Games

Persona 5 Royal Review - Ideal And The Real

Gamespot News Feed - Sat, 04/04/2020 - 03:30

In the three years since Persona 5's original release, I've thought about it almost every day. Its lavish style gracefully captures its spirit of rebellion and breathes life into its dynamic combat system. The evocative, banging soundtrack perfectly encapsulates the emotion of each moment. The downtime spent in Tokyo with your friends brings you closer to each of them, invigorating your fight for what's right. All those qualities feed into a bold story that unapologetically puts its foot down against the injustices that reflect our own society.

The extended version, Persona 5 Royal, brings the heat all over again. But beyond a plethora of superb gameplay refinements and features that improve an already-rich RPG comes a momentous new story arc seeded within the original narrative and paid off in full by the end. It delivers something genuinely surprising, leading to awe-inspiring moments and emotional conclusions that recontextualize what I thought the game was. Through its lengthy 120-hour runtime, Persona 5 Royal proves itself as the definitive version of a modern classic.

The minute you start P5R, you're given the fantastic in media res introduction that brilliantly showcases the ride you're in for--and provides a glimpse at the Royal-exclusive character Kasumi. After this teaser, you're brought to the chronological start of the story that then walks you through the events that lit the fire inside our protagonist (aka Joker) and kicked off his journey as a virtuous trickster. The opening hours may take some time to pick the pace back up, but by easing you into the game's systems, you're set up for the rest of its flow.

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Categories: Games

Good Job Review - Office Space

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 04/02/2020 - 23:26

Everything in Good Job is designed to keep you from achieving what its title implies. Even simple tasks like delivering parcels or mopping up the floor are made comically complicated with unpredictable physics and ridiculous office tools at your disposal. Good Job isn't so much about finding a way to achieve your objectives in the cleanest manner possible, but is instead a fun playground for you and some friends to muck about in. It's at its best when it gives you the freedom to create solutions to puzzles using the chaos you orchestrate, only faltering in a handful of scenarios.

Good Job puts you in the working boots of the ill-equipped and woefully unqualified child of a mega-corporation's CEO, and you're given any and every job possible as you climb the corporate ladder. The first floors are simple--you mop up brightly colored goop off the floor, deliver packages to color-coded desks, and courier projectors to meeting rooms in need. As trivial as it sounds, the chaotic layout of the offices combined with the loose, QWOP-like control scheme makes moving objects feel like you're spring cleaning after a rough night out at a bar. Dragging a projector, for example, is humorously tricky. It easily slides around while you drag it, knocking over decorative art pieces and smashing the glass walls of meeting rooms. Good Job isn't worried about how well you complete a job, but rather if you're able to get it done period. Leaving a mess of memos, fire extinguisher foam, and distressed co-workers in your wake just makes it more fun.

Every object in Good Job is physically reactive, giving every little bump the potential to set off a chain reaction of destruction. Each level is designed with this in mind, forcing you to navigate through doors just too small to pull objects through, around twisting hallways filled with precariously placed vases and paintings, and over electrical cables that will catch anything you might be dragging with you. These are presented not only as obstacles, but as fun opportunities to create chaos that makes your job a little easier.

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Categories: Games

Chucklefish Reveals New Look For Witchbrook

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 04/02/2020 - 16:00

Publisher: Chucklefish Developer: Chucklefish

Chucklefish has made a name for itself with some high-quality releases, including Starbound and Wargroove, and is also known for having stepped in to complete publishing duties on the wildly popular Stardew Valley. The UK game studio had more recently made waves with its announcement of Witchbrook, which many observers have described as looking like a cross between Stardew Valley and the Harry Potter stories. After a good deal of enthusiasm around the initial announcement, Chucklefish has remained very quiet on the project for some months. The reason for that now seems clearer, as the game has seen a dramatic facelift, and is sporting a new isometric artstyle.

To get a sense of what’s changed, look at this previously released screen, which shows off the old art style.

Witchbrook, old artstyle

And now, take a look at these new screenshots, just releasing today.

 

Chucklefish describes its game as a “magical school and town life simulator.” Players control a witch-in-training as they seek to hone their abilities, go to classes, and eventually aim to graduate. At the same time, your magical avatar may also fish, grow crops (with the aid of magic!) and track down reagents like mushrooms. In short, it seems as if the game will focus on spellcasting with an equal focus to figuring out a date to the prom.

Chucklefish is both developing and publishing Witchbrook, and today launched a new website for the game. No platforms have yet been announced. We also don’t have a release date yet; Chucklefish highlights that its studio is a no-crunch studio, under the belief that it results in better games and healthier developers, so we may have a wait before we can launch into our own magical school careers.

Click image thumbnails to view larger version

 

                                                                                                           
Categories: Games

Marvel Strike Force Developers Talk Adding PvP, The Reemergence Of Thanos, And What Year Three Holds

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 04/01/2020 - 00:27

Publisher: FoxNext Games Developer: FoxNext Games Los Angeles Release: March 28, 2018 Rating: 12+ Platform: iOS, Android

Marvel Strike Force launched on iOS and Android two years ago, and while it has evolved in myriad ways since launch, every mode features similar gameplay where you take on A.I.-controlled teams.

For the third year of FoxNext's licensed RPG, the studio is implementing player-versus-player combat through VS. Battle mode. I spoke with creative director Jason Bender and game director Jonathan Durr to learn more about this new feature, as well as what to expect in the coming year of Marvel Strike Force.

No Man Can Win Every Battle

Up to this point in the lifecycle of Marvel Strike Force, players have only had the option to take on A.I.-controlled opponents. While this has been a serviceable option so far, the A.I. in Marvel Strike Force always operates in patterned ways, simply choosing the most powerful attack available to the character at that time (with few exceptions), and often not focusing or coordinating on a single target.

This A.I. predictability is by design. "There's a little bit of RNG going on in there, but the A.I. is intentionally simplistic because we don't want it to be frustrating," Bender says. "We wanted you to test your skills against the enemy team's composition. Also, when you play something repeatedly, you can master it, so we like a lot of our things to be static. Several of our modes you can play again and again and again, so you can crack that puzzle."

As the third year of Marvel Strike Force kicks off, the team is adding VS. Battle, a new mode that allows you to challenge other players to real-time, synced PvP battles. Each player brings his or her own roster and engages in a draft to determine which five characters are making the walk to the battlefield. 

However, the draft is far from a straightforward pick-who-you-want experience. "We experimented with a lot of different drafting techniques, and we will likely develop a bunch of different kinds of drafting in the future because we found a bunch of fun ways to do it," Bender says. "We'll launch with a good, steady way to do it, and then we'll get into more interesting ones over time."

In the first iteration of the drafting mechanics, each player gets two character bans. Once a character is banned by either player, they are off the board for both sides. After that, a serpentine draft takes place until both teams of five are full; if a character is chosen by one player, that character is off the board for the other. Then both players get a reject to exercise, meaning they can choose a character the other player picked to boot off the opposing team. Finally, each player gets one final draft pick to fill the hole left by the rejected character. 

FoxNext hopes this encourages players to experiment with their rosters and get creative with their team compositions. "You can't always build the same team, and you can't rely on having access to all of these characters," Bender says. "So sure, you might want Captain Marvel, but if I ban Captain Marvel, you're going to have to find an alternative for the structure you're building. And that introduces a whole bunch of new hybrid teams you haven't had to worry about before. What happens if you get two-thirds of the way through building Asgardians and then I knock out Hela? What kind of drafting strategies are resilient when it comes to the other person trying to spoil it for you? These are really fun things to learn, and it always changes."

Once you're in a VS. Battle, combat works much in the way it does against A.I. opponents. However, this time, you have to account for a human player reacting to your moves and devising strategies to counter not only your team compositions, but your strategies as well. Combat operates on a 15-second timer for each move, with the A.I. taking over if a player drops until they're able to rejoin.

When it launches, players will only be able to challenge their friends for low-stakes, fun matches with no direct rewards doled out, but FoxNext has grand ambitions for VS. Battle down the road. "We're toying with launching with some achievements, just to encourage people to try the feature out," Durr says. "We've got ideas on our side: doing rewards, doing leagues and tiers, and stuff like that; you could move through the ranks, battling people out. But you know, one of the things I'm also excited about doing, maybe much further down the road, would be events within the Alliance, where the Alliance has a tournament feature."

While those ambitions for VS. Battle are aimed at further down the line, FoxNext has several near-term updates, additions, and tweaks it has been eyeing.

Destiny Arrives All The Same

While the player-versus-player feature is one users can look forward to with the next update, the most recent one begins a rollout nearly two years in the making. Thanos is finally becoming the supercharged villain he has been in the comics and movies. The Black Order, Thanos' disciples shown in Avengers: Infinity War, are joining the playable roster.

When Thanos is teamed up with Proxima Midnight, Corvus Glaive, Cull Obsidian, and Ebony Maw, the Mad Titan becomes Infinity Gauntlet Thanos. This version of Thanos has all of the Infinity Stones in his possession and can blast enemies, flip ally debuffs and enemy buffs, and even rain a shattered planet onto his adversaries. FoxNext anticipates this new squad of villains will be the next strongest team in Marvel Strike Force.

"I'm really excited that Thanos is going to finally get his Black Order," Bender says. "We've had the Black Order built for so long, but we haven't tuned them or tightened up their strategies. It's so great to finally see them come together, because while Thanos has been a rockstar in our game since the beginning, he's been overshadowed by newer characters. He's about to step up in a way that players asked for right from the beginning."

It may seem strange to add characters that were so prominently featured in one of the biggest movies ever nearly two years after that movie hit theaters, but FoxNext says the design process for the Black Order is a special case and is not indicative of how long the character design and implementation process normally takes. "We did the concept art for these characters when Infinity War came out," Bender says. "They're getting a little more balance time and attention because this team is so cutting-edge powerful. We want to make sure we minimize power creep; this is a big concern for the balance team. We don't like it when there's too much power creep because it invalidates things we've invested in. If I've invested in a team, we don't want to see that investment become worthless, ideally ever – definitely as slowly as possible. So it was very, very difficult to make this team worth getting and dominant without blowing up power creep."

While Bender and his team at FoxNext have made efforts to reduce power creep, it has happened and it has affected different characters in different ways.

Always Forward

Two characters that proved to be among the most coveted in the early days of the game were Black Widow and Night Nurse. Black Widow delivered massive bumps in speed to her allies, while Night Nurse was viewed as all but essential to raid effectively. While Black Widow has remained relevant, she is far from the best character in the game as she was considered two years ago, while Night Nurse has dropped off from relevancy substantially.

"Black Widow has an ability that scales and that is always in fashion; you always want speed," Bender says. "Night Nurse's abilities are more numerical and have a certain amount of power built in, so she has not scaled over time to keep up. We don't want the top of the game to be static; you don't want Black Widow to be the best character forever. For a long time, in year one, we were worried that Black Widow would just never go away. So to some extent, power creep is good because it keeps the top of the game more interesting."

Bender's acknowledgement that power creep can shuffle the deck a little spells out a silver lining of adding new characters that knock the existing ones down a notch, but he doesn't want those characters to possess lower value forever. "Black Widow is going to get more love because she's got a movie coming out, she's a badass, and we want to make sure that she becomes relevant again," he says. "Now that we have more of a rock-paper-scissors kind of action, and we have more specialized abilities in the game, it's not as difficult for us to bring her back up to strategic relevance because we're not risking stagnating the endgame. Night Nurse, we're going to need to find another opportunity to bring her back up. We always want characters who are at the bottom of the stack of power to be shuffled back up to the top over time. Night Nurse will have her day again. That was the joke about Ronan, right? 'Ronan will have his day!' Ronan was at the bottom of the stack for a long time, Ronan was up top, now he's kind of floating down again. We'll see that with Night Nurse too."

As Bender mentioned, Black Widow is the eponymous star of the next theatrical release of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so the team wants to capitalize on that. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic pushing most theatrical releases back, FoxNext finds itself in the situation of having to adjust its plans on the fly. While its team is working remote like most studios across the globe, it has also shuffled its plans in favor of experimenting with characters that might have come out in the more distant future. 

"A lot of the Marvel movies, as we know from what's going on in the world right now, have moved back a little bit," Bender says. "A lot of times we try to come out with a movie so that when you walk out of the theater or you're thinking about these characters, you get to play them. We like to be there for that. This year is a little funky that way, which is giving us the opportunity to consider some characters that we haven't gotten around to. I don't think I have any characters I can actually announce as a scoop for you, but I will say it's giving us a chance to pick up one-offs here and there, and add them to the schedule – characters that we couldn't build as part of a five-person squad. We can now do some solos, and that's going to be neat. We'll see some characters that we weren't planning on at the beginning of the year show up."

While the entire globe faces uncertainty, FoxNext recently emerged from its own period of being unsure about the future, as Disney recently sold the studio to Scopely, effectively transitioning the team from an in-house Disney studio to a third-party partner. "We're really good at uncertainty now," Bender says. "If you've been with us from the beginning, you've seen us go from Kabam to Fox to Disney to Scopely. We are always in a state of transition practically. We try not to let that affect the game, and I think we're pretty good at that. What we really care about is what the players want, and we've been lucky that our partners have always understood that. So while it can be a bit thrilling internally, it doesn't affect how we run the game."

While we don't know when exactly VS. Battle will be added to Marvel Strike Force, FoxNext says it will be a part of the next big update for the title. Marvel Strike Force is currently available for iOS and Android.

To learn why I've spent a significant chunk of my time playing the title over the last to years, head here for an opinion piece from shortly after the game's launch. To see an updated list of all the playable heroes and villains in the game's massive roster, head here.

Categories: Games

Resident Evil 3 Remake Review In Progress

Gamespot News Feed - Mon, 03/30/2020 - 16:00

Editor's note: This review in progress covers the single-player content of Resident Evil 3. We will be playing the multiplayer part of the Resident Evil 3 package, Resistance, over the next few days and finalizing this review once we've fully tested the mode.

The opening hours of Resident Evil 3 are incredibly effective at putting you on edge. A remake of the original 1999 game, Resident Evil 3 puts the volatile and intense conflict between protagonist Jill Valentine and the unrelenting force of nature, Nemesis, front and center--giving way to some strong survival horror moments that show off the best of what the series can offer. But after that solid start, this revisit to a bygone era not only loses track of the type of horror game that Resident Evil once was, but also loses sight of what made the original so memorable.

Much like 2019's Resident Evil 2, the remake of Resident Evil 3 interprets the classic survival horror game through a modern lens, redesigning locations and altering key events to fit a significantly revised story. Resident Evil 3 doesn't deviate too much from the formula set by the RE2 remake, but it does lean harder into the action-focused slant the original version of RE3 had, giving you some greater defensive skills to survive. RE3's introduction is a strong one, conveying a creeping sense of paranoia and dread that's synonymous with the series, and Jill Valentine once again proves herself to be a confident protagonist to take everything head-on.

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Categories: Games

Why You Shouldn’t Sleep On Resident Evil 3’s Resistance Mode

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 03/27/2020 - 15:00

Publisher: Capcom Developer: Capcom Release: April 3, 2020 Rating: Mature Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Resident Evil has traditionally been a survival-horror franchise with a focus on moody isolation, which runs counter to the idea of online multiplayer modes. However, Resident Evil 3 includes an online asymmetrical 4v1 mode called Resistance that actually does a stellar job capturing the horror inherent in the series. In Resistance, a group of four survivors works together to escape the sadistic tests set up by the Machiavellian Umbrella corporation. Meanwhile, a single player-controlled mastermind works from the shadows to keep you in line and destroy your morale. It's more fun than I suspected and might be worth your time. 

Each match is split into three stages where survivors work to complete various goals. In the first stage, you scour the environments for keys to unlock the next area. In the next stage, you hack a series of computers while avoiding monsters. And in the final stage, you race across the map and work to destroy a number of experimental equipment. As players take down roaming zombies and other enemies they earn Umbrella cash that can be used to buy new weapons, herbs, and other tools at the beginning of each round.

For my first match, I play as the absurdly named Martin Sandwich. All of Resistance’s survivors have their own unique skills, and Martin is an engineering genius who can disable traps around the battlefield and use his flash baton to stun enemies. Using one of Martin’s skills, I ping the environment, which highlights objects on the map for the rest of my team. However, when I wander too far from the group I become an easy meal. It’s hard to play Resistance as a lone wolf, and teams of survivors need to stick together to survive. 

Martin is a good example of a support character, but if you want to be on the front lines, you can play as someone like Samuel Jordan. This young bruiser used to train as a boxer, which makes him an ideal shield for the rest of the team. I love Sam’s dash punch, which allows him to quickly close in on zombies. Sam is also skilled in the use of melee weapons, such as bats and sledgehammers, which easily tear through groups of undead monsters. 

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Playing as a survivor is only half of the Resistance experience, and I probably had the most fun when I jumped into the shoes of a mastermind. The mastermind works behind the scenes laying traps and working to prevent the survivors from escaping before time runs out. Masterminds start with a complete view of the map and can see the location of all the survivors' goals. They are also dealt a hand of random cards, which can be used to summon various monsters or lay trip mines. Masterminds can also get their hands dirty by directly controlling anything they spawn, but I felt that I was just as effective when I let my spawn run wild. 

Iconic villains such as Annette Birkin and Ozwell Spencer return for the role of mastermind. During my turn at the controls, I play as Alex Wesker and I laughed with demented glee as I unleashed a small army of zombie dogs on a group of unwitting survivors. Each mastermind has their own ultimate attack, which allows them to do things like unleash Tyrants onto the battlefield or set up deadly laser fields that kill anyone they touch. Alex’s ultimate is a monstrous plant, which looks a bit like Plant 42 from the original Resident Evil. This plant’s vines whip out in all directions and it devours two survivors before they finally subdue my creature. 

Over the years, Capcom has experimented with a lot of different multiplayer modes within the Resident Evil universe, but they have rarely left a lasting impact. However, I started having fun with Residence the moment I picked up the controller. Coordinating with a group of survivors is a lot of fun and manages to remain tense and scary. Meanwhile, the mastermind offers a more strategic level of play that we haven’t seen in a Resident Evil game before, but one that I’m actually interested in exploring more when Resident Evil 3 launches. We’ll have to wait for the final release to see if Resistance has staying power, but this is the most promising new mode we’ve seen from the series in a long time. Stay tuned for our upcoming review. 

Categories: Games

Why Gears Tactics Might Have What It Takes To Compete With XCOM

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 03/27/2020 - 13:00

Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios Developer: Splash Damage Release: April 28, 2020 Platform: Xbox One, PC

Gears Tactics was announced at E3 2018 alongside Gears 5 and the Funko-branded Gears Pop! It almost seemed like a joke to pull the Gears franchise in so many disparate directions, but the more we’ve seen of Gears Tactics, the less we’re laughing. Not only is Microsoft taking this entry into tactical strategy very seriously, Gears Tactics looks like it could be something special.

Gears Tactics draws the obvious comparisons to other turn-based strategy games, such as XCOM. Co-developed by The Coalition and Splash Damage, this fast-paced, turn-based strategy game lets players plan coordinated strikes for a whole team of warriors as they try to find the best line of attack without sacrificing too much cover.

“When we were thinking about how to expand the Gears of War universe, we locked in on this idea of a tactics game, because we have some common areas in the fact that Gears has squads and cover is important," says design director Tyler Bielman. “But it was important that we do our version of a tactics game, so we made a lot of effort to pace up the game. You have as much time as you want on your turn to figure out your strategies and where you want to go, but everything else is faster. We wanted it to feel a lot more intense than traditional tactics games.”

During an extended demo, we got a taste for Gear Tactics’ faster pace and watched a handful of soldiers face off against a squad of Locust grunts. Unlike many strategy games, the heroes in Gears Tactics don’t move along a grid. Instead, players are free to move around the battlefield however they like. This opens up new strategies as players now have a greater level of flexibility to create flanking routes around their enemies. At the same time, it’s still very important to grab cover and find lines of sight that give your heroes a higher percent chance to hit their targets.

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Another big change to combat is how Gears Tactics approaches its action system. Traditionally, strategy games allow players to move each hero once per turn before attacking. Gears Tactics, on the other hand, gives each hero three action points to use each turn, and players can choose to mix and match their movements or attacks however they like. Meaning, a hero left on the outskirts of a combat zone can use all three action points to make a mad dash across the battlefield. Alternatively, a character who is well positioned could use all three actions to attack. The heavy gunner class actually has an ability that makes each successive attack more deadly, as long as they don’t move between shots. Another neat trick is placing a character with three actions into overwatch, so when enemies move into their field of view, your soldier attacks up to three times.

The final piece to Gears Tactics strategy puzzle is the execution system. After dishing out a set amount of damage to an enemy, it might fall into an execution state. Enemies in an execution state crawl slowly along the ground and pose little threat, but they can be revived by their companions. On the other hand, if your heroes get within melee range of these downed foes, they can perform an execution. These brutal melee attacks not only remove those enemies from the board completely, but they also give the rest of your companions an additional action point to use during that turn. Players who find good ways to push deeper into the battlefield may be able to chain executions together to keep their turn rolling for a long time.

“To counter all that freedom, we serve up a lot of enemies,” Bielman explains. “Our average enemy per encounter count is pretty high. You are facing a lot of different types of enemies, some that create fronts and are defensive, some that will snipe you from afar, and some that will actually rush you and try to push you out of cover. The whole combination makes the game feel like Gears of War, just kind of boiled down to its essence. It's about flanking and it's about cover and it's about combinations of tactical moves.”

Click here to watch embedded media

Players have five different classes to choose from and each class has over 30 different skills to learn as they level up over the course of the game. Gears Tactics doesn’t feature any top-level base building mechanics similar to XCOM, but you are rewarded with better equipment after each level, and additional gear is scattered throughout the levels. All of these weapons can be modded, and players can also visually customize each piece of gear with a variety of paints and visual patterns.

The story for Gears Tactics is set 12 years before the first Gears of War and follows  defiant COG soldier Gabe Diaz, who just happens to be the father of Kait Diaz, featured in Gears 4 and 5. Gabe's squad is ultimately tasked with assassinating a Locus scientist named Ukkon. However, Ukkon isn’t some pencil pusher, he’s an elite member of the Locust Council and one of the geneticists responsible for breeding some of the nastiest monsters in the entire Horde. 

“He's the monster that makes monsters,” Bielman says. “In Gears games, we have these big bosses. We've got Brumaks and we’ve got Corpsers. If you’ve never seen a Brumak, it's basically a big dinosaur with rocket launchers strapped to it. You'd think, 'Wow, who would actually do that? Who would put rocket launchers on a dinosaur?’ That's Ukkon. So Gabe’s team needs to find him and shut him down before he improves the Locust army any further.”

Based on everything we’ve seen, Gears Tactics looks like it should be a fun ride for Gears of War diehards. However, strategy fans who have never played a Gears game before might also want to give this a try. Despite the recent coronavirus outbreak, Gears Tactics is still set to launch on April 28 for PCs and will be available from day one for Xbox Game Pass owners (you still have to play on PC). An Xbox version is in the works and will release at a later date.

Categories: Games

Nemesis Is Coming For You In These Exclusive Resident Evil 3 Screens

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 03/25/2020 - 14:00

Publisher: Capcom Developer: Capcom Release: April 3, 2020 Rating: Mature Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Resident Evil 3 releases on April 3, so you don't have to wait long to run in fear from Nemesis yourself. However, to whet your appetite for fear, check out these exclusive screens of Capcom's monsters in action. 

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For more on Resident Evil 3, read our hands-on impressions with Carlos or our feature on how Capcom made Nemesis scarier than ever

Categories: Games

Corruption 2029 Review - Lost Soul

Gamespot News Feed - Mon, 03/23/2020 - 23:31

In the banal future-war fiction that serves as set dressing for the battlefields of Corruption 2029, soldiers are remote-controlled living machines. These humanoid husks are devoid of humanity, mechanized units designed to be disposable as they fight the second American civil war. Both sides sport bland three-letter initials, the NAC (New American Council) and the UPA (United Peoples of America), their full names reading like soulless corporate think-tanks, their motives as opaque as they are forgettable. Actual people are seemingly absent in this conflict. Lifelessness permeates the entire experience, sapping all interest in what is otherwise an accomplished tactical combat game.

In this sense, Corruption 2029 is a disappointing step backward from the developer's debut title, 2018's Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden, a game that elevated the XCOM formula primarily through a charismatic cast of characters. The mechanics of combat work in essentially the same way they did in Mutant Year Zero with similarly distinguished results. You control a squad of three units (and occasionally a fourth unit you might acquire mid-mission) and you're able to explore the map in real-time until the enemy spots you or, preferably, you trigger an ambush. Once the fight's underway, you and the engaged enemies alternate between ducking behind cover, firing your weapons, lobbing grenades, and deploying special abilities in turn-based combat.

The tactical combat is a triumph of clarity. The UI conveys all the pertinent information flawlessly, leaving you reassured that each move you make is going to play out with a high degree of certainty and few unintended consequences. When deciding where to move, for example, you can hover over each accessible square on the grid and see your exact chance to hit every enemy in range with the weapon you have equipped. Swap that weapon and all the percentages update. Clear icons inform you that the destination is in low cover or high cover and if an enemy is currently flanking that position. Having these details reliably presented on-screen is a constant benefit to the decision-making process and goes a long way to ensure success in each combat encounter is determined by preparation and smart choices rather than an unexpected fluke.

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Categories: Games

Exclusive Impressions Of Carlos In Resident Evil 3

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 03/23/2020 - 18:00

Publisher: Capcom Developer: Capcom Release: April 3, 2020 Rating: Mature Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Jill is the main star in Capcom’s upcoming remake of Resident Evil 3, but she’s not the only survivor you control throughout the game. Carlos Oliveira is a UBCS’s heavy weapons specialist who meets Jill early on, and he becomes an integral part of the story. Since Carlos is working for Umbrella, Jill initially distrusts him, but the two survivors eventually form an uneasy alliance, and players even take control of Carlos about halfway through the game. For our Resident Evil 3 cover story this month, we went hands-on with a section within Raccoon City’s ruined hospital that features Carlos. 

“If you look at the original design of Carlos, you could say that he had a more easygoing, almost playboy personality,” art director Yonghee Cho says. “We wanted to maintain his personality, but at the same time, make sure that the way he interacts with everybody makes sense, given the dire situation. In terms of the hairstyle, we went back to that easygoing nature. He's not going to be too concerned about that stuff, so we’re making sure that part of his character is intact.”

Different concept sketches for Carlos

In the original Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, players take control of Carlos about halfway through the game as he races through a hospital to find a cure to the T-virus. Capcom asked us not to share the details of his mission in the remake, but we did get a good look at the hospital and were impressed by how much Capcom expanded the facility. The ‘90s version was simply a handful of zombie-infested rooms featuring a few puzzles. The remake expands the hospital into a network of interlocking rooms compete with several lock-and-key puzzles that slowly open new areas in a traditional Resident Evil fashion. 

As I set off exploring the new hospital, I come across a set of lockers. Inside, I find a key that opens a whole new set of previously locked rooms. Later, I drop down into a courtyard where I find another useful item that opens other areas. Somewhere along the way, I pick up an upgrade for Carlos’ M4A1 carbine assault rifle that reduces the weapon’s recoil. Weapon upgrades like this are scattered throughout the game, but they usually require players to do some extra puzzle solving.

Amidst a scattering of healing herbs and ammo, I find notes that detail the horrors of the hospital staff leading up to the outbreak. One nurse talks about an influx of patients experiencing hyperphagia and limb necrosis. Resident Evil 3's atmosphere does a fantastic job of ratcheting up the tension even when you're not fighting enemies. 

Inside a waiting room, I find a small horde of zombies waiting to eat my face, so it’s time to put Carlos’ dodge move to the test. Much like Jill, Carlos can dodge enemy attacks with a well-timed button tap. However, where Jill simple rolls out of harm's way, Carlos gets aggressive and shoves enemies to the ground. Not only does this dodge negate any incoming damage, but it neutralizes enemies for several seconds and buys me some extra time to line up a few headshots. 

Unfortunately for Carlos, slow-moving zombies aren't the only enemies Carlos will encounter. As I move through the operations wing of the building, I catch a hint of a much larger creature: the Hunter Beta. Hardcore fans will recognize these lizard-like hulks who dart around the environment and slash at you with razor-sharp talons. For Resident Evil 3, the Hunter Beta has been redesigned and now looks a bit insect-like in addition to its lizard features. 

Various concept designs for different versions of the Hunter

“I wanted to make sure that it was clear that these are not naturally occurring adversaries,” Cho says. “These are manmade, artificial creatures. Specifically, with the Hunter, if you take a look at the original design, it has a much more humanoid look. This time around, we wanted the hunters to look almost beast-like, a little bit more feral.”

As I face my first Hunter Beta, I stagger back in horror. This feral beast’s claws are drawn, and its mandibles flicker eagerly, hungry for my flesh. He’s strong and fast, which is a deadly combo, and I unload nearly two full magazines worth of ammo into the monster before he finally collapses. The Hunter Beta is a fearsome foe even in a one-on-one battle, but Hunters will eventually hunt you in packs, which sounds truly unnerving. Carlos’ demo comes to a close not long after my confrontation with these creatures, but I know that more horrors await when Resident Evil 3 launches on April 3. 

Categories: Games

Half-Life: Alyx Review - Full-Life Consequences

Gamespot News Feed - Mon, 03/23/2020 - 17:00

Naturally, monumental expectations accompany the first Half-Life game in 13 years, and for the iconic franchise's return to come in the form of a VR exclusive is undoubtedly bold. But at each step of the way, Half-Life: Alyx proves that almost everything the franchise did best is elevated by VR: the environmental puzzles that require a keen eye, the threat of a headcrab jumping for your face, the cryptic storytelling. The series' staples are as great as ever here, and in its most powerful moments, Half-Life: Alyx confidently shows you why it couldn't have been done any other way.

What's a day in the life of Alyx Vance? In true Half-Life form, the entire game goes from morning to night in a single shot of first-person action in which you, as Alyx, trek through the undergrounds and abandoned zones of City 17. At first, it's to save your dad Eli Vance from the clutches of the Combine. However, you're subsequently led to uncover the nature of that massive floating structure that hovers over City 17, referred to as the Vault. With a cheeky sidekick Russell in your ear, and a trusty, prophetic Vortigaunt who comes in clutch, Alyx is more than prepared. A basic premise for sure, but the journey is thrilling, and the payoff is immense.

There's a newfound intimacy captured in doing the things that Half-Life always asked of you. Because it's a VR game, the way you look at and process your surroundings fundamentally changes, thus making the solutions to environmental puzzles more of a personal accomplishment than before. Simply finding the right objects to progress was fine with a keyboard and mouse, but when it's your own hands turning valves, moving junk to find critical items, pulling levers, or hitting switches while turning your head to see the results of your actions, these become enticing gameplay mechanics rather than means for breaking up the pace. Without waypoints or objective markers to guide you, subtle visual cues and calculated level design lead you to the solutions, and progress feels earned because of that.

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Categories: Games

MLB The Show 20 Review - Bases Loaded

Gamespot News Feed - Fri, 03/20/2020 - 22:57

MLB The Show 20 suddenly finds itself in an unprecedented position. The COVID-19 coronavirus has disrupted sports across the globe, and baseball is no different, as Opening Day of the 2020 Major League Baseball season was recently postponed for at least the next two months--and even that seems optimistic. It's an unfathomable turn of events, yet it also means Sony San Diego's latest baseball sim is now one of the only ways to experience the 2020 season of America's favorite pastime. It's a good job, then, that MLB 20 maintains the series' consistently high quality. Refinements to fielding and hitting may only be incremental this year, but they add more depth to what is still one of the most compelling sports games on the market, while new additions and modes off the field increase the game's variety as you chart a course towards World Series glory.

Fielding and defense received a lot of love in last year's game, so MLB 20 adds a few more wrinkles without rocking the boat too much. The distinction between Gold Glove caliber outfielders and mere mortals is now slightly more pronounced, particularly when the CPU is in control. The best outfielders in the game are much more dialed in this year, reacting to the ball off the bat with authentic accuracy and a dependable first-step. On the flip side, the square peg you've lodged into the round hole in left field might struggle when it comes to reading the flight of the ball, committing a fair few errors over the course of a season as balls careen off the edge of his glove instead of nesting in its palm.

There's also a new Extreme Catch Indicator that identifies those bloop singles and hard-sinking line drives that are right on the edge of being catchable. If you have a player like Minnesota Twins center fielder Byron Buxton patrolling the outfield, you might take a chance and attempt a risky diving catch on one of these tough-to-reach balls, knowing full well that he's skilled enough to pull off a spectacular grab. With an average defender hustling towards the ball, however, you might prefer to play it safe and get yourself in position to gather the ball after it bounces. Surrendering a single is a much more positive outcome than laying out for a catch and completely missing the ball, resulting in a triple for the fortunate hitter.

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Categories: Games

Call Of Duty Warzone Review - Cash Rules Everything Around Me

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 03/19/2020 - 19:29

The latest Call of Duty from Infinity Ward shipped without an answer to Black Ops 4’s Blackout, but it has since been supplemented by Warzone--a completely standalone battle royale built off of the backbone of Modern Warfare. Not only is it a smarter way to ensure it's not tied to each annual release in the series, but Warzone gives the series its own identity within the competitive genre.

It might not be apparent at first, though, especially when you take into consideration how much Warzone borrows from other popular battle royale games. It incorporates a ping system similar to the one in Apex Legends, letting you tag enemy positions, points of interest, and loot for teammates at the press of a button (albeit mapped to a button that's harder to reach quickly, mitigating some of its convenience). It plays out on a massive map akin to PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, where large swathes of open land are ripe for snipers while dense suburbs make for exhilarating and chaotic close-quarters skirmishes. And like the ones in Fortnite, color-coded chests overflowing with loot are easy to hunt down when you are within earshot of their signature emanating jingle.

None of these competitors are defined solely by the elements Warzone borrows from them, and Warzone isn't defined by the sum of their parts. Instead, Warzone uses them to establish a solid foundation for its own distinct elements. It starts with a larger player count than the aforementioned battle royale games, with Warzone currently supporting up to 150 players per match, with modes for three-person squads or solo play. Having so many players active at once keeps you constantly on alert, but also increases the odds that you'll at least have some action (and likely a handful of kills) each match. This makes even some of the least successful drops feel worthwhile--even if your entire match lasts only a handful of minutes, you'll likely get some valuable time in with some weapons, better preparing you for another fight in the next match.

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Categories: Games

The Messenger Developer Sabotage Announces Turn-Based RPG Sea Of Stars

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 03/19/2020 - 16:00

Publisher: Sabotage Developer: Sabotage Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PC

Sabotage, the studio behind 2018 indie darling The Messenger, has announced a Kickstarter campaign for its new project. Sea of Stars is a beautiful turn-based RPG that serves as a prequel to the Ninja Gaiden-inspired The Messenger. However, rather than exploring the origins of certain characters, this prequel looks to expand and enrich the world introduced in The Messenger.

Just as The Messenger drew inspiration from Ninja Gaiden and the classic Metroidvania formula, Sea of Stars borrows heavily from classic RPGs like Chrono Trigger, Breath of Fire, and Illusion of Gaia. While this may seem like a jarring leap between such distinct genres, Sabotage says this was the plan going in. "We've been wanting to make an RPG all along, but it just was too ambitious as a first project and too risky to arrive with no name for ourselves and propose such a big project," says CEO and creative director Thierry Boulanger. "We wanted to start building interest about this world. We're slowly telling the important story arcs of that world, one game at a time. The game genre that we use is always the best way to tell whichever story that we're telling. For The Messenger, it was a platformer because it was just one character and a more linear, straightforward mission; now it's all about exploration, a party of six people, and higher stakes, so the RPG is kind of indicated there."

Sea of Stars takes the world of The Messenger, which was flooded to the point there was only one island remaining, and lowers the tide as we travel back hundreds of thousands of years to a time where you could hop from island to island and explore the various communities that existed on them. In the video presentation I saw, I witnessed a vibrant colony of humanoid seahorses, a group of gorillas hidden deep in a dark cavern, and a cult of lizard assassins working to resurrect their evil goddess. All the while, the threat of a flesh monster who can manipulate bone, blood, and flesh to create abominations to do his bidding looms. 

To fight off the flesh monster's creations, the world looks to Children of the Solstice, guardians who were born on either the summer or winter solstice and acquire the power of the sun or moon. At the beginning of the adventure, you choose to play as either Valere, a girl imbued with the power of the moon and carries a heavy-hitting staff, or Zale, a boy harnessing the power of the sun who uses his agility to blade dance. Regardless of the character you choose, the story remains largely unchanged, and the other protagonist remains in your party and plays a crucial role in combat, solving puzzles, and traversing the world.

During the presentation, I see how two characters play off each other in exploration. As the two protagonists come to a head-shaped stone formation with a moon symbol in the top, the two characters manipulate the time of day into night, illuminate the symbol, and open the door to reveal an enemy scorpion monster to fight.

Battles play out in typical turn-based fashion, but they are far from passive affairs relying solely on random-number generators. By timing your inputs in conjunction with when your attack animation occurs, you can inflict more damage to your target. Conversely, if you time your defensive input with your assailant's animation, you can mitigate the damage done to you. In addition, when you cast a spell, it sometimes requires certain inputs to maximize the spell's effectiveness. For example, in one battle I saw, Zale casts a Sunball attack, but before he blasts the fireball at the enemy, the UI prompts the player to mash a given button as much as possible within a given window.

Click here to watch embedded media

When an enemy goes to cast a spell, it broadcasts a series of attacks you can perform to neutralize the incoming spell. In a different battle, the soon-to-be-casting enemy displays two moon symbols, a sun symbol, and a sword symbol over its head. This means that for every attack that matches those symbols, the spell will be weaker. Sabotage hopes all of these, when combined with the standard elemental weaknesses and interchangeable battle party, delivers a turn-based system that elevates beyond what other titles in the space have done.

One pain point for a lot of RPG players is the grinding requirements present in a lot of traditional titles. Sabotage wanted to ease that pain by making it more about your battle plan and skill in executing your moves than how much time and repetition you put into the battles leading up to that. "Grinding, at least in my opinion, can be tedious," Boulanger says. "You still have progression; through combat, you still upgrade your character, but you're always moving the story forward. The game is shorter, but you end up playing it more because you have no friction in replaying it because it's never a task. It's constantly moving forward. For us, grinding is probably so you spend more time in the game, but you'll spend even more time in the game if you want to play it two or three times."

While I didn't get my hands on Sea of Stars, the gameplay footage shown to me was gorgeous and engaging. The battle system looks to experiment in interesting ways without alienating turn-based combat fans such as myself. When combined with meaningful exploration and a beautiful world full of mystery, I'm looking forward to learning more about Sabotage's next title.

Sabotage launches its Sea of Stars Kickstarter campaign today. If you'd like to contribute to it or learn more about the project, head here. The title is still early in development, so players should expect to wait until 2022 before being able to add the game to their PC or consoles.

Click image thumbnails to view larger version

 

                                                                                                           
Categories: Games

Doom Eternal Review In Progress

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 03/17/2020 - 14:00

Editor's note: We will be finalizing this review once Doom Eternal has officially released and its multiplayer servers become available. Look out for an update after the game launches on March 20; for now, read on for our full thoughts on the single-player portion.

Id Software's return to Doom in 2016 was a phenomenal update of the franchise's classic shooter formula. It was fast and intense, full of huge monsters and scorching metal tracks, modernizing the feel of the 1990s original while adding some new-school flourishes. Where Doom 2016 brought the original Doom into the present, Doom Eternal feels like a big step forward in making the franchise something new: It's a master class in demon dismemberment after the introductory course to ripping and tearing of four years ago. Like its predecessor, Doom Eternal makes you feel like a monster-shredding badass--not just because you're the strongest Doom Slayer, but because you're also the smartest.

Doom Eternal is all about effectively using the huge amount of murder tools at your disposal. Health, armor, and ammo pickups are at a minimum in Eternal's many combat arenas, and the game instead requires you to earn these by massacring monsters in a variety of different ways. Stagger an enemy and you can tear them apart with a brutal glory kill, which refills your health; douse a demon with the new flamethrower and they'll start to spout armor pickups; or cut them in half with the chainsaw to grab some much-needed ammo.

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Categories: Games

Animal Crossing: New Horizons Review In Progress

Gamespot News Feed - Mon, 03/16/2020 - 14:00

There's only so much you can do every day in Animal Crossing. Part of the fun of its real-time clock is going to bed wondering what you might wake up to in the morning--how your town might change, who might move in, what special visitor might be there tomorrow. So far, I've played Animal Crossing: New Horizons for 80 hours over 17 days, and that anticipation hasn't yet gone away. While I've spent a lot of time developing my island so far, I still feel as if there's plenty left for me to do and see--there's a lot in New Horizons to occupy your time with.

Unlike in previous games, you're not moving to a lived-in town in New Horizons; the island is completely empty when you and two animals arrive as part of Tom Nook's "getaway package," save for the tiny airport. There's no store or museum, all three of you live in tents, and Tom Nook himself operates out of a tent that he shares with his adorable nephews, Timmy and Tommy. Tom Nook clearly expected this whole thing to be a bit more glamorous (or at least popular), and in typical Tom Nook fashion, one of his first actions is to put you to work collecting tree branches and fruit to make a fire pit and drinks for a welcome party.

The party serves as an introduction to the resource-gathering aspect of New Horizons' new crafting system, but it's also the first of many endearing moments with the animals. In their high-pitched, sped-up way of talking, their chit-chat centers around friendship and helping one another on the island. One of my villagers played a tambourine, shifting back and forth to his own beat while smiling, while the other sipped juice by the fire. Tommy, the more precious of the Nookling duo, stood by the tent, holding a small flag that seemed to be part of his welcome getup. It feels like a proper community from the start, despite the small population size and total lack of amenities on the island.

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Categories: Games

Nioh 2 Review - Get Good And Die Trying

Gamespot News Feed - Fri, 03/13/2020 - 00:28

Nioh 2 is not to be trifled with. Building on the original's tough-as-nails reputation, Team Ninja's second samurai action-RPG brings back the original's penchant for punishing and highly nuanced combat. The sequel hones the original's distinctive take on the Souls-like without completely reinventing itself. The result is a long, tough slog that will push even the most challenge-hungry players to their breaking points as they fight for every inch of ground and become master samurai.

Despite the title, Nioh 2 is a prequel, revealing the secret history of a decades-long period of war in medieval Japan. As the silent, customizable hero Hide, you fight to uncover the secret nature of "spirit stones," which grant supernatural power, and defeat hordes of Yokai across the country. The plot, which you mostly hear through cutscenes and exposition between missions, has an interesting historical bent, but it is really just glue to hold the levels together. Historically relevant names like Nobunaga and Tokugawa play into the saga, but whatever flavor they add in the moment fades the second you take control and it's time to start killing demons.

But that's okay. Nioh 2's story gives just enough context for you to follow along and make you feel like you're making progress without getting in the way of the gameplay. Nioh 2's definitive feature is its challenge. With core mechanics refined from the bones of Dark Souls, Nioh 2 boils down to a series of battles and duels in all kinds of situations. These battles demand intense precision: Not only are your attacks and skills limited by a stamina meter--called Ki--but any extra attack or mistimed movement will leave you exposed, often to an attack that will cost you a substantial amount of health. Like other Souls-like games, there is a painful pleasure in mastering whatever opponents the game throws your way.

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Categories: Games

Mindseize Review - Metroidvania Fusion

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 03/12/2020 - 20:57

If you had asked me to write out a checklist of features I would expect to find in a Metroidvania, my final list would be pretty close to what I found in Mindseize. It's a decent one, too. Solid, even. And, for all that, just a little bit dull. There’s nothing wrong, per se, with an unimaginative adherence to the basic Metroidvania formula, but Mindseize also fails to inspire with its approach to theme-setting and story development. The final result is a competent but unspectacular action-platformer with precious few ideas of its own.

You play a father bent on exacting revenge on an evil sci-fi organisation that, uh... seized the mind of his daughter. An early unsuccessful encounter with the Big Bad leaves Angry Dad disabled but, with the help of a good sci-fi organisation, able to continue his crusade by transplanting his own mind into a robot. It's nonsense, of course--though it's inoffensive nonsense, sparing in its narrative dumps and blessedly easy to ignore.

More urgent matters involve exploring the various planets, each of which is presented as a vast network of 2D platforms appropriated from conventional stock--the jungle area, the industrial factory, the rainy dystopian nightscape, the caves littered with glowing crystals, and the caves that are a bit darker because there are no glowing crystals. They're all there, present and correct, and no more imaginative than similar scenes in countless other games.

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Categories: Games

Bracing For Hell

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 03/12/2020 - 14:00

Click here to watch embedded media

Publisher: Bethesda Softworks Release: March 20, 2020 (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Stadia), 2020 (Switch) Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia, PC

Doom Eternal launches on March 20 – the sequel to the classic franchise's acclaimed 2016 rebirth. To celebrate the impending release, id Software and Bethesda have released the trailer above, priming the pump and getting players psyched for an action-packed journey through heaven and hell.  

This is one of your final chances to see what Doom Eternal has to offer before it becomes available, topping off a busy few months leading up to the game's big debut. We've recently had three-hours of hands-on time, learned about the game's heavy metal choir, and watched a trailer highlighting glory kills. If your excitement wasn't already at a fever pitch, this new footage will hopefully push you over the edge. 

To see even more of Doom Eternal in motion, watch us dig into the gunplay and new features in this episode of New Gameplay Today

Categories: Games

Ori And The Will Of The Wisps Review - Light On Your Feet

Gamespot News Feed - Wed, 03/11/2020 - 00:47

Ori and the Blind Forest was a delight in 2015--a tough-as-nails combination of a metroidvania structure and Meat Boy-like demands with a surprising amount of heartfelt heft. Five years later, Moon Studios' followup, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, is every bit as graceful and lovely as its predecessor, even if some of the emotional beats and exploration feel a little less novel the second time around.

Will of the Wisps picks up almost immediately where Blind Forest left off, with Ori's patchwork family unit welcoming a new member, the owlet Ku. The family is happy and loving, but Ku wants to fly and Ori wants to help her. Soon the two are swept off in a gale to a new forest deep with rot, which begins the adventure in earnest.

Because this setting is disconnected from the one in Blind Forest, the geography is new, yet familiar. The painterly imagery is comforting, especially in the opening hours as you explore similar biomes. They're beautifully rendered again, but a little samey if you've played the first game. After a while, Will of the Wisps opens up to more varied locales, like an almost pitch-black spider's den or a windswept desert. The theme throughout the story is the encroachment of the Decay, a creeping evil that overtook this neighboring forest after its own magical life tree withered. But if it's meant to be ugly, you wouldn't know it from many of the lush backgrounds--especially in the case of a vibrant underwater section. Ori is often swallowed up by these sweeping environments, emphasizing just how small the little forest spirit is compared to their massive surroundings.

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