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By Jonathan Balofsky On 8 Jul, 2017 At 10:39 PM | Categorized As Featured, PC Games, PlayStation, Reviews, Reviews, Reviews, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments

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Fighting games are in a bit of a renaissance right now. We have A new (somewhat controversial) Marvel vs Capcom coming, a new Injustice game, A DBZ fighter from Arc System Works is coming and Nintendo is bringing multiple fighters to the Switch. One of the titles that stand out the most though is Bandai Namco’s Tekken 7.

Tekken 7 is a mechanically beautiful and visually stunning game, and a well-designed fighter great for a variety of players.  I have been a Tekken fan for years and was extremely excited for the game, as I couldn’t wait to play my favorite characters again in new ways. What I found in this experience was fun but at times frustrating, though not to the extent of a certain other fighting game that may or may not now is in continuity with the Tekken series. 

As I stated, Tekken 7 is gorgeous visually. The art style was a perfect choice and I didn’t have any framerate issues, so playing it just felt awesome. Visuals are not the most important thing in a fighting game, true, but I can appreciate good visual design in them. The game also made great use of the soundtrack, especially on PS4. Accessing the classic music was a real treat and made the game feel like a great throwback to the old days. The new music composed for the game is excellent as well, and all of it fits the characters.

Speaking of the characters, the new additions are a mix of hit and miss with me. I loved characters like Katarina and Claudio as they felt fun to use, while a character like Josie and Master Raven were okay but I did have some issues with. With Master Raven it is more due to the teleporting nature of the character, which is just not something I like, and I admit it is a personal thing, although the character could be fun. With Josie, the character just didn’t click with me, but I can see why she is popular ( plus her fighting style is great).

There are certain characters that I just did not like, however, like Eliza and surprisingly enough Akuma. The reason for this is that, while Akuma is cool to have in Tekken, the more I played him, the more he felt so out of place and awkward. it just broke up the flow of gameplay to me and that obviously is not what was supposed to happen. Eliza also felt like a character that should be in a different game and not  Tekken. She feels more like a Street Fighter character than a Tekken character and again breaks the immersion of the gameplay for me.

Speaking of gameplay, the fighting is the best its ever been for the most part and the story mode is excellent, although the changes to arcade mode are not for the better in my opinion. I get what they did, but I like traditional arcade modes with proper endings. I am glad there is still an arcade mode but the way endings were done, is something that will make some people upset. In terms of online, I had many issues for a long time and couldn’t even connect at first. When this was finally resolved, however, I had a blast playing online and the connection ran well.There are other single player modes that offer variety as well, and that is something I can appreciate a great deal. There is enough here for players who want to play casually and not be concerned with online.

Tekken 7 overall, is one of the better fighters. It lacks some features but makes up for it with what it has.  With good music and visuals, fun online and offline content, and mostly good characters, I feel that Tekken 7 is a real standout game this year. If you like fighting games at all, then you owe it to yourself to check out Tekken 7!

 

No GravatarFlinthook by Tribute Games is a ridiculously addictive, even more ridiculously difficult action/platformer/roguelike in space pirate ships! Armed with your plasma pistol, hookshot and chronobelt you’ll be blasting away enemies and platforming through insane trap-filled rooms, battling waves of crazy enemies and taking out countless randomly-generated ships in search of four particularly notorious foes.

Title: Flinthook
Developed By: Tribute Games
Available For: PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One, Win/Mac/Linux (Steam)

My first taste of Flinthook was seeing @flinthook tweet a few gifs and screenshots on Twitter. When I saw the one above I was hooked and immediately added it to the list of games I had to try. Just look at that incredible animation, the crazy bullet-hell-ish dodging, smooth hook shot work and use of slowing down time! I’m so glad my gut was right – Flinthook is a BLAST!

After a brief training level, you’re given your first bounty and thrown into the meat of Flinthook – working to find and defeat your first boss. To find Bad Billy Bullseye you must first feed your compass three ghost gems, with one being found aboard each of Bad Billy Bullseye’s ships. Each “level” presents you with three ship options, each with random modifiers that can be good or bad. Higher difficulty ships have lots of modifiers (one may have fog on the ship, lots of shops, lots of treasure rooms and tougher enemy rooms) and lower difficulty ones may have as low as one. Right off the bat you’re introduced to the risk/reward balance that a good roguelike has – treasure rooms are often extra dangerous but can give you boosts for your current run or loads of gold to buy boosts or health, or one ship may be a higher difficulty overall but have better modifiers than the rest. If you can survive long enough to find the boss you’ll head to their ship and take them on in an epic battle! The game has four main bosses, each with a wild fight and the later bosses require more gems to find. Should you die, you’ll lose your progress toward your current boss and have to find all of their gems once again.

Like any good roguelike, you’re going to die a lot, and that’s not a bad thing. Each time you die you’ll gain experience and work toward purchasing permanent upgrades. You can upgrade and unlock all sorts of things, such as increasing the amount of experience you get each run, adding to your max HP, unlocking additional sub weapons or adding to your total number of perk points. Each time you level up you’ll earn a booster pack that has a random card (or cards) that can be equipped, and these can modify your game in all sorts of ways. You can make your pistol more powerful, shoot further and/or change the way it fires, add additional HP, make it so you find extra gold and pretty much anything else you can think of. As you unlock more of them you can really line up some cool combos – you can make it so you get lots of extra gold from everything and then set it so your pistol does extra damage depending on how much gold you have, you can equip loads of experience boosters for grinding, or you can equip loads of perks for your chronobelt to make it last longer and slow time even more if you love the slo-mo. The tricky bit is that there are dozens and dozens of potential upgrades to equip and you’ll never be able to equip more than 13 at a time (and most take more than one perk point!), so you must choose wisely.

When I was developing games I heard a quote about the importance of fun and movement in games. I can’t remember who said it or even what game it was but the gist of it was this – the developer(s) had made a movement system that was so fun that it was a blast just jumping and running around. With such a fun movement system, it was clear the game itself would be fun when placed on top of it. I feel like that sums up the main feeling I have about Flinthook: the movement in the game is just so fun and solid that it eradicates any flaws the game may have had otherwise.

In addition to the fantastic movement system, one of the things that stuck out to me the moment I started Flinthook was the terrific music. I’ve played video games for over 30 years and can count the number of game soundtracks I would buy on both hands, but Flinthook’s music is so terrific it competes with games like Final Fantasy! It’s full of adventure, it’s inspiring and it’s action-packed! From the second I hit the title screen I was amped up and ready to go. The sound effects are great too, and the art is gorgeous.


Flinthook
is a very difficult game, so difficult in fact that I was only able to defeat one of the game’s four bosses so far, not including all of the secrets and additional things the game includes! To get a solid feel for what the game had in store, later on, I watched some YouTube videos, and it’s incredible just how much more there is to the game! Not only do the levels and bosses get ridiculously harder (the final boss requires 12 ghost gems!), there are all sorts of secrets you can uncover by pulling off crazy things like not getting hurt on an entire ship.

Despite the difficulty the game’s brilliant grappling system, addictive leveling, a slew of secrets, amazing music and incredibly deep customization system kept me coming back, and I’ll definitely be playing much, much more of Flinthook in the future as well!

Note: I received a copy of the game from the developer in exchange for an honest review.

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Sega sent out the following

 

 SEGA® and ATLUS® today announced a bumper line-up for E3 2017 across two neighboring stands in the West Hall, showcasing a diverse selection of games in the publisher’s biggest E3 showing since 2013.

 
“We’re really pleased to see Yakuza and Sonic back on the biggest stage for video games, and having the first public hands-on for Total War: WARHAMMER 2 underlines a really strong showing from SEGA and ATLUS this year!” said John Clark, Senior Vice President for SEGA Europe Ltd. “We look forward to welcoming trade visitors but we’re especially looking forward to having the public come and see our line-up this year, it’s great for E3 and it’s great for publishers. We’re confident there’s something for everyone on the SEGA stands this year.”
 
“From a bleak story about 13 heroes and their mechs in 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim, to the emotional, final story arc of Kazuma Kiryu in the Yakuza series as he goes from a lone fighter to a loyal protector, to nostalgic gameplay from titles like Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology and Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux, and longed-for sequels such as Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth, SEGA and ATLUS are positioned to deliver a very gratifying line-up for all E3 attendees this year,” said Naoto Hiraoka, President and CEO of Atlus U.S.A., Inc. and Senior Vice President of Publishing for SEGA of America, Inc.
 
“We’re thrilled to have not just one, but two great Sonic games coming out this year for all the major consoles plus PC,” said Ivo Gerscovich, Chief Brand Officer for Sonic the Hedgehog. “Both games will be on the E3 show floor for everyone to try. Sonic Mania, which we recently announced is available for pre-order, will be showcasing new demo stages while Sonic Forces will have its first ever hands on experience. Come by and see why this is the year of Sonic.”
 
West Hall, Booth #4312
 
Yakuza 6: The Song of Life and Yakuza Kiwami
 
Visitors will be able to reacquaint themselves with the legendary Kazuma Kiryu in a double header of hard-hitting Yakuza™ action, playable on the show floor: Yakuza 6: The Song of Life, the latest entry in the long-running series and Yakuza Kiwami, a rebuilt-from-scratch HD remake of the original 2005 PlayStation 2 hit, Yakuza. Attendees who visit the booth will also have the opportunity to receive special Yakuza-themed swag (as long as supplies last).
 
Sonic Mania and Sonic Forces
 
If breakneck speed is more your thing, we’ve got you covered! Booth #4312 will feature playable stations for the ultimate celebration of past and future with Sonic Mania™, an all-new 2D adventure with stunning HD retro style graphics running at a smooth 60FPS and featuring all your favorite classic characters. Sonic Forces™, from the development team behind Sonic Colors™ and Sonic Generations™, will be your second dose of speedy Sonic action where you will get to experience fast-paced gameplay as Modern Sonic, thrilling platforming as Classic Sonic, and powerful gadget action as your own custom Hero Character! Those who come by to play Sonic could receive a special Sonic E3 giveaway item.
 
13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim
 
ATLUS will have an exclusive new trailer for the hotly anticipated Western release of Vanillaware’s 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim, a story of battle-ready youths, humanity and…giant mechs. Plus, be sure to  take a photo with the 13 Sentinels mech standee to receive a gorgeous poster featuring Vanillaware’s signature flair (while supplies last).
 
Three Highly Anticipated Nintendo 3DS Titles
  • Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth — Starting with the creation of your party to exploring the uncharted labyrinth of the Yggdrasil Tree, Beyond the Myth is all about choosing how your own adventure unfolds. Practice your map-making and FOE slaying skills with the playable hands-on demo on the show floor. Oh, and there will also be a live demo! 
  • Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology — Once again take the reins of Alistel operative Stocke as he unlocks the power of the White Chronicle relic and gains the ability to travel between two alternate timelines in this enhanced retelling of a JRPG classic. Watch a live demo of Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology, only for show attendees.
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux — Demon aficionados can look forward to a new Redux trailer. New story content, additional endings, a new dungeon to explore and more await those who wish to brave the spatial distortion known as the Schwarzwelt! 
Be sure to check out the demos and trailers for a chance to get a colorful assortment of stickers!


West Hall, Booth #4300
 
Total War: WARHAMMER II, Sonic Mania and Sonic Forces
 
In neighboring booth #4300, Creative Assembly™ are unleashing the Lizardmen on the public for the first time in Total War™: WARHAMMER® II. The second game in the Total War: WARHAMMER trilogy is set in a whole new part of the Warhammer world, introducing four new playable races in an epic narrative campaign. In a spectacular quest battle taken from the game, E3-goers can seize control of a Lizardmen army as they march against the High Elves, who they’ve caught meddling in the dormant ruins of an ancient Lizardmen portal. Additionally, there will be playable stations for Sonic Forces and Sonic Mania at the booth.
This is a great lineup of games, and I would not be surprised to see some new announcements as well. E3 is just in a couple of days, its time to get excited.
Source: PR Email
By Jonathan Balofsky On 30 May, 2017 At 06:53 PM | Categorized As Featured, News, News, PlayStation, Reviews, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments

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Fighting Games are one of my favourite genres, and my favourites are the ones made by NetherRealm Studios. I was beyond excited for Injustice 2when it was announced, and now after playing the game, I realized this is the perfect fighting game for comic book fans.

I do not mean to throw shade at Marvel vs Capcom, but I simply feel that given the direction that series is heading in, Injustice is more of a fighting series for longtime comic fans who want to see their favourites duke it out. We have a wide variety of characters, and some great alternate skins to give us more variety. Not only that, but the character choices are so diverse and taken from  all over the DC franchises, that there is something for everybody. Characters like Swamp Thing, and Scarecrow offer variety, while favourites like Batman and Flash are holding things down. Personally, I found Blue Beetle to be the character I was drawn to the most, as he had great characterization and was simply so much fun to play.

The combat in this game is extremely well done. It is great for fighting game fans of all kinds, from beginners to experts and offers a lot of variety. In addition, there is a lot of content for the players who do not plan on going online all that much, and there is plenty for those who do. it is hard to strike a proper balance with content but NetherRealm did it. Once again, they knocked it out of the park with an amazing story mode that serves as one of the best DC Comics movies, and this time adding in some changes that actually do make a difference in what happens. I like that NetherRealm is innovating on what they built and are not just relying on the same things. Injustice 2 tries things differently from its predecessor and succeeds at doing the,. I do have some complaints though, when it comes to the animations, especially in story mode. They seem a little off, and the faces just look strange to me. That said, this is a minor complaint, and I can easily live with it.

The game’s multiverse mode offers countless hours of replayability and gear collecting really does add more depth to the game. If you are a purist however, the game has modes that don’t use gear, once again making this a game that offers something for everyone.  I honestly feel as if this tops Mortal Kombat X in terms of game design, and that this is the superior fighting game. It has better music as well, and I must say that the soundtrack to the game is superb. the announcers are better, and the sound effects are improved. Combat offers more variety and just feels more polished. This is a masterpiece of the genre and is meant for players like me, and it is meant for hardcore fighting game fans and for casual fans and for comic fans.  NetherRealm Studios and WB Games have made a fighter that reaches a wide audience, and that merits praise. I highly recommend this.

By Ural Garrett On 26 May, 2017 At 12:21 AM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, Reviews, ROG News, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments

No GravatarPlayground Games could have simply felt continent with having the premiere open world racer with Forza Horizon 3. The Australian Outback was a perfect location featuring loads of varied geography, the level of customization from vehicles to online play were insane and the Xbox One exclusive just played sublime regardless of the arcade/sim lean a player wanted.

Makes sense as to why the game till this day retains a 91 percent Metacritic score while selling over 2.5 million units. Instead, developers of the series continue to put the same amount of attention into Forza Horizon 3’s expansions starting with the Blizzard Mountain in late 2016. Despite being a blast drifting through the snow in the latest All-Wheel-Drive vehicles, more conventional vehicles or high priced exotics were pushed to the side (even with the added snow tire option.) Now, Playground has upped the ante and much more through their Hot Wheels expansion.

First, the track design does an amazing job blending the cherished childhood moments of miniature cars racing on plastic winding and twisting orange tracks with the grounded feel that’s made the Forza series so palatable to racing fans.

And, the map is fairly large.

A giant Hot Wheels track on an isolated island also feature hallmarks of the brand. Loops, sharp bends, boost sections, extremely ludicrous jumps specialized cars and even random T-Rex’s make its way into damn near every corner of the map. Also, the track design transitions from dirt road to the pavement in a way similar to the Australian Outback making it feel more entertaining than Blizzard Mountain. This means that there’s enough variety for those who want to drive a suped up Acura Integra, Ferrari 458 or Ford 150 Raptor without feeling out of place. Keeping with the Hot Wheels theme, some races even feature cross sections which only adds to the tension. The track design at times literally seems to rival the over-the-top feel of Mario Kart 8.  

The Forza Horizon series has evolved into the best open world racer one can get this generation and always serve as something for those who don’t appreciate the more technical driving nature of Forza Motorsports. With the Hot Wheels expansion, an already fantastic racing experience gets even better.

By Cataclysmic Knight On 18 May, 2017 At 03:02 PM | Categorized As News, PC Games, Reviews | With 0 Comments

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I’m a little bit biased when it comes to Destiny – my gal and I have logged just over 2,800 hours (not including idle time) in the game between us.  We’ve been around since the first month of release and even bought an Xbox One for it! I check out the Destiny Reddit page at least weekly, and when the game isn’t so dead it’s typically numerous times a day. As you can imagine, I was FAR BEYOND HYPED that today was the first real look at Destiny 2. This was by far the biggest Destiny livestream and it was the first to have a scheduled pre-show – an entire hour – beforehand.

Ah, the pre-show… While there were a few discussions (a particularly interesting one with Lance Reddick – the voice of Commander Zavala, the Titan Vanguard – revealed that he plays nearly daily and is a Warlock main!), the majority of the hour countdown looked a lot like this…

With my hype a bit deflated, 10am Pacific finally rolled around and the show kicked off. The entire thing can be wrapped up in just two words: HOLY S*$&!!! From the moment it began new trailers, videos and dialogues filled one insane hour of action. There was so much information, both blatant and hidden, that books could be written covering it all. If you don’t have time to watch Bungie’s recorded stream (at the top of this post), I’ll briefly cover everything here:

  • Story is going to be a much bigger part of the game! Not only will the story be bigger and better (as already evidenced in the current trailers), it’s one of Bungie’s main focuses this time. The campaign that was highlighted in the reveal had Zavala and Ikora in action, with Zavala throwing up a bubble to protect you and Ikora taking out an enemy ship with a nova bomb. @MyNameIsByf recently tweeted out a picture showing you can even check out lore in-game!
  • Each location looks AMAZING! Not only can players now go from one planet to another without going to orbit (thank goodness!), each planet is now much more open. A map will display all the relevant information around (including public events – and when they’ll happen! – treasures, “Adventures” and “Lost Sectors”), and you can even go directly into missions from on the ground itself.
  • Strikes, Nightfall Strikes and Raids are back! While the game is being expanded upon, the fact that strikes and nightfall strikes are returning is a bit of a surprise. Nightfall strikes and raids are also FINALLY being given a sort of matchmaking (along with the competitive PvP mode Trials) that hooks solo players up with clans that they can reject or accept.
  • PvP is getting updated – not much was discussed here, but a new game mode was briefly touched upon called Countdown that was referred to as an “attack/defend” mode. Also, rather than having 6v6 matches as the primary focus (with 3v3 as the more competitive modes like the weekly Trials of Osiris), crucible (PvP) will now be 4v4. This means a bigger reliance upon each player, leading to more competitive play.
  • Clan integration looks great! Not only do they work for their pseudo-matchmaking, they also work to collect loot (somehow based on everything everyone in the clan does), help players come together for activities and even have customization options available to them!

There’s a great deal more that’s captured so much better in the video than words can say. The new classes all look INCREDIBLE as well. Hunters wield a staff, Titans look like a void version of Captain America with their shield (it even bounces off of enemies when thrown!) and the Warlock looks most epic of all wielding a solar sword. It’ll be interesting to have classes more encouraged to use their supers as these days most supers are used to revive others or save themselves at the last second (or even after death in the case of Sunsinger Warlocks). Weapons are changed too, with players using two primaries (one with an element and one without) to swap between and one “power” weapon. Power weapons can be anything from a sniper to a grenade launcher! Destiny 2 also introduces SMGs, grenade launchers and several others.

It’s an exciting time to be a Destiny fan, and even folks who are new or returning to Destiny will have an awesome game to look forward to!

By Kira Nance On 17 May, 2017 At 05:47 PM | Categorized As Featured, PC Games, PlayStation, Reviews, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments

No GravatarFirst and foremost, I would like you to take into consideration the fact that getting myself to write this review is comparable to pulling teeth. The moment I began my complicated relationship with Rise and Shine I was immediately taken back by the beauty of the beast. Oh man, is this a beautiful game, but beauty is only skin deep after all. While platformers at not my specialty they are also not my Achilles heel, yet I consistently found myself in the position where I was too frustrated to continue. Rise & Shine is a little bit like being in an unhealthy relationship and being too stubborn to leave. Perhaps like dating a supermodel whom, while she is beautiful, is so very used to going on looks alone that they fail to nurture other aspects of their being. I wanted to love this game, perhaps I still do but that’s not necessarily a good thing. 

It’s no surprise that Adult Swim Games has, as of late been dipping their toe into the proverbial pool that is console gaming. After the success of titles such as Katana Zero, Headlander and Rick and Morty Simulator: Virtual Rick-ality it makes perfect sense. The folks over at Adult Swim bring a refreshing attitude to the entertainment table, expressing a strong desire to provide quality entertainment over profit “We don’t have an agenda to sell something. For us, we want to create a really amazing experience.”  said Adult Swim’s Ashley Jex-Wagner, director of events “That’s the most important thing for us is for everyone to have a good time“. 

It seems the developers at Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team are on the same page. In an interview with Invision Community, Enrique Corts (Art Director, Creative Director) stated “Our focus has always been making really polished hardcore games that add something fresh to the table. We believe in making things properly since day one, so we only launch our games when they are completely ready and as much bug-free as possible, even if that means we risk our financial health. Sometimes is really tough having our own quality bar so high, but this is the only way to success we understand.

The four-person team based out of Spain has already seen success in the mobile market with Editor’s Choice titles, Pro Zombie Soccer, Pro Zombie Soccer Apocalypse Edition, and Supermagical, all of which have received Game of the Year in the App Store. Rise & Shine is Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team’s first PC/console title release and consequently my latest headache. So, the big question here is did Adult Swim and Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team accomplishes their goal to provide us with enjoyable quality content? Well, I’d have to say yes and no.

With the combined powers of Adult Swim Games and Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team, comes Rise & Shine a true “think and gun” gem that while frustrating is definitely worth your time. Rise & Shine is basically a playable homage to classic video games. Warped versions of beloved characters such as Link, Marcus Fenix, Q*bert and the Duck Hunt dog make hilarious appearances. The gameplay itself is a bit of a throwback, think Metal Slug meets Contra. This 2-D side-scrolling shooter is anything but basic, sometimes it’s even overly complicated. There’s a cover system to employ similar to the one used in Gears of War but this doesn’t ensure safety from all enemies especially the more volatile ones. Combining aspects of arcade shooters, bullet hells, and puzzle platformers staying focused in Rise & Shine is a major challenge in itself.

You play as Rise, a young boy of Gamearth, who upon receiving a legendary smack talking gun by the name of Shine suddenly becomes his planets greatest hope for survival against the invading Nexgen. You gun your way through 14 levels of unique puzzles, endless robot armadas, hungry zombies and intimidating bosses. Shine also conveniently bestows his wielder with unlimited respawns, unless you share the likeness of Link apparently. Unlimited lives, thank you, Shine, I thoroughly tested those boundaries. You have the choice to load Shine with his standard ammo or electric bullets, electric doing more damage to some enemies and next to nothing against others. Rise & Shine also grants you fun explosive bullets to detonate at will and the ability to guide your bullets remotely (RC), though only through a limited radius. Utilizing each bullet type is essential for navigating the puzzle solving, projectile dodging, enemy slaying chaos that is Rise & Shine. Bosses are no joke, only adding to the retro gaming atmosphere here, for example, the final boss takes upwards of 90 minutes to beat. 90 painfully tedious minutes. Considering the game consist of a mere two hours of actual gameplay with almost no storyline to spice things up, I found this to be severely annoying. I’m sure eighty percent of my time was spent severely immersed in boss fights. Taking damage is never an option as two hits from a base level enemy or projectile is enough to kill you at any point. Mastering the fine art of bullet spray is probably the best defense in Rise & Shine and quite possibly the best way to stay sane. 

The controls are slightly over complicated, requiring you to aim with the left trigger, shoot with the right trigger and guidance is provided by the right stick. When your screen is full of enemies, storms of bullets, lasers, and explosions this less that kind control system gets in the way. add in the bumpers to cycle through ammunition all while dodging, jumping and dashing to avoid getting hit. Oh, and don’t forget to reload. Seriously I’m exhausted just explaining all that.

Visually, the folks at Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team nailed it. This is where the quality of the game shines through. The story while lacking in detail, plays out in charming comic panels that showcase the developers love for comic books. Each level’s background is made up of hand-drawn illustrations with multiple parallax scroll layers, giving new depth to each scene as you progress. I seriously lost myself in the artwork of Rise & Shine, it was easy to imagine myself gallivanting around the streets of Gamearth blasting away space grunts. The in-game audio and soundtrack are top notch thanks to the talent of Jerry Goldsmith Award nominee Damián Sánchez (Reservoir Dogs, Blues and Bullets). However, aesthetics alone cannot carry a game and Rise & Shine left me raging in the end. It’s a title deserving of your time and respect but I can’t in good conscience recommend it for anyone with anger issues.

Review code was provided by the publisher.

 

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Prey was a 2006 game by Human Head Studios that brought in some truly innovating gameplay to the FPS genre. It was like little else before it.  Now fast forward to 2017 and Prey has been revived, mostly in name only as this is more of a spiritual sequel to System Shock, by Arkane Studios and Bethesda Softworks, but fans of the original should be aware there are elements of the original present here.

Prey plays as a hybrid between survival horror and first-person shooter and does so admirably. Bethesda games are well known for having some glitches and shaky models, it’s expected by now and there is a charm to them. Prey takes these shaky models and glitches and makes them into gameplay elements. Everywhere you go there are enemies of some kind, and the game gets really creative with them. I have to give it to Arkane Studios, the enemies in the game are well thought out and well designed. The enemies can be anything and this creates a great degree of paranoia that is perfect for the game. You will never know where the enemy is, because of the nature of the enemy. This game is billed as the spiritual successor to System Shock, and I truly feel it surpasses its inspiration. It successfully pushes horror to the next level, while mixing in a perfect amount of action.

The game offers unique abilities as part of the story, and these offer so much variety in the gameplay. Prey is a unique type of game, given its story and the way the game lets you go about it. Using the abilities is a big part of the game, but the game makes it personal when you use the powers. It messes with you and forces you to question everything.  It’s a great twist on the usual Survival Horror and FPS gameplay and a welcome innovation.  The game’s abilities, while new and not those of the original game ( again, this is an in name only reboot), still does have a feeling of a connection to the original. This might be surprising but the original Prey’s abilities had a psychological impact that is present in many ways in this game. There are humorous aspects as well, such as becoming different objects which are amusing and great for getting ahead in the game. It is really well done and when used right, creates a rewarding experience, There are also the game mechanics that stand out, such as recycling, and the various weapons and upgrades. Prey is a game you will want to play through more than once ( more on that in just a bit), and it will definitely continue to be fun and exciting,

The story is interesting, if a bit flawed, and has some very neat twists. That said, the way the storytelling is done through the gameplay is good and the visual style of the game adds to its enjoyability a great deal. The big thing for me with the immersion was the music. The soundtrack was absolutely amazing and some of Mick Gordon’s best work, and helps to both set the mood and draw the player in, in the right way and at the right time. It switches from intense action to creepy scares in just the correct amount and keeps things fresh for the player. The story of the game takes a while to appreciate, and there are pacing issues and some things that still don’t work well ( the flaws mentioned), but once it is complete, you will want to play the game again to see how it all fits together. Admittedly, the story isn’t the draw of the game for me, but it plays its part well in the game. That said, the characters are developed well and the setting and scenario and very well thought out and developed. Arkane said they wanted Talos I to be a character itself and they accomplished that.

Prey’s biggest flaw is that the pacing in general, not just in the story, seems off at times, but that can be easily overlooked. All in all, I think Prey is another knockout title from Arkane and Bethesda, and I cannot imagine not recommending it. It just feels great to play and I want more of this experience. It was really well done.

 

Disclaimer: A code was provided by Bethesda for the purposes of this review.

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As of May 1 2017 ( or May 2nd if you live in EU), it has been 15 years since the release of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. In the time since, gaming has gotten even bigger and The Elder Scrolls series in particular has continued to grow, and it seems that many, while acknowledging Morrowind is a great game, don’t realize why it was.

The Elder Scrolls: Arena, the first game in the series, was a fairly average for the time CRPG. it was rooted in the D&D model and many things introduced in the game were changed in some way, or drastically expanded on to provide new explanations later on. The races were presented differently, The Daedra were not present and some key locations and didn’t have any real significance to them besides acting as shout outs to other works, such as the writings of Tolkien. The Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall saw the series go into a more fluid 3D form than before, introduced the Daedra and some concepts and characters that would become important later. But it still wasn’t  quite The Elder Scrolls we know today. Those games were very much based in the typical fantasy elements that were often used, and it wasn’t until Morrowind that the series really set itself apart.

It isn’t that Morrowind had a bigger open world than the previous games. Daggerfall was much bigger than Morrowind, which is only set in part of the fictional province. No, it was that Morrowind felt alive, like it was a unique land that was a breath of fresh air from the normal tropes of fantasy. We weren’t getting a European based fantasy story, we were getting weird fiction and it was awesome. This was the game that introduced so much to the series. The Daedra got their proper personalities, we got a true backstory for the games, there was a unique cast of characters, and every choice you made had consequences.  The game began the series tradition of starting out as a prisoner, and handled the protagonist in an interesting way, that to explain it now would be a spoiler as I want you to play this game and appreciate it.

This was the game where The Elder Scrolls set itself apart from the pack, and another way it did that was through its Xbox port. It wasn’t a good port, as the Xbox simply wasn’t meant to handle such a game, but it helped expose the series to a new audience. It was this game that brought us the mystery of the Dwemer, and it was this game that took those shout outs to Tolkien and actually made them distinct and different.  The different races all became unique in their own right, and we got to learn the mythological lore of the series that still goes on in the current games. The Elder Scrolls : Oblivion and The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim owe much to Morrowind, but so do games like Mass Effect and Dragon Age. This was the game that showed what could truly be done with Western RPGs. That they could rival and surpass the JRPGs.

So I say to you now, if you haven’t ever played Morrowind, give it a try. Yes it has dated graphics and a clunky control scheme, but mods can help with that. This game brought so much joy and so much innovation, that it deserves to continue to be appreciated today!

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Bethesda and Arkane Studios recently released a demo of Prey for players to try. Being super excited for the game, I had to give it a look and I have come away very impressed.

Prey is not like a typical first person shooter, or horror game. When people are told that this game takes influence from Dead Space and System Shock, I feel they are not being given an accurate description. Yes, the game takes some ideas from those games, but it builds on them in such unique and innovative ways, that it makes these ideas its own.

First, let me mention the beautiful visuals. The game is absolutely gorgeous and wonderfully stylized. Every detail is immaculate, and the amount of work put into getting everything right is amazing. The game’s look just pops out at you, and it is done in a way that rarely happens anymore. The music is also great in this demo, and it helps create the perfect atmosphere. Not to mention the sound effects are creepy and awesome at the same time.

In terms of gameplay, from what was seen in the demo, Prey, while taking some influence from the aforementioned games, really does things like nothing else before it. It has innovative gameplay, unique weapons, and how you interact with the environment and the enemies is inspired. The developers were not mincing words when they said the station Talos 1 was a character in its own right. The weapons and abilities let you do things that you would never have even considered doing before. You need to stop and think about what to do, because the game gives you so many options to procees.This is one of the most well crafted games I have ever seen, and this was just the opening demo.  I cannot wait for the full game, and I must commend Bethesda and Arkane. This was an amazing demo!