from Until Dawn gets a retread here, but the addition of VR to the mix makes an already pulse-raising situation even more frightening.

The game does lose a bit of steam as it glides towards the ending, but its short length--around two hours if you're not thoroughly looking for secrets--means the less interesting bits don't overstay their welcome. Where The Inpatient gains depth isn't necessarily from the endgame, but the replayability. It's possible to plow through the entire game, get a perfectly satisfactory ending, and have multiple questions still dangling in the air by the end, answered only by the second or third go round. Until Dawn's Butterfly Effect branching path system makes a return here, with the added bonus of an option to use voice recognition, to literally speak for your in-game character. It comes off at the outset as a neat gimmick, but it's hard not to find yourself getting deep into character, following the onscreen emotional cues, bitterly spitting dialogue at NPCs, and making deeply personal choices. By proxy, much of what you get from the game stems less from "what does this choice do?" than "how do I play this role to get the answers I want?"

The Inpatient doesn't just do right by Until Dawn, but stands right alongside it as one of the strongest horror experiences on PlayStation 4. It's a game far less concerned with pushing you towards what's lurking down every corridor than feeding you the worst ideas of what could be.

Categories: Games

Iconoclasts Review

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 01/23/2018 - 22:09

Iconoclasts' Metroidvania-inspired style and structure is deceptively simple at first. The vibrant 2D-pixelated world you inhabit is evocative and the action is quick and snappy. But if you've played games like this before, it'd be easy to dismiss Iconoclasts as trite and rudimentary considering the number of similar experiences available nowadays. Yet as you push through the game's myriad twists and turns, it matures before your very eyes, unfurling to reveal complex puzzles and a heart wrenching narrative.

Iconoclasts is a fantastic looking game with an impressive level of detail on display, a prime example being the unique animations and sounds each character exhibits. The presentation and catchy retro music elevates the personality of the world, making the game more captivating as a whole. However, judging Iconoclasts simply on its appearance undersells what's buried under the surface. There's much to love about this adventure: it's brimming with nuanced characters, riveting drama, sharp wit, and a host of well-crafted action set-pieces. Iconoclasts leverages its storytelling and presentation to pull you in. These elements distinguish it from the old-school adventures it recalls, making it worth checking out even if you're not traditionally a fan of retro games.

The adventure begins with little fanfare, putting you in control of mute protagonist Robin, an unlicensed mechanic in a world where technology is considered sacred due to its link to a dwindling magical resource that powers all things. This effectively renders her chosen profession illegal in the eyes of One Concern, a corrupt theocracy that rules the world with an iron fist. When Robin's actions inevitably provoke One Concern to hunt down everyone she loves, she becomes embroiled in a conflict that threatens not only the safety of her family but the entire world.

The strength of Iconoclasts' narrative isn't in the broader story beats, but the smaller emotional arcs of its characters. While the people you meet in your journey are inherently charming and likable, they're also broken individuals, consumed by their own inadequacies and traumatized by the crimes One Concern has inflicted upon them. Iconoclasts' depiction of grief is realistic and powerful; it doesn't hesitate to explore the emotional issues of its cast, often resulting in moments that fundamentally alter their identities in unexpected ways. There's a real sense of growth, with each character transcending their wit-laced dialogue and evolving into people with affecting, relatable plights.

Iconoclasts doesn't hesitate to explore the emotional issues of its cast, often resulting in moments that fundamentally alter their identities in unexpected ways.

Unsettling events occur throughout, so it helps that Robin is such an uplifting presence. Her unspoken optimism and willingness to help those in need makes her an incredibly endearing hero. Robin's endless strength and kindness in the face of a world permeated with religious and political corruption--not to mention her own emotional issues--serve as rays of hope in an otherwise dark journey. In the multitude of disasters that befall your allies, you're always compelled to keep pushing further, if only to see how Robin may hope to fix the world's atrocities.

As Robin, it's a joy to move and engage in combat. With her trusty stun gun and wrench, you'll navigate various biomes and industrial complexes where all manner of foes await, from rampaging deer and purple slimes to One Concern guards and deformed mutants. Combat is primarily focused on running 'n gunning, but there's some added nuance thanks to an upgrade system driven by collecting materials to craft Tweaks, which are special items that alter Robin's abilities. The effect of Tweaks are subtle, mostly altering physical characteristics such as running speed, the strength of your wrench attack, or how long you can hold your breath underwater.

Areas are packed with puzzles where you're often pushed to think critically about how you can use your arsenal to clear a path.

While tweaks are handy, they feel underutilized as there's rarely any urgency to rely on them to succeed. Their effects aren't all that noticeable, so they do little to change combat and exploration, which is disappointing. This can be somewhat remedied by crafting three of the same tweak to maximize their effects as opposed to diversifying the types you have equipped. Still, combat remains gratifying even with the less-than-impactful tweaks as it relies on skill and precision over an overly complicated upgrade system.

Rather than emulate Metroidvania games that favor open-ended exploration, Iconoclasts puts its focus on environmental puzzle solving. Areas are packed with brain-teaser-like trials where you're often pushed to think critically about how you can use your arsenal to clear a path towards the objective. For example, there are puzzles that involve moving platforms using a concussive bomb launcher. This sounds simple in theory, but it's far more involved when you have to consider how a bomb can only move a platform when it hits it from a specific direction. This is further complicated by the fact that when you charge up the launcher, it fires a missile that can only push platforms once it has picked up enough speed. Iconoclasts' puzzle design encourages you to consider its smallest details, which can occasionally be overwhelming during its most painstaking conundrums. But when you put in the time to work out a difficult solution, it's incredibly satisfying.

The emphasis on puzzle-solving even bleeds into boss fights, which are intense screen-filling battles that test your intellect as much as your reflexes. One boss has you switching between Robin and another playable character in order to work through a series of specific steps to reveal its weak point. While the game is quick to surprise you (and even make you laugh) with its bombastic boss fights, it also offers more tactical complexity than simply shooting at a foe until it's dead. As a result, you're often challenged to completely revise your strategy at a moment's notice in case a boss becomes invulnerable to your attacks.

Iconoclasts is a sincere and compelling adventure that anyone with respect for fantastic storytelling and 2D-action can enjoy.

When Iconoclasts' end credits begin to roll, it's bittersweet to see it all come to a close. After solving all of its puzzles and witnessing the finale of its poignant narrative, you can't help but reflect on the growth of its characters and your impact onto the world. The game will shock and surprise you with how gripping its story is, and it's likely to do so again in subsequent playthroughs of New Game+ with your expanded knowledge of character histories and events. Iconoclasts may be a callback to the style and mechanics of old-school games, but it's also a sincere and compelling adventure that anyone with respect for fantastic storytelling and 2D-action can enjoy.

Categories: Games

AO Tennis Review

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 01/23/2018 - 17:00

Without a major new tennis game since the last console generation, there is a lot riding on AO Tennis, an officially licensed game themed around the Australian tournament of the same name. Unfortunately, the final product feels half-baked and rushed, because AO Tennis is a game brought down by a frustrating lack of polish and poor presentation.

The game's controls and subpar shotmaking mechanics leave much to be desired, especially for a title that shares its name with such a prestigious tournament. In addition to the typical face-button setup for the various types of shots that can be played (such as slices and spins), AO Tennis adds an option where players can use the right joystick to serve and play shots. While a good idea in theory, the result is far too simplistic and feels clunky. The game automatically selects one type of shot for you every time with this method, which, although suitable for newcomers, will make you want to revert to the face buttons anyway due to its lack of depth.

Even with such basic shotmaking controls, AO Tennis does a poor job implementing them. The game aims for a tried-and-true system of holding an appropriate shot button in order to increase power before letting the shot fly. But the system is inconsistent, and far too often you will miss, use the wrong shot, use too much power for no discernable reason, or simply not react to the oncoming ball at all. And that's if you've managed to arrive at the shot in the first place.

Movement in AO Tennis is unresponsive and clumsy. Sprinting from side to side to chase down shots feels like an impossibly vain attempt every time, and to make things even more futile, there's no diving mechanic either. There are also random occasions where you might find yourself automatically pulled towards the ball, regardless of what buttons you may or may not be pushing. This troublesome movement system makes AO Tennis a frustrating game of wild guessing; it's a gamble between actual responsiveness, or losing a rally because your player does nothing at all.

Should you anticipate correctly and time a shot properly, don't expect it to land where you want it to either. Each shot type is wildly unpredictable in regards to where it will land and how much power is behind it, regardless of how perfectly you timed the power gauge. This throws normal tennis strategies out the window in favour of unrealistic ways to win points, such as hitting drop shots off 200km/h serves. Past the novelty factor of hitting error-free drop shots at will, the rallies in AO Tennis are simply jarring and unsatisfying to play.

All the aforementioned mechanical problems are amplified even further in AO Tennis' lackluster doubles mode. The expanded court margins and the near-lifelessness of players on screen exasperates the game's shotmaking problems and render doubles to a barely playable feature.

Each match is also noticeably lacking in atmosphere and gloss, which can be attributed to AO Tennis' bare-bones presentation. There are no commentaries, no crowd interactions, no entrance music, no pre-match greetings or handshakes, no post-match congratulations, and no trophy presentations, even if you've won the whole Australian Open tournament. The venues themselves are also rendered in a mediocre fashion; there is practically no detail to the different kinds of court surfaces, and you wouldn't know the difference between Rod Laver Arena or Wimbledon's famous Centre Court if it weren't for the change in colour scheme.

There are also some glaring omissions and extremely odd decisions that feel like straight-up mistakes at best and corner-cutting at worst. There are no in-game tutorials to properly explain how everything works; Rafael Nadal's distinctive on-court grunts are weirdly reused for random computer opponents; every single player (including iconic, real-life pros) has almost the exact same shotmaking motions; and the in-game referees occasionally get line calls incorrect, such as calling "let" in the middle of a rally.

Unfortunately, AO Tennis' poor presentation extends beyond the match court. There are a number of game modes available from the onset, but each one is sorely lacking in polish or even mildly interesting features. Career mode allows you to create your own player and take them on a journey from rookie to Grand Slam champion. But aside from playing tournaments and earning money in order to improve your player's skills, there is absolutely nothing to do besides match play. There are no training mini-games, practice courts, or even a rudimentary simulation of a tennis career off the court, such as press conferences or building up an entourage of coaches and physiotherapists. There is a special Australian Open tournament mode, but it's as bland as the matches in Career mode. You simply slog through the 128 male or female player draw and then do it all over again once the finals are played.

Should you not want to create your own character, AO Tennis has a roster of real-life pros for you to choose. A total of 18 pro players are currently available to play, including Rafael Nadal, Angelique Kerber, and a contingent of Australian players such as Sam Stosur and Ash Barty. But the lack of more recognisable superstars such as Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, or Serena Williams does diminish the star wattage of AO Tennis a bit, especially for casual players.

AO Tennis' custom player creation tool does have enough features to let you create other real-life pros, and these creations can be shared online with other players. Having said that, the number of available individual options are quite limited, so crafting some of tennis' most unique looks (such as a long-haired Andre Agassi) won't be possible.

But the small roster of licensed pros available are given an unfortunate spotlight in AO Tennis because of terrible visuals and facial animations. Each real-life pro looks wooden, and they barely meet the standard set by the Top Spin and Virtua Tennis franchises years ago.

The developer, Big Ant Studios, has promised to continually improve AO Tennis throughout the year, promising an ambitious slate of content that includes new players, events, and game modes. But with its poor presentation, lack of content, and frustrating controls, AO Tennis in its current state is subpar at best, and requires much more refinement to even meet the standard of last generation's tennis titles. Rather than a Roger Federer-esque ace, AO Tennis is more akin to a double fault whose shots don't even make the net.

Categories: Games

The Red Strings Club Review

Gamespot News Feed - Mon, 01/22/2018 - 23:00

Truly charismatic characters are a rare thing to encounter in games. A distinct feeling of connection to fictional people depends on key elements like good writing, laser-sharp timing, and unique perspectives. With all these concepts in place, you're more likely to be drawn into a story or relate to a character's motives, and subsequently, remember those characters for a long time to come. This is the main reason The Red Strings Club is so strong.

With an animation style that recalls classic LucasArts adventure games, The Red Strings Club begins in the titular basement bar owned and operated by information broker Donovan. Along with his partner, the street-smart hacker Brandeis, Donovan values secrets more than money and as such, he is well-known throughout his community as the man who can get answers. Late one night, the pair get a visit from a malfunctioning android who is desperate for help. When Brandeis is able to access the android's memory banks, an extraordinary journey begins, where you play as all three characters in a tale filled with unexpected emotional depth and individuality.

While the majority of the game involves speaking to different people, the tense and poignant dialogue choices give even the smallest exchanges a surprising amount of weight. Trust and deduction play big roles in your choices when learning who these people are and what they want from you. Each question or answer seemingly branches off into an enticingly different part of the story, and it's exciting to consistently wonder if you've made the right choice.

You quickly learn that Donovan is famous for matching drinks to customer's specific needs and desires. Throughout certain conversations, the game shifts to a cocktail-mixing mini-game where you must pour the exact amount of certain alcohol types to gain access to different parts of a person's emotions. Setting off a character's depression, pride, fear, lust, and so on can expand dialogue choices and give you additional clues on how to solve the greater mystery involving corporate greed, the ethics of technology, and a violent conspiracy.

Another large share of your involvement also features the aforementioned android, Akara-184. Akara is skilled at creating internal modules which can artificially manipulate the emotions of human customers upon request. These can potentially reduce anxiety, boost confidence, or dull fears. In creating the modules, a pottery lathe (along with a choice of soothing music) is presented, and it's up to you to not only carefully shape the module to suit the customer but decide which components to install. For example, someone wants to boost their ego for an upcoming meeting, but it's up to you to judge what is best for them based on the limited information provided to you. Would they be better off suppressing their selfish desires? You can experiment and witness the outcomes, although things might not go as you planned.

This is where the heart of The Red Strings Club lies: exploring the limits and depths of human emotion. Donovan, Brandeis, and Akara-184 all begin to question their motivations and their purposes as they inhabit the dreary end of this rainy, atmospheric metropolis. Their internal dilemmas are where some of the game's best moments are born. Do our emotions, especially the most horrible ones, make us who we are? If possible, would we keep our sadness but remove our depression? Are we shaped by our suffering?

More than a few times, you are faced with decisions based on ideas that you might not usually consider. Uncomfortable concepts laid out in front of you present a can of worms that, when opened, can either be fascinating or downright terrifying. Weighty decisions are heightened by the game's exceptional writing. Whether it's friendly conversations at the bar, a dangerous argument on a rooftop, or a compelling series of investigative phone calls, you find yourself hanging on every word, becoming sympathetic to conflicting opinions and building a strong connection to characters. Every piece of narrative is more fascinating than the last and before you know it, all that matters is discovering what happens next. From managing a hostile but vulnerable whistleblower to exploiting the affection of a friend to get vital information, paying attention to every action is key to uncovering these fascinating plot threads.

As the layers of mystery peel back, you'll begin to realize the ramifications your decisions have in this world. While you might regret some answers and be confident in others, the delayed cause and effect of some of the game's choices can have you questioning how you could have possibly formed those opinions in the first place, which makes this adventure an extremely personal one. The cast of characters that populate the story each have their own history, motives, and personality conveyed in a direct and intelligent way. Gost the mysterious smuggler, Larissa the extroverted marketing director, and self-obsessed rock star scientist Edgar lead you through an exploration in relationship manipulation. Can you trust this person? Do you want them to trust you? These fantastic, varied characters make you want to settle in and chat, rather than rush through the dialog.

Supporting these moments is the detailed environments; The bar itself is a major location and thanks to the gorgeous 2D art design, it is a space that's enjoyable to spend time in. Subtle details like Brandeis lighting his cigarette, the lonely ceiling fan, the hint of the city when a customer enters, and the sparkling, electronic soundtrack is a haunting combination which forms a tangible sense of atmosphere.

From the far-reaching implications of ethics and artificial intelligence to the heart-wrenching relationship between Donovan and Brandeis, the moment-to-moment storytelling in The Red Strings Club is the kind that can have a strong, personally resonant impact. It puts you in circumstances that make you pause for thought, beyond simply contemplating the motives of the character. There is inventive design in its locations and scenarios which makes you not only want to revel in them, but revisit them with a different purpose once the credits roll.

From the game's opening piano chords, The Red String Club's futuristic exploration of themes regarding human emotion, strong writing, and exciting situations create an experience that is deeply gratifying. The cast of relatable, three-dimensional characters elevate the stakes of every bullet fired, secret divulged and cocktail poured. They are flawed and dangerous, but also convey admirable human characteristics that feel inspirational. The Red Strings Club is a tense adventure about a cast of characters that endanger themselves for goals that aren't necessarily guaranteed, a rewarding journey into the human soul, and a game that pushes the limits of what a point-and-click adventure can do.

Categories: Games

The Final Pre-release Trailers Launch The Game And Detail Android 21

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 01/22/2018 - 15:19

Dragon Ball FighterZ launches on Friday, and Bandai Namco has two final trailers for the game. One launches it, and one officially reveals Android 21.

You can check out the launch trailer below, which doesn't show anything new, but is a good reminder that FighterZ is a visual powerhouse.

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Below you will find Android 21's character trailer. You get to see her transformation from Android into Majin, and see some of her special abilities.

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For a much deeper dive into Android 21, you can watch our detailed explanation of her capabilities here. You can also find some tips here, details on how to unlock all the game's characters here, and finally, you can find our review impressions here. We're not quite ready to assign a score to the game yet. For more from our month of Dragon Ball FighterZ coverage, click the banner below.

Categories: Games

Dragon Ball FighterZ Review In Progress

Gamespot News Feed - Mon, 01/22/2018 - 14:00

Despite the countless Dragon Ball games that have appeared since the manga debuted in the mid-'80s, the series has never needed them to sustain its popularity. Most are forgettable, some are good, and even fewer are truly great. Thanks to developer Arc System Works' particular talents, Dragon Ball FighterZ is one of the great ones, if not the best yet. Even if you think Dragon Ball is old hat, and even if you're intimidated by fighting games, there's a good chance you'll be drawn into the explosive action and personalities that expertly evoke the anime's infectious spirit.

Arc's prowess for making 3D assets look like 2D cel animation is as strong as ever, and its artists display a clear understanding of Dragon Ball's characteristic details. The screen is constantly filled with saturated colors and special effects, and super attacks are framed in a way that pull you out of the fight and into a momentary state of awe. Whether still or in motion, FighterZ's art looks like Dragon Ball at its very best, adhering closely to the standards set by the series creator, Akira Toriyama. And no matter how you may have watched the show, the option to choose between Japanese and English voice acting makes it easy to feel connected to the events on-screen.

Within the convincing Dragon Ball shell lives a fast-paced 3v3 tag-team fighting game that will feel familiar to Marvel vs. Capcom 3 veterans. But despite a few familiar parallels, FighterZ is distinctly Dragon Ball. Characters can jet through the air in a flash at any time, toss energy blasts like it's nothing, and unleash a flurry of smaller punches and kicks to stagger a hesitant opponent. Every fighter emphatically shouts at the top of their lungs (in a good way) every few seconds while attacking, and you understand why: these super beings are incredibly powerful, and FighterZ translates that energy to the screen perfectly. It also makes it easy for anyone to tap into that power, with relatively short special attack lists and one-button or two-button activations for universal mechanics. Not that it's recommended, but you can theoretically play with one hand and capably close the distance to your opponent to kick their ass in style regardless of the character you choose--all without any directional inputs.

Like any great fighting game, FighterZ doesn't lose depth just because it's accessible. Super attacks and teleports are easy to pull off, but they come with timing and combo conditions that allow for expert-level analysis and strategic play. It's also important to properly manage the lone meter that fuels most of your special abilities, a setup that makes a fighter's next move more unpredictable than usual, compared to some games with multiple, ability-specific meters. With seven levels of charge that feed into both offensive and defensive moves, it's never exactly clear what someone will do next, but you know a full meter means trouble, and a potentially chaotic back and forth between two crack fighters.

It also means fun is just seconds away. Being that it's so simple to cover ground, participate in mechanical mind games, and look impressive while doing it, there's practically no barrier to enjoyment provided you are fighting with opponents of a similar skill level. When the balance of skill in your opponent's favor, with no means of escaping a combo once you're trapped, there are times when you have to accept fate and wait for them to finish their onslaught--or until your current character dies--again, not unlike MvC3. Thankfully, online matchmaking is set up to auto-match you with players of similar experience, and lopsided fights are (so far, based on the open beta) few and far between.

You also don't need to be an aspiring online competitor to enjoy FighterZ, as it includes a significant story mode that can last a dozen hours or more if you seek out every possible cutscene. While a bit drawn out in places and relatively easy until the conclusion, it's still a treat for Dragon Ball fans with plenty of new vignettes staring classic characters. Though the plot is split into three arcs, you are technically seeing one arc from different perspectives, with a few alternate events to keep things interesting.

The gist is that a bunch of clones of the planet's strongest fighters are running amok, Dragon Ball heroes and villains (some who have been resurrected from death) must work together to stop them, and a new character, Android 21, is somehow at the center of it all. Because there's practically zero time spent introducing you to characters or their world, it's difficult to imagine how a newcomer to Dragon Ball would understand things like the Ginyu Force's proclivity to pose dramatically or the reason why Krillin doesn't have a nose, let alone the broad concepts of Super Saiyans and Dragon Balls. Then again, the mix of oddball antics and hyper-serious face-offs is inherently appealing for the confident cartoon expression on display.

As in combat, Arc's capable design skills make the 3D models and environments in cutscenes look stunningly close to actual 2D animation. There are moments when it feels like you're watching a new episode of Dragon Ball Z. But there's a catch: you're forced to press a button to advance dialogue, rather than allowed to kick back and watch the show. When FighterZ gets achingly close to recreating the look of the anime, the forced interaction feels like a step in the wrong direction, albeit a minor one in the grand scheme of things. Generally speaking, story sequences often elicit a smile or a laugh, only occasionally feeling like filler made to advance the story. One of the most strange yet likable qualities is the way the game contextualizes you, the player: a spirit that has randomly inhabited Goku (or another character depending on the arc in question) and can be passed to other fighters. It's unexpected and weird, but you have to give Arc System Works credit for pulling you into the room as opposed to simply breaking the fourth wall.

FighterZ is complex and distinct enough to be enjoyed by fighting game competitors, but there's no question that it's been designed to tap into the hearts of Dragon Ball's most dedicated fans...

Story mode's only real downfall is how repetitive it becomes--you fight clones of only a portion of the game's overall roster ad nauseam. Each chapter is presented like a map with locations connected by a branching path. In order to get to the chapter boss, you have to navigate the board and pick and choose your fights along the way. Given that there are optional pathways in each chapter and that you can concoct your own team, it's not surprising to learn that there are optional cutscenes to unlock depending on these conditions. Despite the rewards being largely enjoyable, after a handful of hours fighting lackluster opponents, the idea of replaying story chapters to see a quirky character interaction is unfortunately one that's easy to sideline.

Similarly, the game's basic, small overworld feels unnecessary even though it attempts to add value. Modes are divided among spokes around a circular hub, and you can run around as small versions of the game's characters, sometimes in alternate outfits. While cute at first, you soon learn to just hit the quick menu button and avoid running around at all as there's no benefit other than visualizing visiting a different venue for each mode.

The game tries to incentivize you through unlockable avatars for the overworld, but even if this sounds good, you can only earn them through randomized loot boxes. You earn money as you fight and complete story mode milestones and these can be cashed in for a capsule which turns into a random cosmetic item, be it graphics for your fighter profile, the aforementioned avatars, or alternate color palettes for in-combat outfits. The premium currency in the game can be earned when you open a capsule to find a duplicate item, or purchased using real-world money. Spending premium currency will simply net you an item that you don't already own--not one of your choosing. Rather than harm the game, the system feels a bit unnecessary as none of the rewards are critical to enjoying what matters most: participating in explosive battles and enjoying interactions between Dragon Ball's lovably bizarre characters.

Though merely a small piece of the overall puzzle, the rare Dramatic Finishes are perhaps the most respectable and impressive nod to fans in FighterZ. Anyone who's spent years watching Dragon Ball Z unfold over nearly 300 episodes will gasp the first time they trigger one, which will only happen with certain matchups under particular conditions. They have nothing to do with FighterZ's story, but they have everything to do with the revered history of the series at large.

FighterZ is complex and distinct enough to be enjoyed by fighting game competitors, but there's no question that it's been designed to tap into the hearts of Dragon Ball's most dedicated fans, and no doubt those same qualities will win people over who've never given the series a chance. Where past games attempted to get there through huge character rosters and deliberately predictable trips down memory lane, FighterZ has bottled the essence of what makes the series' characters, animation, and sense of humor so beloved and reconfigured it into something new: a Dragon Ball fighting game that can go toe-to-toe with the best of the genre.

Editor's note: This will remain a review in progress until we've had ample opportunity to test multiplayer on retail servers after launch.

Categories: Games

Batman: The Enemy Within - Episode 4: What Ails You Review

Gamespot News Feed - Mon, 01/22/2018 - 08:01

There's a line in Episode 4 of Telltale's Batman: The Enemy Within that serves as an evocative metaphor for the dynamic between Batman and Joker--or more aptly for the Telltale series, Bruce Wayne and John Doe: "We're two threads in the same stitch, bound together...even under strain." Across the previous three episodes, events have transpired to pull at the fabric of their relationship, and in Episode 4, the two threads begin to fray.

What Ails You is a standout episode with strong writing, compelling performances, and decision-making moments that feel like they have significant consequences. The star is John, the would be Joker, who finally unravels, going from the well-meaning if a bit unhinged friend to something much closer to the Clown Prince of Crime we're used to seeing terrorize Gotham City and Batman. However, since developer Telltale has been building towards this from the very start, the shift is the culmination of a slow descent into madness instead of a leap, and it's fascinating to watch.

It's not as simple as something within him snapping. Instead, this Joker has been forged by a maelstrom of emotions wearing him down. John has suffered internal conflicts between what he's destined to become and his desire to find true friendship; a destructive love for Harley Quinn and his reverence of Batman. And all of that comes through in the way he's written and performed in the episode. We get to see a vulnerable, misguided, lonely figure desperately trying to find something to anchor himself to--and whether Bruce and Batman are positive influences in that process is called into question.

As Harley, Bane, and Freeze make a play for a deadly virus that could have devastating implications, Bruce realizes that the key to stopping them is John. In fact, many of the series' most high-stakes events have involved Bruce relying on John for help, and the realities of this give-and-take relationship are laid bare. While many Batman stories have tried, very few have succeeded in making the audience feel sympathy for Joker, but Telltale actually pulls it off, and it's a testament to how well it has humanized this larger-than-life supervillain that he feels relateable. There are moments that make you think about the way you've used John in the past, and whether you've been genuinely treating him as a friend or as just a tool to achieve objectives.

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In the midst of the self-reflection the episode inspires, the game asks you to choose whether to put your faith in John once more. However, it does this after presenting the most damning evidence that he may have finally flipped, with just John's word luring you into thinking that things may not be as clear cut as they seem. It's a powerful moment that offers fans of Batman something few other mediums can: the opportunity to give Joker a chance. Given that the series' decision-making moments ultimately always reconnect to a predetermined narrative, the overall outcome is set. However, the type of person John emerges as is one that your actions--past and present--have helped define.

Episode 4 also muddies the relationship between Batman and Amanda Waller, whose unclear motives start to come into focus. As is typical of Waller, her actions become more dubious, and the consequences of them have fallout on those around her. While her cards aren't completely laid out on the table, her tells and bluffs start to become more transparent. By presenting her as someone who is both somewhat sketchy and under pressure to handle a situation spiraling out of control Telltale maintains an enigmatic air about her.

What Ails You also lays the groundwork for future drama, revealing how recent happenings have impacted Alfred, and the responsibility Bruce now has to face for his decision to take Tiffany Fox, the daughter of his close ally Lucius Fox, under his wing. And it breaks up all these with sequences where Bruce investigates clues to push the narrative forward, or the odd set-piece in which Batman trades blows with villains. Like previous episodes, there's a dearth of moments that challenge the mind or offer engaging gameplay, but in a narrative and characterisation-heavy episode, these sequences provide some respite from the high-pressure interactions with other characters.

Episode 4 of Telltale's Batman: The Enemy Within has top-notch writing, thoughtful depictions, and impactful decision-making moments. It leaves Bruce, Batman, and you to grapple with questions and uncertainty. Between the future of Joker, the nature of Amanda Waller, and the potential fallout of Bruce's mission on his allies, Telltale has set the stage for what could (better) be an explosive finale.

Categories: Games

Street Fighter 5: Arcade Edition Review

Gamespot News Feed - Sat, 01/20/2018 - 16:00

The first rule of fighting games is to make sure your fundamentals are rock solid. If the foundation of your play isn't on point, you'll never be considered a viable competitor. The whiffed launch of Street Fighter V showed that this mantra is as applicable to the game as it is to the people playing it. When it launched in 2016 Street Fighter V had a strong gameplay core, but the emaciated frame containing it couldn't stand up to its contemporaries.

A lack of modes that are considered staples for the series and the absence of tools to teach newcomers how to play left all but the most experienced fighting game aficionados out in the cold. This, unfortunately, came to define the discussion surrounding Street Fighter V, and although Capcom introduced offline modes and a suite of training options in the following months, that grey cloud has continued to linger over it.

Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition, however, represents a new beginning. Arriving two years after the game's initial launch, it is a content-rich, well-rounded experience that pays homage to the series' legacy while also revitalising its finely tuned gameplay. For newcomers or those put off by the paltry offerings of the original game, it's the ideal entry point, and for those that have stuck with it since day one, it's a free update that brings the fresh injection of ideas needed to reignite their fighting spirit.

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The most significant new addition is a single-player Arcade mode, which leverages nostalgia to great effect. It's made up of six paths, each corresponding to a different entry in the franchise: Street Fighter, Street Fighter II, Street Fighter III, Street Fighter Alpha, Street Fighter IV, and Street Fighter V. While the progression through these is straightforward, with the player picking a character and battling through a series of opponents to face an end boss and receive an ending, thoughtful presentation elevates it.

The choice of characters for each path is limited to just the fighters who were available in those games when they first launched, with Street Fighter V equivalents thrown in to fill out the numbers. Costumes can be picked to reflect their classic design, so if you select Ryu in the first Street Fighter campaign you can opt for the floppy-haired version of the series' iconic mascot. A new selection of musical themes and stings also evoke sentimentality; jump into the Street Fighter III campaign, for example, and the character select theme is a saxophone-infused jazzy number that'll spark memories of playing it on a Dreamcast back in 2000. Go for Street Fighter Alpha and an energetic versus screen jingle channels the youthful motif of that spin-off series. As opponents are lined up, a little airplane moves across the screen to the location of your next bout as the announcer shouts the name of the country, harkening back to Street Fighter II. There are Bonus Stages, too, such as Street Fighter II's barrel-busting mini-game and even a special brawl with the fighter formerly known as Shen Long.

It's all really small, novel touches that land just that little bit harder in the year Street Fighter celebrates its 30th anniversary. The gameplay and character models are still the ones created for Street Fighter V, but this doesn't dilute the nostalgia and, in fact, gives everything a charming high school reunion vibe.

Each character's ending is a comic book-like page of art that summarizes their story for that incarnation, and if you meet certain conditions during a playthrough, more unique pieces of artwork can be unlocked. This might seem like an insignificant reward, but Capcom has brought in well-known artists with close relationships to the Street Fighter franchise such as Bengus, Akiman, and Ikeno to create these. Not only does this provide longevity to those that aren't up for fighting online, but it also gives fans of Street Fighter's art something to chase. These unlocks can be viewed in the new gallery, which also houses a sound-select mode that lets you listen to music from the game whenever you please. Again, another simple addition that reminds you of Street Fighters from yesteryear.

[Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition] is a content-rich, well-rounded experience that pays homage to the series' legacy while also revitalising its finely tuned gameplay

The other big addition is Team Battle mode, which can be used to set up offline skirmishes between multiple combatants, human or AI. It's very versatile, offering the options to tweak the number of participants, match format, and whether health is recovered in between battles and if Critical Gauge carries over, among other parameters. This is sure be a hit for tournament organizers, both professional and casual. It's a quick and easy way to settle rivalries or just have some fun in a party environment.

For the solitary Street Fighter V player, these marquee new features provide plenty to do. However, there are also things like the Extra Battle Mode and Special Challenges, which are time-exclusive fights that dangle the promise of in-game currency or exclusive rewards such as titles and costumes to those who best them. The first of these is a series of fights across a prolonged period that unlocks a Viewtiful Joe outfit for Rashid. This is also where Street Fighter V's ruthless Fight Money economy rears its head.

Fight Money, in addition to real money, can be used to purchase stages and costumes, but everything still feels unreasonably expensive. Although completing challenges and grinding out online battles are consistent ways of adding to your balance, you earn tiny amounts and not everyone wants to venture into the cutthroat world of online Street Fighter. As a result, the economy feels geared towards pushing players into spending real money, which is a shame. For anyone buying the game for the first time Arcade Edition is a way to get up to date on content. It is intended encapsulate everything released in Season 1 and 2 of Street Fighter V, and as far as characters go this is true. However, it would have been nice to also get the extra stages, if not the costumes. Admittedly, this is a greater concern for those that want everything; if you're just after a specific item here and there, the Fight Money mountain isn't as daunting.

Anyone who does feel inclined to purchase costumes with real money should take note of the new model viewer, which lets you preview how an outfit will look before you drop the cold hard cash on it. This is a quality-of-life improvement in Arcade Edition that at least provides the opportunity to make informed purchasing decisions from within the game, instead of being forced to resort to YouTube videos.

Outside of gameplay modes, Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition's big gameplay shakeup comes in the form of a second V-Trigger for every character. For those that need a refresher, V-Trigger is a unique move that can completely change a character's capabilities. It becomes accessible when a meter is filled by taking damage, landing well-timed crush counters, or using V-Skills. Arcade Edition's selection of new V-Triggers are an antidote to stagnation felt by veteran players of Street Fighter V. Two years into the game's life, characters have largely reached the point where they're played in a specific, optimised way, and for the most part this means everyone employs the same styles, strategies, and combos. Alternative V-Triggers open up each fighter in the roster to re-examination, and also creates just enough room for creativity and expression without sacrificing what originally made them distinct.

Ken is still a quick-footed powerhouse but now has the option to use his new Shinryuken to stand his ground and up his damage output. M. Bison players can swap the extra mobility of his original V-Trigger to gain access to a command grab and a Psycho Crusher with V-Trigger II. Laura's Matsuda Sway, meanwhile, helps her get out of high-pressure situations or make reads that lead to further damage. V-Trigger II is an additional wrinkle on a fighting framework that has already proven itself to be deep and rewarding. Street Fighter V emphasized clean play, measured strategy, and consistent execution, and with these new moves, each character feels fresh and unpredictable again.

The final notable improvement in Arcade Edition is in Training mode, which now displays detailed frame data, so students of the game can be fully informed on the technicalities of moves, the knowledge of which can be employed in high-level competitive play. If that's a bit too far down the rabbit hole, there's also a toggle that will just show you when you're safe and unsafe after executing an attack, which is something that's easy to understand and factor into play.

With a slick new interface, fully featured online and offline modes, and every character released thus far--plus Sakura, the first fighter from Season 3 of its DLC--Street Fighter V feels like a complete package. It has always been a strong fighting game that continues to get better over time, but it remained a game for genre enthusiasts. Arcade Edition, however, is a game that you can confidently recommend to anyone. Two years after its launch, Street Fighter V is finally fighting fit.

Categories: Games

New Trailer Sets Its Zombie Destroying Co-op Action To The Tune Of Ballroom Blitz

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 01/19/2018 - 18:06

The latest trailer for Metal Gear Survive shows off lots of zombie destroying action with the song Ballroom Blitz joyfully orchestrating the violence.

It's... weird. But also maybe the right call? This trailer definitely does not make it feel like a Metal Gear, and maybe that's the sort of marketing this game needs. Survive uses Metal Gear Solid V's gameplay, but it's not a Metal Gear game.

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We recently got a chance to play a bunch of the single-player, which you can see here. Overall, we're optimistic about Metal Gear Survive, but absolutely recognize that it won't be the same without Hideo Kojima's involvement. Metal Gear Survive is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on February 20.

Categories: Games

One Piece's Open World Game World Seeker Gets A Collection Of New Screenshots

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 01/19/2018 - 17:14

The open world One Piece game, subtitled World Seeker, has a collection of new screenshots, but not many new details.

We know the game will be open world, which is exciting considering one of One Piece's strongest elements is the fiction of its world and the world-building. We also know you will play as Luffy, he will have access to his gum-gum abilities like the gum-gum rocket (which he will able to use like a grappling hook to move around the world), the elephant gatling gun, and the gum-gum UFO, and we know you will be exploring castle, farm, city, and beach locations, though the game's press release does promise more.

We know platforms, too – PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. The date is a vague 2018, unfortunately. You can check out all the screens in the gallery below. For more on One Piece: World Seeker, head here.

Categories: Games

We Happy Few Slips To Summer Release, Reveals Second Playable Character

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 01/19/2018 - 16:13

We Happy Few's developer, Compulsion Games, released a few new tidbits about the dystopian game, including a look at a new playable character, Sally. The devs say in a new video that they're taking player feedback seriously, and have retooled the story to incorporate bigger moments earlier on. Those changes mean players will have to be a little more patient, however.

The game was originally set for an April 13 release, but it's now been pushed to sometime this summer. The video below explains the decisions in greater detail. More interestingly, it shows off Sally. From what little we can see, it appears as though she's able to bewitch her enemies. Then again, maybe she just likes to dance?

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Categories: Games

Kiryu Battles Sharks, Pacifies Babies In New Minigames Trailer

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 01/17/2018 - 16:04

The Yakuza series has given players a wealth of optional minigames and activities over the years, and Yakuza 6: The Song of Life keeps that streak alive. A new trailer for the upcoming game shows how Kiryu can fill his days managing a cat cafe, playing Virtua Fighter V, putting on a wetsuit and spear-fishing, and much more.

Take a look at the clip below for a rapid-fire look at some of the game's diversions. Some of them are bound to be familiar to fans, such as darts, the hostess club, and the batting cage. Others are new, such as the ability to play Puyo Puyo and Virtua Fighter V in arcades, and babysitting. It looks like Kiryu is good at silencing his enemies, as well as unhappy infants. Who knew?

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Yakuza 6: The Song of Life is coming to PlayStation 4 on March 20.

Categories: Games

The God of Destruction Shows Off His Skills

Game Informer News Feed - Sat, 01/13/2018 - 01:37

A new character trailer has dropped for Dragon Ball Fighter Z's God of Destruction of Universe 7, Beerus.

In the new trailer, Beerus, walking in alongside his attendant Whis, beats down on Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan Goku. Beerus uses orbs and powerful ki blasts to both keep the opponent away and bounce them around like a plaything (or a ball of yarn).

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Beerus was one of the few characters designed before Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama was brought in on the Battle of Gods movie to design and help write, as explained in the March 2013 issue of Japanese magazine GetNavi. Toriyama misunderstood the name, originally meant to sound like the Latin word Virus, and assumed the name was a pun on the word Beer. As such, further characters related to Beerus, such as Whis, Chamba, and Vados all continued that alcohol theme.

Dragon Ball Fighter Z is scheduled for release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on January 26. A beta for the game is running from January 14 to January 16, starting a day earlier for preorders, on both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. You can download the client now to start as soon as the beta begins.

Categories: Games