Games

Sam & Max Save The World Remastered Review

Gamespot News Feed - Wed, 12/02/2020 - 08:01

Nostalgia is a funny thing. When the first episode of Telltale Games' Sam & Max Save the World debuted in 2006, fans of 1993's Sam & Max Hit the Road had waited years for the dog and bunny's return. Now, Save the World is old enough to have built up its own nostalgic fanbase, keen to once again revisit these lovable weirdos. Sam & Max Save the World Remastered isn't a new game, but the huge visual and mechanical improvements implemented by developer Skunkape Games (a team made up of ex-Telltale folks) make it a pleasure to revisit.

For the uninitiated, Sam & Max Save the World Remastered is about two freelance police agents: Sam, a loquacious, wry dog who acts as de facto leader of the duo, and Max, his psychotic rabbit pal. Across the six episodes included in this remaster, the pair gets caught up in a mass-hypnosis scheme, thwarting various enemies on their way to finally facing the season's big bad during the finale. While Telltale would eventually become known for its choice-focused narrative experiences like The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us, Sam & Max Save the World is a far more traditional point-and-click adventure game--you talk to people, gather items, and then use those items in clever ways to progress through the story.

Sam & Max Save the World Remastered on Nintendo Switch

Each episode of Save the World follows roughly the same pattern: Sam and Max get a call about a new case in the opening cutscene, and they head out to start asking questions. Each episode is compact, running about two hours and featuring, at most, three locations. Over time, recurring themes and characters emerge, and before long the pair realize that there's some nefarious connective tissue running throughout all of their cases.

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Categories: Games

Sakuna: Of Rice And Ruin Review

Gamespot News Feed - Wed, 12/02/2020 - 01:11

The farming/life-sim genre is an increasingly crowded field these days. There is no shortage of games that offer the experience of building a small farm, raising crops and livestock, and making friends and relationships along the way. But every so often, a game in this genre comes along that really turns things on their head, taking well-worn tropes and expectations and making them feel fresh and new. Sakuna: of Rice and Ruin is such a game. It combines an in-depth rice-farming simulation with excellent 2D platforming action and a wonderful atmosphere to make a delightful, fulfilling experience.

Sakuna is a haughty, bratty harvest goddess of the old-timey Japan-inspired world of Yanato. She lives comfortably with her divine peers in the Lofty Realm away from the suffering of mortals below. When a group of hungry mortals stumble into the Lofty Realm looking for food on her watch, she discovers to her horror that they've destroyed the offering to the great deity Lady Kamuhitsuki. As punishment, she and the mortals are banished to the Isle of Demons, where she is tasked with cleansing the land of evil forces while eking out a meager subsistence living with her newfound companions. Now, the goddess Sakuna needs to get her hands dirty--and bond with the humans that have lived beneath her--in order to survive.

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The base gameplay of Sakuna is split into two parts: exploration and simulation. The exploration sections have you traversing 2D environments to hunt enemies, collect materials needed for combat and survival, and discover new areas for gathering. The simulation sections task Sakuna with managing the day-to-day labor involved in harvesting a rice crop needed to sustain a family. Engaging in both of these activities is necessary for progress, but you need to decide how to best invest your time. A day-and-night cycle means there's a constant march onwards through the quite truncated seasons, which affect many things, such as when collected materials spoil, enemies' strength, which materials can be gathered, what farmwork can be done, and so on. The need to balance activities and manage both item and time resources makes for a gameplay loop that's interesting and challenging without being too punishing. It also allows for the gradual introduction of new elements as you progress, like additional farming tools and more exploration abilities.

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Categories: Games

Twin Mirror Review

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 12/01/2020 - 23:12

With Twin Mirror, Dontnod abandons the episodic model it has experimented with since 2015's Life is Strange in favor of a six-hour standalone release. The result is a focused crime thriller with some great character work. However, Twin Mirror's exploration of its story and mechanics suffers somewhat from its brevity, relative to Dontnod’s recent work. It's longer than an episode of Dontnod's serialized games but still shorter than what it needed to be to explore characters with depth and tackle the heavier subject matter and themes its narrative alludes to. Twin Mirror comes to a conclusion just as the plot and gameplay are really beginning to gain momentum.

In Twin Mirror, players take on the role of Sam Higgs, a tenacious investigative reporter returning to his hometown of Basswood, West Virginia, after a period of self-imposed exile. Two years prior, Sam published a damning investigative piece on unsafe practices at the Basswood mine, which employed a huge portion of the town. As a result, the mine closed, putting a huge swath of Basswood out of work and pushing the town into an economic depression. In the midst of this firestorm, Sam proposed to his girlfriend Anna, another writer at the paper. She turned him down and, struggling with the personal and professional devastation, Sam left town without a word. In the time since, Anna has started dating Sam’s longtime best friend, Nick.

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The pain of all this is still fresh for Sam. But, when Nick dies in a car accident, he finally feels he must return to Basswood. Though the local police have ruled the death an accident, Nick's preteen daughter, Bug, suspects foul play, and Sam agrees to investigate. In classic Dontnod fashion, that investigation mostly plays out via dialogue with the locals--some of whom hate Sam for the problems his reporting caused, and some of whom are old friends. You'll investigate densely packed areas, read documents, and analyze objects to get to know the cast of characters and uncover clues to the cause of Nick’s death. Dontnod is great at this kind of environmental storytelling, and Twin Mirror is no exception. Discovering objects evoke memories of Sam's past, and hearing his thoughts on the people that he once called neighbors is especially enjoyable. There’s even some fun Bandai Namco brand synergy in Sam recalling his and Nick’s childhood Pac Man competitions.

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Categories: Games

Tetris Effect: Connected Review

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 12/01/2020 - 00:58

In 2018, Tetris Effect's mesmerizing sounds and sights heightened the classic game's aesthetically pleasing properties and its ability to consume our attention to almost therapeutic levels, reinvigorating our appreciation for one of gaming's oldest obsessions. But even as former GameSpot editor Peter Brown proclaimed Tetris "better than ever" in Tetris Effect, he noted it "sadly" did not apply its wondrous approach to multiplayer. Two years later, Tetris Effect: Connected--an updated re-release for Xbox consoles and PC--fills that gap. Just as the original did for the classic version of the game, Connected reimagines Tetris multiplayer with flair and vision. It also loses a major component, VR support, which delivers the most intense version of the experience. While I'm of two minds on that tradeoff, the soothing intensity of Tetris Effect hasn't lost any potency. On the contrary, it feels more vital than ever in 2020.

Though it adds and removes modes whole cloth, the core of Tetris Effect remains unchanged. Despite the fact that Journey mode hasn't been touched, its shifting, syncopated themes enraptured me level by level, even on my second time through. Tetris Effect is a significant challenge to average Tetris players like myself. Each level revs the speed up to push you just up to the edge of what you can handle. Even as you improve--and you are getting better, whether you see it or not--the levels scale to demand your full focus. It sounds unapproachable, but there's something about the combination of the way your brain looks for patterns, combined with the rhythmic sensory elements and this challenge, that lets you give yourself over to the game, almost trance-like, without even trying.

You'll need that focus in multiplayer. Whether you're playing cooperatively with other players or competing against them, the multiplayer modes in Connected ratchet up the intensity found in the original. Connected features four multiplayer modes--three competitive, one co-op. As in most games, other players will push you in ways a single-player campaign will not.

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Categories: Games

Immortals Fenyx Rising Review

Gamespot News Feed - Mon, 11/30/2020 - 17:00

Immortals Fenyx Rising knows perfect is the enemy of good. Typhon, its big bad, is obsessed with perfection; as he overthrows the gods of Mount Olympus and strands them on the Golden Isle, he strips them of their essences, and with those essences, the flaws that made them legend. Aphrodite loses her passion, pettiness, and jealousy; Ares his rage; Hephaistos his suffering; Athena her self-righteousness. In their quest to reclaim those essences, Fenyx, a lowly soldier in search of their brother Ligryon, argues those flaws should be celebrated, not forgotten. Their tale doesn't always impart that lesson, but it's able to deftly take its own flaws in stride and, while not reaching the highs of the gods it worships, earn its own praise.

Fenyx Rising sets the bar high for itself by borrowing heavily from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. You can climb your way up just about any solid surface if you have enough stamina; one of your four major abilities lets you magically float objects above your head and move them around to solve puzzles; the Golden Isle is littered with vaults, one-off puzzles that take place in self-contained parts of Tartaros. The list runs deep.

Despite all the borrowed elements, Fenyx Rising hews closely to Ubisoft's flavor of open world. At first, it was hard not to treat every similarity I spotted as a point of comparison. Fenyx Rising, for example, lacks a real sense of exploration. You're rarely lost, since the first thing you do in every region is head to the nearest vantage point, scout the area to reveal it on your map, then mark a bevy of collectibles and activities to chase. I never got the sense I was "exploring" the Golden Isle so much as I was beelining it to all the icons I'd already marked, which told me exactly what I would find when I reached them. I wasn't paying much attention to the world around me because nothing is really "hidden," which is disappointing only because in its early hours, Fenyx Rising did remind me of the spacious Hyrule of Breath of the Wild, where every rock formation or tree stump hinted at some surprise worth telling someone else about.

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Categories: Games

Missile Reversal Is A Game-Changing Skill In Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 11/27/2020 - 16:00
Publisher: Ubisoft Developer: Ubisoft Montreal Release: November 10, 2020 (Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, PC), November 12, 2020 (PlayStation 5) Rating: Mature Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, PC

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla mixes up its RPG elements a bit in how it plays with the concept of a skill tree. Rather than give up the goods from the start, you reveal chunks of it from the fog as you go. I guess it technically adds a bit of mystery to character progression, until you realize you can just poke around online and see maps of the whole darned thing. Still, even if you have the whole tree laid out in front of you, it might be tricky to figure out what to prioritize. I’ll make it easier: get the Missile Reversal skill as soon as you possibly can. That single ability has transformed the way I play the game – in a good way.

I’ve always enjoyed parrying and countering attacks as long as that’s been part of the Assassin’s Creed series. There’s something I find satisfying about waiting for an enemy to attack, only for your character to knock it aside and punish that enemy for having the nerve to take a swing. Once you get the timing down, it’s the best. And it’s the same in Valhalla. Still, I was getting annoyed during some of the larger raid-type missions, in how archers and other ranged attackers would (wisely) hang back and take pot shots at me while I was busy killing their friends. The nerve! Sure, I could block those incoming projectiles, but it kind of broke my combat flow. The cure for that problem? Why, it’s Missile Reversal, of course.

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It’s a pretty easy skill to find, even if you’re still mostly fogged up. Head straight down from the starting node, sticking to the yellow path. After a few clusters, you’re set. Once you unlock it, the real fun begins.

Now, when those ranged goofballs do their thing, you can tap the bumper button and hurl whatever they sent your way back to ‘em. Rocks? Arrows? Little explosive pots? Yep, yep, and yep. The timing is super easy to master, since ranged guys will telegraph their attacks with a visual indicator that fills up right before they fire away. 

That’s great, but it’s not the best part. You know the Order of the Ancients Zealots patrolling the map? They’re pretty tough, especially in the early game. I kept running into them and thinking, “Maybe this time will be different!” And it never was! Sure, I was woefully under-leveled for these encounters, but I couldn’t resist attacking them whenever I saw them smugly riding their horses. Going toe-to-toe with them may not work well, but you know what does? Missile Reversal! Thanks for asking!

If you can keep them at medium long range, you’re golden. Most will pull out spears or other long-range weapons and try to make up the distance. When they do, you can fling their stuff right back at them. Do that about 10 or so times, and they’ll be ready to give you a nice little speech that they’ve prepared just for you. I was able to do this for guys several dozen power rankings above me with very little difficulty. If nothing else, it’s a great start for your ultimate goal of dismantling their entire filthy operation.

So yeah. Missile Reversal. Unlock it as soon as you can. It’s great!

Categories: Games

The Divine Comedy Of Immortals Fenyx Rising

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 11/25/2020 - 20:00

Publisher: Ubisoft Developer: Ubisoft Quebec Release: December 3, 2020 Rating: Teen Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia, PC

A powerful titan of legend has launched a massive assault on the Greek gods of mythology, severing them from their essence, smashing open cracks to the underworld, and infesting Earth with corrupted beings from the afterlife. A setup like this isn't uncommon in the world of video games, but when it comes to comedy, a dark premise such as this isn't the first thing you might think of. However, that's exactly the direction Ubisoft Quebec went with Immortals Fenyx Rising.

While the inspiration drawn from games like the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or Studio Ghibli films like Howl's Moving Castle is evident in the gameplay and visual style, it was a different genre of film that dictated the tone Ubisoft Quebec employs with Immortals Fenyx Rising. "I felt like a lot of video games are incredibly dark, and I had missed this feeling from childhood that movies like the Princess Bride or Naked Gun or Airplane had given me; I felt like, 'Why can’t a video game have that kind of tone?'" says narrative director Jeffrey Yohalem. "It got tipped in that direction by the fact that Greek mythology is actually full of comedy. Unlike our religion today, which is seen as a moral compass where everything is very serious and is how you should act if you were a perfect person or a perfect deity. For the Greeks, their mythology was like their soap opera or their reality television, where you’re seeing people who are just like us making mistakes and you’re learning from the things in the stories that result in tragedy."

Immortals Fenyx Rising attempts to balance awesome action, epic stakes, and well-timed humor

According to cinematic team lead Michelle Plourde, the team's desire to make a humorous game started during the development of Assassin's Creed Odyssey. "What we learned from Odyssey was that we really enjoyed making funny, lighthearted types of stories in games," she says. "We took what we learned from Odyssey and where that kind of shined through and we transferred that into Fenyx Rising, but instead of making that where you see instances of the story being funny at some points, we tried to make it so it’s a comedy instead of this type of serious game."

The entirety of Immortals Fenyx Rising is narrated by Zeus and Prometheus. To say these two have a complicated relationship would be an understatement: When the titans and gods clashed for the first time, Prometheus was one of the few titans who sided with the gods, so the two are basically old war buddies as well as cousins. However, the relationship soured when Prometheus fell in love with humanity and stole fire from Olympus to give to the humans. To punish Prometheus for this betrayal, Zeus chained him to the side of a mountain and has an eagle peck out his liver every day before it regenerates every night. However, the Typhon crisis made them realize they need each other, so Prometheus weaves a tale of Fenyx, a mortal who will save the gods from the doom they are facing.

While Prometheus is the driving force of the narrative, Zeus chimes in with jokes. However, he can also serve as an unreliable narrator, sometimes going as far as hijacking the story because he's bored by what Prometheus is saying. In one instance, when Fenyx dives into the first Vault of Tartaros, Zeus is certain it would be deadly for a mortal, so he cues a fake credits scroll where either he or Prometheus is listed in every role. A bit later, the first boss battle occurs because Zeus is bored and decides it's a good time for Fenyx to fight a Cyclops.

The unreliable narrator mechanic was a way to shake up the storytelling of Immortals Fenyx Rising while also adding some humor into the mix. "We thought it added flare!" says Plourde. "We have these feuding family members, so why not make use of them and have what they’re saying come to life on screen since they are telling a story? Why not make use of it as a kind of gameplay/narrative tool? It’s a tool to have them bicker and be different. Obviously, Zeus can take over control of the story because he’s present with Prometheus, so why not?"

The humor isn't limited to just Zeus and Prometheus. In fact, as you rescue the defeated gods and reunite them, the Hall of the Gods starts to come to life, and you should expect some lively conversations once the gods see their old peers. "The Hall of the Gods becomes kind of like a beach house in a reality show," game director Scott Phillips says. "As you free the gods, you’re adding voices to that cacophony and they’re all interacting with each other. They have this huge backstory and some of them love each other and some of them hate each other."

Over the early moments of the game, players can expect references to airplane turbulence and a joke about shoes when Fenyx encounters Nike, the goddess of victory. The game may take place in ancient Greece, but Ubisoft Quebec didn't shy away from some winks at the player in the 21st century. "The line was almost only drawn where a joke would age badly, as in people 30 years from now wouldn’t get the joke," Yohalem says. "The turbulence joke, anyone who knows what an airplane is would understand that joke. That was the line: to create timeless, modern humor."

Immortals Fenyx Rising launches on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia, and PC on December 3. Our coverage hub is nearly complete, so be sure to click the banner below to learn all about Immortals Fenyx Rising prior to its launch!

Categories: Games

Why Did Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Bring Back Those Awful Paper Chases?

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 11/25/2020 - 18:00
Publisher: Ubisoft Developer: Ubisoft Montreal Release: November 10, 2020 (Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, PC), November 12, 2020 (PlayStation 5) Rating: Mature Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, PC

I’ve been playing a lot of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla over the past few weeks and have had a pretty good time tracking down targets, finding secrets in the vast open world, and calling over my friends to help me open chests of supplies because sometimes those lids are really heavy, okay!? In many ways, it’s like a greatest hits of the contemporary Assassin’s Creed games, pulling in elements that have worked in the past and scaling back on others. However, Ubisoft decided to surprise us by bringing back something terrible from past games. No, I don’t mean Layla – we knew she was returning. I’m talking about one of the worst objectives in all of gaming: chasing after something that’s trying to flee from you.

This has never been fun. It was bad when you were chasing pages of Poor Richard’s Almanac in Assassin’s Creed III, and when you were chasing lyrics to sea shanties in Assassin’s Creed Rogue. Heck, it was bad when you had to chase down runaway orbs in Crackdown 2 or the egg thieves in Spyro. It’s an annoying activity in the best of circumstances, capturing the same feeling as when your hat blows off on a windy day and you have to run after it and all the neighborhood kids laugh and when you finally get it back you put it on angrily which is admittedly very silly looking and the kids laugh even harder. You know, video game stuff.

Back to Valhalla: The problem is amplified by the fact that these pieces of paper are usually perched in treetops or up high. And if you’ve played the latest game – or really any Assassin’s Creed games in the past – you know that climbing trees is not exactly a major part of assassin training. Eivor does their best to fumble around the trees and leap from branch to branch, but it invariably devolves into inexplicably taking a nosedive out of nowhere or, just as frustrating, groping around the trunk and hugging it. Meanwhile, the paper continues to flit along, tantalizingly out of reach. 

And when you finally do manage to grab the blasted scrap? What’s your big prize? A tattoo design. A dumb tattoo design. “Hey, I found this drawing on a piece of trash I found, please stab it into my face.” OK, more importantly, it removes the mystery icon from your map, which is important if you’re a big weirdo like me. But for that amount of effort you should get a coupon for a free sword or something. Or, better yet, maybe it could unveil part of the fogged-up skill tree.

On the bright side, as much as I absolutely hate these objectives, it could be worse: the paper could have a suspicion meter. 

No, your bird can't get the paper for you. Don't be ridiculous.
Categories: Games

Destiny 2 Beyond Light Review - Time Loop

Gamespot News Feed - Wed, 11/25/2020 - 01:16

My six-player Destiny 2 fireteam fired away as the Deep Stone Crypt raid boss, the toughest enemy of the Beyond Light expansion, teleported around the arena and roared with rage. We threw everything we had left at the flying monster in a desperate attempt to stave off defeat. Bullets and grenades filled the air as chunks of orbital debris slammed down onto the landscape, threatening to crush us as we scrambled for cover. It was now or never--if we didn't manage to kill this thing immediately, it would kill us, and we'd be back to the start of the lengthy fight. And we'd sunk more than 12 hours into the raid over the past two days already.

But then: an explosion. The boss twisted in pain and a cheer went up from our crew. Finally, we'd bested the greatest challenge of the new expansion, after hours of struggling to work out the mechanics and suffering death after death to its powerful enemies. It's moments like this one that keep me coming back to Destiny 2. There's nothing quite like powering through a Destiny raid, relying on teammates to handle complex roles and cooperate through some of the game's most creative designs.

Beyond Light provides more of what Destiny 2 is good at: satisfying first-person shooting, a great raid, fascinating places to explore, and a whole lot of punchy guns to try out. It also maintains some of the game's lingering problems though, like a reliance on repetitive content and time-sucking grinds to arbitrarily raise numbers. To put it simply, Beyond Light is largely more Destiny--if that's a thing you like, you'll enjoy it, and if it's a thing you complain about, you probably won't.

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Categories: Games

Mortal Kombat 11 Review

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 11/24/2020 - 23:40

Editor's note: In November 2020, NetherRealm patched Mortal Kombat 11, adding next-gen optimized technical upgrades for the Xbox Series X, Series S, and PlayStation 5. Below are our impressions of how the game runs on Series X and PlayStation 5, written by Mike Epstein. Continue after the break for the original Mortal Kombat 11 review.

Mortal Kombat 11 is a snappier, sharper-looking game on next-gen consoles. On both Xbox Series X and PS5, the incredibly (and sometimes disturbingly) detailed fighter has received a minor technical facelift and one or two new features that will ultimately make the game better for everyone. Though NetherRealm released a new version of the game, Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate, to coincide with the next-gen launches, all MK11 players receive access to the next-gen versions of the game and their benefits. On Xbox Series X/S, you simply need to download the game. On PS5, you will need to download the separate PS5 version of MK11, which you can grab free of charge if you own the PS4 version. (This means that you need to have a PS5 with a disc drive to get the upgrade if you bought a physical copy on PS4.)

MK11 sees similar improvements on both platforms. The next-gen versions run at a "dynamic 4K resolution," which means it runs in 4K under ideal circumstances but will change resolutions on the fly to maintain smooth performance. According to NetherRealm, it's also received a general tune-up, visually. As with most last-gen games, the next-gen consoles cut down MK11's load times dramatically. The menus, which once took 5-10 seconds to load on Xbox One and PS4, load almost instantly on the Series X and PS5.

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Categories: Games

Fuser Review

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 11/24/2020 - 01:57

I've never really been a musician. When I was in middle school, I took the trumpet. In high school, I took guitar lessons. But I was never dedicated enough to the craft and I dropped both after a couple of years. Making music, even just for fun, was a prospect I left behind a long time ago. So I'm surprised by how inspired I was by Fuser, Harmonix' new musical mash-up making game. While it has a score-based story mode similar to the studio's past games, Fuser actually empowers you to be creative and make music from parts of songs you may already know. The core mechanic, switching tracks in and out to make music, is easy to use and wonderful to play with. The game Harmonix built on top of that core idea, however, doesn't always take advantage of it effectively. As a result, Fuser is better at spurring you to be creative than it is at challenging you. That may sound like a daunting, niche experience, but no game's made it easier to feel good about getting creative.

Fuser rides a vanishing line between music game and music-making toolkit. As a mash-up DJ, you create music by blending (or fusing) parts of songs together to make a new and often dancier version of your own. Each of the 80-plus songs in the base game's library, plus a growing supplemental library of DLC songs, is broken down into four color-coded instrumental tracks, which you can switch in and out on the fly, changing the song as you go. You can play the drums from "Killing in the Name" by Rage Against The Machine, the guitar from "Jolene" by Dolly Parton, the trumpets from "Bring ‘Em Out" by T.I., and the lyrics of Sean Paul's "Temperature," and they'll all cohere into one brand new sample. Your set is an evolving compilation of combinations.

The music you use spans decades and genres far beyond what you might expect from a game about DJing at a music festival. The tracklist spans pop, rock, country, dance, hip-hop, R&B, and Latin/Caribbe music from the 1960s through 2020. As with Rock Band, there's a nostalgia that draws you in, but you quickly cultivate a new and surprisingly deep relationship with specific tracks that you may not have had before. I found myself growing to enjoy songs I knew but didn't really love before, and staying away from some songs I like, but don't fit in with the songs I like using most. Everybody I know Guitar Hero or Rock Band has a song they know and like from playing those games. The same thing happens here.

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Categories: Games

Katamari Damacy Reroll Is Out On PS4 And Xbox One Today And (Surprise) It Still Rules

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 11/20/2020 - 21:04
Publisher: Bandai Namco Developer: MONKEYCRAFT Release: December 6, 2018 (Switch, PC), November 20, 2020 (PlayStation 4, Xbox One) Rating: Everyone Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Katamari Damacy Reroll is out today on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, giving those console owners a chance to play a remaster that came out on the Switch and PC a couple years ago. It gives the existing game a coat of HD polish, and, well, that’s about it. And because I’m a tremendous sucker for Katamari Damacy, I immediately downloaded it this morning. Yes, I am part of the problem.

I’ve played the first few levels on my PlayStation 5 via backward compatibility, and it’s exactly what I thought it was going to be: Katamari Damacy. The cutscenes are sharp-looking and it now fills a 16:9 screen, but other than that it’s the same game I fell in love with 16 years ago. Would it have killed Bandai Namco to do more than the absolute minimum effort here? Probably not. Do I wish this were part of a bigger collection of Katamari games? Absolutely! Ultimately, that disappointment melted away the moment I jumped into the first level and started rolling a bunch of stuff into a ball. Like I said, it’s Katamari Damacy.

The visuals maintain the original release’s blocky aesthetic, which remains a large part of its charm. The objects that you collect are often just abstractions of their real-world counterparts, particularly the animals and people who inhabit these debris-scattered landscapes. Animations, when they’re even present, are as simple as can be. That’s not the point, however. I remember the spectacle of seeing so many objects displayed on my screen, like someone dumped a tub of Lego pieces on my floor. Of course, instead of just blocks and wheels, the “pieces” in Katamari Damacy start out as small as thumbtacks and cherries to bowling pins, bikes, and eventually entire continents.

As the Prince rolls his ever-growing Katamari ball, the people begin screaming in terror as it approaches. Who can blame them? What started as a tiny collection of trash quickly scales to a very real threat. It still makes me laugh, but those moments are far from the most impactful moments on the audio front. Katamari Damacy’s soundtrack is the only game soundtrack I’ve actively sought out; I’ve listened to it countless times over the years, and it never fails to put a smile on my face. In my opinion, it’s about as close to perfection as it gets; even though I still have no idea of what any of the songs are about, they’re at times inspiring, sentimental, and silly. And, above all else, they’re undeniably catchy.

If you’ve never played the first game before, this is a great way to start. I’m not in love with the $30 price point, especially considering the lack of any new content, but it is what it is. More than anything, I’ve been consistently happy with how well it holds up. Nostalgia is a powerful force, but the joy that I’m getting from rolling around and picking stuff up isn’t reliant on the feelings of the past. It was a blast then, and it’s still a great deal of fun now. And now that you can easily download it on current consoles, you have no excuse if you missed the ball the first time around.

Categories: Games

The Cobra Kai Video Game Serves Up '80s Cheese In A Fun Way

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 11/18/2020 - 22:15

I recently started watching Cobra Kai on Netflix. When I say "watching," I mean "binging." It only took me a couple of days to get to through the first season (which is excellent), and I'll probably watch most of season two tonight. If you haven't watched it, or the Karate Kid films that are essential prequels, you're missing out on a fun, heartfelt drama that does a fantastic job of making you care about each character. It's also about karate and an old rivalry being reborn.

As you would expect, Cobra Kai's video game adaptation from developer Flux focuses mostly on the karate, but it's also surprisingly authentic, both in bringing in the actors from the show and nailing its humor. The big difference between the two is the tone. The game shuns realism to deliver fireball attacks, comical takedowns, and the belief that everyone in the world is born to solve their differences by punching each other in the face. The show does embrace that last point to a degree, but everyone fights everyone in the game.

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Flux's gameplay inspiration harks back to the era of the Karate Kid films and is a sidescrolling brawler that you'd expect to pop a quarter into. It plays like Streets of Rage, Double Dragon, and Final Fight all rolled into one experience. The good news: It's colorful and has a surprising amount of depth in its skill tree and story, which gives you the choice to play the campaign as either Daniel LaRusso and his crew or Johnny Lawrence and Cobra Kai.

Now the bad news: It's clunky. The characters move with the mechanical precision of RoboCop. Thankfully, when you do eventually line up on the same plane as an enemy, combos take over and it's more about timing than anything. The jerky movements are a major setback that is a constant. That said, I still had fun playing the game.

Johnny's humor (which is basically a fundamental lack of tact) is fantastic, such as saying the best way to set a trap for him is with babes. I also adore the care that went into each of the takedowns. In the first level alone – which just happens to be an arcade – unique takedown animations are created for Skee-Ball machines, cars, basketball hoops, and even a giant stuffed octopus. Much like the old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles brawlers, you can also throw enemies toward the screen.

I'm still early into the game, but I'm having fun with it, despite the control setbacks. It drips with nostalgia and is a licensed game the like of which we rarely see any more. If you love the show, it's worth a look, especially if you can play it cooperatively with a friend. It's out now on Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

Categories: Games

Going From Assassin's Creed To Immortals Fenyx Rising

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 11/18/2020 - 20:00

Publisher: Ubisoft Developer: Ubisoft Quebec Release: October 5, 2018 Rating: Mature Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, PC

When you rattle off the biggest and most well-known franchises in the video game industry, you don't have to go far down the list to find Assassin's Creed. Since its debut in 2007, the series has spawned more than 20 video games, a theatrical film starring Michael Fassbender, an upcoming live-action Netflix series, and several comics and novels. As the studio behind two of the well-received recent games, Syndicate and Odyssey, Ubisoft Quebec was ready to spread its wings and fly with new IP.

While the team at Ubisoft Quebec is excited about the opportunity to start fresh, it was actually a glitch that occurred during Assassin's Creed Odyssey's development that was the first kernel of inspiration for what would become Immortals Fenyx Rising. "There was a bug at the time where you’d be sailing on your trireme and instead of having a normal human crew, you’d have a crew of cyclops," game director Scott Phillips says. "We knew that was wrong for Odyssey, but it also sparked this idea of, ‘Actually it would be quite cool if we can break those historical bonds and just go full force into mythology.'"

Assassin's Creed Odyssey's The Fate of Atlantis expansion provided its own take on Greek mythology in 2019

The Fate of Atlantis expansion allowed Odyssey's protagonist to travel to the world of the Greek gods, but Ubisoft Quebec hungered for a deeper dive into mythology. The team wanted to create a unique experience, free from the chains of a well-established franchise. "We were using the Greek mythology, but within the limit of the brand and the mythology of the brand more than the Greek mythology," associate game director Julien Galloudec says. "For Immortals Fenyx Rising, it was the other way around: We wanted to embrace the Greek mythology."

The team used the knowledge and experience it gained from creating massive open-world games like Syndicate and Odyssey and carried it into development of Immortals Fenyx Rising. While many of the lessons transferred from the Assassin's Creed franchise to the development of Immortals, the team wanted to stretch into new directions with elements like comedy and puzzles taking a step out of the periphery and into the spotlight.

In Immortals Fenyx Rising, you encounter gods, monsters, and heroes of legend

"What we learned from Odyssey was that we really enjoyed making funny, lighthearted types of stories in games," cinematic team lead Michelle Plourde says. "We took what we learned from Odyssey and where that kind of shined through and we transferred that into Fenyx Rising, but instead of making that where you see instances of the story being funny at some points, we tried to make it so it’s a comedy instead of this type of serious game."

While Assassin's Creed was a major and unavoidable influence for Immortals, perhaps just as big of a comparison can be drawn to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild due to Immortals Fenyx Rising's approach to exploration, traversal, and puzzle design. "When we started the game, especially for the puzzles, we looked at many games and obviously we looked at Breath of the Wild because the structure was very close to what we wanted," Galloudec says. "That was interesting for the structure and the way to build a level, but we also looked at the Portals, World of Goo, Angry Birds … we looked at many, many different games to see not necessarily the gameplay, but more how they use ingredients, how they use the level design and the flow to build that level where the player is going to quickly understand what they’re supposed to do while still having to think about the execution of the solution."

The Vaults of Tartaros are large, puzzle-based challenge rooms

Though the team pulled from a large number of inspirations, there was some resistance to them, including puzzles as a central mechanic. "It was something we had to be very clear with when we were talking with [Ubisoft’s headquarters in] Paris about: We want to approach puzzles as one of our core pillars, and there was a bit of a, ‘Are you sure?’” Phillips recalls. “We didn’t necessarily have a lot of experience. We had some people that had done Prince of Persia, we had tiny little elements in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, but it was really a whole new thing for us, so we spent a lot of time iterating and prototyping and trying a lot of different things. There’s 60 or so Vaults in the game, but we had over 100 prototypes, and we tried a lot of different variety of things. We iterated on them a ton to find what are the right mechanics and the right ways to challenge the players."

While the focus is currently on making Immortals Fenyx Rising's debut as strong as possible, the team isn't ruling out expanding it into additional mythologies in the future, much like the Assassin's Creed franchise has. However, before that happens, this game has to do well first. “Coming from our pedigree on Assassin’s Creed, we had the thought process of ‘What is the universe?’” Phillips says. “I think imagining visiting different mythologies in a way that is similar to Assassin’s Creed could make a lot of sense. We’ll see how Immortals Fenyx Rising does and then we’ll go from there.”

Immortals Fenyx Rising is set to launch on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia, and PC on December 3. For more on Immortals Fenyx Rising, be sure to click on the banner below to check out our coverage hub. We'll be updating it regularly in the lead up to the game's launch, so be sure to check back often!

Categories: Games

The Big Changes Coming To Madden NFL 21 On PS5 And Xbox Series X/S

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 11/18/2020 - 16:00

Publisher: EA Sports Developer: EA Tiburon Release: August 28, 2020 (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC), December 4, 2020 (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S), TBA (Stadia) Rating: Everyone Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, PC

Madden NFL 21 released on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in August to mixed reviews. While the neglected Franchise mode has been a sore spot for the community at large, many have criticized the gameplay of the last-gen version as stale and full of glitches. As the series gets ready to make the generational leap to PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S next month, EA Tiburon detailed exactly what improvements players should expect when they fire up the new-gen version of the annualized football title.

The utilization of Next-Gen Stats, an NFL-driven statistics collection process that gathers real-time data from on-field players thanks to an RFID chip in their shoulder-pads, means huge leaps ahead for how players behave on the field. Using the real-world data collected through this process, which the developers claim needed the power of the new consoles to implement, EA Tiburon is able to add more authentic, fluid motion across the game to enable the most realistic NFL simulation yet. These changes impact all 22 players on the field, meaning each player behaves and moves more like his real-world counterpart.

Next-Gen Stats impact myriad parts of the in-game experience, but perhaps the area most impacted is the route-running. Receivers now accelerate in more believable ways and cuts are much less robotic; seeing the same player run the same route on both versions side-by-side shows just how big of a difference the player behavior is in this new version. The best route-runners in the game will now create separation, and your receivers will run more like their real-life counterparts. Other offensive improvements include better pass leading, an improved run game, and quarterback movement that better differentiates pocket QBs from mobile QBs.

On the defensive side, coverage defenders backpedal in more true-to-life manner, with smoother running, cutting, and strafing. Defenders also now anticipate tackles, queuing up tackles for the defenders without pulling the ball carrier in. Additionally, the defensive A.I. has been improved upon with better gang tackles and tackling momentum, plus improved pass-rush timing.

One of the most easily noticeable changes with the new-gen Madden is in the revamped play-calling. In addition to a new interface, players can call plays by player, bookmark plays for later, view X-Factor and Game Goals within the screen, and even add favorite plays to a new tab on the screen.

It's no surprise that players look better thanks to the improved hardware, but Madden NFL 21 on new-gen consoles promises way more than that from a visuals standpoint. Deferred lighting and rendering means the stadium environments look better, and the weather conditions and different times of day look better. Players on the field have improved facial details, and the body types look more realistic, including muscle jiggle, more lifelike movement, and cloth-tech animations that make jerseys flow in more organic ways. Off the field, the sidelines will be more densely populated with the actual players who are not in the game at that moment, and the players will react to the on-field action in more dynamic ways. 

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You can also expect the now-ubiquitous new-gen features like faster load times and controller haptics that let you feel moments like the oncoming blitz or laying out an offensive player with the hit-stick. However, using the new PS5 Dualsense controller, the team at EA Tiburon programmed the adaptive triggers for added effects like the sprint trigger to be harder to pull if the player is fatigued. The team also uses location-based audio, so you hear the sounds of the game differently based on where the camera is located, which is helpful since cameras are now in more places throughout the stadium.

On top of all of this, the post-launch improvements to gameplay and, yes, Franchise mode that have been added to the last-gen versions will appear in the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S versions at launch. Those who purchased Madden NFL 21 on PlayStation 4 or Xbox One are able to upgrade to the new-gen versions at no additional cost. Ultimate Team progress, as well as any Franchise saves stored in the cloud transfer to the upgraded version. Madden NFL 21 launches on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S on December 4.

Categories: Games

Hyrule Warriors: Age Of Calamity Review

Gamespot News Feed - Wed, 11/18/2020 - 14:00

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity occasionally lets you take control of a Divine Beast. It's a moment that should carry some weight for Zelda fans. The Beasts are colossal machines crucial to the events of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and while they're cumbersome to control, the levels in which you play as them effectively communicate their destructive power. If you've played Breath of the Wild, these moments take on a portentous air; the power fantasy of using lasers, bursts of lightning, and volleys of magma to level mountains and rack up thousands of Bokoblin, Moblin, and Lizalfos kills is undercut when you remember how the people who're using them can't fully control them, and that these tools of destruction will turn on their masters when they're needed most and destroy them.

That sense of impending doom is what I came to Age of Calamity for, but that's where it blunders hardest. It constantly encourages you to set aside that feeling of dread, avoid coming to terms with the consequences of its apocalyptic premise, and instead just kill a bunch of baddies and think the Divine Beasts are cool. Doing that is fun for a while, but it couldn't stop me from being enormously let down by that choice.

Age of Calamity's narrative failure is especially frustrating because the disappointing turns it takes to get there seem so clear, and because it does so much right until then. The campaign begins with a small, white Guardian-like robot seeing the Calamity caused by Ganon in Breath of the Wild and traveling back in time to before it ever happened, when Link is still a royal knight and Zelda is working to unlock her potential and stop the Calamity from happening.

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Categories: Games

Ori And The Will Of The Wisps Xbox Series X Review

Gamespot News Feed - Wed, 11/18/2020 - 01:11

Eight months after its initial release, Ori and the Will of the Wisps received some impressive technical upgrades on the Xbox Series X and Series S. The optimized version of the game hits an ultra-smooth 60-120 frames per second on both next-gen consoles at varying resolutions. It's a huge comeback for a game that was initially subject to wonky technical issues. In the next generation, Ori sheds its graphical hangups and becomes more impressive for it.

Both consoles have frame rate-prioritizing "performance" and visually minded "fidelity" modes, but neither one feels like a compromise. On the Series S, you get to choose between 1080p with HDR at 120fps, or an upscaled 4K at 60fps. On the Series X, you can choose to play the game in 4K with HDR at a performance-focused 120fps, or goose the graphics in a supersampled 6K resolution, running at 60fps with HDR. Regardless of your settings, Will of the Wisps also benefits from enhanced load times and improved audio fidelity.

Supersampling, for anyone perplexed by the idea of playing an Xbox One-era game in 6K, processes an image at a higher resolution, then compresses it down to your TV or monitor's resolution. You know how a screenshot gets blurry when you make it ten times larger? It's kind of like the opposite of that… But happening in real-time because it's a video game and not a static image. The thing you need to know is, when using 6K mode in Will of the Wisps, you aren't actually playing in 6K, but what you are playing does get a nice visual boost over the standard 4K setting.

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Categories: Games

Godfall Review

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 11/17/2020 - 00:45

Godfall makes a good first impression. Even if you're playing on a moderately powerful PC, as I did, it's clear from the opening moments that developer Counterplay Games has endeavored to show off advancements in visual fidelity, no doubt in light of new hardware such as the PlayStation 5. From the way sparks fly to the myriad particles that coat every inch of its action and the reflectiveness of its gaudy gold and marble halls, Godfall wants you to know that next gen is here. Beyond the visual spectacle, however, lies a game that's immediately familiar and over-reliant on an amalgamation of loot-driven games from the past eight years or so.

Godfall's mixture of loot progression and third-person melee combat has been described by Counterplay Games as a new type of genre: the looter-slasher. The name holds up insofar as you loot and slash things, but there's nothing about Godfall that feels intrinsically new. Diablo, Monster Hunter, and Warframe make up a portion of its overt inspirations, but it manages to avoid feeling completely derivative by pulling from so many different influences at once. There's nothing inherently wrong with this approach, especially since it mixes in a few of its own ideas as well. The issues Godfall faces occur outside of combat, where its structure and gameplay loop are decidedly uninspired.

The whole game takes place across three distinct realms: Earth, Water, and Air. Upon entering each biome, you're given a brief tour of the area before being tasked with finding some kind of door that's locked by a specific number of MacGuffins. From here, you have to return to previously visited locations and defeat a number of mid-bosses--some of which are unique, but most of which are repeats of fights you've already had. Once you've slain each of these enemies and acquired the requisite amount of MacGuffins, you can open the door and fight that realm's boss. Then you simply ascend an elevator and repeat the whole process again in the next realm.

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Categories: Games

Demon's Souls Review: Shield Up

Gamespot News Feed - Sat, 11/14/2020 - 03:53

There's much to praise about the remake of Demon's Souls. It's a remarkable technical showpiece for the PlayStation 5; a gripping gameplay experience that oscillates between exhilarating, nerve-wracking, and downright heartbreaking; and a faithful recreation of the seminal title that birthed the Souls-like subgenre. But developer Bluepoint's greatest achievement is that it took something I'm intimately familiar with and made me feel like I was venturing into the unknown.

Fundamentally, Demon's Souls for PS5 is what it has always been. Barring some small tweaks, the design of the game is identical to From Software's original. The core mechanics are unchanged, the enemies are placed in the same positions and behave in the same ways, the devious tricks and traps are still there, ready to catch the unfamiliar off-guard.

And yet, while retreading a well-worn path through the kingdom of Boletaria, I find myself without the confidence I should have. I'm cautiously approaching basic enemies with my shield raised, knowing their every move and how to overcome them, but fearing them still. I stand paralyzed at the end of narrow stone tunnels ominously lit by flickering torches, knowing exactly what awaits in the darkness, but still needing to will myself forward. And as monstrous demons step into arenas in which I've bested them dozens of times, I begin to doubt my chances at victory once more.

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Categories: Games

Sackboy: A Big Adventure Review

Gamespot News Feed - Sat, 11/14/2020 - 02:10

Sackboy finally has a game to call his own. The smiley mascot for LittleBigPlanet and, occasionally, the PlayStation brand has always been treated as more of an icon than a character, a cutesy tabula rasa through which all video-game-related things are possible. In Sackboy: A Big Adventure, his purview is much more traditional. He's a jumpman, a platformer in the tradition of Mario, Sonic, Crash, and all the other mascots that came before him. Sackboy, both the character and the game, rises to succeed the mascot platformer mantle well in many respects. Though its aesthetic often feels bland, its solid platforming makes for a worthy challenge.

Like many platformers, story is not Sackboy's strong suit. You’re jumping around Craftverse, the world of LittleBigPlanet, to save it from a villainous jester doll called Vex. Though you'll get a fairly steady stream of updates reminding you of Vex's evil presence, there's not much you need to know. You could say the story is a waste of Sackboy's surprisingly compelling cuteness. On the other hand, you could argue that Sackboy's cuteness keeps your interest in the game afloat, even without a compelling story.

Sackboy regularly evokes LittleBigPlanet's arts-and-crafts visual aesthetic. Sometimes, the motif works well. There are great visual details in many of the levels, like hard-drawn cutouts of animals in the backgrounds or platforms made from stacks of books, which imply that the levels were set up in a child's bedroom. More often, though, it leads to generic "imagination-world" design. Most of the enemies are multi-colored animals or blocks with cute but angry eyes. And, even with those craftsy details, the basic level settings--space, the jungle, under the sea--all feel vague.

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