We will build your DREAMWEB!
January 7th, 2012
(as of 2012-12-05 01:50:35 PST)
Soul Calibur V (PS3) (UK IMPORT)
DescriptionSOULCALIBUR V is the newest installment of its multi-million selling weapons-based fighting series for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation3. It delivers exhilarating 3D fighting mechanics, breathtaking visuals, and new characters, as well as expanding the online + character creation modes.
Last week, Star Citizen developer Cloud Imperium Games held its 2015 Town Hall presentation at PAX South, where it discussed various aspects of the space sim at length. Yesterday, Cloud Imperium uploaded videos of the presentation to YouTube, where you can watch the developers discuss the game's wormholes, persistent universe, and much more.
In the first part of the persistent universe presentation (above), you can see some early NPC character models, and early concept footage of what jump point navigation will look like. It also includes footage of Star Citizen's in-game AR, MobiGlas. It's a functional, contextual interface solution for shopping, accessing information, and any other part of the game where you'd need a menu or head-up display (HUD). You can read an exhaustive explanation of the team's plan for MobiGlass on Star Citizen's website.
Overall there's around six hours Star Citizen talk, which you can find in the links below
Star Citizen, which is already the most successful crowdfunded project in history, is now closing in on $72 million, up from $70 million just a week ago.
For more on Star Citizen and Roberts himself, check out part one and part two of GameSpot's interview with the legendary designer.
Last year, Twitch hit the impressive milestone of 100 million unique viewers per month, the games streaming service has announced.
Twitch launched a little website yesterday highlighting that impressive number and other stats from 2014. Last year, the site also hit a peak of 1 million concurrent viewers, 11 million total videos broadcast per month, and 1.5 million unique broadcasters per month.
You can see the most impressive milestones in the image above, and check out the full 2014 report on Twitch's website. If nothing else, it help to explain why Amazon, which bought the company in August of last year, thought it was worth $1 billion.
Earlier this month, Twitch introduced Twitch Music, a library of 500 of pre-cleared, mostly EDM songs that streamers can use without having to worry about copyright infringement.
A new Spelunker game, Minna de Spelunker Z, is coming exclusively to the PlayStation 4, publisher Square Enix has announced.
Earlier this week, the Final Fantasy and Tomb Raider publisher launched a teaser website for an upcoming game with the working title "Project Code Z." Today, during the Tokaigi 2015 event in Japan, the company revealed that game is based on the original Spelunker, which was first released in 1983.
These days, you might better recognize Spelunker's gameplay from a more recent popular game it inspired, Spelunky. As you can see in the trailer above, much like Spelunky, Spelunker is a 2D platformer, where you venture into a cave, jump around, climb ropes, and collect treasure.
Minna de Spelunker Z is being developed by Tozai Games and will release in Japan on March 19. It will be free-to-play, and while it's not yet clear how Square Enix plans to monetize it, we can see an inventory system in the trailer where you can equip your character with different items and outfits.
Alienware started shipping the Alpha late last year for $549 (the high-end version with a faster CPU, more RAM, and an SSD costs $849), but it recently cut that price down to $499. The Alpha is still more expensive than consoles, but also fairly cheap as far as gaming PCs go. Obviously it's not as powerful as the quintessential PC gaming tower, but it may give Sony and Microsoft's latest consoles a run for their money.
With a slightly overclocked 860M GPU based on Nvidia's GM107 chip (the same one that's found in Nvidia's 750 Ti desktop GPU), 4GB of RAM, and Intel's Core i3, the Alpha has all the makings of a good, entry level gaming PC. The 5400 RPM hard drive is a slight disappointment, and it's likely the source of the Alpha's occasionally long loading times. Otherwise, the rest of the components make for a surprisingly capable gaming PC given the Alpha's relatively low cost.
|CPU||Intel Core i3-4130T @2.9GHz|
|GPU||Modified Nvidia GTX 860M|
|Storage||500GB 5400 RPM 2.5" Hard drive, 6Gb/s|
While the Alpha simply can't fulfill the desires of every PC gamer who dreams of pushing graphics settings to ultra, that doesn't mean that medium or high settings are out of reach. While you can get away with these settings at 1080p in most cases, you may need to kick the Alpha down to 720p if you want to inch closer to 60 frames per second and take advantage of greater lighting and post processing effects. Although Alpha's GPU supports 4K output, it can't realistically play games at such a demanding resolution. Despite its PC roots, the primary appeal of the Alpha is like that of a console, such as PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. In the interest of competition, let's see how the Alpha fares against Sony and Microsoft's latest consoles.
Tomb Raider, 45-70 FPS: high settings, 1080p, FXAA, TressFX off, tessellation off
The Alpha can't handle advanced hair found in the PlayStation 4 version of Tomb Raider, but it still handles the game quite well with high settings at 1080p, staying well above 30 frames per second.
Titanfall, 45-60 FPS, high settings, 1080p, 2x MSAA, bilinear texture filtering
Though the difference is only noticeable on occasion, the Alpha stands above the xbox One so far as Titanfall is concerned, one of the system's flagship games,
Watch Dogs, 35-50 FPS, medium settings, 1080p, texture quality high, antialiasing off, ambient occlusion off
The Alpha struggled a bit with Watch Dogs on high settings, so we had to dial the effects down a bit to hit a reasonable frame rate at 1080p. Still, next to the PlayStation 4 version, it's hard to notice any major differences.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, 35-45 FPS: High setings, 1080p, ambient occlusion on, tesselation on
Middle-earth Shadow of Mordor could have ran closer to 60 FPS on the Alpha with more conservative settings, but Alienware's little box stayed above 30 FPS when we turned on advanced settings like ambient occlusion and tessellation, remaining totally playable while looking good, too.
|Game||Alienware Alpha||Xbox One||PlayStation 4|
|Tomb Raider||1080p, 45-70 FPS||1080p, 30 FPS||1080p, 30-60 FPS|
|Titanfall||1080p, 45-60 FPS||792p, 40-60 FPS||n/a|
|Watch Dogs||1080p, 35-50 FPS||792p, 30 FPS||900p, 30 FPS|
|Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor||1080p, 34-45 FPS||900p, 30 FPS||1080p, 30 FPS|
These tests make it clear that the Alpha is, on average, as capable as PS4 and Xbox One when it comes to sheer in-game performance. Unlike those systems, the Alpha's RAM and CPU are upgradeable. If you spend a little more money, you can push the Alpha further than we have in our tests, but at that point, $850, it may be worth investing in a traditional PC with a stronger GPU.
Although some people refer to the Alpha as a console, it's driven by Microsoft Windows, a PC operating system, and with that the Alpha exhibits the same general capabilities and limitations as any other Windows gaming PC. What is unique about the Alpha, and why some consider it to be a console, is Alienware's custom user interface, which boots up on top of Windows and is 100% controller friendly.
Currently, the Alpha has only integrated Valve's Steam service within its UI, because Steam's Big Picture Mode makes it easy to access its marketplace your own library of games with only a controller. Neither EA's Origin nor Ubisoft's Uplay touts a controller friendly interface, and while they are still accessible through the Alpha's windows 8.1 desktop mode, there's no way to properly and seamlessly access games purchased through those services within Alienware's custom UI. In most cases, Ubisoft and EA games purchased directly through Steam will work without any problems. The only caveat: you may need to make use of the Alpha's virtual mouse mode.
Every Alpha comes with a wireless Xbox 360 controller that, with a simple hotkey combo, can function as a mouse using the left analog stick. It's handy when you need it, such as the initial setup when you power on the Alpha for the first time, but the need for such a feature reminds you that you are indeed using a PC and not a system that's completely controller friendly 100% of the time. The virtual mouse suffices, but it's not an elegant system.
Apart from the backlit Alienware logo, the Alpha is rather unassuming and less ostentatious than most of Alienware's other systems. If you don't like the color of the default backlight, or you want to turn off the lights completely, you only need to hop into the Alpha's settings menu and adjust the color to your liking.
The Alpha has the basics covered when it comes to connectivity. There are two USB 2.0 ports on the front of the box and two USB 3.0 ports on the back, right next to the ethernet, optical audio, and HDMI in and HDMI out ports. The HDMI in port is an unusual feature, but similar to the Xbox One, it lets the Alpha handle video passthrough from another device, such as a gaming console or Blu-ray player. Alienware hasn't invested in this feature as much as Microsoft--you won't find guide apps and the like that sync with your cable provider--, but its a handy feature to have just in case you run out of HDMI ports on your TV.
The Alpha doesn't offer an experience that's as composed or seamless as a console, but Alienware has done a decent job of consolizing the PC, outpacing the competition in some meaningful ways. The UI creates the illusion that using a console, and it's a disappearing act that almost works 100% of the time. Though you can't tap into Origin or Uplay within the Alpha's console mode, you can if you boot into the Window's desktop. Though the Alpha isn't quite a console, it offers so much more as a PC than the Xbone One or PlayStation 4 ever could. Taking the Alpha out of the home theater and putting it on a desk with a mouse and keyboard open a wealth of functionality that cannot be overlooked. Apart from being able to upgrade the GPU and motherboard, you can do anything with the Alpha that you could with an equally powerful, traditional desktop computer.
With this in mind, the Alpha is a great value. It may be more expensive than consoles, but the difference of $100 is a small price to pay for a console-like gaming device that doubles as a Windows PC. If you like the convenience of the console experience, are interested in the hundreds of excellent games available on Steam, and could benefit from a new desktop PC, $500 is a very reasonable asking price. It may not blow consoles out of the water when it comes to performance, but it comes close. Manage your expectations accordingly and you won't be disappointed by the Alienware Alpha.
It looks like Metal Gear Rising: Revengence, the character action game spun off from the Metal Gear series, might be getting a sequel.
The news comes from the 2015 Taipei Game Show, where during a sizzle reel of PlayStation 4 games, the number two, stylized like the Metal Gear Rising logo, appeared for only a second. It appeared specifically during a short clip showing off the PS4 exclusive third-person shooter The Order: 1886. As the character was counting down, the Rising tease flashed on the screen when she said two. You can find the exact moment in this Twitch steam at the 2:46:33 mark.
Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima was at the show, but he didn't discuss Metal Gear Rising. However, looking at his Twitter account, Kojima has been meeting Metal Gear Rising and Bayonetta 2 developer Platinum games lately, most recently in December 14, 2014, when he met with Platinum President and CEO Tatsuya Minami.
Is it a confirmation? Far from it. It's a very subtle tease at best, but one that does seem to fit Metal Gear and Kojima's sensibility.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengence was released in 2013, and featured Raiden, the protagonist of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, instead of of Snake, and fast-paced action and an innovative slicing mechanic instead of stealth. GameSpot's review gave it an 8/10.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain launches in 2015 for Xbox One and PlayStation 4. A PC version of the open-world game is also in the works, but Konami has not announced a release date for it.
Team Ninja's fighting game Dead or Alive 5 Last Round has been delayed on PC by more than a month, but it's online modes still won't be ready by launch, publisher Koei Tecmo has announced.
The game, which was originally slated to launch via Steam on February 17, has been pushed back to March 30.
"In appreciation for your patience, we'll be offering the Halloween 2013 Set (28 costumes) free of charge to all users who purchase Dead or Alive 5 Last Round on Steam," Koei Tecmo said, explaining that it pushed the game back in order to provide players with "the best experience possible."
However, this doesn't change Tecmo Koei's previous statement from back in December 2014 that the game will not have any of its online modes at launch. As the publisher said then "Online modes for Dead or Alive 5 Last Round will be added in a patch within 3 months of release."
Koei Tecmo and Team Ninja previously announced that Dead or Alive 5: Last Round will launch across Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 4 in North America on February 17, 2015. The game launches three days later on February 20 in Europe.
Witcher 3 1080p On PS4, 900p On Xbox One: After numerous rumors, resolution details for CD Projekt Red's open-world role-playing game have finally been confirmed. The Polish developer announced this week that the game will run in 1080p/30fps on PlayStation 4 and 900p/30fps on Xbox One. The Witcher 3 launches this May.
Microsoft CEO Talks "Mind-Blowing" HoloLens Gaming Potential: CEO Satya Nadella this week talked about the company's new HoloLens augmented reality platform, teasing that it could have major implications for gaming. While Microsoft isn't talking specifics just yet, Nadella said: "Just imagine what is possible with Minecraft. Gaming truly is a valuable part of millions of people's lives and Microsoft will excel and increase our lead."
Read Nintendo's Response To Kid's Super Mario Bros. 4 Pitch: Here's a nice, heartwarming story to read over the weekend. An 11-year-old sent Nintendo a pitch for Super Mario Bros., which comprised a 13-page document with character descriptions and hand-drawn art. Nintendo declined to use his ideas, but wrote a compassionate, warm reply. D'awwww. Read the full reply here.
PC MMO Star Trek Online has celebrated another milestone. This week, the game, developed by Cryptic Studios, celebrated its fifth anniversary. To celebrate, Cryptic and publisher Perfect World announced an in-game Anniversary Event (Jan. 28-Feb. 26), which will feature a new story episode highlighting Garrett Wang and Denise Crosby.
New DLC is now available for Gearbox's Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. The Lady Hammerlock Pack expansion launched this week for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC, introducing a new character--Lady Hammerlock--as well as a new weapon (sniper rifle) and a new skill called Cold As ice. You can buy the expansion today for $10.
How do all the Mario games fit together, in terms of an overall timeline? While Nintendo hasn't answered the question, one fan now has, creating this video (and this image timeline) explaining what he thinks is the correct chronological order. Check it out.
Uken Studios this week launched its latest mobile game, Titans, for iPhone and iPad as a free download. Haven't heard of Titans? Based on an original IP, Titans is a real-time card battle game that puts players into a fantasy world that has been conquered by an evil nation. You play a Master Alchemist and must forge an army to fight back. You can download the game today here.
Organizers of this year's Game Developers Choice Awards this week announced the first two special award winners for the year. The Ambassador Award, which honors someone who is actively involved in helping games "advanced to a better place" through advocacy or action is going to Brenda Romero. Meanwhile, the Pioneer Award, given to a person who has achieved breakthrough technology and game design milestones, will be given to Elite creator David Braben. Romero and Braben will accept the honors as part of the Game Developers Choice Awards on March 4 in San Francisco.
From the folks at Game Informer comes this wonderful interview with Naughty Dog key creative developers about the challenges of writing Uncharted 4: A Thief's End. Grab a cup of coffee and watch the interview here. It will be worth it.
This fan-made Game of Thrones Miencraft world, WesterosCraft, continues to look amazing. This week, creators behind the project released a new video that shows the incredible progress they've made. Even if you aren't into Game of Thrones, this is still worth your attention.
The Game Awards, a new video game awards show from industry media veteran Geoff Keighley, will return in 2015 after the inaugural 2014 show. Keighley revealed the news on Twitter, saying he's already started putting together the event and will reveal more details this spring. What would you like to see from this year's show?
Science! New research from smart people at UC Davis says that gamers who play sports- and health-oriented video games are likely to try harder of they play with a trim avatar compared to a heavier one. You can read a summary of the research from Polygon.
En Masse Entertainment this week announced that MMO Tera is getting a guild housing system next month. Called the "Skycastle" system, Tera's housing system will come to the game via its next major content update that is currently scheduled to arrive February 25. In addition to the housing system, the update introduces a new 5v5 PvP Battleground, and a new airship dungeon, among other things.
The Irrational Games Store has been updated with a new item: BioShock shot glasses. The four glasses are focused on plasmids Electro Bolt, Incinerate, Insect Swarm, and Telekinesis. Buy the four-pack today for $20.
The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences this week announced the full list of speakers for this year's DICE Awards, which will be held February 5 in Las Vegas. Without further ado...
Another DLC song is now available for dancing game Just Dance 2015. The track is Charli XCX's hit song "Boom Clap," which you can buy now on all platforms for $3.
Developer Little Orbit this week announced a new contest that invites players to design their own Adventure Time character for a chance to have it featured in the next Adventure Time game. Fans can now submit their artwork, along with a short character description, to Little Orbit for consideration. All you need to do is email your design in a .jpg file no larger than 5MB to firstname.lastname@example.org. The contest closes February 17.
Want to try out upcoming Alone in the Dark game, Alone in the Dark: Illumination, ahead of its release later this year? If you do, you're in luck, as publisher Atari this week announced that anyone who pre-buys the PC game will gain entry to its beta testing period right away. Pre-buy the game today on Steam for $30.
PC shooter Block N Load developer Jagex this week announced a new skin for the character Nigel. The character skin is called "Old Scroll Nigel," and it's meant to showcase a "youthful" version of Nigel. The new skin is available now for anyone who bought the Fully Loaded Edition of Block N Load. Jagex has also this week released two new maps for Block N Load: The Last Bastion and Shuko Style. Check out Block N Load today on Steam.
League of Legends developer Riot Games this week released a free album of music based on the immensely popular PC game, featuring the new Amumu track, "The Curse of the Sad Mummy." You can listen to the album and buy it here. Alternatively, it's also available through iTunes, Google Play, and Spotify.
Super Smash Bros. Kazoo Cover. Need I say more? Enjoy.
Valve announced on Monday a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament will be held at upcoming European gaming tournament ESL One Katowice 2015. The top qualifying teams will battle it out March 12-15 for a prize pool of $250,000.
Here are NBA logos as video game characters. We won't waste your time: click here to see them all. They are great. Enjoy.
Have a great weekend!
But oh, Dying Light, how you irritate me. I hate you for the gunners that ambushed me as I swam underwater, because there was no way to know how to react until I emerged and discovered that I wasn't meant to peek my head out--not yet. I hate you for that time you filled the screen with so much haze and bloom during a boss fight that I couldn't see properly. I hate that sequence when you made me leap from one pole to another, because you made it hard to get a good look at my surroundings, and your button prompts are hardly generous. And I hate these moments most because your systems are strong enough to let the open-world gameplay do the heavy lifting. The harder you try to direct the action, the weaker you become.Fight or flee? It's a decision as old as humanity itself.
If you count yourself among the Dead Island fandom, your expectations are already set. You understand developer Techland's inconsistencies, and you are prepared to disregard the chaff so that you may reap the grain. Dying Light spawns from the same pile of mutated freaks as Dead Island, but it establishes its separate identity early on. The first difference to become clear is in tone: where Dead Island's story was difficult to take seriously, Dying Light sets the stage for a dark drama with a city overrun with infected victims, and a desperate populace anxious for hospice and aid. There are light touches here and there: you stumble upon The Bites Motel, for instance, and magazine covers and other details offer plenty of sight gags. But you are meant to be fearful and cautious, and you are meant to empathize with the survivors working so hard just to stay alive, let alone thrive.
As a covert operative sent to the city of Harran to recover a secret file, you find yourself in over your head, playing triple agent as you run errands for the city's two primary factions while radioing information to your agency's head honcho. Death is always in the air, not just because the infected have overrun the city's two sizable explorable areas, but because the survivors are so weary, so close to defeat. Dying Light lumbers through one cliche after another, but it's perfectly palatable: expressive faces and decent voice acting make the story beats and cutscenes worth paying attention to, even when the specifics--the antihero with a heart of gold, the doctor close to discovering a cure, the power-hungry villain--fall solidly within been-there, done-that territory.In the dark--but never alone.
Dying Light also sets itself apart with its parkour system, which sees you running across the city from a first-person perspective. It takes a short while to get used to climbing onto ledges, which requires you to be looking at them in the proper way. But then it's off to the races, and you're running across rooftops and sneering at the zombies below, most of which can't handle the climb. Rushing through the open world this way is terrific, due to solid (if not quite excellent) controls and well-constructed climbing and leaping paths, particularly in the game's second half, which takes place in the city's vertically-minded old town. Even better, the parkour energizes moments of great tension. Far Cry comparisons are easy, given how you unlock a few of the game's safe houses by climbing tall towers. But the climbing requires more finesse and situational awareness than it does in Far Cry 4, and some of the towers are outrageously tall, making the entire endeavor an anxious exercise in precision.
And tension is yet another aspect of Dying Light that sets it apart from its zombie-game peers. When night falls, particularly dangerous and fast zombies roam the city, and the entire timbre changes. It's best to circumvent the vision cones of those baddies and avoid direct confrontation, but you're occasionally mobbed in spite of your careful movement. These undead are more persistent than the Liberty City police department, so the best option is to run, run, run until you lose them. You can hold a button to look behind you and see how close they are, and doing so can be startling when you see the incoming horde. It's been some time since a zombie game legitimately scared me, but that look-behind-you move reveals some creepy sights. During the day, you scamper around and, occasionally, confront your infected fears. Once the sun has set, you slink and sprint, trying not to catch the deadly eyes of nearby volatiles.Burn, beautiful zombies, burn.
Throw in a three-pronged upgrade system that makes you stronger and more agile as the game progresses, and you have the foundation of a great game. Alas, Dying Light flounders too often for it to achieve greatness, though it's poised to develop the same cult following that so many Techland games do. This is a surprisingly long game stuffed with, well, stuff, yet your role for too many hours is to play errand boy--a role so demeaning that even lead character Kyle Crane remarks upon it. Go flip a switch. Go collect crayons, or mushrooms, or coffee. As the first act draws to a close, Dying Light has taken a turn for the worse: each time the game grants you structure, it struggles, to the point where you might wish the gofer quests would return, because the ones that have taken their place are either frustrating slogs, or simply bad ideas.
The slog arises because these simple tasks require you to cover a lot of real estate. As fun as it is to move through Harran, the parkour doesn't carry the game alone. The other problem with Dying Light's first half, as dumb as it may sound, is the zombie crowd itself, which is not powerful enough to provide a huge challenge, but is too powerful to wholly ignore. The undead become annoyances--children that wave their arms around and demand attention while the game asks you to once again take to the streets so you can pull a lever.Firearms are powerful, but it's best to use them against human foes.
The bad arrives when Dying Light embraces ideas that have an air of cleverness, but have you crying out "what were you thinking?" as implemented. There is the time you quaff a potion intended to temporarily disguise you from the undead, but it reverses your movement controls. And so death might very well ensue depending on when you drink and how quickly you adjust to the surprise. There is the time you descend on a zip line and let the game drop you at the very end of it, only to take a good amount of fall damage. There's a garbage pile a few feet before the end that you can leap into, but the limited field of view when ziplining, and the general visual bleariness, mean you probably won't know it's there until you've lost half of your health bar, and you're cursing Techland for not noticing how these elements don't quite work together--or worse, for not caring.
These are just a few examples of the frustrations that set in. Once the second act arrives and you enter old town, however, there's a moment of revelation when you gaze upon the district and take in its beauty. The slog has been set aside, and excitement for new navigation blossoms. Depending on how you spend the skill points you earn, you gain access to a grappling hook that provides so much stimulation that you wish you'd gained access to it even earlier. Then again, Dying Light gets occasionally lost in "ideas" even in the second half--shooting segments that lack tightness, confrontations with multiple kinds of big baddies that have you flying backwards and getting poisoned simultaneously, and so forth. You've got the tools to succeed, at least, even when the fun meter drops: upgradable weapons starting with knives and baseball bats and working up to machetes and ice picks, along with throwables like grenades and molotov cocktails. Those weapons degrade quickly, but there are more of them scattered around than you will ever need.
When night falls, particularly dangerous and fast zombies roam the city, and the entire timbre changes.
Dying Light succeeds when it remains confident in its systems. The combat isn't as fulfilling as it is in Dead Island--you won't be breaking any arms--but out in that wild world, you aren't meant to wade into the horde anyhow. What drives the action is the promise of discovery and self-improvement. There are locks to pick and supplies to nab before the opposing faction gets to them. The balconies harbor new people to meet, who share their stories if you stick around long enough to hear them. When a zombie or six draw near, you swipe, kick, and bash until the blood is flying and the grunts are silenced, and you can return to your pillaging. Dying Light most often approaches greatness when it allows you to improvise your own tune instead of clumsily trying to conduct the entire orchestra.
That a game of such wild fluctuations can still give rise to so much fun speaks well of its high points. Those peaks rise even higher when other players are involved, and you have a few friends (up to three) join you, distracting the speedy virals while you take care of a ground-pounding beast swinging his giant hammer around. Competitive zombie invasions are liable to have you tensing your muscles even further invasions when they turn the game into a nighttime arena. This is Be the Zombie mode, and while using your tentacle to grapple your way around as a zombie is enjoyable, it is the tension you feel as a hunted human that makes these moments stand out. You can tweak your setting to allow or disallow these sudden multiplayer matches, and there's no shame in wanting to explore without distraction. But if Dying Light's nighttime pressures appeal to you, allowing zombie attacks further extends that drama.
I am rooting for Dying Light's success, even as I shake my head at its avoidable foibles. I understand it, I get it, and so I find pleasure in it even as it disappoints me, even when I land between a fence and a rocky cliff and get stuck there, even when I don't grab a ledge or pole after a jump for reasons that I can't quite understand. My dearest Dying Light, I am so grateful for your specialness, for it shines through even when I am prepared to damn you to hell.
The PlayStation 4 has had undeniable market success, so it seems pointless to regale you with tales of sales numbers and game attach rates. Needless to say, if you buy one, you will have no trouble finding a community for the online games you love, and you'll have all of the multimedia applications you should expect: YouTube, Netflix, Spotify, yadda yadda yadda. But it's the games that make the console, and the PlayStation 4 excels in a vital area: variety. The system isn't primarily for shooters, or for kids' games, or for action-adventures, or for retro platformers: it's for all of these genres and beyond. To own a PlayStation 4 is to gain access to scores of games, both past and present, that fulfill different needs--the need to compete, the need to relax, the need for emotional fulfillment, and the need to explore and discover.
To own a PlayStation 4 is also to have access to the best-looking version of multi-console games. It goes without saying that the upcoming Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will look best on the PC, but where consoles are concerned, the PlayStation 4 version seems the obvious choice because it boasts a 1080p resolution, as compared to the Xbox One version's 900p. Whether or not you are swept up into the melodramatic console resolution wars raging across the Internet, it's natural to want your games to look their best. Not only does the PlayStation 4 allow you to play excellent multiplatform games like Dragon Age: Inquisition, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, Wolfenstein: The New Order, and Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, but it does so at higher resolutions than does the console competition. This is true of most multiplatform games on the PlayStation 4, as it happens. You may not think you notice much of a difference, but it's human nature to pamper yourself when possible--so why not pamper yourself with higher-resolution games when given the opportunity?
Sony delivered a fantastic array of interesting exclusives on the PlayStation 3, and that machine's successor looks to be no different. Break down the exclusives already released, and you discover racing (Driveclub), open-world adventuring (Infamous Second Son), and off- and online shooting (Killzone: Shadow Fall). Look towards the horizon, and the list grows when you add heavy-hearted role-playing (Bloodborne), explosive cinematic action (Uncharted 4: A Thief's End), and lighthearted exploration (Rime). The diversity isn't just impressive because these games come from different genres, but also because they strike such different emotional tones. The Order: 1886 looks like any one of the CW's dark-fantasy dramas come to life, while No Man's Sky's deep colors give it an otherworldly vibe. If it's hard to nail down the PlayStation identity, that's due in part to the varied choices lying before you.
There's another aspect to consider as well: the huge promise of games we've only seen bits and pieces of. We know very little about Wild, but promising an explorable area the size of Europe is an astounding claim that piques curiosity. The Tomorrow Children's unique mix of resource collection, creation, and creepy youngsters makes it almost impossible to describe at this early stage. And of course, there's always the hope that The Last Guardian might one day re-emerge as a PlayStation 4 exclusive. Game-lovers are nothing if not a faithful bunch.
The PlayStation 4's digital shopping experience is so improved over the PlayStation 3 that it isn't even fair to compare them. Regardless, it is so easy to buy and download games from the privacy of your own living room that traveling to a local game retailer has become a last-generation memory. At the time of this writing, the most popular downloadable games in the PlayStation Store include Saints Row IV: Re-Elected, Dying Light, and Grand Theft Auto V. We used to wonder why console games weren't so readily downloadable, and looked to Valve's Steam service on the PC if we wanted to download big-budget entertainment at the moment of release. Of course, the PlayStation Store is still home to plenty of digital-only gems like Race the Sun and Secret Ponchos. But if you stick to the big guns from big publishers, why not just stay at home in your underwear and download Destiny instead of braving the crowds?
Of course, there's another bright side to the console digital age: free-to-play games aren't just for PCs and mobile phones anymore, and the PlayStation 4 excels when it comes to freemium choices. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn and DC Universe Online grant us access to massively multiplayer worlds, while games like Warframe and Loadout cater to those of us with itchy trigger fingers. So long, retail chains. We've found a better way.
If you've got the bandwidth and still want to play the PlayStation 3 games you've missed for some reason or another, put away the PS3 and put something else in its place. PlayStation Now allows you to play a good number of PS3 games by streaming them directly to your PS4. You might have played the popular games like Uncharted: Drake's Fortune that are available on PS Now, but what about the beautiful El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron? You might have already crossed BioShock Infinite off of your list, but you probably missed Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time. Why not rectify your oversight via PlayStation Now?
The library is limited, but poised to grow, and while Sony's statements have been vague, it's likely we will see pre-PS3 games added to the list, which would exponentially increase PlayStation Now's value. Right now, all of the PSOne classics are playable only on the PS3 and the Vita; adding them to the PS Now library would make the service a no-brainer.
Now's the time. If you don't already own a PlayStation 4, you're missing out on great exclusives, a cool streaming service, and the best-looking version of almost every multi-console game on the market.
The chord it strikes is similar to 2007’s Shadowrun, not just in design but also in how it approaches its narrative. Canonically, it’s meant to bridge the 500-year gap during the opening scenes of Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, but takes a perfunctory approach to its storytelling; realistically, Nosgoth is merely a spinoff. There are, however, casual reminders here and there that Legacy of Kain, plus Soul Reaver and its protagonist Raziel, are Nosgoth’s inspiration. Raziel’s ruined clan, represented by the disfigured sentinel class, is all that remains of his flying kin. And it isn’t difficult to spot the enormous statue of a pre-crispy Raziel who stands watch over the chaotic human-on-vampire battles in The Fane, a map comprised of white marble and accented by gold leaf and torches burning with blue flame. Beyond the theme and the few hints and winks, however, little else of the Legacy of Kain fiction is found in Nosgoth.
Issues with the story aside, it concerns me that Nosgoth would follow Shadowrun’s lead, especially considering that the path Shadowrun ventured down didn’t end with much success. Nosgoth even goes so far as to mimic some of Shadowrun’s own mimicry of the Counter-Strike formula, with matches consisting of two rounds, in which you start on the human or vampire team of four players each, and then get swapped to the other side once a necessary goal is met. But, thankfully, the similarities stop there, as Nosgoth primarily revolves around its team deathmatch modes, focusing on classes and team dynamics rather than using acquired cash to purchase weapons, gear, or special abilities between rounds. In team deathmatch, the winning side is determined after stacking up the total kills--with a maximum of 30 per session--acquired by each team during the ten-minute rounds.
Battles set in the eponymous dark-fantasy setting of Nosgoth are tense, energetic, and often wildly entertaining. Nosgoth leans heavily on the team element as an unconditional imperative. A single human, who spends the majority of a match nervously scanning rooftops and corners for movement, doesn’t stand much chance when paired up against a physically dominating vampire. But likewise, a vampire stumbling alone into a group of quick-witted humans will rapidly find himself, for once, at the bottom of the food chain.Special weapons with unique properties are gifted from time to time.
The vampire hunters are armed with technology and cunning, facing down their bloodsucking rivals with arrows and blades, snaring them with spells, and damaging them with deadly traps. But technology isn’t enough; victory requires diversity. A team composed mostly of scouts, a sniping class, is powerless once the vampires get within mauling range. The scout’s abilities are supplemented by a hunter class, which uses a crossbow for mid-range battles, and handy bolas, in normal and poison varieties, to temporarily restrain an enemy. Just as useful is the alchemist, who uses her launcher to lob explosive projectiles onto the heads of vampires hiding on rooftops, while utilizing an array of volatile chemical concoctions, such as vials of combustible liquid that erupt in a wall of flame, or containers filled with sunlight, which temporarily blinds oncoming bad guys.
What vampires lack in the technology of their mortal foes, they make up for in strength and incredible athletic prowess, making them an absolute blast to play. Unlike the gravity challenged humans, vampires can climb buildings and walls, stalking their prey and planning strikes from unseen heights. The deft reaver is able to leap far into the air, pouncing on his prey and slashing with metal claws. But maybe you prefer strength over speed; the imposing tyrant, muscle-bound and armed with abilities that allow him to charge through and knock over humans, as well as leap high into the air and emit a shockwave when landing, is as close to a vampire Hulk as I’ve seen yet. The other two classes are the aforementioned sentinel, who can fly, snatch humans, and drop them from high in the air, and the deceiver, a strategic class, able to mask himself as a vampire hunter and strike from behind with a deadly blade.
No matter what class you choose, playing as a vampire is a joy. Bounding through the air as the reaver is something that never ceases to put a smile on my face. You get a giddy feeling of anticipation as you look around to see your allies, circled on walls and pillars, ready to strike your unsuspecting adversaries from above. Plus, it’s difficult to deny the savage thrill of dragging away the limp body of a defeated vampire hunter post battle to feast on his blood in order to regain lost health--except during rare moments of "stretchy limb syndrome," which makes pulling a bloodied corpse that ends up stretching along the ground like taffy look, well, a tad goofy.
But then there is that pesky balancing problem, which far too often drags the pleasure of the hunt to a grinding, groan-inducing halt. The issue is a two-parter, but let’s cut straight to the first point: the vampires are overpowered. Even as I hit more than 15 hours of play, I couldn’t recall a match that didn’t feel stacked against the human side, even if the advantage was only slight. During most of my games, all I could hope for when on the human team was to reach at least 15 kills. That way, if my opponents proved somewhat more incapable playing as humans, a victory could still be secured. Make no mistake, I witnessed capable human teams, but even the most skilled players seemed lost as to how to proceed when their opponents switched classes and charged forward with several tyrants. It’s not just a question of countering with the right classes and abilities; matching classes is important, but still, the vast majority of games I played as a human were losses, even as I became more confident in my vampire-hunting skills.
Nosgoth at its finest is still a promising multiplayer game, and I look forward to seeing how far it goes. It does need more: more classes, more maps, more game modes, more everything.
On the subject of skill, the likelihood of getting matched with or against players of similar aptitude is a crapshoot, which brings up the second part of the balancing issue: matchmaking is broken. You gain experience points that slowly increase your level over the course of play. That rank, however, doesn’t seem to matter once you leave new recruit mode, designed to ease novice players into Nosgoth, and get placed into standard team deathmatch games. It’s common to get matched against teams that are either well below your skill level or far beyond it. Fighting a team that struggles to get even 10 kills against your own makes for a rather boring 20 minutes, but when the tables are turned, it results in immense frustration. Matchmaking also seems to have issues with finding players. Sometimes, a game will start right away, but at other times, you are left waiting for a vacant spot to fill for upwards of several minutes.
At least Nosgoth’s maps, save for one that sports ugly, low-resolution mountains in the background, look fantastic enough to distract from any grievance for a short while. The five available maps are large, beautiful, and meticulously detailed, featuring a varied color palette that makes each one easily distinguishable from the others. It’s difficult not to look upon The Fane, a town deep within a vaulted cave, with some measure of awe. Other environs are scarred by battle, and the sound of muffled screams brings weight to fights, surrounded by buildings set alight. Nearby, fountains that were once ornate, cluttered with corpses, now run red with blood. Every map is also dotted with well-placed and quickly accessible shrines, where human players can fill up on health and ammunition--so long as they watch their backs.Raziel really had seen better days before that whole Lake of the Dead incident.
Like many free-to-play games, Nosgoth includes different payment options. Bundles can be purchased that will unlock classes, character skins, and new abilities, and that offer a sum of gold, the latter of which is earned at the end of every match. Normally, any gold that is acquired can be used to unlock new class abilities for up to one week for a small amount, or permanently for a much larger chunk of change. Based on my experience, it takes about six to eight hours of play to earn enough gold to unlock a single ability forever, which means you will either need to dedicate a lot of time to get the loadouts you desire, or pony up the cash if time isn’t in your favor. Runes, currency that must be bought using real-world money, can also unlock any of the prior items in place of gold. Character skins, which serve as aesthetic upgrades, can only be traded for with runes.
Outside of Nosgoth’s team deathmatch, there isn’t much else in the way of content. There are three modes of play, but two of them, new recruit and team deathmatch, are basically the same in design. Flashpoint, the third multiplayer mode, is currently in beta testing, and does provide a different, if ultimately brief, distraction. The mode is a king of the hill variation, in which the human team attempts to capture six points on a map as the vampire side fights to keep the beacons out of the grimy hands of mortals. I found it difficult to want to keep playing Flashpoint, as it isn’t distinctive enough compared to team deathmatch to hold my attention long. There are also only five maps at launch, and though they are all nice to look at, it didn’t take much time before I yearned for a change in scenery.
Officially, Nosgoth is in open beta, but Square Enix explicitly states that this beta constitutes the game's launch. Nonetheless, it comes with the bugs and glitches associated with a game in progress. There are times when your vampire may refuse to completely vault over a ledge onto a rooftop, which is particularly bad during a hasty escape, when his pallid backend may become a pincushion. Worse, however, are the rare connection errors with the server, which vary in range from bolas and arrows flying through enemies, to warping from one wall back into the original without warning. But these are standard-issue problems for the most part; what stands out above all is the fickle party system. At times, accepting an invite doesn’t place you in a party according to your screen, though the host’s screen shows otherwise, and trying to join a match with a broken party never works. But at least that isn’t as bad as when the game decides to crash, which it does on occasion after you accept a game invite.
Nosgoth is surprisingly fun, given the glaring problems. Sure, matchmaking is a mess and glitches need to be ironed out, but Nosgoth at its finest is still a promising multiplayer game, and I look forward to seeing how far it goes. It does need more: more classes, more maps, more game modes, more everything. And for the most part, the developer has been upfront that updates are coming quickly, starting with a new map and a female vampire class, both to arrive in the following weeks, with a new human class to arrive soon after. No, Nosgoth is not the Legacy of Kain everyone wanted, and it isn’t exactly bold or fresh either, especially considering that it evokes bitter memories of a failed game from 2007. But with additional content, bug fixes, and needed matchmaking tweaks, Nosgoth could be something that stands strong on its own, worth returning to time and again.
The particular young adult you play is Max Caulfield--no relation to The Catcher in the Rye's Holden Caulfield it would seem, though Life is Strange’s references are not subtle, so I presume that Max’s similarities to her namesake are not accidental. Like Holden, Max attends a private school, though her primary interest is photography and not football or fencing. She’s back in her Oregon hometown to attend school after spending the last several years in Seattle, where life wasn’t quite what she had imagined. "When we would play pirates in our room and in the woods, it seemed like Seattle was that fabled faraway island of treasure and adventure that we were always seeking. With coffee shops," writes Max in her diary. "But Seattle wasn't like a fable."The art style has a haze to it, as if the game is a memory.
As it turns out, life at Blackwell Academy isn't idyllic, either. After a stern lecture by her photography professor, Max wanders through the school’s halls to the bathroom. She’s out of sorts: she had what seemed to be a nightmare in class--that dark-and-stormy-night scenario that began the game, and which showed a tornado roaring towards the town. As Max, you walk past blue lockers covered with posters that admonish students not to text and drive, and comment silently to yourself about the classmates you pass. When Max plugs earbuds into her ears, you hear the light indie-rock you imagine an angsty teen from the Pacific Northwest might listen to--the kind that plays when you enter a Starbucks. This may not be your reality, but it is easy to believe is it Max's. The themes and characters are familiar, in any case: the aloof school principal, the quiet religious girl, and the anxiety of being called on in class when you don’t know the answer.
Well, there is one aspect that is decidedly unreal: you can rewind time. You discover your special skill during your restroom visit, when a heated confrontation between a psychopathic rich kid and the girl that confronts him ends with a bullet in the young woman’s abdomen. In that moment, you reach out to help and time quickly zips back to minutes before, when you are still in class. Now you know the answers when Prof. Jefferson asks you. Now you can tell him what he wants to hear about the photography contest he wants you to enter. And now you have a chance to save an old friend's life.Don't like how she reacts? Rewind time and do it again!
Time reversal is Life is Strange's most unique element, but also its most problematic. The game is rooted in the adventure formula that has made Telltale Games's Walking Dead series so popular. You walk around the environments, interacting with people and objects, and making choices during dialogue that turn the story in a particular direction. "This action will have consequences," the game tells you, and you then wonder about the potential consequences, and mentally note them when they occur. After a single episode, it is hard to tell how intervening when a security officer is harassing a student will shift the future, but should you not like the immediate reaction, you just rewind a bit and do it over again. It's a nifty effect at first, but the rewind as a whole undermines one of the formula's most treasured elements: ownership of your decisions.
Granted, there are limitations, so you can’t return to the moment of truth when a consequence becomes apparent hours later. But undoing a line of dialogue because a classmate reacts poorly to you diminishes the choice's power. I rarely sweated my decisions, because I could just try again until I landed on the one I liked best. I suspect that I may come to regret seemingly easy choices when more episodes are released and the repercussions play out. For now, however, I don't feel much ownership of Max; In The Wolf Among Us, it was clear that I was playing my Bigby, but after a single episode of Life is Strange, Max isn't my Max--she's just Max.Someone needs a Xanax.
The rewind mechanic also allows for a few light puzzles. When you rewind time you keep what you have recently picked up, and of course, you have new information you didn’t have before. As a result, you might be able to perform new actions and have new conversations. Rewinding only affects the people and events surrounding you; you remain in place, with any items you may carry, while time retreats everywhere else. In this sense, rewinding your surroundings is like fast-forwarding your own body. You can avoid falling objects, for instance, by rewinding time, moving forward, and resetting time with you further ahead than when you started. Annoyingly, however, Life is Strange breaks its own time-bending rules when it suits the narrative. When you first discover your skill, for instance, you are moved back into your classroom seat, and do not remain in the bathroom. Developer Dontnod has its cake, and eats it too.
Inconsistencies of time reversal aside, Life is Strange is an involving slice of life that works because its situations eloquently capture a peculiar early-college state of mind. Some of the characterizations are too on-the-nose: of course Max’s rebellious friend Chloe smokes weed and talks back to her stepfather, because that’s what rebellious teens do, and of course that stepfather is an ex-military authoritarian with a buzzcut and a bad temper. This is storytelling shorthand, but much of it rings beautifully true. When Max is reunited with Chloe, the tension chokes the air: Chloe feels abandoned and angry at being left behind when Max moved, and at being ignored when Max returned to town. Max doesn’t necessarily have answers for all of her choices, only apologies. These interactions can break your heart specifically because you might have had such conversations yourself. The performances, especially those of the actresses that play Max and Chloe, amplify the laughs, the groans, and the tears in equal measure, even when the dialogue takes a clumsy turn. (As it does, for instance, when you meet Blackwell's creepy janitor.)Victoria is not a nice person, but you can always kill her with kindness.
Life is Strange sets the stage for later conflict, foreshadowing the storm to come and informing you of a young local woman gone missing. At the same time, the game makes everyone look like a guilty party. The rich frat boy with a gun, the smug school administrator, the stepdad in need of anger management skills--these and other characters have plenty to hide, though it’s impossible to guess what all their secrets might be. The looming tornado and the inconsistent time mechanic seem almost unnecessary as a result, for Life is Strange’s most important drama is the one developing in Max’s own mind.
But first, you're eased into a life of crime. You play as Sophia Take, an art enthusiast who saw her great aunt's collection swindled away and split among greedy one percenters. She takes matters into her own hands and sets out to steal the art back. (She even resembles everyone's favorite world-class educational thief, Carmen Sandiego.) Though Miss Take is brimming with resolve, she soon reveals that she's a little unsure of herself to Harry Carver, a well-to-do and benevolent master thief who she bumps into in the middle of a caper. Together with Harry and pickpocket Daisy, Sophia slowly accumulates more and more of her great aunt's collection, gaining more confidence with each heist. These three figures form the core of the game's story and characterization, and, though it's tempting to paint them as one-dimensional afterthoughts, the game pulls off some subtle tricks to fill in the gaps.You'll learn to hate the color blue after seeing so much of it in this game.
Sophia's initial uncertainty carries into the player experience as well. You must abscond with all the art on the current floor and then either board an elevator or make your way to the exit. Guards' fields of vision are represented by giant blue cones that protrude from their eyes as you look down on the floor from a semi-isometric view. The levels themselves are cramped, with guards' vision often filling 75 percent of a room, making success seem impossible. But the game invites you to overcome these feelings by trying to gradually make you realize the ease with which you can accomplish your goals. The controls are dead simple, as the game can be played solely with the mouse. Just click on a spot, and Sophia moves there. Hold down the left mouse button and she starts running, though her haste makes noise that attracts guards, as does whistling by holding the mouse button down over her.
You start the game feeling intimidated by the sheer number of blue cones covering the levels. You feel shy about walking up to grab a painting while a guard's back is turned, but you learn to time your pacing in order to boldly walk to your target before the guard is any the wiser. You're afraid to set foot in a heavily-guarded area for fear of stepping into a guard’s field of vision, but being seen doesn't get you caught immediately. Instead, a glimpse of you only gets a guard's attention and lures him or her to the last point at which you were seen. Stay in sight too long and you alert the guards, but duck out of sight in time and you can lure guards to wherever you need them to be.The UI is super stylish, which makes the plain look of the rest of the game even more disappointing.
Even Sophia’s partners' side missions encourage you to come out of your shell. Harry has a leg injury and needs a cane to walk, so he's unable to run. This means that his heists happen at night when guard activity is at a minimum. He must sneak around armed with only a weird ball-like contraption, which makes noise when thrown against a wall. This teaches you not to rely on running to and fro and also encourages you to actually use the many power-ups the game gives Sofia, such as smoke bombs that block vision or teleporters that let you make a quick getaway. Daisy's missions, on the other hand, require you to get up close and personal with guards, picking their pockets to get keys and make off with a safe's contents. Though Daisy's prowess at pickpocketing means that she can approach guards without them becoming suspicious, it teaches you, when being Sophia, not to be so timid when it comes to worming your way through the guard-filled minefield. When you start getting the hang of navigating the security and playing the guards like saps, your confidence starts to snowball until you feel like a master thief. And clearly Sofia does too, as after clearing a level, she puts her hand on her hips and throws heavy shade at the mooks she just put to shame.
The moments in which you should be slipping past a heavily-guarded room to snag a bust are often ruined thanks to a guard who happens to turn the wrong way.
At least, that's the experience the game wants you to have, and occasionally it succeeds. But, though the game attempts to convey scenarios that make you feel like you're succeeding against all odds, the game commits the sin of actually stacking the odds against you. The fact that most rooms are bathed in blue does make the levels somewhat unmanageable even when you learn all the tricks. The cramped corridors and tiny rooms make maneuvering more of a chore than it needs to be. Worst of all is the inconsistent enemies, who, aside from the frequency with which they change direction, are completely unpredictable. Guards patrol in whatever direction strikes their fancy with seemingly no rhyme or reason. Now, not having predictable patterns isn't necessarily a bad thing if a game is designed with unpredictability in mind, but with so little space to work with and only one tool at your disposal at a time, you often find yourself waiting for an enemy to happen to wander to just the right spot so that you can enact your plan. This also means that the moments in which you should be slipping past a heavily-guarded room to snag a bust are often ruined thanks to a guard who happens to turn the wrong way. This takes your supposed skill out of the equation somewhat and makes the game a frustrating slog.Glue freezes enemies in place for a period of time.
It also doesn't help that the world itself isn't terribly interesting. For a game that seems built on slick intrigue, the levels themselves all play just about the same, albeit with varying degrees of frustration. Each floor you have to tackle is just a bunch of hallways connecting a bunch of bigger rooms. You barely ever get to use the environment to your advantage in clever ways, adding a thick layer of monotony to proceedings. Gimmicks such as dogs who can smell your footsteps, security cameras, and lasers add some much-needed variety, but once you encounter them once, you've seen all they have to offer. Levels also offer no visual panache, looking very sterile and plain, which is disappointing because the game's soundtrack embodies the slick, stylish world of high-class thievery.
The Marvellous Miss Take aims to be a different kind of confidence game, one in which you stroll into a level like you own the place and take whatever you wish with ease. All the pieces are in place to build you up and make you a virtual master thief, and Sofia's journey is the perfect embodiment of this process. It's just a shame that the game's level design and enemy combine to short-circuit the experience throughout, because there are so many individual pieces that make the game really easy to like. Sofia deserves better.