Games

MLB The Show 21 Review - Batter up

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 04/20/2021 - 20:05

MLB The Show 21 has made headlines this year for what it's done off the field of play. In an unprecedented move, the Sony-developed title is now available on Microsoft consoles, signalling the end of 15 years of PlayStation exclusivity. It's a monumental shift for a series that's also making its debut on next-gen consoles, and MLB The Show 21 maintains the series' high bar of excellence once the ball's in play. Away from the diamond, however, there are a number of missing features and questionable decisions that take some of the shine off an otherwise fantastic game of baseball.

The card collecting mode, Diamond Dynasty, is the basis for most of these dubious decisions, particularly in regards to Road to the Show (RttS). MLB The Show 21's career mode still revolves around the core idea of creating a player and taking them from the minor leagues through to the majors, but the structure of the mode has been significantly reworked. Your created Ballplayer is now a single unified entity that functions much like the NBA 2K series' MyPlayer. This Ballplayer, with all the improvements you make to their attributes, also carries over into Diamond Dynasty, where they can be inserted into the starting lineup alongside current players and legends of the sport. It's a solid idea on paper, but the execution severely hampers RttS in a few major areas.

For one, having a single Ballplayer limits your options since you're unable to create more than one distinct character. You can still create multiple saves to make characters who play in different positions, but you're stuck using the exact same player in each. On top of this, there's also a new loadout system that allows you to create multiple custom loadouts. Each one features one main archetype and up to two perks that improve certain attributes while slightly decreasing others. This change appears to be geared towards another new addition, which gives you the option to play as a two-way player similar to Shohei Ohtani. For games when you're hitting and playing the field, you might select a loadout with perks based around improving your contact, power, and arm accuracy; on days when you're pitching, you might opt for another loadout with pitching-centric perks.

Continue Reading at GameSpot
Categories: Games

Shin Megami Tensei III Nocturne HD Remaster — New Gameplay Today

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 04/20/2021 - 15:15

Click to watch embedded media

Publisher: Atlus Developer: Atlus Release: May 25, 2021 Platform: PlayStation 4, Switch, PC

The PlayStation 2 era was a long time ago, but Shin Megami Tensei III is coming back with a vengeance on May 25 to PlayStation 4, Switch and PC. If you're a fan of the Persona series but haven't had the chance to try out where it came from with the Shin Megami Tensei series, it's probably time you took a journey into the weird, the occult, the demonic, and the bizarre with one of these turn-based JRPG titles. Today, join us for a New Gameplay Today episode featuring some footage from the PC version of Shin Megami Tensei III Nocturne HD Remaster.

There's a good chance you've already got plenty of knowledge and skills from the Persona games that will carry over, but then again, there are some other things to consider as well. Like talking to enemies to recruit them, trying to win them over to join your team by offering them life, currency, or knowledge of their personality quirks. This jaunt showcases our battle with the first boss of the game, right before things begin to open up. While many of the systems are just forming in this opening segment, you can get a look at how the Remaster looks and sounds. Most structures remain unchanged, but quality of life improvements are available, including one that may be of interest to new players, a merciful (easy mode) difficulty level. The Shin Megami Tensei games have a reputation for being difficult, and they are. So, if you feel like playing through with the story as the focus, that's now an option! In case you're curious, the boss featured in this video was on normal difficulty. Oh, and you might see a familiar face after the fight...

Are you interested in Shin Megami Tensei III Nocturne HD Remaster? Let us know in the comments!

Categories: Games

Elder Scrolls Online Blackwood Preview – Companions, Adventure, And A Return To Oblivion

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 04/16/2021 - 22:25

Publisher: Bethesda Softworks Developer: ZeniMax Online Studios Release: June 1, 2021 (PC, Stadia), June 8, 2021 (PlayStation 4, Xbox One) Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, PC

When The Elder Scrolls Online first released, the MMORPG was met with a very lukewarm reception. The vanilla game seemingly took forever before the story kicked off, and even then, it struggled with pacing issues. Since then, numerous expansions have been released, effectively building a wildly enjoyable Elder Scrolls experience. That trend of engaging content continues in Oblivion with the Blackwood expansion, set 800 years before the events of its single-player counterpart. 

As a massive RPG lover, one feature I enjoy is romance. The introduction of this type of feature in an RPG setting adds yet another layer of immersion to the story, especially for those like myself that thrive on building entire character sheets for their journeys. While The Elder Scrolls Online experience doesn't have that quite yet, Blackwood does introduce companions. Even better? Creative Director Rich Lambert confirmed to me earlier this year that the addition of companions is to lay the groundwork for possible romance ahead. "Down the line, romance is definitely somewhere we want to get to," he told Game Informer. "We just want to make sure when we add it that we do it right." 

Knowing that, I was eager to learn more about the companions within Blackwood and I couldn't wait to get started on this new expansion. Returning to Tamriel for this new chapter, Blackwood has around 30 hours of new narrative content to explore. It also offers new dungeons, side quests, bosses, and other miscellaneous additions to the newly added zone. In true expansion format, the next step for The Elder Scrolls Online will release in waves, including new chapters, PvE instances, and more. For our hands-on preview, I was able to take on the new story and the new world events as well. These world events operate similarly to the Abyssal Geysers from the Summerset DLC and all previous additions throughout each expansion's release. They are pretty straightforward, acting as additional challenges to gain XP and earn loot. For Blackwood, these special events come in the form of Oblivion portals, which is fitting with the Deadlands being a major focus. 

The new area that Blackwood opens into is the Leyawiin, an Imperial City. It wasn't really anything special, nothing like Summerset where the zone looked completely unlike anything else. However, it wasn't unenjoyable. The city's setup is pretty standard from what you'd expect from an Elder Scrolls game, but what did make it stand out was the NPCs. God, some of them were so annoying. Many of the NPCs encountered were haughty and frigid, meant to make you feel like you were beneath them. I'm not going to lie; there were times where I wanted to punch those types of characters in the face, but they weren't all bad. More than that, each character was voiced to perfection. Whether annoying or not, every NPC was fully realized, which made falling into this story feel more organic, and it drove me to want to talk to everyone that I could and scoop up every questline that I could spot. 

So what about the companion system? Look, if you don't have an annoying follower that doesn't bug you incessantly, did you really play an Elder Scrolls game? Having a companion in this game is a major game-changer and one that I can't wait to see evolve. For now, there are two companions we get to meet with Blackwood: Bastian and Mirri. "Bastian is kind of this chivalrous Knight kind of personality," Lambert told me earlier this year. "And he was the son of a noble; there was a little bit of strife with his history that you'll learn more about while adventuring with him. He became a servant to another noble family and is essentially being the protector of this rich sniveling idiot. The questline that you go through to unlock him as a companion covers one of those adventures. And then once you unlock him, you find out a little bit more about who he is and what his personal tragedy is." 

On the other hand, Mirri is a Dunmer thief who Lambert describes as having a "stab you in the back" kind of personality. Lambert mentioned that she has an interesting twist in her storyline, but wasn't willing to tell me more no matter how much I was intrigued to hear everything. 

What's even better is that these aren't just pretty faces; they are fully upgradable. Additionally, their inclusion is a massive boon for those that like to play solo. With the new dungeons and PvE instances, running this game solo can be done, but it can also be incredibly frustrating. Companions can be specced out to the fighting style of your choice, which makes running solo a little easier to manage and more enjoyable to do. 

To get these companions, you've got to complete their questlines for them to be classified as "allies." Mirri was hands down my favorite. There are parts in her writing that almost reminded me of Isabella from Dragon Age 2 with her sassy humor and take-no-s**t demeanor. When playing through what Blackwood has to offer, I genuinely found myself captivated by what both of these characters would have to bring to the RPG aspect of this MMORPG, though I definitely gravitated to her the most because of her strong personality and wit.

But there is more to this expansion than just the NPCs and new companions. Upon leaving the city, the true beauty of the new zone shines. The area surrounding the inner city is beyond stunning, filled with greenery and playful wildlife that was genuinely fun to explore. There were many times when I would be making my way to a new quest area, only to stop and just mindlessly explore a little bit. Plus, you've gotta climb those mountains incorrectly; this IS an Elder Scrolls game, after all. 

As beautiful as the surrounding area is, and as excited as I am to learn about how Mehrunes Dagon rose to power with his cult followers, there was one thought that followed me around during my entire progression: I've been here before. I loved the Elsywer, Greymoor, and Summerset expansions because each one felt vastly unique from one another. Every time I dove into a new DLC, it felt like I was both returning to an enjoyable game and enjoying a new one at the same time. The city of Leyawiin felt too similar to the base game to feel new, which - unfortunately - colored how I saw all of the interactions. With Greymoor, we had Vampire Bae Fennorian. With Morrowind, we had the Warden class and familiar areas from Skyrim. With Summerset, we had the Psijic order to learn from and explore. With Blackwood, I didn't feel that same impact. It felt like a much smaller update, and that's not something you want to feel when diving into a new storyline. 

Click here to watch embedded media

I'm interested in seeing where this new journey goes, especially with the promise that more companions will be coming later. Each step of this ongoing Elder Scrolls journey has shed a new perspective on the games we love, especially Skyrim and Morrowind. I'm eager to see Oblivion through a new lens as well, and Blackwood is poised to be that fresh perspective. My only concern is that the setting itself may not be enough on its own to separate itself from previous iterations. However, the companion addition does change the game feel in a positive way. Between that and future updates that will come in true expansion style for The Elder Scrolls Online, including new chapters and narrative branches, I feel like Blackwood could truly evolve into something special as more content rolls out. 

For those interested in checking out the origins of Mehrunes Dagon and the history of Oblivion, Elder Scrolls Online Blackwood arrives on June 1 for PC and Stadia players, with a June 8 release on Xbox and PlayStation. For those with a PlayStation 5 or an Xbox Series X, June 8 is also slated for a free upgrade for next-gen systems

Categories: Games

Disco Elysium: The Final Cut Review - Pure Dynamite

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 04/15/2021 - 23:38

This review has been updated to include the experience of playing DIsco Elysium: The Final Cut. The additional review text that addresses the new version of the game is included at the bottom of the review as its own section.

Memories can be painful. Recalling them can result in feelings of regret, anger, shame, embarrassment, and worse. Much, much worse. In Disco Elysium, a mesmerising, hilarious and at times harrowing narrative-heavy RPG, recollecting a memory can prove fatal. For an amnesiac, alcoholic cop struggling with a new murder case with elusive details, and the world's worst hangover, remembering the person he was offers a path to redemption for the person he might become. After all, memories that don't kill you make you stronger.

Disco Elysium presents as an RPG in the mold of Baldur's Gate or Divinity: Original Sin. Indeed, it opens with a nod to Planescape Torment with a semi-naked figure lying on a cold, hard slab before slowly rising to his feet--only the slab isn't in a mortuary, it's in a cheap motel room, and the figure wasn't recently dead, he's just still drunk. Very, very drunk. It proceeds with the traditional top-down view of the world, your party members traversing beautiful, hand-painted 2D environments, pausing to inspect objects and talk to people. There are quests to initiate, experience to gain, levels to up, dialogue trees to climb, and skill checks to fail. Yet in all kinds of other ways--thematically and mechanically--Disco Elysium is very unlike other RPGs.

Continue Reading at GameSpot
Categories: Games

Core Arrives On The Epic Games Store Today. So, What Is Core?

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 04/15/2021 - 16:00

Publisher: Manticore Games Developer: Manticore Games Release: March 16, 2021 Platform: PC

Core arrives as a free-to-play platform today (In early access) on the Epic Games Store. You’re probably wondering what Core is. If I distill it down to the base concept, it’s an online world where you can roam from game to game solo or with friends, using your core avatar and cosmetics as you move from experience to experience. Oh, and you can also make the games to play there too, with an incredibly robust and easy to use toolset that you can basically drag and drop assets out of the ether to construct a shooting arena, RPG farm zone, a dodgeball fight, a platformer, a MOBA, or whatever else you feel like making. 

Click here to watch embedded media

The sky's the limit, and you can invite your friends along with the click of a button or the sharing of a link. Yep, you can have it just pop right open from a shared link in say, Twitch chat, and you can be playing in the same game in seconds. After diving in to the experience for a brief foray, I can say this is definitely a place that you’re going to be spending plenty of time in if you’re a fan of the map-making and modding that was a staple of the old StarCraft and Warcraft III days. Whatever you’re looking for, you can find it, and if you can’t, you can build it.

In about an hour or so on the platform I played shooters, fantasy PVP games, platformers inspired by Ghosts’N’Goblins, mini-MOBAs with one lane and lower player counts, and more. Many of the games available are bite-sized in comparison to what we’d consider a “full game” these days, and maybe that’s okay. As part of the huge “world” of Core, you’re never forced to stick around if you’re not having a good time, as the next game to try is just a click away from either the select screen or by actually walking to a portal in the featured area. 

While picking a game from a selection of boxes like you would from a digital storefront is fine, the aspect of being “in-world” comes in with Core and you can roam around, throwing out emotes and chatting while you look at flashy “billboard portals” trying to entice you to come on in and try out a new game. Some of the best stuff out there gets featured in this ever-changing area, so after you come back after a while new games might be calling your name as you ride around on your mount in the public area. It’s an interesting way to promote the browsing experience while still allowing for “instant transport” via a link or traditional menu searching.

There are over 20,000 games on Core right now, with a few hundred being added daily. Obviously, there’s no way you’ll ever be able to play all of them and certainly, some are better than others, and plenty of unfinished pet projects litter the untraveled streets in the back alleys of Core. But with so much creating and playing going on, you can find all kinds of weird experiences that might surprise you.

There’s a wild west style typing game. Yeah, where you mosey around town looking for misspelled words. There are farming games, there are deckbuilding games, there’s pretty much anything you could be looking for in some style and fashion. And while you may not gravitate to one and stick with it forever, or even for more than a few minutes, a lot of the journey is in exploring from game to game. Since your avatar is unified across all games in the core, you travel as your hero (and your associated cosmetics) to everything. Aspects like carrying over your avatar loadout give Core a meta, unified feel even though you’re engaging with many disparate experiences.

Core is live today on the Epic Games Store, and it is free-to-play (cosmetics are available to purchase, of course, to make your avatar look like various things) so really there's not much else I can tell you that you can't go see for yourself with minimal time investment. Go forth, discover games, and play them!

Categories: Games

Oddworld: Soulstorm Review

Gamespot News Feed - Wed, 04/14/2021 - 18:55

Oddworld: Soulstorm has been a long time coming. A direct sequel to Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty, Soulstorm is a loosely drawn reimagining of the second Oddworld game, Abe's Exoddus. Soulstorm looks shiny and PS5-new, with beautifully detailed characters and vast sweeping landscapes in its backgrounds, but it has an old soul. Soulstorm's stealthy platforming feels like a throwback: It's unlike any game I've played in a long time, and that's refreshing. But with old-school gameplay, Soulstorm retains some archaic design choices that feel outdated in 2021. The pain from those choices is accentuated by the game's many serious technical issues, which can blow even the most carefully played sequences at the drop of a hat. Soulstorm has a lot of heart, but its poor tuning makes it a bit of a slog.

Like its predecessors, Soulstorm puts you in control of Abe, a now free slave with the ability to take control of his former captors using a special chant. Each level strings together a gauntlet of side-scrolling stealth-platforming puzzles. As Abe, you'll sneak across each stage, jumping across platforms to dodge traps while avoiding conflict as much as possible. All the while, you're searching for your fellow Mudokons, Abe's species of lanky green Oddworlders, most of whom are still slaves in factories and mines. Staying out of harm's way requires careful planning and timing. Like many stealth games, you're carefully monitoring guard movements and vision cones to find the perfect moment to move from one hiding spot to the next, or to dispatch a guard. There's a tense, nail-biting thrill to maneuvering your way into and out of danger.

Though stealth factors into most areas, there are also a fair number of pure platforming sequences. Dodging flamethrowers, buzzsaws, spikes, and other dangers is also often a matter of getting the timing right. Soulstorm's best platforming sequences feel more puzzle-like than a reflex test, balancing time pressure and a need to methodically feel your way through whatever lethal obstacles it throws your way.

Continue Reading at GameSpot
Categories: Games

OlliOlli World Grinds Onto The Scene This Winter

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 04/14/2021 - 17:48

Publisher: Private Division Developer: Roll7 Release: TBA Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

The OlliOlli series has let players skate across several environments, ranging from humble, basic beginnings to some of the most over-the-top, seemingly impossible skateparks imaginable. Following sequel success in OlliOlli2: Welcome to Olliwood, developer Roll7 is back six years later with OlliOlli World.

Announced during today's Nintendo Indie World presentation, OlliOlli World hopes to capture the creativity and expression afforded by the art of skateboarding. OlliOlli World takes you on a journey across Radland to meet the legendary skate gods. "We're embracing the weird, wonderful, and diverse sides of skateboarding in a game that's all about going on a road trip with your friends, finding crazy spots, and, of course, skating everything in sight," creative director John Ribbins said in the Indie World presentation.

Featuring a beautiful, hand-drawn art style, OlliOlli World tasks you with skating, grinding and wall-riding your way across the island on your quest for gnarvana. The smooth 2D gameplay of past games allows developer Roll7 to combine skateboarding action with elements from platforming, rhythm, and puzzle games to create a unique experience that appeals to far more than typical skateboarding or sports fans.

The OlliOlli series presents players with a massive collection of tricks to master, and OlliOlli World appears no different. If you've played previous games, you know that much of the fun comes from finally landing that trick you've been struggling with, or learning how to best combo your way through a sequence within a stage.

Click here to watch embedded media

With new elements like quarter-pipes introduced into the stages, OlliOlli World is said to feature an even greater emphasis on level design that encourages you to flow between tricks within combos. You can also enjoy branching paths within the same level, allowing you to directly choose how intense or chill your experience is. You can also meet a colorful cast of characters, take on side quests, and uncover the secrets of Radland.

OlliOlli World is set to launch on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC this winter. For more on the OlliOlli series, check out our reviews of OlliOlli and OlliOlli2: Welcome to Olliwood.

Categories: Games

WRC 10 Announced To Celebrate 50 Years Of Rally Racing This September

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 04/13/2021 - 23:52

Publisher: Nacon Developer: KT Racing Release: September 2, 2021 (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC), TBA (Switch) Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Publisher Nacon and developer KT Racing have announced WRC 10, the latest in the long-running rally racing series. The studio is implementing several changes in hopes of improving the overall racing experience. Not only that, but this game strives to celebrate the 50th anniversary of FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) in 2022 through several new features.

As part of the celebration of WRC's 50th anniversary, WRC 10 introduces a retrospective mode, allowing players to relive 19 of the most important events in WRC history. These challenges are meant to put your skills to the test as you deal with different conditions specific to each era of racing. The mode offers six historic rallies including the Acropolis Rally in Greece, Rallye Sanremo in Italy, and more. On top of all that, this package delivers four brand new rallies: Estonia, Croatia, Belgium, and Spain. You can attack these rallies with more than 20 of the most well-known rally cars from manufacturers like Audi, Subaru, and Mitsubishi. 

Career mode is also receiving various improvements, complete with a new livery editor and team creator. Players can outfit your car and apply your own colors as you please. Now, you can create your own team to race alongside the 52 official teams present in the 2021 season. Once you're on the track, die-hard players will notice several gameplay improvements. Whether you're struggling to hug the muddy corners or blasting onto the paved straightaway, WRC promises to recreate surfaces with a greater attention to detail than ever before. Players will also notice better aerodynamics, improved turbo, and better braking.

Nacon and KT Racing also released a brief announcement trailer showing the game in action. You can see the short announcement video below.

Click here to watch embedded media

While we missed out on WRC 9, we were big fans of WRC 8. In a 2020 article about the best games to play during the shelter-in-place order, former Game Informer editor Matthew Kato picked WRC 8 as his choice. "The Xbox One has well-known and solid racers like the Forza titles, but WRC 8 is definitely worth a look if you’re up for a challenge," he said.

WRC 10 comes to PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on September 2. The racing title will also hit Switch at some point after that.

Categories: Games

New Pokémon Snap Preview – Back Behind The Lens

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 04/13/2021 - 18:30

Publisher: Nintendo Developer: Bandai Namco Release: April 30, 2021 Platform: Switch

With Pokémon Red & Blue and the anime less than a year old in the U.S., 1999’s Pokémon Snap on Nintendo 64 let players step into a completely new role in the Pokémon world. Rather than traveling across the land, searching far and wide for Pokémon to catch, train, and battle, players instead moved behind the camera lens in an experience that brought the world of Pokémon to life in ways that were, to that point, unprecedented. Now, more than two decades later, Pokémon Snap is finally getting a follow up on Switch. Separated by 22 years and three full console generations, New Pokémon Snap looks to retain the spirit of the original while adding new folds to the formula. I had a chance to watch extended demos and speak to the director, Haruki Suzaki, to see how this new game evolves the 1999 cult classic.

Capturing Pokémon’s Good Side

By 2021, we’ve experienced the Pokémon universe from so many angles that I wondered if the Pokémon Snap formula would still feel novel. However, following my time with the game, I’m once again excited to pick up the camera. Just like in the original, you assume the role of an enthusiastic photographer who travels on predetermined paths through various environments snapping photographs of Pokémon in their natural habitats.

Keeping that basic formula was important to the development team at Bandai Namco Studios. Rather than reinventing the wheel, the team instead looked for ways to modernize, adjust, and enhance. “I absolutely wanted to keep the foundation of the base gameplay where everyone can have fun just looking at Pokémon thriving in nature and taking snapshots of them,” Suzaki says.

Suzaki has worked at Bandai Namco since 2002 and served as director of the company’s Pokémon fighting game, Pokkén Tournament. That game debuted in arcades and Wii U, but has since made its way to Switch. Because of this, Suzaki has a keen appreciation of not only the Pokémon franchise, but also how the Switch can enhance preexisting games or series. With New Pokémon Snap, Suzaki wants to deliver on the potential of the Switch hardware, giving players lush, beautiful environments to move through as they take photos of their favorite creatures.

Of course, a lot has changed for the Pokémon franchise since 1999; not only have trainers expanded their horizons far beyond Kanto, but the Pokédex has exploded from the original 151 entries to the nearly 900 that exist today. While Sword & Shield did not include every Pokémon, which remains a controversial topic, that subject is more palatable when it comes to spin-off games like Snap.

According to Suzaki, the theme of photographing Pokémon in their natural habitats served as the team’s guide. “The selection of Pokémon was truly hard,” he says. “My vision was to create a world where you can actually imagine wild Pokémon thriving in their natural habitats and ecosystem. At first, we thought about Pokémon’s natural habitats and fascinating landscapes and climates to research. Then, we narrowed down our choices by balancing out how different Pokémon would live in these habitats and their relationships within each environment. As a result, there are more than 200 Pokémon, rich in variety, appearing in this game.”

A Ride on the Wild Side

In an exclusive look at the Founja Jungle stage in New Pokémon Snap, I see firsthand what Suzaki means when he talks about creating beautiful habitats full of Pokémon that make sense for the locale; you can almost feel the humidity of the jungle stage from the jump. While you must work to get the attention of certain Pokémon, the opportunities to see your favorite creatures throughout the game’s Lental region are plentiful.

Whether you’re talking a group of Bounsweet relaxing on an overhead branch, a Pikipek hammering away at a tree, or an Arbok behind the brush, you have several different creatures to focus on and try to interact with using fluffruit or other means. Tossing a fluffruit, which resembles an apple, in the direction of Pokémon can elicit different reactions from creatures. While the most common reaction is happily chasing it down to munch on, the reactions vary by Pokémon. For example, one Liepard, in true cat fashion, completely ignores the fluffruit in favor of continuing its nap.

In addition to fluffruit, players have other tools at their disposal. Scan allows you to not only see if something is hiding beyond your view, but also garner a reaction from some Pokémon. You can use the Melody tool to see if the Pokémon feel like dancing. New Pokémon Snap also introduces Illumina orbs, which can trigger unique behavior and cause Pokémon to glow.

The key to getting the best shots is to keep your eyes peeled and get creative with how you use the tools. “These are simple things, but a combination of these tools, timing, and situations can cause a variety of things to happen,” Suzaki says.

Not all Pokémon need to be incentivized, however. Throughout Founja Jungle, Beautifly curiously flutter right up to you, giving you several chances to snap them both alone and in swarms. Later in the stage, you’re given a scenic waterfall with a pool surrounded by species including Magikarp, Quagsire, and more. I wonder if there’s some way to push that Magikarp into the waterfall, but I unfortunately don’t get the opportunity as my look at this stage ends.

Seaside Snapshot

In addition to Founja Jungle, I’m treated to multiple playthroughs of an early tropical level called Blushing Beach. As players travel to different islands in the Lental region, they explore vastly different biomes, even diving beneath the ocean’s surface in some cases. Sadly, I don’t get to see the secrets hiding under the waves in Blushing Beach, but I do get a great sense for what to expect from this sandy stage depending on when you visit.

The first playthrough of Blushing Beach I see takes place during the day. Right off the bat, I spot a couple of Exeggutor frolicking across the sand as a Crabrawler scurries along. A Lapras swims in the shallows and a Pikachu playfully runs past. In the distance, I spot Vivillon and Wingull soaring over the sea. Immediately I recall the fond memories I have of the Nintendo 64 original. That scene, with Exeggutor basking in the sun while other Pokémon go about their days, takes me back to the first stage of the original Pokémon Snap, where a flock of Pidgey fly toward the camera before you see Pikachu, Doduo, and Butterfree hanging out on the beach.

We toss the Exeggutor a fluffruit and it joyfully scoops it up as we snap away. We continue along the beach, but another Exeggutor sits in the way, bringing our NEO-ONE pod to a halt. We could lure the big guy away to clear the path, but instead we look to our left and notice something is bustling in the bushes. We scan to reveal that some Bellossom are tucked away. As Suzaki says, it’s up to the player to figure out how to lure Pokémon to you and get them to react. In this case, we use the Melody tool to bring two dancing Bellossom out of the bushes. As players of the original game know, if you can snap multiple Pokémon in the act of doing something unique or exciting, you’re well on your way to getting a highly scored photo.

Now that we’ve gotten some great shots of Bellossom, it’s time to move on. We throw a fluffruit and pull the Exeggutor off the path so we can continue. While you can’t manually stop your vehicle whenever you want, certain encounters like this one give you a little extra time to figure out how to optimize your opportunities.

Continuing down the path, the pod leaves solid ground to float among the waves. Weaving between rocks that jut out of the sea, we have a wealth of opportunities presented to us. Do we photograph the Machamp hanging out on shore or do we focus on the Pyukumuku lounging on the rock next to Corsola? We end up scanning two water-types on the rock, causing Pyukumuku to wave at us and Corsola to flash a smile our way.

Finneon swim beneath us as we head back to shore. This trip through Blushing Beach is just about over, but not before we spot a Stunfisk lying flat on the sand. We shoot a picture of it and then head straight for the goal, exiting the daytime run of Blushing Beach.

Click image thumbnails to view larger version

 

                                                                                                             Holding a Mirror to Your Work

After completing each stage, you select the photos you want to share with Professor Mirror. Each shot is given a rating up to four stars. This is important, as your Photodex can hold one photo of each Pokémon at each rating. Once you present your favorite shots to the professor, he’ll score them based on pose, size, direction, placement, other Pokémon in the shot, and what the background looks like. You then have the option to replace the current picture in the Photodex with the new one.

If you feel you could make your shots a bit better with some tweaking, New Pokémon Snap gives you the tools to perfect them. Seemingly inspired by the Instagram age, New Pokémon Snap allows you to “re-snap” your photos by adjusting the zoom and tweaking the brightness, blur, focal size, and focal point. You can add a filter and even stickers to create comical or cute scenes within your shots. Unfortunately, Professor Mirror will only grade your raw photos, and thus, you can only save the originals to your Photodex. Don’t worry, though, as you can still save the re-snapped photos to your in-game album and share them with the world online.

Based on the photos you provide to the professor, you gain expedition points, which boost your research level for the stage. Once you reach a certain threshold, you unlock new levels for that area and time of day.

“Pokémon behavior will change as the research level increases,” Suzaki says. “A new research will start when your level increases to search for the changed behavior and photograph it. The game is also about trying to take a photo of a great moment you missed in the next trip, so if the research level is the same, the research course stays the same in general. But if the research level goes up, you will see many changes such as Pokémon that didn’t appear before will start appearing, Pokémon that didn’t eat fluffruit because they were being cautious will now eat them, and the pod’s course will also change.”

Nocturnal Negatives

After chatting with Professor Mirror and further filling out the Photodex, we jump back into Blushing Beach. However, this time, we’re going after the sun sets. As you might expect, the Pokémon you spot at night are often different from the ones you see during the day. Even as the character is entering the environment, I spot a Drifblim in the background and a towering Zangoose walks along the path. We throw the Zangoose a fluffruit and get a great shot of of it smiling as it enjoys it.

As we approach the bush where the Bellossom were during the day, we once again scan the area. The tool tells us something sounds like it’s sharpening a blade. This time, we’re not graced by the playful twirling of the smiling grass-types; instead, a fierce Seviper emerges just in time for a photo. It’s a good thing we scanned early on, as there’s no Exeggutor to block the path at night.

The night path is the same as the one we traversed in the sunlight, but your opportunities are vastly different. As soon as we go out onto the water, Inkay floats by and we see a Magikarp asleep on the rock where the Pyukumuku was during the day. We could snap a photo of the sleeping Magikarp, but what’s the fun in that? Scanning does little to wake up the sleeping splasher, but by tossing an Illumina orb at it, the Magikarp springs to life, and flips off the rock and into the water. We capture its acrobatics before moving to the next rock.

This evening expedition presents an Octillery perching on the rock next to a Crystabloom plant. We throw an Illumina orb at the Crystabloom and the octopod reacts by spitting a fountain of ink straight into the sky. We snap a photo, then throw a fluffruit at it and the Pokémon waves at us with one of its arms. As we continue to survey our surroundings, I spot a Bellossom and a Zangoose relaxing on the shore, but just above them, a Mareanie looks down off the cliffside, presenting a new Pokémon for us to photograph; we don’t waste the opportunity.

While we’re out at sea, an icon pops up in between some of the protruding rocks. If you scan that, you’re able to go along a different path through the stage. However, to fully explore how different night and day versions of stages really are, we opt to stay on the main path.

We return to land to perhaps the most exciting opportunity of my entire demo: Several Sandygast lay hidden beneath the beach, while an Alolan Raichu sleeps on shore next to a chill Octillery. We toss a fluffruit at the Sandygast to get it to emerge. As we pass by, the Raichu awakens, hops on its surfboard-shaped tail, and rides out into the waves. Just before we reach the goal, we lob a fluffruit at a Sandygast next to the Octillery. When the creepy sandcastle Pokémon emerges, it gives Octillery a huge fright and the water-type Pokémon panics, fleeing out into the middle of the ocean, arms a-flailing.

This hilarious scene is just an example of how players can not only evoke interesting reactions, but exciting interactions between multiple Pokémon in the habitat. The environmental puzzles of New Pokémon Snap appear to be just as much fun as they were in the original. Shortly after that, my nighttime run ends, as does my time with New Pokémon Snap.

Developing Results

If what I saw is any indication, New Pokémon Snap effectively captures the magic of the original. With a new region, new mechanics, and a vastly expanded collection of Pokémon to pull from, I’m excited to see how this entry improves upon the first game. More importantly, I can’t wait to get back behind the lens and document the fascinating sights for all to see when the game is released at the end of this month.

This article originally appeared in Issue 335 of Game Informer. Portions of this article previously appeared here as part of a prior embargo.

Categories: Games

YouTubers Life 2 Revealed, Much More Than Just Another Simulator

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 04/13/2021 - 17:00

YouTubers Life first made its debut back in 2016 and was met with positive feedback for its in-depth simulation of what it is like to be a content creator. The title was well-received, and because of that, YouTubers Life 2 is on the way and aims to take the impressively detailed inside look at what it means to be a content creator to a whole new level. For those interested, we here at Game Informer have your first look ready to rock and roll. 

Now, I know what you might be thinking. It's "fun" and "trendy" to dunk on YouTubers and content creators alike, but what I think many people don't realize is how demanding this can be. Editing, concept ideation, community management, self-PR, self-marketing, being ahead of the curve with trends, the almost-required need to be "plugged in" 24/7 to stay in the know is honestly exhausting a lot harder to manage than many might think. Pair that with those still finding their place in the community by doing all of that and holding down a more traditional 9-to-5 job, and you've got important skills being developed and a lot of hard work ahead. 

YouTubers Life 2 aims to capture more than just the glamor of "making it;" it captures the reality of what goes into being a "successful" content creator. The fatigue felt in long hours, the elation at seeing that community grow, the sense of accomplishment at cashing in that first paycheck; it's all there! 

Click here to watch embedded media

If you're like me, this is a fun adventure to pass the time. The first game was engaging and easy to get lost in but playful with its art design to where it was a fun getaway. Create your own videos, gain your first subscribers, attend the wildest parties? Go big or go home. 

“The original Youtubers Life has been such a big success and continues to be to this day, but the kinds of things content creators are both doing and achieving now is monumentally different to the world we first looked to simulate back in 2016,” project director and co-founder of Uplay Online Quim Garrigós tells Game Informer. “We wanted that original premise to grow with the content creators themselves, which is why we’ve been working on expanding our offering significantly with Youtubers Life 2. There’s nobody else operating in this space, nobody else simulating Youtubers either big or small, so we’re proud to stand as the go-to game for gamers looking to live out their content creating dreams.”

So what can players look forward to with the YouTuber's Life sequel? Glad you asked: 

  • More content options for YouTube videos, including reviews, gameplays, speedruns, unboxings, interviews, and more.
  • Subscriber and video statistics that directly react to a broadening of a creator’s content.
  • A new mechanic called “Trends,” which fluctuates daily and affects your popularity as a YouTuber.
  • More personalization options for your character and a fully customizable and expandable home.
  • Scores of new and expansive features to be announced in the coming months.
  • Deeper relationships with NPCs, including additional questlines.

“The original game enjoyed the exact same kind of virality the best content creators amass every day,” adds Sergio de Benito, Marketing Director at Raiser Games. “In all, Youtubers Life videos have passed the 350,000 mark, generating more than 500 million views for more than 50,000 content creators. We think UPLAY Online’s plans for Youtubers Life 2 will enable the franchise to cement its position as the ultimate content creator simulator.

The more modernized YouTubers Life 2 will be launching on PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and PC sometime this year. Thoughts on the YouTuber simulating game? Have you tried your hand at content creation? Sound off with your thoughts in the comment section below! 

Categories: Games

Gord Embraces Dark Fantasy Strategy

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 04/13/2021 - 14:40

A new Polish game development studio, Covenant, is launching a dark fantasy strategy title called Gord in 2022. At the helm of the project is Covenant founder Stan Just, formerly of CD Projekt Red and 11 bit studios. Gord combines city-building, survival, questing, and a number of other elements such as tapping into procedural generation to explore its dark themes and dire fantasy. All worlds find their inspiration somewhere, and Gord’s is rooted in Slavic folklore. Gord is a single-player affair and is headed to PC. For a quick look into the darkness, check out the trailer below:

Click here to watch embedded media

As you can see, your little crew of adventurers and townsfolk are at extreme risk of being slaughtered in grisly ways, whether that’s simply being eaten by wildlife or falling prey to demons, insects, giant spiders, or worse. I guess those that get gnawed on by wolves are the lucky ones, eh? Surviving in Gord while building up your city is a key element of the game as you lead the Tribe of the Dawn to greatness or doom. Probably doom, for most of your attempts.

At the heart of your adventures is the city-building or simulation component, but it’s tempered with many other mechanics and features that task you with taking on legendary monsters and setting off into the wilds on quests.  Managing your city includes elements that go beyond keeping your crew fed and physically healthy, you’ll also have to manage their sanity as things go awry. Random elements weave into this to create a varied play experience for each time you have a crack at weathering the wilderness. Things are grim, but they’re not impossible, as you are able to employ powerful magic to augment your adventures as you set off to battle. Before you play, you can customize elements of the game including environment, enemy types, resources, weather, and more. A sort of meta progression system appears to be part of the experience as well, as you collect torn pages from a mysterious lorebook.

City survival games are always interesting, and I’m eager to see where this dark fantasy tale takes us as we attempt to beat back the malignant evils that surround the settlement. While we are going to have to wait a while to play, we’ll be sure to keep an eye on this one. What do you think about Gord? Let us know in the comments!

Categories: Games

Age Of Empires IV Releases This Fall

Game Informer News Feed - Sat, 04/10/2021 - 17:31

Today, an Age of Empires fan preview event held online showcased new content coming to the entire franchise, but also a significant amount of new information on the upcoming Age of Empires IV. Gameplay was showcased along with a number of other interesting tidbits! Age of Empires IV is slated to arrive sometime in fall 2021.

Click here to watch embedded media

First, one of the most important information points is that Age of Empires IV features asymmetric civilizations. This means that playing as the Delhi Sultanate is going to be much, much different than playing as the Mongols, both in what units you can create and more importantly, how your strategies involving resources, expansion, combat and all other facets play out. While previous Empire games may have hinged mainly on a few special units to create civilization identity, Age of Empire VI is heavily focused on unique gameplay for each faction. 

Eight different factions are expected to be available at launch, each playing wildly different from one another. That said, maintaining the “paper-rock-scissors” philosophy for core unit types like pikemen, archers,mounted units, etc was also important, so any civilization can engage with the opponent at this base level, regardless of their overarching philosophies and gameplay mechanics. The Mongols for instance, are nomadic and focused heavily on the stone resource, and are able to move quickly and spread out across an entire map. Mongols can pack up and move their entire base, which makes for massive mobile presence in a game. In stark contrast, a faction like the Delhi Sultanate may be interested in hoarding all the berry bushes because they can do special things with them instead of branching out or hunting at the onset of a game. There are four core resources in Age of Empires IV, but each civilization prioritizes their weights differently. If you’re a real-time-strategy enthusiast, just think about how cool it’s going to be to have eight disparate factions to engage with here. Good luck with the balancing Relic! 

Click image thumbnails to view larger version

 

                                                                                                            

Gameplay showcased at the event highlighted the Delhi Sultanate and their powerful War Elephants. Viewers were treated to watching the Elephants stomp over everything with archers firing, spearmen attacking, and more during a slice of action. The combat looks a lot like the Age of Empires that people know from the legacy titles, so fans are probably going to be happy about that. There are four ages to tap into, which should also resonate well with current fans that are used to the structure of Age of Empires II. Players weave their way through Medieval, Feudal, Castle, and Imperial Ages, with all the assorted keeps, castles, trebuchets, and other technology you’d expect. One little change that players will see is that melee units like knights no longer whack on buildings and castles with swords, instead they will switch to torches and other brick-busting fare when they execute attacks on settlements. It’s a simple sort of cosmetic shift, but it makes things look more realistic than having Brave Sir Edward attempt to take down keep walls with a broadsword.

Viewers also got to see a chunk of campaign and campaign philosophy for Age of Empires IV. The campaign takes a sort of documentary approach, aiming to convey a somewhat historical tale as the player engages with real-world locations with story and scale. Instead of simply giving the player new units or tools each campaign mission as a sort of filler experience before they get to the meat of multiplayer or custom maps, the campaign tackles things with a history hinge. In the Norman campaign, players are treated to Duke William of Normandy and his mission to take control of England from King Harold. This arc features events such as the Battle of Hastings and charts the Duke’s descendants such as William II and Henry I as the story makes its way toward modern day England over the generations. In addition to the Norman campaign, three other civilizations have the campaign treatment to explore in Age of Empires IV. Age of Empires IV campaigns tap heavily into historical figures to tell its tales.

Click image thumbnails to view larger version

 

                                                                                                            

As much as Age of Empires IV is featured, the Age of Empires legacy titles haven’t been ignored either. Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition is getting new campaigns, co-op historical battles, and more later this year. A new civilization, The United States, is coming to Age of Empires III on April 13.

Can’t wait for Age of Empires IV to arrive? A closed beta period has been announced, and you can sign up at the official website. Relic is bringing Age of Empires back, and I can’t wait to try out each and every civilization when the game arrives (finally!) this fall.

What do you think about Age of Empires IV? Do you still play Age of Empires II? Did you like Age of Empires III? How do you feel about the current state of the real-time strategy genre? Let us know in the comments!

Categories: Games

Star Wars: Republic Commando Remastered Review

Gamespot News Feed - Fri, 04/09/2021 - 19:25

First released in 2005, Star Wars: Republic Commando acted as many a young Star Wars fan's initial introduction to the concept that the clone troopers of the prequel trilogy are human beings--creating unique identities for the seemingly identical soldiers. Republic Commando has a strong legacy among Star Wars fans--despite the game's removal from the official canon, it remains a key part of the Star Wars universe, especially when it comes to video game entries.

Handled by Aspyr Media, Star Wars: Republic Commando Remastered brings the original 2005 Xbox and PC game to PS4 and Switch with enhanced HD graphics and modernized controls, though the multiplayer is absent. Otherwise, it's the same game. And though the flaws in its gameplay are only more noticeable now 16 years later, this remaster manages to still deliver a compelling story of four specialized commandos engaging in a variety of combat missions across the Clone Wars.

Squad Up

In Republic Commando, you play as RC-1138 aka "Boss," commanding sergeant of a specialized commando unit trained to take on missions that require a greater level of skill and cognitive ability than standard clone troopers possess. Your unit, Delta Squad, is also composed of sarcastic demolitions expert RC-1262 aka "Scorch," by-the-books hacker and technical analyst RC-1140 aka "Fixer," and morbidly grim sniper RC-1207 aka "Sev." The game takes place over several locations, beginning with an assignment on Geonosis at the end of Attack of the Clones and concluding on Kashyyyk just prior to the events of Revenge of the Sith.

Continue Reading at GameSpot
Categories: Games

EA Sports PGA Tour Secures Exclusive Rights To The Masters

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 04/07/2021 - 18:04

Publisher: Electronic Arts Developer: EA Tiburon

The recently announced EA Sports PGA Tour will serve as the exclusive home to the famous Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. The historic tournament, which is one of four major championships in golf, first appeared in a video game in EA Sports' Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 in 2011.

Following in the footsteps of the classic 2011 golf game, which heavily featured the Masters branding on the box art, EA Sports PGA Tour's box art also focuses on the Masters branding, as well as Augusta National Golf Club. You can see the newly revealed box art below.

This news means that EA Sports PGA Tour is the only game where players can compete at all four major championships, which include The Masters, PGA Championship, U.S. Open Championship, and The Open Championship. EA Sports touts that each major will feature unrivaled authenticity and deliver unique atmosphere to the venues. EA Sports PGA Tour will celebrate several of the biggest events in golf alongside the real-world events, beginning with "Road to the Masters" at launch.

While the other in-game major tournaments will be further detailed at each real-life event this summer, EA Sports did reveal some details of what will make The Masters special in EA Sports PGA Tour. Developer EA Tiburon used new aerial scanning technology to collect millions of data points to more faithfully recreate the course. The game will feature Road to the Masters content that gives players a unique experience surrounding competing in the Masters Tournament, plus other elements centered on Augusta National Golf Club.

This news comes as the golf video game market is seeing a bit of a resurgence. In addition to EA Sports releasing its first golf game since 2015, 2K Sports converted the well-liked Golf Club series into PGA Tour 2K, which had a good showing with PGA Tour 2K21 last year. On top of that, Nintendo and Camelot Software announced a new Mario Golf game coming to Switch this summer

EA Sports PGA Tour was announced last month with no real details (including no release date or platforms list), but presumably we'll learn more about those details in the near future. 

Categories: Games

Balan Wonderworld Review - Costume Drama

Gamespot News Feed - Wed, 04/07/2021 - 00:27

In the center of Balan Wonderworld's hub area lies the construction site of a clock tower. Complete the 12 worlds--the entry points to which are arranged at random around the tower like dial markings on a jumbled clock face--and the clock tower rises further into the sky; an elaborate contraption that stands as a monument to your hours played. Despite a thematic preoccupation with telling the time, Balan Wonderworld feels like something of an anachronism, a throwback 3D platformer whose occasional charms arrive too late.

Balan Wonderworld makes a terrible first impression. It's a 3D platformer where the primary act of running around the levels feels sloppy. Swapping character costumes to employ new abilities is the key novelty, but the initial batch of costumes fail to inspire, and instead add the sorts of abilities you'd take for granted in any other platformer. Completing the early game doldrums, you're dropped into levels without context nor any attempt to explain your goals.

The clumsy controls and character movement are the most persistent problem. There's a weird dissonance in the way it feels like you're moving too slowly while the choppiness of the simplistic animation gives the illusion of moving too quickly. Your character will float slightly above the ground even when standing on a flat surface. Jumping and judging distance feels sloppy and imprecise, mostly thanks to a stickiness of movement but also because, from time to time, the useful ground shadows cast by yourself and other objects will simply disappear. To put it kindly, mistiming or failing to land a jump doesn't always feel like it's your own fault.

Continue Reading at GameSpot
Categories: Games

Nier Replicant Hands-On Impressions From A Veteran And A Newcomer

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 04/05/2021 - 23:33

Publisher: Square Enix Developer: Toylogic Release: April 23, 2021 Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Nier Replicant ver. 1.22474487139 is just a few weeks away from its April 23 release, and we got our hands on the updated version of Yoko Taro’s beloved cult hit that started it all. The original game launched over a decade ago on PS3/Xbox 360, and now fans and newcomers alike are getting the opportunity to play it with quality-of-life improvements, such as adjustments to the gameplay and enhanced visuals.

To see how this newer version is shaping up, my colleague Jay and I both took it for a spin. Nier captivated me back when it came out in 2010, and Jay fell in love with Nier: Automata recently, being curious about the entry that got the series started. We decided to discuss our different perspectives and experiences playing Nier Replicant ver. 1.22474487139. Just like the game, we had a fascinating conversation about what the cult classic has to offer in our modern times.

Kim: Let’s start with your first impressions, Jay. In Nier, you’re just transported into this world with vicious Shades and sweet little Yonah to protect. What was it like stepping into the role of Brother Nier for the first time?

Jay: Right from the jump, the stakes feel very high and the combat feels somehow tight and frenetic at the same time. But even after slicing through that army of Shades during those opening seconds, there’s a much gentler story being told. Automata’s three main characters are compelling, but they are also extremely reserved and sometimes even emotionally detached from one another (especially 2B and A2). In Replicant, you immediately get the sense that Brother Nier would do anything for his little sister. He’s soft-spoken, optimistic, and a little naive. And there’s something refreshing about playing a character like that in a series that often likes to rip hope away from its characters. 

Kim: Exactly! I was very attached to Father Nier and was worried that Brother Nier would not have the same impact on me, but I was very wrong. The stakes still feel so high, and you instantly want to protect Yonah. For those not in the know, the original Nier launched with two versions in Japan - Gestalt and Replicant - each featuring a different main character (Father or Brother) to play as. This is the first time, we're experiencing Replicant in the West, playing as the brother. The only difference I noticed was I liked the banter between Father Nier and Grimoire Weiss a little more; it just felt more whimsical having this old guy communicate with a cheeky talking book.

I will say, I’m happy how much this game still instantly hooks me. The plight to save Yonah just overtakes you, the world just comes alive thanks to Keiichi Okabe’s fantastic music, and you feel this constant uneasiness where you’re ricocheting between hope and doubt if you can have a happy ending. 

However, before we get more into the state of the world and characters, let’s discuss combat. The overall gameplay was the original Nier’s rougher elements. I know developer Toylogic tried to shore up some of those weaknesses and make it feel closer to Automata. How do you feel about the combat so far?

Jay: Honestly, I’ve been enjoying it for the most part. Dodging and parrying feel on par with the high-speed animations in Automata. I just feel very agile when playing as Brother Nier, and even though a lot of the combos just come from mashing two buttons, the flashy flourishes and pirouettes always look really cool so that makes up for the gameplay simplicity. As someone who’s played the original, do you think the combat feels satisfying or do you still feel as if something is missing?

Kim: The combat is a big improvement over the original. You didn’t have the lock-on button, which is a godsend here! The camera still has some issues, but everything just feels a lot better. I like being able to use and charge magic while simultaneously executing regular attacks. The charged heavy attacks also feel more powerful and deadly due to the flashy combos they produce. It is more like Automata, which is a good thing. It’s simplistic, but the combination of magic, physical attacks, and dodging/blocking kept me on my toes, especially in boss battles! This is still where the game most shines.

We can only talk about a few bosses due to embargo, but as I was playing, I was quickly reminded of how these battles impressed me so much the first time around. You never know what to expect and you’re always challenged in different ways, whether it’s throwing bombs into a massive machine or targeting the right body part or foe at opportune moments. These encounters feel exhilarating and unique even after all this time. I just love the enemy designs. Getting the bosses is the best part, but on the flip side, dungeons still are pretty bland and have you doing tedious tasks. They’re pretty linear without much variety. How’d you feel about the bosses and dungeons thus far?

Jay: I’m with you 100 percent, Kim. Boss battles feel like incredibly momentous sequences that usually require you to multitask in very entertaining ways. And when the smoke clears, it’s very easy to feel as if you’ve become a little more acclimated to your moveset and the controls in general. Then when you get to the next hulking boss, suddenly, the whole script has been flipped and you’ve got to adapt/react to an entirely new array of attacks. However, the dungeons (and most other environments, for that matter) leading up to these bosses aren’t visually stimulating at all. The gameworld is intentionally dreary and empty, but because of this, I don’t have as much fun getting around to different important locations. 

Kim: Yeah, if it wasn’t for Keiichi Okabe’s great music (I’m going to keep mentioning this), getting around the world would be even more of a slog, especially since there’s so many fetch quests in this game. That being said, even if the environments themselves aren’t anything to write home about, I feel like the characters and stories within the game are just so fascinating - and can be downright devastating. That’s what really makes Nier what it is - from seeing an old woman pine for another letter from her faraway lover, to being confronted with the harsh truth that people don’t always do good things. Even Weiss questions you constantly about being too nice and giving. 

Kaine still remains my favorite character. However, as I get older for different reasons. I feel like when I played this all those years ago, I connected to her being a hardass and holding her own on the battlefield and against Weiss in the insult department. As I get older, there’s a real sadness and vulnerability to her that I connect with. It was always there, but her story just gets to me on a more emotional level now. I will say, I am glad that the visuals were updated; it stands out to me most in the characters’ faces - they look better and more natural now. I think it helps in certain scenes, especially when things do get heavier. What about you, Jay? How do you feel about the characters and visuals?

Jay: I love the characters. The loyal crew that fight alongside Brother Nier are not only unique on a narrative level, but they also bring a lot of nuance to combat. It’s almost as if you can see their personalities truly come to life every time you enter a battle. So far, I’m a huge Kaine fan as well. You can tell that she masks her insecurities and tragic past behind a harsh tone and reserved body language. But that’s not a front; she can also back the talk up with some really awesome magic and sword techniques. 

When it comes to the main cast, the visuals rock, but I’m not as impressed when I’m interacting with NPCs. There’s just something a little deflating about talking to citizens that look same-y and sometimes have poorly rendered face textures, especially when the game expects you to care about their emotionally-charged problems. 

Kim: You definitely bring up a good point with the visuals. This was another weak point of the original, and while they did touch-up areas and fix some camera angles, the game still has a dated look to it. Some will find that endearing; others will see it as a little off-putting, like you mentioned with the NPCs. I know this isn’t a remake so they weren’t going to completely redesign anything, but it does bum me out that some parts of the world didn’t get more of a visual overhaul. It’s always tricky when updating a game of how far to really go, but adding some more detail wouldn’t have hurt. I am happy the overall cast at least looks better, though.  

Before we go, I’d like to bring up one last thing. How was it entering the original Nier as someone who didn’t play it the first time around? Did you get the hang of things quickly? Were there parts that were hard to adjust to? Do you think people will find this new version a comfortable way to play this classic?

Jay: First off, I’ll say this: I was so excited when Replicant was first announced and I’ve been waiting to hop into it for what feels like years. And even though I’ve only experienced Automata, in a way, playing Replicant feels like coming back home. Because of this, I think I got the gist of how to play very quickly. On a mechanical level, Replicant is pretty easy to pick up and play, and that’s a good thing! On-boarding happens very quickly and you can jump right into the action without exhaustive tutorials or an unforgiving learning curve. Of course, this isn’t to say that bosses and even some of the Shade grunts that spawn in the open world won’t be difficult!

Based on the many videos I’ve watched of the old game, there’s just no better way to experience the first Nier. The gameplay is polished and the flow of battle is easy to get used to. The performances are super solid (particularly Yonah and Kaine!). And, oh man, you’re totally right: Keiichi Okabe’s score is just *chef’s kiss.* Do you feel the same way, now that you’ve gotten the chance to feel out the differences between the two versions?

Kim: It’s always a little scary going back to a game you loved so much the first time you played it. I always swore by the first Nier. It was - and still is - rough around the edges, but there’s something so magical there. At the time it came out, I was looking for RPGs to tell more mature and meaningful stories, but I had no idea I’d get what I did with Nier. There are times when I’m playing it and I just smile, because it reminds me why I fell in love with it in the first place. Other times, I’ll be like, ‘I can’t believe I put up with some of these design choices!’ That will no doubt happen. I'm playing a game that came out over a decade ago now, but I think Toylogic did a good job addressing some of the glaring issues the game had without changing its essence. I’m having a fun ride going back through it, and I can’t wait to see how other people feel when they play the new version. 

Click image thumbnails to view larger version

 

                                                                                                            
Categories: Games

Atomic Heart Gameplay Compilation Showcases Intense Action and Creepy Open-World

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 04/05/2021 - 20:29

Publisher: Mundfish Developer: Mundfish Release: TBA Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

A new compilation of Atomic Heart gameplay trailers showcases visceral combat and a few highly-detailed  locations that you’ll get to explore. From multi-floored museum-like arenas to lush forests with abandoned structures, Atomic Heart looks to offer blood-pumping action sequences within flashy, bombastic setpieces. 

Click here to watch embedded media

Mundfish’s upcoming open-world RPG is set in an alternate reality where the USSR has made substantial technological advancements that push it decades ahead of any other world power. You play as a special KGB agent named P-3. Armed with a robust selection of firearms and melee weapons, you’ll traverse the various environments to unearth the secrets behind the Soviet Union’s creations while fighting off a bevy of the wild experiments that roam the land. 

The adversaries shown vary from cyborgs (they’re like an interesting cross between the ones in I, Robot and Alien: Isolation) to powerful monsters. There’s that terrifying beast that emerges from a hole in the ground that P-3 fights at the 5:25 mark, and the sauntering bear-man-thing with the bloody head at the 8:32 mark is the stuff of literal nightmares. Gameplay-wise, Atomic Heart reminds me of the first Bioshock game.

After watching the compilation multiple times, I still can’t tell you exactly what the narrative is all about outside of what has already been provided. And Mundfish’s clips do a good job of setting up an incredibly odd atmosphere and tone without giving away too many details. I can say that much of what I’ve seen looks downright terrifying and definitely not for the faint of heart. 

A release date for Atomic Heart hasn’t been announced but it will launch on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Categories: Games

Exclusive Axiom Verge 2 Preview – Two Worlds Converge

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 04/02/2021 - 17:30

Publisher: Thomas Happ Games Developer: Thomas Happ Games Release: March 31, 2015 (PlayStation 4), May 14, 2015 (PC), April 19, 2016 (PlayStation Vita), September 1, 2016 (Wii U), September 30, 2016 (Xbox One), October 5, 2017 (Switch) Rating: Teen Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, Wii U, PlayStation Vita, PC

If you like Metroid, you’re in luck. Over the years, countless games have taken inspiration from Nintendo’s classic series, giving gamers an abundance of ways to explore connected maps, earn upgrades, and unearth secret items. But of all the projects that contain traces of Metroid DNA, 2015’s Axiom Verge came the closest to reconstructing it. The original Axiom Verge had a retro aesthetic, a lonely atmosphere, and an array of clever abilities that made the mysterious world a joy to traverse.

However Axiom Verge wasn’t a mere imitator; it built on a solid foundation with its own signature elements. A heady sci-fi story and mind-bending meta elements put a contemporary twist on the familiar formula – and with Axiom Verge 2, players are about to learn even more about this series’ unique identity. After five years of work by solo developer Tom Happ, this prequel/sequel hybrid is almost done, and I played the first few hours of an alpha version to see how the Axiom Verge universe is evolving.

A COLD OPEN

“Come to Antarctica if you wish to see your daughter again.” That’s the message Indra Chaudhari sees when she turns on a prototype ansible – a device capable of faster-than-light communication. Indra is the founder and CEO of a conglomerate called Globe, and her organization recently inherited a defunct research station on the icy continent. So Indra heads south to explore the meaning of the mysterious message.

This backstory is explained during a brief scroll before I even choose “start game.” Though the story and characters are important to Axiom Verge 2, it isn’t a game that relies on cutscenes and lengthy exposition. Instead, I am put in control of Indra as soon as her helicopter lands, then set loose to start exploring Antarctica. The snow-covered ground, blue sky, and blowing flurries are a shift from the dark and alien corridors of the original Axiom Verge ... but the journey doesn’t stay tethered to our world for long.

After navigating the abandoned research station, Indra finds a secret room with what appears to be a normal freight elevator. But somewhere during that elevator ride, Indra crosses over into a different reality. Like protagonist Trace from the previous entry, she becomes a stranger in a strange land. But Indra’s land is strange in many new ways; the inhabitants are more intelligent, and the world is more seamlessly connected. Even Indra herself isn’t the same; after dying in this unfamiliar place, she is resurrected by a deific digital entity who was apparently confined to a nearby urn. This allows Indra to survive and continue her quest – and all this happens before you fight a single enemy.

“One thing that’s different is where in Axiom Verge 1 you only ever see Trace’s life on Earth in cutscenes, in Axiom Verge 2 it takes you on the character’s journey from Earth into this other world, and then her subsequent transformation that leads into her gaining all these powers,” says developer Tom Happ. “So there isn’t any combat until then. It’s a bit like the intro to Link to the Past before you get the sword, or Super Metroid before you encounter Ridley. At the start I made it too long – there was a big robot blowing stuff up and you had no way to fight it – this only served to slow it down and also reduced the feeling of mystery.”

While this introductory sequence may still change between now and release, its current state successfully builds tension while introducing the basic premise and mechanics. Once Indra is rebuilt after her first death, though, the real adventure begins.

CLOSE COMBAT

If you’re familiar with games in the Metroidvania subgenre, you have a basic idea how the action progresses: You see an area you want to reach, but you can’t get there because of some obstacle, like a barrier you can’t break or a ledge you can’t reach. Then you get a new item or ability, and that allows you to explore previously inaccessible areas, where the cycle eventually begins again.

One of my favorite parts of the original Axiom Verge was how the barriers to progression didn’t just feel like “find the keycard for a locked door” scenarios. The items and abilities you acquired often affected your overall mobility and contributed to a sense of growing power. For example, when Trace gained the ability to phase through walls, it wasn’t just used once to reach one area; it opened up an array of new places across the map.

Axiom Verge 2 adheres to this satisfying model and adds its own surprises. Indra learns to grab ledges, climb walls, hack enemies, remotely control a drone, and more. I’m not going to run through every blockade and how I pushed through it during the three hours I played – especially since the sense of discovery is a big part of the fun. However, I am going to talk about the first weapon you find, because it represents an interesting new direction for Axiom Verge 2.

A short distance from the helipad – before she even crosses into the new world – Indra grabs an ice axe. She can swing this weapon to attack enemies and destroy objects such as wooden crates. It may seem like a basic tool, but the fact that the ice axe is a melee weapon has a major impact on combat, especially compared to the previous game.

DO YOU NEED TO PLAY THE ORIGINAL?

Since developer Tom Happ describes Axiom Verge 2 as both a prequel and a sequel, players unfamiliar with the series might be confused about whether or not this entry is the right place to jump in. “It leans more to prequel than sequel, but timeline-wise, it happens after some of the events shown in AV1,” Happ says. However, he also acknowledges that “various sci-fi features” introduced in Axiom Verge 2 complicate the matter. Here’s the bottom line: You can play Axiom Verge 2 before or after the first game and still appreciate each entry on its own terms.

In the original Axiom Verge, Trace’s initial weapon was a gun (the first of 25 players could acquire), which established his primary method of dealing with problems: He shot them. Similarly, Indra’s ice axe sets the tone for her approach. She does most of her damage at close range, which felt strange to me at first. Jumping into melee range to fight against lethal robots is more intense than firing safely at them from afar; I kept expecting to find a traditional gun that let me chip away at enemies from a distance, but the closest thing I got in the opening hours was a boomerang. That ranged weapon is useful, but a bit too slow and weak to fully substitute for something like Trace’s Axiom Disruptor.

Though the ice axe isn’t Indra’s only offensive option, it certainly is her primary one early on. Even though you find other items, don’t expect to manage a sprawling arsenal, because Happ is implementing a smaller and more focused toolset for Axiom Verge 2. When asked about what drove that decision, he says: “One of the biggest criticisms of AV1 was that there were too many guns, so that definitely played a part. The other is that going with melee attacks, and the fidelity I wanted (you can attack in eight directions while standing, jumping, and crouching), there are a ton of animations that I had to pixel by hand.”

The other component that makes the melee combat more layered is the heightened intelligence of the foes you face. The hostile drones of Axiom Verge 2 aren’t confined to static and easily predictable routes, and many of them are able to detect and pursue Indra with surprising efficiency. They react to your presence in different ways; some charge you, some create distance, and some blast you with lasers. Learning these behaviors and adapting to them – especially when facing an encounter with a diverse assortment of enemies – makes combat feel dynamic and dangerous. But for Indra to succeed in her mission, you need more than an axe and a boomerang.

TOYS WITH A TWIST

Even with battles punctuating almost every step of the journey, the ways Indra moves through the world feel more important than the ways she fights its denizens. Axiom Verge 2 gives players a variety of ways to influence and explore their surroundings, leading to secret items, hidden shortcuts, and an overall sense of progression. Some of these may seem familiar if you played the original Axiom Verge, but a closer look reveals significant tweaks with major effects.

Take the hacking ability, for example. On the surface, it’s a twist on “glitching” from the first game; it allows Indra to alter the environment or change an enemy behavior, much like the results of Trace’s glitch gun. But the important difference here is the player’s level of control. Unlike the predetermined effects of the glitch gun, when Indra hacks an enemy, she is able to choose from a list of available outcomes that vary depending on the target. I flipped the allegiance of one steam-spewing foe so it attacked other enemies in the area instead of me. I slowed down a bipedal assault robot so I could more easily dodge its blasts. I made a component of an airborne sentry emit health. Each of these actions draws from a total pool of points (like mana) that prevents you from firing these powers off constantly, but hacking is an invaluable tool for creating openings in tricky situations.

Another familiar-looking ability is Indra’s drone, a small and remote-controlled proxy that you can deploy to check out areas Indra can’t reach herself. You can activate the drone at any time – even toss it out mid-air – for combat and recon. The drone can squeeze through narrow passages, and I also found a grappling hook upgrade that lets it slingshot up to ledges that are too high for Indra. It also has access to hacking, which makes it perfect for opening up certain blocked paths. In one area, I found a closed gate with a command console on the other side, but the console was beyond the range of Indra’s hacking nano-swarm. So I deployed the drone and took a detour through a few screens (fighting enemies with the drone’s buzzsaw and jumping from one ledge to the next) until I reached the other side of the gate. Once there, the drone deployed the nano-swarm and opened the gate, permanently opening the path for Indra. The drone also plays into another new and unique facet of exploration, but that was the one thing about my time with Axiom Verge 2 I’m not allowed to talk about yet.

Actions like hacking and using the drone evolve as you play; you don’t see everything they can do when you first acquire them. In some cases, that means finding dedicated upgrades, like the drone’s grappling hook. But players can also guide their progression manually thanks to a skill system. You find special blue urns in hard-to-reach places, and each one acts as a skill point that you can distribute at will among Indra’s various capabilities. Some of the upgrades are straightforward, like increasing health or melee damage. Others are more utility-focused, like increasing your hacking level so you can affect more complex devices and open higher-level gates. I didn’t get to sense the full effect of this system in my limited time playing, but my initial impression is that it adds a fun and fluid layer of player-guided progression that complements the more linear process of obtaining new items to reach the next zone.

THE NEW WORLD

One of the fundamental joys of Metroid-inspired games is finally being able to reach a part of the map that was previously closed off to you. Satisfying your inner cartographer and surveying every corner of the world is a strange thrill, and that thrill is enhanced in Axiom Verge 2 thanks to the way the environment is constructed and presented.

The first things you’ll notice are the visuals and music. Just because the graphics have a retro aesthetic doesn’t mean they can’t look great; smooth animations, varied surroundings, and cool enemy design mean that you almost always have something neat to look at. And behind all of that is the striking soundtrack (which Happ composed himself), hitting strange and foreboding sci-fi notes that feel appropriate for the otherworldly setting.

One big upgrade over the original Axiom Verge is how the areas of the map flow into each other. For one thing, the environment is no longer tile-based, so the world simply looks more natural and believable. But even more importantly, the zones aren’t all separated by doors that funnel you from one room to another. While you still experience screen-to-screen transitions, the areas are less confined and more continuous. It may seem like a minor detail to many players, but in fact, this change presented one of the biggest development challenges for Axiom Verge 2.

“Since the world is largely not connected by pipe doors anymore, it means that if you were to transition vertically between rooms, it’d be jarring, because it’s scrolling the screen over to the new room mid-jump.” Happ says. “I didn’t realize this until I’d already designed the whole map layout and I had to change everything to make sure it doesn’t happen. It was a big puzzle for me to solve.”

This approach gives Indra’s surroundings an open and connected feeling in the zones I explored. Though she still finds herself in tight corridors, the general sense of Axiom Verge 2’s world is one of a single, large space that contains several biomes – snowy peaks, watery ruins, grassy plains – rather than being separated into discrete, self-contained areas. But that doesn’t mean that everything is just obvious and out in the open; I still encountered plenty of breakable walls, hidden passages, and other secrets to encourage thorough exploration.

OTHER INSPIRATIONS

Though “Metroidvania” is often used as a catch-all term, the original Axiom Verge was definitely rooted more in the “Metroid” side of the formula. That is less true of Axiom Verge 2; developer Tom Happ says that players will recognize elements of Castlevania in the follow-up, as well as some inspiration from other sources. “You’ll see some more Zelda and Castlevania influences in Axiom Verge 2,” Happ says. “I was also very taken with 2017’s Prey and Horizon Zero Dawn, though maybe not in the ways you’d expect.”

A BIGGER UNIVERSE

As a fan of the original Axiom Verge (and Metroidvania games in general), my introduction to Axiom Verge 2 left me excited and intrigued. It seems to be taking the right steps for a follow-up; it builds on success without repeating itself too much, and it takes surprising turns that add depth to the series’ lore. How is Indra’s journey connected to Trace’s? What’s up with all these alternate worlds? What are the goals of the god-like entities in each reality? While Axiom Verge 2 definitely invites players to ponder these questions, it doesn’t spend the opening hours belaboring its points or bombarding players with overwrought explanations.

“In a lot of ways, the more mysteries you reveal, the less interesting it becomes,” Happ says. “But then on the other hand, if you don’t plan ahead for what the answers are, you can have a story that meanders and contradicts itself and makes no sense in the end. So I think there is a balance of making sure there is always something you don’t fully reveal, but give players enough info that they could guess the answer without being fully certain.”

Click image thumbnails to view larger version

 

                                                                                                            

It’s also likely that players won’t have the answers to every question by the end of Axiom Verge 2. The story was initially conceived as spanning multiple installments, and though we aren’t guaranteed future entries, it still leaves players with a compelling mystery and the sense that the universe is much bigger than the slivers we have seen.

“When developing AV1’s story I made this big outline of the salient plot points that included overviews for six to eight other games, with the events of AV1 being towards the end and the events of AV2 being towards the beginning,” Happ says. “I did it this way because I liked the idea of how your perception of a story changes as the context changes.”

While the destiny of Axiom Verge as a whole remains fuzzy, its immediate future gives fans plenty to look forward to. Axiom Verge 2 will be released on Switch and Epic Games Store sometime before the end of June (with the exact release date still TBA), with a likely move to other platforms in the future. In my time playing, I was impressed by its attempts to merge its old-school sensibilities with modern innovation – and I’m sure I’ve only scratched the surface of what Axiom Verge 2 has to offer.

This article originally appeared in issue 334 of Game Informer.

Categories: Games

Outriders Review In Progress

Gamespot News Feed - Fri, 04/02/2021 - 01:41

Outriders is a game that isn't defined by big new ideas, but rather a variety of familiar elements mixed together in experimental ways. It's a role-playing game with loot-shooter elements; it's a serious, dark sci-fi outing with a big dose of goofiness and humor; it's a cover shooter that demands you rush out and smash enemies with your ludicrously lethal magic powers. Whether this mixture works for you will determine how much you'll enjoy exploring the war-torn planet of Enoch and the last desperate vestige of humanity clinging to life there.

Outriders blends well-known video game elements into something new and challenging, and while it takes itself seriously, it isn't self-serious. The world of Enoch seems huge and strange, and while the game is literally about the last gasp of the human race that has ripped itself apart, its heavy themes are always lightened up by a general blockbuster goofiness and characters defined by their gallows humor. Your place within it is as an accidental superbeing with space magic powers, and you're mostly just annoyed that irritating people are wasting your time with their gopher chores. It's a fun, self-aware fit.

Though Outriders looks like a live game of the loot-shooter persuasion, it's actually much more Mass Effect 3 than Destiny 2--like Mass Effect, RPG progression and cover-shooting are more the engine of the game than chasing the next new gun. Outriders is, in fact, a cover-shooter RPG with a hearty dose of gear progression, leaning heavily into an epic story told with tons of dialogue, cutscenes, character interactions, and collectible lore.

Continue Reading at GameSpot
Categories: Games

How Sam & Max: This Time It’s Virtual! Brings The Comedic Crime-Fighting Duo To VR

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 03/31/2021 - 13:15

Publisher: Big Sugar Release: 2021 (Quest, PC, Vive), 2022 (PlayStation VR) Platform: PlayStation VR, Quest, Vive, PC

Sam & Max have conquered comics, TV, games, and are returning for the first time in over a decade with Sam & Max: This Time It’s Virtual! As the name suggests, the Freelance Police are making the jump to VR for an all-new adventure. The game comes to Oculus Quest this summer (and other headsets in the following months) and is being developed by HappyGiant with help from Sam & Max creator, Steve Purcell, renowned artist Peter Chan, and other LucasArts veterans.  

Two questions you’re probably asking yourself are “What are Sam and Max up to this time?” and “Why VR?” We sat down with Mike Levine, CEO of HappyGiant, and lead designer Mike Stemmle, formerly of LucasArts and Telltale Games, to get the skinny on Sam & Max’s next adventure, the new character that players control, and how the team hopes to enhance the adventure game formula using VR’s more immersive perspective.

Click here to watch embedded media

Sam & Max have always been known as adventure games, whether as the point-and-click style Sam & Max: Hit the Road or the episodic Telltale series from the 2000s. While HappyGiant could have made another title in this mold, VR offered a new twist on the formula that seemed like the next logical step for the genre as a whole. For example, players will pick up and inspect objects with their own hands instead of just clicking on them. At the same time, that doesn’t mean the game won’t feature some familiar genre trappings. 

“The classic adventure adventure game is dialogue trees and clink[ing] on stuff until something happens or until you show things together, and there's a lot of that in this game,” says Stemmle. “But we also realize ‘we're VR, we got a lot of cool stuff we can do.’” 

Levine adds that “[VR’s] not going to put away the old kind of games, but it does feel like a progression, like a natural evolution If you do it right, you feel like you're there with them in their world. And that can be powerful.” 

To that end, players control a nameless, voiceless rookie recruited by Sam & Max, you’ll aid the duo as they work to uncover a diabolical secret lurking within a sketchy amusement park. The reason players don’t assume the roles of the stars themselves is that the team found that doing so diluted the classic dynamic between the two. As a third character, you'll not only get to watch Sam and Max do their thing but they’ll interact with you directly (with Max calling you all kinds of mean names like “Lumpy”), which the team hopes will be a treat for fans. 

The amusement park is owned by Cap’n Aquabear. The good captain’s claim to fame was selling pet tardigrades (think Sea Monkeys) he dubbed “Aqua Bears” that was a fad decades prior. As previously mentioned, Aquabear’s got more going on than just selling cheap micro pets but before you can look into him, you have to prove yourself to Sam and Max by completing their obstacle course. Though we don’t know what that entails specifically, it offers an idea into the game’s philosophy in that variety is king. 

Escape rooms, carnival games, bomb defusal, climbing walls, and good old fashioned puzzle-solving are just a few of the activities players will get into, and Levine says the game will build upon mechanics as the game progresses. In terms of the world, Levine describes the game as being “pretty massive in scale for VR” with plenty of room for players to freely walk and explore. That said, the game can be played while sitting down as well. Besides interacting with the environment, fans should also look out for tons of Aqua Bears as well as inside jokes and references from the series’ long history.

The switch to VR also forced the team to change its approach to writing comedy. Before players could click on something and have Sam and Max make a funny remark without much interruption. But to make such dialogue breaks feel natural in VR forced the team to reexamine its approach.

“You have to let the player keep moving, you can't lock them down in place while you read a funny line,” explains Stemmle. “So every time you pick up a burrito and Sam starts saying something and Max says a witty comeback, you have to deal with the fact that the player may very well have chucked the burrito against the wall and has gone over here to something that's actually really important. So you've got to figure out how you're going to cut off lines, how are you going to merge into the next thing. You have to be a lot less precious about your dialogue."

The team is aware there’s a good chance that most of the players who dive into This Time It's Virtual! have never played or even heard of Sam & Max, so they’re committed to blowing their minds with an adventure filled with clever gameplay and sharp writing. Even though it's been a long time since the last Sam & Max title, the series has lasted this long (since 1987, in fact) and has proven its versatility.

“As a Sam & Max fan, it sort of felt like this evolution because they've always been adaptable,” says Levine. “They started in comics, they made a 2D game...then they made 3D games and toys. And Steve Purcell, the creator, you know, he's never been afraid to try new things with them. And, I was thinking about this, like any great comic duo you can kind of plop them into any situation, and they're going to make it hilarious.”

Sam & Max: This Time It’s Virtual! launches in June for Oculus Quest for $29.99. It will then release later this year for SteamVR and Viveport Infinity. As for PlayStation VR, that version arrives in early 2022.

Click image thumbnails to view larger version

 

                                                                                                            
Categories: Games

Pages